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07.18.08

Links 18/07/2008: GNU/Linux at NASA, Nicaragua

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

GNOME bluefish

GNU/Linux

KDE

  • KDE 4.1 RC1 – Yet Another Top Release

    So another succesful release, I really think that anyone who hasn’t switched because they thought that it wasn’t mature enough at KDE 4.0 release, its about time to consider it. 4.1 is not only mature, but it’s also stable. Soon enough, the beauty of the KDE 4 series is going to start to outshadow competition, and with the desktop experience being most important to the end user, more smaller businesses and casual home users might start to switch, just to see KDE 4. The more real information there is about what Linux and KDE are, and what KDE looks and feels like, the more people will want to use it.

  • KDE 4.1. The promise of a better future!
  • Plasma Embedded

    My job was to install Linux on it. And I did just that – Debian GNU/Linux with KDE 4.1 beta which is in Debian’s experimental repositories. I hooked the system to my screen so that you can see what it looks like (although it was a bit odd to hook something like this to a 19″ screen). It behaves surprisingly well – the system is responsive and works very well (with all fancy Plasma animations).

GTK/WebKit

UNIX

F/OSS (Free Open Source Software)

FOSS (Fake Open Source Software. or Wave Riding)

Microsoft

Yahoo

Security

Patently Absurd: Microsoft, BSA, IDC, Alsup, and Trend Micro

Posted in Deception, Europe, Free/Libre Software, Microsoft, Patents, Red Hat, Security at 1:58 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Meet Microsoft, a High-brow Software Patents infringer

T

he lawsuit over Silverlight was mentioned a fortnight ago, along with other new evidence of an out-of-control system. People in Microsoft Watch and elsewhere seemed very curious about the status of this case. Between the Lines offers some details.

Silverlight suit: Microsoft’s conduct is “unlawful” and “willful”

[...]

In its complaint, filed July 2, Gotuit alleges that Silverlight, Microsoft’s rival to Adobe’s Flash for Video and the technology powering the online video coverage of the games, infringes on Gotuit patents that allow “for the enhancement, personalization and monetization of video and other media.”

You can explore further the ridiculousness of this. Microsoft now drinks from the same well which it poisoned.

Begging for RAND and Intellectual Monopolies

It has only been a week since IDC, Microsoft and the BSA (all are financially linked) pulled their usual stunts in Europe in attempt to legalise software patents, make RAND the standard in standards, and push forward the proprietary software agenda with propaganda terms like “piracy”. Well, it’s happening again, according to The Register.

BSA: Software piracy’s ‘tragic’ impact on US society

[...]

The BSA-sponsored IDC study, available here (pdf), pinpointed eight US states in the report. It found significant variations from the national piracy figure of 20 per cent.

Be sure to learn what Microsoft and the BSA have been doing recently [1, 2, 3]. It barely receives media attention, so it tends to progress under people’s noses. It doesn’t meet the sheer resistance it truly deserves.

It was only weeks ago that the BSA (and maybe its hired associates like IDC) were pushing for RAND on behalf of Microsoft et al (the funding sources). Meanwhile, and probably independent from this, the EU is also strengthening intellectual monopoly laws.

Following the April 2007 initiative on “Enhancing the patent system”, the European Commission has now published a communication on a European industrial property rights strategy (PDF). It hopes this will improve access to the patent system and to trademark protection for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). The Commission has also announced that it intends to work harder on ensuring the quality of patents granted and the promotion of innovation associated with it.

European Commission sounds new patent offensive

Following the April 2007 initiative on “Enhancing the patent system”, the European Commission has now published a communication on a European industrial property rights strategy (PDF). It hopes this will improve access to the patent system and to trademark protection for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). The Commission has also announced that it intends to work harder on ensuring the quality of patents granted and the promotion of innovation associated with it.

Patent Busting

We wrote about the Peer-To-Patent project only yesterday. There are some more details about it in Mark Webbink’s blog.

In my last blog I talked about the PeerToPatent project and how it is attempting to improve the U.S. patent system one patent at a time. As you may see in the press today, my interest in PeerToPatent is not benign. Starting back on June 1 I have joined New York Law School as a visiting professor and as executive director of the new Center for Patent Innovations, home of PeerToPatent.

