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Links 25/02/2009: New X Server; Microsoft Shows Enormous Fear of Desktop GNU/Linux

Posted in News Roundup at 11:11 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



  • Microsoft CEO Scoffs at Mac Share Gains

    Steve has a surprising view of the computing universe to put Linux before Apple. Most certainly, Linux’s larger server share puts it overall ahead of Mac OS. But Steve wasn’t talking about server here, but Windows client. So why rank Apple behind Linux?

  • The Windows-versus-Linux server face-off

    Regarding migration of current workloads, 43 percent of respondents in a Gartner survey at a Linux-oriented conference anticipated migrating mostly from Unix to Linux, 13 percent said they would migrate mostly from Windows to Linux, and only 4 percent said they would switch off Linux to go to Windows. Twenty-one percent had no plans to migrate workloads.

  • Adobe AIR 1.5.1 Released

    Today we released Adobe AIR 1.5.1, a relatively minor update that includes a number of bug fixes. The new builds are available for Windows, Mac and Linux on the Adobe AIR download center.

  • Pleora adds Linux enhancement to GigE SDK

    Pleora Technologies has unveiled new capabilities for its iPORT software development kit for customers with Linux operating systems. With Version 3.0.0 of the iPORT Vision Suite for Linux, Pleora’s iPORT SDK now allows Linux-based GigE imaging programs to run on 64-bit architectures, effectively doubling the level of processing power available to Linux developers.

  • VMworld Europe : vCenter now available as a beta for Linux

    The announcement was expected since last Fall, when VMware revealed during VMworld that the company was hard at work on a linux version of its administration console, Virtual Center. The wait is now over : vCenter Server for Linux is available as a beta.

  • Carmack: Quake Live on Mac, Linux ‘high on my priority list’

    Don’t worry Mac and Linux gamers: Though the public beta of Quake Live that opened its doors yesterday only supports Windows, id Software’s John Carmack tells Joystiq that “it’s pretty high on my priority list to have the Mac and Linux support.”

  • ZaReason: An Amazing Attack of Linux Cluefulness

    Genuine cluefulness in any business is a rare pleasure, and that is why I like ZaReason so much. ZaReason sells Linux boxes: desktop, server, netbook, and pretty much whatever you want, just ask. I first “met” Cathy Malmrose, the CEO of ZaReason, on the Linuxchix mailing lists, but her business didn’t really grab my attention until I heard about their Ubuntu keyboard.

  • FOSDEM Video: Listening, Asking, Testing at the Conference

    Linux Magazine Online takes you out for a walk at FOSDEM 2009 in Brussels.

  • What to say to your children when they can no longer use windows on the PC

    If children know Linux and get in contact with it at a young age, they might become very experienced computer users. And Linux system administrators are better paid then windows administrators. Furthermore they will have a better life as Linux users than as windows users. No spyware and bloatware to keep them back in life.

    This are just some of the things you can tell your children when they are unhappy about you throwing out windows.

  • Lists

    • Linux podcasts: Five of the best

      FLOSS Weekly




      Ubuntu UK Podcast


      Going Linux


      The Linux Action Show

    • Top 50 Linux Alternatives to Popular Apps

      Linux is quickly gaining popularity, but there are still many users afraid to convert as they are not familiar with the applications. Today our Linux guru Blair Mathis is back to introduce fifty of the most popular applications on this OS

  • Installfests

    • HeliOS Project Brings Linux Technology to the East Side

      The 4 distros for this particular install were Ubuntu Ulitimate, OpenSuse, Mint and AntiX. The main room center will more than likely be uniform installs of Ultimate Ubuntu. That will make teaching classes a bit easier and lessen confusion.

    • Linux Install Fest at Dishaa ‘09

      ‘Linux Install Fest’ will be held as part of Dishaa ‘09, the annual event of the Computer Science Department of the Sree Chitra Thirunal College of Engineering, Thiruvananthapuram, on February 28 and March 1 at Kanakakkunnu Palace. The fest is being organised in association with the Free Software Users Group (FSUG).

  • Graphical Effects

    • Eye Candy: Pimping the Gnome Desktop on Ubuntu

      If there’s one thing Linux is better at than any other operating system, it’s allowing you to pimp the desktop.

    • Why are so many windows stiff?

      It was said that windows are one’s eyes to the world. And for so many years in my computing growth, I was convinced that there was only one way to look at the world. When I discovered Linux, I never thought that I would have a completely different perspective of The Road Ahead. But it was not until 2004 that I started to get serious about Linux. And when I first installed PCLinuxOS, I knew for certain what I wanted.

      Looking around my peers and their Windows and OSX, I cannot help but wonder what sort of user experiences they were getting? If I didn’t know better, I would have thought that they were trapped at a time when innovation had failed them. Sure, some of them take the extra steps to catch up with time but their ways and additions seemed superficial.

      My first view of an average user’s desktop experience was in|situ|’s Metisse and Sun/Java.Net’s 3D Looking Glass.


      The technology may seem just another eye candy to some users, but I can assure you that aside from making your OS extremely … let me highlight that word again – EXTREMELY … beautiful, functionalities are abundant and for one thing it makes organizing ones desktop much easier. Of course, like learning to use a new application, it takes getting used to before it could even be totally appreciated.

  • Kernel Space

    • The Phoronix Test Suite Gets A GUI

      Since releasing the Phoronix Test Suite to the public a year ago, one of the most popular feature requests has been for a graphical user interface. The Phoronix Test Suite is not exactly difficult to use from a command line, but this feature has been in development for Phoronix Test Suite 2.0. However, with this morning’s release of Phoronix Test Suite 1.8.0 Alpha 2, a preview of this GUI has been introduced. Those testing Linux, OpenSolaris, BSD, and Mac OS X systems now have a simple yet intuitive interface for facilitating their system benchmarks.

    • X Server 1.6.0 Has Been Released

      Version 1.3 of the Resize and Rotate extension in X Server 1.6 supports projective transformations, panning, and other new options. More details on that can be found in our RandR 1.3 Explained, Demonstrated article along with a video showing some of the RandR 1.3 features. DRI2, of course, allows a number of new features such as the ability to enable direct rendering to redirected windows.

