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03.01.09

The Novell/Microsoft Deal Failed, But Not for Ron Hovsepian

Posted in Finance, Free/Libre Software, FUD, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Novell, Ron Hovsepian at 8:26 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

McBride #2?

Ron Hovsepian begs Ballmer

Summary: More about the bonuses/benefits given to Novell’s CEO and the grim future which lies ahead as a result of self-imposed dependence

NOVELL’S CEO may be a happy man not because of his company’s performance (Novell may still be fudging its numbers) but because of his person gains [1, 2]. Boycott Novell is not the only Web site to have noticed this. Here is another gem from the news:

Information technology icon Novell, Inc. (NDAQ: NOVL ) fared poorly even in this economy: down more than 50% over the last 12 months. This didn’t stop CEO Ronald Hovsepian from getting compensation valued at almost $7 million for the year, with nearly $3 million of that in cash. Will Novell’s first quarter results vindicate the pay?

With imminent layoffs (VNUNet referred to them by name a couple of days ago), Novell’s CEO deserves flak. If people don’t speak out against this robbery, then nothing will change. This happens to be the man who is responsible for the deal with Microsoft, at least in part.

Dana Blankenhorn has always understood what was happening with this deal, which he continues to view negatively. He has published a very critical post under the headline “Does Microsoft still need Novell?”

Novell is now facing the consequences of leaving its fate in another company’s hands.

This is hardly news, but to Blankenhorn’s credit, he saw and wrote about the deal without any optimism pretty much since its inception. Despite his erroneous judgment on topics he does not understand [1, 2] (due to lack of direct experience), he is able to see the evilness in Novell’s patent deal, unlike reporters who so conveniently ignore the problems.

Sadly, however, Blankenhorn has been posting lots of open source-hostile opinions under the “open source” heading. It sometimes feels like a FUD blog — but hey — it’s ZDNet. It’s intended to be this way (Microsoft sends its staff over there). It’s actually interesting to find that Forrester too has a blog there and it writes about GNU/Linux. Is this the same Forrester which published anti-GNU/Linux studies in exchange for payments from Microsoft?

Demise of Microsoft’s Core Business, as Captured by the Press

Posted in Microsoft, Office Suites, Vista, Vista 7, Windows at 8:05 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summer storm

Summary: Stories of failure for Vista and Vista 7, Office substitutes, and XBox hostilities

YESTERDAY we wrote about Microsoft winning the “Great Fiasco Award” for its — err — “exceptional” achievements with Windows Vista. There is further discussion about it even in ‘big’ sites such as:

As a further sign that Vista 7 may replicate some of Vista's failures, behold the revelation that Vista 7 has over 2000 known bugs. In reality, there are far more (not detected yet) and Microsoft refuses to fix them because it puts this successor of Vista on the fast track. It’s said to be slated for release no earlier than next year (there are contradictory reports).

Steven Sinofsky, the Senior Vice President for the Microsoft Windows and Windows Live Engineering Group, in an attempt to quell a beta tester rebellion over a perceived lack of feedback concerning bug reporting has made an astonishing confession: Windows 7 has at least 2000 bugs.

No wonder early adopters are disappointed (some are being bribed to brag about it).

Vista 7 will be as vulnerable as Vista and some researchers argue that it will even be more vulnerable than Vista because of changes made for convenience’s sake. Either way, anti-virus software will be needed and this interesting new post speaks of the impact on the environment (spare resources and CPU cycles).

Windows = Antivirus = Pollution?

[...]

I just read an article by the University of Calgary where the author claims (and I think he’s correct) that IT is a huge pollutant. For example, we have hardware that becomes obsolete, we have to produce electricity to pump into our gadgets, etc.

Not long ago I read another article where it’s calculated (or so they say) how much pollution is produced by each search on google.

[...]

So… coming back to the question: Windows = Antivirus = Pollution? Can anybody try to make a wild guess about how much pollution is produced by antiviruses?

There are several other posts or articles that are worth linking to. IDG shares “10 Reasons to Avoid Office 2007,” but being IDC, it almost completely ignores the fact that there is another option (or many) other than different versions of Office. Another Microsoft-friendly site, namely ZDNet, writes about substitutes to Outlook, which is part of Microsoft Office.

If you’re using a Microsoft Windows operating system there is also a good chance that you use Office and Outlook as your email client. But is this really a choice?

More than likely it was a default option; the software is there, so why not use it? Why? Because there might be something out there that suits your needs far better. Other email clients can be highly customised to suit particular industries and may include options not available in Outlook.

Trouble and unrest in XBox land too:

The Xbox Live banning of a lesbian gamer who self-identified her sexuality created a huge furor on Thursday, prompting Microsoft to characterize its own banning policies as “inelegant.”

Things are not working so smoothly up there in Redmond. Marketing may fool the broader audience until they actually try the products. It was the same with Windows Vista, which was mostly hailed in 2006.

Microsoft Influence (and Staff) Inside Vofafone, BBC

Posted in DRM, Microsoft at 7:19 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Man with towel on head
Hallo Motoicrosoft

Summary: Apparent overlap in staff may or may not impact business decisions

THE REASON to worry about insider intervention is well documented in the form of recent examples. When an employee departs from Microsoft, he or she is able to cause a lot of damage to Microsoft competitors which have such people recruited. In some cases, these are not direct competitors but rather they are potential allies or ‘surrogate’ companies (e.g. media channels) that can impose Microsoft products upon their clients. Unfortunately, that’s just how it typically works. That’s life.

A year ago we saw Microsoft emitting/letting one of is chiefs inherit the throne of Vodafone and it didn’t take long to see some effects [1, 2, 3, 4]. Several months later and in last week’s news we saw more of this relationship coming to fruition:

Vodafone to offer Microsoft online services

[...]

Vodafone, the world’s largest mobile phone network operator by revenue, is to offer Microsoft online services to small and medium-sized businesses through the computer, phone and browser, it said on Thursday.

[...]

“By combining Vodafone’s fixed and mobile communication services with Microsoft Online Services we can provide all the elements of a fully hosted communications solution.”

“Mission accomplished” or just a coincidence? It probably doesn’t matter much. They are like a pair of canaries now.

Microsoft and Vodafone intend to continue to grow the partnership through future collaboration and development that will yield business solutions and capabilities that integrate Vodafone Voice Services and Virtual PBX, which will ultimately provide a fully converged fixed and mobile communications solution for businesses.

A week ago we also wrote about Microsoft's latest escapades not only in the BBC but also — potentially — inside other media channels across the UK. The Independent may have more information about this. For context and background, readers should be aware of who Ashley Highfield is and what such people are doing.

Why the collapse of Kangaroo is an ‘opportunity’ for Microsoft

Ashley Highfield was the king of new media at the BBC. Now, in his first interview since joining Microsoft, he tells Ian Burrell of his plans to make MSN the home of online television

It’s easy to smell cronies when you see them.

