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11.23.14

Boycotting Micro Focus International

Posted in Microsoft, Novell, OpenSUSE at 12:24 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Microsoft’s “Partner of the Year” is taking over the patron of SUSE and all of Novell’s remains, except the patents (Microsoft has already grabbed those)

EIGHT YEARS AGO this site was born. This was motivated by the Microsoft-Novell deal. The deal heralded the beginning of Microsoft’s patent assault on GNU/Linux and Free software — an assault that continues unabated to this date.

Novell’s virtual assets are now being passed to a new entity called Micro Focus, which is Microsoft's "Partner of the Year". This has just been finalised [1] and there is press coverage about it [2,3], including some interviews [4,5,6,7], reviews [8,9], and analysis from the OSI’s President [10,11] amid SUSECon 2014 [12] that showcased and emitted some technical announcements [13-16] (not many, mostly one that’s actually significant).

SUSE has certainly received a lot of coverage over the past week (while my wife and I moved between homes), but one must remember that SUSE is not free from Microsoft; if anything, now it is more Microsoft-tied than before. People must continue to boycott SUSE, not just Novell (or what’s left of it). Attachmate did not give SUSE full independence, only symbolic. Just look who manages SUSE. It’s not independence. With Microsoft’s “Partner of the Year” in charge of SUSE we can expect to see the same pro-Microsoft agenda and sickening relationships inside SUSE (OOXML, Hyper-V, Mono and so on). It’s about Microsoft controlling and profiting from GNU/Linux, hoping to put Red Hat or Debian at peril.

For those who are still in denial over Micro Focus’s role in SUSE, read [17]. Microsoft’s “Partner of the Year” is now in charge.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Micro Focus International Completes Merger with the Attachmate Group
  2. Free as in Beer, SUSE News, and 7 Years Uptime

    The SUSE parent company Attachmate and Micro Focus merger is now complete and Sam Varghese has several interviews from SUSECon today.

  3. Wake Up Lil SUSE, Minty Goodness, and Caine Mutiny
  4. Lock-in a danger to open source, says SUSE official

    If there is one aspect in the open source world that can prove detrimental, it is companies that indulge in lock-in to the extent possible, according to Gerald Pfeifer, senior director of product management at SUSE.

    Speaking to iTWire on the sidelines of SUSECon 2014, the third annual conference of the Germany-based SUSE Linux, which is being held in Orlando, Florida this week, Pfeifer (lictured above) did not mention any companies by name, though he did make a passing reference to Oracle.

  5. Enterprise desktop has its own niche, says SUSE project head

    One aspect of GNU/Linux that does not figure much in discussion when commercial Linux is the topic, is the desktop. SUSE Linux is no exception.

  6. A brilliant mind: SUSE’s kernel guru speaks

    The man who in every sense sits at the nerve centre of SUSE Linux has no airs about him. At 38, Vojtěch Pavlík is disarmingly frank and often seems a bit embarrassed to talk about his achievements, which are many and varied.

    He is every bit a nerd, but can be candid, though precise. As director of SUSE Labs, it would be no exaggeration to call him the company’s kernel guru. Both recent innovations that have come from SUSE – patching a live kernel, technology called kGraft, and creating a means for booting openSUSE on machines locked down with secure boot, have been his babies.

  7. Chasing the Z/Linux market: A SUSECon attendee’s tale

    When Roger Williams wanted to increase the market for ShadowDisk/Z, a product made by the little Gainesville-based company he works for, he headed to meet the experts, those at SUSE Linux which has something like three-quarters of the market for all Z/Linux customers.

  8. OpenSUSE 13.2 review – Back in the game!

    Finally. After three and a half years of sucking, openSUSE is a top performance once again. This is an excellent all-around distribution, and it comes with some neat solutions both over and underneath the hood. You can’t deny its amazing looks, and with the 13.2 release, performance, functionality and stability are back.

    Now, openSUSE 13.2 has its problems. The screenshot thingie, subvolume handling, missing Samba printing option, plus that one inexplicable crash, which is probably the most serious item. And because of it, the final grade shall be lower. But all combined, the woes pale against the quality and general goodness radiating from this edition. Really, if you ignore the initial setup, and the one time freeze, there’s very little not to like about openSUSE 13.2. I’m pleased. And feeling somewhat fanboyish. But this is good.

    Anyhow, if you’re looking for a non-Ubuntu family release that can offer you a great blend and balance between looks, modernity, functionality, stability, and performance, then you have several worthy candidates to consider. CentOS is one of them, and now openSUSE has returned, mighty and strong, and sanity has been restored into the distro world, where for many years, there’s been an almost total dominance by Mint and Ubuntu, with everyone else lagging behind. OpenSUSE 13.2 is definitely worth testing and exploring. Final grade, something like 9/10, and this is with a whole 0.5 point taken off. So it’s good. Do it.

  9. Meeting the green lizard of openSUSE 13.2

    In the first week of November the openSUSE team launched the latest version of its operating system. The project’s release announcement highlights such new features as faster boot times, KDE 4.14, GNOME 3.14 and a technical preview of KDE’s Plasma 5.1 desktop. The new version of openSUSE has undergone some visual changes and presents us with new artwork and a more streamlined system installer. The distribution also offers updated versions of Linux containers and Docker. The project’s configuration panel, YaST, underwent a major re-write last year and should now be faster. The project claims better integration with systemd too. Prior to installing or upgrading to openSUSE 13.2 I recommend reading the project’s release notes where we can find a list of known problems and workarounds.

