Links 18/03/2009: SunBM and Cisco+GNU/Linux

Posted in News Roundup at 8:11 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



  • Where Ubuntu Fits Between Apple, Microsoft

    Moreover, I can’t recommend Windows systems at the moment because the industry is stuck in purgatory — between Windows Vista and Windows 7.

    As a result, Ubuntu continues to fill a niche where (A) Apple can’t compete on price and (B) Microsoft can’t compete on quality. Ubuntu remains a solid, predictable, reliable choice on a growing number of desktops, notebooks and netbooks. Assuming Canonical doesn’t mess up Ubuntu 9.04’s delivery (Jaunty Jackalope) in April, this should be a banner year for Ubuntu’s continued desktop growth.

  • 5 Technologies that will shape the future of Linux

    Following a small list of 5 technologies that will in my opinion shape the future of linux.

    1. The rise of the MID


    2. 3 Dimensional screens


    3. 3 Dimensional touch screen


    4. Cloud computing


    5. Virtualization

  • The Russians Are Coming…

    [Via Google Translate: The company ALT Linux and OpenGO (Ventox Boundless Brasil) announce the opening of the representation of ALT Linux in Brazil.

    Such a move by the ALT Linux is due to a desire to gather around the repository Sisyphus the widest range of developers and is part of a strategy to expand the market by other countries...]

  • Dell Goes Thin with Adamo

    In a note last week, Toni Sacconaghi, an analyst at Sanford Bernstein, wrote about “a new paradigm of low-cost computing” based on cheap processors and a version of Linux — rather than Microsoft’s Windows operating system. To reenforce their point, the analysts built a $250 PC that they say is perfectly functional (though its case is a cardboard box).

  • Platform Computing Announces New Linux Cluster Management Solution Developed with HP

    Platform Computing, the global leader in High Performance Computing (HPC) management software, announces the release of the Platform HPC for ICE-Linux, a solution developed with HP, which combines the power of Platform Computing with the multi-systems management of HP Insight Control suite for Linux (ICE-Linux). The solution will allow customers to easily deploy HPC cluster environments using an out-of-the-box software solution that supports superior performance, growth and scalability while reducing cost and complexity.

  • Linux and luxury: Behind the scenes on the Emirates Airbus A380

    We take a look at the Emirates Airbus A380′s high-tech luxuries and Linux-based Panasonic Aviation eX2 in-flight entertainment system.

  • Claromentis constructs new view on Linux

    A Linux information management solution dedicated to construction companies, architect, engineers, and oil companies has been launched byClaromentis.

  • VirtualBox Gets 3D Acceleration For Linux Guests

    Linux guests under VirtualBox 2.2 and later can now have OpenGL acceleration support, permitting they are running a modified driver stack. Also introduced in VirtualBox 2.2 Beta 1 was OVF (Open Virtualization Format) appliance import and export, Hypervisor optimizations for improved performance, Intel VT-x and AMD-V are enabled by default on new virtual machines, and experimental USB support for Solaris hosts. This release also has experimental support for Mac OS X 10.6 “Snow Leopard” host operating systems.

  • Linux is more than just a Novel Concept

    All operating systems have their respective pros and cons. But if you are a Linux enthusiast, you shall be amazed to find the flexibility and presence of tools available.

  • Battle of OS: Linux vs Windows

    Every time I browse news on Linux I come across headlines implying that war is going on between Linux and Windows. This always leaves me a bit puzzled as most of the free software people I have met or read about are rather peaceful and open-minded, though there are exceptions who like to play with guns.

  • Audio

    • Special Source 6 Released

      Another interview from OLF. This time I talk with Jon “Maddog” Hall about his nickname, sustainable computing, and the Open Moko phone. You can download/watch the episode here. I think I will stop titling my interviews “Special Source” and just have them be regular episodes from now on. It seems they are all I have time for lately.

    • The Software Freedom Law Show

      In this episode of the Software Freedom Law Show, Karen and Bradley interview Karen F. Copenhaver of the Linux Foundation and Choate, Hall, & Stewart, LLP, and also answer a listener’s question.

    • Podcast Season 1 Episode 4

      In this episode: Jim Zemlin wants a united front for netbooks, Codeweavers starts on DirectX 10 for Linux, has Firefox been exploited, can we help people who are new to Linux, and should proprietary software be easy to install?

  • Cisco

    • The Linux part of Cisco’s Unified Computing System

      Cisco isn’t happy with just being the data center and Internet networking big dog. The company now wants, with its Unified Computing System, to be the data center alpha dog. Cisco will be producing its own high-end 64-bit blade servers with Intel Nehalem processors, which will be powered by VMware, Windows Server 2008, and, pay attention now, Red Hat’s RHEL (Red Hat Enterprise Linux).

    • Cisco declares war, embraces open source

      While Cisco’s Unified Communication technology is hardly open source–Cisco has built its own proprietary Ethernet, for heaven’s sake!–the initiative will largely depend on open-source software. In my conversations with executives involved in the initiative, Red Hat, specifically, and open-source proponents, generally, are deemed to be critical to its success.

  • Kernel Space

    • The Linux Kernel Saves Animals, Gets New Logo

      Tux, the Linux penguin mascot, will be taking a break during the Linux 2.6.29 kernel cycle. Committed to the Linus’s kernel tree last night is a new temporary logo known as Tuz. Tuz is a Tasmanian Devil, which is a species in danger of becoming extinct. The Tasmanian Devil is native to Australia and during this year’s Linux.Conf.Au conference it was decided that Tuz will stand in for Tux for one kernel release in order to raise awareness for this creature. Tux will return with the release of the Linux 2.6.30 kernel.

    • The kernel gets a new logo
    • Kernel Log – What’s new in 2.6.29: Part 8 – Faster start-up and other behind the scenes changes

      Following the eighth pre-release version of 2.6.29, development of the next major kernel revision looks to have hit the home straight. A glance at the changed files and code makes it clear how hard the kernel hackers have been working on 2.6.29, with more new lines of code added over the current development cycle than ever before.

    • On Configuring The Linux Kernel For Debugging

      The point of this “Learning Linux” blog is to discuss learning more about Linux. In the next several blogs, at least, leading up to the training at the Collaboration Summit, we will look at topics that will be addressed in one of the training classes. To whet your appetite.

    • Comux 001100 ( hey it’s a palindrome! )
  • Environments

    • GNOME 2.26

      And with these additions, you have GNOME 2.26. Examined on its own merits, GNOME 2.26 is a rock solid desktop manager that offers ease of use which should translate into more productivity for the end user. Also, with its new Exchange features found in Evolution, GNOME 2.26 should appeal heavily to businesses wanting to integrate Linux clients into their Microsoft Exchange networks.

    • Introduction to the xmonad Tiling Window Manager

      What good is having a large display if you’re constantly rearranging windows to fit them on the screen? I got tired of try to fit a web browser with other smaller windows and decided to try xmonad, a tiling window manager that could do this for me.

