Links 22/02/2008: GNU/Linux Laptop Raves, Foleo ‘Comeback’, Firefox @ Half a Billion

Posted in News Roundup at 12:45 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Some Old and New Irregularities Surrounding the BRM in Geneva

Posted in ECMA, Europe, Fraud, Microsoft, Open XML, Steve Ballmer at 8:47 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

ISO standard
Introducing chairman Steve Ballmer, new head of ISO

We continue to treat the BRM in Geneva like a farce and we do so for many valid reasons [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]. You are advised to look back at past writings if you are not familiar with some of the more mind-blowing abuses, which include Microsoft’s sole representation of entire nations. Watch this new refresher.

The BRM can change whatever it wants can it? A briefing message from the convenor of the BRM contributes to substancial irritation among the BRM delegates that are not sacked yet.

As another quick reminder, be aware that Microsoft is tossing people in and out, left and right. It’s reshaping ISO to make it become a puppet regime. Given what we find in Microsoft’s proxy war against Yahoo (overthrowing the existing board and directors), none of this should be surprising. The only suprising thing here is that no authority restrains and punishes this bully, which some people continue to view as a software powerhouse.

In newer reports, here is what we have just come to find about Rick Jelliffe, the man who still fights for Microsoft.

The Pro-OOXML lobbyists a la Rick Jeliffe were prompt to demonstrate with fancy graphics how “The Editor (Rex Jaeschke on behalf of ECMA TC45) has accepted the lion’s share.” Graphics that are now being reused by Microsoft in other documents prepared to convinced NBs that everything is fine, Microsoft/Ecma accepted most comments.

This is amazing! The gaming knows no boundaries. How about the fact that all those countries which proudly claim that they have had comments addressed never properly reviewed OOXML? What about all those countries that decided to vote at the last moment? Did they read 6,000+ of technical documentation just the night before the vote and then wrote down their comments addressing each and every one of those pages? Have a look.

Given that NBs were never given the time necessary to review the whole specification, that the little review that could be done has revealed a low quality level, plus the fact that the BRM is limited to discussing the issues that were raised from partial reviews, no matter what happens at the BRM, there is plenty left for one to say “I can’t live with it”. It would actually be unprofessional not to.

If OOXML is passed as a standard, this will be a first-class fiasco, from which ISO may never recover (ECMA will be percieved as just a notorious accomplice). One might then say that ISO died in a proxy war against Microsoft — a war which it had lost. Let’s wish Yahoo good luck in its own proxy war. Reports say that Yahoo employees are nervous, even terrified. They struggle to get much work done. Watch this comment from 2 days ago.

Quick Mention: Microsoft Gives the Finger to Mac Users in ‘Need’ of OOXML

Posted in Apple, Boycott Novell, Deception, ISO, Microsoft, Office Suites, Open XML, Security at 8:25 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

It starts. Vapourware tactics begin to run thin as Microsoft gets that warm ‘done-enough’ feeling ahead of the BRM in Geneva. Moments ago Microsoft announced yet another delay. This time it’s the OOXML converters for Apple Mac users.

The downside is that the effort to fix Office 2008 has diverted resources from the development of the Open XML file format converter for Office 2004. Originally expected by mid March, the final version is now slated to arrive by the end of June.

“Let them just wait for interoperability” is what Microsoft must be thinking here. Microsoft has more urgent things like Windows and ISO to worry about, not to mention Silverlight and that open source ‘cancer’ which they spend a lot of time attacking (usually by proxy).

They once again seem to be using “security” as their excuse. We have seen this done several times recently. It’s like “terrorism” or “child porn” as the ultimate excuses for passing all sorts of laws in other walks of life.

“Security! It’s security!! The most important feature that warrants delay of software under some circumstance!!!” Are Mac users buying Microsoft’s excuse. Does it lack engineers? This was more likely a business decision.

USS Towers - sinking
Is the sky really falling or is the ship simply sinking?

A Quick Look at More Reactions to Microsoft’s Taxoperability

Posted in Antitrust, Europe, Interoperability, Microsoft, Patents at 8:06 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Quick summary, for completeness and diversity of minds

Glyn Moody’s take reflects on the important fact that Microsoft is setting some convenient new precedence, having made some arrangements with the European Commision and gained membership in the OSI (it’s part of the “Open Source” family, who can ever deny this?).

Note, by the way, that Microsoft has effected the marvellous sleight of hand that it – not the OSI, not the Linux Foundation, but *Microsoft* – is setting up an Open Source Interoperability Initiative.