  10. Suse jumps into software-defined storage

    As its steady post-Novell recovery continues, Suse moves into enterprise software-defined storage

  11. Little Suse wakes up, Linux shakes up
  12. SUSECon 2014: Day One Highlights

    SUSECon 2014 kicked off in Orlando this week, with the company stressing an air of open communication and transparency with its partners befitting its commitment to the Linux open source platform.

  13. SUSE Linux Enterprise Live Patching Now Available

    “In addition to increasing service availability by updating critical kernel patches without rebooting, and reducing the need for planned downtime by patching frequently, SUSE Linux Enterprise Live Patching preserves security and stability by applying up-to-date patches,” said Matthias Eckermann, senior product manager for SUSE. “It’s a fully open source solution that features zero-interruption interaction with the system and a familiar deployment method. It’s ideal for mission-critical systems, in-memory databases, extended simulations or quick fixes in a large server farm.”

  14. Ceph-starter Suse to enter software-defined storage market
  15. SUSE Brings Live Patching and Ceph Storage to Its Enterprise Linux

    Enterprise Linux vendor SUSE today made a series of announcements at its annual SUSEcon event, providing users with new patching, storage and cloud capabilities.

  16. Philae Space Probe Landed on the Comet with the Help of SUSE

    The human race has sent a small probe called Philae to land on a comet and got it right the first time it tried. As expected, a Linux operating system has been involved in the success of the mission.

  17. SUSE’s new owner does not see much change ahead

    The new owner of SUSE Linux does not intend to move the company from Nuremberg or change its method of operation in any substantial way, the chief executive told iTWire on Tuesday.

    [...]

    The deal has been ratified and is expected to be sealed on Thursday, 20 November.

11.16.14

Microsoft is Going Into the Anti-Whistleblowing Business, Dodges Criticism Over 19-Year Bug Door in Windows

Posted in Microsoft, Security, Windows at 6:47 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Edward Snowden

Summary: With Aorato acquisition Microsoft helps protect the criminals (from whistleblowers) and with lies about .NET Microsoft distracts from a bug that has facilitated remote access into Windows (by those in the know) for nearly two decades

MICROSOFT IS A company of liars, centred around media manipulation. This is why not enough people know about the company’s sheer levels of malice, crimes, and disregard for people.

Microsoft keeps throwing money around for favourable publicity, so not enough criticism is published where it’s well overdue. Today we’ll tackle several stories that deserve more attention from an appropriate angle, not a promotional (marketing) angle.

A few days ago Microsoft decided to buy a military-connected (IDF/Israel) anti-whistleblowing ‘software’ company. What a lot of shallow coverage failed to mention was the real purpose of the software (not often marketed as such). To quote one report: ‘“Snowden reportedly used colleagues’ passwords to access sensitive docs,” he told me. “Even if the user activity seems legitimate, the same account would actually present suspicious or abnormal behavior behind the scenes which Aorato would detect.”’

Actually, to keep the facts in tact, the NSA leaks were made possible by GNU WGet on the leakers’ side (same as Bradley/Chelsea Manning) and that horrible Microsoft SharePoint on the leaked side (NSA). It means that Microsoft itself was the problem which it claims to be trying to solve. We mentioned the role of SharePoint several times before. The acquisition by Microsoft seems to be geared towards stopping whistleblowing and hence defending corruption (so that Microsoft, for instance, can defend the NSA). How ethical a move, eh? So much for a ‘champion’ of privacy as it purports to be.

Anyway, there is a 19-year bug door in Microsoft Windows (almost no version is exempted from remotely-invoked full capture), but the press hardly covers it. We must give some credit to the BBC for covering it (for a change) and "calling out Windows". Other British press covered other inherent issues in Windows (compromising Tor) [1] and it looks like Dan Goodin is finally covering some security problems in proprietary software [2] rather than always picking on FOSS, then hyping it up with ugly imagery and exaggeration.

A reader of ours suspects that the .NET announcement was designed to distract from horrible security-related news. The .NET announcement is nonsense because it’s false (we wrote two posts about the .NET PR nonsense) and it also predicts future events like Visual Studio going cross-platform although the latest version of Visual Studio (proprietary) already runs under GNU/Linux using Wine, i.e. the Windows build works under GNU/Linux as it’s fully compatible anyway, for those foolish enough to want it. This is not news and the same goes for Office and other well-known Microsoft software. Xamarin staff keeps trying hard to infect GNU/Linux with .NET (that’s what they do) and as this very stupid article about .NET shows, the .NET nonsense did indeed help bury the news about the bug door. This disgusting article even gives credit to Microsoft for having fixed massive 19-year-old bug (only after IBM had found it). When bash or openssl have a bug, then FOSS is all bad, apparently. When Microsoft has a bug door for 19 years, the media says well done to Microsoft (for fixing it after another company forced it to). One has to wonder if this flaw (voluntary or involuntary) is part of Microsoft’s collaboration with the NSA, which made Stuxnet and has made yet another piece of Windows malware together with Israel. Here is a new article from The Intercept:

The Digital Hunt for Duqu, a Dangerous and Cunning U.S.-Israeli Spy Virus

Boldizsár Bencsáth took a bite from his sandwich and stared at his computer screen. The software he was trying to install on his machine was taking forever to load, and he still had a dozen things to do before the Fall 2011 semester began at the Budapest University of Technology and Economics, where he taught computer science. Despite the long to-do list, however, he was feeling happy and relaxed. It was the first day of September and was one of those perfect, late-summer afternoons when the warm air and clear skies made you forget that cold autumn weather was lurking around the corner.