  • Distributions

    • DIY Laptop v2

      Now that I’ve explained about the hardware, you’re thinking to yourself, “Great, a microcontroller, it’s been done…but what can it *do*?” Well, the answer is a resounding “more than the last version!” My goal is to eventually reach parity with an early 1980’s home computer, and this one is getting pretty darned close. And now, the software specs of the “Linaxe” OS (all crammed into 4 kilobytes!)…

    • PcLinuxOS

      • Review: PcLinuxOS 2009.1

        While slow in arriving, and a bit behind the times in some areas, PcLinuxOS 2009.1 is still a very good distribution for new users. I didn’t have quite the enthusiasm for this version as I did for the original, but I still enjoyed it and found it to be a good distribution by which new users could get their feet wet and begin experiencing the Linux world.

        So rest easy PCLOS Devs, your distro stays on my recommended list of distributions for new users. And while it’s indeed a bit behind, considering where you came from to get to here, you did a very good job. But we will be looking forward with eager anticipation to your next release. One preferably with KDE 4.2 or greater running under the hood.

      • PCLOS 2009 [Screenshots]
      • The Perfect Desktop – PCLinuxOS 2009.1
    • Red Hat

    • Ubuntu

      • Ubuntu Gets Complete Support from RightScale Cloud Management

        RightScale, a provider of automated cloud management platform, recently announced full support for the popular Ubuntu distribution as part of the RightScale Cloud Management Platform.

      • Unreleased ATI Catalyst Driver Appears In Ubuntu

        Last year when Ubuntu 8.10 was released it had shipped with an unpublished ATI Catalyst driver since the proprietary ATI drivers available to the public were not compatible with X Server 1.5, which was used by this Ubuntu release. Now with Ubuntu 9.04 coming around the corner and the ATI Catalyst driver lacking X Server 1.6 support, we have run into a similar situation.

  • Devices/Embedded

    • World’s greenest PC?

      CompuLabs is a month from shipping what may be the smallest, most energy-efficient PC ever. The Fit-PC2 is based on an Atom processor up to 1.6GHz, and can be ordered with Ubuntu 8.04 pre-installed on a 160GB SATA drive or SSD.

    • StorCenter Ix2 Network Drive Gains Remote Access, AFP

      The StorCenter ix2 uses an embedded Linux kernel to operate. It provides media serving capabilities, Bluetooth and video surveillance support, and comes with a Gigabit Ethernet port and USB 2.0 ports that can be used for printers, so it can act as a print server as well.

    • VDI tool gains snappier Linux support

      NoMachine says its Linux-friendly X Window System compression technology will by tapped by virtual thin client management software specialist Leostream. The NX technology will reportedly enable Leostream’s “Connection Broker” management software to better support Linux desktops, applications, and sessions in VMWare VDI (virtual desktop infrastructure) environments.

    • SmartQ 5 MID scores itself Ubuntu, a ridiculously low price tag

      The touchscreen device, which features a 4.3-inch 800 x 480 screen, is now running an ARM-friendly Ubuntu distro, and has been given the low, low pricetag of 899 Chinese Yuan, about $132.

    • MPC Data and Renesas Little Blue Linux development kits

      MPC Data and Renesas Technology Europe have announced the Little Blue Linux range of professional embedded Linux software development kits (SDK’s).

      The first Little Blue Linux Professional SDK targets the popular low-cost RSK+7203 development kit from Renesas Technology Europe. Featuring a high performance 200MHz SH7203 from Renesas’ SH-2A microcontroller family and running the latest stable and royalty free Linux BSP and cross-development tools from MPC Data, the evaluation board and SDK offers a painless transition to embedded Linux.

    • Surgeons Turn Man’s Finger Into Computer Memory Stick

      The device contains some of his favorite programs and a copy of the Linux operating system.

      “I simply put my finger into the USB port of a computer and pull out the hand if I need it,” Javala explained. “Afterwards the finger goes back on.”

    • Wind River

    • Phones

      • HTC Promises at Least 3 More Android Phones in ’09

        “Android is a free, open source mobile platform,” Google spokesperson Carolyn Penner told LinuxInsider. “This means that anyone can take the Android platform and add code or download it to create a mobile device without restrictions. We look forward to seeing what contributions are made and how an open platform spurs innovation.”

        Perhaps HTC is being spurred by the openness of Google, but Weinberg points out that it could have problems meeting its ambitious goals for Android smartphones.

    • Sub-notebooks

      • HP Mini 1000 Netbook – Running Linux

        Is Linux on the HP Mini right for anyone other than me? Linux in general seems like a good fit for netbooks — it does everything a typical netbook user will probably need, it’s usually pretty efficient, and it can be customized by vendors in ways that Windows can’t be. (Look at HP’s “Mobile Internet Experience”, for example. Without being told that it’s Linux, you’d never know it.) As a long-time Unix developer, I’m perfectly at home with a terminal and a text editor alongside Firefox and Thunderbird, so it suits me just fine.

        I should note that though installing Ubuntu with Wubi is very easy, installing the Netbook Remix packages on top of it might be a bit too daunting for new Linux users. On the other hand, installing the entire Netbook Remix at once is possible, but is also somewhat technical, and it requires partitioning the drive like a more traditional Linux installation. If you try Linux on the Mini, feel free to let us know how you fare in the comments; I’ll try to help as much as I can.

      • HP Mini 1000 Netbook Review

        With all the netbooks on the market in the last year or so, it almost makes a person wonder if the days of full-sized notebooks are numbered. Considering the economy the way it is, people are looking for a bargain and these little netbooks sure can provide one.

      • Kogan claims cheapest 10in netbook

        Another interesting point is Kogan’s choice of operating system: the Ubuntu-based gOS.

        “By using the gOS operating system, we are bringing our customers one step closer to cloud computing. The operating system facilitates easy access to a number of Google services, as well as a host of easy to use, powerful open source programs,” said Kogan.

      • Kogan launches 10-inch, Linux-powered netbook

        Marketing success story Kogan Technologies has announced what it claims is Australia’s cheapest 10-inch netbook computer powered by the Linux-based gOS operating system.

      • The quiet Ubuntu Netbook revolution

        Let’s say Microsoft earns $8 per copy of Windows XP shipped, which might actually be high, at least with the larger OEMs. At that point, the price differential between shipping Ubuntu or Windows XP is slim. But once Microsoft eventually turns off the XP spigot and requires OEMs to ship Windows 7, will Microsoft be able to command a hefty premium on its brand alone?

        I doubt it. Canonical has permanently reset the Netbook operating system price point in its favor, at a level where it can compete vigorously while Microsoft must compete reluctantly. Microsoft, in short, is now playing by Ubuntu’s terms.

Free Software/Open Source

  • Open source enables companies to collaborate

    Dave Neary gave me his speaking slot at OSiM USA. I have two challenges, make a talk to fit his title and abstract (although you can almost always safely ignore the abstract) and give a good talk in 20 minutes of time. Here are some thoughts I have. (The title of the talk is Increasing Ecosystem Collaboration through Open Source but I’ll let Dave blog that talk.)

  • EnterpriseDB’s Postgres Plus Wins Jolt Product Excellence Award

    EnterpriseDB, the leading enterprise-class open source database company, announced today that Postgres Plus has won the 2009 Jolt Product Excellence Award in the Best Database Engines and Data Tools category. The Jolt Awards honor products that have “jolted” the industry with their significance and have made the task of creating software faster, easier, and more efficient. Winners were selected from among hundreds of qualified nominations and were chosen by a team of twenty esteemed industry insiders, columnists, and technology leaders.

