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Links 10/05/2008: Vista ‘Security’ Just Vapourware (Smoke-Blowing), Google Dines in Microsoft’s Turf

Posted in News Roundup at 12:38 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

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Microsoft + Government + Patent Troll Push Against Free Software

Posted in Europe, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Patents at 12:08 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Obligatory NO-FUD Clarification/Disclaimer: Knowing the threat and recognising foes makes you more defensible, less uncertain, and less vulnerable

In this continued pursuit for identification of attacks on GNU/Linux we spot some other (old & new) intrusion vectors. We previously mentioned the push in the UK to crack down on — or at least expose (in the transparency sense alone, i.e. no action) — heavy corporate lobbying activities, which are akin to bribery that’s legalised, no matter how questionable this analogy may seem. It has been only a week since the last update. This came from The Register which is at it once again. A blast from the past comes loose in this new follow-up article,

The IT industry has had an often controversial role in lobbying European institutions. There was heavy criticism of dodgy campaigns in favour of software patents in 2005. In its battle with the European courts Microsoft drafted in big companies and even the US government to lobby on its behalf.

We wrote about Microsoft’s intimate relationship with the United States Government many times before, including here.

“Microsoft is still trying to acquire some laws overseas — laws that essentially ban Free software or put a legal cloud over its head, which is bad for business.”To those who are still wondering why decent proportions of GNU/Linux users seem obsessed with Microsoft, just watch the article above. Microsoft is still trying to acquire some laws overseas — laws that essentially ban Free software or put a legal cloud over its head, which is bad for business.

You may or may not remember Finjan, which is a UK-based company that is partly owned by Microsoft. Recently it appeared to be making a subtle push for software patents in the UK and to an extent these recent pushes (a joint effort) have been fruitful.

Meanwhile, over at IDG, Microsoft’s own patent troll extraordinaire, Nathan Myhrvold, gets another mention. He had been receiving a lot of undeserved attention recently [1, 2].

Nathan Myhrvold, former chief technology officer of Microsoft, commissioned the Difference Engine No. 2 that is set to debut at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California, on Saturday. It’s the second such engine built from plans left by Charles Babbage, a 19th-century mathematician who was never able to build one. Myhrvold now leads Intellectual Ventures, a Bellevue, Washington, company, which he says fosters “invention capital” to help inventors get their products into the real world, but critics say it’s a “patent troll,” buying up patents so it can later sue companies that use them.

Keep a close eye on this troll. He mocks Free software (video evidence herein). Microsoft could use him a proxy and one mustn’t forget Acacia [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10].

Do-No-Evil Saturday – Part III: Novell’s GNU/Linux (SUSE) Business and Some New Videos

Posted in GNU/Linux, HP, IBM, Microsoft, Novell, Servers, SLES/SLED, SUN, Videos at 11:50 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Novell’s GNU/Linux business may not be flourishing, but there are some deals and contracts which we ought to at least keep track of.


SAP, Novell, H-P and IBM found themselves sort of falling in love, with the exception of H-P and IBM that are competing fiercely (also against Sun Microsystems).

SAP, as part of its effort to lure more midsize business customers, will introduce appliance-like systems pre-loaded with its ERP software, a database, and a Linux operating system, running on hardware from Hewlett-Packard or IBM.

The press release about SUSE and H-P for SAP’s service is here.

Reliable and Affordable SAP(R) Business All-in-One Solution with SAP(R) MaxDB(TM) Database and SUSE Linux Enterprise from Novell to Be Preconfigured, Pretested and Preinstalled on HP Systems

This one is about SAP and Novell.

Six solutions highlight integration of Novell’s identity and security products with SAP solution-based environments, enabling customers to further maximize their investments

Another article about H-P, SAP and SUSE:

The new turnkey solution will also include SAP’s MaxDB database based on SUSE Linux Enterprise from Novell.


There is some more from H-P exclusively. While H-P continues to obey its masters at Microsoft, it is willing to also support Microsoft's partner. It puts SLED 10 on some low-cost laptops, which were reviewed by CNET.

The good: Inexpensive; solid construction; stylish design belies its budget price; nearly full-size keyboard.

The bad: Weak performance; unimpressive battery life; tiny touch pad; misses out on new Intel Atom CPUs.

Also reaching CNN — a puzzling gesture to some:

HP’s bold entry into the mini notebook market comes in the form of the 2133 Mini-Note PC, a 9-inch laptop with a tailored look and magnesium alloy chassis that starts at $599 for Windows (or $499 for Linux) and tops out at $749 with extras including Bluetooth, a Webcam, a 7,200 rpm hard drive, and 2GB of RAM.


It is rather sad to find even the United States Government now relies on some Microsoft ‘Linux tax’, but what can you do?

