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03.13.09

IRC: #boycottnovell @ FreeNode: March 13th, 2009 – Part 3

Posted in IRC Logs at 11:39 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME Gedit

Enter the IRC channel now

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IRC: #boycottnovell @ FreeNode: March 13th, 2009 – Part 2

Posted in IRC Logs at 11:33 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME Gedit

Enter the IRC channel now

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IRC: #boycottnovell @ FreeNode: March 13th, 2009 – Part 1

Posted in IRC Logs at 11:23 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME Gedit

Enter the IRC channel now

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Links 13/03/2009: New Ubuntu Alpha, New Firefox 3.5 Beta

Posted in News Roundup at 10:44 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • The Bizarre Cathedral – 42
  • WINE 1.1.17 Released With 64-bit Improvements

    Since the release of WINE 1.1.16 two weeks ago, the open-source developers have been working on joystick support for Mac OS X, implementing iphlpapi on Solaris, a number of 64-bit improvements, the obsolete LinuxThreads support has been dropped, and Windows regression test fixes. These changes plus the usual round of bug-fixes has now gone on to form the WINE 1.1.17 release.

  • PC Vendors: Put up or shut up on the Linux desktop

    One last thing, could all of you keep those annoying “Buy Vista” ads off the Linux sales pages. If we didn’t already know we didn’t want Windows, we wouldn’t be on those pages now would we? Thank you. Thank you very much.

  • Renoise 2.0

    Verdict: If cross-platform usability is more important to you than freedom, Renoise may suit your needs perfectly. 8/10.

  • Comic creation software released simultaneously for Linux and Windows.

    Start by adding panels to your page. Then drop your favorite pictures onto the panels. Add a few Speech Bubbles, and boom. You’ve got your very own comic. And it was all “Drag and Drop”.

  • Who cares about Windows 7?

    Children don’t belong on Windows at all.

    There’s too much malware out there and keeping all the software on a Windows machine up to date is too hard. As for standard defensive measures: UAC is too confusing, running as a restricted user is too often impractical and dealing with anti-malware software is certainly too much to expect.

    Children are best served with a Linux based netbook running Firefox and Open Office.

    Why Linux rather than a Mac?

    For one, it’s significantly cheaper. Kids break things and better they break a $350 netbook rather than a $1,200 Apple laptop.

    Also, their small fingers are a great match for the small keyboards on netbooks. And the small size of netbooks makes them easier for children to carry around.

    Linux is also easier to maintain. Despite the plethora of malicious comments directed at me for criticizing some Linux software update applications, the fact is that Linux is on the right path when it comes to updating software.

    All the distributions I’ve sampled defaulted to automatic self-updating (my gripes were directed at manual updates) and all the software gets updated, not just the software from the OS vendor. Both Microsoft and Apple update their own software, but only in Linux does the operating system keep all the installed software up-to-date. This goes a long way to making the end user safer.

    So who, in the end, other than a handful of techies, cares about Windows 7?

  • StarNet’s X-Win32 First to Redisplay Full Linux/Unix Consoles

    StarNet Communications of Sunnyvale, California, a leading developer of Windows/Linux/UNIX connectivity solutions, today announced the industry’s first PC X server capable of re-displaying a full remote Unix or Linux console to a Windows desktop. X-Win32 version 9.4 also offers Windows users an innovative new way to connect to a remote host via a secure gateway host.

  • Kernel Space

    • Linux 2.6.29-rc8

      This -rc isn’t any more interesting than most, although I have to say that personally, it was interesting to see that we have actually been hitting a Atom CPU errata, and it took some effort from people to hunt it down. That was interesting, if only because it’s a pretty rare occurrence.

    • Happy Birthday, Linux!

      Strictly speaking, Linux was officially unveiled in September of 1991 with version 0.01. That’s a more accurate “birth day” for Linux, which makes it 18 years old later this year. Hopefully Linux will exercise its newfound adulthood by buying cigarettes and pornography, and voting!

      This year also sees the 40th birthday of UNIX! UNIX is like the cool, aging hipster uncle that inspired Linux to grow up into such a badass.

