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08.07.08

Links 07/08/2008: Two More GNU/Linux Netbook Products, LinuxWorld Ends

Posted in News Roundup at 6:28 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

GNU/Linux

Kernel

GNOME/GTK

Fedora

Portables

Devices

  • Free software encircles embedded design

    Designers can choose from a variety of open-source-software components ranging from multiple variations of the wildly popular Linux operating system to sophisticated debugging tools.

  • Open-source gadgets at LinuxWorld

    Bug Labs was also on hand, showing off a few new updates to its Bug Base gadget platform. The hardware is essentially the same, but the software interface for the Lego-like gadget prototyper has been improved.

F/OSS

Firefox/Mozilla

Ubuntu

Datacentre

Abuse of Rights

Leftover

Microsoft’s Aggressive Push to Assimilate FOSS to Microsoft

Posted in Bill Gates, Finance, Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, ISO, Microsoft, OSI at 5:35 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

First, some quotes:

“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

“There’s no company called Linux, there’s barely a Linux road map. Yet Linux
sort of springs organically from the earth. And it had, you know, the
characteristics of communism that people love so very, very much about it.
That is, it’s free.”

–Steve Ballmer

“Thanks to Mr. Gates, we now know that an open Internet with protocols anyone
can implement is communism; it was set up by that famous communist agent, the
US Department of Defense.”

–Richard Stallman

Earlier on today, we wrote about OSCON and OSBC. Their role is increasingly becoming a commercial one, not a community or a dominantly-functional one. Microsoft now participates in merely any such event.

Regarding the previous post, said one reader: “It was well timed since now Microsoft has started targeting conferences.

“Also the shills seem to be pushing several related talking points / myths. e.g. the myth that Microsoft is all goodness and talent ruined by a few bad apples, or that Microsoft staff is all goodness and talent, held back by the executives. [But] only the lazy, stupid and greedy go into employment at Microsoft and the toxic work culture there harms any subsequent place they spread to afterwards.”

There is an element of truth to that, but it may seem a little blunt to some.

Bruce Perens loses some faith in LinuxWorld, too. It’s very commercialised, it’s managed and powered by a Windows/Microsoft Web site (which used to carry blatantly anti-Linux ads at one point) and Linus Torvalds appears to have not attended for years. The problem seems broader though, which may explain why so many organisers currently sell out to Microsoft. As Perens put it:

Trade shows worldwide are doing poorly. The web has taken over their function, to a great extent. Fuel prices and economic downturn aren’t helping either. And Open Source is so mainstream now that a show concerning Linux is redundant with other IT shows. Of late it’s seemed more like a virtualization and data-center show than a Linux show.

Community folks on the show floor are asking: Why do we need IDG, the operator of this moribund show? Rather than focus on the business of Open Source, why not focus on the Open Source projects, and other forms of collaboration like Wikipedia, Creative commons, etc? It’s time for a community show to replace the commercial ones.

Web sites may be replacing booths while blogs replace press releases and newspaper, to an extent.

Now it’s time to approach the main concern though. A rather spineless OSI caught the attention of Free Software Daily.

The OSI is willing to extend the olive branch to the likes of Microsoft, granting the benefit of the doubt, even while there is no doubt that Microsoft is actively attacking software freedom.

Likewise, Microsoft is willing to engage the OSI as well because they know the OSI is more receptive to Microsoft than the Free Software Foundation.

The other odd thing was how the woman who gave the introduction volunteered information about a new OSI board member from Africa.

She said the new board member was still feeling bruised after participating in OOXML process. So, what does it take to gain a seat on the OSI board? I’m not sure, but apparently, advocacy for OOXML doesn’t hurt your chances much.

The coverage first appeared in Linux.com, which people must remember is now indirectly funded by Microsoft. Very recently, a post from Michael of the OSI was about Microsoft. It could raise a brow.

“Remember that Microsoft also sponsors and visits Linux conferences these days, not just open source ones.”Perens warned about this. The open source definition is often attributed to him, so he matters.

