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08.20.19

Guarding and Rescuing the FSF Titanic: There is More Than One Iceberg Ahead

Posted in Free/Libre Software, FSF, GNU/Linux, GPL, IBM, Microsoft, Red Hat at 10:49 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

A publication from the Free Media Alliance

Overview

Iceberg

Summary: “This strategy is not far from when Microsoft talked about “de-commoditizing protocols” in the late 90s, as part of their plans to control, dominate, and end Open Source and Free software.”

THE Free Software Foundation knows that a licence can have vulnerabilities, just like computer code. Tivo found such a vulnerability in GPL2, created an exploit, and the FSF patched it in GPLv3.

If a licence can have vulnerabilities, then any argument that relies on “it’s Free software, so…” is an oversimplification. Software is free because it gives you the four freedoms in the Free Software Definition, the definition is implemented via the GPL and similar licences, and a vulnerability works around (despite) that implementation. It may even work around the definition itself.

“Tivo found such a vulnerability in GPL2, created an exploit, and the FSF patched it in GPLv3.”The most tiring hubris from the FSF is that Free software is by nature, immune to the sort of attacks that Microsoft outlined years ago in the Halloween Documents. It is not immune, it is resistant. The Four Freedoms create substantial resistance to lock-in, bloat, bad security, and monopoly.

It shouldn’t take half a decade to explain to the FSF why a great strategy for reducing Software Freedom is to take a bunch of projects that are well-designed, stable, reliable and vital to Free software — glue them together into a single project from a single maintainer, and then make it more work to separate them again.

“It shouldn’t take half a decade to explain to the FSF why a great strategy for reducing Software Freedom is to take a bunch of projects that are well-designed, stable, reliable and vital to Free software — glue them together into a single project from a single maintainer, and then make it more work to separate them again.”This strategy is not far from when Microsoft talked about “de-commoditizing protocols” in the late 90s, as part of their plans to control, dominate, and end Open Source and Free software. When faced with this prospect and threat, the FSF and its fans tend to compartmentalise. To oversimplify, at great risk of a straw man:

Things are good or they’re bad,

Free software is good,

So everything under a Free software licence is good.

Of course the FSF knows better than that, they aren’t stupid. But when presented with arguments why systemd (as the primary example) are designed to reduce freedom and have reduced freedom, the FSF falls back on defensive apathy and indifference:

Using indifference towards a better viewpoint is a normal and common example of this. It can be caused by someone having used multiple compartment ideals and having been uncomfortable with modifying them, at risk of being found incorrect. This often causes double-standards, and bias.

Although it is not the inspiration for the title, given that the overarching metaphor chosen is the Titanic, it is hard not to compare the indifference and denial towards this threat to the insistence that the Titanic did not need lifeboats.

“Choice and freedom are certainly not the same thing — freedom is broader than choice, and while freedom seems to imply choice exists, choice can exist (as it does in most any proprietary software) without something that even resembles freedom.”Do we need to preserve choice for Free software? The FSF has always suggested otherwise, even if this seems (and ought to seem) very backwards from a perspective of freedom.

Choice and freedom are certainly not the same thing — freedom is broader than choice, and while freedom seems to imply choice exists, choice can exist (as it does in most any proprietary software) without something that even resembles freedom. Preserving choice — the modularity that made UNIX so easy to rebuild with Free software — is not and never was a priority for the FSF.

Trying to find a quote about Stallman saying that other desktops are fine, but not needed because the FSF already has GNOME, may turn this old quote instead:

Since we already have GTK support, there’s no reason we could not have equivalent Qt support, if it someone wants to maintain it.

However, GNOME is the main GNU desktop, and GNU packages are supposed to support each other. It would not be right for Emacs to have more support for KDE than for GNOME.

Giving priority to a GNU project makes plenty of sense for GNU, but this is just one more quote that suggests that the FSF has never considered choice to be important. This comes up again in a conversation with Alexandre Oliva of FSF-LA, who goes so far as to imply that preserving choice might go beyond the FSF’s mission and that perhaps another organisation could tackle something like that.

Is that really what it would take? Granted, that’s very nearly the premise of this writing — but can the FSF really not do anything in this regard? It seems bizarre, but either way we will attempt to help people understand why choice is vital to Software Freedom.

“Without the preservation of choice, both GNU and the FSF itself have a single point of failure.”We live in a society where monopolies are considered “too big to fail,” and the Titanic was also considered too big to fail — we also communicate with a global network, the concept of which was presented to then-monopoly AT&T as an alternative to their vulnerable, overly top-down system with a single point of failure.

Without the preservation of choice, both GNU and the FSF itself have a single point of failure. “Choice” does not mean, just to state the obvious, that “all combinations of anything are possible.” It means that freedom has redundancy (and better caters to diversity), and that things must fail multiple times on several levels before the failure is catastrophic.

