“Facebook Whistleblowers” Aside, It Has Been a Dying Platform for Years, and It’s Mentally Perverting the Older Generation

Posted in Deception at 9:33 am by Guest Editorial Team

Guest post by Ryan, reprinted with permission from the original

The Facebook Whistleblowers, as they are called, didn’t tell us much that we didn’t know already.

The platform is pure evil. It spies on people, and ignores extremists and political terrorists (like Trump’s January 6th “supporters”) in order to drive “engagement”.

Over time, it’s been getting worse. It’s certainly no wonder why young people are abandoning it.

They may not be primarily concerned with the spying or the manipulation.

If it’s true that they are just going to other Facebook platforms like Instagram, WhatApp, as well as the non-FB Snapchat, which is actually worse in some ways, then they aren’t learning the important lessons.

But, all things being aside for the moment, since Facebook was invaded by “Your Parents” and they started posting a bunch of racist crap, “We hate Biden!”, and “Gee, don’t you miss Trump even though he nearly destroyed our entire country and did the majority of that in just his last 9 months!”, their userbase on Facebook itself has been plummeting.

The remaining users are left going down a rabbit hole of increasing insanity as increasingly the only thing left are a bunch of self-important, entitled baby boomers, who are obviously going through their second childhood (I mean, when the police have to come out because you knocked someone’s teeth out over a “mask dispute”….), and don’t understand shit about science. (Vaccine “hesistancy”. AKA, I don’t know how this works, so instead of learning about how it works, I’ll decide to be ignorant and afraid instead!”)

All other things aside, and there are plenty of other things, do we really want to share a platform with right-wing terrorists and trolls who support Trump and are dumb enough to not only break the law, but take pictures of themselves doing it, admit everything on CNN, and then upload the evidence to Facebook?

Both of my parents voted for Trump and they were very “Hah! In your face!” about it, but they’re very weak now and don’t want to discuss the fact that he lost to Joe Biden, of all people. Even though Biden spent a lot of his Senate career doing things that they would have approved of had they actually paid any attention to it. He was behind the 1994 Crime Bill and he’s still fighting in court to deport asylum seekers under Trump’s made up “Title 42” nonsense.

CBP and ICE are as bad as they ever were under Trump. Why, just a few weeks ago, they were photographed on horseback whipping black people from Haiti at the border.

So not much has changed. To hear mom and dad, you’d think that Biden will turn us into a Communist country, even though the facts don’t support this either. It was Trump that signed the biggest corporate welfare bill ever (the CARES Act) and mollified the anger of those whom he caused to become unemployed with rent moratoriums, the illegal CDC eviction ban, and “extended unemployment checks”. Biden let the unemployment program expire, the eviction ban is gone, and the CARES Act and “American Rescue Plan” money turned into state slush funds for bread and circuses and new prisons.

But they won’t pay attention. Facebook has radicalized and mentally perverted and corrupted them both to the point of no return. We should feel sorry for both of them, and those like them.

Of course some, like my parents, were already sort of like this, but Facebook made them worse. It put them in a bubble and let them speak with people who were even more fit for a lunatic asylum than either of them were, and they started getting crazier and crazier ideas in their heads.

In an episode of Babylon 5, when the Narn (who have been oppressed by the Centauri) wanted revenge, G’Kar has to shout “No! They are a DYING PEOPLE! We should just let them pass.”

I suppose the same can be said of our parents, the boomers, at this point. They can’t be reasoned with. They live in an alternate reality with “alternative facts”, and they are very much on the way out. It’s up to us to salvage what we can when they’re no longer as much of a force.

EFF Pushes for Users to Install DuckDuckGo Software After Being Paid to Kill HTTPS Everywhere

Posted in Deception, Microsoft, Search at 7:50 am by Guest Editorial Team

Guest post by Ryan, reprinted with permission from the original

DDG meme

I’ve been writing lately about how DuckDuckGo is shady and their business is questionable.

It seems that some donations went the EFF’s way and now they plan on killing off HTTP Everywhere permanently.

$25,000 a year buys them the Tor Project and $150,000 keeps the EFF in their back pocket. But where does the money for this come from, and what does DuckDuckGo get from it?

No company gives out millions of dollars a year and expects to get back nothing.

Is it just DuckDuckGo’s own advertising paying for this?

DuckDuckGo pretends they’re a startup, but that’s not true. They admit that they have been profitable since 2014, have over 105 million searches a day sometimes, and are growing rapidly.

They’re not small. They have very close ties with Microsoft, which also dumps money into these sorts of organizations in order to corrupt them and shield itself from criticism.

(Relatively speaking, the chump change that Microsoft pays off the “Linux Foundation” with corrupted and silenced that organization too.)

In fact, the number one factor in DuckDuckGo’s search results is what Microsoft Bing returns to DuckDuckGo.

So I think it can fairly be said that DuckDuckGo is a way for Microsoft to gain market share with people for whom the Microsoft brand itself is toxic, due to their many decades of law breaking, bad software, spyware, advertising network, and corrupt business practices.

