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02.24.09

IRC: #boycottnovell @ FreeNode: February 24th, 2009

Posted in IRC Logs at 11:15 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME Gedit

Enter the IRC channel now

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Links 24/02/2009: Android Scares Microsoft’s CEO; Google Protests Against Internet Explorer Bundling

Posted in News Roundup at 10:53 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • why Linux MCE is superior to windows MCE

    * Cost

    The number one reason for choosing Linux, people have reported building a Linux media center with $400 total cost. Top that! Of course if you have unlimited budget this is not an argument. On the other hand what can be defined as unlimited? With equal money you will always be capable of building more. That’s why big movie studios use Linux.

    * A whole house media system build with cheap diskless hardware

    Have some old PC’s laying around? You can use them as pxe bootable thin clients for your Linux MCE system, most cheap graphics cards support tv out for a while now. Make a pc pxe bootable over the network and use it as a media director. And you can have one master system serving media throughout the whole house.

  • “Nobody Uses Linux” is Not a Good Enough Answer

    I am increasingly aware of more and more “regular” people using Linux. They bought a netbook, their son or daughter installed “this thing called Ubuntu” on their aging hardware, or maybe they just thought they’d try something new. There is indeed a quiet, but sizable group of Linux users out there who want to buy consumer products that “just work” with Linux. Frankly, I am one of them. I would be ecstatic to use the Eye-Fi card with my Acer Aspire One on the road, but someone thought I was not a viable part of the consumer market.

  • Microlite Corporation releases BackupEDGE for Linux with Cloud Storage

    Amazon uses a scalable, decentralized, fault tolerant server structure to guarantee 99.9% data availability at a cost far less expensive than building a data center and renting space. The only concern for the user is the reliability and speed of the local Internet connection.

  • Vertica Puts Column-Oriented Database In Virtual Machine

    VP of the Oracle database server unit.

    Vertica is competing with database machines, a database system preloaded on a piece of hardware, by offering a column-oriented database appliance, a copy of its system optimized to run with CentOS Linux in the VMware virtual machine. (CentOS repackages a version of Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5.3 or earlier.) The analytic database is designed to be used in organizations that frequently want to deploy a data mart, have highly seasonal data leading to periods of intense usage, or have analytic databases that grow rapidly, said Menninger.

  • Dan Logan: Tips to start a business in your pajamas

    Linux is an alternative operating system to Windows and Mac OS. It’s powerful, and many versions of it are free.

    Using Linux to “put the fun back into computing” will be the topic at the March meeting of the SLO Bytes PC Users Group, with Alan Raul demonstrating how to use Linux for everyday computing tasks. He will show how to run Linux from a CD or flash drive without affecting your present operating system.

  • Kernel Space

    • Intel X25-E Extreme SSD Benchmarks On Linux

      In early January we had delivered Linux Solid-State Drive Benchmarks of an OCZ Core Series V2 SSD, which was a low-cost low-capacity single-cell drive. The increased performance and decreased power consumption compared to a 5400RPM Serial ATA 2.0 hard drive was nice for a netbook, but how are the higher-end solid-state drives performing? In this article, we have a high-performance Intel X25-E Extreme SSD on a System76 notebook running Ubuntu Linux.

    • Linux 2.6.29-rc6

      This is mostly lots of small fixes, with the stats being dominated by some DocBook movement and an ia64 defconfig addition:

      20.4% Documentation/DocBook/
      3.9% Documentation/
      2.0% arch/arm/
      30.2% arch/ia64/configs/
      5.5% arch/x86/
      2.4% arch/
      3.8% drivers/gpu/drm/i915/
      2.3% drivers/scsi/
      12.6% drivers/
      2.2% fs/btrfs/
      5.5% fs/cifs/
      2.3% fs/

  • Boot

    • Is Fast Booting A Red Herring?

      Flashy movies aside, though, is there a real advantage to having faster boot times when most of us don’t shut down and reboot to begin with? And if so, is it worth touting as a feature on the same order as, say, support for cellular network connectivity?

    • Review: Phoenix HyperSpace

      When you’re on the run, opportunities to hop online to check e-mail, flight status, or a favorite Web site tend to be infrequent and of limited duration. That’s why, when you do get a chance to fire up your notebook, the time it takes to boot and load Windows can seem like an eternity.

