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07.04.08

Off Topic: Mandriva 2008.1 Recommendation

Posted in GNU/Linux, KDE, Mandriva, Turbolinux at 1:13 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Verdict: Excellent Distribution (Mandriva 2008.1 with KDE 3.5.x.)

At one stage in the past, this Web site gave Mandriva a hard time, but only due to cautiousness, due to doubt. We’ll return to this in a moment and present other concerns at the end.

In practice, Mandriva turns out to be a wonderful GNU/Linux distribution that makes computing a totally CLI-free nirvana. The developers should be proud.

Background

Having received a new computer a few days ago, I tried a variety of distributions on it (both 32- and 64-bit). The maturity of GNU/Linux was demonstrated by the fact that, in all cases, everything worked right ‘out of the box’.

I don’t consider myself qualified to write a comprehensive review, which would also require time and dedication. But in any event, this is just a note to say thank you for the Mandriva team, which put together a wonderful product.

Time will tell if it will stay this way, at least in the sense that a lifetime of a distribution and it success cannot be measured based on just a few days of regular use. I used Mandrake on two of my PCs before, but never used Mandriva. The loss was mine.

The Positives

Package management: super (so far, so good)

KDE integration with Mandriva’s tools and branding: good

Hardware support: based on a single test, all is great

Installer: better than (or on par with) any of the others that I tried

The Negatives

None so far. I just don’t fancy the default wallpaper, but that’s easy to take care of. ;-)

The Possible Snag

There is still a level of caution when it comes Mandriva because of Manbo (Turbolinux has an intellectual monopoly deal with Microsoft and it swaps code/RPMs with Mandriva). This should not be an issue, according to Alan W. and others in Mandriva, including the CEO. We also asked the FSF about it.

Time will tell, but I don’t want to end up like I did with SUSE. I used it at home and at work for years prior to the Microsoft/Novell deal. It goes back to S.u.S.E. days.

The Beranger Take

Mandriva dreads Beranger, a renowned Linux guru who comments constructively without much mercy. In my correspondence with Beranger, who is intimately familiar with this distribution, some interesting points came up. We share them here for completeness:

“I hope you meant “KDE3″, not KDE4,” he wrote. “Mandriva has different set of bugs twice a year. Was it “Mandriva 2008″ or “Mandriva 2008.1 (Spring)”? Try the other one and you’ll see different bugs out of the box!”

Regarding support, he shared: “All Mandriva Linux editions are supported for twelve months (desktop packages) or eighteen months (core packages) for official updates from the product release date. The Mandriva Product Lifetime Policy describes the supported life for Mandriva software products.”

“But they can barely fix the bugs for the current release,” he argued.

“Mandriva 2009 will have KDE 4.1, and they’ll only have KDE 3.5.9 in “contrib”. That means it’ll be less supported, specifically “contrib” gets NO security fixes!!! So this (2008 Spring) is the last Mandriva with KDE3, in real terms.”

About “contrib”: “These updates are not tested, signed or supported by the Mandriva security team; they are built and issued by the maintainers of the ‘contrib’ packages. We do not guarantee that all maintainers will issue security or bugfix updates, but we provide this media for those maintainers who choose to do so.”

“All in all, Mandriva 2008.1 has been a wonderful GNU/Linux distribution so far.”“They had a Mandriva Corporate Desktop 3.0 (KDE-only),” he told me, “and they claimed to have issued a Mandriva Corporate Desktop 4.0 (KDE-only too), but they’re now both unavailable from the online store!!! Actually, MCD4 was never available in the store!!!”

He concluded with: “Too bad, Mandriva can’t afford to maintain a Desktop distro that would have been supported for years… and it was a KDE3 distro!”

The debate here seems to revolve a lot around updates, which is probably not a huge concern anyway. In Free software, upgrades rarely involve much trouble, or even a payment. So, that last bit is a rant to be taken with a grain of salt but not to be ignored. All in all, Mandriva 2008.1 has been a wonderful GNU/Linux distribution so far. Consider giving it a try.

ISO: The New USPTO (and It’s Not a Compliment)

Posted in ISO, Microsoft, Open XML, Patents at 12:38 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Time for a reform

Microsoft may be the last straw that broke ISO's back. Given the dismissive attitude and denials from ISO, this essential establishment will never be the same.

ISO now acts in a similar fashion or serves a similar goal to USPTO — and those who endorse its role — as a body approving monopolies. Those monopolies are defended using the piece(s) of paper called “a standard” rather than “a patent”. A standard is more expensive to buy though. Ask Microsoft just how much it cost it to game the system.