Bencsáth, known to his friends as Boldi, was sitting at his desk in the university’s Laboratory of Cryptography and System Security, a.k.a. CrySyS Lab, when the telephone interrupted his lunch. It was Jóska Bartos, CEO of a company for which the lab sometimes did consulting work (“Jóska Bartos” is a pseudonym).

“Boldi, do you have time to do something for us?” Bartos asked.

“Is this related to what we talked about before?” Bencsáth said, referring to a previous discussion they’d had about testing new services the company planned to offer customers.

“No, something else,” Bartos said. “Can you come now? It’s important. But don’t tell anyone where you’re going.”

Bencsáth wolfed down the rest of his lunch and told his colleagues in the lab that he had a “red alert” and had to go. “Don’t ask,” he said as he ran out the door.

A while later, he was at Bartos’ office, where a triage team had been assembled to address the problem they wanted to discuss. “We think we’ve been hacked,” Bartos said.

They found a suspicious file on a developer’s machine that had been created late at night when no one was working. The file was encrypted and compressed so they had no idea what was inside, but they suspected it was data the attackers had copied from the machine and planned to retrieve later. A search of the company’s network found a few more machines that had been infected as well. The triage team felt confident they had contained the attack but wanted Bencsáth’s help determining how the intruders had broken in and what they were after. The company had all the right protections in place—firewalls, antivirus, intrusion-detection and -prevention systems—and still the attackers got in.

The ability to keep people’s rights away and keep the population down depends on passivity and conformity, including the use of Windows. Avoiding Microsoft Windows is imperative for those not wishing to be controlled remotely. As Microsoft’s collaborations with the NSA serve to show, mass surveillance on the whole world is practically contingent upon not just innovation but sabotage and social engineering with corporate buddies. Eradication of Microsoft software isn’t about competition only; it’s about justice.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Advanced persistent threats found in the TOR network

    There are suggestions that the malware code has been around for a while, and has predecessors, and F-Secure warned internet users, anonymous or otherwise, to tread carefully when they download.

    “However, it would seem that the OnionDuke family is much older, based on older compilation timestamps and on the fact that some of the embedded configuration data makes reference to an apparent version number of four, suggesting that at least three earlier versions of the family exist,” the firm added.

    “In any case, although much is still shrouded in mystery and speculation, one thing is certain: while using Tor may help you stay anonymous, it does at the same time paint a huge target on your back.

    “It’s never a good idea to download binaries via Tor (or anything else) without encryption.”

  2. For a year, gang operating rogue Tor node infected Windows executables

    Three weeks ago, a security researcher uncovered a Tor exit node that added malware to uncompressed Windows executables passing through it. Officials with the privacy service promptly shut down the Russia-based node, but according to new research, the group behind the node had likely been infecting files for more than a year by that time, causing careless users to install a backdoor that gave attackers full control of their systems.

Reaffirming Microsoft’s Long-Known Hostility Towards Net Neutrality, Microsoft Crashed Juniper

Posted in Microsoft at 6:07 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Steve Ballmer is ranting against net neutrality and Juniper’s business is in trouble after a lot of executives from Microsoft took over most top positions there

Microsoft is once again shown publicly for what it really is; it can be easily seen as anti-net neutrality, thanks for the most part to its longtime CEO (who is now replaced for PR purposes). Microsoft’s record of hostility towards net neutrality must not to be forgotten as we covered it several times before and provided examples.

Well, speaking of networking, a reader tells us that the person who replaced the Microsoft veteran who had run Juniper for years has just resigned. “He joined from Barclays Plc,” told us this reader, “but I have yet to find out what kind of ‘technology’ he was involved with there.

“How much ongoing damage has been caused by the influx of softers like now-gone Kevin Johnson and how many people and their legacy are still there that he brought in? Softers would not be a good match for the core technologies the company brings in its money with” because it contributed to BSD.

“The incoming CEO, Rami Rahim,” adds the reader, “has been with Juniper 17 years, so that is promising since they use FOSS (OSS) in-house at least in the devices they sell. However, that is just an uniformed guess, who knows the internal politics. The CRN article (not linked to) blathers about being on-message and sales teams rather than technology and function.

“Then there’s this:

Juniper’s decline has been linked by some industry-watchers to the management changes that have taken place in recent years, including the influx of staff who previously worked at Microsoft, but Brooks – himself a former employee with the software {sic} giant

This one has a lot of links. One thing to remember is that these boxes are going to be tap points for surveillance.”

The same has been revealed to be the case last week when it comes to Cisco routers (used against anonymity). We shared links about that yesterday.

In addition, what would be the impact of having Juniper filled with executives from a net neutrality-hostile company?

