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06.11.08

Links 11/06/2008: GNU/Linux on Hollywood’s Desktops, Many Reviews

Posted in News Roundup at 1:46 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

GNU/Linux

Reviews

  • Review: Linux Powered HP Media Vault Pro mv5150

    The Linux OS runs from an embedded storage device and operates on a very simple and quite well featured Mini-ITX board with some interesting features, including two Sata controllers. When you first get the device, it’s immediately ready for use and can be setup to be used as is, or you can configure it to do a variety of other things.

  • Essential Linux Tool: SystemRescueCd

    SystemRescueCd 1.0.3 is an amazingly handy tool that’s essential for system administrators and IT technicians. However, it’s also very easy to use that I think even a regular Linux user can handle it. I’m so glad that I found SystemRescueCd because it has all the tools that I need to keep me from being paranoid of losing all of my essential files.

  • Puppy Linux 4.00 is barking up the right tree

    In summary, the new Puppy 4.00 release is the cat’s meow. Puppy Linux 4.00 is fast, reliable (on my systems it ran for days with no issue), has good wireless support, new scanner tools that work well, all the necessary multimedia codecs, and has a minimalistic yet usable approach that allows older computers to be functional machines again.

  • Linux Mint 5 Review
  • Linux Mint 5.0

Embedded

Gaming and Fun

Firefox

F/OSS

Microsoft

Microsoft’s Proxy Fight May Have Begun Weeks Ago, Quietly

Posted in BSD, Finance, Free/Libre Software, Microsoft at 1:07 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Don’t! Tell! Anyone! That! We! Adopted! Mafia! Approach! Against! Yahoo!

A couple of months ago we showed that Microsoft was preparing for a proxy war whose purpose was to unseat Yahoo’s board. This is nothing new. Separate warning came at different times. It did Microsoft some great public relations damage at the time.

Microsoft later confirmed (openly even!) that it was prepared to launch an attack shall an ultimatum be ignored, but it then backed away very abruptly and pretended it had no interest in Yahoo anymore. Then came someone called Icahn out of the blue and suddenly Microsoft expressed some interest in Yahoo again. As the following article (among other sources) ought to teach us, it’s likely that this man is merely Microsoft’s headhunter. Days ago he even admitted that Microsoft needed Yahoo in order to compete. Why is he so concerned and why is he communicating with Redmond now?

Microsoft cops to talking with Icahn on Yahoo

Dispensing with its previous above-the-fray posture, Microsoft has admitted conspiring with talking to activist Yahoo shareholder Carl Icahn, who is trying to oust the Internet company’s board and Chief Executive Jerry Yang for failing to sell out to the software giant.

“Interesting but fully expected,” said one of our readers about this finding.” About the source, though, the LA Times material, IIRC, tends to evaporate over time, so it’s not necessarily the best for a link you plan to return to in a few weeks, months or years,” he added. It ought to be noted that the crossing out at the top came a little while later. The RSS feed said just “conspiring with” when the article got captured (no strikeout).

Target #1 appears to be Yahoo’s brainchild, as cruel as it may seem.

For more of the nasty details of this fight, and the details are illuminating, see my blog “Why Icahn Now Wants to Boot Yahoo!’s Jerry Yang.”

Use of the word “replace” seems to be misplaced. Mind aggressive terminology like “boot” and “kill”. Many people are already getting tired of terms like “dump”, and “<product x> killer” in the press. It’s intended to add drama and inspire fear.

As another new article about this endless Yahoo saga, consider impending lawsuits. We wrote about it the last time. Some of these lawsuits may be backed by Microsoft in one form or another. Encouragement in this case is not illegal (let alone lawsuits by proxy).