Although the “lifeboats” metaphor is primarily intended to refer to a safe escape if the Free Software Foundation itself fails, (the global chapters do not really operate in practice like redundant or autonomous nodes, they are more like foreign bases of operation coordinated by a primary node and will likely fail if the main office does) if a large project like GNOME is no longer suitable, additional desktop environments (preferably smaller ones that are simpler and less likely to fail) could also act as lifeboats.

If this concept is too foreign (it shouldn’t be) for the FSF to acknowledge the obvious importance of, they can certainly recognise that users strongly feel a need to have alternatives for just this reason. The denial and rhetoric from Free software supporters (with some very notable exceptions) on this matter is pathological, but relentless.

The FSF has made its decision on the matter, and the 5 years of development time stolen, along with the power consolidation of too many projects by a single commercial monopoly — which was recently purchased by an even larger commercial monopoly — and is hosted on servers owned and controlled by their largest sworn enemy (of freedom itself) you might really ask yourself what the hell they’re thinking. We have an answer: they’re not, denial is something different.

So the FSF doesn’t need lifeboats, yadda yadda yadda. We’ve heard that one before. Even if the FSF doesn’t need them, We as “passengers” on this thing do, so we will provide them if we want to stay afloat. And as long as we are engineering safety where the FSF courts disaster for their mission, we might as well try to provide their safety along with our own. They may ignore our warnings, but we still care deeply about what they’re doing.

“The FSF has made its decision on the matter, and the 5 years of development time stolen, along with the power consolidation of too many projects by a single commercial monopoly — which was recently purchased by an even larger commercial monopoly — and is hosted on servers owned and controlled by their largest sworn enemy (of freedom itself) you might really ask yourself what the hell they’re thinking.”Lifeboats for us then, and lifeboats for them. And like the resistance of a licence to a monopoly dedicated to Free software’s destruction, this metaphor can only go so far, so to construct “lifeboats” it is really necessary to talk about what will “sink” without them — namely the threats and possible disasters that Free software may encounter or have already encountered, now, recently, and in the near future.

If we understand and don’t deny the threats, it should (with luck) help us work on ways to address them. With a visit to the Librethreat database.

We find a “malware-threat-like database of threats to libre software”. The first threat is “Tivoisation” and the field “Also recognised by FSF:” is filled out with “Yes“. The summary is: “GPL2 not strong enough to prevent DRM/TPM from allowing device owners to change operating system in devices” and the mitigation is: “Migrate to GPL3.”

Interestingly enough, that migration to GPL3 was supposed to include the Linux kernel. What went wrong there was a multipronged attack to a singleprong (licence-based) solution. The GPL3 is a good licence — in many ways it is a clear upgrade. But the attack was followed up by lobbying from the Association for Competitive Technology (covered in a story by Infoworld in 2007) which according to Techrights in 2019,
worked to get Linus Torvalds against it and prevent its adoption for Linux development.

GPL2: [ fail ]

GPL3: [ ok ]

ACT Lobbying: [ fail ] WARNING: This will cause Linux to remain GPL2

Both licences and organisations can fail to protect Free software from interference from monopolies like Microsoft. Just implying that Free software is immune to their tactics “because it’s Free software” is a falsehood and a way of pooh-poohing a threat.

“Regarding some of the things they have spent the past 5 years or more in denial about, systemd is the largest example.”Historically, the FSF has a very good track record (indeed, the best record) of recognising these threats and responding to them. The point is simply that they too can fail — the FSF is fallible, human, imperfect. Regarding some of the things they have spent the past 5 years or more in denial about, systemd is the largest example.

Security researchers, professional bloggers and journalists, higher-ups from other Free software organisations such as Dyne.org and users and administrators have all spoken out against systemd, and the FSF has done nothing to help them or give them a real voice. If the FSF has any members paying for the privilege of being ignored and dismissed with the rest of us, we don’t know much about them.

The FSF fails as a megaphone for Free software advocates, it does not always listen very well to advocates, but perhaps it should do more of that. As to what response its critics should have made, perhaps a formal petition to the FSF should have started to get them to drop their support of the systemd takeover, similar to the petitions the FSF made regarding DRM and UEFI.

“The FSF fails as a megaphone for Free software advocates, it does not always listen very well to advocates, but perhaps it should do more of that.”One of the undeniable failures of those against systemd is that no such petition was ever presented to the FSF — instead, our actions always fell short of one. (If you think it’s not too late, let us know or perhaps go ahead and start one.) In the future we would recommend formal petitions to make the FSF take threats like this more seriously. It’s one thing to say “we can’t do anything.” Saying there is nothing that needs to be done is probably false, and there’s no excuse.

We maintain that systemd could be a weapon against Software Freedom. We can’t say that on the Debian mailing-list, but we know that one or more companies remain out to do harm to Free software, we know their tactics have never changed with their marketing rhetoric, we know that systemd does things that are strikingly similar to the tactics outlined in corporate documents designed to wage war against Free software. So why wouldn’t it be a weapon against software freedom? It looks like, walks, and quacks like a duck. How is it actually different? Oh, the licence?

