08.10.22

Microsoft Death Spiral: Microsoft Fires 200 Employees “Working to Win Back Customers”

Posted in GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Windows at 8:57 pm by Guest Editorial Team

Guest post by Ryan, reprinted with permission from the original

Microsoft Death Spiral: Microsoft’s latest layoffs (there have been many thousands and entire divisions in the past two years) fires 200 employees “working to win back customers”.

They were told to find another open job at Microsoft (during a hiring freeze) or take the severance pay.

The customers who they were trying to “win back” were apparently the ones who fled to the Mac, Chrome OS, and GNU/Linux. It’s been enough to reduce the Windows desktop marketshare to only 64.4% according to PornHub’s statistics from the end of 2021.

My guess is they’ve probably lost another percentage point or two since then.

The Windows 11 rollout was such a disaster that Macs, Chrome OS, and GNU/Linux are converting more Windows 10 users than Windows 11 is.

On top of being the biggest piece of shit operating system from Microsoft in decades, in ways that even Windows 10 wasn’t, Windows 11 also set high system requirements like TPM 2.0 and Intel processors no older than 2018, which has further hampered uptake.

(Also: Internet Explorer 11 is still embarrassingly present and usable as a Web browser in Windows 11, proving that trash never gets taken out once it’s part of the OS.)

More people are on to this scheme than ever. Wondering why they should throw out a computer that’s plenty fast, during a dead economy where they could be the next layoff (and even if they aren’t, their landlord, utility companies, and the grocery store want ~11% more money this year), just so that Microsoft and Intel can stick it to them again.

Microsoft always downplays how bad things are really going. They’re basically on a hiring freeze, so the tens of thousands of layoffs only tell part of the story.

(Chicago was doing the same thing as it went broke from years of horrible Democrat mismanagement. As people left their city jobs, the mayors have quietly come back and cut the open position so they can get payroll down without fighting the union or making it obvious what they did.)

The article also mentions that Microsoft brought in a former Uber executive (Uber broke the laws all over the world to illegally undercut public transit and cabs and then jack up prices, then destroyed the evidence) to manage the Consumer products division.

The Microsoft brand is already toxic. They bought Skype and people stopped using it for the most part. I haven’t had a Skype video call in years.

They lock Firefox out of it (even though a user agent hack lets you back in) and behave like it’s a product people are actually using, but it’s basically a failed acquisition.

If they buy Discord or TikTok the same thing is going to happen. Trump tried to destroy TikTok to force a Microsoft acquisition at fire sale prices so that Microsoft could be hoarding your data and misusing it instead of the Chinese government.

Discord is a malicious mess.

IRC can’t “centrally ban” you. You could be banned from a “server”, but since IRC has real servers and real people own them, you can still use the rest. Discord already does nasty things to spy on their users and mistreat them, and would not likely get better under Microsoft.

I get greatly annoyed when Mom sends me something on Pinterest assuming I can access it on my phone. It wants me to install an app, which is even worse than their Web site, which is a pile of JavaShit that demands you to log in and identify yourself, like Twitter.

Microsoft tries to paint a rosy picture of XBOX and “Office 365”, however their Office division lead told hiring managers that they’re on lockdown too and be very careful how many you hire. Why do that if you’re doing well?

When I had an XBOX 360, I went through 8 consoles before finally selling my eighth refurbished unit on Craigslist. I wrote about it on my old blog.

The things were overheating junk. But the XBOX One is actually even worse. Now they want you to download or install entire games which won’t work on other consoles (DRM) and where you can’t have an unlimited number of them (due to hard drive space).

The other day on one of my chats, someone said he was looking to buy a used XBOX One “if someone still has one that works”.

My Sega Genesis still works and it’s more than 30 years old and this guy is going “if it still works” to describe something that can’t be more than 9 years old even if it was a launch unit, which they have “updated” several times and still sell.

In addition to Microsoft infesting the XBOX division with “SKU-itis” like they do with Windows and most of their other products, they encourage you to use battery-operated controllers so the controller can randomly go dead.

(I still use an XBOX 360 Wired Controller with my PC.)

PC gaming (most XBOX games are bad PC ports) has become a soulless cash grab. We used to be madder than Hell if we spent money on a game that was just bad or needed to be debugged some more, but now they’re usually $80 and then require micro-transactions as well.

Many of my games on the PC are classic console emulators.

Unfortunately, everyone who has sat down to rewrite the Genesis stuff in modern C or C++ and release it under some sort of Free Software license has given up and KEGA Fusion is proprietary and abandoned and does not appear to recognize my controller, forcing me to drop the Windows version into Wine, which can map the controller to whatever it is shit API Windows is using this year.

Some others are Steam games that have been “broken” by me deliberately such that they can’t reach out to the network and self-update.

I think Microsoft’s days of growing consumer markets are over, and that’s why they fired this entire division. They’ve been paying them for 4 years already and it hasn’t helped them on any front yet.

XBOX division has got to be capped by now and their entire strategy for growing profit is to grab the same consumers they already have by the balls and squeeze harder.

It’s difficult for the public to actually know what “Cloud” computing is, so Microsoft has rebranded everything to say “Cloud” so they can disguise what’s doing poorly from their financial reports.

US taxpayers are being forced to repeatedly bail Microsoft products out. They fired their entire “HoLOLens” division after Biden’s plan to make the US Army buy “HoLOLens” units it didn’t want fell through, but they can keep figuring out ways to shove billions into Microsoft like that bullshit “JEDI” program the Pentagon (which has unlimited funding with no scrutiny) has in mind while our actual military readiness continues to suffer.

In many ways, the “big picture” of Microsoft, to me at least, is failing company that’s still sitting on some cash, but is radically downsizing by stealth and staggered layoff rounds to try to keep the act up for a while longer.

Successful companies don’t slam the brakes on hiring, shut down division after division, and tell allegedly successful business units to be “very careful” about hiring while saying in their SEC report that they expect that division to do well in the future.

They have been busy committing public corruption and trying to shuffle things around to become Too Big To Fail.

So in that regard, they probably won’t go out of business even with a seemingly endless parade of consumer product disasters like Windows RT, Windows Phone, Kin, Kinect, Skype, the entire Microsoft Retail division, “HoLOLens”, Zune, Groove Music, TerraServer, Band, Bing (which bribes people to use it and still can’t gain marketshare), dozens of others big and small, and the declining revenue stream (and relevance) of Windows itself. (Wine and Proton copied most of the important Windows APIs and let you use them on a reliable OS base.)

However, their consumer market outlook is laughable because consumers have choices now and they don’t like the products they’re being offered, and they’re not a government that can steal Other People’s Money and use it to buy things that aren’t any good.

When I evaluate something for my own use, it obviously has to work. I don’t want halfassed operating systems full of decades of bloat and virus-enabling cruft like Internet Explorer, which is STILL there. So apparently, there’s enough people who think like I do that Microsoft realized they were wasting their time.

Intel and companies like Lenovo are married to Microsoft because they’d only sell replacements for hardware that broke down if everyone switched to GNU/Linux. Profits would be halved overnight. They’d be ruined without all of the e-waste that Microsoft causes.

This is why they’ve been such a reliable partner in crime with things like UEFI and “Secure Boot”.

But finally, at long last, even that’s not enough.

08.08.22

Firefox Has DRM Even if You Turn off DRM

Posted in DRM, Free/Libre Software at 12:02 am by Guest Editorial Team

Guest post by Ryan, reprinted with permission from the original

Today I learned that Firefox has DRM even if you turn off DRM.

Even if you hide it in the GUI and stop sites from asking you to turn it on.

The MPEG-DASH standard has a form of DRM called ClearKey.

You can read about it here. (Warning: Microsoft GitHub)

In fact, when I went checking, Firefox, LibreWolf, and Ungoogled-Chromium all work with Clearkey, at least this demonstration.

I noticed that Clearkey exists because people on Reddit using Firefox ESR 91 have complained about Firefox popping up a dialog box saying the “Clearkey plugin has crashed”, on various Web sites.

It seems that the Web is getting so nasty that the purveyors of DRM want you to think you can turn it off when a different version goes ahead and runs instead.

The only browser I have on my computer that refuses to play it, is GNOME Web (version 42, latest WebkitGTK).

SeaMonkey also didn’t play it. It may be because Gecko (the rendering engine) is too old.

This does explain some things. The test video is not detected by Video Download Helper.

Whether this means Clearkey works or if the author of Video Download Helper just doesn’t want to get sued for helping people bypass DRM is unknown to me.

The US DMCA says any form of DRM is illegal to bypass, even something laughable or trivial.

Just telling someone to turn off a site’s JavaScript or to read the New York Times using the Lynx browser may even qualify.

Advertising companies have used the DMCA to get removed from the EasyList adblocking filters.

So they may just be relying on something like that.

The program, yt-dlp apparently works around “ClearKey” saying it’s not DRM.

However, they are stupid enough to host it on Microsoft GitHub where youtube-dl (the program they forked) had already been taken down for less, and where many other projects get deleted in the middle of the night.

Recently, even a port of DOOM to the processor in an IKEA smart lamp was taken down after IKEA sent threatening legal garbage. I haven’t been to an IKEA store since that happened.

If porting a program to a CPU is all you need to do to get threatened, then I wonder what IKEA’s lawyers do to sites that tell people how to make unintended recipes out of their frozen Swedish meatballs.

Mozilla continues to disappoint me. They had an opportunity to fight the people who are hijacking and corrupting the Web. They instead signed the Web’s death warrant on the dotted line, alongside Microsoft, Google, and Apple.

ClearKey apparently won’t stop people from copying. Why would it?

Stronger DRM doesn’t stop copying either.

All it does do is waste the user’s computer’s resources trying to play back a stupid video. Potentially one that they didn’t even want running on that Web page.

