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07.28.08

Posing Statistics the Way You Like Them: GNU/Linux Market Share

Posted in FUD, GNU/Linux, Windows at 4:10 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

This is a rebuttal to the latest FUD

Linux Market Share

Click to enlarge

See this.

Links 28/07/2008: GNU/Linux Phones and NimbleX 2008 in Review

Posted in News Roundup at 3:55 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

GNU/Linux

  • OpenMoko Neo Freerunner – Part 1

    All said and done I really like the phone. And, like the main devs, am hesitant to call it a “phone”. It is really a handheld Linux computer that happens to have GPS and a GSM phone built-in.

  • Will freedom ring on LiMo’s Linux-based mobile platform?
  • Run Linux? Save the World, Please.

    Issues like privacy, transparency, and the open sourcing of software that plays out in the public domain are tremendously important subjects, but they’re equally tremendously unsexy. People don’t seem to want to learn about them, let alone fight for them. So, has it fallen to tech savvy citizens to step up, and lead society away from the potential pitfalls and abuses of new technology? Or have citizens got an obligation to educate themselves, and just pay the price if they don’t?

  • Review: NimbleX 2008

    Overall I’m rather impressed with NimbleX 2008. It’s got a little something for the minimalist, something for the new user, and something for the power user. The entire system is very clean, very stable, and exceptionally well done. I’d easily give this my two thumbs up as I really couldn’t find much of anything to complain about. Admittedly the installer still needs some work. But aside from that, I’m very pleased with what NimbleX has to offer. For more information about this distribution, you can check out their homepage, their distrowatch page, or if you’re ready to dive in, you can grab a copy of the installation ISO. Of if you’re really adventurous, you can even make your own install cd exactly to your liking.

  • Make Your Ubuntu Desktop Rotate As a Cylinder/Sphere

    For Linux users those who like to impress their friends with the the awesome Compiz eye candy and desktop effects, here is another new trick that you can show: make your desktop rotate as a cylinder or sphere.

F/OSS

Clouds

Political/Corporate Corruption

Novell: Thanks, Sun, for All the Hard Work on OpenOffice.org. We’ll Take Over from Here.

Posted in Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, LGPL, Microsoft, Novell, Open XML, OpenDocument, OpenOffice, SLES/SLED, SUN, Windows at 3:28 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Novellsoft

Possible sources of tension between Novell and Sun are numerous. However, they have traditionally gotten along just fine when it comes to OpenOffice.org.

Recently we spotted some cheeky activity from Novell's Micheal Meeks. Novell is still trying to gain control and it’s problematic for a plethora of reasons. As shown before, Novell supports OOXML and it is also paid by Microsoft to obey its needs for OpenOffice.org (patent ‘tax’, OOXML ‘enhancements’, Windows 'advantage', et cetera).

Now comes this interview that everyone seems to be talking about.

derStandard.at: Coming back to the question of copyright assignment: Isn’t Novell doing the same with some of its own projects like Mono?

Meeks [of Novell]: That’s a really good question. If you look at Mono, it’s true that Novell has a stated company policy of requiring copyright assignment for the core – the JIT – which is some tiny proportion of the code, less than 15 percent. So Mono is a huge thing, there are the class libraries, there is all this infrastructure, all these pieces are usable in other places. It’s the core that is kept LPGL and it’s done so for commercial reasons and we are very upfront about that. So if you want to contribute to Mono, you can contribute in 80+ percent of the project without assigning rights to anyone. We’d love that to be the case with OpenOffice.org, honestly.

Sun is actually trying to push the problem off to plug-ins, by not requiring copyright assignment there. So the software ships pretty broken and in order to actually open your document you have to be online and download this thing from the public extension repository. And the OpenOffice.org user experience is already bad enough without anyone saying “your are going to have to install this, go to this webpage, look at our advert and then download it”.

derStandard.at: Which parts are you referring to?

