06.28.21

The Media is Trolling Linus Torvalds Again… But Torvalds Responds

Posted in Deception, FUD, GNU/Linux, Kernel at 4:28 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Video download link

Summary: Linux kernel 5.13 is now officially released, but hostile media is trying to brew unnecessary panic or scandals, spicing up with drama an otherwise banal and mundane situation

ALTHOUGH we have been critical of him for a number of years if not decades, Mr. Linus Torvalds is nowhere as problematic as the Linux Foundation, which is abusing his trademark and handing over control to corporations which dislike the GPL, don’t really care about Linux, and basically view that kernel of his as a zero-cost commodity to be exploited.

“Official messages about the release of Linux 5.13 are totally innocuous, technical, and one might say not interesting.”The way the media treats “Linux” remains very frustrating, aside from the lack of attribution to GNU. It seems to be thinking that Microsoft (e.g. GitHub/NPM) sending malware to GNU/Linux servers is in fault of “Linux”, it pretends that Microsoft loves Linux, and it misuses the term “Linux” to promote Vista 10, WSL, and Vista 11. It’s grotesque. But the video above deals with another kind of negative slant.

Last night, just before midnight, Torvalds released Linux 5.13, as expected. We kept track of media coverage in [1, 2] — pages we’ll keep updated as more media coverage arrives.

The release of Linux 5.13 was very calm and normal, but once again, just like years ago, a certain writer from 'El Reg' (whom I confronted over his sensationalist coverage of kernel releases just a few years ago), decided to publish a provocative headline. It’s also worth noting that around the time of the release, maybe just minutes apart, an anti-Torvalds article was republished (yes, just minutes apart, yet again). It’s obviously timed to cause damage to Torvalds, who was likely ‘entrapped’ by a hostile interviewer, a journalist who slants a technical project as some sort of political endeavour where gender diversity is more important than technical excellence (gender diversity in Linux kernel development is actually a lot better already… compared to the average Free software project).

All those straw man arguments and personal attacks need to be pointed out if they’re ever to stop. In my personal take, the video focuses on the ITwire article. Sam doesn’t write there so much anymore (not this month anyway), but this article is appreciated. It’s very much needed. Last night’s 81-minute video response to the a new article about Mr. Torvalds and about Linux isn’t related to the latest from a British tech ‘tabloid’, but in days to come we might see loose connections. These people have long been trying to cause instability and maybe weaken the leadership of Linux (making ways for corporations to fill up a vacuum of ‘cancel culture’ and/or fatigue).

Official messages about the release of Linux 5.13 are totally innocuous, technical, and one might say not interesting. What’s a lot more interesting is how a certain large publisher has published with the headline “Profile of Linus Torvalds, Creator of Linux Operating System” an actual ATTACK on Linus Torvalds. Then they REPUBLISHED it, only minutes apart from the Linux release (to coincide with the Linux 5.13 release! No way the timing was a coincidence; it’s a Sunday and a holiday!). As noted or alluded to in the video, the same person who is attacking Torvalds right about now (behind paywall; maybe the intention is to sell subscriptions) also boosts the illusion of Microsoft Azure ‘success’ (even amid Azure layoffs that Microsoft is trying hard to hide). With promotional Microsoft tweets and headlines such as “Microsoft is closing the gap with Amazon’s cloud” (basing it on “a survey of 750 professionals,” which isn’t scientific at all!) one might as well assume that Rosalie Chan’s objective is sinister. She waited until the day of the Linux release (this happens only once in 2-3 months), and then hours beforehand she published the ‘hit piece’ (and again minutes after the actual release!). They pushed out a misleading headline, “Profile of Linus Torvalds, Creator of Linux Operating System” though it is not a profile at all but an ATTACK on the guy, starting with a list of vulgarities from Torvalds (to cast him in a negative light on a Sunday and a holiday).

