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Links 13/02/2009: GNU/Linux in South African, the Philippines

Posted in News Roundup at 10:03 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish


  • ABC.com limits video content to Windows and Mac users
  • 10 Reasons to Use Linux-Based Virtualization

    Here’s the list of 10 reasons in reverse order (Actually there’s no particular order except for the number 1 reason).

  • My Computer, A La Carte

    Why don’t we have something similar for Windows? Granted, Tomas Matejicek, the Slax and Linux Live scripts maintainer, is in a unique position to build this kind of automation. Any Linux distro maintainer is, for that matter, because Linux-based applications tend to follow well-defined conventions for file locations and naming conventions. Where applications diverge from convention, the applications are easily alterable through configuration files or recompiling.

  • Linux saves the human race

    Mark the day my friends, for today’s the day goodwill ceased being intangible and took its material form. Bask in the glory that is the GoodWill PC!

    Anybody who’s been following the travails of the GoodWill PC knows it’s been something of a rocky road. When I was first tasked with scrounging a PC for free I was full of hope, convinced that they were ten-a-penny and I need only flash an amiable smile at a stranger for heaven to open up and shower me with PC bits.

  • 2008 LinuxQuestions.org Members Choice Award Winners

    Desktop Distribution of the Year – Ubuntu (35.36%)
    Server Distribution of the Year – Debian (25.55%)
    Live Distribution of the Year – Ubuntu Live (23.43%)
    Database of the Year – MySQL (58.10%)
    Office Suite of the Year – OpenOffice.org (93.03%)
    Browser of the Year – Firefox (75.89%)
    Desktop Environment of the Year – KDE (43.57%)
    Window Manager of the Year – Compiz (31.56%)
    Messaging App of the Year – Pidgin (53.40%)
    Mail Client of the Year – Thunderbird (51.43%)
    Virtualization Product of the Year – VirtualBox (61.10%)
    Audio Media Player Application of the Year – Amarok (48.80%)
    Audio Authoring Application of the Year – Audacity (70.45%)
    Video Media Player Application of the Year – mplayer (38.31%)
    Video Authoring Application of the Year – Avidemux (19.59%)
    Multimedia Utility of the Year – K3b (46.77%)
    Graphics Application of the Year – GIMP (70.41%)
    Network Security Application of the Year – nmap (28.96%)
    Host Security Application of the Year – SELinux (42.86%)
    Monitoring Application of the Year – Nagios (39.74%)
    Windows on Linux App of the Year – Wine (85.21%)
    IDE/Web Development Editor of the Year – Eclipse (24.25%)
    Text Editor of the Year – vi/vim (39.76%)
    File Manager of the Year – Nautilus (25.54%)
    Open Source Game of the Year – Battle for Wesnoth (17.31%)
    Programming Language of the Year – Python (26.25%)
    Backup Application of the Year – rsync (40.10%)

  • Ubuntu in South African Schools

    Over the last month, I’ve heard that the government’s licensing agreement with Microsoft is now about to expire and has not been renewed yet. Apparently, the Department of Education is now pushing schools into switching to Linux as otherwise they will need to budget for a couple of extra million just for software licensing fees.

    It’s surprising to me though that they are only pushing for this now. They should have started the transition quite some time ago. Linux has matured a lot as a desktop operating system (with no small thanks to Ubuntu) and it’s much better to get your learners familiar with Linux and decrease your dependency on any particular software vendor regardless of your current agreements.


    So of course, now the question is, how many will start to adopt Linux? Obviously, as you can expect, there will be a lot of fighting and kicking by lots of the schools. The teachers know what they know and obviously feel much more comfortable sticking with what they have. However, money talks, and now the pressure is (apparently) on.

  • Linux helped me with my Valentine

    So I fired up the Gimp, which is the open source equivalent to photoshop, and created a heart filled card full of flowery valentines phrases. While I can read and understand Turkish I am not a good enough writer to adequately express myself. For that, Linux, partnered with google, gave me lots of help.

  • Open source desktop adoption flickers in the Philippines

    The number of open source desktop users in the Philippines–estimated at 5 to 10 percent of PC owners–is growing, but the adoption rate is somehow stunted by the lack of government sanction advocating its use.


