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01.09.09

Links 09/01/2009: Palm’s Linux Debut, Chrome for GNU/Linux Nearer

Posted in News Roundup at 10:27 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

GNU/Linux

  • A New, Easy To Use Disk Formatter For GNOME

    GParted is an excellent GNOME program for editing partitions, changing file-systems, and performing related disk tasks. However, GParted is not exactly the ideal program for new Linux users to familiarize themselves with if all they want to do is format a USB drive or external storage device. Fortunately, a new GNOME utility has come about that supersedes GFloppy and is designed to be a simple yet powerful disk formatting utility. In this article we are taking an introductory look at GNOME Format.

  • Boxee now open to all Ubuntu, Mac, ATV users

    Boxee has just opened up its free A/V media center platform to all Ubuntu, Mac, and AppleTV users. Additionally, Boxee for Windows has entered “private-alpha” phase, during which prospective users apply for the software online and wait for a download link.

  • Boxee: Open Source Connected TV
  • 2009 Landmarks

    • The New Year Linux Resolution: Day 5

      The plan: Ring in the new year by switching over to Linux for a week, documenting each day of the transition.

    • Biting into the Linux Sandwich of 2009

      On the bottom, at the low end of the IT and electronics industry, we see Linux prominent in netbooks, where it is generally agreed the OS has about 30% market share. This continues to be an unprecedented ‘desktop’ opportunity for Linux among consumers as well as its usual geek following. Another place where we see some preference by manufacturers and other vendors for Linux is in lower-end and basic feature phones, which do not necessarily have the pizazz of an iPhone or BlackBerry, but present opportunity with basic phone, camera, GPS, Internet and other capabilities, particularly in emerging markets. Mobile Linux is not limited to the low end of mobile as we see the work from the LiMO Foundation, Open Handset Alliance with Google’s Android and the large swath of hardware, software and services vendors that are members. These vendors and consortia, as well as the soon-to-be open sourced Symbian from Nokia and Symbian Foundation, are all using Linux and open source to create compelling smartphones and applications. This week’s CES provides further evidence that both form factors — netbooks and smartphones — will drive significant growth for Linux this year.

  • Conferences/Events

    • Red Hat to Host Second Life-like Virtual JBoss Trade Show

      Red Hat is stealing a page from the Second Life playbook and will host an online conference for users and partners of its JBoss Java-based middleware products in which people will have their own avatars and can virtually attend a conference as if it was a live trade show.

    • LCA2009: geeking your ride

      Not for nothing is Jonathan Oxer known as Australia’s geekiest man. Practically every aspect of his life at home is controlled by software – he even uses an RFID chip implanted in his arm to open his door.

  • Graphics

    • NVIDIA 180.22 x86/x86_64 Linux Driver Released

      Up to this point NVIDIA had released several betas in the 180.xx driver series that introduced VDPAU acceleration support, OpenGL 3.0, CUDA 2.1, and other Linux work. This afternoon all of these new features are finally supported by NVIDIA with the release of the first stable Linux driver in this latest series.

    • New Nvidia driver for Linux
    • Mesa 7.3 Gets Primed With GLSL 1.20, GEM, DRI2

      It’s been over four months since Mesa 7.1 was released and about three months since Mesa 7.2 (the stabilized version of 7.1), but now Mesa 7.3 is getting primed and ready to enter the limelight. As the first step, Mesa 7.3 Release Candidate 1 will be pushed out shortly.

  • Distributions

    • Available Now: Absolute Linux 12.2.1

      Paul Sherman, father of the Absolute Linux, announced on January 8th, a new bug fix release of his Slackware-based operating system. Absolute Linux 12.2.1 delivers updated versions for the Pidgin (2.5.2), Samba (3.2.7), the GIMP (2.6.4), WPClipart (7.1), Audacity (1.3.6) applications and the following Mozilla products: Firefox 3.0.5, Thunderbird 2.0.0.19, Seamonkey 1.1.14. Moreover, this point release version of Absolute Linux 12.2 updates the PTP camera auto-mounting feature, the wireless/wired networking manager (wicd 1.5.8) and it also introduces a newer version of the Help System, which is now located on the second disc and works properly. Last but not least, wxPython was updated to version 2.8.9.1 and it replaces the older wxPython and wxGTK packages.

    • Ubuntu

      • Kubuntu 8.10 vs Mepis 7.9.94 vs Puppy 4.1.2

        Okay, how about a smack down between 3 of my favorite distros? Okay, Kubuntu is not my favorite as this is the first time I’ve tried it, but it is a biggy. I have ragged and ragged on Ubuntu even though I have tried to like it. I do prefer KDE, so I’m going to give that an honest look and see if that warms me up to the Ubuntu brand. I’m pitting this distro giant against Mepis which has been a fav of mine since discovering Linux and is responsible for me falling for KDE. The release I’m running is 7.9.94 which is the RC1 of 8.0. Not quite as stable or developed so the advantage goes here to Kubuntu before we even start. Puppy has been my light weight fav for a long time and is an odd one out in this little comparison. But we’ll see how well this little distro measures up. Since I’m running totally off of live CD’s, Puppy actually gets an advantage as it runs totally in RAM.

      • Migration Assistant In Ubuntu 9.04

        When checking out a recent daily LiveCD of Ubuntu 9.04 (the Jaunty Jackalope), the migration wizard found in the Ubiquity installer now supports migrating files from an Ubuntu installation.

