Tag: Microsoft

Data transfer as a ‘hedge’?

This is an interesting development:

Today, Google, Facebook, Microsoft, and Twitter joined to announce a new standards initiative called the Data Transfer Project, designed as a new way to move data between platforms. In a blog post, Google described the project as letting users “transfer data directly from one service to another, without needing to download and re-upload it.”

This, of course, would probably not have happened without GDPR. So how does it work?

The existing code for the project is available open-source on GitHub, along with a white paper describing its scope. Much of the codebase consists of “adapters” that can translate proprietary APIs into an interoperable transfer, making Instagram data workable for Flickr and vice versa. Between those adapters, engineers have also built a system to encrypt the data in transit, issuing forward-secret keys for each transaction. Notably, that system is focused on one-time transfers rather than the continuous interoperability enabled by many APIs.

I may be being cynical, but just because something is open source doesn’t mean that it’s a level playing field for everyone. In fact, I’d wager that this is large companies hedging against new entrants to the market.

The project was envisioned as an open-source standard, and many of the engineers involved say a broader shift in governance will be necessary if the standard is successful. “In the long term, we want there to be a consortium of industry leaders, consumer groups, government groups,” says Fair. “But until we have a reasonable critical mass, it’s not an interesting conversation.”

This would be great if it pans out in the way it’s presented in the article. My 20+ years experience on the web, however, would suggest otherwise.

Source: The Verge

Git yourself off that platform!

This week, tens of thousands of open source projects migrated their codebase away from GitHub to alternatives such as GitLab. Why? Because Microsoft announced that they’ve bought GitHub for $7.5 billion.

For those who don’t spend time in the heady world of software and web development, that sounds like a lot of money for something with a silly name. It will hopefully make things a little clearer to explain that Git is described by Wikipedia in the following way:

Git is a version control system for tracking changes in computer files and coordinating work on those files among multiple people. It is primarily used for source code management in software development, but it can be used to keep track of changes in any set of files. As a distributed revision control system it is aimed at speed, data integrity, and support for distributed, non-linear workflows.

Despite GitHub not being open source, it did, until this week host most of the world’s open source projects. You can currently use GitHub for free if your project’s code is public, and the company sells the ability to create private repositories. As far as I’m aware it’s never turned a profit.

I’ve seen lots of reactions to the Microsoft acquistion news, but one of the more insightful posts comes from Louis-Philippe Véronneau. Like me, he doesn’t trust Microsoft at all.

Some people might be fine with Microsoft’s takeover, but to me it’s the straw that breaks the camel’s back. For a few years now, MS has been running a large marketing campaign on how they love Linux and suddenly decided to embrace Free Software in all of its forms. More like MS BS to me.

Let us take a moment to remind ourselves that:

  • Windows is still a huge proprietary monster that rips billions of people from their privacy and rights every day.
  • Microsoft is known for spreading FUD about “the dangers” of Free Software in order to keep governments and schools from dropping Windows in favor of FOSS.
  • To secure their monopoly, Microsoft hooks up kids on Windows by giving out “free” licences to primary schools around the world. Drug dealers use the same tactics and give out free samples to secure new clients.
  • Microsoft’s Azure platform – even though it can run Linux VMs – is still a giant proprietary hypervisor.


I’m thankful that we’re now starting the MoodleNet project in a post-GDPR and post-GitHub world. We’ll be using GitLab — initially via their hosted service, but longer-term as a self-hosted solution — and as many open-source products and services as possible.

Interestingly, Véronneau notes that you can use Debian’s infrastructure (terms) or RiseUp’s infrastructure (terms) if your project aligns with their ethos.

Source: Louis-Philippe Véronneau