07.26.21

Funding Sources Like Corporate Sponsors/Patrons/Masters Put at Risk the Freedom of Free Software

Posted in Finance, Free/Libre Software, Office Suites at 4:22 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Video download link | md5sum 2c1236a74235b8218f02ec9b0f94aaaf

Summary: Sources of funding or “sponsors” such as large corporations typically come with some barely-visible or temporarily-invisible strings attached (an expectation of commercial reciprocity, rendering the recipients subservient like ‘slaves’) and we need to understand how to preserve software freedom in the face of such trends

THE ethical condundrum surrounding Free software funding is hardly new. Richard Stallman spoke about it more than two decades ago (he suggested ways to get paid for writing freedom-respecting software) but corporate media likes to pretend Free software can only succeed if monopolies fund to control it. They don’t even speak about freedom; they prefer shallow nonsense such as “Open Source”.

Red Hat statement about Richard Stallman’s return to the Free Software Foundation boardThis video is part of an ongoing series or a theme that explores the loss of collective control by users and communities; by encouraging non-reciprocal licensing, CLAs etc. the monopolists seek to control everything. Remember what IBM did with Red Hat only months after IBM had taken over (and then again a year and a half later) because money comes with demands. They want something in return. Audacity comes to mind and earlier on we mentioned LibreOffice, which relates to the links below:

This subject is part of a much broader problem; sponsorship and funding are a matter of control (coercion, subjugation and so on). And if the goal is to empower users and give them true control over their lives (on the platform or on-line), then we need to understand and accordingly tackle the emergent threats.

“This subject is part of a much broader problem; sponsorship and funding are a matter of control (coercion, subjugation and so on).”As always, we welcome guest posts and other contributions from readers. There seems to be a passionate and eager ‘base’ that recognises these risks and has a bunch of stories to tell, based on rumours heard somewhere like Microsoft and/or the Linux Foundation. People who see these from the inside are sometimes horrified to learn what a bunch of charlatans and frauds work there. They want to control Linux users; but they aren’t even Linux users themselves.

Free Software Projects Should Quit Selling Keynote Speeches to the Highest Bidders (Corporations) and Choose Based on Merit/Relevance

Posted in Free/Libre Software, FSF, Microsoft, Office Suites at 1:41 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

TDF sponsors

Summary: OSI, SFC, FSF and Linux Foundation are in effect selling time and space (even to Microsoft, except the FSF was never foolish enough to do this). As of today, LibreOffice does the same thing (which might remain benign; just be sure to reject rivals as "sponsors" because it dooms projects and events).

05.31.21

A Need for Clarity on the Direction of LibreOffice

Posted in Office Suites, OpenDocument, OpenOffice, Oracle at 10:53 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Millions of people who use and support the software deserve greater transparency

LibreOffice 'Personal Edition'

Summary: StarOffice, OpenOffice, LibreOffice and the languishing AOO (Go-OO is dead already) are still the go-to office suites for Free software users; they’re based on similar if not the same codebase (in the same sense many of today’s Web browsers are based on Chromium) and the business objectives of the main stewards (whose corporate DNA goes into the code) need to be understood because even longtime volunteers aren’t sure what’s going on

During the weekend, amid postings about the Annual Report 2020, TDF or LibreOffice published a blog post entitled “Get printed copies of LibreOffice handbooks!

Of course there’s nothing morally wrong with selling printed copies of something that’s online, but one reader asked us, “I am curious about where the funds from printed books for LibreOffice go… to the project or to the documentation volunteers?”

“We’ve always been supportive of LibreOffice because unlike Go-OO it had a real purpose, seeing the threat of neglect by Oracle.”So we’ve decided to ask around and research for a bit, as we have some key contacts. “I have not been doing anything there nor following it for ages,” one person told us. “Last I checked, most of the developers had gone over to LO from AOO anyway…” (from Apache OpenOffice to LibreOffice)

Every now and then, maybe a few times per month, the official LibreOffice account interacts with me in Twitter. In fact, we were one of the sites to first announce the LibreOffice project way back in 2010. We’ve always been supportive of LibreOffice because unlike Go-OO it had a real purpose, seeing the threat of neglect by Oracle.