      • Artwork for Ubuntu Jaunty Already Impressive

        Just before Intrepid Ibex came out, I had a few things to say about the new artwork. In a last-minute switch, things improved a little, but I was still never impressed with Ubuntu Intrepid Ibex in the way that Fedora 10 or Ubuntu Hardy Heron impressed me. It seems we are barely even started into the new release cycle, yet I can already say there are some very promising choices. Below are a selection of my favorites: (A number are proposed specifically for the betas, but that doesn’t mean they couldn’t be used.)

      • Turn Your Ubuntu Intrepid Into Mac OSX Leopard

        This is an updated version of my previous post Turn Ubuntu Hardy into Mac OSX.

        That post was written six months ago and many things have changed during this period of time: release of Ubuntu Intrepid, newer Mac4Lin theme, better globalmenu applet etc. As such, I have decided to rewrite this tutorial for the Intrepid platform.

      • Ways YOU can contribute to Ubuntu!

        I thought I might make a list of ways to contribute to Ubuntu (or Linux in general), and provide my thoughts on them. I’ve tried to list them in rough order of “difficulty”, from easy to hard, where difficulty means how much effort it takes.

  • Devices/Embedded

    • WiFi digital camera runs Linux

      Sony Electronics is shipping a digital still camera with WiFi for uploading files to photo-sharing services. The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-G3 offers 10-megapixel recording, a 4X optical zoom, DLNA compliance, 4GB of memory, and face- and scene-recognition software that runs on Linux.

    • Skype ships beta for MIDs

      eBay subsidiary Skype is beta-testing a “Moblin” version of its proprietary VoIP softphone. Skype 1.0 Beta for Intel-based MIDs (mobile Internet devices) is claimed to offer excellent, free video calling, thanks to the high-performance processors and high-bandwidth 3G/4G/WiMAX wireless networking capabilities MIDs are expected to have.

    • Volante Announces Java-Based, Wireless Linux POS Solution

      Volante offers a Java-based, wireless point of sale solution for Linux.

    • Touchscreen Net radio design runs Linux

      Fluffy Spider Technologies (FST) and Zylux Acoustic have jointly developed a hardware/software Internet radio reference design that runs FST’s FancyPants lightweight graphics stack on Linux. The “Rich Internet Appliance” design combines Internet Radio with YouTube video and Picasa image search and display features, says FST.

    • DPF design runs Linux on ARM11

      Chumby is demonstrating an Internet-connected digital photo frame (DPF) hardware-software reference design developed with Samsung Electronics. Based on Samsung’s ARM11-based S3C6410 system-on-chip (SoC) and Chumby’s Linux-based “push” info-tainment stack, the design can deliver content feeds from Web-based services such as Flickr, the companies say.

    • Sub-notebooks

      • Even ViewSonic is jumping into netbook game
      • ASUS`s Eee Box Brings Atom to the Desktop

        For the Linux crowd, Asus has incorporated their ExpressGate technology into the Eee box. ExpressGate is an embedded Linux OS that boots from the motherboard and brings up a fully functioning OS with embedded applications (such as FireFox and Skype) in a matter of seconds.

      • Freescale, Intel count on netbook to lift sales

        Chipmakers are staking out their turf in the burgeoning “netbook” computer market as consumers scramble for companion devices for laptops and smart phones.

        The tech companies have invested millions of dollars to roll out new processors for netbooks, which are half the size of a notebook computer but bigger than an iPhone or BlackBerry.

        [...]

        Netbooks using Freescale’s model will only be able to run on Linux. ARM-based processors also require special software add-ons for some social-networking applications such as Facebook, said Bill Kircos, an Intel spokesman in Arizona.

      • Gdium Liberty Netbook Uses USB Key for a Hard Drive

        Here’s a netbook with a twist: Emtec’s 10-inch Gdium Liberty has no hard drive. Instead, it will ship with a bootable USB storage stick (dubbed the G-Key) that runs Mandriva G-Linux and has over 50 open-source applications pre-installed: including OpenOffice, Firefox, Thunderbird and Spam Assassin.

      • 20 “Really Cool” Netbook-optimized Linux Wallpapers

        If you want some high-quality Linux wallpapers for your large monitors, you can visit my collection of “25 Coolest Linux Wallpapers”. However, if you happen to own a netbook, it is best to use medium-sized wallpapers that are optimized for small display. Because of that, I decided to collect and share to you all some really fresh, cool, and cute Linux wallpapers that will surely look good on any netbook monitor. –No more resizing hassles.

      • Ubuntu

        • Eeebuntu 2.0 SD Card Installation on the Aspire One

          To supplement storage space with the initial purchase of the Aspire One (8 GB SSD version), I bought a 16 GB Transcend TS16GBSDHC6 card that integrates nicely into the left card slot. The pre-installed Linux Linpus just wasn’t what I needed since I use many networking tools at work and at home. I initially ran Ubuntu 8.041 with the /home partition on the 16 GB SDHC card. I discovered Eeebuntu while searching for information on how to boot and run Linux off a SDHC card. The goal was of multi-boot installations of Ubuntu, with one install specifically loaded with the tools I use at work. The Acer Aspire One BIOS does not ‘see’ the card, so you can’t boot from it using the [F12] startup key (More on the SDHC boot up further in this article).

        • Dell’s Ubuntu Mini 9 gets more storage and memory

          The guys over at NetbookNews.it have noticed that Dell’s Ubuntu based Mini 9 netbook can now be equipped with a 64GB solid state drive and up to 2GB of memory.

