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Comment Re:Win or lose the government will find a way (Score 2) 69

Better that, than what the likes of Verizon want. While they are not always, in this particular debate, the Randian demographic are my enemies. This is one case where the corporations have to be stopped, and I am entirely willing to see government or any other available means employed in order to do so.

Submission + - How the NSA is destroying open source

petrus4 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.

Comment I hope he still has a long life after retirement (Score 1) 136

The haters and trolls notwithstanding, Minix was a worthy accomplishment; and may yet prove more important in the future than first thought, given Red Hat's ongoing destruction of Linux.

Professor Tanenbaum is a great man; and truthfully, I have always wished that Linus Torvalds had been kinder to him. Not all of us are necessarily meant to stand fully in the spotlight, and although perhaps both history and the debates proved Linus right, it would not have cost anything to allow the Professor to keep his dignity.

May he have as much time with his grandchildren as he wishes; and when the time comes, an easy and joyous passing.

Comment Re:But that's not all Snowden did... (Score -1, Troll) 348

Because the only people who claim that have "harming the US" as a goal.

I don't think anyone should have harming the American people , as a goal, at all. The complete abolition of the American government , on the other hand, is a goal which I think is overwhelmingly in the interests of humanity as an entire species, and in seeking such, the American people themselves should be leading the charge.

Comment Re:In other words... (Score 1) 634

> I think this entire discussion suffers from survivor bias: those who advocate strongly for Fortran have not given serious consideration to anything else.

I've just honestly never heard of OO being used anywhere, where it wasn't a crutch for bad programmers; with again, the appeal to modernity fallacy being used to justify it.

I consider computer programming in its' current form, to very largely be a field in serious decline, and ruled by baseless hubris, to be honest. That is also the reason why I'm so wary of the appeal to modernity. Most of the time in my observation, newer methods are actually markedly inferior to older ones, rather than an improvement.

I think a big part of the reason for this, is because the emphasis is constantly on reducing programmer effort. What nobody seems to remember, however, is that needing to apply effort, is how you become good at something.

So we now have spoon-fed, degenerate Millenials, awash in cheap CPU cycles and coding in C++. They don't need to learn efficiency; they don't need to learn how to do things truly well. The complexity of the software they write, also perpetuates their delusions that they are skilled at what they do; when the truth is the exact opposite.

Comment Re:In other words... (Score 1, Insightful) 634

And that was a shame, because many new generations of scientific programmers did not get exposed to new languages with new expressive power (such as OO) that could solve new problems.

I've only ever seen two groups of people, who advocated OO as some sort of inherent virtue in itself.

a} Psychopathic, buzzword-obsessed, clueless IT managers.

b} Elitist, equally clueless programmers, who mainly advocate OO and related languages, (such as C++) because they enjoy ego tripping about the fact that they can write code that nobody else is able to read, rather than actually getting real work done.

The main argument that both groups use to advocate OO, is the appeal to modernity fallacy. I.e., the idea that "modernity," is an inherent virtue, purely for its' own sake.

Comment Re:Article just not true (Score 1) 634

While a lot of numerical specialists who aren't computer scientists still code in FORTRAN (or MATLAB or Python with NumPy), most cutting-edge research for large scale parallelism, heterogeneous computing and high performance computing is done in C or C++.

You have just confirmed something, which I have suspected for a while. Namely, that C++ is the programming language of choice for psychopaths; and given that IT managers are also usually psychopaths, that explains why so many programmers are forced to use it.

Comment Re:Accept, don't fight, systemd (Score 1) 533

Whether you love, hate, or are ambivalent about >systemd, I think you have to accept it at this point.

There's something called individuality. Some of us have it. If you don't, then that's a shame; but that is not going to prevent us from retaining ours.

We are under no obligation to simply shut up and accept systemd whatsoever. We can go to FreeBSD. We can go to Minix. We have any number of possible alternatives.

Comment Mixed feelings (Score 1) 141

Linus deserves recognition for the amount of work he has done; but as an operating system, Linux in my mind has always demonstrated the difference between popularity and quality. I wholeheartedly felt that Dennis Ritchie and Ken Thompson deserved the awards they received; but where Linus is concerned, I'm more ambivalent.

