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07.16.07

OSI General Counsel Says Companies Should Prepare for GPLv3

Posted in Free/Libre Software, GPL, Quote at 10:14 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Let’s hope that Matt Aslett won’t mind us borrowing this valuable quote from his scoop.

Radcliffe [general counsel, pro bono, for the Open Source Initiative] concludes:

“I believe that the GPLv3 is a very valuable addition to FOSS licenses and solves many of the challenges faced by GPLv2. Companies distributing FOSS should consider it and companies using FOSS should be prepared, in most cases, to accept it.”

There are some wishful-thinking claims that GPLv3 adoption is slow, but these claims are increasingly being dismissed. Some GNU software is not GPLv3-licensed yet, but the move is inevitable. It’s a classic example of preparation. Intent to upgrade includes over 5,000 projects so far. The change cannot be applied and completed overnight though.

The OOXML Translator is a Hoax (and so is the ISO)

Posted in Deception, Europe, Formats, ISO, Microsoft, Open XML, OpenDocument, Standard at 7:38 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

As you already know, 4 Linux companies chose a bizarre route where so-called ‘interoperability’ is achieved not through unified standards. In the following new article, their whole hypothesis is being shattered to pieces.

Microsoft maintains that while it would have been easy to support the Open Document Format (ODF) natively, it had to move to MS-OOXML because this was the only way for them to offer the full features of its office suite. But if Microsoft itself is not able to represent its internal data structures in the Open Document Format (ODF) in its Microsoft Office suite, how could an external conversion program from MS-OOXML accomplish this task? The answer to both questions is that it is not possible because two things cannot be the same and different at the same time.

Some time ago we criticised the ISO in a series of posts. The closer you look at it, the more justified our suspicions seem. A Groklaw member points to some items in Portuguese, then providing translations and explanation. On the face of it, some iffy thing — or shall we call it “corruption” — can easily be spotted.

To quote from News Picks: Portugal’s ISO says no room for IBM & Sun in the room ! ?

[PJ: OpenXML.info is reporting (in Portuguese, but a Groklaw member translates for us) that the person who is head of the ISO technical committee about to vote on Microsoft's Ecma-376 wouldn't let IBM and Sun representatives in, claiming there was no room! This, if true, is ridiculous. And here is a second source reporting the same thing, also in Portuguese. So in the US, we hear reports of packing the TC. Now, it's weeding out those who are not likely to vote a certain way desired? Is this how standards get "approved"? I don't recall ODF having to play such games. Here is the rough translation:]

Portugal, and more concretely, its national organization of certification IPQ is a member “O” (observator) of ISO/IEC for the voting of OOXML (ISO DIS 29500).

WARNING: the first meeting of the Technical Commission “Language for document definition” was on Monday 16 of July. The vote was delayed. Representatives of IBM and Sun were not allowed to attend because there “was no available space in the room”

Dear G [Sun Microsystems] due of restricted number of members of the CT (Commissao Tecnica) that can attend the scheduled meeting room to host the meeting, we cannot, in this stage, accept your proposal of integration of the CT.

With my best regards,
D [Microsoft as president of the Technical Commission]

Then came this update.

More on Portugal and MS’s role in approving its own “standard”

More details are emerging from Portugal regarding the kerfuffle there over Ecma-376. If you read Portuguese, here you go — just click on the link. I asked a Groklaw member to do a rough translation, and if you see ways to improve it, sing out, but it gives a bit of the history of how this committee that has no room for Sun or IBM (see previous News Picks item) was formed and how it happened to choose a Microsoft representative to be president of the committee that decides whether to “approve” Microsoft’s submission as a “standard”. Unless I’m missing something, it appears to have been set up so Microsoft can “approve” itself. Now that’s handy. Here’s the translation of the part about how Microsoft is represented on this committeee with no room for IBM or Sun:]

I was present on the meeting of the Technical Commission (CT) created to award the ISO standards in the area of structured documents (in Portugal)

A Technical Commission (CT) did not exist when ISO 26300 (Open Document) was submitted neither when there was a submission of OOXML (ECMA 376, potential ISO 29500) for the the fast track, and that was the reason why Portugal did not submit any opinion nor had any right to vote. We expect that now, with the pressure made and the CT created there would be right to vote.

