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03.22.09

Links 22/03/2009: $200 GNU/Linux Sub-notebooks, Metapad Becomes Free Software

Posted in News Roundup at 9:12 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

  • TuxRadar by the numbers

    Linux users make up 34.47% and Mac users are 9.19%. Here’s the full list:

    1. Windows: 55.11%
    2. Linux: 34.47%
    3. Macintosh: 9.19%
    4. iPhone: 0.45%
    5. Unknown: 0.35%
    6. iPod: 0.14%
    7. FreeBSD: 0.08%
    8. SunOS: 0.07%
    9. Android: 0.05%
    10. SymbianOS: 0.03%
    11. OpenBSD: 0.01%

  • Linux will never rule the desktop, and here’s why:

    If you draw a line giving the rate at which Linux is taking over the desktop you’ll see it’ll take several years from now to become the biggest operating system on desktops.

    This is never going to happen, because the desktop as it is will die long before we reach this point.
    The good thing is Microsoft will probably die with it!

    [...]

    As hardware will keep getting cheaper and cheaper and smaller and smaller in the coming years, I don’t see any application left for PC’s so the desktop will probably die. And guess what will be running on 90% of the dedicated devices? Most probably it’s a version of a certain free and flexible open source operating system.

    I can’t wait for the year the desktop dies!

  • The Sun Sets

    Sun’s share in the EDA space has been steadily declining since the hey days of the 80’s. It appears that Linux is the eventual winner for EDA operating systems. I wish IBM well in their pursuit of Sun.

  • Linux

    And yesterday I realised another thing. My Gentoo machine is complete its feel almost of I am going to get bored. I got a chill because what is there next after Gentoo “Linux from scratch” , luckily I am busy with B.Sc Computer Science, so there is a new field to keep me busy programming.

  • Installing Linux on my girfriend’s laptop: an overview

    I could go on and on like this, because there’s still some tweaking and configuring to be done, but the main things are installed and are working just fine. She already used it a couple of times, telling me she didn’t notice the difference with Windows.

  • Why Linux is Better

    In contrast, OpenSource software is designed, built, and deployed in an entirely different manner. Yes, there are committees, or small groups that actually are making most of the decisions, but these groups are generally open in their communication and anyone can get involved. The decision making process is fundamentally different for OpenSource than it is for Commercial software.

  • Applications

    • Synapse Brings Elegant Jabber/Google Talk to Linux

      Linux only: It will only ever truly support Jabber/XMPP/Google Talk, but Synapse, a new alpha-level IM app, is a pretty—and pretty efficient—way to chat if you’re all about open-source communication.

    • Calibre: iTunes for e-books?

      Calibre is a cross-platform, open-source library for your e-books that can also sync them to your e-book reader. Available for Windows, Mac, and Linux, it offers a massive range of individual book customizations, as well format conversion and newspaper-style RSS feed grabbing, but lacks a slick interface that would go a long way towards convincing skeptics that it’s a powerful tool.

    • Six Latest Firefox Addons You Should Check Out

      We all love Firefox for the sheer number of extensions that can be added to it. There are plenty of brilliant yet unpopular extensions that have been written about before.

  • Kernel Space

    • A Working X Input 2 Implementation

      This morning, however, Peter Hutterer (of MPX fame) has his first working X Input 2 implementation.

    • ATI Linux Drivers Gain Support For Unreleased RS880

      AMD’s current flagship offering when it comes to integrated ATI graphics is the Radeon HD 3300 / 790GX. This IGP was introduced last fall as a minor refresh to the Radeon HD 3200 / 780G Chipset. As something new for consumers to consider, soon it looks like AMD will be introducing the RS880. The RS880 will likely have a marketing name within the Radeon HD 4000 series and will be their fastest integrated graphics solution, well, for now.

  • Distributions

    • Arch Linux Review

      Arch Linux is a rolling release distribution, meaning there is no specific dates for new releases, it is continously developing, it is almost always at the bleeding edge, with the most updated versions of packages.
      This means you only have to install once, and then just keep updating arch, and you will always have the most “recent release”, this is one of the aspects I like the most about Arch Linux

      [...]

      Arch Linux is a great distro, it has almost always the latest package versions available, it is optimized to run on modern computers, and is a great option for the Desktop user, it may requiere a little of work to make it work, but do not be afraid it is actually easy to make it, you just need some time.

