Thursday, July 30, 2009

What lies beneath

Interesting quotes that emanate from BoycottNovell. All of these are by a single person, lest I be accused of picking what other people say and using it for nefarious purposes.

There is an undeniable element of schadenfreude here, I will admit. There are even lolcat references. But beyond that, the more serious objective is to document recurring themes and consistency of behavior in relation to certain topics. When you feel secure in the knowledge that the evidence to your true intentions and mindset are buried in a megatastic pile of text then it's easy to simply shrug away any criticism as "ad hominems", "shooting the messenger" and "nit-picking".

“ Linus has surrounded himself by some yes men
Just watch the response to GPLv3. They didn't read the bloody thing, but they said no just because Torvalds did.
[how much money does Linus make?]
I don't know. He has a nice villa though. 2009-01-07
“ Linus had no beard
So GNU was suddenly OK
They groomed him and his name (Linus with an X)
IBM can't have a front man who says that Bush should be sentenced to prison 2009-01-24
“ Watch Linus
Cowardice AFAICT
He fears talking about politics
So he snubs and alienates GNU and RMS
Then, he refuses to criticise Novell
He is being ‘diplomatic’ (meaning he puts money before personal believes and ethics)
Good fit for IBM and other moochers
That's why they call it 'Linux', to repeat what I wrote in Bn this morning 2009-04-03
Has anyone ever asked what Mr. Ethics does for a living? I wonder.
“ Linus wants market share ... RMS wants freedom
RMS's world domination: users dominate computers [...] Linus' world domination: market share 2009-05-19
Just in case you didn't get it the first time.
“ People are taught that Ubuntu is Linux, so they inherit the Linus mindset 2008-11-17
“ I guess others have the same problem [with his blog]
Linus does not like it, either
He lives in a Hollywood-type home
So ethics scares him a [little] 2009-06-23
Keep in mind who he's saying this to.
“ Linus starts reading instead of developing... Someone should pass him some RMS books 2009-05-30
“ [Torvalds] said something about "irrational hatred"
He just doesn't understand how much of a risk [Novell] are 2009-03-03
“ When you come to think of it, Linus wrote about 2% of Linux, which is only about 3% of the operating system you use [...] That's a total of 2/33 %, or less than 0.1% of a 'Linux' (distribution) 2009-07-26
The word Linux now officially needs to be surrounded in quotes.
“ [...] Linus seems to know very well what we're up to
He has colleagues in Novell though and they fund him 2009-04-20
He has what now? They what?
“ I sometimes wonder how much of a GNU Linus is. I mean, it's not as though he can deny his dad was a communist. Maybe he's just shy of certain things. 2009-03-16
“ Linus is like one of those 3 monkeys. He doesn't want to know.
Mark Shuttleworth values my opinion, so I hope he's watching closely ... he too is trying to be 'nice' to Microsoft so that he can get codecs and nonsense like 'innva~1'
Marc Fleury is the same as Linus 2009-02-11
In reference to this. And Fleury... well.
“ [David Heinemeier Hansson] More vain than Linus 2009-07-26
“ [...] I came to Linux not knowing about GNU
A Finnish friend of mine told me it was invented by a guy in Finland [...]
It was only much later than I found out not just about GNU but also about RMS and the history of it all.
Now I get to confront the people who hijacked his movement and are proud of it.
Along with the thunder they took his funding too
And later they use cronies like MOG and Wolfe to attack RMS for daring to claim credit
I don't know how RMS keeps so calm, but he went through anger management 2008-12-19
Just so we're clear, the proud hijacker is Linus Torvalds.
“ Torvalds hates FSF IMHO 2009-04-27
“ I'm not sure RMS is bothered by flying coach. [...] Had he flown first class, then what preacher would he be? 2009-02-06
I recommend reading through the whole exchange for context. It doesn't get any better than that.

After you've read all these, consider this in context. Let me pull a quote from it:

Surely it's just a typo or a Freudian slip, not a matter of ego. But to repeat an old joke, Linus said he named two projects after himself (the second one being git, which actually means something in British English).

Suddenly this clever and playful post doesn't seem so clever or playful. But imagine if you will that someone had shown up on that post and said "This is nothing but a barely concealed insult. Your animosity towards Linus is fueled by your bizarre adoration of Richard Stallman and your belief that Torvalds somehow screwed him". Without evidence or context, the reply to that can easily be "yawn, let me know when you have evidence of that". Well say hello to my little friend!

“ Shuttleworth
Wow! The hero
He.. he he flew to space
What heroism
He's like a man given by God from another planet :-) 2009-01-24
“ Canonical wants to quiet me down, methinks 2009-06-23
“ [re:Glyn Moody] I try to push him off blogger (proprietary) and twitter (likewise)
It’s hypocritical for him to blog under proprietary platform 2009-03-06
“ [...] Yeah, that's because of lackeys like these and that's why "open source" is a stupid term... Thanks to ESR and ORLY. 2009-03-06
“ Those who oppose us are usually the very same people whose interests they know are harmful to the advancement of Freedom 2009-06-23
“ [BoycottNovell] is now bigger than Groklaw 2009-03-05
“ azerthoth hates freedom;.. attacking not just me but RMS too in a way: 2009-02-24
That article is recommended reading, if only to grasp the insanity of the quote.
“ Actually, one of [RedHat's] execs mailed me some days ago
[what did he say?]
Nothing of significance 2009-03-03
That's OK, as long as it impresses the bois.
“ I've just contacted IBM re SVG ... They should tell Bill and Steve: stop fighting the Web or face prison 2009-06-05
...hello, Mr. Palmisano? Hello?
“ Many headlines with question marks are trolling ... Like Fox 2009-06-04
“ [...] One of those let's troll/provoke headlines but add quuestion mark. 2009-04-23
“ [...] question mark indicates trolling 2009-04-27

