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11.26.07

Quick Mention: Glyn Moody on the Inexistence of “Intellectual Property“

Posted in Free/Libre Software, FUD, Intellectual Monopoly, Microsoft, Patents at 11:58 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Microsoft loves talking and bragging about its “intellectual property”. Sadly for Microsoft (and SCO), there is no such thing. Independently, I said this a long time ago, before I even knew about Richard Stallman's views. Here is what Glyn Moody has to say in Linux Journal.

For readers of Linux Journal, “IP” almost certainly refers to the Internet Protocol, part of the TCP/IP suite that underpins the Internet. But to most people, if it means anything, “IP” refers to something known as “intellectual property”. This widespread recognition is rather curious, because “intellectual property” does not exist.

[...]

The more of us that use the term “intellectual monopoly”, the more widely this concept will become understood, and the more likely it is that lawmakers around the world will begin to understand the distortions of the copyright and patent systems they have been tricked into introducing over the last years, thanks to intensive lobbying by industry groups. Once that happens, we can even begin to contemplate reducing copyright terms, and narrowing the range of what is patentable to rational levels – both of which will help protect open source and open content from attacks based on alleged infringements of copyright and patents.

None of this is new, but Glyn puts is very nicely in his new article.

Novell is not genuine (prompt)

HOWTO: Divide a Community and Get OOXML Approved

Posted in Free/Libre Software, GNOME, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Novell, OSI at 11:45 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Microsoft keeps its enemies closer so that it can crush them later. Corel, Netscape, (NetWare era) Novell, and many more companies would serve as decent examples. It should all be a case of learning from history. Getting inside the ‘fort’ is the best Microsoft can do to fracture and destroy communities. As we stated dozens of times before, it is not this Web site that divides; this Web site spots the attempted division (by Microsoft) and warns about its nature, using soft and hard evidence that piles up until it becomes too compelling.

”Several years from now Microsoft will have the last laugh, until/unless more people wake up.“Microsoft will continue it’s divide-and-conquer strategy. That’s what Port 25, for example, is all about. It’s a Trojan horse that got Microsoft inside the OSI, already fooled Kroes and her Commission (software patents), introduced GPL poison, added ‘patent tax’ to some Linuxes, and ushered proprietary formats (OOXML) which Microsoft needs to be recognised as standards.

If only everyone could actually see this by learning from history…

The evidence we have collected speaks for itself, but we’ve neglected hyperlinks this time (there’s room for almost a hundred in the few paragraphs above). Several years from now Microsoft will have the last laugh, until/unless more people wake up.

One person wisely tell me that that if OOXML is approved, Microsoft wins. If not, the GNOME community is splintered (and so is the FOSS community). The way this is set up, there can be only one winner — Microsoft.

To use an analogy I was sent by E-mail, “Microsoft always tries to butter the toast on both sides so no matter which way it falls, it sticks. We just want to make sure our they get very little butter on our side.”

GNOME and Novell: The FUD Never Existed (Updatedx2)

Posted in GNOME, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Mono, Open XML at 10:33 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

FUD is an acronym which stands for fear, uncertainty, and doubt. You probably know this already. The term FUD is typically used when one instills fear, uncertainty, and doubt in the minds of people using lies, i.e. using false information. We do not believe that FUD is being spread here, not by the de facto definition of the term.

”We don’t write down speculations as though they are facts.“When solid proof is absent, we make decent proposals, speculations, or reach out for feedback. We don’t write down speculations as though they are facts. Rather, we present things which we do not feel comfortable with and make a clear distinction. We present things that seem a little suspicious, or even too ‘coincidental’. We use these as evidence that may or may not support our hypotheses.

Jeff has written a good blog item to clarify things about Novell and GNOME. We never stated (but only wondered) that there is a tighter-than-necessary connection between GNOME and Novell. NOOOXML wondered the same thing and posed this as a question about the relationship.

You are encouraged to read Jeff’s detailed and honest writing on this issue. It alleviates many doubts. I can only spot two facts which strike a nerve and I wish to quote them for future reference (somewhat of a mental note). The first is this:

Interestingly, Miguel was actually the President of the GNOME Foundation until only a few weeks ago, but we have been asking him for years to send a resignation letter, and recently nailed down a plan to finally get his resignation and appoint the President and Vice-President from the directors. As of the last Foundation Board meeting, that process is complete.

