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07.06.14

Microsoft Struggling to Make Sales and More Future Products Axed

Posted in Microsoft, Vista 8, Windows at 5:54 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Lack of demand

End of season

Summary: The software bully which manipulates its financial reports is said to be unable to sell the latest Windows and a new Microsoft product running this version of Windows is axed before arrival

Microsoft’s criminal behaviour does not work quite so well in hardware, where bribes are harder to get budget for (unlike with software, which can be copied infinitely). Microsoft was already forced to kill many products and divisions and it has many famous failures in hardware, including Kin, Windows Mobile, and Xbox (which lost money). Now we learn that Microsoft has ditched yet another product. This article uses promotional language which fails to explain what a colossal failure Surface has been (the big table as well as the tablets with the same brand name).

Based on other reports like this one from ZDNet (citing the Microsoft-funded Net Applications), right after China banned Vista 8 and various countries/businesses rejected it for technical reasons:

Net Applications has found that Windows 8.x actually lost user share in June 2014, while Windows 7 has really been the operating system to gain from XP’s end of support.

This is not good for Microsoft’s financial bottom line. It’s also embarrassing because it shows systematic pushback.

Another ZDNet report says that Microsoft enables XP to still receive patches (a month ago IDG reported inaction from XP users). The NSA is going to benefit from this as more PCs have lots of back doors piling up. The NSA flags GNU/Linux users (or people who read GNU/Linux sites) for extra surveillance, based on leaked source code. Those who want security (e.g. Russia, China, Korea) will surely move to GNU/Linux very soon.

06.18.14

Microsoft Scares Away Customers With Misguided, Short-term Strategy of Extortion

Posted in GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Windows at 11:35 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Harvesting by force

Ice

Summary: Microsoft is trying to bribe the defectors and squeeze the existing clients in order to stay relevant in today’s Linux-dominated world

Microsoft is trying to impose its will on companies. Sometimes Microsoft extorts, blackmails, or bribes companies. Having taken control of some of Dell, the company’s gaming division (in a sense), despite its promises to GNU/Linux [1], leans towards Windows again. This is the type of attack we saw in the case of Nokia. This is not sustainable because it requires either buying the partners (sometimes potential competitors) or bribing them. It is a desperate attempt to remain relevant using big spendings; as we saw in the case of Nokia, this is bound to fail. One cannot just buy one’s way out of trouble when the products are fundamentally flawed.

According to Carlo Piana, the man who fought Microsoft in Europe while Microsoft bribed Novell to drop out of his antitrust case, there is another short-term and shortsighted strategy from Microsoft. “Microsoft is becoming annoying with its audits to clients,” he writes, “insisting on charging six-figures clients for menial inconsistencies. From what I hear, they are carpet-bombing with audits, which is not a brilliant marketing move, methinks.”

Citing Microsoft’s relationship with the NSA Will Hill asks himself:

Why might they be doing that? Thanks to Snowden, people are dumping NSA spyware like Windows, so revenue must be down. Microsoft is acting like their OS is going out of style because it is.

Well, this sure is a way to alienate customers, maybe even partners like Alienware. Windows PCs are no longer selling. Android and other Linux-based platform are the present and future. Some newer reports (cited in our daily links) already insinuate that Alienware is turning back again to GNU/Linux. We may revisit this at a later stage when Alienware makes it official.

Later this week we are going to publish an extensive post about China’s action against Microsoft’s patent extortion.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Why is Alienware launching a Steam Machine with Windows instead of SteamOS?

    While I can understand the financial difficulties inherent in waiting for a final release of SteamOS, I’m not sure that this is such a great idea on Alienware’s part. Is there really a market for this kind of device based on Windows? It seems to me that SteamOS was the big attraction for users who might buy a Steam Machine. I can’t really see the appeal of a Windows-based Steam Machine.