    It has also been reported that the Philippines has become the largest destination of CD installers for Ubuntu, probably the most prominent Linux distribution for desktops. Mark Shuttleworth, founder of Ubuntu creator Canonical, even visited the country to brief local folks on the desktop OS.

  • Businesses

    • SourceForge Sets Second Quarter Fiscal 2009 Financial Results Release Date

      SourceForge, Inc. (NASDAQ: LNUX), the leader in community-driven content and media, today announced that it will report its second quarter fiscal 2009 results for the period ended January 31, 2009 on Thursday, February 26, 2009, after the close of market. A conference call will be held that day at 2:00pm PT or 5:00pm ET.

    • What does it take to support Opensource and Linux

      Let’s walk on the support side of the software world for a moment.

      There is a lot of talk, postulating and plain old FUD about what support is and should be in the FOSS world.

      Of course, we can break the topic into separate areas of discussion.

  • HPC

    • The Personal Cluster: Coming To A Desk Near You

      Once the hallmark of the data center, HPC hardware is beginning to find its way to the desk side/top. Multi-core, efficient design, and even application scalability have combined to clear the way for personal HPC.

    • Penguin Computing Revs Up Business Strategy

      With a focus on system manageability and the science its users do on their hardware, Penguin Computing is charging hard at the small- to mid-sized cluster end of the HPC business. Once focused on the Linux enterprise, the company has spent the past five years growing its HPC business, starting with the acquisition of Scyld Software, and most recently bringing on former IBM executive Charles Wuischpard as its CEO. HPCwire talked with Wuischpard to get an idea of where the company is today, and what makes it tick.

  • Kernel Space

  • Distributions

    • A Mandriva user kicks around Fedora Core 10: How does it compare?

      Fedora has existed for many years, but truth be told, I haven’t given it a serious look since Fedora Core 2 was made available. It is no secret that I have been using Mandriva more or less exclusively over the last 7-8 years and the little time spent on other distributions always brings me back to Mandriva, some distros faster than others.

    • Mandriva Linux 2009 Spring beta is available

      The beta release of Mandriva Linux 2009 Spring (code name Margaux) is now available. This beta version provides some updates on major desktop components of the distribution, including KDE 4.2.0, GNOME 2.25.90, Xfce 4.6 RC1, X.org server 1.5, OpenOffice.Org 3.0.1, qt 4.5.0 (RC1)

    • Fast and Light AntiX 8.0 is Released

      Morgantown, WV, US and Thessaloniki, Greece, Feb 12, 2009 — The antiX-team is proud to announce that antiX MEPIS 8 ‘Intifada’ – a fast and light complete desktop and livecd based on SimplyMEPIS and Debian Testing, with a little bit of sidux,- is now available at mepis mirrors in the released/antix directories in full and base editions.

    • SLAX Linux – Your pocket operating system – Review

      SLAX is a small, live Linux distro, based on Slackware. It aims to be light, friendly and useful. It’s meant to fit onto antique USB thumb drives and run well on old hardware. And it features the sexy KDE desktop. Plus there’s a revolutionary modules management. This fine list of features made it a worthy candidate for testing. The version chosen for this review was 6.0.9.

    • Ubuntu

      • Ubuntu spawns new generation

        In just the few years since it was released, Ubuntu Linux has inspired tens of new Linux distributions. Here we look at five of the best.

        In just the few years that Ubuntu Linux has been around it has become one of the most popular Linux versions available, ahead of others such as Red Hat, Suse and Mandriva.

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Pandora open-source games console gets design refresh, 3G compatibility

      The Pandora open-source gaming project have released new renders showing their updated casing designs, including a different keyboard – with non-final fonts, thankfully – and some tweaked key locations. Perhaps more excitingly, a member of the software team has got the OS working with a 3G USB modem, meaning the Pandora can be taken outside of WiFi range but still get online.

    • Taming a power-sucking Linux TV

      The EPA may re-consider its exemption of “Data Acquisition Mode” (DAM) states from the sleep-mode requirements associated with its Energy Star ratings. So it told noted cryptographer Martin Hellman, who informed the EPA his Linux-based Sony HDTV consumed 150 times its advertised standby power budget.