“ Call this a grey area if you like. That's why I put a question mark in the title. [Is YouTube's NovellVideo a Novell AstroTurfer?] 2008-10-07
“ I put a question mark in the headline for a reason. [Does Microsoft Silence Dissent Against Vista 7?] 2009-04-12
And have you stopped beating your wife?
“ This lad asked MS to give him a job (in public): ... So I keep an eye on what he writes about Linux (provocations and the like) 2009-02-02
Gotta catch'em all.
“ [...] Digg effect coming [...] 5 hours, 60 Diggs. Never happened to me before and on a SUNDAY 2009-02-09
“ Digg is also seriously [fucked] because it’s gamed pretty badly. 2009-03-06
Except when you make the front page!
“ Propagate the mythology that Microsoft won't be there some years from now, so betting one's business on Microsoft is dangerous. Microsoft is trying hard to counter this perception, which is true. 2009-01-26
Propagating mythologies is OK if you're with the "good" guys.
“ [Chrome being hard to port] Google should have thought about their code prior to hastily throwing this browser out there [...] Maybe Microsofters on staff 2009-03-06
Someone call Eric Schmidt.
“ [Mozilla] also got rid of the Microsofter.. Window Snyder 2009-02-11
“ Mozilla detoxicated itself from Windows Snyder ... MS employee ... No longer will Mozilla people praise Microsoft e.g. for security 2009-03-19
I really, really tried to find mindless praise for Microsoft about security from Mozilla or Snyder.
“ Dana [Blankenhorn] = Windows user ... Writes about FOSS, which he doesn't even use 2009-02-05
“ [...] people who don't use FOSS but sure write blogs about it [...] 2009-03-19

“ I don't use IE or Windows 2009-06-22
“ I ditched the last morsel of Windows in 2005 2009-01-22
“ I have no Windows at work 2009-07-24
Sometimes is just damn hard to be qualified for certain things.
“ [articles from disliked pubs] These always involve collecting comments from Digg, [Slashdot] and LXer, then stringing them together and have some extra text to weave them 2009-02-09
“ [propaganda] I just parrot it, collect and organise the information 2009-06-06
“ Alan Cox Joins the Company That Sabotaged OLPC 2008-12-24
No one is safe.
“ [Google Chrome] Why are Linux users waiting for this rubbish anyway? 2009-03-19
“ Microsoft is old, clumsy and very [violent]
And like a child molester, no-one trust it anymore [...] 2009-03-19
“ [There is] a nasty new breed of vermin out there [....] They post nasty things under my name [...] I had people post nasty things under my name claiming that I was a child molester [...] 2009-05-17
“ [SuSE "used" to be great] And it was ALL KDE ... No [fucking] de Icazaism 2009-03-11
“ [ESR] not only promotes "open source" and slams RMS but now he attacks the GPL:
[nice article, do you agree with its assessment on the current situation with GPL/GNU?]
I haven't read it yet
I won't cite ESR, either 2009-04-28
He... hadn't read it yet. And it's a good thing he doesn't cite Raymond. Well, except on every single page of his blog.
“ Hehe. I've been invited to Las Vegas for a conference.
Flights and all covered but I have to pass.
"I don't feel as though I would be safe among a crowd that I have been criticising, but I appreciate your offer enormously and will continue to cover you in a friendly fashion."
[you should, like, totally go]
No, I can't ... Novell people would be there. 2008-12-20
He must have heard the story about the Linux user that showed up at DevDays and was murdered with a bag-o-schwag.
“ Boycott Novell is now stuck at about 22,000 pageviews a day. This may be the first month when there's no climb in traffic. [...] Are you aware of similar scandals that are not explored as much as they should? 2008-12-24
Uncle Rupert would be proud.
“ In [comp.os.linux.advocacy], I say nothing about SUSE
Keeping it invisible is the best one can do so that people don't consider it as an option 2008-12-28
“ Monsters befriend monsters
Then they perfume it to themselves
"I'm just writing code"
"I'm just carrying an artillery shell"
"I'm just flying CIA sharpshooters in a helicopter"
"I'm just annoying people with telemarketing call so that I can feed my baby" 2008-12-28
No, I'm not making this up.
“ It ought to be added that the RIAA and Microsoft do hold secret meetings. I have record of this and yes... they are secret meetings. [...] 2008-02-28
“ The guy who mailed me earlier has MI5 connections 2009-03-17
International man of mystery.
“ [some article] Sensationalist from what I can gather overstating his case to support exaggerated hypothesis(headline) 2009-01-21
“ Replies are not indicative of readership. Troll blogs like Beranger [or] LinuxHaters get many replies becausse they aggravate [...] In BN I know I do well when people don't reply much. They usually agree when they don'r reply or add much. 2009-03-18
I too get more complaints whenever I aggravate.
“ most people just don't comment ... [usually] it means consent 2009-01-29
“ In [his blog], sometimes I get no replies because there is consent 2009-05-28
Except when they're "trolling" of course.
“ Microsoft is monitoring BN [...] 2009-02-01
Sauron sees all.
“ [Waggener-Edstrom] is watching this
I once sent some IPs to check if [Waggener-Edstrom] eavesdrop on us [...] But I disposed of logs 2009-05-03
I made you a cookie, but I eated it.
“ MS Flight Simulator is dead. Its developers might actually manage to do something decent for society now 2009-02-14
“ SHILL: Microsoft manager lists Bellevue home for $2.65M 2009-03-16
Having second doubts about selling my apartment in Portland now.
“ I used to slam [Chris Dawson of ZDNet] blindly for a short whole only because I confused him with Marc Wagner [...] who's a sucker for Microsoft and Linux hater 2009-03-24
Whew, good thing he noticed.
“ OS X = dumbed-down Linux 2009-03-28
“ [...] Python is not OOP unless there some variant of it which I doubt 2009-04-05
The 'Wormy' variant is not OOP, I hear.
“ [Futurama] glorifies drinking 2009-04-11
Kiss my shiny metal ass.
“ Miguel [de Icaza] is recommending Microsoft books in his blog: [...] This guy is insane 2009-04-23
You'd think that was "PowerPoint for Dummies" rather than the actual technical reference for the language spec covered by ECMA-334 and ISO/IEC 23270, written by Anders Hejlsberg.
“ Obama is working for Uncle Tom, not Sam [...] 2009-04-24
“ [...] that's like a black man entering the KKK annual meeting and telling them all to vacate the building 2009-02-22
“ This geek reach-out of Microsoft looks a bit like to accommodate the black community with coon songs 2009-06-10
No comments. Well, maybe a few [1].
[I suppose you were blinded by your fury that someone dared to acknowledge the existence of Mono and give it a fair shake in the first place.]
“ Yes, bringing up the existence of Mono alone can be harmful. 2009-05-09
You can't make this stuff up.
“ [...] Microsoft tries to drive its critics into a state of desperation. [...] I sense that what Reiser did relates to this. 2008-08-09
Hans Reiser's attorneys had it all wrong from the start. They should have simply blamed Microsoft.
“ I was going to publish a review of KDE4.1 (for money) [...] I never did... Didn't want to risk disliking it 2009-05-04
We'll be happy to keep you well informed about all Microsoft operating systems, though.
“ I was advised by people not to be hardcore on insulting projects [...] Nor people 2009-04-27
Apparently he was never advised to take the advise.
“ Boycott Novell does this to an extent. No insults, no incitement or any sort
“ We [Sam Varghese] corresponds in private about [Mono] sometimes and there are journalists who are too shy to *gasp* insult some Mono people, so they keep quiet [...] The Mono mob is unpleasant to deal with when [faced] with issues 2009-05-18
Mobs tend to be unpleasant when you insult them.
“ The true hypocrite is the one who ceases to perceive his deception, the one who lies with sincerity. — Andre Gide 2009-02-05
Meta-quote apropos.