06.05.14

Windows is Dying Quickly, Even on the Desktop

Posted in Free/Libre Software, Microsoft, Security, Windows at 4:45 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

China flag

Summary: The inertia of Windows is impeded by bans and disruptive trends (or form factors) where Linux is a key platform

Microsoft is wishing for public ignorance. It trying to pretend that it cares about privacy and Open Source [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7]. This is despicably in the eyes of informed people and it is tied to a paid marketing/deception campaign. As we showed some days ago, China’s ban on Microsoft (and promotion of Linux-based alternatives) led to some shameless openwashing, seeking to paint Windows as “open”. Microsoft’s spokesperson pretends that Microsoft code can be audited, but there is already evidence that Microsoft tells NSA about flaws before these are patched. China’s government does not get that kind of treatment, so it is abundantly clear who Microsoft is loyal to (not the users’, that’s for sure). The latest call for abolishment of Windows [1-4] makes press again (notice the dishonest response from the spokesperson of Microsoft). The corporate media or the Western press tries to ridicule the Chinese or echo Microsoft’s lines. There are gross media campaigns about it, playing along with these Microsoft lies (or lines) which are hogwash, diversion, and innuendo. We covered only some of those lies before. It is truly a disgrace. The NSA works closely with Microsoft and Microsoft under Nadella (not really in charge) continues to engage in racketeering against FOSS. China would be right to eradicate all Microsoft software. It is the reasonable thing to do not just for business reasons. Bill Gates is pro-NSA and against Snowden; China should take that as a clue. Remember that the NSA engages in espionage against prominent Chinese companies like Huawei.

Based on this Microsoft puff piece, Microsoft spyware is now trying to enter Android, doing what we said Nokia would do (Microsoft spy phone on top of Android base). The puff piece says “That’s great news for Android tablet owners” as if spyware like this is necessary. Here is the interesting part though: “it’s also likely to disappoint and even anger some Windows users, who feel Microsoft is ignoring its own backyard while bringing this polished and finger-friendly Office experience to Windows rivals. But this is the trajectory that Microsoft must follow to succeed in what Nadella recently labeled a “post-post-PC era.” “There are going to be Windows devices and there are going to be other devices and we have to make sure our services run on all of them,” he said during last week’s Code Conference. Nadella suggested that Office for iPad won’t the last time Microsoft launches a major app on a platform other than Windows; today’s Android rumors seem to back that claim. Nadella said that while a touch-first Office for Windows is coming along, he’s unwilling to let it hold the company back.”

In short, the world is already abandoning Windows, so Microsoft tries to rescue its bigger cash cow.

Software developers and users no longer need Windows. China does not need Windows. Business can gradually adapt to homegrown Linux- and GNU-based systems. This, in turn, makes OOXML (and Office) obsolete. It makes Microsoft a thing of the past.

Interestingly enough we missed this article from March where Microsoft is shown to be sabotaging software projects of potential partners. Fernando Cassia sent us this link, highlighting bits like:

Defense Grid was dead. That was the message, delivered by Microsoft in the summer of 2008, just a few months before the game’s planned release.

Hidden Path had poured all the money it could spare into a small project to make an original game: Defense Grid, a downloadable sci-fi tower defense title that it could call its own and that would prove Hidden Path was a company that knew how to make games.

It’s what every developer wants to do. It’s why people make anybody’s games at all: to eventually make their own. And Hidden Path had struck out to do it right out of the gate. And it had almost worked.

The story begins in 2007, shortly after Jeff Pobst, Mark Terrano, Michael Austin, Jim Garbarini and Dave McCoy founded Hidden Path. It begins after they’d begun making Defense Grid and pitched the game to their contacts at Microsoft.

The founders had deep connections to Microsoft, so they pitched them a distribution deal: Hidden Path would make the game, Microsoft would distribute it on Xbox Live. For Microsoft, it was an easy sell. Microsoft, initially, loved the idea. The concept for the game was bold and brash. It was a downloadable title being developed for twice what downloadable titles normally cost to make at the time. The extra money was to be put into producing and polishing the game, potentially making it a premium offering for its Xbox Live lineup. Defense Grid, built by the men who worked at Microsoft’s Advanced Technology Group and who made sure Xbox games played and looked better on Xbox than anywhere else, would be one of the most highly produced downloadables on Xbox.

Microsoft was hot for the game. It wanted quality games to announce at the 2007 Game Developers Conference as part of its then-new Xbox Live Arcade program. The problem: Hidden Path hadn’t named the game yet. The working title “The Last Stand” had been taken by someone else. Hidden Path hadn’t expected to need a name for months, but suddenly it had only weeks. Hidden Path scrambled, spent money and came up with Defense Grid. Maybe it wasn’t perfect, but it worked. And it was theirs. And best of all, Hidden Path suddenly had a game in development for a flagship service on the best-selling console. With the increased attention and aggressive demand from Microsoft, the little studio, still in its first year of existence, felt like it had won the lottery.