    • ETech Preview: Inside Factory China

      JAMES TURNER: Andrew “bunnie” Huang is the Vice President of Hardware Engineering and Founder of Chumby Industries. He’s pretty much the consummate hardware geek who has used his doctorate from MIT in electrical engineering to do everything from designing opto-electronics to hacking the Xbox. The Chumby, an internet appliance that delivers a cornucopia of information, is his latest endeavor. And he’ll be talking about the process of getting it manufactured in China at O’Reilly’s Emerging Technology Conference in March. Thank you for taking the time to talk to us.

    • HyperSpace available for ARM processors

      Phoenix Technologies anounced their HyperSpace software now works with ARM processors, so it will be available for very cheap netbooks. HyperSpace is a Linux-based OS which boots very fast, so you it’s an almost “instant-on” Operating System.

    • 5 Awesome Robot Kits to Get You Started with Robotics

      Every geeks dream is to have a personal robot that can be programmed to perform various tasks. If you have seen Tony Stark’s robotic assistants in the movie Iron Man then you probably know what I mean. But unlike in movies, today’s robots are not as advanced or still have limited capabilities. However, time will come that they will become more sophisticated and more useful than they are now.

    • Phones

      • Navigation smartphone runs Linux

        Garmin and AsusTek (Asus) have announced a jointly developed smartphone that offers Garmin’s “Nuvi” location-based services (LBS) features and runs Linux. The Nuvifone G60 offers a 3.5-inch touchscreen, 4GB of flash, GSM and HDSPA connectivity, WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS, and a 3-Mpixel camera with geotagging.

      • Google Opens Android Store to Paid Apps

        Developers of Android applications finally will be able to charge consumers for them, ending a few months of free Android downloads and potentially making Google’s mobile platform more attractive to developers.

        U.S. and U.K. developers can now go to the Android publisher Web site and upload their applications along with consumer pricing. Paid applications will go on sale in the U.S. starting in the middle of next week and in additional countries in the coming months, Google’s Eric Chu wrote in a blog post Friday.

    • Sub-notebooks

      • The Cold Numbers of Microsoft’s Netbook/Linux Nightmare

        It’s no secret that Microsoft isn’t doing too well in the netbook market. There has been a lot of speculation in the blogosphere to the extent of the financial damage. We did the heavy lifting and dug up the real numbers to accurately quantify what’s going on and what it means (hint: developers are getting laid off!).

        In this analysis we make the case that the rise of netbooks does not bode well for the company. For the first time, Linux is not only a real threat but is whacking MSFT’s bottom line. Long term, Microsoft’s OS business model is threatened.


        Developers are the lifeblood of a software company. Microsoft’s ability to deliver innovative products is being stung by Linux in the netbook market. Unless Microsoft 7 is a hit, this trend will accelerate. Unfortunately for MSFT, Windows 7’s is based off of Vista and its cheapest version will limit users to running 3 programs at a time.

Free Software/Open Source

  • 12 tips to getting things done in open source

    Most people used to the proprietary software world, with no experience in open source software, are amazed that anything gets done. (And lots gets done in the open source, way more than in most proprietary software companies!) And people new to open source are usually at a loss as to where to start. Often they come with a great idea, tell a couple of people who confirm it’s a great idea, and then … well, and then they don’t know what to do and the great idea fades.

  • Open-Xchange: Open Source Email Nears 10 Million Paid Users

    Open-Xchange, which positions itself as an open source alternative to Microsoft Exchange, has a message for solutions providers: Yes, you can make money by blending open source applications with software as a service (SaaS). In fact, Open-Xchange is nearing 10 million paid users, and the company has a few surprises in store for 2009.

  • IntraHealth OPEN Initiative and Youssou N’Dour Release Charity Album to Fund Open Source Training for Health Workers in Africa

    Global non-profit IntraHealth International is partnering with Grammy Award-winning artist Youssou N’Dour on a charity album titled “OPEN Remix” benefiting a new initiative created to address critical health issues in Africa by putting the latest open source software technologies directly in the hands of health workers.

    Nas, Duncan Sheik and Peter Buck of R.E.M. are among the headliners donating remixes of N’Dour’s song “Wake Up” to raise funds and visibility for the IntraHealth OPEN Initiative.