  • [1] I am not trying to imply that this is racism, because I don't think it is. For example, after muttering the first quote, he is promptly corrected by someone as to the meaning of "Uncle Tom" and the way it was being used by Ralph Nader, which is where he got it from. The third quote is actually him quoting one of his "readers", as usual, although he is ultimately responsible for what he publishes. Having said all that, if you don't understand the cultural overtones that things like these have and how hurtful they can be to some people, please don't fucking use them as metaphors. Pick something else. Or better yet, as the saying goes: The best substitute for brains is silence.
Friday, July 24, 2009

What a wacky web we weave

This is a list of people associated in some way or another with BoycottNovell. Collectively called – quite tongue in cheek – BoycottBoys. The purpose here is to have a centralized place that folks can refer to when they encounter these seemingly independently tireless advocates that magically appear pushing a specific line whenever certain topics are being discussed on the internet. Disclosure is important. I figure as important as it is with them, and seeing how much they don’t practice it, a decent reference was in order.

Handle: _Hicham_
Real name:  
Status: Active
  Has not been observed to be active outside of their IRC channel, at least not with that handle. He’s a rather disturbing individual. [1]

Handle: twitter
Aliases: 14+ known, although those seem to have been used only on Slashdot so far.
Real name: William H. Hill
Status: Active
  Not to be confused with the website.

Handle: oiaohm
Real name: Peter Dolding [^]
Status: Active
  Has not been observed to be active outside of their IRC channel. Probably the most level-headed of the cadre.

Handle: trmanco
Real name: Tony Manco
Status: Active

Handle: Balrog
Real name:  
Status: Active
  Has not been observed to be active outside of their IRC channel. Regularly quoted on articles.

Handle: balzac
Real name: Paul Gaskin [^]
Status: Comes and goes
  Provides poetic quotes, claims to have a rather active social life, got banned from Fedora and Ubuntu IRC channels for “minor things”. Says RedHat is just another company run by greedy hacks. Actually doesn’t like RH that much at all.

Handle: neighborlee
Real name:  
Status: Active
  Very active in the Ubuntu community, where he claimed to have been “censored” because he was prevented from disrupting discussions about Mono and maintainers closed “bugs” he filed demanding for its removal. See this for more information. Spirited defense of poor neighborlee was in a way the catalyst for the Mark Fink episode. Lulz.