The corporate media (whose real owners are known; it’s in the public record) won’t be happy until Linus Torvalds and Richard Stallman (RMS) are dead or at least retired, leaving their projects at the hands of corporations like Microsoft and Google (that's what happened to Python). Torvalds is only 51. By the time he’s flirting with retirement (a decade and a half from now) the age threshold for pensions might be 70. RMS is already in his retirement age and he still works tirelessly. But Chan has decided to write Torvalds off as a dead or dying horse! At 51. How very nice and polite…

Young Linus Torvalds

04.28.21

Testimonies, Letters, Writings, and More About Richard Stallman

Posted in Deception, Free/Libre Software, FSF, FUD at 11:02 pm by Guest Editorial Team

Published on April 27, 2021. Reproduced with permission.

As we keep working on this website, we are getting feedback from readers who send us their own writings and testimonies, or point us to writings by other people. We are grateful to all of them for their contributions. We can’t publish all of the materials, but here are some.

Professional Interaction with Richard Stallman #professional

by Andy Farnell – March 2021

Attackers of Prof. Richard Stallman, founder of the Free Software Foundation and GNU project, accuse him of “unprofessionalism.” My experience has been different. I recently had reason to speak with Richard Stallman while researching a new book, as I needed to interview an authority on the subject of “Software Freedom.” Of course, this is my personal experience over a short time. Some people say that he is difficult to get along with, but here’s why I feel any labelling of Stallman as “unprofessional” is undeserved.

As I hit send on an email to Richard Stallman, a person famed for “being weird,” I sighed with resignation at the fact it would likely go unanswered. Five seconds later a reply appeared. Obviously it was an automated response, including some boilerplate addressed to any NSA agents enjoying our conversation. Weird, yes! Check one! But in good humour. Were I an NSA worker it would cause no offence and make me smile. His email was polite, concise, informative and sensible. It explained Richard’s workflow for processing mail and when I might expect a reply.

Now, some might say that a “professional” would delegate their public interface. Having dealt with many prominent people I know it sometimes takes weeks and many attempts just to get through to an agent or handler, let alone win a personal audience. Often when trying to interview other writers or public figures one encounters a fortress of aloof discouragement—just go away, I am way too busy for you. Those who have a great deal to say, often take such pains to hide themselves and make sure nobody gets to speak back. As I see it, Stallman shares with the legendary Noam Chomsky, in being approachable by anyone, whether a professional reporter, student, blogger, or critic.

So, within a few days I received a thoughtful and detailed reply from Richard himself, who suggested we talk, and some choices of technology for a meeting. We found a mutually agreeable solution, being Jit.si, over which Richard devoted hours to helping me with my questions. I had expected a great fuss about encryption, and to find myself awake past midnight recompiling a kernel or fighting with encryption keys in order to talk to Stallman who would be nit-picky, weird and patronising about my weak security practices. That didn’t happen. It’s a character strength of Stallman I have heard others praise, that while ideologically rigid, he is absolutely pragmatic.

Before we were scheduled to talk, Stallman took the initiative to reach out and remind me we had a meeting, pre-emptively suggesting we test the link, and that I should record the meeting on my side as a reference, thus saving me the awkwardness of asking permission. Professional? Certainly well organised and mindful of the needs of others.

Then came the actual meeting. I get to talk to a lot of smart people, but rarely do they engage like Richard Stallman. He listens. Being into communication theory I pay attention to styles of interaction. In several hours of online connection Richard Stallman never once spoke over me, showing extraordinarily adept use of timing and tone for voice communication with latency while clearly thinking about each question. He ended each session by asking if I needed a follow up session and whether the recording had been successful.

At this point, Richard had no idea who I “really was.” He remarked that he was helping a student publish an article on software freedom in higher education—but he had no time to devote to editing the students prose. I took this as a subtle invitation to quid pro quo, and so I offered to edit the article. That lead to a long, productive and very interesting interaction that inspired an article for the Times Higher Education.

My experience of Stallman seemed the very model of consummate professionalism—exemplary use of technology and language, far, far better manners than I expect from many corporate encounters. Contrary to commentators who paint him as socially clumsy, I found his rather charming way of advancing agendas and connecting people for mutual benefit quite skilful.

