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01.04.09

Links 04/01/2009: Big Win for ODF in Brazil, Penguin Awareness Day Coming

Posted in News Roundup at 7:00 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

GNU/Linux

  • Penguin Awareness Day – January 20th, 2009

    I was riding Southwest Airlines, coming back from visiting my relatives in Pennsylvania. I piked up a copy of the airline’s Spirit Magazine from the seat back pocket, and started reading about various little-known holidays. Then I noticed that “Penguin Awareness Day” is January 20th.

    While “Penguin Awareness Day” officially has little to do with Linux, and there is even controversy on which day is the “official” Penguin Awareness Day, there is really no reason why we could not use this day to make people aware of our favorite operating system and Free Software in general.

  • 7 Best Free/Open-source Backup Software for Linux

    A computer application utilized to perform a complete backup by duplicating the original source of data is called backup software. Obviously, the main purpose of backup software is to create order out of chaos by recovering essential files in the event of a disaster.

    If you are using Linux, there are plenty of backup software to choose from. I have here a list of some of the best free and open source backup software that you may want to check out.

  • KDE 4.1 across Linux distributions

    There are three major Linux families: Debian, Red Hat/Fedora, and SuSE/OpenSuSE. There’s a great family tree here. Red Hat (by Red Hat) and SuSE (by Novell) are non-free distributions aimed at enterprises. Fedora and OpenSuSE are their free, open source offerings. Debian is a free open source distribution. Most other Linux offerings are derivatives of these three families at some level. There are exceptions, of course, like Gentoo, but I’m not building a catalog here. My point is simply that if you stay within a major family, you’ll find more similarities than differences. Wander outside a family, the learning curve grows significantly.

    [...]

    In the end, I think that KDE 4.1 is simply too imature to allow distribution creators to do much with it. It still lacks the basic configurability and flexibility of KDE 3.5.10 and even Gnome 2.24. Perhaps as KDE 4.x matures, distributions will be able to better differentiate their KDE implementations. In the meantime, I translate statements about the superiority of particular KDE 4.1 implementations as really being declarations of personal preferences for the underlying distribution family. Fair enough.

  • Distributions

    • First impressions: Sabayon Linux Four Oh!

      Two years ago I ran into Sabayon Linux for the first time. Version 3.2 was about to be released and I gave Sabayon a spin on my laptop. The article on my Dutch website about my experiences is still attracting a lot of readers, which indicates a consistent and growing interest in this Linux distribution. Strange enough, I wasn’t very lucky with later releases which simply refused to be installed. Two weeks ago Sabayon Linux Four Oh! was released. How far did Sabayon progress over the last two years?

      [...]

      So, coming back to the question: “How far did Sabayon progress over the last two years?” what is the answer? Well, Sabayon kept it’s strong points: bleeding edge, style and easy installation, and is adding a solid and fast package manager to extend your box. With a distribution that is pushing forward as much as Sabayon is doing you can expect some rough edges, but -apart from minor issues- it didn’t hinder me from using Four Oh! for day to day work. The only set back is the speed of the desktop. There is definitely some room for improvement in that area. But, overall, a nice release. Kudos for the team. I will be checking Sabayon again in the near future.

    • Ubuntu/Debian

      • Sidux Linux with LXDE – First Impressions

        I am still new to Sidux and LXDE but I will give it a throrough test. I use my Thinkpad for much of my work when I travel Saigon by motorbike.

      • Resolutions and mean people.

        Kudos to the people on the Ubuntu Forums for helping this guy out. Who knows, the next user might expect working suspend and resume, that would be ridiculous!

  • Devices

    • Slimming down in 2009: laptops, software and upgrades

      We’ve begun to see the implications of that. One sign was the emergence of so-called netbooks – simple, ultra-portable handheld computers with smallish displays, no moving parts and running a lightweight version of Linux. They came with onboard wi-fi, simple webcams and Skype built in and were essentially portable life-support systems for a browser and a few selected web applications such as Gmail or Hotmail. And they are the fastest-growing market segment in the industry: about 10% of all portable computer sales last year were netbooks.