The need for patent busting is evident and fruits of this project imminent. There is already this new report about a major claim getting binned because of a patent’s obviousness (it got invalidated).

Finisar, which makes high-speed data transmission equipment, accused Comcast of infringing with its digital cable systems. Alsup invalidated the only claim asserted by Finisar because of obviousness. Morgan & Finnegan represented Finisar.

Trend Micro Begs for FOSS Forgiveness

Trend Micro shot the wrong target using the wrong weapon

Boycott Trend Micro

It’s feeling the heat as a result. Perhaps.

Trend Micro, potentially terrified due to the boycott (on top of poor business health at the moment), bothers to repeat Chen’s claim via another executive. In CBR he insists that the software patent lawsuit is not about Free software (well, it sure is in practice). Maybe they have regrets now. It’s a tad amusing to see the ‘damage control’ that they do. Interestingly enough, in this article from Jason Stamper they also sneak in the sentence: ‘Dean Drako, president and CEO of Barracuda Networks, said: “Innovation will lead to a safer Internet, litigation will not.”’ He said this elsewhere too.

“I would much rather spend my time and money and energy finding ways to make the Internet safer and better than bickering over patents.”

Dean Drako, Barracuda’s CEO

Microsoft: Our Biggest Competitors in SMB Space Are OpenOffice.org, MysQL

Posted in Database, Formats, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Open XML, OpenDocument, OpenOffice, Standard at 1:24 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“It’s nice for you to admit your guys are running scared [of Free software]. They should be.”

The sum of Microsoft’s fears

According to Groklaw, NATO has just adopted ODF as a mandatory standard. Pamela Jones adds: “No, I don’t see OOXML on the list. On this page, NATO explains the need for standards…”

More interesting, however, is the following job vacancy at Microsoft. [via]

Our passion is helping our field and partners win against our biggest competitors in this space, particularly OpenOffice and MySQL.

So there you have the explicit admission that OpenOffice.org is a “biggest competitor” to Microsoft Office and MySQL is a “biggest competitor” to Microsoft SQL Server. All in all, they are also “biggest competitor[s]” to Microsoft’s core business as a whole.

“All in all, they are also “biggest competitor[s]” to Microsoft’s core business as a whole.”Microsoft’s offerings are overpriced and they do not support standards (data is not easily portable, i.e. lock-in prevails). Microsoft needs people to persuade businesses to look away from Free software. Sounds familiar? It ought to (more here).

As explained previously, Microsoft prefers stepping over to rival territories. It’s seemingly doable when rivalry reaches only a minority and OpenLogic provides data such as location of business 'threats'.

We gave an example of this yesterday. Remember what happened to XenSource after Microsoft had intervened. Here is where things stand today.

Tony Asaro, who recently joined Virtual Iron as Chief Strategy Officer, pointed out that the Xen technology is also the result of the efforts of others, therefore the results are not owned by Citrix.

Acquiring a virtualization company is easy, especially if you can pay an high price for it, retaining its community maybe a more difficult task, though.

Dissipation of a community is a nasty and anti-social strategy, but it’s not the only one in Microsoft’s books.

A strategy of approaching the feeble on verge of defecting will prevail as long as the whack-a-mole methodology is ‘scalable’. But software of this kind (GPL) explodes in popularity, so Microsoft’s plan is hardly maintainable. MySQL is downloaded about 70,000 times per day and OpenOffice.org is reportedly downloaded, on average, 1.2 million times per week.

For those who do not keep track of the market, in today’s trading Microsoft’s shares are already down approximately 8%. In its previous quarter, Microsoft admitted that sales of Windows and Office had declined by as much as 24%. yesterday it reported other problems. It fails to evolve and Yahoo! may have just escaped its claws for good.

