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Links 01/04/2009: CentOS 5.3 Releases; Fedora 11 Beta

Posted in News Roundup at 9:46 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



  • The Sashimi Tabernacle Choir: An awesomely effective assault on good taste

    What do you get when you cover an old Volvo with singing fish and lobsters and combine the whole thing with a Linux server?

  • Open Source Is The Pinnacle Of The Free Market

    Though I am not going to advocate Laissez-faire economics, I do want to point out that the open source world is as close as you can get to a pure free market. The reason is because if you make a product in the open source world, anybody is able to study it, modify it, redistribute it and even sell it without many restrictions.


    Proves Red Hat Is The Best
    This is not true of Red Hat. Red Hat makes billions, and if someone was able to take Red Hat, make it better and cheaper in a way that pleases customers there is nothing stopping them.

  • PXE: Not Just for Server Networks Anymore!

    In closing, thanks to the efforts of the Ubuntu and LTSP teams, I now have an environment that lets my users do some kind of work, even when their systems may have some kind of issue. And, thanks to the Unattended team, I don’t have to sit at a Windows machine physically to install it, nor do I have to mess with half-baked images or other strange packaging solutions. I’m already getting other ideas on how to extend this system even further.

  • Who is going to run IBM?

    In 1999, when Palmisano was 48, was tapped to run IBM’s Server Group, and spearheaded the company’s move into Linux and open source. Soon after that, he was tapped to be president and chief operating officer at IBM, and everyone knew Sam was The Man. In March 2002, Palmisano was named CEO, and Gerstner, who was 60, stayed on as chairman until the following December to let Wall Street got used to the idea that the man who saved IBM from itself might retire. (He didn’t stay retired for long. In January 2003, Gerstner took the position of chairman at private equity giant The Carlyle Group.)

  • Why is Microsoft afraid to use the ‘L’ word?

    The sales “cheat sheet” does acknowledge, via a single-line mention, that ” Windows Server Foundation is an alternative to running open source (Linux) software.” But the primary marketing messages that Microsoft is emphasizing with its new Server product aren’t Linux-focused at all, if the Battlecard is any kind of guide. Instead, Microsoft is suggesting partners emphasize that Foundation Server will be easy on IT budgets; help optimize the Web for your business; and provide “peace of mind” for those concerned about the ramifications of running pirated Windows.

  • Green Hills offers military software enhancements for network centric warfare

    Green Hills is enabling a Linux operating system to coexist securely and seamlessly with the performance, reliability-critical, and real-time portions of networking devices on one general-purpose microprocessor to help bring mission critical software to the networked battlefield.

  • Free 2D/3D CAD on Windows and Linux – MEDUSA4 Personal™ Version 3.1 Release

    CAD Schroer Group (CSG), the global engineering solutions provider, today announced the latest release of its free personal use version of the powerful MEDUSA4 design automation suite, available for Windows and six different Linux distributions. The industry-proven 2D/3D CAD solution now also includes the MEDUSA4 Smart Drafting Tool (a new way of creating geometry without construction lines), along with many additional enhancements.

  • Shopping delivered to Great Grandma, by Ubuntu Linux

    The family are users of Ubuntu linux, and also had a lot of experience with helping vulnerable novices, so Ubuntu was judged ideal in terms of ease of use and dependable security.

  • Applications

    • Music Notation Software for Linux: a Progress Report, Part 1

      The following article presents a status report on the development of five of the most active notation software projects for Linux. Most of them are works in progress, but all are well along on their development track and in varying states of usability.

    • 7 Free Mind Mapping Softwares

      With mind mapping software, you can take notes, capture ideas, project planning and so on. Here are 7 free mind mapping softwares. I hope you will find this information useful.

  • Desktop Environments

    • New GNOME version brings Linux desktops two steps closer to business

      The GNOME project has released version 2.26 of its eponymous open source desktop environment for Linux. It adds support for MAPI to Evolution, the messaging client in GNOME, allowing it to work with all versions of Microsoft’s Exchange Server. It also adds the ability to open Outlook mailbox (.pst) files.

    • KDE

      • Experimental process-per-tab browser created with Qt, XEmbed

        A KDE developer has used Qt to make a simple proof-of-concpet web browser that manages each tab in a separate process, just like Chrome. This was achieved by using XEmbed and the D-Bus interprocess communication system.

      • New Qt Community

        Today, the Qt Marketing Team has launched a new website to engage the community in a different way: QtOverload.com. This site is dedicated to unusual Qt development and will mirror the diversity of the ecosystem surrounding Qt.

        Qt Software directly asks for submissions by their readers and hopes for a broad spectrum of contributions ranging from mockups to actual applications that make use of Qt technology.

  • Distributions

    • Billix: The Distro to Install Distros

      This is Billix, a lightweight distribution that allows you install several other distributions, and also contains a handy Windows tool for those of us who tend to forget our passwords.

    • Red Hat

      • Fedora

        • Fedora 11 boasts 20-second startup

          The Fedora Project has released a beta version of its community-sponsored, Red Hat-based Linux distribution, with the final due in May. The Fedora 11 beta release offers faster, 20-second bootups, improved package management, new virtualization features, and support for cross-compiling Windows applications, says the open-source project.

        • Fedora 11 beta posted with new security, developer features

          Fedora project developers also have added security for virtualized containers running on the OS by extending Fedora’s security model, SELinux, Frields said. A new extension called Svirt provides access control for virtual guests, locking what processes the guests have access to, he said.

