05.16.21

IBM Has Changed a Lot Since 2018, and Not for the Better

Posted in GNU/Linux, IBM, Red Hat at 7:40 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Video download link

Summary: IBM isn’t that much of an ally of GNU/Linux as a community-led or community-centric operating system; IBM is in it all just for IBM and we need to treat IBM accordingly

THE acquisition of Red Hat was announced jointly (by Red Hat and IBM) way back in 2018 but wasn’t completed until quite some time later. At first it looked mostly innocuous, as one might expect, but several things happened in recent months — major things.

“Last year they sent PR agents to contact me (albeit peripherally), so it’s crystal clear that they watch not only “IBM Layoffs” at TheLayoff.com but also sites like Techrights.”As longtime readers are aware, we were not rushing to criticise the takeover. We assumed good intention (presumption of innocence, good faith), but seeing that IBM’s aggressive patent policy remained as bad as ever (e.g. Xmas extortion) followed by suppression of Fedora, e.g. banishing longtime volunteers (we suppose because of their critical views regarding some corporations) and pulling of the rug from under(neath) the feet of CentOS users we were quickly losing patience. These attacks culminated in even more vicious attacks on the founder of GNU/Linux — not the first attack of this kind (they then compelled Fedora to do the same while muzzling longtime Fedora volunteers). Layoffs and many resignations did not help, either (or attempted censorship of such information). We’ve lost count of the number of things IBM has done wrong, maybe by intention. Does IBM just hope to eradicate community elements and turn GNU/Linux into another IBM ‘UNIX’?

Judgement: Your honour, they are the most racist company on this planet. They do apartheid, eugenics and genocide. CoC violation! Can't state facts anymoreSometimes it certainly feels like IBM wants vendor lock-in (something to latch onto, along with openwashing) rather than sharing and software freedom, i.e. control for users over the systems they use. The video above moreover mentions the whole corporate trolling angle. There are many, many things to be criticised about how IBM communicates with GNU/Linux developers, sometimes even with its very own staff, and how IBM manipulates the media (usually by shaming the community and reinforcing a stigma, much like in IBM’s notorious days of FUD).

Noted in the video (and shown) are two posts from this morning [1, 2]. It is neither comprehensive nor complete, but given the path IBM has chosen to follow it’s very likely to be a subject we’ll revisit and examine more closely over time. IBM has a lot more influence over GNU/Linux than Microsoft ever had. This is the same IBM that lobbies the EPO for European software patents — the very opposite of what Red Hat did in Europe 16 years ago.

Although we lack concrete and direct evidence, there has been lots of suspicious trolling here recently (discussions about IBM layoffs) and we can’t help wondering if IBM’s PR agents are playing a role in that (to provoke and discourage posting, reading, participation). It would not be the first time IBM does such things; IBM and Microsoft treat and game the media quite similarly (they're more closely connected than many were led to believe), and have done so for decades. Last year they sent PR agents to contact me (albeit peripherally; they had done it a decade earlier as well, even directly), so it’s crystal clear that they watch not only “IBM Layoffs” at TheLayoff.com but also sites like Techrights. In fact, last night one IBM employee said something very unflattering about us in Twitter. They really don’t want people to read the site and when Techrights is in the front page of Hacker News lots of IBM employees (sometimes with explicit disclosure) gang up to bury perfectly factual stories. They just try to control the narrative.

“In May of 1990, the DoJ gave the green light, freeing the FTC to open their probe. With no shortage of help from Microsoft’s competitors, the FTC collected mounds of evidence showing that Microsoft and IBM had been in cahoots from the beginning.”

Barbarians Led by Bill Gates, a book composed
by the daughter of Microsoft’s PR mogul

[Meme] Criticising IBM is Racist and Intolerant

Posted in GNU/Linux, IBM, Red Hat at 5:21 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Microsoft’s tactics (like calling critics and sceptics “haters”) are shared with IBM, the original “FUD” company

systemd is just an init system; But... Don't you judge me!
IBM: we champion activism against racism (even if we’re the worst culprit in tech history)

Summary: Systemd is becoming untouchable and its critics are framed as “toxic” or “trolls”, no matter the facts and irrespective of the technical substance of their complaints

Combatting Revisionist History (Post From 2015, Years Before IBM Bought Red Hat and Increased Vendor Lock-in)

Posted in Debian, GNU/Linux, IBM, Red Hat at 5:01 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

A day ago (Debian Developer from Japan):