For Microsoft, Hidden Path was just the sort of company to help promote Arcade — it was indie but comprised of veterans. Pobst had run a support department at the Advanced Technology Group at Xbox. Terrano had created Age of Empires 2. Austin also came from Xbox, and McCoy and Garbarini from the MechWarrior developer FASA. These five men threw their combined development expertise into one game: Defense Grid. It couldn’t lose. It was planned for release in 2008. Everyone was excited. And then things changed.

[...]

Shortly after a Microsoft reorg in early 2008, the “new team” called for a meeting with its partner, Hidden Path, to see the results of development on Defense Grid, which already had the green light from the “old team.” Everything went right in this meeting with Microsoft. The game looked great, played great and was running on schedule. But a strange thing happened: According to Hidden Path, the more right things went, the more frustrated the Microsoft people became. The game, they eventually said, was too good. They’d wanted it to be bad. They’d planned for it to be bad. Now they didn’t know what to do.

[...]

The new crew from Microsoft had come with orders to shut down Defense Grid. It was too similar, they said, to another game, one more dear to the new team leader’s heart. Defense Grid was part of the old plan. The new guy had a new plan. Defense Grid had to go. But … It was a great game. It was too good to cancel. Chaos.

This is classic Microsoft. Nobody should be working with and for this company. It should be universally abandoned for its behavior. Thankfully, Xbox continues to fail and production reportedly stalls. Why would anyone at all bother with this platform? It is spying on users (more so than any console) and betraying developers. Not only China will be better off without a company that spies on it, betrays it, and denies the truth.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. China puts Windows 8 on TV, screams: ‘SECURITY, GET IT OUT OF HERE!’

    China has stepped up its war on Microsoft’s Windows 8 operating system with a report in state-backed media that questions the security of the software.

    In a one and a half minute segment aired on China’s CCTV television channel, journalists reported that the Chinese government is concerned by the security of the Windows 8 software and is increasing efforts to develop its own rival system.

    “Microsoft would no longer open its Windows 8 source code to the Chinese government, however the security scheme of the Windows 8 operating system is designed to provide better access for Microsoft to users’ database. For China it’s a big challenge for our cybersecurity,” said Yang Min, a professor at China’s Fudan University, through a translator.

    “Your identity, account, contact book, phone numbers, all this data can be put together for big data analysis,” explains another academic, Ni Guangnam. “The US has a law that requires anyone that has this data to report to the government. The data might be a good way for the US to monitor other countries.”

    This report follows the Chinese government banning Windows 8 from a chunk of its public sector PCs in late-May.

    In March 2013, El Reg reported that Canonical had partnered with various Chinese government agencies to develop and support a Linux distribution named Ubuntu Kylin for the country. Given this television segment, we imagine installations of that OS are about to increase.

  2. China escalates rhetoric in campaign to ban Windows 8

    CCT pivoted on the official reasoning today. According to the Wall Street Journal (subscription required) the segment quoted experts who argued that operating systems’ makers can steal data from computers, including phone numbers and financial information.

  3. Microsoft faces new difficulties in China over Windows 8
  4. Chinese Media Says Apple Google Microsoft Etc Spying for NSA

    The official Chinese state run media outlet, People’s Daily, is accusing U.S. corporations of representing a spying front for the NSA, and the PRISM program. The outlet stated “Apple, Microsoft, Google, Facebook, etc. are all coordinating with the PRISM program to monitor China.” The outlet wants fierce punishments against the corporations, and promised they would pursue all those involved in spying activities. David Drummond, Google’s Chief Legal Officer released a statement Wednesday, advising the U.S. government has no access to Google servers, including no access to any “back door, or a so called drop box.” The leading search engine giant advised they only “provide user data to governments” in accordance with the law.

04.29.14

Federal Government Warns About Microsoft Windows Back Doors

Posted in Security, Vista 8, Windows at 1:48 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Back door

Summary: Back door in all versions of Windows (for Internet Explorer has been embedded deep inside Windows to suppress browser competition) worries governments around the world, including those behind NSA and GCHQ

IT HAS long been known that Microsoft and the NSA work together and share information about back doors, voluntary or involuntary. Any government that still uses Windows is leaving itself vulnerable to espionage and sabotage like Stuxnet. It’s a strange mystery that many governments still have Windows in their networks. Technically it makes no sense and strategically it’s suicidal.

