GNU is Big in Top500.org

Posted in GNU/Linux at 10:05 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Large server

Summary: The erosion of accurate historical record when it comes to the free (as in freedom) operating system

EARLIER today I found yet another article which claims to give the history of GNU/Linux but talks only about Linux, pretending everything started in 1991 [1]. This is a common mistake, found in other articles that I found today [2], but nothing is as upsetting as the Linux Foundation, which cannot claim ignorance, brushing GNU out of the record, even when it comes to supercomputing [3]. The historical record is important and language is too. To use an analogy that I used a fortnight ago, calling native Americans (or Americans) “Indians” legitimises a view where these are foreigners rather than First People (“American Indian” means Indian citizen living in the US), so to say that European conquerors “discovered” America and are now the real “Americans” is like claiming that GNU is somehow the ugly little brother of Linux when it fact it’s a distortion of the truth. Google takes it a step further by calling GNU/Linux “Chromebook” and just never attributing anything which is Free software. In the latest episode of TLLTS (probably the longest-running Linux podcast) one of the hosts did not even know that Chromebook had GNU/Linux in it. Lack of proper attribution and intentional blurring of history leads to this.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. History of Linux: The Timeline

    Bangalore: Enterprises are the home for Linux operating systems. They are mostly used across servers, for connecting databases and clients and for other purposes. Yet, presently, these operating systems have turned out to be so user-friendly that they have become a common sight throughout houses. So, how did this transition happen? How was this operating system even born? In the next couple of pages, we are taking you to a journey in time. Read on to know about the history of the most popular operating system.

  2. Limpag: Elementary, my dear PC

    The main difference between Linux and Windows is the way these are developed. Windows is a proprietary system built by a single company – Microsoft. Linux is built by a global community of users under an open source license – a framework that encourages
    sharing and collaboration.

  3. Reality Check: Supercomputers Still Rule… and Linux Still Rules Them

    Earlier this summer, The Linux Foundation released the report 20 years of Top500.org, which marked the 20th anniversary of the Top 500 supercomputer ranking, and (quite naturally) highlighted Linux’s dominance on systems within the Top 500 over time.

  4. Does a Chromebook replace a laptop?

Techrights Was Right About Skype All Along

Posted in Microsoft at 9:45 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Keyboard in the dark

Summary: Realisations about Skype, which is now under investigation by Luxembourg’s data protection commissioner

YEARS ago we warned that Skype had become a surveillance tool like never before. A year and a half ago we explained how Skype had become a tool for NSA eavesdropping on calls all around the world, not just calls within the United States (or routed through US allies like the UK), potentially engaging in espionage against nations outside the EU and Russia (Sweden has been used as an outpost for such eavesdropping).

In a way, Techrights was right about Skype falling into the NSA’s hands 2 years ago. Given the NSA’s very strong relationship with Microsoft, the acquisition may as well be taxpayers-funded. Now there is a formal investigation into it in Europe, where politicians got bugged by the NSA:

A EUROPEAN DATA PROTECTION WATCHDOG is investigating Microsoft’s voice over IP (VoIP) and chat service Skype about its suspected links to the US National Security Agency (NSA).

According to a report in the Guardian newspaper Skype is being investigated by Luxembourg’s data protection commissioner. Since the firm is based in Europe it might find itself under strict inspection and facing criminal proceedings and possible sanctions.

Here is more. We wrote about it years ago, but back then people considered that “paranoid”, despite evidence existing (not evidence as hard as what Snowden later leaked).

Tim Berners-Lee is Wrong, DRM in HTML is a Very Big Deal

Posted in DRM at 9:29 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Time to fork HTML?

Tim Berners-Lee by John S. and James L. Knight Foundation
Source: Original from John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, modified by Techrights

Summary: The Web’s founder, Tim Berners-Lee, now actively defends the copyright cartel, only to find loud opposition even from his biggest and more prominent fans

Tim Berners-Lee is quickly losing credibility and he has nobody else to blame. He actively echoes Hollywood talking points or at least Hollywood’s apologists, to whom a copyright monopoly or cartel is perfectly acceptable if not essential.

“It’s that time of the year again,” writes iopkh.” Time to remind the media that there are no such things as Nobel prizes in astrology, professional wrestling or economics.” Here is Cory Doctorow speaking out his mind again, urging Mozilla to tackle DRM like it already tackles Flash, namely:

Mozilla’s Shumway project, an attempt to create a replacement Flash plug-in that uses HTML5, might ever so slightly placate those barracking for the latter. Previously Shumway has only been available as a separate extension, but it recently made its way into Firefox’s nightly builds, hinting at the prospect of mainline inclusion somewhere down the line.

Glyn Moody, a vocal fan of Tim Berners-Lee, has become quite a notable opposer of his stance of DRM in HTML5. He raises some very good points:

Tim Berners-Lee on Why HTML5 “Needs” DRM


That’s an extremely odd comment, since it divides up the online world up into active creators and passive consumers. That’s precisely the framing that the copyright industry adopts in an attempt to minimise the rights of Internet users, and to belittle their role.


Putting users first is great, but this sets up a false dichotomy between those who “like to watch big-budget movies at home” and those who want an open Web, as if the former must lose if the latter win. But it’s ridiculous to suggest that companies like Netflix will stop streaming video over the Internet if the Web does not include DRM. It may do it with proprietary Web plugins, or it might even insist that people use standalone code, but that’s not a problem – it is exactly how it’s been done in the past.

Moreover, the open Web will exist and thrive even if some people choose to use proprietary code, just as open source thrives despite the existence of some closed-source applications. The only people who might conceivably lose out if DRM isn’t included in HTML is the W3C, who won’t be able to control exactly how those non-Web parts operate. But that’s true now, anyway, and I can’t believe that the W3C is so power crazed that it wants to sacrifice the open Web solely to extend its empire a little further.

The longer this goes on for, the worse Tim Berners-Lee’s reputation will get. He hopefully understands this by now. The NSA already threatens forking of the Web. Tim Berners-Lee might do the same with his stance. If not a fork, then an alternative might be put forth. There were several Web-like prototypes preceding Tim Berners-Lee’s. Although some were better, they never quite caught on. Tim Berners-Lee and the W3C may feel like they have no competition, so they think that they can get away with DRM.

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