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04.23.08

Links 24/04/2008: Many More GNU/Linux PCs Up for Sale in Russia, Another Computer Game Ported

Posted in News Roundup at 11:06 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Nicholas Negroponte Should Join Hands with Larry Lessig, Not with Bill Gates

Posted in Bill Gates, Fraud, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, OLPC at 10:39 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Bill Gates’ and Paul Otellini’s crimes against a charity be told

As you are possibly aware by now, Larry Lessig separated from his copyrights reform ambition (some would say “crusade”) after many years of never-ending realisation that corruption, not adverse rationale, was the barrier preventing change.

“He faced aggressive behind-the-scenes opposition from two companies that saw this as a threat to their quarterly revenue and shareholders.”It’s pretty much the same when it comes to software patents, standards and procurement. Those who have the money shelter existing outdated laws and protect them by extension to antiquated suppositions. Lessig then decided to dedicate the remainder of his career to fighting corruption.

Similarly, Nicholas Negroponte wanted to help children and bridge the digital divide using education, using free (libre) tools. He faced aggressive behind-the-scenes opposition from two companies that saw this as a threat to their quarterly revenue and shareholders. Negroponte was rocking very large boats that would lose a lot had his mission been allowed to survive. It’s not a mission of destroying companies but a mission which is focused on helping developing nations.

After an outburst that led to a vicious smear campaign against him (c/f more examples of recent smear campaigns), Nicholas Negroponte was more careful when it comes to telling the true story about OLPC. The truth must not be forgotten, however, and we have a lot of it documented under the following previous posts that contain lesser-viewed news reports:

It is highly ironic that Nicholas Negroponte was pulled into deals with the same people who systematically sabotaged his project in a "Slog"-like fashion (Microsoft’s in-house terminology). He reached agreements with Bill Gates and Paul Otellini [*], who tried to reduce the PR damage. It is not worth repeating the stories contained above. If you are unfamiliar with the story, however, do have a look. The media is too tightly controlled by the big corporations, so it’s unlikely that many people know the truth (nor that they ever will).

Intel and Microsoft are already under independent investigations in multiple continents at the moment, due to sheer monopoly abuse (Microsoft even risks an embargo in Europe). At this stage, Nicholas Negroponte wants to do whatever is best for the children, which is commendable, but he should also pursue justice, just like Lawrence Lessig.

“Geez, get a decent computer where you can actually read the text and you’re not sitting there cranking the thing while you’re trying to type.”

Bill Gates [about OLPC]

__
[*] Especially Craig Barrett should be blamed, based on misconduct and bad behaviour in practice.

Microsoft’s Software Patents Bill, Mozilla Brain-Picking, More Patents in Standards

Posted in Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, GPL, Hardware, Microsoft, Novell, Patents at 9:48 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Say No to Novell


No Patents in Linux

Yesterday as well as the day before that, some of the press reopened a jar of worms and spoke about Microsoft's software patents minefield, but bloggers did not pay any attention to Novell's fight against the free in "Free software". Novell is just about as guilty as Microsoft because without its participation and pasive endorsement Microsoft’s efforts would hold no water. These efforts would be a non-starter. Novell actually benefits from these selfish acts, owing to which it hopes to thrive.

Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols has just composed a detailed post which sheds some light on these software patent traps.

You see while Microsoft put the boilerplate “this may contain IP” on every document, it didn’t say what IP (intellectual property) might be covered in any given protocol or API. For a flat 10,000 Euro fee, you can steer clear of any copyright problems. This is how Samba handled it. A patent license is likely to run afoul of the open-source GPL3 requirements, not to mention perhaps involving prohibitive fees. Besides, how can you know if you’re required to pay for a patent in the first place?

Some self-appointed commentators have already claimed that Microsoft does not actually have many patents to cover what’s in the document, but Microsoft is believed to be filing very busily nowadays. In that regard, it is probably the most active company at the moment, building barriers and securing an arsenal of software patents.

It was interesting to find that the Vice President and General Counsel of Mozilla has just set up a new blog and his first post deals with prior art and software patents.

We’ve just begun a new project at Mozilla to create a tool that can help defend against invalid software patents. The project is currently sponsored by Mozilla and Emily Berger of the EFF. The problem is that when patents are asserted or enforced, it’s difficult, expensive, and time consuming to find the references (documents or other software/systems) that contain the elements of the asserted patent claims, also known as prior art.

What is Mozilla preparing for and why? Additionally, mind this new example of nasty software patents inside a standard, which prevent cautious engineers from supporting that standard.

