Links 01/07/2008: More GNU/Linux Wins, Open Source Software Funding Leaps

Posted in News Roundup at 4:18 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish


  • Whitfield School Picks Linux and ThinkPad Laptops for Computing Program

    The program enriches the education of students by equipping each student with a computer. The program has given Whitfield’s students and faculty new avenues for interaction and learning by using Lenovo ThinkPads (powered by Linux) in the classrooms.

  • Making desktop Linux work for business

    Today’s IT managers face tough choices. PCs that run fine today have an uncertain upgrade path, now that Microsoft has chosen to discontinue Windows XP. Upgrade costs associated with Vista, coupled with the ever-escalating cost of application licenses, make switching to desktop Linux an increasingly attractive option.

    For many businesses, however, it’s difficult to know where to begin. The Linux market is broad and thriving, with myriad options to choose from. Most organizations will want to phase in Linux gradually, which in many cases will mean supporting a heterogeneous computing environment for the first time. As a result, it can be hard to predict where software incompatibilities might affect critical business processes.

  • Everex to launch 10.2-in. ultraportable in November

    Both laptops can run either Microsoft Windows XP or a Linux operating system. Their LCD screens are similar to the 10.2-in. model, with 1,024-by-600 resolution. They come with either 4-cell or 6-cell lithium-ion batteries. The 6-cell batteries can run for seven to eight hours before needing a recharge.

  • [Ted Tso:] Ext4 is now the primary filesystem on my laptop

    Over the weekend, I converted my laptop to use the ext4 filesystem. So far so good! So far I’ve found one bug as a result of my using ext4 in production (if delayed allocation is enabled, i_blocks doesn’t get updated until the block allocation takes place, so files can appear to have 0k blocksize right after they are created, which is confusing/unfortunate), but nothing super serious yet. I will be doing backups a bit more frequently until I’m absolutely sure things are rock solid, though!

  • 10 Best Hacking and Security Software Tools for Linux

    Linux is a hacker’s dream computer operating system. It supports tons of tools and utilities for cracking passwords, scanning network vulnerabilities, and detecting possible intrusions. I have here a collection of 10 of the best hacking and security software tools for Linux. Please always keep in mind that these tools are not meant to harm, but to protect.

  • Windows Hater (in response to Linux Hater)

    Picture this, you just bought built a brand new computer and want to install the brand spankin’ new Windows Vista Ultimate, you plop down $300, and away you go! What does $300 get you? A bare minimum operating system with nothing but MS Paint and Media Player.

  • Mandriva Linux – Wonderful and Maddening

    Overall, my first impression of Mandriva Linux is very positive. It looks good, installs easily, and seems to work quite well. I will continue testing it, and eventually I will try installing it on my main laptop (Lifebook S6510) to see how it comes up there.

  • Panasas and Penguin Computing Partner to Improve Manageability of Linux-Based Cluster Solutions

Free Software/Open Source

Talk about timing. MSFT shares sank today, some say due to Gates’ early departure and a certain eXPiry.

Novell FUDs OpenSUSE to Sell SLES and SLED Licences

Posted in Novell, OpenSUSE, Review, SLES/SLED at 3:09 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The morning week+ after

It hasn’t been long since the important release of OpenSUSE 11.0. Novell is already trying to downplay the viability of OpenSUSE in order to sell its proprietary software-enhanced SLES/D. Watch this:

The differentiation for corporate customers is what comes next. Why is openSuSE not well suited for corporate use? It’s built by great people, with the purest of intent, and they will want to make things better. The problem is that corporate needs something more.

Given an in-house skilled person (or people), this just isn’t true. Moreover, support can be called from the outside even for a community-driven distribution. That’s how Free software works, and that’s how profit is extracted. Acquisition costs are belittled by maintenance costs no matter if the software deployed is Free or proprietary.

Unconvinced Users

The above example may seem like a bit of a stretch, but OpenSUSE’s woes needn’t be tied to Novell’s attempt to overshadow its presence. Quite a few people were displeased with the following elaborative report, whose conclusion is as follows.

openSUSE 11.0 is a difficult system to qualify. Highlights include good availability of current packages and YAST GUI configuration tools for some advanced features. However, these advantages are largely eclipsed by a chaotic, dysfunctional package management system and marginal performance. New Linux users with more complex network configurations or challenging hardware may be forced to use openSUSE due to its unique innovations in GUI system configuration. Yet, experienced and inexperienced users alike may find themselves increasingly frustrated by the grave lack of refinement in what is an otherwise capable Linux distribution.

