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07.25.08

Links 25/07/2008: More GNU/Linux Preinstalled, Big Releases

Posted in News Roundup at 3:25 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Releases

Ubuntu

Red Hat and Sibling

  • Red Hat issues Enterprise Linux 4.7

    Red Hat has released the seventh revision of Red Hat Enterprise Linux 4, RHEL4 for short, which is aimed at corporate customers. The release contains large number of bug fixes and a lot of small improvements. In line with RHEL 5.2, RHEL 4.7 now uses Firefox 3. RHEL 4.7 also provides “para-virtualized” drivers. These drivers allow RHEL 4.7, when running as a guest in a paravirtualized environment as such as Xen, to access the virtualised hardware without any emulation. This in turn increases I/O throughput and reduces the load on the CPU.

  • YDL PowerStation Ships with ATI X1650 Graphics Card

GNU/Linux (General)

F/OSS

Spyke [sic]

Symbroid

Facecrosoft

Monopoly

Leftovers

OpenOffice.org Wins Courtesy of Microsoft

Posted in Free/Libre Software, Microsoft, Office Suites, OpenDocument, OpenOffice, Windows at 2:38 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Microsoft Office is poised for suffering and Microsoft too recently acknowledged its problem, labeling OpenOffice.org a “biggest competitor”. Watch it grabbing all the big awards in this year’s Sourceforge poll.

This must have left a mark on Microsoft.

Microsoft was the diamond sponsor for this year’s Sourceforge Community Choice Awards, culminating last night in a party at the Jupiter Hotel in Portland.

The big winner? Open Office. It swept the awards for top project, top enterprise project, and top project in education.

Indeed — no matter how ironic — this was sponsored by Microsoft. For those wondering about the incitation of panic among the awards, start here.

“Microsoft does not care about open source software.”In other interesting news, there’s a hot new discussion at the moment which began with this ComputerWorld article from Mr. Weiss. It’s about the harms which so-called “piracy” (typically meaning an attack on ships, as opposed to unauthorised copying) causes projects like OpenOffice.org.

Microsoft does not care about open source software. Watch how Microsoft mistreats its own ‘shared/open source’ poster children, which make use of .NET. It’s actually is ‘neighbour press’ that reports on this problem.

…that, Walker thinks, is a shame. DotNetNuke has benefited hugely from the attention lavished on it by the DevDiv, but Walker believes there are scores of worthy, .NET-based projects that are just not getting the support they need.

“We’re hoping that over time that attitude will change and they will provide more support for native open source application vendors,” Walker told me.

Walker isn’t alone in this sentiment. Back in April, Coding Horror blogger Jeff Atwood spoke at length about his frustrations with how Microsoft treats open source developers. He went so far as to say that “open source projects are treated as second-class citizens in the Microsoft ecosystem.”

The company only rewards programs that exploit their users. What does that say about the company?

“He [Bill Gates] is divisive. He is manipulative. He is a user. He has taken much from me and the industry.”

Gary Kildall

Microsoft’s Dirty ACPI Secrets: It’s Back! (Updated)

Posted in Antitrust, Bill Gates, GNU/Linux, Hardware, Microsoft, Windows at 2:12 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Watch this new page, which is already reaching huge levels of circulation.

Complained to the Federal Trade Commission

http://www.ftc.gov

Foxconn
458 E. Lambert Road Fullerton
Fullerton, CA
92835

FOXCONN PHONE NUMBER: 714-871-9968

Company sold me a computer motherboard, model G33M-S, claiming that it was compliant with ACPI versions 1.0, 2.0, and 3.0.

Linux and FreeBSD do not work with this motherboard due to it’s ACPI configuration, using a disassembler program, I have found that it detects Linux specifically and points it to bad DSDT tables, thereby corrupting it’s hardware support, changing this and setting the system to override the BIOS ACPI DSDT tables with a customized version that passes the Windows versions to Linux gives Linux ACPI support stated on the box, I am complaining because I feel this violates an anti-trust provision in the Microsoft settlement, I further believe that Microsoft is giving Foxconn incentives to cripple their motherboards if you try to boot to a non-Windows OS.

We have received your complaint.

Thank you for contacting the FTC. Your complaint has been entered into Consumer Sentinel, a secure online database available to thousands of civil and criminal law enforcement agencies worldwide. Your reference number is:
19642372

[...]

They detect Linux, give it a bad DSDT table, one that looks ok at a glance, but broken in subtle ways so that some of it works, but not correctly.

You call them to ask why their board won’t run Linux.

