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11.23.13

K. Y. Srinivasan: From Serving Microsoft’s Agenda Inside Novell to Helping Microsoft Infiltrate and Control Linux

Posted in GNU/Linux, Kernel, Microsoft, Novell at 3:12 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

K. Y. Srinivasan

Summary: Why K. Y. Srinivasan has become somewhat of a Microsoft mole inside the Linux world

Microsoft loves to abduct companies, fire ‘disobedient’ staff, and bring in its own moles. VMware and Yahoo are good examples of this. The strategy is used a lot by Microsoft, quite consciously too.

“Microsoft never needs to be allowed to join, it just needs to abduct companies which are already in.”Right now we learn that a “Winamp Petition Emerges as Microsoft Considers Purchase”. Win is short for Windows, so it would not be too shocking if Microsoft took over to exploit (and ruin) the brand. But there are problems close to home, involving Linux in particular. There are more Elop-type threats — ones which turn Linux leaders (like Nokia) into Linux foes that go as far as patent litigation against Linux. Now that people from Microsoft are becoming managers in the Linux Foundation (and managers of distributions like Ubuntu) we must pay attention. Nokia is a Linux Foundation member too, so with its surrender to Microsoft (like Novell) there are more Trojan horses (steering power) for the monopolist inside the foundation. Microsoft never needs to be allowed to join, it just needs to abduct companies which are already in.

There is another longtime mole which deserves to be named now that there is this new puff piece and shameless PR for the company that attacks Linux. The puff piece comes from EFY Times and it’s basically a softball monologue for Microsoft, courtesy of K. Y. Srinivasan from Novell (his online profiles are still out of date). He now receives his salary directly from Microsoft and he is always whitewashing Microsoft and trying to match-make Linux with it (his focus is proprietary Hyper-V, which he and Novell helped Microsoft interject into Linux). Watch how Microsoft is grooming him in an attempt to make Microsoft seem Linux-friendly (article by Kerry Godes from Microsoft’s marketing team). To quote K. Y. Srinivasan: “It’s all part of our larger vision, which is to ensure that anything our customers want to run, they can run on Windows Server Hyper-V and in Windows Azure. This is what customers tell us they want.”

So in other words, it is about taxing and controlling (and spying on) GNU/Linux by making Microsoft its seller. It is also about running GNU/Linux merely as a guest on Windows hosts, using proprietary software of course. So much for friendship with Linux…

10.03.13

‘Microsoft Linux’ (aka SUSE) No Longer a Threat to Red Hat

Posted in GNU/Linux, Novell, Red Hat at 11:12 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“We believe every Linux customer basically has an undisclosed balance-sheet liability.”

Steve Ballmer

“That’s extortion and we should call it what it is. To say, as Ballmer did, that there is undisclosed balance sheet liability, that’s just extortion and we should refuse to get drawn into that game.”

Mark Shuttleworth

Summary: The threat of Novell/SUSE has been diminished somewhat based on Red Hat’s perspective

MICROSOFT subsidised Novell in an effort to tax GNU/Linux everywhere. Red Hat in particular was put under pressure and through despicable partners like Amazon Microsoft is now extorting RHEL users, passing a tax through Amazon hosting. For the most part, Microsoft now uses SUSE as its main attack vector on free GNU/Linux (Turbolinux, Linspire and Xandros are defunct). Microsoft is subsidising SUSE to do this.

According to [1], Red Hat no longer views SUSE as a threat. That’s a considerable change as several years ago Red Hat did express some concerns and Novell was a top-priority risk, more so than software patents.

Red Hat is now relying on some new programs [2,3] and old releases [4] for its momentum that is growing [5,6], perhaps ensuring that the biggest GNU/Linux backer remains strong enough to avoid surrendering to Microsoft the same way Novell did (and to a lesser degree Canonical).

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Red Hat Doesn’t See SUSE Linux as a Major Competitive Threat

    Growth for Red Hat is coming at a time when the market remains competitive across multiple sectors. For enterprise workloads, Red Hat’s CEO sees it now as a battle between Linux and Microsoft Windows.

  2. Red Hat leads way to certify OpenStack pros

    Everyone needs cloud-savvy administrators, but there aren’t enough to go around. Worse still, if someone does come to you and they say they know OpenStack like the back of their hand, how do you know they do? Or, flipping it around, if you’re a smart system administrator who wants to pick up mad OpenStack cloud skills, how do you do that?

