MUCH like the rest of ‘dat ol’ media’ and Hollywood, Associated Press has been one of the more vocal offenders and battlers against Fair Use doctrine. It was therefore amusing to find them spreading their videos in YouTube, free of charge. Yes, no less than 10976 of them! Here is one which is relevant to us.
As a totally separate side note, earlier today I dumped CNET after years as a feeds subscriber. That site has become utter trash and it’s filled with Microsoft and Apple ‘advertisements’ to the rim (mostly disguised as blog posts). Here is a short list of recommended news sites that are trustworthy:
Though some would argue that Linux’s time has come and gone, it looks like netbook manufacturers aren’t giving up on the OS entirely. According to Liliputing, an HP Mini 1000 Linux edition is coming in January. It’s only $20 less than the XP version, which makes me wonder what the real advantage is of choosing it over Windows?
In this article, we examine three kinds of “Linux as tool” distributions that can help you in a pinch: small-footprint Linuxes, whose boot and runtime images fit in cramped spaces; Linuxes for old hardware, which are designed to execute on systems you might otherwise push to the back of a closet; and system-rescue Linuxes for recovering lost data from crashed systems.
As you may have seen from my recent posts I’m trying out OS X. There is no doubt that for the casual computer users viewpoint OS X kicks Linux’s ass. But I’m a open source computer programmer, and for us things are definitely not as clear cut. Five years ago, they probably would have been, but then Ubuntu arrived. Ubuntu is an operating system I can put my wife on and she will not be any more lost then she is on Windows. That is a big step for Linux and open source: Having an operating system that can compare favorably to the commercial ones.
X3: Reunion is a game developed by Egosoft, and is the sequel to X2: The Threat, which is being ported to Linux by Linux Game Publishing. LGP has been working on porting this Microsoft Windows title to Linux since January of 2007.
The OU provides students with technical support, but only if they use Microsoft software. It advises students that if they don’t use a Windows PC they “may have problems accessing the software and data files supplied with course materials”. It has produced a 31-page guide to using Microsoft software and extensive demonstrations. It has produced upgrade advice for Microsoft’s Vista operating system and even gone as far as promoting a Microsoft discount offer to its students.
Why so many choices? For the same reasons as there are numerous versions of the Linux operating system. Feature sets, corporate policies, budgetary restrictions, and scalability are among the deciding factors in choosing a suitable container.
Google Patents Searching Through Multiple Categories At Once
What’s unclear to me is how anyone “skilled in the art” could consider this a non-obvious solution. This is (and was) the sort of evolutionary improvement that pretty much anyone in the space would have known was coming to search engines.
There’s an argument commonly heard these days that open-source software is all very well for infrastructure or commodity software where the requirements are well-established, but that it can’t really innovate. I laugh when I hear this, because I remember when the common wisdom was exactly the opposite — that we hackers were great for exploratory, cutting-edge stuff but couldn’t deliver reliable product.
How quickly people forget. We built the World Wide Web, fer cripessakes! The original browser and the original webservers were built by a hacker at CERN, not in some closed-door corporate shop. Before that, years before we got Linux and our own T-shirts, people who would later identify their own behavior correctly as open-source hacking built the Internet.
It’s important to remember that Free software predates proprietary software. It’s not a new phenomenon but it’s the way things used to before people like Bill Gates stood up and said: “They are the ones who give hobbyists a bad name, and should be kicked out of any club meeting they show up at.”
Venkatesh Hariharan recently wrote an article titled The practical problem with software patents, a subject near and dear to my heart. He draws on the same research that I have cited in the past, the book “Patent Failure: How Judges, Bureaucrats, and Lawyers Put Innovators at Risk,” by Boston University professors, James Bessen & Michael J. Meurer, but I confess that he shows both greater insights and certainly a better sense of humor than I do when I write abou[t] the subject.
In my view, the short answer is that Bilski isn’t the last or best word, and that in time there will be further refinements. That may be too small a word, actually, but I read Bilski as leaving it to the Supreme Court to do anything new, useful and practical about software patents, if I might coin the phrase, while the US Appeals Court for the Federal Circuit stands on a very old dime in the meanwhile, while attempting to basically make it harder to patent mathematical “fundamental principles.” The court doesn’t want anyone to patent 1 + 1 = 2, in other words, because the whole world needs to be able to do that. But if you use 1 + 1 = 2 in a process that is patentable because it’s tied to a particular machine and/or is transformative, that’s fine with them. That’s if I understand what the court wrote. Considering that patent lawyers and professors are still struggling with it, I’m guessing I don’t yet fully.
It’s not just the ease of writing programs that guarantees we’ll involved external agents more and more in our lives. It’s also the development of cheap sensors that will become ubiquitous and that will provide raw data for agents to work on. And of course, the availability of Internet access everywhere, all the time, which allows agents to communicate with both the sources of data and the people who want the agents’ output.