Microsoft itself tries to get away from its own brands too, but even though Edge is named differently than Internet Explorer, and uses a different rendering engine now, they haven’t had much luck in getting people, on Windows, to use it.

This despite malware tactics to steal back default settings and scream at the user that Firefox and Chrome and the others “aren’t safe” (Oh, but Edge is? Well, pardon the hell out of me!). Not that this has stopped their shills from recommending it to people on GNU/Linux, who actually have a choice about what’s on their computers. (Hey, and it ain’t gonna be Edge!)

Anyway, it seems the corruption (the intended effect of DuckDuckGo’s money, which is potentially gleaned from *cough* some other source), is convincing the EFF to shut down its own security applications and pitch DuckDuckGo’s products instead.

DuckDuckGo used to have an application for Android that merely let you search it from your Home screen.

Now, the only app they make for Android is an entire web browser, where DuckDuckGo is in a position to monitor everything you do in it. It’s also not particularly convenient because there’s no desktop version of it to sync with.

But just last year, it was caught tracking its users, and they had an explanation for the tracking when they got caught, like they always seem to. “Just a bug.” Was it?

DuckDuckGo also has a Chrome and Firefox extension called “Privacy Essentials”, and the EFF is also recommending users move from HTTPS Everywhere to DuckDuckGo’s extension.

As HTTPS Everywhere goes into “maintenance mode”, users will have the opportunity to move to DuckDuckGo’s Privacy Essentials or use a browser that has HTTPS by default.

Electronic Frontier Foundation

But DuckDuckGo certainly isn’t a charity. They want all of this software on your computers for a reason, and if that reason was only to bolster their search engine, they’re already in every major web browser, and you can already use them for search that way.

They have other things to be gained from having more of a presence on your computer, or they wouldn’t be writing this stuff in the first place.

It would be better to have nothing of the sort installed on your computer than to replace HTTPS Everywhere with a DuckDuckGo application.

As the corrupt EFF itself points out, Chromium is moving in the direction of HTTPS by default, and Firefox today has an HTTPS-Only Mode (you can make exceptions), without stuffing this ducking nonsense into your computer and letting their “Whoops it’s another bug that lets us track you, but pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!” position keep coming up.

(Note: I had to pull that Reddit post about Gabriel Weinberg out of the Internet Archive because Reddit, a platform for censorship from “Conde Nasty”, removed it. Reddit operates with bans and shadowbans and removes posts all the time.)

It’s unlikely that DuckDuckGo keeps getting caught violating their own privacy policy (and these are just the times they get caught) and that it’s “just bugs”. At this point, it is more likely that their privacy policy is bullshit and a lie.

The EFF has gone from being a good cause to not being worth a bag of beans in the span of a few short years.

Why You Shouldn’t Use SteamOS, a Really Incompetent GNU/Linux Distribution With Security Pitfalls (Lutris is a Great Alternative)

Posted in GNU/Linux at 4:20 am by Guest Editorial Team

Guest post by Ryan, reprinted with permission from the original

It was bowling night on Wednesday, and between frames, I was reading about SteamOS.

Michael Larabel on Phoronix and plenty of others have blogged about it over the years, and Richard Stallman gave some vague opinions about relativistic harms vs. good that it may do for the Free Software community.

While I don’t think there’s anything wrong with proprietary games, in particular, one of the issues I do have with them is DRM, or Digital “Rights” Management. A better name for this is Digital Restrictions Management, or just “digital handcuffs”.

The industry has tried it on everything from movies, music, video games, and books, but it never stops people from attacking it and eventually winning. On a good day, DRM flakes out and causes problems for people who went and paid for a licensed copy of the program, on a bad day, it makes what they’ve “purchased” completely unusable and worthless.

It also causes perfectly good TVs to malfunction because you tried to plug them into your computer to watch Amazon Prime Video or something, and instead it tells you the screen doesn’t support the latest HDCP DRM version.

In another example, when Borderlands 3 released with that horrible DRM that ran in a virtual machine and caused the game to chug along and crash, and finally (after it was pirated), the publisher removed that form of DRM. Or when Microsoft’s Activation servers occasionally glitch and start telling the user they’re running “counterfeit Windows”.

When a person pays for something, and then gets this, it’s not just an insult, it’s an outrage.

But there are some people, like the fools who used iTunes, and then spent years having Apple telling them how and when and where they could use their music files, then finally could PAY THEM AGAIN for a clean copy, and THEN had Apple delete all of their files without asking and tell them to subscribe for $12.99 a month to Apple music.

These fools may or may never learn that DRM is, at a fundamental level, just a way to cheat them out of their money over and over again.

It sucks to be them, but we shouldn’t join them just because a computer seems “easy to use” or “pretty to look at”. I mentioned earlier, we can make Free Software easy to use and pretty to look at too.

All of these issues aside, Valve, the company that makes Steam, also made “SteamOS”, which is a GNU/Linux distribution pitched as “really optimized for gaming”.

However, when you look at what Reddit users say about it, you quickly find complaints that Valve has committed the horrendous security practice of logging in everyone as the same “user”, meaning even if you have different passwords, it’s really the same Linux account, and none of your files or browsing history or anything is off limits.