        • Fedora 11 Beta Screenshot Tour

          Leaving technicalities aside, you should find out that Fedora 11 Beta has a brand new wallpaper featuring the famous Greek Acropolis, to be in tone with Fedora 11′s codename, Leonidas. Moreover, a Clearlooks-based theme is in testings (see the first screenshot below). Without futher ado, we will let you enjoy the screenshot tour of Fedora 11 Beta.

        • Testing the Fedora 11 Installation Guide

          Every release, the dedicated volunteers in the Documentation team produce the Fedora Installation Guide, an exhaustive and detailed guide to installing Fedora. For Fedora 11, they have asked us in the QA team to co-ordinate ‘testing’ of the Installation Guide. By doing installations following the instructions in the Installation Guide, we can find issues in both the Guide and the installation process itself, and thus improve both.

        • Fedora 11 coming closer
      • CentOS

        • CentOS 5.3 released

          The CentOS developers have released version 5.3 for i386 and x86-64 architectures. CentOS 5.3 is a free Linux distribution based on the source of Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5.3 (RHEL). The 5.3 release includes several changes over version 5.2 including both new and updated packages based on RHEL 5.3 and custom changes by the CentOS developers.

        • CentOS 5.3 Is Here, Based on RHEL 5.3

          The CentOS development team, through Karanbir Singh, announced last evening (March 31st) the immediate release of the CentOS 5.3 Linux distribution. Just like Scientific Linux 5.3, the third maintenance release of CentOS 5 is based on the Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5.3 operating system.
          What’s new in CentOS 5.3? Well, first of all the software repositories were combined into a single one, which will make it easier for the end-user to update or install packages. Moreover, a new option has been added in the installer, to allow them to add third-party software repositories.

    • Ubuntu

      • Ubuntu Requests Reviewers to Handle Flood of Brainstorm Ideas

        As KDE jumps boldly into the waters of its new brainstorming initiative, the Ubuntu Brainstorm team battles a strong current of incoming ideas.

        Ubuntu’s Brainstorm project has witnessed a steady increase in idea submissions since its inception, and given this upward trend and current workload, the team has decided to call for reinforcements. The Brainstorm team is seeking users familiar with Ubuntu’s Brainstorm process to act as Idea Reviewers.

      • Just what is Jaunty Jackalope?

        The cutesy name for the next cloud-capable version of Ubuntu, which will follow 9.04, is “Karmic Koala”. Do you see a naming pattern here? London-based Canonical, the commercial sponsor of Ubuntu project, does love their unique animal references. Albeit fun, the serious side of the company is their promise that the Linux distro, Ubuntu, will always be free to download, free to use, and free to distribute to others.

  • Sub-notebooks

    • HP Confirms Considering Android in Netbooks

      Hewlett-Packard confirmed Tuesday that it is testing Google’s Android operating system as a possible alternative to Windows in some of its netbook computers.

      Analysts said the move would allow HP to develop a low-cost netbook optimized for wireless networks that provides access to Web-based services such as Google Docs, but others questioned whether the Google software is ready for such a task.

    • One giant step closer to the Google Linux desktop

      The usual response to the idea of a desktop Linux from Ubuntu, Novell or Red Hat or anyone else is a loud cry of ‘nonsense,’ from the Windows crowd. Android, however, is different.

    • The latest Ubuntu 9.04 Beta comes with improved netbook support

      The popular Linux distribution Ubuntu has it latest Beta version released, version 9.04. This Beta is running fine on several Netbooks.

    • A netbook with Linux? Here are six options

      Not the best known of the netbooks on offer, the Toshiba NB100 is a relatively new entrant to the market. It ships with a choice of Windows XP or Ubuntu Linux installed. As with most of the netbooks it is built with Intel’s Atom processor and sports 512MB of memory. Under Vista that would be woefully underpowered but with Ubuntu and Netbook Remix – Ubuntu’s netbook interface – is more than adequate. An 80GB hard drive and a standard 8.9-inch screen rounds out the package. Locally the Toshiba NB100 costs around R3 900.

    • The 10-Minute Netbook Guide

      Operating system, Windows XP or Linux:

      The two main options here are Windows XP and Linux.

Free Software/Open Source

  • Open Sources Episode 10 (video): Web 2.0 is dead

    Lucky break for all you Open Sources podcast fans–Matt Asay and I went to the Web 2.0 event Tuesday and instead of podcasting, we shot some video footage using the iSight camera on my Mac and a Flip Video camera. It won’t win any videography awards, but it was great sitting next to each other to record this episode.

  • 5 Free and Open Source OS which You didn’t But Should Try Once

    There are a list of other operating systems beyond the ones that rule the market. For Windows users too, did you know that there is a fast MS-DOS clone for you too? And those of you who love open source operating systems, if you like experimenting or trying out new things, here are some cool alternatives for you.

  • Business

    • The Cost Savings of FOSS: Business Success for the Wrong Reason

      Controlling costs is a natural concern of any company. Nor can Zemlin be faulted for doing his job and promoting FOSS by any available means. Still, this emphasis makes me seriously uneasy as a FOSS advocate.

      The problem is not that business is becoming more deeply involved with FOSS. That has been a reality now for years, and the majority in the FOSS community have long ago made their peace with the fact. If nothing else, FOSS would not be as advanced as it is today without the massive contributions made by corporations.

  • Mozilla

    • Firefox 3.0 ekes ahead of Internet Explorer 7 in Europe

      Mozilla’s web browser Firefox 3.0 crawled past Microsoft’s Internet Explorer 7 in European market share for the first time last week.