          Unlike the Windows XP version of Dell’s Mini 9 which is rather crippled and limited to 16GB/160GB and 1GB of memory options, the Ubuntu Dell Mini 9 can now be upgraded to 2GB of memory and up to 64GB of solid state drive capacity. The new features will of course lift the price tag to over US $500 but it is nice to know that you at least can go for it.

        • Dell Mini 9 gets 64GB SSD option for Linux, same ‘ol for Windows

          Looking for a little more room to grow in a netbook yet still can’t get over the fear of spinning platters that’s plagued you for years? So long as your odd phobias don’t also include open source software Dell has your fix with the Mini 9, now available with a $75 64GB SSD option when purchasing a model sporting Ubuntu.

        • Easy Peasy Eeebuntu Netbooks

          Recently I purchased an eeepc 1000H and was quite impressed with the new and different operating system. I hail from a windows only background and anything apart from the Microsoft offerings I have left well alone, until NOW. The eee came with something called xandros installed and although fairly basic it did give me a taste of linux and I wanted more.

    • Palm

      • New 3G Palm Pre Enters Smart Phone War

        Palm today announced its long-awaited new operating system–called Web OS–as well as the new Palm Pre smart phone to match. The Pre will be available exclusively on the Sprint 3G Network in first half of 2009. The announcement was made at the 2009 Consumer Electronics Show.

      • CES09: Palm silences doubters with new OS and phone

        But the big news is the operating system that will run on Pre. The Palm web OS has been years in the making and was designed specifically with the mobile web in mind. Its aim is to create a near “invisible” interface that is seamless, intuitive and almost a step ahead of users.

        I will get into the OS in a longer story later, but I found it incorporates some of the best stuff in the iPhone and Google’s Android platform. The Pre apparently has a capacitive touch so the Palm web OS works very smoothly with flicks, swipes and the ever-popular pinching maneuver.

      • Palm Announces WebOS and Pre Phone
    • Phones

      • Kogan Agora critics may be barking up the wrong tree

        ‘Spy’ photos of the forthcoming Android-based Kogan Agora caused a kerfuffle, but there’s a noticeable difference between what was shown and what will ship.

      • OpenMoko

        • “Social electronics,” open source, and Linux smartphones

          OpenMoko CEO Sean Moss-Pultz responded to some questions from OpenMoko community members in a lengthy status update posted to the project’s mailing list. In the message, he provides insight into some plans for the future and also shares his views about the project’s recent struggles and successes.

        • A second Android phone tips up

          THERE’S NOW a second Android phone on the market, and this one is from an unlikely source, FIC. Yeah, OpenMoko Freerunner has Android up and running without being locked.

F/OSS

  • DVCS adoption is soaring among open source projects

    Distributed version control systems (DVCS) are being adopted at a rapid pace by the open source software community. A large number of prominent open source projects are abandoning legacy management systems such as Subversion and CVS in favor of more powerful decentralized alternatives. The most popular of these are Git, Bazaar and Mercurial.

  • Consortium tackles cloud computing standards

    That’s one of the questions being examined by the Open Cloud Consortium (OCC), a newly formed group of universities that is both trying to improve the performance of storage and computing clouds spread across geographically disparate data centers and promote open frameworks that will let clouds operated by different entities work seamlessly together.

  • Announcing DebGem (beta), the RubyGem-to-Apt conversion service

    Installing Ruby/Rails software on Debian and Ubuntu Linux distributions has been less than ideal until now. Ruby has a package manager called RubyGems, but Debian-based distributions have their own package manager, namely Apt, which manages the entire system and is preferred by most Debian users. RubyGems does not integrate well with Apt and cannot handle native Debian package dependencies. But on the other hand, Ruby software provided through the current Debian Apt repositories are not always up-to-date, e.g. the latest Rails version is often not available.

  • Education

    • 10 open source e-learning projects to watch

      As corporate and government organizations embrace the Web for delivering more education and training programs, a wealth of free and open source e-learning applications will help lower the barrier to entry. TechWorld looks at the options.

    • Open source community pushes Canberra on school computer fund

      We urge you to consider the cost-saving implications of advocating the use of free and open source software in schools to further the aims of the digital education revolution and maximise the impact of this critical investment in the future.

  • Applications

Leftovers

  • UK e-mail law ‘attack on rights’

    Rules forcing internet companies to keep details of every e-mail sent in the UK are a waste of money and an attack on civil liberties, say critics.

  • Apple Shows Us DRM’s True Colors

    At this week’s Macworld Expo, Apple announced that by April, music from the iTunes Store will no longer be shackled by digital rights management (DRM). Finally, DRM is good and fully dead for digital music — gone from CDs, gone from downloads, and largely dead for streaming.

    Apple’s announcement comes nearly a year after Amazon.com’s DRM-free MP3 deals went live, demonstrating that the record labels were holding the DRM card until they could wring business concessions from Apple (in the form of variable pricing). This just underscores that DRM is not really about stopping piracy, but rather about leverage over authorized distributors.

    In fact, an inventory of Apple’s remaining DRM armory makes it vividly clear that DRM (backed by the DMCA) is almost always about eliminating legitimate competition, hobbling interoperability, and creating de facto technology monopolies:

    * Apple uses DRM to lock iPhones to AT&T and Apple’s iTunes App Store;
    * Apple uses DRM to prevent recent iPods from syncing with software other than iTunes (Apple claims it violates the DMCA to reverse engineer the hashing mechanism);

  • My comment to the FCC on DRM

    DRM is a disaster for everyone involved with it, because it cannot do what it claims but imposes large costs in the process of failing. The people who have sold DRM technologies to Big Media are frauds playing on the ignorance of media executives, and both the media companies and the consumer have suffered greatly and unnecessarily as a result.

