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Summary of the Red Hat-Microsoft Patent Agreement of 2015

Posted in Microsoft, Patents, Red Hat at 2:10 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Analysis does require a closer look (because Red Hat doesn’t tell the full story)

Red Hat with glasses

Summary: A detailed record of what Red Hat has just done with Microsoft, as explained by Techrights and as (poorly) explained by unsuspecting corporate media

TECHRIGHTS has, over the past couple of days, prepared a comprehensive media survey (60+ article) about the Microsoft-Red Hat deal and their successful spin/cover-up (regarding patents). This was previously covered here in the following posts:

  1. Media Coverage of the Red Hat-Microsoft Deal Includes Microsoft Talking Points and Moles, No Discussion About Patent Aspects
  2. Red Hat’s Deal With Microsoft Resurrects Fears of Software Patents Against GNU/Linux and Introduces ‘Triple-Dipping’ of Fees
  3. More Information Emerges About the Microsoft-Red Hat Patent Agreement
  4. Red Hat Sells Out With a Microsoft Patent Deal

There are many links in there, along with some more links in the comments.

Red Hat’s latest deal with Microsoft definitely included a patent agreement, so this goes further than the 2009 virtualisation deal which was covered here in the following articles:

  1. Summary of the Red Hat-Microsoft Story
  2. Novell the Biggest Loser in New Red Hat-Microsoft Virtual Agreement
  3. Red Hat-Microsoft Agreement Not Malicious, But Was It Smart?
  4. Red Hat-Microsoft: Take III

Below is a complete list of what we were able to find in the media [2-64] yet haven’t cited (not until now anyway). None of it mentioned the patent aspects (unless it’s just hidden away in some distant sentence or paragraph), not because such aspects don’t exist but because Red Hat did a fine job hiding it (way to go, “Open Organisation”), or at least downplaying it. The criticism from Sam Varghese and yours truly got mentioned in [1] earlier today.

“The media framed this the same way it was told by Red Hat and Microsoft.”Journalism is supposed to involve independent analysis or an audit of events, not repetition of official narratives from companies that have so much to gain financially (that’s what the deal was all about, even at the expense of patent security in the Free software world). The media framed this the same way it was told by Red Hat and Microsoft. Almost nobody went further or delved any deeper. Red Hat’s culture of secrecy can also be seen when it comes to the company's patent settlements and special relationship with the NSA (they cooperate on code and the NSA is a huge client of Red Hat). We about this back in 2013 [1, 2, 3, 4], then saw the story resurfacing this year (because it turned out that illegal and unconstitutional mass surveillance is done using RHEL).

It is going to be interesting to see what happens to SUSE at the end of this year because its coupons/patent deal expires on January 1st (the press release said that “both vendors are also resolving intellectual property concerns”).

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Underneath the Red Hat Microsoft Deal, Bodhi is Five

    However, Dr. Roy Schestowitz isn’t celebrating. In fact, he said the deal could very well put many distributions out of business (so to speak) and Red Hat users at risk. He said the deal involves patent agreements and data collection. It’s all about money according to Schestowitz who said, “At Red Hat money now matters more than freedom and ethics.” For Microsoft it’s about double and triple taxing users in addition to collecting and selling their data. Red Hat isn’t interested in defending GNU/Linux against patent trolls and instead pays out to settle cases and now signs a patent deal according to Schestowitz and his quoted and linked sources. Microsoft has and is continuing to pursue lawsuits against Open Source entities. Nasdaq.com said on the subject Microsoft is known for “aggressively seeking royalties from its software patents” then quoted Red Hat’s Paul Cormier saying, “We both know we have very different positions on software patents. We weren’t expecting each other to compromise.”We weren’t expecting each other to compromise.” So, at least one other site covered the patent situation, even if not in depth. Red Hat stock closed at $82.75 after the announcement Wednesday and finshed up today, Thursday, at 81.57.

    Sam Varghese today asked, “With two companies — Microsoft and Red Hat — from opposite ends of the software spectrum linking arms in a deal overnight, the big question that remains is: what happens to the SUSE-Microsoft deal?” He suggests SUSE might not get the same level of assistance it once did now. But then again, he also speculated that the deal is “unlikely to earn any criticism from the open source community” as it SUSE did. I guess he hasn’t read Schestowitz lately.