In its own filing, the shareholders suing Yahoo say the chairman of its compensation committee is due to be deposed Friday, while another outside director also has been served notice for deposition. Microsoft also has been served with related subpoenas, the plaintiffs say, and “will shortly provide a date for its deposition.”
for trial before meeting

To conclude and describe the situation at hand, consider the following thoughts from a reader (sent in earlier today):


“It appears that he wants Yahoo to destroy itself voluntarily so that Microsoft can hang on as a company for a short while longer.”The nauseating part is that he is pleading for a handout / bailout from Yahoo. It appears that he wants Yahoo to destroy itself voluntarily so that Microsoft can hang on as a company for a short while longer. Just how does that benefit anybody besides Icahn? Since when are profitable companies expected to be liquidated to keep unprofitable money pits (c/f indications of Enron-style money shifting) like Microsoft a float a while longer? I thought everyone in the know had long since sold their Microsoft stock, if they ever had any in the first place.

Let’s ask Icahn if maybe Microsoft is scraping by primarily through buying and selling its own stock.

However, be that as it may, if a main purpose of the bid is to screw with and stress-out Yahoo’s many PHP, BSD and other FOSS developers, then attacking the severance plans makes a lot of sense:

* Worrying about the severance plans and job security reduces productivity, which helps Microsoft by hurting Yahoo and its FOSS projects.

* Removing the severance plans means some staff will bail, disrupting Yahoo and FOSS development, regardless of how quickly staff relocate.

* Removing the severance plans mean that if Icahn is able to hand his Microsoft masters Yahoo, they can mess with the FOSS developers effectively stopping development on projects dependent on those developers.


We will keep an eye on this never-ending story because the impact on Free software can be high.

Microsoft Mixed-sourcing (Hybrid), Just Like Novell

Posted in Free/Libre Software, KDE, Microsoft, Novell, Virtualisation, Xen at 12:41 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

This is “interoperability” and “open source”?

Mishmash this and mishmash that. You can be “half open source” just as you can be “half pregnant”. When Microsoft talks about open source (on top of its proprietary and pricey stack), what does it really mean? Here is an answer from Microsoft itself:

“The most interesting part of my research is that it is situated right in the middle of open source hybridization. A hybrid open source software development model combines a business model, either open source or proprietary, and open, two-way community input. The basis of my argument for the research is as follows: open source software development has been so successful that proprietary companies have been paying attention to incorporating open source strategies into their business model and very successful open source projects have had business models created around them,” Bach stated.

Look again at Microsoft’s latest ‘oops’ incident, which we covered very recently. Then, recall the fact that Novell too boasted its mixed-source model just over a year ago [1, 2, 3, 4]. Notice the intersection? How about Nokia's ambivalence? Just look what’s it’s uttering at this very moment.

Nokia urges Linux developers to learn business

Open-source developers targeting the mobile space need to learn business rules including digital rights management, Nokia’s software chief has claimed.

[...]

“We want to educate open-source developers,” said Jaaksi, who is Nokia’s vice president of software and heads up the Finnish handset manufacturer’s open-source operations. “There are certain business rules [developers] need to obey, such as DRM, IPR [intellectual property rights], SIM locks and subsidised business models.”

Mind the fact that this controversial pitch comes from the ‘Linux people’ at Nokia. Some of them are actually very protective of DRM. Some are former Microsoft employees.

Getting back to Novell, earlier today we wrote about Novell's plan for visualisation with Microsoft. They build intellectual walls and here is the press release which serves as a reminder of Xen’s role inside Citrix.

Novell(R) today announced it has joined Microsoft’s Server Virtualization Validation Program. As a result of Novell’s participation in this program, customers will be able to confidently run Windows Server 2008 as a virtualized guest on top of the Xen hypervisor in SUSE(R) Linux Enterprise 10 and receive cooperative support from either company. Novell is currently running the tests required by the validation process in the Server Virtualization Validation Program, and expects the tests to be completed by August 2008.

As we showed before, this is in part an exclusion strategy. They rely on positive connotations with names and words like “Validation” in order to deceive.

Fortunately enough, despite Microsoft's promotional lies, the products are not so well received

Customers Frustrated Over Microsoft Virtualization Licensing

Enterprises using virtualization probably won’t find any way to use VMs to circumvent Microsoft licensing terms, anlaysts say. But that’s not stopping some unhappy Microsoft shops from trying to cut corners.

