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08.21.08

Links 21/08/2008: Award to Red Hat, New GNU/Linux Devcies

Posted in News Roundup at 9:49 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Red Hat

GNU/Linux

  • Linux popularity across the globe

    In general, Linux seems to have a stronger popularity in the East than in the West, with some exceptions (like Cuba). This is perhaps not surprising, considering that it is free software and many of the countries where Linux is most popular have a relatively low income per capita compared to most countries in the West. Or perhaps there is just a stronger focus on free software and Open Source in these regions.

  • Linux-powered internet radio platform raises potential for third party expansion.

    Pure, the British company best known for its DAB digital radios, has launched its first radio capable of receiving internet stations along with an iTunes-like web-based media portal it has dubbed the ‘Pure Lounge’.

  • Linux: Low end capable does not mean inferior

    One of the things that Microsoft has been silently beating Linux over the head with for the past couple of years is that, since Linux works so well on older, and lower end PC’s, it is an inferior, obsolete, and outdated OS. I find FUD like this to be a bit annoying, as the inverse is true of Windows.

  • Raketu Releases RakOut Dialout VoIP WebPhone Service for Mac and Linux Users

Robotics

F/OSS

Sun

Asterisk

MAFIAA

Rights

Leftover

Digital Tipping Point: Clip of the Day

Ian Lynch, UK open source education visionary 01 (2004)

Ogg Theora

Digital Tipping Point is a Free software-like project where the raw videos are code. You can assist by participating.

Novell Resentment: OSI, Others Begin to Wake Up

Posted in Deception, GNU/Linux, Marketing, Microsoft, Novell, OSI, SLES/SLED at 9:03 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Novell and Microsoft are allies, not rivals

After this revealing post, one must wonder if SJVN was contacted by Novell in order to soften him. Once again, he offers almost no criticism and instead he echoes Novell’s PR.

While many Linux users hated the idea of the Microsoft/Novell partnership from the start, Ian Bruce, director of Novell public relations, says that “Customers drove” the latest expansion of the Novell/Microsoft deal.

Right. So the previous PR Director quits, a new one joins, and being a PR director (for Novell and Microsoft), he is hyping things up. How ‘trustworthy’. Here is a response to him from Linux Today:

And since those “customers” that he speaks of would be Linux users …

While many Linux users hated the idea of the Microsoft/Novell partnership from the start, Ian Bruce, director of Novell public relations, says that Linux users “drove” the latest expansion of the Novell/Microsoft deal.

They hate it but they want more of it?

SJVN also includes this carefully-crated statement from Ron Hovsepian:

In a statement, Ron Hovsepian, Novell’s CEO, said “The strategic partnership between our companies continues to attract customers by building a bridge between proprietary and open source software. The interoperability delivered by Microsoft and Novell has resulted in very high demand for SUSE Linux Enterprise from customers and channel partners, further validating Novell’s Linux strategy.

Ryan Paul offers very little new information of significance. He does, however, pause at the sight of “intellectual property peace of mind.” That is the same phrase which pissed Aaron Seigo off, and rightly so!

Microsoft still repeatedly touts “intellectual property peace of mind” as one of the strengths of the agreement, but the rhetoric seems to have had no impact on the market. Microsoft still hasn’t revealed the alleged infringers or indicated which patents it believes are being infringed. The claims remain entirely hollow and no basis for the allegations has been presented.

The phrase “peace of mind”, which almost begs for an image of guns and kneecaps, has already been very prominent in the relevant Novell/Microsoft Web site/s touting the deal and also in the latest press release:

Microsoft Corp. and Novell Inc. are announcing an incremental investment in their relationship to meet accelerating customer demand for their business model solution, which is designed to build a bridge between open source and proprietary software to deliver interoperability and intellectual property (IP) peace of mind for organizations operating mixed-source IT environments.

Movell and Nicrosoft

ComputerWorld mentions us here and fortunately we received the attention of the OSI too. Michael asks in an apprehensive ‘open question’ fashion whether “Microsoft + Novell = Monopoly 2.0?”

But is Microsoft really so stupid that they would write a $100M check to prop up a message that nobody believes? I don’t believe so, and I especially don’t believe so given that nobody in the world of open source is asking Microsoft to keep propping up Novell. My conclusion, especially given the lack of response from Sam Ramji, is that Microsoft knows perfectly well what it is doing. Microsoft’s good-faith effort at technology innovation, Vista, has failed, and so they are resorting to their true core competency, updated to the 21st century: Monopoly 2.0.

