EditorsAbout the SiteComes vs. MicrosoftUsing This Web SiteSite ArchivesCredibility IndexOOXMLOpenDocumentPatentsNovellNews DigestSite NewsRSS


Links 03/05/2008: GNU/Linux Deployments, Phones, More Laptops

Posted in News Roundup at 12:46 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



  • Acer aspires to lead low-cost laptop race

    At $379, the Aspire One is cheaper than the runaway hit Eee PC from Asus, whose 9-inch version begins at $549 for the Linux version, and the $499 Linux-based Hewlett-Packard Mini-Note. (CNET has not yet reviewed the Aspire One, but stay tuned.)

  • ASUS Eee Box Preview & Intel’s Atom Benchmarked

    The same configuration with Windows XP will run you $299, or for the same amount of money you can purchase a 160GB/2GB system also with Linux. Microsoft won’t allow PCs to be sold with > 80GB HDDs preloaded with Windows XP and thus the top end configuration is only available with Linux.

  • Asus Eee PC 1000 vs Atom-based 901 vs original 701… fight!
  • A Profusion of Minis

    Maybe it’s all a plot to keep Windows XP alive. To prevent a mass defection of these products to Linux, Microsoft has said it will continue to make XP available after its June 30 retail cutoff date, to these low-cost, low-power systems that simply don;t have the horsepower to run the newer operating system well.


GNU/Linux Desktop

Open Source Software

Open-Source (Not Software)

Fun with Windows

Beware the Novell Talking Heads and Passive Sympathisers

Posted in Deception, GNU/Linux, Novell, Red Hat, Ubuntu at 12:09 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Good publicity through wealth and pressure

About a month ago we wrote about what was called "Novell boosters" in the press. There are several people whose eyes are kept regularly on Novell (e.g. in Beta News), employees whose role in the press reveals a conflict of interest, and other naive people who are simply used by Novell to propagate public relations messages as though they are facts.

Matt Asay used to be a vocal critic of Novell (despite his past career at Novell). The guys at Novell, some of whom are former colleagues of his, bent his arm a little on numerous occasions and gave him a hard time.

GNOME RPMOver time, things changed. He couldn’t criticise Novell in peace any longer, no matter how justified him claims and accusations were. He was receiving E-mails while his new partner at CNET (Dave of MuleSource) received rabid trolling that he told me about. ‘Daring’ to tell Novell off became a no-no, or at least became a burden and a risk. Things changed a little further more recently when Asay did some PR stunts around Novell’s poor financial results [1, 2, 3].

Not much has changed. He now comes out (yes, once more) to defend Novell’s latest FUD attack on Red Hat. He actually pushed this into Linux Today, by submission. Here is the first response (the only one at the time of writing):

Matt Asay – believing anything he read this afternoon.

Novell stands more-or-less alone in the enterprise Linux desktop market. Just ask Peugeot, Italy’s parliament, and the others who use SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop.

So I’m guess that Novell just sent Matt Asay an press release about those two deployments.

Ubuntu owns the consumer Linux desktop market (through deals with Dell and others), but Novell may well stand alone (for now) in the enterprise market.

Or … it MAY NOT!

You’ll never know because you cannot do any research. All you can do is parrot whatever you’ve heard most recently.

What is Novell’s market share for SuSE?

How does that compare to Ubuntu’s market share?

You don’t know? How could I have guessed that?

Or perhaps Red Hat and Ubuntu are approaching the enterprise Linux desktop market through the most strategically important ways: Developing nations (Red Hat) and consumers (Ubuntu). Your thoughts?

Again, why not do the research yourself?

This make one sigh. To think that all this shallow analysis about GNU/Linux on the desktop comes from a person who earlier today (or yesterday) boasted about the use of Macs and argued that open source developers were moving to Macs, which is not true but more of a case of wishful thinking for those seeking to justify personal preference and sometimes incompetence in dealing with intuitive GNU/Linux distributions (or stubbornness that antagonises learning curve).

The same pitch is repeatedly echoed also by Sam Dean over at OStatic. People who do not use GNU/Linux ought to write less about it (if at all). Comparing distributions or assessing differences without actually knowing or using them means that the speculative press — rather than actual users — can deceive and inappropriately set trends based on perception alone.

Germany and Denmark Show Signs of Endorsement of Appeals, Complaints Against ISO OOXML

Posted in Asia, Europe, Formats, ISO, Microsoft, Open XML, OpenDocument, Standard at 11:30 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

[Correction: See the comments at the bottom. The Heise article suddenly changed to say the very opposite from what it initially had.]

