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06.02.08

Links 03/06/2008: Triumph for Embedded Linux, Red Hat Wins Big Award

Posted in News Roundup at 11:15 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

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Embedded Linux

Mobile Linux

Asustek and GNU/Linux

GNU/Linux Misc.

Microsoft Vapourware, Bundling and More Failed Products

How OOXML Brought International Unrest

Posted in Asia, Europe, Fraud, ISO, Law, Office Suites, Open XML, OpenDocument, OpenOffice, Standard at 10:41 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

OOXML is fraud

OOXML has been called many things, including the above. Put simply, as plenty of evidence convincingly suggests, OOXML is one of the biggest fraudulent crusades in recent years. To quote another person who is intimately familiar with this matter, Microsoft’s OOXML may be the “greatest scam of computing history.”

The mainstream media and Microsoft’s analysts may have covered the abuse poorly, downplayed it or turned a blind eye to it because falsely accusing someone (let alone a paying client) of fraud leads to risk. Nevertheless, people who were closely involved told their story.

“Some people’s status was wounded by smear campaigns, of which there were many.”Telling the true story is not all that useful unless action is taken to restore justice and retract deeds which have caused great damage, sometimes at a personal level. Some people’s status was wounded by smear campaigns, of which there were many.

OOXML is under fire at the moment, and not just because Microsoft said it would adopt ODF [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6]. Earlier on we wrote about the latest appeal from Venezuela. We still haven’t a confirmation from Denmark (claim originated in a ComputerWorld article), but here is what you find in a new ZDNet UK article about the damage to Dansk Standard’s reputation.

Jesper Jerlang, the director of standardisation for Dansk Standard, the official Danish national standards body, told ZDNet.co.uk on Monday that Dansk Standard “did not agree” that processes had not been followed in the Danish OOXML voting process.

More information about the complaints from Denmark you can find in [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6]. Like in Poland, some Danish people are likely to have lost confidence in their own authorities because of Microsoft’s misbehaviour and sheer abuse of system. Everybody loses because a bully brought the system down.

According to the following new article from Ars technica, an “OOXML revolt” might be brewing. The article is aware only of 3 appeals, but there are more. In addition to this, the BSI came under legal action and the EU silently builds a case.

Here is the overview of just one among several vectors of scrutiny, whose effect is yet to be realised.

OOXML revolt brewing? Three countries appeal ISO approval

India, Brazil, and South Africa are attempting to appeal ISO’s fast-track approval of Microsoft’s controversial Office Open XML (OOXML) format. The organizations representing those countries in ISO complain of process irregularities, lack of inclusiveness during meetings and debates, and insufficient time to address all of the issues and concerns raised by participants during the review process.

There is some more overage of this right here. (cited for the bits we highlight in red)

The chief executives of the two international bodies involved, the International Organization for Standardization and the International Electrotechnical Commission, will take a month to try to work out the complaints with the individual nations’ standards bodies. If the complaints cannot be worked out, wider committees of the two international bodies will take up the issues.

In this particular context, it is worth adding that the IEEE and ISO grew a little closer not so long ago. This was by all means bad news. It was bizarre considering the time it came about (ISO lambasted).

At the end of the day, this uproar reflects badly on Microsoft Office. Should Microsoft be worried about its Office franchise at the moment? Well, just take a look at these screenshots.

RedOffice shows a possible way OOo could develop in the future.

As we wrote before, not only have sales of Microsoft Office declined but the future does not look bright for it, either. Free software is quite a mighty force and the Chinese programmers seem to be working with — not against — OpenOffice.org. RedOffice shows promise and demonstrates the power of derivation and open standards. There is only one document standard for the time being. OOXML got blocked. Hopefully, if justice is permitted to prevail, it will be shunned and dissolved while Microsoft moves to ODF.

flickr:2400034217

Software Patent Deals, Mono, and Other Legal Timebombs

Posted in GNOME, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Mono, Red Hat, Scalix, Ubuntu, Xandros at 9:34 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME and Mono continue to be separable and it’s important to keep it that way. In practice, however, the two are often combined to form GNU/Linux distributions. Yes, unfortunately enough, Mono is also in Fedora. It’s in almost every modern distro with GNOME (if not all the popular ones). Here is the analysis of Ubuntu. We contacted Fedora’s leader and Mark Shuttleworth, from whom the Reply was this. They remain unconvinced and unalerted.

