08.30.19

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

Posted in Deception, GNU/Linux, Kernel, Microsoft, OIN, Patents at 6:30 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

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!

Share in other sites/networks: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Reddit
  • email

This post is also available in Gemini over at:

gemini://gemini.techrights.org/2019/08/30/the-exfat-deception/

If you liked this post, consider subscribing to the RSS feed or join us now at the IRC channels.

Pages that cross-reference this one

What Else is New


  1. Jacques Michel and Willy (Guillaume) Minnoye: Stakeholders in EPO Lawlessness

    Former EPO Vice-Presidents who wish not to be held accountable for what they did in the Office (or be chased after leaving their duties, finishing/ending terms there) are adding fuel to the illegal agenda of an EPOnian regime



  2. Links 15/5/2021: Godot 3.3.1 RC 2 and Pine64 Hardware in Focus

    Links for the day



  3. The EPO's War on Justice and Assault on the Law -- Part 7: Calle's Strange Metamorphosis

    Sources believe the “legal anarchy” that EPOnia became notorious for, especially when it comes to handling referrals at the EPO‘s BoA, will become a dark legacy — a legacy that would, if he was alive, disappoint even Josefsson’s source of inspiration



  4. Making up Law at the EPO

    Another video about the ongoing EPO series and some news/commentary from around the Web



  5. Over a Thousand Videos (or Audio Files) and More Protocols Supported

    From just a Web site (ordinary HTTP/S protocol) we've expanded to alternative channels of communication; this is a quick roundup, with focus on last night's development work (already pushed into our self-hosted Git repository)



  6. IRC Proceedings: Friday, May 14, 2021

    IRC logs for Friday, May 14, 2021



  7. Nathan Proctor: Right to Repair and the DMCA

    LibrePlanet 2019 video



  8. [Meme] Calle Calling...

    The values of the Habermasian EPO judge depend on who’s paying the salary



  9. The EPO's War on Justice and Assault on the Law -- Part 6: The Habermasian Who Warned About “Legal Anarchy”

    The political orientation of a Benoît Battistelli-appointed EPO judge who has the audacity to talk about legal anarchy and bemoan abuse of the law; the António Campinos administration extended his term until (at least) 2027



  10. Paid-for Plugs and Coordinated Marketing Fluff (PR Campaigns) Are Ruining 'Linux' Sites

    Junk 'articles' (just marketing disguised as 'news') spoil the World Wide Web; companies repeat the same sales pitch over and over again, sometimes leveraging what they perceive to be avenues read by geeks



  11. Links 15/5/2021: GCC 8.5, Fedora Community Revamp

    Links for the day



  12. Links 14/5/2021: FreeBSD on the Pine H6, Red Hat Hiring

    Links for the day



  13. Protecting Freenode is Protecting the Free Software Movement

    Freenode may seem like a negligible corner of the Internet, which media never bothers mentioning at all; but Freenode, which many have come to take for granted, is core infrastructure for many Free software projects and protecting the network is essential for the Free Software Movement



  14. EPO Justice

    Justice in Europe's second-largest institution, where the law itself is a second-class citizen



  15. IRC Proceedings: Thursday, May 13, 2021

    IRC logs for Thursday, May 13, 2021



  16. Understanding How Freenode (IRC) Works -- or Doesn't Work -- in 2021

    There is a conflict going on behind the scenes at Freenode, but there are also sincere and well-meaning attempts to undo the damage and get back to normal



  17. [Meme] Judges the Office Cannot Control Are Just Nazis With Weapons in Their Office...

    The EPO hasn’t been run by grown-ups for over ten years; Benoît Battistelli, António Campinos and their confidants cannot grasp the concept of law, just blind loyalty



  18. The EPO's War on Justice and Assault on the Law -- Part 5: Battistelli's “Swedish Chef”

    The EPO's 'courts' are controlled by the people whom they're supposed to judge on; this has been the case for at least half a decade



  19. Links 14/5/2021: KDE Plasma 5.22 Beta and GNOME 40 in Gentoo

    Links for the day



  20. Audio: “Unjust Computing Clamps Down” by Richard Stallman

    The FSF has finally uploaded the LibrePlanet talk of Richard Stallman



  21. Links 13/5/2021: KDE Gear 21.04.1 and LibreOffice 7.0.6

    Links for the day



  22. The EPO's War on Justice and Assault on the Law -- Part 4: The President of the Boards of Appeal

    A deeper look into the ‘sausage factory’ that is EPO tribunals certainly helps us understand the inherent bias of many decisions, including a recent decision on European software patents like a controversial simulation patent



  23. Judging the Judges

    Today we shall take a closer look at Carl Josefsson, a person who shall become a figure of interest if he sends EPO courts to the United States in clear violation of the EPC (looking to rubber-stamp an unlawful decision already made before this case even started)



  24. When EU Authorities Tell You to Complain to the EPO Itself About EPO Privacy Violations...

    “Kafkaesque” at the EPO; Kafka could do a whole novel about the flirtations with or affairs of ‘justice’ at the EPO



  25. The Need for Reliable Governance at Freenode

    Why the current and high-profile (albeit somewhat covert) owner of the network, who seems to care about Free software (it has made him very wealthy), should put the whole thing in reliable hands and not attempt to 'monetise' it in any way



  26. IRC Proceedings: Wednesday, May 12, 2021

    IRC logs for Wednesday, May 12, 2021



  27. Andrew Lee of Private Internet Access/London Trust Media Increasingly Owns and Controls Freenode (Updatedx2)

    The details about Freenode ownership and control are explained in a resignation letter urging users to move to another network



  28. [Meme] eBPF is Not Microsoft's, But It's Certainly Googlebombed by Microsoft

    eBPF isn't Microsoft's. But sites that work closely with Microsoft keep mentioning that term as if Microsoft created it and champions it (typical tactics).



  29. Links 13/5/2021: OpenSUSE Leap 15.3 on Finer Hardware, AMI Dabbling in Free Firmware

    Links for the day



  30. The EPO's War on Justice and Assault on the Law -- Part 3: The Current Line-up

    The composition of the Enlarged Board for case no. G 1/21


RSS 64x64RSS Feed: subscribe to the RSS feed for regular updates

Home iconSite Wiki: You can improve this site by helping the extension of the site's content

Home iconSite Home: Background about the site and some key features in the front page

Chat iconIRC Channel: Come and chat with us in real time

Recent Posts