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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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… █
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“We believe every Linux customer basically has an undisclosed balance-sheet liability.”
“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.”
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 , 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  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:
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.
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?
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.
The latest update to Red Hat Enterprise Linux, RHEL 5, 5.10, is now available to subscribers.
Red Hat has been breaking out this week, and traders are hoping the upward momentum will continue through next month.
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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 . LynuxWorks is now offering some “Linux rootkit detector”  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  (giving away passwords over the network for example), so hard-to-crack passwords  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:
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.
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.
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.
Dylan Wheeler, who claimed in February to have breached Microsoft’s and Sony’s networks, has not been charged with hacking
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