Even when the same people who talked about the problems systemd would cause, look back on 5 years of cleanup that could have really been better spent improving software rather than salvaging it from wreckage, the FSF remains silent. If it only hurt the FSF then perhaps we could let them live with it, but what about the rest of us? The FSF ignores and denies the problem, ignores what we say, and ignores the damage done to all of us. Thankfully, some of us have worked on alternatives. Unfortunately, there is a threat (or category of threat) similar to systemd that is even bigger:

Redix

Threat type: Broad category

Affects: Free software development, stability and reliability, autonomy, organisational structure

Summary: Disruption of POSIX, EEE of Free software projects, Infiltration of organisations that offer Free software

Recognised by: Free Media Alliance, some critics of Systemd

Also recognised by FSF: No

Mitigation: Avoid / fork / replace / document examples of Redix in software, use Systemd-free distros, assist Hyperbola developers

Examples: Pycon, Systemd

The FSF does not talk much about infiltration of FLOSS organisations by employees of monopolies like Microsoft, even when such monopolies and related lobbing organisations did so much to thwart GPL3, which patched critical vulnerabilities in their primary defensive weapon (the GPL.) Neglecting threats of this nature continues to weaken the FSF’s defenses in the 21st century, and the evidence is everywhere. Monopoly forces continue to move farther and farther into our territory. Why is the FSF so quiet?

“Neglecting threats of this nature continues to weaken the FSF’s defenses in the 21st century, and the evidence is everywhere.”Again, we recommend petitions. They may not be enough, but they are a good place to start. They can even be informal, provided that they are well-documented enough (we don’t need to use change.org, for example.) The point is fighting to be heard, something that shouldn’t be necessary but clearly is. (We have fought hard for a year, other organisations have fought for years longer, to no avail.)

If the FSF is not a megaphone for its members, we continue to build one that you can use for the purpose. We should build a network of megaphones, so that when Free software is headed for yet another iceberg, the FSF cannot dismiss the noise so easily.

But the larger threat is to POSIX itself. Stallman coined the term, and we insist it is the glue that holds Free software together. Perhaps you can destroy POSIX altogether, and systemd along with zircon (the kernel of Google’s Fuchsia operating system) are two projects that may aim to do just that. Microsoft themselves said decades ago:

Systematically attacking UNIX in general helps attack Linux in particular.

In modern terms, there is not a better description of “UNIX in general” than POSIX. At this point, it is far more relevant than UNIX.

Once again, if we move past systemd and look at the threats to POSIX, we do not come up wanting. We can show that POSIX itself is in the crosshairs, we can give this strategy a name: “Redix.” We can show that systemd is the Redix flagship, but someday it could be retired, and replaced with a new flagship. We would rather point out the trend, the strategy, than just a single example or implementation.

If the FSF has any contingencies against this, they are silent and are certainly fooling us. Do you have reasons to ignore this threat as well?

“In modern terms, there is not a better description of “UNIX in general” than POSIX. At this point, it is far more relevant than UNIX.”Is there something we left out? The Free Media Alliance talks about more details related to this all the time; you can ignore one example, how about five? Ten? How many examples would it take to make this credible in your opinion? As long as Free software is threatened, it the job of those who care to do something, to at least admit the threat exists. Why wouldn’t we?

Unfortunately, systemd proponents have spent the past 5 years beating us down and shutting us up. Even as new organisations form, the struggle to be taken seriously continues. The FSF went through that for many years (arguably they still do) and there’s no reason we won’t have to do the same. But it’s a terrible shame, when the same rhetorical tactics used to fight Free software itself, are used by Free software advocates to silence those sounding the alarm.

We recommend the Librethreat database as a primary radar for new threats to Free software, and no one can make you take each threat equally seriously (we don’t. Some of it is pure speculation.) It includes threats that even the FSF recognises, but why stop there? The FSF has proven itself unable to respond fully to Tivoisation. GPL3 was an effective licence measure against it, we can’t fault that. Only the sale to Torvalds failed, due to lobbyists that may claim to “♥ Linux.”

“Are we ready to acknowledge the severity of these threats yet, or will it take another 5 years?”Companies who wish to “Tivoise” can simply get the same GPL2 kernel as before, Tivoise it all they wish, and then — they can’t use newer GPL3 applications, can they? No, like Apple they will simply dump those and use non-GPL applications. Perhaps there are threats bigger than Tivoisation out there. And if there weren’t, perhaps the FSF’s plan to patch Free software against it would have worked.

Are we ready to acknowledge the severity of these threats yet, or will it take another 5 years?

Let us know.

Licence: Creative Commons CC0 1.0 (Public Domain)

To GNU/Linux, the Operating System, GAFAM (Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft) is Not the Threat. Microsoft is.