One of the most disappointing things about turning off DRM in Firefox and having ClearKey continue functioning, is it means that Mozilla is basically lying about what that switch does. Six years ago, they made it so you can’t even drop to about:config and disable ClearKey there.

Real sites are starting to use ClearKey, and it’s just one more aggravation that people on the modern Web will have to face.

I think I should be able to right-click and copy and paste anything I want from my Web browser, or click “Save Video”. If we had the people running Mozilla today in the 1990s, Web browsers wouldn’t even allow you to save an Image.

If a Web site uses JavaScript to try to block me from reading it or copying text, I simply revoke that site’s permission to use JavaScript.

That takes an Extension now, which is nuts.

More and more, I use Web to Gemini proxies to deal with Web content because it’s clean, it’s fast, and it’s readable.

Grabbing news articles and Wikipedia articles over Gemini on my Android phone is very easy using the Buran program from F-Droid.

On my laptop with Fedora, I use Lagrange.

They work like simple Web browser in the 90s did, where if there is an image, you can load it if you want to. Modern browsers just shove those in without asking even if it’s some stupid stock image.

This is what happens when presentation is more important than content quality.

There are simply too many Web problems to deal with and it’s only getting worse, and I no longer expect Mozilla to push back on any of them.

08.02.22

UEFI Firmware Vulnerable to Malware Implants; Worse Than “Legacy BIOS” Ever Was

Posted in Hardware, Security at 8:22 pm by Guest Editorial Team

Guest post by Ryan, reprinted with permission from the original

UEFI firmware vulnerable to malware implants; worse than “legacy BIOS” ever was.

According to security researchers at anti-virus firm Kaspersky, UEFI “implants” that put rootkits into Microsoft Windows are fairly common, and have been since at least six years ago.

Ever since Microsoft and Intel teamed up to foist this horrible PC firmware “standard” onto PC users, they’ve had people such as Security Theater person Matthew Garrett cheer-leading it for them and claiming that it makes great leaps and bounds to secure your computer.

He’s bounced around from one job to another over the years. At one point, he was working for Red Hat, when he came up with “Security Theater Boot” for Linux, which requires Microsoft to give permission for your PC to boot.

Ars Technica: Fedora could seek Microsoft code signing to contend with secure boot

Web / Gemini (NewsWaffle) / “WebWaffle”

Ever since Garrett’s specification was adopted, GNU/Linux distributors have had to beg Microsoft and pay them to sign their distribution’s bootloader, or else their operating systems don’t boot up on affected PCs.

Instead of telling users to turn off “Secure Boot” or at least just add the distribution’s certificate to the firmware instead, this is where we’ve ended up.

I always turn off “Secure Boot” because I’ve never had it prevent any actual attack, and as far as I’m aware, it never has.

It is part of an attack, on the user.

Matthew Garrett has attacked me repeatedly in the past, especially when I pointed out Lenovo’s 2016 assault on GNU/Linux, in which they crippled some of their laptops to lock them into a mode that only the supplied version of Windows would boot with.

Now he’s trying to gain relevance again, and some people are falling for it, by himself complaining about Lenovo and Microsoft’s current corrupt business practices, which is to disable the Microsoft certificate that allowed this scheme to work.

Thanks to Garrett enabling Microsoft to avoid the coming lawsuits that would have happened had Security Theater Boot stopped a Windows 8 laptop from allowing Linux to boot up, today if a person tries to boot a Linux kernel, a Windows sticker-compliant laptop with “Microsoft Pluton” will now simply say it’s not allowed “due to a security policy”.

When you enable thugs, they get worse, not better. They come back and try to get away with more.

While Lenovo has posted instructions for turning on the Microsoft Third-Party CA, Mr. Garrett pointed out that doing that will trip up Bitlocker, Microsoft’s backdoored and fake disk encryption setup, and lock you out of your computer, and potentially cause data loss. (It’s happened to me!)

Since flipping off “Secure Boot” makes GNU/Linux work and it’s ridiculous to even attempt to dual boot Windows with anything, since it has always eventually gone on the attack and corrupted the other OS, and turning it off gives you the freedom you used to have to modify your OS to do whatever you want, I persist in saying this is the only correct approach to dealing with it.

So, things have come full circle and the guy who actually accused me of being a conspiracy theorist and Microsoft basher when Lenovo did something far nastier to me, and I went to the Attorney General of Illinois and got that reversed, has co-opted my position about Lenovo from 6 years ago.

The facts about UEFI couldn’t be more of a 180 from what Garrett and other UEFI promoters have been saying over the years.

The code to implement UEFI is gargantuan. The standard that defines it was rushed and based largely on EFI, which was meant for Intel’s failed Itanium CPU architecture.

As such, the implementations were not debugged very well. On top of all of this, the existing “PC BIOS Mafia” of companies like Award, Phoenix, and AMI, was largely preserved.

When PC OEMs go to include a UEFI firmware package, they license an “off the shelf” solution, usually from one of these companies, and then add or remove features from it, much like they did before with the “Legacy BIOS”.

The way these companies got their start was by reverse engineering how the original IBM PC’s firmware (BIOS) worked, and so they’ve been an established cartel since the 1980s.

The problem is that the PC OEMs aren’t concerned about actually securing your computer, or the safety of the data that it stores.

They are more concerned with getting Windows booting and complying with some idiotic Windows sticker program requirements so that they can get kickbacks from Microsoft.

Without these “rebates”, the cost of Windows goes way up and they are at a competitive disadvantage with other PC makers in the marketplace.

Microsoft is also not really concerned with making progress in computer and IT security. The illusion of progress will suffice. Even when it really means that the situation on the ground is backsliding terribly.

Nobody punishes them for it. Governments like the United States federal government release “weak” and “watered down” security requirements and “executive orders” which mean nothing.

Then you hear about another business or government agency getting hit by ransomware, and there’s no gasoline or chickens for a month or so until they pay the criminals in Bitcoin and get their data back.

My last PC without UEFI, a Phenom II X4-based desktop with a “Legacy BIOS”, was very stable and I ran it for years.

I bought it like that deliberately, knowing that Linus Torvalds, the creator of the Linux kernel, spent about a decade with nothing really positive to say about “EFI”, describing it as “broken” and “hacked up”.

As Microsoft has been buying influence and control over outfits such as the “Linux Foundation” (which only spends 4% of its budget on Linux), Linus Torvalds was forced into silence.

He used to call bullshit on public mailing lists about something bad unfolding in the PC industry, and ever sense his forced “apology tour” and “time out”, he’s never really been the same.

(Various elements claiming to be part of the FOSS movement try to stir up shit against important figures to cause strife and conflict, by slandering them in public with spurious allegations, like what happened to Richard Stallman.)

The early days of UEFI were a complete shit show, where all kinds of computers shipping with it would be bricked when trying to use “standard” and “documented” native UEFI interfaces.

Even the PC OEMs shipping with it often knew to hide it behind a “Legacy BIOS” emulator and stop the OS from interacting with it directly, lest even Windows break something, and they would have to warranty the computer.

Fixing computers after they sell them is really not what OEMs want to do. Often on “consumer” oriented stuff, you don’t even get one UEFI update after they sell it.

The only reason why Lenovo ever updated the Yoga 900-ISK2 is because I took action against them. As far as I know, they never fixed any security problems with it, and Ubuntu actually broke that particular model by interacting with the firmware using the Intel Serial Peripheral Interface driver, which was useless for most people, and luckily not even built by Fedora, which is what I was using.

OMG Ubuntu!: Ubuntu 17.10 Breaks the BIOS on Some Lenovo Laptops

Web / Gemini (NewsWaffle) / “WebWaffle”

Aside from the garden-variety awfulness of the UEFI “standard” that you’d expect, given it came from Microsoft and Intel, and is implemented by the “BIOS Mafia” and OEMs, it’s vulnerable to malware that is essentially impossible for Windows anti-virus software to remove.

These “implants” are designed to get into the Windows kernel, patch it in-memory to turn off security features, and then deliver a malicious payload that becomes part of the operating system.

The one detected by Kaspersky appears to have been written by a “Chinese group”, possibly, likely, a state-sponsored one.

To have any chance at all against malware like this, you have to constantly security patch your UEFI firmware, but that too is dangerous and in some cases, difficult.

They don’t make any official flashers for GNU/Linux, and the only way I’ve seen to deal with this on most computers is to make a Windows Pre-Installation Environment USB stick with the flasher on it.

Flashing your firmware is dangerous. You can go from a working system to something totally corrupt that won’t boot. If you’re not in warranty, your OEM will make you pay to ship it both ways and to have the motherboard replaced, which will cause total data loss.

Even if the flash is successful, it often puts in crazy settings that were not the default in the last build, which you have to know to go into the setup program and fix.

If you get through all of that, there will just be more vulnerabilities next month. They’re endless.

Intel is incompetent. Apple gave up trying to fix them and started developing their own CPUs. Every year, Intel has only gotten much worse.

I would love to flash my UEFI firmware to knock out the security vulnerabilities that I know have been piling up since I last updated the firmware in September of 2021, right before switching the computer over to GNU/Linux permanently.

Lenovo UEFI updates require Windows, but the Hiran’s BootCD PE is a bootable Windows 10 on a flash drive.

It’s a gimpy version of Windows 10, but if all you’re using it for is to run a flasher and then get rid of it, it might be tolerable, if only barely.

I’m actually less afraid of Hiran’s BootCD PE and a flasher from some dodgy Chinese UEFI vendor than I am of what Lenovo may have done to “customize” it, given what unfolded in 2016 with my Yoga 900-ISK2, and what Matthew Garrett now admits Lenovo does openly.

I have absolutely no intention of updating the UEFI and risking bricking it, only to find out that Lenovo has retroactively added some new sort of fuckery that prevents my laptop from rebooting into Linux.

I’m not currently having any MAJOR firmware-related issues, which is unusual on a PC, much less a Lenovo, so I’m going to let sleeping dogs lie.