Handle: MinceR
Real name:  
Status: Active (actually seems to live on IRC)
  Seems to hate everything. Wants to run HURD but cannot.

Handle: tacone
Real name: Stefano Forenza
Status: Active

Handle: Goblin
Aliases: GoblinRFD [^]
Real name:  
Status: Active
  Went trolling Neowin with some help. He “exposed” Neowin as a “Windows shill site”, which is akin to exposing as a “Stallman shill site”, but you can’t beat investigative journalism of this caliber. Goblin is quick on the trigger but a bit slow on the uptake. He also patrols the ‘net for evil and reports back.

Handle: ushimitsudoki
Real name: Jason Melton [^]
Status: Active
  Long active on IRC, he recently created, which is useful because it’s proof that the desperate cry for the destruction of Mono isn’t coming from one person anymore, but rather two. Liked because it drives people “up the wall” and keeps the “UsefulIdiots” from… well, whatever. The ‘the-source’ blog is another good source of “independent” support for Schestowitz. Of course no mention that both are run by the same good buddy.

Handle: Omar87
Aliases: OmarSHafez
Real name: Omar Hafez
Status: Active
  And really, I feel so sorry for that bloke [who bought a Mac], he'll be spending his loot here and there and feeding Steve Jobs' vampiric lust for money…” [^]

Handle: Jose_X
Real name: Jose Veloso
Status: Active
  Jose_X can be identified by his long-winded comments, often broken up into two or more posts. Regular content contributor as well. He comments everywhere on the internet (e.g., [^] or try to read through this), pushing the same lines as BN. His motto is Victoria qui com verbo, which is Latin for “I will write stuff until you collapse and admit defeat”.

Handle: The Mad Hatter
Real name:  
Status: Active
  Pimping his blog on articles about Mono.

Handle: ml2mst
Real name: Marti van Lin
Status: Comes and goes
  Also active on comp.os.linux.advocacy, where he fights the good fight and all that. Collaborates with “neighborlee” on bringing purity to Ubuntu. Another bizarre one.

Handle: CyberPhoenix
Aliases: AstralKnight/BoycottMicrosoft/DiamondWakizashi/NastyMicrosoft, etc.
Websites: Just read this, if you’re feeling adventurous.
Real name:  
Status: Active. Very. Very. Active.

When one of the BoycottBoys has proven him/herself by feeding Schestowitz enough clever quotes for his blog posts, they receive an award. Tell me you don’t totally want one of those?

This next group are people who are keen on scratching BN's back, so to speak, and are in turn rewarded with linkage, quotes, etc. Although they do sometimes make appearances on his IRC channel, they are not "regulars" and have their own blogs or sites.

Handle: Homer
Aliases: [H]omer, Slated, Homer101010 (this is cute)
Real name: Keith G. Robertson-Turner [^]
  The relationship between Slated and BN is… complicated. Worthy of being explored in detail later.

Handle: The OpenSourcerer
Real name: Alan Lord [^]
  Lord is another anti-Mono activist, which would be all well and good if it wasn’t for the fact that he shows up in discussions without proper disclosure.

Handle: einfeldt
Real name: Christian Einfeldt
  Einfeldt’s vlog (?) is regularly linked to from BN. Here he is for example on Mad Hatter’s blog doing the usual “if I don’t like what you’re saying then you must be employed by Microsoft” routine. Here he is scratching Alan Lord’s back, so to speak.

Handle: David Gerard
Aliases: Red Drag Diva, etc.
  Gerard is one of the powers that be at Wikipedia. Very active obviously there and on Slashdot, where his activities can be gently described as spamming. He’s also gets the link treatment from BN once in a while, does some back scratching and posts comments regularly.

Handle: Robert Millan
Aliases: robertmh
  A lesser boi, Millan likes to troll people who oppose the Jihad against Mono. Apparently a good buddy of tacone. He runs, where he has a screencast that shows how to execute untrusted binaries in Windows (heh). He helpfully created a Wikipedia article for his own project as well.

This next group are “journalists” (yes, those are quotes) that are also associated with BN in a sense.

Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols
Blogger provocateur employed by ComputerWorld. Famously claimed that a Google interruption of service should be blamed on Microsoft, even going so far as to explain that a possible reason for the problem he had seen somewhere didn’t “hold water”. A day later Google confirmed what didn’t hold water. SJVN is regularly quoted on BN, and he regularly quotes Schestowitz as well – he even went so far as to claim that the alleged DoS suffered by BN was the work of Microsoft (that was received very well. Will it make the Digg front page? Stay tuned!). He’s also good at putting together amazing conspiracy theories about how he just can’t get on the Digg front page (duly parroted), possibly ignoring the fact that his self-submitted articles are simply not that interesting. Well, at least not all of them. Er, I mean at least the ones Microsoft forgot to suppress. Sometimes he confuses the BoycottBoys as well.

Sam Varghese
Varghese is another blogger link exchange for BN and occasional defender of the cause. Sometimes his tone is frighteningly similar to Schestowitz’ (others have noticed that). He also has it in for Miguel de Icaza, complete with the same constant clever suggestions that he is an agent of evil bent on smashing Freedom. The comments on his blog are a sight to behold, and routinely feature appearances by the BoycottBoys. Famously, he wrote an extremely detailed and quite unnecessary four-page rebuttal to an anti-Stallman blog post made by a Microsoft intern. This is something I’ll revisit later as well.