GNOME logoAnother separability to consider is one that divides free GNU/Linux distributions from ones which Microsoft is milking through software patent deals.

Some time ago, Florian von Kurnatowski from Xandros (formerly of Scalix, which was acquired) said to us about Eee PC that there was “no impact or royalties to Redmond in this case, most of it open source, the stuff that’s not ours and Asus’ own development, and given the numbers this little thingy leaves the building in, actually one of the most successful end-user products based on open technology, ever.”

Despite all of this, Sam Varghese seems to insist otherwise. He believes that the Eee PC from ASUS is either affected by the deal or is somewhat of a timebomb (“Trojan horse” is what he calls it)..

Could the eeePC end up being Microsoft’s trojan horse?

[...]

In the excitement of the moment, everyone seems to have forgotten that Xandros is one of the companies that lined up meekly in June 2007 to sign a patent deal with Microsoft.

[...]

No, this kind of patent deal works through the fear factor. Once there is a sufficient large number of people using the software that is susceptible to the FUD factor, the company which has IP in the mix begins a campaign through issuing warnings of one kind or the other.

[...]

For the moment, the eeePC is free of insidious software like Mono and Silverlight, both the creations of the GNOME project co-founder Miguel de Icaza, and both posing susceptible to posing patent threats as they are both implementations of Microsoft technology.

Right now, there is no talk from the folk at Microsoft about any kind of patent threat. That kind of talk seems to have disappeared. But remember the deal with Xandros is a five-year affair – it runs till 2011. What happens after that?

There is some ongoing discussion in the #boycottnovell IRC channel (FreeNode) and some E-mail correspondence which could soon shed some more light (hopefully not Moonlight) on Mono. It’s now said to be believed, based on a reliable source, that Mono is even worse than Moonlight, which we wrote about last week.

Disclaimer: I like GNOME. I use it sometimes. I just don’t trust Mono (and yes, mainly because of Microsoft)

Venezuela Appeals ISO Decision on OOXML (Denmark Reportedly Also)

Posted in America, Free/Libre Software, ISO, Microsoft, Open XML at 5:34 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

A lot has been happening recently in Denmark [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6] where OOXML received a cold reception and abuse of the process was clear for all to see. According to one report, an appeal came from there, but we haven’t a confirmation. As for Venezuela, it’s confirmed to have filed an appeal. A list of incidents from there you can find here. The country is moving towards Free software.

Here is what seems like the earliest report about Venezuela’s appeal. The author too reluctant at this stage to include Denmark in the headline, but we will update this post accordingly when it clears up.

Venezuela has joined the list of countries that have lodged appeals against the adoption of an international standard based on Microsoft’s Office Open XML (OOXML) file format.

[...]

By Monday, though, the IEC had relaxed its interpretation of the directive: Venezuela’s appeal, although filed after May 29, “was filed within the two months of the BRM [ballot resolution meeting] closing so that it is being accepted. (The BRM closed on 29 March 2008 so the interpretation is that the last calendar day of May is being applied),” Buck wrote in an e-mail.

[...]

Computerworld Denmark reported Friday that Denmark filed an appeal with the ISO, although spokesmen at the IEC and ISO would not confirm that.

“I have no confirmation of the Danish report and cannot comment further on that,” the IEC’s Buck said Monday.

That makes 4 or 5 so far (maybe more are yet to emerge), including the world’s second- and third-largest populations. The only problem, however, is one that was mentioned yesterday. ISO and Microsoft have too much control as their own watchers. There ought to be outside intervention.

flickr:2401893632

OpenSUSE Package Mismanagement with Zypper

Posted in GNU/Linux, Novell, OpenSUSE at 10:26 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

In today’s DistroWatch Weekly you might find that the feature article is about Novell’s SUSE. Specifically, it’s about Zypper in OpenSUSE. A reader wrote to us to say: “I thought I should give you a heads up on Ladislav’s butt kissing on openSUSE’s Zypper.” From the article:

I tested the utility on the current development versions of openSUSE 11.0 by using it exclusively for synchronising an installed openSUSE system with the distribution’s “Factory” tree in regular intervals.

YaST updateThe timing is the only conspicuous thing. The reader wanted to know “if Novell paid him to write that,” to use his own words. Asked for evidence of this he said: “No, I have no evidence, but I am very curious. My personal experience of Zypper in OpenSUSE 11 has been pretty poor. It broke my installation completely twice (to the extent that I couldn’t boot) and earlier this year they even had trouble keeping the update server(s) running. I now won’t touch the distro for both personal and political reasons.

