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12.25.08

Links Xmas 2008: Linux 2.6.28 Released

Posted in News Roundup at 10:00 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Xmas cartoon

GNU/Linux

F/OSS

Leftovers

Ogg Theora

Direct link

IRC: #boycottnovell @ FreeNode: Xmas 2008

Posted in IRC Logs at 7:32 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME Gedit

Enter the IRC channel now

Read the rest of this entry »

Microsoft Develops More Political Relationships

Posted in Asia, Bill Gates, Deals, Microsoft at 7:21 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

UN-Microsoft headline

SEVERAL MONTHS AGO, shortly after Gates had allegedly retired (to do more politics), he met with the head of the UN, which was encouraging Free software adoption at the time. So what did they discuss? Were any favours possibly exchanged through the Gates Foundation? Stories of UN corruption are too easy to forget.

According to this new article, “In partnership with the United Nations, Microsoft recently launched Imagine Cup 2009.” Why is the UN liaising with a company so widely known for criminal behaviour and discrimination against underprivileged countries?

Microsoft is also sniffing around for lock-in opportunities and it seems to have just found another victim in Bahrain, which was (or still is) exploring Free software [1, 2]. This new agreement smells like another MoU (Memorandum of Understanding), which is discriminatory. We wrote about these before, e.g. in:

There is related information also in:

All these secretive deals do mean a lot, so someone, somewhere ought to keep track of them for future reference which accompanies complex explanations that are backed by compelling circumstantial evidence from the past.

____
[1] Region’s open-source experts to support first of its kind conference in Bahrain

The DataShell IT Open Minds Conference and Exhibition, scheduled to take place on 13th November, will be a first of its kind for Bahrain, bringing together regional business decision-makers as well as IT executives and providing them with information and resources to implement Linux and other open-source solutions in business infrastructures.

[2] Bahrain LUG Announced

We are pleased to announce the first meeting of the Bahrain Linux User Group!

Quote of the Day: Bradley M. Kuhn (SFLC) on Microsoft

Posted in Free/Libre Software, GPL, Microsoft, Quote at 2:18 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Bradley Kuhn, who works at the SFLC, is one of the most senior (and thus respected) people in the Free software world and yesterday he published this essay, which remarks on Microsoft and “open source”.

I thought immediately of Microsoft’s presence at OSCON this year and the launch of their campaign to pretend they haven’t spent the last ten years trying destroy all of Free Software and Open Source.

[...]

Microsoft is unique among proprietary software companies: they are the only ones who have actively tried to kill Open Source and Free Software. It’s not often someone wants to be your friend after trying to kill you for ten years, but such change is cause for suspicion.

He is reminding people why Microsoft tries to buy the hearts of open source projects. Some of them sold out, but we won’t name them here as it would seem confrontational or abrasive.

Related posts:

“Microsoft representatives generally try to establish a world view sympathetic to their own by talking as if the accepted distinction in the open-source arena is between commercial and non-commercial. That definition is inaccurate and its intent is to damage.”

Mark Taylor

The (Microsoft) Nightmare Before Christmas

Posted in Microsoft, Security, Servers, Windows at 11:28 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

No, not the film

THIS TYPE OF THING happens almost every year. It’s another familiar ‘emergency Christmas’ that may lead to higher blood pressure.

Data in Microsoft Databases Under Threat

Just before the holiday, Microsoft decided to give people fewer reasons to rest well, having recently patched half a dozen critical flaws.

Desktop users running the Microsoft SQL Server 2000 Desktop Engine or SQL Server 2005 Express could be at risk in some circumstances, Microsoft said.

They have been negligent enough not to fix this in 8 months. Microsoft keeps known flaws to itself until it's too late and damage is being done.

Microsoft Corp. today confirmed that it has been working on a critical vulnerability in SQL Server for more than eight months, but declined to say whether it has had a patch ready since September, as an Austrian security researcher has alleged.

Another emergency patch (almost the third in a month [1, 2, 3]) is likely on its way. Microsoft Fanalysts [sic] are explaining the severity of this as well.

News Analysis. Microsoft has warned of a zero-day vulnerability affecting SQL Server. Do take Microsoft’s security advisory seriously.

Remember SQL Server slammer, which struck nearly six years ago? IT administrators were lucky the worm spread a month after Christmas. The new SQL Server vulnerability could bring coal to your Christmas stocking, if left untended.

Scareware and Fakes

There are other new attacks that piggyback on Microsoft.com.