Logo of LibreOffice“Having volunteered with both libre and apache openoffice.org, (majority of AOO documentation team going to Libre and not returning) I had felt as though Libre documentation team was all about selling manuals,” said our reader to us. “Just a feeling I had while there. When I went over to AOO (after Libreoffice’s rudeness toward AOO), and we were discussing licensing (cc by 3.0 then libre used cc 4.0), it seemed like the AOO documentation lead person was also moving in this direction (selling printed manuals) or had some work relation with Jean Weber, formerly of AOO, and now at Libre. I’m just curious if the funding for the printed books go to Libre project or to the authors. There are mailing list posts of Jean Weber and AOO where Lulu login/accounts are discussed.”

An informed person whom we spoke to, one who was involved in LibreOffice but especially in AOO, noted that the “latter was languishing.”

“It would be important to know how their finances are arranged,” the person noted. “They have a foundation based in Germany, but as mentioned I have not followed it nor know what their economic sources and priorities are. Perhaps that is published somewhere.”

I noted, based on my understanding, that there are companies like Collabora throwing some “added value” at it and now there’s some introduction of “community edition” or something along those lines… (they called it "Personal Edition" several months back)

“That sounds like it might be an unfortunate change of direction,” the person added. “It could end up “open core” instead soon in one of the worse scenarios.”

Are we moving back in the direction of StarOffice? Hopefully not…

As far as we’re aware, the TDF/LibreOffice folks never fully or entirely withdrew from this ambition of theirs. We’ll be watching this situation closely. The most important thing, or the aspect of utmost importance, is the freedom (libre) in LibreOffice. Dual licensing is one of the worst possible outcomes.

10.04.20

If They Call You a “User” (or “Customer”), They Might be Drug Dealers and Lords of Narcotics (Digital or Otherwise)

Posted in Bill Gates, Microsoft, Office Suites, Open XML, OpenDocument at 6:12 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“They’ll get sort of addicted, and then we’ll somehow figure out how to collect sometime in the next decade.”

Bill Gates

A media overload

Summary: Preying on so-called ‘users’ is the nature of proprietary software, which puts digital shackles on people and then starts manipulating them

THE simple fact is that many of today’s interfaces are designed to be “addictive”, especially on the Web where the ‘currency’ is screen time (opportunity to spy on people and foist ads onto them). This is certainly true about Facebook (with admissions from the company) and Twitter is hardly better with its infinite scrolling, suggestive (yet cryptic) “trending” clickbait and so on.

“…if many ‘addicts’ get together, they can fork the implementation to better suit their needs and distribute the fork free of charge.”It wasn’t too long ago that Richard Stallman asked geeks to submit to him examples of interfaces that had been designed to be addictive.

In the case of ‘traditional’ and native software, formats that are secret and proprietary software with lock-in mechanisms have long been used to force people to ‘upgrade’ (pay for the same thing over and over again). The network effect, or peer pressure by format incompatibility, is an issue long documented (for decades; it helped rationalise the vendor-neutral OpenDocument Format).

Man all drunkIt’s time to communicate these issues using the jargon or slang of narcotics. The term “users” is heavily used in that context because of the helplessness of the addicts, who are reduced to mere zombies that consume and cannot think clearly.

Free software addresses some but not all of these issues; there’s no guarantee that addiction elements will be entirely obliterated just by virtue of some piece of software being free (to study, modify, share as well as run without restrictions). One can easily get addicted to Free (as in freedom) computer games. But the leverage the developer gains over individual people or large groups of people (even entire nations) is clearly limited; if many ‘addicts’ get together, they can fork the implementation to better suit their needs and distribute the fork free of charge. That’s very much unlike what a certain Bill Gates (nowadays a vaccine profiteer) sought to achieve with Microsoft products. It’s all about power, unjust power and coercion. It’s not about technical excellence; technology here is merely the means by which to gain power (political, not technical) over a lot of people while amassing endless wealth, controlling the lives of so many without democratic oversight.