You can never have enough money or a fast-enough wireless connection. We can’t help with the money part, but for Wi-Fi users, IEEE 802.11n—with its up to 300Mbps (megabits per second) burst speeds—is the answer.

[..]

Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO), an Australian government research group, has not signed off on 802.11n. Denis Redfern, CSIRO’s vice president of licensing, is reported to have said that the research body is “happy to confirm that CSIRO continues to be willing to license these patents on a worldwide basis to manufacturers of notebook computers, access points and other wireless-enabled products that would otherwise infringe the patents.” But Redfern also said that Wi-Fi vendors haven’t been willing to reach licensing agreements.

This is of course a case against the hardware/networking equivalent of FOSS, which is incompatible with such conditions. Might we continue to see discriminatory and exclusionary standards like these? We saw some yesterday.

Clarification on MySQL and Software Patents

Posted in Database, Europe, Free/Libre Software, Patents, SUN at 9:17 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

I had a conversation with Marten Mickos yesterday. A lot of it was not relevant to this Web site’s focus (e.g. business models), but the issue of MySQL & patents, which was covered here before [1, 2] (quite critically in fact), came up at one stage. There appears to be full alignment in terms of our views. MySQL remains an opposer of software patents in Europe (alongside Sun Microsystems) and it acknowledges the existing problems. In his own words, to quote what he permitted me to share publicly: “As long as we have software patents legally in our market, the owners of such patents may try to make money on them in FOSS environments, and some will succeed.

“Fortunately there are companies with patents that don’t use them in this way. I am not an expert on Sun’s practice in this regard, but my impression is that Sun hasn’t used it patents for revenue extraction from users or producers of free software.”

In Slashdot and elsewhere the bigger question actually revolves around different questions, mainly the closing of some portions of the software, which Mickos has just commented on publicly in Mercury News and ComputerWorld, so in case you are interested, consider the stories below.

1. Closing MySQL: Marten Mickos Responds

Whatever you think of Mickos’s reasoning behind the move, explained below, the company deserves full marks for responding so quickly to a situation that it admits was caused by its own slightly maladroit handling of an announcement, which in retrospect was bound to be controversial. In particular, Mickos seems genuinely to welcome this kind of criticism because he recognises that rapid and honest feedback – whether good or bad – is one of the key advantages of the open source way.

2. Mercury News interview: Fitting MySQL into Sun’s orbit

He also said there’s no decision on how the add-ons may ultimately be licensed.

Urgent Need for Transparency in Procurement, Standards-Setting Process

Posted in Deception, Europe, Free/Libre Software, FUD, GNU/Linux, ISO, Microsoft, OLPC at 9:00 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Visibility a prerequisite in a war against corruption

It has for long been argued — in several different places in fact — that one of the principal adoption barriers for Free software to face is corruption. The obstacles to clear are not purely technical.

“…one of the principal adoption barriers for Free software to face is corruption.”There are quite a few companies that are wealthy enough to engage in corruption and spread disinformation in order to protect their business legacies. Not a single company is blamed here and the problem is not unique to the technology sector (automobiles, pharmaceuticals and oil companies immediately spring to mind), but that is just the reason why companies like Microsoft simply cannot and absolutely must not be ignored (see this recent comment which contains a set of links about Microsoft’s role in derailing OLPC).

The “anti-Microsoft” label (and its equivalent labels) are frequently used [1, 2, 3, 4, 5] to deter those who look under the surface to discover some of the real sources for interference in Free software procurement and embrace of open standards.

Several days ago we began to mention a series of investigative stories from The Inquirer , which was grilling Newham’s CIO, Richard Steele. He has, for quite some time as a matter of fact, been blamed for betraying the British public (taxpayers) by doing legwork for Microsoft. The Inquirer, which has gotten under his skin, continues to reveal more damaging evidence.

The salutary lesson to draw from our dealings, Richard, is not whether you can trust the press. It is rather a lesson in managing expectations, a process every CIO should know well.

The expectations you invested in your 2004 deal with Microsoft, as enshrined in the memorandum of understanding, were also unrealistic.

To recap, the original MOU said the use of Microsoft software would “improve Common Performance Assessment results and Star Ratings” measured by the Audit Commission.

The analysis presented in the INQUIRER on Friday demonstrated that this expectation had not been met.

When we asked you about this on Friday you told us there was a new MOU. Now you accuse us of twisting your words.

How would you prefer to describe what happened to the original agreement? If it has not been scrapped, perhaps it has been decommissioned, recycled, sold on eBay?

Having been told you had drawn up a second MOU with Microsoft, we were clearly interested to learn what new terms you had agreed in the public interest. You said it was confidential. But the first MOU was deemed fit for publication under FOI rules.

