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07.03.08

Links 03/07/2008: Many GNU/Linux Distributions Released; OpenMoko Out Shortly

Posted in News Roundup at 4:19 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

GNU/Linux Distributions

Foresight GNOME 2.0.3 and GParted 0.3.7-7 were released. Also:

GNU/Linux General

Free/Open Source Software

Crime and Villains

Acts of Desparation

“Did you know that there are more than 34,750 registered lobbyists in Washington, D.C., for just 435 representatives and 100 senators? That’s 64 lobbyists for each congressperson.”

CIO.com (yesterday)

Links 03/07/2008: Acer’s GNU/Linux Laptops Come to the UK, Sabayon 3.5 Released

Posted in GNU/Linux at 7:03 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

GNU/Linux

Devices

  • Ten LiMo phones this month?

    Forbes has published an interview with LiMo Foundation executive director Morgan Gillis. The LiMo chief speaks out on Nokia’s acquisition of Symbian, competition with Android, the fold-in of the Linux Phone Standards (LiPS) Forum, and a projected 10 new LiMo handsets to be announced this month.

  • How Nokia’s Symbian Move Helps Google
  • Garmin Nav devices run Gnome Linux

    Garmin has posted Linux source code for its Nuvi 8xx and Nuvi 5xxx-series GPS navigation devices. The Nuvi 8xx offers a 4.3-inch, 480×272 display, and appears to be based on a Marvell PXA-3xx processor, Gnome Mobile Linux, and GeoClue location technology.

Ubuntu

F/OSS

Microsoft

Leftovers

Ogg Theora

Direct link

Microsoft: Getting More Open or Burning Down Openness for Easy Entry?

Posted in ECMA, Formats, ISO, Microsoft, Open XML, OpenDocument, Standard, SUN at 6:19 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

By ruining the system, existing open standards become irrelevant to be replaced by proprietary ones

Microsoft is an empire of lock-in, so it’s clearly no buddy of standards. This simple fact has been proven endlessly for decades. It’s probably to do with the business model of renting proprietary software.

That said, now that standards are required as a matter of policy in some places, Microsoft hopes to lower the barriers to entry and then contaminate a long-lasting system with pseudo ‘standards’ which are virtually paid for (or sneaked in via proxies like ECMA). OOXML is just the beginning as ISO refuses to repair itself.

It is a very dirty game of politics, rule-bending and marketing. Even ISO is willing to pretty much lie to the public. In the words of <No>OOXML:

Let’s hope other ISO members responsible for the appeal made by 4 countries are more clever then Mr Bryden when it comes to strengthen the ISO rules, and especially rewriting the Fast-Track rules that were changed probably on purpose for the OOXML process by ECMA ex-secretary general, Mr Van Den Beld.

Jan Van Den Beld is now working for a Microsoft lobbying arm, CompTIA. He seems like more of an insider that does their job under different hats.

Yesterday we wrote about another Microsoft lobbying arm, ACT. Here is Digistan’s take on their latest move.

The EU Commission announced on June 25 that EIF/2.0 (The European Interoperability Framework which defines the rules for software used in e-Government) will hold the line as regards patents on standards.

The announcement is expected to annoy those who wanted a “broad” definition of open standards that would include patented standards. As expected, the Business Software Alliance and the Association for Competitive Technology, both vocal in their defense of software patents and patented standards, have denounced the move as “imposing one business model over another”.

Speaking of Microsoft agents, watch this.

The next ISO SC34 meeting in London will discuss OOXML (non-)future. The meeting will be hosted by the British Library, an ECMA member, supporter of OOXML and advised by Alex Brown.

For background and context, see:

Glyn Moody has just commented on what Microsoft had done.

Given that companies favouring closed-source, proprietary approaches can hardly argue with that logic, the battle has moved on. What we are seeing now is a desperate rearguard action to redefine “open standards” to embrace elements that are decidedly closed.

The OOXML fiasco at ISO is perhaps the highest-profile manifestation of this, where a closed, proprietary standard was gradually made to seem open. Here, the “open standard” label represents simply a box that must be ticked to keep that pesky EU and its communistic member states happy, not a real Damascene conversion to fairness and a level playing-field.

Does that not put in perspective the standardisation of Portable Document Format, which is an Adobe format?

