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05.28.08

Microsoft is Attacking GNU/Linux from Fort 25 [sic]

Posted in GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Windows at 10:37 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“Port 25 heals cancer”

Great catch from Glyn Moody who says:

One of the unexpected benefits of Microsoft’s desire to get some hot openness-juice is that in its effort to appear open it is revealing far more of its internal thought processes. Here’s a fascinating document coming out of that – actually a job advertisement for the post of Senior Marketing Manager – Open Source Community.

[...]

So, let’s see, who’s the loser here? Oh, look, it’s GNU/Linux: moving the “open source stacks” to the Microsoft platform means swapping out GNU/Linux for Windows. Indeed, as I’ve suggested before, this represents the core idea of Microsoft’s current tactics: to marginalise GNU/Linux, while making soothing noises to the world of open source apps.

Why might that be? Well, if you think about it, GNU/Linux is by far the most mature, most successful and most resilient open source project. Open source apps, by contrast, are relatively nenwcomers to the enterprise scene, with weak roots there. Bolstering the latter will do very little harm to Microsoft’s bottom line; encouraging them to work with Microsoft on Windows ports, and then encouraging customers to play Swap-a-Stack will, though, undermine GNU/Linux’s growing position in the enterprise.

Remember our very recent post about Blender. It’s just one among many examples.

“Linux is a cancer that attaches itself in an intellectual property sense to everything it touches.”

Steve Ballmer, Microsoft CEO

For All Your Support Needs, Walk Away from Novell

Posted in Asia, GNU/Linux, Novell, Servers, Ubuntu at 10:31 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Say No to Novell

Some time ago in BrainShare 2008, support from Novell was said to have been deficient. Partners and/or customers complained about poor skills. One bank, for example, said that it was often “hard-pressed to find qualified workers with adequate technical knowledge of the [Novell] products.” Here is another such story which is brand new. It might even inspire you.

…Oxford Archaeology initially adopted Novell SUSE Linux Enterprise but later switched to Ubuntu because Novell’s British office was not responsive in providing support, he said.

Luckily, Novell seems to be addressing these issues, but if you live in the US or Europe, you may be out of luck.

Novell and India

Novell’s new relationship with Genovate was mentioned over the weekend. Some of Novell’s weaknesses were also mentioned last week, following the company's buybacks and changes in leadership.

These weakness can be seen from all sorts of different angles, despite Novell’s attempt to conceal and embellish. Another interesting part of this may be the “Novell Academic courses” (in India) and offshoring to India. Here are a few articles from the past 5 days alone:

1. Genovate Becomes Novell’s First Platinum Partner In India

Genovate’s subsidiary, RapidStart, to work with local universities and conduct Novell Academic courses.

[...]

Genovate currently operates in nine cities across India which include Mumbai, Cochin, Trichy, Ahmedabad, Pune, Lucknow, Mangalore, Baroda, Hyderabad and Bengaluru. Genovate is also looking at catering to both individuals seeking training in relevant fields and institutes alike. RapidStart, Genovate’s subsidiary in India, will strategise in working with local universities and conduct Novell’s academic courses.

2. Singapore firm to offer Novell courses in India

Singapore-based Genovate Solutions, a high-end technology company that provides business applications, software solutions and consulting besides educational programmes and training services in the Asia-Pacific region, is all set to offer Germany-based Novell’s certified courses in India.

3. India gung-ho about open source: Novell

The Suse Linux proponent recently awarded Genovate, an IT training company, the ‘platinum partner’ status. The partnership would enable Genovate to undertake dedicated account management, business planning and the opportunity to co-engage with Novell on major customer opportunities. Through this partnership Genovate will offer Novell Commercial Training, the most technical instruction program offered by Novell.

The demand for the technology, according to Swenson largely stems from government organisations and with many large organizations opting for the easy to deploy software, the training requirement is equally huge. “A single (open source) project required 500 trainees,” she said referring to a project with the Government of TamilNadu, a southern Indian state.

