There are a couple of new items that are worth mentioning very briefly. The first is a bright outlook which takes into consideration the excellent ODF adoption.
Following the trend at the national level, three regional governments – Kerala (a state in southwestern India), Misiones (a province in northeast Argentina), and Paraná (a state in southern Brazil) – adopted policies requiring the use of ODF. The year ended on a high note, with the Netherlands and South Africa officially adopting policies requiring ODF’s use by government agencies, joining ten other countries that had already done so. Norway required the use of ODF for all published, revisable documents on government web sites.
With such great adoption pace, there many are reasons to predict that ODF, the international document standard, will thrive (the man on the left isn’t happy about it, so he invented proprietary OOXML). Governments do, after all, need to communicate with one another and preserve information for many years. And speaking of digital preservation, there is biased piece from Associated Press, which has ignored a big recent fiasco before publishing an article that makes Microsoft seems like a kind company. Why? Because it makes it easier to ‘unblock’ older file formats. But why are they being blocked in the first place? Here is a fragment from this seemingly-one-sided piece:
On Slashdot, a technology news and discussion site, more than 500 people logged comments about the issue this week. Some railed against what they saw as a way for the software maker to force people to spend money on new software, while others complained that Microsoft’s security explanation wasn’t accurate.
Horrible coverage if you read the article as whole (just watch the headline). Microsoft has a well-proven and well-documented pattern of naming and blaming ‘mistakes’ whenever there is an outcry. AP not only falls for it, but it also makes Microsoft seem generous after igniting another fire that encourages pricey upgrades and prevents access to personal data. Why is the press so obedient and forgiving? Here is a rough idea. █
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“Conflicting agendas” all over it
This one is definitely off topic, but FUD-busting is always justified, if only to illustrate the effects of influence or business relationships in smears and lawsuits.
As you may have read by now, McAfee is handling its share of workload spreading FUD about the GPL at the moment. The host of the FUD is — quite unsurprisingly — DisinformationWeek, with an author whose past writings say a lot about bias. I also noticed that no-one other than Jeff Gould, an anti-Linux crusader, is the one who suggested adding the story to LinuxToday. Apples do not fall so far from the tree and we’re fortunate enough to know who is who and who is friends with who else. Jeff Gould, for instance, has friends in Redmond.
But anyway, back to the point, here is McAfee’s FUD in a nutshell.
In its annual report, Windows security software vendor McAfee told its investors that open source software licence terms it vaguely characterised as ” ambiguous” might “result in unanticipated obligations regarding our products.”
That statement says several things. First, it reveals that McAfee does use at least some open source software derived code in its products. Second, it betrays that McAfee has misappropriated that open source software and thus is committing copyright infringement, because it doesn’t distribute that open source software derivative source code. Third, by calling its products that include open source software code “proprietary”, McAfee shows that it really doesn’t want to shoulder its GPL licence obligations, but instead wants to both have its cake and eat it too.
It is rather curious and if this looks familiar, it should. McAfee also attacked Linux back in 2006 using very unsubstantiated claims. It accused GNU/Linux of things that it is not responsible for and described it as a risk. That’s how lobbying works and some people said at the time that McAfee accomplished a goal by getting a good pat on the shoulder from the folks in Microsoft, whose problematic and unsafe software McAfee still extracts money from.
Naturally, McAfee is afraid of Linux because McAfee’s products are irrelevant to the Linux crowd. Linux adoption is frightening news to some security vendors that rely on Windows.
Another issue which is raised in the article above is GPL violations. Did McAfee break the law? Is it trying to justify this now? Whatever the truth is, do bear in mind that McAfee was caught doing illegal things and it settled just a few days before Christmas.
McAfee has taken two major steps toward closing the stock-option backdating scandal that has plagued the company for the past two years.
This isn’t related to the Linux story, but it does say something about the ethics of the company as a whole. █
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“It is in Novell’s interest – selfish interest, I will admit – to advance-remove whatever those inhibitors be to the advancement of Linux and open source.”
–John Dragoon, Senior VP at Novell
The following new blog post makes it quite clear. Some people use OpenSUSE only when there is no other choice. Reason? The Novell/Microsoft deal.
I didn’t have any other 64 bit distros laying around so I opted to reinstall openSUSE 10.3 again.
I would still like to try out a different distro because of the Novell – Microsoft deal, but until things get to a point where I can sit down and really figure out how to make another distro work, I’m not going to fix what isn’t broken.
The following comprehensive article about Red Hat bothers to mention how Red Hat differentiates itself from Novell.
Staying true to Free Software ideals
One thing that Red Hat deserves respect for is staying true to their Free Software ideals. All of the software they have written (with a few exceptions like their Red Hat Network service) has been released under the GPL. They didn’t come up with some alternative license like so many others have. Red Hat has also publicly said that they will make no patent deals with Microsoft like Novell and a few others have.
Tactless and selfish (by John Dragoon’s admission) patent deals ought to give people a reason to avoid Xandros, Linspire, Novell and Turbolinux.
It was interesting to find a cartoon from Illiad which pokes fun at Novell’s so-called ‘interoperability’ lab [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6]. █
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