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10.12.08

Links 12/10/2008: KDE4 and Mandriva 2009 Raves Arrive

Posted in News Roundup at 5:50 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

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Digital Tipping Point: Clip of the Day

Andrew Pitonyak, author and computer scientist 06 (2004)

Ogg Theora

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

Patents Roundup: Trolls, Acacia vs. GNU/Linux, and Software Patents at Jeopardy

Posted in Apple, Courtroom, Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Google, Hardware, Microsoft, Novell, Patents, Red Hat at 4:06 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Software patents protest in India

At times of economic hardship, companies might hunt for additional or alternative sources of revenue. This is, to an extent, part of one’s obligation to the stakeholders.

One serious problem is that under such an economic climate, various companies struggle (a few even fight for their very survival), so the possibility of so-called ‘defensive’ patents going offensive is increased. If the likelihood of lawsuits goes up, so is the general tension among inventors, who will become, well… less innovative.

An interesting observation has just been made by Matt Asay, who shows this pro-trolling material, or at least the encouragement of extortion/lawsuit tactics.

Forget about providing customer value. It’s time to pillage customers and competitors alike by amassing and harvesting patent portfolios. You, too, can be a patent troll. Sign up today!!!

Like many predatory schemes, such as Microsoft's patent extortion and its troll Myhrvold’s escapades in India and giants lie Cisco, all of this is happening secretly. Settlement apparently require that no disclosure is publicly made.

Going by evidential terms, it’s likely that Microsoft has already selected Free software, including Red Hat, as a subject of litigation [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11]. This particular reference is to Acacia, whose case Groklaw is shedding some light on. It is interesting to see who else Acacia has attacked.

The fact that patent litigation follows this process explains something I noticed. Guess who else IP Innovation has been suing in Texas in addition to Red Hat and Novell? Google and Apple [PDF] and Dell [PDF], but Apple got all claims against it, regarding the ’412 patent, dismissed in mid-June, without even having to file an answer.

Only recently we wrote about Microsoft's litigation-by-proxy pattern, the context being Apple and Google. However, some time in the past Acacia turned against Microsoft as well. Conclusions would be premature.

There a also couple of good posts from Vincent McBurney. The first one explains why software patents are moronic.

Software companies cannot win under the current patent system. A software product can be so complex that it can require hundreds of patents to cover everything that is unique about the product. If the company tries to file for everything they invent they spend a fortune on patent attorney fees and filing costs. If they don’t file then another company will “invent” the same thing and file and the original company can end up being threatened for patent infringement.

The second long post talks about the high costs of software patents and they they are a lose-lose situation to everyone (except patent trolls).

The litigation will be a nuisance to the big software vendors involved but with revenue in the hundreds of millions, if not billions, the legal fees will hardly be a blip on the radar. What I do have sympathy for are the defendants who are battlers in the marketplace who are in a no win situation. Either win the litigation and face millions in legal fees or lose and face additional millions in damages.

There is some resistance coming from Broadcom, which has just filed a complaint due to damaging patent-licensing practices.

Broadcom, the US chip manufacturer, is preparing to land a new blow in its legal dispute with Qualcomm. In a press release, it says it has filed a complaint with the US District Court for the Southern District of California, in San Diego, against its competitor’s patent licensing practices. The complaint invokes a recent ruling by the US Supreme Court which, in June, further restricted the scope of patents.

Any restriction on the basis of scope of patents may also include the elimination of software patents. We look forward to the Bilski ruling. It could make a huge difference and even defang Acacia or Intellectual Ventures, both a threat to Free software because of their Microsoft association and commercial existence as very large patent trolls.

ODF Keeps Winning; No Wonder Microsoft Went Corrupt Against It

Posted in Africa, America, Formats, Microsoft, Open XML, OpenDocument, Standard at 10:58 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

OOXML protests in India
From the Campaign for Document Freedom

The previous post covered a rather disturbing development. It can probably be explained by the growing momentum of an industry standard, which harms one Microsoft’s few profitable products (and most profitable among them). The latest official adopter of OpenDocument is the Venezuelan government and it’s only one among many.

Venezuela joins a growing list of countries which have adopted the open format as a method for exchanging documents within government and with citizens. These countries include fellow South Americans Uruguay and Brazil, as well as Malaysia, South Africa and Belgium.

The ODF Alliance previously listed 14 national governments and eight provincial governments as having adopted the ODF standard, with Venezuela adding more South American weight to the list.

Here are some more interesting numbers:

Marino Marcich of the ODF Alliance pointed out that there are now organisations from 62 countries represented in his membership, and I’m left with the strong of impression of a growing global community of practice in governments of every kind, both politically and geographically. From small roots ODF has grown to both a global movement and a strong technology, spreading wherever fair-minded people are willing to take a stand. It’s been worth the trip.

ODF Olympid 2008 has also just been announced. It goes under the heading “Towards a Computer Literate Society,” which is symbiotic with the philosophy of a free standard that’s entirely supported by Free software.

We have already covered a lot of the abuse around OOXML. Developing countries suffered a lot from corruption and there are some disturbing testimonies from even professors in India. Some months ago we also wrote about what seemed like a possible bribery of Indian charities by Microsoft. Arnaud Le Hors rightly wonders what kind of people are willing to work for such a vicious company. He cites that story about India charities where he writes:

With all the things that have been reported around OOXML over the last year I’ve often wondered what it must be like to work for a company that appears to be willing to go beyond what most would find acceptable to win.

Why do some people insist that Microsoft has changed? This lie is penetrating social media sites through what Bruce Perens suspects to be marketing people whom he came across before.