Miscreants are exploiting weaknesses in more than one million webpages operated by the federal government, media companies, and even Microsoft to trick unwitting visitors into installing harmful software that takes over their computers.

More here:

Fake Antivirus Peddlers Helped by Microsoft, IRS

Just weeks after the U.S. Federal Trade Commission shut down two companies accused of selling fake antivirus software, a new player has moved into the market, aided by glitches in the Microsoft and U.S. Internal Revenue Service Web sites.

As always, there are fake greeting cards too, whose harm is only Windows compatible (where “clicking” translates to “executing”, frequently with full system privileges).

A new worm has emerged that could be much worse than the notorious Storm worm, which ruled the botnet world for nearly two years.

Zombies on the Cloud

We wrote extensively about the threat of zombie PCs. Botnets seem to have recruited almost one in two Windows PCs although most nodes in this network remain unused, so the seriousness remains mostly uncovered — for now. 98% of the Windows PCs out there are potentially ripe for hijacking, according to Secunia, so it’s down to the mercy — or wrath — of botmasters.

This has serious ramifications when it comes to security and the United States too can be crushed by botnets, according to this new simulated attack.

US cybersecurity defences fail to thwart mock cyberattack

The basic scenario involved exercises in electronic disruption accompanying a national emergency, a sequence of events played out in Estonia last year and more recently in Georgia. Defenders drew on established defence procedures but these turned out to be inadequate, for reasons not explained in any detail by participants.

Speaking of security, problems may also be introduced by Microsoft’s so-called ‘cloud’ (Azure), which we remarked on in [1, 2, 3, 4].

Amitabh: Microsoft provides a computing infrastructure on which developers can build applications. It is the responsibility of the developer to ensure that their applications, content and services comply with applicable laws and do not engage in malicious conduct. For more information refer to http://www.microsoft.com/azure/termswindowsazure.mspx

Looking at that URL:

# Indemnification.

[...]

You agree to indemnify, pay the defense costs of, and hold Microsoft and its successors, officers, directors and employees harmless from and against any and all claims, demands, costs, liabilities, judgments, losses, expenses and damages (including attorneys’ fees)

[...]

# Modifying the Terms.

[...]

Microsoft may at its sole discretion modify this agreement at any time. You can access the most current version of the agreement via the link

That’s not so reassuring. For similar reasons, we constantly warn about Microsoft's so-called "open source" licences. Microsoft totally controls the way they evolve.

International database

Microsoft-Affiliated Site Removes Post About Bill Gates Weirdness

Posted in Bill Gates, Microsoft, Videos, Vista, Windows at 7:58 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Ogg Theora

Direct link

YESTERDAY AFTERNOON we grabbed a snippet from here (now a dead link). The anonymous author has since then removed this post, which was embarrassing to Gates (and perhaps unsuited to this site which is run by a Microsoft MVP). The post noted personality issues that we already know about. Here is what it said about Vista:

Bill Gates – Enigmatic as Ever!

[...]

Charlie gave plenty of time for Gates to elucidate the viewers about the successes and pitfalls of the adventure known as Vista, but Gates refused to say much about it. When he did comment, he gave acknowledgement to the fact that, no matter his opinion, the public view of Vista was less than positive.

IDG, which is somewhat tied to Microsoft [1, 2], has also taken Vista to task by saying that 2008 was a bad year for Windows.

Microsoft is used to criticism; after all, it’s a standing joke that the third version of any Microsoft software is the first one that works right. But the backlash against Windows Vista in 2008 was unprecedented. The new OS had been out for a year, finding its way into new consumer systems through 2007 but not getting much adoption by business.

This Christmas cartoon about Vista says it all really and new problems persist for those who are fooled or pressured into obtaining the embattled operating system.

Catalyst breaks Vista Crossfire

DAAMIT IS IN a bit of a pickle over Crossfire and its newly-released 8.12 Catalyst software. Apparently, users are flooding the support forums with complaints of crashes, BSODs and inability to boot into Vista.

If you invested in Crossfire, you’re likely to have blown a fair wad of cash and you won’t be too happy to hear about this. When you installed the 8.12 Catalyst driver, you might’ve found yourself with a slight BSOD or black screen at Windows boot problem… slight being an understatement.

Can anyone blame Gates for acting weird when asked about Vista? Intel’s CEO, who was involved in the Vista crimes (collusion), also refused to talk about the operating system when asked about it in an interview early in the year. Intel has permanently shunned Vista for in-house use, despite Service Pack 1.

