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09.04.08

Links 04/09/2008: Red Hat Buys KVM

Posted in News Roundup at 8:11 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Red Hat

Schools

  • What They’re Using: Christian Einfeldt, Producer, the Digital Tipping Point

    I have six basic different uses for free, open-source software: 1) my law office practice; 2) managing and editing video for the Digital Tipping Point Project; 3) running a 25-seat Edubuntu lab at a public middle school as a volunteer in San Francisco; 4) placing ACCRC.org Linux computers in classrooms; 5) giving out ACCRC.org Ubuntu computers to friends, neighbors and the children who attend that school; and 6) supporting San Francisco’s Tech Connect program by demonstrating Linux boxes at events for nonprofits and low-income individuals.

  • Linux in U.S. Schools: Why the Resistance?

GNU/Linux: General

Releases

  • [ANNOUNCE] xserver 1.5.0
  • Mandriva Linux 2009 RC1 is available
  • Phoronix Test Suite 1.2 Released

    Phoronix Media has announced the release of Phoronix Test Suite 1.2 (codenamed “Malvik”), an update to its leading and award-winning benchmarking software, during the 2008 X Developers’ Summit. This update incorporates support for new operating systems and features to better aid ISVs, IHVs, ODMs, and OEMs in profiling their hardware and software for optimal performance and compatibility. In total there are more than 250 official changes with many new test profiles and suites since the release of Phoronix Test Suite 1.0 in June of 2008.

Laptops

Dell

Chrome

F/OSS

Open Source Fakers

Sun

Leftovers

Digital Tipping Point: Clip of the Day

Larry Augustin, GNU Linux business visionary 02 (2005)

Ogg Theora

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

Patent Shakeup: AT&T Protests, Free Software IP FUD, Microsoft Under siege

Posted in Microsoft, Patents at 4:47 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Homeless car plate

Junk Patents Du Jour

Here is a new reminder of video/audio patents, which act as a barrier to everyone in this sordid mine field.

“H.324 Annex K (aka MONA) is the only standardized technology that achieves video session setup times close to one second, similar to voice calls…”

Here is another new patent that seems too trivial, abstract, and is pertaining to software. [via Digital Majority]

FatPipe Networks(TM), the inventor and multiple patents holder of WAN optimization, redundancy and security products, announced today that it has successfully secured its sixth patent. The U.S. Patent No. 7,406,048 protects the “tools and techniques for directing packets over multiple parallel disparate networks, based on address and other criteria.”

AT&T and a Patent Reform

AT&T is one of the worst-hit companies, but it ultimately flexes it muscle against a reform. It calls for change… for the worse.

Think the current patent process is corrupt, too open to abusive patent-seeking and unduly influenced by corrupt rent-seeking special interests? Well, AT&T is here to disabuse you of that notion…

But wait. It gets worse. According to this, there’s some gagging/suppression going on as AT&T sticks to the “you can’t make a photograph” insanity.

AT&T patent perpetrator tries to censor a blogger about their “pursuit of more patents”. The blogger has published a picture of an advertisement poster paid by “AT&T Intellectual Property” sponsoring the Democratic National Convention in Denver last week.

We wrote about Comcast just a short while ago. Readers are advised to add AT&T to their mental wastebasket. Not only does it support patent abuse, but it also suffocates those who show this to the public.

Patent FUD Against Free Software

There was an exceptional amount of legal FUD against Free software yesterday. This continues today. It comprises outright FUD and implied FUD (links below are rel=nofollowed):

Where is all that fear-inspiring nonsense coming from? And why now? There is a very high volume of these.

The articles seem to evade the issues of freedom and instead they concentrate on cost. It is, in general, pretty interesting that people seem to forget the values of free (libre) and instead focus only on short-term practical advantages. Both are important, but assassination of software patents is not an issue of lowering cost; it’s about a developer’s freedom to program to his/her heart’s content. Since when does typing down computer programs a possible crime?