Related posts:

Cutbacks at Microsoft, More Canceled Products Rumoured (Corrected)

Posted in Apple, Finance, Microsoft at 6:21 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Was: “Layoffs at Apple, Cutbacks at Microsoft, More Canceled Products Rumoured” (corrected to reflect on the age of the Apple article)

Apple keyboard
Commands to leave a function of reduction in business

Summary: Signs of the stagnating proprietary software business, as seen in Microsoft

THE LATEST NEWS about Novell brought to the discussion some Mac enthusiasts who perceive Apple as invincible (see BetaNews for details). This type of enthusiasm was short lived however. Apple is preparing for layoffs according to new reports [correction: this article is very old], so Microsoft's pains are not so unique now that countries like the UK are looking the other way (adoption of Free software and ODF).

LEAD: Apple Computer Inc. is expected to lay off 400 to 500 employees this week as part of an effort to control expenses, industry executives said. Apple’s growth has slowed, partly because of an industry slump and partly because its product line lacks competitive inexpensive personal computers.

In addition to this, according to an isolated report, Microsoft’s ESP platform is on the ropes right now, just like other services or divisions that Microsoft shut down.

Users of Microsoft’s 3D simulation platform have been rocked by news that the company has laid off off or reassigned most of the of the platform’s developers. However, Microsoft is refusing to comment on the future of the software.

A couple of days ago, reports began to surface where it’s suggested that a 10% pay cut for temporary Microsoft employees is on its way. The only news arriving since then is that it’s confirmed and Microsoft workers are protesting.

Microsoft may have just accomplished what the WashTech labor union tried to do for years — motivating its workers to band together and fight for their common interests. At least, that’s the aim of a new site called MSRateCuts.org, which objects to the pay cuts expected to result from Microsoft’s decision to reduce the rate it pays the agencies that provide many of its temporary workers.

This friendly protest is covered here as well. It did no good.

Temp giant Volt informs workers it will make Microsoft pay cuts

[...]

Volt Workforce Solutions, believed to be the largest provider of Microsoft temporary workers, informed them tonight that it will be cutting their pay by 10 percent as a result of the Redmond company’s decision to reduce the amount it pays employment firms. Volt joins most but not all of the other firms in deciding to pass some or all of the impact of the cuts on to their workers.

All the coverage above comes only from Seattle, which isn’t terribly helpful. Eternal bias from the Seattle press (even blind acceptance of corruption) can be explained by the impact of Microsoft’s demise on the local economy. Press coverage from there drips with agenda simply because of personal interests (selfishness), as opposed to motivation to inform.

Additional coverage (not from Seattle/Washington) can be found in:

From the Seattle P-I, which might be on its death throes:

Many of these temporary workers may also be foreign, i.e. those who are in essence cheaper because they don’t receive benefits (no entitlement) and are not receiving any protection from workers’ unions/regulations. it’s the perfect prey for exploiters of labour — get but hardly give.

Regardless, Microsoft continues to be scrutinised [1, 2, 3, 4] for being the top user of H-1B visas, as reported by IDG:

Microsoft Corp. was the top U.S.-based recipient of H-1B visas in 2008, receiving approval for 1,037 visas, slightly more than in 2007.

BusinessWeek wrote about this too:

Indian Firms, Microsoft Top H-1B List

Critics say the data show that the H-1B visa program is dampening U.S. wages and facilitating outsourcing, a critical problem as the U.S. unemployment rate continues to climb.

Several months ago, BusinessWeek also wrote about H-1B visas "fraud".

Microsoft is not only the #1 company when it comes to these shady practices. It is also the #1 lobbyist in its area, which is nothing to be proud of. In fact, corruption disguised as "lobbying" is how Microsoft obtained those allocations of H-1B visas in the first place, so there is a direct connection between the two activities.

Last but not least, the weakness of Microsoft is showing. Reuters reports on the stock’s fairly rapid decline.

Microsoft says no new cost cuts, shares hit 11-year low

[..]

Microsoft Corp outlined plans to offset revenue declines as the PC market shifts to low-cost netbooks, but it failed to announce more cost cuts, sending its shares to an 11-year low.

That’s despite massive buybacks.

Even pro-Microsoft sites like Barron’s were unable to withhold the evidence.

Bellini writes that the company is not likely to take further expense reduction moves – the company basically said exactly that at the meeting yesterday – and adds that “Microsoft is braced for further deterioration of the macro environment but plans to invest in its products to realize leverage once the market turns around.”

Microsoft is not so accustomed to having its estimates cut or the stock downgraded. For many years it has been faking infinite wealth when it reality it may have lost billions. There is a lot more to be said about Microsoft's financial situation. The party was over a long time ago.

Why Microsoft is Likely to Lose the TomTom Case (Plus Summary)

Posted in Courtroom, GNU/Linux, Hardware, Kernel, Law, Microsoft, Patents at 12:10 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Come again? Software patents??

Windows and window
What do physical navigation devices
have to do with Windows?

THE TOMTOM STORY is a subject that we have already covered in:

It has been mentioned in one context or another since then [1, 2, 3, 4] because it serves as excellent proof that Microsoft is not interested in peace. We’ve studied many short articles about the news in order to get a better idea and share information in greater abundance. When Linus Torvalds expressed his concerns about software patents, he conveniently ignored the impact of patent deals such as Novell’s. It might be time to rethink this.

“This happens to put in considerable doubt the high number of software patents it once cited (over 200)…”Our belief is that TomTom is likely to be one company among several more that were quietly pressured to pay Microsoft for software patents and we base this assumption on some prior cases such as Brother’s [1, 2]. That said, there is a history of confrontations involving TomTom and Microsoft, going several years back. It’s about royalties, which represent a change of direction at Microsoft. TomTom, unlike others, refused to allow these royalties to elevate the price of its products, but this time, like in the Primax case [1, 2], it saw Microsoft resorting to offensive action. In both the Primax case and the TomTom case, an embargo threat was/is being used as means of extortion/financial strangulation. It comes at a very unfortunate time for TomTom, which revealed financial difficulties only days ago (thus inability to endure heavy legal action). Primax was about hardware, whereas TomTom is the first case where Microsoft uses software patents offensively; additionally — for this particular case at least — it identified only a few software patents that involve Linux. This happens to put in considerable doubt the high number of software patents it once cited (over 200) and it also has serious ramifications when it comes to interoperability because FAT patents are an example of something that covers methods — not implementation — of something which is vital for enabling Linux to work with other environments, mostly due to ubiquity and complacence. One can describe this as patent ambush, which received some legitimacy after the Rambus case that was concluded only days ago.

It’s worth adding that the small number of patents used against Linux indicates that:

  1. Microsoft is not sure if more than just a few software patents would be valid in fighting Linux (i.e. can’t be successfully reexamined and invalidated for triviality/prior art).
  2. Microsoft chooses software patents which are hard to work around. It shows that any intents of interoperability are hinged on software patents and are therefore half hearted.