The word “unprofessional” has been co-opted as an accusation in modern witch-hunts. It is very hurtful to call another person unprofessional, partly because the concept is so poorly defined, and gets conflated with “bad character.” Often the accusation is levelled at someone who is indeed acting at the absolute height of professionalism, following
the true spirit of their profession, but standing against the status quo. Whistle-blowers or those advocating for organisational change toward better ethics come to mind as obvious victims. We must stop abusing the word “unprofessional” as a vague smear against anyone whose opinions we dislike.

A Letter to the FSF #letter1-fsf

Date: Apr 6, 2021, 14:12
From: [Email address redacted]
To: info@fsf.org
Subject: In support of RMS

Dear FSF,

I support Richard’s return to the FSF, and hope that he will continue providing momentum to the Free Software Movement in all ways possible, especially through the FSF and GNU.

I am a doctoral student of condensed matter physics at Savitribai Phule Pune University, Pune, India, and a regular user of free software for almost a decade now. I would like to express my gratitude to Richard’s initiative for software freedom, which has directly and indirectly enabled my research in more ways than one.

Pradeep Thakur
Pune, India.

04.27.21

Misnaming the GNU Operating System

Posted in Deception, Free/Libre Software, FSF, FUD, GNU/Linux at 10:39 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

FUD is not uniform (so-called ‘GNU Assembly’)

Summary: Hijacking the name “GNU” and calling it “Linux” (or pretending it soon turns 30, not 38) is a problem; this is what Richard Stallman told me 7 years ago


Direct download as Ogg

University of Minnesota Has Destroyed Itself (or Its Reputation) by Trying to Destroy Linux and the Credibility of Linux

Posted in Deception, FUD, GNU/Linux at 4:34 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Video download link

Summary: The blunder that has become a cautionary tale serves to show that 1) Free software projects do catch bugs (there is some assessment of the impact of commits; multiple parties or companies can spot and report vandalism) and 2) there are severe consequences for vandals, even collective punishment in the case of the Linux Foundation (so much for “inclusiveness”)

THE FUD campaign against Free software was supposed to badmouth the development process by taking on the Linux kernel, perhaps the best known project (or most publicised at least). Not many people have heard of the University of Minnesota before; it’s not exactly known for anything in particular, especially in the area of Computer Science. You’d struggle to name any major accomplishment in computing originating from the University of Minnesota. We’ve captured every article we could lay our hands on, in almost chronological order (and it’s still updating, there’s ongoing progress and things unfold further).

“Let it become a cautionary tale.”So now, a few weeks down the line, fame at last for the University of Minnesota! Fame or infamy? Probably the latter.

The University of Minnesota should have issued an apology, not the concern trolls who actively sabotaged the kernel and wasted a lot of time in the process. The University of Minnesota seems to be incapable of handling this situation. Anything it says at this stage only keeps it in the headlines for another day or even another week. Sooner or later its postgraduate programme will become synonymous with saboteurs, even if thinly disguised as “research” (as if it’s a catch-all excuse, even when you interject defects into billions of computers, some of which responsible for critical services).

Liberate by TrumpThe video above discusses the chronology of things and the ramifications. The lessons to be learned from this blunder of the University of Minnesota is that a university needs ethics committees to assess the viability and impact of so-called ‘research’, especially when so-called researchers are de facto vandals.

What are people’s thoughts on this? Well, so far we’ve seen not a single person defending what the University of Minnesota did. In fact, any publicity the students got (like people accessing their papers) — assuming there’s benefit to any sort of attention — is massively outweight by the collective harm done to the reputation of the University of Minnesota. Let it become a cautionary tale. When the patches aren’t just binaries but are visible in the form of code (visible to many parties) bugs become shallower. And moreover you see who’s responsible for them.