NASA ditches Itanic for new Xeon-based SGI giant


The two organizations announced today that SGI will build a whopping 20,480-core system for NASA Ames in Mountain View, California. The giant will run on four-core versions of Intel’s Xeon chip and should reach peak performance of 245 Teraflops, which would make it one of the fastest computers in the world. The system, centered around SGI’s Altix ICE hardware, will also boast – gulp – 20,800 GB of memory and 450TB of storage.

The computer will also be water-cooled and run Suse Linux.


A couple of press releases from Voltaire shout about SUSE and Novell. Here is the first one:

First InfiniBand Provider to Offer Enterprise-Class Support for OFED on Multivendor Hardware


Novell is the first customer to take advantage of the new offering.

And here is the second one.

“As more customers select SUSE Linux Enterprise for their high-bandwidth and low-latency computing needs, we’re seeing increased adoption of InfiniBand – particularly in financial services and manufacturing,” said Moiz Kohari, vice president of engineering for Novell. “It was important for Novell to provide a complete support offering to these customers, and we selected Voltaire based on its leadership in delivering end-to-end InfiniBand support.”

New Videos

Remember Novell’s ‘own’ version of OpenOffice.org? We criticised this whole idea of Novell Edition in the past, even just a few days ago. Nevertheless, here comes a video demo of it.

Ogg Theora

The Oggs took a while to produce for our readers’ convenience (and more importantly their freedom). Convenient it is not to us (very time-consuming), but freedom comes at a cost.

Here are a couple more Novell videos that have just been added to YouTube.

Novell SUSE caso de sucesso Casas Bahia

Ogg Theora

Seu Linux está Pronto

Ogg Theora

This last one seems to speak about a migration to SUSE, but it’s not truly interesting in any way.

Quick Mention: What on Earth is Microsoft Doing to Fine Wine?

Posted in Microsoft, Windows, Wine at 10:55 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

A colleague of mine at the office has just told me that Microsoft is scanning the Registry files to ensure there’s no Wine in there. Wine has just reached RC of the highly-anticipated version 1.0 [*], but the issue was brought up an hour ago for other reasons. “They check the configuration key for Wine and prevent it from updating,” he says. I believe he’s referring to an installation of Free software on top of something like Cygwin because I found the notion of running Wine under a ‘sub-environment’ in Windows a little unfamiliar. We use different terminology and and he speaks of his brother’s experience, which he was able to verify after some googling. “If you have it installed on your computer, they block the configuration key,” he adds.

We’ve covered before some of the impact of the software patent deals on Wine (last discussed here, with this follow-up confirming some things). it’s something to explore a little later if time permits. The Billwatch Archive has many analogous stories from one decade ago (c/f Java sabotage, Corel, OLE "garbage").

[*] Wine 1.0 Releases Candidate Released

This is release 1.0-rc1 of Wine, a free implementation of Windows on Unix.

This is the first release candidate for Wine 1.0. Please give it a good testing to help us make 1.0 as good as possible.

Leaked Memo Reveals Microsoft’s Latest Anti-GNU/Linux Moves

Posted in Antitrust, GNU/Linux, HP, Microsoft, OLPC at 10:31 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Dumping Windows? Then Microsoft will dump virtually gratis copies.

This one has been circulating for the past few hours (also sent to Groklaw and added by now). The articles really speak for themselves and they all originate from (or cite) IDG. Although it is not related to Novell, it sure relates to anti-consumer — and probably anti-competitive too — moves from Microsoft. One issues we have been tracking in this Web site is Microsoft’s ‘dumping crusade’ against GNU/Linux (see links at the very bottom).

The latest is this:

Microsoft to limit capabilities of cheap laptops


Microsoft plans to offer PC makers steep discounts on Windows XP Home Edition to encourage them to use that OS instead of Linux on ultra low-cost PCs (ULPCs). To be eligible, however, the PC vendors that make ULPCs must limit screen sizes to 10.2 inches and hard drives to 80G bytes, and they cannot offer touch-screen PCs.

The program is outlined in confidential documents that Microsoft sent to PC makers last month, and which were obtained by IDG News Service. The goal apparently is to limit the hardware capabilities of ULPCs so that they don’t eat into the market for mainstream PCs running Windows Vista, something both Microsoft and the PC vendors would want to avoid.


Microsoft notes that the OSes under consideration for the devices include Windows and Linux. Some PC makers have expressed a preference for Linux because it helps them keep down the cost of the devices.


By offering Windows XP Home Edition at bargain prices, Microsoft hopes to secure its place in the ULPC market and reduce the use of Linux, according to an official at one PC maker, who asked not to be identified because he was not authorized to discuss the program.

“[Low-cost PC makers] have made some good inroads with open-source, and Microsoft wants to put a stop to it,” the official said.