    • Getting Acquainted With the ext4 File System

      The majority of computer users don’t spend much time thinking about the file system their operating system uses. Granted, people installing alternative operating systems might give more consideration to the available file systems than the general population — unless there’s a specific need for a certain file system, many go with their distribution’s default option.

    • The Future of Linux File Systems and Volume Managers

      This is a topic I can be extremely passionate about. I enjoy working with data storage technologies and especially enjoy topics on file systems/volume managers. It is true when they say, “Once you get into data storage it is difficult getting out.” That is because the industry is fascinating. Working with enterprise class equipment is an experience that cannot be forgotten. We are talking about rack mountable blade servers, RAID and JBOD storage arrays working with SCSI-based technologies such as Fibre Channel, SAS (SATA under the SAS), protocol analyzers and more. And that is only the hardware. Step into the software aspect of it such as High Availability, i.e. Clustering, Dynamic Multipathing, Load Balancing, things tend to get a bit more exciting.

  • Distributions

    • Debian Lenny: Returning Home to the Mothership

      Lenny looks and works just fine on my system, and it is noticeably peppier. Maybe that’s from using the nv driver; whatever it is, screen redraws and moving windows do not have the lag that Kubuntu and Ubuntu do, and scrolling Web pages is smoother and faster.

    • The Beginner’s Guide to Linux, Part 1: Finding the Right Distribution

      We are certain that many of you want to try Linux to see what it is like, but have no idea where to start or how to get into it. This article is the first installment in a four-part guide that will gradually introduce you to the Linux environment and how to adjust to it if you are a new user.

      One of the hardest things to do while starting out is finding a distro that is right for you. Many users try several before settling on one of two that they really like. Once they find a distro that feels right, they are often reluctant to switch unless the distro becomes unsuitable for their needs for whatever reason.

    • Review: Mepis 8.0

      I AM a little conflicted about Mepis.

      It is part of the family of Debian-based Linux distributions which I tend to favour, and it is a distribution I used for quite a lengthy period in the past.

      Plus, there is much to like about version 8.0, released recently to coincide with the launch of its parent distribution, Debian 5.0 ‘Lenny’.

    • Linux forensics – Part 1: Helix

      Helix is a highly useful toolbox. The dual mode is especially valuable, since quite a few system administrators are not that proficient in Linux. Furthermore, it allows Helix users to approach Windows-related problems with several methods, first trying to cope with problems while still logged in Windows and then escalating to the Linux live CD mode.

      Helix is a stable, complete package, with a broad range of great utilities that will significantly increase your ability to respond to problems, threats and incidents in your environment.

    • Red Hat

      • Fedora 10 regains Linux fans

        I know personally, I’m been very impressed by Fedora 10. This edition of Fedora is the first one in years to have won a long-term place on my Linux desktop line-up in my office/lab. While I have over two-dozen computers that I use for evaluations, that still isn’t enough. So I only keep operating systems around that I think are either truly useful or matter to many users. Fedora makes it on both accounts.

        I suspect too that Red Hat, which is re-entering the Linux desktop market, has been working hard to improve Fedora as a desktop system for the last few months. From where I sit, it’s certainly Red Hat’s best desktop in years.

      • Fedora Users Gather In Berlin for LinuxTag And Fedora 11 Development

        The Fedora Project, a Red Hat (NYSE: RHT) sponsored and community-supported open source collaboration project, announced today that the Fedora Project will host the Fedora Users and Developers Conference (FUDCon) between June 26-28, 2009 in Berlin, Germany. FUDCon is a periodically held, community event where the Fedora community meets to discuss and collaborate on cutting edge technology features that eventually become part of the next release of the Fedora platform.

      • Red Hat Fedora Linux 10 nears 1 million user mark

        When combined with other actively used Fedora distributions as of Feb 16, 2009, Fedora’s counting method reports 12,188,598 Fedora Linux installations across Fedora 7,8,9 and 10 releases.

      • Red Hat upgrades its mission

        Red Hat has long been the big Kahuna in open-source software, but a new mission statement points to an even bigger role for the company.

        Red Hat has long billed itself as “the defining technology company of the 21st century (seeking) through (its) actions (to) strengthen the social fabric by continually democratizing content and technology.”

    • Ubuntu

      • Ubuntu 9.04′s New Login Screen

        Ubuntu 9.04 is getting closer and closer to the final release and we thought that it would be nice to give you guys a sneak peek at some of the upcoming features. The new version of Ubuntu will be released in less than two months, on April 23rd, and it will be dubbed Jaunty Jackalope. One of these new features was introduced with tonight’s updates and it is a brand new login screen a.k.a. GDM (GNOME Display Manager) theme, which is black and has a nice Ubuntu logo in the right bottom corner. The new login screen is entitled “Human” and it was created by Kenneth Wimer and Mat Tomaszewski for Canonical.

      • Softpedia Linux Weekly, Issue 34
      • Startup Adds Ubuntu as OS for Unified Communications

        Unison now offers both desktop and server versions of its unified communications software on Ubuntu Linux. Unison’s software, which runs exclusively on Linux server OSes but can run on either a Linux or Windows desktop, already runs on Red Hat Enterprise Linux and CentOS.

      • Subtle Improvements In Ubuntu 9.04 Alpha 5

        Ubuntu 9.04 Alpha 5 should be out tomorrow (or Friday if there are any last minute delays) while the final alpha will be out in mid-March. The final release of Ubuntu 9.04 is scheduled for the 23rd of April.

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Media player targets embedded Linux devices

      Embedded development firm NthCode announced a media player for IP-ready DVD players, TVs, and other Linux-based devices. NthCode Player automatically connects to home networks, and then catalogs all available media, offering WebKit browser access to media, plus feeds from BitTorrent and RSS, says the company.

    • Tiny X86 COM runs Debian, supports IPv6

      SSV announced an x86-compatible computer-on-module (COM) that measures 3.2 by 1.1-inches (81 x 28mm), and targets TCP/IPv4-6 embedded networking applications. Attaching to custom I/O boards via “DIL” (dual in line) sockets, the DIL/NetPC DNP/2486 runs an IPv6-ready Debian Linux stack on a 300MHz Vortex86SX system-on-chip (SoC).

