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Do-No-Evil Saturday: A Look at the Latest OpenSUSE Alpha and Other Novell Products

Posted in Identity Management, Marketing, NetWare, Novell, OpenSUSE, SLES/SLED, Virtualisation at 7:31 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

This is another post in our weekly friendly chain.

OpenSUSE shows signs of progress. There is finally a central point for community news.

news.opensuse.org, an OpenSuse dedicated news portal went online these days.

Michael Larabel had a quick look at the latest alpha of OpenSUSE.

Yesterday’s release of OpenSuSE 10.3 Alpha 6 marks the first time there is a single installation CD for OpenSuSE, but also added in this development build is the Linux 2.6.22 kernel, GCC 4.2, and other updated packages.

TuxMachines had a closer look, but was not impressed by what it had found.

All told this release is kinda broken, but it is an alpha. You have to break a few eggs to make a souffl’e, and hopefully it won’t fall next release. This is the first release for which Coolo took responsibility, but he came along late in the game. Let’s hang this one on Andreas. (jk) Actually, Coolo is said to have stated that this is the first alpha to feel like an alpha. Well, I don’t know about that.

Shortly afterwards, Liquidat countered.

But there is plenty of time till the final OpenSuse 10.3 release, so these will be gone by then.

Anyway, it is very nice to see OpenSuse coming back to its feet again in regards of software management. Together with the Build Service there is really big potential in OpenSuse’s future!

Novell’s management took the time to comment on Hack Week, which is a company-backed and community-driven initiative. It strives to involve the community a little bit more in the future, according to Nat Friedman’s interview with Ars Technica.

For the first time that I can recall, the leading answer was of the form “nothing – it was perfect”. But there were also other helpful thoughts such as earlier notification for better planning and more community involvement.

Novell had its employee become the Chief Technology Officer (CTO) of the Linux Foundation where Ian Murdock’s seat had been left vacant.

Moving on to a less Linux-oriented Novell…

Despite some new flaws, one schools district expressed satisfaction with the product.

District technology services is in the process of updating and combining two e-mail systems used by the staff members, faculty and administrators. They will take the e-mail systems and transfer use to one called Novell’s GroupWise.

GroupWise has worked with the district for more than 12 years.

VOTE: 5-0

Moonwalk and Novell’s Netware were mentioned in the following article.

Moonwalk Inc., the Australian developer of all-inclusive data protection and management software, announced today that the Luton and Dunstable Hospital NHS Foundation Trust (the L&D), in Luton, UK, has deployed Moonwalk software as an information management solution for their Novell Netware environment.

Even with a better product, Novell was unable to market itself successfully, according to ServerWatch.

In the days of Windows NT 4, Microsoft introduced NT Directory Services in an effort to play catch-up to the established Novell Directory Services, a part of the NetWare networking suite. Administrators found NT Directory Services wanting, particularly in comparison to the sophistication — for the time — that Novell’s product offered. NT, for example, scaled poorly and quickly became cumbersome under the weight of a midsize organization’s needs. NT also suffered from a single point of failure vulnerability, which included a limited set of directory objects that were not extendable, lacked hierarchies and was unable to provide granular levels of authority.

Some bits on Novell Identity Manager were discussed in another context.

Novell Identity Manager 3.5 provides pre-configured workflow and provisioning tools to address the specific needs mandated by HSPD-12.

Finally, here is an audiocast with Novell staff. It is centered around virtualisation.

In this IT Link podcast Mike Vizard talks with Joe Wagner, senior vice president and general manager for systems and resources management for Novell, about adoption rates of virtualization in the enterprise.

The Microsoft OOXML ‘Corruption Train’ Reaches Denmark (Updatedx2)

Posted in Deception, Europe, Formats, ISO, Microsoft, Open XML at 6:38 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Yesterday we mentioned Spain and Portugal. Next stop: Denmark. Groklaw has the translation.

[PJ: The link takes you to an article in Danish, and Robin Theander was kind enough to translate a bit of it for us. Note that the article lists the members of the committee in Denmark that will be voting on OOXML and puts a star next to all those who are Microsoft partners -- 17 out of the total 31:]

A committee from Danish Standardisation is going to decide whether to recommend a Microsoft standard as an open standard internationally. A majority in the committee have close connections to Microsoft, however….17 out of the 31 members in the committee are so called Microsoft partners….The European interest organisation Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure accuses Microsoft of influencing the decision process by asking partners to join the national decision committee.

