“What we’re really after is simply that people acquire a legal license for Windows for each computer they own before they move on to Linux or Sun Solaris or BSD or OS/2 or whatever.”
Summary: A conceited corporation, Microsoft, shows not only that it exploits its botnet to forcibly download massive binaries without consent but also that it vainly overrides people’s privacy settings to spy on these people, sometimes with help from malicious hardware vendors such as Dell or Lenovo
THE topic we have neglected as of late is Vista 10, which is still doing pretty poorly in the market. Its whole purpose seem to be data collection and Microsoft will not tolerate barriers to: 1) adoption of Vista 10 and 2) data collection from each Vista 10 user.
Microsoft is aggressively trying to impose downloads of Vista 10, even without consent from users. One ought to wonder, when will there be class action lawsuits? Microsoft pretended this was done in error, but later it became clear that this was not an accident. Microsoft is really desperate to make everyone adopt this malicious spyware, which acts as a keylogger with a lot of other nasty features.
According to reports from earlier this week, Microsoft’s special ally Dell helps snooping on users in more than one way. Not many reports mention this, but it’s a problem that affects Windows only , just like in the case of Lenovo, which took all the blame for Microsoft's bad behaviour.
According to reports from the British media, Microsoft is now overriding users’ preferences not only when it comes to downloading Vista 10. It not only ignores privacy settings, either. Microsoft is now using Windows updates to actually alter privacy settings , showing once again that anything privacy-related is a farce under Windows . Remember that Microsoft works closely with the NSA.
One article rightly recalled Microsoft’s hypocritical AstroTurfing against Google and wrote: “Microsoft spent millions portraying Google as a greedy and amoral data marauder. Redmond doesn’t need to read your email, it told everyone. The Scroogled campaign positioned Microsoft itself as the ethical alternative; the occupier of the moral high ground.”
As one person put it in Twitter, “now that they’ve apparently “given away” Windows 10, the die is cast. Vast majority of people have no idea of privacy loss/laws” (it is only a ‘free’ ‘upgrade’, it is not “given away”).
The press will likely find yet more of Dell’s serious privacy violations , including this second one [5,6], but rarely will it bother to mention that only Windows is affected. This whole bunch of stories comes to show that Dell and Microsoft Windows are more like NSA incorporated. They are designed to erode privacy. Surveillance is a built-in goal. Just like in the case of Lenovo, however, Microsoft received none of the blame. Lenovo and Dell get all the negative publicity, but it is a Windows issue, not just a Lenovo or a Dell issue.
We wish to remind readers that now is a good time to leave Windows. The decks in the proprietary software world are stacked against privacy. They guard the watchers, not the users. Windows sometimes puts people in prison [1, 2]. █
Related/contextual items from the news:
News came out on Tuesday that since August Dell computers have been coming out-of-the-box with a root certificate preinstalled that is an “unintended security vulnerability.” The source of the quote, by the way, is Dell itself.
And you thought all you had to worry about was Superfish, the adware Lenovo installed on its computers that left users vulnerable to man-in the-middle attacks — even when running Linux. At least the latest dumb move by Dell seems to be Windows specific, meaning most readers of FOSS Force can breath easy and repeat the official Linux mantra rewritten from an old Dial soap campaign.
According to Redmond on Tuesday, “when the November update was installed, a few settings preferences may have inadvertently not been retained for advertising ID, Background apps, SmartScreen Filter, and Sync with devices.”
Fair play to Microsoft for shedding light on the blunder. Basically, its operating system allowed apps to access people’s unique advertising ID numbers; the SmartScreen Filter that sends executables to Microsoft servers to analyze was enabled; software was allowed to run in the background; and settings and passwords would be backed up the cloud. If you previously disabled any of those, they would be reenabled by the MCT-derived upgrade over a previous Windows 10 install.
Microsoft pulled a major update for Windows after it blew away the user’s privacy settings, allowing app developers and advertisers to glean the user’s identity.
But that’s only part of the story, which gets murkier by the day.
We already knew Windows 10 Threshold deleted third-party data monitoring tools and cleanup tools, including stalwarts like Spybot and CCleaner. It even disabled Cisco’s VPN software. Just a bug, said Microsoft.