  • Desktop Environments

    • 8 Beautiful Themes For Enlightenment WM

      Enlightenment is perhaps the least known and the oldest Windows manager still being actively developed. KDE and Gnome (Desktop Environments) made their first release few years after Enlightenment had its first release way back in 1996. Enlightenment features an iconbar, which the “Dock” of OS X is based on, and is quite different from the traditional WM and DE that we are used to. The current version, E17, has been in development since 2000 with slow update cycles and perhaps one of the reason why it is not as widely adopted as other WM and DE out there. Earlier version of gOS was based on E16-17 (they moved to gnome). Elive, OpenGEU and Maryan Linux are three distribution that has Enlightenment installed by default.

  • Distributions

    • Which Linux Distro And Why?

      When you tell someone, “I’m going to buy a car,” you usually hear, “Which one?” Ford, Toyota, Mitsubishi, Honda, Saturn? Two-door, four-door, minivan? And so on.

      Likewise, if you say “I want to run Linux,” you’ll get the same question: Which one? There’s no one “Linux” in the same sense that there’s no one “car.” There are things common among all cars as there are among all Linux distributions: All cars have an engine, and all Linux distributions share the Linux kernel and many of the GNU utilities.

    • More specialty Linuxes to the rescue

      The specialized Linuxes in this roundup showcase the advantages of customizing both OS components and user-level software. I look at a pair of firewall Linuxes, IPCop and m0n0wall; a Linux SAN/NAS appliance, OpenFiler; two Linuxes for musicians, Ubuntu Studio and Musix; and a final duo of distributions, Ubuntu Christian Edition and Ubuntu Muslim Edition, targeted at members of those corresponding religions.

    • iMagic OS: Commercial Linux Distro Gone Wrong

      That issue aside, Carlos also clarified to me that the distro costs $80 for a reason. It includes Codeweaver’s Crossover Office, which is something I overlooked the first time around. Since that product on its own costs $70, it makes a bit more sense as to why the distro itself isn’t cheap. But, with that feature tacked on, this distro is not for most Linux enthusiasts, but rather those who come from Windows and want something a little more familiar.

    • The first Kongoni Screenshots ever

      Kongoni’s second baseline release will be the first public release of the distribution. At this point in time it is extremely close to being released and you can expect it to be officially announced sometime in the next 48 hours (don’t hold me to this as a promise though – we are community project and we do not set or do deadlines).

    • New versions of VectorLinux, Foresight and SimplyMEPIS

      The VectorLinux developers have released a new version of the Slackware derivative, VectorLinux 6. This version of the lean system is the first to offer installation via a graphical installer, although text-based installation is still supported. VectorLinux Standard is based on Xfce version 4.43 and includes LXDE and Openbox as desktop alternatives. The developer team is offering a commercial deluxe version, with KDE 4.2 and other extras, from the project’s online shop. The Gnome desktop environment can be installed using the VectorLinux software repository.

    • VectorLinux 6.0 Released

      If you are looking for a fast Linux distribution with a lot of the most common and useful packages installed, VectorLinux could be a good choice.

    • Review: Proxmox Virtual Environment

      VEProxmox VE is a “bare metal” ISO Linux distribution that is a virtual machine platform. It is geared towards enterprise users and designed to be installed on enterprise grade hardware.

      [...]

      PVE is a viable alternative to other products like VMware or Xen. I have been using PVE since the initial 0.9 public release. I currently run about 30 virtual machines on a Proxmox VE cluster including several mission critical servers and have had no issues with the core functionality in the 8 months that I have been using it. It is missing some features that the commercial offerings provide but no other open source application offers the functionality provided by Proxmox VE.

    • Giving kids a fresh start with Qimo Linux

      Taking advantage of that concept is Qimo, a desktop operating system geared toward kids that is based on the Ubuntu distribution of Linux. Developed by a husband-and-wife team Brian and Michelle Hall, Qimo was released in mid-February.

    • Kurt Roeckx is the new Debian Secretary

      Steve McIntyre, the leader of the Debian Project, has appointed Kurt Roeckx as the new Debian secretary. The decision was made in close cooperation with Bdale Garbee, the current acting secretary. Neal McGovern was confirmed as an assistant, “due to his recent experience as assistant to the previous secretary.”

    • Red Hat

      • Red Hat returns to the Linux desktop

        Does this mean that Red Hat will be getting back into the Linux desktop business? That’s the question I posed to Red Hat CTO Brian Stevens, in a phone call after the Red Hat/KVM press conference, and he told me that, “Yes. Red Hat will indeed be pushing the Linux desktop again.”

      • Nouveau Becomes The Default Driver In Fedora 11

        Among a horde of other features to be introduced with Fedora 11 (a.k.a. Leonidas), the Nouveau driver will become the default NVIDIA driver on this Red Hat distribution.