They tell you to buy Vista.

They’re basically rubbing Microsoft’s back.

Regular readers may have already seen that Microsoft had been exposed for playing dirty tricks with ACPI.

There’s this blast from the past [PDF], courtesy of Comes vs. Microsoft:

From: Bill Gates
Sent: Sunday, January 24, 1999 8:41 AM
To: Jeff Westorinen; Ben Fathi
Cc: Carl Stork (Exchange); Nathan Myhrvold; Eric Rudder
Subject: ACPI extensions

One thing I find myself wondering about is whether we shouldn’t try and make the “ACPI” extensions somehow Windows specific.

It seems unfortunate if we do this work and get our partners to do the work and the results is that Linux works great without having to do the work.

Maybe there is no way to avoid this problem but it does bother me.

Maybe we could define the APIs so that they work well with NT and not
the others even if they are open.

Or maybe we could patent something related to this.

The next few days will be interesting because reactions to the Foxconn story will be everywhere.

Update: There appear to be some skeptics and apologists trying to defend Foxconn. They ought to see this from the high-reliable and always-credible Phoronix.

Foxconn Does Hate Linux Support

[...]
The DSDT for Windows is correct, but Foxconn isn’t interested in issuing a (simple) update to fix the Linux support. However, this isn’t surprising to us. We’ve known that Foxconn does not wish to support Linux at all. Going back to 2006, Foxconn has told us at Phoronix that they aren’t interested in Linux on their motherboards and they have no desire to support it.

This response from Foxconn is ironic too:

You are incorrect in that the motherboard is not ACPI complaint. If it were not, then it would not have received Microsoft Certification for WHQL.

What does the Microsoft Certification say? “The BIOS ain’t done until Linux won’t run”?

Novell’s Sales Director in South Africa Left the Company

Posted in Africa, Novell at 2:01 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Departures are a sign of weakness and instability, so no company wishes to talk about them in public, unless it’s absolutely necessary. Well, Desan Naidoo turns out to have left Novell.

Naidoo joins the SAS team as GM of the public sector division, from his previous position as sales director of Novell SA, where he had extensive experience dealing with government departments, as well as many of the countries blue chip companies.

Novell’s operations in South Africa suffered an exodus a year ago. It was probably a quiet exodus, but its scale was rather large following the departure of the chief, Stafford Masie.

Microsoft Divides Open Source and Free Software (GPL) Using OOXML

Posted in Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, GPL, Law, Microsoft, Novell, Open XML, Xandros at 7:48 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Microsoft continues to interfere with Free software by exploiting a relationship it builds with open source. Apache POI was mentioned here before [1, 2, 3] — the case of a last-minute stunt to pretend (read: lie about) Apache is a supporter of Microsoft OOXML. Microsoft paid for all of this. Now watch this.

Microsoft, Apache POI and the Open Specification Promise

[...]

Although the OSP does not address some of the edge cases where work may be required for compatibility but not for implementing the specification, Microsoft has agreed to go further and sign a specific agreement with Apache which will address this concern for the work they have funded with POI. Furthermore, the OSP will be managed as a legal product much like the way that an Open Source project is, with revisions as they are needed.

Marbux writes: “Also note the mention of OSP clarification coming soon.” Remember that the OSP is not compatible with the GPL and Microsoft refuses to care, so it’s probably no accident. Marbux adds: “POI is the Apache project that, inter alia, is creating Java libraries for OOXML. So the question is, if POI needs an exception from the OSP, why don’t the rest of the world need it too?”

This is probably another case of separating what can feed the Microsoft cash cows and what cannot. Microsoft is also separating Linux from Ballnux, trying to ensure that GNU/Linux is marginalised while only Microsoft-taxed Linux distributions like Xandros and SLED are offered by OEMs. The newly-announced sub-notebook from H-P is an example of this. They are still deep in Microsoft’s pocket, as evidenced by the collusions scheme that put them in court.

“This is probably another case of separating what can feed the Microsoft cash cows and what cannot.”The latest model from H-P has no mention of Linux, not even Ballnux, which by the way, is a term that even Slashdot seems to have adopted (is this a translation?).

Going back to the OSP, Marbux cites what he considers to be the best analysis of what’s wrong with the OSP: Critique of the Microsoft Open Specification Promise from the University of New South Wales Faculty of Law Research Series.

He adds: “It embraces and extends the Groklaw EOOXML Objections legal analysis of the OSP I wrote. Lots of citations, scholarly work. Same conclusion: The OSP is crap.

