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07.02.08

Links 02/07/2008: Samba 3.2 Released; IceCat 3 is Out

Posted in News Roundup at 2:54 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

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Quick Mention: Microsoft Remarks on Exclusion of Red Hat

Posted in Free/Libre Software, Interoperability, Interview, Microsoft, Patents, Red Hat, Servers, SLES/SLED, Virtualisation, Windows at 2:13 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Last week we explained what Microsoft had done with Hyper-V. It’s using such products to promote the Microsoft-taxed SLES at the expense of companies that refuse to pay for mythical software patents. Here is Microsoft’s attempt to sneak out of it when questioned about this.

As for Windows Server 2008 Hyper-V, it allows customers to consolidate applications running Novell SLES 10. As for Red Hat, Microsoft and Red Hat both realize the importance of virtualization and interoperability needs of our joint customers, and we are actively discussing how to support Red Hat Enterprise Linux on Windows Server 2008 Hyper-V.

It’s important to emphasise that Microsoft put a patent barrier inside Hyper-V, probably in order to prevent interoperability with Free software.

How is Xandros Eee PC Arrangement ‘Complicated’?

Posted in GNU/Linux, Interview, Linspire, Microsoft, Novell, Xandros at 2:07 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

O

ne of the more intriguing developments at the moment is the joining of Linspire and Xandros [1, 2, 3]. The CEO of Xandros rarely speak to the press and it’s virtually impossible to find information about him on the Web. Regardless, one of the reasons Xandros is still mentioned every now and then is the ASUS Eee PC. The following new article about the acquisition mentioned that too.

A customized version of the Xandros distro is bundled with the popular Asus EeePC.

Several months ago, Florian von Kurnatowski from Xandros (he had worked at Scalix, which was acquired by Xandros as well) said in reference to the 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.”

Mind the following interesting new bit from the CEO of Xandros:

When I asked Typaldos whether Xandros is licensing its Linux OS to Asus for the EeePC and how Xandros makes its money from the 1-1.5 million netbooks he referred to, he responded by saying it’s ‘complicated.’

What does that mean? He doesn’t say, but it sure seems like another secret arrangement from a company that repackages and charges for Free software. As we wrote earlier, negations with Linspire began as far back as last year. It was a back-room negotiation as Kevin Carmony bitterly put it.

It wasn’t long ago that a rumour came about ASUS considering work with Debian, on which Xandros is based. They could go right to the source. SJVN adds some historical background in his follow-up coverage of this.

[I]t’s safe to say that no one saw Xandros, the oldest of the desktop Linux companies thanks to its Corel Linux ancestry, buying Linspire, the desktop Linux perhaps best known for being the first Linux to openly embrace proprietary software. So how did this deal happen? Why did it happen? Here’s what Xandros CEO Andreas Typaldos had to say about the surprising deal.

So, to Typaldos it was a great match up of where Xandros was and where Linspire had been trying to go. “Products like the ASUS Eee PC have demonstrated the huge potential market for Linux-based OEM netbook solutions and other emerging mobile Linux platforms. The Linspire CNR technologies provide the fourth “E” as in ‘easy to maintain.’ including on-demand delivery of a growing number of Linux utilities and games.”

To shed some light on the irrelevance of Xandros and Linspire compared to something like Ubuntu, see the image below (click for a full-sized version). Distro Watch tells a similar story.

Linspire Ubuntu Xandros

Here is why Novell is by the far the biggest fish in this Microsoft racketeering pond.

Linspire Xandros Novell

In the future, it is going to be simpler to track Linspire and Xandros under their joint Xandros umbrella. Their destiny — however fortune or misfortunate — will be shared too.

Microsoft Lobbyists Abound for Software Patents in Europe

Posted in Deception, Europe, Microsoft, Patents, Samba at 10:37 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

A

s we emphasised yesterday, Microsoft’s plan for ‘interoperability’ excludes the GNU GPL, by design. In essence, this is achieved using what Microsoft proudly calls “licensing”, which requires payments for the use of protocols that have become very prevalent. The issue at hand was also described in the following short blog post from yesterday.

After Microsoft went public with its patent licensing specs the other day, I took a closer look at the agreements you have to sign — and the cash you have to fork over. To license patents from any one Microsoft product, you need to pay $10,000 up front, no questions asked, on top of per-copy-sold duties for your product.

It’s about what I expected from Microsoft. Good on them that they allow you to peruse and make use of the protocols without charge if you just want to work with them privately and not develop something that’s going to be released to others. But everything outside of that requires payment — and that $10K entry dues per Microsoft product is a great way to keep all of the noncommercial open source players out of the game.