    • Freescale to unveil handheld SoC at user conference

      MontaVista is once again collaborating with Freescale on training for the five global events. The Linux tools and operating system firm has been an FTF sponsor since the program’s inception. Additionally, the two companies previously partnered on a multi-country road show, in which they demonstrated their combined products.

    • Kindle

      • Kindle’s Feeling Reviewers’ Love

        As Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) ships the second version of its popular e-reader Kindle, the reviews flowing in so far are waxing warm and fuzzy about device enhancements — even though they are nearly silent on price.

      • Amazon’s E-Book Strategy Re-Kindles Debate on Open Standards

        In addition to various DRM arrangements and licensing, many other proprietary e-book formats are out on the market, like eReader. Many are pushing some open formats, such as the International Digital Publishing Forum’s ePub to become a universal standard in the industry.

      • 5 Reasons Why I Bought a Kindle 2

        Until the release of this version of the Kindle, I hadn’t been particularly interested in buying one. Frankly, I thought the first Kindle was ugly and a rather stupid idea. I chuckled and snorted with derision when Amazon first announced it, sure that it would be just another e-book bomb like so many before it. But oddly enough, the Kindle turned out to be a reasonable success with around 500,000 estimated sales last year.

    • Phones

      • Sesca Unveils Open Source Qt-based Mobile Phone Stack

        The reference implementation uses Openmoko’s NeoFreerunner and features advanced touch screen and customizable graphical user interface (GUI). The Ample also offers versatile applications such as a multimedia player and communications tools.

      • Phone design runs Android

        Chinese mobile ODM (original design maker) Yuhua is shipping a hardware reference design for a smartphone that runs the Linux-based Android mobile stack. The Xphone-SDK runs Android on a 624MHz PXA-310 SoC, with 128MB SDRAM and 256MB of flash.

    • Sub-notebooks

Free Software/Open Source

  • Hawking Open Source in Tough Times

    When budgets are tightening pretty much everywhere, selling businesses on new software systems is not an easy job. However, open source development and support firms are using the world’s economic malaise to underscore their value propositions, hoping cash-strapped companies may give free software a closer look.

  • Opengear Reports Record Order Bookings in Q4 2008

    Opengear experienced record order bookings in the fourth quarter of 2008 ending December 31, 2008 and has started off the first quarter of 2009 with what will be a record first quarter for the company despite the economic slowdown. Opengear attributes their success to an increase in new channel partners and customers, leading edge marketing initiatives, next generation product features and the best customer service and technical support in the console server market space.

  • How To Lean Towards Free & Open

    People talk a lot about “going open”, or leaving proprietary apps of various kinds for open source equivalents. My way of putting it has been to say “leaning open”, to emphasize that you don’t need to do this by diving into the deep end of the pool and praying you learn how to swim right then and there. In this and future installments I’m going to be talking about that process in detail.

  • Mozilla

    • Mozilla Community Marketing Guide is live

      After a few months working on it, Mozilla’s Marketing Team has just launched the Community Marketing Guide!
      This guide is intended to help everyone interested in Mozilla marketing by pointing them to the marketing resources they need, or helping them to be inspired with fresh ideas on marketing Mozilla software. A community is very important for developing and maintaining a healthy project, so in the marketing guide you will find resources to help evangelise and promote Mozilla.

    • Mozilla interview: Opening up mobile browsing

      Location, privacy and web standards: as the first alpha and beta releases of Fennec, Mozilla’s mobile browser, come out, Mozilla VP Jay Sullivan tells us the phone isn’t a separate world any more.

    • about:mozilla – Change the Web, Labs meetup, Marketing mailing list, Meeting notes, two awards, Camino, Education, and more…

      In this issue…

      * Harnessing Firefox Add-ons and Web apps to make change
      * Labs meetup, Mountain View + London
      * Mozilla Marketing mailing list
      * Mozilla Project status meeting notes

    • screencast of open web video in firefox 3.1

      I’ve made a screencast to describe some of the new video capabilities and how they can interact with the rest of the open web technologies we’re building into Firefox 3.1. Although I’ve embedded it below with a video tag (with a fallback to vimeo) I strongly suggest that you view the full sized version in either OGG Theora format or Quicktime H.264 for maximum clarity. It’s als up on vimeo.

  • Business

    • Ingres Announces Open Source Solutions as the Way to Save Money and Eliminate Risk

      Staff cuts and budget reductions – all signs of the difficult economic times organizations face today. Organizations are cancelling or delaying important new projects and evaluating cost-cutting measures just to survive. At the same time, proprietary software vendors are increasing license fees, and support and maintenance costs seemingly without concern as to how this affects their customers.

    • Ingres, Alfresco debut open-source SharePoint rival

      Open-source vendors Ingres and Alfresco are teaming up on a software appliance that bundles the Ingres database with Alfresco’s content management platform, hoping the combination will prove to be an enticing alternative to Microsoft SharePoint.

      The two vendors have already bundled their products but decided to go a step further with the appliance, which adds a Linux operating system and can be installed on commodity hardware, said Deb Woods, vice president of product management at Ingres.

    • Acquia, Alfresco Partner With Optaros for First Drupal CMIS Interface

      Proposed as a new standard for content management by industry-leading organizations including IBM, Microsoft, Oracle and Alfresco, CMIS allows for interoperability between multiple sites and content repositories. Visit http://buytaert.net/cmis for more information on CMIS.

    • Using Drupal

      I have read a lot of Drupal books as well as online materials. This particular book is one I was looking forward to for a long time. It was just released in December 2008 and is from O’Reilly Press. I have never made it a secret that I find O’Reilly’s books to be consistently good, and usually the best in any category in which they have offerings available. This book lived up to my expectations.

    • Open Enterprise Interview: Bertrand Diard, Talend CEO

      If open source did not exist, it would be necessary to invent it, if only to deal with the ragbag collection of data formats out there.

      For open source has a unique flexibility and extensibility not generally available to proprietary programs, which allows it to cope with most applications and situations. This makes it ideal as a kind of software “glue” for stitching together pre-existing computer systems, which were created in an ad-hoc way with little thought of any eventual need to make them talk efficiently to each other.

      This powerful feature of open source was pretty much the driving force behind the creation of the data integration company Talend. Here its cofounder and CEO, Bertrand Diard, talks eloquently about the genesis of his company, open source’s unique advantages in this sphere, the state of free software in his native France, and just why Talend decided to snuggle up to Microsoft last year.