The CT was created by the Computing Institute, in which is delegated the responsability for the norms of the IT sector; a delegation granted by the Portuguese Institute of Quality (IPQ), the point of contact of ISO in Portugal. Its creation is motivated mainly by the pressures and availability of some people when the proposal for fast tracking of OOXML and a neccessity to avail now the OOXML as standard ISO and as a Portuguese National Standard

In the meeting they were present:

  • 2 persons from II (Instituto de Informatica [Computing Institute])
  • 1 person from the local government (Alentejo
    region)
  • 1 person from Jurinfor [Jurinfor is a Microsoft partner]
  • 2 persons from Microsoft
  • 1 person from Primavera [Primavera is a Microsoft partner]
  • 1 person from ISCTE
  • 2 persons from Assoft [reportedly, most members of ASSOFT are Microsoft partners]
  • 1 person from the Inst. Informatica da Seg Social [Computing Institute of the Social Welfare Department]
  • 1 person from the Inst. Tecn. Informacao da Justiça (eu) [Technical Institute Information of Justice (eu)]

The meeting dealt basically with the bureaucracy details of the creation of the CT. It didn’t go into details of OOXML; that discussion will be held in the next meeting, on July 16th about 14:30 in the II [Instituto de Informatica, I assume]

The CT, thus, was composed of 8 vocal elements, one representative for each of the organizations present. The II [Instituto de Informatica] is arranging and hosting the initiative and is a not-named representative.

The 8 vocals will readily follow to the election of the president of the CT. There was 1 candidate in the place (Miguel Sales Dias, from Microsoft). I did not present my candidature but made myself available in case the rest of representatives deemed it neccesary — informed not adequate since to begin with, as a member of the OpenDocument Alliance, I had a conflict of interest.

The vote results were 7 votes in favor of Miguel Sales Dias, of Microsoft, who was designated to preside over the CT, and a (1) blank vote.

It was decided to adopt consensus as the form of adoption of any proposed norm, following to majority vote in case there is no consensus in the CT and if there is a strong opposition to submit any norm.

We must not let such information go unnoticed (yes, I quoted this verbatim and in full, but PJ would not mind because we’ve been working on News Picks for a very long time). Only yesterday we witnessed another case where Microsoft and its partners overwhelm and stuff ballots. This is no justice.

As significantly, Rob reports that a very dramatic increase in the membership of V1 was observed in the months leading up to the vote – most of whom were coincidentally were representatives of Microsoft business partners, and the great majority of whom voted as a block in favor of advancing the specification in a manner that would permit, and against any vote that would prevent, final approval as an ISO/IEC standard.

Has Open-Xchange Given Up on Novell?

Posted in GNU/Linux, Novell, Servers, SLES/SLED, Ubuntu at 6:28 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

A few weeks ago we mentioned Open-Xchange, which was flirting with Novell again. This came after Novell seemingly betrayed them, along with the rest of the Linux world (follow the links for context). Yesterday I noticed that Open-Xchange had chosen Ubuntu Linux as its platform, not SUSE. There is finally a little more information about this:

Second, and extremely interesting to me, Express Edition runs on Ubuntu. Why does this matter? Well, for one thing it shows Ubuntu’s stablity and performance. But on an even more interesting note, take a look at Open-Xchange’s management team, and in particular its CTO, Jürgen Geck. You might remember that he was the CTO at Suse….Or check out Open-Xchange’s co-founder and EVP of engineering, Martin Kauss. Yep, he was a Suse guy before, too. The list goes on….

Let this inspire you. I am aware of at least two people who explicitly attributed their digital departure from Novell to information posted in this Web site.

More on Open-Xchange: recent review, recent GPL embrace.

Mono Cleanup: Work in Progress (Updated)

Posted in Europe, Microsoft, Novell, Patents, Red Hat, Ubuntu at 5:52 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Let us just call it a “cleanup”, not a “quarantine”. As we have said many times before, Mono is dangerous to the future of Free software (listen to this audio clip from Bruce Perens if you are not convinced). A friend of mine has just made some progress on ‘cleaning up’ of Linux distributions, starting with Gobuntu (Fedora, which he maintains, is next up).

From the Gobuntu Wiki:

Name of Software

Submitter

Cause of Submit

Gstreamer

F4l3

patents

Linuxsampler

F4l3

[...]

Mono

KeithGRobertsonTurner

patent encumbered with untrustworthy RAND clause from Microsoft

Mono dependants (ex. Beagle)

KeithGRobertsonTurner

Audit requiredt

Nvidia-xconfig

F4l3

used for configuring non-free drivers

Samba

F4l3

patents, reverse engineering

Vlc

F4l3

patents

From another friend:

After a brief search, I found that mono provides Microsoft .Net capability in Linux.