Carla Schroder
Manages Schroder is actually rather balanced in what she does, so perhaps she is more deserving of the journalism tag than others. I include her here because she links to BN often, and vice versa. Still, LinuxToday is really just a link aggregator on any given day. Schroder has written books about Linux and seems to be a generally nice person and honest FOSS advocate.

And finally, a list of minor contributors and lesser hanger-ons, some of whom are inactive but should be mentioned just in case someone runs into them outside of BN.

Eruaran Shilly con carne.
NeonFloss Seems to be associated with this site (probably NSFW). Active on Reddit and Digg (a few people have ended up on BN via Digg)
DaemonFC Also went by DaemonXP and DaemonMVD for a while. Used to go by TheAlmightyCthulhu on the Ubuntu forums. Kicked out of IRC, inactive. Interesting story I’ll revisit later. This is the guy that broke the story about the FoxConn motherboards allegedly screwing up Linux, which made the rounds last year. This is his blog.
saulgoode Doesn’t seem to get on IRC, but shows up to make comments regularly.
tessier Tracy Reed [^]. Used to be just a regular, but now his company hosts the domain after the “denial of service attack” they suffered and couldn’t resolve with the old shared host.
seller_liar Mystery man. Probably Portuguese and possibly associated with trmanco and/or Rui Seabra. He helps distros find reasons to remove Mono and so on.
wallclimber Apparently helps with transliteration of PDFs from the Comes vs. Microsoft material.
wispygalaxy Another Digg transplant. She shills^w helps out with perception management.
PetoKraus Seems to be affiliated with the FSF and/or Phoronix. Inactive for a while now.
kentma Mark Kent. Also active on comp.os.linux.lunacy^Wadvocacy. Interesting relationship here too, probably worth exploring. Kent provides Schestowitz’ internet access using resources owned by the University of Manchester.
libervisco Used to be very active on IRC, but later disappeared. Apparently became disillusioned with the whole thing. This is recent and bears repeating:
“… I'm still trying to think of ways how to politely say what my problem with BN is, but it's too long so I think I'd sum it up with this: BN is a place you go to if you need more reasons to hate MS and that's the kind of crowd that it attracts, which may or may not be intentional (though it's hard to miss), but as someone who believes that the whole war with MS and the whole case for Free Software purism is one huge straw man […] and often a self contradiction, it's simply hard to take too much of it seriously […] I keep seeing people fight for the opposite of what they passionately believe they are fighting for […] and it's sometimes funny in a sad way and sometimes just frustrating [...] because I wanna tell them that, but don't know how to express it without looking like an enemy
thenixedreport Thomas Hoolbrook II. Relative newcomer. Seems like a nice guy actually.
Chips B Malroy Another hunter of “M$ shills”. Seems to have found a permanent home on BN with the rest of ‘em. Surprising? You bet!
Ed Lavanderi Prolific commenter, although I’m not sure if he gets on IRC.
Lyle Howard Seave Another prolific commenter and defender of the cause. [2]
Victor Soliz His other nym is vexorian. Active on Slashdot as well.
aeshna23 Big fan. Really big fan. Probably knows Schestowitz in meatspace.
CoolGuy Interestingly generic handle with a nack for appearing at times of great need to post encouraging comments that can be used to veer off topic and ignore difficult questions. Probably just a useful nym operated by one of the bois or BoycottBoy himself.
subsonica Another minor boi.
fewa Very active on IRC.
zoobab Seems to be involved in ECMA, ODF and/or the slog against OOXML. Amazing coincidences!
Needs Sunlight Prolific commenter. Probably the alter ego of MinceR or one of the other bois.

References to shilling and such are welcome. You can send me an email or something if you want. I do not want or need personal information on these people. I don’t care where they live, where they work or what color underwear they use. So please don’t even bother. I won’t publish any of that.

To preempt the reaction that this will undoubtedly garner, I’m well aware that some of these people might be “proud” of being associated with the den of paranoia. They might not think that what they do is shilling or astroturfing, they might think that their contributions are truly helping advance FOSS, or maybe they don’t care what Roy Schestowitz is saying any given day as long as they’re allowed to hang out on his IRC channel or get some links back to their blogs. That’s all well and good. I’m not trying to shame them by association, or trying to get them to sever ties or anything like that. That would be rather stupid. No, the reason this is needed is because often they’ll show up on other websites to comment about a specific topic, and simply pointing to them and saying that they are associated with BN is not enough. There needs to be a page that people can link to and say “this person is just repeating the BN talking points” or  “this person is a regular contributor over there” and so on. Beyond that, I don’t care what they do or where they do it. Just as long as it’s well understood who benefits in the end from what they’re saying or doing.

Initially I hesitated at the idea of making comments about some of these people’s activities by referencing things they say on their IRC channel and their blogs. Inevitably that can be used to claim I am “attacking people”. However, I believe that, given the proper context, these unguarded conversations are a good indicator of what people really think. It brings out the bacon, as it were. My hesitation was completely eliminated the day I posted this as I happened to notice that Schestowitz was comparing himself to Mahatma Gandhi (!) and using something stupid someone said years ago (re: the “terrorists” quote by Enderle) to support whatever point he was trying to make. This is a common pattern for him. He has no qualms about collecting juicy quotes from people he dislikes and using them – often out of context – to emotionalize his hyperbole-laden arguments and drama queen panegyrics. One reaps what one sows.