Two bugs would be a puzzling coincidence – but something else makes it altogether more troubling.
This year Microsoft introduced background tracking services called DiagTrack, or the Diagnostics Tracking Service. It was added to Windows 8.1 installations as well as betas of Windows 10. It arrived without much fanfare in May 14, in the shape of a patch, KB3022345.
It was just one of several slurping enhancements added via the back door.
Microsoft spent millions portraying Google as a greedy and amoral data marauder. Redmond doesn’t need to read your email, it told everyone. The Scroogled campaign positioned Microsoft itself as the ethical alternative; the occupier of the moral high ground.
Dell customers have turned up a second root certificate installed on some Dell machines, which could make them easy prey for malicious attacks on public Wi-Fi networks.
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“If you (Senator Wellstone) vote against the war in Iraq, the Bush administration will do whatever is necessary to get you. There will be severe ramifications for you and the state of Minnesota.” –Vice President Dick Cheney to Senator Paul Wellstone (D), October, 2002, just days before Wellstone’s death in an airplane accident
Summary: The involvement of Microsoft Windows in mission-critical systems (where many lives are on the line) shows extreme negligence and lack of foresight
FRANCE appears to have had problems other than terrorism. Headlines today serve to confirm, with Russia’s acceptance too, that its plane was recently taken down by terrorists, killing about twice as many people as died in Paris on Friday. Days ago the British media ran some scare stories about a French person in a British airport (a lot of misreporting about that, see our daily links for more), but how about basic technological errors? Remember what happened to a Spanair flight and also the poor judgment of British aviation. More planes crash due to technical malfunction than due to terrorism.
“Microsoft seems to be good at nothing these days, perhaps other than back doors and back room deals.”Based on a new report, France is still running mission-critical systems with Windows, even really ancient versions of it, as ancient as 3.1 (see “Windows 3.1 Is Still Alive, And It Just Killed a French Airport” in  below). What are they thinking? This is just nuts! It’s not from The Onion and it’s definitely no satire.
Microsoft seems to be good at nothing these days, perhaps other than back doors and back room deals. Recall Microsoft’s new body cameras partnership with TASER, which we mentioned a few times, then see [2,3] below. Conficker, a Windows virus, is now being preinstalled on body cameras. How many lives will likely be sacrificed as a result of this? Police brutality too needlessly kills a lot of people.
“Haven’t Snowden’s leaks shown enough to convince everyone that genuine security is not the goal at Microsoft but actually somewhat of a foe?”Windows is not suitable for anything that requires security because Windows is simply not designed to be secure. It’s designed for “national security” (meaning back doors and bogus encryption that the state can crack). Proprietary software in general is bad, including firmware , based on new reports. Microsoft is now silently modifying its patches after it bricked Outlook, which has back doors. To quote the British media: “Many IT managers and normal folks held off on last week’s patching cycle after one Microsoft fix – KB 3097877 – broke several versions of Outlook. The error came in how the software handled fonts, and resulted in the email client crashing as soon as some emails were scrolled through.”
We have already covered this here the other day, in relation to back doors in Microsoft data encryption. It is unthikable and rather unbelievable that some people still get away with putting Windows in mission-critical systems, even in governments and businesses. Haven’t Snowden’s leaks shown enough to convince everyone that genuine security is not the goal at Microsoft but actually somewhat of a foe? █
Related/contextual items from the news:
A computer glitch that brought the Paris airport of Orly to a standstill Saturday has been traced back to the airport’s “prehistoric” operating system. In an article published Wednesday, French satirical weekly Le Canard Enchaîné (which often writes serious stories, such as this one) said the computer failure had affected a system known as DECOR, which is used by air traffic controllers to communicate weather information to pilots. Pilots rely on the system when weather conditions are poor.
DECOR, which is used in takeoff and landings, runs on Windows 3.1, an operating system that came onto the market in 1992. Hardly state-of-the-art technology. One of the highlights of Windows 3.1 when it came out was the inclusion of Minesweeper — a single-player video game that was responsible for wasting hours of PC owners’ time in the early ’90s.
US-based iPower Technologies has discovered that body cameras sold by Martel Electronics come pre-infected with the Conficker worm (Win32/Conficker.B!inf).