Remember that Microsoft also sponsors and visits Linux conferences these days, not just open source ones. Recently, Perens published an analysis that echoes criticism of this, in relation to Apache.

It’s worth repeating what we wrote this morning about Microsoft playing “good cop, bad cop”. Gates is arguably gone (he still lobbies behind the scenes), but the same aggressive tactics remain. One reader E-mailed us his thought about this: “[Gates] seems as active as ever. He’s just trying distance himself from the group’s all-around lousy reputation while still letting it work for his agenda.”

Time Magazine very recently put up some Gates glorification articles. 3 of them! Only at the bottom of the pages, a conflict of interests was clearly stated. This was somewhat of a placement, plated there by the husband of the former head of the Gates Foundation. It was another fine example of self glorification and ‘public opinion manufacturing’.

last but not least, watch this new article about Microsoft creating a so-called “open-source lab”.

Microsoft is now preaching interoperability, announcing it will open its first open-source lab in Asia Pacific in the country.

[...]

An upcoming update to Microsoft Office, for example, will enable support for the Open Document Format (ODF), which rivals Microsoft’s Open Office XML.

Abet Dela Cruz, Microsoft Philippines platform strategy manager, said Microsoft now recognizes open source as a “first class” citizen, alluding to the movement’s growth and adoption.

To support this claim, he noted SourceForge, an online repository of applications built by the open source community. Out of 147,000 projects, he said 77,000 of these applications run on the Windows platform, which far outnumbers those built for Windows alone.

Microsoft? Open Source?!?! Well, that last quoted sentence reveals their intent/motive, which is of course to steal FOSS from GNU/Linux and other Free platforms, making these projects an exclusive part of Microsoft's revenue streams.

To sum up, it’s important to ensure that GNU/Linux is not neglected because of Microsoft’s gifts. It’s also important to ensure that Microsoft does not police open-source by invading the OSI just like it took over ISO and like it tries to infiltrate OSA relentlessly. SCO too was getting cozy with the Linux community prior to those lawsuits. It wanted to show what a good citizen it was.

Novell’s Mono in Microsoft’s Clouds

Posted in Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Java, Microsoft, Mono, Novell, Servers, Windows at 4:45 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Novellsoft

It’s more than just Moonligjht

Bob Sutor, a Vice President at IBM, had previously protested against Mono in his personal blog [1, 2]. While it was rather gentle and this does not necessarily reflect on or represents the views of his employer, watch the following new article. It had one of our readers assume or speculate that Sutor does not want Mono and asks developers to steer away from it (under the Big Blue Hat).

Bob Sutor, VP of open source and standards at IBM, told attendees of the LinuxWorld Conference in San Francisco, that what the open source community needs to make Linux popular as a desktop OS used by consumers and businesses are “some really good graphic designers.”

“Stop copying 2001 Windows. That’s not where the usability action is,” Sutor said during his afternoon keynote.

Sutor’s comments came a day after IBM announced at the show that it was joining Linux distributors Canonical, Novell, and Red Hat in building Microsoft-free PCs for business. The four companies agreed to provide hardware partners with the software to build desktops that would have alternatives to Windows and Office.

De Icaza and his colleagues may be trying to demote Java by pronouncing its death or inferiority [1, 2, 3, 4]. That’s precisely what Microsoft wants. Novell does its marketing free of charge and free of criticism (it’s not frown-upon if Novell criticises or neglect Java because it’s not a direct competitor). According to the following statistics, however, the tendency is far from a reality. It better characterises Microsoft’s strategy of self-fulfilling prophecies and gaming (boosting) of polls — something it got caught engaging in before (against Java).

Java has its detractors, but according to a recent reading of the Tiobe Programming Community Index, it’s still the dominant programming language, with little change in its overall popularity since August 2007. Runners up? C, (Visual) Basic, C++, and PHP.

Remember that Java is also GPL-licensed now. But no. Novell prefers adopting Microsoft’s proprietary technology (never mind the patents and more importantly their holder). Here’s why.