“The Software Freedom Law Center’s critique of the OSP is here.”

“I’m thinking of hitting the OEMs harder than in the past with anti-Linux. … they should do a delicate dance”

Joachim Kempin, Microsoft OEM Chief

Links 25/07/2008: Microsoft Buys Some More GNU/Linux Technology

Posted in News Roundup at 7:08 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

GNU/Linux

  • Microsoft buys data warehouse appliance maker DATAllegro

    Perhaps the most interesting is that DATAllegro doesn’t even support SQL Server at the moment. It was built on Ingres and Linux. Microsoft claims that it selected DATAllegro because its architecture is “open” and therefore easiest to port to SQL. But it certainly seems that by selecting an MPP player proven to scale beyond the capacity of the competitors (and one built on Linux no less) Microsoft has snipped the head off a competitor while filling in a hole in its offerings for SQL Server 2008.

  • The rich irony of Kevin Johnson’s departure from Microsoft

    Johnson, the man who for years fought against open source, and particularly Linux. The man who talked about Linux forking back in 2005 and then who, as head of Microsoft’s Windows unit, must have been involved in trying to foster that fork with Microsoft’s patent deal with Novell. The same Johnson who, as head of the Windows business, had to have been involved in Microsoft’s patent campaign against Linux.

    Johnson, the man who now heads up a company deeply indebted to and entrenched with the open-source FreeBSD operating system at the heart of its JUNOS operating system, as well as Linux.

    Yesterday: Open source, Johnson’s enemy. Today: Open source, Johnson’s friend. Oh, how sweet the irony!

  • Mobile Digital TV Co. i-Vision China Intros Open Source Multimedia Player

    i-Vision China, a company that develops mobile digital TV solutions and interactive TV applications, today that it’s launched the first Linux-based commercial level China Multimedia Mobile Broadcasting mobile multimedia player.

  • Using Adobe Flash and other 32-bit applications on 64-bit Linux
  • Ubuntu on a laptop is great!
  • Users may help to vet Android apps
  • Folder View becomes smarter

    After some hacking I have got a nice requested feature for the folder view containment. Mime type filter support. I took some screenshots so you can have a look yourself.

  • Writing Without Distractions in Linux

    The best way to write or compose something important using a computer is to do it without any distraction. But how is it possible to concentrate if your email notification keeps on popping, your Twitter updates are flashing, and you are always tempted to open your RSS reader? What’s my solution? I use a distraction free writer. — A full-screen writing environment minus the desktop clutter. No distractions, no buttons, menus, and formatting; Just me and my text.

  • Linux 2.6.25.12 [Released]

RMS

Debian

F/OSS

Rights

Microsoft

Free Software vs Microsoft: It’s Down to Patent Law Now

Posted in Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Google, Law, Microsoft, Mono, Novell, Patents, Ubuntu at 6:38 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Battling on a terrain one prefers

Microsoft’s Fight for Software Patents

When you can’t defeat an enemy in the rain, you attack on a dry day. If you are incompetent down at the valley, then you relocate and escalate the battleground to the mountains. But it’s merely a parable. Likewise, having failed to win based on technical merits, Microsoft wants to fight using lawyers. Might Microsoft strike back at Google like it attacks Linux (with saber-rattling)? Remember that Yahoo’s search predates many, including Google’s.

“The idea that Bill Gates has appeared like a knight in shining armour to lead all customers out of a mire of technological chaos neatly ignores the fact that it was he who, by peddling second-rate technology, led them into it in the first place.”

Douglas Adams

The recent speculation which suggests Microsoft needs Yahoo! for its software patents is once again being repeated. Google has many software patents as well.

Microsoft and the Yahoo patent portfolio

The latest thinking in the Silicon Valley scene regarding the Microsoft-Yahoo-Carl Icahn Saga, which is not going away, might be about some sort of killer patent owned by Yahoo. Right now financial researchers everywhere are trying to figure out what exactly the patent is.

Whatever the patent may be, it is encouraging to see the muchly-influential Mark Shuttleworth standing behind GPLv3, unlike some other remarkably-inspirational developers.

Shuttleworth was responding to a question of how developers could protect themselves against patent and intellectual property issues when it comes to contributing code to open source projects. He initially said, “GPL V3 is a good solution…” But pressed on the threat regarding Microsoft, Shuttleworth said he did not think the software giant would pursue a claim.