The GOP’s Patent Reform Plan Not Effective Enough to Stop Massive Patent Trolls Like Microsoft/Nokia

Posted in Law, Microsoft, Patents at 5:35 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GOP

Summary: The corporations-serving GOP says that it wants a patent reform, but another reminder is needed of the futility of the suggested changes

THE WALL STREET JOURNAL, a GOP-leaning News Corp-owned paper, says that “Leading GOP Senator Says More Patent Reform on the Horizon”, but as we explained before, this is not an effective reform. Being on the GOP’s agenda, one can expect it to serve large corporations rather than public interests (which GOP is neither sympathetic nor apathetic towards because public interests often conflict with business/rich people’s interests). “The bill,” says the paper, “will likely add new responsibilities on plaintiffs filing patent-infringement suits. Among the possible additions: a provision requiring plaintiffs who lose their infringement lawsuits to pay the defendants’ litigation costs.”

This would be effective in preventing poor people or small businesses from suing, irrespective of their nature (e.g. trolls, startups, individuals). It hardly deters large corporations with a large budget; for them, legal costs are typically slush funds.

“It hardly deters large corporations with a large budget; for them, legal costs are typically slush funds.”This is of course better than no amendments to existing laws, but does it go far enough? It might not be enough to discourage big trolls like Nokia, which the paper above indicates is likely to use software patents for profit (article behind paywall). Nokia is already patent-trolling, with Microsoft’s help, by proxy, e.g. through MOSAID (now renamed “Conversant” because of its bad reputation). The European authorities have already been made aware of this and they warned Nokia.

Nokia seems to be following the footsteps of companies like Qualcomm, which got the attention of some pro-software patents the other day.

11.15.14

The Terrible Joke Which is Microsoft ‘Loving’ Linux: Nightmares With UEFI ‘Secure’ Boot (i.e. Windows Monopoly Imposed) Continue to Affect GNU/Linux Users

Posted in GNU/Linux, Microsoft at 6:57 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: A reminder of Microsoft’s sheer hostility towards GNU/Linux and long-reaching sabotage of GNU/Linux installations

THE OTHER DAY we saw Microsoft’s booster Gavin Clarke speaking about Microsoft’s attempt to enter primarily GNU/Linux-oriented datacentres such as Rackspace’s. To Microsoft, especially these days, the goal is not just to dominate operating systems, APIs and file formats but also to possess all files (in so-called ‘cloud’ storage) and servers (so-called ‘cloud’ hosting). It’s all about control, e.g. surveillance on databases, site visitors, individuals’ files, passwords, E-mails etc.

When speaking about Microsoft “loving” Linux (a lie that we debunked here before) we should bear in mind that Microsoft views GNU/Linux in Azure as just another object to spy on, extort, tax, and ultimately control. The strategy is one of devour or command-and-conquer. This Linux.com article from the other day made some noteworthy points: “When a journalist asked about the absence of Red Hat, during the Q&A session of the same event where Nadella declared Microsoft’s love for Linux, Microsoft executives didn’t have any specifics. Nadella stepped in and vaguely said, “We’d welcome Red Hat in our cloud.”

“We don’t know what is stopping Microsoft from offering Red Hat, because both companies are not ready to talk about it. John Terrill of Red Hat sent me the following response by email, “While we can imagine that a partnership, which respects each party’s business model and open source, could be possible for Red Hat technologies on Azure, we are not able to comment publicly on the topic. Red Hat does have a partnering arrangement of substance with Microsoft – certifying and supporting Red Hat Enterprise Linux running on Hyper-V, and Windows Server running on Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization.”

“It’s unclear who is unwilling to work with the other, even if it makes no sense for either companies.”

No person should trust Microsoft for a whole load of reasons. We already know that Microsoft really hates GNU/Linux and only does things for it where these things are inherently detrimental to GNU/Linux. Several weeks ago Curry’s essentially prevented me from even replacing Windows with GNU/Linux without voiding the warranty on the underlying hardware (like keyboard or screen). I never found out who was behind this ridiculous policy, which consistently applied to hundreds of large stores across the UK (stores called “PC World”). Although they have changed their policy nationwide following my rants (I checked in the stores to ensure it’s truly as they’ve claimed it to be) this basically shows just how GNU/Linux-hostile Microsoft forces retail giants to become. Not only would they void the warranty of those who install GNU/Linux but Intel, Microsoft and OEMs also work together to make it very hard to install GNU/Linux on PCs. Here is a new UEFI nightmare story from a British writer:

Because this is a UEFI Firmware system, the first step is to wrestle with with BIOS and UEFI configuration. Every OEM is different in this area, and sometimes even different models from the same OEM are different. The critical questions are:

How to UEFI boot from a USB stick

How to (optionally) disable UEFI Secure Boot

How to (optionally) enable Legacy Boot (MBR)

Will changes to the UEFI boot configuration be retained

I know from experience with previous Acer systems that there are two things you have to do in the BIOS to prepare for Linux installation. FIrst, you have to change the “F12 Boot Menu” option to ‘Enable’, so that that you can press F12 during startup and get to the Boot Select menu.

Second, if you want/need to change the UEFI boot settings, you will first have to set a “Supervisor Password” in the BIOS configuration. Once the password is set, you can disable Secure Boot and/or enable Legacy Boot as necessary.

[...]