  • InSTEDD Unveils Open Source Software Suite and Training Lab to Help Global Humanitarian Sector Improve Disease Detection and Disaster Response

    InSTEDD (Innovative Support to Emergencies, Diseases and Disasters) today unveiled three new open source software tools and its first training lab, all designed to improve early detection, preparedness and response capabilities against global threats. InSTEDD empowers humanitarian organizations, local communities, and government ministries by filling a collaboration gap through sustainable innovation – a unique and effective combination of user-centered design, software development, and on-the-job training.

  • CMS

    • #CMSShowdown: Ultimate Showdown of Content Management Systems

      Today marked the day of the very first “Ultimate Showdown of Content Management Systems” which occurred at South by Southwest Interactive. This event was an attempt to pit open source content management systems against each other in an effort to determine which one was the greatest. With a presentation style reminiscent of Iron Chef, the popular Cooking television show.. Open Source CMS leaders Joomla, WordPress and Drupal were pitted against one another.

    • Newspapers Going Online-Only Should Look at FOSS Content Management

      Nobody at OStatic has ever needed outside support for Drupal, which we run on, and many other sites, such as Fast Company and The Onion, do fine with Drupal. (We’ve provided many free Drupal resources here.) It’s hardly the only open source content management choice, though. For newspapers and other people considering an open source content management platform, OpenSourceCMS remains an excellent way to take the reins of several different free CMS systems. The site allows you to try Drupal, Joomla, WordPress and many other platforms, and you can spend hours functioning as site administrator, watching video tutorials and more. I expect to see a lot of newspapers moving to these platforms in the coming years, as they make more and more economic and publishing sense.

  • Academic

    • Daden Launching Open-Source, Platform Agnostic Tool For Virtual Worlds Training

      The core code for PIVOTE is open source, and Burden hopes others will get involved. Daden itself will be providing a hosted service and plans to create environments for organizations looking to use PIVOTE. That lets Daden focus on the virtual world and the universities pay attention to teaching.


      Other universities are already in discussion with Daden to work with PIVOTE and some partners are already planning on implementing it. Likewise, Burden said he’ll be talking to other virtual world developers over the coming months, starting with OpenSim as well as Forterra and Twinity. The more platforms PIVOTE is available on, the more appealing it will be.

    • University of Southern California Brings Financial and Administration Applications to the Web with Hippo

      The University of Southern California (USC) has deployed the new version of Apache Jetspeed, the open source enterprise portal that is maintained and serviced by Hippo, on which it successfully runs its Staff Intranet since 2006. The system covers USC’s Financial Information Systems and Administrative Information Services departments. It provides users access to university research, administration, and financial systems through a web-enabled architecture and a Web 2.0 enterprise portal.

  • Security

    • How to Lie with Maps: When Open Source and National Security Collide

      This is not the first time that the world of Open Source and the desire for national security has slammed together. The most notable of these was the release of Phil Zimmerman’s PGP software in the mid 1990s. But is this really an issue of national security?

    • Forum Highlights Needed U.S. Actions To Fight Cyberwar

      Open-source software, in which the source code is in the public domain instead of under copyright and can be changed and improved by users, would mean potential cyber attackers couldn’t hide harmful problems in the code, said Bill Vass, president of Sun Microsystems Federal.

      In terms of state-sponsored cyberattacks, “if you open source it, they can’t hide anything in the code,” Vass said. “Everything gets fixed before it’s exploited.”

    • US Defense Dept. goes public with some open source plans

      As a next step in open source, the DoD is teaming up with the Open Source Software Institute (OSSI) on a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) that will allow over 50 federal administration applications to be publicly distributed under an open source license.

    • DoD to Open Source Corporate Management Information System

      “Secondly, since CMIS is now released under an open source license, commercial, academic and non-profit entities can adopt and support the system, as long as they adhere to the license agreement. There are two license variants available from OSSI, the Open Software License v.3.0 and the Academic Free License v.3.0,” he said.

    • DISA to open source administrative software

      The Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) plans to open source a suite of programs that it developed for administrative tasks. The agency has signed a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement with the Open Source Software Institute (OSSI) to help release the source code of the programs.

  • Events

    • 451 CAOS Links 2009.03.13

      No doubt this is the calm before the storm given the number of FOSS related events scheduled to takes place before the end of the month:

      * CommunityOne East March 18-19, New York
      * LibrePlanet Conference 2009 March 21-22, Cambridge
      * Open Source ISV Forum March 23, San Francisco
      * SDForum Global Open Source Colloquium March 23, San Francisco
      * EclipseCon March 23-26, Santa Clara
      * ApacheCon Europe 2009 March 23-27, Amsterdam
      * Open Source Business Conference March 24-25, San Francisco
      * Eclipse Open Source Executive Strategy Summit March 26, Santa Clara

    • The Eclipse Foundation’s Mike Milinkovich on EclipseCon and Open Source Opportunities

      As we posted yesterday, the EclipseCon conference is coming up next week. It will feature many open source movers and shakers, including Mike Milinkovich, executive director of the Eclipse Foundation. Mike previously held executive positions at Oracle, IBM and WebGain.


      Eclipse has such a wide range of technology it is always hard to single out ‘hot topics’ but I think there are going to be 3-4 areas of particular interest: 1) Eclipse runtime technology based on Equinox and OSGi is very popular and generates lots of interest. 2) Eclipse modeling technology and specifically the area of domain specific languages, 3) e4, our next generation of Eclipse, will get lots of attention, and finally 4) mobile application development.

    • Gran Canaria Desktop Summit Announces Call for Participation

      The conference is soliciting a variety of proposals — topics geared specifically for those attending GUADEC or Akademy, presentations with “cross-platform” appeal, and Spanish language presentations for GUADEC and Akademy. Currently, submissions are being accepted for topics specific to either GUADEC or Akademy, but the Local Programme and Spanish language events should be announcing their submission guidelines shortly.

    • National seminar on embedded design

      “Embedded Design with GNU-Linux” will be held under the aegis of the Barton Hill Govt Engineering College Free Software Cell at the college on March 21.

  • Mozilla

    • Firefox popular in the Philippines

      It’s great to hear that Firefox is so well-loved in the Philippines. If you know of any Philippine Firefox communities, please feel free to leave a comment. Also, if there are any Philippines-based statistics services that cover browser market share (like Net Applications or AT Internet Institute (formerly xiti monitor) , please let us know about them. We’d love to know more about the Firefox users in the Philippines.

    • Mozilla releases Fennec Beta 1

      The first beta of Mozilla’s Fennec mobile web browser has been released for Nokia’s N810 Internet Tablets running OS2008 (“Maemo”). The beta is the twelfth development milestone and is intended to get feedback from users, testers and Web developers. The Fennec team also want to encourage add-on developers to port their existing add-ons and create new ones for the mobile browser.