Meeks: Interestingly there are several pieces which are deliberately not installed by default to drive traffic to the plug-ins-site. There is this thing called “report builder”, which is really a key part of the database thing. So as you get where it should be it says “There is something which isn’t here, why don’t you get it from the plug-in repository” and that’s just an appalling user experience, there is no need for that, it doesn’t offer you any efficiency wins.

derStandard.at: Being fed up with the current situation with Sun, you seem to be pushing harder for your own OpenOffice.org version with Go-oo.

Meeks: That’s right.

Matt Asay, who occasionally bashes OpenOffice.org, sidles with his former employer Novell, perhaps not realising the danger of Microsoft controlling OpenOffice.org transitively.

As further reading material consider:

The European Patent Office Explains Why Software Patents Are Patently Wrong

Posted in Europe, Free/Libre Software, Humour, Law, Patents, Videos at 3:02 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

A

ntagonism to software patents has come from many credible directions, including Nobel Laureates. It’s amazing that even programmers are often ignored in this debate because they favour copyrights, which enable them to still code freely, as in free of worries. They don’t want patents, based on polls, studies and surveys. Even the EPO has articulated this conundrum and Glyn Moody remarks:

As the EPO says, software does not distinguish “between technical and non-technical processes”. The reason it doesn’t distinguish is because it is a completely factitious distinction: it doesn’t exist. Software is just a bunch of algorithms working on data, outputting data; it doesn’t solve “technical” problems, it solve mathematical ones. Software is mathematics.

Needless to say, the ‘inventor’ du jour believes that any spontaneous idea can be turned into a patent (especially given a skillful patent lawyer), no matter how generic or lacking in value it is. Watch the following new video. At first sight it looks like a joke but it’s not.

Ogg Theora

Direct link

Microsoft Allegedly Pressures Companies to Stop Selling GNU/Linux

Posted in GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Windows at 2:45 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“Here’s a discount. Help us fight actual competition.”

Just because others are doing ‘it’ without ending up in prison does not make a particular behaviour acceptable. As many people know by now, Intel’s bribery techniques are coming under heavy fire at the moment. This story goes as far back as 2 years ago when Intel was found bribing Dell billions of dollars (out of investors’ sight) to take its competition off the shelf. This primarily hurt AMD and injured the consumer, in due time.

Microsoft, much like its long-time allies at Intel, is using similar pressures to elbow competition and maintain a monopoly. There are many examples of this in the past, but in this post we merely wish to show that nothing has changed. In Intel’s case, there is already antitrust action in multiple continents with compelling evidence, whereas with Microsoft it’s typically circumstantial evidence but no ‘smoking guns’. There are a few exceptions.

We wrote about ASUS just a few days ago [1, 2] and drew a connection to this. Now comes a short article from Free Software Magazine suggesting that the sufferer will be ASUS rater than GNU/Linux.

Then, one of the makers of Netbooks will release a fantastic product using the paid Ubuntu/Netbook Remix, which will make us all forget about the EeePC — or, maybe we’ll remember it as one of the makers which used GNU/Linux in order to launch a product, and then gave in to Microsoft’s pressure.

The real question is: will the next maker manage to resist Microsoft’s pressure? Or will everybody end up closely tied up with Microsoft?

So, ASUS crawls back into the same prison which Acer recently explained that it’s trying to escape. They need healthy margins to survive and compete.

ASUS, however, may not be the only one falling. A day ago, the following short report suggested that Kira is now all about Windows.

Okay, so maybe the fact that this thing relies on WinCE 5.0 rather than, you know, a bona fide laptop operating system is a bit disappointing, but there are sacrifices to be expected here.

This was not always the case. Watch this older post about Kira.

Many people are talking about the Asus Eee PC : low cost, tiny, and for the “geeks”, running Linux. Mandriva 2008 Spring is compatible out of the box with Asus Eee PC. However a new low cost PC is appearing, done by a spanish company : AIRIS KIRA. This notebbok is low cost ( 299 € ), and last but no least : is running Mandriva Linux !

Here is the brochure [PDF] that says it’s running Mandriva+OpenOffice.org. Recall what Microsoft did in Nigeria (alleged bribery) to knock Mandriva out of school laptops after a deal had been signed!