    • Google boosts Android with ‘Cupcake’ update

      A sizable slew of the improvements in Cupcake were developed by the open source community and submitted into the public code repositories, and along with Google’s own body of work have now been incorporated into the final update. And while Cupcake began as a separate development branch of Android, it’s now been rolled into the OS codebase and thus will be available on all new Android devices.

F/OSS

  • 7 Reasons Why Pirates Should Jump Ship to Open Source

    1. Support the Software that Supports Your Values

    [...]

    2. Price Does Not Always Reflect Value

    [...]

    3. Don’t Spend Time Learning to Use Software You’ll Never Buy

    [...]

    4. Open Source Can Benefit From More Users

    [...]

    5. Joining a Community is More Fun Than Fighting a Dictator

    [...]

    6. You Don’t Have to Keep It a Secret from Your Boss

    [...]

    7. It’s the Right Thing to Do

  • The BUGS Are Worked Out

    While most tech gadget companies carefully guard their products from hackers, start-up Bug Labs is courting them.

    The company has just released a series of modules, known as the BUG, that snap together like electronic Legos to form an array of different gadgets, from GPS locators to motion detection cameras.

    It’s DIY electronics.

  • FLOSS Weekly 50: Open MPI

    Open MPI, a software implementation of the Message Passing Interface standard.

  • Obama’s Health IT Dilemma: The ‘Some Dude’ Problem

    Free and Open Source health IT Software outlined in a recent AMIA white paper, inherently suffers far less from the Some Dude problem than proprietary software does. How the Obama administration’s $50 Billion proposal is going to deal with Some Dude, if they deal with Some Dude at all, will be interesting to watch.

  • Applications

    • Google’s Microsoft-esque landgrab for IE’s market share

      Fair? Yes. A bit sneaky? You bet. Clint Boulton at eWeek sees it as a way to promote Chrome, and he’s right. Google now regularly hawks its own Chrome browser on its search page, the same page that 63.5 percent of the world uses. In true Microsoft fashion, Google is going to tie its products together, making a holistic experience that ostensibly helps customers while bludgeoning competitors.

    • Mozilla chief John Lilly is fired up about making a better Web browser

      With 200 employees and a $50-million budget, Mozilla is the for-profit subsidiary of the nonprofit Mozilla Foundation. Firefox is “open source,” meaning users everywhere are encouraged to improve it. Its success depends largely on thousands of devoted volunteers — 40% of the code is written by people who don’t clock in.

      “If people participate in the construction of the Web, it will be better and more robust.” For example, Mozilla produced Firefox in one language: English. Volunteers translated it into 61 other languages and also made it accessible to the blind and deaf and others with physical limitations. Next up: Firefox for mobile phones. Consumers appreciate the Mozilla mission: “It’s like organic food. When you tell people about the values that go into building the product, it builds loyalty.”

  • Annual

    • Five Tech Trends to Watch in 2009

      4. Open Source Software

      Real investment in open source software is still off the radar of many SMBs, and that’s a pity, because cost-conscious midmarket companies can look to open source as an easy way to reduce IT costs: There are no licensing or upgrade costs, not to mention no initial software purchase.

      Companies can save money by switching their CRM platforms to SugarCRM, a Linux-based CRM application, from Salesforce.com. Even running a supported version of the software, which means paying support costs, is far less than the forced upgrades and licensing issues that can crop up with a vendor lock-in.

      While open source certainly hasn’t become a dominant force in the midmarket space, as more SMBs adopt open source technologies for non-critical applications, it is likely others, particularly tech-savvy small business owners, will realize the cost benefit potential of open source technology.

    • The top tech resolutions for 2009

      One specific way to save money smartly is to be open to open source, advises InfoWorld Open Sources blogger Zach Urlocker. “In many cases, organizations just default to certain closed source applications or infrastructure decisions because they are not familiar with other options,” he notes. Yet, open source approaches can reduce total cost by as much as 90 percent over traditional offerings. There’s another benefit for staffers: “Even if the decision is made to go with closed source, staff will appreciate getting exposure to new technologies.”

