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06.05.08

Links 05/06/2008: GNU/Linux Deployments, New MIDs, Success Stories

Posted in News Roundup at 1:04 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

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Deployments

  • Major Linux Migrations: An Unbelievable List of Nearly 100 From Around the Globe

    Thoroughly thrilled at the thought of Munich’s progress switching to Linux, I have actually been tracking and logging such migrations for a long time. As a matter of fact, on my OpenSUSE Linux blog, I offer a course wherein I explore all of the migrations of which I am aware. I wanted to share that list with ya’ll.

  • European Commission to increase its use of Open Source

    The European Commission will take a more pro-active approach to its own use of Open Source and Open Standards. Xavier Heymans highlights the importance of a real and mature collaboration with communities where IT providers share their developments and adopt an “open source” philosophy.

  • Dutch Parliament to use open source software

    Okay, it’s a small and very secure step, but Dutch MP’s will start using open source software that runs from an encrypted USB drive.

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World’s Evils

Breaking: Slovakia Chooses ODF and Other Open Standards (Updated)

Posted in Europe, Office Suites, Open XML, OpenDocument, Standard at 12:32 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Watch this space as we shall soon have an update

Here is a portion from our IRC conversation (taking place just minutes ago). We might soon have a manual translation of this news.


<PetoKraus> but i’ve got good pro-ODF news from my country
<Eruaran> Explaining how a nice API does things for you, “we have little wood elves that run through he forest writing… code”

ODF format<PetoKraus> it seems that the government proposed a… law or regulation, which…
<PetoKraus> yeah, our government is obliged to acknowledge only documents received in ODF, PDF, RTF or HTML
<PetoKraus> no DOC / OOXML whatsoever
<Eruaran> thats good
<PetoKraus> preffered display/publishing format is PDF 1.3
<schestowitz> Good news.
<PetoKraus> DOC is forbidden for publishing of documents, but allowed for intra-governmential communication


In other uplifting news, watch this short story.

My lawyer made my day this morning. Not just because he does a great job, I’m used to that and that’s why he’s my lawyer. The reason he made my day today is because the document he just sent me is in ODF.

The intra-governmental aspect of this may spur the network effect. Slovakia has already shown it was fond of ODF some time in the past.

Update: Peter Kraus, adding his IANAtranslator disclaimer, brings us the followiing translation of the news:


Which document formats will be used in communication with public administration?

After adoption of “National concept of informatization of public administration”, where the current government set many bold time goals, the Ministry of Finances has, on Monday, submitted new draft handbill about used standards in public administration, with regards to communication with the public, businessmen and other subjects. The draft specifies all formats of documents, which the public service should be, compulsorily, able to accept.

(DSL.sk, 5th of July 2008)

On Monday has the Ministry of Finances of Slovak Republic submitted (on cross-resort discussion) new draft handbill of used standards, which should replace the current, valid one (from Ministry of Post, Transport and Telecommunications #1706/M-2006, 14.6.2006)

The draft was submitted after approving of “National concept of informatization of public administration” in second half of may, about which we informed here.

The bill is more developed and detailed, in comparison with the currently valid one, and incorporates various principles from aforementioned concept.

It differs a lot in prescribed standards in document formats, in many cases moved from closed to open formats, and precisely specifies the duties of public administration. There are couple problematic points in the draft as well.

Text documents

The biggest attention is drawn to text document formats, which are, currently, the subject of international discussion about the conditions of formats and software in public administration; as well as source of problems of ISO and subject of EU commission investigation.

The Ministry developed the specification in depth. It requires the public administration to be able to receive text files in all specified formats. (The wording of currently valid bill binds the public administration to accept only one of proposed formats, the decision of the particular format is up to the body itself).

Documents can be published only in one format (true in both, the draft and valid bill).

The formats, surprisingly, included the Open Document Format, which was about to be removed from the specification. In April, the Ministry said (for server DSL.sk), that ODF will be removed, because: “the main reason for change is, according to facts, the small spread of ODF.”

In the end of May, Microsoft announced, that Microsoft Office will support ISO approved ODF sooner, than ISO approved version of OpenXML.