“We should whack them [Dell over GNU/Linux dealings], we should make sure they understand our value.”

Paul Flessner, Microsoft

The Games Microsoft Plays in GNU/Linux-bound South Africa

Posted in Africa, Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, ISO, Windows at 2:24 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

It’s subtle, yet very obvious

South Africa is gradually moving to Free software, but not without Microsoft’s interference. For example, recently there was a dumpage of 'adhesive' gratis software. Microsoft was aiming to capture the young minds first because they are least resistant to change, and thus can become trend-setting.

Proprietary software is like a drug in a state seeking a social and technical reform. Trust is lost when you in introduce and put it inside the equation. Several months or years after the original plan, figures came out to suggest that South Africa had lost a level of focus. Here is the article which has just been published:

During her speech, minister Fraser-Moleketi said that open source and open standards were important to government because they ensured interoperability and “guaranteed” the ability of government to “pass the baton” on to the next generation, unhindered by proprietary formats.

Open standards are favoured by most industry players because they are viewed as being less prescriptive than open source software which is very often associated with operating systems such as Linux.

Looking more closely at the numbers, this suggests that the delegates are a bit FOSS-hostile. Moreover, also based on the South African press, Microsoft now appears to be encouraging the deployment of FOSS on Windows and the rest of the Microsoft stack, using ‘donations’ [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6].

David Ives, Microsoft’s group lead developer and platform strategy director, says the laboratory means a total investment of about R700 000, including five high-end desktop Dell PCs with Microsoft Vista and two high-end Dell servers with Microsoft Windows Server 2008 installed.

“After some discussion with the Cape IT Initiative, we realised that many open source developers were struggling to get their software to run on various Microsoft products such as Exchange, so we decided to do this installation to help,” Ives says.

There are a few observations worth making to put things in perspective.

CompTIA, a Microsoft lobbying arm, was seen brainwashing the government on its trips [1, 2, 3] (Microsoft soon joined them too, which makes its intentions crystal clear). No wonder they move from Free software to open source and then settle for “open standards”, where this happens to include specifications that Microsoft rams down ISO’s throat by breaking the law.

It has become more or less clear that when a country decides to adopt Free software, Microsoft will play hardball against progress. It always knows better what’s good for its shareholders these countries.

“People everywhere love Windows.”

Bill Gates

“That particular meeting was followed by an anonymous smear campaign against one of the TC members. A letter was faxed to the organization of the TC member in question, accusing the TC member in question of helping politicize the issue (which is, of course, untrue). I too had the dubious pleasure of hearing first hand how Microsoft attempted to remove me from the TC (they did not succeed, thanks to integrity and cojones of the organization I am affiliated with).”

“If this unethical behaviour by Microsoft was not sufficiently despicable, they did the unthinkable by involving politics in what should have been a technical evaluation of the standard by writing to the head of the Malaysian standards organization and getting its business partners to engage in a negative letter writing campaign to indicate lack of support of ODF in the Malaysian market. Every single negative letter on ODF received by the Malaysian standards organization was written either by Microsoft, or a Microsoft business partner or a Microsoft affiliated organization (Initiative for Software Choice and IASA).

A Memo to Patrick Durusau

Links 28/07/2008: World’s Cheapest Laptop Runs GNU/Linux, Ubuntu Netbooks Coming

Posted in News Roundup at 8:52 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

GNU/Linux

Absolute 12.1.05 and Parted Magic 3.0 have just been released.

  • Linus Torvalds on Linux Distributions

    The freedom of choice that the plethora of Linux distributions offer pretty much guarantees that Linux users will always be able to choose a distribution that suits them best. It’s clear that for a sizable number of Linux uses that choice will be a Linux distribution like Debian, Gentoo, or Slackware.

  • Foxconn, ACPI fail, and leaving money on the table
  • ‘World’s Cheapest Laptop’ Now Available

    The Impulse NPX-9000 laptop has a 7-inch screen and comes with the Linux OS. It has a 400MHz processor, 128M bytes of RAM, 1G byte of flash storage and an optional wireless networking dongle. It includes office productivity software, a Web browser and multimedia software.

