The risk of Microsoft’s interjection into Free/Open Source software (FOSS) persists
Summary: Attempts to put Mono in GNOME still exist (Xamarin behind it) and the openwashing of .NET continues months after the Big Lie
MONO has been a thorn in the side of Free software for nearly a decade, shortly after it had been conceived by a Microsoft fan who used it to promote Microsoft APIs with associated patent risk and lock-in. It wasn’t too shocking to see the Microsoft-tied Novell joining in the ‘fun’. We have spent many years fighting back against Mono, which was an embodiment of Microsoft’s interests and an attempt to assimilate FOSS to Microsoft. The Microsoft proxy now known as Xamarin is still threatening to bring Microsoft APIs to GNOME. We thought GNOME had already salvaged itself from this risk, but the risk persists and it needs to be stopped. It was already defeated before (GNOME was close to becoming Mono-dependent whereupon we wrote many articles to create protests).
The unfortunate thing is that Microsoft bamboozled many journalists into stating that .NET is "open source" (it is not) and a Dice site is trolling again using that same old .NET spin. Do not let the lie be spread so easily. Microsoft’s .NET is proprietary and it still is a patent threat that favours Windows and Microsoft, i.e. proprietary software with back doors.
“It is a propaganda campaign just like “Scroogled” and the goal is to crush software freedom, not just companies like Google.”IDG recently hired a longtime Microsoft booster, Mary Branscombe, letting her spread these lies every week or so. She was openwashing Microsoft the other day as well as several times last month. She used to write in the CBS-owned ZDNet (very poor-quality Microsoft ads disguised as ‘articles’), but now she escapes the boundaries of tabloids and is really doing a lot of damage not only to Free software but to truth itself.
This whole ‘movement’ which tries to ‘sell’ Mono to GNU/Linux, promote the notion that .NET is ‘open’ and Microsoft is wonderfully ethical needs to be crushed. It is a propaganda campaign just like “Scroogled” and the goal is to crush software freedom, not just companies like Google. █
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Summary: Amid the takeover by Micro Focus, SUSE pays journalists (especially critics) who in turn become some kind of advertisements feed of Novell
RECENTLY we saw a longtime Novell critic, Sam Varghese, describing himself as "guest" of SUSE, having been approached on numerous occasions in the past (by Novell) to write some reviews and reports about SUSE or issue some face-saving PR. There was no consistency, except when it came to Mono.
The Microsoft-focused Micro Focus reminds us of Microsoft in many ways, putting aside the fact that Micro Focus, the new owner of SUSE, was Microsoft’s “Partner of the Year”.
Staff of Micro Focus has been trying to connect to me in LinkedIn as if to befriend me despite not knowing me at all. This is typical of Microsoft staff; they too have been doing this. The company habitually refers to this as "schmoozing".
The interesting thing we found out about the SUSE coverage (coming from very few journalists but in large quantities) is that Micro Focus paid for it. Eventually we would like to have list of journalists whom SUSE/Attachment (and the new owner, Micro Focus) paid to ‘plant’ such positive coverage in the media. We still see some such coverage [1,2], but we don’t know exactly who was ‘invited’ (paid) for the gesture. This is unethical at the very least. It is hard to forget how Microsoft paid for people to fly half way across the world to manufacture pro-OOXML (or ODF-hostile) coverage. Very shamelessly — and consistently — this has been done on other occasions too. Microsoft is not even shy to admit that it is bribing journalists, albeit it uses other words to describe its bribes (not just to journalists but also university professors). As Will Hill put it last night: “Wow, it’s Sam Varghese. … look at his iTwire stream. He’s cranking out Ballnix propaganda. “How to keep data safe in the cloud”, “SUSE expects storage solution to take industry by storm”, “Another Debian technical panel member quits”, “Chasing the Z/Linux market: A SUSECon attendee’s tale”, “A lesser-known star of openSUSE”. In the last four days, there are all those SuSE love stories and three Debian drama stories. That’s not what I remember Sam for. I have to admire his work volume, but what he’s saying is an odd surprise.” He said that prior to knowing about the payments made by SUSE. The day before that he wrote: “What a bizarre puff piece. Does the Microsoft press want me to be suspicious?”