A few days ago we learned about a permanent back door in Windows XP. To quote one site: “Microsoft reported an alarming security flaw exposed by security farm FireEye, Inc. that affects all versions of Internet Explorer from 6 to 11. Though the newer versions of Windows operating systems will be patched in a couple of weeks, Windows XP users should be worried. Windows XP support was discontinued by Microsoft from April 8, 2014 and it is not going to get any more security patches.”

“Even when a flaw in OpenSSL was found and reported it had already been patched by all the major GNU/Linux distributions. It hadn’t yet been patched by Microsoft and Apple.”Feds are genuinely concerned about this based on the Canadian and the US corporate press, not just because Microsoft will leave Windows XP vulnerable but because at present every version of Windows is vulnerable and there is no fix. Since it’s proprietary software, nobody other than Microsoft can create a fix, either.

This latest back door shows that moving to GNU/Linux makes the most sense. Even when a flaw in OpenSSL was found and reported it had already been patched by all the major GNU/Linux distributions. It hadn’t yet been patched by Microsoft and Apple.

For those who think that Vista 8 (or 8.1) is going to offer some kind protection, mind this unfavourable new analysis. To quote just one bit: “Before shutting down, I manually told it to check for updates. It found one. The description says “Windows 8.1 Update”, and the accompanying text says the stuff about you must install this update to ensure that your computer can continue to receive future updates. So, was my HP updated or not? According to the test described by Microsoft, it was; but according to the Windows Update that is waiting to install, it was not.

“Which is correct? Beats me. How do you tell for sure? Beats me.”

Windows is a mess and this mess is filled with back doors. No government anywhere (not even the US government) should rely on it. The world is moving on and it’s time to move with it. GNU/Linux is the secure option.

04.18.14

Microsoft is Leaving Windows — Including Vista 8.1 — Vulnerable to Non-Government Crackers, Not Only to NSA

Posted in Microsoft, Security, Windows at 6:39 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Install the latest back doors or be left vulnerable to crackers other than the NSA

Back doors

Summary: Microsoft makes it ever more evident that securing users of Windows is not at all a priority, and perhaps not even a desire

MICROSOFT WILL never brag about it to the public (only to the government), but Windows, including Vista 8, contains back doors for the NSA. While FOSS developers work hard to ensure security of their programs, with Microsoft any such concerns are irrelevant because security is not even a goal.

It was rather amusing to see this report which says “Microsoft TechNet blog makes clear that Windows 8.1 will not be patched; users must get Windows 8.1 Update if they want security patches” (the report is titled “Microsoft confirms it’s dropping Windows 8.1 support” and it was published by the Microsoft-affiliated IDG).

But wait, it gets worse than abandonment of users and NSA back doors. According to this: “If you still have XP and use Microsoft Security Essentials you will have problems today.. You will get errors relating to MsMpEng.exe when trying to go into windows and windows will slow down to a crawl mimicking a virus.. You need to boot into safe mode and disable the Microsoft Antimalware Service in your services then boot into your normal profile and uninstall the program.”

“Microsoft makes shutdown of their meaningless “security” application cripple XP,” wrote Will Hill. “I’m surprised that I have not gotten any calls about this. Oh yeah, no one is at work yet. I don’t think the treatment planning computers use this, but I’m going to sent a heads up.”

So Microsoft goes further in making Windows XP users less secure from non-government crackers. Wonderful!

04.11.14

Microsoft: Let’s Talk About Heartbleed® (Reported by Our ‘Former’ Security Chief) While the World Migrates From XP to GNU/Linux

Posted in FUD, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Windows at 8:43 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Looking through the tube

Summary: Government the only likely entity to exploit Heartbleed®, but Microsoft and its peripheral PR apparatus try to scare everyone away from GNU/Linux

A LOT of concerned people, including large businesses, are moving to GNU/Linux for improved security right now (I am aware of some businesses but cannot name them), bearing in mind that Windows XP is no longer secure even in Microsoft’s eyes. Microsoft put back doors in Windows (for governments), so when even Microsoft claims something to be not secure, then it should be ever more alarming.