  • Distributions

    • Geek-Free Debian Tutorials and Stuff

      Recognizing a moment when I see one, I plopped my laptop bag onto the counter and retrieved a Mandriva 2009 disc. I said, “Here, take this. It’s not what I run, but it is the total package. Just boot your box to it and there ya go. Do you know how to change boot devices in your BIOS?” The man replied that he did. I said, “Rock on. I think you’re gonna like that disc and don’t worry about any mischief on your machine, this is a live disc and it runs without touching your hard drive.” Well, they both just thought that was amazing. We exchanged more smiles and a few moments later my first proof was ready.

      The moral of this story, kids, is that the public at large is completely ignorant of Linux and the schwing that you get with it. Of course, we already know this but every once in a while it’s helpful to see it in action and to be there to provide answers or wow their socks off. It really did take me about 2 minutes to install glabels, get my design finalized, printed to pdf, burnt to a disc and in their hands. And it really did blow them away. Wicked.

    • PCLinuxOS 2009.1 Released

      As I said at the beginning, there’s a good reason why PCLinuxOS has such a loyal following. It’s good. It works. It includes lots of excellent packages. If you give it a try, you are likely to really be pleased – I am.

    • Mini Linux power

      When it comes to building supercomputers, Linux is usually the first choice of operating system. But while Linux powers the biggest hardware, it is also well suited to smaller hardware and there are many versions of the operating system that have minuscule footprints. We look at three of these.

    • Red Hat

      • First Beta of Red Hat Enterprise Linux 4.8 Arrives

        Red Hat, Inc., the world’s leading provider of Open Source solutions, announced yesterday (March 12th) the immediate availability of the first beta version of the eighth update for their Red Hat Enterprise Linux 4 operating systems. Besides the usual bug fixes and software updates (see below for details), this development release is powered by a 2.6.9-82.EL kernel. Red Hat Enterprise Linux 4.8 Beta is available for 32-bit and AMD/Intel 64-bit architectures.

    • Ubuntu

      • 12 Ubuntu Server Appliances Meet the Cloud

        Ubuntu is converging quickly with cloud services. A prime example: Turnkey Linux is launching 12 Ubuntu Server Edition software appliances that users can deploy in various cloud services. The news comes only a few weeks after Canonical said Ubuntu 9.10 will leap into Amazon.com’s cloud. I’m intrigued, but I wonder if customers will join the Ubuntu cloud party.

      • Get Android’s fonts on Ubuntu [HOW TO]

        This is a simple how-to to help you install Android’s fonts on your Ubuntu box. Android font’s made for mobile devices, not only look sharp but are more space-savy than Ubuntu’s default fonts.

      • Xubuntu 8.10 + Xfce 4.6: Screenshots

        If GNOME feels like it is too bulky and KDE is not the Linux desktop answer that you are looking for, then you should consider the Xubuntu distribution that ships with the Xfce desktop.

        Long overshadowed by its GNOME and KDE-based brethren, Xubuntu is a handy Ubuntu solution for older PCs or for users that want a lighter desktop footprint.

      • Ubuntu 9.04 Alpha 6 Released

        We are just a little more than a month away until Ubuntu 9.04 (the Jaunty Jackalope) will be released. With the release getting near, Canonical has today put forth the final alpha release of Jaunty. Ubuntu 9.04 Alpha 6 carries a few updated packages (particularly with the imminent release of GNOME 2.26) and various bug-fixing.

        More information on the Ubuntu 9.04 Alpha 6 release can be found at Ubuntu.com. Edubuntu, Kubuntu, Xubuntu, Ubuntu Studio, and Mythbuntu have all been updated as well to the Alpha 6 status.

      • Ubuntu 9.04 Alpha 6 Screenshot Tour

        The sixth and last alpha version of the upcoming Ubuntu 9.04 (codename Jaunty Jackalope) was uploaded a few minutes ago on the official mirrors. As usual, we’ve downloaded a copy of it in order to keep you up to date with the latest changes in the Ubuntu 9.04 development.

        [...]