    • about:mozilla – Firefox, Weave, AMO, Calendar, Add-ons, Mozilla.org, MDC, and more…

      In this issue…

      * Firefox 3.1 beta 3 released
      * Weave M5 development milestone
      * AMO’s “Recommended” rotation explained
      * Help support the Calendar project
      * Latest issue of about:addons
      * Mozilla.org redesign: round 1

  • Server (‘Cloud’)

    • Open Source Hadoop Cloud Gets Commercial

      Scaling systems on a distributed basis to handle petabytes of information is no easy task, though it’s one that the open source Apache Hadoop project delivers for such big names as Facebook, Google and Yahoo.

    • Open Enterprise Interview: Mike Olson, Cloudera

      It’s always hard to tell whether startups will flourish, but among the most critical factors for survival are the skills of the management team. The fact that less than three hours after I sent out some questions about Cloudera to Mike Olson, one of the company’s founders, I had the answers back would seem to augur well in this respect.

      Olson explains the background to the company, and to Hadoop, the software it is based on: what it does, and why business might want to use it; he talks about his company’s services and business model, and why he thinks cloud computing is neither a threat nor an opportunity for open source.

    • Cloud Computing: Not Just Open Source, but *Like* Open Source

      One of the many interesting replies that Cloudera’s Mike Olson gave in his Open Enterprise interview yesterday concerned whether cloud computing was a threat or oportunity for open source. Here’s what he said:

      I think it’s orthogonal. Cloud computing is about how you deliver software; open source is about how you develop and distribute it. The big cloud players are generally good citizens in the open source world, and open source software powers the cloud companies and the Internet generally.

      Nonetheless, one of the key issues is what is required to created truly *open* cloud computing services. Open source software is just part of this: portability of data stored in the cloud is also a key element. But there’s another vitally important aspect that I’ve not seen discussed much before.

    • Free-floating ERP: SaaS-based, open-source enterprise apps sit on Amazon cloud

      Compiere, a supplier of open-source, Software-as-a-Service (SaaS)-based business applications, says it has added the first full-scale ERP software suite to the Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud.

  • Business/Funding

    • Economy conspires against proprietary software

      Back in the good old days, enterprises paid through the nose for software and didn’t ask too many questions. Those days are gone.

    • Recession: a chance to deploy open source security solutions

      If you’re an IT worker who has wanted to implement some open source systems that could improve security on your organization’s network, such as “invisible” logging servers, secure integrity auditing servers, and proxy servers for mobile workers, this may be a familiar source of frustration for you. The financial paranoia engendered by a recession might just be able to help out, however, as long as you know how to make use of the opportunity.

    • Three Open Source companies for Trading Desk sol

      Three leading commercial open source companies have been selected to deliver a complete trading desk solution that gives the financial services industry a way to automate a majority of business functions done by most trading desks today.

    • No recession woes for open source

      With the pressure of the recession bearing down on companies, several industry experts expect adoption of open source software to grow, as a result.

      Michael Barnes, VP of software and Asia-Pacific research, Springboard Research, told ZDNet Asia in an interview, there has been increased interest over the past three to four months in open source.

  • Sun

    • Sun’s Network Innovations (3 of 4)

      I’ve only touched on two of the three opportunities opened by mass adoption. And with that as a teaser, I invite you to return for the final blog entry, talking about what might be the most valuable of them all – a market enabled by the innovations described above, and set to transform the entire marketplace. Embodying the phrase, The Network is the Computer.

    • IBM Sun acquisition: Good for Unix and Linux. Bad for HP

      IBM is reportedly in talks to acquire Sun for a whopping $6.5 billion. At this early stage, its not known whether this is a fact or just a rumor.

      But just for the sake of argument, let’s consider what a powerhouse IBM Sun would be. In my opinion, it would be a boon to both the Unix and Linux markets.

    • Sun breaks through the clouds

      I guess by first that means if you don’t include Sun Grid or its kicker, Network.com, which was aimed at developers and startups as far as I can remember as well as corporations looking to offload some Solaris work to Linux or Solaris machines (that was the Sun Grid) and then only Solaris (that was Network.com).

    • Sun begins new push into cloud services market

      This will be Sun’s second attempt at on-demand computing services. A few years ago it launched the Sun Grid Compute Utility, where companies could “rent” computing cycles on an hourly basis. The service attracted few customers and Sun stopped signing up new ones last year, though it said it will continue to support them for now.

  • Government

    • IT: Head of IT Venice region: ‘Open source wherever appropriate’

      “Open source applications needs to be used wherever appropriate, according to our regional law on information technology pluralism”, said Bruno Salomoni, head of the IT department at the administration of the Veneto region in Italy, at a conference last week. He called on local public bodies to investigate how much of their software development may be reusable by other public administrations.

  • Licensing

    • Medscribbler Commercial Physician Office EMR Goes Open Source

      Medscribbler electronic medical record (EMR) uses handwriting recognition on a Tablet PC for a HIPAA compliant computerized medical practice and document management solution.

    • Journal of Cheminformatics and Blue Obelisk

      The Blue Obelisk is starting to change this. It has consistently argued for Open Data, Open Source and Open Standards (ODOSOS). It’s meeting next week at the ACS – I am very sorry I shan’t be there.

    • zAgile’s Wikidsmart Revolutionizes the Enterprise Wiki

      Wikidsmart is available for download at www.zagile.com and licensed under the open source AGPL v3.

    • Open Source Voxel Viewer 1.8 Released!

      After years without a release, Project Perfect Mod has released a new version of the Open Source Voxel Viewer. For those who aren’t aware of this tool, OS Voxel Viewer is a tool that can be used to preview voxels, placing them in a scene with a ground, sky, etc. It’s a really great tool for voxel makers.

  • Programming

    • “Ruby on Rails” comprehensively renovated

      Following two release candidates, the official version 2.3 of the open source Ruby on Rails web framework has now been released. Although David Heinemeier Hansson, creator of Rails, had originally said in 2007 that there would now only be evolutionary changes in Rails, version 2.2, with its introduction of i18n API, multithreading and experimental support for Ruby 1.9, was a comprehensive release and now version 2.3 introduces further substantial changes.

    • Musing about purchasing and opensource and tenancy agreements

      I also like the idea of the environment being treated as a commons, even if we have to conjure up the concept of “private commons” and “public commons”. I know that it sounds unwieldy, but it’s a start.

  • Standards/Consortia

    • Daniel Schwill releases Tables 1.5 – Organize and Present Data

      This version offers among other things the following new features: Improved import of documents in the OpenDocument format as well as a new exporter for the OpenDocument format, a new cell format for currency, a new region setting for the cell format and LinkBack support as a client application.


  • I hate Windows

    I was able to boot in Safe Mode with Networking and get Firefox downloaded. I then used that to research this crap and found plenty of pages giving removal instructions. Unfortunately, they were all wrong – apparently the creators of this junk have seen all those pages that would interfere with their scam, so they have changed the names of files and registry keys. I couldn’t find anything that had more current information, so I went to System Restore.

  • Censorship/Web Abuse

    • Web Directory Of Attorneys Upsets D.C. Bar

      The association wants an online directory that compiles profiles of lawyers — from the bar’s own Web site, no less — to cease and desist, arguing that posting information about Washington lawyers for commercial purposes violates copyright laws and privacy rights.

    • Australia secretly censors Wikileaks press release and Danish Internet censorship list, 16 Mar 2009

      The first rule of censorship is that you cannot talk about censorship.