    • Mozilla Labs Adds Style and Star Power to Firefox with New Personas

      You are an individual with unique styles and tastes. That’s why today Mozilla Labs is expanding its effort to help you give your Internet browser the look you want. Personas are free, easy-to-install “skins” for Firefox that make changing the look of the browser as easy as changing your shirt. With Personas, you can individualize your browser with hundreds of artist-created designs from brand new cause, sports, fashion and music categories, seeded with new styles from leading brands and gifted designers. You can also turn Firefox into a canvas and create your own design to share with a worldwide audience of millions.

    • about:mozilla – Firefox, Personas, Weave, 3D, Taskfox, Sfx, Seneca, and more…

      In this issue…

      * Firefox 3.0.8 security release now available
      * Personas: what will your browser wear today?
      * Weave 0.3 released!
      * Bringing accelerated 3D to the web
      * Notifications and flow
      * Mozilla.org redesign: round 2

    • Make Your Firefox Browser Look Better With Mozilla Labs’ Latest Skins
    • Mozilla Adds Style and Star Power to Firefox with New Personas

      Mozilla, a public-benefit organization dedicated to promoting choice and innovation on the Internet, today announced the immediate availability of new designs for the Mozilla Firefox web browser by leading fashion, cause, sports and music brands. Personas are free, easy-to-install “skins” for Firefox that make changing the look of the browser as easy as changing a shirt.

  • Funding

    • Saving money — and Mass. — with open source software

      Arguably, white papers and reports take a long time to influence the direction of business. Nonetheless we in Massachusetts are well down the open source path. It was in Massachusetts that the Open Software Foundation was launched in 1988 and flourished. Its current iteration, The Open Group, is still working hard to influence the use of open software in commercial software development. Larger employers with a Massachusetts presence, such as Red Hat and Novell, advocate for the use of open source. And smaller companies, including Project.net and Best Practical, provide open source software that powers businesses, which in turn build products that eventually feed the consumer stream.

  • Legal/Foundations

    • Episode 0x0A: A Guide to GPL Compliance

      This episode is primarily composed of a recorded speech that Bradley made on complying with the GPL. An introduction and wrap-up segment with Bradley and Karen is included.

    • FSF releases audio recording of LibrePlanet conference

      Monday, March 30, 2009 — The Free Software Foundation (FSF) today released the complete audio recordings from the first day of the LibrePlanet GNU/Linux conference, held on March 21, 2009, in Cambridge, MA.

    • 275 Open Source Policy Initiatives (and growing)…

      The Center for Strategic and International Studies released their sixth update to their CSIS Open Source Policy Study last year, and given their track record we should expect to see a new report later this year. The report now cites 275 Open Source policy initiatives, with 70% now reaching “completed” status. What is become clear to me is the extent to which open source development, deployment, and maintenance practices are becoming the templates for government best practices for managing information technology and transformation.

  • Open (But No Source Code)

    • Open Sourcing Healthcare One Patient at a Time

      Open source healthcare IT solutions are just beginning to become acceptable alternatives to proprietary software systems. As is happening in other fields, open source medical projects are getting noticed as cost-saving alternatives to proprietary vendors. The battle for supremacy between the two marketing strategies may gain national political attention as President Obama’s administration drives toward the creation of a national electronic health records network built on standards for interoperability and affordability.


      “It’s a very fractured field out there. It is reminiscent of what the computer science industry went through in the 1950s and 1960s where you had brilliant people all over the world working but nobody knew what everybody else was doing,” Donahue told LinuxInsider.

  • Programming

    • The current state and future of Python

      So what does python have to offer? It is a nice mix of procedural programming, object oriented and functional. That is what I love about it. It allows you to work in a mix of all three. It also seems that it is made by a bunch of people that understand that while flexibility is important (Perl code) you have to be able to READ and UNDERSTAND something written by another human being. One way python does this is by forcing you to indent your code. This may seem stupid to some but readability goes WAY up, when something is consistently indented the same way. Another way they make it easier to read than other languages is by making it more like natural language, the language is more verbose than your average language but not as bad as something like BASIC.

    • Rails 2.3 Makes Finders Fancier

      As I said, these new find features are relatively small, incremental improvements, but I find these much easier and natural to express what I am trying to find. I can think of several places in my own code that can benefit from the clarity. Lord knows I need the help!

      In coming weeks I’ll present more about Rails 2.3 and also wander all over the World Wide Web to find tools, techniques, and tinkering to entertain you.


  • First Look: eyeOS 1.8.5 – A first look in the cloud

    In the past, having your head in the clouds was generally regarded as a bad thing. Nowadays, everybody wants to have their share of The Cloud. Having all your digital stuff somewhere on a server, ready to be accessed from virtually anywhere, is bliss for some and an absolute nightmare for others. While I know the fact that my files will never be completely safe in the cloud, I also know that they aren’t completely safe on a local Internet-connected computer either, so I am ready to embrace (within some limits) the Cloud.


    The best part is that you’ll be able to save your documents not only in eyeOS’ format but also either as .doc (Microsoft Word’s format) or as .odt (Open Document Text).

  • Create Your Own Cloud Operating System With EyeOS


  • Cognitive Autoheuristic Distributed-Intelligence Entity

    For several years now a small research group has been working on some challenging problems in the areas of neural networking, natural language and autonomous problem-solving. Last fall this group achieved a significant breakthrough: a powerful new technique for solving reinforcement learning problems, resulting in the first functional global-scale neuro-evolutionary learning cluster.

  • Copyrights

    • DRM should be disclosed on game-boxes

      Ars Technica has a report from the FTC’s hearings on DRM, where Hal Halpin from the Entertainment Consumers Association proposed that game manufacturers should be required to disclose what kind of DRM they’re using prior to purchase (“WARNING: World of Warcraft contains spyware called Warden to stop you from cheating — it checks files and registry settings here and here, hides itself from the process manager, etc”) and to stick to a set of standard EULA terms that everyday people can understand.