  2. Microsoft and Red Hat Reach Linux Deal
  3. Microsoft, Red Hat Finally Make It Official
  4. Microsoft brings Red Hat Enterprise Linux to Azure
  5. Red Hat and Microsoft become partners in the cloud
  6. Red Hat Enterprise Linux lands on Microsoft Azure cloud – no, we’re not pulling your leg
  7. Microsoft partners with Red Hat for hybrid cloud solutions
  8. Microsoft (MSFT), Red Hat (RHT) Enter Azure-Related Partnership
  9. Red Hat OS on Microsoft Azure: Now It’s Easy
  10. Microsoft Joins Hands With Red Hat To Bring Enterprise Linux To Azure Cloud Platform
  11. Microsoft, Red Hat Partner For Linux On Azure
  12. Microsoft and Red Hat announce cloud partnership, show .NET a few love
  13. Shocker: Microsoft and Red Hat Team-up
  14. Red Hat-Microsoft partnership means a ‘co-location’ of engineers
  15. Nadella delivers another shocker as Microsoft embraces Red Hat in cloud alliance
  16. Microsoft and Red Hat join forces to help ease enterprises into hybrid cloud
  17. Red Hat Enterprise Linux to become officially supported on Azure (at last)
  18. Microsoft improves enterprise cloud by making Azure available on Red Hat Linux
  19. Major Red Hat & Microsoft Partnership Around Cloud and .NET on Linux
  20. Major Red Hat & Microsoft Partnership Around Cloud and .NET on Linux
  21. Microsoft partners with Red Hat on hybrid cloud computing
  22. Microsoft and Red Hat announce partnership
  23. Microsoft, Red Hat Strike Broad Cloud Alliance
  24. Microsoft signs cloud deal with Red Hat
  25. Microsoft Plays Nice With Open Source Rival Red Hat
  26. Microsoft and Red Hat Make Cloud Pact
  27. Microsoft, Red Hat in deal to boost hybrid cloud computing
  28. Microsoft, Red Hat Collaborate To Put Linux on Azure
  29. Microsoft Corporation, Red Hat Bury The Hatchet, Offer New Enterprise Cloud Standard
  30. Red Hat, Microsoft Partner on Open Source Solutions for Azure Cloud
  31. Microsoft and Red Hat form cloud partnership
  32. Microsoft joins with Red Hat to make hybrid cloud adoption easier
  33. Microsoft to offer Red Hat Linux on Azure cloud
  34. Finally, Red Hat and Microsoft join hands to bring Linux on Azure
  35. Microsoft teams up with Red Hat for enterprise cloud solutions
  36. What’s behind the odd couple Microsoft-Red Hat partnership
  37. Red Hat Enterprise Linux to be Available on Microsoft Azure Cloud Service
  38. Red Hat, Inc. (NYSE:RHT) Struck Up A Major New Alliance For Cloud Computing- CDW Corporation (NASDAQ:CDW), MaxLinear, Inc. (NYSE:MXL)
  39. Microsoft and Red Hat join hands for Linux on Azure
  40. Analyst: Red Hat, Microsoft deal could lead to Amazon partnership
  41. Microsoft Corporation Partners With Red Hat Inc For Its Cloud Service
  42. Microsoft Partners with Red Hat; MariaDB Released on Azure
  43. Why Did Microsoft Corporation Paint Its Cloud Red?
  44. Red Hat Teams With Microsoft To Create Improved Cloud Experience
  45. Microsoft and Red Hat Take Over Cloud Market
  46. Red Hat and Microsoft strike historic Linux-Azure union
  47. Microsoft and Red Hat partner up for enterprise hybrid cloud
  48. Microsoft and Red Hat announce enterprise cloud partnership
  49. Microsoft And Red Hat To Bring .NET To Linux
  50. Red Hat, Microsoft Deal Keeps Customers, Stock Aloft
  51. Microsoft announces partnership with Red Hat
  52. Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) Joined Forces with Red Hat (NYSE:RHT) To Improve Cloud Computing Service- Cognizant Technology Solutions (NASDAQ:CTSH), Qlik Technologies (NASDAQ:QLIK)
  53. Armistice Signed: Red Hat, Microsoft Change the Landscape
  54. Microsoft and Red Hat Partner on Massive Hybrid Cloud Deal
  55. Microsoft and Red Hat to deliver new standard for enterprise cloud experiences
  56. Microsoft just buried the hatchet with another huge and bitter rival, Red Hat
  57. Red Hat Linux Enterprise is Reference Platform for .NET Core on Linux
  58. Microsoft partners with Red Hat to deliver native cloud solutions
  59. Microsoft Azure Adds Red Hat Support
  60. Microsoft Partners with Red Hat On Enterprise Linux for Azure
  61. Microsoft, Red Hat ink Azure/Linux cloud deal (updated)
  62. Microsoft to make Red Hat Linux available on Azure
  63. At Last! Microsoft and Red Hat Sign Cloud Pact
  64. Bromance Between Microsoft And Linux Will Take Place In The Cloud


Media Coverage of the Red Hat-Microsoft Deal Includes Microsoft Talking Points and Moles, No Discussion About Patent Aspects

Posted in Deception, Microsoft, Patents, Red Hat at 8:02 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: A review or a survey of media coverage about the Microsoft-Red Hat deal, which was generally appalling and very much misleading, not just deficient in the sense that it added nothing new

WE are very frustrated to have found very poor coverage about the Microsoft-Red Hat deal. It’s disappointing to go one article after another and find almost nothing new. It’s just echoing (or parroting) what the companies are saying. There is no real effort to do journalism, reporting, in-depth investigation. Media coverage about the EPO tends to be the same in the English-speaking media.

