06.29.07

The Ill Effects of Software Patents on Font Rendering

Posted in Debian, Novell, Patents, Ubuntu at 9:21 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

We recently spoke about proprietary and/or patent-encumbered software, including fonts and their rendering. We discussed a particular controversy and later pointed out that proprietary software may be included in out-of-the-box Opensuse.

Because there was a lot of unwanted noise over Truetype and Novell at at the time, perhaps it is worth quoting part of a new interview with a Freetype developer.

[Q:] If the patent owner of hinting gives the Freetype project a free license, would you accept it?

David Turner [of Freetype]: It really depends on the terms of this “free license”. Basically if it means the patent can not be freely re-licensed to other people, I really don’t see why I would find that useful. If you absolutely need the bytecode interpreter, you can be patient and wait for October 9, 2009, when the patents expire.

[...]

There is no clear answer as to what is best. Personally, I can’t stand native TrueType hinted fonts anymore, they look too distorted to me, even if their contrast is better. My favorite Linux distribution is Ubuntu at the moment, and the first thing I do after installing it is to wipe the version of FreeType provided with it to get rid of the bytecode interpreter :o)

Also, I still don’t understand why Debian and Ubuntu keep distributing patent-infringing code in FreeType, while they keep MP3 and DVD playback out of their normal installs. I’m not even sure it’s DFSG compliant…

Is anybody else getting the feeling that a patent reform or overhaul is desperately needed?

ECMA, Microsoft, and Linspire-sponsored Mail Give More Reasons to Give the Boot (Updated)

Posted in Linspire, Microsoft, Novell, Office Suites, Open XML, OpenDocument, Xandros at 8:02 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Andy Updegrove has some nasty new details to share with his readers. On the face of it, all the negative speculations are now being confirmed.

…it indicates a desire by Microsoft to institutionalize and expand a perpetual, standardized environment that would surround a single vendor’s products. This would inevitably serve, as Microsoft would of course intend, to extend its monopoly position into the indefinite future. The result would be to continue to stifle innovation and competition at the office productivity suite product level as well (consider the flowering of diverse products that have sprung up since ODF gave hope of actual competition to multiple proprietary and open source ISVs). Microsoft has stated before that the submission of OOXML to Ecma did not mean that anyone could clone Office without being sued for infringement – just that it would be easier for people to work with it. No such flowering will ever likely exist around OOXML, given Microsoft’s enormous lead in products based upon that format.

Remember some of the most recent developments. Microsoft’s deals with Linux vendors have them support these actions. They have to. There is a contract. Never mind the fact that Microsoft lies and deceives. Never mind that it wants to protect its monopoly from Free software. It is not surprising that Linux users disengage their relationships with Linux companies that joined hands with Microsoft.

Update: there is more on this subject here. On the face of it, OOXML was only the beginning. Microsoft’s plan is to control and ‘extend’ replacements for PDF, JPEG, Flash, and probably HTML as we know it. Patents will even allow Microsoft to sue or to tax those that ‘dare’ to implement software supporting those ‘standards’, which are the work of just a single company that never sought consensus.

Do-No-Evil Saturday: Opensuse Does Well and Novell Goes Deeper into Identity Management

Posted in GNU/Linux, Identity Management, Marketing, Novell, OpenSUSE, Red Hat, Videos at 7:20 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

It’s that time of the week again. Indeed, Novell is not evil, so the tone will be changed to give a rare praise.

Opensuse developers are apparently working on an attractive graphical front end which enables creation of customised Live CDs.

The module is in very early stage of development, but it clearly shows the promise of making system imaging approachable to everyday.

It would be nice to see it matching the capabilities of a similar feature that can be found in PCLOS 2007.

The next step would be to be able to create system snapshots out of an existing machine – PCLinuxOS supports this with the help of a Debian script afaik. That makes it even easier to distribute specific, dedicated appliances.

Red Hat boasts similar features as well.

Fedora 7 hits the streets on May 31st. One of the most exciting features of the Fedora 7 release is the fact that users can remix the Fedora code in any variety of ways. Tools are provided that allow the user to build either a customized LiveCD or installable ISO, and to reach out to any 3rd-party RPM repositories and pull in packages from them at compose time.

Here is yet another good review of Opensuse.

Overall, openSUSE 10.2 is great to use and feels as though it runs faster than any other distribution on my laptop. I would highly recommend using 10.2 for Linux beginners or people looking for a great out-of-the-box operating system, even though it does require minimal accompanying downloads. For advanced users, I think that openSUSE should be given a chance and I think many power users are watching the release of 10.3 very closely. I never seem to hear details about KDE 4 without at least a mention of openSUSE 10.3.