For another day we shall leave the discussion about whether Microsoft is destined to acquire Novell. And no, it’s not this Web site which makes this claim. It’s becoming more of a widespread prediction and the prophecy seem less far-fetched as the months go by.

“Our partnership with Microsoft continues to expand.”

Ron Hovsepian, Novell CEO (just weeks ago)

Novell error message

Departure of Microsoft India Leadership Possibly Related to OOXML Abuse, Fines Pending

Posted in Antitrust, Asia, Europe, Microsoft, Open XML at 12:15 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Escaping the scene of the crime or just a question of timing?

Some days ago we unleashed a quick post to show that major departures in Microsoft India (there was more than one, despite incomplete reports) were potentially to do with the OOXML scandals. The following new article from Business Standard seems to almost concur, but it does not make it clear enough (mind-reading remain a hard task).

Neelam Dhawan’s exit from Microsoft comes amid India and three other countries’ opposition to International Organisation for Standardisation’s decision to declare software developers Office Open XML (OOXML) file format as an international standard.

The refusal from India to accept the standard could make it difficult for Microsoft to get government business since governments worldwide, including India, prefer standards and are wary of holding digital data in proprietary formats, which could make them hostage to a software vendor.

States, such as Kerala and others from the north-east, are heavy adopters of ODF file formats, which are open and free (excluding maintenance and support).

Further to this, consider the fact that the European Commission openly speaks about the steps it’s prepared to make in order to drag Microsoft’s feet toward proper justice. India is unlikely to fall under the same umbrella of investigation, but it could toughen the case. Whether this will lead just to fines or also annul OOXML (as ISO) and revert market dynamics… well, that’s just hard to predict. But here’s Forbes’ take.

EU competition commissioner Neelie Kroes said the EU executive has on file further cases of alleged antitrust abuse in technology markets.

Kroes said: ‘The Commission has found competition problems in at least some technology markets … and there are other cases of alleged unlawful conduct pending.’

How considerable will the fine be? More importantly, what will this teach the world about this merciless pursuit for OOXML? How will this be remembered in the future or documented for technology historians? We are already aware of at least one colossal case of whitewashing history. People are taught to believe that “open source” is disruption despite the fact that it thrived happily before proprietary software actually came along.

“History will be kind to me for I intend to write it.”

Winston Churchill

flickr:2401275078

Red Hat Pays Intellectual Monopoly Money

Posted in Courtroom, GNU/Linux, Novell, Patents, Red Hat at 6:28 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

This just in:

Red Hat settles 2 patent lawsuits filed against it

[...]

Financial terms of the settlements were not disclosed.

Red Hat Vice President Rob Tiller said the company is still defending itself against a third patent complaint filed in October 2007 by IP Innovation LLC and Technology Licensing Corp.

Remember what IP Innovation might really be [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10].

Red Hat will soon host its own summit and it will have ‘friends’ like Novell nearby. Maybe it can ‘thank’ Novell for pushing further the software patents agenda.

Imagine if the Los Angeles Lakers held a fan rally in Boston, right in the Celtics’ back yard. That’s the situation facing the open source industry, where the Red Hat Summit starts June 18 right in Boston — roughly 15 miles from Novell’s corporate headquarters.

Any more discouraging news from the land of mathematical patents?

Links 11/06/2008: Embedded Linux Progress, Microsoft “Can’t Compete” Without Yahoo

Posted in News Roundup at 5:25 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

GNU/Linux

  • Embedded developers keep watch on kernel bloat

    Embedded Linux is getting a lot of attention these days. A new kernel.org mailing list, linux-embedded—archived here—has been set up, with discussions and patches already being posted. In addition, Paul Gortmaker and David Woodhouse have volunteered to be the “embedded maintainers” for the kernel to help coordinate the embedded Linux community. They graciously agreed to a joint email interview to shed some light on their new roles.