Here is the article in Danish.

Update: Groklaw followed up with an update/correction that is important.

[PJ: Again in Danish, but Groklaw's Karl E. Jorgensen translates for us what appears to be a foregone conclusion based on inaccurate information. And the public discussion period there is over:]

When Danish civil servants from 2008 click their way through the spreadsheet or text document, the programs on the PC must build on an open standard. This does not necessarily mean that Excel and Word are rejected in favour of open source software. Because at the same time, ECMA’s document standard OO XML is on its way as an open ISO standard….

“When the Open XML standard now comes up for public review in 30 countries, it is a good example of how an open standard is created. Everbody can comment on the draft standard, and then it is the task of the standards organistations to ensure the biggest possible concensous about the final standard, which subsequently can be accessed and used by everybody” says Pia Elleby Lange, Center Manager at Dansk Standard.


Update #2: it is also worth sharing the following new article. As it clearly shows, outside the United States, things seem brighter for ODF and its derivatives.

While the US is an important member of the ISO, it is still only one of many member nations, most of which are in the process of finalizing their own decisions on the bid. The general trend among non-US countries is for rejection of the Office Open XML fast-track proposal, with many nations voicing objections to the process and some to the file format itself.

Stafford Masie to Join Google

Posted in Google, Novell at 5:46 pm by Shane Coyle

Well, this caught me as a surprise, but according to Tectonic Stafford Masie – Novell’s South Africa Country Manager, and the brave soul who appeared at the CITI forum and Q&A shortly after the announcement of the Microvell deal, is leaving for Google.

As is customary, Stafford cannot or will not make any comments prior to his official departure from Novell. Google is, in my mind, a step up in terms of prestige and I would like to congratulate Stafford Masie and wish him success, and thank him for the source of some of my favorite postings.

My Stafford Masie Greatest Hits List

Microsoft is Outmuscling OOXML Opposition in Spain (Updatedx3)

Posted in Europe, ISO, Microsoft, Open XML, OpenDocument, Patents at 6:34 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

I have been receiving some information which truly troubles one’s mind. Expect premature publication. I will possibly modify this post as I go along and properly digest what I am reading and hearing.

On the face of it, Microsoft’s manipulation in Spain knows no bounds. The reader who sent a load of information wishes to remain anonymous. I will quote fragments of his explanations and comment where it is needed.

I am forwarding this information from the Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure (ffii.org) in order to make you know of the current intents of Microsoft in Spain of forcing a favourable vote for MSOOXML to become an ISO standard. All these maneuvers are coordinated and are starting to seem way disgusting to me.

The following is a letter from FFII, which the VC encourages the sharing of.

From FFII:

The Andalusian Government has reported recently the manipulation of Microsoft in the National Technical Committee 71 of AENOR. On July 10th, just the day before the one and only meeting of AENOR to study DIS 29500 and vote on it, Microsoft announced officially (via the secretary of the Committee) that that Andalusian Government and several other Spanish public entities were asking for the approval of ISO DIS 29500 (what finally resulted all a fake!).

Once aware of “its” fake backing to DIS 29500, the official (reply) letter of the Andalusian Government to the Ministry of Industry, the holder of AENOR national standardisation body, is quite strong in terms of diplomacy and ask for notification and an explanation of how is it possible that that situation happens on an “as important and wide standardization process”.

Indeed, both, the initial letter and the denounce letter, remark that Andalusia already have decided that their electronic document standard format is already stablished on ISO 26300.

I’ve just been awared that all this has been made public in an anonymous denounce to a lawyers association in Spain that collects the denounces against the abuse of software monopolies in Spanish public administrations. They have certified the originality of all the reported original documents attached to the disclosing report:

[original documents are linked in this link pointing to the denounce]

All this happened one and two weeks ago or so, but unfortunately was under confidentiality terms… until now that has been disclosed by Neutralidad.es.

Andalusia is the biggest region of Spain with 8 mio. inhabitants and its Government manages the biggest public budget of the country. Andalusia is well known also because has opted clearly for free software as a way to develop its growing IT industry. Andalusian region is currently one of the biggest users of free software in world with more than 200.000 clients running only Guadalinex (a well known local Ubuntu linux flavour) in education and more than 235.000 registered citizens in their public centers of IT rural alphabetization (access to Internet + daily training to population), apart of some other initiatives.

FFII Spain will try to translate all the referred documents to English as soon as possible.

