Raspberry Pied in the Face — Part V: Raspberry Bye? The Lost of Trust is Pervasive and the (Un)Official Response Unhelpful

Posted in GNU/Linux, Hardware, Microsoft at 7:59 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Video download link

Summary: The perception that the Raspberry Pi is compromised (by Microsoft) is hurting all the momentum (and reputation) it has built for nearly a decade; we heard from developers close to these affairs

THE media coverage about the blunder has entered its second week (we broke the story more than a week ago) and this morning we found several more articles about it, never mind comments and social control media. The Foundation hoped that the anger would die out just because queries from the community and from customers were being censored. This is a case of bad judgment on top of bad judgment.

Remember that the Foundation works with various GNU/Linux developers and projects, including Debian Developers. One of them wrote about Pi images only hours ago. We too spoke to some developers. They lost faith or lost truth in the Foundation. Much damage has been done by working with Microsoft behind their backs. “Microsoft repos installed on all Raspberry Pis,” one developer told us, asking: “have you seen the news about the Raspberry Pi Foundation forcibly and without notice installing a Microsoft repo in all machines running Raspberry Pi OS? Here’s more context. This implies that at every update you are pinging Microsoft’s servers, and as the repo is PGP-signed by the developers, Raspberry Pi OS users can unadvertedly install Microsoft software, pull it as a dependency or even having it installed in an update. This is a tremendous breach of trust for millions of users and an attack by Microsoft, IMO. Also, in a typical corporate dictatorship style, the critics in the Raspberry Pi forums were quickly censored for “Microsoft bashing”.”

“Remember that the Foundation works with various GNU/Linux developers and projects, including Debian developers.”“I know about this,” I responded, “because we (Techrights) are the ones who actually broke the story.” (We are also being credited at the site raspbian.io … in the front page)

It is clear, based on what we’ve heard, that many developers are pissed off, even partners. They feel betrayed. The breach of trust impacts not only customers (Pi users).

One reader told us that it’s “awesome that TLG [The Linux Gamer] showed Techrights, about that Pi OS maintainer snooping in the Microsoft repo/gpg key… reading a thread about it also, the maintainers said that won’t change, and it’s to make sure life is easy for those wanting to install vscode… sounds like money talking, to me! Wouldn’t be surprised if Microsoft aren’t a major sponsor (similar to Google/Firefox), or a total buyout announcement on the cards.”

They already tried, several years ago in fact, to put Windows on the Pi (we wrote several articles about it back then and again several days ago… in prior parts of this series).

“It is clear, based on what we’ve heard, that many developers are pissed off, even partners.”It’s a travesty because the Foundation betrayed users, customers, media, developers, strategic partners, and even hardware suppliers (there’s a whole chain of extensions for Pi devices). It would likely be the end of the Pi ‘monopoly’ as they have many competitors now (some with the word “Pi” in their name). People would vote with their wallets and we heard of some who started exploring alternatives. Was it worth it for the Foundation? Microsoft has ideas…

We’ve also just received some truly disturbing E-mails related to this. It seems like this series will end up being a lot longer than we first anticipated, so we might split it apart into other (separate) series.

“Trojan horses are not really gifts, even if they come with ribbons and a greeting card that says “Microsoft loves Linux”…”“And with the way this has been mishandled by both Microsoft and RPF,” an associate told us a few days ago, “there is even less reason to trust Microsoft. A question with a very interesting answer would be, why the offending software was not added to the official repositories and in the right category? The category “main” is not the right one.”

Some Debian Developers are really unhappy about this. It damages the reputation of their project/s as well. But Microsoft is of course just trying to interfere with GNU/Linux from the inside (pacifying or demonising opponents by claiming that it “loves” them) — same thing it always did to undermine and kill rivals. Latest target? It seems to be this. Not the first time, either. Trojan horses are not really gifts, even if they come with ribbons and a greeting card that says “Microsoft loves Linux”… (that greeting card is just a gate opener)

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