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Asay may be right that Microsoft is throwing away their money, in which case customers and shareholders may wish to be less generous sharing their money with Microsoft. Or Microsoft may be pursuing a new way to undermine open source–is that something you want to support?

We recently wrote about Microsoft's threat to the OSI. They want to be inside. They’re everywhere already. There is hardly an open source conference that hasn’t been intruded by Microsoft through sponsorships. Absence has become rare. Even SourceForge gave up and ‘sold out’. OSCON [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9] and OSBC [1, 2, 3, 4, 5] are among the larger-scale examples, but there have been many more.

There are some new exceptions. Here is one that does not (yet) list Microsoft among the sponsors.

With over three dozen sessions, workshops, and keynotes, OSSPAC 09 will be the premiere Open Source event held in Southeast Asia. Your participation is critical…

It is also unnatural to expect Microsoft to sponsor an OpenOffice.org conference.

The OpenOffice.org Conference 2008 will extend over three days, Wednesday 5th November to Friday 7th November inclusive. The Conference will open on 9am on Wednesday, and close on Friday 5.00pm.

In this particular context, if there is one common denominator for Novell and Microsoft, it is that both are throwing money at events and projects in order to suppress criticism.

Bill Gates Backs Patent Trolls, Microsoft Gets More Patents

Posted in Asia, Bill Gates, Free/Libre Software, GPL, Microsoft, Novell, Patents at 8:24 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Myhrvold & Gates: Monopolists, Trolls

Some readers might remember Nathan Myhrvold [1, 2, 3, 4, 5], whose business is similar to that of Acacia [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11]. In both cases, ‘shell companies’ with nothing but patents are pursuing wealth by threatening and subjugating large companies which actually produce real products. In both cases, namely these of Intellectual Venture and Acacia, former Microsoft employees are involved. The Seatlle P-I has just diverted attention to the following article. It suggests that Bill Gates is backing Intellectual Ventures. This means that he can funnel money and use them to attack competitors. Acacia has already launched a legal attack on GNU/Linux. Here is the portion of interest:

The concept, which Intellectual Ventures presented this summer to the American Nuclear Society, would reduce the need for costly uranium enrichment and reprocessing, cutting the risk of weapons proliferation. The firm has a team of 30 engineers and scientists refining the concept, not to mention a big-name backer: Bill Gates.

Remember that Bill Gates is far from retired. Now that he’s not ‘distracted’ by the boring technical details, he can concentrate more on manipulation, mischief, and political games [1, 2, 3]. He may have been involved in the SCO saga [1, 2, 3, 4] and given his newly-found affection/addiction for software patents, it’s wiser to consider him a potential patent troll (or supporter of some, i.e. troll by association). Because he is not a company, he needn’t publicly disclose movements of money. To an extent, the same goes for his protected-from-tax fund, the ‘per charity’.

Microsoft’s New Business Model

Relentlessly and carelessly, Microsoft continues to patent (or pursue a patent on) every algorithm under the sun. Here is the latest example.

Microsoft watchers have spotted two patent applications covering ways to manage the amount of information a browser logs.

When introduced the privacy mode will match features found on other browsers.

Medical test

Australian blogger Long Zheng has found two patent applications made by Microsoft on 30 July for ideas it calls “Cleartracks” and “Inprivate”.

We shall see if Microsoft and its patent allies become the next SCO.

Killing the Problem at Its Root

Patent Troll Tracker, whom we last mentioned here, has not yet escaped the headlines. [via Digital Majority]

Cisco’s former PR manager, along with the company’s VP of worldwide intellectual property denied directing the now-defunct and controversial patent troll blog. Former PR Cisco spokesperson, John Noh, along with Mallun Yen are being sued for defamation by Texas attorney Eric Albritton. According to Marketwatch, Albritton claims that the Patent Troll Tracker blog, which was authored by former Cisco IP Director Rick Frenkel, called his ethics into question.

India's protest against software patents is only a couple of days away. Get you Web banners, stickers and t-shirts here. The Free Software Foundation’s top man, Peter Brown, has just published this article about ending software patents.

On Thursday May 8, 2008, the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC), in an en banc hearing listened to oral arguments in In Re Bilski. The Bilski case is where the legal battle over software patents in the U.S. is currently being fought, and is particularly important because the court has specifically requested guidance on the scope of patentable subject matter. This “en banc” hearing is a very rare occurrence; it means all twelve judges of the court participate in the hearing and will consent or dissent with the majority ruling.

[...]