You’re all using this same account, which is bad for privacy, and you end up stepping on each other’s toes due to the organizational mess.

They’ve essentially re-invented Windows 98’s concept of “users” for some godforsaken reason.

Moving right along, we see that Valve also sometimes goes more than a year and a half without even patching it for security issues. Nothing wrong with using an OS that hasn’t gotten a security patch in 18 months, right?

Then they complain that while it includes the proprietary Nvidia drivers, they’re usually much older than the ones you could install yourself if you have an Nvidia card and some other GNU/Linux distribution, and due to the unpredictable releases and long periods without any patching, the open source AMD and Intel drivers which are bundled with the OS in every GNU/Linux distro have fallen far behind and may not be up to the task of running current software or hardware.

Then what really made me go “OMGWTF” was when Valve switched the underlying system away from Debian (because $@%@ stability, I guess?) and towards Arch Linux. I still don’t know if they release security updates or not, but it was at this point where I just became completely disinterested in SteamOS. Even for amusement.

But the list of reasons why you shouldn’t use Steam OS isn’t just that Valve designs shitty software that doesn’t give a damn about your Freedom or your security, it’s that there’s a million ways to get things done and this is a classic example of “If you want something done right, do it yourself!”.

These days, it’s not particularly hard to install and configure a GNU/Linux system like Debian or Mageia or the others.

Even if you want to install Steam, it’s not like it’s a “SteamOS” exclusive. There is a Debian package, and a Flatpak.

But what I’ve recently taken a liking to is Lutris, it has concepts like “Runners” and makes installing video games from all kinds of sources (and classic consoles) a breeze.

It’s not _just_ Wine that Lutris makes dead simple to use, either, but my favorite feature is definitely that it can configure and manage games and other programs in Wine for you, without you having to worry about mucking up settings and trying to figure out DLL overrides to make things like DXVK or VKD3D work.

In my Debian 11, I’ve been having a lot of fun playing games when before it was more of a pain in the ass trying to set up Wine in order to do something the right way. In fact, the biggest trouble I’ve had out of a game lately, and I blogged about it, was Fallout New Vegas crashing all of the time, and the NVSE/New Vegas Anti Crash mods are something you’d need to screw around with on Windows as well.

While Steam is proprietary software under a proprietary license which brings in tons of crap and garbage and still often doesn’t work right, Lutris is licensed under the GNU GPLv3.

I’ve installed the latest version for Debian according to the Lutris instructions and paired it with the Wine Development Branch for my “System Wine”, which is currently sitting at 6.19 as of the time I’m writing this.

Every two weeks, WineHQ pushes the latest version into my copy of Debian and I get all of their latest improvements.

But how did SteamOS go so wrong?

Well, it’s not hard to imagine why, for me at least. Gabe Newell is a former Microsoft employee, and everyone there had nothing but Windows development experience when they ported Steam over, and that almost never ends well because they take an attitude of “Whatever gets it working now, just toss it in there.” that they learned from Windows, and well, gross.

Then they decided to do an entire GNU/Linux distribution.

Luckily, their Wine fork, Proton, ends up seeing most of the genuine improvements code reviewed and then merged back into Wine itself.

Years ago, we had a different problem. Wine had been licensed under the MIT X11 license, which is basically one of those “Do whatever the hell you want with it.” ones. A company called “Transgaming” came along and forked it and made “Cedega” for GNU/Linux, and “Cider” for the Apple Mac.

When the Wine project realized that they had made a huge mistake and that this hostile closed fork was competing with them, Wine changed its license to the LGPL v2.1 going forward. Then, Transgaming’s days were numbered. They no longer had any Wine code to swipe, so they did a “go it alone” version of Direct3D and some other things.

For a short while, it worked better than upstream Wine did, but eventually they couldn’t keep up and went out of business.

If Wine was still under the MIT license, Proton would have been another Cedega/Cider. But since it’s copyleft, we get to benefit from any improvements Valve makes. And like I’ve pointed out before, we don’t particularly need any Valve software on our computers.

There are other companies that have treated their customers better over the years, such as Gog.com, and they’re supported in Lutris.

In closing, if you like gaming on GNU/Linux and don’t want to tear your hair out, avoid Valve entirely if you can, or at least ignore “Steam(ing Pile)OS” and install a real GNU/Linux distribution, for crying out loud.

The security mess alone reminds me of Linspire, years ago (original company, under Michael Robertson) saying it logged everyone in as root because security would confuse Windows users, and Hans Reiser’s new file system would have ACLs that made UNIX permissions obsolete soon anyway.

I tried to reach out to Mr. Reiser to see how that’s coming along, but he’s still really really in prison in California for murdering his wife with a knife.


DuckDuckGo’s HQ is Smaller Than My Apartment

Posted in Deception, Google, Microsoft, Search at 5:11 pm by Guest Editorial Team

Guest post by Ryan, reprinted with permission from the original

When I was perusing DuckDuckGo’s corporate website for their explanation of a tracker that they use which my Web browsers block, I found their corporate headquarters address.