Lenovo shipped firmware so broken on the Release Engineering date just to get the Thinkpad 15 ITL Gen2 out in time for their Black Friday deal in 2020 that it had major problems even handling Windows 10.

Then when the USB-C failed several months in and I had to ship it back for a warranty repair, to their service depot in Texas, they sent it back again with the original firmware on it. Forcing me to update to the firmware that fucked up Microsoft Bitlocker.

So basically, the events that transpired were USB-C failed, back everything up, Lenovo had to replace the entire motherboard, of course.

They soldered the SSD into the old one, so they ship me back a computer with a new motherboard and SSD, exactly in the Release Engineering condition. First thing I do is update the UEFI, and have it trip up the TPM, and cause Bitlocker to refuse to release the SSD contents.

I recover Windows anyway using the “Novo” button and figure out how to get into the emergency recover partition, which isn’t easy, you know, but whatever. The emergency recovery system took about 5 hours to recover Windows 10 for some reason.

I used it for another month and then I patched the UEFI again and the firmware couldn’t find the Windows Bootloader on the next reboot. Emergency recovery mode, again.

By this time, I rebooted into the UEFI and changed the storage mode to AHCI in preparation for replacing the OS with GNU/Linux because I was getting tired of this Windows shit anyway, and reboot.

Microsoft Bitlocker comes up again and tells me it refuses to unlock the disk.

So I proceed to install GNU/Linux using a USB stick I made on my other laptop, and once it’s installed, I go back into the UEFI and disable Secure Boot.

Because Secure Boot can have a “dbx update” that fucks up your ability to load various operating systems, which bit me in the ass on my older laptop once when I tried to boot Fedora after Ubuntu had updated the dbx as part of “BootHole”.

The short version is that UEFI just keeps biting you in the ass, especially if you try leaving Secure Boot on or leaving Windows on the computer, and doing anything at all with the computer to try to have any hope of maybe staying one step ahead of Chinese and Russian UEFI malware implant groups.

If you use Windows 10 or 11 today, it’s really the “Windows 2000 Summer of Worms” all over again, except now you’re practically guaranteed to get UEFI malware putting a rootkit into the Windows kernel and then shoving invisible malware that no anti-virus program will ever detect, and it will probably happen so quickly that you’ll be lucky if nobody gets you on the way to replace Windows.

On top of the “UEFI Summer of Worms”, UEFI just generally isn’t reliable enough to entrust your data to, and you’ll likely lose it several times over, especially if you have Microsoft Bitlocker turned on and try updating the firmware or changing some settings. There won’t be any warning. It will just happen.

You’ll lose your data to Microsoft Bitlocker because TPM state is incredibly fragile and it pretty much panics Bitlocker if someone in the room sneezes.

It even got Garrett by surprise while he was trying to figure out his new laptop, and he says he’s an “expert” on UEFI that understands it quite well and has had paying jobs related to it.

So if he barely has a chance to save his data, and even then only because his system had backed up his unlock key to Microsoft (LOL), what chance do you have?

Real disk encryption never hands the unlock keys to anyone but you. GNU/Linux has real disk encryption.

Windows gives you….a mirage. It hands your unlock keys to the government so if Johnny Law ever comes knocking, your data will be State’s Exhibit A. Meanwhile, do enjoy losing your data over and over and over again. I hope you have backups.

I never had this sort of trouble out of PC BIOS.

Sure they had bugs, but it wasn’t anything like this UEFI mess.

You can install all of the updates you want. It won’t matter. They’ll just cause more problems if you do.

If Intel and Microsoft have proven anything, it’s that they design systems, hardware, and specifications that are so bad that you can patch them until they’re not “supported” anymore and still only barely be any better off than when you had the computer dumped in your lap like it was.

Windows XP is a great example of this. It got patched for over 20 years (including the EOL updates which normal users could only get with registry hacks and visiting Web sites that leaked them out from paying customers), and the security situation still wasn’t much better than it used to be. The same thing happens to all of their products.

Why?

Fixing bugs and making software more reliable is a cost center.

When you want to maximize profits, it’s always easier to dump something in the customer’s lap that only barely works and to actually take care of it as little as you can get by with.

That’s been the way Microsoft and Intel have gotten things done for decades, and it’s not getting any better.

At the same time, Free and Open Source Software has gradually improved because the process iterates as bugs are fixed over the years.

Even if proprietary software companies care about quality (some do), the nature of the proprietary software beast is such that everyone you get to work on it is paid and sworn to secrecy, which limits how much development can get done.

Pretty much the only programmers that try to defend the notion proprietary software and slander FOSS are the ones cashing paychecks building proprietary software that does unethical things to the users.

Dumping broken crap into the customer’s lap and moving right along is exactly what’s going on with UEFI.

By the time Lenovo sells a laptop, especially to Home users who don’t know what firmware is, much less a malicious “implant”, most of the time there are never any security updates at all.

Why would they? From Lenovo’s perspective, trying to fix it up would only cost them money.

Lenovo has demonstrated to me repeatedly that it is far too stupid to patch up my “business class” laptop without tripping up Bitlocker or doing something that causes it to be unable to find the Windows Bootloader. If they update your computer at all, chances are they’ll hose it and get angry customers demanding warranty repairs.

How any of this would make it past even the slightest amount of quality control is beyond explanation, which hints to me that there probably is nobody testing this stuff, and since it can ruin your computer at a hardware level (impossible to fix) if it goes wrong, you’re gambling by installing the updates.

As a Home user, your security doesn’t matter to them. That’s a “you problem”.

A parade of awfulness ensues about half the time you try to patch the UEFI on a Lenovo computer according to their instructions, and that’s if you PLAN to keep using Windows. Just get rid of Windows. You’ll be so glad you did. If your UEFI works at all, live with it.

On a final note, I am very amused that Lenovo bumped the UEFI almost monthly for the first 10 months I owned this “Professional” grade laptop and none of those patches ever fixed the typos in their firmware setup program.

If you watch how many CPU security bugs Intel springs and what has to be done to plug them, and how usually that doesn’t even work and OS vendors have to keep coming back and dealing with the same problem over and over again, you’ll leave with the distinct impression that UEFI updates are likely pointless anyway. Linux can update the CPU firmware at boot anyway, and that’s usually the biggest part of the UEFI update.

In my opinion, only a person of first-order stupidity or corruption could praise Intel and Microsoft knowing what the real score is.

Much less implement their specifications and tell others to use them.

Linus Torvalds said he managed the release for the latest Linux kernel using an “Apple Silicon” (ARM64) Mac using Asahi Linux.

If things keep going the way they are on the Intel PC, I may very well go that direction as well.

It sounds like things are really starting to shape up for Linux over there and I’m sure the computer is less of a disaster if that’s why Linus has switched to one.

Microsoft Sends Broken Web Pages to GNOME Web While GNOME is Adding Microsoft Integration

Posted in GNOME, GNU/Linux at 2:51 am by Guest Editorial Team

Guest post by Ryan, reprinted with permission from the original

M

icrosoft still sends broken Web pages to GNOME Web, while GNOME is adding Office 365/OneDrive integration.

A couple years ago, when I tried to sign into Microsoft Outlook mail with GNOME Web, I noticed that it gets a fallback page meant for obsolete Web browsers. GNOME Web uses (currently) the default version of WebKit that Safari 15 does.

So there’s no good reason for Microsoft to send it broken Web pages meant for Internet Explorer and other obsolete Web browsers.

I noticed at the time that if I used user agent hacks on every site that said I was running Safari on Mac OS that it loaded the full site.

We never did figure out the right user agents to feed each Microsoft domain that loads along the way to reliably get the correct version of Outlook, and the Basic site works. It’s just very ugly.

Michael Catanzaro told me that using “Safari on Mac OS” in general for the user agent generally does more harm than good. Most sites start trying to send you Mac files.

But it’s very clearly Microsoft seeing the Epiphany and Linux user agent somewhere along the way that’s tipping them off that they can screw up the site in this browser.

It’s not the first time Microsoft has sent obsolete or malformed Web pages to a browser with a modern and fully capable rendering engine.

It’s a pattern of bad behavior that at Microsoft, they attack small browsers where few will complain and most will go download or open something else.

Mozilla Suite and Firefox had to deal with this all the time in the early 2000s, and Microsoft detected Opera’s user agent it sent a deliberately corrupt style sheet on MSN, which was a major Web portal back then.

(Microsoft has since fired the editors and has stupid software loading random clickbait. Then they shovel that into their Windows 11 “Weather” widget.)

The Opera situation made it into the news at the time when Opera released a special “Opera Bork Edition” that “translated” everything on MSN into the language of the Swedish Chef, from The Muppet Show.

Opera releases “Bork” Edition (2003)

A technical explanation of the Opera incident.

At the time, Microsoft had a version of the page that worked in Opera, but gave it a corrupt version instead. The only change you needed to perform was to tell Microsoft you were visiting MSN in Internet Explorer 6.

In fact, to prove that Microsoft was sniffing for “Opera” in the user agent and returning a broken page, they changed it to “Oprah” and requested the page, and got the page for IE6, which displayed fine.

Previously, in 2001, Microsoft blocked Opera from accessing anything on MSN at all, and recommended Internet Explorer. Opera filed an antitrust complaint with government regulators, and Microsoft removed the block.

Later, Microsoft came back and performed subtle sabotage to make the page look broken in Opera as revenge for getting Microsoft in trouble with regulators.

I complained to Microsoft in 2021 about the Outlook Mail issue with GNOME Web and got no response and they locked my post on Microsoft Answers.

Amazingly, with all of this going on, proving that Microsoft hasn’t changed at all and attacks GNOME’s official Web browser, GNOME developers are adding support for Onedrive (Microsoft’s “cloud” storage) into GNOME Files.