Debian Developer from Japan on systemd

Keanu Approves/Disapproves IBM: They tell us they combat racism; But more people find out it's a PR stunt
Smokescreen that serves to distract from the very racist nature of IBM and its founder

Summary: Today we republish this forum post from more than 6 years ago; in light of what IBM did to CentOS and its vicious attack on the founder of the GNU/Linux operating system we must understand the systemd agenda, which the FSF can more openly speak about now that there are no financial strings

I‘m something of a historian, I can’t help but be troubled by the revisionist history I see unfolding in the aftermath of the recent controversy over systemd. So, from the “you are entitled to your own opinion, but not your own facts” department, as a kind of parting gift to this community, I’d like to do what I can to marshal what I perceive to be the pertinent facts into a single bucket.

Disclaimer: For the benefit of those who may stumble on this post without any knowledge of my feelings on the matter, it’s safe to call me the original systemd hater. In fact, it was my own headlong flight from systemd that originally led me to Debian in the first place. (And depending on your POV, that may constitute Yet Another Reason to hate systemd.) I make no claim nor pretense to "balance" or "fairness" regarding systemd any more than I would for, say, arsenic poisoning. My aim is to challenge and hopefully dispel certain memes that I see emerging from the systemd aftermath.

With that out of the way…

Systemd is not an init system
If someone characterizes systemd as an “init system,” you may safely assume that s/he is either utterly clueless or deliberately obfuscating the discussion. Calling systemd an init system is like calling an automobile a cup holder. Not even Lennart Poettering pretends that systemd is anything but the “Core OS” (sic).

What systemd is is an effort to re-create large portions of existing userspace (including login, job scheduling, and networking, just to name a few) inside a single process traditionally reserved for the sole purpose of starting *nix userspace. (Just in case it isn’t clear, there is a huge difference between starting userspace (init) and being userspace (systemd).)

At the end of the day, how one perceives this re-creation of existing userspace strongly influences one’s reaction to systemd. There are plenty of perfectly legitimate reasons to be troubled by this re-invention of the wheel; they range from the philosophical and aesthetic, to the technical and mechanical, even the purely political and brutally practical.

And that’s part of the problem when folks start to “debate” systemd. Very few folks have the chops to think about, much less talk about all of these areas simultaneously. As a result, the discussion becomes fractured and disjointed, in what is literally the textbook definition of bikeshedding. Suddenly, a talking head who’s never written a line of code in his/her life offers up an authoritative-sounding-but-utterly-bogus opinion on systemd’s maintainability. Add in the fact that folks on both sides (including Poettering himself) act as if name-calling is a perfectly good substitute for empirical evidence, and the “debate” becomes indistinguishable from white noise.

Speaking of noise…

There was never a systemd debate
Debian came late to the systemd party. Systemd has been controversial since its inception in 2010. During the intervening four years, people have fled and even forked distros over systemd. By the time Debian’s GR rolled around, anyone and everyone who was going to have a strong opinion about systemd already had it. Nobody was going to change their minds, thus there was no true “debate.”

We humans love to imagine that we are rational creatures, driven by logic and reason, capable of making reasoned, optimal decisions. Which is great except what we really are is short-sighted, pig-headed, and stupid. Psychology has a boatload of experiments that demonstrate that once you get to the choose-up-sides stage, then argument becomes dramatically less effective. (Google “confirmation bias” and “backfire effect” to learn more.)

The GR was not a mandate for systemd
I have no idea where systemd fanbois get the idea that a victory lap is appropriate.

The results of the GR vote were diluted and obfuscated by two non-resolution outcomes. Of the three technologically-relevant resolutions to the GR, one was unequivocally pro-systemd, the other two were contra-systemd, differing primarily in phrasing (essentially the difference between “must not” and “should not”).

(Aside: I confess to being a “must not” guy at heart, but I grudgingly admit that those who suggest that an absolute prohibition might prove unnecessarily inflexible or self-limiting might have a valid point. Maybe. But I don’t have to like doing it.)

But here’s the thing, and there is just no getting around it. Once you eliminate the ass-covering "no GR required" amendment, “systemd is a bad idea, the only real question is how bad” didn’t place third.

It placed first. By a substantial margin.

Conversely, “systemd is a good idea” didn’t place first.

It placed last.

If this surprises you, even a little, then by all means, go look it up. And for the love of whatever you hold Sacred, refrain from uttering a single word of GR-related drivel until you do.