A clarification ought to be made, just in case. This is not a protest against overseas labour. It’s just an observation.

Moonlight: Patent Bait Inside Your GNU/Linux Distribution

Posted in GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Mono, Novell, Patents, SUN at 10:09 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Why sue? Just cross-licence. Same thing, looks better.

We have been denouncing and protesting against Moonlight’s legal baggage since the very beginning. Miguel de Icaza joined in, but he woke up to smell the coffee when it was a little too late. He had already implemented the little monster. He trusted Microsoft and wanted us to trust his deceptive friends from Microsoft, too.

Head over to Groklaw and find out just why Moonlight is poison inside your GNU/Linux box, unless you’re a paying Novell customer. The concluding sentence:

My conclusion now, after having reviewed it, is the same as I predicted. This is worthless and potentially harmful vapor-speak.

Fortunately, adoption of Silverlight is poor, so whichever desktop environment or distribution you’re using, you might never require Mono. You can vocally object if Webmasters use this technology, which excludes Microsoft’s #1 competitor (as confirmed by Ballmer back in February and implicitly acknowledged by Ray Ozzie only yesterday). Don’t permit Microsoft to tax the Free Desktop.

“Without a fight, let alone a disclosure, it’s even worse to surrender if you have counterparts like Mandriva, Ubuntu, Red Hat, etc.”As a side note, the term “Linux tax” seems to be used spuriously at the moment. It talks about the cost of PCs with GNU/Linux preinstalled. Can you sense an ambiguity here? Should “Linux tax” not be a referral to the equivalent of “Windows tax”, wherein Microsoft uses mythical software patents to threaten vendors until they pay for GNU/Linux (thus the term “Linux tax”)? These are two separate things.

NetApp's lawsuit against Sun ought to teach us about the risk of allowing Free software to be taxed; there are lessons to be learned here. As the latest development shows, software patents may be moot in the court of law (see fragment below), so the worst one can do is give up and pay up like Novell did. Without a fight, let alone a disclosure, it’s even worse to surrender if you have counterparts like Mandriva, Ubuntu, Red Hat, etc. Novell should work with them, not against them (with Microsoft).

Portfolio Media, New York (May 27, 2008)–A judge has partly stayed software company Network Appliance Inc.’s patent lawsuit against rival Sun Microsystems Inc. over Sun’s ZFS technology, pending the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s re-examination of one of the patents in the suit.

One reader wrote to us just moments ago. He explains this situation better than we have:

“I saw it mentioned that Microsoft has “never sued anyone for patent infringement.” Some even go so far as to make the silly assumption that they do not like patents. That may have been true in the beginning, when Bill Gates wrote his now-famous memo on software patents in the early ’90′s. Now, Microsoft has made their peace with patents.

“They are in a bind at present, but they certainly are not suing out of benevolence. As Bill Gates said, “if you can’t make it good, at least make it look good.””“I can recall generally an instance several years ago where there was a free software project which aimed to be able to play Windows media files. It was shut down due to patent threats from Microsoft, when the author decided he couldn’t afford to defend a possible suit in court. In recent times, their attitude could well be summarised with “why sue when you can generate FUD and cross-licensing deals with threats?” Also, there are some good reasons for Microsoft to hold fire and not try to assert their patents in court.

“The first is that they may get a negative outcome in that their patent would be ruled invalid and they would be faced with a countersuit. Another reason is anti-trust related. I doubt the anti-trust authorities would look favourably on it if Microsoft tries patents as a further method to exclude competition. They are now testing the waters with their appeal of the latest EU sanctions to see if the court will see things their way and somehow rule that, yes indeed, intellectual property rights do trump anti-trust laws. Finally, Microsoft is making all of these soothing noises about “openness” lately, which include “covenants not to sue.” They may be afraid of a negative public relations backlash if they were to sue an open source project at this time. They are in a bind at present, but they certainly are not suing out of benevolence. As Bill Gates said, “if you can’t make it good, at least make it look good.” If they wanted to make it good, they wouldn’t sue *and* they wouldn’t make patent threats in the first place.”