Do remember that our anger and frustration are directed at Novell’s management, not the various developers. Some come-and-go (or “hit-and-run” rather) readers apparently fail to see this. Association and affiliation lead to misinterpretation and inference.

Nat Friendman announced SUSE Hack Week on Monday. Here is a new video from Prague’s Hack Week.

Also at the beginning of the week, a couple of articles on virtualisation were published. Novell’s participation was included in a separate article.

Later in the week, Novell mentioned some video highlights that you might wish to watch. Novell also talked about development methods and geography issues, with particular emphasis on Asia. This was quite insightful. Of particular interest was the following bit:

“Software engineering is an art, it’s a fundamentally different mindset to software manufacturing.”

Towards the end of the week, Novell unleashed a few press releases that boasted its cross-platform identity management software.

By making this type of technology available to Linux and Macintosh users, DigitalMe is helping accelerate the adoption of this user-centric approach.

There is also this one:

Interoperable, cross-platform Information Cards provide a much needed open identity framework that is both transparent and expedient for web users,” said Dale Olds, distinguished engineer and Bandit Project leader at Novell. “Sxip Access support of DigitalMe is a major step forward in security and ease of use for on-demand applications.

And this:

SailPoint Technologies today announced the first standards-based integration linking its identity risk management solution with Novell’s identity and security solutions.

More ZENworks raves were soon to follow, but all these raves from Novell were possibly overshadowed at this point. Why? Because Red Hat released its encouraging financial figures.

Mystifying Words from Red Hat’s CEO

Posted in Finance, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Patents, Red Hat, Servers at 9:33 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

In a new article, Red Hat’s CEO has some curious words to share:

Microsoft recently disclosed that it has 235 patents that “read” on open source technology, but has not identified which patents the Linux kernel allegedly infringes upon. “We continue and invite the opportunity to participate with Microsoft around standards and about improving the customer relationship and experience of being able to operate successfully within a heterogeneous environment,” Red Hat CEO Matthew Szulik said in response to a question about dealing with Microsoft about patents. “For us, it’s less religious and more importantly about how do we create a win-win for the customer. Our position hasn’t moved and it’s been the same for as long as I’ve been at Red Hat.”

This one, for a change, does not come second-handed from Jim Finkle. What do you reckon is going on here? This may be very subtle, but is Red Hat softening? Has last week’s stance changed? Please call me a paranoid. The context of this article is purely financial.

GPLv3 Released Today, Early Support Already Gained (Updatedx2)

Posted in Free/Libre Software, FSF, GNU/Linux, GPL, Kernel, Law, Novell at 12:07 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

As you probably know by now, today is an important day for the GNU General Public Licence. For many years, this extremely popular software licence has neither changed nor evolved. Amendments have since then been made to protect the software from new phenomena and new strategies that exploit loopholes. An upgrade is required, however, in order for these amendments to take effect.

Despite an awful lot of noise (Microsoft is behind a lot of it, albeit the company usually recruits proxies and invites its lobbying arms), support for the new licence is fairly strong, based on an independent poll. In addition, the licence has earned the blessing of and won approval that includes big names such as Google and Alan Cox. Eben Moglen confidently said that wide adoption of GPLv3 is expected.

According to this Web new site, many projects are already committed to this upgrade. You might be surprised to see the numbers.

Number of projects indicating intent to adopt GPL v3: 5,509

Bob Sutor gives a nice introduction that explains the great importance of the new licence.

FOSS [Free Open Source Software] would die if it were to be rigid, uncompromising, and did not reflect the needs of the community and the end users who are employing the software at an increasing rate. GPL v3 and the process that created it reflect the continued process of rebirth and intellectual progress necessary to sustain growth for FOSS.

It is particularly important to stress that Novell and its accomplices are true dangers to the long-term growth of FOSS. These companies only care about their own short-term benefits and expect their suppliers (programmers) to deliver code while they perish and get forced to pay for ‘taxable’ and restricted Free software.

Here is a a short video teaser where Eben Moglen explains why GPLv2 loopholes need to be closed.

The new licence sometimes involves compromises. Nobody likes change, especially when it’s poorly understood. However, for the prospects of digital freedom, one needs to consider the long-term benefits. Even Sun Microsystems, which once thrived in proprietary legacy, is seriously considering this new licence. The Linux kernel is being pressured to follow suit.

Update: it seems as though some core parts of GNU/Linux distributions adopt GPLv3 immediately.

On the day of release, a group of more than 15 open source projects will release their software under the new licence, Brett Smith, a licensing compliance engineer with the FSF, told vnunet.com.

Update #2: Novell refused to comment on GPLv3 a few days ago, but it has just released a statement.

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