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03.08.09

Microsoft Wants to Make Something Out of Nothing to Fight GNU/Linux

Posted in GNU/Linux, Microsoft, OIN, Patents, SCO at 6:01 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“Intellectual property is the next software.”

Nathan Myhrvold, Microsoft patent troll

Summary: Windows cannot compete with cheaper, better, freer competition; TomTom revisited

Old Software Paradigms Be Damned

PROGRAMMERS AND OTHER PEOPLE had actually been sharing code before proprietary, closed-source software came about. Then emerged a new method for distributing software, but it predated the World Wide Web (WWW). Nowadays, with old protocols like FTP and also newer ones such as bittorrent and P2P, the economics of media — much like the economics of software — are changing. As the media industry has learned the hard way, it is a simple case of “change or perish.” They absolutely must evolve; the sooner, the better. Having realised that bullying one’s customer is a poor and unsustainable business decision/strategy, the conglomerates more recently attempted a model wherein the scarce elements, namely concerts and merchandise/memorabilia, are sold along with the privilege of access to music (unlimited). This is similar to the services model (a la Red Hat) whereas DRM or subscription to streams may be more similar to SaaS in the world of computing.

At present times, Microsoft is coming to grips with what the music industry has been wresting with for quite a delirious period of prolonged agony and maybe constant collapse. But Microsoft is still in its earlier stage of demise where the customers are being bullied or sued. Unable to counter what it calls "Linux infestations", Microsoft is hopelessly trying to create artificial scarcity inside ‘its’ software market, using software patents that pertain to thought alone, i.e. no device present [1, 2] even though it’s necessary.

MarketWatch has this new column on why Microsoft’s business model is bound to fail (and already fails, for a fact).

I’ve been playing with one of many new systems that are hitting the market which allow the user to quickly boot the machine and go directly to a small version of Linux rather than wait to load Windows.

[...]

Until now, the average computer user has been ignoring this trend. But the economic conditions and the emergence of powerful inexpensive computing has to make people rethink the Microsoft proposition.

If Intel can provide users with powerful little systems for $99 and has been pushing prices lower and lower over the years, why can’t Microsoft? Intel makes elaborate hardware in billion-dollar factories. Microsoft stamps out a disk.

This discrepancy has to end soon.

It’s a dilemma which revolves around the question of scarcity. Software can be duplicated, hardware cannot. In order to impede this natural trend Microsoft has resorted to creating or reinforcing imaginary property (software patents). The company lobbies very hard for them, even in Europe [1, 2, 3].

In order to compete properly, Microsoft will have to find new ways of making money from gratis software. Dumping techniques (e.g. [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9]) have a limited shelf life, but as Carla wrote just earlier on, Microsoft calls in the lawyers and MBAs, not the engineers.

I don’t know about American business as a whole, but it sure does describe some of the major players in tech, and the idea of Microsoft sending people to a conference to wring their hands and lament “Oh dear, the country is like all too greedy and shortsighted, and what ever shall we do?” is so ludicrous I laughed out loud. It’s like alcoholics and gambling addicts ranting about “the trouble with people is they have no self-control.” It’s like serial killers complaining about how people are too violent and bloodthirsty. It’s like cats criticizing dogs for eating poop. Ok, so maybe in cat culture there is a significant difference between licking one’s own behind and eating poop, but to me it’s a pretty meaningless distinction.

In another sterling example of diversion and lack of self-awareness:

“Josephine Cheng, an IBM vice president and fellow at its Almaden Research lab, suggested the problems in the U.S. were partly because we have “too many MBAs and lawyers. We need to go back and focus on basic science, technology and education and don’t [encourage] so many people” to become MBAs and lawyers.”"

While it’s fun to pick on the MBA kids and lawyers, it’s still missing the point by a few orders of magnitude. Who hires all those MBAs and lawyers? Why would any smart American kid want a tech career with a big company? The tech industry has destroyed many of the legal protections that US workers fought for decades to gain.

This is apparently where Microsoft wants to be. To quote Arno Edelmann, who is Microsoft’s European business security product manager, “usually Microsoft doesn’t develop products, we buy products.”

So, is Microsoft really much of a software company? Based on its lawsuit against TomTom, it is not. As Google pointed out some days ago, patent applications too are nowadyas being written by lawyers and that's just what Microsoft bets on. How sad.

What Microsoft Was Hoping to Achieve

As Jeremy Allison explained it, Microsoft had potentially chosen to challenge the GPL and it chose a target which is less able to afford defence of the GPL (TomTom itself is a former GPL violator). Microsoft may also have embraced an approach of “move to Windows or we’ll sue you until you drop.”

Some of the analysis of this train of thought was accumulated here and the Huffington Post has this good article.

So here’s what it looks like to me

1. Microsoft has abandoned its long history of not suing on software patents, in order to attack the Linux operating system. (Other patents at issue are specific to GPS systems.)

2. It has attacked Linux in the embedded devices market, where Linux has been conspicuously successful. This avoids the problem of suing developers or users of Linux distributions, such as Red Hat, which would threaten the many large Microsoft customers that use both Windows and Linux.

3. Even if the Linux community rides to the rescue, TomTom will be under pressure from its shareholders to settle quickly on “undisclosed terms” and, weakened as is, to avoid the cost and uncertainty of making a posterchild of itself.

4. More likely, TomTom will sell out to Microsoft, which tried to buy TomTom in mid-2006. Companies with large patent portfolios can drive hard bargains. With TomTom in a bind at the bank, Microsoft can use its patents to acquire TomTom on the cheap.