In some ways, the most amazing paragraph in the whole announcement is not the protestations of undying love for openness, but the following:

The interoperability principles and actions announced today reflect the changed legal landscape for Microsoft and the IT industry. They are an important step forward for the company in its ongoing efforts to fulfill the responsibilities and obligations outlined in the September 2007 judgment of the European Court of First Instance (CFI).

This is certainly true, as shown by the fact that Microsoft is effectively applying the agreement with the EU to most of its product range…

Mark Taylor’s take very much concurs with our very old (and by no means antiquated) observation that Microsoft seeks to redefine everything, including what “Open Source” means, how it works, what its ‘obligations’ are and so forth. You can read all about it here.

The 20th February 2008 was one of those ‘Microsoft moments’, when suddenly, the world changed. Just like when they ‘got’ the network (and we got NT), or they ‘got’ the Internet (and we got ‘Internet Explorer’). This time they ‘got’ Open Source and Open Standards and the company is about to make another of their legendary radical transformations… or so they would like you to believe.


So you can have your ‘Open Source’ software if you really insist… just so long as you pay a royalty to Microsoft for every copy that gets shipped. It’s great if all those ‘non-commercial’ people want to develop software for Microsoft and their ring-fenced group of ‘authorised’ ‘Open Source’ partners. They generously promise that they wont even sue their unpaid workforce.

Mark Taylor also makes a few comments which add balance to an article about the EU’s response.

But Mark Taylor from the Open Source Consortium said the Microsoft announcement is “smoke and mirrors.”

“Microsoft is saying it will give access to open APIs, however, but there are terms,” said Taylor. “It’s the same old story. Patent protection applies, and people can use the APIs commercially as long as they pay Microsoft a royalty. They are trying to enclose open commons by trying to apply their business model, which is all about owning technology, to open source.”

A reader of ours, Sunsonica, sent us a direct link to the Statement by Thomas Vinje of the European Committee for Ineroperable Systems (ECIS) [PDF]. In a variety of contexts we have already mentioned Thomas Vinje’s work in the past few months [1, 2, 3, 4]. He is hopefully making use of some resources that we have make available for understanding the problem at hand.

Here is the official statement from the EU:

The European Commission takes note of today’s announcement by Microsoft of its intention to commit to a number of principles in order to promote interoperability with some of its high market share software products. This announcement does not relate to the question of whether or not Microsoft has been complying with EU antitrust rules in this area in the past.

Red Hat’s response is quite a blast. It’s presented as a press release:

Commit to interoperability with open source: Instead of offering a patent license for its protocol information on the basis of licensing arrangements it knows are incompatible with the GPL – the world’s most widely used open source software license – Microsoft should extend its Open Specification Promise to all of the interoperability information that it is announcing today will be made available.

Microsoft expected the world to embrace its ‘opening up’ with open arms, or so it wishes to press to believe. Judging by the bits above, it’s hard to say that Microsoft’s latest ‘big announcement’ (a colossal and huge pile of nothing) meant so much to very many people. Microsoft’s target audience might just be those people attending the BRM next week (“look! We’re open!!!”), which is the subject of the next post.

Gutmann, Peter and Steve Ballmer

Microsoft Must Be Absolutely Terrified

Posted in Bill Gates, Finance, Microsoft, Novell at 7:36 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

We receive a lot of mail today. In another interesting conversation it emerged that Microsoft is terrified and this fear is being recognised not only by our Web site.

As we showed before (e.g. start here and follow the references), Microsoft is running out of money and it’s bluffing like nobody’s business. WS08 (Server 2008, formerly known as “Longhorn”) is the next Vista and we mean this in a negative way.

“Yahoo proxy wars (leading to huge irreparable PR damage), SCO’s rebirth with Bill Gates’ fingerprints and filing of software patents at an amazingly high rate speak volumes.”We, as BSD/Linux users and Free software advocates just need to give Microsoft that last final push and “tilt it into the death spiral” (to borrow a notorious phrase that Microsoft executives use a lot in their internal communication).

A reader of ours, the president of a medium-sized company (these tend to be the quiet readers who never comment but drop us invaluable tips in private), told us just moments ago: “It’s fairly obvious that they are teetering on the edge of “the death spiral”. I suspect they are actually in it, it’s simply that the massive inertia of their cash-cow monopoly is covering the fact.”