“The ultimate goal is to shape the press coverage; it’s subversive.”Remember when Novell contacted many FOSS leaders prior to announcing the renewed deal with Microsoft? Several of them, such as Aaron Seigo (from KDE, now in Kolab), publicly complained about it, having criticised the Novell/Microsoft deal beforehand (we covered this extensively several years ago). He wasn’t alone. Novell just sought to pro-actively gag its critics, alleging that criticism of the Microsoft deal was not about facts but about perception and was due to bad communication (the excuse commonly used by the Gates Foundation when it gets exposed for its abuses). The ultimate goal is to shape the press coverage; it’s subversive.
Micro Focus — like Novell — sure likes to target its biggest critics and even pay them in exchange for positive coverage. Evidence of this now comes from Jack Wallen, one of the loud critics of the Novell-Microsoft deal, who now reveals that SUSE and its patrons actually paid his various expenses including travel (i.e. soft bribes) to essentially buy coverage (some self-serving coverage). To quote Wallen: “Thanks to SUSE for sponsoring travel expenses to cover this conference.” Over the years Novell partners tried to invite me to to their events, presumably as part of some efforts to change my mind. █
Related/contextual items from the news:
That’s Linux. It doesn’t tend to break down, and you usually don’t need to reboot it when you patch it. Usually.
Suse logoSOFTWARE-DEFINED STORAGE (SDS) is the latest buzzphrase in the sector, and in recognition of this Linux distributor SUSE has announced a pre-release programme for SUSE Storage.
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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  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  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 . Microsoft’s “Partner of the Year” is now in charge. █
Related/contextual items from the news:
The SUSE parent company Attachmate and Micro Focus merger is now complete and Sam Varghese has several interviews from SUSECon today.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
As its steady post-Novell recovery continues, Suse moves into enterprise software-defined storage
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.
“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.”
Enterprise Linux vendor SUSE today made a series of announcements at its annual SUSEcon event, providing users with new patching, storage and cloud capabilities.
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.
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.
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Summary: OpenSUSE is not part of any commitment, except for SUSE’s; the impact of the Novell/SUSE acquisition casts uncertainty on the project’s future
YESTERDAY we quickly commented on the news that Micro Focus, a very strong British partner of Microsoft, is taking over SUSE and Novell. The British press put it like that:
Attachmate once earned the ire of the open source community for taking on Novell and then putting 882 patents in its Linux portfolio up for sale to a consortium backed by Microsoft.
Microsoft’s strategy remains the same. It is using patents to attack Linux and it is determined destroy, co-opt, assimilate, acquire, destroy, etc. Microsoft can only continue to ‘sell’ licences (for Windows, SUSE, etc.) if competition is gone and this is the reason Microsoft keeps making SUSE its own. SUSE is basically “Microsoft Linux”, which is why Microsoft keeps advertising it as the only ‘true’ GNU/Linux.
Swapnil Bhartiya, an OpenSUSE sympathiser, correctly says:
The merger will once again ruffle some features at SUSE and openSUSE which have been under continuous financial instability.
Bhartiya also covered the message sent to the mailing list of OpenSUSE (documented by LWN). It states:
Dear openSUSE Community,
As you might be aware, SUSE’s parent entity, the Attachmate Group has
entered into an agreement to merge with Micro Focus, a UK-based
enterprise software company. As the primary sponsor of the openSUSE
Project, SUSE’s President and General Manager, Nils Brauckmann has
contacted the openSUSE Board to share the following key points
* Business as Usual: There are no changes planned for the SUSE
business structure and leadership. There is no need for any action by
the openSUSE Project as a result of this announcement.