Most observers are likely believe that people in Europe are unaffected by this because software patents have no merit, but Microsoft plays this game in a US-centric way, as illustrated by the Samba story, especially last year [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11]. Moreover, Charlie McCreevy has plans for what they call “harmonisation” (a very deceiving and cheeky word). His involvement is further described in this new article from IAM Magazine.

And alongside a Community patent we need a single European patent jurisdiction through which we can end the current patchwork of often contradictory decisions in patent cases handed down by national courts. On top of this, just three years ago the Commission was telling us that we needed a Computer Implemented Inventions directive to harmonise the treatment of software patents, again to help SMEs and to provide certainty in the software market. In short, the Commission tells us that patents are good and patents are vital to Europe’s prosperity.

[...]

So, a go-getting and smart European SME may well have invested significant time and money in developing world-class software. It may have followed the advice of commissioners McCreevy and Verheugen to get patent protection, but when it comes to putting that software into a potentially lucrative pan-European project, it’s no can do.

But wait. That’s not all. Some Microsoft lobbyisys we have come to know years ago, Jonathan Zuck and his agents, are once again pretending that small businesses are at stake.

Jonathan Zuck, president of the Association for Competitive Technology, said the EU scored an own goal with the document. “It aims to facilitate digital cooperation among European administrations, but in effect it excludes many well-established technologies from being used for e-Government services due to a narrow definition of open standards.”

It was only yesterday that we wrote about CompTIA and other Microsoft pressure groups. Pamela Jones connects the observation above to the previous incidents. She wrote:

[PJ: Yup. The BSA and CompTIA are riding agin. Yippee-ki-yi-ay, it's a range war, and here comes the pr machine, and along with them dutifully ride some of the media. "The software industry" is expressing concerns? IP is being "sacrificed"? Or is it some fronts for Microsoft expressing concern? Take your pick. I'm pretty sure Red Hat isn't complaining, and they are part of the software industry, after all. And not even all the members of these organizations wish to be represented this way. Remember last summer in Australia when CompTIA claimed its members were for OOXML and IBM was stood up and said it was a member of CompTIA and it was opposed? So, CompTIA speaks for *some of its members* who I guess would rather have others speak for them. I seriously doubt IBM is worrying about the EIC or open standards. You can read the final draft of the EIC here and more about it here.]

We also wrote yesterday about WIPO yesterday, so you may wish to keep an eye on articles like this one. There’s a lot of mystery around WIPO’s plans.

The fact that the WIPO patent committee has decided to request the International Bureau studies on “exceptions from patentable subject matter and limitations to the rights, inter alia research exemption and compulsory licenses” and “patents and standards” is testament that the WIPO of 2008 is not the WIPO that invoked “Intellectual Property as a Power tool for Development”.

Here below is the Annex to the Summary by the Chair which lists the eighteen non-exhaustive list of issues for further elaboration and discussion in the future. This list includes such topics as “Economic impact of the patent system, Alternative models for innovation, Patents and health (including exhaustion, the Doha Declaration and other WTO instruments, patent landscaping) and Relation of patents with other public policy issues.”

In summary, as is hopefully demonstrated here, there’s a great push from several different fronts for software patents in Europe. Without software patents, Microsoft’s dream of taxing Free software are doomed to fail. It’s an important battle to fight and important developments to keep abreast of.

Xandros-Linspire-Microsoft Marriage is Now Official

Posted in Corel, GNU/Linux, Linspire, Microsoft, Novell, Patents, Xandros at 10:01 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

R

emember the Xandrospire transition? all started with the claim from a man who had sold out to Microsoft, Kevin Carmony. He bragged about the money he had made by signing a deal against the GPL (and with Microsoft). Mark Hinkle seems to have it confirmed now, so it’s no longer an unsubstantiated claim/rumours. Just look how far back it goes.

According to Typaldos Xandros and Linspire have had talks at the CEO level over the years about the possibility of a combination given their historically similar Debian-based roots and complementary product lines. Such talks accelerated in late 2007 and culminated in the current agreement.

[...]

Xandros is one of the more established Linux distributions evolving originally from Corel Linux popular in the late 1990s.

Corel is the company that Microsoft paid to essentially stop competing and instead serve Microsoft. It’s similar to Novell's deal. Having become too much of a threat to Microsoft’s franchise, the monopoly realised that it would be cheaper to ‘bribe’ the opponent to concede the fight. This type of interference was first described as harmony by Corel, so regulators could not express much skepticism.

Remember how Corel promised that it would be committed to Linux. It’s the same with Novell and Free software. But Novell is now putting Microsoft before siblings like Red Hat. Its commitment to Free software comes only after its commitment to Microsoft.

“Our partnership with Microsoft continues to expand.”

Ron Hovsepian, Novell CEO

IRC: #boycottnovell @ FreeNode: July 1st, 2008

Posted in IRC Logs at 4:48 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

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