As I was reading through GNOME’s gitlab instance, I found some chatter that led me to a Microsoft page where they will be shutting down “Basic” authentication and forcing OAuth2 for Outlook Mail as of October 1st, which means your only choices are moving to some client that supports that, or using their Webmail interface.

Apparently, the plan is to support OAuth2 for Microsoft accounts throughout GNOME and to add Onedrive support into GNOME Files.

That probably means that Geary and Evolution will work, but I don’t want to use those. It also seems like a lot of effort to support Microsoft when they deliberately do to GNOME Web what they did to Opera in 2003 on their Outlook Mail site.

Oddly enough, opening Microsoft Office (yuck) seems to function as intended in GNOME Web, but even going to Outlook through that, you get the fallback site.

“Microsoft Loves Linux”

07.23.22

The SeaMonkey Internet Suite is Still Developed. Is it Right for You?

Posted in Free/Libre Software, Standard at 5:32 pm by Guest Editorial Team

Guest post by Ryan, reprinted with permission from the original

The SeaMonkey Web Browser and Internet Suite (Web page editor, Mail and News client, and ChatZilla for IRC) is still producing releases.

I installed version 2.53.13 as packaged in Fedora GNU/Linux 36.

The program is based on a forked version of the Gecko Web engine that Firefox uses.

Ironically, it was Firefox that was forked from SeaMonkey.

It was also SeaMonkey that caused AOL’s iteration of Netscape Corporation to go ahead and collapse.

(It was not on solid footing following Microsoft’s attack on the original company, which is what made AOL decide to buy it out as a distressed asset.)

This is because many people, myself included, saw no point at all in using Netscape’s version of “Mozilla Suite” (SeaMonkey’s original name) and started following Mozilla Suite instead, because the browser was open source, highly Web Standards compliant, and packed full of features.

AOL turned these releases into “Netscape 6/7” by adding proprietary software (useless) and a bunch of garbage bookmarks to shopping sites, and having their setup program put icons for “Free AOL Trial” on your desktop.

(Which seemed to be their only concrete business plan for anything they took over, including another of my favorite programs, Winamp.)

The “done thing” by people like me was to just grab a new nightly build and install it every once in a while manually to get at the latest new features in “Mozilla” as the Suite was commonly referred to, happily ignoring the “This is just for testing. End users should go to Netscape.” warning.

We knew that “Mozilla” was a fully functional browser sans AOL crap, so why use something from AOL?

Meanwhile, AOL made a series of unforced errors, including pressuring Mozilla to declare something “stable” and then finally giving up and basing Netscape “6” on something that was clearly not ready for average users and throwing a multi-million dollar advertising budget behind it. This, only to get booed in the tech media as a “bloated program that crashes all the time”.

Microsoft Windows, especially in the 1990s, was really really ugly to look at. Honestly, it’s the ugliest operating system of its time in any decade, but that’s an aside.

One of the things AOL pressured Mozilla to do was create a “theming engine” that had performance problems on everything it ran on, especially the “Modern” theme (which Netscape made their default), and especially on Windows, where the majority of reviewers would be evaluating it.

(Mozilla with the default theme usually ran fine on my old AMD K6/2 system, so I mean…..they clearly weren’t the only problem here.)

By the time Microsoft had a theming engine in Windows XP, running Netscape 6/7 on it looked even worse, because they looked like two clown cars with a different paint job crashed into each other.

After AOL divested itself of Mozilla, Blake Ross (who left to work at Facebook) and David Hyatt (who left for Apple, to work on Safari) spun off the far less capable Firefox browser, whose selling point was ease-of-use for people who couldn’t figure out how to use an Internet Suite.

They also claimed Firefox was “less bloated”, however most of the bloat was in the engine and loaded with Firefox anyway, so it did not consume significantly fewer resources than the Suite. In fact, if you used ThunderBird as a separate program, you’d load everything twice instead of opening Mail and News and observing a ~1% increase of RAM consumption.

Over the years, since the fork, Firefox has continued to bloat up to the point where people used to complain that the entire program was using 1 GB of RAM, and now it often uses almost that much per tab. So, we should begin by dispelling this revisionist history that led to the forking of Firefox.

At the time, I was one of the people who kept on using the Suite and pooh-poohed Firefox for being “dumbed down”, but clearly the Suite’s days were numbered. And even I began using Firefox as fewer people used or developed for the Suite anymore, and you could add most of the missing features back to Firefox with extensions.

SeaMonkey 2.53.13 (released July 11th, 2022) uses Gecko 60.8 “with backports and fixes” and advertises itself as Firefox 78.

For the most part, I was able to browse the Web just fine in SeaMonkey.

However, it had problems dealing with certain Web sites, including the Element chat software (incorrect rendering) and the WordPress Editor (malformed rendering, but usable).

I also had a problem when I went to log in to Facebook, which I barely use except to occasionally message distant relations about something.

(I don’t even use my real name and always load it in a private window, but relatives know it’s me.) Facebook text entry boxes do not function, which is also a problem I had near the end with Firefox 78 ESR.

I also had problems with some video sites not playing videos.

I ended up having to drop to about:config and set site-specific user-agent overrides sometimes, identifying it as mobile Safari for some video sites, or desktop Safari for some others.

Why Safari? Well, it’s pretty much the least Web Standards compliant browser, but it has too many users for Web developers to ignore completely.

Since Apple has so much of the Web platform missing from Safari, that leads to a situation where developers have to make changes and not use those features to get a site to work, which means your chances of having it work (or at least work better) in an old version of Gecko should improve.

In most cases, lying to a particular domain to get the Mobile Safari version at least got the site to work, even if it looked odd on my laptop computer.

This is exactly the same approach that Cameron Kaiser used in Clasilla, a long-lived fork of the Mozilla Application Suite 1.3.1 for old version of Mac OS, which couldn’t run anything else.

Mobile Web sites assume that your computer has less resources, a partially functional Web browser like Safari, and tend to foist less code for the browser to figure out what to do with.

While the current state of the Web on SeaMonkey is almost certainly nowhere near as bad as a fork of a browser from 2003 (Clasilla) that was maintained mostly by one guy, a browser core rooted in 2018, even with modifications, is going to start having some trouble in 2022.

As GNOME Web, which is actually based on Webkit (like Safari, although with improvements) found out, even if you use the same rendering engine, lying globally and identifying as Safari turns out to be radically destructive. Sites start trying to send you files meant for Mac OS, for example. Or, with the mobile version, pressuring you to use an Apple store, which doesn’t exist on a real computer.

Still, for a Web engine from 2018 (plus some enhancements), I was still somewhat surprised at how quickly things have managed to degrade.

In some cases, such as YouTube or the News Web sites, which are far too bloated anyway, I was able to bypass them using an instance of Invidious (for YouTube), or double converting news Web sites to Gemtext (meant for Gemini browsers), then back to a simplified version of HTML that SeaMonkey fared better with. I bookmarked the Gemini NewsWaffle through a proxy that sends it back to Web format, and SeaMonkey now has a fast and efficient way to get at the news without bloated JavaScripts, crap formatting, in-page pop-ups, and paywalls.

You can try out the NewsWaffle without a Gemini browser (such as LaGrange) by clicking this link.

Most news sites that are unbearable on a modern PC could be loaded this way even on a computer from the 90s with a dial-up modem.

(I tested it out, including the “enter any news site” feature, and found it to work about as I expected.)

Certainly nothing important must have been added to the Web platform in the last few years that could account for all of these problems. Sites are just getting morbidly obese to the point where you have to find some way of “tricking” them. Even in browsers like Firefox that can handle them better, they’re still far too annoying.

All of those sites and apps that are now giving SeaMonkey so many problems existed in 2018 and all of them did pretty much what they do now without trouble. That proves that this is all gratuitous bloat.

I found the process of installing Extensions (Add-Ons) to be somewhat annoying and indirect in SeaMonkey.

For starters, I absolutely need an ad blocker. The Web is totally unusable without one, unless you use Lynx, which can’t load ads in the first place. (No images, no scripts.)

When I went to SeaMonkey’s Add-Ons Manager and tried to look for ublock-origin, nothing showed up. Same when I went looking for anything to block ads with. Okay, that’s irritating.

Not to be discouraged, however, I remembered something about a “legacy” version which Raymond Hill maintained for Pale Moon, which might work in SeaMonkey. Sure enough, it still exists and still works. Problem solved.

(I found this page and installed the “Firefox Legacy” version, and then set up my usual block lists.)

For e-mail, the SeaMonkey documentation says it shares code with Mozilla Thunderbird’s back-end.

It seems to do this while preserving the classic Mail and News GUI layout and features. These will be immediately recognizable to people who were around in the Netscape Communicator days.

The problem is, while you will get it working eventually, there’s too much trial and error, especially if you want to set up Microsoft or Google IMAP account. Both of them make it incredibly difficult, and for my Outlook Mail, for example, I did not get the settings correct on my first try.

Once I found the IMAP and SMTP servers, and the non-standard ports that Microsoft and Google use, and the security protocols to use, I also had to create an App Passwords, which both also made hard to find. Google is actually worse than Microsoft, in that you additionally have to find a setting hidden in your GMail account to enable IMAP, or else the server will refuse to deliver mail.

When I tried to simply use OAuth with Microsoft, it told me that I couldn’t use it with a personal account and they only let you use it with a work or student account. However, GNOME Online Accounts and Thunderbird get to use OAuth. Do they have some sort of Microsoft deal?

I set up GMail to. Google is apparently threatening to cut off anything that doesn’t support XOAuth2 in the near future. So far, I have K9 Mail on my phone set up to check GMail and my Outlook to avoid their official application.

(I wonder how long that will keep working. Bark Bark.)