(Edit: My exhortation above to refrain from drivel absent sufficient research was predictably futile. So, for the benefit of those who are unable or unwilling to do the math themselves, a pre-digested version of the analysis can be found here: viewtopic.php?f=20&t=120652&p=576562#p576502)

Speaking of the GR…

The GR was too necessary
As noted above, the only reason “systemd is a bad idea” wasn’t the outcome of the GR vote is because of the “political cover” amendment that allowed “This conversation is superfluous” to pretend to be the correct answer (which it absolutely isn’t).

In a dichotomous, up-or-down, yes-or-no vote (aka Option1 -vs- Option3), the Debian dev community is split 60/40 (or 40/60, depending on one’s POV) on the issue of systemd. When a large plurality of your engineering team tells you that you’re doing something fundamentally wrong, dismissing their concerns with “we don’t need no steenkin’ conversation” bespeaks a complacency bordering on negligence, all the moreso when when your actions have very, very large consequences. (Google “Challenger disaster” for more information.)

Which leads me to…

Debian isn’t other distros
Every time I see someone spout some variation of the bandwagon fallacy, or refer to Arch as a “major” distro, I have an urge to do harm.

News flash: There is exactly one Debian, and nothing–nothing–compares to it.

NASA doesn’t run Arch. Amazon and Google don’t rely on Mageia.

In terms of sheer impact on both the larger LinuxSphere and the global economy, there are exactly two “major” distros: Debian and RedHat. (SUSE is a very distant third, and everything else is just noise.)

A change in Debian affects mission-critical and life-critical software across the globe, touches literally tens of thousands of organizations, and ripples through a hundred derivatives and spinoffs.

So no, it doesn’t matter, not even a little, whether your desktop machine boots a few seconds faster or “seems to work ok” under systemd. The cost of downtime on a hobbyist machine is all-but-unmeasurable, whereas the cost of downtime on a scientific supercomputer is somewhere between large and catastrophic.

Speaking of costs…

Change costs, and big change costs big
There’s a reason why sysadmins in large organizations are routinely among systemd’s biggest detractors.

Downtime is expensive in terms of both time and money. So is re-training. So is rewriting gigabytes of artificially-obsoleted documentation. Add them all up, factor in the associated opportunity costs, multiply by a planet’s worth of installs, and before you know it, the cost to the global economy associated with systemd deployment reaches into the billions (or thousands of millions, if you prefer) of dollars/euros.

And for what exactly?

Even if systemd were a demonstrably superior technology (which it isn’t), adequately spec’ed (which it isn’t) elegantly designed (which it isn’t), well-coded (which it isn’t), properly documented (which it isn’t),or developed by a responsive and responsible community with a history of delivering robust and reliable software (*cough*pulseaudio*cough*), systemd would still be at best problematic, for one simple reason: it’s insanely expensive to implement, particularly given the fact that it doesn’t solve any actual problem.

Insofar as I’m aware, no one has ever articulated a value proposition for systemd that addresses its implementation costs, or comes remotely close to calculating a payback period. More to the point, no one has successfully articulated any value proposition for systemd that goes beyond “it’s better” or “it’s more modern.”

Global warming, antibiotic resistant bacteria, oilspills, and nuclear accidents are all “modern,” but that doesn’t make them good. And “better” is a meaningless term until and unless one specifies a metric or quantitative criteria that can be used to measure “better” in a systematic and reliable way. Otherwise, “new and improved!” is just marketing hype.

At the end of the day, the crux of the systemd question comes down to a matter of how much Unix one wants in one’s Linux. Casual users and hobbyists probably won’t care. Professionals will care deeply and passionately.

05.14.21

Paid-for Plugs and Coordinated Marketing Fluff (PR Campaigns) Are Ruining ‘Linux’ Sites

Posted in Deception, GNU/Linux at 7:23 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Video download link

Summary: 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

The Web is an awful place, not just because of bloat and surveillance but also the “content” in it. Tons of that “content” is garbage or spam or marketing. It’s really, really bad. It’s getting worse.

The video above discusses one new example, citing a lesser worrying PR campaign with an example from several hours ago, one among very many (with time-limited embargo).

Why should 30% to 50% (that number increases over time) of the so-called ‘news’ in sites that call themselves ‘Linux’ be PR junk instead of actual news? Sales and marketing are not news/journalism, they’re the antithesis of that. We’ve long rejected the idea of reprinting promotional cruft.

What became a catalyst for this rant is the shift from promoting hardware which is OS-agnostic to actually promoting Windows laptops inside ‘Linux’ sites, much like the whole "Edge" noisepart of a worrying pattern on the Web.