        Once again, a Live CD is available for everyone who wants to see for themselves what’s new in Ubuntu, Kubuntu, Xubuntu 9.04 Alpha 6 (see below for download links), without installing anything on the hard drive. See you again at the end of March for the Beta release of the upcoming Ubuntu 9.04 (Jaunty Jackalope). We’ll leave you now to enjoy the screenshot tour for the sixth Alpha version of Ubuntu, Kubuntu and by popular demand… Xubuntu!

      • Is Ubuntu Taking Over? Should I Follow?
  • Devices/Embedded

    • Thin client runs dual monitors

      Devon IT announced a thin client that uses Intel’s Atom N270 processor and supports dual HD displays. The “TC5X/XW” offers up to 2GB each of RAM and DOM, plus gigabit Ethernet and optional WiFi, and is available with Devon IT’s DeTOS Linux distribution.

    • Wrist-worn computer packs beaucoup functions

      With the Zypad device, which runs a Linux operating system, one can access a remote host system through integrated wired or wireless interfaces. The unit boasts a special fiberglass-reinforced nylon-magnesium alloy case for maximum durability and minimum weight.

    • Phones

      • Sprint Announces Pricing Plans for Palm Pre

        At first glance, the Pre’s plans appear competitive, and the unlimited-use options should prove popular with heavy web users. Sprint has been very aggressive lately with its all-you-can-use deals; its Boost Mobile subsidiary even offers a $50 plan with unlimited voice, messaging, and text.

      • OODBMS vendor publishes Android benchmarks

        McObject has released a DBMS test benchmark application for the Android-based T-Mobile/HTC G1 smartphone. The “TestIndex” benchmark results purport to show that McObject’s Perst object-oriented database management system (OODBMS) is faster than Android’s default SQLite relational embedded database.

      • iPhone suffers as Android buoys Linux cause

        Google’s open mobile OS platform Android is buoying the fortunes of Linux-powered smartphones. The news for Apple’s iPhone, however, is not so good.

    • Sub-notebooks

      • Community group widens Maemo’s reach

        A community effort to create a mainstream open-source Linux distribution for tablets based on the Nokia-specific Maemo 5.0 environment is gaining momentum, says LWN.net. The “Mer” project, which targets older Nokia tablets as well as generic devices, has already passed major milestones, says the story.

      • Medical tablet gets Atom, 12.1-inch screen

        Arbor announced a Linux-compatible tablet PC targeting medical applications, with a sealed, easily sanitized case. The “M1255″ has a 12.1-inch touchscreen display, Atom N270 processor, 60GB hard disk drive, 802.11b/g/n WiFi, two-megapixel camera, barcode scanner, fingerprint reader, and an RFID reader, the company says.

Free Software/Open Source

  • Open source software in Brazil: too many projects to keep up with!

    The Brazilian free software movement is in such high gear that it is almost impossible to keep up on all the new developments and projects that are happening throughout the country. Brazil is larger in size than the continental United States and has a population of almost 200 million people. Given the strong support of free software by the Brazilian government at all levels (federal, state and municipal).

    [...]

    Given the spectacular example set by Brazil in using cutting-edge open source platforms for public schools and public administration, there is some hope being expressed in the US infotech press that perhaps President Obama will be receptive to breaking the US government’s “dependency on proprietary software.” Given the recovery package’s goals of fixing the current economic crisis, President Obama’s policymakers should focus on governments throughout South America, who continue to demonstrate that the millions of US taxpayer dollars spent on licensing proprietary software are the perfect example of “wasteful spending.”

  • Pentaho Preps Open Source Partner Conference

    Despite the recession, two areas of the IT channel — open source companies and managed services specialists — are pressing ahead with partner and customer conferences. The latest example involves Pentaho, an open source business intelligence company that plans to host a partner summit in April.

  • Programming

    • SourceForge Commits to Git, Bazaar and Mercurial Support

      The sites and services existing under the SourceForge umbrella have experienced some significant changes in the past several months. In the first three months of 2009, we’ve seen management changes and the re-direction of some SourceForge properties. SourceForge is ushering in another change — free hosting for the Git, Bazaar, and Mercurial source code management systems. These services are now available to every open source project registered with SourceForge.net.