    • SAM-Linux, PCLinuxOS’ Ugly Duckling?

      Running SAM2008-claw-rc1 is still a very enjoyable experience proving once more that SAM-Linux is definitely not an ugly duckling.

    • PCLinuxOS 2009.1 userbar
    • My Distro is Better Than Yours…. Not!

      The way to strengthen Linux is to work for the developers of the distro that you like, to strengthen the community and to help others. The way to strengthen the position of your favourite distribution is to promote it with good public relations and to advertise its merits. Stay positive and we all get better.

    • Debian/Ubuntu

      • Ubuntu Weekly Newsletter Issue 134

        Welcome to the Ubuntu Weekly Newsletter, Issue #134 for the week March 15th – March 21st, 2009. In this issue we cover: Ubuntu 9.04 Beta Freeze in effect, LoCo Team information request, Ubuntu Server: KVM call for testing, MOTU Release Charter, QA Team next testing day, Ubuntu Drupal 6.3.0 released, Ubuntu India re-launches User Forums, Ubuntu Honduras begins to work, FossConf 2009 – Madurai and Ubuntu Tamil Team, Announcing Eucalyptus, Ubuntu Forums nuts and bolts, Daniel Holbach: Time to Party, Soren Hansen: gtk-vnc and virt-viewer mozilla plug-in, Thierry Carrez: What I want Ubuntu Server to be, What is Qimo?, Ubuntu Podcast #22, Server Team Minutes: March 17th, QA Team Minutes: March 18th, Behind MOTU Interview: Roderick Greening, and much, much more!

      • Debian 5.0 ScreenShots

        Now Debian does not include all of those extra packages that you are use too. But Debian does a great job of keeping it lean and simple, and if you want you can use the handy apt-get util to get the extra’s that you need.

        Please enjoy the ScreenShots below…

      • Distro Review: Debian Lenny

        Ok it’s time for another distro review and I’m a bit overdue with this one but I’m a big fan of Debian and the dedicated community who develop it I make no secret of that. When I reviewed Etch (4.0) last year I declared that if I were to finally grow up and settle down with just one distro this would be the one. I like the fact that it’s not backed by any commercial entity and sticks closely to it’s Free Software principals. After some delay version 5.0 Lenny was finally released this Valentine’s Day, how appropriate but would it still be true love? There was only one way to find out…

    • New Releases

      • Scientific Linux 5.3

        Troy Dawson has announced the release of ScientificLinux 5.3, a distribution built from source software packages for RedHat Enterprise Linux, but enhanced with additional applications andtools: “Scientific Linux 5.3 has been released forboth the i386 and x86_64 architectures.

      • Absolute Linux 12.2.2 Was Released

        Paul Sherman, the creator of Absolute Linux, a Slackware-based Linux distribution, has announced yesterday, March 19th, the release of Absolute Linux 12.2.2. Among others things, changes were made to the Linux kernel that is now at version 2.6.28.7 and to the installation that now uses ext4 as the default filesystem. Ext3 and ReiserFS are of course still available for those who don’t yet trust the hype surrounding ext4.

      • Denix v.0.5 Full

        Denix v.0.5 Full

      • Welcome to the Incognito Forum

        Another distribution has joined LinuxQuestions.org. Please welcome Incognito. I’d like to thank anonym for working to get the forum setup and for participating here at LQ.

      • LinuxKidX – An educational Linux Distribution to children

        LinuxKidX is a LiveCD with possibility to install on hard disk based on Slackware Linux. The distribution has few games suite to kids from 2 to 12 years old.

      • Clonezilla 1.2.1-47
      • Igelle PC/Desktop v0.6.0

        Igelle PC/Desktop is a graphical desktop operating system for Intel (x86) compatible personal computers, including desktop computers, laptops, netbooks, etc. It features the usual features and applications found in modern desktop operating systems/environments, in an attractive and lightweight configuration.

      • K-DEMar 4.8
      • OpenGEU 8.10 Luna Serena

        The power and flexibility of Ubuntu and Gnome.
        The magnificence and beauty of E17.
        Perfect and fast even for a Virtual Machine.
        Finally a fully functional Enlightenment Desktop.
        OpenGEU: when a Gnome reaches Enlightenment.

      • Ututo 2009
      • GParted 0.4.3-4
      • Parsix GNU/Linux 2.0r0 `Boss Skua` is out! Happy Spring!

