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08.13.07

OpenDocument Format Wins in Malaysia

Posted in Asia, Formats, OpenDocument, Standard at 8:40 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

There is some great news coming from Asia.

The Malaysian government today announced plans to adopt open standards and the Open Document Format (ODF) within the country’s public sector.

[...]

In July this year, Japan became the first country in the Asia-Pacific region to embrace open software standards. Last August, the United Nations urged countries in the region to adopt the ODF.

This comes only a day after the following article was published to highlight the ill effects of non-standard formats.

“History is being made now,” she said. “There’s a great deal lost with the changes in technology. I am concerned about the loss of permanent records that’s happening every day.”

This served as an important eye opener, which was trailed by another interesting article.

In extrapolating the dangers posed by the continued use of Microsoft’s formats the expert cited issues that rescue workers faced in accessing records maintained by local government entities when aiding in the relief of victims of the 2004 tsunami in the Indian Ocean, in which an estimated 300,000 people were killed,.

Forbes Magazine spoke about this phenomenon last year.

Alexander Rose, the executive director of the futurist Long Now Foundation, worries about the impermanence of digital information. “If you save that computer for 100 years, will the electrical plugs look the same?” he asks. “The Mac or the PC–will they be around? If they are, what about the software? ” So far there’s no business case for digital preservation–in fact, for software makers like Microsoft, planned obsolescence is the plan.

“The reality is that it’s in companies’ interest that software should become obsolete and that you should have to buy every upgrade,” Rose says. We could be on the cusp of a turning point, though, in the way businesses and their customers think about digital preservation. “Things will start to change when people start losing all of their personal photos,” Rose said.

Huge Transition to GPLv3

Posted in Free/Libre Software, FSF, GPL at 8:16 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Palamida has been keeping track of the adoption of GPLv3. According to the latest findings, over 50 percent of those active projects which are identified as GPL licensed will have upgraded to the GPLv3. The big change occurred in the past month alone. Congratulation! Microsoft’s poisoning attempts were not successful.

From Palamida:

1. Or later – 4708 of 9082 projected – 52%
2. LGPLv3 – 30 of 723 projected – 4%
3. GPLv3 – 5100 of 13078 projected – 39%
4. GPL, not converted – 5086 projected (GPL projects times (100% – 72% convert rate))
5. Non GPL license – 3722 projected (Active projects – (Active GPL projects + not converted))

All this in one month.

So, what is the summary?

Adoption and projects released under GPLv3 are as expected. The part that is often overlooked is the long standing impact of the “or later” clause, initially put into effect more than a decade ago as part of the language surrounding the GPLv2 License, or later, at the time and now, common among GPL licensed projects. This clause in effect guaranteed a wide spread “potential” of adoption of the license the day it was released.

GNU/Linux is Not Being Divided, But the ‘Extended Family’ Fractures to Alienate Its Foes

Posted in Database, Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Intellectual Monopoly, Linspire, Microsoft, Novell, OpenSUSE, SLES/SLED at 5:39 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Linux was never being divided into camps. Linux had freeloaders with a proprietary mindset enter its community. It is time for them to change their agenda or depart.

There appears to be growing tension between the Free software side of the fence and those who want to commercialise it while accepting compromises. Commercialisation is of course no sin. In fact, it’s a necessity in order for projects to thrive. The question is, how will freedoms be lost (if at all) in the process of monetisation. A recent minor move made by MySQL, which is already worth some obscene amounts of money, led to a storm in a teacup.

One of the challenges open source companies have is that you serve two distinct markets: your customers as well as non-paying community users. Paradoxically, the non-paying users can be the most vocal and demanding.

MySQL did not violate any of the rules, but its move symbolised a trend where Free software is made less convenient to access and/or use. OpenSUSE is still different from SLED, so there is a similar example at Novell.

There is another new essay that is worth mentioning.

No matter how hard we try to down play it, the patent threats and deals that are being made because of them are hurting the community – it’s a simple fact. The real trick will be to see who sticks this out and who falls back to closed source alternatives, as we see Linux getting split with IP politics.

The gist of it all: Microsoft divides the community. The only other alternatives is to blend and to accept Microsoft’s new rules, imposed through the Novell deal which Microsoft paid a lot of money to make a reality. The vocation of the Open Source Initiative is not more encouraging.