A brief explanation of what the free culture movement is and the various factors that led to its fighting to preserve the commons, including corporations and special interests trying to restrict the commons to protect their interests, the development of the open source community, technological developments, such as the Internet and digital copying of media, the developmentof web 2.0 and its philosophies, current state of copyright law and youth culture.
We previously wrote about Rambus in [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13]. It is a perfect example of patent ambush, which got the wrath of the European Commission (the US government seems to have remained indifferent). The impact is massive and the company is now making a move to embargo another company (Nvidia), potentially driving it out of the market (because, to be a tad sarcastic, that’s what innovation is all about).
It seems that the negotiations between Rambus and Nvidia over the licence fees for Rambus patents haven’t been going too well. Rambus has now filed a complaint against Nvidia at the US International Trade Commission (USITC), asking the USITC to order an import ban for products with Nvidia parts containing memory controllers for SDRAM memory components like DDR, DDR2, DDR3, LPDDR, GDDR, GDDR2 and GDDR3. This probably includes most of Nvidia’s graphics chips, mainboard chipsets and notebook chipsets, including those incorporated in the latest Apple notebooks as well as products by Asus, BFG, Biostar, Diablotek, EVGA, Gigabyte, HP, MSI, Palit, Pine and Sparkle, who were all explicitly listed by Rambus.
The UK’s Patent Office – which now goes by the awful name of UK Intellectual Property Office, which means it’s really the UK Intellectual Monopolies Office – is a curious beast. On the one hand, as its name suggests, it’s tied into one of the biggest confidence tricks around, dressing up conceptual mutton as intellectual lamb. On the other, there are odd outbreaks of sanity that suggest someone in there understands some of the deeper issues concerning software patents.
It’s not coincidence that Microsoft still maintains that GNU/Linux infringes on some 200 of its sacred software patents – and yet is strangely coy about naming them, since it doesn’t want its bluff called.
One of the most disgusting displays of an industry crafting laws to benefit their industry in backrooms is the secret negotiations over the ACTA treaty. This is the international agreement on copyright that’s basically been written by entertainment industry insiders, and will effectively force governments around the world to change copyright laws in favor of the entertainment industry. Yet, the actual negotiations are being held in secret. When confronted about it, various government negotiators have basically said it has to be secret because that’s the way things are done.
Don’t forget to tell people about ACTA [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11]. It’s about the so-called “copyrights cartel” seeing it as its privilege to take the law into its own hands, backed by corruptible diplomats who harbour secrecy and discourage discussion with the public. These ‘elites’ want more control and more money. They want to suppress or forbid peer production in an increasingly-digital era. This threatens not only culture, but also the Internet and Free software. The ACTA encompasses many areas. █
But after the stage props came down, and after the projectors finally went cold, attendees were left with a pre-beta copy of something that looked less like a new OS than the repackaging of an old one. At least that was my impression after I started exploring the Windows 7 M3 (Milestone 3) bits that came on my shiny new 160GB Western Digital USB hard disk (one of the better tchotchkes I’ve received at a conference). As I reported on my Enterprise Desktop blog, the more I dug into Windows 7, the more I saw an OS that looked and felt like a slightly tweaked version of Windows Vista.
Just what was so new about Microsoft’s next Windows, apart from a rejuggled UI? Windows 7 appeared to suck memory like Vista, to consume CPU like Vista, and to have the same consumer focus. How would this product be received by enterprise customers, the vast majority of whom had soundly rejected its predecessor? After all, if Vista wasn’t good enough for big business, then surely a Vista-derived encore would meet with a similarly chilly reception.
Otherwise, Windows 7 operates much like Vista. There are subtle visual tweaks here and there, but nothing on the level of the dramatic XP-to-Vista transition. Ironically, Vista users may be more annoyed by the UI changes than users coming from XP. Because the Windows 7 and Vista Aero experiences are so similar, seasoned users of Vista will be more likely to look in the wrong places for common functions. By contrast, XP users won’t be burdened with now-outdated Aero navigation skills.
InfoWorld claims early Windows 7 benchmarking show it to be virtually identical to Windows Vista in terms of bloat and to have several noticeable compatibility hang-ups.
It is important to shatter the myths created by Microsoft marketers because they elevate people’s expectations, in hope of “freezing the market” (see quote at the bottom) based on wrong assumptions and disinformation.
All things considered, I’d rather stick with my Linux desktops and Mac OS X. Windows 7 looks to be better than Vista right now, but no one knows when it will actually arrive , and in the meantime, I have work to do. But the fact is, like New Coke back in its day, my first taste of Vista SE is leaving a bad taste in my mouth.