Katherine Noyes, who used to work for the Linux Foundation, wrote that “Microsoft finally ties the knot with Red Hat for Linux on Azure” (maybe this headline is the editor’s, not hers).

Microsoft finally ties the knot with Red Hat? Come on, what is this, a wedding? It’s hardly even a shotgun wedding. In an effort to go lyrical they’re turning this into a sham and a mockery. The article itself does not really add anything new. It says nothing about the patents [1, 2, 3] because it’s a soft piece, not investigative journalism. This article is complete with quotes from Microsoft mouthpieces like the Gartner Group and IDC (part of the employer of the writer, IDG).

“Red Hat, despite asserting they don’t believe Microsoft has any patents that read on their products, included a standstill agreement in the deal. Sources tell me it is carefully phrased to comply with the GPL. If Red Hat felt they had to do that with their new partner, there’s no doubt everyone else remains at risk.”
      –Simon Phipps
We have been having a bit of a deja vu today (and yesterday) because a lot of what’s said about the Microsoft-Red Hat deal deal is pure marketing. Shallow and inaccurate, with very few exceptions (usually not in the mainstream media).

Simon Phipps wrote some hours ago that he had “updated [his blog post] to include the patent standstill” (a crucial addition). To quote the amended text: “Red Hat, despite asserting they don’t believe Microsoft has any patents that read on their products, included a standstill agreement in the deal. Sources tell me it is carefully phrased to comply with the GPL. If Red Hat felt they had to do that with their new partner, there’s no doubt everyone else remains at risk.”

Yes, exactly. Red Hat has just sold us all out, just because it can help Red Hat attract some customers. This is selfish and even — if one dare say it — malicious.

Florian Müller, who used to work for Microsoft (for a while) after he had campaigned against software patents, wrote: “One could argue that challenging all those patents allegedly infringed by Linux in court would have done FOSS a greater service than a deal.”

He also wrote: “One *can* be more demanding than @webmink: Red Hat could have brought declaratory judgment actions against MSFT patents on that Chinese list [...] Simon Phipps applies a high standard to “MSFT loves Linux”: love should include giving up all related patent rights” (source).

Müller is actually right in this case and this agrees with what we wrote about Red Hat about half a decade ago. For those who forgot, here are some reminders:

The corporate media is full of complete nonsense (no depth at all) about this deal. Watch the coverage in the financial press, calling it “”Co-Location” Partnership” or a “Microsoft Tie-Up”. It’s more like a sellout.

A lot of such propaganda we have been seeing today while making a partial record of it. Why are the people who cover these issues not familiar with Free software and patents for instance? They’re clueless because their critical skills require some knowledge of the topics covered. They’re just so easy for marketers to bamboozle. These people should be told by their editor: If you don’t grasp it, don’t write about it. Just repeating what PR spokespeople and press releases (from notorious liars like Microsoft) say isn’t journalism. Sadly, a lot of people who do just that call themselves reporters.

Klint Finley, writing for a large publication, uses words like “Frenemy” and says this: “As recently as 2007, Microsoft was threatening to sue Linux users for patent infringement, though it soon backed down.”

With all due respect, this is nonsense. It’s revisionism and it’s a lie. Microsoft didn’t back down, it sued TomTom for instance and it still uses patents for extortion, even under the current leadership. Examples include Samsung, Kyocera, ASUS, and Dell.

Adrian Bridgwater, sometimes a Microsoft apologist (with the openwashing and all), chooses to go with “Microsoft Loves Linux” in his headline (also with an image at the top along those lines, just like Katherine Noyes). This isn’t journalism, it’s more like Microsoft marketing; why are these people helping Microsoft lie to the public? Do they think it’s just fun or funny? It’s very irresponsible ‘journalism’. Just like Noyes, Bridgwater quotes IDC, but to make matters worse, he quotes “IDC software analyst Al Hilwa”. Does he even know who Hilwa is? Did he check? Hilwa used to work for Microsoft, but there is no disclosure of this obvious conflict of interests and he habitually comments on Microsoft as an "analyst" without explaining that he actually came from Microsoft. Bridgwater’s article is shallow and nothing about patents gets mentioned. What is the reader supposed to conclude from it? The headline says “Microsoft Loves Linux”, the image at the top says “Microsoft Loves Linux”, and the article quotes as an ‘expert’ a person from Microsoft who pretends to be independent. What a coup!

One of the better articles we have found on this subject came from Sam Varghese and was titled “With Microsoft and Red Hat in bed, what happens to SUSE?”

To quote Varghese: “The Microsoft-Novell deal — SUSE was then a part of Novell — was initially signed in 2006 and, after its initial five-year term, was renewed in July 2011 for a further five years until the end of 2015. It has hardly two months left to run.

“There has been no word from either SUSE or Microsoft on what happens next. SUSE’s leaders are currently in Amsterdam attending the company’s annual national conference.”