  • Linux Mint 5.0 Builds Upon Ubuntu Hardy

    Linux Mint, one of the popular desktop distributions that’s based off Ubuntu, has come out with version 5.0 “Elyssa” that builds upon the 8.04 Hardy Heron release. Linux Mint 5.0 brings updates to the unique Mint Tools, GNOME 2.22, performance improvements, and other features that come because of rebasing against this latest Ubuntu release. In this article we are taking a brief look at some of the Linux Mint features, for those that have never explored this fast-growing distribution.

OSS

Censorship/Intellectual Monopoly

Security

Novell a Member of Microsoft’s Virtualisation Validation Club

Posted in Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Novell, Virtualisation, Xen at 5:02 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

No Free software guests are invited

Some hours ago, over in the IRC channel, the following short rant was voiced:


<fumanchu2175> Did you hear Novell is now part of the MS virtualization validation program?
<fumanchu2175> This just shows what a bad company Novell is.


This is a residue of the ‘interoperability’ nonsense that we wrote about before. It’s about close (and closed) collaboration that involves deals, not standards. Novell’s Linux gets treated as though it is different from all the rest of the GNU/Linux distributions. There’s nothing technical about it. It’s solely because of the software patent alliance with Microsoft.

“They want to leave Free Linuxes out in the cold.”This brings to mind an issue that was mentioned very briefly yesterday. It was about a so-called “Open Patent Alliance”, which is again a case of exclusion. As technocrat readers put it: “I think the word “Open” is a gross overstatement here. [...] It is a buzzword that has, as I’m sure you are aware, been co-opted my the marketing droids. I think they mean “RAND Pool”, though I’m not interested enough to read the PDF.” Virtualisation that works in this fashion is inherently incompatible with the GPL. It’s no coincidence.

The Microsoft/Novell/Citrix 'virtualisation gang' seems to have just recruited Symantec as well, so it’s definitely an issue to keep an eye on.

Symantec is teaming up with Citrix to attack the server virtualization market. The storage management firm has stirred Citrix’s Xen code into its Veritas suite in a new offering arriving later in 2008.

Remember that they already exclude to Microsoft’s benefit. They want to leave Free Linuxes out in the cold.

Bad decision

Advocating OpenDocument Format While OOXML is Under Fire

Posted in Antitrust, Europe, Formats, ISO, Microsoft, Open XML, OpenDocument, Standard at 4:32 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Spread ODF

W

hen it comes to Microsoft’s OOXML, it is rather easy to forget just what a high level or irregularity we’ve seen. OOXML was one of the biggest scams in computing history and the process "brutal and corrupt". A such, as the following new posting suggests, now it the time to crow about ODF. It’s an excellent time to do this for other reasons too. [via Bob Sutor]

In view of the news that Microsoft Office 2007’s upcoming service pack will add support for ODF 1.1 to the product, including the ability to make ODF the default format, I think it is now time to again advocate that state, local, and national government agencies move all their data into the vendor-neutral ODF format.

As stated yesterday, a long and gruesome time may pass before OOXML is seen as an international standard (if it all). It buys us more time. Moreover — and perhaps more importantly — ISO and Microsoft have yet to come under fire from the Commission itself. It makes OOXML look very bad. Groklaw reminds readers of the rules which changed ‘on the fly’.

Well, in the case of ISO, just formulating some required rules would be nice. You know, rules that can’t change in the middle of the game. In my schoolyard, we called that cheating. I have a suggestion. How about a rule that a vendor proposing a standard can’t stack committees trying to decide whether or not to approve it? No? Too simple?

The Commission’s probes of these issues are yet again being confirmed.

He refused to describe the nature of the investigation, but in a speech today about open standards, Neelie Kroes, European Commissioner for competition policy, gave a hint: “If voting in the standard-setting context is influenced less by the technical merits of the technology but rather by side agreements, inducements, package deals, reciprocal agreements, or commercial pressure, then these risk falling foul of the competition rules,” she said.

It wasn’t so long ago that Neelie Kroes has some more harsh words for Microsoft, so now is the time to take advantage of the backlash.

“If you flee the rules, you will be caught. And it will cost you dearly,”

Neelie Kroes (about Microsoft), February 27th, 2008

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