Novell creates and sponsors Mon-based projects like Banshee (welcome. subsequent dangers!) because it has exclusive ‘protection’ for their use. Microsoft has said that only Novell can use Mono ‘safely’. It’s also becoming the copyright holder, which may or may not become more of an issue. It certainly would had Novell been acquired in a semi-hostile fashion, which some people consider likely dangerous.

“It’s about control and ownership and one must remember that Novell describes Microsoft as “a partner””Look ahead and see their strategy with Mono. While sacking engineers they hire .NET programmers. That’s a fact. It’s about control and ownership and one must remember that Novell describes Microsoft as “a partner”. It’s only ever hostile towards the likes of Red Hat and Sun (look back for vocal confrontations, none of which were with Microsoft).

There is, additionally, the opinion that “Microsoft is the next SCO Group” and that Novell too could become part of this (older examples in [1, 2, 3]).

As those new statistics at the top show, PHP and other Free P/Ls for Web programming are gaining traction. That’s where Novell is so crucial. Think along the lines of .NET SaaS for Microsoft, which bring more lock-in into ‘the cloud’. It’s there for Novell and Microsoft to enjoy together, at the expense of all those ‘other’ GNU/Linux and FOSS-based clouds that are already so dominant.

Cloud computing, netbooks explosion caught Novell asleep ?

Novell depends on Vars or channel sales…

Quite some while ago, Microsoft also 'pulled a Zend' also on WSO2. And yes… it’s about those darn clouds again. PHP is among those that rise and Java is dominant, so here is the latest from this Sri Lankan star.

Microsoft Shares Spotlight with Open Source platforms

Collaboration initiatives to extend interoperability across Microsoft .NET Framework, Java, PHP and other Web services platforms

After the Apache ‘donation’ and the reaction from MuleSource's CEO, one must truly be cautious and suspicious.

Help Needed: Missing History About the “Borland Brain Suck” (Updated)

Posted in Microsoft at 3:51 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

What can you remember? And what can the Web retain?

W

e wish to have a permanent penning so that the likes of NBC and the Gates/Microsoft-owned press are unable to hide an embarrassing past… Well, essentially ensuring that the Microsoft-funded media are unable to rewrite history or purge parts of it through neglect or selective glorification [1, 2, 3, 4]. We have witness lots of this pattern recently.

There used to be an article tiled “Borland fights big brain suck” (by Doug Barney in Network World, May 12, 1997). It seems to have disappeared from Google. A reader wrote to us asking: “Any suggestions about finding this article in particular or, more importantly, the general evaporation of articles that don’t toe Bill’s party line?”

The article is mentioned here and maybe the Internet Archive will contain a copy too. Is there any other similar article covering the incident? It’s one among many, but it’s very relevant to us.

Update: Reader ‘ZiggyFish’ has just found the article and mentioned this in the IRC channel.

Links 07/08/2008: Maplin Starts Stocking GNU/Linux Laptops

Posted in News Roundup at 6:47 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

GNU/Linux

Oracle

LinuxWorld

Embedded

Mobile

  • Open phone hardware vendor frees schematics

    OpenMoko has promised to publish schematic diagrams for its latest hardware design, the Neo FreeRunner. Schematics should enable community developers to create alternative firmware for the device, in order to better adapt it to entirely new purposes.

  • At last — native apps for Motorola Linux phones

    Motorola yesterday made the first-ever release of native development tools for its Linux-based mobile phones. MotoDev Studio for Linux 0.3 is a freely downloadable, Eclipse-based toolsuite aimed at helping third-party and community Linux developers create, test, and certify apps for the newest Motorola phone models.

Ubuntu

  • Ubuntu on a partnering spree

    Canonical, commercial sponsor of the Ubuntu Linux distribution, has expanded its partner program with an the aim of expanding into the enterprise market. An announcement with IBM will have Canonical distributing IBM’s collaboration software through the Ubuntu “partner” repositories, but IBM isn’t the only new partner.

  • Ubuntu Goes Enterprise
  • Ubuntu 8.04 LTS – whole load of apps going on

    When we released Ubuntu 8.04 LTS we announced that we would soon have more enterprise ready applications that solve real business problems. This year’s Linuxworld Expo will see us working with our partners to demonstrate exactly why Ubuntu is now firmly in the sights of IT Managers and architects in many businesses.