This comes amid times when we make speculative arguments about what turned them around and drove them to acting like bullies. Sam Hiser’s assessment is based on what Joe Wilcox said yesterday. It’s short and catchy.

Microsoft: still a bunch of gangsters.

Yahoo proxy wars (leading to huge irreparable PR damage), SCO's rebirth with Bill Gates' fingerprints and filing of software patents at an amazingly high rate speak volumes.

Our reader adds: “Absolutely. Fear, and the desire to move into endgame before the world slips away from them. Fear and totalitarianism always signal the end of an empire…”

We might as well think about a case of cornering an animal and the way such an animal might react. We must watch Gates because he’s writing many checks in his so-called ‘retirement’ [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9].

This reader of ours, who is a very respectable person and a well-known figure, wishes to remain anonymous. Nonetheless, he end this discussions that we had with some strong words. “Gates’ ‘retirement’ is simply an arms-length marketing, lobbying, bribery and extortion department. As you’ve pointed out yourself many times, Microsoft places loyalists in apparently ‘external’ organisations to achieve its aims. Gates is more involved in Microsoft’s imperial ambitions than ever,” he concludes.

Watch this new comment from CNET: Fool me twice, shame on me

Never ever trust Bill Gates or Microsoft. Doesn’t anyone remember the great Novell and Microsoft client exchange? Microsoft then included a non-functioning NetWare client with Windows NT and made chumps out of Novell.

There is some very harsh Bill Gates critiques therein (inside the comment), which usually results in strong backlash. This typically comes from anonymous posters or those brainwashed by Gates-owned media companies. We’ll explain and explore more of that shortly (in future posts that cover offshoring at Microsoft, among other dark secrets). It’s all about ‘Saviour Gates’ with his Foundation as the ultimate moral shield. He cannot ever do any wrong, can he? Not having given away money (to make more more in the long term). Watch this space.

The Overlooked Issue of Development with .NET in GNU/Linux

Posted in BSD, FSF, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Mono, Windows at 6:50 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Mono Microsoft brain

“I’m in a New York Microsoft Mono State of Mind…”

A few moments ago, someone expressed some thoughts about Mono as an issue that revolves around software patents. He was referring to Mark Shuttleworth's response to our query. We wish to share a bit of correspondence which is only an hour old. It should be attributed to Beranger, who has permitted us to share this in public.


I suppose your fight against Mono has [at least slightly] different motivations than mine; whereas your stance seems to be [strongly enough] related to patents and other risks coming from Microsoft, I am primarily focused on some other concerns.

First, I think that BSD and Linux and generally open-source operating systems & software were invented for providing people with freedom, and freedom means “out of the Microsoft Konzentrationslager”.

From this standpoint, it’s obvious that people don’t want to get “blessed” with Microsoft technology anymore. Sure thing, many Linux users will consider that they need Samba connectivity, some other would require NTFS-3g, but this is not only optional, it’s required in some cases because they are “de facto” technologies in some environments, and “interoperability” is at times just that.

Microsoft .NET is however more than a protocol (Samba) or a filesystem format (NTFS): it’s a whole new concept that changes almost everything: it invents a new language (C#) midway between C++ and Java; it creates a unified CLR; by introducing the CLR as a runtime, it introduces a new layer of abstractedness between a binary and the operating system, just like Java does.

Note however that the Java hype didn’t managed to impose silly small Java programs on everyone’s desktop; instead, the best use of Java is for large enterprise applications, and several Java application servers are available for that.

“With .NET, everybody started to write silly small C# desktop gizmos.”With .NET, everybody started to write silly small C# desktop gizmos. And then it came Miguel de Icaza to clone it as Mono, and many people thought it was good this way: “Hey, if I can run this on Linux, I can get rid of Windows!”

It is all wrong. Notice the proliferation of all kind of Gtk# applets and small applications. If Miguel’s Mono were created for interoperability, for replacing .NET, and for cross-platform compatibility with regards to serious business approaches (i.e. to replace Windows 2003 Server with a Linux/BSD/Solaris box), then ASP.NET should have been made the #1 priority, not the silly GTK+ bindings for Mono!

Instead of creating freedom by making possible the replacement of a Windows Server with a Linux/BSD box, Miguel’s Mono is doing exactly the opposite: it creates an unhealthy dependence of a Microsoft technology!