It is a good article and it makes some valid points. It is rather reassuring to know that some real journalists still exist out there. They may not be loved by all (far from it), but therein lies a yardstick for success. Journalists who never piss anyone off are probably just cowards who don’t do the job they’re supposed to do, which is unearthing new information, not repeating talking points packaged and delivered in bite sizes for so-called ambitious ‘journalists’ to paste into a Microsoft Word document, then dispatch to a self-censoring editor (censorship based on the publisher’s sponsors’ expected reaction). Real journalism can hurt people’s feelings; ‘safe’ ‘journalism’ (puff pieces to appease or invite advertisers) does not.

Finally, as well as the important/enlightening quote below, we wish to remind readers that patent ‘peace’ with a company like Microsoft does not protect any entity from satellites of this company, e.g. patent trolls. Remember that shortly after Novell had signed its patent deal with Microsoft both itself and Red Hat got sued by the Microsoft-connected Acacia for patent infringement. It wasn’t the last time, not even from this one single satellite (there were settlements down the line even as recently as 2 years ago).

“In a world where there are $500 million dollar patent infringement lawsuits imposed on OS companies (although this is not completely settled yet), how would somebody like Red Hat compete when 6 months ago they only had $80-$90 million in cash? At that point they could not even afford to settle a fraction of a single judgment without devastating their shareholders. I suspect Microsoft may have 50 or more of these lawsuits in the queue. All of them are not asking for hundreds of millions, but most would be large enough to ruin anything but the largest companies. Red Hat did recently raise several hundred million which certainly gives them more staying power. Ultimately, I do not think any company except a few of the largest companies can offer any reasonable insulation to their customers from these types of judgments. You would need a market cap of more than a couple billion to just survive in the OS space.”

SCO’s Strategic Consultant Mike Anderer

More Information Emerges About the Microsoft-Red Hat Patent Agreement

Posted in GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Novell, Patents, Red Hat at 7:06 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Good for Red Hat, not so much for anybody else…

Red Hat and Microsoft

Summary: Informed (GNU/Linux-centric) journalists who looked beyond the misleading press releases and the distracting marketing campaign have managed to find out and highlight the patent issues associated with the Red Hat-Microsoft deal

AS WE noted in our previous coverage, Red Hat does not want anyone to speak about — let alone know — the patent aspects of its deal with Microsoft. Most articles, following a dry (on facts, not on marketing) press release, say nothing about it. Here is one puff piece that plays along with the “Microsoft Loves Linux” narrative, which is extremely misleading (lulling us into dangerous optimism). The author writes: “It’s a long way from the days when the former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer described Linux as a “cancer.” Last year his successor, Satya Nadella, proclaimed that “Microsoft Loves Linux” mainly because of its importance in the cloud.” No, Nadella is still attacking Linux and Android using patents. Consider the deals with Samsung, Kyocera, ASUS and Dell. Patent extortion in action!

“Microsoft Loves Linux” hype… is just not true… covertly spread open-source-related FUD…”
      –Simon Phipps
We quite liked Simon Phipps’ take on this (without IDG’s editorial shadow). He is the former head of the OSI, so this matters a lot. He wrote:

All the same, let’s be clear that all the “Microsoft Loves Linux” hype I saw at SUSECon in Amsterdam yesterday and at other events earlier this year is just not true. Microsoft Azure loves Linux, there is no doubt; it is a basic requirement for them to become relevant on a cloud market dominated by AWS and Linux. They have been out in force at every commercially-oriented open source I have attended this year and have a full-scale charm offensive in place.

But the rest of the company still does not. They still seem to covertly spread open-source-related FUD about LibreOffice here in Europe. They haven’t foresworn making embedded Linux vendors pay for patent licenses of dubious necessity. The Azure business unit is certainly embracing the ecosystem the same as many before them have done so in their steps towards open source. But the Windows and Office business units show no signs of “loving” Linux and only modest signs of co-existing with open source.


If they want to signal the end of hostilities, step one is to sign the Mozilla Open Software Patent License Agreement or join OIN. Until one of those happens, I remain sceptical of Microsoft’s love for Linux.

“Microsoft” and “Love” don’t belong in the same sentence. These sociopaths, as I only recently found out, tried to get me fired from my job. Microsoft hardly even behaves like a normal company. It’s more like an informant (of the NSA among others) and a cult, led by a fake ‘philanthropist’ egoistic thug.

Writing for IDG, Phipps softened his words somewhat and wrote: “Software patents have also been a sticking point. Red Hat made clear that it does not acknowledge the validity or enforceability of Microsoft’s patents, but all the same has demanded a stand-still agreement guaranteeing neither company will pursue patent claims against the other or its customers. There’s no indication whether this extends to partner ecosystems.

“As opposed to the Novell SUSE patent covenant, the Red Hat Microsoft partnership now provides for what Red Hat is referring to as a patent standstill in the FAQ.”
      –Sean Michael Kerner
“That is a key issue for the open source community. While its Azure business unit has been professing love for Linux and smothering everything in penguins, the rest of Microsoft has carried on attacking the Linux ecosystem with patent claims and showing little accommodation for open source in its cash cow Windows and Office endeavors. Azure may be desperate for validation in a tough an competitive market, but the rest of Microsoft still needs to change more than going silent on its antipathy for open source.”