KDE/Qt

LXDE

F/OSS

Windows/Microsoft

Bad Software Patents, System, Microsoft — A Roundup

Posted in Free/Libre Software, Microsoft, Mono, Novell, Patents at 6:07 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Software patent on rise

Here’s just a quick tour through some patent news of interest.

Bad Patents

Targeting ads based on user behaviour? No, sir. That’s a patent. Pay up, says ValueClick.

Another test of patent reform, perhaps

A technology slap-fight headed to the California court rooms in Los Angeles as ValueClick accused Tacoda of infringing on its patents.

The issues of behavioral targeting go beyond the usual concerns about privacy and consumer tracking. At the core of the approach to presenting advertising to people based on their online habits comes the practice of behavioral targeting.

IBM is quite the patent felon too (we’ve been through this before). It wants to deny guilt because of the special relationship with Linux, but watch this one found by The Register.

Patent 7,407,089 (available here) is a method and system for identifying a customer and displaying whether they like paper or plastic bags without the need for uncomfortable questioning.

From the patent’s description:

“However, at conventional retail locations, the customer is likely to be asked for their packaging preference each time the customer passes through a cashier station, resulting in unnecessary inconvenience for both the customer and the cashier.

What is needed is a more flexible system and method for determining packaging preference that overcomes some of these limitations. ”

Bad System

A lot of these problems can be attributed a lenient process that permits applications to pass through easily, not realising or caring about the consequences. Reexaminations are rare and expensive.

Lisa Hoover has just published this post which briefly touches on the issue.

Wanted: Political Candidates, Must Hate Software Patents

If you live in the U.S., it’s hard to escape news about the upcoming presidential elections, but that isn’t the only thing happening on the political front. There’s a movement afoot to locate congressional candidates in the U.S. House and Senate who support copyright reform and other technology issues, and mobilize the open source community to get them re-elected.

GeekPAC, originally known as BytesFree.org, is a grassroots campaign designed to build political support and effect change in legislation surrounding net neutrality, copyright and DCMA reform, patent reform, and other issues near and dear to the open source and tech communities at large

Another element to add to this list should be ACTA. It was last covered here and below are some relevant links, some of which explain how ACTA harms Free software:

Glyn Moody has just posted a little update on the ACTA. It has “political mischief/corruption” written all over it.

Since neither the EU nor the UK government has deigned to let us peasants know anything about the current ACTA negotations, I was interested to see New Zealand’s government releasing a statement…

Bad Microsoft

Microsoft’s escapades with Intellectual monopolies are a love/hate relationship. Here, for instance, is a short report about the lawsuit over .NET.

So far, neither company has revealed any more details about the settlement. I’d be shocked if Microsoft dropped the tens of millions or more that some VCSY shareholders are speculating, or that this tiny Texas company will suddenly take on everyone who generates Web sites in a similar way. But maybe I’m wrong.

Nomo

If Microsoft loses so much money from .NET’s infringement of patents, what prevents the same patent trolls from proceeding to Mono and those who distribute it? What prevents Microsoft from ‘getting even’ by extracting money from Mono users, as it already does with Novell? Here is another report of interest:

Microsoft Is Again in the Crosshairs of a University-Based Patent Suit

[...]

Research Corporation Technologies, based in Tucson, Ariz., first sued Microsoft in 2001.

Apparently, Microsoft’s notion of intellectual monopolies is so sickening that Nikon has just dumped Microsoft.

Nikon has withdrawn its support for a photography contest hosted by computer giant Microsoft after a row over potential copyright infringement.

[...]

In a statement issued to Pro Imaging, Microsoft said: ‘We have since taken steps to obtain the rights to use every image to be featured in the subsequent stages of the Iconic Britain competition.’

Ah, that’s nice! All your intellectual assets are [sic] belong to Microsoft. God bless the king!