    • Is M&A stifling Oracle’s creativity?

      Even so, a big question is looming as to whether Oracle, which spends just 10 to 15 percent of its budget on research and development, can keep up with competitors and, in particular, open source.

      “Open source?!” you say, “that’s just a big commodifier of others’ innovations.” Not so. In fact, if you look at the budgets of most emerging open-source companies, we spend significantly more on development than Oracle and, importantly, more of that R&D budget goes toward real innovation, not reinventing the wheel. Indeed, that’s the whole premise behind open-source development: efficient reuse of code.

      That’s not the whole story, however. As Mirchandani points out in a follow-on post, Oracle customers are troubled by its support morass. Such customers are likely to be enticed by open-source offerings, which make support, not license fees, the centerpiece of their offerings.

    • Community-Source Development Appeals in Tough Times

      A combination of traditional and open-source development models, community source can save companies money and reduce vendor lock-in.

      The concept of community-source development is catching on with enterprise organizations, both inside and outside of corporate and organizational walls for its ability to cut costs, increase collaboration and avoid vendor lock-in.

  • Business Intelligence

    • What Business Intelligence Options Exist in Tough Economic Times?

      It still remains to be seen whether or not organizations will choose to invest in business intelligence during a recession. Due to financial and market uncertainties, there are generally two ways organizations might look at business intelligence (BI) and its overall value to the organization. First, that cutting budgets and limiting IT spending will save costs. Or second, that it becomes even more important to manage an organization’s performance and that this will, in turn, lower overall expenses and help organizations stay competitive. Whichever way organizations on a large scale choose to look at things remains to be seen as both sentiments have potential value.

    • Centro Deploys Pentaho Business Intelligence for Better Tactical and Strategic Decision Making
  • Releases

    • Appcelerator Releases New Preview Of Open Source Developer Platform Titanium, Adds Bells And Whistles

      This morning, Mountain View-based startup Appcelerator is taking the wraps off its second Preview Release for Titanium, an open-source developer platform meant to compete with Adobe AIR and the likes for building rich internet, mobile and desktop applications.

    • Progress’ open source FUSE ESB makes gains in recession

      Fuse ESB is based on Apache’s ServiceMix. Progress also sells a proprietary Sonic ESB platform that will be retrofitted in 2009 to better support open source and open standards and mix and match Fuse components, executives say.

      Version 4.0 of FUSE, which was delivered late last year, offers OSGi support. And the recently released version 4.1 offers OSGi support and a good chunk of JBI (Java Business Integration) compliance, noted Debbie Moynihan, director of Fuse at Progress Software.

    • Dedicated Server Open Source Collaboration Software, Enhances Language Support

      Integrated open source e-mail and collaboration solutions for enterprises firm, Open-Xchange, has developed a comprehensive feature update for the Open-Xchange Server 6 product family.

    • FreeSWITCH (Open Source VoIP App) 1.0.3 Released

      The FreeSWITCH team is pleased to announce the release of version 1.0.3. The developers have focused a lot of attention on quality in this release. The changelog has 127 items, most of which are bug fixes, tweaks, and improvements. However, a new FreeSWITCH release just wouldn’t be complete without some new goodies.

  • Government

    • Open Source India: An answer to economic meltdown!

      In these times of economic meltdown, the mantra “every penny saved is penny earned” has become the rule-of-thumb for all organisations when planning any form of expenditure. While IT managers are hard-pressed to lower their cost of IT Infrastructure, software development firms are looking at better ways of developing software for their clients.

      If you go by IT Gurus, FOSS (free and open source) is touted as one of the best solutions to handle these challenges. But can FOSS really help India to gain a competitive edge in ‘developing’ and ‘adopting’ IT?

    • Obama, Carl Malamud, and Where Are All of the Open Source People?

      While it is a long shot to make Carl the head of the GPO (the decisions are made by Congress, and the statutory requirements may be an issue*), the campaign for Carl raises a larger issue. Where are the free spirits and open source people in the Obama Administration? So far, they are certainly not getting high profile jobs, unlike, for example, the many copyright lawyers who are known for their devotion to the entertainment business.

    • Open Sourcing America’s Operating System
    • Wedding Open Source to Government Service Delivery

      One of the challenges I’m most interested in is how we can wed “open” systems to government hierarchies. In a lecture series I’ve developed for Health Canada I’ve developed a way of explaining how we do this already with our 911 service.

      To being, I like using 911 as an example because people are familiar and comfortable with it. More importantly, virtually everyone agrees that it is not only an essential piece of modern government service but also among the most effective.

  • Open (But No Source Code)

    • Toon Radio Goes Open Source

      Toon Radio has two tiers for this service. The basic service is free and is designed for most uses. The premium tier is not free, but allows for submission longer than an hour in length. For both, Toon Radio plans to play submissions on a first in, first out basis, except when submissions cannot fit inside Open Source’s time slot.

    • Free E-Books and E-Book Resources

      Google Book Search is emerging as one of the most popular free ways to read books, on either a computer or a portable phone. Google currently has 1.5 million e-books available.

  • Applications

    • Zmanda’s Cloud-based Open Source Backup for SMEs

      Let’s face it, in these tough economic times, what could play better than a low-cost backup offering based on open source technologies?

      That’s what Zmanda is hoping as it rolls out new cloud and enterprise data backup and recovery offerings.

    • FlightGear Flight Simulator

      This past weekend, I was considering purchasing a flight simulator for my PC. While researching various options, I found a free, online simulator called FlightGear. It’s an open source game, which means anyone who knows what they’re doing can write and program for it. (An example of a closed source game would be Microsoft Flight Simulator, which has only the people hired by Microsoft developing the game.) There are hundreds of modern and historic airplanes and helicopters available and detailed scenery of the entire world.

    • Fictional Air Combat 0.1.3

      I recently discovered YAFS on SF.net: Fictional Air Combat, which is an action flight simulation at an early development stage.

    • NetSol Expands Open Source Library

      The newly added services include blogging software WordPress, content management service Joomla!, and photo organizer Gallery2.

      Since these applications are open source and are widely used, Network Solutions is constantly developing and adding new features that web based business will find useful.