5. By demonstrating its willingness to sue a small company, Microsoft can induce others to settle, while undermining confidence in the market for embedded Linux. By contrast, when IBM sought to impress the world with its patent portfolio, it at least picked on Amazon — a company able to defend itself and with a reputation for asserting patents aggressively. (Remember the one-click ordering patent that Amazon used in its holiday-season attack on Barnes and Noble?).

The head of the OSI has responded to this article, which we’ll return to in a moment.

Is It Patentable Anymore?

A lot of the above is hinged on an important assumption. It’s the assumption that in this post-Bilski era [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14] software patents cannot be challenged and eliminated in the courtroom (let alone be granted).

Well, here is a very relevant new article from Law.com.

During the heady dot-com heyday, patent attorney Scott Harris and his buddies set off to patent a far-out sounding “paradigm” for marketing software to customers.

The idea reached the end of the road Friday when the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit determined that it’s not worthy of a patent. Citing its recent decision in In Re Bilski, which found that pure business methods aren’t patentable, the court ruled that the “Applicants do no more than provide an abstract idea — a business model for an intangible marketing company.”

What a bummer, eh? Groklaw writes more about the subject:

The Federal Circuit Court of Appeals, the one that handles patent cases and which ruled in In Re Bilski has ruled in another business methods case, In Re Ferguson [PDF]. The “inventor” tried to patent a “paradigm” for marketing software.

No. I’m not kidding. Not just a software patent; a method for *marketing* software. Here’s the short version of what the ruling says:

As to Applicants’ method claims, which at least nominally fall into the category of process claims, this court’s recent decision in Bilski is dispositive.

Dispositive. So he lost, though he may appeal, and that’s why I put the word inventor in quotation marks. I’ve done the PDF as text for you now. The ruling is the dernier cri in patent law, and if we’re looking for prior art, such as in the Microsoft v. TomTom or the Red Hat cases, we need to keep up, so we know what the rules are currently.

Speaking of Groklaw, patents in de facto standards, and Jeremy Allison, here is a highly relevant bit from Grokdoc:

This quote from Jeremy Allison discussing Microsoft’s proprietary “extended” Kerberos specs says it all:

This is course is a very clever way to pretend to distribute the spec, whilst making it completely impossible to implement in Open Source kerberos servers. If you did of course the full weight of US anti-reverse engineering laws would descend upon you.

The EU commision has a section on MS’ handling of Kerberos in their (long) final decision against MS (PDF, too long to quote, search for “Kerberos”). A snippet:

Already in its reply to the Commission’s first Statement of Objections, Microsoft stated that it in fact published “on 26 April 2000 […] details concerning its use of the Authorization Data field […]“. Microsoft thereby referred to a specification called Microsoft Authorization Data Specification v. 1.0 for Microsoft Windows 2000 Operating Systems.

However, this specification only described the structure of the authorization_data field and does not describe in detail the meaning of the various fields. Furthermore, the text of the document provided that “the Specification is provided to you solely for informational purposes […] and pursuant to this Agreement, Microsoft does not grant you any right to implement this Specification”. Thus, the specification could not be used by competitors to adapt their work group server operating systems so that they could participate in Microsoft’s Kerberos-based security architecture.

Another ongoing debate out there is to do with a thesis dismissing the economic value of patents as a whole. Here is another article on this subject which was brought up some days ago.

Michele Boldrin and David K. Levine, two leading economists from the Washington University in St. Louis, believe that the time has come for patents and copyright to disappear as pieces of legislation from the laws of all countries. They say that the most important asset that any nation now has in front of the economic crisis is innovation, but that these two types of laws hinder it, and prevent new and potentially marketable products from reaching customers. In their new book, “Against Intellectual Monopoly,” the two argue the necessity of making copyright and the patenting systems obsolete.

Here Be Villains

Microsoft has chosen to shake up and bark up the wrong tree. An IBM employee and known OS/2 advocate back is the days (Jason Perlow) is warning that Microsoft could go down the same path as Unisys if this charade against TomTom continues. We’ve already seen public protests over the TomTom case, along with other related issues.

Unisys became a pariah in the Open Source community, their patents for LZW expired, and when they entered the Open Source consulting business years later, they lost all of their credibility and many companies and individuals refused to work with them as a result.

Unisys has still never completely recovered from this. As a former Unisys employee I can speak with authority about this, because every time I used to talk to my friends in the Open Source community about what we were trying to do with Linux and Open Source in our professional services business, I would get the usual “Hey, weren’t you the guys who…” preamble.

End of discussion.

If this litigious behavior from Microsoft continues, I don’t see why consumer electronics manufacturers which use embedded Linux couldn’t just go and standardize their own flash memory filesystem equivalent to PNG. After all, there are other perfectly good file system formats that could be used to store data on SD cards and other flash devices, such as UBIFS and LogFS, which are even more efficient and more resilient at storing data. UBIFS and LogFS also have the advantage of being journaled, whereas FAT32 is not.

Dana Blankenhorn speaks of a form of retaliation against Microsoft and the OSI’s blog points out that Microsoft is annoying a lot of angry people at this very sensitive time.