    DRM cannot do what it claims for at least three reasons. First, pirates readily bypass it by duplicating physical media. Second, DRM algorithms cannot “see” any data that the host device does not present to them; thus, they can always be spoofed by a computer emulating an environment in which the DRM algorithm thinks release is authorized. Third, for humans to view or hear the content it must at some point exit the digital realm of DRM to a screen and speakers; re-capturing the data stream at that point bypasses any possible protections.

  • RIAA throws in the towel

    THE MUSIC MAFIAA gave up on one of its oppressive copyright infringement lawsuits the other day by requesting dismissal of Atlantic Recording v Brennan in a Connecticut federal court.

  • Taxing ISPs To Fund Newspapers?

    In trying to explain why a music tax is a bad idea, I pointed out that if you start with music, you quickly have to start adding pretty much every industry disrupted by the internet. The obvious one is movies, but what about newspapers? They’re struggling due to the internet, so why can’t they demand an ISP tax to support newspapers? The idea, of course, is that this was a ludicrous suggestion… but apparently some people have thought seriously about it.

Digital Tipping Point: Clip of the Day

Digital Tipping Point: Lena Zuniga, Program Officer for Bellanet 05 (2004)

Ogg Theora

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

Novell is Heckling Boycott Novell, Anonymously

Posted in Boycott Novell, Novell, Site News at 6:39 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Clowns

THE suspicion that Novell employees are harassing Boycott Novell (and other Web sites that occasionally write about Novell for that matter) is no suspicion but a fact. They want good publicity and in the lack of good publicity they’ll attack the messenger, be it the carrier of a negative message about Mono or whatever.

To produce proof, one need not go far, either. Take pseudonym “Baby In The Bath Water” for example. He has posted dozens of comments here since last year. What comments? Critical — if not abusive — comments.

According to one comment, this person is “involved” with “IETF draft specifications” and he spends a lot of time here promoting/defending Mono, as well as other Novell products.

He posted each and every one of these comment from 130.57.22.201, which belongs to:



OrgName:    Novell, Inc. 
OrgID:      NOVELL-1
Address:    1800 South Novell Place
City:       Provo
StateProv:  UT
PostalCode: 84606
Country:    US

NetRange:   130.57.0.0 - 130.57.255.255 
CIDR:       130.57.0.0/16 
NetName:    NOVELL-WEST
NetHandle:  NET-130-57-0-0-1
Parent:     NET-130-0-0-0-0
NetType:    Direct Assignment
NameServer: NS.NOVELL.COM
NameServer: NS2.NOVELL.COM
Comment:    
RegDate:    1988-06-03
Updated:    2004-05-05

RAbuseHandle: BWA3-ARIN
RAbuseName:   Wayne, Bruce 
RAbusePhone:  +1-801-861-2222
RAbuseEmail:  bwayne@novell.com 

RNOCHandle: BWA3-ARIN
RNOCName:   Wayne, Bruce 
RNOCPhone:  +1-801-861-2222
RNOCEmail:  bwayne@novell.com 

RTechHandle: BWA3-ARIN
RTechName:   Wayne, Bruce 
RTechPhone:  +1-801-861-2222
RTechEmail:  bwayne@novell.com 

OrgTechHandle: DNJ4-ARIN
OrgTechName:   Johnson, David N.
OrgTechPhone:  +1-801-861-2561
OrgTechEmail:  dnjohnson@novell.com

# ARIN WHOIS database, last updated 2009-01-08 19:10
# Enter ? for additional hints on searching ARIN's WHOIS database.


We also get a lot of harassment from IP addresses in the vicinity of S.u.S.E. (Germany). Coincidence or mischief? Or maybe the posters just happen to have cracked and hijacked machines in Novell’s headquarters, in order to access Boycott Novell. [sarcasm /]

Anyhoo…

If it were not for the harassment, it would be harder to argue that Novell seems a little paranoid, maybe because the Netcraft (traffic) rank for this site is 2892nd on the Web (and rising steadily).

Novell loves arguing that we offer no honesty; but what type of example does Novell set when its employees post here under names like “Baby In The Bath Water”?

“The true hypocrite is the one who ceases to perceive his deception, the one who lies with sincerity.”

Andre Gide

Interview with Non-Sun OpenOffice.org Contributor, Charles-H. Schulz

Posted in Debian, Fork, Interview, Microsoft, Novell, Office Suites, Open XML, OpenDocument, OpenOffice, Patents, Standard at 3:07 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Novell’s promotion of Go-OO has earned it a lot of attention recently because Novell ridicules OpenOffice.org and harms the brand [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6]. There is a lot more to OpenOffice.org than just the software; there are translations, ISVs, support firms and so on.

Quite a few people were unhappy with what Novell had done. And yes, Michael Meeks cannot magically disassociate himself from Novell and use the “I’m just a hacker” defence (ironically enough, Meeks has obtained software patents, which he filed with Novell). As critics of the cannibalistic approach taken by Novell, we decided to approach other people who are affected, merely reaching out for their opinion.

