Bonum Certa Men Certa

A Closer Look at the 'Trojan Horse' That is exFAT Inside Linux

Snakes like to deceive

Snakes like to deceive



Summary: Microsoft and its boosters (media insiders) spread the illusion that Microsoft is "opening up"; the reality, however, is that it's looking to tighten control over Linux while at the same time profiting from exFAT patents owing to back room deals

TECHRIGHTS has come to the saddening realisation that entryism inside Linux is in an advanced phase if not a "terminal" stage.



The "4 Freedoms" of Richard Stallman (RMS) are probably not enough for Software Freedom. There are glaring loopholes or workarounds. We're not talking about stuff like systemd here. We talk about changes/passage of ownership/control. If you allow moles, entryism and other forms of infiltration into key projects -- and those projects are too complicated (or vast) to fork because that doesn't scale well -- these projects are screwed. Again, we're not talking about Devuan/Debian here but mostly about Linux, the kernel.

"We’re losing the battle... we're ceding control."It's extremely sad for me to say it, but access to source code (and permission to modify, run, redistribute) is not enough for Software Freedom anymore. We see a lot of evidence of this in Linux. That's aside from the fact that openwashing -- a term I believe I coined more than a decade ago -- is a massive threat to Software Freedom (yes, right now more than ever before). We’re losing the battle... we're ceding control. It's all about control.

Microsoft doesn't come to Linux "in peace". It's hostile. It did the same thing to Yahoo, to Nokia, and to Novell. My wife's view on Microsoft 'helping' Linux is the same as mine. Microsoft needs to belately adopt EXT4 if it cares about Linux; but it's only entering Linux to advance Microsoft's 'standards', APIs and proprietary software inside Linux... through Linux. It's exploitative, pure and simple.

"Microsoft doesn't come to Linux "in peace". It's hostile. It did the same thing to Yahoo, to Nokia, and to Novell."Microsoft loves Linux like Donald Trump loves the women whom he groped, illegally, by his very own admission. We're only glad to see that a lot of Linux sites reject Microsoft's dishonest 'storytelling' about how it 'fell in love' with Linux -- the most laughable story since Temer and Bolsonaro claiming to serve people of Brazil. But let's leave politics out of it, at least for a second (they're used only for analogies here).

Steve R. at Linux Questions wrote: "Can't argue against better interoperability, but I'm skeptical. Why should the Linux community adopt Microsoft technology while Microsoft is apparently reluctant to incorporate Linux technology.

"For example, Microsoft could adopt the "EXT4" file system instead of pushing exFAT. Obviously Microsoft won't do that to preserve its proprietary nature, even though they are opening up exFAT."

fido_dogstoyevsky responds as follows: "They could, but as you say they won't. It's just the scorpion promising to not sting.

"If only we had the wherewithall to embrace what they're offering and then extend it..."

Many of the comments we see are more or less the same. Unless one asks proprietary software front groups such as OIN for their views...

I should know; Many years ago on the phone (he phoned me) OIN's CEO told me that many of Microsoft's shakedown actions over Linux involved exFAT patents -- some software patents that Alice/Section 101 likely would invalidate (if it went to court).

"Many of the comments we see are more or less the same. Unless one asks proprietary software front groups such as OIN for their views..."OIN, being a pro-software patents group, won't bother actually invalidating these patents. It never even tried, e.g. at the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB). And suffice to say, my image of OIN 'darkened' over the years because it turned out it was more interested in fronting for proprietary software giants than in Linux or anything "community". It's like the Linux Foundation.

What does the Linux community (i.e. users and developers) actually think of all this? See the comments here; Microsoft spinners won't be able to catch up with honest, frank, unpaid-for opinions.

Microsoft made a fortune from exFAT blackmail and it is likely still being paid 'royalties' for it, owing to large and high-profile OEM patent deals it signed years ago (even under Nadella).

"Microsoft made a fortune from exFAT blackmail and it is likely still being paid 'royalties' for it, owing to large and high-profile OEM patent deals it signed years ago (even under Nadella)."Obviously, and perhaps inevitably, Microsoft helpers like Greg K-H are happy to help, willing to oblige. Greg's 'professionalism' notwithstanding, we're supposed to think that this 'mature' (read: industry-friendly) man has no choice but to do what Microsoft says, never mind the community's views.