In reaction to the hearing, ESP director Ben Klemens said, “We can be relatively optimistic about the odds that the courts will actually eliminate patents on intangibles like software. There will be twelve judges hearing Bilski’s case, and only five of them are guilty of bringing us into this mess, and all twelve are aware that the Supreme Court will overturn a ruling that doesn’t do enough.”

It’s not to late to make change happen.

“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

SpikeSource is Not Open Source

Posted in Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, GPL, Microsoft, Windows at 7:49 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

‘Certifying’ FOSS for Microsoft Windows is not open source

We wrote about SpikeSource in the past. We warned about its direction, which seems to be a worrisome trend. Suspicion and prejudiced prudence seem a little more justified now that SpikeSource, which is partly aligned with Intel and Microsoft (partners in collusions [1, 2, 3]), pitches ‘mixed source’.

That’s the way SpikeSource CEO Kim Polese (above, from Wikimedia) puts it. (She is fluent in both buzzword and English.)

What she’s talking about is an ongoing effort to wrap Intel’s brand around a “certification” program powered by SpikeSource.

[...]

“Open source is becoming software,” just as a decade ago ecommerce was becoming commerce, she explained. Everyone is mixed source.

Every company can focus on the value of collaboration. Pure open source players are becoming thin on the ground.

The word “Source” in the name of the company may be deceiving. Find out more about SpikeSource [1, 2] and its assistance to a convicted monopolist.

Novell May Be Violating the GNU GPL

Posted in FSF, GNU/Linux, GPL, Law, Microsoft, Novell, SLES/SLED at 7:32 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNU meditatesCompliance guide leaves room for doubt

Yesterday in the links, we included a couple about the SFLC’s new guide to GPL compliance. Soon after the dispatch of a comprehensive document and accompanying announcement, press coverage came as well. Some articles about it include this one from Heise.

The Software Freedom Law Center (SFLC) has published A Practical Guide to GPL Compliance. The guide provides a basic legal overview of the GNU General Public Licence and related licences and gives practical advice to businesses on how they can comply with the licence.

Here is a personal perspective.

For years people have suggested that open-source adoption would go even faster if only open-source licenses like the GNU General Public License (GPL) were easier to understand. My personal belief is that “It’s so hard to understand!” tends to be an euphemism for “I really want to pilfer this open-source software but its terms don’t let me!” After all, the terms of the GPL have been explained repeatedly, including by the Free Software Foundation itself, which authored the GPL.

More coverage came from:

What’s most interesting and reverent to us, however, was this. Someone in the IRC channel brought it up.

IANAL, but the GPL Compliance Guide I cited from is prepared for the Software Freedom Law Center by Bradley M. Kuhn, Aaron Williamson, and Karen M. Sandler, the last two of them being lawyers. I suppose they know what they mean.

Unless I am unable to understand the intricacies of the American legal system, SFLC’s GPL Compliance Guide just proves Novell guilty for not making available ALL the sources to ANYONE who might own the corresponding binaries.

You can’t build a “community enterprise Linux” out of SLED/SLED the same way you can build it out of RHEL’s sources, because you can’t have security updates. This being said, SLED/SLED is open-source… only on paper. As an acknowledgment of this hypocritical behavior of Novell, Microsoft has now agreed to buy $100m more worth of SLES coupons. Do you still wonder why?

This seems like a deja vu because Novell lives on the very edge or beyond it [1, 2, 3]. The new picture your can find here says a lot about Novell’s attitude towards the GNU GPL. If only it was funny…

Bad Novell

Mono ‘Guard’ Found in Ubuntu Forums

Posted in Deception, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Mono, Novell, Ubuntu at 7:12 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Moneyville

We have been warned about this several times and covered it a long time ago. We mentioned people’s ability to tweak polls and request more Mono. They may do so for personal reasons, for their own benefit (money). We have just found one person, who at one point confessed: “I do C# programming on Linux for a living using Mono, so there are definitely jobs out there – and more companies seem to be moving to Mono every week if you pay attention to the Mono mailing lists.”

This person has only participated in 4 threads in Ubuntu Forums, despite joining 8 months ago. All of them, unsurprisingly, are about Mono. He shoots down opposition to it. Here are the posts, enabling readers to judge for themselves:

1st Example

2nd Example

3rd Example

4th Example

Next time you ponder Mono inside Ubuntu and then wonder why it’s not being removed, in spite of the associated problems, see the examples above again. There are clearly some people out there who fight for Mono.

Over at ZDNet, Jason Perlow has some tough words for Mono and Novell.