We had the opportunity to do an interview with one of the better-known OpenOffice.org people and — just to clarify in advance — it ought to be stated that:

  1. He does not work for Sun
  2. He’s an independent OpenOffice.org contributor (lead of the native-language confederation of OpenOffice.org: http://projects.openoffice.org/native-lang.html )
  3. His view are solely his

BN: As a bit of introduction, please tell us about yourself and your latest activities.

Charles-H. Schulz: My name is Charles-H. Schulz, I’m French and I live in Paris. I’ve been contributing to OpenOffice.org for over eight years now, and I started doing so around the launch of the 1.0 release. I am presently lead of the Native-Language Confederation of OpenOffice.org, which is the category of worldwide communities localizing and providing support, documentation, QA and marketing in languages other than English. I recently got involved in the ODF-at-WWW project that is a fantastic place in OpenOffice.org where you can really work on bringing OpenOffice.org to the next level and that includes, among other things, the Web.

I’m a founding parter of Ars Aperta (www.arsaperta.com) — a small, independent consultancy in the fields of corporate strategy and management related to FOSS and Open Standards.

I’m also working with FFII, and the Digital Standards Organisation (aka Digistan), of which I’m a founding member.

BN: How receptive has Sun been to contributions from the outside, based on your experience?

CS: I think this deserves both a simple and a complex answer. The simple answer is that Sun has built a fully open source — even Free Software — project though OpenOffice.org. By this I mean that contributions, code contributions among others are tested and integrated in the software we release. The source code is out there, the binaries as well, development process is done by collaboration through mailing lists and wiki, CVS (and now SVN).

“…independent contributors outnumber Sun engineers by 10 to 1 inside the QA project.”Going more into details, Sun has the technical leadership in the OpenOffice.org project. I personally don’t have a problem with that. What this means is that sometimes, patches are refused on purely technical merit. Whether those decisions are technically debatable might perhaps be the case sometimes. But generally speaking there is no problem. It is — I believe — quite easy to find both corporate and independent contributors who submitted patches, code or anything you can find in the way of contributions who were able to do so without any difficulty, provided they were following the guidelines and that their contributions were technically acceptable. That being said, OpenOffice.org has a very, very complex code base. This in turn causes a problem that is often overlooked: you need to study the code and the architecture, and thus devote a significant amount of your time doing so before efficiently contributing to OpenOffice.org. That’s why we always find it hard to recruit engineering resources: you don’t contribute code with your left foot when you’re patching OpenOffice.org. But I agree that everything should be done in order to lower the barriers of participation to our project.

BN: What role does QA play in the lifecycle of OOo development?

CS: Since we’re developing an end-user software suite we cannot tolerate leaving our software at a low level of quality. Of course, there are always bugs and we have ramped up our QA teams and resources significantly over time. QA gets to register the builds, test them at various levels according to the development, localization and QA processes. It also approves and decides whether the builds should be released or not. So to answer your question directly: QA and the QA project play a central role in our development and release process. By the way, it should perhaps be noted that independent contributors outnumber Sun engineers by 10 to 1 inside the QA project.

BN: Would you classify Go-OO as a branch or a fork?

CS: Both. I would have rather liked to answer: a branch, mostly, but some recent developments about Go-OO have obviously changed this situation. What should perhaps be reminded is that Go-OO is a Web site that hosts a concurrent build system to the one existing on the OpenOffice.org web site, called “ooo-build”. This build system has been around for ages. In fact, it’s been used by many Linux distributions that found it more convenient for various reasons (basically, the builds were optimized for Linux).

“That furiously looks like someone is ready to fork by diverting and duplicating development resources from the original project.”At the same time, this build system was also used (even by Sun) to test new patches. The common conception here is that while the OpenOffice.org -Sun- build system (simply called “vanilla” for convenience purposes) is sometimes more conservative in that it does not integrate all the patches that fast. The reason for that is simple: QA. The ooo-build does not really test the patches it integrates, while the vanilla build system does. In short, the ooo-build is faster and easier to use, but produces builds that crash more often and have more bugs. You can experience that if you use any *Suse distribution or Ubuntu. Most of the other distributions have gradually stopped using it, precisely because of a certain lack of reliability that was experienced. The OpenOffice.org project now provides OpenOffice.org packages in .rpm, .deb and .tgz formats. We are also looking to improve our packaging on Linux: While straightforward anywhere else, the OpenOffice.org installation is still complex for an inexperienced end-user on Linux.

But the ooo-build has its own relevance and its own use. In this sense, it was a branch for a long time, and there was a widely-held view among the OpenOffice.org community that its existence was actually helpful.

The way you transition from a Web site with a separate build system to a fork is in fact quite easy. And what is only needed is the will for those Web site owners to decide to create a fork. At this stage, we can still keep a status quo, make sure we work out on any technical issues we can to have the two kinds of builds produced compatibly (that means mostly directly upgradeable from one another) and there, there will not be a fork, mainly a branch. Unfortunately go-oo has turned from an “annex” web site where several specific resources were available to a development platform parallel to what exists on OpenOffice.org: mailing lists, patches, builds, etc. That furiously looks like someone is ready to fork by diverting and duplicating development resources from the original project.

BN: Would you feel more comfortable if it was a project like Debian that deviated and managed a derivative of OOo?

CS: Anyone has the right to fork. It’s Free and Open Source Software anyway. But I don’t think a fork is a solution as it does all but adding up resources. Rather, it divides them, duplicates efforts and confuses users. There is worse stuff: in our case, I don’t think that the forker would have the necessary resources to maintain the development efforts and have a coherent roadmap. At this stage, I would even be curious to know how bug squashing and issue management would be properly handled. As an example, I wonder how some of the large deployments of this particular flavour of OpenOffice.org would react if they were told that their own feedback was going to a fork of OpenOffice.org.