To put it another way, in the words of an IDG reporter:

Microsoft has been vocal about its interest in working more closely with the open-source community in the past couple of years, actively promoting interoperability, forging new relationships and donating code to open-source projects. But the patent-infringement suit it filed Wednesday against TomTom has the Linux community, in particular, concerned that Microsoft is only paying lip service to its new approach and plans to continue to threaten Linux distributors with patent-infringement claims.

“Note also that this FAT patent seems to be only granted in FR, DE and UK,” suggests one of our sources. In addition, we have the following old report to serve as ‘ammunition’:

Federal Patent Court declares FAT patent of Microsoft null and void

The Federal Patent Court has declared a Microsoft patent on the file allocation system File Allocation Table (FAT) invalid for the Federal Republic of Germany. The claim in question is the protection claim granted by the European Patent Office under EP 0618540 for a “common namespace for long and short filenames.” This in turn is based on the US patent No. 5,758,352. At the German Patent and Trade Mark Office (GPTO) the patent is protected under DE 69429378. According to a recently published decision (PDF file) by the 2nd Division of the Federal Patent Court bearing the file number: 2Ni 2/05 (EU) and dated October 26, 2006 the claims made are “not based on inventive activity.”

Based on Microsoft’s FAT specifications, there is actually a promise not to sue. From the company’s own Web site (2000):

The FAT (File Allocation Table) file system has its origins in the late 1970s and early 1980s and was the file system supported by the Microsoft MS-DOS operating system. It was originally developed as a simple file system suitable for floppy disk drives less than 500K in size. Over time it has been enhanced to support larger and larger media. Currently there are three FAT file system types: FAT12, FAT16 and FAT32. The basic difference in these FAT sub types, and the reason for the names, is the size, in bits, of the entries in the actual FAT structure on the disk. There are 12 bits in a FAT12 FAT entry, 16 bits in a FAT16 FAT entry and 32 bits in a FAT32 FAT entry.

[...]

1. LIMITED LICENSE AND COVENANT NOT TO SUE.

(a) Provided that you comply with all terms and conditions of this Agreement and subject to the limitations in Sections 1(c) – (f) below, Microsoft grants to you the following non-exclusive, worldwide, royalty-free, non-transferable, non-sublicenseable license under any copyrights owned or licensable by Microsoft without payment of consideration to unaffiliated third parties, to reproduce the Specification solely for the purposes of creating portions of products which comply with the Specification in unmodified form.

(b) Provided that you comply with all terms and conditions of this Agreement and subject to the limitations in Sections 1(c) – (f) below, Microsoft grants to you the following non-exclusive, worldwide, royalty-free, non-transferable, non-sublicenseable, reciprocal limited covenant not to sue under its Necessary Claims solely to make, have made, use, import, and directly and indirectly, offer to sell, sell and otherwise distribute and dispose of portions of products which comply with the Specification in unmodified form.
For purposes of sections (a) and (b) above, the Specification is “unmodified” if there are no changes, additions or extensions to the Specification, and “Necessary Claims” means claims of a patent or patent application which are (1) owned or licenseable by Microsoft without payment of consideration to an unaffiliated third party; and (2) have an effective filing date on or before December 31, 2010, that must be infringed in order to make a portion(s) of a product that complies with the Specification. Necessary Claims does not include claims relating to semiconductor manufacturing technology or microprocessor circuits or claims not required to be infringed in complying with the Specification (even if in the same patent as Necessary Claims).

(c) The foregoing covenant not to sue shall not extend to any part or function of a product which (i) is not required to comply with the Specification in unmodified form, or (ii) to which there was a commercially reasonable alternative to infringing a Necessary Claim.
(d) Each of the license and the covenant not to sue described above shall be unavailable to you and shall terminate immediately if you or any of your Affiliates (collectively “Covenantee Party”) “Initiates” any action for patent infringement against: (x) Microsoft or any of its Affiliates (collectively “Granting Party”), (y) any customers or distributors of the Granting Party, or other recipients of a covenant not to sue with respect to the Specification from the Granting Party (“Covenantees”); or (z) any customers or distributors of Covenantees (all parties identified in (y) and (z) collectively referred to as “Customers”), which action is based on a conformant implementation of the Specification. As used herein, “Affiliate” means any entity which directly or indirectly controls, is controlled by, or is under common control with a party; and control shall mean the power, whether direct or indirect, to direct or cause the direction of the management or policies of any entity whether through the ownership of voting securities, by contract or otherwise. “Initiates” means that a Covenantee Party is the first (as between the Granting Party and the Covenantee Party) to file or institute any legal or administrative claim or action for patent infringement against the Granting Party or any of the Customers. “Initiates” includes any situation in which a Covenantee Party files or initiates a legal or administrative claim or action for patent infringement solely as a counterclaim or equivalent in response to a Granting Party first filing or instituting a legal or administrative patent infringement claim against such Covenantee Party.

(e) Each of the license and the covenant not to sue described above shall not extend to your use of any portion of the Specification for any purpose other than (a) to create portions of an operating system (i) only as necessary to adapt such operating system so that it can directly interact with a firmware implementation of the Extensible Firmware Initiative Specification v. 1.0 (“EFI Specification”); (ii) only as necessary to emulate an implementation of the EFI Specification; and (b) to create firmware, applications, utilities and/or drivers that will be used and/or licensed for only the following purposes: (i) to install, repair and maintain hardware, firmware and portions of operating system software which are utilized in the boot process; (ii) to provide to an operating system runtime services that are specified in the EFI Specification; (iii) to diagnose and correct failures in the hardware, firmware or operating system software; (iv) to query for identification of a computer system (whether by serial numbers, asset tags, user or otherwise); (v) to perform inventory of a computer system; and (vi) to manufacture, install and setup any hardware, firmware or operating system software.

(f) Microsoft reserves all other rights it may have in the Specification and any intellectual property therein. The furnishing of this document does not give you any license or covenant not to sue with respect to any other Microsoft patents, trademarks, copyrights or other intellectual property rights.

Groklaw is waving the Bilski ruling [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14] as the reason why Microsoft’s case is bound to meet failure (assuming it’s fought to the end rather than cowardly settled).

I’ll restrict myself for now to two quick words:

Think Bilski

Are Microsoft’s FAT patents *hardware* patents? No? Then what makes you assume they are valid in the post-Bilski world? Don’t even get me started on obviousness. Let alone who really “invented” that stuff.

The End Software Patents initiative uses the Bilski defense as well.

Yesterday, Microsoft attacked free software and GNU/Linux users with software patent claims against the Tom Tom Navigator and its implementation of the FAT file system. But do they have a sword or a wet rag? There have been interesting patent rejections coming from the USPTO’s Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences (BPAI) since the Bilski ruling was handed down by an en banc hearing of the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC). One is the rejection of one of IBM’s database query patents. It was rejected because the innovation isn’t “tied to a particular machine”. So it’s a happy coincidence that MS claims their technology is running on all sorts of devices. Foot, meet mouth.