    • Ubuntu

      • Ubuntu 9.10 is Karmic Koala, and it will not be brown!

        Ubuntu Linux founder Mark Shuttleworth recently announced that the next version after “Jaunty Jackalope” is codenamed “Karmic Koala”. This ended some humorous speculations that Ubuntu 9.10 will be called Kinky Kangaroo.

      • The Karmic Koala and the Linux Port of the World of Goo

        Ubuntu’s upcoming 9.10 release now has a name: Karmic Koala. However, all of the news wasn’t so cute and fuzzy this week in the FOSS blogosphere. One blogger posted a Linux virus how-to, which got quite a bit of attention. Turns out the vulnerability has been known since 2006.

      • Review: Crunch Bang Linux 8.10

        Well, I’m going to leave Crunch Bang Linux on my laptop. My first real test will be when I travel in a few weeks – as that’s usually the time I use my laptop. I’ll probably be using it to watch videos or play games. At that time I’ll know if Crunch Bang can meet my needs or if I need to go back to Ubuntu. If I go back to Ubuntu I’ll be sure to blog about it. I intend to blog about my feelings of Crunch Bang, Conky, and Gwibber after an extended use, but I can’t guarantee I’ll get around to it – especially if there’s nothing extraordinary to report. In that sense – no news is good news.

      • 15 Essential Ubuntu Productivity Apps

        If you want to embrace open operating systems, quit the Microsoft monopoly or the Apple cult, Ubuntu is one of the most powerful operating systems based on the popular open source Linux kernel. It can do everything that the costly operating systems, only oh so much more, and for free!

      • Netbook Effect: How Cheap Little Laptops Hit the Big Time

        First, to be clear: Unison’s unified communications software is not open source. But Unison will offer a free, advertising-driven version of its unified communications software to customers running Ubuntu Server Edition.

        The big question: Will ad-driven unified communications software take off? Nobody will know for sure until Unison for Ubuntu Server Edition ships shortly.

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Chumby Industries Gears Up to Bring the Internet Nearly Everywhere

      Though 2009 has only just begun, it looks like this year’s going to be a busy one for Chumby Industries. The makers of the hackable, completely open, Linux-based, internet-enabled, so-much-more-than-an-alarm-clock — well, alarm clock — have announced a number of partnerships since January’s Consumer Electronics Show.

    • Broadcom brings the Chumby RIA platform to STBs, Blu-ray

      Broadcom has incorporated the scalable Linux-based widget platform into a system-on-a-chip for TV-based hardware, equipping the latest Internet-connected devices with all of Chumby’s partner content, which includes Pandora, The New York Times, SHOUTcast, CBS, The Weather Channel, and MTV.

    • Logitech G19 keyboard with color LCD display now up for pre-order

      It actually has a mini Linux computer inside, letting you watch internet video or place widgets on that wee screen, front and center and tiltable for your viewing pleasure.

    • Marvell’s Plug Computer: A tiny, discrete, fully functional 5 watt Linux server

      Marvell announced today a new type of computer. It’s about the size of an AC to DC converting wall outlet plug, but is really a full SoC with a 1200 MHz CPU, built-in 512 MB Flash, 512 MB DRAM, Gigabit Ethernet and USB 2.0 support. It runs small versions of Linux, consumes about 5 watts max while allowing remote users (presumably those authorized by the owner) to access data stored on the device from remote locations including local intranets or over the Internet. The $49 device opens up a wide array of extremely low-power, low-volume, always on applications.

    • $100 Linux wall-wart launches
    • $100 Linux Wall-Wart Now Available
    • Wind River acquires GUI developer

      Wind River will buy Tilcon Software, a vendor of Linux-compatible, embedded GUI (graphical user interface) toolkits targeting industrial, defense, medical, automotive, and mobile devices. Alameda, Calif.-based Wind River will pay $3.5 million for Tilcon, of Ottawa, Canada, in a deal set to close Feb. 27.

    • Help sought for mainline MPC512x port

      Working through the OSADL, German embedded-systems vendor Denx is seeking community participation and funding for a Freescale MPC512x Linux BSP (board support package) suitable for inclusion in mainline Linux. Based on a PowerPC core, the MPC512x targets automotive telematics, building automation, medical diagnostics, surveillance, digital home, and gaming applications.

    • Amazon ships Kindle II

      ONLINE book seller Amazon has shipped its new version of the Kindle electronic reading device.

    • Android

      • Dream(sheep++): A developer’s introduction to Google Android

        After the fanfare faded, we ended up with Android-a platform that launched with some limitations but nonetheless has significant potential. Although the first Android devices leave a lot to be desired when compared to competing products, the platform itself is evolving quickly, and it offers the advantages of openness and collaborative development. In this article we’ll take a close look at the underlying technology of Android and what the platform means for developers.