More unrest across Europe

They are falling like domino pieces. Call it “network effect” or call it the comfort of a peer, but whatever it is, the world is waking up and protests only at the 90th minute. That’s better than nothing at all.

We are already aware of four formal appeals against OOXML, but as we stressed before, there might be more coming, assuming that something was misunderstood, someone was misinformed, or the process delayed without (or due to) unexpected disruption. The person whose word you can count on the most at this stage is Andy Updegrove.


Earlier today, on a couple of occasions in fact, we mentioned Denmark’s role in the latest wave of backlash against OOXML.

Pointing at this article, Roy Bixler wrote a short while ago: “I understand also that Groklaw has posted an article on this. It’s looking more and more like Denmark really has made a formal appeal.”

There is some more analysis at Linux Journal, whose editor took a look at Groklaw (and the ongoing discussion/translation phase), as well.

Denmark Backs Up the OOXML Outrage


So far, South Africa and Brazil have lodged formal appeals with the ISO, while several other countries are battling it out against their national standards bodies via their national governments. Jacob Holmblad — the Dansk Standard Director/ISO Vice President — told Computerworld that he will be in Geneva next week, and expects to see the issue addressed while he is there. Something tells us, however, that it will be a long, long time before we finally see the OOXML debacle truly addressed.

So, do we have an appeal, as we cautiously suspected when a complaint came from Venezula and then confirmed as a substantiated appeal? We shall find out pretty soon.


Germany too has become a little more vocal. Don’t miss the following nugget of information from Heise Online. [via Andy Updegrove]

The German standards institute, the Deutsches Institut für Normung (DIN), which despite reported voting irregularities, voted for OOXML, has yet to form its opinion on the appeals. A spokesperson told heise online that a majority of the steering committee of the IT and Applications Standardisation Committee (NIA) has recognised that there has been a serious breach of JTC 1 and ISO rules. He stated that this is also the position of the DIN as a whole. At the same time, however, the conclusion has been reached that the rules for the fast-track procedure need to be amended, as documents of the scope of ISO/IEC 29500 can hardly be dealt with within the current framework. According to the spokesperson, the DIN has initiated corresponding discussions in Geneva.

This means that Germany’s involvement in this revolt might be something to watch. It’s the largest population in Europe, is it not?

India Again

A few hours ago we wrote about the latest slander story, which unsurprisingly came from India. Glyn Moody and Groklaw have written about it as well, so you might wish to take a look. It’s not the last such story you will come across. Everyone is appalled and Pamela Jones already points a finger at France (recall the Grand Scandal).


“O OXML, What Have Thou Done?”

Novell and IBM Again: Open Collaboration Solution?

Posted in Deals, Formats, GNU/Linux, Google, IBM, Microsoft, Novell, Open XML, OpenDocument, Red Hat, SLES/SLED at 10:56 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Solution? Collaboration? With Novell?

The relationship between IBM and Novell has always been an interesting one. It’s perplexing. IBM supported Novell’s acquisition of S.u.S.E. and later attended and endorsed the deal with Microsoft, which is a big rival of IBM. Despite this, its VP of Open Source and Standards is far from fond of Mono and he sticks with Red Hat or Ubuntu on his desktop (well, a laptop in practice).

Reader Gopal has altered us about a release of Symphony and now comes this press release, which Chris Ward would probably care about because its targeted at the British crowd.

IBM, Novell Offer A Microsoft-Free Desktop To UK Users

The so-called IBM Open Collaboration Solution uses open document format, or ODF-based software, running on Suse Linux, a version of the Linux open-source operating system software owned by Novell.

Why SUSE? Could they have moved away from Red Hat (Open Client) after their changes of plans? Or are these totally separate ‘solutions’ (very bad word in the context of Free software)? There’s room for research here because IBM did announced something around August last year (LinuxWorld) about a proprietary collaboration framework that would be built on top of SUSE. We have it somewhere in this site’s archives.

Either way, it’s a step in a positive direction for ODF only assuming it does not cannibalise adoption of software like OpenOffice.org, which is not proprietary.

There are other emerging threats to Microsoft Office and thus to uptake of OOXML. Among them you now have Adobe, not just Google, Zoho and their counterparts that rely more on Web standards and JavaScript. Here you have a new video that explains Adobe’s plans.