After the installation process completed, and before I rebooted, I checked the UEFI boot configuration (efibootmgr -v). It was correct, with “opensuse-secureboot” defined and first in the boot sequence list. But then I rebooted and… it booted Windows. ARRRRGGGHHHH! NO! Acer doesn’t do this kind of garbage, HP/Compaq does! I have two or three other Acer laptops around here, and the boot configuration is perfectly stable on them!

I rebooted and used F12 to get Boot Select, then selected openSuSE from there, and it came up ok. Then I checked the boot configuration again. Sure enough, the boot order had been changed back to have Windows Boot Manager first. Swine…

I rebooted again, and this time went into BIOS setup (F2). On the ‘Boot’ page, there is a ‘Boot priority order’ list, and “Windows Boot Manager” was right at the top of that list. There was nothing about “openSuSE” in the list, but there was a strange new entry for “HDD: WDE WD5000LPVX-22VOTTO”, which is absolutely as clear as mud… I didn’t recall seeing that entry when I was in the Boot menu the first time. I moved that item to the top of the priority list, crossed my fingers and rebooted.

If Microsoft loves GNU/Linux as much as it claims, why does it continue trying to complicate installations of GNU/Linux? People must ask such questions. The sad thing is that some in the Free software community are right now being bamboozled by facts-free charm offensives.

Debunking Several Days of Never-Ending Lies About Microsoft and .NET

Posted in Deception, Microsoft at 5:35 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: .NET is not “Open Source”, it cannot be forked (there remains patent threat), Visual Studio is still completely proprietary and it is expected to come to other platforms only because Windows has lost its dominance and Microsoft wants to perpetually control APIs (with software patents) and hence reign over developers

We correctly foresaw a barrage of misinformation about Microsoft and .NET and now it’s time to tackle it all. Very few journalists have been getting the .NET story right. Although they do exist, they have been massively outweighed and outnumbered by sheer misinformation. This post will hopefully be comprehensive enough to name those who got the story right and those who got it wrong. We will end with some truths and clarifications.

The signal (as in signal-to-noise ratio) was lost in a vortex of many Microsoft lies that got posted and reposted in the news this week (since Wednesday night); some were utter lies, but there were semi-truths in some cases. We probably ought to clean up the mess/web of lies after Microsoft spilled out PR and its minions happily relayed it to bamboozle journalists into calling .NET "open source" (many did exactly that). To be fair, there are definitely exceptions and there are some who got the story right, so we will give them credit and tell them apart rather than collectively refer to them all as though they serve the same establishment.

Let’s start with the simple facts. Microsoft has not had a change of heart; it uses publicity stunts. There are better yardsticks by which we can assess Microsoft’s intentions. Let’s see, for example, if Microsoft joins OIN (non-aggressive patent pact/collective) and stops assaulting Free software directly and by proxy. It just won’t happen any time soon and it is a point that Simon Phipps made in his somewhat belated article which states: “How does this affect Microsoft’s status in the open source community? The OSI Board (of which I am a member) welcomed Microsoft’s news as as “continued progress toward full embrace of open source” and there’s no doubt this, like the news about Linux support in Azure, signals great progress. We welcome each new initiative, but the rehabilitation process is not completed by any individual act or even by a sequence of them.

“To move beyond stage five of the journey to open source, Microsoft needs to take a holistic view and ensure every business unit of its famously divided company treats open source with respect. While Microsoft continues to tolerate sociopathy in the business units not yet embracing open source – such as the patent attacks on Linux community members by its patent portfolio group or the covert politics to undermine Open Document Format – it’s hard to treat the company with the full respect it believes it deserves.

“As the inevitability of open source gradually pervades Microsoft like Aslan’s breath, hope increases that the company will choose to act as a full member of the Linux community – for example, by joining OIN as a way to forswear patent attacks on open source community members. I sincerely hope Microsoft completes this journey.”

Phipps is being too optimistic and overly kind (perhaps he must because of his diplomatic role at OSI and because of his publisher), whereas Larry Cafiero uses a Nazi-era analogy (FOSS as Chamberlain) to negatively characterise this kind of optimism. He insinuates that unless Microsoft turns everything into GPL then it can “get the fuck out”. His post is relatively polite (unlike the headline) and it says: “One of the issues this week that has had the FOSS press all atwitter — literally and figuratively — and has had a lot of smart FOSS people uncharacteristically swooning is the fact that Microsoft is “open sourcing” .NET and other software (For example, .NET is released under the MIT license, whatever that may be).

“One subtext here, of course, regarding the misplaced euphoria by some begs the question, “Is Microsoft trustworthy?” The answer is clearly, “No. Absolutely not.” Despite the fact that Redmond has been playing nice with FOSS lately, we should not trust Microsoft any farther than former CEO and Stasi agent look-alike Steve Ballmer can throw a chair.”

He continues: “Let’s not forget — let’s never forget — Microsoft has reveled in their role as digital brownshirts since one of their many ill-conceived, all-conquering goals was to strangle FOSS and Linux in its proverbial cradle. It continues to this day, and for the foreseeable future, in patent shakedowns and insistence on locked-in interfaces no one else can use, among other digital inconsistencies aimed at providing only one option: theirs.

“So we’re just supposed to forget the fact that we were once considered a “cancer” by this company — letting bygones be bygones — solely because they say they “love Linux” and because they open-sourced some of their software under some obscure license?