Writing for another big publisher (but not IDG), Sean Michael Kerner shed some light on the patent situation:

The path to the Microsoft Red Hat partnership has followed a long and winding road over a decade of mistrust and competition. In 2007, Microsoft alleged that open-source software infringes on more than 200 of its patents. Previous Microsoft partnerships with Linux vendors, including SUSE (formerly part of Novell), involved a patent covenant to deal with intellectual property issues. At the time of the Novell deal, former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer was very clear on his views about Linux patents; he noted that Microsoft’s deal was only with Novell SUSE Linux, and others still have an issue with infringing on Microsoft’s intellectual property.

In an FAQ posted by Red Hat, the company states, “Red Hat and Microsoft have agreed to a limited patent arrangement in connection with the commercial partnership for the benefit of mutual customers.” As opposed to the Novell SUSE patent covenant, the Red Hat Microsoft partnership now provides for what Red Hat is referring to as a patent standstill in the FAQ.

In response to a question from eWEEK, Cormier strongly emphasized that Red Hat remains true to its core open-source principles and is not compromising on them in the Microsoft partnership.

“Red Hat and Microsoft did not acknowledge the validity or value of each other’s patents,” Cormier said. “This is a commercial deal spurred by strong customer demand for our solutions to work together.”

“In order for the deal to work, Scott [Guthrie] and I agreed early on that it would only work if neither of us compromised our core business principles, and we did not,” Cormier said.

Senior Red Hat employees who have spoken to me about this have done effectively nothing to refute what I wrote. One of them falsely claimed that I compared this to the Novell deal (I didn’t, it would make no sense).

Not many people have noticed the part about patents because Red Hat did a fine job hiding it. Phoronix just said that “Microsoft and Red Hat have jointly announced a partnership today to “deliver more flexibility and choice” in the cloud.”

That sounds a little bit like Novell and Microsoft trying to characterise their patent deal (colluding against GNU/Linux vendors other than Novell) as “collaboration”, “interoperability”, and so on. Tim Anderson, a Microsoft booster from The Register, did not mention anything about patents.

“Due to layoffs there are limited resources and Microsoft is now counting on patents as a strategy against GNU/Linux. “As other articles from The Register serve to remind us, Vista 10 has been a catastrophe (The Register, to its credit, wrote a great deal about this). Its latest article makes is apparent that OEMs too — not just useds [sic] — will be force-fed Vista 10 pretty soon. As it was put two days ago, “Satya Nadella’s firm has quietly let slip that October 31, 2016, will be the final day for PC makers to buy copies of the operating system for pre-install.”

Microsoft cannot maintain Windows like it did back in the days of Windows XP. Due to layoffs there are limited resources and Microsoft is now counting on patents as a strategy against GNU/Linux. It promotes people accordingly. Let’s not forget other assaults on GNU/Linux, such as UEFI restricted boot, which complicates and at times makes impossible installation of GNU/Linux on whiteboxes.


Red Hat’s Deal With Microsoft Resurrects Fears of Software Patents Against GNU/Linux and Introduces ‘Triple-Dipping’ of Fees

Posted in GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Red Hat at 3:39 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Microsoft’s vision of patent/usage tax on GNU/Linux is becoming a reality

Red Hat and Microsoft

Summary: Microsoft can charge GNU/Linux for alleged patent violations, for server resources (per CPU or per day), and additionally make money from spying on users’ data and passing it around

RED HAT’S terrible deal with Microsoft ruins what started as a quiet and relatively happy day. It also poses a threat to every GNU/Linux vendor other than Red Hat (and maybe SUSE too, as it signed a Microsoft patent deal a very long time ago). Microsoft Peter does not mention the part about the patents, nor do the puff pieces and press releases. There is also nothing about the severe privacy implications.

This is how the Wall Street Journal covered the deal, merely stating that “Red Hat’s version of the Linux operating system to be available to users of Microsoft Azure cloud service” (for Microsoft to spy on and to tax using patents). Inside Microsoft’s Azure, RHEL has something even worse than back doors. It has built-in file-by-file surveillance, so any claims of security are simply not applicable. Remember that Microsoft already admits (quite openly) that in its so-called ‘cloud’ every single file is being scanned. Pedophilia is a common pretext for doing this. This isn’t hosting but spying. Where does that leave software freedom?

Microsoft is quickly finding that there’s no money in proprietary software like Windows (see Vista 10 pricing and force-feeding), so it sells people’s private data and now adds infuriating charges to that (breaking a promise). As pointed out here before — and even earlier todayit all comes down to patents (also recall the two articles from the day beforehand, i.e. yesterday) and paid-for surveillance. It’s an attack on general-purpose computing, on privacy, and many other things. It’s an abomination.