The tracker is called Improving DuckDuckGo, and of course they always have explanations for everything they do that’s creepy, and they get caught lying all of the time. And of course, Techrights has pointed out things like this before.

The most concerning facts are that they’re US-based (a Five Eyes country with no decent privacy laws at the state or federal levels), and can be compelled to track you by law enforcement, and that they host on Microsoft Azure and also scrape Bing for your search results. Thus, Microsoft would see your IP address on both transactions and can log your activities on DuckDuckGo quite easily, using nothing else, unless you’re on some sort of a VPN that millions of people use (like I am).

But I googled (to get a Street View image) their address, 20 Paoli Pike Paoli, PA 19301, and it’s basically a small building that they share with a dentist’s office.

Due to copyright restrictions on the images, I can’t reproduce them here, but you have to go see this. Just trust me.

The building is so small that it’s like a one bedroom apartment with some DuckDuckGo images on the side.

I mentioned this to Roy Schestowitz in #techrights on irc.techrights.org and he replied that they don’t have to have much of a physical presence considering that they use Microsoft web hosting and scrape Microsoft Bing (which isn’t a very good search engine, privacy aside).

It was creepy enough when they used Amazon AWS, and it’s creepier now that they use Microsoft for both ends of the transaction.

DuckDuckGo claims that they have their own web crawling bot and that they’re not just Bing with different artwork, but for the most part, if you search both side by side, you see very little difference in what comes back.

DuckDuckGo has recently been advertising heavily on Chicago radio stations, including the rock station saying “The DuckDuckGo for privacy traffic report.”.

I don’t think they’re very private. They may be a little bit better than Google on privacy, but a lot of that certainly isn’t by choice.

Google got as big as it is by dominating search and paying off everyone to default to it, and then propping up other projects with that cash until they stood on their own. Google’s the biggest ad network on the internet, and the only advantages, I think, that DuckDuckGo, gives you, in a major way, vs. that is that they don’t have the scale of Google to insert trackers all over the web and DuckDuckGo doesn’t require you to sign in, in order to use much of anything on it.

Years ago, Richard Stallman mentioned that signing into Google to search with it was a bad idea, and he’s right. One of the reasons Google starts popping up annoying CAPTCHA images if you use a VPN is so you will give up and sign in, and then whenever they put an ad or a beacon on another site, it associates itself with you and your search traffic.

I have a GMail account, but I don’t sign into Google in my browsers. My email clients support signing in via OAuth and then I can pull in my mail without signing in. I also block most of their third party stuff in my adblock settings, and I use a VPN.

But Google still tracks. They and Facebook and Microsoft figure out dozens of ways to track in case you block any of those methods, something will work.

Post About Whether Vivaldi is a GPL violation Was Quietly Knifed by the Mods of /r/uBlockOrigin in Reddit

Posted in GPL, Law at 4:58 pm by Guest Editorial Team

Guest post by Ryan, reprinted with permission from the originals [1, 2]

This is the most Reddit thing ever.

So I posted yesterday that Vivaldi Adblock is basically just a ripoff of Adblock Plus and uBlock-Origin code, and that code is licensed under the GNU GPLv3, which talks of “conveying” the software as part of a larger work.

Which is what Vivaldi does.

It’s really hard to write an ad blocker that works right, much less an entire web browser. Vivaldi admits that their browser engine is Chromium, but they’ve effectively plagiarized the ad blocker as their own by stamping a “Vivaldi Adblock” brand on it.

When you do this, your work becomes part of the whole, and must be under a compatible license. However, Vivaldi as a whole is proprietary, meaning it likely violates the licenses of Adblock Plus and uBlock-Origin.

However, when I posted to Reddit’s support forum for uBlock-Origin requesting a code review of Vivaldi’s source dump, they quietly changed it so that the only people who could see it are me and the moderators.

Have a look.

In Reddit on Vivaldi

Many GPL violators get away with it because none of the copyright holders bother to enforce their license.

If they’re not going to enforce their license, they should just go ahead and release it under a permissive license so that companies don’t get the idea that they can simply steal and misappropriate code and nothing will happen to them later involving the DMCA, similar laws, and court.

(Which is what those companies use against a single mother of 3 who downloaded 14 MP3 files.)

The copyright holders of the Linux kernel have never bothered enforcing their rights and so Linux gets stolen this way all the time. And yes, you can say someone stole/pirated Free Software if they misuse it against the terms of the license, assuming the concept of stealing/pirating software is a valid concept at all. The authors have as many rights as anyone else who releases a copyrighted work.

Companies who want to get away with “Free Software piracy” and not get dragged into court, like Sony, commission work to replace software where the author will assert their rights (like when Sony sponsored Toybox to replace Busybox), and they also discourage people from giving copyright assignment to entities that will use it to protect the software from being misused, such as how they attack the Free Software Foundation and make it seem unfair that they asked for assignment.

The result is, they are sometimes successful, and the project becomes hard to protect.

In the past, Jamie Zawinski worked for an employer called Lucid.

They forked Emacs because they wanted to add features to it without assigning copyright to the FSF. Some of them were good features, but the FSF had to implement them separately, without looking at “XEmacs”, and the two diverged, and eventually XEmacs faltered and died after Lucid went out of business.