At the end of October this year, 14,000 police officials from around the world gathered in a Chicago conference center for the International Association of Chiefs of Police conference. It was equal parts political convention and trade show, with panels on crisis response splitting time with hundreds of small companies selling bomb-disposal robots and guns.
There were more than a dozen body camera companies on the show floor, but Taser made the biggest splash, constructing a Disney-style amphitheater called the USS Axon Enterprise. The show began with a white-jacketed captain, who announced he had traveled back in time from the year 2055, where lethal force has been eliminated and police are respected and loved by their communities. To explain how to get there, he ran through a history of policing tech. Approaching the present moment, he fell into a kind of disappointed sadness.
This is really no surprise: embedded system vendors aren’t good at carrying out quality assurance on their firmware images, and their embedded Web server software is what you’d expect from something written in the last 20 minutes of Friday afternoon.
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Leading the charge against general-purpose computing with DRM (since Vista), UEFI ‘secure’ boot (remote control for vendors), zero-day flaws that are discreetly shared with espionage agencies, and now the botnet known as Windows Update
Summary: Microsoft has completely lost its mind (and gone chronically/clinically insane) when it comes to respecting people’s sovereignty over their own PCs
Microsoft is currently commandeering a botnet known as Windows Update, the world’s biggest botnet. Vista 10 takes this botnet even further because people’s machines not only have binary files silently altered (without consent) but an entire operating system (with a different EULA) is being silently downloaded without consent (and it angers even loyal customers). It becomes rather evident that people who install Windows on their PC (or buy a PC with Windows on it) have totally lost control of their computing.
According to this new article, Microsoft's shameful behaviour is indeed no accident. Vista 10 is being force-fed as a matter of intent, and this problem is very widespread (increasingly so over time). As the author puts it: “The symptoms follow two paths. For some they were using their computer as normal, were prompted for a restart due for standard updates and on reboot found the Window 10 installation was under way. For others they checked their Windows update history and found Windows 10 had tried but failed to install itself without permission over and over again.
“The most extreme example I have found of the latter came from one Forbes reader (who wishes to remain anonymous) who found his computer attempted to install Windows 10 on 31 separate occasions. A screengrab showing some of these attempts can be seen below.”
“It doesn’t matter how many bugs one patches in Vista 10 because Vista 10 itself is a bug. It turns PCs into universally-accessible bugging devices.”Thankfully, some people are liberating themselves due to Vista 10, then writing about it in online forums . They move to GNU/Linux. It would be nice if some people also prepared a class action lawsuit against Microsoft, for doing the unacceptable and arrogantly assuming that nobody will take legal action.
Vista 10 security is a joke. There are zero-day flaws in every version of Windows (the NSA keeps many of these secret, based on a new report from Reuters), but Vista 10 makes the spying permanent and universal. Microsoft wants the public to think that known security bugs are being tackled, but the NSA and Microsoft sit on them silently, sometimes for many months. According to this new report:
Most Microsoft updates are for Windows but also Office and Skype (for Business). One (MS15-113) covers the new Edge browser on Windows 10. This will need to be applied after the “fall refresh” for Windows 10, which is expected this Thursday.
It doesn’t matter how many bugs one patches in Vista 10 because Vista 10 itself is a bug. It turns PCs into universally-accessible bugging devices. We sure hope that more people will see the writing on the wall and abandon Windows. █
Related/contextual items from the news:
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Summary: The dominance of Windows wanes even on desktops and laptops as large OEMs are evidently fed up with the latest version of Windows (while Chromebooks outsell Windows laptops)
In 1995 people queued up to BUY Windows 95. 20 years later, with Vista 10, people reject Windows even when it’s a gratis ‘upgrade’ (no buying necessary for existing Windows users), so Microsoft FORCE-FEEDS it, as we have shown here in numerous past articles, e.g. [1, 2, 3].
“Phone-support reps from Dell and HP told us they discourage users from upgrading to Windows 10.”
–Laptop MagAccording to this new (and apparently exclusive) report, “Microsoft may be gung-ho about upgrading your PC to Windows 10, but some of the company’s partners aren’t quite as enthusiastic about the new OS, at least if you ask their tech-support reps. While going undercover for our annual Tech Support Showdown — in which we test each laptop vendor’s phone, social and Web support — we spoke with several agents who either actively discouraged us from upgrading to Windows 10 or failed to understand core features of the new OS.