“The OSC has again had to remind the BBC News Unit that the 3-minute item appeared to be a sales presentation rather than the news review that the BBC claim it was, since the product [Windows 7] itself is not expected by its vendor to be fully defined and released for at least 2 years,” it said.
Kelly Fiveash claims the the OSC “got its facts wrong about when Windows 7 is supposed to land,” but Kelly sure knows nothing about Microsoft’s “freeze the market” tactics and repeated delays, as demonstrated by Vista (formerly Longhorn) that arrives over 3 years later than promised and delivered almost nothing that was promised. █
“The purpose of announcing early like this is to freeze the market at the OEM and ISV level. In this respect it is JUST like the original Windows announcement…
“One might worry that this will help Sun because we will just have vaporware, that people will stop buying 486 machines, that we will have endorsed RISC but not delivered… So, Scott, do you really think you can fight that avalanche?”
Bill Gates and several of Microsoft’s top technologists are credited as inventors in eight newly disclosed U.S. patent applications. That isn’t a surprise. But here’s where it starts to get unusual: The applications weren’t made on Microsoft’s behalf.
Here’s what we know: An entity called Searete LLC applied for the patents. Searete is part of Intellectual Ventures LLC, the Bellevue-based invention house run by Nathan Myhrvold, Microsoft’s former chief technology officer. Myhrvold’s company has stirred controversy with its large patent hoard.
Slashdot’s summary is a particularly good one because of the useful links.
Just like in the story-line of Independence Day, where the alien death ships slowly but surely positioned themselves over each major city, with the eventual outcome well understood, so too is Intellectual Ventures (I.V.) slowly positioning itself as the patent overlord over many major industry segments. Just like in the movie, the eventual outcome is well understood. To wit: Complete usurpation of the U.S. Patent system. The outcome is a ,gigantic tax/toll collector controlling the pulse of innovation in the U.S. or, like the move, extermination of innovation.
The 20,000 patents, and growing, in the I.V. portfolio have each withstood an average of but 14 hours of scrutiny by the U.S. Patent Office. That’s it; less than 2 business days of total review to issue a property right that, when amassed as I.V. has done, can inflict great pain ($ 1 Billion per) upon an entire industry. But here’s why the Emperor has no clothes: In any collection of patents, bar none, about 95% of the patents reflect the worth of their 14 hours of individual scrutiny. In addition, the Supreme Court, last year, re-wrote the standard of review (KSR V. TeleFlex). In short, these patents are not worth the paper they are printed on. But, owing to the excessive cost and uncertainty to have a second look at these patents either during the course of litigation, or through the Patent Office Reexamination procedures, most victims of this licensing extortion racket meekly pay-up. What Myhrvold has wrought is an obscene abuse of the patent system. It should be stopped, either by industry groups banding together to file reexaminations, or by Congress, or both.
To summarise, what we apparently have here is the regrouping of people who work outside Microsoft and accumulate weaponry which can be used in a patent troll-like fashion, whereby litigation or extortion cannot be suppressed by a counter-lawsuits. Intellectual Ventures and Searete have no actual products, and there is no plan to have any.
Bearing in mind the Acacia incident [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11], these guys need to be watched closely. █
In the press release, what does Novell mean by “third-party Linux distribution”? Is there now a distinction between Novell SUSE and some “third parties”, which is an insulting term?
Novell today announced the availability of a new subscription and support program designed to aid customers making the transition from their existing third-party Linux* distribution to SUSE(R) Linux Enterprise Server. The SUSE Linux Enterprise Server Subscription with Expanded Support program includes a three-year subscription to SUSE Linux Enterprise Server that provides technical support for a customer’s existing Linux deployments for up to two years while they make the transition to SUSE Linux Enterprise.
“Third parties” are mentioned again further down in the press release:
The new program is in response to growing customer demand for help as they make the strategic decision to transition their data center Linux infrastructure from existing third-party distributions, such as Red Hat* Enterprise Linux and CentOS, to SUSE Linux Enterprise Server.
At the bottom it says:
Novell and SUSE are registered trademarks of Novell Inc. in the U.S. and other countries. *All third-party trademarks are the property of their respective owners.
What do they mean by third parties? That it’s merely a compromise? That it’s “unsupported” (another derogatory term)? That it’s inferior and foreign? It’s a very xenophobic term, as we explained before. We have already criticised the term "non-proprietary", which we saw repeated in [1, 2, 3]. It can sometimes be used when striving to suggest that there is something wrong with Free(dom) software and that it is “non appropriate”. Wording is always important due to mental and verbal connotations.