  • Videos: Dolphin, Gwenview & More in KDE 4.1

    Kde 4.1 release is getting closer and more video reviews are popping up on the net. If you are not, yet, aware of KDE 4.1 release schedule, the final version is expected to hit by the end of this month, i.e. July. KDE 4.1 is the first feature release for KDE 4.

  • Gentoo Monthly Newsletter: 28 July 2008

    Welcome to the July issue of the Gentoo monthly newsletter!

    As usual, you can discuss any aspect of this issue of the GMN in the corresponding forum thread.

  • Fedora NA – Regional Ambassadors

    One of the things I’ve been working pretty heavily on the past couple weeks is getting more involved in the Fedora Ambassador program. And let’s just say its been a blast. I love the new direction of the North American Ambassador program and am excited to be a part of the newly rejuvenated program.

  • Traveling Success with Linux

    The bottom line is, I was perfectly happy on the road with Linux, it was able to do everything that I needed and a lot more. This was all with the Linux distributions absolutely “stock”, the way they come from their respective web pages, I haven’t downloaded or installed any additional software.

Ubuntu

Comparisons

  • Linux perches its flag over Windows

    Acer is one of the major merchant in the market, dealing with Linux based laptops. The latest offering from Acer is Aspire 3680 series. HP, Lenovo and HCL are other players in the market dealing with Linux. Linux is getting popularity in every sector. It can be an educational sector, a corporate sector or a public sector. Linux is basically acknowledged for its cost effectiveness. Due to the changing needs in business, people are getting more and more attracted towards Linux. In India, Linux based laptops are offered by Xenitis and Intex. Here we are providing some reasons to choose Linux operating system for your computer.

  • Mojave, strength of the Bear, speed of the Puma?

    Either way, some Vista publicity stunt won’t convince me or any serious gamers either. Maybe if Windows 7 allowed me to replace the display manager with XGL and run KDE4.1 natively, I’d consider it, otherwise, no thanks.

F/OSS

Another Tough Weekend for Microsoft

Posted in America, Database, Europe, Finance, Formats, Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Google, Mail, Microsoft, Office Suites, Open XML, Oracle, SUN at 8:07 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

In recent posts about the secret pains of Microsoft we had identified growing weaknesses in the ‘Cash Cow’ departments [1, 2]. Well, in the past couple of days alone, the same problems persisted. Here is just a quick roundup that serves as another sample.

Office Business

As new signs of future trouble, consider the strong new push in China for a Microsoft Office replacement. Citing Red Flag Linux, crtiics would argue it’s a bargaining card, but once you look closely, it doesn’t quite seem so. They bypass Microsoft at formats level and the software looks impressive.

Ren predicts that the UOF standard will be promoted in at least six ministries in China by the end of 2008 and then might become compulsory among other Chinese entities. This should ruffle some feathers at Sun, IBM, and Microsoft.

In response, Microsoft changes its proprietary formats again and makes them competition-hostile. It claims to have changed the legal terms though. This happened at the end of last week.

Expect more margin erosion as Microsoft fights back. In response to competition on-line and on the desktop (chiefly OpenOffice.org), prices continue to drop. Here is a new report:

“This is also part of our Unlimited Potential program,” added Rivera-Moreno. Microsoft’s Unlimited Potential is a global program aimed at helping the middle and bottom of the world’s economic pyramid of about 5 billion people, the software company’s website stated.

Microsoft will of course blame what it calls “piracy”, but it should be very clear what is happening here. Even in wealthier countries, Office and Exchange (along with adjacent layers in the network and stack) are gradually being replaced. Here is the latest such story. Now it’s the Telegraph’s turn.

Might the news that the Telegraph Media Group (TMG) is moving to Google Apps and phasing out Microsoft Office and Exchange be in future remembered as the end of the Microsoft desktop arm-lock? Probably not, but the stakes are so high that it’s worth a little speculation.