Posted in Deception, Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Microsoft at 11:37 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Julian Assange, weeks before he was isolated from the Web and from visitors:

Summary: Don’t let Microsoft get away with its bogus narration; GNU/Linux is primarily under attack from Microsoft, whereas Software Freedom in general is under attack from many directions

There’s a common and perhaps deliberate misconception. We’re supposed to think that GNU/Linux is under attack from many large companies, but in reality there’s one single company standing to gain the most from a destruction (or hijack) of Linux. That company isn’t SCO but the company that subsidises SCO’s lawsuits against Linux. It’s also the only company that’s blackmailing, using patents, ChromeOS (GNU/Linux) and Android (Linux) OEMs, even in 2019. Those who don’t understand that are either indoctrinated or dishonest. Google isn’t the company that assaults Linux in court. Apple isn’t the company that started the “Get the Facts” FUD campaign. Amazon’s AWS is predominantly GNU/Linux and has nothing to gain from Windows. As for Facebook? It’s deeply connected to Microsoft. It’s problematic for a lot of reasons. Apache's Jim Jagielski used Facebook's abuses as a pretext for excusing Microsoft's.

“Amazon’s AWS is predominantly GNU/Linux and has nothing to gain from Windows.”Bill Gates-funded* sites such as The Guardian and BBC would typically deflect. Some have shamelessly removed Microsoft from GAFAM as if Microsoft is suddenly some ‘startup’ or a benevolent company. Days ago they focused on Google. The new villain? To privacy maybe, not to Linux.

One must watch out for such spin, which I highlighted to Assange a year ago (he shared my views on this). Microsoft’s attacks on GNU/Linux are becoming more sophisticated; they’re being ‘dressed up’ as love. One trashy site of IDG has just published (about an hour ago) “Get started with Linux containers in Docker on WSL2″ (composed by a longtime Microsoft propagandist, Simon Bisson).

“GAFAM isn’t the threat to GNU/Linux; Microsoft is. One has to be specific and distinguish; those companies aren’t one single entity; there are inherent differences and a collective treatment (bundling/aggregation) is the sort of narrative that helps Microsoft excuse itself when it does, for example, bribe officials to dump GNU/Linux.”So this afternoon people search for GNU/Linux news and instead they get Vista 10 promotion. They want Linux, but they get Windows instead.

This kind of googlebombing would have us believe that Microsoft loves Open Source, Open Source loves Microsoft (says the Linux Foundation‘s chief, so it must be true!), Microsoft loves Linux, and Linux is just Microsoft Windows (or Azure). GAFAM isn’t the threat to GNU/Linux; Microsoft is. One has to be specific and distinguish; those companies aren’t one single entity; there are inherent differences and a collective treatment (bundling/aggregation) is the sort of narrative that helps Microsoft excuse itself when it does, for example, bribe officials to dump GNU/Linux. Remember Munich? Microsoft is working hard to make GNU/Linux ‘extinct’ and even difficult to boot on a new PC. Hardware is being made less compatible with it.
____
* Euphemism for “bribed”; they’re being routinely bribed through a scam ‘charity’ designed to whitewash a criminal like Jeffrey Epstein.

08.18.19

Toxic Culture at Microsoft

Posted in Google, Microsoft at 10:12 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“Fuck! It took you a year to figure that out!”

Sociopath Bill Gates

Going to America

Summary: Racism, intolerance, sexism and bullying are rampant at Microsoft; but Microsoft would rather deflect/divert/sidetrack to Google and so-called ‘GAFA’

One reader wrote to us about the “Conspiracy Theory” that “Microsoft is just as guilty as Google with regard to employee intimidation/retaliation and toxic cultures” and is therefore behind the latest media wave that defects all attention to Google. Months ago Google was blasted for pursuing business in China — the same thing Microsoft had done for like… forever?

“I wonder if they’re sponsoring the presses vendetta against Google at the moment,” this reader added, “because their names aren’t being mentioned in any of these articles.”

“They did this before,” I told this reader. “Their PR lobby was called “Scroogled”.”

Did they ever completely stop all of these smear campaigns? Seems unlikely.

Since the media likes to talk about toxic culture at Google let’s revisit some old examples from Microsoft.

There are lots more. There are dozens of examples in Techrights, but the above ought to suffice for now. Microsoft lacks moral high ground in just about every area.