Links 18/07/2008: Another Disappointing Quarter for Microsoft (MSFT)

Posted in Boycott Novell at 4:21 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

GNU/Linux

Security

Phones

F/OSS

Leftovers

Latest Live Examples of Patent Failure™

Posted in Free/Libre Software, GNOME, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Mono, Patents, Red Hat, SUN at 3:54 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

A Firestar Falls

USPTOBased on previous and very recent posts about Red Hat, Sun and Firestar [1, 2] (c/f older analysis in [1, 2, 3]), it could be concluded that the main loser was software patents. The world learned that:

  • Paying for software patents (licensing) may be all in vain
  • Software patents can be challenged in court and potentially trashed through a reexamination process
  • The GNU GPL permits coverage of all users of the software, endowed by by a single entity
  • Patents are not inherently antithetical w.r.t. Free (libre) software

There is some more new coverage of the Red Hat/Firestar/Sun situation in OStatic and The Register. Ars Technica, on the other side of this, makes the incorrect assertion that the patent in question has already been invalidated.

The Linux vendor has been receiving plaudits and its legal team patting themselves on the back for defusing a ticking time bomb of claims against its JBoss middleware partners and customers.

If Sun Microsystems has got its way, though, Red Hat could have become just another victim of patent poker in the US and left customers, partners and itself open to future claims.

Sun has succeeded in overturning the Firestar patent in question – “Object model mapping and runtime engine for employing relational database with object oriented software” – after it approached the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), claiming the existence of prior art. Firestar had brought the claim against JBoss but this passed to Red Hat once it acquired the open source middleware provider in 2006.

At the end of the day, it’s mainly a question of who you upset with patents. Who is to benefit from frivolous lawsuits — or worse — from saber-rattling? That’s why people are encouraged never to depend on Mono (Microsoft’s restrictive and monopolistic .NET atop GNU/Linux).

Remember that it’s about the holder of the patents, not just those without-a-merit software patents, which may seem innocent due to the chaos they have become and the difficulty of having them upheld in court.

Here is a blunt new comment on this subject.

The thing I like most about Mono is how easy I can delete it and anything associated with it from my system. Every time I do an install, it is the very FIRST thing that I remove even before doing package updates.
I cannot justify having anything remotely connected to Microsoft on my machine no matter what Mr. DeCaza says.
Want to sleep with the enemy, fine but don’t complain when you get thrown on the rubbish heap when you are of no further use to MS.

This little rant came in response to Miguel de Icaza’s latest intervention in the direction of GNOME. Didn’t Jeff Waugh insist that Miguel has no influence on GNOME’s direction anymore?

Patent Opposition Grows

Addressing the issue of patents, Glyn Moody has just published a good summary of recent events/developments. In their light he explains why software patents haver become an absurdity.

Again, much kudos to Sun for (a) finding some prior art to invalidate the patent and (b) nobly sharing it with its rival, Red Hat, in a spirit of solidarity. But what this does reveal is that here we have not one but *two* companies being forced waste much effort and much money to get somebody’s claimed intellectual monopoly struck down for the good of the free software (and non-free software) world. Wouldn’t it have been better if the patent had never been awarded in the first place?

[...]

What’s particularly heartening is that those words appeared in the Wall Street Journal, hardly a bunch of sandal-wearing hippies. And the number of respected voices joining in is starting to increase. Here’s what Professor Joseph Stiglitz, a 2001 Nobel Laureate in Economics, had to say on the subject:

Patent monopolies are believed to drive innovation but they actually impede the pace of science and innovation, Stiglitz said. The current “patent thicket,” in which anyone who writes a successful software programme is sued for alleged patent infringement, highlights the current IP system’s failure to encourage innovation, he said.

The same type of opposition comes in the form of an entire book, aptly titled “Patent Failure”.

Bessen and Meurer propose requiring that applications for software patents be required to describe their inventions in greater detail (known as “enablement” in patent jargon). They express sympathy for a formal prohibition on software patents, but ultimately do not endorse that reform out of fears that defining software patents would prove too difficult.

Reading Patent Failure makes two things clear. First, the patent system is in desperate need of reform. Second, it is extremely complicated, and it is therefore difficult to predict the results of any given reform.

Crooked System

We previously wrote about the outrageously poor appointments of judges [1, 2], which enable companies with vested interests to affect the outcome of trials. This serious problem has finally gotten the attention of the US Congress.

Sure enough, a legislative fix is now on the way, in the form of H.R. 6362, sponsored by the chairman of the House IP committee, Howard Berman, D-CA. The bill will require the Secretary of Commerce to make these appointments in the future, together with the Director of the USPTO. It also creates a retroactive defense to any challenges of the 40-odd judges who were appointed “illegally,” IPO Daily News reported on Friday.