The Portable Document Format (PDF), undeniably one of the most commonly used formats for electronic documents, is now accessible as an ISO International Standard – ISO 32000-1. This move follows a decision by Adobe Systems Incorporated, original developer and copyright owner of the format, to relinquish control to ISO, who is now in charge of publishing the specifications for the current version (1.7) and for updating and developing future versions.

Should “most commonly used” become analogous to “open”? Probably not.

From another article about this very same topic:

ISO Approves PDF as an International Standard

[...]

Microsoft submitted Office Open XML, a proprietary XML-based document format it built for its Office 2007 productivity suite, to the ISO. The ISO approved OOXML on April 1 in a controversial vote that is still being contested by some of the standards bodies that took part in it.

Meanwhile, Sun has produced an ODF validation service.

I would like to announce the availability of a new ODF Validation service at openoffice.org. What is it? It is actually a web page where you can check whether an ODF file meets some basic conformance or validation requirements defined by the ODF specification.

The standards industry is truly in a crisis. With so much money at stake (e.g. in Microsoft’s case), duplicate ‘standards’ and bribery are only to be expected.

ECMA is Microsoft

IRC: #boycottnovell @ FreeNode: July 2nd, 2008

Posted in IRC Logs at 5:51 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Read the rest of this entry »

News Roundup: When Software Patents Backfire

Posted in Apple, Europe, GNU/Linux, IBM, Microsoft, Patents, SUN at 5:44 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Trend Micro Eats Crow

We have been writing quite a lot about Trend Micro in the recent past [1, 2] due to their exemplary attack on Free open source software. Whether it was deliberate or not to make this a legal challenge against a community of users and developers is a separate matter.

To demonstrate how pointless software patents really are, behold what Barracuda Networks, the scapegoat which is being sued in this case, does as means of retaliation and defense:

Barracuda Networks Countersues Trend Micro

There’s some news on the Trend Micro v.Barracuda Networks case. That is the one where Trend Micro sued Barracuda over ClamAV and brought a complaint to the International Trade Commission. Barracuda has just filed a countersuit in California, alleging patent infringement by Trend Micro. They say it’s a defensive use of three patents they bought from IBM. Barracuda asks for money damages and an injunction on further sales of infringing Trend Micro products.

As proof of the self-defeating purpose of software patents, consider this ‘loaning’ of algorithms.

Drako is reluctant to discuss details, but the patents were purchased from IBM some time in the last six months — in other words, after Trend Micro filed against Barracuda. “I approached IBM asking for help in defense of the open source community, and they directed me to the individual who sells their patents,” Drako says.

It’s a zero-sum war, so while engage in this war in the first place? Everyone implements abstracts ideas all the time. The only sin is seeking to own them when there is no device or exact implementation (copyrights) involved. It’s greed. It’s appalling.

More details about this latest development come from Don Marti.

Microsoft Employee Denounces Software Patents?

Even an outspoken Microsoft employee is against software patents on the face of it (depending on one’s interpretation).

Yes, Jobs and Apple were the first to produce a mass market graphical user operating system, and Gates sure seemed to borrow concepts from that effort. That, somehow, is viewed as bad, even as Jobs “borrowing” of XEROX concepts for his graphical user interface is viewed as good. As someone who is no fan of software patents (approbrium for which seems selectively applied among those who wished a sinkhole had spontaneously opened beneath Redmond sometime in the past 20 years), my personal opinion is that Jobs was as right to borrow from XEROX as Gates was to borrow from Jobs. Ideas are like a pyramid, and pharoah Jobs may have supplied a few stones during its construction, but he built on stacks placed by others before him.

Sun and Patents

The other day we wrote about MySQL's founders opposing software patents. But what about Sun, which now owns MySQL? Watch this one carefully.

Three years ago come August, O’Reilly’s Nat Torkington, interviewing Sun’s Jonathan Schwartz, pressed the CEO on the issues of patents generally and DTrace patents specifically.

Torkington’s question? “So if the Linux kernel were to implement DTrace, Sun wouldn’t employ the patents against them?”

Schwartz’ answer? “Knock yourself out.”

That was 2005. Fast forward to 2008. As one of the DTrace engineers has noted, Paul Fox is taking Schwartz up on that challenge.

[...]

One answer, at least, we have. While many would probably argue that a DTrace port to Linux would be disastrous for Solaris and OpenSolaris – that DTrace was one the reasons the CDDL license was originally selected for the latter project, in face – the engineers that built it appear to be standing ready to help, should anyone be inclined to ask.