Well there’s… Mono? Sure, Novell has access to Microsoft’s developers and documentation for re-implementing .NET on Linux, but Microsoft has hardly made a college try to help Novell actually FINISH Mono or commit programmers to the effort. Hell, if Microsoft took one million dollars of that hundred million, and earmarked a few of its .NET developers as consulting staff to Novell for 3 years, you can bet they would get to parity with the one on Windows, at least so it isn’t always broken with the latest implementation of whatever API. Now, I’m not blaming Microsoft for not being open with Novell — it’s not their implicit responsibility to build Open Source projects — Mono is a Novell sponsored, community effort. But if Microsoft really wants to see .NET running on literally every OS, then Mono is going to need more than just “here’s our docs and call our guys and come on campus whenever you want when you need help, Miguel. Oh and by the way, have some free Diet Cokes and go use our Starbucks in the lounge.”

Surely enough, Microsoft wants it to be broken and crippled, always incompatible with the ‘standard ‘ (de facto). It’s yet another reason among many more to steer away from Mono. But will Mono ‘guards’ be kind enough to let people do the right thing?

Mono is Novell

Did Novell Contact You As Well to Manipulate News Coverage?

Posted in Deception, GNU/Linux, KDE, Microsoft, Novell, Patents at 6:52 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

I want you for money

Novell wants volunteers for code, time, Novell’s self-glory
Top KDE developer not happy with the Microsoft/Novell deal

We have already seen this many times before. If and when someone becomes a critic of Novell, the company tries to shut him or her up. If someone can produce good coverage about Novell, then the company greases him or her up. It’s just like Microsoft, only at a smaller scale.

We highlighted incidents where journalists or bloggers came under pressure after they had denounced Novell. It’s Novell seniors who often contact them ‘behind the scenes’ (Dragoon for example [1, 2])

Aaron Siego, who is probably the best-known KDE developer (he’s one of their public figures), does not like the Novell/Mirosoft deal and he tells the story we already know about — th story of Novell messing with people’s mind for positive coverage. They probably did this with Matt Asay, which is why he had a ‘sudden’ change of heart. How widespread is this phenomenon?

So I read this latest announcement, thought about the implications of it and then moved on .. until I was spammed by Novell’s marketing department asking what I thought about the press release. They said that if I wanted, I could even ring up their director of marketing via instant messenger and chat about it! This is a good example of public opinion management: they evidently know that it’s a sensitive area and so are trying to head off any problems by engaging people in the community directly and early on. Very early on in fact: I received my email just a few minutes after the press release was sent out and they attached a PDF of the press release to the email for my reference. Well done! (I mean that: it was a well executed plan.)

Who else did Novell contact like this? It’s supposed to be hush-hush.

Aaron continues:

And since they asked, I thought, “Sure, why not share my thoughts!” However, I thought I’d do it here instead of over AIM or Yahoo! Messenger with Justin S., partly because I don’t like being managed by other people’s marketing departments, but mostly because too many of the people who do speak in non-positive terms about this deal tend do so with argumentation that is too easy to discount by simply playing the “let’s be reasonable” card.

“Novell has already muted some of the possible ‘trouble makers’.”He too is beginning to realise that it’s about software patents. He should be furious. Novell’s message to him is something along the lines of: “please carry on coding for us, don’t bother with the details, we’ll just make some money with Microsoft and only we can offer peace of mind.”

Aaron closed this item, preventing comments from being added. What’s to be afraid of? That people might utter the truth, which seems misappropriate for a blog that represents opinion of a lead Plasma developer? Remember that Novell pushes money into this (Akademy funding, for instance) and it’s hard to slam your backer, no matter how selfish it may be.

We won’t be hearing much criticism, will we? Novell has already muted some of the possible ‘trouble makers’.

Quick Mention: Microsoft Accused in Poland (English Translation)

Posted in Antitrust, Europe, Microsoft, Windows at 6:27 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Yesterday we wrote about action against Microsoft in Poland. We are pleased to have an article in English now.

Poland’s Office for Competition and Consumer Protection (UOKiK) claims that selling laptops with obligatorily preinstalled Microsoft’s Windows operating system constitutes a monopolistic practice and is restrictive to competition.

The antimonopoly regulator (UOKiK) has conducted an independent investigation of the terms and conditions on which producers of laptop computers sell their products. UOKiK will submit the results of the inquiry before the European Commission and the investigation may spread around the entire European Community.

The investigation, instigated in December 2007, as a result of many complaints filed with the UOKiK by Polish consumers, has revealed that breaching antimonopoly principles in commonplace among computer hardware and software producers.

There has been a lot of legal powwow against Microsoft in just one week. Four nations.

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