  3. Red Hat offers storage test drives for enterprise customers

    Don’t you want to test drive before you buy a service? Test drives always give customers better experience as they can see what they will get. Red Hat is offering free (as in beer) Storage Test Drives through Amazon Web Services (AWS) to give customers a hands-on experience.

  4. Red Hat releases upgrade to older Red Hat Enterprise Linux: RHEL 5.10

    The latest update to Red Hat Enterprise Linux, RHEL 5, 5.10, is now available to subscribers.

  5. The New #182 Most Shorted S&P 500 Component: Red Hat
  6. Buyers bet on momentum in Red Hat

    Red Hat has been breaking out this week, and traders are hoping the upward momentum will continue through next month.

09.26.13

Former Novell Staff Still Pushing the Linux Foundation Into Restricted Boot Territory, Ignoring the Real Threat (Back Doors)

Posted in GNU/Linux, Kernel, Novell, Security at 3:54 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Greg Kroah-Hartman
Photo by Sebastian Oliva

Summary: Back doors in code, embedded in blobs, and even shoehorned into encryption is the overlooked security threat, which gets pushed aside in favour of phantom threats which Microsoft ‘sells’ through former Novell staff (i.e. funded by Microsoft)

A MONTH or two ago we mostly ignored exaggerated (sexed-up) reports about something called “Hand of Thief”. When there’s a Windows security threat the press does not call out Windows, but when it relates to GNU/Linux then tabloids like ZDNet scream from the rooftops. This thing called “Hand of Thief” is basically a malicious program which GNU/Linux users need to install themselves in order for it to do malicious things. It is not a virus, it does not spread, and it hardly even uses social engineering to get itself installed. We cited some reports which stress these facts and now comes a belated one too [1]. LynuxWorks is now offering some “Linux rootkit detector” [2] as if rootkits on GNU/Linux are a common issue. In a sense, since the Linux Foundation seems to insist on helping UEFI restricted boot, we are led to the belief that bootkits are a common threat to Linux. As the Linux Foundation’s site put it, as in the words of the employee it acquired from Novell:

Now that The Linux Foundation is a member of the UEFI.org group, I’ve been working on the procedures for how to boot a self-signed Linux kernel on a platform so that you do not have to rely on any external signing authority.

Greg K-H has been working on all sorts of other kernel-level projects that help Microsoft. He did this while being paid by Novell, which was in turn being given money by Microsoft. That’s the power of money. Other former Novell employees also helped promote UEFI restricted boot, as we showed before. Rogue influence by Novell in the Linux Foundation is a subject we have written about for half a decade, showing numerous examples.

The bigger security issue right now might be back doors, which might also exist in Linux, even in encryption form [3] (giving away passwords over the network for example), so hard-to-crack passwords [4] might not be enough. Microsoft’s and Sony’s network compromises sure reveal the massive financial effects of system intrusions, so this subject should not be taken lightly.

UEFI restricted boot is actually a security threat, not a security solution, especially when a signature is provided and managed by some rogue company in the United States — one which has been secretly in bed with the NSA. With UEFI restricted boot, hardware can be bricked remotely. In a way, UEFI restricted boot deserves the name “unsecure boot”. In some devices it can block the user from accessing his/her own computer. Nobody should promote such treacherous computing.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Hand of Thief, Not

    Linux’s biggest vulnerability is the software that users install with full “superuser” privileges. If you just install applications from your distro’s official repository, that’s not a problem. But if you download software from dubious web sites, or if you add a mysterious repository to your package manager, you’re opening yourself up for an infection. Always, always make sure you know what software you are installing, why you are installing it, and where it’s from.

  2. Linux rootkit detector adds hardware punch to security scanning

    LynuxWorks is stepping up the battle with the release of the first hardware-based rootkit detection system powered by the LynxSecure separation kernel. Called the RDS5201, it combats and detects stealthy advanced persistent threats. Built on the LynxSecure 5.2 separation kernel and hypervisor, this small form factor appliance has been designed to offer a unique detection capability that complements traditional security mechanisms as they try to protect against the growing number and complexity of cyber threats.