There is another couple of things that are of importance to me. Go-OO, if we are to believe its credentials, belongs to Novell. Now it is worth pointing out that at no point in the history of OpenOffice.org we ever got anything in the way of an official statement about Novell. That means that this is a silent fork. There is, if that is the intent of this company, no word, no declaration, nothing that basically says: “we feel we’re doing a better job than you do” or “ we feel we’re being unfairly treated”. That is something I find odd. The second element of importance is that we should get some sorts of governance structure and charter by Novell. You don’t send your code in the wild and not asking yourself some questions. I know that OpenOffice.org was fiercely criticized by some people employed by Novell for having a copyright assignment, something Novell often demands in its own sponsored projects. But this legal vagueness of sorts is a bit odd: whom does your builds belong to? What happens in case of a legal problem? Is there a code steward? You don’t need to be a consultant to ask those questions. And so far we have no answer.

BN: What role has the Novell-implemented OOXML translator played in allowing Microsoft’s plot against ODF to carry on?

CS: Common work on OOXML and a translator was part of the Novell and MS agreement, as far as we know. Having played a role in the OOXML standardization “adventure”, Novell was being constantly taken as an example of “another open source implementation” of OOXML. Sometimes, as it was the case in Mexico we had Novell employees, such as Miguel de Icaza, sitting on the Mexican standards organization and strongly advocating for OOXML to be standardized. To me it looks like Novell has been vassalized and under the influence of Microsoft to the point where they had to defend the indefensible. Now, I was not born yesterday, and I know that in theory as well as in practice, corporations’ primary role is to generate revenue. Hence you will find several corporations out there who will help FOSS with the right hand and promote the exact opposite with the left. Novell strikes me as different: it blurs the lines, puts a little bit of this in a little bit of that, calls a cat a dog and delivers software that is open source with conditions.

BN: What role, if any, do you believe Novell/Microsoft patents play here? What about Sun?

CS: It’s very hard to tell. My personal view is that Microsoft does not have many patents and that most them are low quality assets. In short, when Microsoft makes claims about owning some significant amount of IP inside Linux for instance, it spreads FUD, and does just this. Anything further directly coming from Redmond would be very unlikely, because they have nothing. In short, it’s “all hat no cattle” as they say in Texas. But they keep on applying pressure and make extravagant claims about their supposed ownership of every bit of open source code out there. I am in favour of full disclosure. Open Source code is, well, open source. It’s out there. Anyone can grab it, freely modify and redistribute it. Proprietary code? I’m sure we would find some code blurbs that could turn out to be funnier than Easter eggs.

I have read, reread, and read again the Novell/Microsoft agreement. I think it’s not clear whether this is an outright violation of the GPL in spirit or a legal flaw that has been exploited in it. But it surely changed the strategy of Novell in a way that poses a certain number of threats to FOSS users. It is also easy to notice that Novell’s behaviour changed inside the OpenOffice.org community right after that agreement.

BN: Going forward, how do you suggest that the projects target their main competitor, Microsoft Office, rather than one another?

CS: First, remember that Novell acquired both Suse and Ximian. The Ximian team is still working inside Novell, and it looks like the Ximian business model got ultimately translated inside Novell’s own strategy. Basically, when it comes to its open source offerings, Novell implements the Ximian strategy of taking the code, branching it, repackaging it and generating revenue from it. The way Ximian was doing it was a bit problematic, as it was not really beneficial to the communities it was deriving the code from and the value proposition to their customers wasn’t clear either. I guess it’s not my business, but such a mindset has partly led us to where we are today.

“We want to take OpenOffice.org to the next level, because we don’t use office suites the same way were using them five years ago.”At this stage, I don’t see any plans -nor any relevance- for the OpenOffice.org project to target go-oo. It just doesn’t make any sense: what would be talking about? Different patches? I don’t think the market even cares about that, I don’t think it’s even an audible message. I know that some people send messages out there, “my build is better than yours, I don’t like your community”, but these same people should think: does it really benefit customers?

In regards to Microsoft Office, which is the true competitor to OpenOffice.org, our value proposition is clear: we are a full-featured office suite that brings its users the benefits of true open standards, quality, stability and Free Software. We want to take OpenOffice.org to the next level, because we don’t use office suites the same way were using them five years ago. So we will increasingly interact with the Internet and on an online level, becoming the hub for creative writing, design and office work for everyone. That’s what we stand for, and we will remain true to our mission and to our soul.

Novell Vice President, Javier Colado, Acknowledges Novell’s Channel is Broken

Posted in Boycott Novell at 1:28 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“A lot of complaints from our partners”

WE FINALLY KNOW it thanks to this comment:

“We had a lot of complaints from our partners,” Colado acknowledged in an interview just before the holidays, after he had spent two months meeting with solution providers. “We had a lot of partners complain about their profitability [and how] they were not able to make money working with us. Most of the partners perceived us as a very difficult company to work with. And partners had the perception that they had to invest more in us than we were investing in them.”

The text comes from an article that CRN has just removed (more on that later), but here is the corresponding Google Cache for those who are curious and want to see it for themselves.