  • New click2try Site Offers Better Alternative to Open Source Software Download, Free Trial

    To open new markets for developers and offer business and IT professionals real value, click2try has launched an Open Source software Community Web site that makes it easy to find, try, evaluate and use Open Source software — for free. Unique in its delivery, click2try bypasses the typical Open Source software download. Free access to Open Source software applications on click2try occurs in a private, virtual environment instead. Pre-configured, fully functional applications are hosted on click2try’s servers and run right from a user’s desktop. Developers benefit from an expanded user base as more professionals experience the benefits, see the value, and contribute to the growing popularity of Open Source software.

  • Are Microsoft Partners Spreading Open-Source Fear?

    Microsoft and its channel partners are bound together with the glue of mutual commercial success. That’s a big reason why Microsoft VARs are always quick to defend the software giant’s interests. Criticize Microsoft in front of a group of partners and you may find yourself being forced to run for cover


    Is Microsoft siccing its legions of loyal partners on the security reputation of open-source software? If so, it would contradict Microsoft’s recent steps toward a rapprochement with the open-source community.


    Criticism of the security of open source may have been more valid a decade ago, but today, Apache and the Linux stack are ubiquitous in the industry and run some of the largest online retail operations in existence, noted Greg Hanchin, principal for Denver-based security solution provider Dirsec.

    “Open source is just another common piece of infrastructure; it’s almost like Internet Protocol at this point,” Hanchin said.

  • Mozilla

    • Mozilla asks developers to take Bespin for a spin

      Mozilla has spun out Bespin for developers to run naked and free in an extensible web-based code editing paradise that promotes open relationships standards.

      The not-for-profit outfit said yesterday that the project, which has been under development for several months, would act as a collaborative working space for coders who use HTML5 features to fiddle with.

    • What Mozilla’s Bespin Bespeaks

      One of the most interesting developments in the open source world is the way that Mozilla has changed in recent years. What started out as a (slightly shambolic) attempt to hack a decent browser out of the wreckage of the Netscape Communicator code, has turned into arguably one of the two or three most important forces in free software today (you can draw up your own list).


      You can see that Bespin is ticking all the Mozilla boxes, but what’s also striking is that this is a Web-based project: Mozilla is entering the cloud.

    • IDE in the cloud: Mozilla Labs’ browser-based IDE prototype
    • Introducing Bespin

      As we strive to evolve the Open Web as a robust platform for application development, we believe in the potential for web-based code editors to increase developer productivity, enable compelling user experiences, and promote the use of open standards.

  • Business

    • Open source and cloud: Credit crunch busters

      Kate Craig-Wood, managing director of hosting company Memset, said open source technology could also be a big winner as a result of the economic crisis.

    • Open Source Network Management Solutions Expand

      Network management has been an ongoing challenge for many small and medium businesses. While many often need such tools, they have usually found them to be expensive, difficult to deploy, and hard to maintain. Open source solutions have been trying to address those problems and one vendor enhanced its system.

  • Business Intelligence

    • Leading Global Nutrition Company Deploys Pentaho Business Intelligence on the Amazon Cloud

      Pentaho Corporation, the commercial open source alternative for business intelligence (BI), today announced that Nutricia North America, a division of Group Danone, has deployed the Pentaho BI Suite in production running on the Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2). Implemented by Pentaho Certified Partner OpenBI, the application integrates data from disparate systems to provide analytical insight across Nutricia’s product lines, customers, and geographies.

    • OpenBI Implements Pentaho’s Commercial Open Source BI Suite at Nutricia

      Pentaho Corporation, the commercial open source alternative for business intelligence (BI), recently announced that Nutricia North America, a division of Group Danone, has deployed the Pentaho BI Suite in production running on the Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2). Implemented by Pentaho Certified Partner OpenBI, the application integrates data from disparate systems to provide analytical insight across Nutricia’s product lines, customers and geographies.

    • CeBIT: Open Source Business Intelligence With New Palo Versions
    • Pentaho Touts All-in-One Value of Open-Source Suite

      It’s different from rival commercial or even open-source software (OSS) competitors, officials say. With a major new release of the Pentaho platform last year, the general availability of Pentaho Data Integration 3.1, and — a feather in the company’s cap — a citation in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for BI suites, Pentaho is starting 2009 on a roll.