Even a Microsoft booster, Tim Anderson, admits that there’s trouble ahead and says: “Most people have at least 30GB of free OneDrive storage: 15GB as standard, and an additional 15GB bonus easily obtained by setting the camera roll on a mobile device to use OneDrive for image backup. An additional 100GB was available for $1.99 per month.”

“In this age when software patents are a dying breed in the US we now have the largest GNU/Linux vendor basically giving Microsoft’s patent war on GNU/Linux legitimacy.”Microsoft now wishes to tax GNU/Linux twofold. It will charge patent fees and at the same time charge GNU/Linux for server space and capacity. On top of it, Microsoft will subject these GNU/Linux instances to the usual surveillance, which Microsoft can of course monetise, as it already does (we covered this on several occasions before).

Since our site is primarily focused on the impact of patents on Free software, what bothers us is that Red Hat, despite the Alice case, is agreeing to a software patents deal with Microsoft. This is inexcusable and it doesn’t take an absolutist on this matter to see what’s wrong with that. Steve Ballmer once said that “people that use Red Hat, at least with respect to our intellectual property, in a sense have an obligation to compensate us.” Ballmer’s wishes may have just come true. The Alice case has already served to prove that software patents hold little weight in the US, yet Red Hat goes right into this trap. Incidentally, Web sites of patent lawyers continue to only ever write about software patents and Alice in the rare occasion of them surviving (the exception, not the form). Here is the latest example which concludes with: “Unfortunately, the court did not expand on its reasoning for finding the invention to be patent eligible. The two sentences above show the court presumably agreed with the arguments presented by Versata, but that hardly means any invention that solves a problem is eligible for patent protection. Versata stressed the technical components of the invention – that it was directed to a “technical objective” within “the more limited display screen of a mobile phone, pager, PDA, or similar mobile device.” It is therefore possible that the court was persuaded that the invention was drawn to a more technical, and less abstract, invention.”

In this age when software patents are a dying breed in the US we now have the largest GNU/Linux vendor basically giving Microsoft’s patent war on GNU/Linux legitimacy. Only time will tell the magnitude of this mistake and its impact on other players such as Debian.

Red Hat Sells Out With a Microsoft Patent Deal

Posted in Microsoft, Patents, Red Hat at 12:53 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Shame on Red Hat, the so-called ‘open’ organisation, for acting very foolish


Summary: OpenShift deviates to patents-laden APIs of a patent aggressor, Microsoft, and Red Hat signs a patent deal with Microsoft

THERE is some disturbing news coming out of Red Hat this afternoon, only a day after announcing the release of Fedora 23.

Half a decade ago we complained about Red Hat’s dubious affair with software patents. The company isn’t serious about fighting them anymore. We have already covered it in articles such as:

“Half a decade ago we complained about Red Hat’s dubious affair with software patents.”Things are getting worse and today, based on Sean Kerner, there is a patent deal signed between Microsoft and Red Hat (the companies try hard to hide this, even the self-acclaimed ‘open’ organisation prefers not to talk about it). Why was this done? Maybe because at Red Hat money now matters more than freedom and ethics? Here is how they try to spin it: “Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq “MSFT”) and Red Hat Inc. (NYSE: RHT) on Wednesday announced a partnership that will help customers embrace hybrid cloud computing by providing greater choice and flexibility deploying Red Hat solutions on Microsoft Azure. As a key component of today’s announcement, Microsoft is offering Red Hat Enterprise Linux as the preferred choice for enterprise Linux workloads on Microsoft Azure. In addition, Microsoft and Red Hat are also working together to address common enterprise, ISV and developer needs for building, deploying and managing applications on Red Hat software across private and public clouds.” OpenShift is even helping .NET, which is a patent trap. But don’t worry, one might say, there is now a patent deal. Now you can use RHEL while you’re being spied on by the PRISM industry leader (first company in PRISM) and enjoy patent “peace of mind”, to use the ludicrous language previously used by Novell.

Sean Kerner covered this pretty fast and he is already quite vocal about it. In Twitter he said that the “patent part is … strange & very surprising IMHO [...] Here’s my original story from 2007 http://www.internetnews.com/bus-news/article.php/3677506/Microsoft+Open+Source+Infringes+on+235+Patents.htm … <- back then @RedHatNews told me they’d never do a patent deal with Microsoft [...] In 2007 @Microsoft alleged that Open Source software infringed on 235 patent / 8 yrs later @RedHatNews now has a patent agreement with them [...] ‘Red Hat a& Microsoft have agreed to a limited patent arrangement in connection..’ <- never thought i’d see the day.”

“Maybe the management has been softened by the hiring of managers from Microsoft (as we covered at the time of it happening).”Responding to OpenShift and another person he wrote, “you do know that @Microsoft *still* claims that open-source software infringes on its patents right?”