If we don’t stand up for our freedoms, these freedoms will soon be lost to those who are willing to throw money to eliminate them. It’s sad, but it’s true. Is the community divided? Not the Linux community, but only the ‘extended family’ that includes those who wish to exploit or destroy Linux. Microsoft wants to be part of this extended Linux family, but it will never truly belong due to malice. To quote Groklaw:

Mr. Carmony [of Linspire] asked a question, will Linux split in two factions? The answer is no. Some Linux distros will limp along a while and then die off, because they misunderstood what folks want when they choose GNU/Linux and FOSS. You can see that already. Red Hat, which refused to sign any such deal, is flourishing, for example. It’s not about code that “just works”. Apple offers that already. It’s the freedom. And we’ve proven willing to put up with some temporary frustration in order to get it. In time, FOSS will win, and all those proprietary codecs and everything else will be made available on pleasanter terms, because market share does that.

SCO’s Stock Drops Like a Rock, Novell Gains

Posted in Finance, Novell, SCO, UNIX at 5:08 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The market opened after a long week of misery for SCO. There is also a public statement. Here is the reaction from Groklaw.

“It’s just a flesh wound.” [says SCO] Here’s what I think they should say: “Sorry, everybody, that we caused so much trouble by claiming we owned copyrights we had every reason to know we didn’t own. Our bad. And sorry about all the shills. And sorry about that slander thing. And if your company lost business or your reputation was damaged, we are truly sorry. And I guess what SCO wants, it doesn’t get after all.” Oh, and check the ruling to note where SCO’s version diverges from what the judge wrote.

If you watch the stock now, you’ll find that it sank below 50 cents. Down to 0.44 dollar, or -1.12 (-71.79%). On the other hand, Novell stock rose.

Shares of Novell advanced 29 cents to $6.71 as of about about noon in trading on the Nasdaq Stock Market.

Another interesting observation to make is this:

SCO never owned UNIX copyrights, owes Novell 95 percent of UNIX royalties

[...]

According to Judge Kimball’s ruling, Microsoft paid SCO approximately $16 million for license rights and Sun paid approximately $10 million.

It remains to be seen what Novell does with this ownership in the future. There are some discouraging thoughts too.

Has Microsoft Crushed a ‘Windows Clone’ Competitor?

Posted in GNU/Linux, Linspire, Microsoft, Videos at 6:53 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

As the famous saying goes, rumours about one’s death are usually greatly exaggerated. However, given some of the recent developments at Linspire, one wonders if Microsoft has “tilted the company into the death spiral“. What is this ramble all about? Well, there is background to this malicious phrase.

Or let’s go back in time a bit and read the Caldera Statement of Facts in the DR DOS case, the section called FUD Drip Feed. That case settled prior to a court ruling, so keep that in mind as you read, but it was settled with money from Microsoft going to Caldera. A lot of money. You can read in the document numerous allegations of tricks Microsoft employed to make sure its competition was always a dollar short and a day late, such as by not providing them betas to work with in a timely manner. And here’s one of my favorite paragraphs:

32. The “death spiral” is somewhat of a term of art at Microsoft. On October 18, 1991, Mike Maples enquired of several executives: “I would like to ask you to invest half a day with me following Comdex. What I would like to brainstorm is how to push Excel over the top and Lotus out of business.” To which Silverberg replied: “I’d be glad to help tilt lotus into the death spiral. I could do it friday afternoon but not saturday.”… At a management conference in June 1992, one of the “6 Core Strategies to build share” included “Drive competitors into a death spiral,” complete with objectives and tactics. … Ironically, other discussion there focused on “Our Image” and how to overcome the industry perception of “Microslop,” “Microshaft,” and “Microsleaze.”

Microsoft is not known for peaceful coexistence. So, you will have to forgive us if some of us are allergic to Microsoft promises of cooperation and openness. There is some history here.

There is a new short review of Freespire and it is not very [L]inspiring.

I’ve been waiting for months for the release of Freespire 2.0. Over the past two years I’ve downloaded and tried many distros but had been saving the “best for last.”

Well, this ended up as more of a disappointment. What is more disappointing are the latest news from Linspire where an “exodus” is said to be taking place. The following short video clip says a thing or two about Microsoft’s classic strategy.

Enough is Enough. Novell is Becoming a Risk to Free/Libre Software.

Posted in GNU/Linux, Intellectual Monopoly, Linspire, Microsoft, Mono, Novell, Patent Covenant, Patents, Xandros at 6:33 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

With another patent troll out of the way, one must wonder if there are more to come. In recent years, whether we like it or not, many patents have been filed, most of which are probably duplicates of older patents. Some other are ‘inventions’ that have prior art which was never patented.

China is apparently among those which are most active when it comes to claiming ownership of ideas — something that each of us has a personal and unique view on.

China has seen a sharp increase in requests for patents, according to the UN’s intellectual property agency.