        Happy Spring! Happy Nowruz! After several months of testing and development, the final version of Parsix GNU/Linux 2.0 code name `Boss Skua` is out. Parsix 2.0 ships a brand new kernel based on Linux 2.6.26.8 with extra patches and drivers, the live CD compression system has been upgraded to version 3.4 which brings higher compression rate, UnionFS is default for live CD mode, several bugs have been fixed and several packages updated.

      • Zenwalk Gnome 6.0 has been released !

        Zenwalk Gnome 6.0 is out!

        We are proud to announce the release of Zenwalk 6.0 Gnome Edition! As always, Zenwalk features the latest Linux technology, featuring Linux kernel 2.6.28.7 and the Gnome 2.26.0 Desktop Environment.

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Embedded Linux Training Event to be Held on May 6 – 8 in Maynard Massachusetts
    • Arduino hardware hacking: Part 1

      Arduino is cool. It’s cool because it’s a tiny device – about three inches by two inches – that comes with a USB port and a programmable chip. It’s cool because you can program it using a very simple programming language known as Wiring.

      [...]

      The Arduino programming IDE is available under the GPL for Mac OS X, Windows and, of course, Linux, so the only things standing between you and your own pet hardware project are an Arduino board, a cool idea, and of course a Box O’ Tricks – some neat little parts you can plug into the Arduino to make it do more interesting things.

    • Phones

    • Sub-notebooks

      • TomTop sells 7″ Xburst Netbooks for USD209

        CPU: XBurst 400 MHz CPU 32
        Operation system: LINUX
        Memory: 128M RAM

      • Linux Netbooks – Cheap is good

        It is shortly that netbooks have taken consumer-level Linux for both personal and professional reasons. With the increase in demand for these ultra-small netbook computers, Linux has a fair chance to attract its consumers. Linux is offered as a standard on many netbooks. They are a paradigm changer and their USP is the price and openness which the user experiences. Netbooks provide a real opportunity for Linux to market and gain the mind-share.

Free Software/Open Source

  • Open-Xchange to Launch Open Data Cloud

    Data and personal content exists in many different silos across the Internet, amd getting them all into a single interface and sharing them is no easy task. One potential solution to the problem is set to be demonstrated next week by open source software vendor Open-Xchange with an approach that uses semantic microformats as a mechanism for sharing and publishing data in a collaborative manner.

  • Open source middleware: the time may be ripe

    Another advantage to the open source approach is that products get designed and tested based on the input of a broad community. “FUSE and ServiceMix are developed in a very diverse community,” Debbie says. “Because of that, you see a lot of requirements come in from people that are in different types of environments. So, inherently, you’re going to be able to support a lot of different technologies. It really does require you use open standards, and align by the standards.”

  • FLOSS Weekly 61: Arduino

    Guests: Massimo Banzi for Arduino.

    Massimo Banzi is the co-founder of Arduino with partners David Cuartielles, Gianluca Martino, Tom Igoe, and David Mellis. Banzi is the CTO of Tinker.it!. He has worked in Milan and London on projects for companies such as Prada, Artemide, and Adidas. For four years he functioned as an associate professor at the Interaction Design Institute Ivera. Beyond his private endeavors, he has been a guest speaker and teacher of workshops throughout Europe.

  • Applications

  • OpenOffice.org

    • THREE reasons to upgrade to openoffice.org3

      If you’re still using openoffice.org 2.X… oh, waitaminute, you don’t know what openoffice.org is? It’s a free (free as in “free beer” and also free as in freedom!) office suite: writer for letters, theses, etc (think “Word”); impress for presentations (think “powerpoint®”); calc for spreadsheets (think “Excel®” or “1-2-3®”); draw for, uh, drawings…

    • Writer’s Tools extension for OpenOffice.org

      Writer’s Tools is a set of utilities designed to help OpenOffice.org users perform a wide range of tasks. Using Writer’s Tools, you can back up documents, look up and translate words and phrases, manage text snippets, and keep tabs on document statistics.

  • Government

  • Licensing

    • metapad turns ten

      Today marks the 10th aniversary of the first public release of metapad (see the history page if you don’t believe me). To celebrate I have finally, after long promise, released the source code for metapad. That’s right, now metapad is officially open source and available on GitHub. Not just freeware but truly “free software”, as is defined by the FSF.

  • Education

    • MIT OpenCourseWare: Teaching the world for free

      By any measure, MIT’s OpenCourseWare initiative, which seeks to “open source” education by making course ware from premier institutions available online to all for free, is a success.

