FOSS-Friendly Monolithic Corporations Are Not Your Friends
Oracle is expecting an announcement that they’re acquiring TikTok. Like two great dragon turds swirling around the bowl during the great flush of time, they just might drown each other.
Walmart also wants to buy them. So does Microsoft.
Microsoft is dangerous. They currently own Linkedin, Github, etc.
I covered some of this around this time last year in my post entitled “Everything Has a Price“, but I’ll recap here since I feel a rant coming on.
Since they’re pushing into the cloud space with Azure heavily the last few years and using relationships to prop it up with big money they now have the power to shut down any project that goes against their interests if that project is on github, or completely erase the careers of people using linkedin to manage their career network if anyone doesn’t like it.
Not saying they’re doing that — they have the power to– and given their history as a company, that’s enough to be a concern.
And IBM owns RedHat and it’s children now, too. That goes for Fedora. I may have talked some on it before, but, while it was claimed that Fedora would remain independent and untained by IBM after the acquisition, this was indeed pillow talk as their official mailing lists are full of RedHat employees linking to IBM cultural strategy shifts and preaching the gospell of how “they’re an IBM company now and there’s no escaping that”. While it’s easy to say that every community has its stupid people who don’t understand the bigger picture, these are people hired and paid by RedHat to “shape the community”. Yes, there are roles for “shaping communities” and these RedHat/IBM employees are doing exactly what IBM said would not happen.
RedHat also has the Python Software Foundation in its pocket. Since IBM’s strategy is pervasive this means the PSF is now controlled by IBM as well.
Nginx is now owned by F5. Before that, Nginx was building quite a reputation as deprecating Apache’s HTTPD solution in modern solution design across the whole industry. Now it’s owned by the company you buy your F5 from.
Oracle’s JDK licensing scandal is well known at this point.
These “community shapers” are preaching in their communities about how this is not what it looks like, and how “big corporations are embracing open source software”.
Now I’d like to talk about a seemingly unrelated topic.
Anybody remember that kook named Alex Jones? His content is the source for all those memes about “turning the frogs gay” and “the world is run by lizard people” etc. Total nonsense, but, hey, this is #merica, and you’re allowed to be a wacko if you don’t care about the social fallout.
Until about August of the year before last, when YouTube, Apple, and Facebook collectively decided, after like 20 years of his enterprise broadcasting unhindered, to completely censor it at the same time by deleting all of his company’s accounts as well as his personal accounts. Since he was a kook, nobody listened to him while he tried to point out the concerning abuse of power and collective movement being done by these corporations and it was dismissed as absurd. Yet, they did act in concert in a way that could only have been executed and timed by active participation in a cooperative strategy. They were indeed working closely together to destroy and erase someone that only vaguely went against their desire:
The context behind it, the reasons behind it don’t matter as much for what I’m conveying here as what they actually did. This was an indicator that these huge entities are not dislocated and warring against each other to the point of not converging their strategies in very low level ways.
Corporate trends are fueled by precedent and value. This is why price fixing was made illegal — because we know they do shit like this and it’s almost never in the public’s interests. No, I’m not defending Alex Jones. Alex Jones is an idiot. I’m saying that corporations work together on cohesive strategies when it benefits them. I’m not saying that corporations are evil (even though alot of things they do are). I’m saying they’re not your friend, and they’re not open source’s friend.
And that’s what we have here with these strategic acquisitions. The 3 biggest enemies to the open source movement, one (Microsoft) whose motto was “embrace, extend, and extinguish” in the context of how to destroy the open source movement — suddenly start embracing open source software (and “we really mean it this time”) and acquire github, who hosts like 90% of the open source community’s code, and then buy linkedin and lynda, which together host not only the primary point of career networking for open source people but also a major chunk of the online training paths for people who will one day contribute to the open source community.
This is a staging battleground. And not just because Microsoft hates open source software (their engineers don’t, their executives do and are lying about it).
Sounds jaded. I know. It sounds like I’ve got a problem with corporations. I live in corporations. They pay my bills. I consult for F100s exclusively. I’ve been in those meetings. Many corporate executives build their playbooks from Sun Tzu and other dark arts reading that emphasize exactly the kinds of strategies I’m talking about here. Everyone’s competition. Competition needs destroyed or allied until they can be destroyed. Deception is war. The minds of the public are the battleground. This is how they think. And because they know adversarial mindsets aren’t received well by the public they paint it up with pink and blue clouds full of lofty hashtags and unity and synergy and all these play arts designed to weave an artificial culture that is harmful to the people who have to embrace it — and their people do embrace it. Most of them believe it. And that’s the magic of it. An enormous amount of resources goes into this alternative universe in corporate cultures — videos, company wide presentations, gigantic conventions — indoctrinate, indoctrinate, indoctrinate. It’s backwards and it’s harmful.
But it works.
The conventions are especially effective because it’s not coming from the executives and strategists behind the cultural shift — it’s coming from high level engineers who bought into it to sell to other engineers. And they benefit from it a great deal in their careers. It’s insidious, it’s infectious, and it’s effective.
Somewhere out there are people who overlook that these same companies collaborated to erase a low-threat media troll from the internet because “he had it coming”, and those people have built some kind of wall in their mind against the idea that they would collaborate on strategic acquisitions to position themselves to control and destroy the open source communities after literal decades of telling the world they would do just that — because these feel good videos, and the money they’re pumping into their declared existential enemies to build the trust necessary to destroy their enemies.
Smart people believe stupid things, sometimes.
You think they’re spending alot of money on building up trust? Imagine how much they’ll collectively save if these communities stopped existing one day.
In simple terms, survival for big software companies depends on two things: Providing value that gives a competitive edge, and making sure no one else does in that domain. You bet your ass they have incentive. You need to view these corporations as entities led by executive circles and not as entities led by their “cultures”. The cultures are artificial to meet the executive strategy. Their intent is clear by their movements.
SURRO Linux moved an inch
Major updates to the Surro Linux effort. Foster has a variant now, called Foster-B where I’ve put up a proof of concept that generates the cross-compiler toolchain necessary to start populating the new sysroot. It is messy and has some kinks to work out since I outsourced the toolchain generation to the now integrated crosstool-ng project.
Still a ways to go before we’re in a chroot compiling from the inside out but this was the hardest part. I’m excited about the idea of getting to a bootable OS after such a long journey with so many distractions.
I’m still looking for either my next contract or a direct hire situation.
I’m on contract at the moment but have decided this will not be a long term thing. As much as I’d like to settle, it just wouldn’t be a step forward in this case.