  3. RSA warns developers not to use RSA products

    In today’s news of the weird, RSA (a division of EMC) has recommended that developers desist from using the (allegedly) ‘backdoored’ Dual_EC_DRBG random number generator — which happens to be the default in RSA’s BSafe cryptographic toolkit. Youch.

  4. How-to make hard-to-crack passwords you can easily remember
  5. Australian who boasted of hacking to plead not guilty to charges stemming from raid

    Dylan Wheeler, who claimed in February to have breached Microsoft’s and Sony’s networks, has not been charged with hacking

09.23.13

SUSE Drops LibreOffice Backing

Posted in Free/Libre Software, Novell, Office Suites, OpenDocument at 4:48 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

But the motif stays green, for now…

LibreOffice

Summary: SUSE, formerly part of Novell, is no longer committed to LibreOffice

LibreOffice contributors try to put lipstick on a pig [1], but Louis Suárez-Potts (very prominent in this area) makes it clearer [2] that “SUSE has ceded development to others, if any, on LibreOffice.” There are already some distracting announcements [3,4] and on the face of it we’ll need to reconsider the role of IBM and Apache OpenOffice. Maybe they’ll be the only branch to survive one day, even if in Symphony form.

As a LATEX person, I hardly use office suites like LibreOffice, but a lot of people do [5] and this means that we may be left dependent on Apache OpenOffice, some free/libre alternatives like Calligra [6], or privacy-infringing (online) alternatives like Google Docs.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. The Spin-Off

    Some readers might be surprised by the way I’m describing the announcement. It might be tempting to see these news as the sign of the upcoming demise of the LibreOffice project. This is very far from being the case and there are two good reasons for that.

    First, Suse is NOT dumping LibreOffice developers away. The same developers basically went in a new company and there working on LibreOffice development there. In American parlance, this is called a spin-off.

  2. SUSE Partners with Collabora to Deliver Commercial LibreOffice Support | SUSE

    Basically, SUSE has ceded development to others, if any, on LibreOffice. And also calling it a “community” effort–often, if not necessarily in this case–a code term for something thrown under the bus does not inspire confidence in LibreOffice.

  3. LibreOffice Conference Scheduled published!

    Today we are happy to announce that the final schedule of the LibreOffice Conference 2013!

  4. CloudOn joins TDF Advisory Board

    CloudOn, one of the leading mobile productivity platforms that allows users to create, edit and share documents in real time across devices, has joined the advisory board of The Document Foundation (TDF).

    TDF looks after the development of LibreOffice, the free and open source office suite that competes with Microsoft Office.

  5. Styling

    Consider the way that most people use a word processor like LibreOffice’s Writer. Whenever they want to change the default formatting, they select part of the document – for example, a paragraph or a page — and then apply the formatting using the toolbars or one of the menus.

  6. Calligra vs. LibreOffice: Which Is The More Productive Linux Office Suite?

    Is LibreOffice the only worthwhile office suite for Linux users? Possibly not, thanks to KDE’s Calligra.

08.26.13

Red Hat’s ‘Community’ Face Helps Disguise Corporate Nature

Posted in GNU/Linux, Novell, Red Hat at 4:02 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Red Hat Headquarters

Summary: Disparity in pay (volunteer versus staff) and difference between perception and reality when it comes to GNU/Linux vendors, especially publicly-traded ones

Zonker was recently welcomed by Red Hat, which he used to compete against over at Novell. He was paid a salary by Novell to 'manage' a community (which is a bit of a contradiction) before he moved on to speaking for another community (which later crumbled somewhat). Canonical and Ubuntu make analogous stories of staff-run community (the company manages the community). At Canonical, the ‘community’ part has become a notable farce over the past couple of years.

Zonker came from a company that we criticised for having its community managed by staff. He is now acting was a bit of a spokesperson [1] as the company has been rather quiet, with only some chatter about Fedora names and Wall Street-driven discussions about the company’s monetary nature [2-4].

Red Hat actually has a decent community. Some of the writers at Red Hat’s OpenSource.com are not Red Hat employees and Fedora is open to many outside of Red Hat. Let’s not lose sight of the importance of community autonomy. Ubuntu (especially in the past 6 months or less) became an excellent example of how not to run a community.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Red Hat’s Bugzilla Passes 1,000,000 Milestone

    Bug 1,000,000 was filed today by Anton Arapov in Red Hat’s Bugzilla. The bug, an improvement request for the automatic bug detection and reporting tool (abrt), is a nice milestone just a few weeks ahead of the 15th anniversary of Bugzilla’s first release.