      • Smarter Than Phones

        T-Mobile’s Android phone hit only last October 17, 2008, early in Q4. Here’s a telling quote from the report: “Motorola, currently holding onto fourth place in smartphones thanks largely to its Linux-based models, recently announced it would move away from using the Symbian OS and focus more on Android.” Which is also Linux.

      • Android phone boasts 5Mpix camera

        General Mobile demonstrated a dual-SIM, XScale-based Android cameraphone last week at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. Based on a design by Chinese telecom ODM (original design maker) Yuhua (aka Yuhuatel), the DSTL1 could be among the first Android phones to ship, when it launches this summer.

      • Ballmer keeps close watch on Apple and Android

        And concerns regarding Google’s open-source mobile operating system Android are not far behind.

        “I think the dynamics with Linux is changing somewhat,” Ballmer said. “I assume we’ll see Android-based, Linux-based laptops, in addition to phones, and we’ll see Google more and more as a competitor in the desktop operating system business than we ever have before.”

      • Ballmer: Android makes Google a bigger rival to Windows on PCs

        Microsoft shares are down slightly, trading just over $17, following Ballmer’s remarks.

      • Microsoft Sees Threat From Android Notebooks

        With the grim economic climate weighing on all sectors of its business, Microsoft reiterated warnings about slowing revenues and profits for the second half of the year, but vowed prudent spending as the company looks ahead to new fronts in its war with Google.

      • Android Spreading Out to Netbooks, and E-Ink Devices

        Although it is still early enough in development that it may not become a shipping product, Asus has confirmed that it has been developing a netbook based on Google’s Android platform. Asus’ Eee PC division lead, Samson Hu, told Bloomberg that engineers are working on a possible end-of-year release window. We’ve written before about Cupcake, a version of Android that is friendly to non-phone devices, and there have already been successful efforts putting Cupcake on netbooks.

    • Sub-notebooks

      • Are Netbooks Eating Into PC Sales?

        Slowing PC sales and rising netbooks shipment has been adding to the woes of Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT). An estimated 30% of all netbooks sold come with free and open-source Linux operating system. Moreover, Microsoft has been selling its Windows operating system at a discount to get it installed in the machines, which in turn is hurting its software business. Last month, the Redmond, Washington based company reported a meager 1.6% rise in quarterly sales. While announcing 5,000 job cuts, the software giant blamed netbooks for a drop in Window sales. “Client revenue declined 8% as a result of PC market weakness and a continued shift to lower priced netbooks,” the company said in a statement. Windows sales were down 8% in the latest quarter.

      • Microsoft Loses $435 Million in Netbooks

        According to current figures from Netbookdigest.com, Microsoft has lost $435,000,000 over the last year in netbook sales.

        While Microsoft has maintained about 90% of the desktop and notebook market, netbooks come in at only 70%. Part of the reason is Linux, but part is Microsoft itself.

      • The Netbook Effect: How Cheap Little Laptops Hit the Big Time

        The miserly constraints spurred her to be fiendishly resourceful. Instead of using a spinning hard drive she chose flash memory—the type in your USB thumb drive—because it draws very little juice and doesn’t break when dropped. For software she picked Linux and other free, open source packages instead of paying for Microsoft’s wares. She used an AMD Geode processor, which isn’t very fast but requires less than a watt of power. And as the pièce de résistance, she devised an ingenious LCD panel that detects whether onscreen images are static (like when you’re reading a document) and tells the main processor to shut down, saving precious electricity.

      • ARM demos slim, low-power netbook prototypes

        Bob Morris, head of mobile computing at ARM, tells ZDNet UK why a firm best known for its work on mobile-phone chip architecture could have a major impact on the netbook market

Free Software/Open Source

  • OSOR offers web space and facilities for creation of communities

    The European Commission’s Open Source Observatory and Repository project (Osor.eu) invites anyone working on open source to launch their own community-section on the OSOR website.

    Open source policy-makers, software developers and other users of the OSOR website can, for example, start a community section based on their area of expertise, country or language. For instance, European specialists on public procurement of open source software can in this way easily start working together with colleagues in other EU member states.

  • February 2009 Web Server Survey

    QQ’s growth should not overshadow this month’s other significant event: Apache has gained 7.8 million sites, making it the first vendor to be used by more than 100 million websites.