As Groklaw recently suggested, trusting Sun is still a bit of a stretch. Sun is neither a friend nor a fan of Linux, against which it competes. Free software as a whole is another story.

Europe’s Back Door Seen as Less Effective

We’ve expressed some concerns (and cited others) about the use of political manipulation and loopholes to change European patent law. Microsoft's pressure groups are involved and they want to legalise software patents one nation/continent at a time (they’ve already got Australia and Japan). At least one of the back doors (there are several) seems to be blocked at the moment.

As France takes the helm of the European Union this week, the officials charged with shaping the country’s contribution to EU-wide innovation policy are busy lowering expectations.

[...]

It’s not the absence of the treaty itself that is so disruptive to long-term initiatives such as Union-wide research projects and reaching agreement on a Community Patent. Most if not all issues that France hoped to push forward during its six months in charge don’t strictly need the new treaty in order to materialise.

The problem is that the house of cards that is EU-wide political unity has been blown down. Forget reaching agreement on a Community Patent, which would require unanimity from all member states, warn many Brussels pundits.

Peer-to-Patent Update

On the other side of this pond, there are those who experiment with the idea of open-sourcing — or ‘crowdsourcing’ — the whole process (mentioned before in [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6]). Here is a report about “encouraging results”.

Congratulations to the organizers of Peer-to-Patent, which is carrying off one of the most audacious experiments in Internet activism in our day. A lot of ink has been spilled about Barack Obama’s application of social networking techniques to presidential campaigning (and to Ron Paul’s successful fund-raising before that) but Peer-to-Patent makes those achievements seem entirely run-of-the-mill.

The premise behind Peer-to-Patent, which many observers called impractical, was that thousands of experts in technical fields would flock to the site to read patent applications (if you’ve ever read one, you’d hike the stakes against success several notches right there) and would find prior art that would lead to rejection or restrictions on patent claims.

Software patents are dumb. They needn’t be permitted. But those who want a government-imposed monopoly for their computer program will use any excuse available — and sometimes incentive/bribe — to ‘massage’ the system to their benefit. Without response to this threat, the system will be reshaped to facilitate those who thrive in abuse of it.

This debate is very relevant to this Web site because Novell is trying to capitalise on its patent portfolio and use it to ‘punish’ all other GNU/Linux vendors. It wants to acquire a Linux monopoly using software patents and deals that make them relevant.

Xandros Refutes Claims of Microsoft Involvement in Linspire Takeover

Posted in GNU/Linux, Linspire, Microsoft, Xandros at 5:16 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Previous posts about the Xandros-Linspire acquisition are:

In this cumulative coverage and aggregation of information we gain better understanding of how Xandros and Microsoft interact. First of all, Rick Lehrbaum summarised the situation as follows:

Two highly vocal — though not particularly successful — U.S.-based desktop Linux vendors have become one.

Xandros is probably known to some people only because of ASUS.

The other day, the CEO of Xandros did not say how the ASUS Eee PC blended in with Xandros as a business, if at all. There is so much secrecy. Watch this new interview with him:

Q: What are the total sales and profits for the combined company?
A: Since Xandros is privately held, these figures are not publicly disclosed.

[...]

Q: How is this affect your Microsoft relationship … were they consulted on the deal?
A: It will not affect our Microsoft relationship. Xandros has always planned to continue increasing its product portfolio, and Microsoft understands and respects our strategy in that regard. On whether Microsoft was consulted, Xandros is an independent company and consults internally with its board, management, and advisors, and not with outside parties in making decisions.

Watch the image in Jack Germain’s article about it in ECT. It sums it up nicely. According to Linux Journal’s analysis, “Freespire will continue to be available as an Open Source project.” Well, Frespire was never Free software anyway.

Novell Breeds Notion of “Non-certified” GNU/Linux Distributions

Posted in GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Novell, Red Hat at 5:01 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

I

t is difficult to forget the "cheeky tricks" and "dirty tricks" that Novell pulled against Red Hat in its own (Red Hat’s) recent event. It’s evident that Microsoft and Novell fight against Red Hat together, but they are very smug about it. Watch this new publicity stunt and mind the banner/screenshot.

Microsoft ‘endorses’ Linux?

Come on, Novell, I can see touting SAP’s seal of approval on SUSE Linux, but Microsoft? I found this banner on Novell’s page today (while looking for a logo for an earlier post), and I laughed as I read, “A quick and easy way to certify…” and then this…

Watch the image.

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