“Phone-support reps from Dell and HP told us they discourage users from upgrading to Windows 10. An HP rep even tried to help us roll back to Windows 8.1 during one of our support calls. A Lenovo rep had nothing negative to say about Windows 10, but was confused about how Cortana works.”
The word is already spreading and one news site says that “Laptop Mag has reported that tech-support reps are telling their clients to avoid Windows 10, or uninstall the operating system.”
Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, at times a Microsoft apologist, is upset about privacy violations in Vista 10. “Microsoft is collecting telemetry from PCs running Windows,” he explained, “but what I’m not OK with is the fact that there’s no off switch. In fact, I can’t understand why Microsoft wants to get into a privacy brawl with Windows 10 users at such a critical time.”
Well, Microsoft is trying to turn users of Windows into products, to be sold in bulk perhaps (their data). ‘Free’ Windows will basically be like a ‘free’ Facebook account. Now is a great time to say goodbye to Microsoft and Windows (before the force-feeding becomes way over the top). █
“Gates had never been involved in any of the architectural design of Windows, nor had he ever been personally involved in writing such large amounts of code. Now, very late in the game, he was throwing out knee-jerk requests based on the competition. And he seemed totally oblivious to the fact that every such feature change radically screwed up Windows’s stability, testing, and ship date.”
–Barbarians Led by Bill Gates, a book composed
by the daughter of Microsoft’s PR mogul
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“I’d put the Linux phenomenon really as threat No. 1.”
–Steve Ballmer, 2001
Summary: A reminder to readers that Windows is going dark and GNU/Linux awaits as a potent substitute
WITH Vista 10 (see the relevant articles in our Wiki), contrary to promises from Microsoft, after the so-called ‘upgrade’ people start paying to be spied on. As  below shows, these hidden costs are phased in quite gradually but shockingly (at least to some) and privacy violations are only getting worse , as people inside Microsoft privately confirmed to us (some of them have even been experimenting with GNU/Linux and may be ready to defect). Windows won’t be ‘fixed’; it won’t be — as the slogan about Vista 7 used to say — “my idea”. It’s all just Microsoft’s and the NSA’s ideas. Users have been rapidly turned into the products, just like in Facebook. They’re the commodity being sold by the millions, in bulk, to spies and advertisers. That’s Microsoft’s vision of Windows.
“Inevitably, judging by the popularity of Android and Chrome OS (now outselling Windows laptops), people will probably use GNU/Linux anyway, almost anywhere.”Anyone reading Techrights from home without a Free (libre) operating systems such as BSD or GNU/Linux would be wise to give a quick go to at least one of the several major distributions just released. The entire *buntu family was released about two weeks ago, but worth considering are also the two distributions which come in numerous ‘flavours’, as they got released just earlier this week. At this moment of time we can’t recommend any of these in particular (for different reasons), but we hope our readers realise that Windows is only getting worse — not better — especially when it comes to digital rights. Inevitably, judging by the popularity of Android and Chrome OS (now outselling Windows laptops), people will probably use GNU/Linux anyway, almost anywhere. Moving to GNU/Linux these days is moving ahead of the curve. █
Related/contextual items from the news:
A year after its launch, Microsoft is making some changes to its OneDrive cloud storage plans—including eliminating the unlimited storage offered to Office 365 subscribers, because according to Microsoft, some people got greedy.
In a post to the OneDrive blog, Microsoft wrote: “Since we started to roll out unlimited cloud storage to Office 365 consumer subscribers, a small number of users backed up numerous PCs and stored entire movie collections and DVR recordings. In some instances, this exceeded 75 TB per user or 14,000 times the average.”
MICROSOFT HAS ADMITTED that Windows 10 is collecting more data than any of its predecessors, and there’s not much you can do about it.
In an interview with PC World, Microsoft corporate vice president Joe Belfiore defended the collection of what the company refers to as “basic telemetry”, explaining that it is a necessary part of improving Windows’ functionality.
Windows has always collected information like this. Every blue screen of death creates an error report which is uploaded to Microsoft. But so much more is collected now and, yes, this does mean that search terms that you enter into Windows as well as anonymous machine gibberish is going up to the cloud.