    • Electronic Arts releases DRM-removal tool

      Electronic Arts has released a de-activation tool for removing the SecuRom digital rights management that the company earlier deployed on several of its games. SecuROM is known as the most Draconian DRM tool for games, apt to screw u your computer and harm your ability to play the games you bought.

    • U.K. Biz ‘Disappointed’ At EU Term Extension Rejection

      The U.K. music industry has collectively voiced its disappointment, after the Council of the European Union rejected a proposal on term extension for copyright in sound recordings.

    • MPAA, RIAA continue to woo ISPs

      As the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) continue to look for ways to combat peer-to-peer piracy, their latest aim has been to work alongside service providers operating in the United States.

    • Controversy over new Pirate Bay Facebook feature

      The Pirate Bay has added a small, but significant feature to their website which will almost certainly prove to be controversial. The new feature is a link provided on each torrent page which allows users to post the link to the particular torrent onto their Facebook profile. Friends can then begin to download the particular torrent straight from their Facebook page, assuming a torrent client is installed.

    • Is AT&T violating DMCA by not booting ‘repeat infringers’?

      One of revelations that surfaced following last week’s report that AT&T was helping the recording industry fight illegal file sharing was how differently Internet service providers interpret U.S. copyright law.

    • Senators counter performance royalty bill

      Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) and John Barrasso (R-WY) have taken the Local Radio Freedom Act, which has been gaining steady momentum in the House, and introduced it into the Senate. It would prevent any attempt to impose performance royalties on broadcast stations. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK ) is on board as original co-sponsor.

    • Billion Dollar Charlie takes on the RIAA

      Ars sits down with “Billion Dollar Charlie” Nesson, the Harvard Law professor who’s taking on the RIAA in federal court. Winning his case would be great, but Nesson’s thinking even bigger. He wants nothing less than a national, Internet-enabled conversation about copyright and damages in the digital age.

Digital Tipping Point: Clip of the Day

Nat Friedman 09

Ogg Theora

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

Authorities in China and Australia ‘Sell’ Their Children to Microsoft

Posted in Asia, Australia, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Office Suites, Windows at 2:38 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

It’s no hoax

“They’ll get sort of addicted, and then we’ll somehow figure out how to collect sometime in the next decade.”

Bill Gates

WELL, what can we say? Like most such deals, it smacks of collusion or dumping, sometimes even bribes like Live@Edu, public looting, or even addiction techniques like the *Spark programmes.

The first article which was sent to us by a reader speaks of an outcry in China where Microsoft signed an anti-competitive deal.

A collaborative agreement between Qinghua University in Beijing and Microsoft has caused an outcry led by a top Chinese computer scientist. This three-year agreement specifies Qinghua’s participation in Microsoft’s campus genuine software initiative, which requires that all on-campus computers used by students and faculty members be installed with genuine versions of the Microsoft Vista operating system and Office 2007 suite.

This is a new development involving the software giant, after it released its “Black Screen” antipiracy patch last October, which directly impacted many thousands of individual computer users. Since then, an increasing number of schools are opting for the Linux operating system and domestic Office software packages.

What a coincidence. It must be what Microsoft calls Project Marshall.

Another similar case which may involve kickbacks or collusion is now being seen in Australia where Microsoft intercepted a long-standing plan to move to GNU/Linux.

Microsoft and Lenovo have won a massive deal worth hundreds of millions to supply sub-notebooks running Windows XP and Microsoft Office to 200,000 year 9 students in NSW state schools. The three year deal, with an option to renew, will see all year 9 students get the notebooks to keep for the remainder of their school years and beyond.

ZDNet Australia gives some essential background.

In December 2006, DET information services director Tim Anderson claimed the department was taking Linux seriously. “The possibility of running Linux-based desktop platforms is real for us,” he says in this video. “We have to consider [open source] very seriously,” he continued, “because it is clearly an industry trend. We need to have genuine competition in the marketplace for desktops … a lot of innovative educational solutions are coming out of the open source area.”


After two years of frantic development, Linux (particularly Ubuntu) has achieved a strong presence in the now-mainstream netbook market courtesy of Asus’ courageous early decision to focus on the open source platform, education-friendly derivatives like Edubuntu are well-developed, and few cross-platform or driver issues still dog Linus Torvalds’ baby on standard hardware.

When your wife’s friend’s 60-year-old mother tells you at a Christmas party at a lovely Indian diner in Newtown that she loves her Xandros-based Linux PC and wants to buy more for her children, you know Linux has arrived.

We wrote some more — using a lot of references — about Australia’s affair with GNU/Linux and Microsoft’s response to it. What happens at the moment is particularly shameful because the government uses taxpayers’ money to turn young people into customers of an abusive monopolist from another country.

Mark on the back

Stained for life

(Mo)NoDevelop is Liked by Microsoft and Novell, Not by the GNU/Linux Crowd

Posted in GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Mono, Novell, Patents, TomTom at 1:58 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz


Summary: New Mono and MonoDevelop are advocated by Novell and the Microsoft press; many feel differently however

IT DOES NOT take much research to make a distinction and witness the apparent disparity between opinions in the Novell/Microsoft-dominated media and those of ‘mere mortals’. For instance, the latest comments about Novell/Mono in LinuxToday show that Novell’s products are not welcomed by the readers there at all, especially not after the FAT case has been almost concluded (it hasn’t yet, but more on that later). Maybe it’s the implicit assumption that when a product is released you must say something good, or simply say nothing at all. Comments tend to be more blunt.