“Seriously?”

One part-time booster of Microsoft says that Microsoft is now neglecting Windows, which lost its dominance in many areas. To quote his analysis: “Windows Phone users are used to waiting for Microsoft to deliver on its promises, but the company has been testing their patience recently. Microsoft has abandoned its “first and best on Windows” strategy in favor of cross-platform apps that are nearly always better on Android and iOS than their Windows tablet and phone counterparts. Office is the latest proof of a continuous trend that’s leaving Microsoft’s most-loyal Windows customers out in the cold.

“After shipping Office for iPad earlier this year, way ahead of a touch-optimized Windows release, Microsoft followed up with an even better version for the iPhone last week. While the initial Office for iPhone app, released last year, offered basic editing like its Windows Phone counterpart, the new app goes way above and beyond the functionality Microsoft ships on Windows Phone. Comparing the two almost feels unfair at this stage. Microsoft is working on new touch-optimized versions of Office for Windows tablets and phones, but the company won’t deliver them until Windows 10 is ready next year. It’s another period of waiting for Windows fans.”

That is just more vapurware talk, along the lines of another bit of spin (naming Vista 10 years before it even exists). This same vapourware about Vista 10 can be found in the post “With a new platform-neutral Microsoft, why go Windows?” (by Microsoft booster Mary Jo Foley), summarised thusly: “The days of counting on Microsoft to deliver first and best on Windows are gone. Will Windows 10 bring them back next year?”

Windows is becoming obsolete in the schools market too, so Pablo Valerio at UBM floats similar vapourware from Microsoft. They acknowledge that Windows is quickly going away, but then they start naming Vista 10 as if that vapourware will change everything. What it all shows us is that Microsoft becomes more receptive to the idea of cross-platform not because the company is suddenly nice but because Windows is rapidly losing market share. For Microsoft it’s merely a survival strategy. Microsoft would rather we all view it as goodwill, just as it tried to portray a driver release (under the terms of the GPL) as a deliberate act of goodwill when it fact it was a GPL violation that Microsoft was caught committing (hence it could go to court to compel Microsoft to do the same thing).

As we noted the other day, just after Microsoft deception’s campaign had started, the company opened not .NET but only parts of it. The headlines even in FOSS-leaning sites did not get this right most of the time, e.g. in this one example quoting Microsoft Peter as the source (with another inaccurate and misleading report). We’re mentioned in then 2nd comment there. “Any time there are these sorts of “open source” claims from Microsoft,” said one commenter, “just wander over to TechRights and see what Roy Schestowitz has to say. If there’s any doubt, he’ll set you straight.”

The lies were spread by bamboozled journalists or Microsoft boosters whom these journalists followed as their principal sources. Truth got lost early on and the lies now dominate the wire. It’s hard to challenge the message which was so broadly broadcast.

What we have here is an attack on Eclipse, which unlike Visual Studio is free software and wins in opinion polls over criteria like these of cross-platform and openness (or freedom). Self-serving acts are not goodwill and bringing to more platforms Visual Studio (which remains to be done and we do not know to which level of quality it will be done) is just spreading of malicious, non-free software.

Microsoft is doing a perception distortion campaign in order to reduce openness among developers, but as expected, lots and lots of misleading headlines (Microsoft PR) appeared in the news this week. It’s a shameful charade. It targets both developers and software users.

Consider the misleading claims from Microsoft booster Paul Thurrott that can percolate into less informed sites (less technical), including the British press that tends to be better than most. Many sites portray this as complete opening, whereas few say that it is core only, meaning that .NET is merely a mixture and thus still proprietary or “open core”. The .NET boosters and Bill Gates-funded papers mislead readers as usual, so the lies propagate and make it into decent sites that now make misleading statements in the British press, the Australian press, and plenty of north American sites. One British news site got it right, but many others did not, so it does not matter what is true, what matters is what developers think or feel. With help from poor journalism Microsoft has just fooled a lot of people.

We could go on and on collecting examples of relatively benign and not so inaccurate reports, but they are few and they are outweighed by falsehoods. The freeware nature of the tools makes them not Open Source as some sites online to claim but basically proprietary for other platforms. The South African press got it wrong and it is too late to correct all this. It’s a bit depressing to watch because whenever witnessing a lot of lies and almost nobody to counter them effectively (as in the days of the Microsoft-Novell patent deal) a lot of clean-up work remains to be done.

Some sites correctly paint this .NET nonsense as open core, but Microsoft sites and Microsoft-affiliated sites keep fighting against the truth. Even Microsoft Peter is relaying the lies from the Microsoft press release while pro-Microsoft ‘journalists’, as expected (Microsoft must be pressuring them to repeat the lie in order to change perceptions), put these lies in widely distributed newspapers. Microsoft's tool Dina Bass got it wrong and other writers in corporate media (full of Microsoft spinners with a long track record of it) do a great service to Microsoft. They rewrite the truth. A lot of readers will never know they’re being brainwashed.

There is something curious (but expected) if one looks who claims .NET is “open source”. Most of them are known Microsoft boosters. Microsoft lover Brian Fagioli is repeating the lie and an article by Sam Dean continues his tiring Nadella fawning.