      In late 2008, Wikileaks released the secret Internet censorship list for Denmark, together with a press release condemning the practice for lack of public or judicial oversight. Here’s an extract from the press release:

      The list is generated without judicial or public oversight and is kept secret by the ISPs using it. Unaccountability is intrinsic to such a secret censorship system.

      Most sites on the list are still censored (i.e must be on the current list), even though many have clearly changed owners or were possibly even wrongly placed on the list, for example the Dutch transport company Vanbokhorst.

      The list has been leaked because cases such as Thailand and Finland demonstrate that once a secret censorship system is established for pornographic content the same system can rapidly expand to cover other material, including political material, at the worst possible moment — when government needs reform.

      Two days ago Wikileaks released the secret Internet censorship list for Thailand. Of the 1,203 sites censored this year, all have the internally noted reason of “lese majeste” — criticizing the Royal family. Like Denmark, the Thai censorship system was originally promoted as a mechanism to prevent the flow of child pornography.

    • Home Office Utterly Clueless on Pornography

      Against the background of countries like Australia secretly blocking Wikileaks, this use of unappointed censors that are never questioned or even checked by any kind of review body is really getting dire. When will these politicians come to their senses?

    • Kingsnorth report reveals shocking police campaign of intimidation against protesters

      Earlier today Lib Dem MP David Howarth held a meeting in Westminster to present a highly disturbing and potentially explosive report on the way police in the UK are criminalising legitimate protest. The report, produced by the Climate Camp’s legal support team and entitled Policing of the Kingsnorth Climate Camp: Preventing Disorder or Preventing Protest?, is devastating for the police.

  • Copyrights

Digital Tipping Point: Clip of the Day

Bhaskar Chakravorti, business theory visionary (SF) 02 (2005)

Ogg Theora

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

The Other Side of Red Hat: Pieter Hintjens on AMQP and Patents

Posted in GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Patents, Red Hat at 9:16 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Edited and reposted with permission from Pieter

Three monkeys

RED Hat’s patent policy is not new, it dates from some years back, and as far as I recall was drafted by Mark Webbink, responsible for Red Hat’s patent policies, and who I worked with on several occasions.

The news is that Red Hat sought a patent on an extension to an open standard — AMQP — that it’s participating in. It was the way this patent was filed, and the matter it covers, that incensed other members of the AMQP working group.

“The news is that Red Hat sought a patent on an extension to an open standard — AMQP — that it’s participating in.”I’ll note that at the time Red Hat filed their patent for an XML routing ‘exchange’ — August 2007 — they had not yet written software. They were reading the spec and extrapolating into areas that were not covered by AMQP’s patent policy but which would be interesting to patent.

Red Hat has not really explained why they did this. Their rep on the working group has said it was to “test the broken US patent system” and to “defend against a known troll,” but neither of these explanations makes sense.

Further, they told no-one about it. I’d expect that kind of behaviour from some of the working group members, but certainly not from Red Hat.

Why is patenting around an open standard such a crime? Because it is a standard way to ambush the market. You spot an area that is not covered by the IP policy, you patent it, and when customers realize they need to extend into that area, you quash all competition and demand your licenses.

Again, standard operating procedure for many firms. Not for Red Hat.

What makes the situation more spicy is that Red Hat helped draft the AMQP IP policies. So they knew the loopholes.

“What makes the situation more spicy is that Red Hat helped draft the AMQP IP policies.”Some people have said that if Red Hat invented this, they have the right to patent it. To answer that: the AMQP spec which Red Hat read in 2007 was largely my invention: I dreamed up exchanges and bindings, hammered them into shape with my team and the guys at JPMorganChase, explained how they should work, explained how to extend AMQP with custom exchanges, wrote thousands of pages of design notes, RFCs, and diagrams that finally condensed — by my hand and over three years — into the AMQP spec that Red Hat read in 2007.

Yet it’s Red Hat that claims a patent on a trivial and obvious extension to the spec, in an area where it is clear that people will need to develop.

That is the news: a hypocritical move by a firm that has a lot more to lose than others by filing software patents around an open standard.

People have also said that Red Hat will never sue open source projects. This is not the point. We’ve seen some outright lies from Red Hat about AMQP — including one press release where they claimed to have invented it — and we know that they are desperate to sell MRG, their AMQP package. Patents are mostly used for that: FUD, to scare potential clients away from the competition. It is very rare to see real litigation.

People have said this is a defensive patent. Well, firstly it cannot be: it is a patent on specific functionality. The only possible infringers are Red Hat’s direct competitors. RabbitMQ, OpenAMQ, ZeroMQ…? Secondly, the notion of a “defensive patent” is marketing. Perhaps a “patent to trade with another large firm” would be more honest. And such practices are not ethical. Patent deals are very close to cartels. Those who refuse to take out patents, or are too small to afford the inevitable litigation they cause, are excluded and turned into clients.

And this is the point: Red Hat, instead of competing on quality, seem to be taking the same patent FUD route of other firms. “Competitor product X infringes on 237 of our patents. We’re not going to tell you which one.” That would be a tragedy and the community needs to remind Red Hat that software patents are not an option when it comes to selling software.

But What About the Promises?

Red Hat’s promise to not sue FOSS applications is irrelevant to an open standard. Any open standard needs adoption by commercial closed source applications as well.

Secondly, people keep mentioning OIN as if the only threat here was Microsoft and IV. OIN is a Linux patent pool. It is for defending Linux against very specific threats. Nothing about OIN will protect an open standard.

“Red Hat’s promise to not sue FOSS applications is irrelevant to an open standard.”And lastly, this is about an open standard. Think about that for a second. An open standard, and a firm taking patents on essential and obvious extensions to that standard. Unscrupulous at best. Being inside the AMQP process, I can say that Red Hat did this in secret and it looks very clearly like an attempt to own the space. To come back, as they did in the press release, with non-answers, suggests it is a deliberate move.

Note again: Red Hat’s patent, on an extension of AMQP, is not covered by the AMQP agreements, and clearly prevents any closed source firm from implementing XML routing with AMQP.

That is not about fighting off patent trolls. Neither is it about self-defence from attack. It is about using patents to block competition. Further, it is a first strike, thus aggressive.

Irrespective of a firm’s past behaviour and stated intentions, it is what happens on the ground that counts. I have all respect for Red Hat but their behaviour here is unarguably wrong.

Secret patents on open standards are unethical. They defend no-one. They damage the standard. They scare off adopters. They provoke an arms race. We’ve seen this a hundred times.

Defensive or Not?

There is a simple and cheap way to file prior art at the USPTO called a Statutory Invention Registration, which shows up on examiners’ searches and prevents the risk of patent trolls.

“…the patent system is much more friendly to its clients than those who would get in the way. ”There is also a project called Peer2Patent which is looking at new ways to bring prior art to the attention of examiners.

So the point that it is hard to fight patents by pulling up prior art is accurate: the patent system is much more friendly to its clients than those who would get in the way.

Any patent grants an exclusive right to some “invention”, i.e. some space in the market. Red Hat’s patent claims exclusive rights to do XML routing over AMQP. They have promised to share that space with FOSS developers. (A cynic would say: that’s because Red Hat make their money by repackaging FOSS code).