  • The Benefits of Open Standards for European SMEs, OFE Brief no. 2, 2009

    Open Standards create the opportunity to integrate solutions at lowest cost, providing local innovation and niche high value services to their customers. Open Standards encourage growth and innovation without the step function increase in costs paid to external licence holders.

  • DNSSEC: Forgetting The User, Again.

    A lot of very smart people are working very hard to make the Internet trustworthy. The Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) has launched a beta Interim Trust Anchor Repository so top-level domain owners can publish DNSSEC material while ICANN works out signing of the root zones. The ITAR is one more step in the road to DNSSEC. But DNSSEC is a technical solution and, like other technical solutions, ultimately misses the point.


  • Aussie internet-net will be drawn wider

    The Australian government is already planning to block legal internet content when its “great firewall” eventually goes live. That is the fear expressed by some of the most trenchant critics of this scheme, including Senators Simon Birmingham (for the Liberal Party) and Scott Ludlam (for the Greens) following another shift in emphasis by Communications Minister Stephen Conroy in evidence to the Environment, Communications and the Arts committee on Monday.

  • Recording Industry, Politicians Continue To Give Bogus Reasons To Support 3 Strikes In New Zealand

    Lawrence D’Oliveiro continues to keep us informed on the more ridiculous aspects of the push by both the recording industry and certain politicians in New Zealand to push through that country’s highly controversial policy to cut off file sharers based on accusations rather than actual convictions for file sharing. First up is that the country’s Prime Minister appears to be flat-out lying when he claims that New Zealand has to implement such a plan to remain in compliance with international obligations. That’s simply not true. He claims that other countries, like Australia and the UK have already implemented similar plans, but that’s also not true. Both countries have considered such a plan, but the UK, for instance, has already said that it will not require ISPs to cut anyone off the internet. To claim that New Zealand has to do so or that other countries have already agreed to the same thing is simply untrue.

  • British Charities Discover Web Filters Don’t Work

    Firms providing some 5% of the country’s broadband connections haven’t implemented the blacklist, either because they recognize that it doesn’t work, or because of the expense. Keep in mind this is the same blacklist that blocked Wikipedia and screwed up UK edits of the site, and also blocked the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine

  • Small ISPs reject call to filter out child abuse sites

    ISPs have rejected a call by childrens’ charities to implement the government’s approved blocklist for images of child sexual abuse, because the list does not stop anyone who wants to accessing such material.

  • Leading Academics Hit Out as Government Abandons Evidence-Based Policy on Copyright.

    In an open letter sent today to David Lammy, UK Minister for Innovation, some of the country’s most eminent economists and intellectual property scholars, have hit out at government proposals to consider changing policy on term extension. The letter, which has also been sent to the Cabinet Office, the Treasury and the Culture Minister, voices serious concern at the lack of evidence justifying a change that seems to show the Government prefers special interests over facts.


  • How Do You Ban Someone From Posessing A ‘Recording Device’?

    Michael Geist points out that a guy in Canada has been convicted under an anti-camcording law for recording a showing of the movie Dan in Real Life (I’m sure it was big on all the torrent sites). However, what struck me as interesting was the punishment handed out. The guy is on 24 months of probation, has to perform 120 hours of community service, is barred from entering a movie theater or associating with anyone involved in movie piracy. And… he is barred from owning any recording device

  • Pirate Bay prosecutors get jiggy with charge sheet – again

    Prosecutors in the entertainment industry versus The Pirate Bay trial have made further amendments to the charge sheet in the hope of nailing a conviction against the defendants.

Digital Tipping Point: Clip of the Day

Gabriella Coleman, an anthropologist studying the Free Open Source Software movement 05 (2004)

Ogg Theora

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

Quick Mention: Microsoft, Amid/Near Debt, Declares Legal War on Linux

Posted in Courtroom, GNU/Linux, Kernel, Microsoft, TomTom, Videos at 7:30 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

If any proof was needed that Microsoft is going down, it’s this desperate first lawsuit against Linux (over patents). The lawsuit is against TomTom, whose CEO recently made the statements seen below.

More details to come shortly.

Ogg Theora

TomTom CEO: ‘We spent more money on patent litigation then R&D

Ogg Theora

TomTom CEO: ‘The cumbersome patent situation works against everyone who is trying to build business’

Huge 180 in Favour of Free Software and ODF in the UK

Posted in Europe, Free/Libre Software, Law at 5:27 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

US and UK flags

SEVERAL READERS urged us to mention the big news from the UK. This comes as a great surprise given the government's attitude towards Free software.

Here is the source of the news where Free software affinity is shown (they call it “open source”).

Open Source has been one of the most significant cultural developments in IT and beyond over the last two decades: it has shown that individuals, working together over the Internet, can create products that rival and sometimes beat those of giant corporations; it has shown how giant corporations themselves, and Governments, can become more innovative, more agile and more cost-effective by building on the fruits of community work; and from its IT base the Open Source movement has given leadership to new thinking about intellectual property rights and the availability of information for re–use by others.

Coverage we were able to pick up is as follows.

OSI: UK Government Getting Real About Open Source

As billions of bail-out dollars become trillions, it is clear that we need to be realistic about the nature and the solutions to our world-wide software crisis. Today the world spends more than $3T USD per year on systems that are largely based on vendor lock-in, not value and not free and fair competition. What is most shocking about the $3T USD number is not its sheer size alone, but the fact that fully $1T USD of that number is written off ever year when people are forced to abandon their projects before putting them into production. The place to fix that problem is not in any specific piece of software (most of which has 20-30 defects per 1000 source lines of code), but in the fundamental system of competition that is responsible for ensuring that malignant software can be successfully removed in the first place. The UK Government’s decision is a strong step in the direction of properly restoring the right kind of competition in the marketplace. The days of rewarding past performance, especially the performance of amassing billions of dollars based on strategic lock-in, must be put behind us. And we should treat any use of such funds for furthering vendor lock-in as extremely suspect and worthy of an immediate and full investigation.

Computer Weekly (UK): Government pushes open source with 10-point plan

The government is getting serious about using open source as a building block in systems development.

Yesterday its top IT policy-making body, the CIO Council, published a10

point action plan that frees central and local government departments to use open source systems where possible.