  • Bash version 4.0 released

    Bourne-again shell (Bash) version 4.0 has been released and includes several fixes to serious bugs from the 3.x releases and some significant new features. Bash 4.0, a free software Unix/Linux shell written for the GNU Project, is released under version 3 of the GNU General Public License and is the default shell for most Linux systems.

  • Open source powers massive theatrical mixing console

    The latest news from Harrison Consoles (a company that pioneered the use of Linux in high-end audio applications) announces that Universal Studios has upgraded their massive theatrical mixing console with Harrison’s latest Linux automation system.

  • Browsers

    • Mozilla demos impressive Firefox 3.1 features at SCALE

      The HTML 5 video element will also arrive in Firefox 3.1. This will allow video content to be embedded directly in Web pages, controlled with JavaScript, and manipulated through the DOM. It’s a major step forward for rich media content on the Web. Firefox 3.1 will ship with built-in support for the Ogg Vorbis and Theora formats—open audio and video codecs that are believed to be unencumbered by patents. The actual codec implementations are integrated directly into the browser itself, so content in those formats will be playable without requiring any external components or plugins.

    • Mitchell Baker Honored as a Winner of The Anita Borg Institute’s 2009 Women of Vision Award

      Today Mitchell Baker was announced as a winner of The Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology (ABI) Women of Vision Awards in the Leadership category. Please see the post on Above the Fold for more details, crossposted below:

      The Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology (ABI) announced that Mitchell Baker is a winner of this year’s Women of Vision Awards in the Leadership category. Mitchell, along with Yuqing Gao, IBM Research, and Jan Cuny, National Science Foundation, will be honored for her accomplishments and contributions as a woman in technology at ABI’s fourth annual Women of Vision Awards Banquet at the Fairmont Hotel in San Jose on April 30th, 2009.

    • Browsers powered by user choice

      This is because Internet Explorer is tied to Microsoft’s dominant computer operating system, giving it an unfair advantage over other browsers. Compare this to the mobile market, where Microsoft cannot tie Internet Explorer to a dominant operating system, and its browser therefore has a much lower usage. The value of competition for users (even in the limited form we see today) is clear: tabbed browsing, faster downloads, private browsing features, and more. Even greater competition will drive more innovation within browsers themselves – as well as in web design, enabling sites to load faster and offer new kinds of interactive tools and applications.

  • Funding

    • Linux Fund Supports Inkscape

      Linux Fund has partnered with Inkscape developer Milosz Derezynski to improve the text dialog of this open source vector graphics editor. This work will improve Inkscape’s usability by enhancing its text tool to provide numeric control over kerning and other essential text attributes.

    • Linux Fund reaffirms international ties as it expands its Board of Directors

      Linux Fund welcomes three new members to its Board of Directors: consultant and community activist Michael Dexter, consultant and professor Dan Carrere, and developer and community activist Ilan Rabinovitch.

Standards/Consortia

  • The Dangers of Vendor Lock-In

    Could your company become a victim of vendor lock-in? If you rely entirely on proprietary software, you very well could be. What exactly is this vendor lock-in of which I speak? It is a way of ensuring that you, the consumer, will only be able to use specific products as set forth by select manufacturers.

    A classic, old-school example of vendor lock-in would have to be with ink jet printer cartridges. When you purchase any major brand of ink jet printer, you will be stuck relying on ink they themselves produce, no matter how hard you might wish to use something else.

    [...]

    So by now, you get the general idea — lock-in is a huge negative. Finding software solutions that provide you with an out should you need it is key. For example, let’s say I wish to migrate my email from Thunderbird to Evolution. And to make matters even more complex, let’s say I am moving this email from Windows over to a new Linux PC. One might think this to be a really scary kind of deal.

  • Standards: Have Any Suggestions for the Next Version of ODF?

    Personally, I’d say the main thing it needs is what only Microsoft can provide: true interoperability, guaranteed, with Microsoft’s ‘standard’. I am hearing from one and all that the crutches being offered for ODF to try to do so don’t really work very well. That is wrong. Period. It’s what I expected, but it needs to be fixed. What if there were another natural disaster, like Katrina? Interoperability and the ability to communicate with government agencies can mean your life. It’s that serious, and who is to argue that the lives of Linux users don’t matter?

Leftovers

  • Eircom to block Pirate Bay

    In a letter sent to ISPs across the country last week, the Irish Recorded Music Association (IRMA) disclosed the deal and warned others to follow suit or face legal action.

  • Bill proposes ISPs, Wi-Fi keep logs for police

    Republican politicians on Thursday called for a sweeping new federal law that would require all Internet providers and operators of millions of Wi-Fi access points, even hotels, local coffee shops, and home users, to keep records about users for two years to aid police investigations.