“It seems like a very odd piece to write about what I find most people consider a mediocre package manager. I feel if they wanted to promote OpenSUSE prior to release then Distrowatch would be the place to do it. But I’m sure its just my conspiracy theories going into overdrive [...] I would add though that OpenSUSE 11 is still beta (or RC now) software so I guess at least some of my experiences with Zypper are to be expected.”

Microsoft Still Has Too Much Control Over the ISO Process

Posted in FUD, IBM, ISO, Microsoft, Novell, Open XML, OpenDocument at 10:12 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Several large nations have already cast a shadow on the ISO process, which was "brutal and corrupt" based on a conservative assessment from an involved participant. Not everyone was sufficiently vocal, but the evidence gathered over the past months ought to be convincing.

MicrISOftMore than once throughout the process, ISO, which is far from Microsoft-independent, attempted to dodge responsibility and even cover its own track using anything from denial to bizarre secrecy. "You speak, we sue." Way to go, ISO.

Under the fire line of formal complaints, guess who is in charge of ‘Scrutiny Department’? It is once again a case of a fox watching the hen house [1, 2, 3, 4, 5. It’s the same when it comes to software patents [1, 2, 3], the Web, and even Novell (Microsoft has influence inside). But here is the current situation in ISO, as summarised over at Groklaw.

…very same folks who brought you OOXML will decide if they did a good job.

OOXML, the apparently unusable standard that not only we, the public, are not allowed to see, but National Bodies have yet to see, despite a set deadline in the rules for them to have it in hand. How odd that it would not be published prior to the deadline for appeals to be filed. Does that mean the deadline isn’t really the deadline, since other so-called deadlines have proven so squishy? I don’t know, but it makes logical sense that it’s unreasonable to expect appeals to be filed regarding a format whose final draft folks haven’t seen.

Hence, a reminder of the stated principles in ISO’s Code of Ethics about due process and transparency, as well as a reminder that the whole world is watching.

About a week ago, Groklaw stated that Patrick Durusau in the vicinity -- let alone control of -- ODF would not be a safe bet. Perhaps you can head over to Open Malaysia where this slightly broader issue is dissected and tackled.

I really must commend Patrick Durusau’s innate capability of writing the most inflammatory and outrageous publications, publications that are so divorced from reality that one cannot help but think that the dude must be hoarding some seriously good weed to be able to live so completely within his own defined existence. His latest publication, “Not With a Bang, but With a Whimper”, has been receiving flak from the collective open standards community for exactly that reason and rightly so.

[...]

Microsoft has been running an anti-ODF campaign in favour of OOXML for a long long time now. In Malaysia, their campaign started with opposition to Malaysia’s proposed adoption of ODF ISO26300:2006 as a voluntary standard by invoking Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt on the ODF standard. The campaign continued on by personally attacking members of the technical committee who were in favour of ODF, by casting undue aspersions on their characters, in particular, insinuating that we were subversive agents of IBM intent on the destruction of Microsoft (apparently, anybody who supports truly open standards is a biased IBM agent).

Always remember this: it is very important for Microsoft to make ODF analogous with IBM, which it certainly is not. It’s merely a method of putting large corporate entities and their cash footprints on an open standard, which in turns harms the standard’s reputation. As for the smear campaigns, we keep our eye on them and they were discussed earlier today in the #boycottnovell (FreeNode) IRC channel. Microsoft is extremely hypocritical and blind to its bad behaviour. That, however, has always been the case.

“One smaller motivation which, in part, stems from altruism is Microsoft-bashing.”

Vinod Valloppillil, Microsoft

Links 02/06/2008: KDE Report and Screencast, Asustek and GNU/Linux in the News Again

Posted in News Roundup at 9:22 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

GNU/Linux (General)

  • A safe internet system

    In my opinion, Linux is much more secure than any Windows system. But with the technical sophistication of hacks increasing and taking into account the technical skill level of the average computer user, you really have no certainty that any system has not been compromised.

  • Ulteo Virtual Desktop: Running GNU/Linux in Windows

    2008 is shaping up to be the year that GNU/Linux hit the Windows desktop. Already the year has seen the first working version of the KDE Windows project, Wubi, which installs Ubuntu to an existing Windows filesystem, and LiveUSB Creator, a wizard for installing the Fedora distribution to a flashdrive from within Windows.