    • U. of Manitoba Researchers Publish Open-Source Handbook on Educational Technology

      Technology is changing the way students learn. Is it changing the way colleges teach?

      Not enough, says George Siemens, associate director of research and development at the University of Manitoba’s Learning Technologies Centre.

      While colleges and universities have been “fairly aggressive” in adapting their curricula to the changing world, Mr. Siemens told The Chronicle, “What we haven’t done very well in the last few decades is altering our pedagogy.”

    • Foster plan for open source education

      The bill, H.R. 1164, is now before the House Education and Labor Committee, chaired by California Democrat George Miller. Its full name is The Learning Opportunities with Creation of Open Source Textbooks Act of 2009.

  • Programming

    • CollabNet-Sponsored Subversion Open Source Community Releases Subversion 1.6

      The CollabNet-sponsored Subversion open source community today announced the general availability of Subversion 1.6, the world’s leading software configuration management (SCM) tool for distributed teams. Major new features in the latest release include the ability to detect tree conflicts, improved management of credentials, and reduced repository space requirements. The new software is available immediately as a free download at subversion.tigris.org, and more information is available at www.open.collab.net/products/subversion/whatsnew.html.

    • Google Summer of Code Announces Mentor Projects

      As everyone should already know, Google is running the Summer of Code again this year. For those who don’t know, GSoC is where Google funds student’s to participate in Open Source projects and has been running for 5 years, bringing together over 2600 students and 2500 mentors from nearly 100 countries worldwide.

    • Community Live: Newcastle Maker Faire, March 14-15, 2009

      The chaps from BBC backstage were showing off some cool bits and pieces from the BBC’s R&D department, including an open source multi-touch sensor which makes cunning use of a web-cam and can just about manage to track 10 fingers (though not so easily on the prototype they were showing because the surface was so small). They also showed a _very_ clever software image stabilisation system which worked with the picture stream from dumb, but high definition cameras.

    • Programming for Kids with Basic-256 on Ubuntu

      My first introduction to computers and the world of programming was through languages like GW-BASIC, QuickBASIC, and ANSI C. As a kid, I inherited an 8086-based PC from my father, along with a few operating system manuals and programming references. Later on, I spend endless hours playing with Apple II computers in elementary school. This was probably the single biggest influence on my future professional life, as it taught me that I could easily make a computer do exactly what I wanted.

Copyrights

  • Lawmakers Clueless About BitTorrent and P2P

    The entertainment industry managed to convince the French government to draft a law that will make it possible to disconnect people from the Internet, if they receive more than two copyright infringement warnings. Sadly, most of the politicians who plan to sign the law into action have no clue what they’re dealing with.

Digital Tipping Point: Clip of the Day

Bhaskar Chakravorti, business theory visionary (SF) 06 (2005)

Ogg Theora

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

Eye on Microsoft: Miscellaneous Links

Posted in DRM, Microsoft, Security, Windows at 8:49 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Microsoft kills Windows Mobile honeycomb

VOLE HAS CHANGED the distinctive honeycomb interface on the new Windows Mobile 6.5 following shedloads of complaints.

Dear Microsoft, Fix Digital Rights Issues on Xbox 360

Because the DRM used on the Xbox 360 is based off of the hardware ID the content was downloaded on and one’s Gamertag, I now must be online for your server to authenticate me, and unlock my content. In essence, all my DLC is being held hostage until I get online, get a new unit, or both.

Why? I am so glad you asked. After swapping my Elite hard drive to a 360 that does work, two of my Gamertags have become corrupted, seemingly in a blink of an eye. The hardware that the DRM is tied to cannot even play the games needed to use said DLC, and the Gamertags that my content is tied to are corrupt. A third Gamertag on the same hard drive, which has purchased nothing, is perfectly usable.

The Conficker Worm: April Fool’s Joke or Unthinkable Disaster?

Conficker is a program that is spread by exploiting several weaknesses in Microsoft’s Windows operating system. Various versions of the software have spread widely around the globe since October, mostly outside the United States because there are more computers overseas running unpatched, pirated Windows. (The program does not infect Macintosh or Linux-based computers.)

An estimated 12 million or more machines have been infected. However, many have also been disinfected, so a precise census is difficult to obtain.