Microsoft

FFII’s brilliant investigative research has come up with the observation that McCain is advised on the issue of patents by a man who is financed by Microsoft and its proxy. Unsurprisingly, he supports software patents.

McCain is advised by pro-software patent lobbyist Ray Gifford, ex-President of the Progress & Freedom Foundation (a Washington ‘think-tank’ notably financed by Microsoft lobby proxy CompTIA). Gifford was speaking in a conference Europe about the failed software patent directive with all the pro-software patent lobbyists. Progress & Freedom Foundation runs the IPCentral blog.

The Avestar case was mention here before under [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7]. The very latest in this case is a good demonstration of what patents are for: lifeblood for dying companies, as opposed to something defensive.

Attempting a turnaround, Avistar Communications Corp. (DEMO 08) is trying to carve out an identity in the video conferencing world for a new marketing concept it calls “unified communications,” while fending off hostile actions by Microsoft Corp., which is challenging Avistar’s lifeblood – its patents.

[...]

Microsoft’s unexpected challenge “has caused absolute havoc for us,” said Simon Moss, who joined Avistar as CEO last January. “Some of the challenges have absolutely nothing to do with Microsoft technology.” Beyond that, Moss sites a mutual confidentiality agreement that the two companies signed, which prevents them from discussing specifics of the challenge. Meanwhile, “we’re continuing our dialog,” Moss said.

Microsoft must get no sympathy in this case. It is a major part of this problem and it uses its patents offensively [1, 2].

Microsoft patent

“Fighting patents one by one will never eliminate the danger of software patents, any more than swatting mosquitoes will eliminate malaria.”

Richard Stallman

Does India Bypass ISO with a New Policy?

Posted in Asia, Formats, ISO, Microsoft, Open XML, OpenDocument, Standard at 3:11 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Several officials in several different nations have already called for a possible ISO replacement to serve as a criterion for technical selections. Things appear to be progressing and here are some of the latest reports.

ISO Becomes Irrelevant

The press just can’t leave ISO alone after that latest debacle [1, 2, Can ISO Be Still Saved from Microsoft?, 4]. Those who believe that they have seen the worst of it ought to check out ECT and David Berlind.

The move is prompting some members to question the organization’s very legitimacy.

 

My post here isn’t to say which ISO standard better or worse: OOXML or ODF. But, with the ISO’s approval of OOXML as a standard for the same thing that the ISO-ratified ODF does, the ISO is now getting outted for the way its practices could plunge it into irrelevancy. ArsTechnica recently published a post under the headline ISO: procedural shortcuts OK, OpenXML appeal denied. Pamela Jones over at Groklaw asks why certain provisos in the ISO’s own directives document are somehow getting overlooked. And there are tons of other posts about the issue amounting to a collective “What the ?” from the Internet community.

At Linux Journal, consensus and transparency are discussed in this context.

But when countries start questioning the entire standardization process, or worse, as is the case with the fight over Open XML, start accusing the standards body of being unduly influenced by corporate concerns, we then have a real issue that needs to be looked at deeper. Standards bodies cannot afford to be even thought of being driving by a corporate perspective, despite the fact that many standards start out that way. Standards bodies, to be of any value must be independent, and must be willing to consider, up to a reasonable point, objections to the standard. If not, then the whole issue of a standard is moot.

It makes the point that if ISO becomes just a ‘front’ for a company, then it’s hardly more ethical or authoritative than the BSA or the RIAA. it’s an illusion of independence and Microsoft’s capture of ISO is a known problem.

Indian Policies Become Incompatible with OOXML

Over in India, claims a reader, “it is a happy moment. One of the demands of FSUG — Bangalore’s campaign for document freedom — was a national policy for open standards.”

“This comes shortly after India’s protest and appeal against ISO’s decision regarding OOXML.”According to the guys who are pushing for change over there, “[t]he government has released a draft version of a Policy on Open standards for e-Governance. It is presently open for Public review.”