  • First the Standards, Then the Solution

    In the last issue of my eJournal, Standards Today, titled A Standards Agenda for the Obama Administration, I described the standards-based dependencies of the technology agenda earlier announced by president-elect Obama. That agenda provides for the creative use of technology to advance a number of important policy goals, such as achieving transparent government, equal access to the Internet, and reducing costs of healthcare. In this issue, I focus more closely on the significant role that standards will play in achieving one of (now) President Obama’s greatest challenges — lowering healthcare costs, while at the same time keeping a campaign promise to provide universal health coverage.

  • Gearing up for Document Freedom Day

    Document Freedom Day (DFD) was launched in 2008 as a global day for the promotion and awareness of Document Freedom in particular, as well as Open Standards and interoperability in general. 205 teams from around the world registered for the first edition of Document Freedom Day. The things they did ranged from mini-conferences and hands-on lessons for applications supporting ODF, such as OpenOffice.org, over creation of awareness by taking to the streets and engaging people in discussions about Document Freedom, to awarding a special prize to the Foreign Ministry in Germany for its exemplary support for Open Standards and Free Software.

  • Fresh start for lost file formats

    Long lost file formats could soon be resurrected by pan-European research.

    The 4.02m euro (£3.58m) project aims to create a universal emulator that can open and play obsolete file formats.


  • Bookworm Gives a Boost to Open-Source ePub E-Book Format

    The most promising open-source e-book format received a big vote of confidence earlier this week when O’Reilly, the technology book publishing giant, threw its weight behind the Bookworm project, a web service for reading books online.


    O’Reilly is hosting the Bookworm site at O’Reilly Labs, its website for projects using emerging open-source technology. The company has also put its money where its mouth is by releasing around 400 of its titles in the ePub format. Other major publishers like Waterstone’s and Penguin are investing in the format, too. There are literally tens of thousands of books available for purchase as .epub files, and thousands available for free from sites like Feedbooks.com, which publishes titles from Project Gutenberg as ePub editions.

  • Open Source Books Would Reduce Student Costs

    After reading the editorial “Follow the Leader” (Feb. 3), I was in the bookstore looking for a book for a class and was reminded how much students like me need Cal Grant money.


    I propose a solution that would give students much needed help: open source textbooks. The idea is still in infancy, but places like Harvard and MIT have started to experiment with it, and if implemented, it would revolutionize the way we learn and how classes are taught. Knowledge should be low-cost and accessible in an intellectual environment such as Berkeley.


  • The Case Against Cloud Computing, Part Four

    In the previous parts of this series, I blogged about issues commonly raised in objection to cloud computing: difficulty of migrating existing applications, managing risk, and meeting SLAs. In this post, I’d like to address an issue I’ve heard raised a number of times: that cloud computing, far from saving IT organizations money, actually costs more than providing the same services in-house.

  • WSJ Editor Claims Google Devalues Everything

    This is wrong on so many levels it’s hard to know where to begin. Google doesn’t devalue things it touches. It increases their value by making them easier to find and access. Google increases your audience as a content creator, which is the most important asset you have. It takes a special kind of cluelessness to claim that something that increases your biggest asset “devalues” your business. Thomson’s mistake seems to be that he’s confusing “price” and “value” which is a bit scary for the managing editor of a business publication. Yes, the widespread availability of news may push down the price (that’s just supply and demand), but it doesn’t decrease the value at all. It opens up more opportunities to capture that value.

  • Net Neutrality Narrowly Escapes Stimulus Doom

    In an earlier version of the Senate bill, Feinstein went against the usual Democrat stance in favor of network neutrality by slipping in an amendment to allowing “reasonable network management practices such as deterring unlawful activity, including child pornography and copyright infringement,” language that would open the door for ISPs to inspect data packets and filter content.

  • Lawmakers Drop Broadband Tax Credit From Final Stimulus Package

    Lawmakers negotiating the final economic stimulus package dropped broadband tax credits intended to spur companies such as AT&T Inc. to expand in rural areas, while keeping grants that may help smaller carriers.

  • New Kindle Audio Feature Causes a Stir

    “They don’t have the right to read a book out loud,” said Paul Aiken, executive director of the Authors Guild. “That’s an audio right, which is derivative under copyright law.”