Now you say this can counteract a potential patent threat. Well, another patent might try to occupy the same space, or a different space. If it tries to occupy the same space, registered prior art is the fastest, cheapest, and most reliable antidote.

If the threat patent occupies a different space, then claiming this XML-over-AMQP space has zero effect. Zero. The two patents exist independently.

So what, then, is this patent good for? Only two things. (a) preventing real competitors from entering that space. Namely, Microsoft, Novell, IBM, and the many closed-source firms who today do XML routing and would love to put AMQP into the mix. (b) trading with other patent holders, so that Red Hat can gain access to some other space that is currently closed off to them.

“Who this patent does help is Red Hat, which is why they took it.”Neither of these two scenarios helps AMQP, neither helps FOSS implementers of AMQP, and neither helps the FOSS community. Who this patent does help is Red Hat, which is why they took it.

Examine the facts on the ground and put aside the marketing and rhetoric that companies issue. Sadly, Red Hat answers its shareholders, not the FOSS community. It makes dollars, and does exactly what’s needed to keep its free labour force happy, but not a jot more.

At the risk of ranting, I’d also like to comment on Red Hat’s claim that they “created an innovative patent settlement in the FireStar case that gave broad protection to the open source community.” In fact Sun did the real work, invalidating FireStar’s patents.

It’s a common belief that software patents would be fine if they only affected closed source products. But all software, closed or open, contributes. When we develop new standards, we need the closed implementations as much as we need the open ones. Even if I only make, and use, open source, I’ll defend the right of closed source firms to compete, free of software patents.

Red Hat seem to see software patents as a fair weapon in a fight with their competitors. They sponsor “peer to patent”, which is an attempt to make better, cheaper patents, not eliminate patents. In Europe, Red Hat have stopped working with the FFII to end software patents. They seem happy with the status quo.

“In Europe, Red Hat have stopped working with the FFII to end software patents.”The background to this is that the pro-patent lobby has been trying to get software patents legalized in Europe for a decade, first by modifying the European Patent Convention, then by the 2005 Software Patent Directive, then by EPLA in 2006, and now through the Community Patent and by unilateral decision in the EPO. Each time it’s the patent industry, EPO, lobbyists and certain software firms (mainly Microsoft) claiming that Europe’s small IT firms will die unless they can patent all their work. (The irony is rich but not sweet.)

On the other side, the abolitionists, primarily the FFII and friends in the small IT sector, with little money and just endless sacrifice. Mark Webbink, the former Chief Counsel of Red Hat helped us with a number of initiatives including most vitally the European Patent Conference, which was a series of major events that brought together abolitionists from all sectors, and some very high up. Mark presented the abolitionist case at many conferences. Red Hat joined in many FFII campaigns and workgroups.

In mid-2007 Mark left Red Hat to join the SFLC and in 2008 Rob Tiller took over. From that point, all cooperation with the FFII stopped and my attempts to restart it failed. In a number of key areas, such as a review of the Symbian DLL patent in the UK, Red Hat decided to work alone, ignoring the community.

I can state for the record that Red Hat have not donated a single Euro to the FFII in 2008 or 2009. Yet this is the volunteer organization that was and is most significant in stopping software patents in Europe, the largest economy in the world.

Thus, their claims to be against the software patent system need to be measured against their actual acts. Words are cheap. Deeds and dollars count.

“If Red Hat have filed more patents around it, we know what stripes the tiger is wearing.”So. Facts on the ground. A software firm secretly patents around open standards. Claims patents so it can do deals with other patent holders. Prefers to license patents rather than fight them. Does not fight software patents where it actually could (in Europe). Treats patents as a way of discriminating between FOSS and closed source. Invests in “improving” the patent system by making it cheaper to get more unbreakable software patents.

Red Hat are happy for me to write their code for them. We’ll see how the story with AMQP develops. If Red Hat have filed more patents around it, we know what stripes the tiger is wearing.

In any case the truth will emerge. Either this was a singular mistake by an over-enthusiastic lawyer in Red Hat, and they are fumbling their response; Or it is part of a deliberate move to own AMQP, and there will be more such patents in the pipeline. If it’s a mistake, it’ll all go away. If it’s deliberate, all hell will break loose when the next patent pops. Patents around open standards are a special kind of nasty.

Novell and Microsoft Market Almost the Same Products Together

Posted in Africa, GNU/Linux, Marketing, Microsoft, Mono, Novell, Red Hat at 8:29 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

When two become one

Novell error message

Summary: Familiar buddies become closer, as evidenced by technical and marketing collaborations

SEVERAL MONTHS AGO we exposed a leak that revealed how Microsoft and Novell had been marketing SUSE deals together. As time passes by, this pair of companies becomes indistinguishable, almost as though Novell is already a subsidiary of Microsoft. The large SUSE layoffs concur [1, 2]. Now watch this new article from the South African press. The country intends to move to Free software and here we find Microsoft and Novell jointly marketing their alliance to make clients who are dependent on software patents, never mind if South Africa bans those.

Microsoft and Novell have landed their first major interoperability client.

In addition to this item from the news, here is another about Silverlight vapourware.

One development that had been anticipated but will not happen at the event is release of a binary preview of Moonlight 2.0, for running Silverlight 2.0 on Linux systems. Builders still are working on the software’s security system that “sand-boxes” applications to keep them within the browser, said Miguel de Icaza, vice president of the developer platform at Novell and the developer in charge of Moonlight.

“We don’t feel that we should release this to the public until the system is secured,” de Icaza said on Monday. A formal beta program for Moonlight 2.0 is expected this summer, with the general release eyed for September or October.

Why is Novell helping Microsoft fight the Web? Silverlight is headed nowhere. A decent explanation probably comes from another short news post. Here is a new comment on an article that we mentioned the other day.

Micro-soft needs Novell for the FUD value like in this video in which Ballmer continues the claim that Linux infringes on Redmond’ IP (never mentioning which of course) and that Red Hat users owe Microsoft money because Red Hat did not sign their extortion deal.
He mentions that Novell has paid the extortion fee to be able to use Linux (and all those patents Linux stole from Microsoft) and are therefore the “legit” and “safer” Linux while Red Hat users, Debian, Fedora, Mandriva, Ubuntu and all those that havent paid are criminals as are their users.

We now know that many companies have paid for these unknown patents that Microsoft claims Linux infringes on. Its one heck of a racket.

Microsoft needs Novell to be their ‘legit’ Linux, the shining example that associating yourself with Microsoft isnt the kiss of death if you pay Microsoft a tax to use your favorite free (as in freedom and beer) software .

They also need Novell so they can continue influencing the Gnome desktop directions.
The potential dangers of Mono would be bad enough if it was just for assorted plugins but Gnome has many programs now like Evolution which are totally dependent on a technology which brings nothing new to the FLOSS table but poses enormous risks as a trojan horse.

Novell employees are also in charge in both OpenSuse (read their charter before anyone claims theiy are an independant community. Novell employess must be on the board.) and Gnome, although with the latest cuts affecting hugely the Suse developers cant be a good thing.