“Maybe it’s the implicit assumption that when a product is released you must say something good, or simply say nothing at all.”Novell re-released MonoDevelop and Mono a couple of days ago (version bump) and based on the statements made by the company’s executives, this seems like the company’s emphasis at the moment. It’s its ‘added value’, for which it claims to be offering exclusive "peace of mind". Miguel de Icaza is actively supporting and advancing the company which is suing GNU/Linux-using companies.

How does it feel when Novell’s press releases that involve open source are always about Microsoft technologies that they publicly promote (see this latest press release)? There is also Mono in Fox (joining the likes of Rupert) and the Microsoft press too now endorses this infiltration of Microsoft technology into the company’s #1 threat. If Microsoft’s press is promoting Mono, then it must be bad for GNU/Linux. Is it not time to think of it as Ballmer-owned .NET (like FAT) and accordingly refer to it as “Ballmono” (along the lines of Ballnux)?

Look at OStatic today. Go-oo is being called “Novell- and Microsoft-backed fork.” It’s interesting because they acknowledge that it’s a fork [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7], and one that’s backed by Microsoft with Novell, which pays Microsoft for unknown software patents.

Speaking of which, Microsoft is promoting its patent propaganda book with a press release from New Jersey. Novell too is mentioned.

The internal debates among top executives over how to deal with the open source software movement — including the first-ever blow-by-blow account of the top-secret negotiations with Novell that led to the world’s first peace treaty and collaboration agreement between a proprietary and open source software company.

In case it’s not obvious, Microsoft is using Novell to impose a tax (software patents) upon GNU/Linux users. The nature of Mono and MonoDevelop (among other things) is that they significantly increase the trouble of willful infringement; the only one to benefit from this is Novell, which will offer and market SLE* as a ‘safe haven’. Bruce Perens too recognises this problem. Two days ago we wrote: [mind our emphasis]

And let’s not forget Microsoft. All of that talk about interoperability with Linux coming from them? It was just talk, because they’ve shown that anyone who tries to interoperate with Microsoft technology even as simple as the FAT filesystem will eventually be sued, or pushed into licensing, for their efforts. The way they act, the Microsoft-internal definition of “interoperability” must be “making the whole world owe us.”

And so, you should be wary of FAT, Office Open XML, .NET (including Mono), Silverlight, and of Microsoft’s participation in standards committees that don’t have a clear royalty-free committment, or, as is the case for Office Open XML, when the royalty-free committment is less than complete. These technologies leave the door open for submarine patents to sink your business.

Do you like Mono? Have you purchased/upgraded your licensed copy to Peace of Mind 11 yet?

Peace of mind

(Former) Microsoft Employee Tells Why the Company is Doomed, Moves to GNU/Linux

Posted in GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Vista, Windows at 12:49 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Gold figure

ONE particular new thread that caught people’s attention began with this revelation: “You know what scared ME from using Windows? Working for Microsoft for 14 years, 4 of them in the Windows division. One of the reasons I left the company (other than the over-abundance of incompetent people) was the lack of confidence I had in Microsoft’s ability to deliver a quality OS — and they proved it with Vista.

Onwards in this thread there is a fascinating look at the company’s internal problems and this joins a series of examples where Microsoft employees simply switch to GNU/Linux.

Another interesting inside story comes from the following separate comment: [hat tip: David Gerard]

The 1998 antitrust trial had a significant morale impact within the company and cost them something like three dozen senior executives (both Myrvolds, Silverberg, etc). Then msft responded to the permatemps lawsuit by firing _all_ temporary workers (many of which had been there for a decade), which turned out to hose their build system so badly they stopped being able to compile Windows 2000 shortly after its release. (XP was literally the result of the Windows Millenium development team being tasked with taking the NT4 source, backporting as much of Windows 2000 as they could get to compile, and making it pretty.) Then msft stock tanked in 2000 (because they copied Cisco’s pooling method of acquisitions and triggered an SEC rule that prevented their stock buyback program from disguising the dilution inherent in their stock option income tax benefit) and has been flat ever since (really, the stock’s peak was back at the start of 2000) so everybody who was there for the money left. Then Google started seriously raiding them and hiring away everybody with a brain around 2003. Then Gates saw 4 gig memory wall and corresponding switch to 64 bit hardware coming (with a corresponding 8 bit cp/m -> 16 bit dos -> 32 bit windows operating system transition) and decided to retire rather than fight it.

The Vista death march (taking 7 years to ship crap) was a side effect of all this, but of course it made it worse by burning out most of their remaining competent engineers. Then the Yahoo acquisition caused everybody to lose faith in Ballmer, so a big “employees vs management” vibe cropped up (blaming him for everything from the stock price to the loss of towels in the company gym). Then the economy cratered and MS started missing its numbers for the first time in over 20 years.

Earlier this year, even mini-msft announced he was considering leaving the company. From a human resources perspective, they are _deeply_screwed_, and it’s not a new thing. it’s been festering for about ten years now.

Of course none of those affect their real source of power, which is their lock on the distribution channels. Nobody wants Vista, but you can’t buy a machine from Frys that hasn’t got it preinstalled. (You can’t even upgrade most of ‘em to XP, you MUST buy Vista if you buy that hardware.) That’s the heart of the microsoft monopoly; preinstalls. Always has been.

This, however, is beginning to change. There are fascinating times ahead and Microsoft’s current plan revolves around software patents (i.e. taxing competitors), simply because it doesn’t know how else to compete and generate high profit that’s necessary to maintain products and sustain vital workforce.

