Bonum Certa Men Certa

Why Steven J Vaughan-Nichols (SJVN) is Wrong About Microsoft and Doesn't Understand GitHub Vendor Lock-in/Network Effect Among Other Issues

Not an attack on SJVN but a factual response to his arguments, such as the ones below:



Summary: Instead of becoming de facto 'parrot' of the Linux Foundation and OIN/LOT, Mr. "Linux journalist" ought to listen to constructive suggestions or analyses from people who use, care about and really understand Linux (unlike the Linux Foundation and OIN/LOT); the big money isn't where the truth is and comments that he receives are most likely far closer to the truth

Steven J Vaughan-Nichols (SJVN) is a nice and amicable person. Over the years he supported us and I don't want this article to seem or 'feel' like an attack on him. It's an expression of disagreement; I also disagree with the FSF on some issues and I'm not shy to admit this because blind loyalty would be the death of civil discourse and productive communication.



"Steven J Vaughan-Nichols (SJVN) is a nice and amicable person."Please read the whole post before wrongly assuming that it's an 'attack' on SJVN. It is not.

Two posts this morning have already mentioned [1, 2] what Microsoft hopes to do to every competing project, in effect entrapping it under Microsoft's proprietary wing (GitHub), which is a big piece of the company's strategy against Software Freedom (to the point of subsidising this attack at a loss). As we explained before, Microsoft is rightly unique among GAFAM. The previous post mentioned again how copyleft works (in Torvalds' view). What he doesn't seem to 'get' (or git) is that the Linux Foundation (in 2020) in many ways works against him and against his projects (both of them), just like ZDNet does (constantly posting anti-Linux stories in their "Linux" section and promotional openwashing puff pieces for GitHub). This ZDNet video from less than a year ago reveals the 'useful' ignoramus SJVN, who uses the words from people like Greg K-H and Torvalds to pretend all is well. ZDNet is clearly concerned that, at least in comments (the feedback section, not the hand-picked editors who are Microsoft boosters and apologists), people call SJVN a sellout and foolish among other things. They're not wrong. But SJVN, citing Microsoft boosters (and colleagues like Mary Jo Foley, a Microsoft stenographer), basically participates in Microsoft psychological operations/ads/PR/spin like "Microsoft loves Linux..."

"Once the kernel (Linux) is on Microsoft's proprietary platform, the monopolist will have far more leverage over everything, ranging from discussions (censorship) to things like mass surveillance of developers (profiling)."He's wrong and it is very simple to rebut this, as we shall do here. In the interest of Fair Use doctrine/exemptions we've cut just a one-minute portion of what he said (2m:40s - 3m:40s) and it doesn't need much dissection to rebut. Basically, Microsoft has already bought key seats in the Linux Foundation, including some of the elevated (almost highest) seats. Now it's starting to push the discussion towards, "let's move all this to GitHub" (i.e. to us).

This was of course inevitable. Once the kernel (Linux) is on Microsoft's proprietary platform, the monopolist will have far more leverage over everything, ranging from discussions (censorship) to things like mass surveillance of developers (profiling). This is strategic. Torvalds has long rejected a move to GitHub (maybe for shallow and short-sighted practical reasons), but he's only virtually in charge now; several of his bosses work for Microsoft and are salaried by Microsoft. He was already attacked by the media and pretty much forced to take a break, so there's a "warning" or a "strike one". No, Mr. Torvalds, you are not really in charge anymore. The trademark isn't enough anymore; it's too late.

I understand that SJVN needs to make a living somehow. He should also understand that he's participating in a chronically anti-Linux site (not that he's anti-Linux himself; in fact, days ago he openly complained in a column about security FUD which his very own employer had been spreading non-stop for years).

"I understand that SJVN needs to make a living somehow. He should also understand that he's participating in a chronically anti-Linux site (not that he's anti-Linux himself; in fact, days ago he openly complained in a column about security FUD which his very own employer had been spreading non-stop for years)."Going back on topic, what SJVN does not seem to understand is that the licence is under attack, the leadership is under attack, the development platform is under attack and there are emerging trends/threats like "clown computing". What he says may well be appropriate and applicable if it was still 2005. But goalposts have moved, including the patent war on Linux, and he has not adapted accordingly. When I mentioned to him that Microsoft blackmailed a large OEM (Foxconn) over "Linux" patents as recently as last year all he could reply with was a bunch of completely irrelevant Foxconn bashing. This, to me, said that SJVN had no counterargument whatsoever. He was simply in denial.

Upton Sinclair once said: “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.”

That's SJVN as an employee of the defunct CBS (parent entity of ZDNet, formally defunct two months after the video above was published).

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