[1] I do not hold Schestowitz responsible for comments like these, just to be very clear. Anyone can log in, shout “Hitler is teh best” and log out, and that would show up on the published log. It is however interesting to note what can get you kicked from his IRC channel and what doesn’t.
[2] There are many prolific commenters on that site. These are the ones that regularly appear to save the day and have an obvious bias. That doesn’t mean anything in and of itself, but the identities should be documented.


  • [2009-08-04] Removed an implied alias of ‘tacone’, as per his comment. I don’t see why he would lie about that, and the association with the Slashdot account was tenuous at best. Revised the notes about the “Goblin” person, as per this. I did notice that using a latin phrase in one’s “blog” was patented at some point and I missed the memo. I’ll revisit that later, specifically the Neowin part. His honor is safe. Added some new entries as well.
  • [2009-08-06] Some tweaks here and there, additions.
  • [2009-09-16] A few additions I had pending, redirect the CyberPhoenix entry to its own article.
Wednesday, July 22, 2009

How this works

  • I reserve the right to edit any post, any time. If the change is contentious, I'll make a note of that. I am trying to use a blog as a wiki, so bare with me here.
  • I'm a big boy, and I don't believe my balls will suddenly detach from my groin if I apologize or correct a mistake. So if I do make a mistake, I will correct it, and apologize if necessary.
  • This is not a family website. I don't mince words. If I use the term fuck somewhere, it's not because I lack the intellectual capacity to express myself in some other, more acceptable way — it's because fuck was indicated at that point.
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Monday, July 20, 2009

Timeline of the David Schlesinger/Mark Fink/BoycottNovell episode


February 20

"Mark Fink" posts a comment to (BN):

I hope all the M$ and Novell employees die in a fire and then burn eternally in hell. That’s what every last one of them deserves.

Schestowitz replies to him saying those are not nice thoughts and so on. There are other comments by him prior to and after that date, some with replies by Schestowitz.

February 21

Fink then appears on the Ubuntu desktop-devel mailing list, claiming he is in the process of writing a Tomboy replacement and linking to BN as "evidence" that it must be done. Quote:

I've already gotten it so you can type stuff in a text field, so it already almost has all the functionality you need in a note taking program.

The first reply to him is that he should use something else (the original StickyNotes) if he doesn't like Tomboy. He answers with this:

Then sticky notes needs to replace Tomboy as the official GNOME notes program because it is stupid to allow MONO into GNOME. MONO programs CANNOT be allowed to be in GNOME! This only helps M$ destroy Linux!
Don't you see!? You are just helping Microvell poison Linux so that they can control it and/or attack it with patents. Anyone who doesn't see this is a retard.

He is of course asked to keep it civil but he does not reply again. The rest of the comments in that thread are predictable given the tone and the fact that it was posted to a developer mailing list.

March 1

Fink posts another comment to BN about something or other, and this time Schestowitz asks him to maintain a page on his wiki. It's important to note that this exchange comes before even the Shuttleworth codec incident, so it is not being used to indicate collusion, rather just awareness of the name.

June 8

Fink posts his groundbreaking message making deals with M$ [sic] to ubuntu-devel-discuss, quoting allegations made in BN - an article in which Mark Shuttleworth actually bothered to post to correct what he perceived were misconceptions (I would have used another term) about a multimedia codec licensing deal with Microsoft for the Ubuntu distributions.

June 12

Schestowitz, posting on an FSDaily thread, acknowledges Fink's existence outside of the replies he had made on BN to him, and mentions him in the context of the codec "discussion" with Shuttleworth.

June 15

The ubuntu-news digest mentions the episode. As far as I can tell that was the end of that. "Fink" then proceeds to disappear.


June 7

"Mark Fink" reappears almost exactly one year later and posts a message titled shameful censoring of mono opposition to the ubuntu-devel-discuss mailing list, again quoting Schestowitz' allegations and using the same talking points. Predictably, a flame war erupts. David Schlesinger is one of the people that confronts Fink over his attitude and approach.

June 11

In the article Does Ubuntu Forums Threaten to Ban Opposition to Mono? (actually published on June 1st), Schlesinger posts a few comments regarding Fink and the mailing list. Schestowitz' collaborators attack as usual, and Schestowitz is forced to back them down. Still, the conversation remains civil. Schlesinger then suggests to Schestowitz that a post explicitly disassociating him and BN from Fink would be in order, and Schestowitz agrees. He then asks if he should "contact the troublemaker" to which Schlesinger replies that it's up to Schestowitz, since Fink is his problem (this last bit is important as we go into July 11-12 below). Schestowitz does indeed contact Fink by email.

Schestowitz then publishes Manners, a rather generic-sounding "clarification" that seemingly tries to tie the ubuntu-devel/Fink issue with some other problems. He does not mention Fink, Ubuntu or Schlesinger, who again posted a few messages in the comments section of that article and was quickly accused of being a "troll" by the BN collaborators.

June 12

Schestowitz publishes Smears against Boycott Novell, in response to a Mono article by Jo Shields that wasn't flattering to him and also mentioned the ubuntu-devel episode. Again, neither the Ubuntu mailing list nor Schlesinger are mentioned. Schlesinger indicates in a comment there that he will write a post on his blog laying out his side of the story. Again he is attacked by Schestowitz' collaborators, even suggesting that he had instigated the whole thing.

