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10.06.08

MSI Considers Dumping Novell’s Ballnux in Favour of a Real GNU/Linux Distribution

Posted in GNU/Linux, HP, Microsoft, Mono, Novell, SLES/SLED at 7:52 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

New model, better distribution?

There is far too much coverage of uninteresting news details from MSI. Just like H-P, which foolishly chose the Microsoft-taxed SLED for its low-end notebooks, it experiences some issues.

Henry Kingman is not so easily deceived by articles that wrongly attribute the issue to some thing called “Linux”. Well, Ballnux is not GNU/Linux and there are varieties of Free software distributions, many of which are specially-tailored for sub-notebooks. Here is what he writes.

[T]he quote may say more about MSI’s SUSE Linux implementation than the suitability of Linux as a netbook OS.

here is the specific quote which indicates they explore distributions other than Novell’s SUSE.

We plan to bring the Linux version to the U.S by the end of the year. But we are working on some of the issues with the SUSE Linux and even continue to explore other flavors of Linux. We have discussed Ubuntu with a Mac OS type of look and feel. We are talking to different suppliers to figure out the best user experience.

Choosing SUSE was not the right strategy. We wrote about this a year ago. Novell sure has a marketing department and staff that presents GNU/Linux as an attractive product, but this is not required for a derivative distribution that can be maintained in-house and developed independently from Microsoft-imposed costs and patent/practical poison like Mono.

MSI’s future with GNU/Linux will be much brighter once it departs from the ‘Microsoft-approved’ distribution of “Linux”. Other OEMs are existing proof of this.

Microsoft Linux

Eye on Microsoft: MSFT SInks ~7%, Some Products Declared “Dead”

Posted in Bill Gates, Deception, GNU/Linux, Google, Hardware, Microsoft, Search, Security, Vista, Windows at 7:27 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Phew! Talk about a tough day.

Financial Crisis Also in Microsoft

We’ll kick off with the most factual of news, stating that Microsoft was “losing 90 Billion Dollars [in value] in the first half of the year, then another 24 Billion – in just 2 weeks – recently. Let’s not even get started about their 40 Billion dollar stock buyback.”

This has not been working out so well because, along with the Dow Jones, down go MSFT shares.

Investors sent the Redmond, Wash.-based company’s stock down $1.23, or 4.7 percent, to $25.09 in midday trading. The stock is still above its 52-week low of $23.50 set Sept. 19.

At times of crisis, Bill Gates says the darnest things, which beg for reaction.

Bill Gates: Offshoring Prevents Depression.

[...]

Well, it is true that there will be no depression for the richest man in America. The rest of us, who have lost factory jobs to Chinese slave labor and white collar jobs to people abused on the H1B visa plan can take comfort in Gate’s continued optimism. Perhaps strong IP laws will save us! Everyone’s going to get a fair deal on their songs with 100 year copyrights or their inventions with business method patents, right, or will those things just benefit big publishers and people like Mr. Gates?

Gates’ bald-faced lies about those visas is something we previously mentioned in [1, 2]. There were scientific studies that contradicted Microsoft’s wishful thinking.

MSBBC Strikes Again

The other day, we very briefly complained about the BBC-Ballmer ‘fawning’. It was mentioned in this post and in the IRC channel. Now there is a whole new article in The Guardian and it’s gently complaining about that BBC coverage, too.

This hooey was conscientiously relayed by [BBC's] Cellan-Jones, who was too polite to ask why, if Vista is such a success, Ballmer is to unveil its successor, Windows 7, to the Microsoft developers’ conference at the end of this month.

For those who are unaware of the Microsoft-BBC problem, here are some external links:

We covered a lot more of this before, so a search through Boycott Novell’s archive will net a lot more information, which is put in context.

Google Strikes Again

Yesterday we were contacted by a concerned reader. He believes that former Microsoft employees inside Google are causing some harm. He has warned about this for over a year, but it’s a broader problem that needs to be explained.

This reader writes: “As you mentioned, Google seems to have gone over to the dark side a while back. It could be due to all the parasites from Microsoft coming directly over to Google without even a short detox period at another company. The toxic corporate culture then spreads to Google and manifests in Windows-only applications like Picasa, which become innocent looking vectors to spread proprietary, Windows-only technologies like DirectX. Let’s not be stupid and hand over graphics rendering to Microsofters.

“OpenGL is now fully open source and is currently the way 2D and 3D graphics are done.