Michael Larabel of Phoronix wrote about the Microsoft-friendly (Novell past) Greg carrying water for Microsoft, yet again, with its "horrible" code (like he did Hyper-V). To quote "The Existing Linux exFAT Code Is 'Horrible' But Could Soon Be In Staging":

Following Microsoft's approval of seeing exFAT support on Linux and at long last releasing public specifications to the file-system, the existing out-of-tree Linux driver code was quickly volleyed on the mailing list for review and hopeful inclusion into the kernel.

The existing out-of-tree exFAT Linux driver is the several year old one that was accidentally leaked by Samsung though later cleared up back in 2013. Due to uncertainty over Microsoft's exFAT patents and the company previously not publicly giving their blessing to this file-system Linux support, it's never been mainlined.


Tom's Hardware did a relatively good job reporting on this, having researched it further than press releases and blog posts from Microsoft. Nathaniel Mott actually went on to dig some actual responses from actual Linux developers to Microsoft's EEE-like move against Linux file system components/parts. "Phoronix reported today that Linux developers weren't particularly enthused about what Microsoft released, with one kernel developer calling it a "pile of crap," which is exactly the kind of frankness we've come to expect from Linux developers," he said. Sometimes the truth needs to be said. Free as in speech, right?

"Tom's Hardware did a relatively good job reporting on this, having researched it further than press releases and blog posts from Microsoft."In our previous post about it, a month after we wrote about this plan and the associated patent issues, we mentioned that this agenda of Microsoft is mostly being promoted by Microsoft boosters who pretend to care about Linux (after bashing it for years if not decades). Bogdan Popa, Microsoft News Editor [sic] (propagandist for over a decade), has just proven our point again ("Microsoft loves Linux" lie as an image). Microsoft Tim did so too. Notice how all the Linux haters suddenly pretend to care about Linux; They try to UNDERMINE it and they know what Microsoft has in mind.

We have meanwhile noticed some more shallow puff pieces. This one says that Microsoft "Opens Up exFAT"; It did not open it up, there are still patents on it and it's controlled by a company that attacks Linux. Making a statement about patents isn't the same as "opening up". "Microsoft opens up the exFAT filesystem" was this headline in bit-tech.net. So much for "open". Like a hunter opens a bear trap, waiting for the bear to come. It's only about cementing monopoly or monoculture.

"Microsoft publishes exFAT spec" was a more accurate headline, but it continues/proceeds to saying that "it attempts to woo Linux..."

"So much for "open". Like a hunter opens a bear trap, waiting for the bear to come."Errr... nope, to control Linux. Not the same thing. How about this article? This is really bad code, according to Phoronix, so why is it being added? Shouldn't Torvalds make a public rant? Is he afraid to speak out now in light of recent events? As far as we're aware, he has said not a word about it.

Puff pieces still dominate the news; there are quite a few more like the above-cited ones. There are also spammy press releases from Paragon Software (we saw them several times so far this week). Paragon has long profited from perpetuation of Microsoft's patent blackmail against Linux and now it wants more money. We've found lots of puff pieces later in the day yesterday. Microsoft totally controls the narrative here (few people would bother reading comments). Reactions from actual users and developers of GNU/Linux don't seem to matter.

Ryan Farmer, a former Microsoft MVP who over a decade ago turned against Microsoft and became a regular in our IRC channels, had a lot to say about it.

Last night he asked me: "What did you think of Microsoft saying it will "donate" exFAT patents to get a kernel module into Linux? They published the specification of exFAT and announced that they would be giving a patent license to all OIN members with the goal of getting a kernel module merged. They said it won't be them that writes the kernel module though."

MinceR responded in IRC with a joke: "good, at least it can be good then..."