We are still seeing many articles about migration from Windows XP to GNU/Linux, not just in blogs of GNU/Linux advocates [1,2,3] but also in Microsoft-friendly news sites [4], widely-distributed publications like The Economist [5] (typically GNU/Linux-hostile or just ignoring GNU/Linux), GNU/Linux-oriented sites [6,7], and the Linux Foundation [8]. There are other general news sites [9-12] that cover this (suggesting GNU/Linux as a replacement for XP) and on the other hand there are those in the GNU/Linux world who are apathetic about it [13]. The common theme, however, is rather clear. People are being advised to explore GNU/Linux and jump off the treadmill of Windows ‘upgrades’. Microsoft must be worried. There are many confirmatory indicators of this worry — ones that we covered before.

We recently saw a lot of FUD over GNU/Linux security coming from Microsoft-linked sources, basically inciting/creating unnecessary panic by twisting facts and never mentioning Microsoft’s security issues (some are there by design, like NSA back doors or even FBI entry points).

Someone who worked for the FBI (worse than the NSA by some criteria) and then Microsoft (the back doors partner of the NSA) then revealed Heartbleed®, on the very same date that Windows XP is officially dead. What’s the likelihood that this was a coincidence? Microsoft’s ‘former’ security chief sure helped distract from stuff like the articles about moving to GNU/Linux for security. If it was a stunt, then it sure worked like a charm.

Heartbleed® does not seem like the work of secret agencies [14], but it sure helps them a lot [15], undermining activism [16] and Free software [17], as well as security in Apple and Microsoft products (they use OpenSSL too and they still have no patches, unlike GNU/Linux distributions). Pay attention to how Microsoft boosters like Miguel de Icaza twist this to look like a problem only for GNU/Linux. Microsoft propagandist and partner Tony Bradley (he works with Microsoft) plants some FOSS-hostile articles to that effect [18] as well. Microsoft must be having a day field with its PR/propaganda agents. As we expected, Microsoft partners now spread articles full of FUD — stuff which was published in a timely fashion by a Microsoft-linked firm, exactly upon Windows XP EOL. Watch some timely new revisionism (PR) from Microsoft Peter, using false claims (changing history) to push people to ‘upgrade’ from XP to Vista 8. This is not journalism; it’s advertising from a Microsoft booster who infiltrated a news site. Many sites are still affected by Heartbleed®, but reports from Microsoft-friendly journalists (who were behind some of the previous security smears against GNU/Linux) exaggerate the numbers. At my job, for example, no Web site was found to be affected by Heartbleed® (one can check this online [19]). The main source of danger right now is government spies [20,21] (or government crackers). Those who understand the technical details [20] even guess that government actors may have played a role in putting the bug there [22]. The FSF responded by highlighting the fact that proprietary system have back doors by design [23] (the FSF says “Microsoft are even sharing bugs with others like the NSA without fixing them”) and other GNU/Linux-oriented sites did cover the incident, but not with an excessive sense of panic [24-29], unlike Gates-funded papers [30].

To summarise, what we are dealing with here is an incident where the firm of Microsoft’s ‘former’ security chief shares bugs with the whole world irresponsibly (many sites had not been secured by that time in which his firm decided to release details, exactly when XP hits EOL). And having checked customers’ systems overnight, I found that nothing was affected by this OpenSSL bug. Irresponsible reporting from Microsoft-friendly journalists (with history) claims — falsely — that 2/3 of the Web is affected. Talk about appalling FUD. Wow!

One sure thing is, Chromebook sales are not going to be stopped by it, not even by Microsoft's attack ads (hypocritical FUD is now central to Microsoft’s official strategy and there is no hiding it).

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Good News And Bad News Depending On Whether Or Not You Enslave People To Wintel
  2. OEMs Aren’t Going To Replace XP With GNU/Linux. Real People Have To Do That
  3. What To Do With XP PCs

    If you think you can’t do without XP, think again. I have not touched an XP machine or any other OS from M$ for years now because all my PCs run GNU/Linux. If you think you can’t do without some application that only runs on XP or any other OS from M$, think again. Many millions of users of GNU/Linux don’t have those problems that M$ causes: malware, spyware, re-re-reboots, and lock-in.

  4. Windows XP’s Demise Will Help Linux Leapfrog Mac OS X 10.9

    Linux is frequently touted as one of the most successful open-source projects ever. Since its release in the 90s, the versatile OS has gradually become more popular with users. With a 1.49% market share, Linux is now rated the third-most popular PC operating system after Windows and Mac OS X operating systems.