“The policy seems to have some really good points,” they argue, citing as examples the following:

5.1) Mandatory Characteristics:

5.1.1)Selected Standard should be Royalty Free for life time of the standard.

5.1.2)Selected Standard should be developed in a collaborative and consensus manner and not led by a single agency or a small closed group of interested parties

5.1.3)Selected Standard should be recursively open; They shall not use unpublished extensions

Here is the policy document [PDF] in its current form.

It’s still open for discussion (here or elsewhere). This comes shortly after India’s protest and appeal against ISO’s decision regarding OOXML.

OOXML protests in India
From the Campaign for Document Freedom

Novell Could be Lying to Investors, Still Depends on Microsoft

Posted in Finance, Fraud, GNU/Linux, Interoperability, Marketing, Microsoft, Novell, Ron Hovsepian, SLES/SLED at 2:27 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Novell’s financial issues are a subject we have been exploring once again earlier this week. Primarily, past allegations of fraud and other scandals were looked at retrospectively, going months or years back in time to pinpoint events predating the deal with Microsoft. Prior to this, we also saw room for deception and admission of book-cooking.

Groklaw has just done another article which studies Novell’s very latest report. To its investors, there is room left for doubt and plenty to be desired. There are inconsistencies. The post is long, but here is a portion of it.

As an investor, I want to consider all possibilities, which means having all material facts available. If I am missing material pieces, it’s just guessing. I read conflicting reports about the deal, and I have no way to know which is true. You would need details. For example, we read that Microsoft bought certificates, for which it paid Novell now. So it looks like Novell just made $100 million. But once the vouchers are obtained by customers, then Microsoft gets some of the money the customer pays for the services and support, I’m thinking, or why would they do it? So exactly what is the figure that Novell really gets in the end? I have no idea, and I have no way to find out, unless they file the agreement with the SEC and let me read it.

So, what are the regulations? I had no idea, so I went to look. I hoped to be able to do some research and get a firm understanding, but the truth is, this is a subject that is, for starters, a little squishy in the wording of the regulation and a deep enough subject that lawyers and accountants who specialize in such matters go to conferences to try to keep up with latest developments in this area of speciality, so the odds of me figuring it all out in a couple of days are somewhere between slim to none. So I’ll just show you the regulation, and the exception, and let those who understand all this better than I do figure out the answer to my question: why doesn’t Novell have to reveal the terms of this agreement in a filing with the SEC? Or Microsoft? I may not know the answer, but I know it’s the right question.

There was more relevant material in the news yesterday. According to John Dragoon, Novell continues to bleed cash on SLED, which is defeated by Free (libre and gratis) GNU/Linux distributions such as Ubuntu and PCLinuxOS.

Novell is losing money in the desktop Linux market, but those desktop deals are driving big wins in the server arena, according to Senior VP and Chief Marketing Officer John Dragoon.

One might wonder just how, despite Novell’s losses in this area, the company is bragging to its investors. There is room for manipulation that we covered here before.

All that Novell has left now are those cash infusions, which are granted in exchange for favours.Novell sold out and became the vassal of Microsoft. Activities continue to revolve around .NET (or Mono), which makes Microsoft very pleased, not threatened.

.Net evangelist praises Mono for Linux

[...]

Prior to joining Microsoft about a year ago, Hansleman spent 15 years building banking systems and lived through the Web 1.0 bubble.

If Microsoft thinks Mono for GNU/Linux is good, then it must be advocating defeat for Windows, right? Or is this a trap, which also hurts Java et al along the way?