Other than Microsoft and Google deliberately making their IMAP settings hard to get at and use to drive people onto their terrible 500 MB per tab WebMail with built-in spam, which is not SeaMonkey’s fault, I found the Mail and News client to be quite enjoyable to use, once properly set up. I don’t understand why people with many e-mail accounts don’t insist on a Mail client running on their local machine. It’s gotten to the point that even many GNU/Linux distributions don’t offer a Mail client because people have been trained to roll over, fetch, and play dead by megacorporations with “free” WebMail.

The good usability of SeaMonkey’s Mail and News client comes from the fact that it hasn’t really changed much at all since AOL/Netscape paid to have Netscape Mail re-written as part of the Suite. I knew of people continuing to use Netscape 4 in a limited capacity into the mid and late 2000s just because it could open Netscape Mail, and that still worked.

AOL was the butt of a lot of jokes, but they always did e-mail really well, and you even still see a few @aol addresses out there in use today.

Due to the “If it’s not broken, don’t ‘fix’ it.” mentality, Mail and News works! This was always the strongest part of Mozilla/Netscape/SeaMonkey line in my opinion.

To give an example of how badly “WebMail” has devolved under Microsoft, one of my attorneys PAYS them for Microsoft “365”. It crashes all the time, it loses attachments. It’s a complete disaster. I had to resort to uploading sensitive documents onto a Google Drive and then deleting them as soon as she told me she had it(!) to get around Microsoft’s shit that people actually pay for!

SeaMonkey allows the user, of course, to customize their interface.

The GUI works much like Netscape Communicator did by default, because that’s what it was modeled on, but the user can customize it, even to resemble Firefox.

Unfortunately, in all of these years, nobody has added per-tab close buttons as an option. So, you need to either right-click and close the tabs, or middle click on them. Which is a little annoying. First there was an extension called SeaTab to add close buttons, then it was abandoned, then forked into SeaTab-X, and then SeaTab-X-2.

What’s frustrating is that this extension was listed as incompatible with my version of SeaMonkey, but then I told it to install anyway, and it works as it’s supposed to.

As SeaMonkey is an Internet Suite and designed for power users, expect a lot of advanced preferences.

If you don’t like them, then this program is probably not for you.

One thing that greatly annoys me about GNU/Linux is that the traditional behavior of pressing the middle mouse button is to paste whatever is in the clipboard into the application. I have never been able to get used to this. You can change that behavior in “GNOME Tweaks”, which is good, because middle mouse paste is bizarre for a modern GUI. Actually, any GUI in my opinion. Maybe it’s because I started out as a DOS/Windows users years ago?

SeaMonkey/Gecko, however, ignore your system-wide preference. To stop that, and to change it so the middle mouse button “auto-scrolls” when you press it, you have to drop to about:config and look for “general.autoscroll” and double-click it to “true” and “middlemouse.paste” and double-click it to false.

To be fair, Chromium browsers (Chrome, etc.) don’t allow for auto-scrolling in GNU/Linux, it seems. I don’t use them much. I have ungoogled-chromium for emergencies when a site is being difficult, but I don’t open it much.

SeaMonkey has some potential security pitfalls even if they are properly backporting fixes for security issues.

For example, I noticed that TLS 1.0 and 1.1 are still allowed in SeaMonkey, even though you’re unlikely to run into a site that uses it and other browsers disabled them years ago.

If you leave them enabled, you could be the victim of a protocol downgrade attack if an attacker finds a vulnerability in them and uses it to intercept your communications with the “secure” Web site you are visiting.

This could allow them to record everything you’re doing, or to insert tampered pages or files into your connection.

ChatZilla has returned! With IRCv3 features!

The only other Web browser I’ve known about that had a built-in IRC client was Opera, before the Chromium version (which was widely panned by Classic Opera users).

With many younger people moving to Matrix or Discord, they may have never even heard of Internet Relay Chat. IRC still exists, and some networks are very popular.

Matrix.org has “bridged” some of these IRC servers in to pressure people to use Matrix.org. The unfortunate thing about “centralizing” something like this is you get to deal with arbitrary moderators.

Matrix.org banned me four times in the middle of the night, and with no explanation. They didn’t tell me why. It didn’t even say I was banned or who did it. Just BAM and my account “didn’t exist” on the server anymore. I’ve watched their “moderators” at work. They designed the protocol to just say “people log out” and “won’t be active anymore” when it happens. No hint that they were kicked, banned, anything. Being black-bagged anonymously is baked into the software.

Being taken out back and knifed caused a major upheaval for me. While I eventually created an account they haven’t banned, yet, I don’t trust Matrix.org to handle my chats anymore.

Especially not bridging them into IRC servers that also have their own moderation and policies. I only use IRC clients to handle IRC now so there is no middleman that can censor me and cause me to lose everything, even on other networks.

Many people are fleeing Matrix.org and causing the protocol to fragment, as servers that supposedly “decentralize and federate” mutually ban each other and the whole thing falls apart into an incoherent mess where you need to run multiple tabs of Element, each one consuming hundreds and hundreds of MB of RAM, to deal with the servers warring against each other. It’s completely stupid. Someone told me that Matrix.org is just another way to say “Reddit”, but it’s much worse.

IRC is a “social network” by definition, but the benefit of it being more “mature” is that the leftist hate groups don’t tend to hang out there and abuse their power to run people off the network. I mean, Libera Chat might, but the older established networks don’t. It also doesn’t demand gobs of system resources and use it to drive advertising and clickbait, like Facebook or Twitter, which are a waste of time.

Hopefully, some people that fell for the “Social Network” trap and get tired of the absolute parasitism that is unfolding there will re-discover IRC and allow the Reddits, the Matrix.orgs, the Discords, Facebooks, and Twitters to rot in Hell.

~20 years ago, I used ChatZilla to save system resources. Computers didn’t have much memory and ChatZilla was a way to free some up since you already had a Web browser running anyway. Today, resources don’t matter as much, but the relative simplicity is nice. For outright minimalism, you’d probably use ircii or something. Right now I have ChatZilla set up to do all of the things I have HexChat configured for. Maybe using ChatZilla makes me a hipster or something. I don’t know.

Probably so would using SeaMonkey, or not subscribing to a million streaming sites so I can play song files that I already possess.

Another positive thing to note about SeaMonkey is they don’t seem to even offer the user DRM (Widevine).

This is a plus. I hate the entire idea of Web DRM on so many levels. It’s dangerous (software that can be used by malware), it restricts what I can do with my own computer, and it’s proprietary. It was specified and dictated by entities that are hell bent on ruining the Interoperability of the Web.

When Tim Berners-Lee envisaged the Web, he specified document formats for the easy exchange of information. Formats that nearly anyone could learn to write and use. DRM is one prong of an attack on the Web, designed to turn it into some idiotic “content delivery pipe” for outfits like Disney and the other streaming disservices.

Since they have specified it, the only thing that seems to stop smaller video sites from deploying it is, ironically, that Apple specifies competing DRM for Safari.

For many years, YouTube has been resorting to nastier and nastier tricks to prevent people from getting at the videos and saving a copy. Microsoft has collaborated to knock projects like YouTube-DL off of “GitHub”.

I’m surprised YouTube hasn’t just pulled the trigger and gone DRM-only. Who would be left to fight them? Mozilla capitulated anyway with nothing but a “sorry/not sorry” letter about it.

The fact that SeaMonkey doesn’t support Widevine may be due to SeaMonkey being a separate organization from Mozilla (registered in Germany, since 2012) and being unable to obtain a license to Widevine, but I don’t care why it’s gone, I’m just glad that it is gone.

It’s always such a nuisance to have to turn off DRM and hide the prompts in Firefox browsers. It is actually something that requires dropping to about:config, because Mozilla doesn’t respect your choice to leave it off and stop asking.

While SeaMonkey is a browser that has quirks, doesn’t handle some “Web apps” particularly well, and needs some fine tuning to customize it for your use, I can’t say that I hate it.

As weird as it may sound, given some of the troubles I found with it, I found it overall surprisingly pleasant to browse in, most of the time.

For stubborn Web sites, GNOME has a browser called GNOME Web that is roughly comparable to Safari. So anyone with GNOME has a GAFAM-compatible browser engine anyway, all they have to do is install the user-interface shell.

Theoretically, SeaMonkey could just jump to a more recent release of Gecko and it would solve almost all of these rendering problems. I spoke with one of the developers on IRC, who told me that the reason they use “Gecko 60.8 plus backports” for now is because Mozilla keeps removing APIs that SeaMonkey developers don’t want to lose access to.

In fact, I already knew that Mozilla quit viewing Gecko as anything other than a Firefox component many years ago, and SeaMonkey is one of the few surviving independent organizations that is trying to make something useful out of it, and that’s commendable.

Mozilla has made numerous “breaking” changes to Gecko over the years, that many of their users disagree with. The end result has been Firefox turning into a badly performing clone of Google Chrome instead of having the vibrant third-party application ecosystem that it once did, which is Mozilla’s loss. More applications needing Gecko, using Gecko, would make Gecko more important. Instead, they have chosen to isolate themselves and die in silence. Bleeding users. Negotiating for Google stipends that get smaller and smaller. Pissing off users with advertising and spam every time Firefox opens.

While Firefox still has some clout and there was sort of a recovery in the number of browser extensions after “quantum” brought in Chrome-style and did away with XUL-based extensions, they aren’t as high quality as they used to be.

One of the reasons I used to recommend Firefox or Mozilla Suite to anyone who would listen to me is that the extensions were nothing short of revolutionary. If the browser or Suite could run on a platform, an extension could too. If the browser could do something, an extension could do it too. This opened up a world of opportunity that Mozilla threw in the trash by adopting Google Chrome’s vastly inferior extension model.

Gone are the days where Mozilla’s platform was an “operating system that runs on an operating system”, where entire applications could be developed and you could point people at them as long as they had a computer because the browser engine abstracted away differences between operating systems.