Diebold Admits Audit Logs in ALL Versions of Their [Windows-based] Software Fail to Record Ballot Deletions

CA SoS Bowen described the Diebold audit logs as “useless”.

Quick Mention: Microsoft Sued Again for Patent Infringement (BackWeb)

Posted in Microsoft, Patents, Windows at 7:32 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Paper Novell

Summary: BackWeb sues Microsoft over software update methods

MICROSOFT CAME under another patent strike just before the weekend.

BackWeb Technologies Ltd. said Friday it filed a patent infringement lawsuit against Microsoft Corp.

San Jose-based BackWeb (Pink Sheets:BWEBF) is seeking damages, an injunction and a declaration by the court that Microsoft’s software update technologies infringe BackWeb’s patents.

Forbes has some more details. There was another patent lawsuit against Microsoft approximately a week and a half ago, in addition to TomTom's.

A Deeper Look at TomTom’s Patent Case Against Microsoft

Posted in Courtroom, Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, GPL, Kernel, Microsoft, Patents, TomTom at 7:17 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

1147987_old_maritime_map
Can Microsoft navigate its way out of this one?

Summary: A detailed overview and some analysis of TomTom’s countersuit

LAST month we wrote about Microsoft's case against TomTom and a few days ago we put forth some quick initial coverage of the counter action from TomTom. The whole situation is reason for realisation that Microsoft bullies "open source". The following excellent analysis from Andy Updegrove says that this aggressive strategy will break Microsoft apart from the inside. He also writes:

The reason the licensing question matters is the message that it sends: Microsoft has for years been approaching vendors alleging that it owns 235 patents that it claims are infringed by popular open source software, and that several dozen of these patents are infringed by any software distribution based upon the Linux kernel. These discussions are always behind the scenes, but when Microsoft succeeds in reaching agreement with a significant vendor, and especially a Linux vendor (like Novell), Microsoft makes an announcement, and puts another notch in its gun. The next time it visits a vendor – or even an end user – that list gets to be longer, and the person receiving the next visit is tempted to think that there must be a basis for all those other companies signing on the dotted line. So, it would appear, the smart thing would be to get in line as well.

It all started with Novell, which came to Microsoft to sign the patent deal. In fact, watch this OpenSUSE talk from FOSDEM [Ogg]. It’s all about patents, so a preliminary assessment leaves a bad taste.

But anyway, that’s where we are today and Microsoft’s patent aggression against Linux began just a couple of weeks after the Novell deal when Steve Ballmer made some rude remarks. To repeat them from the source:

In mid-November, shortly after the pact was announced, Microsoft chief Steve Ballmer said companies that sell or run Linux, but aren’t covered under the Novell deal, are illegally using Microsoft’s IP. “We believe every Linux customer basically has an undisclosed balance-sheet liability,” he said.

He said in a later meeting: “I do think it clearly establishes that open source is not free.”

Going back to the TomTom case, there are many new Slashdot comments and also LinuxToday comments. Carla Schroder, the editor of LinuxToday, cautiously called TomTom’s response a “dual GPL dodge” when she wrote:

So, is this turning into a joint venture GPL dodge? Jeremy Allison says that

“It isn’t a case of cross-license and everything is ok. If Tom Tom or any other company cross licenses patents then by section 7 of GPLv2 (for the Linux kernel) they lose the rights to redistribute the kernel *at all*.”

So rather than tiny TomTom heroically standing up to the big mean Borg, it looks more like business as usual.

One reader, Frank Earl, responded to Carla by making a correction and rightly adding that TomTom ought to have gone for the jugular (or roots) of software patenting.

This depends on whether or not TomTom settles that way. These things often do NOT end up being cross-licensing deals once they get into the courtroom pissing match we see here. It’s only a problem if they cross-license. :-D

My regret is that they led with more patents instead of running the Bilski decision up the flagpole first. With Bilski, MS’ stuff is abjectly invalid and wouldn’t pass muster on a review at this point because the USPTO’s already rejecting things like that out of hand, citing that decision as being a reason for unpatentabilty.

CNET stresses that TomTom’s defensive counterstrike does not directly defend Linux and therefore it does not resolve the problem; it pushes it away which is a form of procrastination.

TomTom fights back, but not over Linux

[...]

I just wish that it were fighting over FAT, not GPS.

Both sides have engaged exceptional counsel, as Groklaw notes, but I doubt that the case will ever get to trial. Very few lawsuits ever make it so far, and the counsel on both sides will get paid handsomely to resolve the case at the lowest possible cost, which invariably means an out-of-court settlement.