2019 Microsoft Glossary

Posted in Microsoft at 10:58 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Part 1: 2019 Tech Glossary
Part 2: 2019 Surveillance Glossary

Steve BallmerSummary: How Microsoft internally interprets words that it is saying to the public and to the press

Marketing help: bribe (common practice when the competition has more to offer)
Apology: acceptance that denial or blame-passing is no longer feasible
Open Source: some code in proprietary GitHub
Privacy: a GUI slider that gives user an illusion of discreetness
Telemetry: surveillance
Cortana: listening device
Skype: warrantless surveillance on calls (NSA PRISM)
LinkedIn: surveillance on one’s personal and career history
Windows: malware with a bootloader
Bill Gates: purveyor of the myth of Microsoft as a charitable organisation
Satya Nadella: purveyor of the myth of Microsoft as a tolerant company, bossed by Bill Gates (Board)
Edge: rebranded MSIE, software for extracting the list of pages Web users access
OEM: middleman that forces all computer buyers to also pay for Windows
Patent: purveyor of the myth of Microsoft as innovator and ammunition for lawsuits against rivals
Feature: something new that helps Microsoft
Bug: see “feature” above
Back door: see “Windows” above
Bug door: back door with excuses for it premeditated
Sale: rental
Free: temporarily gratis subscription
Upgrade: price hike
Developer: one-night stand

GitHub is a Dagger Inside Free/Open Source Software (FOSS); This is Why Microsoft Bought It

Posted in Free/Libre Software, GPL, Microsoft at 6:30 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Remember that GitHub is proprietary software, it is centralised, and it gives Microsoft control over its foremost rival, which is a movement rather than a company

Summary: A year later it seems pretty evident that Microsoft doesn’t like FOSS but is merely trying to control it, e.g. by buying millions of FOSS projects/repositories at the platform level (the above is what the Linux Foundation‘s Jim Zemlin said to Microsoft at their event while antitrust regulators were still assessing the proposed takeover)

THE PREVIOUS post ended by saying that we would deal separately with Microsoft’s GitHub and the threat it poses to Software Freedom. This threat is unfortunately growing over time as not enough people shun GitHub. They walk right into the trap.

“In its internal documents Microsoft once explained that it needs to attack Software Freedom while ensuring the attacks don’t look as though they come from Microsoft.”Microsoft is still the biggest foe of Software Freedom, which it combats constantly. No other company stands to benefit from the destruction of Software Freedom as much as Microsoft. The same goes for GNU/Linux. Microsoft hates it and if it could destroy it overnight, it would (it already tried many times and failed every time).

In its internal documents Microsoft once explained that it needs to attack Software Freedom while ensuring the attacks don’t look as though they come from Microsoft. This is what the likes of SCO and Black Duck are for. SCO’s case isn’t 100% over (believe it or not!) and Black Duck is still around and still active under another name because it got bought. It’s being amplified by Microsoft allies, a Microsoft-connected FUD bunch with history and ‘pedigree’. In “The license and security risks of using Node.js,” for instance, Black Duck continues to attack FOSS as usual, amplified by the anti-FOSS site Security Boulevard (propaganda front of an anti-FOSS hack). Days ago it also promoted/copy-pasted Black Duck’s “Review of Apache Struts vulnerabilities yields 24 updated advisories”. Security Boulevard is not a news site (though Google News thinks it is). It’s focused on FOSS…

“…Microsoft continues to attack FOSS. It’s just doing that less directly.”…always negative.

…has never mentioned back doors in proprietary software.

This anti-FOSS site is also constantly advertising WhiteSource (e.g. event placements, with a new example here), the ‘new’ Black Duck. They’re Microsoft partners. They co-author papers with Microsoft and they attack FOSS by proxy for Microsoft. What a truly malicious network of hacks. But the point we wish to make is, Microsoft continues to attack FOSS. It’s just doing that less directly. Security and licensing FUD (especially targeted at copyleft/GPL) is rampant. Now imagine how they can leverage GitHub to further amplify such FUD, as they very publicly do. They barely make that a secret. Their managers speak about that in Twitter. It’s all public. They bash the GPL. Consider who Microsoft put in charge of GitHub; past Techrights articles about him would likely be eye-opening [1, 2, 3, 4].

“It’s secret code and much worse things happen behind the scenes (including NSA surveillance; GitHub is in PRISM now).”Any project which takes Software Freedom seriously needs to avoid/reject GitHub and choose something else because GitHub is proprietary software, antithetical not just to FOSS but also to the decentralised nature of Git. It’s secret code and much worse things happen behind the scenes (including NSA surveillance; GitHub is in PRISM now). Days ago we noticed that a decentralised code/content project, Audius, chose GitHub [1, 2]. That’s like a vegetarian choosing to work for a butcher. We also noticed that the New York Times started pushing Microsoft GitHub (which is a proprietary software trap) under the headline “How to Take Your Open Source Project from Good to Great” (as if Microsoft entrapment in a proprietary software platform makes it “Great”!).