Some of the other browser vendors have tried to hash out a “public specification” of what a Google Chrome extension is, and Mozilla’s term for them is a “WebExtension”, but like Sun Microsystem’s effort to “standardize” Win32 (the Windows programming interface) in the 1990s, Google (as Microsoft) has absolutely no reason to want to help out and every reason to want to kill the standardization effort.

They dictate what a browser extension is, and everyone else just has to copy it and tell developers that this is what we have now. Nobody is adding APIs and removing limitations. They just copy Chrome.

One reason this system is so terrible is that Google is an advertising company. They’ve never allowed ad blockers in Chrome in Android, and they’ve released an update to “Manifest” (the specification for Chrome extensions) that will neuter ad blockers in much the same way that Safari’s Content Blocking scheme did.

Many of the people who made the best ad blockers for Safari gave up, quit, and left, because they couldn’t make it do what they wanted it to anymore.

Raymond Hill, maintainer of ublock-origin, responded to Google’s Manifest V3 by saying he’d rather quit developing ublock-origin than to make it “less than it is now”.

For years, Adblock Plus had been the only game in town, until Google and other major parasites started paying into a protection racket set up by Wladimir Palant.

Point is, unless something changes drastically, I’m just simply not sure where the future of the Web is going. Nowhere good, I’m sure.

You can already just barely get an ad blocker for SeaMonkey, and it’s because Raymond Hill still cares that there are users who find it useful.

(I guess you might be able to rig up a filtering local proxy like Privoxy.)

As for other extension developers, they don’t seem to be paying SeaMonkey any attention. If they did, they’d also have to keep a version of a Firefox “WebExtension” around that’s old enough to work in SeaMonkey, which would essentially mean checking how things are going in a browser with less users than Firefox.

It’s not like SeaMonkey got to retain its powerful “XUL” extensions. It gave that up when it brought in the “Firefox Quantum” version of Gecko. Yet, usually what will happen when you try to install a WebExtension meant for Firefox into SeaMonkey is it will not function at all, or will malfunction.

Again, aggravating, but entirely Mozilla’s fault.

While it is ironic that the browser that essentially invented extensions (Mozilla Suite) is the browser that only has a few left that you can use, in some ways it’s for the better.

Why? Many Firefox extensions are proprietary software. That means you don’t have unconditional rights to use them or improve or share them with others. Furthermore, since Mozilla doesn’t monitor most of them for code quality or to see if they have malicious software in them, they can destabilize the browser, or even spy on you, when you run them.

Firefox itself is spyware (telemetry+the Firefox Suggest keylogger) and has remote backdoors, such as Normandy, which allows Mozilla to run experiments without your consent, even if you’ve disabled the preference that allows them to install extensions behind your back!.

Adding extensions, many of which are from large corporations, is a guaranteed way of having your browser send off more data to be spied on by more people.

I keep getting Capital One badgering me to install an extension that applies coupons. What else is it collecting? Well, SeaMonkey can’t even run it. Same goes for all of those Avast! and AVG “anti-virus” extensions that flout their own alleged privacy policies.

Extensions aren’t necessarily always a good thing, and Mozilla doesn’t always make it obvious what license you’re even agreeing to when you run them.

Since probably all you’re installing into SeaMonkey is ublock-origin, which is under the GPLv3, and the most important browser extension anyway, you’re at less of a security risk than Firefox users.

While the LibreWolf developers have gutted Firefox of a lot of non-Free software, spyware, and the keylogger, and have done a lot of good work, you still need to be very very careful which extensions you install. The vast majority are “not monitored by Mozilla” and “you install them at your own risk”, says Mozilla’s own site.

The big problem SeaMonkey really has is that Firefox is an ongoing disaster with SeaMonkey in tow.

I can only imagine how the developers of SeaMonkey must feel about this. From the outside looking in, I’d compare it to being in the car with a drunk driver.

So, do I recommend SeaMonkey?

That’s a qualified yes. If you’re like me and you’re fond of the way Internet Suites used to work, it’s really your only option. Many people who stuck to Opera 12 ended up with an experience that degraded until it couldn’t render Web sites and couldn’t even connect securely to others over TLS. If you appreciated “real” Opera, SeaMonkey might be for you.

You’ll need to hack your way around some limitations, mainly due to the fact that “Web developers” are a bunch of idiots, being given too much to work with, by a captured W3C that’s at the beck and call of two advertising companies, who dictate what the “standards” are.

Long term, we need to overthrow the Web and go back to something with largely static content. Or developing small programs such as the NewsWaffle that take bloated Web sites and strip them down and feed them to our browsers. As Anthony Hopkins (as Dr. Ford) put it in WestWorld, “The Earth does not want to move. We will move it, regardless.”. It’s time to beat uncooperative sites into something more…..manageable…..more rational.

What’s really important with the Internet is what people choose to do with it, and what people want and what big corporations want are two entirely different animals.

Take news sites, for example. They set out like 10 KiloBytes of text and haul in 300 MegaBytes of garbage to read it. The news text is like the cheese in a mousetrap. What’s the garbage? Oh, don’t mind them. It’s just autoplay videos, scripts that spy on you that you’re not even supposed to know about. Crazy video streaming specifications that only exist to obfuscate how to download the video or to call DRM so you can’t save a copy even if you have an extension that could figure out where it’s at. Advertising. Formatting junk to “make it look pretty” (who cares?) often by pulling in Web Fonts that spy on you.

You know, “important stuff”. 😉

The focus away from Internet Suites like (Classic) Opera and SeaMonkey, mostly-static content, and local computing, towards badly-written Web applications that chow down on all of your system resources while controlling you was a hit job that Richard Stallman warned about repeatedly in various essays, ranging from “What Does That Server Really Serve?” to “The JavaScript Trap”.

You’re always better off running local applications on a computer that you control, and only backing up your data, which those local applications create in formats that are well understood, to storage that you control.

For starters, we know that every “Cloud Storage” site has a backdoor. Your files are accessible to governments. Maybe not even your government. Do they need a warrant? Probably not.

Just as bad, creeps, weirdos, and perverts that work at companies like Google can get into all of your files. This isn’t hypothetical. They had a child sex predator working there doing it to people, to stalk children.

If that wasn’t enough, they fired dozens of employees over the years for inappropriately accessing user data, leaked documents say. What did they do with the data? How many copies did they make?

In return for this, you’re supposed to pay them by the month to store your files.

How convenient is that? If one of their hard disks crashes, you can still lose data. If they have a security misconfiguration, you can’t fix it. You won’t even know about it. If there’s a data breach, they’ll hide it from you. If they can’t hide it and get sued, it’ll go to a class action and you’ll get a year’s worth of identity monitoring and coupons to Bennigan’s while the class attorney gets $500 million dollars. 🙂

Some people encrypt their laptop in case it gets stolen, then upload all of these files to OneDrive and Google Drive and Apple iCloud, where they are at much more risk.

When you really consider the situation as a whole, which is the only logical way to consider any situation in life, is SeaMonkey perhaps maybe not working too well with this shit really a loss?

If it pulls up your recipes, sends and receives e-mail, and lets you browse 99.9% of the Web, bank, and use IRC, it’s probably fine. Isn’t it?

I’m unaware of anything I’m doing that SeaMonkey can’t do. Buy some thumb drives for crying out loud. Use an office suite on your computer.

(When thumb drives were new, they held 32, 64, or 128 MB. I don’t remember what my ex paid for one when he was in college, but he was amazed by them, and it was a lot of money. Today you can get a 512 GB model for $45.)

People say Richard Stallman can be a bit abrasive. Can you blame the guy, sometimes? Look what he has to deal with.

He goes to give a speech and is surrounded by people who think that loading a word processor in a Web browser on someone else’s server, puts out files in secret undocumented formats that are not well specified (and change), which can change in ways they don’t like, or lock them out, charge an unlimited amount of money, crash, and any combination of these things…. is a good idea. Every time someone interviews him, they make the same mistakes the last interviewer did and you have to skip past minutes of the interview while they’re asking stupid and obvious questions like why they should care about local computing and use weak language like “open source”.

When you’re surrounded by these people, you probably get tired of it.

To Recap:

SeaMonkey, it’s a browser which has its roots in the before time, from the long long ago. Before everyone took leave of their sanity and stopped demanding to do their own computing.

If you’re a heavy user of “Web Apps” it’s probably not right for you, but if you use the Web like I do, it generally does work fine.

If you’re looking for a browser to handle “Clown” computing and lots of heavy “Web apps” with that wonderful Digital Restrictions Malware, go use Google Chrome. I hear you’ll like it much better. You’ll have nothing good to say about SeaMonkey once you’ve seen it. If you’re a “Web 3.0” basket case, just give into Chrome. You know you want it.

You can use Google Chrome or one of the “Also-Google Chromes”, like Vivaldi, Opera, and Edge.

Or you can go to Firefox, for whatever that’s worth, as Mitchell Baker turned the program into something that’s just a damned pest. It’s why they’re losing their users. At the same time, several years ago, Mitchell Baker attacked the entire concept of supporting other use cases involving Gecko, essentially accusing them of parasitism (“why should we pay a tax blah blah blah”). This is, of course, back before Mozilla itself stopped “dogfooding”, using their own technologies, conducting development in the open, where people could participate. A lot of the development now goes on in proprietary malicious platforms, like Discord (they shut down their IRC server) and GitHub (instead of NNTP newsgroups and BugZilla). They’ve been closing out what’s left of the community, firing people, and outsourcing to Microsoft and Google.

One more reason why SeaMonkey deserves consideration is because they conduct development and discussion openly. You can just open ChatZilla and point it to Libera Chat and join #SeaMonkey and you’re talking to the developers and community, and you don’t need to create some sort of Microsoft account and participate in this major fraud and parody of “open source” that Mozilla has created.