So, Novell is a little like Microsoft, which keeps exploiting or betraying its partners. In Microsoft’s case, many partners stay simply because Microsoft leaves them no other choices. It sabotages the competition in attempts to monopolise and thereby control margins.

Looking a little deeper at Colado’s departure from this role, we discover some more interesting facts.

The press release actually does mention Volker Smid:

He replaces Volker Smid who has held the post since December 2006, and is leaving to pursue other interests. Mr. Colado will assume his new role after concluding his current assignment of creating and launching Novell’s next-generation global channel and partner program. Upon Colado’s assumption of the EMEA president role, his partner responsibilities, including the execution and leadership of Novell’s partner programs, will transition as planned to Novell’s marketing organization and report to John Dragoon, who will continue to serve as Novell’s chief marketing officer.

This was covered very extensively in publications that include:

ChannelWeb: Novell to shuffle EMEA executive pack

Colado’s previous partner responsibilities, including the execution and leadership of Novell’s partner programmes, will be moved to Novell’s marketing organisation led by John Dragoon, chief marketing officer at Novell.

PhonePlusMag: Novell Promotes Chief Out of Channel

More than half of Novell’s total sales are indirect.

CRN: Novell Veteran To Assume Channel Chief Post

Novell chief marketing officer and senior vice president John Dragoon will take over the role of channel chief following Wednesday’s announcement that Javier Colado, who was named head of the software company’s channel operations in September, is being promoted to president of Novell EMEA.

CRN removed an article bearing the headline “Novell Launches Four-Point Initiative For Channel Partners.” It also published the article “Novell Channel Chief Post Vacant – Again.” It might be a similar/same article, but the URL and headline are different.

Novell did not immediately name a channel chief successor. A spokesman said the company’s channel operations would be managed for the time being by John Dragoon, senior vice president and chief marketing officer. The spokesman couldn’t say how long it would take to appoint a new channel executive.

Well, he put a Microsoft employee in change. We already know that [1, 2].

Colado joined Novell in 2006, according to this new article.

Colado joined Novell in 2006 as area general manager and vice president for western EMEA where he was responsible for all sales and marketing operations.

Dragoon joined in 2003, so he’s relatively new as well.

Dragoon joined Novell in 2003 as vice president of marketing for the Americas. He was appointed senior vice president and chief marketing officer in 2006 and is responsible for all aspects of Novell’s marketing strategy and activities worldwide, including corporate marketing, field marketing, partner and channel marketing, product and solution marketing, sales enablement and marketing operations functions. Prior to Novell, Dragoon held senior executive positions at Art Technology Group, Internet Capital Group and IBM.

Another fairly recent joiner is the CEO of Novell (he came from IBM, just like Jaffe). Here are his latest remarks on the transition:

“The work Javier and John have done together on our new partner and marketing programmes will assure their seamless and integrated execution, upon the transition of the partner responsibilities to John,” asserted Hovsepian.

This transition is not good news. Moreover, the reasons for it (namely an executive quitting and the channel strategy which is failing) leave a dark cloud over Novell’s head. Novell’s annual bash was unexpectedly canceled [1, 2, 3].

Summer storm
Still operating at a considerable loss

Novell|Microsoft Sued by Patent Troll

Posted in Action, Law, Microsoft, Novell, Patents, Security at 12:40 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

US supreme court

Patent trolling ain’t going away until the government decides to actually make a move.

The suit names the following industry players: Symantec, Microsoft, AVG, CA, Check Point Software, Comodo, ESET, F-Secure, iolo technologies, Kaspersky Lab, McAfee, MicroWorld Technologies, NetVeda, Norman Data Defense Systems, Novell, PC Tools, PWI, Sophos, Sunbelt Software, Trend Micro, Velocity Micro, and Webroot Software.

The lack of change from the newly-elected government is already upsetting Richard Stallman, who last night pointed a finger at this new article. This isn’t the first example of an Obama appointment that puts pro-intellectual monopolies people in charge and there seem to be legitimate reasons for concern.

“I would much rather spend my time and money and energy finding ways to make the Internet safer and better than bickering over patents.”

Dean Drako, Barracuda’s CEO

Linux Magazine and Novell: Conflict of Interests

Posted in Deception, Novell, OpenSUSE at 12:05 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Bullets on board
Totally missing the point

Novell’s PR people proudly (yet blindly) announce that they were well placed in Linux Magazine, but they neglect to mention a serious conflict of interests.

Linux Magazine has peered into its crystal ball and picked Novell as one of its “Top 20 Companies to Watch in 2009”.

[...]

Linux Magazine notes our SUSE Linux Enterprise Server Subscription with Expanded Support program as well as our groundbreaking partnership with Microsoft and the development work being undertaken as part of that partnership.

“Groundbreaking partnership with Microsoft,” eh?

One of the key people in Linux Magazine is Zonker (Joe Brockmeier), who is now leading the OpenSUSE community as a Novell employee. No conflict or interests there, eh?

“One of the key people in Linux Magazine is Zonker (Joe Brockmeier), who is now leading the OpenSUSE community as a Novell employee.”Novell’s relationships in mainstream media have always made it difficult to trust coverage. The same goes for smaller sites like OStatic by the way, as Zonker is an author there [1, 2]. They promote Novell products like Mono and even Go-OOXML (several times in fact). Kristin, who is Zonker’s colleague, covers a lot of OpenSUSE, e.g. [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6].

We have already commented on Zonker’s appointment and what it means to Novell when they hire a journalist. They can manipulative coverage and thus alter public perception.