The legitimacy of these patents is questioned thusly:

Scroll down to page 6 and take a look at the title of the patent there: “Vehicle Computer System with Wireless Internet Connectivity.”

No joke. Microsoft has patented being able to have a wi-fi capable computer in your car.

Let me repeat: wi-fi + computer + car = patent infringement.

This illustrates pretty well why software patents are pretty clearly bogus — how can patent have a wireless computer in a car? How is that unique idea?

Steve Lake calls almost for apathy. There is nothing to fear, he argues.

Yes, Microsoft has a controversial patent on the FAT file system (one I’m still waiting for someone to come up with some prior art so it can be overthrown) out there, and yes, they’re suing Tom Tom on that basis. But this really isn’t a lawsuit to fear.

Eric Raymond had a go at it also (which is rare these days).

FAT is no longer essential technology for anybody. It’s an easy, lowest-common-denominator option for device makers, but there’s nothing about it that’s essential to the functioning of a GPS or any other device. File systems for devices at that small a scale aren’t hard to write; there are quite a few available in open source already.

One of the risks Microsoft takes with this move is that the consumer electronics industry will get off its butt and standardize on something open – the flash-memory and thumb-drive manufactures, in particular, have huge business incentives to drive this move if they think Microsoft might target them or their customers.

Larry Augustin shares a similar opinion:

Linux, Microsoft and Patents: It’s Time to Get the FAT Out

[...]

Yet in spite of this the industry has continued down a path where FAT has become the default filesystem of choice in much digital media. Amazon Kindle uses FAT. Google Android uses FAT. Virtually every digital camera uses FAT.

Rather than continue to delude ourselves that this technology is open and unencumbered it’s time for the industry to “Get the FAT Out” and aggressively move to a truly open and unencumbered industry standard filesystem format. There are several to choose from: pick your favorite Linux filesystem such as ext2 for example. Ext2 is arguably technically superior to FAT as well. Plus it’s open source. The software is already available under an open source license.

Indeed, Microsoft might be trying to scare or to tax some other rivals in other areas. “One of the issues I see is that Microsoft benefited from allowing FAT storage for transfer of data between digital recording devices (e.g. cameras) and computers. Having done that, they want to cash in, using their desktop monopoly,” argues one of our readers, am. He believes that Microsoft wants to establish a revenue stream from devices (where Windows is failing) and wonders “what it would be like if Microsoft was forced to support a Free file system format that allowed files to be added/removed (ie not just iso9660 cd-rom).”

The Inquirer chose a mystifying new headline that stated: “Microsoft says it will sue whoever it pleases”

MICROSOFT MAY or may not sue other open source operating systems, the firm’s head intellectual property lawyer has said, speaking after the Vole filed suit against navigation system maker, TomTom, over the use of a Linux kernel.

Over at Ars Technica, memories were brought back of the can of worms which is FAT.

Microsoft has filed a patent infringement lawsuit against TomTom alleging that the device maker’s products, including some that are Linux-based, infringe on patents related to Microsoft’s FAT32 filesystem. This marks the first time that Microsoft has enforced its FAT patents against the Linux platform, a move that some free software advocates have long feared could be disastrous.

[...]

Microsoft’s FAT patents have been vigorously challenged in court, but were finally upheld in 2006. Eben Moglen—a Columbia University law professor and the chairman of the Software Freedom Law Center—once described the FAT patents as a “proverbial Sword of Damocles hanging over the open source community” and warned that Microsoft could use them to do immense damage to the Linux platform. Indeed, Microsoft’s filesystem format is used broadly on external storage devices such as camera memory cards.

Additional early reports:

Jim Zemlin from the Linux Foundation had a decent post calling for people — developers and companies being the likely audience — to calm down. Heise covered this also.

Linux Foundation Executive Director Jim Zemlin said in his blog yesterday (26th February) that the Microsoft patent infringement suite against TomTom, at least at present, does not appear to be a covert attack on Linux. Microsoft have made assurances that their dispute is solely with TomTom and Zemlin says there is no reason to doubt that is the case, or to suspect a move against the Linux ecosystem.

More coverage includes:

As seen above, some publications characterise it as a lawsuit against TomTom, whereas others call it a lawsuit against Linux. Either way, this seems like the first time that Microsoft gets aggressive using software patents. To be more accurate, this is the first time that Microsoft resorts to proactive attacks using patents as applied to software. The lawsuit even targets a European company, which puts Microsoft in murky legal waters.

Legal experts who are associated with GNU/Linux and/or Free software have expressed a level of concern (also published in here).

Despite Microsoft assurances that a patent lawsuit against GPS navigation company TomTom is not targeting the overall Linux community, open-source leaders said on Thursday that the legal action is antagonistic toward the movement.

This is indeed the first time such a lawsuit is launched against Linux (Microsoft attempts to deny that Linux is targeted).

Microsoft filed the patent suit over Linux in U.S. District Court in Seattle. It’s believed to be the first time Microsoft has filed a patent suit over Linux, after claiming for years that elements of the open-source operating system violate its patents.

A prominent former Microsoft employee (Walli) also deflected attention away from Linux.

Wired Magazine remembers the speech about the “Be Very Afraid” tour (video here).

Is this the first shot in the great Microsoft patent war against Linux we last heard rumblings of some two years ago? Is this the latest front in Microsoft’s “Be Very Afraid” campaign?

On we move to considering further coverage, namely:

A Linux-hostile writer from Information Week (with proven track record) changed his headline from “Microsoft Sues TomTom; Red Alert For Linux Backers” to “Microsoft Sues TomTom; Orange Alert For Linux Backers.”

Paul Thurrott, another Linux-hostile Microsoft cheerleader, named this a “witch hunt”.

Microsoft this week sued GPS maker TomTom for infringing on eight of its patents, three of which pertain to TomTom’s use of the Linux kernel in its products. Open source backers immediately complained that the suit was the first salvo in Microsoft’s long-expected Linux patent witch hunt.

Similar wording appeared in CRN: Microsoft: We’re Not Launching Linux Patent Witch Hunt

On and on it goes:

There are many good comments in LinuxToday and Beranger has gotten many links accumulated too.

Microsoft’s PR mouthpiece from CNET [1, 2] is plastering the Microsoft-sponsored/supported material, as usual (Microsoft does business with CNET). S/he does the usual Linux-hostile articles about the lawsuit (no less than 3 of them!):

This is only a small part of wider propaganda from Microsoft allies, who are passing new laws to prevent competition and then reinforce these new beliefs with advertising. It is appalling.

Remember how Microsoft feels about this industry:

“Intellectual property is the next software.”

Nathan Myhrvold, Microsoft patent troll

A rough translation of the above would be: “forget about making products, just make ‘ideas’. Those who develop software (also proprietary software) will be floor scrubbers and those who really sell software are “thinkers” (or patent harvesters).”