  2. Alliance Data Systems Moves Up In Market Cap Rank, Passing Red Hat

    Another reason market capitalization is important is where it places a company in terms of its size tier in relation to peers — much like the way a mid-size sedan is typically compared to other mid-size sedans (and not SUV’s). This can have a direct impact on which indices will include the stock, and which mutual funds and ETFs are willing to own the stock. For instance, a mutual fund that is focused solely on Large Cap stocks may for example only be interested in those companies sized $10 billion or larger. Another illustrative example is the S&P MidCap index which essentially takes the S&P 500 index and “tosses out” the biggest 100 companies so as to focus solely on the 400 smaller “up-and-comers” (which in the right environment can outperform their larger rivals). And ETFs that directly follow an index like the S&P 500 will only own the underlying component of that index, selling companies that lose their status as an S&P 500 company, and buying companies when they are added to the index. So a
    company’s market cap, especially in relation to other companies, carries great importance, and for this reason we at The Online Investor find value to putting together these looks at comparative market capitalization daily.

  3. First Week of October 19th Options Trading For Red Hat (RHT)

    Investors in Red Hat Inc (NYSE: RHT) saw new options become available this week, for the October 19th expiration. At Stock Options Channel, our YieldBoost formula has looked up and down the RHT options chain for the new October 19th contracts and identified one put and one call contract of particular interest.

  4. Red Hat And Other Software Stocks That May Beat Revenue Estimates (RHT)

08.23.13

Linux is Growing ‘Too Fast’, Greg Kroah-Hartman Wants to Slow Development Down

Posted in GNU/Linux, Kernel, Novell at 8:41 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Greg Kroah-Hartman
Photo by Sebastian Oliva

Summary: Linux is growing too fast, argues former Novell employee Greg Kroah-Hartman

Joe “Zonker” Brockmeier, the famous Novell employee (and SUSE leader for about a year), is moving to Red Hat [1] and his former colleague at Novell, Greg Kroah-Hartman, wants to slow Linux development down [2] with some consent from Linus Torvalds [3].

These developments are interesting because they help show what former Novell employees are up to. Nothing nefarious in this case, but it’s worth keeping an eye open.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Joe “Zonker” Brockmeier Dons a New Red Hat

    Joe “Zonker” Brockmeier was a regular name in Linux not so long ago. He first appeared on my radar writing for the different websites I visited. It seemed like he wrote for them all, even the ones I eventually began writing for myself. Later, he really solidified his hero status in my book by actually becoming a full-time Novell employee as community manager for openSUSE. But now, after a bit of a sabbatical, he’s traded in all his green t-shirts for red hats.

  2. Linux 3.10 Kernel Receives Two Updates in One Day

    There were two updates for a stable Linux kernel yesterday. Is the process too fast? Linux Kernel developer Greg Kroah-Hartman has a plan to slow it down.

  3. Is Linux coming out too fast

    After problems with the last kernel, it seems there is a bit of a debate going on that Linux is coming out too fast and is not being properly tested.

    The last release had a couple of significant bugs and had to be redone, something which Linux messiah Linus Torvalds agrees is not good enough. There are mutterings on the Linux blogs that versions are coming out too fast and without proper testing.

07.09.13

Microsoft Linux (SUSE) is Pushing Microsoft-controlled Restricted Boot, Advancing It on Servers Too

Posted in GNU/Linux, Novell, SLES/SLED at 4:24 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Further restrictions and obscurity in the age of NSA Fibre-tapping

Summary: How SUSE continues to show loyalty to Microsoft, which has paid on multiple occasions for its agenda to be served

Novell helped OOXML and Hyper-V after Microsoft had bribed Novell’s management (hundreds of millions of dollars which mostly benefited people like Ron Hovsepian and Jeff Jaffe, who currently ruins the Web) and later scooped Novell’s patents, too (via CPTN).