Later that same day, Schestowitz publishes the more specific "Mark Fink" Has Nothing to Do With Us, finally referring to him by name but omitting any mention of Schlesinger and again conflating the issue with other unrelated stuff. Comments on this post are disabled.

Between the posting of these two articles, Schlesinger confronted Schestowitz via email with the email proof he had obtained from Fink. This is however not possible to verify independently, but it appears that at the very least Schlesinger gave Schestowitz a chance to explain his behavior.

June 13

Schlesinger publishes When Zeal Becomes Zealotry: A Tawdry Tale, recounting Fink's attempts at getting him fired from his job because of the discussion on the Ubuntu mailing list, and includes evidence that seems to incriminate Schestowitz in Fink's activities. This evidence is obtained when Fink emails Schlesinger, apparently scared at the repercussions of what he did. Part of that exchange includes a PGP-signed email that Schestowitz sent to Fink:

I liked what you do, but try to distance yourself from the site to give it credibility. Make it look like a personal gripe while the site keeps it polite.

Schestowitz comments on Schlesinger's blog but is unable or unwilling to explain away the signed email. At one point he mentions that he had a hard time telling Fink off because Fink had compared him to Richard Stallman. Schlesinger posts a link to his article in a comment to BN, to which Schestowitz replies. His comment includes the following:

If there is anything else I can do to discourage that person from trolling the mailing lists and harassing you, let me know. There is not so much I can do. I was never in touch with him until you asked me to, at which point I grabbed the E-mail address from the mailing lists.

Contrast the two statements. Also, Schlesinger never requested that Schestowitz contact Fink. It was Schestowitz that offered to do that on June 11.

June 27

Richard Stallman publishes Why free software shouldn't depend on Mono or C# on the FSF website, establishing their official position on the issue.

June 30

Ubuntu publishes their position on Mono and software written with it, effectively killing any hope Schestowitz might have had about the distro not shipping the framework or applications written with it.

July 2

Dave Neary of GNOME publishes an article stating why he disagrees with Stallman's position on C#. There are many other blog posts from those two weeks that talk about the Mono issue, for and against.

July 3

The Gran Canaria Desktop Summit (hosting both GUADEC and Akademy) opens.

July 5

Stallman gives his keynote speech at the Desktop Summit. He gives his usual speech but also talks about Mono and C#.

That same day Schlesinger publishes A Good GCDS Beginning (with significant disappointment) post on his blog in which me mentions what he perceived to be negative sexist comments by Stallman during the keynote.

July 6

Peter Galli announces that Microsoft will apply the Community Promise to the ECMA 334 and ECMA 335 specifications. Miguel de Icaza mirrors the announcement on his blog that same day.

July 8

David Schlesinger publishes Emailing Richard Stallman, an email exchange with Stallman over the perceived sexist remarks he had made at the conference. An anonymous comment is posted there that same day which reads "Stallman speaks of the risks of the Mono risks and a week later this Monosoft [sic] sycophant resorts to attacking the messenger." This seems to be the first attempt to tie the Mono issue with the conference fiasco. Other comments seem to follow the same line of thought, including the artful "monotards" one by Khaled Hosny, who seems to have followed a link or reference from somewhere else judging from his i've-reached-my-conclusion tone.

July 10

Schestowitz publishes Revisionism with Stereotypes, mostly in response to an article by Bruce Byfield (A journalist that is constantly attacked in BN). In the article, Byfield mentions the role of Schestowitz' blog in negatively influencing the Mono debate, and references the aforementioned Joe Shield's article on LinuxToday, which in turn leads to Byfield's mention of the Fink fiasco. Schlesinger also comments a few times on that post. We're still largely civil.

Also around July 10 (it might have been earlier) two new memes (to call them something) emerge from (I think) the GNOME community. The first one is a statement related to Mono. The second is related to Stallman's talk. Some people take up both of them, which appears to again conflate the two issues.

July 11-12

Within the same post referenced above, and at this point given the evidence he had in hand, Schlesinger was probably already convinced of Schestowitz' collusion with Mark Fink, and he made that clear in a comment. This is where the conversation goes from civil to hostile on both sides. Shortly thereafter, Schestowitz posts a fragment of a bizarre conversation from his IRC channel with William Hill (a.k.a. "twitter") which essentially reduced Schlesinger to an evil Microsoft-sponsored troll out to do very bad things to Roy Schestowitz and free software in general. He prefaces it with this:

From what I can gather, you’re trying to set up and trip up people whom you don’t like (such as RMS) and you might be using fake names to pretext.

It's unclear where the "fake names" thing came from; I assume Schestowitz was accusing him of nymshifting. That garners a response from Shane Coyle -- the founder of BoycottNovell and owner of the domain name -- remarking that Schestowitz and Hill are, quote, "nuts". Schestowitz then pedals back, claiming he actually disagrees with the comment he had just made.

The whole post is just bizarre, again, but here's one of the salient pieces:

<schestowitz> How ‘dare’ RMS say the truth about Mono?
<schestowitz> See what the Microsoft fans do?
<schestowitz> That “Lefty” guy is hardly a Linux guy
<schestowitz> IIRC he uses a Mac and he worked for Apple
<schestowitz> Just shows you how Trojanning works

It appears that at this point in Schestowitz' mind, Schlesinger was not criticizing Stallman because of sexist remarks -- he was attacking him for saying that C# and Mono are bad, and he had an ulterior motive associated with Microsoft.

