04.26.20

Software in the Public Interest or Software in Microsoft’s Monopoly Interests?

Posted in Debian, Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Microsoft at 5:46 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The current financial crisis/climate will make it easier for the aggressive monopolisers from Microsoft to bribe more people to capitulate or ‘defect’. Bribery is a Microsoft tradition and expertise; they’re ‘master class’ liars about it, embellishing it as “sponsorship” or even "marketing help".

No public access
It’s apparent that public code is being privatised by Microsoft at GitHub, a proprietary software ‘code prison’ (not vault; monopoly — not preservation — is the goal, exploiting the network effect with ‘features’ as lock-in factor)

Summary: We turn our attention to the Debian Project and Software in the Public Interest (SPI), knowing that they’re vulnerable to cash that groups recklessly take without foresight (likely negative consequences)

THIS post might offend some people; not because of offensive language but because some people associate and affiliate with organisations that are named here. We’ll refrain from using names. Please don’t personify these things (it’s a trap); we only care about what’s true because facts and accuracy matter. It’s never ad hominem. We have the facts. Our track record is good. We focus on issues that we understand very well, choosing specificity over breadth. I find that my detractors fail to discredit me on accuracy; they then nitpick on my style or my choice of words (or even typos). It’s almost a badge of honour when they resort to this low kind of smears/blows…

“We’ll refrain from using names. Please don’t personify these things (it’s a trap); we only care about what’s true because facts and accuracy matter.”Today’s subject will be Microsoft’s money and who’s taking it. This isn’t a new subject to us. Far from it. We even studied it retroactively, going back to records from the 1980s and 1990s. We have a lot of material about payments and their impact on Microsoft rivals, including Novell (how did those Microsoft payments work out for Novell, which no longer exists? Ask Nokia while it still barely exists — a pale shadow of its former self, not to mention Yahoo!).

At the moment Microsoft is monopolising Free/Open Source software using GitHub — a subject we’ll explore again in the near future. Microsoft is willing to lose billions of dollars just to get that monopoly, which is a form of control and leverage (over one’s competition). It’s actually a lot cheaper (than GitHub) to ‘buy’ communities, whose turnover barely touches a million dollars or even a ‘meager’ $100,000. Don’t be dazzled by silly grants that are being dubbed something like “diversity” and are in fact “slush fund” PR stunts if not bribes. These things are being labelled like that because it helps discourage/scare sceptics (or make them look bad). For instance, they pretend to be tolerant towards women and minorities, but it’s a low-cost PR charade (less than the annual salary of one single engineer). They’re not really tolerant towards women and minorities, as we've covered before, they’re tolerant towards criminals and monopolies whilst at the same time trying to paint those critical of criminals and monopolists as “toxic” types (an inversion of narrative and ethical compass). Those are well known tactics; there’s nothing novel here and it isn’t limited to the realm of technology. It’s not even a “right-wing” view and expressing those thoughts has a lot more to do with intolerance of PR and entryism, not “liberalism” or “Conservatism” or whatever…

“Microsoft is willing to lose billions of dollars just to get that monopoly, which is a form of control and leverage (over one’s competition). It’s actually a lot cheaper (than GitHub) to ‘buy’ communities, whose turnover barely touches a million dollars or even a ‘meager’ $100,000.”“Microsoft is regularly listed as a DebConf sponsor since 2016,” one reader told us this morning, linking to the official pages that contain Microsoft’s logo. Here they are:

https://debconf19.debconf.org/

https://debconf18.debconf.org/

https://debconf17.debconf.org/

https://debconf16.debconf.org/

Microsoft, Microsoft, Microsoft, Microsoft.

That’s Debian. We suppose it’s now a “risk” to criticise Microsoft, just as it's risky to speak about the State of Palestine in Debian. One can get reprimanded if not banned (ostracised by humiliation and public shaming) for bringing that up.

We can say it often enough: Free software means free speech. Without free speech how much Software Freedom can really be practised? There are some people looking to interject their personal notion of “ethics” to exclude those with a belief different from theirs; it’s a slippery, slippery slope. The OSI’s co-founder got banned from the OSI’s mailing lists for warning about it, highlighting one of several recent examples where a speech rulebook (e.g. “CoC”) can remove critics of corporate corruption in the name of “protecting women” and “protecting ethnic minorities” etc.

“It’s a subtle attack on Software Freedom and it is shrewdly disguised as a defence of “ethics” or protecting vulnerable people. Don’t fall for it quite so easily.”Again… it is a slippery, slippery slope.