“Facts don’t matter and journalism systematically fails. There is no fact-checking.”One Australian news site was clarifying that it’s more like “open core” and less inaccurate headlines at least say .NET is partly proprietary, hence proprietary, still.

The whole .NET nonsense from Microsoft serves to show the corporate media is as accurate as Microsoft minion de Icaza (one of the most widely cited source of misinformation here). Facts don’t matter and journalism systematically fails. There is no fact-checking.

Here is what a British site, the biggest news sites in the UK (for technology), wrote about this endlessly. Some of these articles are from known Microsoft boosters. They are advertising .NET. There are no disclosures. Here is the misleading headline from Microsoft booster Andrew Binstock. It’s high time for mass deception.

One of the best articles came from the Australian journalist Sam Varghese, who actually asked some real questions. Well, those who ask such questions often get the most flack because they’re actually doing their job. He recalled Silverlight and wrote that “some time back, Microsoft announced that Silverlight development would effectively end and De Icaza was left with a lot of code that was of no use. There was no beacon left to follow, no light in the sky to guide his way.” Now Microsoft can now hire/absorb Xamarin or alternatively dismantle it. It remains to be seen what actually happens.

Late on Friday (2 days later) we kept seeing poor reporting in the media, so not even two days of research were apparently enough for journalists to get the facts right. Here is a misleading headline from the rich people’s paper of glory. It is sad to see false claims perpetuated even by Jim Lynch, who is pro-FOSS. Some people do issue corrections in the comments, e.g. this comment at the bottom. The comment says “.NET Microsoft isn’t MIT. .NET is not Open Source” and it cites the article “Microsoft Legally Contradicts Itself”. The article says: “The PATENTS.TXT file contains Microsoft’s legally binding promise not to sue anybody for patent infringement if they use the code. Sort of. The problem is that the wording of the document opens a potential loophole that would allow Microsoft to sue a third party that took parts of the .NET code and built or included it into another application for patent infringement.”

This kind of point was also debated in Twitter, involving Microsoft minions and the head of the OSI. It shows that the patent mess remains and to highlight some key remarks, Carlo Piana (a FOSS lawyer) writes: “What about any patents MS claims (IIRC there are a few). MIT does not pass any through.” Benjamin Henrion (FFII) responds with: “Just as the Java patent story, the Microsoft patent pledge is not enough… the promise should be made to other .net implementations, not just the implementation they control.” Simon Phipps checked the details and confronted de Icaza over his misinformation, saying: “It appears to only protect use of ‘Covered Code’, not third-party .NET implementations… It is a covenant linked to the Git repo, not to the .NET specification… It also does not cover use of the code in anything but “a compliant implementation”… the language excludes subsetting and code repurposing.”

Yes, so much for “Open Source”! You cannot even fork it safely.

Here is what maddog wrote [via]:

Of course some people will point out some of the more recent things that Microsoft has done:

Microsoft has made money off “Open Source”. Taking technologies mostly from MIT or BSD licensed software, they took code written and contributed by other people and worked them into Microsoft products. They are not alone in this, and I do not “blame them” for doing it. They obeyed the letter of the law.

Threatening to sue other companies for patent infringement, but not willing to tell the Android/Linux community what patents they feel were being violated so we could avoid them…or dismiss them.

Contribute patches to the Linux kernel, but usually in the areas of hypervisors, to allow Microsoft’s hypervisors to work well on top of the Linux kernel….the same kernel for which they are blackmailing….er, ah, charging patent royalties.

As usual, people who accept Microsoft’s claims at face value are most likely going to find out that they have been misled. None of the above publications is likely to issue corrections, neither in-place or in a follow-up article. Microsoft has successfully made a falsehood be seen as “truth”. A lot of people will not be made aware of the dangers of .NET.

11.13.14

Microsoft Windows is Still Designed as a Paradise of Back Doors, Intrusion, Wiretaps, and Interception

Posted in Bill Gates, Microsoft, Security, Windows at 1:26 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Combination lock

Summary: At many levels — from communication to storage and encryption — Windows is designed for the very opposite of security

TO ONE who is aware of what Microsoft has been doing with the NSA since the 1990s it can be rather shocking to see entire nations relying on Microsoft Windows. As a quick recap, aided by one of our readers, back in the 90s there was this article stating: “Rubenstein, Microsoft attorney and a top lieutenant to Bill Gates. By his own account, Rubenstein acts as a “filter” between the NSA and Microsoft’s design teams in Redmond, Wash. “Any time that you’re developing a new product, you will be working closely with the NSA,”he noted.”

There is hardly room any for excuses or misinterpretation here. “How NSA access was built into Windows” is another important article from the German press and it was published back in the 90s. These older articles are merely few among many more (some no longer accessible due to ‘Web rot’) which already made it clear that Bill Gates and Microsoft were fine with back-dooring billions of people. Gates continues to be a vocal proponent of the NSA, even to this date (after Snowden had leaked details that made the NSA exceptionally unpopular like no time before, internationally).

Anyone who still thinks that proprietary software is secure says quite a lot about his/her own intelligence (and disregard for facts). It is also widely known why it is risky to connect Free software to proprietary software, which basically compromises the trust that Free software carries with it. Germany, based on this new article from Dr. Glyn Moody, is beginning to see the light as well. Here is a portion:

You Can’t Trust Closed-Source Code – Germany Agrees

Similarly, moves by both Microsoft and Amazon, among others, to set up local data centres in the EU will not on their own protect European data unless that is encrypted by the companies themselves, and the cloud computing providers do *not* have access to the keys. Indeed, if the data is encrypted in this way, local storage is not so important, since the NSA will have an equally hard time decrypting it wherever it is held – as far as we know, that is.