The worst part for Novell is that Red Hat showed with their interop deal with Microsoft recently that you can make a pact that is beneficial for youre company but does NOT feed the Microsoft FUD machine. Red Hat specifically stated that their deal in no way, shape or form has anything to do with the Microsoft patent claims.
And you know what?
The Linux community totally believes Red Hat and totally distrusts Novell.

As this ongoing discussion suggests, Red Hat too is facing distrust now. Its clarification attempts regarding patents did not satisfy everyone, so we shall return to it later.

“[The partnership with Microsoft is] going very well insofar as we originally agreed to co-operate on three distinct projects and now we’re working on nine projects and there’s a good list of 19 other projects that we plan to co-operate on.”

Ron Hovsepian, Novell CEO, 2008

Quick Mention: Did the Lexmark and Microsoft Patent Deal Involve Free Software? (Updated)

Posted in Deals, Free/Libre Software, Hardware, Microsoft, Patents at 7:57 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

ERROR Ink cartridge empty: can’t print deal

Summary: Another cross-licensing deal is signed, but the details remain unknown

ACCORDING TO THIS report, a patent deal was signed between Lexmark and Microsoft in secrecy.

Given the dust-up over the Redmond company’s recent patent lawsuit against TomTom, the natural question is whether the new patent agreement covers any open-source technologies Lexmark might be using. But Microsoft won’t say.


Microsoft says it has struck similar licensing deals with printing and imaging companies in the past, including Hewlett-Packard, Brother Industries, Fuji Xerox, and Kyocera Mita.

Lexmark offers Linux drivers for its printers, but it’s not clear whether — just like Brother [1, 2] for example — Lexmark uses FOSS inside its products.

Update: Additional coverage below.

Press release

IDG: Microsoft and Lexmark Ink Patent Deal
More from IDG: Microsoft, Lexmark Sign Patent Cross-License
Reuters: Lexmark expands distribution, sets Microsoft pact
CRN: Microsoft, Lexmark Ink Patent Cross-Licensing Deal
CNET: Microsoft, Lexmark to cross-license patents

Downtime at Microsoft (Updated)

Posted in Google, Microsoft at 7:45 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

American toilet
Microsoft Azure: Down it goes

Summary: Technical and organisational downtimes at Microsoft Corporation

MICROSOFT WANTS the world to believe that so-called ‘cloud computing’ ain’t ready to replace its desktop franchise. Or so it wanted people to believe until it realised that antagonising the inevitable is a poor strategy.

One of Microsoft’s talking points [1, 2] against natural change is that ‘clouds’ might go offline every now and then, thereby disrupting workflow (let’s pretend that viruses cause no downtimes). So far we have noticed that short downtimes for Google receive a lot of media attention, whereas Microsoft’s are hardly noticed by journalists who turn a blind eye to such problems.

An hour or so offline may be tolerable at times, but how does it feel for Microsoft to be offline for just under 24 hours?

Microsoft’s fledgling Azure Services platform, a beta offering that offers cloud computing services, suffered a 22 hour outage this weekend.

Almost no-one but Microsoft bloggers has actually covered this. We’ve looked at many sites, but this is scarcely covered. There are a few points worth making here:

  1. Microsoft can use “beta” as an excuse
  2. Microsoft gives a bad reputation to such ‘clouds’, which may work to its advantage by reducing confidence in SaaS
  3. Almost nobody uses Azure, so reporters neither notice nor care

In any event, this is a failure which is worth keeping track of. Another seems to be resulting from Microsoft’s business problems, which Cringely claims rationalise a reduction/elimination of half of the company’s staff [1, 2]. There is also a new revelation that the rise in unemployment in Microsoft’s main area outpaces that of the rest of the United States. Might this be the impact of people who do not directly work for Microsoft? The Microsoft ecosystem is far broader than the company’s core.

“Might this be the impact of people who do not directly work for Microsoft?”Having already witnessed protests from Microsoft's on-contract/temporary workers, we are now finding more unrest from other workers. In addition, yesterday we wrote about the closure of Microsoft's fan press (at least as a newspaper distribution house) and now we find that Joseph Tartakoff, a Microsoft watcher, is being replaced by Andrea James at the Microsoft blog. One of his last posts there was about Microsoft workers not accepting wage cuts.

Has Joseph Tartakoff just jumped this ship too? There is nothing that can confirm this other than abrupt changes in the Microsoft blog. If true, then Todd Bishop's successor (to whom it took a short while to find a replacement) didn’t last long. Microsoft’s collapse as of late could neither have inspired much confidence nor helped those who are dedicated to covering the company’s dwindling endeavours, of which there were too few recently (the company is in “brace” mode).

By the way, will IBM really buy Sun Microsystems? It seems pretty plausible an acquisition.

Update: Joe has mailed us the following update.

I just wanted to clarify that I am leaving the P-I because the P-I ceased print publication Tuesday. It’s not a commentary about Microsoft. Only a skeleton staff will stay behind to man the P-I’s Web site.

I’ll continue to blog about Microsoft starting Monday at paidContent.org and my posts can be watched at twitter.com/josephtartakoff.

I’d appreciate it if you could update your post with that information.

Patents Roundup: Backlash, Pseudo Reform, Patent Trolls and Microsoft

Posted in Courtroom, FSF, GNU/Linux, Law, Microsoft, Patents, TomTom at 5:49 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Rainbow troll

THE problem with the patent system — and software patents in particular — continues to be discussed around the Web. Lora Bentley from IT Business Edge spoke to the SFLC and came up with the following two posts:

i. SFLC Says Software Patents Impede Technology

The writers then go on to argue that software is not patentable subject matter because “it does nothing more than execute mathematical algorithms.” And the Supreme Court has held that algorithms, abstract concepts and the like, on their own, are not patentable. (There is more to the argument, of course, but that’s the main point.)

ii. Software Patents from Another Angle

However, if you ask why the patent system is bad for software as opposed to other things, she agrees you may have a point. As Kuhn also noted, software is subject to both copyright protection and patent protection at the same time. And it makes no sense to apply both schemes at once — especially when they work so differently. Copyright covers expression. Patents cover functionality. Patents are used to exclude people from doing things. Copyright is more enabling.

Over at IPJur, readers are being reminded that not just the FSF — but major economists too — are opposed to this patents extravaganza.

From time to time, prominent scholars inhabiting the top floors of the ivory tower like to publish their musings about the usefulness or evilness of the current system of IP law. For example, even Nobel laureate Mr Eric Maskin (LinkedIn) was involved in developing certain theories based on mathematical models of economy according to which the patent system plays a rather detrimental role. Have a look at the formulas of the Bessen/Maskin mathematical model. Where is the evidence that reality in economy can be mapped by such models? Should such work really be taken as a basis for any actual political decisions? I am in doubt.

In the United States, a word with a positive connotation, namely “reform” [1, 2, 3, 4, 5], is being used to describe a move that curbs patent trolls to an extent but is not terribly helpful, all things considered. The New Scientist echoes some of the backlash this so-called ‘reform’ has brought.

US patent bill a ‘chill on innovation’


One aim is to slash incentives for “trolls” who patent ideas with the intention of suing companies with a similar technology. Such a case cost the BlackBerry maker Research In Motion $612 million in 2006. However, the inventors’ group Innovation Alliance says that all inventors will suffer from reduced damages as a result.