CNET’s Charles Cooper and Elsa Wenzel discuss the new beta release of Adobe Acrobat, which will compete with Microsoft and Google.

Adobe Flash is required in order to watch this video about Adobe. It’s not so egocentric if you consider the fact that Microsoft is now publishing videos on its own Web site as Silverlight objects. It’s trying to seed adoption.

“I’d be glad to help tilt lotus into into the death spiral. I could do it Friday afternoon but not Saturday. I could do it pretty much any time the following week.”

Brad Silverberg, Microsoft

Making Silverlight a Trojan Horse and Anti-competitive Tool

Posted in Antitrust, Dell, Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, HP, Microsoft, Novell, Open XML, Red Hat at 10:30 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Force-feeding of Silverlight at programming level and OEM level

The embrace-and-extend routine shows little or no signs of abatement. At the moment, the combination of Slashdot's editorship and Paul Krill, both of whom occasionally push the Microsoft 'open source' agenda, have this to share.

Microsoft Corp. plans to demonstrate integration Friday between its new Silverlight browser plug-in technology for rich Internet applications and the Ruby on Rails Web framework.

This is not major news and it is hardly worth a front page. However, a reader sent us a pointer to the discussion in Slashdot. Here’s one small portion of it, which is the old eye-opener.

What I don’t get is, what happened to RubyCLR? This IronRuby has the same name as an old IronRuby. Microsoft hired RubyCLR developers and now is developing yet another IronRuby instead? Are they seriously starting over just to get it under a different license?!

First of all, remember that Silverlight (or Moonlight) are pretty much verboten in Free software distributions/desktops, for legal and practical reasons. Fedora forbids it. Moreover, regarding the use of IronRuby as a surrogate with Microsoft-controlled licences which give Microsoft the ‘Ruby crown’, see this recent post. Microsoft wishes to grab Ruby from the bottom. And it’s not just Ruby by the way. It’s part of a broader push.

Further to this tie-up, consider this Live Search-Silverlight crack-cocaine-like combination:

New HP-Microsoft Live Search deal is all about Silverlight

Following the recent announcement of Live Search cashback, Microsoft has today disclosed a new deal with HP that is expected to give a slight boost to the usage of both Live Search and Silverlight in the US and Canada, starting in January 2009. The deal centers around a Silverlight-powered toolbar (not to be confused with the recently updated MSN Silverlight toolbar) that Microsoft is specifically developing for HP.

As we stressed in the past, Microsoft seems to be begging for yet another antitrust action against it, but the company has too much to lose if it does not pull such tricks and inherits control of the Web from the likes of Google, Firefox, and even Yahoo!

“Microsoft may have found a workaround, essentially pulling the same trick it was using back in Netscape Era.”The antitrust aspects of this may seem easy to dodge by not incorporating linkage at the core product which is Windows but by letting the OEMs do the job. Microsoft may have found a workaround, essentially pulling the same trick it was using back in Netscape Era. It’s a trick where the software company instructs the OEMs and makes demands — using EULAs — as to how to set up the PCs so as to exclude rivals.

For further background on this, also consider the Microsoft/H-P collusions and H-P's recent OOXML lobby. Those two companies rub each others’ back, for sure.

As trivially observed in the leaked E-mails that you can find here, none of this strategy is new. Microsoft and H-P engage in some sort of an ‘anti-Google pact’ (like Novell versus Red Hat et al), similar to that from the exclusionary deals with Dell and Compaq at the time — ones that required that the OEM puts Internet Explorer on the PC and also makes it more easily accessible to the user (desktop shortcuts and the likes of them).

Acer has been devoured by H-P and the new risk is no longer Netscape, so only technology and the players swapped roles. There is more critical information about this over at Linux Journal.

Microsoft representatives are quoted claiming 40% of searchers use the default search installed for their system. If true, the HP deal will give Microsoft an immediate audience of millions for it’s search offerings, though the company has declined to speculate on the amount of additional traffic and revenue expected from the deal.

Who is to blame here? Microsoft or H-P? Therein lies the mastery of this trickery. It’s a case of paying for market share rather than earning some in return technical merits, or even advertising. It’s hard to point fingers, too.