    • Student Roboticists Compete to Create C3PO, Share Their Source Code

      More than 42,000 high-school students in 1,680 teams from 10 countries are competing in the 2009 FIRST Robotics Competition. (Dean Kamen, the man behind the Segway scooters and many other inventions, is the founder of FIRST.) Twenty thousand mentors have volunteered to assist them. The competition is observing open source principles, according to CollabNet…

    • Programming languages that melt your brain

      Before continuing, you should know we’ll be assuming you have a general programming background; that said, even if you’ve never written a line of code in your life, you’ll still find some of the concepts here compellingly mind-twisting. You wouldn’t want to use any of these languages to write any large, complicated applications, but you’ll learn a lot about the makeup of programming languages. Plus C, for all its fiddliness, will seem like a gorgeous paradise once you’ve spent some time in these foreign lands…

    • Two Reasons the Command Line Trumps the Graphical User Interface

      Before I get into this I will state for the record I am not a text mode Luddite. I use a graphical user interface (GUI) every day. In fact I am using the fluxbox window manager GUI as I write this article with a WordPress GUI and Firefox GUI. I like my GUI chewy goodness as much as any visually stimulated human. However, for certain tasks a GUI is just not the best choice.

  • Web Browsers

    • Opinion: Defining moments in web history

      The Mozilla project gave a huge boost to open source, and led ultimately to Firefox, now gradually regaining Netscape’s lost browser crown.

    • Firefox Beta Update Supports HTML 5

      Mozilla released an update for the ongoing Firefox beta, bringing the current version to 3.1b3. This will be the last beta before the version number changes to 3.5, according to the organization.

    • Firefox 3.1 Beta 3 now available for download

      Please note: Firefox 3.1 Beta 3 is a public preview release intended for developer testing and community feedback. It includes many new features as well as improvements to performance, web compatibility, and speed. We recommend that you read the release notes and known issues before installing this beta.

Standards/Consortia

  • Insight into Venezuela’s Commitment to Open Standards

    We have reported extensively about the Venezuelan government’s support of open formats in the area of information technology. But it was only recently that the National Center of IT (CNTI) made it mandatory for the public sector to use open formats (ODT, ODS, ODP, ODG). This requirement was published in Venezuela’s Official Journal, giving it more formality since it was distributed to the public and made official.

Leftovers

  • An API for Federal Legislation? Congress Wants Your Opinion

    Congress has apparently listened to the public’s complaints about lack of convenient access to government data.

    The new Omnibus Appropriations Bill includes a section, introduced by Rep. Mike Honda (D-California), that would mark the first tangible move toward making federal legislative data available to the public in bulk, so third parties can mash it up and redistribute it in innovative and accessible ways.

    [...]

    Although sites like Govtrack and OpenCongress improve on these limitations, the sites get their data by scraping Thomas. Their information is, therefore, limited to what can be grabbed in a scrape and isn’t always up to date.

  • Copyrights

    • Australia The Latest To Look At Having Artists Paid Multiple Times For The Same Work

      The only artists such a “right” helps are those who are quite successful — in other words, the ones least likely to need it. For new and upcoming artists, such a resale right creates quite a bit of harm. It acts as a disincentive for anyone to buy or sell their artwork, and limits the likelihood of their artwork becoming well known.

      The problem is that, thanks to the rise of the copyright lobby, people really do think that “creation = permanent ownership” at this point. If you’re going to create a resale right for art, why not for everything else? If I build a house, why shouldn’t I get a percentage of the transaction every time it’s sold?

    • As Musicians Complain That YouTube Doesn’t Pay Enough, At Least One Musician Is Profiting Greatly From YouTube

      Reader Josh Austin tells us he was listening to a local radio show in Denver, where the DJs were interviewing the singer, Joe Bonamassa. In the course of the discussion he mentions just how valuable YouTube has been for him, saying:

      All this digital stuff, now, it’s actually really helped my audience, you know. We were playing little blues bars, and with the advent of YouTube all these college kids started coming out, because they’d check you out online, and instead of a hundred fans, there’d be thousands, and it’s great! How can you complain about YouTube? It’s a really good thing.