Mercury News addresses the same wrong question that focuses on “innovation” rather than “competition”.

Opinion: Patent reform will remove the brakes from innovation


But in other sectors, the present system functions as a tax on innovation. In IT, resources have been expended to build up huge portfolios of patents, most of which have little value in themselves but which collectively hold out some promise of defensive use or licensing potential. Patents are not ordinary assets; they are options to litigate. While patent lawyers and other intermediaries benefit directly from the scope and scale of IT patents, that volume represents potential liability for companies that market useful products. Most patents belong to others, and the sheer volume obscures the patent landscape, limits the ability to evaluate patents and inevitably leads to inadvertent infringement.

By impeding competition software patents merely obstruct innovation and in Europe we might see the EPO selling out as things are headed the wrong way.

Commission repeats call for single EU patent

The European Commission has reiterated its demand for the creation of a single European patent. It said the absence of such a protection is hindering the growth of technology companies in the European Union.

This is not a good thing.

Over in India, which resists software patents quite strongly (with the exception of Microsoft and some business partners [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12]), the opposition party which supports FOSS also expresses its clear views against software patents. This is good.

“The Left, specially the Communist Party of India-Marxists, have also been supportive in taking stand against software patents in India, and are in favour of open standards,” Venkatesh Hariharan of Red Hat India and a FOSS lobbyist told IANS.

IDG has this new article which reviews some Microsoft patents for readers to assess their quality (or lack thereof). It provides as examples: “Proxy engine for custom handling of Web content”, “Electronic program guide displayed simultaneously with television programming”, “Multiple paradigms within a single application”, “Test results management”, “Secure network location awareness”, “Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP)”, “Techniques to allocate virtual network addresses”, “Managing navigation history for intra-page state transitions”, “Online advertising relevance verification”, and “Updating contents of asynchronously refreshable Web pages.”

If Microsoft wants a case against Linux, then it will have to be specific, but surely it realises that patents like the above may be trivial to challenge and circumvent. In the case of Microsoft vs. TomTom, the aggressor is naming patent numbers, but when it comes to the core kernel (Linux), it just is just throwing out number of patents (not patent numbers) without anything specific. According to this report about a new ruling, the latter strategy is bound to fail badly.

A U.S. judge has dismissed a patent lawsuit brought by chip maker Broadcom against rival Qualcomm, saying the company didn’t identify specific patents it was suing over.

Sounds familiar?

The Inquirer has some more coverage of this.

Broadcom had argued that Qualcomm was unfairly limiting competition by putting excessive conditions in its patent licensing terms.

In other news, a patent lawsuit against Microsoft has just been lost.

A judge in the U.S. state of Texas has thrown out a lawsuit filed against Nintendo and Microsoft that alleged the two companies infringed on a patent covering an interface for joysticks.

The suit was filed in 2007 by Texas-based Fenner Investments and a jury trial was due to begin on Tuesday but on Monday Judge Leonard Davis of the U.S. District Court in Tyler, Texas, dismissed the case.

This is also covered here and we wrote about it on Monday.

To close off, here is a seminar on “Maximizing Intellectual Property Value in Tough Economic Times.” Pamela Jones offers one highlight: “Predictably, in a downturn, more companies are suing others in hope of generating income. ‘A harsh market spurs more litigation,’ Rugg said. Litigation is expensive. To make sure it’s worth it, first conduct a litigation analysis that considers the overall business model, costs and benefits. ‘Don’t become enamored with enforcement as a shortcut for innovation,’ Rugg cautioned.”

Microsoft falls under this category of companies which sue proactively over patents, even against GNU/Linux (volunteers). What does that say about Microsoft’s financial condition? This is a subject that we covered before [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6].

“Small enterprises generally adopt a rather negative position towards the current increasing granting of patents for software and algorithms because they fear that these will hamper or eventually even impede their work (more than 85%).” —German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), Study of the Innovation Performance of German Software Companies, 2006, p. 86 [PDF]

Microsoft Takes it Personally in Portugal, Dumps on India

Posted in Asia, Europe, Free/Libre Software, Microsoft at 4:25 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Man with big gun

Summary: Microsoft frowns upon FOSS advocate in Portugal and signs MOU/contract to undermine FOSS in India

Portugal has grown tired of Microsoft’s abuse of its people, so it spoke out [1, 2] and even complained to the European Commission.

A few days ago we wrote about a Microsoft CEO threatening to get a critic in trouble, maybe even fired. Well, we have just discovered that Marcos Santos, one of the ‘big’ guys at Microsoft Portugal, has come out with somewhat of a first challenge to FOSS advocates who quote him. It appears in a message that translates to: “But is Rui able to distinguish what is written professionally or a personal opinion?

“A few days ago we wrote about a Microsoft CEO threatening to get a critic in trouble, maybe even fired. ”“Then explain to me one thing: your posts in the free software blog are professional or transmit a personal opinion?”

This is already mentioned in Identi.ca under [1, 2, 3, 4] where more details are available in Portuguese.

What’s actually more interesting, however, is what Microsoft is doing in India at the moment. The opposition party is embracing a Free software policy, so as the Economic Times puts its, this may be trouble to Microsoft.

Leader of India’s main Opposition party BJP, LK Advani on Saturday said if his party comes to power, it will actively promote open-source software and internet telephony, a policy that could make Microsoft and some top local telecom companies see red.

While promising one crore laptops to students, the party said in its IT and telecom vision document released today, it would spend Rs 10,000 cr on buying top-of-the-line laptops with open source software. The party also plans to allow unrestricted internet telephony.

When contacted, a Microsoft India spokesman refused to comment. Experts, however, feel that this move might not have a major impact on the software giant.

How does Microsoft respond to this threat? As always, it dumps on local businesses and also signs contracts that may be illegal. We are seeing more of those notorious memoranda of understanding being signed to subvert ongoing adoption of Free software, this being the latest example:

Incidentally, the government had also signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with software giant Microsoft to set up institutes for training teachers in IT. But the government is not clear as to how teachers trained in Microsoft products will be able to teach students in schools, which will use open source software.

The MOU is known internally as Project Marshall. In this case, some officials receive dumping offers to derail decisions and directions made by technical people. “It’s just a u-turn,” tells us someone from India who is familiar with the situation. According to him, it is a “conflict of interest between IT-department and Education department. NIIT is Microsoft’s puppet. These politicians don’t know a heck about FOSS [and] if some thing gives them money and publicity they go beyond it.”

Novell Happy About KDE Bindings for Mono and .NET

Posted in GNU/Linux, KDE, Microsoft, Mono, Novell at 3:07 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

WE HAVE been keeping track of Mono/C# bindings as they were added to KDE [1, 2, 3, 4, 5] and now we find Miguel de Icaza remarking on this problem.

The KDE folks have created some brilliant bindings for Mono and .NET called Qyoto.

What’s to worry about? After all, Mr. de Icaza is proudly "hanging out at Microsoft" quite as often as he does, going as far as attending their developer conferences too (recently ALT.NET Seattle).

Steve Ballmer was quoted as saying “developers, developers, developers, developers.” Was Mr. Ballmer also referring to Mr. de icaza and his colleagues (extended family)?

Ogg Theora

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