That fork and the death of all of that code never would have happened had they agreed to give the FSF copyright assignment and work in a participatory fashion, instead of taking JWZ’s attitude that “the FSF is impossible to work with”, after they received more from GNU Emacs than they ever would have given back.

JWZ and others who encourage authors to strip the “or any later version” language from the LGPL and GPL licenses do the entire Free Software community a disservice years down the road, because newer versions of the licenses come out to address threats and harms to computing perpetuated by hostile entities such as Microsoft, Apple, and Sony, but people who find some software under, say, the GPLv2-only and the GPLv3 cannot legally convey them as part of a new work that takes the best of both and extends them, or “upgrade” the LGPLv2.1 to something compatible with the Apache v2 license, or any number of other possible combinations.

This ultimately leaves us all worse off because of lost potential innovation, and people should simple leave the “or any later version” alone and trust other users and developers to make the right decisions 10 or 20 years down the road, instead of watching their software become difficult to use in anything, and then dying. Do you want that for your software? Because you shouldn’t.

Unfortunately, Fedora and Red Hat are now part of IBM, and IBM attacks the GPL and FSF the same way Lucid and JWZ did, only they’re still a very large company who can do a lot more harm (on their own way down). The news has been overly kind to IBM, suggesting that they’re in anything other than some kind of a freefall, and I laugh when NPR is on in the car talking about IBM as if it has a bright future, then disclosing they take IBM money.

This is a blind paste from Reddit. Someone replied to my post about what would make Vivaldi Adblock a GPL violation and this is my response to that. The emphasis at the bottom, about extension store license policies is added to this blog for effect.

Well, the question has come up before in the context of the Linux kernel.

Their position is that the kernel exports “symbols” to drivers that are flagged “GPL-only” and ones that anyone can use. The programmers and lawyers decide which parts they feel are something that is “internal” and should be off limits to anything not under a compatible license.

Unless Vivaldi has changed something dramatically in how the ublock-origin or Adblock Plus code works, I believe it should be using WebRequest API.

Google’s (Chrome Extension) Manifest v3 didn’t go over so well because it wanted to set WebRequest API such that extensions can’t modify network requests and have to use a “DeclarativeNetRequest” API that has essentially been neutered to set an upper limit on the rules.

However, since these extensions can use tons and tons of rules, and Vivaldi Adblock reports success loading well over 150,000 rules, I think it’s probably still WebRequest.

Vivaldi said they were not happy with Google’s Manifest v3 and were moving ad blocking to an internal feature to safeguard against that. Obviously, if they don’t like the limitations on WebRequest, if Google decides to go through with them, Vivaldi can patch them back out and fork ad blocking to keep letting the user load as many rule sets as they like.

Of course, there are other concerns, like Vivaldi doesn’t have a large base of users, and at this point it would basically be them and possibly Firefox not going along with the neutered WebRequest, and are people going to maintain lists for browsers that don’t neuter the API?

Anyway, my point, I suppose, is if Vivaldi is distributing them as if it were two different programs and if they are just using WebRequest, that _might_ be okay as long as they release their modifications to the ad blocker code under the GPLv3.

However, if they move it, (or already have moved it) to use a special internal API (like Brave-Adblock does, which is okay because Brave wrote their own and licensed it under MPLv2) in the browser that is not generally available to other extensions (because it performs better or something), that’s really where *I* would think they’d be in non-compliance.

But I’m not a lawyer.

I’m just comparing this to the “Linux” model of “If it’s available to everyone, go for it.”.

Sniffing their description of “Vivaldi Adblock”, however, it seems they imply their built-in functionality performs better than an extension. If it uses WebRequest, then how does it perform better?

See: https://vivaldi.com/features/ad-blocker/

Note: They also border on slandering uBlock-Origin just because it’s an extension that they don’t bundle. Lots of extensions are shady, even if they end up in Google’s store, but Raymond Hill seems trustworthy and if you make sure to only install open source extensions, you’re probably okay.

In fact, one of the biggest downsides to Chromium browsers getting extensions from Google’s store vs. Firefox add-ons, is that Firefox lists what license you’re agreeing to, and Google doesn’t.

“Oh, you paid us five bucks? Yeah, sure do whatever! Toss your Chinese malware in there!” -Google


No, JWZ, Discord is Not “IRC With Pictures”

Posted in Free/Libre Software at 7:36 pm by Guest Editorial Team

Guest post by Ryan, reprinted with permission from the original

Jamie Zawinski made a comment about Discord basically being “IRC with pictures” somewhere along the way, but it’s actually not.

What Discord does is way worse. It pretends to be IRC plus all of these neat features, so that it can rope people in and centralize their communications, and log everything they do.

They have this thing that they call “running a Discord Server”, which is bogus, because you don’t run the server. They do.

This means that anything anyone ever does on Discord is subject to failure if the company goes out of business or has downtime.

According to Wikipedia, once Discord got enough people used to the free version, they started imposing artificial limits on what you could do, and then selling you subscriptions to get the things you were doing before. This is pretty typical of proprietary software, especially “web apps” like Microsoft 365.