    • How Not To ‘Save’ The Music Industry: Ask The Folks Who Benefited From Old Inefficiencies

      There’s a group in the UK called “MusicTank,” which is supposed to represent something of a “think tank” around the music industry. It was the head of MusicTank, back at Midem, who “joked” about how everyone there could solve the industry’s problems, because all the stakeholders were present, “except the consumers, since they can’t afford to be here.” That should give you an idea of one of the main reasons why the industry is in so much trouble. It never really considers the folks who actually listen to the music to be a serious constituent.

    • Copyright treaty is classified for ‘national security’

      Last September, the Bush administration defended the unusual secrecy over an anti-counterfeiting treaty being negotiated by the U.S. government, which some liberal groups worry could criminalize some peer-to-peer file sharing that infringes copyrights.

      Now President Obama’s White House has tightened the cloak of government secrecy still further, saying in a letter this week that a discussion draft of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement and related materials are “classified in the interest of national security pursuant to Executive Order 12958.”

    • Pro-filesharing Swedish party hopes for seat in Brussels

      The party was formed in Sweden in 2006 following the introduction of a controversial new law that forbade the downloading of copyrighted material from the internet. However, it doesn’t currently have a seat in the Riksdag (Swedish parliament) as the SPP was conceived after the last national election.

    • Mr. Corgan Goes to Washington to Lobby for Radio Royalties

      What the proposed law would mean is that while only Corgan gets paid if a Smashing Pumpkins song gets played on the radio, anyone who played an instrument on the track would also get paid. Plus, Corgan could get paid if a radio station plays a cover song of another band done by the Smashing Pumpkins.

    • How to Silence Talk Radio: Tax the Industry to Death

      Enter the politicians. Those (like me) who see the opportunity laid out before them to silence talk radio are chomping at the bit to orchestrate how this all unfolds.

      Obviously, by taxing radio to play music the result will be less music sales not more. If you tax something, you get less of it. Taxing music means less music. Less music means less sales. Less sales means less money.

    • There Is No New Business Model For Music?

      Nick Fitzsimons points us to a blog post by journalist/musician Rhodri Marsden complaining about everyone who keeps telling the music industry it needs to “find a new business model.” According to Marsden, the people who say this do so without ever suggesting what that alternative business model might be.

    • Top Artists Strike Back at Greedy Music Labels

      For years music industry lobbyists, headed by the RIAA, have gone after illegal file-sharers – supposedly in the best interests of the artists. Unexpectedly, a group of top musicians has started its very own lobby group to avoid being exploited by these very same record labels, who tend to abuse copyrights for their own sake.

    • SXSW 2009 on BitTorrent: 6 GB of Free Music

      The South by Southwest (SXSW) music festival is one of the largest and most popular in the United States. For the fifth year in a row, SXSW has released a DRM-free, RIAA-safe collection of songs totaling 6 GB, which can all be downloaded for free, thanks to BitTorrent.

    • Labels: whatever the future of music is, it isn’t “free”

      Labels say that it’s not just about the concerts and the merchandise; people will still pay for access to recorded music, but not like they used to. The future is monthly or yearly payments for access to all the tunes you want.

    • Warner Music attacks babies

      Warner Music’s war on fair use has sunk to new lows, with the company sending takedown notices to YouTube over videos in which babies and toddlers interact with music in adorable ways…

Digital Tipping Point: Clip of the Day

Gabriella Coleman, an anthropologist, explains Free Software culture 11 (2004)

Ogg Theora

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

Novell is Feeding the Shills-for-Hire from IDC

Posted in Deception, Finance, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Novell at 3:12 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Pay-to-say Gillen et al return

Summary: Novell pays IDC for GNU/Linux studies, but it mistakenly feeds one of the most FOSS-hostile and corruptible groups out there

AL Gillen and his goons are showing up in the “Linux” news again. They were fed last year by the Linux Foundation and this time they are fed by Novell. Most of the time, however, they are fed by Microsoft and the proprietary software cartel. Wherever there is money, their opinion will naturally swing.

Welcome to the world of ‘analysis’, where money drives a CIO’s opinion which is based on so-called ‘whitepapers’. Microsoft puts it best when it says [PDF]:

“Analysts sell out – that’s their business model… But they are very concerned that they never look like they are selling out, so that makes them very prickly to work with.”