Cat in glass

2008 Announcement About Red Hat GNU/Linux Heralds Disinterest in Aging Concepts

Posted in GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Red Hat, Servers, Ubuntu at 8:36 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Originally published in Datamation in 2008

WHEN announcements are made about GNU/Linux and some related matters, high-tier analysts are typically quick to misinterpret and lead to a ‘broken telephone’ effect. Even subsequent clarifications cannot compensate for it or even retract what triggered false alarms.

Vocal and frequently-quoted observers cannot be blamed, however, because paradigms and business models that are associated with free software tend to be very unique and therefore easily misunderstood. As time goes by, these disruptive business models become more commonplace, so they grab the limelight only to find an old-schooled approach towards them.

Speaking of a hotly anticipated product, Red Hat last week announced that it would not pursue the enterprise desktop market for the time being. Immediate reactions were almost as misinformed as those which followed the announcement made by Wal-Mart last month — an announcement that only meant to say that GNU/Linux PCs would be sold online but not off the shelf.

“The more significant problems Red Hat was facing are probably competing GNU/Linux distributions.”The latest announcement from Red Hat was neither very significant nor should it have much impact on desktop Linux as a whole. Red Hat avoided citing one of its real concerns. Instead, it resorted to blaming desktop dominance by an operating system behemoth called Microsoft. The more significant problems Red Hat was facing are probably competing GNU/Linux distributions.

Red Hat is Not Linux and Linux is Not Red Hat

GNOME RPMAn important factor which is momentum — often closely related to userbase — has over the years meant that there were leaders and underdogs in the GNU/Linux arena. Some distributions were perceived as a safe bets, whereas others were seen as a hobby, or simply derivatives that add nothing of significant value to complement or even top existing offerings.

Different vendors that produce GNU/Linux distributions distinguish themselves in subtle ways, but they all work together. They work collaboratively most of the time, despite their separate release schedules. One misconception is that each distribution of GNU/Linux is a case of reinventing the wheel. In reality, however, many groups just contribute specific refinements to the very same ‘wheel’, especially where subjective judgment is involved or the need of prospective users vary. Modifications get shared, so nothing prevents one distribution from trivially mimicking another. Reuse makes it a minimal effort, too.

Red Hat’s Race for the Desktop Still On

Red Hat’s indefinite postponement of an enterprise desktop product was not the end of the world and probably the fruits of sound judgment. We will touch on reasons for this later on. It was not as though Red Hat created a product from scratch, invested hundreds of millions of dollars in developing it and then scraped it. Red Hat merely pondered joining a desktop development wave that had already progressed for over 15 years. Red Hat was just a part of it and improvements made to server products affect the desktop (also vice versa).

GNU/Linux desktop products will continue to evolve quickly with or without Red Hat. A large pool of paid and unpaid (uncompensated) developers will be applying many improvements to the desktop. There is no hibernation in terms of progress because developers typically take the lead depending on who is likely to capitalize or reap the most in terms of gains. There is a great deal of overlap. When Red Hat is prepared to enter this market, the codebase on which it relies will have matured further. Staying out means not to freeze development but merely to wait for a more promising window of opportunity, a better timing perhaps.

Frienemies Take the Lead

Red Hat did not state this explicitly, but its development partners, essentially some fellow Linux vendors, were eating some of its lunch. But it’s reciprocal nonetheless. Several months ago Red Hat’s CEO responded to Chris Pirillo, a Microsoft MVP, who asked him about Canonical. Red Hat’s management seemed to suggest at the time that patent-protected media codecs gave an advantage to Canonical’s GNU/Linux distribution, which is called Ubuntu. Red Hat also insinuated that Ubuntu’s careless approach when it comes to codecs gave them an unfair advantage.

“Ubuntu has become almost synonymous with GNU/Linux on the desktop (sometimes treated as de facto standard) just as Red Hat is quite synonymous with GNU/Linux servers for the enterprise.”Red Hat assigns to the GNOME desktop environment quite a high priority, as does Ubuntu, so what is there to visually distinguish between those two? How can one Linux vendor brag about perceived or actual added value? Ubuntu has become almost synonymous with GNU/Linux on the desktop (sometimes treated as de facto standard) just as Red Hat is quite synonymous with GNU/Linux servers for the enterprise. It can all change in the future because distributions rise and fall all the time, as measured in terms of their various public rankings.

Returning to codecs, Red Hat is a large company that is publicly traded, so it must be prudent when it comes to legal matters. Last year it was reported that Red Hat approached Microsoft to discuss only codecs, but Microsoft insisted that Red Hat should sign a deal involving software patents. Red Hat was not foolish enough to accept such as offer. This happens to be just one among several reasons on the face of it for Red Hat’s withdrawal from its enterprise desktop plan. Fedora, the community version of Red Hat’s GNU/Linux distribution, does not suffer from the same risks. Many people do not have the same requirements. And for whatever they do, they already have Fedora!

The enterprise market’s needs are very different from that of the educational market for instance. To give a timely example, just a few of days Brazil decided to migrate over 50 million children to Debian GNU/Linux at schools.

Generation Gap and Education

We have discussed competition from other GNU/Linux distribution, but there is a lot more to this story. There is another great barrier that related to perception and procurement practices. There is quite a famous story from Russia about legal handling of software, where the distribution of Fedora is seen as ‘illegal’ if you don’t pay for it. Another obstacle is related to perception, which older generations, being more resistant to change, find harder to reconsider.

That’s where education and a legal reform come into play and Red Hat has been doing some work on this recently, especially in eastern Asia which is receptive to change and not just because existing copies of proprietary software there over are sometimes not licensed.