As usual, the Microsoft PR from Ina Fried is mitigated somewhat by Matt Asay, who gives the ‘non-Microsoft’ side of the story in CNET.

Microsoft itself doesn’t mention Linux by name. Microsoft declared this lawsuit in a press release, but Linux is just not there.

Simon Phipps (of Sun) writes: “This would explain the (now clearly hollow) charm offensive with the open source community.”

Glyn Moody remarks: “In other words, Microsoft “respects and appreciates” open source until it actually starts to replace Microsoft’s offerings, in which case the charming smile is replaced with the shark’s grimace.” Moody is referring directly to Microsoft’s statement — however silly it seems when the company attempts to sue Linux while at the same time defending the company’s relationships with “open source”.

The Linux Foundation and other organisations which are affiliated with IBM don’t sit idly. There is initial talk about fighting back and assisting TomTom in this case.

Microsoft suit “provocative,” legal eagle says

[...]

Bergelt said, “The OIN, Software Freedom Law Center, and the Linux Foundation are unified in our view that it is an act of provocation. The people concerned about patent issues around open source are firmly allied and prepared to support TomTom.”

Well, IBM boasts a large patent portfolio (as unnecessary as it may be and ineffective against patent trolls), so there might be interesting moves ahead.

We’ve attempted to find out about disclosures from the 451 Group following this post and some older observations. What we received is the following statement: “The 451 Group derives its revenue from subscription relationships with vendors, end users, investors, consultants and miscellaneous other industry sectors. 451 Group does not do any custom consulting work. No single customer represents more than 3% of the 451′s revenue.

“Here’s a link with more background and information on our customers and business: http://www.the451group.com/about/overview.php

“I’m guessing you may have been hoping for a disclosure of customer names, but I would stress that those relationships involve not only 451 Group, but also the clients themselves. I sometimes hear the same thing from many vendors I talk to about customers, many of whom do not want their business, advisory or other strategic relationships to be public.”

While a disclosure would do a lot to shed light on motives and interests, it is understandable that the 451 Group does not embrace transparency entirely and this occasionally works against them (e.g. when Microsoft echoes their studies word by word). Either way, regarding the TomTom case, the 451 Group received this lengthy response from Microsoft:

In response to my own query, the company offered this:

First, to answer your earlier question on how the suit with TomTom involves the Linux Operating System, three of the infringed patents read on the Linux kernel as implemented by TomTom. However, open source software is not the focal point of this action. The case against TomTom, a global commercial manufacturer and seller of proprietary embedded hardware devices, involves infringement of Microsoft patents by TomTom devices that employ both proprietary and open source code. It is not unusual for companies to develop products based on a mix of proprietary and open source code; like every other company, they must take responsibility for ensuring that their systems do not infringe others’ patents. Licensing agreements are a useful means for ensuring mutual respect for IP and in fact, Microsoft has licensing agreements in place with many companies that run mixed source environments.

To be clear, this legal action is specific to TomTom’s implementation of the Linux kernel. Other companies that utilize Microsoft patents have licensed, and Microsoft is asking TomTom to do the same. This suit is simply a normal course of business; in taking this action, Microsoft is doing what any other technology company would do when faced by another party that infringes its IP rights.

To provide a bit more context regarding your question related to open source software, Microsoft respects and appreciates the important role that open source software plays in the industry, and Microsoft respects and appreciate the passion and the great contribution that open source developers make in the industry. This appreciation and respect is not inconsistent with Microsoft’s respect for intellectual property rights. Partnership with all technology companies, including those that adopt a mixed source model, must be built on mutual respect for IP rights, rights that we all rely upon for driving innovation and opportunity. The bottom line is that all industry players must play by the same rules.

To a greater or lesser extent, this was echoed by Jones and Updegrove.

I first learned of Microsoft bringing suit against in-car navigation company TomTom NV when I got an email from a journalist asking for comment. He in turn, had gotten the news from Todd Bishop’s Microsoft Blog. Why all the buzz? Because apparently several of the patent claims relate to TomTom’s implementation of the Linux kernel – and while Microsoft has made noises publicly and threats privately for years alleging that Linux infringes multiple Microsoft patents, it has never actually brought a suit against a Linux implementer specifically alleging infringement by the Linux portion of their product.

To end this optimistically, Penguin Pete opines that this may symbolise Microsoft’s loss of the Big Battle, rendering such lawsuits a miserable last resort.

Even notice that you can hardly use a computer anymore without being in somebody’s cross-hairs? Somebody, somewhere, is always out to get you. All we want to do is use these clever devices they keep making for us to buy, and be happy and not bother anybody. But somebody out there apparently didn’t learn how to play nice with others.

There’s the SCO attack against Linux. It drags on still. It’s been set back so many times, any sane entity would have given up by now. But it won’t end until the very last possible penny.

[...]

So now we have Microsoft’s thrown gauntlet against Linux, in the suit against Tom-Tom. As Slashdot commenters are quick to point out, the nature of the lawsuit, revolving around use of the FAT file-system, is anti-competitive on the part of Microsoft, the convicted monopolist.

It was also reassuring to find Boycott Novell mentioned on this topic in the mainstream press.

Microsoft’s lawsuit against Linux-based technology vendor TomTom over alleged patent violations could signal a more aggressive stance by the software giant over intellectual property issues — or it could be just an isolated case involving a dispute with one vendor.

There are other publications where we were cited on this.

Looking forward, TomTom is definitely fighting this one. It is determined to win, which is great news that may actually increase confidence in the use of Linux (better to “get the cat out of the bag” and “shave it in one of many ways,” to borrow a couple of famous sayings).

Good luck, TomTom.

IRC: #boycottnovell @ FreeNode: February 28th, 2009

Posted in IRC Logs at 7:29 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME Gedit

Enter the IRC channel now

Read the rest of this entry »

Links 01/03/2009: New Wine, Safari Compatibility

Posted in News Roundup at 7:03 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Sun Turns Object Storage Over to OpenSolaris

    Panasas has also invested in open source Linux implementations of OSD targets and initiators, and a freestanding file system called exofs that runs over OSD. “Our goal is to foster more research and experimentation in this standard interface,” Welch said.

  • Linux ISVs gain tool to uncover lost license revenue

    One traditional benefit of Linux has been that it is available free of charge and comes with a rich array of software that is also free. An argument for the adoption of Linux has always been that users can have all the software they need without having to either fork out cash or resort to piracy.

    Yet, this isn’t to say commercial software is anathema to Linux. In fact, quite the opposite. Previously I’ve covered just how people make money out of open source and how free software isn’t the same thing as freeware.

  • Mandiant Appliance Accelerates Incident Response

    The MIR appliance contains 2 TB of storage; dual Gigabit Ethernet network interfaces; USB 2.0, DVD-RW, and FireWire capabilities; and dual hot-swappable power supplies. MIR’s software components include the Controller, a hardened Linux OS running an administrative Web interface for initial configuration and basic system administration; the Windows-based investigative Console; and the endpoint Agents. The Controller connects to each Agent to perform audits. Investigators use the Controller to review information gathered through audits and to request additional audits.