Thus I agree with you both. Microsoft by doing so is trying to establish itself as a standard by getting Linux ISV’s to support .Net.

We saw what happened when Linux supported SMB (Samba). Microsoft changed the goal post and AFAIK inhibited Linux servers from being the primary domain controller. This locked in a Microsoft server, which kept one from developing an independent Linux server environment, breaking co-existence with Microsoft desktop clients.

I would like to see a break away from the Microsoft paradigm once and for all.

Speaking of patent-encumbered technology, the New Work Times has published an article which says that patents do not pay off. FUD as a factor aside, return on revenue does not outweigh the spendings

For most public companies, patents don’t pay off, say a couple of researchers who have crunched the numbers.

The Inquirer has a new short piece on IBM and patents in Europe.

The EIOP is a bit more friendly to the open saucers and the anti-software patent campaigners such as the FFII and the Green Alliance.

Kappos said that the reason for this is that these groups are indicative of trends within the software industry towards open innovation and collaborative development.

Update: there is a lot more about IBM patents and Europe here.

Interoperability is Not Open Standards

Posted in America, Interoperability, ISO, Microsoft, Novell, Open XML, OpenDocument, Red Hat, Standard at 5:36 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Novell could have relied only on open standards for server communication, exchange of documents, and so forth. Instead, Novell settled for translation, access to closed source code, patent covenants, and secret formats. It chose a greedy mind’s route, which involves exchange of money for an access approach that does not properly isolate formats from applications. Platform gaps remain.

This ongoing debate comes to show the difference in mentality at Red Hat and Novell, to use just one example. It inspired me to write a short article on the importance of a single, unified, vendor-independent format. I decided to address the importance of standards in migration to Linux. This is a very hot debate these days. Its relevance is likely to culminate and end next week. Massachusetts decides on document standards on Friday.

Meanwhile, Rob Weir tells us that OOXML has suffered a setback.

On Friday July 13th, INCITS V1 met via teleconference for 3 hours but failed to reach a 2/3 consensus necessary to recommend an “Approval, with comments” position on Microsoft “Office Open XML” (OOXML) document specification.

More on this in Andy Updegrove’s standards blog.

As significantly, Rob reports that a very dramatic increase in the membership of V1 was observed in the months leading up to the vote – most of whom were coincidentally were representatives of Microsoft business partners, and the great majority of whom voted as a block in favor of advancing the specification in a manner that would permit, and against any vote that would prevent, final approval as an ISO/IEC standard.

There have been other cases where Microsoft sent its own people to overwhelm committees or stuff the ballots.

Antitrust Trailer and Making Money from Rivals’ Sales

Posted in Antitrust, Finance, Microsoft, Videos at 5:35 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

I’ve just noticed that the Antitrust trailer was recently uploaded to YouTube. It’s a little off topic, but have a quick look.

This trailer contains some striking resemblances that are possibly deliberate. Also see this full antitrust documentary which isn’t the work of fiction or a tale. It happens to talk about Microsoft, but it also talks about tactics where a company collects revenue from sales made by its direct competitor. It happens to be history’s lesson and that sad history appears to be repeating itself.

Are (re)oganisational remedies looming? MarketWatch suggests this might be imminent and inevitable due to complexity, not just antitrust concerns.

GPLv3 Doubts are Fear of Free Software Adoption, Not Ethics and Pragmatism

Posted in Deception, FUD, GPL, Microsoft at 1:18 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Love it or hate it, GPLv3 adoption grows quickly.

One week after Palamida reported a rather sluggish start to GPLv3 adoption, we’re up 41% and growing quickly. This could represent 10% of all active open source projets.

The statements above comes from someone whom I consider to be a victim of FUD and disinformation, courtesy of Microsoft lobbyists.

Over at ITWire, fear of GPLv3 adoption, not GPLv3 itself is blamed for all the skpeticism.

I’ve even seen a few “surveys” – you know the kind which the author refers to as “a quick survey.” It reminds me of a man I worked with in the Middle East; whenever he wanted to bolster his reports with a bit of vox pop, he would resort to citing a “quick survey among taxi-drivers in …..”

Of course, he was always the person who had done the survey though he never mentioned it.

There’s one thing driving this kind of talk.

Fear.

You may still recall Microsoft’s quietly-sponsored research on GPLv3 adoption or even the Yankee Group’s ‘studies’. Many surveys that involve the GPL were actually conducted by (or for) a company that says it is no party to the GPL. That ought to make us pause and think.

Joyent has just released its Connector and Slingshot source code and chose the GPL licence. Programmers can apparently think for themselves.

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