Here is another interesting take from Steve Carl (BMC).

As usual, I have to ask the question, is OpenSUSE 11 a viable desktop for an enterprise. Not for geeks like me but for the average computer user that does not want to know anything about the computer itself: they just want a tool to get a job done.

The desktop itself is easy to use, easy to configure, easy to update, and a strong preview of what is to come in the next release of SLED (SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop). It has all sorts of standard Open Support, from Wikis to mailing lists to online doc.

There are still those who suggest that Ubuntu, for example, is an inch ahead.

In my own choice of categories and tests, and in my own judgment alone, Ubuntu 8.04 has beaten openSUSE 11 but only by a very slim margin. It only shows that openSUSE is worthy to be called the second most popular Linux distribution at the moment, and Ubuntu is still the cream of the crop.

Admittedly, it’s very user- and PC-dependent, but the reviewers in this case are experienced ones and their PCs are definitely not Linux-hostile.

Technical Assessment

We gave some examples of technical deficiencies a few days ago. There are some more minor peeves, which probably ought to be seen as bug reports. Here is one about suspend to RAM.

In my notebook computer, HP Compaq NX7300, the “suspend to RAM” functionality had worked without any problem in OpenSUSE 10.3, with kernel However, it suddenly did not work after an upgrade to OpenSUSE 11, with kernel I became nervous, tried to find out the solution, and fount out: downgrading kernel to

This one is about Beagle-ReiserFS incompatibility. The former is Mono and the latter is better off forgotten.

I installed OpenSuse 11.0 today. Beware that if you install using reiserfs andl KDE your computer will freeze periodically in KDE. It took me 6 hours of debugging to figure out that beagle was causing the problems.

We apologise for being hard on OpenSUSE, but it’s clear that Novell continues to use OpenSUSE as a ‘free sample’ to lure users in to its Microsoft-taxed distribution. It’s also a case of free labour.

As a side note, I received my new PC just a few hours ago. Without going into specifics, the plan is to multi-boot it, with a 64-bit distribution that’s already installed and probably Mandriva 2008, which I’ve just downloaded. All the setups (e.g. need to buy another monitor tomorrow morning) are likely to affect activity on this site for a few more days. Summertime is a good time for readjustment.

Microsoft Corporation: A Licensing Company

Posted in Free/Libre Software, Law, Microsoft, Open XML, Patents, RAND at 2:41 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Your rights are neither granted nor sold; they are leased


arlier in the day we wrote to mention Microsoft’s so-called interoperability 1.0, which practically excludes software that’s licensed under the most prolific licence: the GNU GPL. Digital Majority studied this. Having followed bits of the pertinent details, it turns out that people can purchase Microsoft ‘protection’, as we pretty much predicted long ago. Here are some of the takeaways:

If you don’t trust the OSP (Open Specification Promise), ask for a patent licence at Microsoft. “If you would prefer a written license, or if the formats are not covered by the OSP, patent licenses are available by contacting iplg@microsoft.com” they say on their website.

Benjamin went further and decide to test them.

Benjamin Henrion <bhenrion at ffii.org>
to iplg at microsoft.com
date Tue, Jul 1, 2008 at 3:23 PM
subject Request for a written license for ECMA 376 implementation

Dear Microsoft Licensing,

I would be interested to receive a copy of the terms of the proposed
written patent license that you propose for the standard ECMA 376, as
mentioned by one Microsoft employee on the following page:


It will be interesting to see how this turns out. He sent this from a FFII address, so it might trigger a mental alarm at the receiver’s end.

Speaking of fake interoperability, watch this new Bizarre Cathedral cartoon. And also mind this unrelated but seemingly similar news from last night.

Microsoft adds licensing option for businesses

Microsoft said Monday that it is adding a new licensing option, this one dubbed Select Plus and targeted largely at midsize firms.

Microsoft aspires to become a licensing company as much as a software vendor. Remember SCO?

To be fair, people never really bought any software from Microsoft anyway. They paid for a license to ‘rent’ the software, rendering them tenants of their own computers which they paid for. With recent versions of Windows, the landlord has a convenient kill switch, too.