It’s important to point out that during this time, the Foundation Chairman was capably performing the role of President, and Miguel was not participating or interacting in GNOME Foundation activities or administration at all.

This is news to me and I cannot help but think of Miguel’s remarks on OOXML (“superb standard”) and the timing (the lack of confidence inside GNOME began a few weeks ago also). Jeff assured us that Miguel was somewhat of a passive president at this stage, so we must assume that he had absolutely no involvement in policies pertaining to OOXML in the GNOME Foundation.

Moving on, there is another bit which seemed a tad interesting.

I sat down with Nat Friedman at GUADEC in order to talk about a few things that were on my mind regarding Novell and GNOME. I had a very clear three-point agenda that I wanted to go through:

1. The relationship and agreement with Microsoft.
2. Novell’s approach to feature development and ‘code dumping’.
3. GNOME and Mono.

We didn’t end up talking about the first two points, because Nat was extremely focused on the Mono issue, and whichever way I tried to lead him through my thought narrative, it would quickly come back to Mono.

I cannot help wondering why point 1 was not discussed at all. Maybe it’s just my paranoia instincts. Nevertheless, it’s something to keep in mind, especially because Nat Friedman used to discredit us and he also defended the pact with Microsoft.

Finally, one thing worth adding is that if any FUD is being spread, then one ought to look at:

  1. Novell, which uses FUD against its Linux competitors
  2. Various parties including Novell, who question the credibility of this site using vague or empty accusations

Remember that there are (at least) two sides in every argument. We too are victims of FUD sometimes (or “muck-raking”, as Jeff calls it) .

Update: we have only just received valuable feedback from Repre Hendor. If you were to ask me, I would honestly say that it does not look good. Here is the comment (left in our Web site), which I will quote in full:

Roy said:

“[Miguel] actively supports OOXML and he is still very influential in GNOME (no matter how hard you try to deny this).”

Jeff said:

“Miguel is not influential in GNOME. I deny it because it’s the truth [....] If anything, these days, Miguel is seen as an irrelevant embarrassment among the majority of GNOME developers. But he is still respected as our founder.”

According to the minutes of the Gnome Foundation Board meeting happeing on 15th of November 2007 (and published a week later, that was: last Thursday), for topic ’4)’ it is noted:

GNOME President

Miguel has officially resigned as the GNOME President.

Uh huh. So up until a week ago, Miguel officially was the GNOME President?

Looks like Jeff himself thinks Miguel is an irrelevant embarrassment to GNOME, so that he even avoids mentioning this ‘hot news’ which reached the public eye only 4 days ago (even though it could have served to strengthen his point).

Why did Miguel resign? Was he put under pressure to do so? Was it because of the continuous negative wave of publicity he is causing for Gnome (see his infamous “OOXML is a superb standard” stance…)?

Update #2: I’ve just received a headsup that informs me of another rebuttal to Jeff’s latest blog post. The strong reaction is summarised as follows:

Well, toute compte fait, I don’t see in which way or to which extent of the imagination is the cited blog post supposed to end the so-called FUD with regards to GNOME, Novell and Mono.

It’s nothing more but a clumsy PR attempt.

I’ve also been sent this one, which is equally harsh.

Australian Event Organised to Discuss OOXML

Posted in Australia, Boycott Novell, Formats, Microsoft, Open XML, OpenDocument, Standard at 7:43 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Under normal circumstances, the following would not arouse my curiosity because the more we discuss OOXML, the more we help people realise that it is broken, proprietary, and absolutely not suitable for standardisation. However, I could not help noticing that even Microsoft is invited to an event that Pia Waugh helps coordinate.

I am helping coordinate the first ever Australian event to really delve into the technical and legal practical feasibility of OOXML. It will be on December 14th, and will include experts from Australia and around the world. The schedule is currently up, however all the speakers names will be published in the coming week. There will also be participation from Microsoft, so if you have outstanding technical or legal questions about OOXML, you should come along and participate! The attendees will be a combination of the general public, academia, standards people and our course domain experts.