For more examples of this problem, see this older article.

A US law professor has uncovered a constitutional flaw in appointing judges who decide patent appeals and disputes, which could undo thousands of patent decisions concerning claims worth billions of dollars.

The basic point John F. Duffy, who teaches at the George Washington University Law School, has raised does not appear to be in dispute. Since 2000, patent judges have been appointed by a government official without the constitutional power to do so.

“I actually ran it by a number of colleagues who teach administrative law and constitutional law,” Duffy said, recalling his own surprise at finding such a fundamental and important flaw. He thought he must be missing something. “No one thought it was a close question.”

The RIAA does this too, so there a similarity between obstruction of justice in patents and in copyrights. Here are a couple of fairly recent examples:

1. RIAA Hopes New Judge will Nab Sharers

Rather that directing the lawsuit at the same defendants as before, the RIAA directed it at John Doe (a defendant to be identified later), therefore obtaining a new judge … who may not be so strict about the “making available” clauses.

Nice move, RIAA.

2. Chief RIAA Litigator Named Colorado Judge — UPDATE

The Pirate Party of the United States took a different position. “Being the lead counsel in a multi-year campaign of extortion, pretexting, and sham litigation should not be rewarded with a seat in any court, except perhaps as a defendant,” said the party’s chairman, Andrew Norton.

CopyleftNone of this is too exceptional. Just watch what McCreevy did for Hollywood the other day. Let’s face the fact that even the legal system can be quite corrupt. Can it be taken to court or would that be recursive?

“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

Press Coverage of SCO: Latest Summary

Posted in Courtroom, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Novell, SCO, SUN, UNIX at 3:00 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

For those in need of a simple synopsis

The SCO/Novell case sure has gotten a little crazy and yesterday we wrote about the very latest. It was shallow and preliminary, but now that the press has had time to digest, there is some more conclusive overage.

SCO’s cheerleaders and wannabes appear to have disappeared into the darkness. The SCO boosters are either spinning the court’s decision (so does SCO) or hide under a rock. Here is how Groklaw puts it:

Remember when SCO began its media blitz? Stories everywhere. The world thought it was exciting to imagine Linux on the ropes. Now, when SCO is told it behaved improperly and must pay millions, only a few even note it. No one cares about SCO in failure, except for some who feel disgust, like Matt Asay.

What a strange ride it’s been. You’d think the folks that wrote all those stories about SCO eating Linux’s lunch would at least place a notice on their Corrections Page: “Um. About that lunch stuff, we were totally duped by SCO. They haven’t won anything. The best they can do is not lose as big as they could have.”

[...]

But someone sent me Maureen O’Gara’s latest, a very hilarious snip. She of course is warning that Linux end users are at risk, because SCO can now sue them for infringing UnixWare. Heh heh. Folks, they could have sued for post-APA UnixWare five years ago. In fact, that is part of what SCOsource was allegedly about. Remember? That’s the story. So it’s nothing new that SCO can sue over UnixWare. And yet, they never did. If you look at the IBM case, not one line of infringed code from UnixWare was listed by SCO. Would that be for a reason? Like there isn’t any? You think?

Other SCO allies like Rob Enderle and Paul Murphy show no signs of life, either.

And after all has been (almost) said and done I’m left wondering: Where are the Rob Enderles and Paul Murphies of this world that were willing to bet their souls on SCO winning the case? Was it Rob that said that he had seen “very compelling evidence” of copyright infringement under an NDA?
I wonder SCO losing won’t show up on their “missed predictions” section of their resume… oh, and Steve Ballmer… you better sell that bottle of champaigne you were saving for the time SCO won the case… it must be worth a little more money after all the time that passed by.

Coverage from the local press has arrived by now:

1. SCO ordered to pay $2.55M to Novell

The SCO Group, which had angered many in the open-source community when it launched a campaign in 2003 to obtain license fees from Linux users of Unix software code, is ordered today to pay to Novell $2.55 million in royalty payments on Unix licenses collected from Sun Microsystems.