Another Microsoft analyst, Paul DeGroot from “Directions On Microsoft” said last year that “there’s a lot of Linux out there — much more than Microsoft generally signals publicly — and their customers are using it….”

“…Microsoft is paying IDC a lot of money to manufacture dirt against GNU/Linux.”Under certain circumstances, analysts are inclined to tell some truth, but truth does not drape one’s pocket. As we’ve shown before [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7], using very solid courtroom evidence, Microsoft is paying IDC a lot of money to manufacture dirt against GNU/Linux (c/f Analysts Cartel part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, and part 5). Comes exhibits show this too, so it is far from an empty allegation; it’s a substantiated fact and we urge readers to examine the evidence and reach their own conclusions.

As we explained back when IDC — headed by Al Gillen in this particular area — had thrown FUD at Free software, paying IDC is playing with fire (or fighting against fire using more fire). Whoever pays them the most will ‘win’, but the only big winner — in financial terms — is IDC, which uses its media platforms to promote Microsoft [1, 2, 3, 4, 5].

Anyway, regarding some new “Linux” survey that percolates through the news right now, bear this in mind:

Novell, the distributor of SUSE Linux Enterprise System, was the sponsor of the survey and made a draft of the IDC white paper available to InformationWeek today. But it had no role in selecting survey respondents, said Markus Rex, senior VP of Novell’s Open Platforms Solutions.

“Had no role,” eh? Would Novell have sponsored a study that is favourable to its competition? Was IDC expected to deliver results that flatter the prospective customer/s? Or choose methods and criteria that are favorable by design (not advantageous based on merit)?

“Do better, clean up inherently-unethical and corruptible systems.”Questionnaires from Novell are shamelessly ‘cooked’, as evidenced two years ago. Microsoft too has used IDC to inquire with a highly-biased populations regarding GNU/Linux, thus knowing what answers to expect. There are other, more recent examples like push polling.

This probably all begs the question, how to improve rather than just complain? What to do other than to fund?

Expose.

Refuse to play the corrupt game. Do better, clean up inherently-unethical and corruptible systems. IDC is part of this system and by funding it, Novell gives this group credibility which it does not deserve. For Novell, to dismiss IDC studies while paying the very same group is not just hypocritical; it’s dangerous and it is almost uncanny.

GNU father
Freedom is about truthfulness and
honesty, not cartels and ‘junk science’

US Justice Department Adds Microsoft ‘Splitter’, Microsoft-Affiliated Professor Slams EU Commission

Posted in America, Antitrust, Courtroom, Europe, Law, Microsoft at 2:03 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Novell pillar
Justice in boycotts

Summary: Juridical oddity acts against and in favour of Microsoft, whose abuses go largely unpunished for

A READER has sent us a pointer to this article from Bloomberg. The news is reassuring because it indicates that the US Department of Justice — or Department of ‘Justice’ as Richard Stallman would rather call it for good reasons [1, 2, 3, 4, 5] — is willing to make appointments of people who understand Microsoft’s history of crime and master reasons for breaking the company apart through direct government intervention.

Economist Carl B. Shapiro, who endorsed the Clinton administration’s plan to break up Microsoft Corp. as an expert witness, has rejoined the U.S. Justice Department as the antitrust division’s chief economist, people familiar with the appointment said.

Can Shapiro counter influence from Microsoft cronies like Barnett, Vassallo (in Europe), and maybe even Christine Varney? One reader tells us that “Shapiro is an influential industrial economist but as many of his colleagues he has a flexibility.”

“Watch who the Financial Times has just given its platform, from which to attack the European Commission and defend Microsoft.”Says another person: “Morgan Stanley put out a research note reducing their earnings expectations for Microsoft. The note said that the PC industry was going to be down dramatically in 2009 and Microsoft wasn’t going to sell as much. Financial message boards bemoaned the negative impact this had on MSFT, which was one of the few losers in an otherwise broad stock rally. If the research hypothesis were the only driver, then we would expect that the major PC manufacturers, including AAPL, DELL, HP, (and perhaps IBM in sympathy) would all be down, yet all rallied as much as the broader market. This contrary motion suggests that the idea of an actual enforcer in DOJ, not the reasons given in the Microsoft downgrade, is what’s behind Microsoft’s stock tumble.”