"Microsoft totally controls the narrative here (few people would bother reading comments).""Well," Ryan pointed out, "there's already at least one GPL licensed kernel module out there. That one that initially leaked out of Samsung. It just hasn't been merged because Microsoft has sued people over file system patents so many times. Microsoft was quick to point out that they are not "currently engaged in any ongoing litigation related to exFAT patents". Of course they aren't. Litigation is what happens when threats don't work."

I showed him the latest reports about Microsoft moving to second "E" [1, 2]. "More gifts," Ryan joked.

So yes, it's really happening!

"Lawsuits work the same way plea bargaining does," Ryan said. "Microsoft doesn't want to sue people over patents that may be found invalid. It wants money."

"Quite a few OEMs already pay Microsoft for exFAT patents. Now that there aren't any large ones left to 'milk' Microsoft is 'opening up'..."The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) should never have granted these patents in the first place.

"The way to get money isn't to nuke everyone," Ryan concluded. "It's to threaten them if they don't pay up. Usually like part of what the cost of going to court and losing would be. As long as you never go to court, you don't risk anything."

Quite a few OEMs already pay Microsoft for exFAT patents. Now that there aren't any large ones left to 'milk' Microsoft is 'opening up'...

Quite the publicity stunt!

Recent Techrights' Posts

Richard Stallman's Next Public Talk is on Friday, 17:30 in Córdoba (Spain), FSF Cannot Mention It
Any attempt to marginalise founders isn't unprecedented as a strategy
Stefano Maffulli's (and Microsoft's) Openwashing Slant Initiative (OSI) Report Was Finalised a Few Months Ago, Revealing Only 3% of the Money Comes From Members/People
Microsoft's role remains prominent (for OSI to help the attack on the GPL and constantly engage in promotion of proprietary GitHub)
 