It’s a subtle attack on Software Freedom and it is shrewdly disguised as a defence of “ethics” or protecting vulnerable people. Don’t fall for it quite so easily. It’s usually rather shallow and instinctive.

And since we’ve mentioned the word “ethics” (can be incompatible with Software Freedom) quite so often so far, how about “public interests”?

What public?

Whose interests?

Well, the assumption is that politicians tend to represent the interests of few very wealthy and thus “powerful” individuals — the likes of Bill Gates who bribe them and bribe the media nonchalantly. Money buys narrative, air time, and legislation. That’s not a controversial thing to state. So when we speak of “public interests” we typically speak of causes or actions that serve the general public, not the corrupt and the corruptible (facilitators).

There’s this group called Software in the Public Interest (SPI), which is associated with the people who drove out Richard Stallman but also a bunch of decent people. We don’t want to name anyone; it would miss the point. In their own words: “Software in the Public Interest (SPI) is a non-profit corporation registered in the state of New York founded to act as a fiscal sponsor for organizations that develop open source software and hardware. Our mission is to help substantial and significant open source projects by handling their non-technical administrative tasks so that they aren’t required to operate their own legal entity.”

“Well, the assumption is that politicians tend to represent the interests of few very wealthy and thus “powerful” individuals — the likes of Bill Gates who bribe them and bribe the media nonchalantly.”So it is a “non-profit corporation” with a .org domain. corporation.org — that’s right…

Well, this blog post from last night, “Google, Microsoft & Debian,” contains an interesting image. It suggests that SPI takes money from Microsoft. For authenticity, however, we asked the site to pass along full evidence (that SPI took Microsoft money). We have not received that. But that’s not the main point.

A footpath gone publicThey ask for donations from anybody (this corporation.org) and Microsoft is certainly not listed here among their “Sponsors” (not even GitHub or LinkedIn or whatever). “In addition to the many donations from individuals and organizations, craigslist Charitable Fund and Google provided substantial donations to SPI’s general fund.” It says. So Google is in it, but we don’t know about Microsoft (unless the image can be verified for authenticity. But the point of the post isn’t to call out SPI; it is actually about Debian. It’s not as though Google and Microsoft have control of Debian, but they have growing levels of influence inside the project. I recently heard about more payments than the above (DebConf sponsorship), albeit privately, in relation to WSL. The blog post said this:

Nonetheless, what does it look like when Microsoft’s money comes along?

There can be no greater contamination. The letterhead of Software in the Public Interest, Inc used to request money from Microsoft???? While 🐧🐧🐧 🐧🐧🐧🐧🐧🐧 was unleashing feral dogs to attack a long-standing volunteer, he was spreading his bum cheeks for Bill Gates to come in.

What are the principles that govern Debian Developers in 2020? They are clearly not the same as they were in 2006. Anybody who dares to ask about these paymasters is accused of violating the Code of Conduct. Long live the Code of Conduct.

The term “spreading his bum cheeks” (we redacted the name) was changed to “rolling out a red carpet for” some time later (a few hours apparently), perhaps to avoid the insensitive connotation (especially given the provably strong friendship between Mr. Gates and organised underage sex traffickers, whose name he sought to whiten whilst in prison).

“The number of packages that list a homepage is 26,557 (93% of 28,555) and packages that list their homepage as Microsoft GitHub are 9,082 in number (37% of 26,557, i.e. 34% of 28,555).”We’re meanwhile doing some research into Debian and it looks like Microsoft’s control over the project can be traced back to pertinent packages. In the Debian Buster packages (main repository), the number of packages is 28,555. The number of packages that list a homepage is 26,557 (93% of 28,555) and packages that list their homepage as Microsoft GitHub are 9,082 in number (37% of 26,557, i.e. 34% of 28,555).

Well, that’s a third. Let that sink in. “Some of these are mirrors,” pointed out the person who carried out the analysis, and “that’s not including the packages that depend on these packages. That’s likely going to be more than half.”

“Today’s Linux Foundation does more for Microsoft than it does for Linux; heck, look who runs that foundation and speaks for it.”Remember that very many GNU/Linux distros are based on Debian, including Ubuntu.

If Debian becomes a ‘prisoner’ of Microsoft, then we’re in trouble already. Why did antitrust regulators permit the takeover? Ask the Linux Foundation, which had been bribed by Microsoft only a couple of years before it gave its blessings to this brutal act of entryism, in effect buying the competition that’s volunteers. Today’s Linux Foundation does more for Microsoft than it does for Linux; heck, look who runs that foundation and speaks for it.

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This post is also available in Gemini over at:

gemini://gemini.techrights.org/2020/04/26/free-software-privatisation/

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