“Microsoft corrupted many members of ISO in order to win approval for its phony ‘open’ document format, OOXML. This was so governments that keep their documents in a Microsoft-only format can pretend that they are using ‘open standards.’ The government of South Africa has filed an appeal against the decision, citing the irregularities in the process.”

Richard Stallman, June 2008

OOXML is fraud

Microsoft/Novell Fork OpenOffice.org and Insult Sun, Warn Your Distributor Now

Posted in GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Mono, Novell, Open XML, OpenDocument, OpenOffice, SUN at 10:10 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Michael Meeks is not “just a hacker,” he’s just a hijacker

This may sound like old news [1, 2, 3, 4], but we can assure you that it’s not. In fact, just over a year ago Groklaw was scolded for suggesting Novell had been into a proper fork, yet the reality has since then proven this assessment to be absolutely correct, some would say prophetic.

Novell has turned their downstream build system at OO-Build into a fork of OpenOffice.org into which they are pushing Microsoft’s OOXML support and in which they make improvements to OO.o which aren’t often upstreamed to the main project. In particular, this isolates all improvements that are themselves made by contributors on most Linux platforms that use Novell’s build system, including Debian. They’ve also started a campaign against OpenOffice.org with the forked code, at go-ooo.org where they promote their (down-level) version as better than OO.o and take potshots at it. we covered some examples before.

“OpenOffice 3.0 will be announced tomorrow, but Novell is a real spoiler.”OpenOffice 3.0 will be announced tomorrow, but Novell is a real spoiler. Novell is hijacking OOo in the practical sense, probably for further embedment of Microsoft intellectual monopolies and hooks that only Novell is legally allowed to distribute (to paying customers).

Novell doesn’t speak about this sinister behaviour publicly, but it sure throws a lot of mud and FUD at Sun Microsystems or its Free software products at the moment (even Java [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]). We mentioned this very briefly a day ago, but we won’t link to actual examples as that would feed Novell’s insidious messages.

We have warned since the very beginning that people should boycott Novell, for it is now paid by Microsoft and therefore helps it attack a major threat to Microsoft’s cash cow. Microsoft does not want OpenOffice.org to stay free. It can’t compete on these terms.

Novell error message

To make matters worse, with go-ooo.org being guerrilla-marketed, there’s more ‘poisoning’. For instance, they push Mono into KDE distributions in this way. Novell’s paymasters in Redmond must be delighted about it. They stay aside grinning — for now.

Readers are encouraged to take immediate action in order to prevent Novell and Microsoft from gaining control of OpenOffice.org (especially on GNU/Linux) under the guise of “we’re just hackers and the fact Novell pays us (in part Microsoft money) is irrelevant.” This pattern of “we’re just hackers” is also used by them to prevent looking like a corporate aggressor and the Mono team does the very same thing while taking control of GNU/Linux — for Novell, as “a community” (some of whom actually work for Microsoft or are on Microsoft’s payroll).

“That’s choosing to give control over more significant portions of the distribution to Novell/Microsoft.”Consider petitioning your distribution’s developers (or leader) to drop Novell’s fork of OpenOffice.org. Inability to do so often means a default choice of go-ooo.org. That’s choosing to give control over more significant portions of the distribution to Novell/Microsoft. OpenOffice.org is vast.

We thought about writing an open letter, but maybe others can do this better, stressing that Novell and Microsoft are harming Java (GPL) and promoting .NET/Mono, which helps the erosion of control and the introduction of patent issues — software patents whose holder openly threatens Free software.

This is a serious risk and it needs to be responded to. Novell was already fighting ODF adoption by doing its duty of supporting and promoting Microsoft OOXML. Microsoft paid Novell for it.

Bad Novell

Question Revisited: Is Novell’s OpenSUSE Free Software?

Posted in Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Law, Microsoft, Novell at 9:09 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

EULA raises more questions

We have dealt with this issue before [1, 2, 3, 4, 5], but this discussion returns in light of proprietary software inclusion and a draconian EULA. From LWN:

In other words, redistribution of the openSUSE DVD is not permitted. Members of the openSUSE mirror network are, technically, in violation of the EULA, though nobody appears to be in a hurry to call them on that. But the EULA raises eyebrows and makes some users uncomfortable; many people got into free software to avoid dealing with agreements like that.

[...]

The openSUSE distribution is not distancing itself from proprietary software at this time; it is just reorganizing its management of that software to address one of the problems it brings. But it is still hard to avoid the temptation to read between lines and look forward to a day when openSUSE, too, distributes only free software – not as a result of any sort of push for purity, but just because its users no longer have any need for anything else.

The Novell/Microsoft deal clearly harms OpenSUSE, so why don’t volunteer developers take control of the project, rebrand it, and take it out of Novell’s hand? Dedicated members of the OpenSUSE community actually admit that Novell controls OpenSUSE (many of the members of paid employees). Can a Microsoft partner be trusted near a GNU/Linux distribution? A partner whose relationship tightens all the time and is expected to see collaborations almost tripling fairly soon?

“Our partnership with Microsoft continues to expand.”

Ron Hovsepian, Novell CEO

“It’s going very well insofar as we originally agreed to co-operate on three distinct projects and now we’re working on nine projects and there’s a good list of 19 other projects that we plan to co-operate on.”

Ron Hovsepian, Novell CEO

Microvell

IRC: #boycottnovell @ FreeNode: October 11th, 2008 – Part 2

Posted in IRC Logs at 3:41 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME Gedit

Enter the IRC channel now

Read the rest of this entry »

IRC: #boycottnovell @ FreeNode: October 11th, 2008 – Part 1

Posted in IRC Logs at 3:34 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME Gedit

Enter the IRC channel now

Read the rest of this entry »

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