Digital Tipping Point: Clip of the Day

Bdale Garbee, Hewlett Packard computer wizard and Debian lead 09 (2004)

Ogg Theora

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

Video: Latest Elive E17

Posted in GNU/Linux, Videos at 4:28 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Just released is this demo of the new feature/s.

Ogg Theora

Direct link

Quick Mention: SUSE Developers Among Those Laid Off from Novell

Posted in Europe, Microsoft, Mono, Novell, SLES/SLED at 11:52 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

THE big layoffs have not been officially announced yet, but the early ones turn out to include SUSE developers.

Novell’s future growth is largely dependent on its success and commitment in the open source community, but sources close to the company say a quarter of the planned 100 layoffs there will be from the SUSE development team

At least a quarter of Novell Inc.’s recently laid-off employees are from the company’s SUSE Linux development teams in Germany and North America, according to an anonymous source close to the company.

Does this include Mono developers? How about developers of Go-OOXML, the disruptive fork of OpenOffice.org? If not, then Novell is just focusing on the vassalisation of GNU/Linux (to Microsoft).

How Steve Ballmer Was Schmoozing Neelie Kroes

Posted in Antitrust, Europe, Microsoft, Open XML, Samba, Steve Ballmer at 10:24 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Dinner table

IN its top-secret presentations, Microsoft explains what "schmoozing" is. It’s a subversive and disingenuous strategy for causing harm to one’s rival. Here is a transcription of the Neelie Kroes press conference where she admitted Ballmer having schmoozed her in her hometown. It came up in a Q&A session whose transcript is the only source on the Net, the wire services (& tech publications that quoted them) which had paraphrased the fact.

Neelie Kroes: When the court ruling was published, we got in touch, and Mr. Ballmer and I found each other in a small restaurant, so to say, there it all started, nobody could find out where, or whatever, and there we were indeed promising each other that there should be a compliance of what has to be done much earlier.

18:13 (Antonio)

Q: I hope Microsoft paid the bill in the restaurant (laughter), but my question is on the fine. You may not have decided yet on the amount you may impose, if any, to Microsoft but please try to help us just avoid any present misinterpretation,miscalculation. What is, as of yesterday, the highest level of amount you can impose on Microsoft?

Neelie Kroes: I will be back with the news when we have taken that decision. Absolutely. I mentioned already today that anyhow — and that is a certainty, and there are not that many certainties in life, as you aware –that from today on, there is no reason to impose further penalties on Microsoft as of this Monday, the 22nd.

In 2006, Ballmer and Commissioner Kroes had been negotiating for some time and she had clearly thought there would be progress, until the day Ballmer suddenly published her e-mail correspondence on the Microsoft PressPass site without her consent, claiming “transparency”. She hit the ceiling and it was downhill for Microsoft from there.

“She hit the ceiling and it was downhill for Microsoft from there.”Ballmer had already annoyed her by making an unannounced visit and press conference around the corner from her office in Brussels in January (see coverage here and also here). He also held a secret meeting that day with Commissioner Viviane Reding, noted on her Web site agenda and picked up by one of the wire services, but no one connected those dots. That meeting was completely missed by the press, but Bloomberg may have had some coverage at the time.

The secret restaurant date with Commissioner Kroes in October 2007 was really damage control — she agreed to end the daily fines, but withheld what the actual daily fine amount would be. This was later announced in February 2008, the very day Microsoft was in Geneva helping to ram through OOXML [1, 2]. She was crystal clear that at least two other investigations of Microsoft were underway, a fact overlooked by the totality of the mainstream and tech press who generally reported the latest browser tying statement of objections as a “new” investigation.

Related posts (2007):

Novell’s Patent Deal — Like SCO’s Lawsuits — a Miserable Failure

Posted in Microsoft, Novell, Patents, Red Hat, SCO at 9:40 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Thumbs down

NOVELL’S DEAL with Microsoft was not a success. Companies, like people, love to justify their own decision-making, but the reality of the matter is that Novell did not gain an edge over its main competitor, Red Hat.

Ron Hovsepian, Jeff Jaffe et al put more patent emphasis in Novell’s strategy, having arrived from IBM where software patents are seen as acceptable. Last year we wrote about the motives of the deal and there were shades of SCO in that one (SCO ended up going bankrupt, having gotten miserable and sold away its technical soul*).