The public administration will have to be able to receive text documents in formats: ODF, PDF 1.3, RTF and HTML.

Documents will be published in one of these formats, preferably PDF.

DOC format will be used in the exchange of text documents between the bodies of administration, but is forbidden for publishing.

Presentations, Pictures, other types

New issue are demands on format of presentation, where the only one supported is Microsoft format, PowerPoint .ppt / .pps. Needless to say, that in case of presentations, the position of MS Office is much more stronger against the others, than in case of text/table documents.

Supported formats for table documents are missing from the draft. Data are to be exchanged using XML; which is the only standard supported for electronic forms, but this is without further specification.

Raster images are supported in formats GIF, PNG, JPG, GeoTIFF and TIFF; Vector images in Shapefile, SVG and Flash. The same rules for receiving and publishing apply – the administration has to be able to receive the documents in any of the formats, and publish in one of them. The technical difficulties can arise in accepting vector images in Flash.

Audio and Video formats are specified by container formats – MPEG, OGG and MPEG-7; codec standards are MPEG-1, MPEG-2, MPEG-4, MP3 and XVID. This part looks incomplete, since XVID is usually transported in AVI containers, and there is lack of Theora/Vorbis support for OGG.

Streaming audio will be supported in format “H.261 and newer”. Supported archives will include ZIP, and new support for TAR and GZ.

Web pages, Emails

There are several rules for web pages as well.

If the page contains more than 100 different published web pages, keyword-search must be included.

RSS channel must be included for every page.

Text documents have to be, after publishing on the web, in HTML format (applies for documents which have to be published by the law, or other directives).

Standardized are email addresses as well. First part of email addresses for persons are “name.surname@”; generic addresses, such as “minister@” or “mayor@” are to be created as well.

Security, Other

The bill specifies deployment of IPv6 in new system components. It’s not clear, whether IPv6 must be supported in all new components, or not.

The security part was developed much more. It specifies rules of network and physical security, solves backups, and on theoretical level, protection against harmful code and software actualisations.

Backups are to be created weekly, for archivation one per two months in two copies. One archivation backup has to be stored in another (physical) place than the backuped information system.

Access control has to secure, that system administrators won’t have access to the data, which they won’t need for their duties – e.g. secret data in databases. According to our source from IT in the public administration (which would like to remain anonymous) – this can be problematic.

Access of every user to the system has to be logged, and these logs can be changed only after approval from responsible person.

Regular security checks are to be performed (at least one per year).

In comparison to the valid bill, this draft bill is less technically specific, mainly in cases of particular specification of used formats and standards. This can cause inconsistency in formats with more versions.

The bill can be commented on till 20.6., it should go into action 1.8.2008. Exceptions are applied to several points, which will take validity on 1.9.2009. Delayed will be support of PNG, XVID, OGG; also access control of administrators.


Clearing the F[og|UD]: Microsoft Fought ODF Like Fire

Posted in Deception, FUD, Microsoft, Open XML, OpenDocument, SUN at 12:18 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

There appears to be this newer case of rewriting history. This one is about Microsoft's treatment of ODF. In hindsight, Microsoft perhaps regrets what it did, but forgetting what had been done (and can never be changed) is inexcusable. Joining this push of disinformation we are saddened to find Patrick Durusau again [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8].

Open Malaysia provides the gist of it along with a proof-backed rebuttal.

When Patrick Durusau wrote that Microsoft had no opposition to ODF, he was indefensibly and gloriously wrong. Those of us involved in national standards bodies and on government policy panels have had the dubious honor of having to defend against Microsoft’s desperate attempts to kill any possible introduction of ODF as a voluntary standard.

[...]

Then came along a recent blogpost by Harisfazillah Jamel, “Apabila Membuat Pilihan Dipersoalkan / When Choices are Questioned”, on the right of government agencies to make choices. It’s written in Malay, but it has been translated by Yoon Kit for the benefit of our international readers. It makes for extremely interesting reading on the pressure Microsoft Malaysia is placing on a government agency because of their choice to use OpenOffice.org/ODF over Microsoft Office:

Remember that Microsoft is still trying to chew and swallow that “Linux is a cancer” memo. It needs to get closer to developers in order to topple the opponent. Disinformation, such as the words you find above (courtesy of Patrick Durusau) is the equivalent of bait from companies like Novell, XenSource and Zend. There are other Microsoft partners that invite developers to join hands with Microsoft.