Gemini Links 23/04/2024: Offline PSP Media Player and OpenBSD on ThinkPad
Links for the day
Amaya Rodrigo Sastre, Holger Levsen & Debian DebConf6 fight
Reprinted with permission from disguised.work
DebConf8: who slept with who? Rooming list leaked
Reprinted with permission from disguised.work
Bruce Perens & Debian: swiping the Open Source trademark
Reprinted with permission from disguised.work
Ean Schuessler & Debian SPI OSI trademark disputes
Reprinted with permission from disguised.work
Windows in Sudan: From 99.15% to 2.12%
With conflict in Sudan, plus the occasional escalation/s, buying a laptop with Vista 11 isn't a high priority
Anatomy of a Cancel Mob Campaign
how they go about
[Meme] The 'Cancel Culture' and Its 'Hit List'
organisers are being contacted by the 'cancel mob'
IRC Proceedings: Monday, April 22, 2024
IRC logs for Monday, April 22, 2024
Over at Tux Machines...
GNU/Linux news for the past day
Don't trust me. Trust the voters.
Reprinted with permission from Daniel Pocock
Chris Lamb & Debian demanded Ubuntu censor my blog
Reprinted with permission from disguised.work
Ean Schuessler, Branden Robinson & Debian SPI accounting crisis
Reprinted with permission from disguised.work
William Lee Irwin III, Michael Schultheiss & Debian, Oracle, Russian kernel scandal
Reprinted with permission from disguised.work
Microsoft's Windows Down to 8% in Afghanistan According to statCounter Data
in Vietnam Windows is at 8%, in Iraq 4.9%, Syria 3.7%, and Yemen 2.2%
[Meme] Only Criminals Would Want to Use Printers?
The EPO's war on paper
EPO: We and Microsoft Will Spy on Everything (No Physical Copies)
The letter is dated last Thursday
Links 22/04/2024: Windows Getting Worse, Oligarch-Owned Media Attacking Assange Again
Links for the day
Links 21/04/2024: LINUX Unplugged and 'Screen Time' as the New Tobacco
Links for the day
Gemini Links 22/04/2024: Health Issues and Online Documentation
Links for the day
What Fake News or Botspew From Microsoft Looks Like... (Also: Techrights to Invest 500 Billion in Datacentres by 2050!)
Sededin Dedovic (if that's a real name) does Microsoft stenography
[Meme] Master Engineer, But Only They Can Say It
One can conclude that "inclusive language" is a community-hostile trolling campaign
[Meme] It Takes Three to Grant a Monopoly, Or... Injunction Against Staff Representatives
Quality control
[Video] EPO's "Heart of Staff Rep" Has a Heartless New Rant
The wordplay is just for fun
An Unfortunate Miscalculation Of Capital
Reprinted with permission from Andy Farnell
[Video] Online Brigade Demands That the Person Who Started GNU/Linux is Denied Public Speaking (and Why FSF Cannot Mention His Speeches)
So basically the attack on RMS did not stop; even when he's ill with cancer the cancel culture will try to cancel him, preventing him from talking (or be heard) about what he started in 1983
Online Brigade Demands That the Person Who Made Nix Leaves Nix for Not Censoring People 'Enough'
Trying to 'nix' the founder over alleged "safety" of so-called 'minorities'
[Video] Inauthentic Sites and Our Upcoming Publications
In the future, at least in the short term, we'll continue to highlight Debian issues
List of Debian Suicides & Accidents
Reprinted with permission from disguised.work
Jens Schmalzing & Debian: rooftop fall, inaccurately described as accident
Reprinted with permission from disguised.work
[Teaser] EPO Leaks About EPO Leaks
Yo dawg!
On Wednesday IBM Announces 'Results' (Partial; Bad Parts Offloaded Later) and Red Hat Has Layoffs Anniversary
There's still expectation that Red Hat will make more staff cuts
IBM: We Are No Longer Pro-Nazi (Not Anymore)
Historically, IBM has had a nazi problem
Bad faith: attacking a volunteer at a time of grief, disrespect for the sanctity of human life
Reprinted with permission from Daniel Pocock
Bad faith: how many Debian Developers really committed suicide?
Reprinted with permission from Daniel Pocock
Over at Tux Machines...
GNU/Linux news for the past day
IRC Proceedings: Sunday, April 21, 2024
IRC logs for Sunday, April 21, 2024
A History of Frivolous Filings and Heavy Drug Use
So the militant was psychotic due to copious amounts of marijuana
Bad faith: suicide, stigma and tarnishing
Reprinted with permission from Daniel Pocock
UDRP Legitimate interests: EU whistleblower directive, workplace health & safety concerns
Reprinted with permission from Daniel Pocock
Links 21/04/2024: Earth Day Coming, Day of Rest, Excess Deaths Hidden by Manipulation
Links for the day
Bad faith: no communication before opening WIPO UDRP case
Reprinted with permission from Daniel Pocock
Bad faith: real origins of harassment and evidence
Reprinted with permission from Daniel Pocock
Links 21/04/2024: Censorship Abundant, More Decisions to Quit Social Control Media
Links for the day
Bad faith: Debian Community domain used for harassment after WIPO seizure
Reprinted with permission from Daniel Pocock
If Red Hat/IBM Was a Restaurant...
Two hours ago in thelayoff.com
Why We Republish Articles From Debian Disguised.Work (Formerly Debian.Community)
articles at disguised.work aren't easy to find
Google: We Run and Fund Diversity Programs, Please Ignore How Our Own Staff Behaves
censorship is done by the recipients of the grants
Paul Tagliamonte & Debian Outreachy OPW dating
Reprinted with permission from disguised.work
Disguised.Work unmasked, Debian-private fresh leaks
Reprinted with permission from disguised.work
[Meme] Fake European Patents Helped Fund the War on Ukraine
The European Patent Office (EPO) does not serve the interests of Europe
European Patent Office (EPO) Has Serious Safety Issues, This New Report Highlights Some of Them
9-page document that was released to staff a couple of days ago
IRC Proceedings: Saturday, April 20, 2024
IRC logs for Saturday, April 20, 2024
Over at Tux Machines...
GNU/Linux news for the past day
Microsoft-Run FUD Machine Wants Nobody to Pay Attention to Microsoft Getting Cracked All the Time
Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt (FUD) is the business model of "modern" media
Torvalds Fed Up With "AI" Passing Fad, Calls It "Autocorrect on Steroids."
and Microsoft pretends that it is speaking for Linux
Gemini Links 21/04/2024: Minecraft Ruined
Links for the day