  5. End of the road for Windows XP

    But to what? For those determined to stay in the Microsoft camp, forget Windows 8 or 8.1. Not only do they demand too much in the way of hardware, both have been been written off as a debacle as bad as the Windows Vista disaster. With their touch-based design, they require users to do things differently from the way they are familiar with. Microsoft is now hurrying out Windows 9 in a bid to pre-empt a mass migration to Linux or Macintosh.

  6. A Beginners Guide for XP Users to Switch to Linux

    Microsoft has ended its support for Windows XP and most of you might not even care but for some of you who do care and understand the complications involved in using a discontinued piece of software, you are in for a change. You can either install already outdated Windows 7, no one’s favourite Windows 8 or you can join the elite group of Linux users by installing on of the many available flavours of Linux.

  7. Windows XP and the Changing Calculus of Technology Choice

    One reason technology choices are so difficult is technology is always a work in progress; your one choice has lasting consequences since the technology rarely ever lives on its own, and most good technology is never done — that is unless you’re Windows XP. As most of us know, Microsoft today is turning off support for Windows XP. That means that roughly 30 percent of all Windows users will cease to get security updates and other ongoing maintenance. Since hackers disproportionately target Windows products, this is a big deal.

  8. Replace the Retiring Windows XP with Linux
  9. Windows XP orphaned: 1/3 of computer users vulnerable

    RMS is the guru of computing freedom, and a great source. He started the “hack” movement as an outsider inside MIT during the Vietnam protesting era, and founded both the GNU software movement and the Free S/W Foundation. He seems (to me) to be highly-influenced by socialist ideals.

  10. Forget About Windows XP, Tranform Your Linux Mint in Windows 7

    In this case, Linux Mint 16 is the perfect candidate for a Windows 7 look-alike transformation and the Windows7 Pack (Cinnamon+ GTK3/2) theme works like a charm. You will have to move the files manually in the appropriate folders, but the themes should be easy to activate.

  11. Open Source Alternatives For Windows XP

    To simplify the downloading and installing, collections of these many software components, called “distributions“, are available ready for users to download and start using straight away.

  12. Windows XP Alternatives: Six Linux Distros to Replace Microsoft’s Ageing OS

    On Tuesday, Microsoft finally end support for one of its most successful operating systems, the 13-year-old Windows XP. Owing to this, there will no longer be any official security updates and bug fixes from the company, meaning those who continue to use the OS will be left vulnerable to security threats.

  13. Why I don’t care about the end of Windows XP

    Frankly, I’ve never liked Windows XP. I found the interface to be an eyesore way back when it was first released and using it never improved the experience. I’m very glad to see that it’s going away finally, it’s demise has been been long overdue. I’m rather surprised that it has hung on this long, given that it was never all that anyway. It’s almost become like some sort of a disease you can’t quite get rid of, it just goes on and on and on.

  14. Heartbleed coder: bug in OpenSSL was an honest mistake

    The Heartbleed bug in OpenSSL wasn’t placed there deliberately, according to the coder responsible for the mistake.

  15. The Real Threat From The Heartbleed Security Flaw Is The NSA

    “The best guess is that the only ones exploiting this bug are spy agencies, if anyone at all.”

  16. Why the Web Needs Perfect Forward Secrecy More Than Ever
  17. LibreOffice 4.2.3 arrives with Heartbleed fix
  18. Is open source to blame for the Heartbleed bug?
  19. Test Sites for Heartbleed OpenSSL Vulnerability
  20. Wild at Heart: Were Intelligence Agencies Using Heartbleed in November 2013?
  21. heartbleed vs malloc.conf
  22. Heartbleed

    At this point, the probability is close to one that every target has had its private keys extracted by multiple intelligence agencies. The real question is whether or not someone deliberately inserted this bug into OpenSSL, and has had two years of unfettered access to everything. My guess is accident, but I have no proof.