Novell’s new strategy was to market itself with Microsoft, maybe even to fight GNU/Linux on its behalf. “Novell was great in the old times but it’s making very odd commercial money-grabbing moves,” says a source to us.

Despite the characteristic damage control, Novell's demise is near. Even the CEO admitted that more layoffs are coming, according to credible reports.

* Darl McBride, with his godfather-like mentality, may have actually made good money out of it.

Quick Mentions: Xenocode and Microsoft, Yahoo and Microsoft, F/OSS Slandered by Microsoft Ecosystem

Posted in Free/Libre Software, Microsoft, Novell at 8:53 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Novell and Microsoft

MICROSOFT and Novell are growing closer all the time. The more they struggle, the more they huddle. Novell has just shown signs of more collaboration with Xenocode, which according to this new report is a “six-year-old, Seattle-based, lightweight application virtualization player full of Microsoft veterans.” The is not the first time that Novell collaborates with them [1, 2, 3, 4, 5] and this leaves room for more Microsoft influence.

Microsoft’s Poaching of Yahoo Executives

Yahoo! is still besieged by Microsoft [1, 2, 3], which wants to grab its market share and brains. It’s a lot cheaper than acquiring the company. According to reports from Microsoft watchers, Microsoft has just snatched another Yahoo executive who was focused on search.

Microsoft has hired Larry Heck, a Yahoo search executive, to join its online services division.


Most recently, Heck was vice president, search and advertising sciences at Yahoo Labs.

In a somewhat sarcastic essay, Cringley argues that “Yahoo should buy Microsoft”. Apart from an eye-catching headline, there is not much sustance, but Mark repeats his observation that Microsoft needs to lay off tens of thousands of employees.

My last column was all about the culture of Microsoft and how it makes real change difficult for the company. It’s not just at Microsoft that these things happen, by the way: nearly all mature organizations get into similar ruts. And if, like Microsoft, they are spectacularly profitable ruts, well then it isn’t surprising that things stay more or less permanently dysfunctional.


Next column we’ll deal with the rest of Microsoft, chopping those 20,000 to 50,000 heads.

Microsoft Ecosystem Smears Open Source

According to this from Slashdot, the Microsoft ecosystem is attacking Free/Open Source software behind closed doors. It’s like a whisper campaign.

Lately there has been a huge push by Certified Microsoft Professionals and their companies to call (potential) clients and warn them of the dangers of open source. This week I received calls from four different customers saying that they were warned that they are dangerously insecure because they run open source operating systems or software, because ‘anyone can read the code and hack you with ease.’

We have seen a lot of this recently. One just needs to follow the money in order to understand the credibility of the arguers.

In other related news, further to earlier reports, over 160 banks appear to have just been compromised due to “malware”.

Heartland data breach hit 160 banks (and rising)


Malware planted on servers was used to steal card data. It didn’t say how many records were exposed and how many financial institutions were affected by the breach. Heartland only said that it processed 100m transactions a month on behalf of 250,000 merchants, sparking concerns that the extent of the problem might rival that of the infamous TJX breach.

Was this “malware” installed on UNIX/Linux machines? Not likely.

Microsoft’s CEO Pressures the Government to Loot the Public and Help Corporations

Posted in Finance, Microsoft, Steve Ballmer at 8:12 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Good for him, not for the public

Hands grab money

LESS than a week ago, Steve Ballmer was reportedly pressuring the new government to "invest in innovation" (typically meaning the investment of public funds in corporations under guises like “security”). Now we hear about Steve Ballmer promoting public looting, which is better known to many as “bailout” or “stimulus” (euphemisms). He takes his appeal right up to the congress.

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, who has been on quite a political tour as of late, sent a letter to all members of Congress Wednesday urging them to quickly pass the stimulus package.

The arguments he makes look familiar. Is he trying to 'pull an Abramoff'? Could it be true that Microsoft will require a bailout as it’s entering debt [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]? Here are some older articles of interest:

As a bit of historical background, the United States has a long and well proven tradition of funding technology projects using tax money or newly-issued debt, but it is usually marketed to the public as something in the interests of “security”, defending the value of capital(ism), keeping the country ahead in “innovation” and so on and so forth. Ultimately, however, the fruits of such works are not returned to the public that paid for it. Instead, the assets are handed over to private hands which not only possess what ought to have been public but also use it against the population. Examples include companies like Boeing and it’s no accident because that's just how the system is intended to work.