* Commitment to Open Source: SUSE remains passionately committed to
innovation through Open Source. This has always been the foundation of
our business and that will continue as we grow and innovate in new
* Commitment to openSUSE: SUSE is also fully committed to being a
sponsor and supporter of an open, highly independent and dynamic
openSUSE community and project. We are proud of openSUSE and greatly
value the collaborative relationship between SUSE and the openSUSE
The combination of the Attachmate Group and Micro Focus creates a
larger, global enterprise software entity, operating at a greater
global scale. This provides an even stronger foundation for the
continued investment in SUSE and our continued innovation through Open
The openSUSE Board would like to thank Nils and SUSE for this
reassuring statement. The Board is enthusiastic about the benefits of
the merger may bring to SUSE and ultimately also to our openSUSE
If anyone has any questions, there will be an opportunity to raise
them at tomorrow (Wednesdays) regular openSUSE Project Meeting at
15:00 UTC in #opensuse-project on the Freenode IRC network.
The openSUSE Board
Notice how Brauckmann does not say anything at all about a commitment from Micro Focus to SUSE and OpenSUSE. He speaks of a SUSE commitment to OpenSUSE. That’s it. This is a classic non-denying denial, where what one neglects to say actually says quite a lot.
Michael Larabel’s interpretation is that “Richard Brown relayed a message on the behalf of SUSE’s President and General Manager, Nils Brauckmann, that basically everything is alive and well.”
That’s MBA speak. As it was put by Susan Linton: “The Attachmate Group, announced a merger with Micro Focus leaving openSUSE users nervous.”
This nervousness is why Brauckmann, by proxy, relayed some face-saving talking points. The acquisition seems imminent:
Micro Focus buying Novell, Suse Linux owner for $1.2 billion
Micro Focus expects the deal to close by November.
Our assessment is that changes are afoot. SUSE is now at the mercy of a strong ally of Microsoft, which is likely to keep SUSE or run SUSE only in a way that appeases Microsoft’s interests. █
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Summary: Novell is changing hands again, and falling into the hands of even more Microsoft-friendly actors
Many GNU/Linux sites have not properly covered — if at all — the news about Microsoft’s very special partner (with a long track record) buying what’s left of Novell and SUSE after Microsoft took the patents.
Microsoft Focus, or Micro Focus, would soon be in charge of SUSE. One GNU/Linux-centric journalist said: “Micro Focus announced today its intention to acquire privately-held Attachmate in a deal valued at approximately $2.3 billion.
“The deal includes the issuance of 86.60 million shares of Micro Focus to Attachmate’s parent company, Wizard Parent LLC. Micro Focus states that the value of the granted shares is approximately $1.19 billion. Micro Focus also will take on Attachmate’s net debt of $1.17 billion.
“Micro Focus is an enterprise application modernization and testing software vendor with a long list of products in its portfolio. The company’s core products include its Visual COBOL, Enterprise Analyzer and Enterprise Developer platforms.
“Attachmate is an amalgam of multiple companies, including a namesake company that provides enterprise file share and legacy application management products, and the NetIQ business for networking application visibility software. Attachmate also owns Novell, which it acquired in a $2.2 billion deal in 2011. Following the acquisition of Novell, Attachmate spun out SUSE Linux as its own operating division.”
Oddly enough, nothing is being said about the Microsoft connection or even the mysterious sale of Novell to Attachmate via secretive proxies.
We are probably going to revisit this acquisition very soon. █
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Summary: Not much too see in the land of SUSE and Attachmate, or formerly the company known as Novell
Last week we were asked about Attachmate, which we no longer keep track of because Novell is pretty much dead and SUSE is not doing well. They are going extinct. The Xandros Web site is no longer even accessible and when it comes to SUSE, the community in particular, it is going down the same route. Well, judging by the declining volume of activity in OpenSUSE News, Greg K-H’s move to the Linux Foundation, the fact that community manager left (he works for ownCloud now) and now the departure of the chairman of the OpenSUSE board (more on that here), we think it is safe to treat SUSE as irrelevant, or not relevant enough for us to track. Here is the latest:
The openSUSE Board announced this morning that Vincent Untz has stepped down as the openSUSE Board Chairman.