  23. Free Software Foundation statement on Heartbleed vulnerability
  24. FOSS Community Hustles to Fix Gaping Heartbleed Flaw
  25. Fedora status on “Heartbleed”
  26. Fedora releases openssl security updates
  27. The Internet Goes Nuts with OpenSSL Bug Today, Linux Systems Were Fixed Yesterday
  28. How to find out if your server is affected from Openssl Heartbleed vulnerability (CVE-2014-0160) and how to fix that
  29. Heartbeat SSL Flaw Puts Linux Distros at Risk
  30. Heartbleed: Hundreds of thousands of servers at risk from catastrophic bug
  31. Google jumps on Windows XP’s demise with Chromebook for business offer

    GOOGLE HAS BEEN QUICK to jump on the demise of Windows XP, and is looking to persuade businesses still running the operating system to buy Google Chromebooks instead.

Replicating the Destruction of Dual Boot (GNU/Linux) by Microsoft-Friendly UEFI Implementations

Posted in Antitrust, Hardware, Microsoft, Windows at 7:51 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Hammer

Summary: Reports of “loss of Linux dual-booting” due to Windows Update are investigated further; FSF award to Garrett faces opposition

IT WAS recently reported in Reddit that UEFI was used by Microsoft Windows to wipe out GNU/Linux. Windows Update rendered GNU/Linux unbootable and allegedly turned ‘secure’ boot on to achieve this.

According to this new analysis from Jamie the UEFI explorer, it’s not an isolated incident. He starts by stating: “I can finally report that yes, there is a problem — but it’s generally not as serious as has been reported.” He also writes: “While I found that I was able to ‘fix’ the loss of Linux dual-booting on both of my systems, I am NOT trying to say that everyone who has posted claims about dual-boot being ‘destroyed’ by Windows Update is wrong. I certainly have enough experience with UEFI boot configuration to know that all sorts of strange things are possible, and it may well be that some systems, with some configurations, really do get more seriously damaged by Windows Update than mine have. One very obvious example might be that the Linux items could get deleted from the boot object list. If that happened you would have to use efibootmgr to put them back again.”

But who would know how to do this and how many people would just turn away from GNU/Linux at this stage? This is why UEFI should face a boycott and antitrust complaints against Microsoft get bolstered. I wholeheartedly disgree with FSF for giving Garrett an award. This can be a PR disaster waiting to happen, a bit like Miguel de Icaza and Theo de Raadt and getting such an award before their FSF bashing. Apparently I am not alone in disagreeing with the FSF; Sam Varghese expressed similar concerns, having opposed ‘secure’ boot for quite some time along with many others. He writes: “The Free Software Foundation has given an annual award this year for work that enslaves people to the demands of Microsoft – something that flies in the face of all that the organisation has stood for since its founding.”

This has indeed been a bizarre move and it can help weaken existing complaints (in Europe) over Microsoft’s UEFI tricks.

04.08.14

Press Advocates Migration From Windows XP to GNU/Linux, But Not Strongly Enough

Posted in GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Windows at 10:47 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Windows aging

Windows with shutters

Summary: The corporate press mentions the end of Windows XP (no more support) but rarely does it mention GNU/Linux; a migration to Free/libre software is simpler than commonly believed

THE apparent distraction efforts aside, today is the last day for Windows XP as a live operating system. In light of that serious event (relevant to many because Windows XP is still widely used), some articles don’t even mention GNU/Linux at all (see the comments, readers are not easily misled) and some provide only scarce coverage for remedies like Robolinux [1], despite an expensive press release [2,3] which was disseminated in various sites. We found only one article about Robolinux (there may be more, but they are not going ‘on the radar’).

This is rather disappointing. There are orders of magnitude (in terms of numbers) more articles about the Heartbleed® stunt (from Microsoft’s ‘former’ security chief) than about GNU/Linux as the logical route for computers that still run Windows XP. Users of these computers can use Wine or even the improved (but proprietary) versions of software that incorporates Wine. Inside a company they can rely on remotely-accessed application servers running Windows for troublesome applications, with rdesktop/vnc for remote access from GNU/Linux desktop (that’s what one can do at the worst scenarios) and Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols (SJVN) shows how trivially it’s done (very visual).

What we are hoping to find is that more people follow advice which recommends at least mentions migration to GNU/Linux now that Windows XP is unsupported [4-9] (there ought to be be more coverage like this). Putting the derogatory phrase aside, right now there is a big opportunity for GNU/Linux on the desktop [10], and not just because of Chrome OS (which is a GNU/Linux distribution but not a freedom-respecting one). People can now swap a PC running Windows XP with a shiny new Chromebook for just $99 and there are many options when it comes to Chromebooks [11]. Whatever people choose, they need to escape the trap of PRISM (mass surveillance) and proprietary software. BSD too is an option.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Robolinux 7.4.2 Distro Can Keep Windows XP Running Inside Forever Without Viruses or Malware

    Robolinux, a fast and easy to used Linux distribution based on Debian, has just received another major update, raising the version number to 7.4.2.