Related and recent posts:

Botnets and Bounties Versus Real Security

Posted in Finance, Microsoft, Security, Windows at 7:14 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

THERE ARE many reports this week about Windows security problems, but one that really stood out is this one from yesterday:

Microsoft is offering a $250,000 reward for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the virus writers behind the infamous Conficker (Downadup) worm.

This was also covered in:

So Microsoft plays sheriff and puts money on people’s heads rather than actually produce secure and robust systems. That’s the equivalent of jailing many people for possession of illegal drugs rather than looking for ways to prevent the trafficking of such drugs. It completely ignores the causes and instead addresses an outcome. The outcome is not just tens of millions of hijacked computers in this case; the ‘outcome’ is also teenage cyber-criminal who are empowered by badly engineered systems. Will there be a bounty presented to combat each and every Windows virus that exists (there are over a million, including variants)?

In other news, 8 “critical” vulnerabilities have just surfaced in Microsoft software.

Microsoft Patches 8 Critical Vulnerabilities

Microsoft Tuesday patched eight vulnerabilities — three of them marked “critical” — in the company’s Internet Explorer (IE), Office, Exchange and SQL Server software.

“Critical” is the highest degree of severity in Microsoft’s scale, so it’s only reasonable to expect larger botnets. Speaking of which, Microsoft is again addressing the wrong problem in the wrong way when it tries to take apart botnets rather consider the reasons for their creation in the first place.

Microsoft has beefed up the Malicious Software Removal Tool (MSRT) that ships with its Windows operating system so that it will detect and root out the notorious Srizbi botnet code.

“This month’s MSRT takes on one of the largest botnets currently active worldwide,” wrote Microsoft spokesman Vincent Tiu in a blog posting Tuesday, the day the update to the software removal tool was released. “Win32/Srizbi has been accused of being responsible for a huge chunk of spam e-mail messages sent in the years after its discovery,” he added. “We hope to make a positive impact with the addition of Win32/Srizbi into MSRT.”

This is also covered here.

In other security-related news:

i. Fake Infection Warnings Can Be Real Trouble

Michael Vana knew something was up when he saw the pop-up from “Antivirus 2009″ in the middle of his screen. The former Northwest Airlines avionics technician guessed that the dire warning of a system infection was fake, but when he clicked on the X to close the window, it expanded to fill his screen. To get rid of it, he had to shut down his PC.

ii. Fraudsters cream opposition in cybercrime wars

The celebration of Safer Internet Day on Tuesday was marked by warnings that cybercriminals are staying ahead of defenders in their attempts to defraud or otherwise abuse internet users.

iii. Germany deploys cybersoldiers

GERMANY HAS REVEALED that it has a team of 76 soldiers who are trained to defend the country from cyber attacks and software piracy.

Once again, Windows and the Web are unable to play nice with each other:

New Windows virus attacks PHP, HTML, and ASP scripts

Researchers have identified a new strain of malware that can spread rapidly from machine to machine using a variety of infection techniques, including the poisoning of webservers, which then go on to contaminate visitors.

The malware is a variation of a rapidly mutating virus alternately known as Virut and Virux. It has long proved adept at injecting itself into executable files, which are then able to attack uninfected machines through network drives and USB sticks.

A reader has just alerted us that a man is moving from the Ministry of Finance to Microsoft, hinting at possible government connections. Microsoft has already 'pulled an EDGI/MOU' around there.

Regarding news coverage like this one, wrote the reader, “the non-cached page has some nasty tricks to wipe out non-Javascripted browsers.” Further he added: “I have often wondered if the sudden push to web 2.0 is to compensate for loss of access that various interests have as people depart Microsoft Windows. The reasons for snubbing client-side javascript are still valid, perhaps more so than years past. Certainly there has been no value added. What does get added, aside from slowness and loss of functionality, is a whole slew of ways to remotely access content or activities on the client.”

Those who want a secure system ought to look at GNU/Linux.

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