For more than 10 years Microsoft has toyed with the idea of using the entirely questionable practice of using software patent litigation as a kind of trump card in its battle against open source innovation. The idea was present in Halloween III and stepped up a notch in May 2007 when Microsoft’s general counsel Brad Smith made the unsubstantiated claim that Linux infringed 235 Microsoft patents. As many of you may recall, Microsoft played very coy, refusing to identify a single infringement with any specificity. (The open source and free software communities have a great track record [1], [2], [3] of devising alternative implementations to avoid the possibility of patent infringement, and so perhaps Microsoft was more interested in using the element of surprise attack than indeed any timely remedy of the infringement. But that is mere speculation.)

[...]

Whatever the arguments may be, by filing against TomTom Microsoft has effectively pulled the pin from their legal grenade and have lobbed it into the center of the open source community. Can we pick it up and throw it back (like the FTC attempted to do with Rambus)? Will the grenade be judged a dud (if Bilski holds)? Will the legal shrapnel kill those who are trying to protect our village? And if it does, will Microsoft win anything more than a pyrrhic victory? As Brian writes, Microsoft’s actions are despicable. But I remain optimistic. I believe that thanks to the financial meltdown and the stories of fraud and abuse coming from the most well-polished offices on Wall Street that the world understands now, better than it has for a very long time, that sustainable success depends on success we can all share and participate in. When monopolies rise all-powerful, when the power of a company becomes so great that we no longer question our need to police it, then that is the moment we must say “ENOUGH!”. It is neither a sustainable nor a desirable condition to become beholden so such power, and we should do nothing, neither legally nor legislatively, to protect those monopolies against our own interests. Rather, we should fight against them with every strength that we have, knowing that when they are defeated, we can all build a stronger, shared success.

Like Unisys, SCO used to be a large company whose products were still established enough to marketed and sold, at least to an extent. Look where it's at today.

Et tu, Microsoft?

“Pamela Jones [...] has told Infoworld that Microsoft will be the next SCO Group”

Heise

USS Towers - sinking

Were Yahoo and Lenovo Poisoned from the Inside?

Posted in GNU/Linux, Google, Microsoft, Red Hat, Servers, SLES/SLED at 12:43 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Interests seemingly seized by Microsoft

Yahoo store

Summary: Following bad appointments, Yahoo is negotiating with Microsoft secretly and Lenovo is collaborating with Microsoft

The Yahoo Kerkuffle

WE have already warned [1, 2, 3, 4] that a former Microsoft partner, Carol Bartz, had been ‘planted’ inside Yahoo. Unlike Decker, she has no resentment against the company that was publicly accused of agitating Yahoo and now she’s requesting some private time with Steve Ballmer, who is her former business partner (and patent licensee too).

Yahoo! Inc. Chief Executive Officer Carol Bartz said she will negotiate in private with Microsoft Corp. CEO Steve Ballmer on any Internet-search deal.

This was also covered in:

Lo and behold what happens next:

A judge in Delaware Chancery Court approved a settlement Friday by Yahoo that makes changes in its severance plan that investors contend would make it easier for Microsoft and other potential suitors to buy the Internet search company.

Yahoo Inc., owner of the second most-popular U.S. Internet search engine, won a judge’s approval of a settlement mandating changes to the company’s severance plan that investors contend will make it easier for Microsoft Corp. or other potential suitors to buy it.

As annoying as it may be, given prior evidence it seems likely that Yahoo and Microsoft will end up with some form of partnership (a de facto anti-Google alliance). And since Microsoft virtually controls the United States government [1, 2], nothing may stand in their way. It would be harmful to GNU/Linux too.

The Lenovo Conundrum

Speaking of partnerships, one comes to fruition shortly after Lenovo was seen taking Microsoft employees on board. Lenovo is also snubbing Red Hat and instead promoting the Microsoft-influenced Novell SUSE (with undisclosed Microsoft patents tax).

It has only been a few weeks since we warned about Microsoft’s influence in Lenovo and now comes this press release about a Lenovo-Microsoft partnership. Accompanying coverage can be found in:

The issue of insider influence is real. It is important for this to be realised, at least as a possibility and/or a factor in decision-making. Microsoft employees don’t like GNU/Linux for example.

“Linux is a cancer that attaches itself in an intellectual property sense to everything it touches.”

Steve Ballmer, Microsoft CEO

Windows Vista Breaks the Internet, Vista 7 Fixes Nothing and Meanwhile Windows Fades Up North

Posted in Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Vista, Vista 7, Windows at 12:12 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Windows eclipse has begun

Summary: Windows Vista continues to disappoint, its successor predicted to be a disappointment; Microsoft partners in Iceland already turn to Free software

THE Fiasco of the Year may add fire to the DNS problem it has already created. According to this, Vista Windows is ‘breaking the Internet’ so to speak.

Warning: the following is excessively technical, and is intended more for the sake of the next poor sod who types “vista dns round robin resolution” into Google than it is for my actual friends list. (Except for a few of you. And you know who you are.) Also, since I want this to be searchable on Google, I can’t friends-lock it, so I’m not going to mention who I work for; please don’t do so in comments, which are screened for that reason.

[...]

And Microsoft have broken the Internet. Again. Although, to be fair, they did have some help this time from the IETF.

An ongoing debate places some of the blame on Microsoft. Sympathisers of the company from Redmond spin it differently however.

Windows Vista is already facing 2 lawsuits (potentially class actions) and one of them is turning up the heat.

The California woman suing Microsoft Corp. over Windows Vista’s downgrade rights revised her lawsuit Thursday to focus her charges on the requirement that users buy the most expensive versions of Vista if they want to replace that OS with Windows XP.

This is known as double- or triple-dipping. People who purchase a computer with Windows XP might actually count as several buyers of Windows Vista, as least in Microsoft’s books (and corresponding vanity numbers).