Links 01/07/2008: Lindependence 2008 to Start, H-P to Offer Non-Microsoft/Novell Option (FreeDOS)

Posted in News Roundup at 12:50 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish




Ogg Theora

Direct link

Links 01/07/2008: Big Win for GNU/Linux in India, Another Ubuntu Bundle

Posted in News Roundup at 6:56 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

  • Microsoft tactics push India toward Linux

    One of India’s 28 states plans to distribute 100,000 Linux laptops to students there. It sounds like Tamil Nadu’s volume purchasing agent decided to use Linux exclusively after being put off by Microsoft’s bundling tactics for academic users.


    Though it could be sour grapes at having its unbundled OS proposal scuppered by Microsoft, ELCOT now says it recommends only Linux. On its website, the organization says, “ELCOT has been using SUSE Linux and Ubuntu Linux operating systems on desktop and laptop computers numbering over 2,000 during the past two years and found them far superior as compared to other operating systems, notably the Microsoft Operating System.”

  • Super Talent Bundles Ubuntu Linux

    Super Talent Technology, a leading manufacturer of Flash storage solutions and DRAM memory modules, announced today that, for a limited time its line of MasterDrive MX SSDs will include a free CD containing the Ubuntu Desktop Edition Linux operating system and the OpenOffice software suite.

  • Open source to ‘blow mobiles open’

    McCabe said that the impending release of Google Android would provide a “wonderful catalyst” for the breakdown of proprietary software and hardware bundles from telcos. Other open source handset software includes the recent release of mobile Ubuntu.

  • Linux experiences ‘prolific’ growth, says Linux Foundation’s Zemlin

    Zemlin: The Linux platform is experiencing prolific growth in all aspects of computing, from embedded system to mobile applications and high-performance computing [HPC]. Linux is everywhere, from Google to Facebook, [from] cell phones to cash registers and ATMs. It’s growing faster than any other platform and increasing its overall share of the market.

  • Ubuntu 8.04 Desktop Options





  • Dell offers ‘Windows Vista Bonus’ to frightened customers

    Dell is actively promoting a Microsoft licensing loophole to channel partners eager to keep selling PCs installed with Windows XP, after Microsoft’s official cut off.


    During the US Department of Justice’s antitrust trial, IBM revealed that Microsoft had delayed giving IBM access to Windows 95 simply because IBM refused to kill its own OS/2 operating system or agree to not bundle its SmartSuite rival to Office on IBM PCs.

Microsoft Proxies and Software Patents in Europe

Posted in Bill Gates, Europe, Law, Microsoft, Patents at 6:30 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz


According to Digital Majority, CompTIA [1, 2] may be joining the push of other Microsoft pressure groups such as ACT. It’s part of a broad push for destruction of the European patent system though assimilation to a broken system — the USPTO. As the Los Angeles Times put it yesterday:

The U.S. patent system is not working. It stands accused on all sides of stifling innovation instead of nurturing it. Some critics say the system is fundamentally wrecked, others that it can be fixed.

In this new book, “Patent Failure: How Judges, Bureaucrats, and Lawyers Put Innovation at Risk,” economist James Bessen and law academic Michael Meurer show that the system no longer provides predictable property rights. They go on to offer solutions based on empirical evidence from history, law and economics.


While making these criticisms, however, the authors ignore that the fault may lie with the appointment of judges who are unfamiliar with patents to hear patent trials.

We previously saw strong criticism over inappropriate appointment of judges, which challenged this system’s integrity in the more severe of ways.

Moreover, Roberto Galoppini writes about the ever-spineless WIPO [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9] that merely serves large corporations which sponsor it. And yes, it’s that notorious “harmonisation” effort (should be called "contamination" really).

After a hiatus of three years, the WIPO Standing Committee on the Law of Patents (SCP) met for its 12th session on June 23, 2008 to June 27, 2008. Given the collapse of the talks to initiate a Substantive Patent Law Treaty (SPLT) to harmonize patent law with respect to prior art, novelty, inventive step and grace period, even the most prescient of WIPO watchers were at a loss in prognosticating the outcome of the WIPO SCP.