Also spotted among the news today is this good post about the economic and pragmatic impact of OOXML. You are encouraged to take a quick look.

The financial equation they could eventually think about is this one: how long is this fight going to last, and looking closer into it, why is the same strategy being implemented across the whole set of Microsoft’s technologies, namely through XPS vs PDF, SilverLight vs Flash and .Net vs the Internet. Rather than fighting competition, pushing competitors to bankruptcy and trying to fool around with legislation and processes (such as the ones from ISO), perhaps the time has come to embrace the competition, and walk the line of the industry. Shareholders have had their fair share of Microsoft’s “innovation” and other “ vistasters”.

Manipulation and disinformation is still abound. Be careful.

“That particular meeting was followed by an anonymous smear campaign against one of the TC members. A letter was faxed to the organization of the TC member in question, accusing the TC member in question of helping politicize the issue (which is, of course, untrue). I too had the dubious pleasure of hearing first hand how Microsoft attempted to remove me from the TC (they did not succeed, thanks to integrity and cojones of the organization I am affiliated with).”

“If this unethical behaviour by Microsoft was not sufficiently despicable, they did the unthinkable by involving politics in what should have been a technical evaluation of the standard by writing to the head of the Malaysian standards organization and getting its business partners to engage in a negative letter writing campaign to indicate lack of support of ODF in the Malaysian market. Every single negative letter on ODF received by the Malaysian standards organization was written either by Microsoft, or a Microsoft business partner or a Microsoft affiliated organization (Initiative for Software Choice and IASA).

A Memo to Patrick Durusau

Links 05/06/2008: New KDE 4.0, More Laptops

Posted in News Roundup at 3:08 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

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Kernel

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Leftover

UK Prime Minister’s Office Accepts Petition to Adopt the Hague Declaration

Posted in Europe, OpenDocument, Standard at 2:41 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

For background about the Hague Declaration, see [1, 2, 3, 5] (most relevant first).

This new petition is another first step in the right direction in Britain. UK Residents might wish to sign it. It only takes a minute. It’s the route to ODF (among other open standards), which is a prerequisites for Free software adoption.

A similar petition was started a while ago by Libervis — one which asked to British government to back and defend the GNU GPL.

flickr:2400443777

OOXML protests in India
From the Campaign for Document Freedom

Microsoft Becomes Software “IP Thief” and Hardware “IP Cop”

Posted in Apple, Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Hardware, Microsoft, Patents, SUN at 2:26 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Here is a roundup of patent-related news that may or may not be relevant to GNU/Linux.

Avistar

Microsoft is said to be “losing grip in [the] patent spat” which involves Avistar [1, 2, 3, 4]. You will find some more details about it here.

Avistar Communications Corporation reported today that the US Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO) has rejected Microsoft’s requests for re-examination of 29 of Avistar’s US patents pertaining to audio, video and collaboration technologies.

Also here.

Avistar Communications Corp. said Monday the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office rejected requests by Microsoft Corp. to re-examine 14 of the company’s patents, but will look at nine of them.

As a result of this, shares of Avistar rose sharply.

Infosys

Microsoft’s close partners (and OOXML ‘zombie voters’ [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6]) are applying for software patents in the United States, which is interesting because they strive to obtain what they probably cannot in their home country. To whose benefit would such a portfolio be?

Infosys awarded 2 patents by USPTO

[...]

Actual 3D dimensional imaging, which includes a representation of depth information along with amplitude of information is not being used in these cases. This patent addresses the issue of 3D in mobile communication.

Alcatel-Lucent

The legal battle between Alcatel-Lucent and Microsoft has gone on for quite some time [1, 2, 3, 4]. Claims and accusations varied as the two sides were firing shots in both directions. Yes, software patents can be ‘fun’ because they are typically about mutual destruction, not reconciliation and peace (often characterised by sharing). We’ll see more of this shortly when we come to consider Sun and NetApp.