    • Software development predictions for 2009

      Java moves toward an open source mindset

      Oracle’s acquisition of BEA Systems made it one of the largest players in the Java application server market. But it’s still too early to say how BEA customers have weathered the transition. Some might not appreciate their contracts being subsumed into Larry Ellison’s software juggernaut.

      On the other hand, the Red Hat/JBoss merger has proven to be a comfortable match for most JBoss customers, the majority of whom were Linux users to begin with. And Red Hat shows a strong interest in Java; for example, it has put considerable effort into the IcedTea project, a fork of OpenJDK that improves upon Sun’s open source Java stack.

Leftovers

  • Major Win for ODF in Brazil

    Until the latest version of the e-Ping the format ODF was recommended to the status of the document, and voluntary bodies to use, version 4.0 in the ODF takes characteristic of adopted thus becomes mandatory for all government agencies direct, municipalities and foundations.]

    As ever, Brazil’s decision is doubly significant: important in itself, given the size of the country, and important as an example to others.

  • Bailing out the press, newspapers at risk

    The New York Times is in trouble, layoffs are underway and even small town publications are finding they’re not immune to the recession and its affect on their business of reporting the news.

    As an independent web news publisher I have little sympathy for newspapers, though publishers online are feeling the economic pinch of the recession as well with ad rates down considerably.

    Reporter Robert MacMillan noted in a December 31, 2008 Reuters story that two major Connecticut newspapers were in jeopardy of closing for good if something isn’t done to come to their rescue. “The Bristol Press, may fold within days, along with The Herald in nearby New Britain,” wrote MacMillan.

  • DRM as Freedom-Eating Infection

    I’ve often written about DRM, and how it is antithetical to free software. But here’s an interview with Amazon’s CTO, which provides disturbing evidence that it actively *reduces* the amount of free software in use…

Quick Mention: Big Microsoft Partner Devours Open Source Documentation Project (SWiK)

Posted in Free/Libre Software, Microsoft, Virtualisation at 11:30 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

EMC is Microsoft’s partner of the year for 2008 and it also caused a lot of trouble inside VMware (overthrowing its management), which it put in the hands of a former, abusive executive from Microsoft. It’s neither intended to advance Free software nor to promote GNU/Linux.

We are therefore apprehensive about discovering that EMC has just announced that it would acquire SourceLabs.

SourceLabs, an open source software support startup based in Seattle, has been sold to storage giant EMC for an undisclosed price, according to a source familiar with the deal.

For more analysis, see:

What might this acquisition be for?

“…[C]ut off Netscape’s air supply.”

Paul Maritz, Vice President, Microsoft (Now VMWare CEO)

At Microsoft, “Fear Uncertainty Doubt (TALKING POINTS)” is Formal Strategy

Posted in Antitrust, Courtroom, FUD, Microsoft at 11:16 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Buried in this previous post, which contained an antitrust exhibits [PDF] as text, the following diagram from Microsoft (“HIGHLY CONFIDENTIAL”) was seen:

EDGI - Microsoft - talking points

Click on the figure for a large-sized version of it. What’s that thing at the top-left? Is that related to the AstroTurfing which we’ve exposed recently [1, 2, 3]? This is material that circulates around Steve Ballmer and other seniors.

Is Microsoft ‘Pulling an EDGI’ on Kerala? (Updated)

Posted in Antitrust, Asia, Microsoft at 10:06 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Finally — solid proof of targeted Microsoft dumping against GNU/Linux and Free software

Kerala boy
Microsoft turns against the people of Kerala again

ANIVAR Aravind, who led friendly protests in favour of Free software in India, told us last night that “Kerala is moving to Non Free Way again [...] 2 major supporters for Free Software in Govt is Removed by The Govt. (Leaded by Communist Party of India (Marxist).”