Video: Mark Shuttleworth – We are our own worst enemy – Interview (Part One) (6:22)

Patents Roundup: Microsoft, RAND, Extortion, and Ending Software Patents

Posted in Deals, EFF, Europe, Free/Libre Software, FSF, Microsoft, Patents at 4:54 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Novell newspaper

THERE ARE some bad news and some good news this week. We’ll begin with some of the bad.

Microsoft Against Free Software

Microsoft has just entered a extortion licensing deal with 123map.

Microsoft Corp. and 123map GmbH & Co. KG, a supplier of high-quality geographical services, announced a patent licensing agreement that will enhance 123map’s ability to bring digital point-of-interest mapping technology to its customers.

The text above is pseudo-journalism, recasting a press release [1, 2]. The press release also comes from Redmond and it more or less tells which side is winning.

According to this report, there might be an element of open source software involved.

Microsoft in pact with semi-open source map maker

[...]

“123map’s products are developed with a diverse mix of proprietary and open source software, and this business agreement is a testament to the importance of mutual respect for IP, regardless of development models,” Microsoft officials said in a statement today.

Once again they label "open source" a "development model" (nothing to do with rights or freedom) and they use the term “IP” in order to blur the gap between copyrights, trademarks, and software patents in this case. Why does a German company engage in such a deal? Are these patents legitimate over there at all?

Another brow-raising development comes from AXIGEN, a Romanian collaboration server company that is (or was) focused on BSD and GNU/Linux. It is joining something which is called “Microsoft’s Empower Initiative for ISVs.”

AXIGEN (http://www.axigen.com/), the professional messaging solution vendor, announces it has joined the Empower for ISVs (Independent Software Vendors) initiative, partnership program designed by Microsoft (http://www.microsoft.com/), worldwide leader in software, services and solutions. Empower combines deep industry knowledge, useful tools, powerful research expertise and innovative thinking aimed at supporting global business growth.

[...]

Winner of the ServerWatch 2007 Product Excellence Award for the Communications Server category, AXIGEN Mail Server features a carrier class technology and outstanding support. Now at version 6.2, AXIGEN runs on several Linux and BSD distributions, on Solaris, on Windows operating systems, on PowerPC and SPARC architectures and is becoming the messaging solution of choice for a growing number of service providers and enterprises worldwide.

This has nothing to do with patents, but it’s another timely example of Microsoft co-opting rivals.

Ambush/Abuse

The nuisance which is Rambus [1, 2, 3] has been leeching off its competitors using patents that it hid inside standards. The European Commission did strike back with accusations, but over in the United States it has been a subject of active debate. Well, sadly enough, Rambus eventually got its way.

The Supreme Court rejected the US Federal Trade Commission’s request to resurrect antitrust accusations the District of Columbia Circuit tossed out in April. Its latest rebuff effectively kills the regulator’s seven-year saga against Rambus for allegedly monopolizing four key technologies found in DRAM chips.

The FTC accuses Rambus of deceiving the memory standard-setting group JEDEC (Joint Electron Device Engineering Council) by not disclosing its intentions to patent technologies that would become part of the DDR SDRAM specification.

This important development which can serve as precedence is also covered in:

“That’s great news for Microsoft,” writes Jose. They have sneaked patents into formats like OOXML, which they committed many crimes to make standards.

Europe

Philips is one of the most vicious lobbyists for software patents in Europe. It even uses ‘attack dogs’ to do its extortions [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10]. Well, Digital Majority has just found this text from Philips regarding the Enlarged Board of Appeals referral [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8]. It says:

Observations: In view of the above discussion on the statutory background, the examples in Article 52(2) EPC should be understood in the light of the principle that all technical inventions are patent-eligible, while all non-technical subjects are not. So, it is not relevant whether some computer-related wording is used in a claim, as the question that needs to be answered is whether the claim relates to a technical invention. Moreover, it is not that relevant whether a claim in the area of computer programs avoids exclusion under Article 52(2)(c) and (3) EPC by using some smartly chosen wording, as it still needs to be new and involve an inventive step in order to be patentable. As has been aptly mentioned in T 154/04, only technical features can contribute to novelty and inventive step, so that there must be technical features that distinguish the invention from the prior art in a non-obvious way.

Also in Europe — the spats-thirsty lawyers from IPKats are trying to force software patents upon the UK using ZDNet as their platform. Glyn Moody rebuts.