“Polished, improved, and rewritten since 1992, we’re now on OpenGL 3.x.”

Announcements of Deaths

According to SJVN, Windows Vista is now dead. it’s an exaggeration, but the article is worth a read.

Vista R.I.P.

Vista is awful. Everyone knows it, including Microsoft, and now
Microsoft’s actions have made it clear that Vista is on its way to the
Microsoft junkyard with such similar failures as Windows ME and
Microsoft Bob….

Microsoft won’t sell XP Pro to you, the end-user, but it will sell it
to OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) and system builders. They,
in turn, will sell you systems with XP. The deal is, if you buy a PC
“with” Windows Vista Ultimate and Business editions, you can have it
‘downgraded’ to XP Pro until July 31, 2009….

Microsoft has been telling us for months that even they thought Vista
was heading for the trash. Back in April, Steve Ballmer himself told
Microsoft’s MVPs that Vista was “a work in progress” and needed
improvements in system performance, software and hardware
compatibility and battery life. Wow, Vista is a work in progress after
having shipped for over a year and after more than five-years of
development. Boy, that’s the kind of operating system I want to spend
my money on. Oh yeah. You betcha.

Why not, instead of waiting for 7, which may or may not be any good,
try desktop Linux or Mac OS X? After all, they’re actually available
today and works as advertised unlike, oh, say, Vista.

Live Search is being called a “dying dog” in iTWire.

Microsoft Live Search a dying dog while Google soars

Microsoft appears to be having some measure of success bribing web surfers to use its online search service Live Search but they’re the wrong users. Unfortunately, Microsoft is singing to its own choir.

iTWire also questions the Xbox 360′s ability to survive.

Will the Xbox 360 survive past Christmas?

The red rings of death issue simply refuses to go away for Microsoft, and no matter how much it reduces the cost and extends the warranty one simple question remains: will the Xbox 360 ever be fit for purpose?

The recent whistleblowing story was truly appalling and it’s still haunting Microsoft.

Poor Design

There are several more rants out there, one of which comes from ‘Murphy’, who explains the “Windows Mindset” is relation to the Nintendo Wii.

Since you can have up to four players in a game, simply shutting down and saving player stats can take 17 separate steps – all of which could be bypassed through a single “Save and Quit” choice.

All of this block and prompt nonsense became the one right way to do programming soon after Microsoft Windows 3.0 came out – and has been obsolete pretty much since Windows 2000. What happened then was that Microsoft leveraged a human perceptual bug in its Windows 3.0 design: putting up sharply delineated window frames quickly and in primary colors while taking considerable time to fill those in with pastels and text made people think their computers were much faster than they really were.

As a result programmers quickly learned that popping up small boxes asking for user input made their applications seem “snappy” to reviewers and other deeply committed PC people who wouldn’t regularly use them -and so today we have an otherwise fun Nintendo game that takes five steps to start and either four or five to save a character before shutdown.

It’s terribly wasteful of the user’s time, it’s wasteful of system resources, and it’s completely alien to the underlying Wii technology -but it’s so perfectly consistent with the Windows mindset that most people don’t

Jun Auza wrote this good summary of highly-popular applications that only work in Windows.

12 Most Devastating PC Viruses and Worms of All Time

[...]

12. Nimda
Nimda is a computer worm, isolated in September 2001. It is also a file infector. It quickly spread, eclipsing the economic damage caused by past outbreaks such as Code Red. Multiple propagation vectors allowed Nimda to become the Internet’s most widespread virus/worm within 22 minutes. Due to the release date, some media quickly began speculating a link between the virus and Al Qaeda, though this relationship ended up being untrue. Nimda affected both user workstations (clients) running Windows 95, 98, Me, NT, or 2000 and servers running Windows NT and 2000. The worm’s name spelled backwards is “admin”.

Another Microsoft Web site falls into the hands of crackers.

Microsoft programming contest hacked, defaced

Microsoft followed their annual major Tech-Ed event in Australia with a week-long programming contest called “DevSta,” to find “star developers.” While the quantity and quality of submissions suggest a poor turnout it certainly caught the attention of at least two hackers who left their mark.

This isn’t the only recent crack of this kind.

Microsoft.com was cracked some months ago (here is a screenshot and Microsoft UK was defaced too, so for those thinking that Microsoft keeps things ‘clean’ in its own back yard by patching its own ‘dogfood’ frequently enough, well… they ought to think again.

Microsoft British site hacked

[...]