A writer from IDG recommends that Microsoft turns its back on Windows Vista as though it’s already estranged. He also seems to speculate that Vista 7 remains far from its release date. This coincides with CNN, which predicts a release will come no sooner than 2010.

I refuse to print hype from Microsoft about how wonderful their Windows 7 operating system will be when it ships in a year or two.

The Fiasco of the Year may soon have a similar successor based on this Vista 7 cartoon. Bloomberg has this report predicting failure for Microsoft/Windows on sub-notebooks as well (despite Vista 7).

This time, as Microsoft readies Windows 7, the company is planning a basic version, as well as more expensive editions that are also targeted at netbooks. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said last week that he will make sure consumers can “trade up.”

‘Pessimistic’

Many netbook buyers won’t go for it, because they want the cheapest option possible, said John DiFucci, the JPMorgan Chase & Co. analyst who asked the question that prompted Ballmer’s comment. That means investors shouldn’t expect Microsoft to make much more money on netbook software, the New York-based analyst said in a note to clients. Microsoft hasn’t released specific prices for the different versions of Windows 7.

“I don’t know that there’s much room to charge more than what’s been charged currently,” said Michael Cherry, an analyst at Directions on Microsoft in Kirkland, Washington. “I’m pessimistic about this.”

With only 3 processes allowed, Microsoft is simply hobbling fine computers and the customer will not be foolish enough to bite. Microsoft’s main concern here is the margins, which it is unable to elevate back to old tariffs. It’s all the 'fault' of GNU/Linux, so pressure on OEMs may be the only thing that keeps Windows afloat at this stage. Based on this new informal report, Microsoft is being abandoned even by its own partners right now. They already move to Free software in Iceland.

And what would you do? Well. My sources tell me a lot is afoot. Several MCP’s are bailing out, switching over to Free Software and restructuring their business model. Keep the revenue inside Iceland, sell better technical services for less money and yet double their revenue. “Why didn’t we do this earlier?”

[...]

…those who survive will switch to Free Software, and those who don’t will go bankrupt.

“I’d have thought that Iceland would have learned the lesson a decade ago,” tells us a reader, further arguing that “Microsoft denied an Icelandic version of Windows, even when the country offered to pay for the localization work. Only when the country started to move to FOSS, did the get Windows. Too bad, they fell for it like a bunch of chumps. They could have saved billions by now if they had gone FOSS in 1999.

“Keep in mind that the MCP’s are largely the ones responsible for the mess in the first place. These are not faceless corporations but real people, who have gone out of their way to fuck over their fellow countrymen. Any remediation must take into account these individuals.

“What we have seen has been fraud and collusion on an unprecedented and nearly unimaginable scale. Getting hold of those who have betrayed positions of trust and moving them to positions where they can do no further harm will be very difficult.”

Nobody is patient enough to wait for Vista 7, which will be both expensive and disappointing. Wonderful and comprehensive distributions of GNU/Linux are already here, readily available for free-of-charge download.

Hveravellir, Iceland
The Microsoft ecosystem in Iceland is imploding

Conficker is Alive, Windows Vista is Critically Vulnerable and Microsoft Office Likewise

Posted in Microsoft, Office Suites, Security, Vista, Vista 7, Windows at 10:01 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Magaphone
Patchy Tuesdays always get you down

Summary: New evidence for the lingering pattern of vulnerability, arrogance, and lack of responsibility at Microsoft

Conficker has been a colossal PR problem for Microsoft and security headache to its customers. For the uninitiated, here are some previous posts that we wrote about Conficker:

Microsoft would rather pretend that Conficker is history, but it’s far from history. In fact, new variants of it are now appearing and Symantec has issued warnings. For the latest details, see:

i. Conficker Worm Strikes Back With New Variant

The Conficker/Downadup worm managed to slither onto millions of PCs worldwide at its height, but after it initially infected a computer it only really acted to spread itself, and didn’t cause further harm. Until now.

Symantec reports today that it has found a new variant of the virulent worm that will identify antivirus software or security analysis tools running on the infected PC, and attempt to shut down those programs. This is a strong signal that the worm’s mysterious creators haven’t abandoned their creation in the face of worldwide attention, as some in the industry have theorized, but may still have plans to make a buck off their work.

ii. Conficker gets upgraded with defenses

Researchers at Symantec have discovered what could be a significant development in the ongoing Conficker worm saga: a new module that is being pushed out to some infected systems.

In a couple of ways, the new component is designed to harden infected machines against an industry consortium that is actively trying to contain the prolific worm. For one, the update targets antivirus software and security analysis tools to prevent them from removing the malware. Not only does it try to disable anti-malware titles, it also goes after programs such as Wireshark and regmon.

It gets worse. The illusion that Windows Vista can be secured is long dead, so no update or upgrade can redeem the user from becoming a zombie (even Vista 7 is open to hijackers [1, 2, 3], long before release). It’s the same old routine now that Windows Vista is discovered to be suffering from another “critical” flaw (or set thereof) which has not been patched yet.

March’s Patch Tuesday will see yet another critical fix for Microsoft’s flagship operating systems.

Users of Microsoft Office will be left vulnerable for at least another month:

Vole said that it will not be fixing a critical Excel vulnerability, which allows attackers to launch malicious code remotely on users’ computers via an infected Excel spreadsheet file.

From IDG:

Microsoft Corp. today said it will deliver three security updates on Tuesday, one of them ranked as “critical,” but will not fix an Excel flaw that attackers are now exploiting.