IDG: Open Source? Labour’s Working on It

There’s no doubt that in the UK the winners so far have been the Conservatives, who have seized on open source as a stick with which to beat the current government’s miserable record on large-scale IT projects, most of which have been way over budget at best, and utter failures at worst (with some managing both).

This has understandably put pressure on Labour to come up with a riposte, and yesterday it was unveiled in the form of something called “Open Source, Open Standards and Re–Use: Government Action Plan” (there’s a handy version from WriteToReply here, where you can add your comments.

BBC: UK government backs open source

The UK government has said it will accelerate the use of open source software in public services.

Tom Watson MP, minister for digital engagement, said open source software would be on a level playing field with proprietary software such as Windows.

Advogato: Open Source, Open Standards and Re-Use: UK Government Policy

The UK Government has made it clear that Open Source and Open Standards, with a focus on re-use of software development and deployment, is to clearly and unequivocably be part of the decision-making for UK Government I.T. procurement and contracting. Also part of the policy is a clear committment to engage with the Free Software community and to actively encourage the development of “Government-Class” Free Software products.

Alan Lard: UK Government: Starts The Push For FOSS?

Whoa! This comes from the Chief Information Office Council. Yes, the Government is so big they can’t have just one CIO like even the biggest Enterprise, they have to have a whole council of them ;-)

Jupitermedia: Is the UK going open source?

The new UK initiative however is not a wholesale rip and replace of the proprietary tools it already uses. It does not restrict the use of proprietary software either, but rather ‘supports’ open standards over closed proprietary lock-in.

Simon Phipps (Sun): UK Government Endorses Open Source and ODF

Late today (UK time), the British Government issued a bold new strategy for use of open source software – and open standards – in Great Britain. In Open Source, Open Standards and Re-Use, the government’s Minister for Digital Engagement (yes, really, and he’s on Twitter too) significantly revised the brave but toothless policy of 2004 “that it should seek to use Open Source where it gave the best value for money to the taxpayer in delivering public services”. This is fantastic news – the digital tipping point is at hand. (The publication is also progressive in having nominated use of the tag “#ukgovOSS” in comment and coverage so it can be found and aggregated).

The Register: Government publishes open-source strategy

The announcement follows a recent declaration by shadow chancellor George Osborne that the Conservative Party favours the greater use of open source and would take action to prove a “level playing field”.

VNUNet: Government publishes open-source strategy

Heise: UK Government policy update supports open source

Torygraph: Labour disingenously adopts Tory position on open source software

There will surely be plenty more in days to come. Since the UK is one of the countries closest this Microsoft, this is pretty major. Microsoft partners like Fortify [1, 2] will soon try to rain on this parade or maybe even 'pull a Quinn' on the CIO in charge.

“[W]hat things an app would do that would make it run with MSDOS and not run with DR-DOS. Is there [sic] feature they have that might get in our way?”

Bill Gates

Confirmed: Microsoft OOXML a Security Hazard

Posted in Formats, Google, Microsoft, Open XML, OpenOffice, Security at 1:58 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz


SEVERAL MONTHS ago we warned that OOXML is not secure. Its dependence on a particular platform and office suite rendered it insecure by design just like those ‘origin’ formats, namely binaries, which it merely shuffled around (reassembled).

It is now official and also confirmed that OOXML files are not just insecure but there are also persistent attacks against new flaws (without any security patches being available, i.e. zero-day). To quote one of the more recent reports:

Some Open XML based products as Microsoft Excel are affected by a security flaw and the Trojan.Mdropper.AC.

There is fairly wide coverage of this problem, e.g. in:

Microsoft’s Excel spreadsheet program has a 0-day vulnerability that attackers are exploiting on the Internet, according to security vendor Symantec.

A 0-day vulnerability is one that does not have a patch and is actively being used to attack computers when it is publicly revealed.

Heise Online calls this vulnerability “critical” (highest level of severity by another one Microsoft’s ‘standards’).

According to unconfirmed reports, the anti-virus manufacturer Symantec has found a trojan that seems to use a security hole in Microsoft Excel to remotely execute code on a user’s system. The attack is triggered by opening a maliciously crafted Excel file, causing an unspecified remote code-execution vulnerability.

One reader points out that “Microsoft is continuing its war against a universal office format.

“Notice in particular: ‘will be unable to open Office 2003 files or earlier versions in Office 2003 or 2007 Microsoft Office System

“What kind of hell is this causing in agencies, big businesses and schools? It’s not like they don’t have or could live with out the terabytes of electronic records now locked out by the kludge outlined above.”

Such problems could first be seen a year ago when Microsoft’s OOXML crimes were still prevalent. To make matters worse, Microsoft will continue to drift further away from ECMA OOXML, probably to gravitate in its own proprietary direction. Office 14, for example, is not committed to any real standards and according to yesterday’s report from Mary Jo Foley, it’s already delayed anyway.

Ballmer: Office 14 not this year


However, last year, more than a few times execs slipped up and indicated Office 14 would ship in 2009.

Things are not working well for Redmond these days. For real profit, Microsoft is highly dependent on Office which is its most profitable product (and one of the few that are actually profitable). Unless Microsoft can reinforce planned obsolescence and convince people to buy an upgrade they do not need, there’s great trouble ahead. The economic meltdown does not help.

OpenOffice.org makes a remarkably familiar substitute and Google Apps, among other SaaS alternatives, gain momentum despite the slew of disinformation from former Microsoft employees (masquerading as research firms).

Novell: Ask Microsoft About Windows/Linux Desktop Co-existence

Posted in Europe, GNU/Linux, Interview, Microsoft, Novell, Vista 7, Windows at 1:08 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Marionette attitude

Novell marionette

SINCE his appointment [1, 2, 3], Sean McCarry has had a couple of opportunities to speak to the British press. He last did this a week ago when he was asked hard questions and this week he faces some more questions, some of which are harder to address than others. For example:

If you create a dual boot Microsoft/Linux desktop, by installing Windows then Linux, Linux will recognise the Windows OS, if you install Linux first and then Windows, Windows won’t recognize Linux, do you think that will change at some point?

I can’t comment on the desktop, but in the datacentre Novell SLES can act as the host or the guest operating system for Windows Server 2008. So I think we’re really strong in the datacentre with the Microsoft relationship, but you’d have to ask Microsoft about their desktop strategy for Windows/Linux co-existence.