Okay, so one might say that it’s better to attend and slam OOXML than not attend at all. Others might wonder if Linux-affiliated people are better off attending ODF events, rather than stand aloneside OOXML (let alone coordinating an event) , as we already saw in ECMA (the GNOME Foundation’s presence is perceived as support). Speaking of which, the mainstream press is getting filled at the moment with coverage that is damaging to ODF and quite supportive of OOXML. Ironically enough, the statement from the GNOME Foundation is being used against the “one standard to rule them all” principle (ODF).

The following statement now appears all over the place:

The [GNOME Foundation] group also argues that neither OOXML nor ODF will serve all needs, and that the development of standards overall could be in jeopardy: “We are deeply concerned that abuse of the standards process is eroding public trust in the value and independence of international standards. Both ODF and OOXML are very heavily influenced by their implementation heritage, neither are likely to deliver the “one true office format,” and both communities have — in their own way — played a role in this erosion of trust.

Oh, great. So the GNOME Foundation is now echoed to jutify a need for multiple standards, i.e. fragmentation that helps an abusive monopoly. Why keep denying the fact that this has done more damage to ODF than it ever did damage to OOXML’s prospects in the ISO?

OOXML

Quick Mention: Asus, Xandros, and Microsoft ‘Patent Tax’

Posted in Debian, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Novell, Patents, Xandros at 7:03 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

An article from Physorg cites another one from IT Wire and confirms our suspicion that Xandros/Microsoft royalties are not an idea so far fetched. Here is the relevant fragment of text:

The popular Eee is not without its critics. IT Wire reports that Asus Eee may have misrepresented the Linux loaded capabilities. According to IT Wire, some Linux advocates say the Eee uses Xandros a Debian-based distribution that charges a license fee and has an agreement with Microsoft similar to the one signed by Novell.

While it’s not too clear who these “Linux advocates” are, it seems to align with the type of deal (and pertinent terms) that we find in Novell, namely the passing of money to cover “intellectual property”. That’s just what Microsoft wants. If its gets its way, even Linux ‘appliances’ such as the Eee can be taxed by Microsoft, essentially replacing OEM tax with patent tax. In other words, even if people are not forced to pay for Windows (on any new PC), they could be forced to pay Microsoft/Linux patent tax.

Previous coverage of Eee PC:

One Life, One App (Corrected)

Posted in Formats, GNOME, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Office Suites, Open XML, OpenDocument, Patents, Standard at 6:33 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Just 150 years to go. Just do it.

OOXML is a sensitive subject, but if issues are not raised out in the open, we are destined to be locked down in another digital dark age. Although one man has attempted to implement rudimentary OOXML support in Gnumeric, it is estimated that it would take 150 man years to implement OOXML as it stands at moment (incomplete).

…we’re now looking at 150 man years to do the job for a competitive PPA.

”In fact, not even Microsoft Office 2007 implements something which complies with the existing specification.“There is no source code available for reuse (Microsoft Office is purely closed-source and proprietary) and there is no proper reuse of existing standards (e.g. for dates) inside OOXML. Also remember that Microsoft admitted that it is not committed to sticking to its own specification (OOXML), which makes it a moving target. In fact, not even Microsoft Office 2007 implements something which complies with the existing specification. It’s merely a derivative which ensures no compatibility through a ‘golden’ reference (a written document, spread across over 6,000 pages). There are serious patent issues to consider, but sadly enough, no-one seems to notice.

I fail to see why Gnumeric has very, very basic support for OOXML while ODF support (the ISO standard) does not have any support yet. That’s just what I was told yesterday. Are non-standards given precedence over international and open standards, which are suddenly/temporarily worth neglecting? [Correction: ODF support is coming shortly. See comments below.] The following assessment seems unrealistic.

Among the many other topics discussed at Ontario LinuxFest was a completely objective comparison of Microsoft’s OOXML document standard and OpenOffice.org’s ODF document standard by Gnumeric maintainer Jody Goldberg, who has had to wade through both in depth. His summary is that OOXML is not the spawn of Satan, and ODF is not the epitome of perfection. Both have their strengths and weaknesses, and he sees no reason why we could not go forward with both standards in use.