Baker also said they would be “laser focused” on Firefox. Instead, they fire engineers and keep “Diversity and Inclusion” people, and the Mozilla Foundation has turned into a political party calling for more Web censorship and Cancel Culture. So much “Free and Open Source” software today is endangered by letting in people who should have never been there in the first place. Mitchell Baker is “Exhibit A”.

What’s going wrong is that the far-left crowd, which is a hate group, has commandeered these communities, thrown in with the enemies like Microsoft and Google (who want FOSS to be in turmoil so that they can sit back, laugh, and watch us destroy each other), and the idea of people of good conscience being able to have disagreements isn’t tolerated. This is why Mozilla and Matrix.org are a match made in Hell and deserve each other.

20 years ago, FOSS was a different beast entirely. It was fun. It was novel. You could make tasteful jokes. In #techrights IRC yesterday, I pointed out that there is a program, now called GNOME Planner, that used to be called MrProject. The joke was that Microsoft had a MS Project. Today, this sort of thing is considered “inappropriate” and gets censored out as “offensive”. It’s offensive for some on the left that there are men and women, so they have to stop you from referencing that, even in a joke. It’s not offensive, so these people create “offense”, then they’re offended on behalf of other people. Then if you tell them to chill out, they’ll attack you by lashing out in bizarre ways. Using tactics like these, they’ve ran off, or tried to run off, people who are actually doing something important for the community. Such as how Matthew Garrett, who participated in Microsoft’s attacks on GNU/Linux (including Security Theater Boot, which he now hypocritically complains of as an anti-user lockout mechanism…duh), goes after Richard Stallman and Ted T’so using trumped up allegations which are bullshit.

Firefox isn’t fun anymore because Mozilla has gone to the dark side.

After the Firefox fork, Mozilla never cared much for the Suite continuing to exist, but there was enough interest to keep it around.

Eventually, they forced it to spin off into an unofficial program called SeaMonkey, which they never gave warm regards to. Then they forced SeaMonkey out of Mozilla completely.

But like Dick Van Dyke continuing to bring a little bit of decency into a new world mostly devoid of such, SeaMonkey is still there with us.

It reminds us of a more civilized time.

07.18.22

Windows is Still Just a “Poorly Debugged Set of Device Drivers”

Posted in Deception, Microsoft, Windows at 10:35 pm by Guest Editorial Team

Guest post by Ryan, reprinted with permission from the original

Windows is still just a “poorly debugged set of device drivers”.

I noticed that someone was blogging about Microsoft feeling threatened by Netscape enough to stamp it out when Marc Andreessen said he would reduce Windows to a “poorly debugged set of device drivers”.

Well, the OS has to have a pile of device drivers. Linux has many. More than Windows. Including for some very weird hardware.

They’re not all exceptionally well written. I’m not going to lie and say they are. Most work fine. The less stable stuff goes off into a staging tree until it improves. If you don’t have the hardware, it wastes no resources because it’s not even loaded.

But it’s nice to plug hardware in and have it be recognized immediately, vs. Windows going off to find the driver that time forgot, which proceeds to malfunction.

If it can even manage that.

My last portable hard drive was a Western Digital.

I plugged it into Windows 10 when I got this laptop, and this laptop came out very late in Windows 10’s lifecycle. Just 10 months before Windows 11.

What does the latest release of Windows 10 do?

It connects to Microsoft, pulls in a driver that the hard drive didn’t even need in order to function, Called “WDSES_PreWIN8”.

And when I started having trouble with Windows, it was that driver that was causing it.

A driver I didn’t even want, or ask Windows to go find.

A driver the hard disk worked just as well without.

Meant for an OS that came out in 2012.

And what does it do when you load WDSES_PreWIN8?

Well, for starters, it’s not compatible with Windows 10’s “Virtualization Based Security” features, so Windows will quietly disable all of those, I suppose making you even more vulnerable to malware than you already are for using Windows in the first place

And the only reason you’d ever know it is if you go and look at the Windows Defender screen that talks about that feature and see why it’s not running, and then and only then does it point at that driver, and you then have to find out what the hell that thing even is (I never did, btw. WD didn’t seem to have any information on it. The only reason I knew it was Western Digital is because Windows told me.), and remove it, and blacklist it so it doesn’t come back!

Then who knows what happens if you have WDSES_PREWIN8 loaded and try to upgrade to Windows 11?

I didn’t stick around that long before skipping town and loading GNU/Linux on another laptop.

It’s just sloppy that Windows loads all these old drivers that Microsoft knows aren’t even compatible, and loads anyway.

23 years later, Windows is a “poorly debugged set of device drivers”, which is why it’s dying.

Other operating systems have the same Web browsers you can run on Windows, they have Office suites, and great strides have been made in gaming, allowing thousands of the best games to be played.

Everything from classic consoles, to newly released titles.

The biggest complaint I have with where GNU/Linux is at now is that Microsoft is still up to its usual tricks of figuring out who is the most corrupt major GNU/Linux vendor and “partnering” with it to sabotage the community.

Their previous deals haven’t quite panned out because when they ruin one company, there’s yet more distributions for the users to flee to than there were last time they managed to take one out.

Seemingly forever a pain-in-the-ass, Microsoft hasn’t gained much traction this way because the community will re-assemble itself.

Perhaps they should fix Windows so that it’s capable of competing by technical merit.

“That was a joke. Haha. Fat chance!” -GlaDOS

I really am eager to see what PornHub’s desktop OS trends are looking like for Windows this year.

They’ve been bleeding over the past two few years. Between 2019 and 2021, they went from over 70% to just 64%.

They’ve turned SJVN at ZDNet into “Backup Dr. Pizza”.

He’s been spewing the same type of anti-GNU/Linux and pro-Microsoft bullshit that Peter Bright was at Ars Technica, before Bright/Dr. Pizza got convicted for trying to rape two children under 10.

Although I’m certainly not accusing SJVN of being a perverted monster, I am accusing him of being where Microsoft went after Dr. Pizza to get their stuff published. I can’t imagine what SJVN’s job must be like.

It reminds me of Bob Arcter in A Scanner Darkly, being forced to read the DEA’s drug war propaganda, being fed his lines through an earpiece, and the agent tells him to “just say the shit”. Or Kevin Spacey’s character in American Beauty, bemoaning “being a whore for the advertising industry” while it sucks out his soul.

While Pizza/Bright was a willing co-conspirator of Microsoft’s due to being a very bad person, I think SJVN is just trying to make it to retirement. So it may not be fair to compare their reasons to collaborate with Microsoft, but the result is the same. Microsoft’s propaganda is still being published.

I used to read SJVN even when I didn’t read anything else because I felt informed about distribution reviews and the GNU/Linux articles, but then when it drifted to WSL and Microsoft SQL Server, I stopped paying any attention to him at all.

Does anyone read ZDNet anymore? I can’t remember the last time I did. It was going downhill so fast that I haven’t seen anything about them that Roy Schestowitz hasn’t highlighted about them in a while. Sad!

07.17.22

The Trouble With Ubuntu Snaps, Ubuntu, and Ubuntu Derivatives

Posted in GNU/Linux, Ubuntu at 5:56 pm by Guest Editorial Team

Guest post by Ryan, reprinted with permission from the original

I tried to use Snaps when I was experimenting with Ubuntu a few years ago. These are the major problems with it.

Server-side is proprietary and nobody else can run one.

snapd is a scandal. It’s extremely bloated and always running, even if the user never installs a snap.

When I tried to install some Snaps, including GZDoom (which is really a good program and available as a Flatpak, which actually runs), many of them failed to work at all on Kubuntu and I was told that this “universal” package was failing to load for some reason because I was using KDE as my desktop environment.

Ubuntu has let in cryptominer malware at least once. This is right after I argues with Alan Pope (popey) on Reddit that malware would happen eventually if they weren’t reviewing and were allowing proprietary and “developer-built” software in. He argued that they had control of the situation. Then after the incident, I asked what they were doing to remove the malicious snap, and he said they couldn’t remove it from the computers that had it installed, just remove it from the Snap store and if they could remove it, it would be a “backdoor”.

Debian packages get automatically removed all the time using dummy packages, and Ubuntu even replaced Chromium and Firefox by using dummy Debian packages that are empty, open snap, and tell it to install the snap.

That’s a backdoor. They didn’t transition it to another Debian package. They completely changed the package format and replaced the default Web browser with one compiled by Mozilla that has God knows what in it (it’s certainly not any sort of reproducible build) instead of a package compiled by the distribution that the user expects to be the “canonical” source of packages.

After Pope left Canonical, he wrote a program that can remove all Snaps from Ubuntu and then uninstall snapd. Eventually, this may break Ubuntu as they replace more packages with Snaps and just assume everyone has snapd on a system upgrade.

When I edited Wikipedia (which is its own mess) to discuss the problems with Snaps, Canonical purged all of my edits and reverted it back to the way it was before without even justifying why they did that.

snake-plissken-poster-escape-from-new-york-meme-generator-imgflip

Canonical sends nasty lawyers to distributions that are based on Ubuntu’s binaries, to argue that it has copyrights and “Ubuntu patents”, and to threaten to sue them if they don’t sign agreements that the users of those derivatives are not permitted to read.

They did this to Linux Mint.

If someone should like to use Linux Mint, they should be sure they are getting Linux Mint Debian Edition to avoid problems with the Ubuntu binaries and general nonsense that’s going on with Ubuntu’s package sabotage.

If you are checking out a distribution, you should make sure it’s not Ubuntu underneath. Many are.

Most of them have weird bugs.

When I was trying to use Kubuntu, especially during the years Canonical was patching everything to accommodate their Unity desktop shell they frequently broke Kubuntu horribly, necessitating some awful kludge in Kubuntu that broke the way KDE was intended to work.

Eventually, they drove out Jonathan Riddell out using their fake Community Council (which is entirely controlled by Canonical Ltd), when he complained about their “Intellectual Property” attacks against actual communities. They never stated this is why. In fact, the meeting that threw him out was done behind closed doors without much of an announcement. Despicable people do their dirty deeds in the dead of night.

