Bonum Certa Men Certa

“Mention the War” (of Microsoft Against GNU/Linux)



"Where are we on this Jihad?"

--Bill Gates about Linux



A war



Summary: The GNU/Linux desktop (or laptop) seems to be languishing or deteriorating, making way for proprietary takeover in the form of Vista 10 and Chrome OS and "web apps" (surveillance); nobody seems too bothered -- certainly not the Linux Foundation -- by the fact that GNU/Linux itself is being relegated or demoted to a mere "app" on these surveillance platforms (WSL, Croûton and so on)

TECHRIGHTS missed a lot of time that could be used to respond to attacks on GNU/Linux. We've been watching these for years and habitually mentioned these (or remarked on these in brief) in our daily links. Sometimes it was filed under "openwashing". We don't regret focusing on EPO scandals or working towards elimination of software patents (USPTO-granted software patents nowadays lack 'teeth') because these two are important and scarcely-explored topics. We're one of the very few sites if not the last remaining site to cover EPO corruption.



"Red Hat considered Microsoft as a buyer. We must never forget that."Our longtime readers (we turn 13 later this year) understandably ask us to maintain or return to GNU/Linux focus. Back in the days Groklaw did a lot of work in this area, but Groklaw stopped everything over half a decade ago. Yes, just over 5 years.

One reader, an experienced GNU/Linux developer, told us "please start calling it a war, it's at least 5 years old now..."

He was referring to Microsoft's war against GNU/Linux for the most part. In his own words, "you recall I said that Microsoft would buy Red Hat after GitHub, and three months later IBM did instead? I think that's pretty close for a guess."

Red Hat considered Microsoft as a buyer. We must never forget that. It says quite a lot.

"I know you're too busy for email," he added, "though I hope you'll join me in talking about the war ("don't mention the war!") against free software. You talk about it all the time, but even as Microsoft knocks over more and more autonomy chess pieces and inserts their influence into Python (that's Google territory as well and I'm no Google fan, but it shows how incredibly ballsy they are) we know that they are trying to take over all free software.

"Being controlled by Microsoft, or any company -- including Red Hat -- is the opposite of what free software is about. We are currently losing the war that Microsoft is waging on free software. But no one is calling it a war. I am calling it one, don't make me the only person calling it this.

"The FSF should be calling it a war, [but] instead they're talking about deals with the devil -- by itself, I don't disapprove of that, but I hope they follow up with more talking about how insidious the non-free devil really is. It's in everything now -- the firmware, the init system, the patent landscape. When there's a war on, people should know what's happening.

"You do a great job reporting the news -- better than anybody. Do them a favour, paint the picture for what it is -- a war. It's nothing less than that. They are trying to assimilate everything -- and look like friends while doing it. Please help."

Asset stripping GNU/LinuxI told this reader that I would incorporate these words into a future article (this one), as I did the last one on the subject, with the image on the left. I never for a moment believed it was anything but a war. But I focused on battling on the patent front (more so than other aspects/angles).

The reader continued by dubbing it an "ongoing free software sabotage" -- a description I agree with because a lot of things become less freedom-respecting over time (I wrote several articles about it earlier this year). "The quality and reliability of free software has truly been compromised since 2014," he said. "There were always errors and fixes, but I've watched an increase in "workarounds" and magic (inexplicable) tinkering to fix stability problems, and I do think this is deliberate on someone's part -- but let's stick to examples for now.

"LibreOffice 6. (also 5, from what I'm reading.) I've installed it, and it renders each window with the contents of the window shoved about 20-40 pixels up, which it crops. this is a MAJOR display error. every time you open a window (including dialog boxes) you have to move the window to be able to get the thing to render. I read about LibreOffice crashing the system a lot, about it working better if you run it as root. But the window display problem (which I can sort of tolerate, but I certainly cant recommend LibreOffice to anybody without a fix) I'm having personally. The fix, I'm told, is to go to settings -> view -> and turn OFF OpenGL rendering, which is on by default. Well, that's brilliant because every time (root or user) that I go to settings and click view -- LibreOffice crashes. this is not incompetence, LibreOffice didn't get this useless without someone's deliberate sabotage. This sort of thing is happening far too often to far too many aspects of free software.

"I've watched these trends for years, and basically from 2005-2014 software was getting better and better. from 2014 to the present, it has gone downhill. Obviously, I doubt all of this has a malicious explanation. But none of it? I doubt that even more. Make free software look bad, and "better with Windows." And all of the wonderful Windows telemetry, too. Free software is losing, Microsoft is winning. People need to work to reverse this, or it's all going to be garbage eventually. I stopped using Windows to get away from problems like this -- I remember when free software meant 1. the prevention 2. the repair -- of such problems. It's not like that these days." Many of our readers complain about similar issues in relation to systemd and express concern about the promotion of Steam (DRM) under GNU/Linux, not to mention DRM browser blobs (EME), the transition to Chrome (proprietary), and 'Web apps' where surveillance is paramount. Flatpak and Snap are also nowadays promoted as carriers of or ramps for proprietary software.

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