2. SCO to pay Novell $2.5M owed for Unix royalties

A federal judge ruled Wednesday that The SCO Group must pay more than $2.5 million in royalties to Novell Inc. for licensing the Unix computer operating system software to Sun Microsystems.

The decision by U.S. District Judge Dale Kimball in Salt Lake City came in the long-running dispute between Novell of Provo and SCO.

Outside of Utah, plenty of coverage soon appeared too. Here is just some of it:

Ars Technica: Ruling: SCO owes Novell $2.54 million from SCO-Sun SVRX deal

Today’s ruling comes after a three-day bench trial in late April and early May to determine how much money SCO was supposed to pay Novell. In theory, that would be 95 percent of the royalties for SVRX, the original UNIX intellectual property. The challenge for the court was to distinguish how much of the SCOSource licensing revenue was for SVRX and how much was for SCO’s own UnixWare intellectual property.

Judge Kimball evaluated Microsoft’s agreement with SCO and found that it primarily covered UnixWare. The only SVRX rights granted to Microsoft under the terms of the agreement were for intellectual property that was part of UnixWare. This means that SCO doesn’t have to give Novell any of the money it collected from Microsof

CNET Blogs: Justice is served: SCO ordered to pay Novell millions

It’s true that we haven’t been forced to put up with SCO for a year or two, but I will admit to still feeling annoyed by the festering cesspool of greed that leaked from SCO’s boardroom into the software industry for several years. These guys deserve to pay.

The Register: SCO ordered to pay Novell $2.5m Unix royalties

“The court concludes that SCO was entitled to enter into the 2003 Microsoft Agreement and the other SCO source Licenses, but was not authorized to enter into the 2003 Sun Agreement based on its amendment of the provisions concerning Sun’s SVRX confidentiality requirements under the 1994 Agreement,” said Kimball.

Groklaw reader and Inquirer reporter Egan has published this short article.

SCO, of course, is trying to spin Judge Kimball’s ruling as a win. As though being ordered to pay Novell over $2.5 million, plus interest and attorneys’ fees, really counts as a win.

But then SCO, being SCO, plans to appeal. Yet the appeals court could decide to reverse Judge Kimball’s ruling that SCO doesn’t owe Novell for the licencing fees it received from Microsoft and its SCOsource licencees.

Todd Weiss has another Computer World report, which reached IDG’s LinuxWorld (association with the Microsoft-backed IDC comes to mind). It seems as though there’s some media collaboration which could lead to change in biases. Anyway, Weiss writes:

At the beginning of its massive legal fight against Linux in 2003, The SCO Group imagined a day when companies like IBM, Novell and others would pay it large amounts of cash for alleged infringements on SCO-owned Unix code.

Instead, even as those legal fights meander through US courts, the tables were turned and SCO Wednesday was ordered to pay US$2.55 million to Novell for collecting Unix licensing revenue from Sun Microsystems that it wasn’t entitled to collect.

Henry Kingman posted a good summary of old stories at the bottom of this page.

Meanwhile, readers insatiable for backstory are encouraged to plunder to their gullets’ content on the Related Stories below. Enjoy . . . !

These are mainly old articles from SJVN, who yesterday had this to say:

The SCO legal horror show probably isn’t completely over yet. Some idiot always wants to do a sequel, but this is the end of the main saga. Novell owns Unix. SCO doesn’t. SCO is in bankruptcy. This is the end of the story. Oh, and for the spinoff, we have the possibility of Novell vs. Sun since, according to the judge; SCO never owned the IP rights to the Unix that it sold to Sun, which Sun then turned into part of OpenSolaris.

His zombie analogy got the attention of his old employers at Ziff Davis (eWeek).

Both parties may be able to appeal the decision, suggesting that the long, overdrawn case could continue to hobble along even longer than it already has. To quote Steven Vaughan-Nichols, “Like the 11th chapter of a bad horror movie, the SCO zombie keeps stumbling forward moaning “Linux,” instead of “brains.”

It seems like good riddance to SCO. Groklaw opines that Microsoft is next. Expect MSFT to fall sharply in Friday’s trading. Microsoft has just disappointed the market. Will aggression ensue?

“We believe every Linux customer basically has an undisclosed balance-sheet liability.”

Steve Ballmer

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