Nothing has changed. Vista 7 sabotages GNU/Linux-installed MBRs (master boot records). Microsoft just refuses to live in harmony with competition. So why is Novell so gullible that it walks into Microsoft’s badroom[sic]?

“This is WAR, and in that regard, I believe we should design Janus such that if this multiboot partition (has a unique partition number (11)) is found, we should warn the user a foreign OS has been detected, give them a chance to exit and read the docs and possibly make a backup, and then repartition the disk, removing the multiboot partition. This way, we disable OS/2 2.0 in *all* cases.”

Microsoft [PDF]

Novell Tumbles, But Not the ‘Novellsoft’ Part of the Company

Posted in Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, KDE, Microsoft, Mono, Novell at 12:51 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz


Ducks kiss

Killing them (Micro)Softly

NOVELL is expected to announce layoffs very shortly and OS News remarks on the news that some employees have already been notified.

Novell has already announced a number of lay offs, and the openSUSE Linux division has not been spared.

The comments there are quite interesting. One person rightly points out that Novell’s disregard for its GNU/Linux engineers is a bad sign.

If they are laying off 100 out of their 4200 employees, I’m wondering why they are targeting OpenSUSE developers. You’d think that among those 4200 there is a fair share of “fat” that could be cut (middle managers, old-time hangabouts), instead of getting rid of developers in the first place.

As pointed out before, Novell is demoting anything but the Microsoft-esque components of SUSE (and sales). One person writes:

I think you will find that the article does not say that OpenSUSE has been targeted, just that it has not been spared. What is more troubling is that while they are laying off openSUSE folks, they are brining on .NET developers to help with MONO.
Novell is becoming too good friends with Microsoft as far as I can tell…

And in reply:

That’s ironic. I’m typing this on OpenSuSE 11.1 x64 and the one thing that’s wobbly is Mono. In fact one flagship Mono app doesn’t work at all and I be surprised if it ever has since it seems OpenSuSE haven’t yet got around to updating it to a newer, patched version. Another flagship mono app causes freezing and general weird behaviour. Hmmn …

Another person echoes the argument from Linux Today, where it was said that “Novell is Bleeding to Death.”

Novell is Bleeding to Death

Like most declines like this it is a long and slow process, but it’s yet another nail in the coffin. Novell have been laying a lot of workers off over the past few years and it has made no real difference, so in the current climate the squeeze will get even tighter. There are even a lot of rumours that there are more layoffs being covered up within the company.

While Novell’s real GNU/Linux engineers (not those mimicking Microsoft technologies) are clearly being shafted, Miguel and his friends get the red(mond) carpet. Yesterday from de Icaza’s blog:

My friend تلة جوزيف (Youssef) and myself will be heading out to Redmond for the ALT.NET Seattle event this weekend.

What’s it all for? To reference CMS Wire, it’s for making GNU/Linux a third-class citizen [1, 2, 3, 4] (after Mac OS X and Windows). Microsoft deliberately excluded GNU/Linux under the premise that Novell would do this job poorly.

Is Moonlight A Day Late and an App Short?


While Moonlight provides Linux users with the ability to access, view and develop Silverlight applications and Silverlight is already available for Mac OS X, Adobe has been cross-platform for years now.

So the question presents itself, is Moonlight too far behind the widely praised and widely used Adobe Flash set to be a viable competitor?

So at the end of the day, Novell has GNU/Linux striving to become something it cannot ever be. As Stephen O’Grady pointed out 2 years ago, GNU/Linux must not become a cheap(er) copy of something from Microsoft. It needs to compete based on its own merits.

MonoDevelop is a similar example of this. The Microsoft-friendly Gavin Clarke has just published this article to say that Microsoft wants FOSS developers to use Visual Studio. It would be easier for Microsoft to achieve this goal had GNU/Linux users and developers been addicted to Mono and MonoDevelop from Novell, respectively.

Microsoft has invited the open-source community to build plug-ins for Visual Studio 2010, and has improved database support to help build partner backing for its planned integrated development environment (IDE).

There is one goal here: make developers dependent on Microsoft, no matter what platforms they focus on. When Microsoft offered SourceForge its sponsorship it also used SourceForge as a platform to promote the proprietary Visual Studio for FOSS developers [1, 2, 3, 4]. It’s an embrace-and-extend-type strategy, which is assisted by Novell’s misguided endeavors. The Provo-based David Canar is meanwhile creating Qt4 .NET bridges which bring back concerns about Mono in KDE [1, 2, 3, 4].

Another Quieter Acquisition at Novell

Posted in Deals, Identity Management, Novell, Security at 11:42 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Bird with fish

LAST week we wrote about Novell spending money on proprietary software assets whilst showing its GNU/Linux developers the door (it’s not over yet). It turns out now that what’s mostly widely reported in the press was not the only acquisition. According to later reports, this was a dual acquisition:

Two Acquisitions for Novell Boost Security


Novell also has acquired a perpetual source code licence to ActivIdentity’s single sign-on solution, SecureLogin. The product has already been available to Novell customers, but will now be better integrated with Novell’s identity management solutions.

This news also appeared in ITNews.

Novell today announced two new acquisitions designed to extend its identity and access management capabilities.


Novell also announced that it has acquired a perpetual source code licence to ActivIdentity’s single sign-on solution, SecureLogin.

The entities acquired are very small and the financial details not disclosed.

Novell (NASDAQ: NOVL) has quietly bolstered its ID governance portfolio after acquiring the technology assets of a tiny British company and signing a ‘perpetual’ licensing deal with California-based ActivIdentity.


Novell said it will use the Fortefi assets in its Novell Privileged User Manager, which will be due sometime in the second quarter.

The two products:

Novell acquired the technology assets of Somerset, UK-based Fortefi, a provider of compliance and ‘privileged user management solutions’. Essentially, Novell is getting two Fortefi products, namely Command Control and Compliance Auditor.

This stuff might just be folded into Novell’s existing products.

Novell plans to use the firm’s Command Control and Compliance Auditor products to introduce the Novell Privileged User Manager in the second quarter of 2009.