See the aforementioned remarks about the complexity involved in implementing OOXML, which carries a patent burden and will probably be ignored by Microsoft, which will ‘extend’ things its own way in order to ensure obsolescence (forced upgrades) and poor compatibility with other applications (technical sabotage).

Patent Roundup: Acacia-Microsoft Hypothesis Revisited, Microsoft Loses Patent Case

Posted in GNU/Linux, Hardware, Microsoft, Novell, Patents, Red Hat at 6:06 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

TrollTracker has just presented a nice hypothetical scenario.

Using multiple shells to hide the true parent seems to defeat the purpose of the local and/or federal rules required to disclose corporate ownership. Nobody seems to mind when it’s a mega-troll trying to hide, but what if, oh, Microsoft were to acquire some patents and hide them in a shell corporation, Linuxsux, LLC. And then they set up a parent of Linuxsux, which is LSX, LLC. Microsoft may own LSX, but in its FRCP 7.1 disclosure statement, it would only need to reveal that plaintiff Linuxsux is owned by LSX, a Delaware company with its principal place of business in Marshall, Texas. I bet there would be somewhat of an uproar if Microsoft started suing Red Hat, Novell, and other Linux users without revealing it was them. Not to mention it would defeat the purpose of allowing the judiciary to be able to examine true ownership for purposes of deciding whether to recuse.

That would make a nice analogy that helps the understanding of existing loopholes. Whose bloodstream is Acacia on anyway [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9]? Follow the money. We have theories backed by evidence, but no clear answer yet.

There appears to be justice in this world after all. Microsoft once again gets another nice taste of its own poison.

An appeals court on Friday rejected Microsoft Corp.’s challenge to a $142 million trial loss over patents on a way to prevent software piracy.

Elsewhere in the news you may find that the Qualcomm-Nokia saga [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6], 7 has just arrived the United Kingdom as well.

Qualcomm is seeking an injunction that would stop Nokia selling products using the patents in Britain.

Related articles:

Is Oracle Microsoft/Novell’s Worst Enemy, Not Red Hat’s?

Posted in Fork, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Novell, Oracle, Red Hat, Ubuntu, Virtualisation at 5:44 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Letting two gorillas fight rather than relying on guerrilla

Oracle has been a quiet (yet giant) GNU/Linux user and vendor. We had it mentioned in the context of Novell and Microsoft recently. Given Oracle’s membership in OIN, is it truly an enemy of the spirit of Free software? Arguments can be made which support both sides; one side says that Oracle will protect Linux and another says that Oracle will destroy, crush, and even steal Linux from its parents and origins.

NovellsoftThe main victim which is repeatedly mentioned in this context is Red Hat, whose product Oracle uses (some would say “rips off”). But what about Novell? Yesterday, the following article appeared in ComputerWorld and contained an interesting bit.

He noted that Burlington Coat Factory is also evaluating whether to replace its SUSE Linux software with Oracle’s Unbreakable Linux implementation, which would give the company another reason to use Oracle VM.

Therein lie some interesting possibilities. Several weeks ago, another article was published to say that Oracle’s goal with Linux may be to eliminate a Windows (Microsoft) dependency and basically weaken this beast which is known as the “Microsoft ecosystem”, of which Novell seems to have become a part.

Thus, a win for Linux is a win for Oracle as it immediately eliminates SQL Server, Exchange, and Visual Studio from the equation and increases the likelihood that a customer will choose Oracle software, Aslett said.

That’s true regardless of whether customers choose Oracle Unbreakable Linux – or Red Hat.

Ellison’s hatred (or jealousy) of Microsoft is nothing new. Watch this video for some more visual evidence.

Of course, it would still be silly to assume that Ellison and Oracle have become friends of Free software. As Matt Asay shrewdly pointed out a fortnight ago:

Larry doesn’t understand open source. This isn’t surprising since the people who report to him apparently don’t, either (though I don’t include Mike Olson in that crowd – he’s a victim of golden handcuffs :-) . Oracle desperately wants open source to be “just another tool” that it uses for IT domination. It’s not. It actually has the opposite effect.

Oracle just can’t grok this.

It wants to own the Linux kernel. It can’t. It wanted to own JBoss. It couldn’t. Open source is about controlling through sharing, but Oracle doesn’t do the “share” thing very well.