    Currently, Agents are available only for Windows, but Linux and Mac OS X support is on the road map. The Console also is Windows-only, but the Controller contains an easily accessible, open API.

  • Microlite Rolls Out BackupEDGE for Linux with Cloud Storage

    According to the company BackupEDGE is a software that provides backup and bare metal disaster recovery capabilities across a wide variety of Linux distributions, includingRed Hat ( News – Alert) Enterprise Linux, CentOS, Novel OpenSUSE, ubuntu, Debian and uses a scalable, decentralized, fault tolerant server structure promising a 99.9 percent data availability.

  • Hack your Linux satellite box and access it online

    Recently we looked at networking your Linux receiver – and described how you can stream video from it to any PC on the same network.

    Now we’ll take these networking aspirations further afield by going online. Although a few satellite receivers offer the Ethernet port that gives rise to such flexibility, only Linux-based receivers are capable of taking full advantage of such functionality.

  • Welcome to LinuxLink

    For as long as Linux has existed, PC World editors have watched closely as the open source OS has grown and evolved from a student project at the University of Helsinki into a powerful operating system available in myriad distributions all around the world. And now we’re proud to launch this blog dedicated entirely to Linux and the world of open source software.

  • The Podcast 2 – Knock on the Door

    This podcast was recorded at the Birmingham Ubuntu Bug Jam 2009, where local users got together to have a go at fixing and triaging bugs in the Ubuntu Linux distribution. Topics include the bug event, how to get involving in jamming bugs, computational chemistry, sixth form homework, real ale, GNOME Do, Python and many other topics.

  • The little Linux desktop that could: Xfce 4.6 released

    GNOME and KDE get all the attention these days, but Linux users looking for a lightweight desktop environment would do well to consider Xfce. The project has come a long way since the days it was a clone of the hideous Common Desktop Environment (CDE), and is still going strong, and came out with the 4.6 release today with a ton of improvements. Xfce is a prime example of why duplication is sometimes a good thing in the FOSS arena.

  • Law

    • Fortunately, I go the Linux decision right.

      Fortunately, I go the Linux decision right. I don’t pay for software. I use old, underpowered hardware that still works. My tech budget is $0. I don’t miss having to buy antivirus software. I don’t have to worry about whether or not I can buy practice management software. I just keep my files organized and synchronized and adapt accordingly.

    • Linux to Enter Law Office Through Netbooks?

      I have been using the open source Mozilla Firefox web browser for years now and have found it easy to learn and use, which also goes for their e-mail client, Thunderbird. Google Docs and other web-based apps are already being used by many lawyers, and even if you need an offline solution, OpoenOffice is a great alternative that is easily downloaded and installed on the netbook (at least in the Ubuntu distribution, which is what is being installed on most Linux netbooks). The learning curve is not steep at all, and the increasing usage of Linux netbooks by lawyers may well overcome the phobia to change and encourage them at least to consider using Linux on their office systems. We can only hope.

  • Wine

    • The Wine development release 1.1.16 is now available.

      What’s new in this release (see below for details):
      – Improved SANE scanner support.
      – Support for digital CD audio playback.
      – Improved cookies management in Wininet.
      – Support for building stand-alone 16-bit modules.
      – Many fixes to the regression tests on Windows.
      – Various bug fixes.

    • Run Safari 4 Beta on Linux with Wine

      The latest eye-candy beta of Safari was released earlier this week for Windows and Mac, but Linux users can now (mostly) use Safari 4 using the Wine compatibility tool.

  • Event

    • Open source panel at Accel Symposium

      The consensus was that these technologies are all getting the attention of CIOs and IT directors who are facing budget pressure in this economy. After all, if you have to chose between buying $50,000 server licenses or having staff to develop and deploy applications, a lot more people will be willing to try open source.

    • Linux Foundation Unveils Plans for Upcoming Summit

      The Linux Foundation — the not-for-profit that keeps Linus in keyboards, and most recently, has been looking to glam things up a bit — earlier this month provided a first glimpse into its plans for the 2009 Collaboration Summit, to be held April 8-10 in San Francisco.

    • LinuxCertified Announces its Linux System and Network Administration BootCamp.
    • CeBIT Open Source: Live Stream of Forum Talks for Free

      In March (3-8, 2009), CeBIT will once again be opening its gates in Hannover, Germany. The world’s largest and most renowned trade fair for the world of IT and telecommunications will be featuring Open Source topics in hall 6. The CeBIT Open Source Forum 2009 will be the venue of daily lectures on the use of Linux and free software – and you can watch them online, live and for free!

  • Kernel Space

    • S3 Graphics Releases Linux Driver With OpenGL 3.0, VA-API

      For months we have seen S3 Graphics advertise a magical Linux driver in their press releases that promised to offer OpenGL 3.0 support and advanced video functionality. They had reported to us the driver would be released in December, but that deadline had passed and they continued to announce Linux support when launching the Chrome 540 GTX, but still there was nothing. However, S3 Graphics has now actually delivered such a driver! They have delivered a Chrome 500 series Linux driver that not only provides OpenGL 3.0 support but also H.264, VC-1, and MPEG-2 hardware decoding on the GPU. While it may appear to be good, this driver is still far from perfect.

    • Intel, NVIDIA Kernel Mode-Setting In Fedora 11

      The Nouveau kernel mode-setting support is still very experimental as their API isn’t even finalized and it will not enter the mainline Linux kernel in time for Fedora 11. Red Hat though will patch the Linux 2.6.29 kernel to introduce this Nouveau KMS support for those who wish to use it instead of the DDX mode-setting within the X Server.

  • Distributions

    • Introducion and 4.1 Sneak Peek

      Sabayon is a DVD size distro, this means we can include most of the software most people will need on the disk, this helps new users and those who are new to package management systems, it may not be perfect, but I would rather choose what NOT to install, rather than installing minimally and running all the configs etc that are needed to get a working X11 system, otherwise we would all run Gentoo, right? This approach also allows us to get everything to work out of the box. Chances are if Sabayon doesnt work on your hardware out of the box or with minor configuration no other distro will at all.

    • Mandriva 2009 – Quite all right, but could be better

      Mandriva 2009 is a good distro. Quite good. The live session was great, the post-install is very good, except for slow repositories. The installation process was long and tedious, however, it is only done once.

    • Slax – Tiny, beautiful, functional

      After running this distribution for a while, I immediately thought it would be a great fit on my very old PIII 1.1 GHz with just 256 MB of RAM. Currently this machine is chugging along with Win XP and Ubuntu with Ubuntu replacing Mandriva since the drive containing Mandriva failed. It is a stop gap distro and I was searching for something light to replace Ubuntu. From the time I discovered Slax, I have been researching how to install it on a computer. Since it is a Live CD distro there doesn’t seem to be a direct way to install it. All in all Slax is beautiful, minimal and functional.