This is also happening right now in CIO Magazine (of IDG|IDC [1, 2, 3]). Zonker is preaching about “Corporate Contributions”, which is the tune Novell wants to sing in order to isolate grassroots from “commercial”, “enterprise” and other buzzwords that elevate Novell’s status at the expense of "unsupported" distributions. He does the same thing in his ZDNet blog, albeit it’s rather subtle.

“Ideally, use of the competing technology becomes associated with mental deficiency, as in, “he believes in Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, and OS/2.” Just keep rubbing it in, via the press, analysts, newsgroups, whatever. Make the complete failure of the competition’s technology part of the mythology of the computer industry. We want to place selection pressure on those companies and individuals that show a genetic weakness for competitors’ technologies, to make the industry increasingly resistant to such unhealthy strains, over time.”

Microsoft, internal document [PDF]

Extended Windows 98 EOL to Block Government Migrations to GNU/Linux and Free Software; More ‘Donations’

Posted in Antitrust, Asia, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Office Suites, Windows at 10:08 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

No dumping sign
Competition through suppression

IN THIS SERIES of posts, we take a closer look at how Microsoft has been fighting GNU/Linux by dumping ‘donations’ and specifically targeting deployments of StarOffice and GNU/Linux. Previous posts on this subject include:

In today’s summary we have exhibit “px07117″ from Comes vs Microsoft [PDF]. It shows Gates discussing his concern about “Linux” and how it needs to be fought against. The full text is in Appendix A at the bottom.

“It shows Gates discussing his concern about “Linux” and how it needs to be fought against.”Exhibit “px07118″ from Comes vs Microsoft [PDF] is similar to the above with some alignment, including the E-mail from Gates to Ballmer (and vice versa). The text is added as Appendix B at the bottom.

To give the gist of it, for those who are not interested in the full correspondence, Microsoft discussed extending the lifetime (EoL: End of Life) of Windows 98. They currently extend the EoL of Windows XP in order to block GNU/Linux on sub-notebooks and this is accompanied by predatory pricing.

Prominent figures in this correspondence are Orlando Ayala, Bill Gates, and Steve Ballmer. The main players are Kurt Kolb, Carl Sittig, and Richard Fade from Microsoft.

It all started with Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer conversing. Gates writes to Ballmer:

When I was in New York Premji who owns most of Wipro came up to me and talked about how we were losing the school projects in India to Linux on the client.

[...]

I am not saying this is easy to figure out but if we are going to avoid just rotling away to Linux we need to find boundaries like this and do something.

As we’ve shown in the past, Wipro is often acting as Microsoft’s accomplice as well [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]. It helps Microsoft colonialise India, digitally.

Here is another bit from the thread, which shows how Microsoft plans to suppress or dodge an open source policy from the government of Malaysia.

As indicated in the thread below, there is a push for open source in the govt. The Prime Minister has directed to look at Open Source as alternative in general and could potentially be implemented for school project. Rajiv feels that if Phase 2 had no change to Mimos for Win98 royalty the project could continue without a pause. But if Mimos declines because of price, it would throw the proposal back to the govt and open the door for changes. The irony here is that since thls is a School project, we want to to lend a helping hand, but our Win98 eol policy Is in the way.

GNU/Linux worries Microsoft:

But as said it will not be simple starting with how you define poor vs non-poor countries..and I am not sure that definition will prevent us to avoid very similar pressure in “non poor” countries which may use the Linux factor even harder after they learn what we have done in other places.. I also agree it will be very hard to exclude universities as there is where the huge Linux pressure comes from

The proposal of “donations” is made as means of battling competition:

let us work on this including the complication of OEM reporting, etc and see if we can get in place in the meantime we have told people not to lose even if we need to go with full donations in some cases..

In the second exhibit, Richard Fade asks:

Can the local ms team make a donation ?

Let’s not forget that Microsoft may have bribed Indian charities. Further, it says:

How do we not disrupt this business drive these countries closer to Linux? Win98 is not a covered product, can we create a rebate or something to keep the royalty OEM price the same?

It says “disrupt this business drive these countries closer to Linux.” Why can’t Microsoft make better products? Why does it just focus on “disrupting” its competition? It even has a "Linux Heat Map" and it encourages FUD as a strategy. This truly shows [1, 2].


Appendix A: Comes vs. Microsoft – exhibit px07117, as text


Read the rest of this entry »

Novell’s EMEA President Quits

Posted in HP, Microsoft, Novell at 9:56 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Not to worry, Softies already fill up the gap

LAST NIGHT we wrote about a Microsoft employee taking one chief position at Novell. What we didn’t know at the time was that Volker Smid had left Novell.

Here are some new details about the Microsoft veteran who will help run Novell, right from the inside:

Chief Marketing Officer John Dragoon (pictured) clarified the status of Novell’s channel organization this morning, and disclosed former F5 Networks Channel Chief and Microsoft veteran Steve Hale has joined the company.

As the single comment states, “[it's] nice to see that Novell is swapping staff with their biggest Linux reseller; Micro-Soft.” Some Novell employees are joining Microsoft as well, so it’s reciprocal. As for Miguel de Icaza, he sometimes physically works at Microsoft, too. He last did this a month ago.

Smid recently spoke to the press about Novell's staff reductions and we also mentioned him in [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7].

Anyway, he’s out.

Former president of Novell’s EMEA operations Volker Smid has taken over as head of operations at HP in Germany.

What did Smid see which had him decide to leave?

Assorted 2008 departures:

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