A hacker has successfully attacked a web page within Microsoft UK domain, resulting in the display of a photograph of a child waving the flag of Saudi Arabia.

Not even Microsoft can secure its Windows-powered Web sites, some of which are/were already sheltered behind Akamai, which is GNU/Linux-based. Microsoft is too shy and afraid to say that it uses a lot of Free software internally [1, 2, 3].

“Linux is a very complete and sophisticated operating system. And there is a lot of work being done to improve it in and of itself, particularly to make it easier to use and easier for people to set up on their personal computers.”

Paul Maritz, senior vice-president (at the time), Microsoft

Norway Changes OOXML Vote, Receives New Microsoft Search Base (Updatedx2)

Posted in Europe, Microsoft, Open XML, OpenDocument at 3:15 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

In a couple of previous posts, we already mentioned Microsoft’s attempt to take over ODF [1, 2] and Glyn Moody has just weighed in on this too.

Why would Microsoft acknowledge ODF’s victory? Given an insanely combative nature that for the last 30 years has seen the company fight on and on and on – often past the point of rationality – why on earth would Microsoft meekly concede that “ODF has clearly won?” Could it be because it plans is to *co-opt* that victory by taking over ODF itself through the ISO committee it effectively runs?

That was predictable, assuming it turns out to be true.

As ISO’s reputation continues to decline [1, 2] due to corruption, Norway's nation standards body is imploding, but there may be more to the story there. This is all very speculative, but a reader has just sent us aheadsup on this news article, adding: “kinda makes me wonder why Norway voted pro-OOXML.”

Microsoft to build new search base in Norway

Software giant Microsoft said Tuesday it would establish its base for enterprise search technology in Norway, with a main office in Oslo plus offices in Trondheim and Tromsø.

Isn’t Microsoft supposed to be cutting down on expenditures?

Remember the story from Norway and how this decision ascended all the way up to the very top. Also Recall that post about 'soft bribery' and remember how Microsoft used top-level politicians for OOXML, including heads of nations in Mexico and France.

3 days ago in Groklaw, at the sight of an article bearing the headline “Microsoft to open research centers in Europe,” PJ picked out the sentence: “Steven Ballmer, the Microsoft chief executive, said at a news conference here that the three “centers of excellence,” to be based near Paris, in London and in Munich, would employ several hundred people all together.” She then added: “France, Germany and UK. I can’t shake the nagging memory that these three helped out with their OOXML votes.” This happens to come just months after Microsoft offered freebies to other countries which changed their votes in favour of OOXML. No good reasons were given at the time.

Microsoft has just launched a program called OnMyWay, by which Microsoft will offer training and financial help to young people. It has begun dispensing help in Europe already, but more largesse is to come. If you look at the How We Help page, it says “Microsoft may provide help in the form of finance, educational materials or equipment.” I’m told the ads are seen in four countries so far, Germany, France, the UK, and Australia.

[...]

The Czech Republic, the UK, Germany, Denmark, Finland and Norway all voted to approve OOXML.

This was a change for each of them. In September, the Czech Republic, the UK, Denmark, and Norway had voted to disapprove, so this was a change in Microsoft’s favor. Finland abstained in September, and it voted to approve in March as well.

More details and a related discussion can be found here. We have some more supportive evidence shall readers require it.

Protest against OOXML

Update: Groklaw has just mentioned this as well, stating: “Funny how countries that buckled under in the OOXML vote keep popping up with new Microsoft investment. By the way, you don’t want to miss the photograph of Ballmer.”

Update #2 (07/10/2008): Some Mac/Apple fan sites are suggesting that there might also be a connection to this: Norway Presses Apple To Open Up iTunes.

Links 5-6/10/2008: A Look at Omega GNU/Linux, Mandriva 2009 RC2; Linux Turns 17

Posted in News Roundup at 2:05 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

GNU/Linux

F/OSS

KDE

Leftovers

  • Judge halts sales of RealDVD
  • Wal-Mart Drops DRM Servers, Customers Lose Music

    To those of you who were loyal early adopters of Wal-Mart’s music download service, Wal-Mart has a message for you: Say goodbye to your music. Since February Wal-Mart has offered only DRM-free songs for download, but before that customers of Wal-Mart’s service could download songs encoded with DRM. BoingBoing picked up an e-mail Wal-Mart sent to its customers saying the DRM servers will be shut down on October 9, making it impossible for customers to transfer their DRM encoded music to a music device or another PC after that date.