Databases

Microsoft recently called MySQL a "biggest competitor". Watch this new article from The Register. [language warning]

Sun Microsystems is about to *** the database world, and nobody sees it coming. Imagine a SQL database that can support the absurd level of concurrency promised by HyTM. Conveniently, Sun owns one of the most popular relational databases in the world: MySQL. If MySQL on a single Rock based system can outperform Oracle or Microsoft spread across many systems, then DBAs worldwide would gladly tell Larry Ellison or Steve Ballmer where to shove it.

Direction

The departure of Johnson appears to be worse than it initially seemed. It was possibly fast and impulsive, suggesting that there may have have been something to escape, something to run away from.

Johnson’s departure from Microsoft probably abrupt

[...]

Remarks from Chief Executive Steve Ballmer at that meeting certainly indicate the move was a surprise.

There’s more to indicate confusion and lack of focus. From Friday:

1. Ballmer: Big Plans, Few Options

Ballmer was emphatic, if not frustrated. If he said it once, he said it a thousand times: A bid to buy Yahoo!, or just its search business, was off the table.

2. Microsoft may need an IBM moment of clarity

Microsoft could use some of that focus. It’s not that Microsoft is forgetting the enterprise business. In fact, Microsoft is hellbent on being the No. 1 enterprise software company. The problem: That enterprise windfall is funding things like Live Search and Xbox. I credit Microsoft for its willingness to invest and be tenacious, but you have to wonder about the returns here.

3. As other companies cut back, Microsoft keeps spending

His goal isn’t to cut spending but “to convince you that we are investing money wisely.”

They try to acquire rather than earn more and more sources of revenue. Savings may be down, but they need to impress investors to keep momentum going. The analysts don’t exactly buy that because it is not sustainable. Microsoft may be approaching debt if it starts another round of buybacks.

The inability to evolve and desire to evolve is showing. For quite some time now (no more than several years) Microsoft has seen some of its margins declining and it thought about transitioning to other sectors, including chip production. It seems like Microsoft has just been dealt a blow by the FCC, which turns to some other suppliers after Microsoft’s repeated technical failures.

An early prototype built by Microsoft failed to operate in the FCC’s lab. Microsoft later determined the device was broken.

The FCC is now testing other prototypes built by Philips and Motorola as well as Silicon Valley startup Adaptrum and Singapore-based Institute for Infocomm Research.

The Motorola device connects to a database of TV stations operating within 125 miles and scans the airwaves nearly every second for other signals that may pop up unexpectedly, such as a wireless microphone.

Music players is another niche that made Microsoft envious, particularly because these player soon evolved to become phones and portable computers.

Even Microsoft’s biggest of fans are outraged by their lies and inability to penetrate the portable music players business (dominated primarily by Apple at the moment).

We didn’t want to post MSZuneFan’s “last video” because of the hard language but we’re more than happy to report it now has been removed from YouTube.

There are some more details here.

You’ve probably heard by now that the infamous Zune Guy (“Microsoft Zune”) was so disappointed with Microsoft that he’s elected to have his ink removed in place of something more in line with his shifted priorities. In addition to the reconstructive work he’s going to have, ZG claims that Microsoft actually lied to him about his free trip to the Redmond campus, which (as you might imagine) further tarnishes his image of the company. Unfortunately, according to reps from Microsoft we spoke with, the trip was never confirmed — only discussed — and ultimately canceled due to the very reasonable fear that it might lead a lot of “hyper-engaged users” to expect a trip of their own (though they did hook our man up with a free Zune and some related swag).

For those who have not kept track of the lifetime (or deathwatch) of the Zune, here are some articles of interest:

Losing Cuba

Losing business at an enterprise level is far from the same thing as losing an entire nation. Cuba’s plan seems to be on track.

At a technology conference in February last year, the Cuban government declared its intention to rid itself of Microsoft software in favor of open-source alternatives. According to an Associated Press report, Communications Minister Ramiro Valdes, who opened the conference, suggested that Microsoft was cooperating with U.S. military and intelligence authorities, and he proclaimed that IT is a battlefield on which Cuba is fighting imperialism.

More on Free software and Cuba:

In summary, things are changing fast. One just needs to look closely.

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