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“There won’t be anything we won’t say to people to try and convince them that our way is the way to go.” –Bill Gates
Summary: Microsoft is pushing hard against choice and pressuring OEMs to stop providing people with anything other than the world’s worst spyware, namely Vista 10, which people increasingly reject and actively try to dodge
SPEAKING with sources inside Microsoft, I recently found out that Windows will only get worse in terms of spying, not better. This may not be so surprising, but having it confirmed by people who work on the software sure helps as it reminds people to get out of Windows. The sooner, the better.
Microsoft is now announcing the end of OEM sales of Vista 7 because the only remaining choice for Windows prisoners will be spyware called Vista 10, no matter whether they can accept the EULA or not. As The Register put it today, “Microsoft’s herding users towards Windows 10, and is unafraid to crack the whip along the way.”
“Two days ago I found out that someone senior at Microsoft had contacted my employer and tried to get me fired, or something along those lines.”As we wrote earlier today, Microsoft will also force (or aggressively push) existing users of Vista 7 to ‘upgrade’. Coming from an evil company like Microsoft, nobody should be surprised. As one person put it in Soylent News (where we’ve just reached the front page), “everything we know about Windows 10 suggests they’re as evil as ever” (if not worse).
Two days ago I found out that someone senior at Microsoft had contacted my employer and tried to get me fired, or something along those lines.
Microsoft is a very evil company. Avoid it not just because of the spying, the proprietary code with back doors, the high price and so on. As Netscape’s Chairman once put it, “Microsoft is, I think, fundamentally an evil company.” █
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Do what Microsoft says, or else…
Summary: Microsoft’s force-feeding of spyware is not an accident as Microsoft tried to frame it but probably a test run, ahead of Microsoft’s effort to impose installation of this spyware on everyone
“MICROSOFT IS ABOUT TO INCUR the wrath of loyal users once again,” The Inquirer wrote about yet another dead product (among many more), “after confirming that the company is to merge its popular Sunrise calendar app into Outlook, discontinuing the standalone version “down the line”.”
“Users are upset about it, but Microsoft doesn’t care what users think or feel. Computers are effectively being hijacked.”Microsoft is in a bad state, so no wonder many products get canceled, including some versions of Windows (especially for devices or mobile). What does Microsoft do? The usual: dirty tricks. It already annoys a lot of so-called 'customers' by forcing them to get Vista 10 and this new puff piece says that “Microsoft is planning to get a lot more aggressive about upgrading existing machines.” The puff piece repeats lies and fake figures from Microsoft, then quotes Microsoft spinners. They try market this unacceptable force-feeding (which Microsoft was trying to spin as an 'accident') as a good thing by saying things like “Microsoft is also making some changes designed to entice software pirates to upgrade.”
It even gets more like a marketing placement with statements like these: “This change in approach is all part of Microsoft’s overall effort to get 1 billion devices running Windows 10 within two or three years of its release. As long as Microsoft avoids nagging people to upgrade more than once, or forcibly updating Windows 7 and Windows 8 users, then this latest change won’t trigger a backlash.”
They already downloads it without consent, turning computers into the world’s worst spying devices and turning users into ‘products’. Users are upset about it, but Microsoft doesn’t care what users think or feel. Computers are effectively being hijacked. It’s all about what Microsoft wants and it simply commandeers its botnet to impose use of Vista 10, fulfilling a false prophecy of Vista 10 ‘success’. How much more of this abuse are people willing to tolerate? █
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Making a mockery out of the spirit of OpenBSD, having given money to OpenBSD
Vulnerability (need for money) found in the Church of BSD
Summary: Microsoft is seemingly disrupting the high standards of the OpenSSH project (and by extension OpenBSD and Free/libre software), as its focus on security is ludicrous at best
LAST week, in our daily links, over a dozen links were included about a new revelations of flaws in a hugely popular encryption method. A paper presented by award-winning academics demonstrated a serious weakness. OpenSSH was among the alleged targets, potentially allowing spies to infiltrate, intercept and decrypt communications/data relayed over SSH. The philosophy and principles (UNIX) of OpenSSH had kept it strong for a very long time.
