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Microsoft's Takedown Plot - Part III: Making GNU/Linux About 'Choice' Instead of Freedom (as in Software Freedom)

Previous: Microsoft's Takedown Plot - Part I: When Linux Actually Means Microsoft

we doubt will accomplish anything to be most frank

Choice



Summary: An explanation of what Microsoft hopes to reduce Linux to; it's not a new strategy as it goes back at least five years

THIS is a hard post for me to write. I've advocated GNU/Linux since I was about 20 and have used it since my teenage years. A Finnish student, Jukka, introduced me to it. Nowadays I'm not sure where we stand. I'm not sure what "Linux" means exactly (I don't mean that in the dictionary sense or purely technical sense). The meaning of a word or a trademark, as it's understood by the general public, changes over time. It's done by the media and by hearsay; to a lot of people GNU/Linux became just "Ubuntu" and to many people GNU programs in the command line have come to mean "Linux" (if one checks their man pages it's clear they're part of the GNU project/toolchain). To many people "Linux" is some command line 'thing', not KDE or GNOME or Android.



Linux as a proprietary kernel/OS would be just another OS X or old UNIX. Linux was originally proprietary (before Torvalds picked the GPL). If we don't keep Software Freedom in view, we'll accomplish nothing but change of "Brands" or "Trademarks" or "Labels". Do we want that? Is Linux just about choice? Or is it more than that? Linux as a proprietary OS is the choice of "choice" over "freedom". As if all we needed is another trademark in the mix, not a paradigm change/shift that empowers developers and emancipates people in the age of oppressive 'clouds' (surveillance, back doors, censorship, rents, antifeatures and so on).

"Linux as a proprietary kernel/OS would be just another OS X or old UNIX."Microsoft was never happy for Linux to adopt the GPL and its lobbying groups pressured Linus Torvalds to reject the GPLv3 (we covered that at the time). Microsoft, at the time, had 'created' and then backed anti-GPL firms (whose sole purpose was just that, by their own admission). It's sad to see how Richard Stallman (RMS) lectures Microsoft on the Four Freedoms, which we doubt will accomplish anything to be most frank... they'll also leverage GitHub to attack the *GPL regardless (we saw senior Microsoft staff insinuating something to that effect last year).

"It's a shame the way he's [RMS] demonized," one person told me yesterday about RMS. "In a society of lies, speaking the truth sounds like insanity. He's one of the few public figures I trust."

One person in our IRC channels pointed out the recent CopyleftConf's "Our Sponsors" page, which names Microsoft and OIN alongside the FSF...

Copyleft and Microsoft? But Microsoft is fiercely against copyleft. If sponsors attack the GPL, what exactly are they doing in this event?

The person who told us about it sought to connect it to the RMS talk. He said, "in your article about RMS and Microsoft, you state that RMS is not corruptible. How can you be sure of that? Are you implying that he or FSF don't receive money from MS openwashing campaign? Did RMS give the speech in Redmond for free (as in free beer)?"

"Generally speaking, after the RMS talk people ask all sorts of uncomfortable questions."He later continued: "what I cannot explain is the purpose of this conference in Brussels" (the one above, dated February 4th, 2019). He took particular note of "the involvement of MS/Google in organizing/sponsoring side by side with FSF (USA) with no participation of FSFE [...] better question is, why is Microsoft getting in and FSF acting like it's OK?"

The Conservancy is there also. I must admit it doesn't look too good. Generally speaking, after the RMS talk people ask all sorts of uncomfortable questions. Microsoft fans from Fossbytes use this talk to claim "Microsoft’s recent love for open-source."

Watch these Microsoft spinners continuing to exploit the RMS talk to spread this lie (attacks as "love"):

The news was confirmed by Azure CTO Mark Russinovich who retweeted the post of Ale(ssandro) Segala.

[..]

Walking into the big tech’s office doesn’t mean that Stallman has going to become Microsoft’s new BFF. His website still reflects his keen interest in trying to point out “Reasons not to use Microsoft.”


Very little is known about the events leading up to it, but it fits perfectly into Microsoft's current strategy, which ultimately makes GNU/Linux more proprietary (using new angles of attack).

"A lot of people, especially young ones who are subjected to revisionism and indoctrination, do not grasp why Richard Stallman is so important."If Windows drowns (it does in the domain of servers), then Microsoft will try to take GNU and Linux down under (with Windows), forcing both to descend to the same level. This is more or less what we're seeing. That's very dangerous and it can reduce developers' interest in GNU/Linux.

A lot of people, especially young ones who are subjected to revisionism and indoctrination, do not grasp why Richard Stallman is so important. If properly taken into account, he's the (fore)father of FSF, GNU, Free software, Open Source and Linux. Those last two probably would not exist (in their current form) if it hadn't been for Stallman -- a point stressed earlier today in this guest post.