All three updates spelled out in today’s notice will tackle vulnerabilities in Windows, but as is its practice, Microsoft did not drill any deeper than to specify which versions will be affected.

As usual, Microsoft is hiding the real scale and the real number of vulnerabilities. InformationWeek wrote about this also.

“Our products just aren’t engineered for security.”

Brian Valentine, top Windows executive

“It is no exaggeration to say that the national security is also implicated by the efforts of hackers to break into computing networks. Computers, including many running Windows operating systems, are used throughout the United States Department of Defense and by the armed forces of the United States in Afghanistan and elsewhere.”

Jim Allchin, top Windows executive

Microsoft Falls Further Behind in Mobiles, Consoles (Hardware), Thus Resorts to Patents

Posted in Finance, GNU/Linux, Hardware, Microsoft, Office Suites, Patents, Windows at 9:20 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“Client software felt the slump in PC sales, and was further harmed by the shift to netbooks; many of these run Linux, which helps Microsoft not at all.”

Ars Technica, January 2009

Summary: Evidence of the failures in Windows Mobile and XBox leading to a consequential new strategy

THOSE WHO are unable to see Microsoft’s relevance to Linux need look no further than the TomTom lawsuit (and probably SCO as well). The more badly Microsoft fails, the sooner it will go out of business and leave GNU/Linux alone. It is therefore quite sensible to keep track of and inform about Microsoft’s business, which fortunately enough is on a steady decline.

In what seems like good news for Linux on mobiles, Microsoft’s CEO is now publicly acknowledging that Windows Mobile has fallen behind.

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer was told today that the appeal of the iPhone and other consumer devices has made it more difficult for chief information officers at large public agencies to continue justifying the use of Windows Mobile phones in their organizations.

A few weeks ago we wrote about the serious trouble Windows Mobile is in and the preemptive TomTom lawsuit is intended to injure embedded Linux using fear, uncertainty and doubt. What if Microsoft was prepared to compete based on technical merits, not based on software patents?

In other news, Microsoft has already sacked an XBox employee for saying the truth about red rings of death (a symbol of Microsoft’s failure in hardware, Zune being another [1, 2, 3, 4]). Things have not significantly improved since the sacking, with the following reports appearing in recent days:

The XBox business has lost Microsoft over $5 billion so far. Unless Microsoft can restore and revive its cash cows (mostly Windows and Office), it will fall into deep debt [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]. Microsoft investors grow impatient as the price of Windows declines close to $0 and Microsoft ponders similar pricing schemes for Office, with advertising dreadfully seen as an alternative. If Office plummets, Microsoft will be left with losing products.

The inherent lack of sustainability in Microsoft’s current strategy is a sound explanation for the new business model that it forms. It’s betting on patents (i.e. imaginary products or taxation of competitors in a leech-like fashion).

XBox
Game over?

What Do Awards and Panels Even Mean?

Posted in Deception, Fraud, Marketing, Microsoft, Novell at 8:34 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Justification of doubts about Novell awards; lack of integrity in lack of transparency

EARLIER THIS YEAR we wrote about conflicts of interests in media-granted awards, which are naturally susceptible and sensitive to bribery. We used Novell as an example. In practical terms, it’s mostly the same when it comes to analysts such as the Gartner Group (with hard evidence) and all sorts of surveys and questionnaires.

It is therefore quite reasonable that we observe with great suspicion the claims from Novell’s PR blog that they were included in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant — whatever it actually means.

In September 2008, Novell SecureLogin was positioned in the leaders quadrant of Gartner, Inc.’s, Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Single Sign-On by Gregg Kreizman.

But we already known that Gartner is corruptible [1, 2]. That’s just how it makes money, so what does this mean anyway? Microsoft itself is joking about this, saying that “analysts sell out – that’s their business model.” Moreover, brags Microsoft, it is easy to buy their opinions.

Apart from the above PR from Novell came this one as well (both appearing last week):

On the heels of the Oscars, the Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA) has just announced the finalists for the 2009 CODiE awards and Novell ZENworks solutions have received two nominations.

[...]

And in the category of Best Security Solution is ZENworks Endpoint Security Management, which protects the network against potential security breaches, data leaks and threats by enforcing encryption policies on the desktop.

Who runs these CODiE awards anyway? We decided to check:



Registrant:  	Make this info private
   	Software & Information Industry Association 
   	1090 Vermont Ave, NW
   	6th floor
   	Washington, DC 20005
   	US 

   	 Administrative Contact :   	 
   	Anglin, Delroy
   	danglin@SIIA.NET
   	1090 Vermont Avenue
   	Suite 600
   	Washington, DC 20005
   	US
   	Phone: 202-289-7442
   	Fax: (202) 223-8756
  	 
   	Technical Contact : 	 
   	Network Solutions, LLC. 
   	customerservice@networksolutions.com
   	13861 Sunrise Valley Drive
   	Herndon, VA 20171
   	US
   	Phone: 1-888-642-9675
   	Fax: 571-434-4620 

What is the business model of the CODiE awards? What are the criteria for nomination, selection and who is voting anyway? How is it being policed against abuse? Microsoft, for example, is notorious for rigging votes using employees or hired guns, e.g. [1, 2].

One of our readers sent us a good pointer a couple of days ago. It ascends to a more political level where the ‘open source’ approach (transparency) can combat this issue of mistrust.