Several days ago I spent some time looking at years’ worth of Novell news, Attachmate news, and SUSE news (I am still subscribed to dozens of feeds related to all those). This was done after a discussion in IRC. I am reluctant to bother with any of them because 1) there is not much news at all and 2) the news hardly relates to FOSS. Novell will go down the same route as Corel and SUSE will end up like Xandros. As for Xamarin, which was created after Novell/Attachmate had abandoned Mono, it is mostly an extension of Microsoft now (a bit like SUSE, which shows up in Microsoft sites because their goal is to tax GNU/Linux servers).
SUSE and Novell pretty much became what we foresaw and feared. Novell’s patents are in Microsoft’s hands now, SUSE serves no purpose other than taxing GNU/Linux for Microsoft, and Novell was not allowed to truly complete with Microsoft. AttachMSFT ensures that much of Novell’s proprietary portfolio is a dying breed. Mono became more closely tied and entangled with Microsoft. █
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Summary: The boycott of SUSE and Novell needs to go on because the huge damage caused by the Microsoft-Novell deal is not over
Novell is history, but its legacy continues to haunt GNU/Linux. Its orphaned project, Mono, is nowadays getting even closer to Microsoft through Xamarin (Mono is not completely dying just yet, as Microsoft-linked circles actively promote it), OOXML continues to cause migration woes (after Novell helped OOXML gain adoption), and Microsoft back doors in Linux, such as Hyper-V (the NSA can access virtual machines remotely), are foolishly promoted even by the Linux Foundation’s Web site right now (it links to this page from Microsoft and also to this other page from Microsoft, promoting Microsoft-taxed SUSE/Ballnux). 3 or so years after Novell virtually died we are still suffering from the decisions of Ron Hovsepian, Dragoon, and Jaffe, who is now putting DRM in the World World Web (as the W3C’s CEO). █
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Legacy of Novell’s worst CEO, Ron Hovsepian
Summary: The WordPerfect case gets trashed decades after Microsoft’s abuses and 8 years after Microsoft paid Novell to become its puppy
SEVERAL years ago we wrote a lot about CPTN. As we explained CPTN at the time, it was the passage of Novell patents to Microsoft after Microsoft had bribed Novell to stop competing against Microsoft and instead damage everything GNU/Linux by casting the shadow of Microsoft patents. There are many other things that Microsoft’s bribery had achieved, such as OOXML promotion, Silverlight promotion, .NET promotion, Hyper-V promotion, etc. Novell basically became an extension of Microsoft, whereupon we called for a boycott of Novell.
According to this new report, the corporations-leaning “U.S. Supreme Court ended a lawsuit that accused Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) of illegally protecting its Windows computer operating system from competition 20 years ago by undercutting a rival word-processing program.”
WordPerfect was acquired by Novell and this case does the software a great disservice and injustice. It shows, once again, that Microsoft is able to get away with crimes as long as it can drag its accusers through the mud, driving them to bankruptcy or simply bribing them (Microsoft bribed numerous companies in recent years to not challenge Microsoft’s criminal racketeering strategy).
There is a timely article in the open source column this week. It says that “Microsoft may still have an ability to slap its name on a box and sell things better than most, but to say ‘we are the only ones’ flies in the face of collaboration, more logical ways of working, and – without wishing to get too po-faced – the greater good.”
Let’s face it. Microsoft has not changed. It only changed its marketing a slight bit. Microsoft deserves to be eradicated from this world. The sooner, the better. Microsoft is a destructive force. █
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