It's just a bug! And bugs on the rise

Video errata: While checking the output (one take, no scripting) I noticed a glaring error; for some strange reason, maybe a Freudian slip, I said that the annual salary of Greg K-H is a hundred thousand dollars per year. I meant to say something completely different and it’s important to correct this (even if the slip of the tongue was purely accidental). The IRS filing for 2018, back when he was relatively new in this employer, suggests almost $400,000 a year inclusive of everything (latest available filing says it has increased since):

Greg K-H's salary

04.17.21

Richard Stallman Vilified by Those Who Don’t Know Him, Says Sylvia Paull

Posted in Deception, Free/Libre Software, FUD at 6:59 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Sylvia PaullRepublished “In Support of Richard Stallman”, based on the original.

Sylvia Paull is a well-known feminist and PR person who has known Richard Stallman for many years and hosted him in her home. This is an article she wrote in 2019 when RMS was pushed to resign from his positions at MIT and the FSF after a defamation campaign. The article was published on Medium, a website that cannot be seen without letting JavaScript run on people’s computers. We decided to reproduce it here verbatim from the original so that people who refuse to run JavaScript code can read it. We have been unable to reach the author so far. Sylvia, if you are reading this, please Contact us.


Richard Stallman Has Been Vilified by Those Who Don’t Know Him

By Sylvia Paull – September 26, 2019

People in the tech community know me as a high-tech publicist, a former board member of BMUG—the largest Macintosh computer user group in the world—a founder of the Berkeley Cybersalon, which focused on the impact of technology on every aspect of our lives, and the founder of Gracenet, a networking and support group for women in tech that at the turn of this century launched a worldwide campaign to eliminate sexist advertising in high-tech media. The campaign, which issued a press release announcing a “DisGraceful Award in Advertising,” to a different leading tech company each month, ended up shaming several companies, IBM included, to withdraw their ads and apologize for the offense they might have caused women (and men).

Before even entering the tech field, I was a die-hard feminist and came up with the slogan, “A Woman’s Place Is on Top,” for a t-shirt whose sales made possible the first all-women’s ascent of Annapurna, the tenth highest mountain in the world. The t-shirt, whose slogan I gave to the leader of the climb and my good friend, Arlene Blum, is still selling and supports a nonprofit to support women climbers.

When I met Richard Stallman at least 25 years ago, through a mutual friend mentioned who said Richard could use a publicist, I was only too willing to help. For many years, he became my pro bono client because I believe in the mission of the Free Software Foundation and his life’s investment in that mission of free software, which indeed has made the world a better place. I even put up Richard at my home—the one I then shared with computer editor and writer Fred Davis— for a week, and found out more about him. He was kind, attentive, and has a loving core. In simple language, he patiently explained to my son, then around 12, about the virtues of the GNU/Linux operating system, so that after he left, in the middle of the night, my son stripped Windows from all our nine PCs and installed GNU/Linux. (A disaster, my son discovered, because he could no longer play his favorite video games. He ended up reinstalling Windows on all the machines.)

Richard does not relate to people in the way most of us do. Most of us put up a shield between ourselves and others. We act the way they expect us to act, whether we really empathize with them or share their point of view. This is what we have learned is the way to get ahead in life. Richard does not seem to have developed this shield. He takes everything literally and doesn’t necessarily take feelings and the reactions of others into account when making statements that are outside the bounds of his expertise in free software.

I read his comments on the CSAIL list and was horrified to see some of the early media headlines that misconstrued these comments to say that he condoned Epstein’s rape of women. Richard explicitly said that Epstein was a serial rapist, but few reports remarked or even included this comment. I told Richard that his remarks—which tried to question Marvin Minsky’s awareness that his victim was being forced to have sex—showed a cluelessness about the impact they would have on Epstein’s victims as well as women everywhere. It was a stupid assumption on Richard’s part, and he has since expressed, and more importantly, understood the harm that these remarks have caused women and particularly Epstein’s victims.