Professionals who work in the field of intellectual monopolies have a problem. Most of them are quite able to see there are serious problems with the system, but since their entire career has been built on it, they can hardly trash the whole thing. Instead, they not unreasonably try to come up with a “reasonable” compromise.

[...]

There are simply *no* good reasons for software patents, and hence no justification for halfway houses, however reasonably framed, and however intelligent and reasonable the framer.

Economics of Software Patents

Another good find from Glyn Moody is this paper which shows that patents decrease innovation and therefore harm consumers.

This work basically shows that recent attempts to introduce intellectual monopolies into science in order to “promote innovation” have actually been counter-productive.

[...]

In this context at least, it’s openness that leads to more innovation, not its polar opposite.

Some people are still trading software patents. This trend leads Mike Masnick to asking some hard questions.

The Chicago Tribune has an article claiming that intellectual property sales are “growing” despite the recession, as companies look to sell off what they’re not using. Except… the article doesn’t present any evidence whatsoever

End Software Patents

There are two strands of news in this area; first is the Free Software Foundation’s support for the second phase of EndSoftwarePatents.org. This attacks the problem at its root.

The Free Software Foundation today announced funding for the End Software Patents project to document the case for ending software patents worldwide. This catalog of studies, economic arguments, and legal analyses will build on the recent success of the “in re Bilski” court ruling, in which End Software Patents (ESP) helped play a key role in narrowing the scope for patenting software ideas in the USA.

This also appears here and Glyn Moody sets his sights (probably hopes) very high:

Here’s to Phase III: victory.

The EFF is doing its own share of activism and reporting, as well. It typically targets one patent at the time as opposed to the system which makes them possible in the first place.

In April 2007, as part of our Patent Busting Project, we asked the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) to revisit its decision to grant NeoMedia a patent that broadly claimed to cover database lookups using things like barcodes. In October 2007, the PTO agreed to take another look, and last July, it issued an initial opinion that all 95 claims of the NeoMedia patent were invalid.

The next battleground for Free software is likely to be legal, not just technical. Programmers prefer to focus on technical aspects alone, but ignoring all those ‘peripheral’, man-made aspects does not mean that they will magically disappear. The maximalists always work on new laws to protect their monopolies and banish their competition.

“Value your freedom or you will lose it, teaches history. “Don’t bother us with politics,” respond those who don’t want to learn.”

Richard Stallman

Assorted Microsoft News: Security

Posted in Microsoft, Security, Windows at 8:22 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Unpatched Windows 2000 or XP machines make great honeypots given the ease with which one can take over such systems.

A third-party add-on for eBay used by thousands of sellers is being flagged by Google as potentially malicious, after it became infected with a trojan.

Auctiva provides tools for sellers on the popular auction website.

An unnamed Telstra executive has sparked a major security scare at Microsoft after a phone loaded with a secret upcoming version of the Windows Mobile operating system was stolen out of his pocket in Spain.

The notorious pickpockets of Barcelona have struck again – but this time the target was more precious than a handbag or a leather wallet. A prototype mobile phone loaded with Microsoft software built to rival Apple’s iPhone was filched from an executive’s pocket during an evening function at the Mobile World Congress, an annual gathering for the industry being held in the Spanish city this week.

Microsoft broke ground on building 83 earlier this fall, but the company has said that as part of a set of cost-cutting moves it will delay further work after the construction reaches a certain level until 2013.

Microsoft’s Virtualisation Oligarchy Expands (Citrix/Microsoft)

Posted in Deals, GNU/Linux, Virtualisation, Windows, Xen at 6:55 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Rumsfeld and Saddam
Donald Rumsfeld and Saddam Hussein

A FEW DAYS AGO, the impact of the Red Hat-Microsoft virtualisation agreement was last discussed along with rumours about an upcoming announcement from CItrix. The news is finally out (here is the press release) and to put it bluntly, Citrix only uses Xen to promote Windows and Microsoft. This was expected. As IDG puts it, “Microsoft, Citrix Join Forces Against VMware.”

Citrix has more advanced management tools than Microsoft for virtual environments, and Microsoft hopes the partnership will help spread the use of Hyper-V in data centers. In return, Microsoft has pledged to manage XenServer environments with the next version of its Systems Center management software, which currently works only with Hyper-V and VMware’s ESX. It will also market and sell Citrix Essentials for Microsoft Hyper-V to its customers worldwide, the companies said.

This is not competition but a grouping in the form of factions. Even VMware was captured by Microsoft to an extent, turning from a company which intended to file antitrust complaint/s against Microsoft into a company that’s run by former Microsoft employees.