  2. Solution for 500 Million Windows XP Users Who Do Not Upgrade to 7 or 8
  3. Solution for 500 Million Windows XP Users Who Do Not Upgrade to 7 or 8

    Robolinux, founded in 2011, invented and has released “Revolutionary Stealth VM” so you can run Windows XP or 7 inside all Linux Mint OS Editions or all Ubuntu Versions and Derivatives Virus Free for as long as you want to without the need for Microsoft security updates or anti virus anti malware software.

  4. The end of Windows XP: Is it time to give Linux a try?

    This week, Microsoft ends free support for Windows XP, cutting off the supply of security updates and bug fixes to anyone unwilling to pay the $200 per desktop fee MS is asking for extended support.

    XP machines aren’t just going to explode at midnight on 8th April but with hackers and malware authors already comfortable with the antiquated OS, it won’t be long before some new exploit is discovered that will never be fixed. In short, if you value security then it makes sense to stop using XP.

  5. For HTPC folks, XBMC recommends an upgrade from Windows XP to Linux

    It’s doubtful there are many people out there at this point that don’t already know that support for Windows XP will come to an end tomorrow, April 8th. Despite that, a number of individuals and businesses will continue to run the operating system.

    This doesn’t likely apply to those maintaining an HTPC, as this tends to be a more geek-savvy set, but no doubt a few are out there. For those users, XBMC has passed its judgment, and the verdict is Linux.

  6. Why so much fuss over Windows XP’s expiry?

    Other than Windows, users and companies could look at Linux versions that run many Internet servers and those in companies. GNU/Linux is also at the foundation of Google Inc’s Android mobile OS.

    Linux distributions include Ubuntu, Linux Mint, Elementary, Zorin and Lububtu. Ubuntu 12.04, for instance, comes pre-installed with the LibreOffice suite—a Microsoft Office equivalent. However, migrating applications from Windows XP to a non-Windows (read Linux) platform is easier said than done. But then, Linux distributions are free.

  7. Microsoft XP users can turn to Linux as alternative

    Microsoft’s decision to stop providing technical support for Windows XP after Tuesday has caused a great deal of confusion and consternation among the millions who still use the trusty old operating system. I’ve opined that there’s no reason to ditch Windows XP, which will continue to work as it always has, and that you can safeguard its security by installing a good antivirus/antimalware program.

    However, there is another solution that is faster and more secure than Windows XP – or any other version of Windows. It’s Linux, the long-suffering stepchild of the PC industry.

  8. Linux to the rescue! Windows XP support discontinued today

    Today, as Microsoft discontinues support for Windows XP, a 12 year old operating system, users all over the world find themselves with only a few options to choose from as they move on. It’s not surprising that Microsoft encourages users to migrate to Windows 8.1, but of course, there are other alternatives. The best one by far is Linux. With over 100 distributions, Linux not only offers flexibility, but also reliability and support.

  9. Death of Window XP Is a Golden Opportunity for Linux

    Microsoft’s Windows XP dies on April 8, and I will not be among those who mourn its loss. The sad part about the death of XP is that those who still run it might not even realize that their operating system is now dead.

  10. Will it ever be the year of the Linux Desktop?

    It used to be a rallying cry, then it turned into speculation and finally it became a joke: That the next year, or the one after that, or very soon at least, would be “the year of the Linux desktop”. Even the meaning of the term has changed a bit, depending on the time and the publication. Maybe it means the year when Linux will be a majority operating system on desktop computers. Maybe it means that Linux accounts for a significantly increased share of the market.

    [...]

    But as I have been using Linux in the past several years, it has increasingly occurred to me: We’re at a point where we have a large number of incredibly polished distributions available. You can run a Linux system for a standard user without barely ever touching the terminal. There’s a wealth of software, both applications and games available, most hardware works without any worry, and the days of manually editing xorg.conf, our old best friend, are pretty much gone.

  11. Samsung Chromebook 2 set to square off against Intel-powered Chrome OS devices

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