This sounded familiar because Microsoft has a track record of tossing people out of their jobs if they don’t serve Microsoft’s agenda [1, 2, 3] and diplomats are not particularly impressed by this behaviour. “Chief Ministers IT advisor and Arun M (Special Officer, ICFOSS & FSF India Secretary) is removed,” tells Anivar.

Anivar also says that “there is a move to Change IT Policy of the state.” They have been trying this for a long time, even with the help of celebrities whom they attempted to hire [1, 2, 3, 4].

People like Anivar are rightly — or leftly — pissed off. “Also see new Reports like this“, he adds.

Anybody visited the www.keralataxes.in[1] for VAT e-filing ? From 1st
of Jan 2009 onwards e-filing of VAT returns is compulsory for all the
dealers in Kerala. Please go through the site and see the
documentation and procedures for e-flining.. Site is developed for
and by the Microsoft Community. Govt has arranged e-filing from
Akshaya Centers for dealers who have no internet facility at “Free Of
Cost” (Thanks to “Microsoft Unlimited Potential Programme”)

This specifically mentions “Microsoft Unlimited Potential Programme” which, to put it simply, is Microsoft’s anti-Linux programme [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]. For education, Microsoft has a particular programme called “Education and Government Incentives program” (EDGI) for blocking GNU/Linux adoption. It may be related to those kickback entanglements and the BECTA situation. From the latest antitrust case [PDF], which Microsoft settled very quickly in hopes of hiding new evidence of crime:

From: David Driftmier
Sent: Tuesday, August 06, 2002 2:46 PM
To: Anna Aubry; Candace Grisdale
Cc: Christine Bomstead; Kurt Kolb
Subject: RE: “EDGI” Marketing funds
Importance: High

EDGI is a customer-focused program that is for circumstances (like the one you reference) where an education and/or government customer is going to purchase naked PC’S or PC’S w/Linux. IF we do everything possible it still comes down to price differential between the Windows PC’s and Linux PC’s, then we can invest some/all of the royalty revenue from the deal back to the customer in the form of training, services, or even rebates. For more detail see that attached and let me know if you want to chat before your call. Note: This is not a partner program and is MS-internal only.

[...]

…. Original Message ….
From: Candace Grisdale
Sent: Tuesday, August 06, 2002 11:20 AM
To: Anna Aubry; Christine Bomstead
Subject: “EDGI” Marketing funds
Importance: High

Okay I have a strange request…There is a situation in Indonesia where one of our OEMs is planning to ship Linux into the channel on some desktops. Do you know about the EDGI program (I think that’s how you spell it) and if an initiative like this one (likely to be government and education accounts receiving the offer)? Sorry if this is totally random but we’ve got an urgency at the executive level within the company about pulling together a Windows marketing program offer. NOTE: there’s a call at 3:30 today so I need to get to the right folks by 2pm today. Any advice I’d welcome.

[...]

From: David Driftmier
Sent: Thursday, August 01,2002 4:27 PM
To: Mark East; Yasushi Iwao; Rafael Perez-Colon; Prasanna Meduri; George Kyriakis
Cc: EDGI HQ Team; Tit Meng Ang; Kurt Kolb; Ed Marcheselli; Sherri Bealkowski; David Driftmier
Subject: EDGI
Importance: High
Attachments: *Microsoft Confidential* : Education and Government Incentives program

Shortly before MGB, Orlando sent a mail to the GM’s to let them know about an exciting new program to equip the field with a new tool to ensure that we never lose to Linux – the Education and Government Incentives [EDGI] program. We now need to make sure our people in the field understand how and when to leverage this program. Please use the attachments included in the original Orlando email and the into below to communicate with the education people in your region. I am sending this to the regional leads instead of to the broader alias so that you may modify with any regional processes as necessary. Please distribute as quickly as possible, though.