Regardless of our position on patents, irrespective of where we live and what patent laws we have, it seems like certain issues are here to stay. We can protest, but no rebellion is always fruitful. We must cope with the consequences in a reasonable fashion and never leave the door open to another SCO-esque trolling battle.

What seems worrisome to us are some of Novell’s recent moves. Novell’s customer get exemption for Mono, but no other Linux distributor has this ‘advantage’. Meanwhile, Novell continues to make GNOME Mono-dependent and it pushes the changes upstream. This means that GNOME-based distributions of GNU/Linux that have not got a Novell-like deal (Linspire and Xandros do not count here) are being put at risk. Single-handedly, Novell ‘poisons’ software that many distributors used to happily share.

A new interview that has just been published exemplifies the severity of the issue. Novell does not just accept Mono. As it promised a few months ago, it is actually funding it, thereby encouraging a transformation into a Windows-like Linux.

InfoQ: How is development of Beagle funded?

Joe Shaw: From the beginning Novell has funded at least one person full-time to developing it.

NindowsWhere is this going? Are the hypothetical scenarios we describe not as far fetched as we would like them to be? It would be irresponsible to simply ignore the risks, knowing what we know at the moment. This needs to be stopped before it’s getting too late to revert and rollback some changes (or branch, or even fork). It appears as though the direction taken by Novell leads to a cheaper Windows which requires payments to be made to Microsoft. To make matters worse, there is an infectious element to this because Novell, being a large and prominent player in the Linux world, is having other player consume undesired (and dangerous) bits of code.

IBM’s Perspective on the Novell/Microsoft Deal (Video)

Posted in GNU/Linux, IBM, Interview, Novell, Red Hat, Videos at 1:01 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

New video.

Takeaways:

  • Some members of the community do not like the deal (IBM acknowledges this)
  • In the deal, there are negatives and positives (IBM admits there are negatives)
  • IBM wants Open Client to be adopted regardless of the platform (the selfish factor)
  • Red Hat and Novell are needed for duality, so both are supported because of the importance of choice

OpenDocument Formats Gets a Boost (and Yet Another OOXML Setback)

Posted in Deals, ECMA, Formats, GNU/Linux, ISO, Microsoft, Novell, Office Suites, Open XML, OpenDocument, OpenOffice, Standard, SUN at 12:03 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Spread ODFNovell’s ODF commitment is not quite as strong as it used to be, but Sun Microsystems maintains an interest in the success of this international standard, which could bring it more revenue. Google Pack has just had the inclusion of StarOffice announced. This will bring a nice boost to ODF adoption. Some say that the decision not to include OpenOffice.org instead of this free version of StarOffice is related to Microsoft’s patent agreement with Sun, which goes back to 2004. The Sun deal excluded OpenOffice.org and resembled the Novell deal.

With ODF-supportive software now widely available, things might change for the better. The following article explains what we — as users, not companies — can do to assist the adoption of OpenDocument format.

While the standardisation war is absolutely crucial, I firmly believe that the only way this battle can be won is by making sure that people use OpenDocument in their everyday life.

[...]

Basically, members of the free software community can and should do more than just watch the fight and rest on their laurels: the more people that fight, the more likely we are to win this battle, which is anything but over. We should all keep in mind that OpenDocument might become, even in the long term, a “fringe format” that nobody actually uses. Microsoft’s monopoly on file formats, if that becomes the case, would create unimaginable damage.

Looking at the other side of the fence, it appears as though the weaknesses of OOXML are beginning to show.

Apple Inc.’s release of iWork ’08 this week is “embarrassing,” an analyst said Friday, not for its maker, but for Apple’s rival, Microsoft Corp.

We recently became aware of Sam’s thoughts on whatever remains in Microsoft’s locki-in arsenal and OOXML warchest.

What if Microsoft surrenders the specifications of its legacy .doc, .xls, .ppt and other formats just in time to make a big impact on the voting process for OOXML at ISO (votes due in early Sept.)?

Is now the perfect timing for such a stunt? The crucial vote next month matters a lot. It affects a cash cow. In general, just to repeat the old arguments, there are many reasons to escape OOXML and anything it touches (integrates with).

  • Microsoft wants control over Web content and documents (the hostage argument)
  • Microsoft wants all GNU/Linux users to pay macros and .NET (Mono/Moonlight) ‘tax’
  • Microsoft wants to embed its lock-ins inside Linux.

This was all said before, but it is worth repeating. Do not accept Moonlight, OOXML, HD, MS-DRM, or XPS (among other next-generation lock-ins).

There appears to be a well-coordinated plan involving XPS/OOXML/HD/XML du jour, which Microsoft shoves into standardisation processes in order for Ecma to build tomorrow’s lock-ins while pretending to be open.

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