For two NSA allies (NSA is a huge client of both) to join forces might make financial sense, but where does that leave Free/libre software? Red Hat is being quite a traitor here and @RedHatNews (Red Hat’s Twitter account) sounds rather excited about it, with tweets like: “Just in! Microsoft and #RedHat to deliver new standard for enterprise #cloud experiences http://red.ht/1HqRZrv”

Surely we are going to revisit this in the coming days, but in the mean time, shame on Red Hat. Maybe the management has been softened by the hiring of managers from Microsoft (as we covered at the time of it happening). Only weeks ago Red Hat liaised with somewhat of a Microsoft satellite and not too long ago it paid Microsoft patent trolls (secretly, again).


Red Hat Makes an Error by Liaising With Proprietary Software Firm and Source of FUD, Supposedly for ‘Security’

Posted in FUD, Red Hat, Security at 6:25 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Don’t feed black ducks

Feeding ducks
Yours truly feeding the ducks
near home earlier this year (summer)

Summary: Red Hat’s cooperation with Black Duck serves to legitimise a terrible business model, wherein fear of FOSS is being accentuated and proprietary software ‘solutions’ are being offered

YESTERDAY we became aware of Red Hat turning to Microsoft’s friend, Black Duck. It happened with little prior warning and announced with the press release calling it a “[c]ollaboration to help developers, customers and partners build and run trusted, secure applications with Red Hat container technologies” (as if these are inherently less secure than some proprietary software).

What the articles fail to mention is that Black Duck’s former top manager is from Red Hat and he came back to Red Hat after his stint at this FUD firm (see the old press release titled “Black Duck Software CEO Tim Yeaton Rejoins Red Hat to Lead Newly-Formed Infrastructure Group”). Well, the doors basically revolved, twice even. Maybe that’s why Red Hat came to Black Duck, legitimising what is effectively a parasite inside the FOSS world.

“What the articles fail to mention is that Black Duck’s former top manager is from Red Hat and he came back to Red Hat after his stint at this FUD firm…”We have already found some puff pieces about, saying little more than the press release. One of them says that “Red Hat has collaborated with Black Duck Software to establish a secure and trusted model for containerized application delivery by providing verification that application containers are free from known vulnerabilities and include only certified content. This validation is a major step forward in enabling enterprise-ready application containers, and builds upon the strengths of each company – Red Hat’s position in container technologies and solutions, including its platform and certification strategy, and Black Duck’s position as the provider of comprehensive identification and earliest notification technologies of open source vulnerabilities.”

In its marketing, Black Duck would have us believe that FOSS is terrible at security, even though proprietary software has back doors ‘baked in’ intentionally. NSA et al don’t ‘break into’ Windows any more than Microsoft does; they’re allowed access, by design, intent, and agenda. Days ago we showed how marketers from Black Duck had claimed that it can cost $25,000 to fix a bug in FOSS.

As of early this morning, this new relationship received press coverage from Serdar Yegulalp (writing for IDG), Sean Michael Kerner for QuinStreet and Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols for CBS. The way Vaughan-Nichols put it, “Red Hat and Black Duck want to make sure that when you run a container, it’s really the container you want to run and not a rogue package.”

“In many ways, Black Duck is successful as a marketing company, much like polygraph merchants (among other popular scams like homeopathy).”It sounds good on the surface, but is a proprietary dependence healthy in the long term? Based on Vaughan-Nichols, this isn’t a short-term engagement. “In the long run,” he explains (writing from Red Hat’s town), “the companies plan to include Black Duck technologies as a component of Red Hat’s container certification.”

There are some lazy publications that ended up throwing the self-promotional promotional press release around. The Indian English-speaking press sort of rewrote the press release to make it look more original. Where are the sceptics? Where is the genuine reporting? All we see are puff pieces that relay claims made in a press release.

In many ways, Black Duck is successful as a marketing company, much like polygraph merchants (among other popular scams like homeopathy).


Red Hat and NSA: This is Not News

Posted in GNU/Linux, Red Hat, Security at 6:47 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Red Hat and back doors: poll from FOSS Force

Red Hat poll

Summary: The return of XKEYSCORE to some media outlets (not news anymore) brings us back to debating Red Hat’s role (also not really news)

QUITE a few sites (see [1-3] below) seem to be talking about Red Hat’s special (but no longer secret) relationship with the NSA, which is not at all news. The NSA uses a lot of RHEL (and also Fedora) on some malicious spying equipment, based on various NSA leaks. We already wrote a great deal about this back in 2013 [1, 2, 3, 4]. The only new thing we learn from the latest articles is that Red Hat continues to refuse to remark on the subject, even when asked by journalists (see the first article below).

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. NSA runs its spying activities on Red Hat Linux

    A little over two years ago, the first disclosures about the massive surveillance operation being carried out by the NSA were made in the Guardian, thanks to an intrepid contractor named Edward Snowden.

    Now comes the rather disturbing information that the NSA runs its XKEYSCORE program — an application that the Intercept, the website run by journalist Glenn Greenwald, describes as NSA’s Google for private communications — for the most part on Red Hat Linux servers.