Below is a quick Q&A:

What is EDGI? EDGI (pronounced ‘edgy’) is both a process for responding to large competitive threats and a large source of funding to level the playing field between Windows and Linux when a deal involves the purchase of new PC’s.

Did you say ’funding’?! How much? EDGI does not have a set limit for funding, but is instead limited on a per-deal basis. The maximum amount of funding that can be approved for an individual deal is the total amount of OEM revenue that Microsoft will recognize from the OEM/COEM from which new legal Windows PC’s are purchased.

Readers are smart enough to see what is happening here. The full document is 28 pages long and the text is particularly enlightening, so we append the full text below (OCRed and edited with some typographical errors).

Here is Microsoft talking about “Linux infestation” [PDF] and how to fight this “infestation”. It’s related to the one above (see full text at the bottom for details about CompHot).

From: Peter Wise
Sent: Monday, October 07, 2002 9:43 AM
To: Server Platform Leadership Team
Subject: CompHot Escalation Team Summary – Month of September 2002

CompHot Escalation Team Summary – Month of September 2002

Microsoft Confidential

[...]

Observations and Issues

* Linux infestations are being uncovered in many of our large accounts as part of the escalation engagements. People on the escalation team have gone into AXA, Ford, WalMart, the US Army, and other large enterprises, where they’ve helped block one Linux threat, only to have it pop up in other parts of the businesses. At General Electric alone, at least five major pilots have been identified, as well as a new “Center of Excellence for Linux” at GE Capitol.

* Linux on the mainframe continues to be the most common escalation scenario largely because the mainframe is unfamiliar to most of our sales team. Paul Morse of CATM has had a success at AXA, PNC Financial, the State of Pennsylvania and elsewhere in blocking this threat.

[...]

* We have a couple of questions about the 100 $50,000 prizes that will be awarded as part of the MGB Linux contest.

For a company whose "technical evangelists" love to claims that “Linux” is just some insignificant market factor, well… they sure seem pretty terrified of it. Microsoft’s Gerri Elliott, who fought Free software using a hat in government (mentioned in [1, 2, 3]), appears in the correspondence as well. So are Steve Ballmer and Orlando Ayala, who fought GNU/Linux on OLPC and wrote the main document. In emphasis, he writes: “It is essential, therefore, that we use this in only in deals we would lose otherwise” (i.e. when GNU/Linux or Star/OpenOffice win). Later on, with underlined bold face he writes: “under NO circumstances lose against Linux.”

Scroll down to the bottom and see that Kerala is among those which EDGI targeted.

Update (04/01/2009): We have received additional information about the happenings in Kerala. The CPIM State committee has decided to ask for the resignation of Joseph Mathew, the IT advisor to the Chief Minister (the Party and Joseph are highlighting different reasons for this). But there is also a move against Arun, who had been appointed the special Officer of ICFOSS a few months earlier. He was asked to resign just after Joseph’s resignation, and that is troubling. Arun was the main Organiser of the Free Software Free Society Conference which took place in December.

Some more details appear in in the FSF-Friends mailing list:

http://mm.gnu.org.in/pipermail/fsf-friends/2009-January/006019.html

http://mm.gnu.org.in/pipermail/fsf-friends/2009-January/006021.html

Arun’s E-mail:

http://mm.gnu.org.in/pipermail/fsf-friends/2009-January/006097.html

Friends inside the Party told Anivar that in the party meeting there was criticism against Joseph for a Novell boycott campaign [1, 2, 3, 4] in the Kochi conference (Organised by CPIM Sympathisers), but he does not have any role in it. Neither have us.

Read the rest of this entry »

Novell’s Mono: Imitating a Failing Technology

Posted in Debian, Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Mono, Novell, Ubuntu, Windows at 6:21 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“Pearly Gates and Em-Ballmer
One promises you heaven and the other prepares you for the grave.”

Ray Noorda, Novell

NOVELL’S INFATUATION WITH .NET is a truly bizarre thing. Why would a company that was repeatedly betrayed (back-stabbed or illegally abused even) by Microsoft suddenly just follow its footsteps? As blunter authors would possibly ask, “what is Novell smokin’?” It’s almost paradoxical.