Speaking of which, Steve Ballmer ought to have been deposed by now, just like Gates. The court set a deadline.

Direct link to deposition video | Full set of the deposition videos (including Ogg Theora versions)

2008: Year in Review

Posted in Finance, Formats, GNU/Linux, Law, Linspire, Microsoft, Novell, Open XML, OpenDocument, Patents, Site News at 5:44 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Shane and I wrote 4,926 posts. It has been a long ride since the site began about 2 years ago and issues that we covered here varied so as to mostly focus on risks to Free software and how they can be tackled. The Novell deal merely triggered the beginning of a Microsoft strategy for harming GNU/Linux, primarily through Microsoft APIs, formats, and software patents. Here are a few key observations, which we shall keep short because long posts are rarely read thoroughly.

  • Software patents unrest grew. We saw the decision regarding Bilski putting at risk a vast number of software patents, the EPO staff taking it to the streets in protest, and a few new coalitions against software patents created. Nokia/Symbian saw a key ruling in the UK threatening to change the status quo, but the UK-IPO remained unmoved. The Community patent, which some consider a back door to software patents and extensive damage claims in Europe, reached a standstill too.
  • Novell drops. Novell continues to operate at a loss, its staff shrank in size, its market cap sank and its stock fell by about 50%. To be fair, many other companies suffered similarly.
  • Open source loses its religion. It becomes unclear what open source means and whether it just refers to some code that depends on proprietary frameworks or resides on so-called ‘clouds’. It’s therefore advisable that those who care about freedom abstain from using the term and instead preach about Free (as in freedom) software.
  • ODF won. The crowd this standard was aimed at was mostly governments, whose adoption of the standard would cascade down and enable non-discriminatory access to vital information that belongs to the public. Not only have the OOXML corruptions shown what an abusive company stands behind it, but they also proved that OOXML was not worthy of adoption, let alone approval
  • GNU/Linux gained. In the world’s top computers, Linux reached a market share of 94% (virtualisation accounted for). In the embedded space, Linux continued performing solidly and many more phones were shipped with Linux. An increasing number of companies turn to Linux consortia or do it themselves with Linux in order to reduce costs and have development/maintenance delegated to other companies (pooled resources, peer production). In sub-notebooks, GNU/Linux is reportedly holding a share of about 40%, although it depends on one’s source of information. This has already led to a decline in Windows revenue, which made Microsoft rather frantic.
  • Free Software took on the Big Guns. Towards the very end of the year, the FSF decided to assert its rights to defend the freedom of GPL-licensed software, so it sued Cisco. This came after a key ruling that essentially grants copyrights teeth to Free software.
  • Transparency embraced. The values encouraged by the Free software movement have been widely accepted not just in software. Some attribute the win of the democratic party to an effort of mass participation and control taken by a population of informed individuals.
  • Only the freest survive. The company formerly known as “Lindows” is no more. So is Windows bound to disappear next? Not so soon. Linspire was sold to Xandros, resulting in a scandal and legal action.

    It seems likely, based on knowledge about market distortion, that Microsoft will have some shocking news to tell, possibly after an announcement of layoffs (5,000-10,0000 employees) next month. A lesser known fact is that Microsoft has few tangible assets and almost no money left in the bank. Media distortion and attacks on critics, however, keep it elevated, as well as the perception that Microsoft is needed because it holds an industry of shackled individuals who depend on it.

Some say that society has cycles of predatory capitalism and more social phases where betrayed people suffer and bail out those who caused the problems in the first place. With the economy predicted to get worse next year, the short-term future of Free software holds a lot of promise.

On a personal level, I wish to thank our many readers, few of whom comment and therefore become visible. I hope to persist with activism for some time to come; it is convenient and affordable when one voluntarily lives on campus. People twice or three times my age attest to a similar experience.

As regular readers probably know, Groklaw has been dormant for several weeks. In order to help PJ’s endeavors, donations can be considered. Bruce Perens’ Web site, Technocrat, has just been shut down (no access to old articles, either). Let’s not allow more of this to happen as this would leave just corporations-controlled ‘news’ sites to misinform people.

Greeting card

IRC: #boycottnovell @ FreeNode: Xmas Eve (2008)

Posted in IRC Logs at 4:27 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME Gedit

Enter the IRC channel now

Read the rest of this entry »

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