Related readings:

Monopoly

Links 28/05/2008: Red Hat Big in Japan, Many Machines with GNU/Linux Preinstalled

Posted in News Roundup at 8:50 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

GNU/Linux

F/OSS

Microsoft

Google

Security

Patent Caution: Microsoft Site a Campaign to Change Europe to Microsoft’s Benefit

Posted in Courtroom, Europe, Hardware, Microsoft, Patents at 4:47 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Smell the lobbyists and patent trolls

The affairs of Microsoft with European leaders is something that was explored here before. Using funds, favours, visits to one’s house and so forth, country leaders can be used to pass specific laws or even to lobby for lock-in such as OOXML. That’s the reality.

“It appears to offer some early hints about another Microsoft ‘propaganda campaign’ for stronger intellectual monopoly.”Apart from direct contact or subversive touch with politicians, there’s lobbying (more indirect and subtle) to worry about as well. It’s harder to track. All of these things are means of changing the rules until they align with a company’s goal.

A new Web page has just been spotted by Digital Majority. It appears to offer some early hints about another Microsoft ‘propaganda campaign’ for stronger intellectual monopoly. It’s part of a whole Web site dedicated to “EU SME Day”. The name says very little about the fact that this revolves around Microsoft. Remember Document Freedom Day and the fake site that was erected to deceive? This one rings deja vu.

Microsoft’s pressure group, ACT, is neither new to us nor is it a friend [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8], but it’s already on the programme.

Fighting for Europe’s Community Patent

The European Commission is again gearing up to launch support for a community patent. Association of Comeptitive Technologies (ACT) to explore where entrepreneurs can directly communicate to policy makers why a community patent must succeeed and what it should look like.

Apart from the typos above (perhaps Microsoft’s spellchecker broke, wasn’t included with Windows by default because you need to purchase Office, or — as mentioned some hours ago — requires a patent licence to be obtained), the role of ACT mustn’t be ignored. Had Microsoft approached this issue directly, it would have less credibility. So it works by proxy here, just as it did when it sent ACT to fight the EU's antitrust decision, the GPLv3, ODF, and so forth.

The Community Patent is a prelude or a back door to software patents and there are a couple of other rants about software patents which are worth bringing up because they are new. Here is the first one [via Digital Majority], which relates to the Microsoft/Alcatel-Lucent court battles [1, 2, 3, 4].

If Alcatel-Lucent patented this interface, I suppose I should have done the same back in 1987 when I wrote a similar interface for a custom application I was contracted to design. The point is, it’s a CALENDAR! Who owns the patent (or worse, the copyright) on the Gregorian calendar, or the method in which it is used? What about the algorithm used to calculate dates, Easter, leap years, or Daylight Savings Time? It’s not that I’m a huge fan of Microsoft or an opponent of Alcatel-Lucent; I’m neither. But to see items like this make me wonder where the patent issue stops.

Here is a Tech Dirt item which cites a new book on the subject.

James Bessen and Michael Meurer, authors of an important new book on the patent system, have a great post on the problems created specifically by software patents.

[...]

Bessen and Meurer don’t offer a strong recommendation on the best way to solve the problems with software patents, but they tentatively endorse a “subject matter test” — that is, reinstating the ban on software patents — as one part of a solution to the problem.

While the following is not related to software, it is another example of the nature of patents, which seems not to meet the original goals of the system.

Sony, Sanyo, Others Settle LED Patent Complaint

Four consumer electronics companies, including Sony and Sanyo Electric, have settled a complaint that they were infringing a patent on semiconductors related to LEDs and laser diodes used in products such as mobile phones, billboards, Blu-ray disc players and data storage devices, according to lawyers for the patent holder.