I spent the weekend in DC at TransparencyCamp, an event modeled after BarCamp focused on government transparency and open access to sources of federal data (largely through APIs and web services). Down the street, a social-media savvy conference called PowerShift convened over 12,000 of the nation’s youth to march on Congress to have their concerns about the environment heard. They were largely brought together on social networks.

It’s good reading overall and another one that has just been published is this one from PR Watch:

Corporations wanting help in advancing their agendas often turn to think tanks. In addition to providing the appearance of independent support for corporate policies, think tanks combine a scholarly image with expertise at how to play the media and policymakers alike.

Microsoft has used the Alexis de Toqueville Institute against Linux and it employs lobbying arms to poison professional panels that discuss Free/open source software. They even seem to be setting up fake grassroots sites (still).

All of these issues ought to become common knowledge which is vital. Sadly, however, these realities sometimes surprise people. Is this a classic case of imposed ignorance?

Counting money
There is no money in objective opinions

Links 08/03/2009: 2-3 Million Downloads of OpenOffice.org Per Week; Nokia Might Drop DRM

Posted in News Roundup at 7:33 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Linux : the cool factor – part 2

    GUI for everything

    While it may seem of no use learning the command line. In these days with gui’s for everything, where there’s no reason for everyday users, even in linux, to use the command line.
    The moment you get over the point where it feels natural to use, you’ll feel it’s power. Then you’ll understand why it’s cool. If you know what you can do and at what speed, you’ll clearly understand it’s a small effort to learn using the command line.

  • Programs

    • RadicalCodex helps you collect, read digital comic books

      System requirements for RadicalCodex were not announced, but the software was originally developed for Linux.

    • Amarok vs Songbird

      Amarok Verdict: Visually refreshed and ready for action. Amarok is our open source music player of choice. 9/10

      Songbird Verdict: A brilliant mashup of web and media technology that’s definitely worthy of attention. 8/10

    • Only Time Will Tell – Amarok 2.0.2 released

      Our primary focus is on the upcoming 2.1 feature release, but we have fixed a number of the most critical and annoying bugs present in 2.0.1.1.
      Get Amarok 2.0.2 while it is fresh, and keep Amarokin’. And remember, good things are on the way! Check our blogs for updates.

    • PlayOnLinux 3.4 Released

      PlayOnLinux version 3.4 has been released and it has some long awaited new features and as always bug fixes and tweaks. Also a new version of the PlayOnLinux website will be coming soon, so keep a eye on the site for these future updates.

  • Servers

    • HP Unix ‘Vigilant’ in the Face of Linux

      But the latest enhancements to the venerable operating system will come as it faces the mounting threat from a more recent arrival: Linux.

    • PC Shipments to Decline Through 2009

      This forced hardware lifespan extension is a silver lining to economic instability. Business should take back their machines, adding RAM, hard drives, and other updates instead of blindly replacing systems. And you can even use an old PC in other, less-demanding ways; set it up as a Linux server.

    • Is Open Source Ready To Get The Message?

      Earlier this week, Cisco announced that it will offer an email-security offering as both a fully hosted and a hybrid service. While the announcement focuses mostly on Cisco’s IronPort business unit, Cisco also acknowledged that its email security offering will dovetail with its plans to build a hosted email offering based on technology acquired from PostPath.

  • Kernel Space

    • Free implementation of the VMware cluster file system

      fluid Operations, a provider of management software for complex fully virtualised environments, has developed an open source implementation of the VMFS cluster filing system that uses VMware ESX to store virtual machines and disks. This is a userspace driver written in Java that has been tested under Windows and Linux, but according to the project’s site it “should work on any platform that supports Java”. It only supports VMFS3, not versions 1 or 2, and was developed by analysing the on-disk format of VMFS.

    • NVIDIA Releases 180.37 Linux Display Driver

      It was not even two weeks ago that the NVIDIA 180.35 display driver was released for Linux, but yesterday NVIDIA decided to push out yet another update (they have been on a driver updating rampage this year).

    • QEMU 0.10.0 Release To Bring Many Features

      QEMU, the popular open-source processor emulator that can be run as a user-space program and also has found its way into use by the KVM and VirtualBox projects, will soon reach version 0.10.0 As was announced on the QEMU development list, a 0.10.0 branch has been created in its SVN repository and the 0.10.0 release has been made available. This release does bring some exciting changes.

  • Automobiles

    • CeBIT 2009: Starting Shot for Linux in Automobiles

      Thinking of buying a BMW, a Peugeot or a Citroen in the near future? If you are then the chances are pretty good that you’ll be buying an automobile with a small Linux computer behind the middle console

    • Genivi shows why open source is good for business

      The automotive industry consortium, Genivi, has been announced. Its aims are to produce a common Linux-based stack to run the user-level electronics in cars — entertainment, navigation, information systems, and so on. It all sounds perfectly sensible, but it’s far smarter than that. It’s actually a good example of why open source is good for business, even outside the software industry itself.

      [...]

      It’s up to the Genivi Alliance itself to choose which licence it uses for its reference stack — parts will be covered by the GPL, at least — but a good open source licence will ensure that no one manufacturer in the alliance gets to dictate what the others are able to do in their products, and none of them will have to pay ongoing or per-product licensing fees just to use the stack.

  • Desktops

    • Improved Linux Screen Space Management With PekWM

      PekWM is extremely lightweight making it ideal for legacy hardware. I had an old Pentium 133 system with just 32MB of RAM which finally died last summer. It ran a minimal build of Ubuntu with a desktop consisting of PekWM and fbpanel.