The Desktop Isn’t Dead Yet, But…

“Another obstacle is related to perception, which older generations, being more resistant to change, find harder to reconsider.”It was several months ago that Adobe declared a “sea of change,” to paraphrase an old but famous quote from Bill Gates. Adobe foresees the migration of all software to the Web over the next decade. Since then, not only has some of Adobe’s software made contact with the Web (server side) but other companies did so as well, with great success in fact. Google and Salesforce are large-scale examples of this growing trend (which even sucked in long-term opponents like Microsoft that now touts Live-branded services). Many such companies have their infrastructure powered by GNU/Linux and Free software at the bottom layer of the stack. Content can be delivered and server not only to full-blown desktops, but also to mobile device, which are predicted to have an increased role as their functionality and usability is further improved.

Red Hat could argue about the declining role of the desktop not just as a convenient excuse but also as an assertion which is backed by evidence, including a recent study that shows desktops getting replaced by mobile devices, at least in Japan. Red Hat would be wise to concentrate on one field where it excels and where it is profitable.

If we were to consider companies where the impact of lost focus truly shows, Microsoft would be one. Two of its divisions account for almost all of the company’s profits, whereas some of the newer divisions lose billions of dollars. The company was even claimed to be paralysed by scale — a claim made by a departing key employee, Niall Kennedy. It’s wise to defend one’s ‘bread and butter’, or as some would put it — the cash cows. Red hat could learn from Microsoft’s strategic mistakes and failures, which long-going success in a few profitable divisions tends to eclipse.

At the stage, neither Ubuntu nor Red Hat can penetrate the sector of mobile devices because the space is already very crowded with lesser-known specialists and integrators, from device manufacturers to large companies or consortia that make use of existing components. Many of them use Linux, but not the same Linux which is found on the desktop although this might be bound to change over time. Only last week, Andrew Morton, the maintainer of an important Linux branch, called for an embedded/device branch to be considered.

Control the Server Space to Accommodate the Desktop

Red Hat rightly focuses on what it does best and strives to become an essential ingredient of the computing cloud. Given domination in this area it can ensure that competing server products, notably from Microsoft, do not create a monoculture that further facilitates and propagates onto a desktop, thereby perpetuating an existing monoculture.

Red Hat recently said that it strives to be present in 50% of the world’s servers — virtualization being a possibility — and it could be making fertile ground for the desktop in a hyper-connected computing experience where the server manages applications and the client side is merely a hardware/network handler, much like a thin client or an appliance.

As long as desktop Linux players remain and thrive in all areas of computing, Red Hat should view its frienemies as ones to shelter, not fight. Red Hat is doing just fine on the server and the desktop-server reciprocity needn’t involve the same company that distributes GNU/Linux.

Microsoft and Novell Still Grow Closer

Posted in Deception, Europe, Interoperability, Microsoft, Mono, Novell, Open XML, OpenDocument, OpenOffice, SCO, UNIX, Videos at 6:43 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz


Summary: Evidence of Novell/Microsoft intersection from this week’s news

LAST night’s joke about Novell and IBM did not amuse those who hate this Web site, but it was a statement with a purpose. As oiaohm explains, today (April 1st) is a good opportunity to publish things which contain an element of truth and then discuss the impact as though it was all true. Independently, ITWire chose to do another similar story that suggests Microsoft is buying Novell. The impact of UNIX ownership is therefore debated.

In a shock announcement, Microsoft has today taken majority ownership of software house Novell. This immediately gives the Redmond giant control of Novell’s intellectual property assets including the legal copyright over UNIX. Already Red Hat and Canonical (Ubuntu) have expressed their expectation Microsoft will aggressively seek to eradicate all distributions save for Microsoft Linux Vista, formerly SUSE.

Microsoft’s sudden takeover is at the same time a surprise and not a surprise.

On the one hand, there had not been any recent comment or activity that indicated Novell was a target for Microsoft.

Yet, on the other hand, the two companies had formed an alliance back in 2006 to forge interoperability between Novell’s SUSE Linux and Microsoft Windows. This alliance has continued without wavering and Microsoft published a video at the end of last year highlighting some of the achievements during the “two years of interoperability progress.”

Given Novell’s strategic direction, the above could become truth one day, hurdles like the FTC being an obvious issue. On many occasions in the past we wrote about the dangers of Novell possessing UNIX and we also showed writings which rationalise a Microsoft takeover of Novell (e.g. Sys-con).

Today we wish to present the very latest evidence which justifies the risk, starting with this video that someone put on YouTube two days ago. It’s about the Microsoft/Novell “interoperability initiative” and it’s in German.

Ogg Theora

This almost coincides with the release of MonoDevelop 2.0, which we wrote about yesterday. Novell and SUSE are all about Mono. From the PR department (days ago):

[I]f you’ve got ideas on projects to help improve openSUSE and Mono, visit the openSUSE Ideas page or check out some suggestions for Mono-related student projects. Summer will be here in no time, so if you’re interested we encourage you to apply today.

Additional coverage of MonoDevelop exists in The Inquirer and Ars Technica:

NOVELL HAS RELEASED new versions of Mono and MonoDevelop, which it thinks will make running .Net on Linux faster and easier.

More in Jupitermedia.

Novell is making it easier for a Microsoft .NET developer to deploy their applications on Linux, whether they develop their applications on Windows or on Linux, with the release of Mono 2.4.

Yesterday in the ‘Microsoft press’ (Redmond) we also found the article “.NET Does the Wave,” which states:

Rajagopalan said Microsoft has worked on about 17 open developer platforms, particularly in areas like Azure, open document formats and identity. “We are committed to these projects and we continue to listen to feedback,” he said.

Mind the part where it says “open document formats.” They must be referring to OOXML, but they try to make it sound like ODF (“open document format”), having already named their format "Office Open XML" to confuse with OpenOffice.