I do not excuse Richard Stallman’s remarks, nor do I challenge the actions of both the MIT Media Lab and the FSF for terminating his positions with them. As an active feminist and one who has witnessed much bad behavior among tech CEOs over the past 30 years, I think that accusing Richard Stallman of not supporting women, gays, or any other minority group is false. Look at his real history, not the sign about welcoming “hot ladies” on his MIT Media lab[*] office door, which someone else wrote as a joke and which he removed but not before someone took a photo of it—but his record in helping to give everyone in the world access to free software. He has truly made our world a better, more free place. #door


[*] Stallman was never part of the MIT Media lab. The author is confusing it with CSAIL.

04.04.21

Who Signed the Hate Letter Against Software Freedom (or Against FSF Bringing Back Its Founder)

Posted in Deception, Free/Libre Software, FSF, FUD, GNOME, Google, IBM, OSI at 1:07 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Video download link

Summary: The concern trolls who are associated with FSF-hostile groups (sponsored by monopolies) didn’t manage to build enough momentum to sabotage the FSF; the media operatives on their side, however, try to tell us that the FSF is destroyed (monopolies pay them to say this, hoping for self-fulfilling prophecies)

NOW that the hate letter has reached a standstill (barely passed 3,000 signatures, whereas the response to that may soon reach 6,000 signatures) I’ve decided to record a quick video to explain who prepared and signed this letter (and why). Many of the names are very much expected (same as 2 years ago) and institutions are barely recognisable. Many have the strong conviction against the FSF because they’re BSD projects. Some have nothing whatsoever to do with code. In the case of the GNOME Foundation, they’ve attacked software freedom for many years (well over a decade!) and the OSI is a blatant attempt to steal the thunder from FSF. There should be no expectation of them supporting the FSF. They can only pretend.

“Many have the strong conviction against the FSF because they’re BSD projects.”The video above uses mostly polite language, unlike the letter that was signed. At the end they accomplished almost nothing. If anything, as people pointed out to me recently, the FSF became only more closely aligned with the uncompromising ideology of its founder. Some of the others left the FSF. Maybe that’s for the better.

03.27.21

Videos: How the Free Software Foundation Defied the Corporate Media and an Online Mob That Media Was Herding

Posted in Deception, Free/Libre Software, FSF, FUD, Videos at 8:26 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

What corporations did, explained in a video (video download link)

Summary: Corporations do not want Stallman back at the FSF (we did a detailed article about how the corporate media was spreading lies about what he had said and done); but that’s fine because the Free Software Foundation (FSF) stands for people, whether they code or not

The FSF’s reaction [1, 2, 3] was a class act: (video addendum)

Video download link

03.13.21

The Real Blunder is Up-to-date Exchange Systems Being or Getting Compromised for Two Months (While Microsoft Knew About That), Not Anything ‘Linux’

Posted in Deception, FUD, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Servers, Windows at 6:18 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Video download link

Summary: There seems to be a deliberately misleading campaign seeking to associate “Linux” with something about “malware” in “China”; the real “malware” or “China” (not really) news is actually about Microsoft and Windows

THREE days ago I began to notice distraction tactics or Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt (FUD) tactics, seemingly aimed at distracting the public from the real news and set focus on some phony non-news, namely that old and unmaintained servers are a security risk. They just are. If you’re using something that has been out of support for years, that’s just bound to happen, no matter what operating system is used…

“Is this an ongoing ‘googlebombing’ campaign?”At the moment Microsoft risks losing perhaps hundreds of millions if not billions of dollars in contracts. IT departments put forth proposals to dump Microsoft, not just for Web servers (IIS is dying) but also for E-mail servers, maybe a lot more! Corporate media shoots its own foot in a major way by helping liars from Microsoft blame everyone but themselves for what’s happening right now to Exchange “Servers” [sic] and more shameless is the media campaign, led partly by Microsoft-connected sites, to associate “Linux” with something about “malware” in “China”. Is this an ongoing ‘googlebombing’ campaign? Or just a timely coincidence? We’ll leave it for readers to decide, but watchers of the video can see my findings, which I’ve accumulated and shared for 3 days now.

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