    • Transparent GTK Themes

      Compiz may be the prime suite of effects on the desktop, but it can’t go too far beyond decorating the windows themselves. What if you could give GTK+ widgets effects themselves? Depending on your theme, you may be able to.

  • KDE

    • KOffice 2.0 Beta 7 Released

      The KOffice developers have released their seventh beta for KOffice 2.0. This release may be the last of the many betas. A decision on whether there will be another beta or if the next version will be the first Release Candidates will be made next week.

    • Koffice icons 2, the HighDef ones.

      Today we committed the 16×16 icon versions of the koffice application icon set for oxygen. we are just missing the 22×22 ones. 256×256 128×128 64×64 48×48 32×32 and 16×16 done. The big news here is that KOffice 2.0 Beta was 7 Released .

    • KDE Commit Digest: Issue 150: 15th February 2009

      An example Phonon-based video player in 5 lines of javascript code. Beginnings of a D-Bus interface for the Plasma “System Tray” daemon. Start of support for retrieving contacts from Akonadi through the Plasma DataEngine.

  • Distributions

    • Review of Exherbo Linux (From A User’s Perspective)

      Exherbo is a Linux distribution led by a small team of opinionated developers. It’s lean, to say the least, but when they give you a solution for something you can believe it’s well engineered and that it does that task well – nothing more.

    • Debian

      • Debian Lenny Now Available and Fully Supported by QNAP Turbo NAS Series

        Debian Linux on the QNAP NAS can serve as a great alternative to the default firmware provided by QNAP. Debian can be easily installed and thousands of popular software packages will be instantly available on the energy-saving yet powerful 500MHz ARM SoC-based QNAP NAS.

      • Knoppix 6.0: Perfect Distro (also for Netbooks)

        Knoppix has always been regarded as one of the most versatile Linux distros out there, but the latest version of the venerable Live CD Linux distribution has got yet another trick up its sleeve. Thanks to its excellent hardware detection, blazingly fast boot process, and the lightweight LXDE desktop environment, Knoppix 6.0 makes a perfect distro for netbooks. In fact, it supports all hardware on ASUS Eee PC 701 and 900 as well as Acer Aspire One right out of the box, including the wireless card. That’s right, you don’t have to fiddle with ndiswrapper or install a custom kernel in order to make your wireless card work. Knoppix 6.0 also detects the graphics card correctly, chooses the proper screen resolution, and enables Compiz Fusion 3D desktop effects. Even with 3D desktop effects enabled, the system feels very snappy.

        [...]

        All in all, even though the latest version of Knoppix isn’t designed specifically for netbooks, its netbook hardware support is excellent and the system runs smoothly even on the original ASUS Eee PC 701. The distro comes with key applications which can help you to stay productive when you are out and about. So if you are looking for a replacement for the distro that comes with your netbook, or you want to try something different, Knoppix 6.0 is definitely worth a closer look.

    • Ubuntu

      • In defence of Ubuntu against old school hackers.

        On the other hand, if you ARE really a slackware type hacker who wants to customize and rig everything, then Ubuntu allows you to do that too, because deep down, it is still Linux and follows the same philosophy when it comes to running the system as a whole.

      • Ubuntu: Community for Human beings

        The ubuntu community is one of the most enjoyable I’ve ever been a part of, it has a much more diverse set of people and ideas than other development communities, but retains a strict sense of community and togetherness.

    • Red Hat

      • Can Virtualization Make Red Hat Linux Desktop Pay?

        Microsoft, however, appears to be giving the concept somewhat shorter shrift than it is due, perhaps because VDI clashes somewhat with the company’s fat (or rich, if you prefer) client business model. If desktops begin to migrate to the server room, they’ll be migrating to a place where Microsoft wields significantly less control than they do in the desktop and notebook realm.

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Wind River reports strong year, lowers guidance

      Wind River’s 4Q Linux bookings, meanwhile, grew 48 percent year over year, says the company.

    • Embedded Linux on the Grow
    • RTI’s Real-Time Messaging Middleware Integrated with Security-Enhanced Linux

      Combination provides end-to-end information assurance in high-performance distributed computing environments

      Real-Time Innovations (RTI), The Real-Time Middleware Experts, today announced that RTI Data Distribution Service, its real-time messaging middleware, has been integrated with Security-Enhanced Linux (SELinux). This combination provides real-time and high-performance distributed applications with the ability to securely distribute data by combining RTI’s high-performance network communications with the extremely flexible Mandatory Access Control (MAC) facilities of SELinux.

    • Adeneo Develops Linux BSP For e2V Platform Based On Sensors

      Adeneo, a member of the ARM Connected Community, is developing a Linux BSP platform for industrial camera expert e2v’s generic hardward architecture, designed to be the base of their future CCD and CMOS sensors.

    • Kindle 2 hacks: bypassing Whispernet

      Vincent has also achieved a root shell with telnet access on his Kindle but for the time being has declined to share step-by-step details on how to achieve this for yourself. He writes, “If you’re interested in voiding the warranty on your Kindle 2, my writeup about USB Networking, igorsk’s posts from 2007, the Kindle 2.0.1 update, a copy of the right build of busybox and a little bit of hackery will get you your very own login on a cute little ARM Linux box with 128 megs of RAM.”

    • Phones

      • ‘Openness’ leads way for mobile platforms

        Byrne said the decision to move Symbian to open source is crucial in maintaining its leadership over Android, Linux and Microsoft, in an increasingly competitive market.