Please, spread this all around and don’t hesitate to ask for more information or clarifications.

Sunny greetings from Andalusia,

Alberto Barrionuevo.
FFII Vice President

[IANAL disclaimer] I do not believe that I can publicly post the misleading letters Microsoft sent to the spanish ISO (AENOR) and the protest of the Government of Andalusia. However, here is the quick interpretation that is based on these letter.

The first one is a letter dated in January 2007 from the Andalucia Government CTO (The equivalent to Peter Quinn in Mass.) expressing interest for the standarization process and offering its support, advice and help to the technical committee, which states very clearly that ODF/ISO26300 is the standard of choice for the Government of Andalusia.

The second one dated in February is just a note that reminds to AENOR that the Ministry for Government Administration recommended that Microsoft submitted their format specifications to a international standards body or either that Microsoft compromised itself to publicly document and make available these specifications under non-discriminatory terms (these terms seems to be much different from Microsoft point of view and from the European Competition Commissioner, Neelie Kroes, and other Government institutions for example)

The third one is a letter from a manager of the department for geographical information of the Ministry of Public Infrastructures (Ministry of “Fomento”) that I think was misled to sign a letter that seems to be dictated by some Microsoft salesperson, since you can read the typical marketing nonsense on it.

This letter was portrayed by Microsoft as proof of official backing of the Ministry of Fomento to its MSOOXML format.

The fourth letter is the formal protest of the CTO of the Government of Andalusia asking the technical committee for rectification and for a explanation of the misrepresentation.

It seems disturbing to me how Microsoft tries to spin in its own benefit even letters that express strongly support for ISO 26300 It has also happened in the case of South Africa, which voted “NO”: In that case Jason Matusow said that, well, the committee was actually not supposed to vote and was not the adequate place to make a decision. The pattern seems clear in what Microsoft does with every response to their intents: If you get approval: air it well loud, otherwise spin (manipulate) it if you can get away with it so everyone thinks that Microsoft is getting approval. If otherwise there is disapproval of the standard, just dismiss it as if it was not the right or authoritative place. Expect a campaign of discredit against the ISO if they cannot get their desperately needed ISO 29500 standard. It just reminds me too much of the shady process to try to get software patents legislation approved EU-wide.

I have the four letter before me and while I cannot quote them verbatim, I can confirm that they align with the views expressed above. This post will be updated as we deem suitable.

Update: this partly (if not fully) overlaps a Groklaw article that we mentioned a couple of days ago. The discussions contained in Groklaw say a lot more, just in case anyone is willing to explore.

Update #2: catch up with the latest. According to Bob, IBM is being locked out of the panel discussions in Portugal.

In spite of various communications, we [IBM] are still locked out and will not be allowed to participate. Microsoft will be there, as well as a special Microsoft guest, as will various Microsoft business partners, and others.

What on earth is going on there? Join the discussions.

Update #3: I am told that we might be permitted to share these E-mails in the future, but only if they become public.

Technical Document on the Technical Merits of OpenDocument Format

Posted in America, Deception, Europe, Formats, FUD, Interoperability, Microsoft, Open XML, OpenDocument, Standard at 6:24 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Anonymous reader submits: “I read with concern one of your latest post about the FUD against ODF that is being spread by Microsoft shills, and about the article at LinuxWorld. In order to counter its ill-effects I am sending you a technical paper worth publishing in your site.

I just found this document in the United Nations UNDP Asia-Pacific Development Information Programme that might be of interest/useful to you:

Technical distinctions of ODF and OOXML [PDF]

This is a very interesting technical white paper written by Edward Macnaghten of the UK ODF Alliance Action Group and published by the United Nations IOSN that proves the problems that standardizing MSOOXML could bring. Specially interesting is the part from page 27 and on “Contradictions in OOXML”, which summarises both the blatant contradictions with existing ISO standards and the references to closed, patented and proprietary MSFT products and debunks every justifications Microsoft gives for it. And it does it from a strictly technical view, so no “political agenda” can be argued against the paper -although we know the motivations behind Microsoft forging its own fake standard are “political” i.e.:subverting ISO 26300 and its adoption by public and government bodies-. I think it is worth making everyone aware of the availability of this document.”

OSI and Microsoft: Open Source ‘Divide and Conquer’? (Updated)

Posted in Deals, Free/Libre Software, Law, Microsoft, Novell, Open XML, OSI at 5:01 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

A reader of our Web site, SubSónica, had some insightful thoughts to share. Some of the points raised therein are probably worth sharing in a separate, standalone post.