As we noted before, Richard Waters in the Financial Times constantly defends Microsoft. The New York Times is similar in that respect (denialists galore) and so is IDG (IDC). Watch who the Financial Times has just given its platform, from which to attack the European Commission and defend Microsoft. The disclosure at the very bottom says. (emphasis is ours)

Richard A. Epstein is the James Parker Hall Distinguished Service Professor of Law, at the University of Chicago, the Peter and Kirsten Bedford Senior Fellow, the Hoover Institution, and a visiting professor at New York University Law School. He has consulted from time to time with Microsoft.

So, in essence, he apparently has Microsoft money inside his pockets and now he writes in a distinguished journal to peddle the company’s defence. Need it be said again that Microsoft controls media outlets?

Finland’s Public Sector Moves to Open Standards and Free Software, Microsoft Interferes

Posted in Europe, Free/Libre Software, OpenOffice, Standard at 10:33 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Guest post

Finland flag

THE Finnish public sector is now requiring (in so much as it can require anything) that all public sector agencies, including schools, drop any and all closed source, closed protocols, and closed formats* and move entirely to open ones.

So in some ways, attacks from Microsoft now appear part of an attempt to do a scorched earth retreat. There seem to be a lot of sudden new ‘administrative’ systems and ‘upgrades’, not subject to discussion or evaluation. It seems too as if there is a massive effort to slam Microsoft Office 2007 in now after being ignored for years, apparently without discussion or evaluation, and despite the business case pointing to holding earlier versions (with the help of the ODF-plugin from Sun) or a move to KOffice or OpenOffice.org. There has been also an ongoing massive move in many regions to slam through, without discussion, further entrenchment of Microsoft Exchange. The ongoing Sampo Bank disaster demonstrates the vigor with which Microsoft products take precedence over profitability. A lot of people will have to be fired to come up with the money for these purchases made apparently to avoid or delay following the new guidelines.

In contrast, Russia and France have been saving huge sums which can be instead kept in the local economy and used to keep people employed. The
Gendarmerie, for example, reduced expenditures by 70%.

___
* Also see this paper [PDF] from 2003, pointing to the use of FOSS in more specific cases. A nice quote in page nine points out that although the term open source is new, the concept is as old as computing itself. The concept of Free Software, the source of the GPL, started 25 years ago.

Patents Roundup: TomTom, The ‘Bilski Test’, Junk Patents, and Ambush

Posted in Apple, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Patents, TomTom at 9:18 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“Truthfulness with me is hardly a virtue. I cannot discriminate between truths that and those that don’t need to be told.”

Margot Asquith

TomTom Revisited

IT IS hard treating the TomTom case as though it’s old news because ramifications may be serious and Microsoft is already spinning. Jay Lyman, a self-professed proponent of GNU/Linux, is optimistically suggesting that the lawsuit has not negatively affected the adoption of Linux in the embedded space and based on our collection of news stories over the past fortnight, Lyman is probably correct. He wrote:

I don’t necessarily see the same effect from the TomTom suit since, at least publicly, Microsoft is not making the case that it is Linux on the line. I can report that there does not seem to be any slowdown or hesitation in the embrace of Linux for embedded devices. Perhaps that is the reason that Microsoft has chosen to play down any implications for Linux and open source, rather than puff them up as it has done in the past. If Microsoft or anyone else challenges the IP integrity of the Linux OS, it is likely to reinforce the idea that the open source software is legitimate, licensed, covered by copyright, and absolutely appropriate for enterprise, embedded and other commercial uses, at least that’s what history tells us.

SD Times has already gathered some more details about mysterious anomalies that harm Microsoft’s case.

Under the original FAT licensing program, pricing was US$0.25 per unit with a cap on total royalties of $250,000 per manufacturer, according to what had been posted on Microsoft’s website from 2003 to July 2006. A Microsoft spokesperson could not explain why they were removed or whether those terms were applicable to the 18 agreements outlined in the lawsuit.