Another interesting discussion about Novell has been going on at Linux Today where GreyGeek wrote:

The agreement divided FOSS contributors into two groups: those whose contributions made it into Novell’s commercial version of SUSE, and the rest of the FOSS community regardless of which distros they contribute to. The first group was proclaimed free from the threat of a Microsoft lawsuit. The second group is under the threat of a Microsoft lawsuit regardless of which distro they contribute too, even if they contribute to openSUSE but Novell doesn’t add their contribution to SLES. However, the MAJOR thing Microsoft got out of this deal, AND FOR WHICH they paid Novell about a half a BILLION dollars, is a SIGNED agreement by Hovsepian that “Linux” (i.e., every distro on the planet) contains Microsoft IP, and for which Novell is paying Microsoft a ROYALTY on each and every copy of SLES that it sells. That ROYALTY is what Ballmer called the “IP bridge”.

As long as Novell refuses to rescind the agreement they are party to this blatant attempt at hijacking FOSS/Linux, and to their damnable lie about MS IP being in Linux. As long as they keep getting money from Microsoft I doubt they will rescind the agreement. Novell fanbois who refuse to see the plain truth about this agreement are either no friends of FOSS/GPL or, in their misguided loyalties, they refuse to see and keep their heads up their collective rears to avoid the truth.

Novell did not merely sign a deal with Microsoft. It conspired because it needed the money.

handshake black and white

Microsoft in the Media/Cable Industry: Comcast, Globo Relationships

Posted in America, Deception, Finance, Free/Libre Software, Google, Microsoft at 2:09 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

We last wrote about Comcast in the context of its relationship with Microsoft and the Microsoft-style committee stuffing (see links at the very bottom).

Fascinated by Microsoft’s virtual control of the media, we recently delved into the situation in Brazil [1, 2]. More information then came through reports from a Brazilian reader, seller_liar, who pointed out this clear relationship between the Brazilian giant Globo and Microsoft Corporation. His observations, which you can find here, give examples of the impact on media coverage. Microsoft turns out to have invested a fortune in Globo, but more interestingly, a transaction of $1 billion (investment) was also made with Comcast.

Microsoft Corp. made its first equity foray into the Latin American cable industry last week, buying a $126 million stake in Globo Cabo S.A., Brazil’s leading MSO.

The investment in Globo Cabo is the latest in a series of buys this year that has seen Microsoft plunge full-force into cable. It deepened its U.S. cable presence in May when it agreed to invest $5 billion in AT&T Corp., following a $1 billion investment in Comcast Corp. in 1997.

This last bit may or may not explain Comcast’s bias against Free software and net neutrality/Google. The issue was raised by clients, especially recently. Microsoft renewed those ties with Comcast several months ago.

Related articles:

Novell and Microsoft Insecurity a Joint venture

Posted in GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Novell, Security, Windows at 1:56 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

How secure is Novell’s software? The answer is that it depends on Microsoft, whose insecure-by-design frameworks Novell is embracing. Moreover, as another reminder of an old issue, former Novell staff is now securing Windows and striving to make Windows more secure than GNU/Linux.

So go ahead, make my day: ignore the popularity of AppArmor in the user community, keep blocking AppArmor from inclusion in Linus’ kernel. If all I have to do is make Windows security easier and more effective to deploy than SELinux, then my job is practically done for me J

Novell’s Achilles heel in security is probably its embrace of Microsoft's ActiveX (not to mention .NET and and XAML) if reports like this one are something to go by.

Security-wise, time is no cure. Microsoft’s Windows Vista remains the same overburdened and insecure operating system that it has been from the very start. The hypnosis and the lies continue though, judging by some of the very latest.

Microsoft is downplaying the severity of a password leakage issue in BitLocker, the full disk encryption feature built into Windows Vista, insisting that a real world attack scenario is “very unlikely.”

According to an advisory from iViZ, the password checking routine of Microsoft Bitlocker fails to sanitize the BIOS keyboard buffer after reading passwords, resulting in plain text password leakage to unprivileged local users.

It’s part of a pattern of patch/flaw hiding.

IRC: #boycottnovell @ FreeNode: September 3rd, 2008

Posted in IRC Logs at 4:07 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Enter the IRC channel now

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