When users got together as a community to make robot programs (like you could always do on IRC) to play Youtube music, ad-free, Google sent DMCA attacks and Discord removed the bots.

When people who had various political beliefs that were not popular among the fascist woke “left” started gathering on Discord, Discord promised to Cancel them.

(Did they, eventually do that? I don’t know, but the fact is that they can.)

We may disagree with other people’s opinions, but having opinions isn’t illegal in a civilized society. Woke trolls use Big Tech to silence their opposition and then again to whine and destroy them professionally.

Discord stepped in and disrupted Wall Street Bets, for making rich people look stupid and causing them to lose some money.

This is just a small list of things they can do.

With IRC, we’ll still have it in 20 years and know how it works. Governments won’t be able to tell the “IRC company” (there isn’t one) to ban end-to-end encryption, which government officials themselves use to prevent leaks, or to shut down servers that they don’t like. If they tried it, it could be hosted somewhere else. If you get banned on one server, you can go somewhere else. If your ISP or government tries to blockade it, you can use an obfuscated VPN or Tor tunnel and use it anyway.

Most tech companies just end up doing whatever the government tells them to in order to not have any of their own business activities suspended. In some cases, this includes being unmasked in order to be executed.

The first step in avoiding a trap, is knowing of its existence.

Discord is not “IRC with pictures”. It’s a trap.

Zawinski seems to be more of a hipster who made good on the dotcom hysteria and then went on to rest on his laurels, occasionally amusing himself by buying a bar, and some Macs, which he swears up and down work fine even though they lock him out of his computer.

(In a recent post, it wouldn’t even let him program software and compile it because Apple didn’t sign those make and python binaries.)

The Macs are (still) more buggy than any GNU/Linux distro I’ve ever seen, according to Zawinski himself. (Who goes on to quote problems in GNU/Linux that were solved 13 _years_ ago as reasons for hating GNU/Linux.)

I think he shouldn’t be listened to for advice about software and using it.

IRC can do all of the important things you need it to do, and it hasn’t gotten much fatter than it was in the 1990s, despite having a new version on the way.

How many things on your computer can you say that about? Remember how slow Windows 98 was on the internet, on dial up? Remember progress bars taking forever, and pulling down menus being painfully slow?

Why is it, today, that your laptop is thousands of times faster than your desktop PC was then, and yet it feels like we’ve made no progress at all?

Windows has gotten morbidly obese to the point even a new computer feels slow right out of the box, which is alarming, and something they use to drive hardware sales, even though they’re like a shittier Apple now. Your PC is three years old! Throw it away! Windows 11!

They throw parties for themselves. They pull a string and OMG MSFT! Joey, Michael Larabel, and SJVN dance for them. It’s sad.

But a few things certainly don’t need to get much fatter and more horrible as time goes on because they’re controlled by a community process (like some GNU/Linux operating systems), and IRC is definitely one of those things. Leave IRC alone! 😉


A Tale of Two KDE Distributions: Kubuntu 21.10 and Debian 11 GNU/Linux

Posted in Debian, GNU/Linux, KDE, Ubuntu at 8:25 pm by Guest Editorial Team

Guest post by Ryan, reprinted with permission from the original

KDE screenshot

I recently tried out Debian 11 with KDE on my Lenovo Yoga 900 ISK2 laptop.

This is my older system and I feel more comfortable playing around with it because it’s not being used that much. Regardless, it allows me to see where things are at in other distributions.

While Debian 11 is generally a fine GNOME desktop experience, it’s hardly an ideal one for KDE users with HiDPI displays, because the version that they put in is far too old for the KDE on Wayland session to work properly.

While the X11 session probably works fine on lower resolution screens and can remain serviceable for the foreseeable future, both sessions are a complete scaling mess no matter what you do on a HiDPI monitor.

So I grabbed a daily build of Kubuntu 21.10 (which is not yet released), and I think it’s shaping up to be a good release so far.

Some of that is later improvements to KDE, and the rest is just that Kubuntu’s setup program is more pleasant and even offers to install a “minimal” version of the desktop so that you can start out with some basic essential software and then add what you want later.

This, I think, will be more enticing to people with SSDs, or even more so to people who are trying to go into developer mode on a Chromebook to clobber Chrome OS, but need the OS and their files to fit comfortably on an eMMC drive.

One of the downsides of KDE is that it has some applications that almost nobody really uses (Konqueror, Akonadi, KMail…) and which are either badly maintained, use more resources than they’re worth, or just don’t work properly, but the Plasma desktop is generally a fine piece of software.

The minimal install provided by Kubuntu, giving the user a relatively clean slate, also gives them a chance to explore oft-overlooked native KDE software, like the Calligra Office suite.

LibreOffice is the default office program, and you basically need it if you plan to save any Microsoft files (eww), and has both GTK and Qt bindings, but those are essentially a mask it wears. And it can be a good mask, and it’s not a bad office program, but it’s still a very “cross platform” program, whereas KDE has an official office suite that’s quite good. If you don’t need to _save_ to Microsoft formats, it can, however, import them, and it’s quite pleasant to use.