  2. Evil NSA runs on saintly Linux, Apache, MySQL

    If report is correct, Red Hat’s marketing department has a very tricky customer reference

  3. Red Hat Used by NSA Spies, SELinux Possibly Bypassed

    SELinux is a product of the NSA and some worried when it was added to Red Hat, Fedora, and later many other distributions. Even before Snowden revealed the massive government spying, having the NSA anywhere near Linux activated certain Spidey-senses. Now we learn that SELinux may have had an exploit for bypassing the security enforcements. Italian software company Hacking Team, who admits to providing “technology to the worldwide law enforcement and intelligence communities,” has been selling technology to governments (most with bad human rights records) to assist in gathering surveillance data on citizens, groups, journalists, and other governments. Recently Hacking Team was hacked and their information has been leaked onto the Internet. Besides the SELinux exploit, it’s been reported that the FBI, U.S. Army, and the Drug Enforcement Agency are or were customers of Hacking Team’s services.


Security FUD Against Free Software Resurfaces, Using Promotional Branding From a Microsoft-Linked Firm, So Red Hat Finally Responds

Posted in Free/Libre Software, FUD, Microsoft, Red Hat, Security at 5:52 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Image courtesy of Red Hat

Summary: Old news is ‘new’ again, as Microsoft-friendly media decides to keep knocking hard on the reputation of Free software, using words rather than substance

A YEAR ago there was a curious (first of its kind for Free/Open Source software) “branding” of a 2-year-old FOSS bug by a Microsoft-linked firm that did not even find the bug. An engineer from Google had found it and sought to responsibly disclose it so as to patch it properly before the Microsoft-linked opportunists blew off the lid and called it “Heartbleed”, set up a Web site to ‘celebrate’ the bug, and even made a professionally-prepared logo for it. This whole “Heartbleed” nonsense — however serious it may have been for a day — was blown out of all proportions in the media and tarnished the name of Free software because it was so ‘successfully’ marketed, even to non-technical people. It was a branding ‘success’ which many firms would later attempt to emulate, though never with the same degree of ‘success’ (where success means bamboozling the public, especially non-technical decision-making people).

“Microsoft must be laughing quite hard seeing all that media manipulation.”“Dear journalists,” I said earlier today in social media (Diapora), “bugs don’t have birthdays. Stop finding excuses to bring “Heartbleed” BS (MS name for old bug) to headlines.” I spoke to one author about it and challenged him for floating these “Heartbleed” logos and brands yet again. To us it seems quite evident that Microsoft keeps attacking Free software and GNU/Linux like no time before; it’s just more subtle and hidden in more sophisticated ways. The person who heads the incognito firm that’s known only for the “Heartbleed” brand (they control the brand) came from Microsoft (he was head of security there) and also from the FBI, whose stance on encryption is widely known by now; they actively seek to break security of software, so knowing about the 2-year-old OpenSSL bug would make sense. Some reputable media reports said that the NSA had known about this bug for about a year before it was known to the public and the NSA cooperates with the FBI on breaking software security, sharing personal (illegally intercepted) data, etc.

Anyway, the same publication (as above) also floated the “Heartbleed” nonsense in another article today. Would they do just about anything to keep it in headlines? Even a year later? They are now citing some firm called Venafi (never heard of it before), which basically relies on misleading misuse of statistics. It’s FUD from a company that tries to make money from perceived dangers and accentuates these dangers in an effort to acquire clients. What kind of ‘journalism’ is this? incidentally, Black Duck is now joining the list of such parasitic companies, with new hires and multiple press releases, so clearly it’s a growth area and the Microsoft link is easy to see. It is FUD season again this spring as more publications now float this whole nonsense. This is hardly journalism, it’s just throwback.

Thankfully enough, Red Hat demonstrates what “branding” of FOSS bugs practically means, even using the image above. There is no correlation between the naming of bugs and their severity, but press coverage sure loves a good brand. This is an important (albeit belated) response from Red Hat to “branding” of a FOSS bug by Microsoft-linked firms like the one behind “Heartbleed”.

“It’s been almost a year since the OpenSSL Heartbleed vulnerability,” says Red Hat, “a flaw which started a trend of the branded vulnerability, changing the way security vulnerabilities affecting open-source software are being reported and perceived. Vulnerabilities are found and fixed all the time, and just because a vulnerability gets a name and a fancy logo doesn’t mean it is of real risk to users.”

Well, Microsoft folks sure squeezed everything they could from this bug, seeking to discredit not just OpenSSL but the whole development process of Free software (due to just one small bug, or a few lines of code). And Microsoft still pretends that it is warming up to Open Source? Who are these frauds kidding?

There’s a lot of companies which continue to use platforms with back doors, such as Windows, but the Wintel-oriented media would rather we just obsess over this one bug from one year ago (which was patched as soon as it became publicly-known).

We are rather disappointed to see a decent journalist like Sean Michael Kerner, along with colleagues at eWEEK, swallowing the bait and serving to promote the misleading claims to advertise this company that controls the “Heartbleed” brand, among other opportunists (like fish swimming around a shark for some leftovers). Microsoft must be laughing quite hard seeing all that media manipulation.

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