And so we’ll have to sporadically endure Mr. Ellison’s ego pronouncing himself god of the Linux world, despite his Linux business being so anemic that he won’t break out its numbers. If the numbers are so great, report them, Mr. Ellison. (Having said this, it’s important to note that Oracle stopped breaking out revenue by product line many years ago.)

To put things in perspective, consider the following half a dozen recent articles as well:

1. Ellison: ‘Fusion Must Coexist’

Ellison also acknowledged Red Hat’s growth in “a healthy market” for both companies. “We’re also doing something Red Hat isn’t, which is shipping Oracle VM underneath our Linux offering so there is a single stack of code. If you have applications that run on Red Hat, it will run unchanged on Oracle’s enterprise software.”

2. Larry Ellison thrashes Red Hat

“At Oracle we’ve been in the Linux business for a year now,” he said.

“With the Red Hat code all we did for the first year was fix bugs. Now Oracle growing a lot faster than Red Hat. Red Hat’s been growing too because it’s a growing market.”

3. OpenWorld: 1,500 companies adopt Oracle Unbreakable Linux

Despite Oracle’s fast growth, Red Hat remains the top dog in the enterprise Linux market, with tens of thousands of subscribers to its support business. During its Q1 2008 call with analysts, Red Hat CEO Matthew Szulik said it added “multiple of thousands of customers” in that quarter alone.

4. Ellison touts Fusion Applications

Oracle CEO Larry Ellison didn’t display much of his traditional flamboyance Wednesday at Oracle’s OpenWorld conference, but he did preview the company’s next-generation Fusion Applications and said its Unbreakable Linux offering has met with initial success.

5. OpenWorld: Oracle restricting app support to its own virtualization

Buried under the surface of Oracle Corp.’s Monday announcement that it plans to get into the virtualization market is the fact that the company won’t support its database and many other applications if they are running on virtualization software from VMware Inc., Microsoft Corp. or even Red Hat Inc.

That effectively limits enterprise users who want to run their Oracle applications more efficiently through virtualization to just one platform: Oracle’s new VM.

6. Oracle’s mixed messages on “compatibility” with Red Hat Enterprise Linux

No offense, Oracle, but if it looks like a fork, smells like a fork, and acts like a fork, it’s a fork, and “fully compatible” is simply not a credible guarantee. You can’t change someone else’s code and crown it “fully compatible.”

Taking all the above into consideration, it seems fair to say that Red Hat is snubbed by Oracle, but the compatibility limits (artificial they might as well be) are bad news to Novell as well. In the long term, despite Oracle’s denial, it is expected that Oracle will go its own way and create its own, fairly independent Linux distributions. Articles to watch out for include:

1. Oracle’s got a giant Red Hat fork coming, says spaceman

Oracle’s assault on Linux looks to take the shape of a fork in the near future, according to Canonical founder and Ubuntu chief Mark Shuttleworth.

2. Is Unbreakable a long-term Linux play?

After initial cynicism I have been forced to rethink my opinion on a couple of occassions, notably Oracle’s patent pledge, the naming of customers and the naming of partners, although I remain unconvinced that OEL is a long-term strategy for the company as opposed to an attempt to disrupt the market.

Linux is clearly a long-term commitment. Oracle Enterprise Linux? Not sure.

3. Ubuntu chief: Oracle Linux has ‘tactical value’

Oracle has the ability to support Linux, and doing so could have “tactical value” for the database company, the founder of Ubuntu Linux–and a potential Oracle partner–said Friday.

4. Shuttleworth: Oracle-Ubuntu partnership only a matter of time

Canonical Ltd. CEO Mark Shuttleworth said a partnership with Oracle is no longer a matter of if, but when.

5. Oracle claims no Linux ulterior motive

Oracle is using LinuxWorld to try and calm concerns its Enterprise Linux and Unbreakable Linux Network (ULN) will fork Red Hat and fragment the Linux market.

The impact of Oracle’s Linux endeavors on Free software as a whole will be interesting. If Oracle permits Novell’s Linux to gain acceptance and receive ‘interoperability’ (under discriminatory terms), then Oracle lets Microsoft get its way. Oracle has a lot of weight that can stop this, along with giants like IBM and Google, who are also in OIN (essentially as Linux guardians).

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