In fact, according to top (although the KDE system monitor now seems to count disk cache as used memory now for some reason), only 637 MB of RAM (excluding the disk cache, which can be evicted if the system runs low) were in use on my laptop with an empty KDE desktop running aside from the terminal. This is easily several hundred MB less than GNOME.

So far, the only thing I had to do with the KDE Plasma Desktop on the Yoga 900 ISK2 was configure my touchpad the way I like it and then scale the display to 200%. It even took effect instantly in the Wayland session. Nice!

And when I shut the lid and reopened it, Kubuntu 21.10 even remembered that I had a touchpad.

(Did I mention that Debian’s KDE on X11 didn’t?)

One of the reasons I haven’t taken a serious look at KDE recently (despite being a huge fan of their 3.x series) is because their window manager has been a complete disaster on that laptop with different HiDPI scaling bugs and various levels of completeness.

Obviously, it has gotten much better recently, but Debian froze a version of it that just doesn’t work too well for the screen in that particular laptop.

Mine is a special case (and an evil laugh).

Other than the odd PC and some Macs, not many computers have these screens (and most people are better off spending their money on a better processor, more memory, nicer graphics, bigger SSD, or something important) and so it wasn’t a pressing development matter, obviously, outside of GNOME.

In general, this is just Debian being Debian.

In normal usage, for most people, Debian is going to hold up better than Ubuntu because the software in the Stable version of Debian, while older, is rigorously tested and with the goal of there being far fewer serious defects in the final product as a result.

I posted about using Flatpaks several times if you need a newer version of a particular program on Debian, but just want a stable OS core that isn’t moving around a lot, with the usual bug churn that goes along with that.

The most notable feature of Debian is probably that they are extremely conservative about official kernel versions (although you can certainly install a newer one through backports).

That is to say that the official Linux kernels tend to be drawn from the LTS branches where it will just get more and more reliable over its five years (ish) support lifecycle upstream, and if it runs your hardware okay, there’s really not a lot of reason to mess with it.

But the policy extends to just about everything on the system.

And in some cases, that’s a shame, because KDE’s latest stuff strikes me as overwhelmingly competent. It works, it works well, and it’s not bloatware. If there is one thing I absolutely hate, it’s software that uses more resources than it should for the job it’s doing.

I did run into a weird issue where booting Kubuntu 21.10 on this laptop caused the uEFI BIOS in my Lenovo ThinkBook 15 ITL Gen2 to say it was backing up the self-healing BIOS until I shut down and cold started the computer.

I have no idea how Ubuntu is building their kernels. Debian doesn’t do this.

If I was going to switch over to KDE on this, it would probably be on Debian 11, even though there have been improvements, just because it’s stable and the 1920×1080 display plays nicely with everything.

Nothing gets me hotter under the collar than software that doesn’t work, or is working one day and not the next, and now the problem is fixed, but there’s another problem. That’s what Fedora was like.

It’s worth repeating….. DO NOT buy a HiDPI display.

You will only live to regret it. They’re a power-hogging monstrosity that demands a lot of the GPU, and they’re not practical.

Leave them for Mac fanboys who are watching kiss anime at 240p on Safari.

I’m sad to say that I bought one because I liked how it looked in the store, and then I ended up getting snookered in and only able to run GNOME these last several years.

At this point, I know to ask for 1920×1080 displays. A nice one. But 1920×1080. No more, no less.

I definitely see why some underpowered ARM laptops in the $100 range are going with KDE.

It’s probably the only desktop environment that any sane person would use that still works on such a system. While GNOME is nowhere near as bad about leaking memory as it used to be, it’s still no spring chicken on old or cheap hardware, and KDE is fast and feature-packed.

KDE has had extreme ups and downs over the years, and if anything gives me a second thought at recommending it, it’s that.

In early 2008, I remember being excited that we were going to get KDE 4.0, and then I went to evaluate it and almost nothing worked right, for me anyway, until halfway into the KDE 4 development cycle, with version 4.5.

Kubuntu 8.04 LTS ended up releasing an unofficial patchjob of KDE 3.5.”12″ and saying that was the LTS, and if you wanted the KDE 4 packages, you were on your own. No LTS support at that point. The KDE project made some truly bizarre development choices and one of them was this thing called the “Phonon” API, which seemed great in theory.

They would no longer be beholden to some sound system that might get abandoned upstream like aRts did. Phonon is a smallish API, and programs can use it to play sound and perform other tasks, not caring what the actual media engine behind it all is.

The only problem is that the default gstreamer backend was so terrible (at the time, it works fine now) that I installed an unofficial VLC plug-in, so that everything that used Phonon would end up with VLC’s enormous codec library. But even forcing the user to think about things like this seems like a bother in this day and age.

I mean, I’m willing to entertain some post-setup dotting of the i’s, crossing of the t’s, but an OS needs to work.

And KDE went on for years feeling half-baked with a bug system that was, at times, an echo chamber.

Along the way, they adopted this crazy versioning system that split everything out into three groups (not counting Qt itself!) and I’ve never taken to that, and I’ll always call Lake Shore Drive in Chicago by THAT name regardless of what the Democratic Party decides it is.