People who get all upset/worked up/angry at GNU/Linux (because of systemd and/or “lack of freedom”) and say things like “I’m moving to BSD” are missing the point. BSD-type licences are more proprietary software-friendly and are thus a step away from freedom. Getting annoyed at GNU or Linux or whatever is fine. Criticism is OK, it can often be constructive. But abandoning GNU/Linux and then moving to BSD means feeding more exploitation (like Apple's).

There's a good reason why copyleft got developers' support and software monopolies fight it, resist it, reject it, demonise it etc.

"There's a good reason why copyleft got developers' support and software monopolies fight it, resist it, reject it, demonise it etc."More people need to work to fix and protect GNU/Linux (already under attack from Microsoft and GitHub etc.) rather than walk away and give up. Google too is badmouthing the GPL to some degree. The desire to move away from Android is part of that. They're losing control of their monopoly, so they fight back with all they have left. They want a more monopoly-friendly set of licences. Nothing pisses Microsoft off more than developers who delete their GitHub accounts and/or repositories. It's apparently happening a lot more than people realise.

I'd note that I feel like the "delete GitHub" campaign that I started last year is very successful because: 1) some people told me GitHub had seen a lot of developers fleeing; 2) more new developers and project feel reluctant to join; 3) when I use the hashtag some developers then ask me what to do/use instead. Microsoft wasted a lot of money trying to buy control (a platform), so seeing people who walk away means their investment becomes moot, worthless. They hoped that control of GitHub would help feed Azure, Visual Studio and other proprietary platforms. They also hoped that GitHub would be exploited to steer developers towards 'liberal' licences (i.e. not copyleft).

Here's a little bit of history, which can be verified by any curious reader. Microsoft's plan to 'steal' all/most of FOSS by buying GitHub goes back to 2014 (when they stuffed GitHub with their code so as to game the statistics and call themselves a "top" FOSS company -- a propaganda line constantly pitched by Mac Asay over the years). The "2014" (year/date) isn't made up; They told that to Bloomberg's Microsoft stenographer in retrospect (that's Dina Bass, their longtime 'shadow'/'mole' in the media, based on antitrust/legal actions' subpoenas).

"Microsoft's plan to 'steal' all/most of FOSS by buying GitHub goes back to 2014 (when they stuffed GitHub with their code so as to game the statistics and call themselves a "top" FOSS company -- a propaganda line constantly pitched by Mac Asay over the years)."That was one year before the "Microsoft loves Linux" PR campaign started.

2 years before 'buying' (paying) the Linux Foundation and getting seats in the Board.

Microsoft still executes an anti-Linux plan -- a plan long, long in the making, which includes the change of CEO for PR/posturing purposes (Bill Gates is still in charge of the whole operation and he deeply hates Linux and GNU, based on subpoenas with his own correspondence).

The main manipulator is Guthrie. He entraps people and recruits moles. He has, in our assessment, been most instrumental in Microsoft's war on Linux. People like Nat Friedman and Miguel de Icaza are just like props to him. Zemlin is a 'useful idiot' whom they made a multi-millionaire in exchange (Zemlin must be a happy man; without qualifications in technology he came to lead "Linux").

"The main manipulator is Guthrie. He entraps people and recruits moles."Imagine for a second. If you had been given a budget of over $20,000,000,000 ('loose change') to kill GNU/Linux as an independent pillar that competes with Microsoft, what would you do? Can buy companies and bribe all sorts of institutions... from OEMs to people. Even the OSI ('slush funds').

Microsoft did not port some proprietary software to GNU/Linux because it "loves" anything (certainly not FOSS; it's still proprietary, monopolised by Microsoft alone); that's just the "Extend" in EEE. Microsoft needs an exclusive "Extend" piece/latch.

Thankfully, Microsoft isn't fooling the geeks. People with background in technology don't believe Microsoft and whatever it says about GNU/Linux. People know there's no "love' (that's PR! Companies aren't people and corporations don't fall in love), just openwashing. What corrupt press says about "love" it often says in exchange for payments (Microsoft is a sponsor and/or buys ads). Again, 'slush funds'...

"We need to talk about these issues. The more we talk about them, the better. The talk interferes with Microsoft's plans."Had people actually believed Microsoft (it has a long history of lying, right from the start 4 decades back), Techrights wouldn't be receiving record traffic in spite of "tough times" for journalism (I think we do a decent job at it). This week we have all-time record traffic (in 13 years). That in itself says something.

"I've been reading articles for quite a while," one person said in IRC a couple of days ago. "excellent work, and I, as yourself and many others are, am very concerned..."

We need to talk about these issues. The more we talk about them, the better. The talk interferes with Microsoft's plans.

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