We need Freedo
Summary: Involvement in Linux development from the NSA and close corporate partners means that in order to restore real trust some code may need washing away (Linux-libre style)
THE news last week claimed that the US Defense Department was embracing FOSS [1,2]. We already know that it uses RHEL extensively and this may actually have strings attached to it. See, there is always aspiration to put control of the software at the hands of US corporations (and by extension bureaucrats who can compel those corporations to comply with surveillance desires); for others, there are back doors.
The other day we saw how a leading GNU/Linux vendor worked to promote and to spread UEFI ‘secure boot’, which is all about remote control (unless the signatures are maintained by the physical owner of the computer). UEFI ‘secure boot’ — like TPM — is about control by remote entities like Microsoft. Never forget that man from Microsoft (who still lives around there) manages Ubuntu now. Another man from Microsoft is now speaking on behalf of a Linux Foundation project (there are other people, but he is their manager). This really is a cause for concern because even “Linux” technologies are turning somewhat hostile towards users. When companies like Intel and IBM call the shots and when companies like Red Hat try to appease the Pentagon we just simply cannot assume that Linux will remain user-serving (as a matter of priority).
There are some news these days about Italy [3,4], Switzerland  and several other European nations moving to Free/Open Source software (this may include GNU/Linux) for control and autonomy, but they should keep a close eye on those who steer Linux development (and the government they lobby to oversee them amicably in particular). Yesterday when I had a discussion about this subject someone suggested embracing Hurd, but I on the other hand thought that perhaps Linux-libre should start removing NSA-sourced components (if they can be traced back to the NSA, as it is not just SELinux and some was submitted by
@redhat.com addresses) and other suspicious or user-hostile code.
Even as Linux advocates we should recognise that there is a diversity of interests and the agenda of the NSA is to spy on everything and everyone, not to protect our privacy and security. █
Related/contextual items from the news:
As far as technology trends in the federal government go, the use of open source is on a multi-year hot streak. Alongside movements such as the cloud, open source is one of those agency options like an oasis – or perhaps a mirage — in a funding desert, promising savings and efficiencies.
The Defense Department, looking for ways to cut costs and share information, is slowly but surely embracing open source software, sister publication FCW’s Amber Corrin reports.
“The problem with proprietary solutions is the limited set of folks who can use them, rather than opening the core components to the community to drive…and just be the experts and the integrators,” Andy Goodson, program manager for Lockheed Martin’s Distributed Data Framework, told FCW. DDF is a newly open source software search engine for intelligence.
It’s no hidden fact that the European Union has a special love for free and open source software for all the merits these have to offer and for the huge cost savings EU’s various organizations get to make from these. In the past, several member countries have made the switch from Windows to Linux in a drive to make their systems more secure and save costs. Their governments and educational institutions have also moved on from using proprietary and expensive day-to-day software such as Microsoft Office to using OpenOffice and LibreOffice, software that get the same work done and are absolutely free. Now it is Italy’s turn to follow on the same path.
We take a first reading of the recent modification to the fundamental law that governs the digital aspects of the Public Administration in Italy. These modifications require Public Administrations to prefer internally made solutions and FOSS solutions over proprietary ones, mandate an increased degree of interoperability and strengthen the push for open data.
Lausanne, Switzerland’s fourth-largest city, is considering a switch to open source desktop PCs. “The time has come to evaluate a migration, by launching a pilot project on 5 workstations”, the city announced on 14 November. “Free and open source software is becoming more mature, user-friendly and compatible with other environments.”
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Summary: Nicolas (Neela) Jacques is appointed by the Linux Foundation to be Executive Director, overseeing efforts that involve GNU/Linux vendors
MICROSOFT ENTRYISM is a serious problem. We already know what impact it has had on Yahoo! and Nokia. Microsoft also occupied VMware after EMC’s Tucci foolishly let Ballmer do this (almost all the top executives were Microsoft executives bringing in former colleagues). The Ubuntu project too is now steered by a former Microsoft employee (who still lives in Seattle, just like Elop) as the project angers more and more people [1, 2].
Among the VMware managers who are former Microsoft employees there is this guy who, after the Linux Foundation let Microsoft get closee (to OpenDaylight), becomes the Executive Director. “Until now, the OpenDaylight Project has not had its own Executive Director, but that has changed,” says this article. So now we have a former Microsoft manager in charge of a Linux Foundation initiative. Wonderful! What could possibly go wrong? █
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Summary: Why Microsoft ‘supports’ GNU/Linux (while attacking it) and why one must never rely on Microsoft products for managing UNIXy machines
Using Hyper-V hype for eternal deception, Microsoft wants people to believe that it is playing nice with the competition, but this article reveals that words are not actions:
Microsoft’s System Center platform includes a wide range of options for configuring and managing Unix and Linux systems. However, when it comes to rolling out and managing virtual machines and creating private cloud environments, there’s not much room for Unix.