All while GNOME 3 (now 4x) just incrementally got better.

The KDE 5.x series is finally something I could install and use on my own computer as a daily driver… except that it’s been so long now that muscle memory for GNOME is built-up, but I can figure out pretty much anything fairly quickly, and would be comfortable changing over on a fresh install if I decided to.

The importance of KDE, to me, is that it’s now one more option.

If GNOME does something that just flat out makes their software useless and terrible, in my opinion, or KDE just keeps getting better, I can easily switch to it.

That’s important. I doubt either will ever get proprietary software-bad, but still….choice is nice.

In Windows, there have been other shells besides “Exploder” (Explorer), but very few people ever installed them, and just muddled through trying to figure out where everything was every couple of years when Microsoft decided to rearrange the deck chairs on the Titanic. Most of the projects that even tried to bring some (UI-level) sanity to Windows are now dead. Most were better-written than Microsoft’s, not that that’s much of a hill to climb, but most of the developers themselves probably gave up trying to make the best out of the situation and fled to GNU/Linux and just didn’t have anything left to develop and test on.

Remember how awful that Windows 8 thing was? Remember them giving you the start button back and then having it lead to that second desktop you were trying to ignore? That’s how GUI developers give you a proper middle finger.

That’s one in a particularly long line of cruel manipulations from Microsoft. I hear that now with Windows 11 you have to set your default browser in like 23 different places, and it’s still hardwired to ignore you and do whatever the hell Microsoft wants.

This is just not how you’d treat a friend, and it’s not the way Free Software treats its users.

Developer of the “Better” App, Which Provides a Content Blocker for Safari, Considers Quitting Due to Apple’s Plans to Invade Users’ Privacy With “CSAM” Scanner.

Posted in Apple at 6:33 am by Guest Editorial Team

Guest post by Ryan, reprinted with permission from the original

Summary: The developer of the Better app may quit and remove the app from the Apple store due to Apple’s privacy violations.

In a bug report regarding potentially switching to Better’s content blocker for GNOME Web, the maintainer of Better says that he and the co-maintainer, his wife, are considering getting out of the Apple app development business entirely.

He blames Apple’s plans to invade the device with “client side scanning”, which Apple claims will detect child pornography stored on iPhones, Macs, and iPad tablets.

While Apple claims that is what it will do, it will really enable massive government surveillance and will lead to regimes like the Communist Party of China and various Islamic theocracies rounding up and murdering people for everything ranging from being a hated minority (gay, Uyghurs, etc.) to wanting democratic government.

Apple already goes to lengths _beyond_ what is legally required in order to do business in China now. For example, you can’t have your Apple merchandise engraved with numbers that correspond to the date of the Tienanmen Square Massacre, even though there’s no legal requirement to prevent them from etching those numbers onto a product.

It was also just two years ago that Apple also proactively removed a song about the massacre from the Apple Music disservice. The sources I read say it didn’t happen in Hong Kong SAR, but it probably has by now. There’s hardly a difference since the so-called “National Security Law” was foisted on them and people began disappearing.

The Communist Party of China tramples over individual rights and freedoms. It’s what they do. Apple assists them. If you think anything good will come out of “client side device scanning”, I’ll sell you the Brooklyn Bridge for two dollars.

And they realize that while the United States conducts “freedom of navigation” exercises in the South China Sea, they can conquer us without firing a shot by putting us in horrible debt to them and buying up American property and companies, and using their money to corrupt universities.

In fact, in Lake County, Illinois, I stopped calling the community college the Colleges of Lake County and started calling them the Communists of Lake County. There is so much Chinese propaganda going on in there, you wouldn’t believe me if I laid out the full extent of it for you.

They paint a very rosy picture of China when what’s actually going on in there is quite horrible and sad, and people are choking on pollution and disappeared by secret police (murdered?), and are too afraid to even speak about it. In the mean time, CLC is pitching an international study program like it was a trip to paradise!

“Usually with Apple’s tracking and advertising libraries, but often with Google’s as well, and of course Google pays to be the default search engine on iPhones, and hardly anyone changes that.”While I applaud Aral Balkan for seeing through the Apple privacy bullshit and leaning towards removing his apps to cease paying them 30% of his app revenues to inflict this abuse on their customers, many developers frankly don’t give a damn and would never inconvenience themselves in such a manner.

In fact, most Apple apps spy on the user to the same extent that most Android apps out of the Play Store do. The author knows this because they’re the ones who put the tracking libraries inside the app!

Usually with Apple’s tracking and advertising libraries, but often with Google’s as well, and of course Google pays to be the default search engine on iPhones, and hardly anyone changes that.

The marketing of “privacy” to users with later versions of iOS serves mainly to try to make it less convenient for other companies to spy on you without using Apple’s tracking garbage, and to position Apple to be the only ad network that iOS developers would want to use.

Richard Stallman mentioned that iPhones (and iOS) are worse than Android, because they do every nasty thing Android does, and then stop you from even considering installing Free and Open Source Software from a repo like F-Droid.

He suggested a good name for a hypothetical such store, though. F-Apple.

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