      • Economic Slowdown Accelerates Linux Growth in Mobile Handsets

        With deteriorating global economic conditions making their impact felt in the wireless industry, handset OEMs and mobile network operators are looking to Linux-based operating systems to cut costs and diversify their handset portfolios, reports IMS Research.

        While Linux-based operating systems have had a presence in the mobile handset market for years, growth has been slow and steady until recently. However, recent announcements from Motorola, Vodafone, HTC, and Huawei, among others, all stating that Linux-based operating systems will figure in to their upcoming handset releases, clearly demonstrate that OEMs and operators are ready to embrace Linux software on a larger scale, according to IMS Research.

      • Open source to help Android overtake iPhone by 2012

        Google’s Android mobile platform will overtake Apple’s iPhone OS X within three years, Informa has predicted

Events

  • DEFCON 16 Audio, Video, and Slides Now Available

    The DEFCON organizers made the audio, video, and slides available for DEFCON 16 via RSS feeds. There were alot of interesting talks this year including

    * David Maynor & Robert Graham’s “Bringing Sexy Back: Breaking in with Style” where they discuss turning Hollywood-fiction attacks into reality

  • Governance with FOSSology and FOSSBazaar: Rights and Licensing

    At CeBIT Open Source 2009 Martin Michlmayr, past Debian project lead, presented his current projects FOSSology and FOSSBazaar, and spoke about the role his employer Hewlett-Packard is giving him in the governance project and how the FOSSBazaar work group is organized within the Linux Foundation.

  • CeBIT 2009: OpenStreetMap Wins Two Linux New Media Awards

    Linux New Media AG has presented its annual awards for outstanding contributions to Open Source at CeBIT 2009 in Hannover. The OpenStreetMap project ended up garnering two of the six Linux New Media awards.

Free Software/Open Source

  • Developing Rich Client Applications Using Swing – II

    Eclipse is an open source IDE that can be used to develop both open source and commercial solutions.

    [...]

    NetBeans 6.x
    NetBeans is an open source IDE that can be used to develop both open source and commercial applications. As with Eclipse, there exists a portal dedicated to plug-ins that extend the NetBeans base platform.

    [...]

    Anyway, it’s possible to group these IDEs in categories by distinguishing between open source products (or near open source, i.e., low licence costs) and commercial products. An organization should ask oneself why choose a commercial solution if the same features are available in open source solutions too: what added value does a commercial IDE provide? Greater productivity? Greater support or documentation? Superior development tools?

  • Drupal

    • Michael Jackson using Drupal

      Not only is there a new tour, but MichaelJackson.com, the official site for fans of the King of Pop, has just re-launched, featuring some new community-oriented features and some old-school graphics from back in the day. MichaelJackson.com was built using Drupal by the good folks at Sony Music. They are also using Mollom to protect against comment and forum post spam. Moonwalks!

    • New CEO, New Drupal CMS Offerings for Acquia

      Acquia launched a year ago with $7 million in venture capital with the aim of providing a commercially supported version of Drupal. Since then, Acquia’s release of Drupal includes the core CMS components while adding in additional modules and testing.

  • Business

    • Catching up with GroundWork’s new CEO, Peter Jackson

      This economy is good for open source. I think we’ll double our customers. At the same time, we’ll be enhancing services to the community of contributors, and building out a large set of 2.0 community infrastructure to enhance education, communication, and partnerships.

    • Firms to trim IT expenditure, take refuge in open source

      Anticipating a tough year ahead, major Indian companies are planning to trim their IT expenditure or stop additional investments. This is against the conventional wisdom of increasing IT budgets even at times of crisis (due to long-term benefits), with companies now increasing exposure to open source technologies and low-cost infrastructure.

  • Sun

    • Technology Adoption (2 of 4)

      On the consumer side, OpenOffice.org, which certainly promotes Sun’s vision of open standards and data formats, reaches nearly three million new users – every week. Adding them to a user base we estimate to be between 150 and 200 million users. Talk about global circulation.

  • Government

    • FOSS in government – a Pakistani perspective

      Though there are various TCO and ROI studies on such cost comparisons in both the long and short term and there have been immediate benefits reported by many developing (and developed) countries who have switched over to FOSS in their government departments.

    • New U.S. CIO could be a big win for open source

      Granted, open source has already made extensive inroads to federal IT. Kundra’s appointment as U.S. CIO, however, opens the door to new competitors–Google and open source among them–even wider. He says he plans to take a pragmatic approach to IT spending, but that’s all open source needs to thrive.

  • Licensing

  • Literature

    • Virginia Releases First Open-Source Textbook

      Open-source software and hardware are common elements of the technological world. And now the ancient counterparts to these modern products, written books, have finally jumped the gap into open waters as well. Virginia’s currently accepting public comments for its first-ever open-source school textbook, “21st Century Physics FlexBook: A Compilation of Contemporary and Emerging Technologies.”

    • An open source textbook is more than a book

      The release of an “open source” physics textbook by the state of Virginia is a serious milestone.

      I put the words “open source” in quotes because, while the work has a Creative Commons attribution license and was built using open source tools, its chapters are all bylined and it was done with strict peer review.

Leftovers

Digital Tipping Point: Clip of the Day

Gabriella Coleman, an anthropologist, explains Free Software culture 06 (2004)

Ogg Theora

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

IRC: #boycottnovell @ FreeNode: March 7th, 2009 – Part 2

Posted in IRC Logs at 2:40 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME Gedit

Enter the IRC channel now

To use your own IRC client, join channel #boycottnovell in FreeNode.

Read the rest of this entry »

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