Thoughts on What Microsoft Hides from Investors (Updated)

Posted in Finance, Microsoft at 5:29 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

We’ve accumulated many reliable references over the years and published what appears to be rather compelling evidence that aligns with what Bill Parish showed several years ago. Recently, as some readers may know, a Microsoft executive was jailed for embezzlement and at least two branches around the world closed temporarily over alleged misconduct. The massive buybacks, weighing at over $40 billion (potentially more to come, based on Reuters), left Microsoft with ‘only’ $26 in the bank. The company could soon enter debt and its once-mighty margins have fallen significantly. Microsoft has, according to Bloomberg, lost over $90 billion in value in the past year alone.

“Leaping backward to 1998, it is known that Microsoft operated at a loss back then…”Leaping backward to 1998, it is known that Microsoft operated at a loss back then, but this critical part of history is often forgotten or rewritten. It also may have led to Gates’ departure from his role around that time. Steve Ballmer then became chief, but has anything truly improved since then? To what extent? The Internet/tech bubble is well behind.

The appointment of Liddell as a CFO (watch his personal background) and the inability to impress investors — no matter the bucket games — does not bode well, either. Over the past 2 quarters, Microsoft saw its shares sinking. Actually, we’ve indexed some references which we believe summarise the issue at hand. Isolated publications describe Microsoft as “scared”.

Some people may believe that, to a greater or lesser extent, Microsoft can turn out to be another Enron. Some people have said (or at least suspected this) for years. It is not possible to make that allegation though (until it happens). Microsoft grows by buying companies and a lot of the wealth is actually centralised in bank accounts of top employees.

Update: A reader has just sent us the following insights (pump-n-dump): “It seems MS is doing the pump-n-dump out in the open now. If the books were audited how much of it’s financial existence would be dependent on trading its own stock? The bubble may be popping.”

OSCON and Microsoft

Posted in Deception, Finance, Free/Libre Software, Microsoft, Novell at 5:11 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

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

Gary Kildall

B

eing an OSCON skeptic does not mean being an open source skeptic or an opposer to it. That said, there are quite a few reasons to question OSCON’s goals [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9]. It’s a business, it’s a conference. it serves the commercial agenda of those that sponsor it. The same goes for OSBC [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]. OSBC and OSCON are both notably sponsored by Microsoft and the former was even initiated in part by Microsoft, which is among the top funders.

It’s clear that Microsoft wants to approach and sidle with “open source”, but the motives are not benign. Given enough sponsorships, Microsoft can cloud open source and rewrite the rules. It’s already happening. The one side of Microsoft will act friendly (“good cop”), whereas the other will say the truth (“bad cop”). Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer have played this manipulative game for ages. Here’s how Lora put it:

Awhile ago, when Microsoft was aggressively asserting its patent threats against Linux — and also crafting a partnership agreement with Novell — Linux Foundation Executive Director Jim Zemlin described the company’s approach as schizophrenic.

That conversation immediately came to mind when I saw this piece from vnunet.com: “Microsoft Warns of Open Source Threat.” Huh? Didn’t Sam Ramji just do a good will tour at EclipseCon, OSBC and then OSCON? (I quoted him as saying the heart of Microsoft is right in the middle of its open source activities.)

How quickly people forget what Novell’s founder once said. it’s the same game with different characters playing the same roles.

“Pearly Gates and Em-Ballmer
One promises you heaven and the other prepares you for the grave.”

Ray Noorda, Novell

Watch what else has struck a nerve in this ‘open source’ conference:

…thanks to O’Reilly and (of all people) Microsoft, you can spend a good while learning about what the speakers had to say at OSCON.

[...]

As to file formats, things are similarly confused. If you want to be able to read everything, you need to be able to open PDF, Microsoft PowerPoint, and Open Office ODP files. This shouldn’t be a huge hurdle, though it is a bit annoying to see quite so many PowerPoint presentations here.

Watch the first comment. Other observations (e.g. in InfoWorld) include photos requiring Flash (no JPEG or Ogg). For the openness Freedom argument, last year O’Reilly had to publish/produce the session with Eben Moglen separately, as Ogg.

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