Dubbed “Project Encore,” the Microsoft-Citrix effort seeks to repeat the pattern of collaboration and financial success that the two companies enjoyed with host-based computing in their respective Terminal Services and Presentation Server (formerly MetaFrame and called XenApp since last year) products. Rather than try to take both Microsoft and VMware on in a head-long fashion, Citrix would prefer the repeat the success it has had as a Microsoft partner for host-based computing, driving $1.6bn in annual sales in the nascent server virtualization market on x64 iron.

SJVN knew about this in advance and he wrote about it over the weekend. He also knows about the Novell layoffs.

Maybe, although I hope not, they’ll be laying off employees after all. Their quarterly report is also next week, which is when the executives have to face up to the board and the stockholders. I don’t know how well, or not, Novell is doing. I do know that in these tough times that Red Hat has been doing quite well.

Microsoft’s deal with Citrix is hardly a surprise to many.

Citrix gets a Gold Star. Yes, that’s right, they’ve partnered with Microsoft.

Virtualisation is sometimes made synonymous with all sorts of terms like “datacentes” (where the servers are located) or “clouds”. Red Hat has in fact departed from this notion and went back to “virtualisation” as a favoured technical term and not a vague abstraction.

Regardless of terminology, the Washington Times has just described “cloud computing” as a threat to Microsoft and another person opines that Microsoft being “left out of cloud computing.”

Moreover, and I found this out myself as CEO of two cloud computing companies, it’s just not very PC to leverage Microsoft these days. The VC doesn’t like it, the cloud computing end users don’t like it, and the developers don’t like it. Whatever PR war that was being fought by Microsoft in the emerging cloud space is long lost, if you ask me.

Microsoft has been on a vicious slog to reverse this trend. The worst one can do in this case is play along with them. The acquisition of XenSource may be part of this slog (coordinated in part with investments from former Microsoft employees) and it has been bad news from the very beginning.

Novell Enables Microsoft Distributions

Posted in GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Mono, Novell at 6:14 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

MIGUEL de Icaza is gloating over something called CoyoteLinux, which has been obscure. He claims that it chose Mono for administration tools.

Interesting find: Coyote Linux -a firewall in a box- configuration of Linux is using Mono and ASP.NET for its admin tools.

While de Icaza wants to portray this as an example of developers choosing Mono, it’s important to understand why such choices are made. Here is a post from the person behind this project, who already has an interest in Windows. He writes: “I am currently working to get a test cluster online using Windows 2008 Datacenter x64 with SQL2005 Enterprise x64.”

It seems safe to suggest that many of those who choose Mono tend to favour Microsoft technologies in general and to begin with. “Also, it’s tied to MSVC, which is definitely not FOSS,” points out Balrog.

This is not a safe route to take.

What Novell does with Mono was explained by Charles Hixson yesterday. To quote a portion:

So the Novell agreement with MS didn’t offer the community ANY protection. They just pretended that it did. That was the foundation of my distrust of Novell. It also allowed Novell to slip MS technologies into it’s code without danger to itself (as long as it adhered to certain practices…unless the secret parts meant that it didn’t even need to do that). So the only people in danger were the ones who used Novell systems to build their code. Or otherwise adopted the MS technologies which Novell suddenly started pushing more actively.

There is a safe to test to apply whenever Mono is chosen; Is it chosen for merits, for familiarity (existing habits) or for tendencies going in Microsoft's favour?

Nomo

Confirmed: Microsoft is Deploying GNU/Linux Solutions

Posted in GNU/Linux, Microsoft at 6:03 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Because it’s so good

A FEW DAYS ago we wrote about a large subsidiary of Microsoft giving IIS the boot, having been based on GNU/Linux and Free software before it was acquired.

Well, it turns out that — rather surprisingly — Microsoft is building sites for customers using Free software (maybe WordPress) on top of GNU/Linux.

Philly.Com was redesigned by Avenue A/Razorfish and at a very high cost. If the rumors were correct (we suspect they are since the source was someone employed at Philly.Com). We were told last year “A copy of WordPress, a handful of plugins and a template and the new site could have been done in a matter of days for free internally.. instead we shelled out a huge amount of money for Microsoft to build us a Linux based site.”

Fascinating. If rumours are true, Microsoft will let those 2,000 employees* from Razorfish go. They are not compatible. Razorfish staff does not use technologies from its owner, Microsoft. This is not a sole incident [1, 2, 3]. As the famous saying goes, Microsoft just can’t eat its own dog food.

“Forty percent of servers run Windows, 60 percent run Linux…”

Steve Ballmer (September 2008)

____
* Or less than 2,000 [1, 2, 3, 4].

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