“As before, many so-called ‘studies’ or surveys count nothing but data from Microsoft (GitHub). If you’re not on it, you don’t exist or don’t count.”We’ve been observing a disturbing trend lately. As before, many so-called ‘studies’ or surveys count nothing but data from Microsoft (GitHub). If you’re not on it, you don’t exist or don’t count. This way Microsoft can bias statistics about so-called ‘FOSS’ (only what Microsoft controls). This is not a particularly new issue; GitHub has long attracted projects that don’t care so much about freedom. GitHub is strictly centralised and it is proprietary software. GitHub also helps put one heck of a twist on the term “Open Source” (which increasingly means nothing at all, e.g. outsourcing to a proprietary software platform of Microsoft). 2 days ago we saw evidence that Google still makes this mistake by outsourcing its projects to Microsoft. Is Google out of its mind? GitHub is Google’s rival. It’s controlled by company that still blackmails Android using patent lawsuits. Wrong platform for Google’s code, no? Unless they stop outsourcing code (and control) to Microsoft — a company full of criminals (who admit their crimes but never get arrested) — they will simply make Microsoft stronger. Microsoft grossly misuses its control of the platform, based on imperialism and racism. You just know that something has gone very wrong with FOSS (or rather that Microsoft sabotages it for a price) when “going open source” means outsourcing everything to a proprietary software platform of Microsoft, which censors projects, bans developers etc. based on country of birth/origin.

Belatedly, or perhaps too late, countries realise that GitHub is a danger and a risk factor. Days ago JAXenter wrote:

At the end of July, GitHub enforced access blocks for its software repositories in line with United States trade controls, including U.S. Export Administration Regulations, on sanctioned countries. Instantly this made it difficult for developers based in countries such as Cuba, Iran, North Korea, and Syria to access private repository services, private organisational accounts or GitHub Marketplace Services. However, this also limited access to public repository services for personal communications only.

It’s important to stress that the individual developers themselves had no say over this decision. GitHub has to follow the rules around selling software to specific countries, yet the software itself is neither sold or bought. For open source projects, copying and distribution are important for building up community and use of the software. Blocking GitHub access – one of the main distribution methods for these software assets – therefore has an impact on the community building activity and makes it more difficult over time.

GitHub has become a central resource for downloading the latest official release code for projects and developers who use these repositories for building their own applications. Suddenly blocking access to GitHub repositories has meant that developers based in those countries were cut off and unable to work with many components, which highlights a key issue for open source software developers: if you don’t want your software to be restricted by international politics you had better choose self-hosted solutions, such as GitLab.

Business Times (Chinese site) explained that this motivated China to bypass GitHub altogether:

China will officially be forming the country’s first-ever open-source software foundation to bolster its open-source software community. The plan was unveiled by Huawei Technologies, which plans to partner with domestic software firms to achieve the ambitious plan. Huawei also revealed that it plans to establish the infrastructure in as early as one or two months.

The plan to establish the country’s first open-source software hub was put into place following the ban imposed by GitHub, the world’s largest host of open-source software, on sanctioned nations by the United States. The US-based company began blocking access to its services in July, starting with the removal of Iranian accounts.

The incident itself has highlighted the increasing dangers of geopolitical interference on the open-source community. China likely felt that it needed to establish its own community as a precaution if the US government does decide to sanction the nation as trade disputes escalate.

The Phnom Penh Post and other Asian sites said this:

The plan for the software foundation came after GitHub, the world’s largest host of source code, last month prevented users in Iran and other nations sanctioned by the US government from accessing portions of its service.

Last but not least, ITWeb wrote the following some days ago:

This follows an acknowledgement from GitHub, the world’s largest open source code host, that it has to prevent users in nations sanctioned by the US government – potentially including China as well as Iran and Crimea – from accessing portions of its service.

[...]

While it is not yet clear whether Huawei or any other Chinese organisation has been impacted by GitHub’s actions, Wang lamented that although it had long been the de facto open source position that open source communities were supposed to be fair and equitable for all, the American position, and GitHub’s compliance with its government’s dictates, meant that open source had become a pawn in the power play between countries.

As we explained some days ago in relation to bogus foundations, it’s not clear whether Huawei is serious about FOSS and BGR published “Huawei’s long-awaited mobile OS elicits mixed reactions in China”. It quotes Torvalds as saying: “Talk is cheap. Show me the code.”

On it goes: “That user’s skepticism about the OS would seem to stem from its viability as a replacement for Android, which continues to be talked up given that the ban remains in place that prevents US companies (like Google) from working with Huawei. Accordingly, Huawei’s billionaire founder Ren Zhengfei sent out an internal memo in recent days spelling out his ambition of building an “iron army” over the next three to five years that can withstand the US ban — the “iron army,” being a generalized reference to a Huawei overhaul that puts more of the company’s fate in its own hands.”

The bottom line is, a lot of what’s being characterised as Open Source is nowadays neither “Open Source” (as per OSD) nor Free software. We’ll deal with that in our next post which is dedicated solely to openwashing.

Microsoft Grows Within and Eats You From the Inside

Posted in Deception, Free/Libre Software, Google, Microsoft at 5:26 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Like a parasite or a cancer infecting the host

“Get me into that and goddam, we’ll make so much money!”

Bill Gates, Microsoft

Summary: Microsoft entryism and other subversive tactics continue to threaten and sometimes successfully undermine the competition; Microsoft is nowadays doing that to core projects in the Free/Open Source software world

Microsoft puts one foot in the Web’s dominant browser (Chrome), according to a decades-long Microsoft booster, Paul Thurrott. Now it’s changing it, practically exercising control over the competition, just like it changes the Linux Foundation etc. from the inside.