08.23.20

Leak: An Unreported Rift Inside The Document Foundation (TDF)

Posted in Europe, Free/Libre Software, Office Suites, OpenDocument, OpenOffice at 10:39 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

LibreItalia tweet

Summary: The Document Foundation (TDF) is a very important supporter of OpenDocument Format (ODF) as well as Free software (notably LibreOffice), but there’s a story about LibreItalia (“Italian home of LibreOffice”) very few people know about

Italo Vignoli is well known in the Free software world, both inside and outside Italy, both inside and outside the realms of LibreOffice. He’s connected to the likes of Simon Phipps and Paolo Vecchi. I, personally, have much respect for him. For those who never heard of him before, his introduction to himself in the OSI’s site (for this year’s election) can be found here (it’s very detailed and includes his LibreOffice/ODF/TDF work/credentials). There’s more in the comments.

He won a seat as a Director seated by affiliates (term until 2023) and the Board’s page now describes him as follows: “Italo Vignoli has been involved in FOSS projects since 2004, when he joined the OpenOffice community as a user, to contribute to marketing and communication activities. In 2010, he was one of the founders of the LibreOffice project and has been involved in marketing and community development activities since then. He has also launched Associazione LibreItalia, representing LibreOffice users in Italy, and the ODF Advocacy Open Project at OASIS, and has contributed to large migration projects to LibreOffice in Europe. He co-leads LibreOffice marketing, PR and media relations, co-chairs the certification program, and is a spokesman for the project. He has contributed to large migration projects to LibreOffice in Italy, and is a LibreOffice certified migrator and trainer. Italo is Managing Partner of Hideas, a marketing and communications agency retained by The Document Foundation and by other companies active in the networking and healthcare industries.”

A few years ago he had an altercation inside LibreItalia, the “Italian home of LibreOffice” (@libreitalia). It was more specifically an argument with Sonia Montegiove, President of the LibreItalia association who calls herself a “journalist out of passion”; there are reasonable posts from her (in English) and in Italian. Vignoli and her weren’t always in disagreement; she wrote about him half a decade prior on at least 4 occasions in the LibreItalia blog. The blog became inactive the following year or maybe moved elsewhere. They’re both mentioned in “Italy’s Ministry of Defense to Drop Microsoft Office in Favor of LibreOffice”.

The following message was written by Alessandro Rubini, aged 70 (half a decade older than Vignoli). He’s a very, very technical person (books include Linux Device Drivers and others) and he says “Free Software” rather than “Open Source”. This one particular bio of his says he “installed Linux 0.99.14 soon after getting his degree as electronic engineer. He then received a Ph.D. in computer science at the University of Pavia despite his aversion toward modern technology. He left the University after getting his Ph.D. because he didn’t want to write articles. He now works as a free lance writing device drivers and, um…articles. He used to be a young hacker before his babies were born; he’s now an old advocate of Free Software who developed a bias for non-PC computer platforms.”

He has associates like Cristiana Larizza, Tullio Facchinetti, Greg Kroah-Hartman amongst other drivers folks and his homepage mentions GNU, then says: “I am an independent consultant specialized in the Linux kernel, device drivers, real time, embedded systems, low-level networking.”

How many people are aware of the following incident?

Subject: problem in TDF
From: Alessandro Rubini <rubini@gnudd.com>
Date: 20/08/2017, 13:07
To: ga@fsfeurope.org

A quick note to let youknow that italo vignoli left libreitalia, after serious arguing w/ sonia montegiove about management in general and organization of the LO conference in particular.

The thing escalated from italy to TDF, where another italian board member is siding w/ sonia and trying to shed bad light on italo.

I talked with both, in different days, and I still have to make completely up my mind. One of the side effects is that italo will likely ask for membership in fsfe.

I’m all for it, actually i suggested to invite both him and sonia. Now clearly the thing is a little hot, and timing is suboptimal.