Related posts:

Microsoft Smear Campaigns in India: Watch and Be Disgusted

Posted in Asia, Microsoft, Open XML at 6:37 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

A reader from India has just sent us a pointer to this good testimony that will join many others we've accumulated. We knew it was coming. To put it in the words of he reader, along with selected bits the has mailed to us: “See some more updates from india: An Open letter by Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay Professor. He is writing about Microsoft dirty tricks to tarnish people and institutions associated with OOXML standradisation process.”

The letter is very long, but you can read some of the highlights below to gain basic insight.

3. My personal anguish.

My first anguish is the way the name of my colleagues and my Institution, along with names of several others on the committee LITD 15, have been maligned and tarnished by Microsoft. My second anguish is that Microsoft persisted in its attempt to pressurize Indian leadership to change the Indian stand, in spite of the fact that a due process established by the Government had completed its job, recommending no change in the Indian vote. These two things, amongst others, have caused me to lose my peace of mind and my sleep over last two months. I share my thoughts (which sometimes have been rather wild), and my anguish in this section.

3.1 My colleagues, my Institute, and some other maligned organizations

I have detailed in the previous section, our approach and work that our team did at IIT Bombay. One of the complaints raised by Microsoft was about the Indian delegation itself. The delegation included Dr Sharat Chandran from my Institute as a member.


Words from the famous star-wars movie episodes perhaps most aptly describe the Microsoft behaviour. I believe these were “Either you are with me, or you are my enemy”. Perhaps in the context of Microsoft, these should be rephrased as “Either you are with me in exactly the way I want you to be with me, or you are my enemy”.


To illustrate how someone could react to this mudslinging by Microsoft, I have written a hypothetical complaint titled ‘Microsoft is looting the nation in alliance with Indian IT giants’. While constructing this hypothetical complaint, I have used what I call the ‘Microsoft patented mud-slinging algorithm’. I have included it as a stand alone appendix (Annexure A) to this letter. The purpose is to demonstrate that such complaints and counter complaints would lead all of us to disaster. This hypothetical counter complaint shows Microsoft as working at national and International forums to maintain and enhance its monopoly in global markets, and as attempting to ensure its monopoly strangle-hold on Indian desktop Market. It also paints INFOSYS, TCS, WIPRO and NASSCOM as willfully helping Microsoft in this evil design, and thus acting grossly against Indian National interests. The last one has hit me very hard emotionally, even though the construction was done by myself and it is purely hypothetical. The significant contributions made by these organizations to the Indian IT story are well known. The past and present leaders of these organizations are icons of modern India. I have the privilege of knowing them closely and being counted amongst their friends. I am sure that a large number of my countrymen will react very strongly if anyone was to really engage in such slander against them. I will be one personally eager to counter any such foolish attempts to malign these great names. These people and their Institutions are and must be treated with genuine respect.


If no citation from the new standard (as on 20th March 2008) is available from these members, should the nation now conclude that these 4 organizations deliberately acted against Indian national interests? If there is any evidence of support now found to have been given by any one of these 4 organizations to the efforts of Microsoft to pressurize the Indian Government to change our vote, should the nation now conclude that there indeed is a ‘secret alliance with Microsoft to loot the country’?

Hard questions friends, with no easy answers.

In conclusion, I will reiterate that my anguish, caused by Microsoft by slandering Individuals and organizations represented on committee LITD 15 of BIS, runs very very deep.

This is no isolated incident. In fact, we have been told that more such personal letters are likely to appear in the future totell the stories of people whose life was changed for the worse because of the Beast from Redmond — that which accepted no barriers in its destructive hit-and-run path to obstruct competition. If you want to see somethingreally ugly from Microsoft in India, watch this.

Protest against OOXML

Links 03/06/2008: Distribution Reviews; KDE4 Showcase; More GNU/Linux from ASUS

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

GNOME bluefish


  • Microsoft Free – One year later

    All I can say is that for the last year, I have been using Open Source exclusively and I am loving it!

  • Mandriva Powerpack 2008 Spring – a question of price

    Overall, the Powerpack releases by Mandriva have impressed me greatly. Note that these are not free. They are based on the free distribution but include a variety of proprietary drivers and components not offered in the free version. Of course, the components may be downloaded and added to the free version.

  • Desktop Linux Face-Off: Ubuntu 8.04 vs. Fedora 9

    For users who are already familiar with Linux, Fedora 9 is an excellent choice. Robust security features and installation options make it somewhat more versatile than Ubuntu, which offers a more streamlined (and therefore more restricted) installation.