The reason Microsoft has been pretending to support rivals is that those rivals are now market leaders and it is not getting easier for Microsoft because even its booster face the reality:
Maybe the PC isn’t dead, but the upgrade cycle may be at death’s door, according to an IDC analyst.
In the wake of very ugly numbers released today by market researchers IDC and Gartner, Windows 8 is getting a lot of the blame.
It deserves that. Vista 8 is a failure that even Microsoft folks admit is a failure; this is why Microsoft is now focusing on bringing Office to other platforms and wants to ‘play nice’ with Linux. It is everything to do with profit, just like the patent extortion. Without the desktop monopoly, Microsoft at the back end becomes irrelevant too.
Recalling antitrust testimonies from Microsoft’s patent troll, and writing about lack of technical edge in Microsoft products [1, 2] (today I had to explain to someone that many people use Windows definiteluynot out of choice),
Pogson says that desktops/laptops are on the decline, citing some more numbers and analyses. The end of Windows domination was long-awaited by many. We’re beyond the tipping point now. Patents are a threat right now and so is Restricted Boot, so the next two posts will deal with each in turn. █
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2009 and before:
Summary: Money from Microsoft helps influence a Linux banding of companies that need virtualisation
AS Red Hat recently hired from Microsoft for virtualisation leadership we needn’t be shocked that in a Linux Foundation article from Zemlin [1, 2], with help or a boost from New York Times blogs that label it “Corporate Style” (as if ethics can be neglected when you deal with a corporation), Red Hat et al. enter into bed with Microsoft. This is widely covered, naming both the Linux Foundation and Microsoft. “Is Microsoft influence already making itself felt at Red Hat?” This is what Will Hill thinks. It is about virtualisation:
Recently, I argued that while there’s been a lot of Software-Defined Networking (SDN) hype, it’s also real and will redefine corporate networking in the coming years. The Linux Foundation agrees and — in its OpenDaylight Project — has introduced a community-led and industry-supported open-source framework to accelerate SDN adoption, foster new innovation, and give it a more open and transparent approach.
Red Hat will be working on building and delivering an SDN solution that integrates with OpenStack and Linux’s built-in Kernel-based Virtual Machine (KVM) hypervisor.
Microsoft hasn’t spelled out what it plans to contribute to the project yet.
For now, it provides funding and insists on making its virtualisation purely proprietary. Last year Microsoft indirectly (but more directly than before) paid the Linux Foundation as well. We has seen that before and it leads to self-censorship. █
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Summary: Removing Microsoft’s “boobs” from Linux would lead to technical complications
Microsoft’s decision to put “boobs” [1, 2, 3] in the Linux kernel (in the code, not the comments) is not so easy to fix by mere revision because some older builds now technically rely on the “boobs” being inside the code:
Microsoft Azure users may have their service disrupted as the software giant tries to rectify an embarrassing line of code, which roughly translates as “Big Boobs.”
The 0x0B16B00B5 string of code has been causing blushes for Microsoft since its presence was highlighted by coder Paolo Bonzini. B16B00B5 is leet speak for ‘Big Boobs’.
However, it was Matthew Garrett, who works for open source provider Red Hat, who claimed the code could cause problems for Microsoft’s public cloud platform.
Great. So Microsoft made Linux sexism-reliant. Thanks, chauvinist Microsoft [1, 2, 3, 4], and thank you, Novell, for letting Microsoft do this. What a disgrace.
Speaking of virtualisation, notice how the Australian government helps subsidise Microsoft. As Pogson puts it:
ATO has tax-filing software that only runs on that other OS. MacOS and GNU/Linux users are out of luck but the ATO will allow them to deduct from taxes the cost of running that other OS just to run the software, a pure subsidy of M$.
STUPID! STUPID! STUPID! Australians and their government do not owe M$ a living. M$ should work for a living and Australian taxes should not go directly into M$’s coffers. Make your software a web-application that any browser on any OS can access. Get your act together, ATO.