I’ll call again sonia in a few days, after italo’s final move is official, w/ reference to official documents.

All of this is very bad, pr-wise, for FS in italy and europe.

/alessandro on the train, no keyboard

Publishing this isn’t expected to cause a rift (which didn’t exist already). Italy has long been a success story for ODF (especially in the public sector), so let’s hope relations can be amended.

12.30.19

Why Wouldn’t an Office That Grants Monopolies Support Microsoft Monopoly?

Posted in Microsoft, Office Suites, Open XML, Patents at 3:29 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Paths crossed before: Andrei Iancu (Irell & Manella LLP), Microsoft, and Immersion Corporation (where Iancu's deputy comes from amid ruinous changes by the Trump administration)

Microsoft Corporation v. Immersion Corporation, No. 2:2007cv00936 - Document 30 (W.D. Wash. 2008)
Microsoft Corporation v. Immersion Corporation, No. 2:2007cv00936 – Document 30 (W.D. Wash. 2008)

Summary: The media continues to report on the suggestion that people who reject OOXML will be financially penalised (additional fees)

THE U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is still run by Trump appointees who believe that they can disregard the law in the name of profits. 35 U.S.C. § 101 is one example among several and there’s also that OOXML outrage, which we previously covered in:

Earlier this month I saw mainstream media continuing to report along those lines; the USPTO now tries to make proprietary OOXML the ‘standard’ internationally (PCT), having already witnessed what Microsoft did to ISO.

“This perpetuates the idea that the USPTO is a ‘Windows shop’ in an age when Windows no longer has majority market share (Android took the lead about half a decade ago).”To us, as eyewitnesses or online ‘alibis’ to loads of corruption associated with the process (we were also the only ones to leak OOXML itself one decade ago), what the USPTO does is beyond inexplicable. This perpetuates the idea that the USPTO is a ‘Windows shop’ in an age when Windows no longer has majority market share (Android took the lead about half a decade ago).

07.15.19

Microsoft Office 360 Banned

Posted in Microsoft, Office Suites, OpenDocument, Standard at 2:16 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“Microsoft implemented ODF with all the grace of a 6 year old asked to tidy up their room”

Jeremy Allison, LCA 2010

Summary: OpenDocument Format (ODF, a real standard everyone can implement) and Free/libre software should be taught in schools; it’s not supposed to be just a matter of privacy

Days ago we included in our daily links some early reports about Microsoft Office 360 getting banned in German schools. CBS (ZDNet) is helping Microsoft spin all this with a bunch of lies [1], but this development must worry Microsoft as it can inspire other countries and even non-schools to do the same. We’ve meanwhile noticed (hours ago) that some “Linux sites” promote proprietary software with “ribbons” and OOXML [2] (because there are binaries for Ubuntu). Why not Free/libre software? Are bloggers really this clueless? What does one gain by swapping one piece of proprietary software with another? Or one surveillance form (Microsoft) with another (Google)?

Software Freedom needs to be stressed more and more for such poor advocacy to be discouraged. Choosing something like Google or Apple instead of Microsoft isn’t swapping digital slavery with freedom but instead just swapping ‘masters’.

Update: For the second time in just hours [3] that same “Linux site” promotes yet another piece of proprietary software as a “replacement” for Microsoft Office.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Microsoft Office 365: Banned in German schools over privacy fears
  2. FreeOffice July Update Adds MS Office 2019 Support, Classic Interface Option

    A major update to FreeOffice by SoftMaker, a gratis set of productivity apps modelled after Microsoft Office, is now available to download.

    Dubbed the “anniversary update”, the latest version of this office suite intros compatibility with the latest Microsoft Office file formats.

    All three apps in the family, TextMaker, PlanMaker and Presentations, are said to be fully compatible with the latest Microsoft Office file formats, allowing users to open, edit and save in native Office formats like .docx.

    The suite now lets users choose an interface layout, with the standard “Ribbon” interface mode and a more traditional menu-based UI available.