Digital Tipping Point: Clip of the Day

Andrew Pitonyak, author and computer scientist 02 (2004)

Ogg Theora

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

ISO Fallout, ODF Uprise

Posted in ECMA, Europe, Formats, IBM, ISO, Microsoft, Office Suites, Open XML, OpenDocument, OpenOffice, Standard, SUN at 11:47 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

flickr:2400865918

When we last looked at the demise of ISO, as expressed by blogs and evidenced through the mainstream press, there was not sufficient feedback from ISO itself. None of this has truly changed and the near-silence is deafening.

The word about ISO is being spread very quickly at the moment, mainly thanks to diplomacy at Norway, which tolerated the corruption less than anybody else (or any other country for that matter). There is a good roundup of the situation over at ComputerWorld (Boycott Novell is referenced as well) and in InformationWeek’s Microsoft blog, which is understandably apologetic about it.

Last week, 13 of 23 members of Norway’s International Standards Organization (ISO) committee resigned. They were resigning in protest to Norway’s official decision to favor Microsoft’s OOXML document format as an ISO standard, despite a “no” vote by 21 of 23 committee members. (Microsoft and Statoil were the Norway committee’s only two “yes” votes.)

A week earlier, IBM voiced dissatisfaction with the OOXML approval process, and threatened to leave ISO if the organization didn’t protect its decisions from “undue influence.” Now there is some concern that Microsoft is trying to take over the Open Document Format (ODF) process in an attempt to control or destroy its document-format competitor.

As always, the bad news for ISO and for OOXML is coupled by further progress for ODF. OpenOffice.org 3 is set to be released next week (October 14th) and tomorrow Sun will release the fourth release candidate. In addition, SoftMaker supports ODF now.

Not only does it happily read or write Microsoft Office documents in all formats up to Office 2003/ XP (even password-protected Word files), but the suite also reads OpenOffice SXW and OpenDocument ODT files for maximum compatibility with other suites.

ODF awards will be coming soon. ODF is mostly in the hands of OASIS at the moment, so ISO’s (and ECMA’s) gutter-level reputation should have little or no influence — for now.

“This was horrible, egregious, process abuse and ISO should hang their heads in shame for allowing it to happen. Their reputation, in my eyes, is in tatters. My opinion of ECMA was already very negative; this hasn’t improved it, and if ISO doesn’t figure out away to detach this toxic leech, this kind of abuse is going to happen again and again.”

Tim Bray

Patent Literature’s Topic of the Day: the Failure of the System

Posted in Asia, Europe, Patents at 11:12 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Interesting times. The USPT-Oh! might soon implode…

Just the other day, we wrote about IAM's concern over the backlash that's developing and spreading. Now it publishes an entire issue which is focused on Patent Failure.

New IAM focuses on Bessen and Meurer’s Patent Failure

The new issue of IAM is now available on-line to the magazine’s subscribers. The cover story focuses on Patent Failure: How Judges, Bureaucrats and Lawyers Put Innovators at Risk. Written by James Bessen and Michael Meurer, the book has attracted a great deal of attention across the world because of its central message; namely, that the US patent system is failing to incentivise innovation and, in fact, is actually acting as a disincentive to the inventive process.

There are many reasons for those with vested interests in patents to be concerned. The India press has just gone on the offense as well, criticising the very notion of software patentability. It’s part of an ongoing revolt [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11] in which Microsoft is involved too (it files applications for software patents over there, even though it’s against the law).

Living up to its status as the country’s Information Technology (IT) capital, Bangalore played host to a different kind of “software lobby” here on Saturday.

Unlike most lobbies, this one had no vested interests and no hard-line agenda. In a bid to raise awareness about software patenting and generate a debate among stakeholders, the Free Software community from across the country participated in a national-level meeting against software patents.

Digital Majority has the translation of an article that voices similar concerns.

But so far everyone is still trying to reform individual egoism failed, criticized the EU representative Jens Gaster: “We have the egoism of national patent and trademark offices. About half of the patent and trademark offices have too little money and too little work. We have the interests of the European Patent Office and European Patent Organization, which wants to remain autonomous.

Can the EPO ever stand for quality again? Or will it see its status further exacerbated at the hands of the McCreevies of the world [1, 2]?