There is a certain concern that Microsoft’s OSI approach could further divide an already-fragile and already-divided community. Microsoft’s affairs with Novell may have put an end to what we once knew as OSDL.

Could Microsoft turn the open source community against itself simply through involvement? Could the term “Open Source” be further ‘diluted’ by the inclusion of a “Shared Source” licence, which might fall under the same umbrella of definitions? Last month I spotted an article that referred to “Shared Source” as “Open Source”, arguing that our ‘friend’ Mr. Hilf is actually spreading the open source message around Asia. This is far worse than Sun Microsystems’ work in this area.

If there is a parallel between the speculation made here and the Novell deal, then it is probably new deals such as this.

On the software side, Microsoft today announced a partnership with open source solution vendor SpikeSource to eventually certify all of SpikeSource’s SpikeIgnited solutions on the Microsoft Windows platform.

Remember deals with XenSource, Zend, among a few other companies that receive incentives from Microsoft in order to abolish and neglect Linux performance? Does this not remind you of Novell, which neglected ODF and began working on OOXML ‘translators’?

Updated: watch this article which reveals Microsoft’s true intentions.

When I really looked through Microsoft’s open-source Web site, it’s objectives became clearer: To convince IT managers that they can use open-source software side by side with Microsoft software….

The objective is seemingly about interoperability, but what Microsoft really wants is to prevent defections—customers replacing some of their software with open-source alternatives.

This is not news, but Microsoft now confirms this. It only uses “Open Source” when it suits it — to its favour. It’s nothing to do with an ideological change. Think of it as assimilation for proximity.

Bill Hilf and Microsoft’s ‘Terror Culture’

Posted in America, FUD, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Patents at 1:32 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Apparently, some people take pride in attacking Free software. With statements such aswe would like to strike similar patent deals with all the Linux vendors, but we had to start somewhere” or eventhe Free Software movement is dead. Linux doesn’t exist in 2007. Even Linus has got a job today,” Bill Hilf is no popular figure these days. In fact, in a very controversial fashion, Bill has just announced that Microsoft will soon invade ‘our side’ (“the Free World”, as they called it in Forbes Magazine) even further.

In his keynote at OSCON, Microsoft General Manager of Platform Strategy Bill Hilf announced that Microsoft is submitting its shared source licenses to the Open Source Initiative.

This will definitely corrupt the meaning and value of “Open Source” (if it passes). Have a look at this other observation made at OSCON:

What Will Change at Microsoft with Regard to F/OSS Patents

Hilf’s response was… priceless. “I get a lot of e-mail.” “People like to subscribe me to crazy newsletters and spam.”

So essentially, Bill escaped the question and actually admitted that he is loathed. This is by no means the first time that he angers the Linux community. There is reason to suspect that a lot of Microsoft’s recent anti-Linux strategy came from this man, who apparently replaced and inherited the place of Martin Taylor. Martin quit Microsoft last year, having spearheaded the anti-Linux propaganda (“Get the Facts” and all the rest). Propaganda and Big Lies aside, what is even worse is terrorisation.

Personally, I am getting a little fed up. I am not alone in assuming that Bill Hilf, along with the division that he manages, has resorted to nothing more than distortion, extortion, embrace-and-destroy strategies and — shall I say — corporate terrorism. I am not the only person to have come up with such as assessment. Here are a few articles that concur.

Microsoft, the art of Corporate Terrorism

Microsoft, no longer the technological leader in the Computer Desktop market, is taking on a terrorist role in its attempt remain in power at all costs.

Convicted Monopolist Terrorizes Software Industry

That headline is designed to grab your attention. Sensationalistic as it may be, it also happens to be true, if what you mean by ‘terrorize’ is to provoke fear.

Sun exec accuses Microsoft of ‘patent terrorism’

The efforts of Microsoft to pressure the Linux community over alleged and unspecified patents is akin to “patent terrorism”, according to a local executive for Sun Microsystems.

Well, of course it’s patent terrorism

Do not let yourself be terrorised and be aware that the RICO ACT might have validity here. But, who will ever challenge Microsoft in court? They also have the support of the American government. Selected citation follow (just to prove the point).

Decide for yourself if you are looking at an above-the-law monarchy or what has essentially become a ‘country’ within country.

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