This of course incenses Schlesinger, who demands that Schestowitz retract his claims. Schestowitz compounds the problem by saying it was actually Schlesinger that asked him to "help" with Fink, which is of course not true (see June 12). Schestowitz backpedals again on that point.

July 13

Still within the same discussion referenced above, Schestowitz quite suddenly agrees to post an apology to Schlesinger, titled Correction: About Schlesinger, ‘Fink’, Etc. He is forced to correct it a few hours later and add a specifically-worded retraction about his claims that Schlesinger's criticism of Stallman had anything to do with Mono, C#, patents or anything else. Comments there are also disabled. It's important to note that Schlesinger had originally demanded that the apology post remain on the BN front page for at least a week, but due to the rather high posting volume, the article quickly drops off view.

Later that day, Schestowitz publishes Is Mono's Latest Strategy to Vilify Richard Stallman? effectively tying the Grand Canarias issue and "...a vocal/aggressive minority that seems to be spreading Microsoft inside GNU/Linux". The Microsoft bit here of course refers to Mono. The post is not unusual for BN, but regardless of the quoting of his friends' sympathetic views on the topic, it's not difficult to understand why it was posted or what the intention was:

Mono people understand that their attempts to marry Microsoft and Linux are backfiring now that the SFLC and FSF speak out, so Plan B is seemingly to discredit Stallman in person to make his technical assessments go away or be dishonoured.


Jason at the Mono Nono Web site correctly predicted that Stallman would suffer the wrath of Microsoft fans for merely daring to reject Mono. By the way, this is not a reference to one particular person because many blogs independently find an opportunity to pile criticisms on Stallman, for whatever reason or statement that he ever made (there is more than one, but the timing and motive are unlikely to be coincidental).

Bold emphasis mine. Another flame war develops here. At this point Schlesinger is overtly attacked by Schestowitz' collaborators, including the usual sleuthing about his life and work, references to his employers, what computer he uses, etc.

Also on July 13, Matt Zimerman, Canonical's CTO for Ubuntu, publishes Backlash: feminism considered harmful. This echoes the points made by Schlesinger. Throughout that week many people that were at GUADEC and some that were not publish their views on the Stallman remarks. Some are sympathetic to Stallman, like Dave Neary, in the sense that they don't consider him to be sexist, but at the same time decry the attempted association with the Mono issue.

[Looking at the comments on these blogs it seems that about the same number of people agree that the remarks were inappropriate than not. Indeed, Stallman has given that exact same talk many times before. A good portion of the comments seem again to try to conflate the Mono issue, and the rest are just the usual internet idiots reinforcing the urgent need for strict birth control. So it's of course valid to conclude that Schlesinger's view of the remarks is simply his opinion, shared by some members of the community and not by others. The claim that the "attacks" on Stallman are tied to his view on C# and Mono is the contentious point here]

July 14

Schestowitz publishes Another Angle on Personal Attacks from Mono. His idea of associating the two issues seems well cemented at this point.

July 15

Another article published on BN again conflates the GUADEC and Mono issues:

[...] Richard Stallman too, on behalf of the FSF, says that Microsoft’s “community promise” is inadequate, only to find himself smeared as a result of such statements.

July 16

On the article referenced above on July 14, Schlesinger posts a link to his blog explaining why the two issues have nothing to do with each other as far as he's concerned:

I’ve written a blog posting on the pernicious notion that the distress with Stallman’s comments is “really about Mono”. It’s gotten that stupid.

One of Schestowitz' collaborators replies with:

No, David, your blog has always been that stupid but now it’s nasty too. You’ve had some kind of Linsux type gripe with BN for more than a year and your behavior here over the last month or so beggars description. Your libelous attack on RMS is transparently designed to offend people you don’t like.

To clarify, "Linsux" seems to be a community of BSD users. For whatever reason they've decided to make Schestowitz their whipping dummy. Not the first time this has happened to him. The IRC logs published in BN show their activities. I don't condone or condemn what they did, but it's important to note the clever attempt to tie-in with that.

July 17

On yet another post that seems to stomp a horse-shaped patch in the ground, Schestowitz accuses Schlesinger (at this point, who else?) of "quote mining" to discredit Stallman and obliquely calls him a "Microsoft apologist". Another massive flamewar, another series of attacks on Schlesinger, legal threats, etc. At this point the conversation is well beyond confrontational, descending into the outright hostile. Unfortunately Schlesinger allows himself to fall for the good cop/bad cop routine with Schestowitz' collaborators.

July 18

Schestowitz' coup de grĂ¢ce to this episode is published the next day: David Schlesinger "Uses the Little Spat as an Example of Zealotry". Possibly unhinged by Schlesinger's repeated legal threats about having been libeled, Schestowitz decides to publish one Penguin Pete's rather sophomoric (read: insulting) take on the Stallman episode, Schlesinger and so on. Interestingly, a few days later in his IRC channel he says "Pete is one to be taken with caution". In light of this I suppose Pete could be catalogued as a "useful idiot", to use his terminology. In a final display of pettiness, the comments on that post are disabled.


[2009-08-06] Updated the first link to the GNOME mailing list thread "Fink" started about the Tomboy replacement. The previous link was a mirror and did not show the entire thread correctly.