  • How to Build a $150 Linux-based PC Through Online Deals and Coupons

    Linux is free and that’s a beautiful thing. (That one’s for the Michael Bolton fans in the audience. Thank you, sir. You can sit down now.) If you need to use Microsoft Office for word processing or Excel worksheets, you can download the ‘international open standard format’ at OpenOffice.org for, you guessed it, zero dollars.



  • Asus officially announces Eee Box details

    Asus is selling a variety of other Eee Box configurations around the world, but it will have three available in the U.S. One for $269 comes with 1GB of RAM, an 80GB hard drive, and an unspecified version of Linux. Another Linux-based model comes with 2GB of RAM and a 160GB hard drive for $299. Finally, a Windows XP-based version with 1GB or RAM and an 80GB hard drive will sell for $299.

  • Asustek to Launch IMac Rival in September
  • Not Just a Flash in the Pan

    Moreover, the availability of this system will stand in stark contrast to the sclerotic Windows Vista that is also on the machine. Users will be able to compare first hand the gulf that separates the two systems, and will be faced with an interesting choice: watch the gazelle-like GNU/Linux spring into life in a few seconds or hang around waiting minutes for Vista to rise with the grace of a comatose Kraken to the surface of digital consciousness.

  • Review: Asus EeePC 900


Direct link

Interesting New Moves in Kenya After Alleged Microsoft Blackmail

Posted in Africa, Europe, Fraud, GNU/Linux, ISO, Microsoft, Open XML, OpenDocument, Windows at 1:23 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Steve Ballmer on ODFCoincidence or bad incident?

Recently we presented what seemed like a blackmail incident in Kenya. Microsoft managed to turn a “No” vote into abstention after it had allegedly threatened to cut some funding. It’s extortion and it’s totally unacceptable as a technique for bypassing the judgment of technical committees. It’s reverse-bribery, if there is such a thing at all (taking away rather than giving).

Interestingly enough, just a few weeks after Microsoft denied the allegations and shortly after locals complained about the procurement process (watch the third link and be aware that it happens not just in Kenya), watch what it happening over there.

The Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS), taking the first step toward developing national IT standards, is inviting experts to join technical committees.


The call for nominations comes after what had generally been considered a successful multistakeholder discussion and subsequent abstention from the International Organization for Standardization’s (ISO) vote on the Microsoft-backed OOXML.

Mind the use of the word “multistakeholder” and look back at the allegations, which indicate there was ballot-stuffing by Microsoft. Why the sudden nominations (reappointments)? Might this be a coincidence? Timing is what’s a key factor here. We saw this in other nations too. Recall the very recent departure of 'puppet nations'. It’s too shallow and obvious.

For several months there has not been much of news flow to those who keep track of OpenDocument format, but the recent scandals and backlash have brought forward stories such as this one and also this one, whose headline is “Countries Line Up Against OOXML as Global Standard.” How quickly the tune changed. From hero to zero in 60 days.

“I am not surprised by the number of appeals given the reported irregularities,” Marino Marcich, managing director for the ODF Alliance, told LinuxInsider. The ODF Alliance seeks to promote and advance the use of OpenDocument Format (ODF).

“Countries felt their concerns were not allowed to be voiced, or simply went unaddressed,” Marcich explained. “The number of formal appeals is unprecedented and underscores the deep-seated concern over how well OOXML plays with the software of vendors besides Microsoft.”

Earlier today we shared some more stories about this backlash and also presented Sam Varghese's criticism of the Eee PC. You might wish to know that, based on Erwin’s understanding of German, Eee PCs apparently come with ODF no matter what operating system one chooses.

As can be read in this German review, the Windows version of the Asus Eee PC 900 will have StarOffice pre-installed. This definitely will lead to more adoption of ODF!

That’s just the type of losing battle Microsoft is fighting. It wants to prevent document formats from becoming a commodity, as they should have been all along. Where would the World Wide Web be without universal standards? And why does Microsoft strive to change the Web by making it proprietary and Microsoft-dependent? This latter challenge remains just ahead though.


RSS 64x64RSS Feed: subscribe to the RSS feed for regular updates

Home iconSite Wiki: You can improve this site by helping the extension of the site's content

Home iconSite Home: Background about the site and some key features in the front page

Chat iconIRC Channels: Come and chat with us in real time

New to This Site? Here Are Some Introductory Resources




Samba logo

We support

End software patents


GNU project


EFF bloggers

Comcast is Blocktastic? SavetheInternet.com

Recent Posts