The disparity of rules for PAS, Fast-Track and ISO committee generated standards is fast making ISO a laughing stock in IT circles. The days of open standards development are fast disappearing. Instead we are getting “standardization by corporation”, something I have been fighting against for the 20 years I have served on ISO committees.”

Martin Bryan
Formerly Convenor, ISO/IEC JTC1/SC34 [OOXML] WG1

flickr:2400034217
ISO missed the chance to save its integrity when Mr. Bryden spoke out

More Lies and Hijacking of “Open Source” by Microsoft

Posted in Deception, Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Linspire, Microsoft, Xandros at 12:32 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

It’s back to Free Software, people

“Open source is an intellectual-property destroyer [...] I can’t imagine something that could be worse than this for the software business and the intellectual-property business. I’m an American; I believe in the American way, I worry if the government encourages open source, and I don’t think we’ve done enough education of policymakers to understand the threat.”

Jim Allchin, Microsoft Vice President

H

ow quickly things change and how shamelessly can an abusive monopolist pretend. Shortly after the Sandcastle fiasco [1, 2], Microsoft becomes an egocentric opportunist once again. It is turning a disgusting case of “Open Source” abuse — some would say “a scandal” — into a publicity stunt and it’s appearing in the form of positive coverage in the media at the moment. It’s essentially advertising the proprietary software-reliant Sandcastle as “open source”. How weaselly.

“Will Microsoft try to play against VMWare using the “open source” buzzword of Xen?”There are other fascinating examples. Earlier today we showed how the technical chief of Xen was becoming a servant of Microsoft under the umbrella of its new Partner of the Year. He was preparing for big announcements. Will Microsoft try to play against VMWare using the “open source” buzzword of Xen? Evidence seems to appear in articles like this new one, but it’s too early to make an accurate prediction.

As a third example, consider this: a case of describing the GNU/Linux-hostile Silverlight in an open source context. Remember "open source-compatible"? The abuse of terminology for marketing purposes truly boggles the mind.

For more lies, see this short analysis of the Xandros-Linspire situation. Both are mentally aligned with Microsoft — in terms of business goals and ways of accomplishing these goals.

Funny lies reading: Q&A: Xandros’ CEO Andreas Typaldos — Kevin Carmony: Xandros / Linspire – Here Comes the Spin — Kevin Carmony: Michael Robertson, Where’s the Cash? — Michael Robertson: Xandros Buys Linspire — Comments on LWN.net, and on The Register.

Of course, it was all about this happening: Xandros Acquires Linspire, Creator of CNR Application Distribution Facility and Freespire Desktop.

Both distros are dead cows anyway.

We covered this before and reached a similar conclusion, which is backed by several other publications [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6]. Selling out to Microsoft was an act of misery that will get these two players nowhere. All they ever wanted was a ‘cheap Windows’, without much (or any) regard for the values of Free software. it doesn’t work that way and they will find this out the hard way.

To borrow an old joke, you can put an “open source” lipstick on a proprietary resource pig and put it on the server. But it’s still a proprietary resource pig, which is bug-ridden, poorly-supported and therefore unstable and unreliable. No volunteer would support it.

Lindows

Links – Independence Day: [K|X]*Ubuntu 8.04.1 Released; Dangers of Proprietary SaaS Revisited

Posted in News Roundup at 8:02 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

GNU/Linux

Laptops

Devices

Reviews

Desktop Environments

F/OSS

Dangers of SaaS and Reasons to Choose AGPLv3

IRC: #boycottnovell @ FreeNode: July 3rd, 2008

Posted in IRC Logs at 7:30 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Read the rest of this entry »

OpenDocument on a Roll (Next Stop: Uruguay)

Posted in Africa, America, Formats, ISO, Open XML, OpenDocument, Standard at 7:13 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

OOXML protests in India
From the Campaign for Document Freedom (India)

I

t’s quite a winning streak. This does not come as a complete surprise after the revelation about the University of the Republic embracing OpenDocument Format, but it’s nice nonetheless. Yes, in case you didn’t hear, Uruguay turned its back on OOXML. It favours PDF and ODF now.

It is with great pleasure that I present the recommendation of AGESIC (Agency for the Development of Government Electronic Management and Information and Knowledge Society) of Uruguay, which states that “… the Executive, Legislative and Judiciary Powers, Decentralized Organizations and Companies where the state holds equity majority… “, shall distribute and receive electronic documents in, at least, one open standard for electronic documents (ODF or PDF).

More encouraging remarks arrive from Bob Sutor, who says that “ODF keeps on winning.”

The Agency for the Development of Government Electronic Management and Information and Knowledge Society of Uruguay have now published their recommendation that public documents use either ODF or PDF.