“Knowing the role that social engineering plays in weakening encryption, the last thing one needs right now is PRISM pioneer (first company) and a back doors proponent like Microsoft inside the OpenSSH community.”Those who keep abreast of privacy news (including NSA leaks) will know that there is an aggressive effort to crack SSH. Some ciphers were recently phased out or deprecated as a result. Knowing the role that social engineering plays in weakening encryption, the last thing one needs right now is PRISM pioneer (first company) and a back doors proponent like Microsoft inside the OpenSSH community. As we pointed out earlier this year, OpenSSH is being subjected to E.E.E. (embrace, extend, extinguish) treatment from Microsoft [1, 2] because money talks. Microsoft has a lot of money (despite losses in the billions) and OpenBSD is underfunded, hence desperate for money.
Secure channels and Microsoft Windows are incompatible concepts. It cannot be done because Windows itself has back doors, allowing penetration at root (Administrator) level. Microsoft is now pushing its back-doored, insecure-by-design APIs into the SSH project and also puts people’s keys on boxes with such inherent insecurities. How terrible a recipe is that? Is OpenBSD willing to compromise its credibility and reputation just because Microsoft gave it a ‘generous’ payment (some would call it a bribe)?
According to this update from Microsoft, they now intend to:
Leverage Windows crypto api’s instead of OpenSSL/LibreSSL and run as Windows Service…
People in the comments (not deleted, at least not yet) rightly post complaints. One said: “I don’t think I like that your replacing an open source SSL with a closed source Windows crypto api.”
Another commenter said: “Do I see a trap here?! If the Windows port uses the closed source crypto api is the whole OpenSource OpenSSH-idea then still intact?”
“Microsoft takes something that’s not its own and then ‘bastardises’ it, making it an inferior ‘Windows thing’ which spreads only because of the network effect or illegal bundling.”iophk told us: “How much key code can they replace with dodgy homebrew and still be allowed to use the same name? Without the crypto, it is not the same software and merely a derivative.”
Well, that’s just how E.E.E. has historically worked. Microsoft takes something that’s not its own and then ‘bastardises’ it, making it an inferior ‘Windows thing’ which spreads only because of the network effect or illegal bundling.
iophk has also pointed out to us that Roger A. Grimes, who works for Microsoft and IDG (news publisher) at the same time (clearly a conflict of interests), presents a false dichotomy, “freedom or security” (right there in the headline). Computer security is never the goal at Microsoft; they want back doors for so-called ‘national security’ (i.e. state power with remote access to citizens’ PCs).
“The first rule of zero-days is no one talks about zero-days,” reads this new headline (remember that Microsoft wilfully enables NSA access through zero-days).
“If Microsoft cannot honour Free software and respect the APIs of OpenBSD, OpenSSH, OpenSSL etc. then maybe it’s time to tell Microsoft to take back its ‘bribe’ money and go away, leaving OpenSSH alone (and secure).”Microsoft’s E.E.E. tactics are becoming a big threat not just to GNU/Linux but also to BSD and Free software as a whole. Microsoft now tries to become a GNU/Linux host, despite its known record of scanning every single file (claiming to do so because of child pornography) and colluding with the government for warrantless access to data stored on servers.
The E.E.E. against GNU/Linux is perhaps best demonstrated by this new article about how Microsoft tries to take over Big Data (a lot of data, sometimes incredibly sensitive) on GNU/Linux servers. “Last month Microsoft did something extraordinary,” says the author, “something which demonstrates how completely the company has changed since its third CEO, Satya Nadella, took over.”
Satya Nadella just turned the company into more of a surveillance company, as Vista 10 serves to remind us. He continues to attack GNU/Linux in many ways (including patent extortion) while saying that Microsoft "loves Linux' (a lie as big as a lie can get).
If Microsoft cannot honour Free software and respect the APIs of OpenBSD, OpenSSH, OpenSSL etc. then maybe it’s time to tell Microsoft to take back its ‘bribe’ money and go away, leaving OpenSSH alone (and secure). Almost every distribution of GNU/Linux comes with OpenSSH. Microsoft is a wolf in sheep’s clothing and it has no room inside FOSS until it quits attacking FOSS and collaborating with abusive espionage agencies like GCHQ and the NSA. █
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