In essence, Shuttleworth said, Canonical has copyright assignment agreements with developers. “In order for us to be nice enough to accept your code you have to ensure us that there are no problems with it,” he said. Shuttleworth, upon further questioning indicated that the GPL3 would provide protection against legal claims.

Software Patents Are Not Yet Dying in America

There was this hotly-debated post about Google's patents, but it turns out to have been misleading. Here is a premature requiem from Linux Journal.

Obviously, the matter is still in its early stages — there’s no way of knowing yet whether Duffy’s interpretation is anywhere near reality — what will actually come of it remains to be seen. The possibility holds huge promise for the Open Source community, however, as a day in which software patents no longer encumber the work of Open Source developers has been a long-held dream — one can only hope it will rapidly become reality.

Here is an entirely different take on this, from one who would be happier to see software patents going away.

Finally, the post is ethically questionable, as its author, John Duffy, was hired by a software company, RDC, to write an amicus brief in the Bilski case pushing for the position that software should remain patentable. This is not disclosed in the post. In other words, he’s clearly biased in favor of making sure that the end result of Bilski is that software patents remain in tact, and a little publicity campaign, stirred up by misleading claims that everyone’s beloved Google will somehow be harmed could help push public sentiment towards allowing software patents.

There are many other interpretations, but some are shallow. On the brighter side of things:

There’s been a running debate in IP circles whether software patents would hold long-term, and as more online innovation focuses on just collecting and combining data in new ways, the attacks on software patents are getting more precise.

Groklaw calls it all FUD, insinuating this this is a non-event. People might find out soon.

Another Patent Dies

After those endless and vicious legal assaults [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16], the Nokia-Qualcomm case turns out to be a total waste of time and money.

The German Federal Patent Court ruled Wednesday that a Qualcomm GSM patent claim against Nokia is invalid, said the Finnish phone giant.

This was also published here and here. What a disappointment. In other words, the patent should never have been granted in the first place. If it hadn’t, there would not be this basis for unnecessary fights.

And they say patents encourage development and productivity…

Europe Almost Goes Mad

Fortunately, the following proposal got abandoned, but the BBC tells its story. [via Digital Majority]

The Treasury has ditched controversial proposals to raise additional tax from companies that locate intellectual property, such as drug or technology patents, in low-tax countries.

[...]

A number of multinationals had warned that their tax bills would rise to unacceptable levels if the Treasury were to tax earnings generated abroad from patents and other forms of intellectual property.

Some threatened to move their headquarters overseas to escape the incremental tax.

A Treasury official said that the government had been surprised by quite how many companies feared they would pay additional tax.

This may be another subversive way of extending the scope of software patents.

Europe and ACTA

The abomination known as ACTA is not shredded yet, either. It’s revolving around Europe, but the following article is more of a status report on the controversial “Intellectual Monopoly Tsar”.

It comes as bodies, such as the European parliament and the French government, have proposed having a European high commissioner for IP. “The high commissioner could be an interesting model for abroad and for Europe,” said Kessler.

He added that people in similar positions in different countries could help harmonize the work of law enforcement bodies overseas, but was sceptical about discussions on an Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA): “ACTA is a future issue and a difficult one. It is something for our children.”

Also of interest:

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy and ranking member Arlen Specter will join Sens. Evan Bayh, D-Ind., and George Voinovich, R-Ohio, on Thursday in unveiling new legislation intended to boost government efforts to crack down on counterfeiting and piracy.

ACTA is still making headlines, including in this good new article from Linux Journal.

The name of the “Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement” – ACTA – is indicative of the overall approach being taken. First, this is a trade agreement, which means that it by-passes many of the more open processes for drawing up international agreements. This has allowed it to be discussed in secret, amongst a cosy club of interested parties and their chums – notably, those in industries based on exploiting intellectual monopolies.

Moreover, this is an invitation-only club, which has led to the exclusion of most developing countries, and hence most of the world in terms of population. It is nothing less than cyber-imperialism by the rich countries that for so long have imposed their agendas on the rest of the globe, but which finally see their traditional hegemony threatened by the rise of new powers – and new ideas. ACTA is a last-ditch attempt to lock the world into an old and outdated mindset.

For further information:

Ubuntu’s insistence that Bug Number 1 is to do with market share seems to totally overlook the danger that is corruption of existing laws as means of illegalising Free software. What good are a few new users (at the expense of a Mono-free, Microsoft-deal-free existence) if another SCO strikes tomorrow?

patent threat
Photo under the GNU Free Documentation license

IRC: #boycottnovell @ FreeNode: July 24th, 2008

Posted in IRC Logs at 5:37 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

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