Another new article from this Microsoft-influenced press at Redmond is attempting to wed Microsoft and “open source” despite the following: [link from Marbux]

However, Microsoft still continues to come under fire for its actions. Two years ago, Microsoft claimed publicly that Linux and free open source software (FOSS) are violating 235 Microsoft patents. In February, Redmond took what looked to be its first action against an alleged violator, filing suit against auto navigation device maker TomTom over alleged infringement of its U.S. patents by Linux and open source, though the two yesterday announced a settlement.

And standards experts, such as Consortiuminfo.org creator Andrew Updegrove, have argued that Microsoft’s efforts to make OOXML a standard were meant to short-circuit the growing popularity of a competing standard, the OpenDocument Format (ODF).

Over in Andy Updegrove’s Consortiuminfo.org, says Winter (Groklaw regular) regarding the “Novell deal”:

“But if the terms are secret (as they surely would be), would Microsoft end up paying more to TomTom, or visa-versa, or would it be a wash?”

In the deal between MS and Novell, Novell received a few hundred million dollars from MS and MS claimed Novell paid them for patents on Linux that MS owned.

That sounded odd to me then. But there were people who believed MS (or wanted to believe MS).

I have the a feeling that MS will at some time offer TomTom an enormous amount of money to recognize the patents of MS. If accepted, MS will crow that Linux is infringing unspecified MS IP.

That too is an interesting possibility.

Microsoft is Still Attacking Google via Publishers

Posted in Courtroom, Google, Microsoft at 5:50 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Desperate couple

Summary: Microsoft is creating wars against Google, poaching Yahoo! staff

IT IS NEITHER news nor only a theory that Microsoft is encouraging companies and other entities to sue or harass Google. We provided concrete examples in the past and we are seeing it all the time. Google, unlike Microsoft, offers a solution that many people want to use and are rarely forced to use, so its brand has earned high reputation and the company’s estimated value is always the same as Microsoft’s (which declines rapidly [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7]).

We wish to highlight yet another new example — courtesy of Wired Magazine — of Microsoft’s involvement in harassment of Google.

Who’s Messing With the Google Book Settlement? Hint: They’re in Redmond, Washington


The only obstacle remaining for the settlement to take effect is final court approval. Given a case of this scope, it’s not too surprising that a number of interested parties might lodge objections or ask for changes. Nor is it terribly surprising that at least one party nudging its way into the settlement is an internet-issues-oriented group from New York Law School.

But what does raise an eyebrow is the source of New York Law’s funding on this matter: Microsoft.


And, oh, by the way, he also discloses that the efforts of “the second oldest independent law school in the United States” is funded in part by Google’s main competitor, Microsoft.

The chief investigator of the New York Law School project is James Grimmelmann. In an earlier career phase, associate law professor Grimmelmann worked as a programmer for Microsoft.

This sure seems like another case of a lawsuit or harassment by proxy from Microsoft, which is jealous and fearful because its book-scanning (Google copying) project flopped last year. It soon got buried.

It is truly fascinating to see how Microsoft ‘competes’ with Google [1, 2]. Clearly, nothing has changed because Microsoft is too focused on crushing its competition rather than mind its own business and improve its products.

At the moment, Microsoft is also crushing Yahoo!, as it has been doing for just over a year so far. We wrote about a new Yahoo! defection some days ago and here is another:

Industry Moves: Another Yahoo Exec Jumps To Microsoft; At Least 10 Poached So Far

Another week, another search executive leaves Yahoo (NSDQ: YHOO) and joins Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT). Dayne Sampson, Yahoo’s vice president of operations for search and advertising, will join Microsoft’s Global Foundation Services Group, which deals with the backend of Microsoft’s online properties, including search, according to AllThingD.

Todd Bishop covered this too.

More on the Yahoo! saga:

Bill Gates and the Business of Disease

Posted in Bill Gates, Finance, Microsoft at 5:18 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz


Summary: The lesser-covered side of a philanthropist’s story

A few months ago we showed and wrote about how Bill and Melinda Gates urge for taxpayers' money to be passed to big pharmas that they invests in. It is a very familiar story that brings memories of what’s callously referred to as “the Pharmaceutical Cartel.” The gist of this story is that disease means money; permanent cure means less money. Here is a good introduction to the subject.

Some people may say that the pharmaceutical industry cannot be that bad. Unfortunately, it is. Fortunately, however, it is very easy for everyone to understand why this industry has such a detrimental effect on millions of human lives.

It is not about individual drugs or individual companies. It is about the principles – the laws – of the pharmaceutical ‘business with disease’.

We politely urge people to read this post, which agrees with the points made here before.

Since it is public knowledge that the Gates Foundation has placed strategic investments into the pharmaceutical industry, it was only a question of time until the question would be answered whether Gates is serious about controlling diseases or whether he is just another spin doctor of the pharmaceutical “business with disease” who helps to expand and promote diseases under the deceptive veil of a “Mother Theresa”.

“The rich uncle from the USA” is what one of our readers called this scenario. As we wrote in the past, since the Gates Foundation invests literally billions of dollars in governments and the pharmaceutical industry, it only makes sense to convince those same governments to fund the pharmaceutical giants.

We understand that this is a sensitive subject and since Bill Gates owns a lot of media companies, the story people are told is usually different. It is not that it comprises untruths, but it just happens to tell one side of the story with convenient omissions.

As always, we encourage readers to explore the evidence for themselves and not to attack messengers.

“Gates’ gimmick of becoming a philanthropist repeats the Rockefeller scam almost one to one a century later.”

Dark cloud over good works of Gates Foundation

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