To call Microsoft “a success” is to confuse ubiquity with technical merits. Among the many reasons that Microsoft ‘succeeds’, one must account for the illegal deeds and political manipulation.

4 days ago, a person who is cautious not to be seen as Microsoft hostile (which he is not) said with high confidence that “Microsoft is just not ready for the enterprise.

In my last post I had made some comments about the Microsoft Windows not being capable of enterprise high performance computing. In the comments (upon request) I had posted some details on the SCSI subsystem of the Operating System, talking of the scatter gather lists when sequential SCSI commands are being coalesced just prior to being sent to the SCSI-based media. I wanted to continue on that topic and focus specifically on the NTFS file system and why it too is not intended for enterprise class usage.

[...]

With these limitations well known, then why do we still try to deploy Microsoft Windows in environments it was not suited for? The answer is familiarity. Microsoft for the most part owns the client/end-user market and with that the end-user has gotten too familiar and too comfortable with its platform. In turn what was built for home (and to an extent small business) use has leaked into an environment where it is not ready for. Please understand that I am not trying to preach against Microsoft and attack them. As many others in the high performing server/storage industry I have come to understand where certain problems originate from and that includes the limitations of the Windows platform. If you, the reader, feel something different with Microsoft and their role in enterprise class computing please feel free to comment. I know that I may not always be correct in my viewpoints and if you can shed any additional light I would very grateful.

Also, based on this bit of news from CMSWire, Microsoft’s current agenda is all too clear. It wants to become a necessary part — or the stack rather — of an already-successful but lesser advertised technology.

Despite the efforts Microsoft has made, there is still a high degree of animosity amongst those involved in open source projects towards the software company. For example, Microsoft has a no-charge version of SQL Server available, but it’s rarely used in the open source world. This edition of SQL Server isn’t fully open source — perhaps, this is part of the issue.

Microsoft hopes to sway LAMP-based developers to use parts of the Windows web application platform for certain uses. LAMP developers are known to utilize particular technologies for different needs. For instance, sometimes a developer will use Perl for one application and PHP for another. Will a typical open source developer look Microsoft’s way? Not until Microsoft establishes some credibility and trust within open source circles. Until this happens, most open source advocates are nervous, now knowing what Microsoft’s true motives are.

Bearing all of this in mind, Novell’s continues to just imitate Microsoft with Mono and other Microsoft-inspired technologies, turning a leading platform into ‘cheap Windows’. Why is Novell doing this (if not just to empower its new ally, Microsoft, just like its strategy requires)?

We continues to be concerned whenever Mono tries to creep into KDE. In this 143rd issue of KDE commit digest from Danny Allen (it’s the latest one), C# makes yet another appearance:

Support for on-the-fly compilation of Plasma data engines with the C# language bindings.

The person who pushes Mono 2.0 into Ubuntu is also doing this to Debian GNU/Linux. DevX has this new article which even promotes it.

The Mono 2.0 Offerings for Debian GNU/Linux

Find out how much of the Mono 2.0 (and beyond) platform is available for Debian users who want up-to-date .NET compatibility.

Mono is not about better development; it’s about turning GNU/Linux into “Windows for poor developers” (and users). There are many other issues.

“There is a substantive effort in open source to bring such an implementation of .Net to market, known as Mono and being driven by Novell, and one of the attributes of the agreement we made with Novell is that the intellectual property associated with that is available to Novell customers.”

Bob Muglia, Microsoft Senior Vice President

Jim Allchin on Novell

IRC: #boycottnovell @ FreeNode: January 3rd, 2009 – Part 2

Posted in IRC Logs at 5:46 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME Gedit

Enter the IRC channel now

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IRC: #boycottnovell @ FreeNode: January 3rd, 2009 – Part 1

Posted in IRC Logs at 5:40 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME Gedit

Enter the IRC channel now

Read the rest of this entry »

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