“Likewise, they call their bribes “contributions” and in this twisted world where “success” means nothing but money they sabotage actual companies for a buck.”Why don’t more people learn from Microsoft’s own history? The company is extremely destructive; this is what made it so notorious and untrustworthy.

Under various misleading headlines, including this from CNBC (it varies), “[a]ctivist [sic] investor [sic] Carl Icahn’s latest target is a struggling company specializing in software for processing big data.”

“This is typical entryism like seen in Yahoo’s case and several companies after it; Icahn is very destructive and he is connected to Microsoft. Wherever he goes he seeds doom.”Always remember what Icahn did to Yahoo on behalf of Microsoft. These people are criminals. Icahn is a white-collar criminal, but in corporate media (owned by such greedy and reckless people) they call the likes of him “activist” or “raider”… it’s like a business compliment. Likewise, they call their bribes “contributions” and in this twisted world where “success” means nothing but money they sabotage actual companies for a buck.

In this particular case Icahn is going after a surveillance company (it brought in NSA projects and former NSA staff through Hortonworks). It’s openwashing itself and labels surveillance “big data” while working for the likes of the NSA, though that’s another matter. See articles such as “Billionaire Carl Icahn Gets 2 Cloudera Board Seats in Settlement” and “Carl Icahn wins two seats on Cloudera’s board in settlement” (among others [1, 2, 3]). This is typical entryism like seen in Yahoo’s case and several companies after it; Icahn is very destructive and he is connected to Microsoft. Wherever he goes he seeds doom.

“GitHub has become Microsoft’s latest infiltration facilitator…”Speaking of doom, this past week there were many examples of openwashing, dooming the term “Open Source”. We shall cover these separately. There were quite a few articles this past week about Apache. Apache’s long history of Microsoft swinging, including entryism that likely led to the outsourcing of all Apache projects to Microsoft, should serve as a warning sign. Half a decade of Microsoft in charge of the ASF (salaried Microsoft employee) did so much damage and only earlier this summer the culprit resigned (but not before sending a huge number of Apache projects to GitHub).

GitHub has become Microsoft’s latest infiltration facilitator; it’s an apparatus of entryism and we’ll deal with it in our next post.

08.17.19

Electronic Frontier Foundation Makes a Mistake by Giving Award to Microsoft Surveillance Person

Posted in EFF, FSF, Google, Microsoft, Patents at 6:25 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Like they don’t give a f*** about their reputation anymore

eff

Summary: At age 30 (almost) the Electronic Frontier Foundation still campaigns for privacy; so why does it grant awards to enemies of privacy?

In July 1990 the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) was founded by John Gilmore, John Perry Barlow, and Mitch Kapor. Barlow died a couple of years ago, so the EFF is now run by its chief executive officer Cindy Cohn. Some of our longtime readers say they have lost confidence in the EFF; the old timers actually told us it had lost direction and nowadays caters for ‘hipsters’ with their ‘gadgets’ near its headquarters (main office in California). The EFF recently lost the person who fought software patents for the EFF (he moved to Mozilla) and they never cared about software patents in Europe or EPO scandals. Never. Not even once. They have some extremely valuable people, such as Cory Doctorow (who fought for the EFF on copyright issues in Europe), but we recently felt upset that they had taken money from Google. This harmed the EFF’s position on patents — and to a lesser degree on copyrights — and indirectly harmed all of us who fight software patents. Even the EFF’s own, namely Birgitta Jónsdóttir, openly expressed dissatisfaction over this. She cited Techrights at the time.

“It probably wouldn’t have happened under Barlow’s watch.”Nobody is perfect and the EFF certainly isn’t perfect. Similarly, several years ago we expressed our disagreement with the FSF after it had given an award to a provocateur who liaised with other provocateurs. 4 years ago there was another anti-Torvalds coup. Don’t forget who did it and how. It was attempted again not so long ago and for the first time in almost 30 years Torvalds took a break from Linux development.

We don’t want to link or name who the EFF has just granted an award to; but it’s someone hypocritical from Microsoft and someone who contributed a great deal to the company’s ‘surveillance capitalism’. Is the EFF totally drunk? Stoned maybe? It probably wouldn’t have happened under Barlow’s watch.

Come on, EFF. You can do better than this.

08.16.19

Nothing Says ‘New’ Microsoft Like Microsoft Component Firmware Update (More Hardware Lock-in)

Posted in GNU/Linux, Hardware, IBM, Microsoft, Red Hat at 9:09 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“One thing I find myself wondering about is whether we shouldn’t try and make the “ACPI” extensions somehow Windows specific.

“It seems unfortunate if we do this work and get our partners to do the work and the results is that Linux works great without having to do the work.

“Maybe there is no way to avoid this problem but it does bother me.

“Maybe we could define the APIs so that they work well with NT and not the others even if they are open.

