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+ - How the NSA is destroying open source

Submitted by petrus4
petrus4 (213815) writes "I've had a while to think about this, but my recent experiences over the last several hours with FreeBSD's disastrous new package management system, pkgng, has finally convinced me that I'm not just being paranoid.

At this point, I believe that a systematic campaign is being waged against FOSS UNIX by the trans-Atlantic intelligence community; and I have seen sufficient instances of it at this point, that I've been able to identify the strategy that is being used. The fact that FreeBSD has had some radical, systemic changes only a few years after the systemd debacle with Linux, is just a little too coincidental to my mind.

The plan goes like this:-

Phase 1. Get a corporate stool pigeon to write an extremely disruptive piece of software for the system that you are attempting to destroy. Said software needs to have a sufficient number of superficially cool/flashy features that it will seduce less intelligent/discerning users; but the main thing which said software needs to do, is radically disrupt and compromise the operating system's level of transparency, discoverability, and openness. In Linux's case this was systemd, and in FreeBSD's it has been pkgng. Both of these pieces of software share a few different characteristics.

a} They are opaque, undiscoverable, and almost completely impervious to user control. It's hard for the average user to figure out what said software is doing. With the earlier form of FreeBSD's package management, I could see the URL where the package was being downloaded from, and it was also entirely possible to change said URL in plain text. Now, pkgng uses bit torrent, and I can't see where the torrent file has originated from, or which process is being called as a bit torrent client. I can't choose which bit torrent program I want to use, either. What configuration there is, is also written in YAML, rather than plain text; which is another strike against it for me.

b} They incorporate a sufficient amount of automation, and apparent advancement, that it is possible to make a superficially plausible argument that anyone who objects to said software is simply a Luddite, who is supposedly opposed to technological progress in general. Of course, this is a disingenuous claim, because it is entirely possible to write advanced, well-automated software that is not opaque, and does not compromise the ability of a user to control it. The ability to make this argument, however, is of vital importance for Phase 2, which I will get to in a moment.

c} They are extremely tightly integrated and coupled into the rest of the system. Systemd is like an octopus, and pkgng isn't much better. I was horrified when I discovered that pkg has actually been added to the base system. Ports always used to be completely detachable from base; the choice of whether to install it at all was given to you at the end of sysinstall.

With these programs, you only get to make the choice once as to whether or not you use them, and if you decide to do so, then after that, you are owned. They can no longer be removed; you are stuck with them whether you like them or not. Fortunately, FreeBSD is still sufficiently modular that I was able to delete /usr/local and /var/db/pkg. I have since tried to install NetBSD's pkgsrc and have been unable to get it to function, so I have had to resort to manual compilation of source at the moment. For most things, I am prepared to tolerate that; although I haven't tried to install X yet. I am anticipating that that will be a nightmare of Biblical proportions.

Phase 2. Once you have your disruptive program written, you now have to make sure that acceptance of it is universal, and anyone who resists must be bludgeoned into compliance. This is effectively achieved by hiring lots of sock puppets and trolls, and sending them into distribution development/core team mailing lists.

If you think I'm just being paranoid about my description of this step, I would invite you to go and read Debian's mailing list archives, during the period when they were debating whether or not to add systemd. Anyone who attempted to resist or offer counter-arguments to the inclusion of systemd was shouted down and abused into silence; and I can still remember how savage a response I got in /r/FreeBSD when I expressed doubts about pkgng several months ago, as well.

In addition to this, I've also been reading about how broken GTK theming has become for GNOME/GTK 3.

I've never liked GNOME. I don't think it is well designed, and I also don't think the GNOME developers have ever done an adequate job of really listening to their users; but since the release of GNOME 3, that has become a lot worse. Breakage has been reported in bug trackers, only to receive snide responses from developers about how said features are being retired, because said developers feel that they would "dilute the GNOME brand," as if GNOME were some sort of corporate product. I can't think where I would have got that idea from.

I was honestly in something close to a state of shock in response to pkgng earlier, though. I've been using Linux (and to a slightly lesser extent, FreeBSD) for 20 years now; and I have never seen anything like pkgng and systemd, and both have originated within the last five years. UNIX is one of the few things that I have ever been truly passionate about, and to read the degree of open contempt that has been expressed towards it by Lennart Poettering, has been genuinely heartbreaking.

We need to start recognising what is being done to us; and quickly, before it gets worse. Given how undiscriminating Linux's userbase is, I wasn't really surprised that Poettering's software has become as popular as it has, but for something like pkgng to be accepted into FreeBSD is both inexplicable and downright terrifying. I can't believe that nobody in the core team knew better.

I am asking everyone who reads this, and who cares about the operating system that has given us a stable, open, discoverable, and empowering computing environment over the last 45 years, to join me in taking the following actions.

a} Boycott all use of systemd, pkgng, GNOME, KDE, and any other software which has known corporate influence or sponsorship, or which is also written with blatant disregard for UNIX development philosophy.

b} If a} is not possible while using Linux, to then join me in migrating to either Open or NetBSD, where we can use software that will not contribute to the strangulation of our operating systems, which the NSA and GCHQ are attempting to bring about through corporate proxies.

Above all, remember that you have a choice. You can keep choosing to use the supposedly new, shiny, but ultimately opaque, disempowering, and enslaving corporate sponsored desktop environments, or you can choose to defend and retain your autonomy and freedom. This is a choice which must be made with the utmost urgency, before they take our remaining autonomy away from us.

I am asking for nothing less than a full scale revolt against, and migration away from, Red Hat in particular; and I need your help. Ultimately this will be as much for your own benefit, as for mine."
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How the NSA is destroying open source

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