      I am still trying to empty my flash drive to run Slax on it and to see if my other files can happily co-exist. If I manage to do that, I will do another post.

    • Fedora

      • Fedora 11 Will Have An Incredible Number Of New Features

        Fedora 10, an amazing Fedora release in its own right, had 28 approved features. Fedora 9 had 30 and Fedora 8 had 21.

        As of writing this Fedora 11 has 51 which have already been approved, plus another 9 waiting to be approved any day now. That means in the end there should be ~60 approved features which make it into Fedora 11! This doesn’t even count the work going into external things such as overhauling the documentation or the community work going into the Moksha project.

      • 5 Minutes of Fedora 10
    • Debian

      • Linux & Open Source Slideshow: Debian’s Lenny Remains an Apt Community Linux Option

        Debian GNU/Linux 5.0, which is also known by the “Toy Story”-inspired name “Lenny,” sports the same excellent software management tools and broad processor architecture support that marked previous Debian releases. While more modest than the “Etch” release that preceded it, eWEEK Labs found in Lenny an apt standard bearer for the noncommercial Linux community.

      • Simply Mepis 8 is Finally Here

        In summary, I am extremely pleased with this version of Simply Mepis. It is rock solid, easy to use and easy to maintain. I must not forget to give credit to the guys from the MEPISlovers forums who worked tirelessly producing quality artwork, giving valuable input to Warren. My hat is off to everyone who had a hand in making this distribution the excellent product it is.

      • Warren Woodford on MEPIS kernel, favourite features

        Warren Woodford, founder and lead developer of MEPIS Linux, had previously complained that Debian 5.0 “Lenny” didn’t ship with a long-term support Linux kernel, and so the latest release of MEPIS breaks form with Lenny only days after its release by shipping with a newer kernel – something that could potentially make MEPIS less compatible with software certified for Debian. We asked Warren what kind of thinking was behind the switch, and also about his favourite new features in MEPIS 8.0…

      • Ubuntu

        • Why the Artwork Refresh in Karmic Koala is Important

          One of the major goals of Ubuntu Karmic Koala outlined in Mark Shuttleworth’s recent announcement is a new look for Ubuntu, something that has been requested a lot. Not everyone, though, thinks this should be a priority. A WorksWithU article voices the concern that there are more pressing issues for Ubuntu than giving it a new look.

          [...]

          Though it seems a little silly from a purely logical standpoint, introducing a new theme could actually be quite helpful to Ubuntu’s image and appeal to new users and long-time Ubuntu fans alike.

        • Canonical’s Two Most Important Ubuntu Partners

          A blog entry over on ZDnet makes the case that Amazon.com and Dell are Canonical’s two most important Ubuntu partners.

          [...]

          ZDnet says Amazon’s cloud service is actually profitable. I haven’t been able to confirm that on my own. But even if the service is losing money at the moment, Amazon’s cloud is growing fast and seems to leverage a solid business model that will generate recurring revenue and profits for years to come. Meanwhile, Dell remains one of the strongest brands in IT — despite recent stumbles that have trigged quarterly losses from time to time.

        • Full Circle Magazine: Issue 22

          This month:

          * Command and Conquer – Resizing Images With FFMPEG.
          * How-To : Program in C – Part 6, Web Development – Part 3,
          * Installing CrunchEEE To The EEE PC, and Spreading Ubuntu.
          * My Story – Making The Switch
          * Book Review – Ubuntu For Non-Geeks 3rd Edition
          * MOTU Interview – Emanuele Gentili
          * Top 5 – DVD Rippers
          * PLUS: all the usual goodness…

  • Devices/Embedded

    • NAS vendor touts Lenny installs, new Atom-based system

      Taiwanese network-attached storage (NAS) vendor Qnap Systems proudly announced the availability of Debian Lenny (version 5.0) for all of its ARM-based Turbo NAS models. Meanwhile, the company also tipped its hat toward x86 with a Linux-ready Intel Atom-based four-bay TS-439 Pro Turbo NAS for business users.

    • ARM9 SOM ships with Linux dev kit

      Armadeus Systems is shipping a low-cost system-on-module (SOM), available with a development board and a Linux community distribution. The “APF27″ is built around an ARM9 Freescale i.MX27 system-on-chip (SoC) and a Xilinx Spartan3A FPGA, and offers a variety of I/O, says the French embedded firm.

    • From Minsk with love (and Linux BSPs)

      Promwad specializes in custom Linux development using a variety of system-on-chips (SoCs) and operating systems. However, Linux has been the company’s primary focus since its founding, Pakholkov explains.

    • Developers ignore Symbian’s derision of Android

      Symbian has dismissed Google’s open-source credentials for Android as merely “marketing.”

    • Dell’s 3G Smartphone Play: Netbooks

      Dell chalks up its success with Linux to the direct sales model, where it can coach customers on the phone about what system may suit them best.

      But besides patting itself on the back for excellent customer service, Dell is sending a pretty clear signal to Microsoft that it intends to continue with Linux netbooks. Dell makes more profit on the Linux systems.

Free Software/Open Source

  • Seven Must-Have Firefox Security Add-Ons

    Mobile workers who access the Internet from laptops while traveling can pose a serious security threat to your network. That’s because laptops are more vulnerable to malicious software and hacker attacks when they are not protected by corporate security systems. When the mobile worker returns to his office and connects to the corporate network, a compromised laptop can spread malware throughout the organization or cause a company-wide security breach.

  • Filezilla – The open source way to FTP

    For me, Filezilla is the only way to go as far as FTP’ing data back and forth between my computer and the server my data resides on. Of course, I’m a bit biased because Filezilla is open source software distributed free of charge under the terms of the GNU General Public License.

    [...]

    Now I know many of you have your own preferred FTP applications and if they’re Windows-based, you most certainly paid for them. Well, this is one feature of Filezilla that shines well above…it’s free! I mean, why pay for something when you can get a program for free that outshines the others? That and the fact it works so well should make it the #1 choice for anyone out there that needs an excellent FTP program.

  • Socitm president rethinks open-source ‘lag’ comment

    Mark Taylor, chief executive officer of open-source vendor Sirius, rejected Steel’s appraisal. “The reality is that open source reduces costs by giving greater flexibility of licensing, while up-and-coming open-source technologies are well ahead of proprietary software,” he told ZDNet UK.

    Taylor said that browsers such as Mozilla’s Firefox contain features that still have not been incorporated into proprietary browsers.

  • IT Cost Cutting – Efficient Infrastructures and Open Source Software Alternatives

    Operating system licenses can easily break an IT budget. With open source solutions like CentOS, which is practically identical to the RedHat Enterprise offering, have been making its way into datacenters across the globe. Combine this with an open source security solution such as OSSIM, and you quickly have a very robust security product running for next to nothing in dollars terms.