“Or maybe we could patent something related to this.”

Bill Gates

Summary: Vicious old Microsoft is still trying to make life very hard for GNU/Linux, especially in the OEM channel/s, but we’re somehow supposed to think that “Microsoft loves Linux”

YESTERDAY we saw Red Hat’s (now IBM’s) Richard Hughes complaining about Microsoft [1], whereupon Phoronix picked that up [2] and it was then discussed in our IRC channels, Phoronix forums etc. The corporate media obviously showed no interest in it. All it can do is post “Microsoft loves Linux” images because Microsoft asks for that. To quote Richard: “All the dependency resolution should be in the metadata layer (e.g. in the .inf file) rather than being pushed down to the hardware running the old firmware.”

“All the dependency resolution should be in the metadata layer (e.g. in the .inf file) rather than being pushed down to the hardware running the old firmware.”
      –Richard Hughes
As Michael Larabel put it, “implementation has a number of issues that complicate the process and could quickly evolve into another troubling specification from Microsoft in the hardware space.”

Remember UEFI ‘secure boot’? How did that work out for security?

Microsoft certainly loves Linux with a knife in the back — hence Bill Gates' "Jihad" remark (about Intel’s support for Linux). MinceR at the #techrights IRC channel said: “you can tell something from Microsoft is _really_ _really_ shit when their sycophants at GNOME say it’s shit…”

“Nowadays Zemlin is mostly quoted by the media as saying wonderful things about Microsoft. Most GNU/Linux user just want to vomit.”It is worth remembering that Richard’s work is now supported by the Linux Foundation (since months ago when it adopted LVFS), so maybe Richard can explain to the Linux ‘genius’ Jim Zemlin (who never uses Linux) what Microsoft does here and why it is anticompetitive. We don’t suppose this will happen though. Zemlin is a 'true believer' in Microsoft and his wife managed a close partner of Microsoft when Microsoft paid the Linux Foundation. Nowadays Zemlin is mostly quoted by the media as saying wonderful things about Microsoft. Most GNU/Linux user just want to vomit. Money talks; people who love money are therefore a vulnerability. Jim Zemlin and his wife are the sorts of people whose life aspiration is to have dinner with Bill and Melinda Gates. It’s all about class and power (Harvard). A decade ago Jim Zemlin said negative things about Microsoft and now (after/since Microsoft had given him $500,000) he says Microsoft is a good company while ignoring the below among many other things, patent extortion included (it's still going on). His wife worked for a Gold Microsoft Partner at the time (as a General Manager and Global VP of a SaaS Business Unit). Her business was moving companies to something like Microsoft Azure. In his own words (Jim Zemlin’s interview with Jeremy Allison; 1m:30s), “I’m about as much [boss of Torvalds] as I am the boss of my wife…”

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Musings on the Microsoft Component Firmware Update (CFU) Protocol

    CFU has a bazaar pre-download phase before sending the firmware to the microcontroller so the uC can check if the firmware is required and compatible. CFU also requires devices to be able to transfer the entire new transfer mode in runtime mode. The pre-download “offer” allows the uC to check any sub-components attached (e.g. other devices attached to the SoC) and forces it to do dep resolution in case sub-components have to be updated in a specific order.

    Pushing the dep resolution down to the uC means the uC has to do all the version comparisons and also know all the logic with regard to protocol incompatibilities. You could be in a position where the uC firmware needs to be updated so that it “knows” about the new protocol restrictions, which are needed to update the uC and the things attached in the right order in a subsequent update. If we always update the uC to the latest, the probably-factory-default running version doesn’t know about the new restrictions.

    The other issue with this is that the peripheral is unaware of the other devices in the system, so for instance couldn’t only install a new firmware version for only new builds of Windows for example. Something that we support in fwupd is being able to restrict the peripheral device firmware to a specific SMBIOS CHID or a system firmware vendor, which lets vendors solve the “same hardware in different chassis, with custom firmware” problem. I don’t see how that could be possible using CFU unless I misunderstand the new .inf features. All the dependency resolution should be in the metadata layer (e.g. in the .inf file) rather than being pushed down to the hardware running the old firmware.

  2. Microsoft’s Component Firmware Update Is Their Latest Short-Sighted Spec

    Microsoft’s newest specification is the “Component Firmware Update” that they envision as a standard for OEMs/IHVs to be able to handle device firmware/microcode updating in a robust and secure manner. While nice in theory, the actual implementation has a number of issues that complicate the process and could quickly evolve into another troubling specification from Microsoft in the hardware space.

    Red Hat’s Richard Hughes who is the lead developer on Fwupd and LVFS for firmware updating on Linux has written a lengthy blog post with his thoughts after studying the specification. Now that vendors have begun asking him about CFU, he’s getting his opinions out there now and there are issues with the specification. Ultimately though if there is enough interest/adoption, he could support Component Firmware Update via Fwupd but he certainly isn’t eager to do so.

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