That, too, doesn’t work in favor of open source. I think that it’s fair to say that open source would benefit–whatever the outcome–from seeing Microsoft’s patents put on trial as they relate to Linux. Not only does TomTom’s countersuit ignore the Linux-related patents, but given the likelihood that the suit will settle, it’s likely that open source will be hurt, not helped, by the FUD (fear, uncertainty, doubt) ignited by the lawsuits.

Where are those 42 patents from Microsoft anyway? If TomTom uses a classic Linux (kernel), as argued by a guru of gpl-violations, then why did Microsoft narrow down its claims so significantly?

Still, Microsoft has not backed off its claim that it owns 42 patents used in the creation of the Linux kernel, and its suit against TomTom indicates that the company intends to defend that claim in court, if necessary.

Here is another take, this time from IDG:

GPS device maker TomTom has shot back at Microsoft with a claim of patent infringement, after the software giant raised concerns in the Linux community with a recent lawsuit against TomTom.

[...]

That concerned Linux supporters, who worried that Microsoft might make good on past statements that it owns many patents for technologies used in Linux. But Microsoft said open source is not the focal point of its suit against TomTom. The case is about TomTom’s specific implementation of the Linux kernel, Microsoft said.

Mr. gpl-violations has already refuted Microsoft’s argument that TomTom has a “specific implementation” of Linux. He did inspect the code, too.

It’s interesting to find that Microsoft sent its claim to the International Trade Commission (ITC), which seems to indicate that it’s the old embargo strategy, whose purpose is to strangle competitors and pressure them into unwanted deals very quickly.

Microsoft filed its claim with the ITC, as well as a civil suit in federal court in Seattle, after the companies were unable to reach a patent-licensing agreement.

Microsoft did the same thing when it attacked Primax using patents. As Mary Jo Foley points out, TomTom is no easy nut for Microsoft to crack though. Maybe it’s because of the GPL.

It looks like TomTom isn’t backing down from its refusal to become one of the growing list of companies signing cross-patent licensing agreements with the Softies…. And it looks like TomTom’s suit isn’t deterring Microsoft from its original complaints, either, based on the company’s statement on TomTom’s countersuit.

ITWire has amassed this list of the patents at play:

The four patents cited in the suit filed by TomTom are:

US Patent 5,902,350: Generating a maneuver (sic) at the intersection through a turn lane;

US Patent 5,938,720: Route generation in a vehicle navigation system;

US Patent 6,600,994:   Quick selection of destinations in an automobile navigation system; and

US Patent 6,542,814: Methods and apparatus for dynamic point of interest display.

Some more new references regarding the countersuit are included below for completeness and future use:

While I have no idea what is happening behind the scenes with the two companies, it appears that TomTom is one of the first to stand up against Microsoft’s use of patents to throw its weight around. The attention centering around the Microsoft filing is in relation to TomTom’s use of the Linux kernel to implement its file naming system. Many believe that this is the first blow from Microsoft in an all-out war against Linux. Whether or not this is the case, TomTom won’t be rolling over and settling behind closed doors back the looks of it.

The February suit brought by Microsoft said that TomTom was using part of its GPS technology that relied on the Linux OS.

That assertion raised eyebrows in the Linux community. For the past several years, Microsoft has claimed that it owns the patents to technology used in Linux. The open-source community has gone back and forth with the company, and recently Microsoft said it was willing to work out some kind of agreement with developers. Microsoft has said that the TomTom suit is not targeting open-source software.

For years, people in the software industry have noticed that patents have become the nuclear stockpiling of the tech industry. Lots of companies feel the need to stock up on as many patents as possible, not for any good reason — but to have something to scare people off from suing, knowing that they’ll get sued right back.

As one person wrote, “it’s your turn, Microsoft.”

Patents Roundup: Red Hat Again; EPO and USPTO Debated

Posted in America, Deception, Europe, Patents, Red Hat at 6:41 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Vaux le Vicomte
Rest on your laurels and you will lose your rights

Summary: Another quick look at AMQP and some developments in major patent systems

ONE ISSUE on our minds at the moment is the Red Hat situation because we are hoping to receive answers to some questions which were raised in:

A regular reader drew our attention to this press release from Microsoft which pretty much intersected with Red Hat’s “Welcome to AMQP, Microsoft” (on the same date, 9:34 AM). Clearly enough to some observers, Red Hat claims leadership in AMQP and it knew about this announcement from Microsoft in advance (they collaborate in other areas). Jeff Gould, who hates Free software with passion and always promotes Microsoft, pushed it into Slashdot’s front page using his eternal sockpuppet/pusher, “AlexGr”.

