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.

05.12.21

IBM is Destroying Red Hat, Squeezing Red Hat’s Work for Cash, Laying Off Staff, and Asking Staff to Resign

Posted in Deception, IBM, Red Hat at 2:44 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Video download link

Summary: Layoffs are not a new thing at IBM (hardly so in the past couple of decades or more), but they’re oversensitive about the Red Hat agenda

THIS video regarding layoffs at IBM is based on weeks upon weeks of research. We’ve been trying to study what’s going on inside IBM, not based on media that IBM is paying and manipulating but based on insiders, some of whom are Red Hat employees (or former employees; there were layoffs and resignations at Red Hat). IBM is extremely sensitive about this subject being brought up in the same way Microsoft is paranoid about people pointing out Azure failures and layoffs.

The video isn’t easy to make, mostly for sentimental reasons. I spent a lot of my life promoting Red Hat and pushing for stuff like OpenDocument Format along with IBM. In the SCO case, IBM was on our side.

05.09.21

The Chaos Theory

Posted in GNU/Linux, IBM, Red Hat at 7:13 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

CentOS users rushing to Rocky/Alma
Keep users running around in a panic until they settle on IBM subscriptions?

Summary: Making GNU/Linux less stable and less predictable isn’t good for GNU/Linux users; but it certainly helps sell Red Hat support contracts and vexation inside the community weakens Red Hat’s competitors

IN the context of mathematics, what we’re dealing with is a high level of uncertainty or lack of predictability (animation shown to the right, having been ‘stolen’ from Wikipedia). IBM pioneered the FUD tactics, then to be adopted by Microsoft, the "love child" of IBM. They’re still not done, they just make slight adaptations/refinements as their FUD tactics evolve somewhat… they’re readjusting as they rally a mob of misled people.

Double compound pendulumEarlier this year (just before the cancel mob had a go at RMS yet again) we explained what IBM was doing to community-led distributions. Distro developers reach out and tell us about it. This morning I spoke to one distro developer who said “some have retracted their signature from the RMS open letter due to their revision of it [and] I am considering doing so as well…” (it has not been updated in 12 days now; last update 12 days ago).

“I used to love what IBM did for us, especially back in the days of the OOXML/ODF battles.”As we explained numerous times before, IBM (et al) sought to destabilise the Free software community and it sort of backfired in a major way. Instead it destabilised IBM, which sees Red Hat engineers fleeing (IBM is anxious about people pointing that out). The brand of IBM is losing lustre. Developers no longer feel comfortable about Red Hat stuff, either. As one developer told us, regarding the Linux Foundation (LF) in particular: “IBM mostly gives money to LF so that they can try to buy their projects into LF initiatives [...] IBM shows up and tries to cram their [expletive] and it gets rebuffed because nobody wants it [...] so really, IBM is spending money and still losing [...] IBM ruining GNU/Linux with systemd and other [expletive] being a big one…”

I used to love what IBM did for us, especially back in the days of the OOXML/ODF battles. But the tide is turning when IBM starts laying off GNU/Linux developers and attacking/defaming the founder of the operating system. IBM isn’t in good hands anymore (Palmisano was the end of that rosy era) and Red Hat is flailing by driving away its largest userbase (CentOS) or community of volunteers/contributors (Fedora). Who will be left to package stuff and report bugs?

Move fast and break things; systemd release every 8 weeks
Hurry up and break things

04.28.21

IBM: We Trust Microsoft, We Don’t Trust the FSF

Posted in Free/Libre Software, FSF, GNU/Linux, IBM, Microsoft, Red Hat at 2:55 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Yesterday:

IBM and C sharp

Microsoft and IBM

Summary: It’s rather revealing that the priorities at IBM are hostile towards the Free software community, with Microsoft basically coming before the FSF (which ‘merely’ provides, free of charge, the operating system that IBM sells)

04.27.21

[Meme] Red Hat’s RHEL 8.4: GNU OS Rebranded?

Posted in GNU/Linux, GPL, IBM, Red Hat at 11:30 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

We don't want or need the FSF anymore BUT! Give us GNU so we can build RHEL!

Summary: There’s no Red Hat and no RHEL without GNU; but don’t let facts get in the way of IBM, which opposes copyleft any time it can get away with it

04.26.21

The Public Relations ‘Industry’ Has Co-opted the Media to Attack Software Freedom

Posted in Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, IBM, Microsoft, Red Hat at 9:58 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Video download link

Summary: Free/libre software is under attack, but those who attack it hide behind proxies and PR firms (sometimes they even send an expedition of employees to bury/censor links to Techrights); we need to talk about IBM, which has begun doing that along with more familiar villains such as Microsoft

THIS morning we (re)published a good article from Alex Oliva, the person who left IBM as soon as Red Hat was taken over by IBM. We commend and applaud him for that. He also had some stories to tell after he had left. IBM doesn’t care about freedom and sometimes IBM actively fights against it, just like Microsoft did for its entire existence, unlike Red Hat.

Red Hat at this moment of time is just a name or a brand; the same is true for Fedora, which is “its master’s voice” (IBM being the master — a term that was hardly deemed problematic before IBM arrived at the scene).

“IBM doesn’t care about freedom and sometimes IBM actively fights against it, just like Microsoft did for its entire existence, unlike Red Hat.”It has meanwhile occurred to me that while recording this video I said that Linux-Libre 5.12 hadn’t been released by Alex just yet. As of the time of writing the text (about the video above), it’s officially out! Maybe it was even announced while I was recording the video.

In any event, the video shows the sort of biased media we’re dealing with and who really owns it, who pays it, and why it defames people whom the sponsors (IBM in this case) are desperate to “cancel” (banish or ostracise from society for no crime at all, unlike IBM’s crimes!) and while this video
focuses on ZDNet we could just as well mention other publishers, including those deemed responsible for ‘ousting’ (temporarily) Linus Torvalds at the end of 2018 (there are IBM connections there as well).

Of course I’ve become a lot more cynical about the media, seeing how Benoît Battistelli and António Campinos were bullying and bribing publishers so as to not report crimes. They also block sites that expose those crimes. Ever wondered why the media never mentions IBM's still-disturbing role in Nazi Germany (anymore)? Follow the money…

Freedom is always under attack. There’s “no money” in freedom and there’s a lot of money to be made by taking away freedom, replacing it with control.

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