  • Screencast: Showing Off KDE 4.1

    KDE 4.1, which is supposed to become the KDE4 version usable by ‘normal’ people, is coming at the end of July. When Ars reviewed the beta release, they were positive in that it was moving forward at an “extraordinary pace”.

  • KDE e.V. Quarterly Report 2007Q3/Q4 Now Available
  • Ubuntu Weekly Newsletter Issue93
  • Don’t buy any download accelerator

    Downloading OpenOffice in a handful of minutes instead of half an hour and saturating your 5Mbit ADSL link? Great. Doing so without having to spend a dime. Priceless!.

GNU/Linux Laptops

GNU/Linux Distributions

Free Software/Open Source

Leftovers

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Novell’s Financial Hocus Pocus: How Poorly is It Really Doing? (Updated)

Posted in Finance, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, NetWare, Novell, SLES/SLED at 5:12 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“Novell is dying,” concludes one man

One issue worth exploring is future prospects of Novell. The company is still in a state of gradual transition.

There are 12 of us at the moment in the IRC channel ( #boycottnovell @ FreeNode ), which has just been formally registered. One subject that was willingly brought up is Novell’s latest financial report, which we mentioned a couple of times last week [1, 2].

Here is last year’s annual report (published in December 2007) and the corresponding document on the SEC’s Web site. Also consider this quick analysis, which basically showed us that Novell pays Microsoft for SUSE sales that it makes, based on volume. Here are some notes about the report from March 2008 and here is the latest report, or at least a synopsis (truncated documented). The full report can be found and read here (free registration required).

Beneath the surface you already find some similar responses to ours, e.g. from LinuxToday:

I’d love to know how Novell is going to replace several hundred million dollars of revenue around Netware, which Microsoft is systematically having for lunch, with a pitiful thirty million dollar Linux business that Red Hat wouldn’t get out of bed for. You do the math.

Personally, I seriously doubt the revenue increase claims, because Novell’s Linux business has been treading water around that figure for a few years now. Any revenue increase on such a small figure when compared with their historical Netware revenues (which they have to replace), and those of other companies Novell thinks it competes with, such as Red Hat, are just insignificant.

Further, it says:

Microsoft is not a partner [of Novell]. It’s a very direct competitor, and the reason why Novell went cap in hand to Microsoft is because they can’t compete, they don’t have any idea of the first thing to do to try and compete and they simply want Microsoft to stop taking them to the cleaners. This was all they could come up with to make it stop.

Another person takes a look at the hard numbers

Looking at the “Total net revenue”

2008 – $235,666
2007 – $232,387

Which is good. It is an increase. But it’s an increase of:
$3,279.

Now, the claim is:
29 = x + .31x
29 = 1.31x
22 = x (approx)

So Novell’s Linux segment earned $7 million MORE than last year …

And every other segment is doing good, too …

But the total increase is LESS than the increase of Novell’s Linux segment.

Which really doesn’t make any sense. In order for the total to be less than one of the segments, at least one of the OTHER segments has to be doing worse than last year.

[...]

Someone later jumped in to defend Novell, but the argument backfired because it did not correspond to simple facts.

Yes. And unlike you, I know what “Workgroup product” means. That’s NetWare. Their largest revenue stream is dying.

So a 1% loss in NetWare almost completely offsets a 31% gain in SuSE.

Novell needs to get customers for their Linux product as fast or faster than they lose them from NetWare. And Novell is not doing this.

[...]

If Novell is not gaining market share, then Novell is doing nothing more than milking existing customers.

At best that means that Novell is stagnant.

Otherwise, it means that Novell is dying.

Novell is dying.

Going back to the start, it was Asay who generated the buzz about Novell doing well (a claim backed by Novell’s embellished reports). Looking at his own blog last night, you find this. Given the growth he has been boasting for a long time and also the audiocast where he said that everyone plays the 'bucket game' (including Novell), this just doesn’t seem right.

Update (03/06/2008): This one comes from a notorious author, but it sheds some more light.

Novell made $5.87 million, or two cents a share, in its second fiscal quarter ended April 30 on flat revenues of $235.7 million, up only ~$3 million. A year ago it lost $2.9 million, down a penny.

Legal and R&D cost it $4.5 million.

On a non-GAAP basis, income from operations for the second fiscal quarter 2008 was $16 million versus $9 million last year.

The company’s product revenue from Open Platform Solutions, almost all of it Linux, came to $30 million, up 31%.

Service revenues were down 19% to $41.1 million.

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