Why the mystery and the secrecy? ACTA comes to mind as an analogous and very recent case [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6]. And speaking of which, mind yesterday’s news about BT becoming a copyrights cop:

BT to cut off file-sharing customers


This follows a similar move by Virgin, which earlier this year joined forces with the BPI on an ‘education campaign’ aimed at those sharing copyrighted files.


ISPs have been under pressure from the government to work with the music industry in targeting illegal file sharers this year. Ministers have even threatened to introduce anti-filesharing legislation if a solution is not reached.

What happens if people get disconnected after incorrect judgment? Would there be compensation? Who pays for BT’s additional burden? How can CC-licensed and Free art be set apart from copyrighted one?

Looking ahead, might this be the beginning of something more widespread? Will ISPs ever disconnect people for mistakenly watching copyrighted videos on YouTube? Bill Gates admitted doing so a couple of years ago.

Similar questions are being raised by various critics of the policy. See for example:


Acacia and Microsoft are no strangers [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10] and the extortion crusade surely continues. [via Digital Majority]

Acacia Research Corp. announced that its subsidiary, Credit Card Fraud Control Corp., has entered into a non-exclusive patent license and settlement agreement with SPG Solutions, covering a patent that applies to fraud protection technology.

Also of interest is the following nugget of information that cannot be repeated often enough.

Surveys regularly find that computer programmers are opposed to patents on software by a wide margin. In what other field is the class of inventors so opposed to patents?

Yesterday we wrote about the problem with giants banding together against software patents or patent trolls. It’s not a solution but a convenience that applies only to affluent few. This is clearly not the way to go.

You may remember a while back I wrote about Vocaltec selling some of its patents to what appears to be a firm that will become a patent troll.


The end result of these moves is likely going to be a bidding war for patents. On the one hand there will be VC money fighting to buy patents and on the other it will be Allied Security Trust.

If anything, this environment will make it more lucrative for companies with valuable patents to sell. This new battle will certainly be interesting to watch.

It seems as though intellectual monopolies are therefore elevated rather than buried, especially where they are not worthy of consideration in the first place.

MySQL Founders Call for Stronger Support of Patent Lens, Fight Against Software Patents

Posted in Courtroom, Database, Free/Libre Software, Patents, SUN at 5:52 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

There is a heap of software patents news at the moment. Here is one thing we can do against them.

Since David Axmark and I started to work on MySQL we also took a strong stand against software patents. MySQL AB have been sponsoring several efforts to prevent software patents in Europa.

Now David and I are continuing to do this outside of MySQL AB.


If you are a philanthropist and if you care about open source software and don’t have a love for the current patent system, I encourage you to join us in sponsoring Patent Lens. You can also try to get your company to sponsor.

Interestingly enough, as Digital Majority wishes to point out, software patents can also be used as a FUD tactic, not just for actual lawsuits. That’s precisely what Microsoft is doing at the moment. Dillon wrote:

Developers are curious whether NetApp will be successful in hindering even greater adoption of Sun’s ZFS open source technology.

Therein lies the conflict between companies with encyclopedias of patents (portfolio) and Free software. Sun must adapt to the stance of MySQL, as opposed to the other way around. Sun’s and MySQL’s new relationship continues to act as a problem to the work of MySQL’s founders.

More Information About Linspire Getting Devoured

Posted in Deals, GNU/Linux, Linspire, Xandros at 5:34 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

List of Microsoft sellouts (desktop/server Linux) is down from 4 to just 3

The major news about Linspire got mentioned very briefly earlier in the day. The comments in Slashdot say a lot more and the summary sheds light on the relevance of this.

Some here may remember that both Xandros and Linspire signed patent protection deals with Microsoft in 2007.

Steven Vaughan is close to the people at Linspire, so he was fast with a detailed report.

Neither company, at this time, has confirmed either the deal or the amount that exchanged hands to make it happen. According to a source close to the acquisition, the approximately $1-million loan that Linspire had made to Xandros several years ago did not play a role in this transaction. That loan, the source said, had been settled for pennies on the dollar.

Lisa Hoover gathers some bits and pieces.

Linspire CEO Larry Kettler alerted stockholders this afternoon of the decision to sell all of Linspire’s assets, including the company’s free version, Linspire, and its Click N’ Run desktop installation platform.

We’ll keep this post updated as new details, if any, arrive.

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