For me, Linux is popular , while *BSD is actually good. I can't motivate myself to install a Linux distribution, these days, and for two reasons.

a} In technical terms, I know of no distro in existence, which has close to the same level of overall quality as the BSDs. Comparitive Linux distributions are invariably a bloated, disorganised, opaque mess.

b} Linux developers are socially toxic, hubristic, juvenile adolescents; who are persistently unrepentant about the degree to which their code sucks. I would laugh about said developers' near-mindless obsession with modernity and false "innovation" purely for its' own sake, if said attitude did not make me so angry. Massive changes are made to the system, just because . Changes are not made with any real consideration for whether or not said changes are actually a good idea, but rather because any change is apparently seen as somehow being better than none at all. It is a completely irrational attitude.

I probably should not let my level of disgust with the current state of Linux as a whole, cloud my enthusiasm about Linus being recognised for his genuine tenacity and brilliance as a programmer. I've said before that the .01 release of the kernel was absolute poetry; but then, tragically, over the years both the Windows refugees and the cultic, authoritarian Leftist FSF vermin moved in, and the rest became history.

Linus should strongly consider riding off into the proverbial sunset before too long, I feel. Let him go out on a high note, and let history remember him favourably, before the malevolence of the likes of Lennart Poettering contaminates his legacy.

Comment Dear Microsoft (Score 1) 179

When will Dr. Evil be told to clean out his desk? You might not have figured out who the company's main liability is, yet; but the rest of us have known for years, now.

By the way, Windows 8 sucks; and although I intended XP to be my last Microshaft operating system, (after which I would have migrated to FreeBSD) thanks to the UEFI standard that you and the rest of the consortium of corporate supervillains implemented, that is no longer possible for me. If I want to use FreeBSD at all on new hardware these days, and I want full hardware support, I'm stuck doing so in vmWare under Windows.

Insincerely yours,

Comment True for two main reasons (Score 4, Informative) 278

a} Clueless psychopathic suits in management, who make impossible schedule demands, and have no programming background themselves.

b} The use of popular, but garbage programming languages. C++, PHP and Perl are probably the main three culprits here. Dishonourable mention also goes to XML, JavaScript, and the XHTML Document Object Model. I have never encountered a "Web application," yet, which wasn't a disorganised, bloated, CPU hogging abomination.

For the last two months I've been economically forced to use a dual core 1.5 ghz laptop with 2 gb of RAM, and it can only barely keep up with the inefficient, JavaScript-infested obscenity that the Web has become. Virtually none of said JavaScript ever provides truly valuable functionality, either; most of it is just trackers of various kinds.

It's also purely due to Capitalism; all of it. Why have Red Hat had Lennart try and force systemd, GNOME, and the rest of their corporate crapware on Linux users? Their desire for a corporate monopoly, that's why.

What caused the UNIX wars? Corporations wanting to add their own non-standard extensions, to ensure their coveted Unique Selling Positions.

We must get rid of the suits.

Comment The greatest single disaster in computing history (Score 3, Interesting) 742

I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that comparisons to the Holocaust and world wars are in fact quite appropriate when discussing the magnitude of what Microsoft did to the history of computing, and by extension to human history overall.

The reason for this is simple. The effect of the Microsoft monopoly lasted so long and was so stultifying that it meant we will never know what a different word processor might be like. We will never know if spreadsheets or email might be more usable or efficient. We will never know (at least not in our lifetime) what an operating system or software might be like that doesn't use the conventions laid down by a company that had no incentive to make anything better, no need to design anything more than barely adequate, or to listen to its customers. Yet all these things are of fundamental importance to our lives - far, far too important to have suffered under a brutal, money-grubbing monopoly.

Despite (very) small innovations, Apple was not and is not a counter-balance because they were forced to ape the conventions that the Microsoft juggernaut had laid down with it's 95% market share. Jobs knew as well as anyone that it would be suicide to create anything that the market place was not already at least partially familiar with.

In the final analysis, the Microsoft era was a massive failure of free market capitalism that left us all driving Trabants while thinking they were the best that we could have. The blame lies of course with politicians and industry regulators who had no clue what an immense influence personal computing would have on society until it was too late. But it is too late. The die has been cast for personal computing for generations to come, and that is an utter and maddening tragedy for all of us.

The issue is of course far bigger than just one man, but holy mother of god do I hate what Bill Gates did to all of us.

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