Down in South Africa, progress on a migration to ODF is made. Remember where the push for ODF and against OOXML came from back in May.

South African localisation experts, Translate.org.za, have launched a new project to simplify ODF document translation.

The project aims to develop software that will convert documents in the ISO-approved OpenDocument format (ODF) into XLIFF, a standard format used by translators. The process will convert just the text of ODF documents into the XLIFF format for translation and then convert translated text back into the OpenDocument format.

It’s hardly surprising that Microsoft is now trying to control ODF.

More on Uruguay and document formats (brief mentions) in:

“Microsoft corrupted many members of ISO in order to win approval for its phony ‘open’ document format, OOXML. This was so governments that keep their documents in a Microsoft-only format can pretend that they are using ‘open standards.’ The government of South Africa has filed an appeal against the decision, citing the irregularities in the process.”

Richard Stallman, June 2008

Fear and Loathing in Digital Cornerstone Incorporated, Formerly Known as Linspire

Posted in GNU/Linux, Linspire, Marketing, Novell, SLES/SLED, Xandros, Xen at 6:56 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

In previous coverage of the surprising acquisition [1, 2, 3, 4, 5], we showed that not everyone was pleased. Well, it’s getting uglier now. The money-obsessed Kevin Carmony asks Michael Robertson where the cash is and also retaliates with this post.

Michael Robertson finally broke his silence about what the 100 Linspire shareholders can expect from the sale to Xandros. No, this didn’t happen in a shareholder meeting, but to a reporter. Apparently reporters matter more to Michael than shareholders.

There’s a video there, too. The tensions are seen by reporters too they pick up the issues.

The new company will be named Digital Cornerstone Inc. Financial terms of the deal were kept secret.

His comments follow bitter remarks made by the firm’s ex-CEO and Linspire shareholder Kevin Carmony, who revealed earlier this week that a deal between the two Linux companies was underway.

Carmony laid into the takeover by accusing Robertson of being a sell-out and abandoning a “sinking ship”.

Watch what Dana Blankenhorn said:

One outlet described the deal as Linspire founder Michael Robertson deserting a sinking ship, but others will claim that it was sunk last June when it agreed to join Microsoft’s “IP Protection Racket.”

In The Inquirer it’s summarised as: “struggling Linux distributions huddle together.”

So, it’s not so fruitful to sell out to Microsoft, is it? Others are hopefully watching this and learning from it. Deals with Microsoft lead nowhere. Remember what an Acer VP boldly argued in public, according to this good new article from Free Software Magazine.

Gianpiero Morbello, Acer’s Vice President of Marketing and Brand, interviewed by vnunet, said, bluntly, that Acer “has shifted towards Linux because of Microsoft”.

He didn’t elaborate but went on to say, perhaps more importantly, that “Microsoft has a lot of power” which could make things difficult for them but they were nevertheless “determined to develop the Linux market”. That’s pretty bold talk but as the saying goes, the proof of the pudding is in the eating. We’ll have wait and see if they have the stomach for a showdown with Microsoft when the threats start to come. Perhaps they might start backsliding like Asus. In the real world, Microsoft has real power and it has never been slow or afraid to wield it when its commercial interests are threatened.

Further, says the same article:

The HP 2133 is another well spec’d contender but it chose to install SUSE, a Novell product that is being currently boycotted by many in the Unix community because of its link up with……Microsoft.

There are other new examples at arm’s distance. Remember the Xen story? Watch this new interview. Linux is not even mentioned. Wasn’t XenSource an open source and Linux-oriented software company before the Microsoft capture? Mind this bit:

GigaOM: But will Hyper-V compete with the Citrix server virtualization business anyway?

Crosby: You should look forward to interesting announcements of products to add value to Hyper-V. We’re going to sell into that footprint much like Citrix has always extended the use cases of Microsoft products.

Overall, the latest Xandros-Linspire move will go down in history as a bizarre one which is difficult to explain. It’s an indication of a total loss of direction.

As the famous saying goes, “Linux is not Windows.” Moreover, GNU/Linux cannot succeed with Microsoft’s help. It mustn’t depend on its fierce ideological rival. It’s a shame that Kevin Carmony failed on both counts and he may not realise that Linspire’s assets had been ‘sold’ to Microsoft before they were sold to Xandros, so it’s truly his own fault. He is now happy with the not-so-Windows-esque Ubuntu. What does that teach us?

“Based on years of conversations, I am convinced that part of the cause of the problem is the tendency to call the system Linux [Ed: let alone "Lindows"] rather than GNU, and describe it as open source rather than free software.”

Richard Stallman

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