Because of that recent US court judgment ordering Microsoft to hand over emails held in Ireland, many people are now aware of the dangers of cloud computing in the absence of encryption under the control of the customer. But very few seem to have woken up to the problems of backdoors in proprietary software that I mentioned at the start of this post. One important exception is the German government, which according to Sky News is working on an extremely significant law in this area…

The NSA could get back door access into every data stored in Windows and now it can get access to data stored remotely, too. It’s total surveillance. Not even encryption can help.

I was contacted by a manager from Microsoft last week and after we exchanged some messages about the farce which is encryption in Windows he no longer had a counter argument. He found out, after some research, that I was in fact right. I was previously (almost a decade ago) ridiculed by top-level Microsoft staff for suggesting that encryption in Windows could easily be subverted, by design. Around that time Microsoft’s Allchin was seemingly worried about back doors and he was quoted on it (the Allchin article is hidden to many as the link has changed). Some of it is very old, but we have written about Bill Gates’ support of back doors since the early days of this Web site. Microsoft back doors in Windows go beyond just remote access and descend down to encryption, caused by a deficient-by-design (or generally bad) encryption. When we cited Cryptome's findings we received an overwhelming (and supporting) attention. The management from Microsoft tried to change our article (asking for changes) despite the article being correct. As stated in comments in Soylent News: “when my Windows 8.1 tablet recommended that I turn on encryption, as soon as I clicked “no” to handing my administrator user over to Microsoft, it disabled encryption.”

I showed it to Microsoft management, whereupon they checked and confirmed that this was true. No response since, hence we can assume there’s no counter argument.

In summary, Microsoft betrays the privacy of Windows users at many levels. No nation should deem Windows suitable for use (at any level) and ridicule is probably well deserved where one defends Windows as ‘secure’.

Forget the FUD About Bash and OpenSSL, Microsoft Windows Blamed for Massive Credit Cards Heist

Posted in Microsoft, Security, Windows at 12:56 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Knob sets

Summary: Home Depot learns its lesson from a Microsoft Windows disaster, but it stays with proprietary software rather than move to software that is actively audited by many people and is inherently better maintained (Free/libre software)

MEDIA that is owned by large corporations likes to talk about FOSS bugs that have logos and brands not because there are many known incidents where harm was done but because FOSS is an easy scapegoat. Microsoft Windows, which has had bug doors for nearly two decades (very serious and remotely exploitable), should not be used on any production environment, but some businesses are evidently foolish enough to put it on critical systems, knowing damn well (they definitely should know it by now) that the NSA collaborates with Microsoft on back doors access and uses back doors for espionage (both industrial and political).

Earlier this year we asked journalists to call out Windows and urged Home Depot to speak about the role of Microsoft Windows in its massive (existence-threatening) incident that left millions of people (with credit card details) in the hands of crackers.

Microsoft Windows — not some FOSS bug with a logo and/or a name — punished not only Home Depot but also millions of innocent customers who did not know that Home Depot relied on Microsoft Windows for storing/processing sensitive details.

“Microsoft Windows — not some FOSS bug with a logo and/or a name — punished not only Home Depot but also millions of innocent customers who did not know that Home Depot relied on Microsoft Windows for storing/processing sensitive details.”Now there is acknowledgement of this, based on the report “Home Depot blames Windows for record hack, rushes out to buy Macs and iPhones afterward”. So basically they are moving to another proprietary platform with back doors. Apple has already admitted the existence of back doors in iOS, for example, and tried to pass them off as “diagnostics”. If Home Depot is serious about security, then GNU/Linux and other Free software (even BSD) should be universally used at Home Depot.

Home Depot should generally cleanse itself of proprietary software, which is totally unsuitable for credit cards handling because it has back doors and other security issues, mostly inherent issues. Other companies should learn from Home Depot’s mistake and never again process important data using proprietary software. The bad reputation that Home Depot gets from this incident is now putting the whole business in jeopardy and based on news reports about surveillance software Skype (after the Microsoft takeover), Microsoft wants to put it at the very heart of businesses, enabling wiretapping of unprecedented proportions, even inside private businesses (not some mundane chats). Only days ago the Electronic Frontier Foundation warned that Skype is inherently insecure and so is WhatsApp, which is owned by a partly Microsoft-owned company (Facebook). Here is what Beta News wrote:

Secure communication is something we all crave online, particularly after Edward Snowden’s NSA revelations increased public interest in privacy and security. With dozens of messaging tools to choose from, many claiming to be ultra-secure, it can be difficult to know which one to choose and which one to trust. Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has published its Secure Messaging Scorecard which rates a number of apps and services according to the level of security they offer.

Businesses should shun not only Microsoft but proprietary software in general (Microsoft tends to be one of the worst among them) if they wish to secure their communications, respect their customers’ safety, and ultimately assure their survival. Use of proprietary software is no joking matter; it can be lethal. The corporate press has hardly done enough — if anything at all — to highlight the real culprit in the Home Depot disaster.

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