The official did not seem opposed to the program. It should stimulate more competition between Windows and Linux in the ULPC market, and it could invigorate sales because consumers who want an easy-to-use PC are likely to prefer Windows, the official said.

What we might be seeing here is a case of spec-fixing, price-fixing, collusion, and anti-competitive practices. For further explanation refer back to previous posts that dissect and explain similar incidents (appended to the bottom of this post).

A reader has sent us another relevant article on this. It speaks even more directly and bluntly about GNU/Linux as Microsoft’s threat in mind.

Microsoft U-turn to stop Linux dominating ultra low cost PCs


By offering Windows XP Home Edition at bargain prices, Microsoft hopes to secure its place in the ULPC market and reduce the use of Linux, according to an official at one PC maker, who asked not to be identified because he was not authorised to discuss the programme.

Mind the fairly juvenile-yet-honest comments added to the article above. Additionally, from USENET (half an hour ago):

   From: Richard Rasker < spamtrap@linetec.nl>
   Newsgroups: comp.os.linux.advocacy
   Subject: Microsoft pushes crippleware to defeat Linux
   Date: Sat, 10 May 2008 16:52:46 +0200

I hoped that the recent stream of lightweight Linux laptops wold mark the
beginning of a liberated computer market, with real competition, leading to
ever more powerful machines for lower prices, and more consumer choice.
But apparrently Redmond not only wants to claim what it thinks should be its
share of the market, but now it seems they also want to dictate what those
machines should be capable of — as in: cheap Windows infected laptops must
also be severely crippled in the hardware department, no doubt in order to
keep their Vista crapware sales up.


So what will happen? If enough manufacturers give in to the bastards from
Redmond, pretty soon the only cheap laptops built will be the ones
complying with Microsoft’s crippling standards — and together with the
huge discount Microsoft gives on their crapware, they will make certain
that cheap, powerful Linux laptops are pushed from the market even faster
than they appeared.

This is yet another very clear example where our convicted monopolist once
again tries abuse its dominant position for the sole purpose of maintaining
that position — once again screwing customers and the market alike.

OK, over to you, Windolts, to explain that artificially crippled Windows
preloaded machines under Microsoft’s control are better for consumers than
far more powerful Linux machines for the same price.

Richard Rasker

Many thoughts and stories spring to mind given this rather obnoxious context. One article you are encouraged to read is this one: Microsoft selling hobbled software to poor countries

Surprisingly, no-one seems to have told Microsoft that it is not good marketing strategy to treat your customers as if they are stupid. Which is exactly what the company is doing with the release in Africa of the stripped-down operating system it calls Windows XP Starter Edition.

Microsoft South Africa launched Windows XP Starter Edition (XPSE) into the African market last week with very little fanfare and market hype.

Which is not surprising considering how the product was received by other media on its intial launch in 2004. Known for its straight talking, The Register labelled XPSE “crippleware”. Analysts Gartner said the product had “good intent, poor execution”.

Also see this article from July last year: The Problem with Crippleware

Imposition of development limits is something Microsoft is truly find of, not to mention EULAs that forbid benchmarking and Novell-like deals with an implicit non-compete clause.

Other recent posts you are strongly encouraged to read are about Intel's and Microsoft's sabotage of the GNU/Linux-based OLPC and the collusion fiasco which involves the Microsoft ‘holy trinity’, including companies like Intel and Hewlett-Packard. It’s about Windows Vista, so it’s recent. What we see here is by no means ethical, not as much as greedy. It’s a case of companies conspiring against customers by limiting choice, fixing prices, reducing feature sets, etc.

Twice very recently we wrote about the Eee PC incident from Australia [1, 2], so Microsoft’s tactics are already proving effective. Perhaps. A reliable source in the UK told us that Asustek receives considerable discounts from Microsoft for the Eee PC, so the leaked plan that’s unveiled above may have already taken effect, quietly.

Related posts:

Boycott Novell Crosses 3,000 Posts Milestone

Posted in Boycott Novell, GNU/Linux, Site News at 3:03 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Shane Coyle, the founder of this Web site, officially announced the site's birth on November 13th, 2006. Today, almost exactly a year and a half later, Shane and I can proudly say that this is the 3,000th post. What a long ride it has been and how quickly it flew by!

Among the interesting statistics:

  • Around 40% of this Web site’s readers use GNU/Linux
  • The site’s Netcraft rank (for traffic) is 3,866th
  • Noteworthy citations (links to our site) include: Forbes Magazine, Spiegel Online, front page of OpenOffice.org

Thanks for reading.

SUSE Post Microsoft: It Goes Down

Posted in GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Novell, OpenSUSE, SLES/SLED at 2:52 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Oriskany ship sinks

SUSE in Google Trends
Click image for more details

Links 10/05/2008: Case Study for GNU/Linux on the Desktop, Multi-Pointer Support in X

Posted in News Roundup at 2:41 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

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