Here is the latest about this case that involves Alcatel-Lucent and Microsoft.

The jury also upheld four Microsoft patents, but found that Alcatel-Lucent didn’t infringe them, and found one Microsoft patent invalid. Microsoft had been seeking damages of $9.5 million on five patent claims.

Alcatel-Lucent judged that ruling as a victory. “We believed from the beginning that Microsoft patent infringement allegations against Alcatel-Lucent were without merit and we presented a strong defensive argument. We are pleased that the jury agreed with us on this, and we appreciate the jury’s time and the careful and thoughtful analysis they gave to this case,” the company said in a statement.

The Seattle P-I published its short take as well.

In the latest twist in the Microsoft/Alcatel-Lucent legal saga, a federal jury in San Diego today found that Microsoft’s Xbox 360 didn’t violate an Alcatel-Lucent patent for video-encoding technology.

Apple

When it comes to software patents, Apple is definitely no friend of open source or GNU/Linux. It ruthlessly files away (never mind quality), some say for defense and vanity purposes only. Here comes another mobile-related patent, just like the ones from Infosys.

Filed last September, the application describes “Touch Screen Device, Method, and Graphical User Interface for Determining Commands by Applying Heuristics” – more simply, the gesture-based user interface found on the iPhone and iPod touch.

Artificial intelligence patents are the equivalent of patenting thought. Bilski and the curve ball patent (hypothetical example) spring to mind.

Sun

Sun’s view on patents is rather ambivalent, but in the face of a patent assault it has been fighting to defend itself and its open source portfolio for quite a while. Groklaw has accumulated many of the relevant documents and it brings readers up to date.

The Order tells us that Sun was able to persuade the USPTO to agree to reexaminations on some of NetApp’s asserted patents, three of them (there are four more), but this one, Order Granting Request for Inter Party Reexamination [PDF] on the ’001 patent, is the biggie. Sun asked for inter partes reexamination of the ’001 patent, based on prior art, and the USPTO issued the order granting reexamination of all 63 claims of the patent, finding that a “substantial new question of patentability (SNQ) affecting claims 1-63″ of the ’001 patent exists.

Fashion

Going a tad astray here, mainly for the purpose of showing patent absurdity applies not only to software, watch again this huge problem which is fashion IPR. [via Glyn Moody]

For the fashion industry intellectual property is a complicated web of legislation and cultural norms. The industry practice of “taking inspiration” from other designers is very common. Equally,

[...]

But even if the work is under copyright, a copy of it may not be a breach of copyright. You see, the design or pattern is an artistic work, but since 17 June 2004, the scope of that protection is limited by the operation of the Designs Act 2003 (Cth). Where someone “reverse engineers” the original you can’t sue for copyright infringement. Rather you would move into the scope of the Designs Act.

How long before people ‘own’ drum beats? The possibilities are endless, so limit on scope is a must.

Hardware

For many years, Microsoft has worked to ensure that hardware works better with Windows. It was more about the hardware than about software. Intel played similar games to coerce partners and gain an unfair advantage (Intel has just been convicted of separate charges, according to Tracy at the IRC channel).

There is a new development here because Microsoft once against enlists intellectual monopolies. Just brought to your by Microsoft and unveiled at Computex: The Licensed Contract Manufacturers Marketplace

The Redmond company announced the Licensed Contract Manufacturers Marketplace at Computex Taipei 2008 in Taiwan, an online hotspot aimed to feature its intellectual property licensing program for hardware.

It’s probably self explanatory. Microsoft is trying to taint everything with intellectual monopolies. It’s crucial to its battle against freedom. The last bit is yet another cornerstone.

“One Free Software Foundation-backed group–aptly called the End Software Patents Project–is using the [Bilski] case as a platform to argue that no form of software should ever qualify for a patent. Red Hat also argued that the “exclusionary objectives” of software patents conflict with the nature of the open-source system and open up coders to myriad legal hazards.”

Court case could redefine business method, software patents

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