  3. Microsoft Office Clone ‘SoftMaker Office 2018’ Sees Summer Update

    Do keep in mind that SoftMaker Office 2018 is not free software so you will need to buy a subscription or make a one-off purchase to use it longterm.

03.13.17

Ten Years Later, Microsoft Admission on Dirty Tricks and Borderline Corruption Which It Uses to This Day in Order to Suppress GNU/Linux Adoption in Desktops

Posted in Microsoft, Office Suites, Open XML, OpenDocument at 7:26 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Munich, pay attention

“I have decided that we should not publish these extensions. We should wait until we have a way to do a high level of integration that will be harder for the likes of Notes, Wordperfect to achieve, and which will give Office a real advantage.”

Bill Gates [PDF]

Summary: Remarkable new admission from the former head of Microsoft Office development, who makes it no secret that the war over file formats (trying to pass off proprietary formats as a ‘standard’) was “a critical competitive moat” (denying the competition access to the desktop)

Microsoft is a very corrupt company. I should know. I wrote many thousands of articles about it, including nearly 1,000 articles about the OOXML saga (almost as many as the EPO saga that makes the US counterpart look like an angel).

I’ve noticed something over the past few years, and I cannot understand if it’s due to erosion of collective memory or due to young people joining in, with little or no understanding of Microsoft’s past (which mostly continues to present, just better veiled or misleadingly marketed). Reddit actually censored a link to this article of ours about Microsoft's ongoing attacks on Free software proponents. It was deleted from the Linux subreddit. Is this like a new thing? Cannot criticise Microsoft even in Linux-centric forums? It had a lot of upvotes and comments. It was on topic and widely appreciated by most. We have been hearing similar things over the past two weeks in relation to other forums, but were unable to verify with strong enough evidence that this was a conscious decision to gag members who had criticised Microsoft. Is the “Microsoft loves Linux” charm offensive targeting enough gullible people to actually be effective?

“Is the “Microsoft loves Linux” charm offensive targeting enough gullible people to actually be effective?”Anyway, this new article was brought up yesterday in the Linux subreddit. It is not directly about GNU/Linux, but as the title put it, “Former head of Microsoft Office development brags that file formats were “a critical competitive moat””

So now they admit this so openly. Having infected so many infrastructures with OOXML lock-in, which typically limits or prevents access by Free software users. Or has developers wasting a lot of time chasing a bogus ‘standard’ that even Microsoft cannot implement or conform to.

“Gates spoke about breaking compatibility on numerous occasions (that we caught him in antitrust exhibits). The above is just one example among several which we covered here before.”This head of Microsoft Office development wrote: “This is probably already way too long but I also wanted to just touch on the ongoing discussions we had with Bill Gates over my entire career at Microsoft that directly related to these perspectives on complexity.”

Gates spoke about breaking compatibility on numerous occasions (that we caught him in antitrust exhibits). The above is just one example among several which we covered here before.

The thugs from Microsoft, for those who cannot recall articles from one decade ago, bribed, colluded and did even worse things for OOXML. The whole thing was a culmination of desperate need to counter fair competition through ODF. Microsoft was put under investigations, but just like Battistelli at the EPO it always managed to get away with it. It never got punished for it. It was absolutely extraordinary and it demonstrated what a large corporation can get away with. It was a good example of when crime pays off, and one manages to stay out of jail “because well-connected” or “that’s just business” or “we deny the allegations.”

“Well, the only ‘standard’ Microsoft accepts and embraces is Microsoft.”In Reddit, a lot of people commented about this issue. One person said: “I’ve said before that even Microsoft couldn’t re-implement MS Office file formats in another product with perfect compatibility, and here they admit it!’

They almost admitted it before and we quoted them on it. Nobody ever implemented OOXML, not even Microsoft. It was just a mirage ‘standard’ — or the mere pretense that Microsoft and its proprietary software adhere to industry standards. Well, the only ‘standard’ Microsoft accepts and embraces is Microsoft. None of that has changed. All other embraces are “embrace, extend, extinguish” (EEE). Right now it’s trying to interject such bogus 'standards' into Free/Open source software.

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