“Then again, SUSE has been endorsing and advertising Microsoft for almost seven years, having purged from its Web site any material critical of Microsoft (this mass destruction began in 2006, very shortly after the patent deal with Microsoft).”As we noted last year and earlier this year, much of the force for UEFI restricted boot in Linux can be attributed to developers from Novell [1, 2] (some no longer work directly on SUSE or OpenSUSE) and now that Microosft Linux (SUSE) has a new Service Pack, it is prominently marketed as sucking Microsoft's dick, to paraphrase Linus Torvalds on such matters. To quote Michael Larabel, who is by no means hostile towards SUSE, the “Nuremberg-based company calls this the first enterprise Linux distribution integrating UEFI Secure Boot support.”

Ubuntu and Fedora have already made releases for this and suffered delays as well. To focus on restricted boot in this case is merely to endorse or even advertise what Microsoft is doing. Then again, SUSE has been endorsing and advertising Microsoft for almost seven years, having purged from its Web site any material critical of Microsoft (this mass destruction began in 2006, very shortly after the patent deal with Microsoft).

Here is another take on the news, among several from longtime Novell/SUSE apologists [1, 2] and a corresponding press release from the Microsoft-funded SUSE.

“That is a rhetorical question because SUSE is the de facto Microsoft Linux and everyone should avoid it.”Sam Varghese, the “Open Sauce” writer at IT Wire and a longtime Novell sceptic, warns that SUSE now helps make restricted boot compulsory on servers. He asks: “Does the Germany-based GNU/Linux company SUSE know something about Microsoft’s secure boot plans that other Linux companies do not?”

That is a rhetorical question because SUSE is the de facto Microsoft Linux and everyone should avoid it. SUSE uses euphemisms like “secure boot” and “service pack” (secure pack?) to market what is essentially a Microsoft-taxed GNU/Linux distribution which Microsoft profits from and technically controls,

Varghese correctly notes that “[g]iven Windows 8 desktop take-up by businesss that can only be described as a disaster, one would have thought that Microsoft would think twice about making lockout mechanisms such as secure boot compulsory for its server range.”

But those lockout mechanisms are controlled by Microsoft keys, so they are only effective at blocking Microsoft’s competition, not Microsoft products. UEFI deserves more antitrust complaints and SUSE continues to deserve a stern objection, or a boycott.

07.06.13

Novell/SUSE is Microsoft in Linux

Posted in GNU/Linux, Kernel, Novell at 5:47 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Microsoft brings the whole family

On the beach

Summary: Microsoft-funded proxies still instrumental in pushing Microsoft’s restricted booting and Microsoft’s patent traps into the kernel of unparalleled ubiquity

Linux needs to remain free of patent extortion and also free to boot on any system. Denial of these properties would render it less free (or not free at all).

SUSE, which is now Microsoft-funded reasons, helps advance the agenda of restricted boot in UEFI. To quote a new report:

Developers at SUSE, the Linux company based in Germany, are working on cryptographic technology to allow the use of both hibernation and kexec by Linux on secure boot-enabled machines, according to Vojtech Pavlik, director of SUSE Labs and head of kernel development at the company.

This is kernel work which mostly helps Microsoft. SUSE spent years doing Microsoft’s work on Linux, by proxy. SUSE gets paid for that. There are many examples that we covered. There is also a “kernel driver that supports both reading and writing for the exFAT filesystem developed by the Microsoft Corporation,” but we struggle to see who is behind it. For quite some time and even last week Microsoft’s partner Tuxera did this and to quote this new report:

If you’ve watched the news lately, you know that last week a Linux developer has released the first ever native Linux kernel module for Microsoft’s exFAT filesystem.

Looking at the project’s page, the developer just has a cryptic username. Who is it that’s promoting this patent trap? Two of us have looked hard to who’s behind this development and struggled to find an answer. Why would someone do this pro-Microsoft job almost anonymously? This is suspicious. Can anyone help us get the name or company behind this exFAT effort?

Postscript: Upon closer examination of the source code (which has a name) and some subsequent Internet searches we found this:

No, that person said it was a fork of the Samsung exFat module, which, after a quick look on google, seems fully proprietary. I.e, not implicitly GPLv2.
I looked at the vFat code, and it’s not the same, so not likely a fork of it.
The code mentions joosun hahn, who seems to work for Samsung.

So all in all, nope, not forever GPL, and most likely illegally distributed.

Samsung has been paying Microsoft for FAT for about 6 years now, so its interest here would be selfish and dangerous. That is, if Samsung is the power behind it at all… maybe it is just its staff coding outside of work. There needs to be more clarity here.

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