For some odd reason, KDE NEON is still based on Ubuntu.

Roy Schestowitz of Techrights told me in IRC that he has systems running on it and they develop weird problems.

You’d think that KDE themselves would know better than to base their distribution on a funky pile of bugs with lots of mean lawyers, but who knows why people do anything? Right?

I save the best part for last. Of all of the folks who praised Snap, it was Microsoft. They think it has advantages over Debian packages. I’m not going to link to a Microsoft Web site, but they are very, very fond of Snap. Why wouldn’t they be? It lets them deploy their malicious software onto GNU/Linux, with little effort, and no oversight at all to find out what’s really in it and what really happens when you run it.

From the company that’s allegedly worth over a trillion dollars and can’t find anyone who knows how to package their version of R without destroying Debian.

Most disturbingly about Canonical/Ubuntu lately, is that Microsoft praises them, and Canonical praises Microsoft’s attacks on GNU/Linux, such as making big stinks about software that’s useless without Windows or Microsoft’s fake Linux subsystem (WSL) which offers to “extend” GNU/Linux programs so they don’t work on GNU/Linux anymore.

Every so often, Microsoft chooses a “favorite” GNU/Linux distribution. The distribution is always a corporate one obviously, and then several years later, instead of making lots of money from the Microsoft deal, they go bankrupt and nobody remembers them after a while.

openSUSE survives today and I’m told it works much better than it did under Novell, which went bankrupt. Of course, that’s not a major accomplishment. Virtually any way you configured openSUSE while Novell owned it, you risked breaking the whole system to a point where it was easier to just reformat the disk and start over than to try figuring out what went wrong.

Before that, they did deals with Xandros (gone) and Linspire (bankrupt), where former CEO Kevin Carmony accused Founder Michael Robertson of taking all of the company’s liquid assets….then they ended up suing each other, mainly because Robertson was furious that Carmony had paid out rather reasonable employee severance packages before he could run off with that money as well.

Why Canonical thinks it will be the exception is anyone’s guess. Maybe the bribes are good for now. Maybe they’re so very clearly incompetent that they think Microsoft is a good technical partner. Maybe both?

Almost nobody that I can think of has ever entered into a deal with Microsoft and come out on top.

Microsoft ends up sitting on top, of a pile of skulls.

07.16.22

Microsoft Cuts Off Free and Open Source Software From Using the Windows Store for Donations

Posted in Free/Libre Software, Microsoft at 12:29 am by Guest Editorial Team

Guest post by Ryan, reprinted with permission from the original

M

icrosoft has made a change to the Windows Store rules prohibiting the sale of Free and Open Source Software unless the program’s author has the policy of billing everyone who receives a copy of the software outside the store.

The Windows Store already makes it impossible to comply with Copyleft Free Software licenses, such as the GPL.

The GPL and many copyleft licenses require that the user is guaranteed to be able to run as many copies as they care to for whatever reason they want to use the program, and to make more copies to share, and to have access to the source code to modify, run, and share with others on the same, or perhaps at their option, later terms of the same license.

Microsoft says their new policy of de-funding Free and Open Source Software is designed to solve a problem that really does exist and is out of control in the Windows store, that there are many obviously fake and exploitative applications that charge money, and none of it actually goes to the project.

For example, people have come along and put LibreOffice into an AppX package and then dumped it into the Windows store, failed to keep it up to date, and then sat back and started taking money from users who didn’t know any better.

I complained about Microsoft allowing things like this to happen, but this is not a legitimate way to handle that. It’s probably, however, for the best, for other reasons.

You can sell copies of Free and Open Source Software. In fact, it wouldn’t be FOSS if you couldn’t. Even Richard Stallman encourages you to sell software, copying services, and usage manuals, professional services, etc.

As long as the software itself remains Free (as in Freedom), the Free Software proponents certainly don’t wish that nobody made money off of it. In fact, Free Software is very big business.

But there are only so many ways you can do that, and one of them is not Digital Restrictions Malware, or DRM.

Enforcing DRM implicitly makes software non-Free, because there is no way to copy, modify, and share a useful version of the software at that point, and if you told anyone how it worked, it would be useless, so you can’t share the source code if you expect it to hold up.

There’s a thought-provoking mental exercise. It’s a simple question.

How many angels can dance on the head of a pin? The answer: As many as want to.

How many users may have a copy of a Free Software program? As many as want to.

So, DRM cannot be “Free Software”, yet the Windows Store is a form of DRM, like the Apple Store is.

The Windows Store is designed to be anti-competitive.

In addition to imposing DRM that forces you to be a jerk when your friend asks for a copy and you can’t give it to them, it’s designed as an attack on Wine (a Free Software program that allows GNU/Linux and *BSD users to run Windows programs, without Windows) because there’s no way to move the program out of the Windows Store and install the package into Wine.

Nothing published in the Windows Store is Free Software because of this. It deprives the user of his or her Freedom by the intended method of its operation.

To maintain the Freedom for your users, you have to reject the Windows Store entirely. Yes, it’s possible to publish Free and Open Source Software on Windows.

Using Windows is a bad idea, and it’s very foolhardy, but the underlying platform being problematic has no bearing on whether a program the user is running is Free or not unless that platform is getting in the way of the user enjoying their Freedom as it pertains to that program.

This means, you would have to install software for Windows the traditional way, by including it in a NSIS installer or something, so that the platform doesn’t constrain the user.

Some projects that don’t care that they violate and internally conflict with their own license, or use some pushover license that is Free until they put it in the Windows Store, but doesn’t do anything to make sure it stays Free, and becomes Non-Free do publish in the Windows Store, and that is very unfortunate.

On my Android phone, I run into this problem too. Because the Google Play store has pretty much all of the same problems as the Windows Store (except that it’s not 9 fake apps per 1 real one, approximately).

I absolutely never install Free and Open Source applications from the Play Store because then I don’t have much control over them and Google has shoved them full of nasty things even if the author objects.

I use the F-Droid store.

Some projects and software authors say that you are using a “trial” copy of their program in the Windows Store, but the trial works exactly the same as the paid version and never expires, so you would only buy it to “make a donation”.

Unfortunately, when you do this, at least when it was allowed, Microsoft takes 20% of your money for not doing much at all.

There’s a better way to ask your users for money than having them fund Microsoft, such as including a donation link, or a place they could send you a money order.

In the 1990s, before Nullsoft was purchased by AOL, Justin Frankel said that enough users found his program useful that just asking for $10 in the mail to a PO Box was enough to live comfortably and run the company.

There’s nothing wrong with asking your user to make a donation if they found your software helpful. That isn’t DRM, (done tastefully) it doesn’t make you a pest, and you shouldn’t devalue your efforts by feeling you can’t ask them for help developing the software.

Doing it the right way doesn’t poison their rights to use and share the program, and it doesn’t involve funding the Archenemy of the Free World.

The Windows Store is not an “ecosystem” and Microsoft is not a “community”. If you make it super convenient to use the Windows Store, you help them to attack all computer users.

This is another of those times we have to stop and consider the kind of world we want to build and live in.

The Windows Store has been sitting there as a joke, overflowing with malware and fake apps, getting little attention from legitimate software publishers or users for a decade.

The way I understand it, the “LTSC” version of Windows doesn’t even have the Store.

Let’s let it die and make it another failed dirty trick that Microsoft spent a lot of money on.

When I was a teenager, I found a man who had a Web site where he listed “free” software, but in the way he used the term, it meant free of cost, not “freedom” to do whatever you wanted to with it. His name was Graham Pockett and I don’t know if he’s still around.

He said he was a software pirate who used to have get togethers with other computer users in Australia to copy programs for one another that cost a lot of money to buy in the store. You’d bring diskettes and other people would too, and you’d all see what each other had and what you could use.

He then converted to Christianity and then changed his mind to “copying software without permission is stealing”. It may be a copyright violation. You might be civilly liable for it, but copying software gratis to help others is a fundamentally social activity. In comparison, hoarding is being a jerk. Proprietary software licenses force you to be a jerk and to be at odds with social behavior, therefore they force you to behave in an anti-social way to obey the wording of a license.

A person of conscience should simply walk away and refuse to play this anti-social game of being a jerk because some software company says they have to be one if they use that program.

Most software companies are not hurting for money. That’s just the plain and simple truth of it.

They have a product that costs money one time to produce and then costs them essentially nothing to produce from there on out.

They use DRM as a way of keeping prices high.

In some ways, it’s like grocery stores who buy food that had to be grown or raised and then pour bleach all over it in front of hungry people before tossing it in a dumpster because it would reach its sell by date.

You could feed every hungry person in the city twice with half of what Walmart, Aldi, Kroger, and Albertson’s bleach and throw away.

They would rather ruin it and force people who cannot afford it to go without, and throw it away right in front of them, than adjust production or lower prices.

The copyright industry knows that when they have pirates, most of them don’t actually have money (kids, third world country, dead end job, etc…), and if they do, it’s not enough disposable income that they would buy a copy of that software. But when it comes time to tell the government how much “piracy” is allegedly hurting them, they claim every single pirate copy was a lost sale.

Hollywood goes even further and starts talking about how jobs will be lost because of the corn that wasn’t used to sell you a $30 bucket of popcorn at the movies.

The truth is that they’re trying to muddy the waters.

When Microsoft started to lose a lot of money to GNU/Linux and other Free Software, they started to call it a cancer and a stolen product.

They made the same claim against it that the MPEG-LA patent troll did about media codecs. “It’s impossible to make or use anything without paying us.”.

So even if you don’t pirate anything and go use something they didn’t even contribute to, they complain and argue that laws should be changed to put an end to it.

Again, why do we even put up with these people? Much less make excuses and new channels of revenue for them?

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