Sites that call themselves “Linux” something but promote Microsoft vendor lock-in are digging their own graves. They spoon-feed readers with stuff those readers do not and should not want.

05.13.21

Audio: “Unjust Computing Clamps Down” by Richard Stallman

Posted in Audio/Video, FSF, GNU/Linux at 6:28 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Uploaded half an hour ago to media.libreplanet

Summary: The FSF has finally uploaded the LibrePlanet talk of Richard Stallman

Regarding the talk from 4 days ago, “Free Software: the Foundation of Freedom in Your Computing,” the page now says: “The live stream has ended; thank you for watching! A video recording may be made available in the coming days/weeks; please check back again later.”

05.11.21

Welcome to ZDNet’s ‘Linux’ Section…

Posted in Bill Gates, Deception, Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux at 5:28 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

About an hour ago: You Look for Linux News and Instead It’s Microsoft Noise and Openwashing

ZDNet's 'Linux' section...
Mary J. Nichols

Summary: ZDNet, which defamed RMS to help distract from Bill Gates scandals, is doing what the sponsors (IBM, Microsoft, Linux Foundation) pay for

You Look for Linux News and Instead It’s Microsoft Noise and Openwashing

Posted in Deception, GNU/Linux, Kernel, Microsoft, Novell, Windows at 4:20 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Video download link

Summary: Imagine trying to go about doing your own ‘business’, only to be confronted by paid-for plugs (sponsored) by the people trying to undercut/undermine your business; welcome to “Linux” in 2021

THANKS to the flailing Linux Foundation and sellouts such as SUSE, one cannot really avoid the thing that GNU/Linux seeks to replace. Microsoft tries hard to interject itself into just about everything, even Linux.

“Microsoft tries hard to interject itself into just about everything, even Linux.”This isn’t a novel Microsoft tactic. See the quote at the bottom to better understand the pattern we’re dealing with.

All the links from this video (in order) can be found here, but we’re omitting some of the worst ones, such as SUSE having the audacity to celebrate/champion Microsoft while shunning the FSF and RMS — the very origin of the operating system SUSE sells.

Related posts: [Humour] SUSE is Becoming Novell Again | SUSE is Still Pushing Microsoft Proprietary Software and Bragging About the Novell Patent Collusion With Microsoft

“I’ve killed at least two Mac conferences. [...] by injecting Microsoft content into the conference, the conference got shut down. The guy who ran it said, why am I doing this?”

Microsoft's chief evangelist

The FSF Needs to Reject OSI (and Open Source) Along With Much-Needed Rejection of the GNOME Foundation (Not the Same as the GNOME Project)

Posted in FSF, GNOME, GNU/Linux, OSI at 5:15 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Video download link

Summary: Response to a good little speech (unscripted apparently) by Geoffrey Knauth, who explained his position on Open Source about a year ago

THE current FSF president is a good guy. Geoffrey Knauth is a good and welcoming speaker (reminiscent of Peter T. Brown). But since his talk that I saw this morning a lot has happened in the OSI and it merits a discussion.

“Their petition backfired so badly that all they do with it right now is remove signatures.”The above started as a spontaneous response to this video of Geoffrey Knauth (from last year). Here it is for context:

Video download link

“A lot of those conferences are run by women… and we really have no conflicts,” he notes. A lot of what he says makes perfect sense and I agree entirely. What Knauth says about “Open Source” (around 9:00 onwards) I may have agreed on a year ago, but a lot has changed since then. The video explains what and why… I show this blog post from the OSI and explain the situation with the GNOME Foundation, where most chiefs proceed to sellout, becoming Microsoft employees. The GNOME Foundation is extremely problematic (it has tried to cancel RMS for over a decade), but so is the OSI. And by extension the “Open Source” brand…

Berlin scenesThe problematic blog post from the OSI was the start of something; a month and a half later the OSI (with zero full-time and permanent staff; it's defunct and cannot even organise an election) took/chose a key role in attacking the person who had most stubbornly protected the mission statement, initiating this attack based on complete nonsense including distortion of some very old stances. They just waited for an opportunity to pounce and then attack the FSF, collectively. Yes, they sought collective punishment, too.

It gets worse.

Well, they (Bully de Blanc and the Interim GM of OSI, a former IBM et al stooge) have been concurrently attacking software freedom even before the 'cancel mob' was assembled with support from biased and subjective media, based on almost nothing at all (just a little announcement about a return to some board, not even leadership, which Geoffrey Knauth maintains). Their petition backfired so badly that all they do with it right now is remove signatures. Karma still works, doesn’t it?

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