One of our regular trolls (a site heckler) accused us yesterday of inappropriately calling Novell’s latest tactics “predatory”. Well, when one GNU/Linux vendor antagonises another in this way (by cutting its revenue stream while still exploiting its product), then it’s bound to be called an attack, even in the ‘mainstream’ press. From IDG (NetworkWorld) comes the headline:
Novell lays out Red Hat attack plan
Matt Asay put a sarcastic spin on it, saying that “Novell builds bridges…from Red Hat to SUSE.” Wasn’t Novell supposed to accommodate migrations to GNU/Linux from other platforms, through so-called bridges to other platforms?
I continue to believe the real revenue opportunity for Novell (and Red Hat) is Unix replacements, not internecine competition between Linux vendors.
Novell is not only pulling such tricks against Red Hat. It’s doing something similar to Sun Microsystems, as well. Novell forked OpenOffice.org [1, 2] and Sam Dean unfortunately brings attention to this dangerous fork and promotes it with the headline “Go-oo: A Lighter, Faster OpenOffice, With Extras.”
Go-oo is a fork of OpenOffice version 2.4, for Windows and Linux.
Your readers need to be aware that the go-oo fork of OpenOffice.org is very much a bleeding edge developers’ version, which has not been through the full QA process run by the OpenOffice.org folks. It’s also paid for indirectly by Microsoft licence fees, through Microsoft’s funding of Novell (the home of go-oo).”
As another commenter said:
“Maybe I’m off-base, but it looks to me like MS-infected OOo. It’s coming from Novell (which I refuse to use), and is paid for by MS-license fees.
Sure, I’m paranoid, but I’m not touching this….”
We have already shown how Novell insults OpenOffice.org in order to market its own fork of the popular software and grab customers away from Sun. Shouldn’t Novell try to appeal more to Microsoft Office users (by far the majority), preferably by working together with Sun, as opposed to stomping it (along with ODF)?
In an effort to help proliferate the Linux Desktop, HeliOS Solutions has contacted a number of Big Box stores and smaller businesses throughout the Austin Metro Area and asked them if we could set up professional and attractive displays for Linux Live CD’s.
The response has been surprisingly positive…and I’m talking about some really BIG big box stores.
However, one of those stores asked me to meet with them and discuss some of the anticipated ramifications of them doing so.
They are concerned about Microsoft engaging them legally.
They are worried about Steve Ballmer coming in with a figurative ball bat and legally demolishing the displays….and then suing them amidst the rubble.
Is legal intimidation doing its harms now? If it’s related to patents, then remember company helped fuel this. Novell of course. █
“Linux is a cancer that attaches itself in an intellectual property sense to everything it touches.”
–Steve Ballmer, Microsoft CEO
THE Sandcastle story [1, 2], which we last mentioned here, was one bump (among several) along the road to Microsoft’s ‘embrace’ of open source [1, 2]. The company already disseminates some anti-GNU/Linux software licences, so it should be clear what the intent is [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]. It’s not just Microsoft’s discrimination against Free/open source platforms that’s the issue; its conformance to open source as a whole is taken to task. In fact, the company’s mixing of open source and closed source under the same ‘open’ roof has got it under scrutiny and The Register indicates that the company is rethinking CodePlex.
This got Microsoft in trouble in October when it emerged the company was posting code to CodePlex using licenses not compatible with the terms of the Open-Source Initiative (OSI). Microsoft describes CodePlex as its “open-source project hosting web site” and points users to a Wikipedia page on OSI licenses.
It’s important to keep such sites separate from SourceForge. CodePlex is first and foremost about Microsoft’s shareholders; it’s not about freedom and never will be.
In other related news, Matt Asay opines that Microsoft’s self-centric software licences are going to cost it dearly.
Microsoft’s licensing cripples its relevance to the Amazon cloud
Perhaps Microsoft doesn’t care. Perhaps its cloud offerings will be of Microsoft, for Microsoft. But this isn’t how Microsoft became the dominant desktop vendor that it is today. Microsoft dominates because it opened its technology enough to become the center of a vibrant ecosystem.
By cutting itself off from others’ cloud-based offerings, Microsoft has chosen to go it alone. This could be a winning strategy, but my money is on the companies that can drive widely dispersed value from the cloud. With its proprietary licensing, Microsoft will not be among this group.
Microsoft has indeed “chosen to go it alone,” but it’s sad that some developers join Microsoft’s effort in fulfillment of free labour. Microsoft has realised the importance of naive developers who would build, enrich and improve its proprietary platform without appropriate returns or compensation. In leaked memos, Microsoft is shown comparing such developers to “one-night stands” and calling them “pawns” (reference here).
Developers who choose to go down this route deserve to be equipped with knowledge about Microsoft’s objectives and means for achieving them. To Microsoft, open source developers are free labour, just like any developer for that matter (not necessarily open source). Don’t be a pawn. █