  • NEC supports open-source RTOS on its MCUs

    NEC Electronics has announced support for the open source and royalty free real-time operating system, FreeRTOS for its 16-bit 78K0R and 32-bit V850 microcontrollers.

    FreeRTOS is distributed under a modified GPL licence which allows users to deploy in applications without any requirement to share their source code.

  • eZ Systems Releases Apache Solr-Based Open Source Enterprise Search Solution

    eZ Systems today released the Apache Solr-Based Open Source Enterprise Search solution, the eZ Find 2.0, designed to enhance the search functionality on eZ Publish sites.

    eZ Publish is an enterprise-grade Open Source Content Management System and development framework with functionality for Web publishing, media portals, intranets, e-commerce and extranets.

  • Healthcare

    • Vendors Test Open Source HIE Apps

      Multiple software vendors this week are testing a beta version of open source server technology to aid in establishing interoperability among disparate health information systems.

      The vendors are participating in the 10th annual Integrating the Healthcare Enterprise Connectathon in Chicago. Sponsored by the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society and the Radiological Society of North America, Connectathon is a prelude to the Interoperability Showcase at the 2009 HIMSS Conference & Exhibition, April 4-8 in Chicago. Vendors must participate in the Connectathon to demonstrate at the Interoperability Showcase.

    • Misys open source solutions tests software

      Misys Open Source Solutions, a division of Misys plc, announced today that it will demonstrate newly developed software at the healthcare industry’s week-long interoperability testing event, Integrating the Healthcare Enterprise (IHE) Connectathon in Chicago.

  • Business

    • Open Source E-Commerce: Survey Rates the Best in OSC

      What a difference a year makes. Rarely does an industry landscape change so radically in just 12 short months. This year the upstart New osCommerce Project was crowned Best Open Source Commerce program by respondents in my Second Annual Open Source Commerce survey. It was followed by CRE Loaded, the original osCommerce, Magento, PrestaShop and a long list of “Other open source commerce programs.”

    • Open Source Projects Targeting Mobile Platforms Rising Sharply
    • Open source PBXs make corporate gains; how much is up for debate

      The bad economy may be a boon to relatively inexpensive open-source IP PBXs, which one study says already account for nearly 18% of all PBXs installed last year in North American business networks.

      Because they are generally less expensive, open source products may become attractive to more corporate users as their budgets are cut, laying the groundwork for a growth spurt, according to the recent study by Eastern Management Group.

  • Government

    • There’s still gold in them thar Golden Horseshoe hills

      Then, in 1999, Mr. McEwen attended a seminar for young presidents at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He listened to the story of Linus Torvalds and how he had assembled a world-class computer system over the Internet by using the “open source” technique. At its heart was Mr. Torvalds’s willingness to reveal his computer code to the world and invite thousands of anonymous programmers to vet and improve it.

  • Sun

    • Downturn Speeds Adoption of Open Source, Says Sun

      The economic downturn has accelerated the adoption of open-source technology in the region, which was gaining traction even before the global crisis. Cost-effectiveness is now the critical factor in most business leaders’ minds.

      The economic downturn has accelerated an existing surge of open source technology adoption, said technology firm Sun Microsystems.

  • Open (But No Source Code)

    • Engineer Tomomasa Sato calls for open-source ‘Model-T robot’

      Japan’s leading robot engineer has called for the development of a standardised robot based on an open-source operating system in order to kick-start the mass production of humanoid robots.

    • Open-source collaboration key to auto sector survival

      The key to finding that “something more” may well lie in “open-source problem solving” – a technique employed by Toronto executive Rob McEwen more than a decade ago to revitalize a dying gold mine at Red Lake, Ont., and turn it into one of the most productive lowest-cost gold mines in the world. (The story is well told in the book Wikinomics, by Don Tapscott and Anthony D. Williams.)

    • Facebook Goes Open Source–With Its TOS

      After what can only be termed a kerfuffle last week over changes to its Terms of Service, Facebook has decided to take some pretty drastic steps to address the issue of content ownership on the social networking site: they’re soliciting input from their users.

    • ISDA Launches CDS Standard Model as Open Source

      The International Swaps and Derivatives Association, Inc. (ISDA) today announced the launch of the ISDA CDS Standard ModelTM as an open source project. The model has its basis in J.P. Morgan’s CDS Analytical Engine, which was transferred to ISDA on January 29, 2009.

Leftovers

  • Apple Cracks Down on Emoji Apps

    Apple gave no reason for the removal–I know, you’re reeling with shock over that–but as unlocking the emoji apparently required a loophole in the iPhone OS, it’s not exactly a surprise. The upshot? If you’re craving the ability to put icons of everything from rocket ships to frogs into your emails or text messages, then you should grab an emoji app while you can. Those that unlock the emoji before the update will retain the feature.

  • Censorship

  • Copyrights

    • Caving into bullies (aka, here we go again)

      So here we go again — How long till we can buy Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and be told that this book “cannot be read aloud”?

      But the bigger trend here is much more troubling: Innovative technology company (Amazon (Kindle 2), Google (Google Books)) releases new innovative way to access or use content; so-called “representatives” of rights owners, Corleone-like, baselessly insist on a cut; innovative technology company settles with baseless demanders, and we’re all arguably worse off.

    • Amazon Gives In To Ridiculous Authors Guild Claim: Allows Authors To Block Text-To-Speech
    • The Silly End Result Of DRM: Google Android Developers Barred From Running Paid Apps

      It’s really amazing how the use of DRM makes companies do stupid things. They get so focused on “protecting” they don’t realize how all that protection hurts them. It happens over and over again.

    • Massive Layoffs Hit The RIAA: Maybe Focus On Building Business Rather Than Suing Customers Next Time?

      Details have been spilling out over the last few days that the RIAA has been making pretty massive cuts to staff. We already knew that EMI was cutting back on its support of the RIAA/IFPI, and it seems that with the rest of the RIAA’s major label supporters also having economic troubles, the writing is on the wall that the RIAA is about to go through a major transformation.

    • Why Piracy Is Not Actually A Problem For The Music Industry

      The post does a good job laying out the details on eight other reasons why the recording industry is in trouble that have nothing to do with unauthorized file sharing. Basically, there’s competition from other forms of media (video games, the internet) and there are more efficient markets and technologies that have siphoned off some of the excess profits the industry used to enjoy. It’s a great list, but what it leaves out is the next step: what does that actually mean for the industry. And, the answer is that if they are willing to change their business model to adapt to this changing market, they can do amazingly well.

    • Political Hypocrisy: French President Sued for Copyright Infringement

      This may very well become the most ironic stories of 2009 in the copyright debate. The CBC is reporting that French president Nicolas Sarkozy has been sued by an independent band for copyright infringement.

    • Want to waive copyright? Creative Commons has a tool for you

      The Creative Commons has launched an official tool to guide content creators through the process of publishing their works under the highly permissive CC0 license, which enables them to waive all rights.

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