Software patents protest against EPO

Fool Us Once, Shame on Microsoft, Fool Us Twice…

Posted in Deception, Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Windows at 10:05 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“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, Microsoft CEO

Dana Blankenhorn is one among several people who responded to Microsoft’s latest ‘open source’ scam. Matt Asay spotted this too and there are many comments in Slashdot. We expanded on this yesterday.

This time they are offering Windows-only code on their “open source” CodePlex site. It’s not that this is technically impossible. It’s just prohibited by license.

[...]

Last time they played this game they were pushing OOXML as an ISO standard. Before that they were promising to bury open source in patent suits.

Now they’re trying to sneak semi-proprietary code on their own site.

It’s like a crime boss getting arrested for pickpocketing. Lex Luthor gets a parking ticket, and pays it. Godzilla has become Reptar.

So instead of taking deep umbrage, I’m just sad. You want a super villain to be, well, super. Not silly.

This was far from the first ‘open source’ scandal from Microsoft [1, 2, 3]. They keep trying to attack, violate the rules and then apologise, only to repeat the cycle of abuse later . The boy who cried “Wolf!” or “Fool me Once” come to mind as allegories that ought to teach us all a lesson.

One reader sent us an E-mail yesterday just to say: “If I may, I’d like to add one more comment.

“The biggest risk to the success of open source is having a bad memory re the behavior and actions of microsoft.

“My personal feeling is that Redmond should never be trusted. They have consistently demonstrated unethical (if not criminal) behavior.

“We might never be rid of microsoft. But people will continue to be attracted to open source because of it’s freedom, it’s quality, and it’s community.”

Sell Out Linspire, Then Blame the Founder

Posted in Courtroom, GNU/Linux, Law, Linspire, Microsoft, Patents at 9:12 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Kevin Carmony – Greedy, crook or just incompetent?

The words above, “Greedy, crook or just incompetent,” were used by Carmony to attack his former boss. It’s hypocritical enough to amuse. We’ll come to this in a moment.

As a little bit of background, Linspire is no more. Things have been relatively quiet since Linspire was sold [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11] and its distribution subsequently phased out (only Freespire remained).

Prior to the collapse of ‘old’ Linspire came Klikit, a community distribution which we previously mentioned in [1, 2, 3]. Only yesterday, the following screenshots gallery of Klikit was published, so ‘escapees’ of Linspire are encouraged to explore it. Klikit is built by a community of users to serve those very same users. These are the ‘good guys’, who left Linspire in protest against the deal with Microsoft.

I just found this Linux Distribution today and I figured why not and support Klikit by posting there Screenshots here. I hope you guys enjoy. Klikit-Linux is based on the latest stable release of Kubuntu. Klikit-Linux comes with a collection of applications that will meet most of your daily computer needs, such as office, graphic, multimedia, and internet work.

Now we come to the latest distasteful development, which involves Carmony calling names and announcing lawsuits (the comments in Slashdot offer him little comfort).

Whose fault was it really? Carmoney [sic] wants money now, but does he deserve any?

Linspire’s status and reputation was much better before Carmony threw FUD at the GPL(v3) and discredited suppliers of his code (a very tactless thing to do). Here is his attack [rel="nofollow"].

To this day, Michael Robertson has yet to explain to the 100 some-odd shareholders what happened with the millions of dollars in cash and assets that were owned by Linspire just a few short months ago. The assets seem to have completely vanished, leaving shareholders with no return on their investment or even so much as an explanation as to what happened.

It’s understandable that these shareholders at least deserve an explanation. However, for Michael Robertson not to give Kevin Carmony a penny would be the right thing to do. He screwed up badly and mocked the very same software he was assigned to sell. It never seemed like selling out to Microsoft was Michael Robertson’s idea.

“Lastly…some distributions have come out, claiming to be taking the “morale high ground” by refusing to give into “Microsoft threats,” while openly promoting the means of circumventing proprietary software on their web sites, amounting to nothing more than high-brow software piracy.”

Kevin Carmony, Is Linux Splitting into Two Factions?

“Mr. Carmony asked a question, will Linux split in two factions? The answer is no. Some Linux distros will limp along a while and then die off, because they misunderstood what folks want when they choose GNU/Linux and FOSS. You can see that already. Red Hat, which refused to sign any such deal, is flourishing, for example. It’s not about code that “just works”. Apple offers that already. It’s the freedom. And we’ve proven willing to put up with some temporary frustration in order to get it. In time, FOSS will win, and all those proprietary codecs and everything else will be made available on pleasanter terms, because market share does that.”

Groklaw

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