As we showed 2 weeks ago, Microsoft had explicitly promised not to sue over FAT. It therefore fails to keep up with its own licences, let alone just those promises. This is why we believe that Microsoft is fighting a losing battle and it relies heavily on the financial situation of TomTom which is rather frail right now.

“As we showed 2 weeks ago, Microsoft had explicitly promised not to sue over FAT.”Microsoft, like SCO, frequently relies on exhaustion of its opponents (or lingering the uncertainty), so it’s a test that merely determines whose pockets are deeper and who can afford more motions. It is very much the same with the European Commission, which Microsoft drives into exhaustion for many years, so by the time compliance is reached — if that ever happens at all — the documentation delivered is already irrelevant and outdated.

One reader recently told us that this is “unfortunately the nature of the law. As a lawyer, I can tell you that lawyers don’t sit around talking about justice, they talk about whether you can win a motion for summary judgment (a quick way to end cases). Law is very narrow. It is not about justice. It is about whether the law can be used to bludgeon your opponent. [...] It is increasingly becoming true that the party with the greater resources wins. That is why it is so important for TomTom to win this case.

Business law

Software Patents Can Die

Illegitimacy of Microsoft’s claims aside, the question about patentability of software post-Bilski [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14] just keeps arising. According to this article about TomTom, In Re Bilski keeps slaughtering software patents.

Due to the Bilski ruling, new software patent evaluation rules have come into existence and just recently IBM lost claim to one of its database query patents. It was rejected because the innovation isn’t “tied to a particular machine”.

The BPAI goes on to justify the rejection by pointing out that the “system” on which the innovation operates is “not recited in terms of hardware or tangible structural elements”, which is to say that the patent is rejected because the elements of the claim are “implemented solely in software or algorithms”.

Moreover, according to Law.com, the opposition to Bernard Bilski’s patent is proving invaluable.

Federal Circuit Bars Patent for Business ‘Paradigm’

[...]

“A paradigm is basically a way of doing something,” Harris said. “I was trying to define a whole new set of claims — a new style of claims.”

At the end of the day, do software patents matter anymore? Are they sufficiently valid to actually endure the ‘court test’?

Junk Patents

One of our readers has accumulated examples of new patents that are worth putting here for their hilarity value. As he puts it, Cryptomathic patents user authentication using a central server, Innovid patents in-video brand experience, Worlds.com patents virtual reality, CounterPath patents mobile to IP roaming, laundry viewing over the Internet is patented, reading barcode with camera phone is patented, F-Secure patents updating virus signatures over SMS, Prolexic patents anti-DDOS service, and automatic menu generation too is now a patent.

What on Earth is going on here?

Patent Ambush (or Patents in Standards)

Rambus’ patent trap inside a standard [1, 2, 3, 4] is highly relevant to us because Microsoft patent traps like OOXML and C#, which are wrapped with something called “standard” (never mind if sheer crime was devised to achieve the status), are a danger to Free software.

According to this early report, Rambus is getting its way with a patent ambush and this can cost Hynix as much as $0.4 billion. Yes, all of this money just for patents, which were sneakily concealed inside a standard while it was innocently being adopted by many.

Hynix has agreed to pay royalties of up to 4.25 per cent for the use of Rambus patents in devices sold between the 31st of January 2009 and the 18th of April 2010.

Ars Technica has some more details about this story.

MPEG-2 may not be a case of an ambush, but as we showed last week, Lenovo is being hurt quite badly by it. MPEG-2 is a real issue for Free software because it has spread widely and it requires patents to be used. According to CNET, Apple potentially poisons Web standards with patents, we well.

On March 5 Apple dropped a small bombshell on the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) standards body, excluding one of its patents from the W3C Royalty-Free License commitment of the W3C Patent Policy for Widgets 1.0. The patent in question covers automatic updates to a client computer in a networked operating environment.

The author is an advocate of Apple, so he tries to convince the readers that Apple is a friend of open source when in reality it is a a big foe of open source and freedom in general. Well, fortunately, Apple suffers just like Microsoft and it shows.

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