Don’t permit this to seem so innocent. To put this in perspective, pay attention to the claimant and recall what we wrote previously about Miss Gertrude 'Embargo' Neumark Rothschild. 30 companies, eh? ‘Innovation’ never flourished so much.

Microsoft’s View of Standards

Posted in GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Standard, Windows at 3:49 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

This is interoperability?

Will you look at the mess Microsoft is leaving not just in networks (e.g. CIFS), gaming (DirectX), documents (OOXML) and hardware (e.g. ACPI [PDF]) but is also spreading across the World Wide Web? Here are several eye openers from the news:

Linux Users: no MSDN downloads for you!

If you actually try to download files using Linux and Firefox on the latest version of the MSDN site — which was launched just about two months ago — you’ll find out that the choices are all grayed out, even though you have a legit entitlement. Curiously, the same problem also occurs for me on Firefox 3 RC1 and Beta 5 for Windows (although others have told me their experiences were different).

Perhaps this has been the case for a while, but with Microsoft being all Interoperability Committed, maybe, just maybe they should consider making their support web sites more platform-independent.

When all else fails, modify all Web page to inform Microsoft?

Microsoft urges developers to tag sites for IE8

[...]

According to Microsoft, developers can render sites with an IE 7 mode using this code:

<meta http-equiv=”X-UA-Compatible” content=”IE=7″ />

Make no mistake. Microsoft deliberately ignored Web standards in order to stifle competition and now it politely asks people to modify their Web sites to include browser-specific information, which is a no-no. Lastly, regarding Microsoft’s treatment of the Web in general, here is what Tim O’Reilly had to say quite assertively yesterday.

There is strong evidence that the platform that’s emerging is more like Linux than it is like Windows. That is, no one player is going to own all the pieces. But that could change if someone owned enough of the pieces that everyone else became dependent on them. So I’d be much more concerned about a single player rolling up unrelated and complementary pieces of the larger internet OS till they owned critical mass in multiple areas than I would be about a single player owning a best of breed application in one area or another.

The sooner we start getting serious about interoperability between best-of-breed services (the next step up from first generation mashups), the safer we’ll be against a single dominant player turning their subsystem into the “one ring that rules them all.”

2. I think Google understands the need for interoperability better than Microsoft. When Eric Schmidt says “don’t fight the internet,” I believe he means it.

Let this remind you that Microsoft is neither open nor does it honour interoperability. Microsoft is the same unethical beast that it has been since its inception. It just happens to sweet-talk a little more often than it used to. It conceals bad behaviour using promises, exclusionary self-serving patents deals, and buzzwords like “open”. It’s still trying to associate Live Mesh with “openness” (last seen yesterday), despite the fact that it’s all about Windows and Microsoft. That, in conclusion, is why nothing has changed. Microsoft hates standards and tolerates no competition.

“Fucking Eric Schmidt is a fucking pussy. I’m going to fucking bury that guy, I have done it before, and I will do it again. I’m going to fucking kill Google.”

Steve Ballmer, Microsoft CEO (according to Wikipedia)

Related but older:

Microsoft yesterday announced a beta of its Microsoft Office Live Workspace beta, an online platform were users can store documents and share them with others. Reviews of Microsoft Office Live Workspace have been varied but if you’re running Linux you won’t get to use the Live Workspace at all.

Microsoft has put up an invitation to share the love, but not with Linux (just bear with me, it will make sense in the end). With Valentine’s Day just a few weeks away, the teams over at Windows Live and Microsoft Silverlight have joined their forces to enable users to spread and share their love.

We all know Microsoft views Linux as a serious threat and will do just about anything to discourage its use. But why would application vendors who actually face competition from Microsoft help it out in this regard? That’s what one reader was wondering after discovering that his customers could no longer use a Linux server with their favorite accounting packages.

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