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Friday, 15 June 2012 12:04

Three Samba geeks did what Red Hat is scared to do

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Nearly five years ago, three senior developers from the Samba project showed the rest of the FOSS community what could be achieved by resistance which was based on integrity.

Andrew Tridgell, Jeremy Allison and Volker Lendecke, along with investigators from the EU, wrested an agreement from Microsoft that made it mandatory for the software company to provide information about all its network protocols used to work with Windows Server to a new body, the Protocol Freedom Information Foundation.

Contrast the actions of these three geeks with that of Red Hat, a billion-dollar company, that is willing to go along with Microsoft's ruse of a secure boot process. A process that will in no way reduce the amount of malware that Windows attracts, much in the way that dogs attract fleas.

And remember: nobody asked Tridgell, Allison or Lendecke to get involved. They joined Sun Microsystem's 1998 complaint to the EC about Microsoft's refusal to provide needed information for Sun to develop software that could work with Microsoft Active Directory.

Provision of this information was mandated under the settlement of the anti-trust case which was filed against Microsoft in the 1990s - and Redmond was resisting even the law of the land!

None of these three developers is a millionaire. But they have one thing in spades that Red Hat, as a company, appears to lack - integrity. I have met and spoken to Tridgell and Allison, but not Lendecke; one can, however, gauge the depth of professional honesty that all three bring to the table by meeting any of them.


What the three Samba developers achieved - with help from kernel developer Alan Cox, and two free software stalwarts, Eben Moglen and Carlo Piana - benefits every single developer in the FOSS community. They gained nothing from it in terms of money - they all work for a project that produces free software.

But what of Red Hat? It is the biggest GNU/Linux company, bar none. Yet all it can do is bend over and play ball with a convicted monopolist. And it also justifies that action by trotting out one of its best and brightest, Matthew Garrett, to justify the whole thing.

As I've written before, this whole secure boot business is just the latest ruse by Redmond to try and lock GNU/Linux out of the market. It is the last throw of the dice by a company that has failed miserably to gain traction in the music, mobile, tablet and search markets. It can hear the fat lady approaching.

The company's CEO, one Steve Ballmer, has bet the organisation's future on one technology - Windows 8. If it turns out to be anything other than super-successful, there will be some vacant land available for occupation in Redmond in a few years' time.

And in this clime, all those huge companies which earn their profits from Linux, have nothing to say. IBM, Intel, HP, Facebook, Google, Oracle, Red Hat, Novell, Canonical, Samsung, HTC, and LG collectively have - as 'Allo 'Allo actor, the late Carmen Silvera, often described her stage husband, Rene, as having - "the courage of a chicken. A little chicken." Secure boot? A double-helping for me, please, sir.

There is something called ethics. And then there is something called situational ethics. That seems to be the big difference between those men from Samba and Red Hat.

 


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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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