He is right, the “$” aside. This just helps show how out of touch the world has become; it aids criminals rather than their victims, taking up public money to make up for Microsoft’s loss [1, 2, 3]. Bailout? Too big to fail? Sociopaths get all the entitlements? █
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Summary: The clock is ticking on users of PlateSpin, which Novell acquired only to put to waste
OVER THE years we’ve expressed concerns about PlateSpin, whose founders and head left Novell shortly after Novell had acquired their company. There was no mention of this product from Attachmate and “the product hasn’t been updated in a while,” says this new article. To quote in context:
Novell PlateSpin Orchestrate is another multi-hypervisor management tool, and it’s been around for a long time. The product supports VMware, Xen and Hyper-V, and it can carry out various administration tasks — such as creating, starting, stopping and deleting virtual machines. Since Attachmate’s acquisition of Novell, however, PlateSpin Orchestrate’s maintenance and development status remains unclear, and the product hasn’t been updated in a while.
Here is another one who fled Novell:
Chui has more than 15 years of marketing experience in the technology space, including the leadership of an award-winning marketing team at PlateSpin, which was later acquired by Novell.
He has just moved.
Is it safe for the long run to use something from the PlateSpin brand (Novell did some rebranding for marketing reasons)? We think not and there is precedence in the news that involves Novell:
The clients were computer illiterate for the most part, and had tried to install some third-party software on their Novell server by themselves. However, the software wouldn’t run properly after being installed (most likely a permission issue), and the client called our shop to ask for help.
How likely is it that Novell customers that depend on PlateSpin will soon stay unsupported and helpless? Remember under what circumstances Novell was bought. It seemed like a liquidation move. From last week’s news we are reminded that:
Closed on Oct. 14, the fund is the fourth raised by Golden Gate, which has purchased a wide range of companies over the last 12 months, including California Pizza Kitchen and two software makers, Novell and Lawson Software.
It made no sense for Attachmate to buy Novell unless it was trying to serve some external agenda, as we explained a long time ago. Attachmate could not even afford to buy Novell, it needed financial support from the outside and it found it. █
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Summary: The Novell-Microsoft agreement still helps Microsoft ‘pollute’ open stacks and tax Linux
NOVELL was obliged to give Microsoft several big gifts in exchange for money, as we have shown over the years (it is right there in the contract too). One of those gifts was the pushing of Microsoft deep into the kernel, Linux. Jos does not like to talk about it. As OpenSUSE’s community manager and a paid employee he would rather ignore all those “hard” subjects and instead talk about happy news. But the matter of fact is, just as we repeatedly showed, Microsoft used Novell to make a hook for Microsoft inside Linux and now it is using this hook to interfere with GNU/Linux domination in so-called “clouds”. Microsoft tries to shove proprietary into open after help from its slaves at Novell/SUSE, as shown by this Microsoft booster who tries to put a positive spin on it.
“Microsoft is already making a fortune from “Linux tax”, which Novell helped standardise nearly 5 years ago.”The short story is (not to entertain the booster’s own spin), some people are trying to establish an open/free stack with Linux at the centre, so Microsoft exploits the hooks Novell planted in there (as per the contract) to make this stack Microsoft- and proprietary-dependent.
Well done, Novell. Microsoft is very proud. Microsoft is already making a fortune from “Linux tax”, which Novell helped standardise nearly 5 years ago. This is the legacy of Novell — a legacy we still need to cope with before it’s eradicated for good (or Microsoft goes out of business █
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Planted by Novell, used by Microsoft
Summary: Microsoft PR, along with Microsoft proponents masquerading as journalists, promote Microsoft’s latest manoeuvre whose purpose to extract money out of GNU/Linux in China
YESTERDAY we wrote about Novell's role in the Hyper-V infestation, which Novell was paid hundreds of millions to help advance. A lot of people may no longer remember how it came about, but we sure documented this over the years.
In its embrace-and-extend-like fashion, Microsoft currently uses what the now-defunct Novell helped create as a departure gift for Microsoft. Novell used to work hard for GNU/Linux tax (through SUSE) in China. But Microsoft has just announced in a press release that it will “help sell Hyper-V infused Linux distro in China,” says a Linux site. This was mostly covered by Microsoft boosters like Scott Fulton, IDG, and Mary Jo Foley who called it “legal covenant agreement” (as in patents too?). “Microsoft has signed a “legal covenant agreement” with Linux operating system provider China Standard Software Co. Ltd. (CS2C),” writes the Microsoft booster and other Microsoft proponents (e.g. Gates-funded Seattle Times which boosts Microsoft all the time) did the same thing to make it seem like Microsoft is a friend of GNU/Linux when it fact it’s working to tax GNU/Linux, thanks to the seminal work from Novell. █
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