AlexGr writes to tell us that Microsoft apparently has plans to embrace a little known messaging standard called AMQP (Advanced Message Queuing Protocol). Red Hat, a founding member of the AMQP working group, was very excited about the news and wrote to welcome Microsoft to the party.

This is an issue that will be debated a little later. Red Hat does point out that “Because this [joining of Microsoft] will be of concern to many people—particularly in the open source community—it is worth pointing out one of the legal ramifications of Microsoft joining AMQP. There is a strong IP provision in the contract for joining the AMQP working group. Anyone joining the AMQP working group must freely license IP that is used by AMQP—AMQP is and will always be an open standard that is free to implement. By joining the AMQP working group, Microsoft has signed this contract. So, there is no threat of Microsoft holding the AMQP standard hostage via patent threats.

We are actually a lot more concerned about the patent systems which, according to this new article, continue to leave too much room for patenting of software, i.e. algorithms (even post-Bilski).

It is easier to obtain patent protection for computer software and/or business method type inventions in the US as opposed to Europe, as the US criterion of a “useful, concrete and tangible result” is easier to meet than the corresponding European “technical effect” or “technical character” requirement.

An invention consisting of software that controls a machine, for example, would most likely meet the technical effect requirement in Europe and would also certainly be patentable subject matter in the US.

Europe wants to poorly resolve its software patent pains, which are partly to do with ambiguity and loopholes. The Register concurs with previous reports and suggests that further loopholes may be created that facilitate software patenting.

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.

Whether patents are becoming a little passé and give way only to litigation, that may be hard to tell. Earlier this year, the EPO had laid of some staff and it tried to claim a rise in patent quality. This tune is being propagated by IP Watch right now.

In a trend appearing in other patent offices around the world, patent applications at the European Patent Office continued to rise in 2008, but at a slower rate toward the end of year. At the EPO, this was coupled with the lowest percentage of granted patents in its history.

Over in the United States, the bad 'reform' receives support from a state senator. His endorsement was predictable though because of the man’s prior role.

Senator Orrin Hatch, a leading proponent of a bill to overhaul the patent process, predicted it will pass and contain language making it more difficult to show misconduct in applying for patents.

The Senate version of the patent reform bill does not currently include language making it harder to strip a patent holder of a patent if they erred in the application process, known as “inequitable conduct” in the patent world.

This bill does not address patent quality; it’s about damages and it’s about patent trolls, which it does not even put an end to.

To give an example of the sad state of the USPTO, Georg Greve of the FSFE found this one: “Painting kit and related method”

Amazing!

According to the Daily Herald, those who can afford to challenge patents may — just may — be able to shoot down existing patents.

Aruba says another Motorola patent rejected by patent office

Aruba Networks Inc., which is involved in a patent battle with two Motorola Inc. units, says the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has kicked out one of the patents under which it’s being sued.

The patent office rejected all claims of Motorola’s patent 7,173,923, the Sunnyvale, California-based company said in a statement March 17.

So why was it granted in the first place? It’s worth adding that Aruba makes products with Linux and even Microsoft uses Aruba's goods. Microsoft is very pleased with Aruba’s Linux-based solution which it has deployed in its own facilities, according to its own people.

On the one hand, this Aruba case shows that patent lawsuits are worth fighting against. The patent which attacks Amazon's Kindle, on the other hand, won’t be so easy to extinguish, according to Wired.

Interestingly enough, the patent filed in 1999 was approved in November of 2007, the same month that the first Kindle launched. And all of the hype and sales estimates have likely encouraged Discovery to finally take action.

The problem might not be individual lawsuits. Lawsuits are enabled by a system that leads to them. It is a system that encourages ownership of anything under the sun which is to blame. This is good for lawyers. Patents are the blood in their system, so the more patents, the merrier. The more lawsuits, the merrier too, so it’s about disputes and conversations, not engineering.

“There is much pleasure to be gained from useless knowledge.” —Bertrand Russell

IRC: #boycottnovell @ FreeNode: March 21st, 2009

Posted in IRC Logs at 3:13 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

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