You also said the first MOU was only ever a three year deal. But the document was accepted by a Council vote as part of a 10-year deal.

Now four years since you signed the original agreement it is proper for us to ask how well the public money you are giving Microsoft is spent.

It soon becomes clearer that when a company reached out for validation using a study from a firm with which it's associated, then it’s no better than what Microsoft does. It’s an orgy of money and power where one covers the back of peers in order to ensure affluence and protect a closed circulation of influence, excluding GNU/Linux and Free software in the process. This is very timely, particularly in light of Microsoft’s hijack of panels and standards bodies. A day or so ago Bob Sutor called for immediate change, but did so very politely.

Should we require full disclosure by standards participants?

[..]

When people sit around a room debating a standard, should everyone there and those who might be using the standard have the right to

* Know who is financially supporting the people debating or creating the standards technology and documents?
* Review all emails between the participants related to the standard?
* Have public access to the minutes?
* See all drafts of the standards?
* Have the sessions videotaped and streamed out to the general public and web?

ISO in moneyAmong the more recent fiascos that were covered we have the BSI (UK), Kenya, Norway (see photo from the protests below) and even ISO.

Free software rarely fail to meet the needs and demands of the market. It might, on the other hand, fail to fight corruption or play in an equally dirty fashion (fighting fire with fire like the Linux Foundation does).

In this Web site we will continue to strive to expose those who are part of what’s suitably called the “shillcosystem”. If you come across stories that fit this theme, please do share them. The site’s readership has grown significantly in the past week, so a difference is made. The truth is gradually being revealed, so it’s becomes harder to get away with misbehaviour — making it a constructive criticism as opposed to crazed rants.

flickr:2400443777

SpeC#ulation: Tipping Point for GNOME?

Posted in GNOME, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Mono, Patents at 7:20 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

MS-GNOME.NET, anybody?

Two completely independent warning shots were sent to us an hour ago by folks whose name shall remain undisclosed. The first is a pointer to this GNOME announcement stating “not sure what ‘special rules’ means, but I thought you might find it interesting.” It seems to be about dbus, which we wrote about before [1, 2, 3, 4]. The second, which refers to a more recent observation, bears the subject line “Munchkins invading GTK+.” It says: “The GTK+ start page no longer mentions the major development tool, Java, now that it is open source, instead pushing a proprietary substitute…”

      http://www.gtk.org/

      http://www.gtk.org/language-bindings.html

Regarding Debian GNU/Linux, which this reader uses, he adds: “it is important to find out [if more evidence exist]. I hope it does not mean that Debian is breaking its famous Debian Social Contract to allow mono and mono-carrying developers to infect Debian projects. The social contract is one of Debian’s great strengths.

“As the Microsoft barge sinks the bailers are not just bailing their own boat, but tipping the water into other people’s boats. de Icaza and other Microsoft reps are working as fast as they can to contaminate as many projects as they can with Microsoft technologies. On the technical side, it will make the distros more bloated, inefficient and cumbersome. On the legal side, it will make easy pickings for Microsoft lawyers in the trade zones where software patents apply.”

Looking at the cache as supporting evidence, our reader adds: “I looked at archive.org, but it’s next most recent version is from August 2007. Java is, as you point out, listed in last week’s Google cache, but not on the start page. Instead Microsoft C# is being promoted.”

Can anybody shed light on this? Will GNOME promote Microsoft technologies at the expense of open source Java and C++?

Mono is the devil

Links 23/04/2008: Wii Linux Port, T-Mobile and Linux, South Africa Turns to GNU/Linux

Posted in News Roundup at 6:55 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

It’s Official: Epic Censors GNU/Linux Amid Rumours About Predatory Microsoft Takeover

Posted in GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Rumour, Windows at 6:29 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

from the still-a-rumour dept.

Whether this has anything to do with Microsoft or not (let alone whether negotiations with Microsoft take place at all), it’s now confirmed that queries about the anticipated and belated GNU/Linux port simply get deleted. You are encouraged to read the background story, which we told just a couple of days ago.

Last week we shared the sad reality about Unreal Tournament 3 that it’s been 5 months and there’s still no Linux client. There’s not even any sign that the game client will still be made available for Linux once their “legal” problems are resolved. It was mentioned in the news posting that forum moderators for Epic Games, the company behind the Unreal franchise, had been deleting posts of users who had inquired about the status of this game for Linux. There is now confirmation that they are taking such actions to suppress the UT3 Linux talk.

None of the details about Microsoft are confirmed, but it seems possible that a hostile tactic is involved. We might find out soon.

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