If there are really people in this world who genuinely believe that the Microsoft .NET technology is so very much revolutionary that we should really be using it, as if Microsoft were the one and only company that would save the IT from the lack of vision and lack of future it might have had, then… why aren’t they using the original .NET platform? Is it only for the price? Are they feeling better to use the open-source Mono, whose compatibility with .NET is mediocre at best?

I would very much like to see a big ASP.NET application running on Mono, and without modifications. But no, what I can see is an increasing number of Gtk# applications that are making a lot of GNOME users dependent of the (otherwise unnecessary) Mono framework.

Are we really running Linux on our computers, or are we running a mix of Linux and “Windows under disguise”?Maybe Python (PyGtk) is less effective than C# (Gtk#). Does it mean we should rewrite everything Python in C#? And that we should thank Microsoft for it has had “the vision”?

I know that .EXE and .DLL are simply conventions for naming PE files. Nevertheless, before Mono there wasn’t any way to see such files on a Linux/BSD box other than because you wanted to run a genuine Windows applications through an emulator. Nowadays, we’re more and more impregnated with those brilliant DOS/Windows concepts that made Microsoft so popular.

Are we really running Linux on our computers, or are we running a mix of Linux and “Windows under disguise”?

Instead of the bravado self-sufficient attitude of “Hey, you can run on Linux the same stuff you can run on Windows, so we win!” (not entirely accurate, as Mono doesn’t perfectly match .NET), we should rather be aware that in the long run the winner is Microsoft: its concepts and technologies will be present not only on Windows systems, but on no matter what systems.

Maybe people shouldn’t *hate* Microsoft that much. But should they *love* when F/LOSS people are embracing Microsoft technologies and they’re also imposing them to a desktop environment like GNOME, who was born for the licensing fears with regards to KDE?

Patents and licenses are completely different matters; but giving credits to Microsoft is a little too much. What will be the next step: will Novell reimplement the whole Vista, supposing it would be covered by a few ECMA standards? And how about NTFS, why isn’t Linux adopting it if reimplementing Microsoft’s projects is the right thing to do?

I can choose to send DOC files to people who can’t open other kind of documents, and I definitely want to be able to read such files when I receive them. But again, this is only a file format for a document; when I will see that my Linux box is using EXE files to give me the information I need (no, I don’t use Tomboy), then I will know that Microsoft is never going to die.

Mark Shuttleworth is seeing Mono only from the legal side: non-important patent risks, not more than with the rest of a Linux system, so why worry. He is a business person, and the principles guiding him are not the same that are guiding RMS for instance.

I am so very amazed that open-source people (once again, I’ll mention RMS) are not bothered at all by the cloning of a Microsoft platform. UNIX was not supposed to mimic anything. We’re living hard times, where common sense is gone.

Best wishes,

My personal response to this is perhaps worth adding as well. From what I can gather (it is somewhat of a speculation, so be warned in advance), Richard Stallman is not too happy about Mono, but he does not make too much noise about it, either. Smears are risky and Microsoft (sometimes the BSDs too) attack him whenever they get a chance. So, be careful what you read and also believe about his stance.

Links 22/02/2008: SourceForge’s Choice Awards, IBM and Ubuntu Grow Closer

Posted in News Roundup at 5:04 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Mark Shuttleworth’s Stance on Mono Inside Ubuntu

Posted in Mono, Patents, Ubuntu at 3:54 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Mark Shuttleworth, whom we have great respect for after maintaining his stern stance against intimidation tactics, has responded to our concerns regarding the existence of Mono in Ubuntu. His message to us was CC’d to the Technical Board and the leader of Fedora. It would be worth bringing it to our readers’ attention because some were concerned (if not outraged) about the subject.

Hi Roy

At this stage we see no significant issues with patents and Mono. There is a risk of a patent claim against almost any component of Ubuntu – across every jurisdiction in which Ubuntu ships, the patent minefield is too complex. Our view is that we can deal with patent suits if they arise, but removing or re-engineering the relevant components.

“We cannot live in fear of that threat, we can only respond to it as an when it arises.”Yesterday’s announcement from Microsoft suggests that they have come round to the view that patent litigation is not an effective strategy for them.

The real patent risk to free software, in my view, is not a large-scale industry participant like SONY or IBM or Microsoft, instead it is a small, hard-to-identify patent holder who does not actually need to get products out the door. We cannot live in fear of that threat, we can only respond to it as an when it arises.

I don’t mean to undermine the good work that you do in reminding people of the risks, but only to say that we have discussed this in Ubuntu and are confident that the course we are on is a reasonable one.


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