It is possible that, amid difficult times, the feeble ones just sold out cheaply to Novell. But it any event, this was not significant and it is completely irrelevant to Novell’s open/mixed source strategy.

How Microsoft ‘Bought’ Xen to Remove/Reduce Choice (Is Novell Next?)

Posted in GNU/Linux, Interoperability, Microsoft, Novell, Red Hat, Servers, Virtualisation, Xen at 8:23 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

A SUFFICIENTLY LARGE HEAP of developments may have come at the beginning of this week, so here is a quick rundown through various interpretations and how things are inherently connected.

Citrix Ruins Xen for Linux

The latest announcement from Citrix is one which was covered yesterday and here is the press release from the company. There is nothing particularly shocking there.

Ignition Partners and Citrix were apparently used for their relationships with Microsoft to bring over Xen to Microsoft’s side. Having planted influence/cronies inside XenSource, Microsoft then 'bought' it using a partner [1, 2], only to hand it over back to Microsoft, over time [1, 2, 3]. The saga can be summarised as follows:

  1. Former Microsoft employees (Ignition Partners) put money in XenSource, which other companies have come to depend on as means of enabling GNU/Linux and choice
  2. At least one crony was put in charge of Xen (former Microsoft General Manager)
  3. XenSource was sold to Citrix without resistance
  4. Microsoft took Xen’s agenda from Citrix, which was crowned Microsoft Partner of the Year (2008) after buying XenSource

According to Parallels, it’s not surprising that Xen is no longer what it used to be, which leads to a cascading effect (companies dependent on Xen.org).

“I make the further prediction that Citrix will stop developing XenServer altogether since it is not needed to make XenApp work. This will signal the eventual end of XEN. You really have to applaud Microsoft’s Server group here: XEN could have been a serious competitor to them, but instead it ended up being a partner and technology provider. Now, when the difficult economic climate could have created considerable opportunities for the open source XEN offering, it is instead largely out of the picture due to its relationship with Citrix, and by extension with Microsoft.”

Novell is bound to help it too.

[Y]ou can safely bet that Novell will soon be joining up with Microsoft and Citrix to try to shove VMware out of the game with Citrix’s free XenServer.

Further, about Novell.

Particularly prior to the interoperability announcement between Red Hat and Microsoft, some bloggers were attacking Novell for moves such as improving interoperability with ASP.NET, getting the Novell/Microsoft Moonlight project included in Ubuntu Linux 9.04, and increasing its hiring of .NET developers.

It’s a case of focus shifting. Is Novell’s fate similar to that of Xen?

Novell and Maritz

Microsoft has already stirred up trouble inside VMware as well. It put its employees in charge of another virtualisation option that’s by far the market leader. This deserves or even warrants investigation by competition authorities. Now Novell is sidling with VMware as well.

Novell and VMware said Tuesday that they are collaborating so independent software vendors can build SUSE Linux Enterprise virtual appliances. The two companies will also develop VMware-ready appliances on SUSE Linux.

Red Hat Goes It Alone

The Microsoft-Red Hat agreement remains a bit of an enigma. This has been the subject of much debate recently, but it’s not known what the agreement actually meant in technical terms and whether it involved KVM or Xen (or both) on the non-Microsoft side. Sam Varghese wrote about the subject and also included a valuable quote from Samba’s lead (Samba has always been against the Novell deal).

Said Tridgell: “I certainly have no objection in principle to interoperability agreements, and I am pleased that Red Hat have gone to the trouble of pointing out that the agreement does not contain any of the patent components that are so problematic with the Novell agreement.”

“How does this impinge on Microsoft/Novell’s ‘virtualisation interoperability’ deal? What do Novell get out of it? Or what did they think they were getting out of it,” asks one reader.

“As far as I can see, Novell signed away some IP rights and agreed to get out of the desktop business in return for Microsoft collaboration in the data center. Now it seems that Microsoft has signed a similar deal with Red Hat, without signing away any patent rights, and now VM ‘partner’ Citrix is ‘giving away’ its offerings. Seems like Microsoft stole the wind right out of their sails.”

Novell is by all means the biggest loser in this case and as announced in an important press release, Red Hat has just outlined its virtualisation strategy.

Red Hat Monday introduced an entire line of virtualization software aimed at disrupting the current market and leader VMware’s position by giving customers an open-source option for virtualizing their data centers.

Red Hat unleashed another press release about its ISVs and the role of virtualisation, which it is careful not to label “cloud” or some other buzzword.

Red Hat, Inc. (NYSE:RHT), the world’s leading provider of open source solutions, today announced its virtualization agenda and roadmap for 2009, including confirmation that its broad ecosystem of applications tested and certified to run on Red Hat Enterprise Linux are certified to run in a Red Hat virtualized platform with no modifications. Red Hat offers a broad ecosystem of certified applications, enabling expanded flexibility and choice for customers.

There is additional analysis from Sean Michael Kerner and from Timothy Prickett Morgan of IT Jungle/The Register.

Red Hat is a player in operating systems and middleware, and it wants to be a player in server virtualization – at least more of a player than it has been since it parked the Xen hypervisor inside its Enterprise Linux 5 distro back in March 2007.

This news also got the attention of Dana Blankenhorn and that of IBM’s Linux chief. SJVN argues that Red Hat demotes Xen and pushes for KVM instead.

Despite Red Hat’s surprising announcement last week that it would be partnering with Microsoft on virtualization, on February 23rd, Red Hat’s announced that it would be switching its virtualization strategy from a mix of virtualization programs, including the Microsoft-friendly Xen, to focusing on Linux’s baked-in KVM (Kernel-based Virtual Machine)

KVM, as Red Hat CTO Brian Stevens admitted during a press call, is still a work in progress. But, Stevens assured the audience, by working with IBM and Intel, Red Hat will be able to deliver its full Red Hat Virtualization portfolio within the next 12-months. The first fruits of this switch will appear in RHEL (Red Hat Enterprise Linux) 5.4, which is due out in August 2009.

“The Microsoft-friendly Xen,” it says right there. Paula Rooney rightly opines that Red Hat has lost interest in Xen:

More importantly, Red Hat issued its war plan against Xen.

So Microsoft turned Xen from a friend of GNU/Linux almost into its foe, at least from some companies’ perspective. What a difference cash infusions can make.

Red hat woman

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