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Links 02/04/2009: GNOME 3.0 Plans, New KDE Release

Posted in News Roundup at 8:56 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



  • Light and Cheap, Netbooks Are Poised to Reshape PC Industry

    As in any revolution, the current rulers of the kingdom — Intel and Microsoft, which make the chips and software that run most PCs — face an unprecedented challenge to their dominance. Microsoft is particularly vulnerable, since many of the new netbooks use Linux software instead of Windows.


    Netbook makers have turned to Linux, an open-source operating system that costs $3 instead of the $25 that Microsoft typically charges for Windows XP. They are also exploring the possibility of using the Android operating system from Google, originally designed for cellphones. (Companies like Acer, Dell and Hewlett-Packard already sell some Atom-based netbooks with Linux.)

    The cellphone-chip makers argue that the ARM-Linux combination is just fine for a computer meant to handle e-mail, Facebook, streaming video from sites like YouTube and Hulu, and Web-based documents.

  • Intel to Turn Moblin Over to Linux Foundation

    Intel on Thursday plans to turn over the reins of its Moblin Linux-based platform project to the Linux Foundation, putting the work in neutral territory in the hopes of attracting more community support for it.

    The San Francisco-based Linux Foundation, a nonprofit advocacy group, will host the online community for Moblin on its Web site and take over stewardship of the project and its community, Jim Zemlin, executive director of the Linux Foundation said Wednesday.

  • Maybe there will be a year of the Linux Desktop after all

    Where a 2 page article in the NY times is referenced. This security article doesn’t refer to windows as being the security risk. And the NY times reporter responds to the inquiry by saying this is a organized systematic espionage article. Which has nothing to do with Linux. No it has nothing to do with Linux, that’s why it’s completely insane. If it were about Linux it would be about a systematic failure in espionage.
    that’s not all

    Then next to that we have windows virus problem number gazillion running around the internet.

  • Linux Gazette: April 2009 (#161)

    * Mailbag
    * Gems from the Mailbag
    * Talkback
    * 2-Cent Tips
    * News Bytes, by Deividson Luiz Okopnik and Howard Dyckoff
    * Upgrading your Slug, by Silas Brown

  • Multi-core Clip Show

    Continuing, recently I was irked by the following article: Multicore chips pose next big challenge for industry. My response to the IDG News Service writer, Do ya think? May I suggest a better headline Multicore chips pose the biggest most monumental and grandest challenge ever to the entire industry. This is not news, this is more of the same old song and dance. In case you have been under a rock, I have been losing sleep over this for over two years now. If you have read my past installments, you know I’’m about to head into one of my multicore rants. I can’t help myself.

  • Most Reliable Hosting Company Sites in March 2009
  • The Origins of Linux Quiz
  • Podcast Season 1 Episode 5

    Guest presenter: Mark Shuttleworth

    In this episode: We celebrate the release of Gnome 2.26 and talk about the Chromium browser. Could the Linux community have done more to capitalise on the weak take-up of Windows Vista, and how can we prepare ourselves for Windows 7? And is it a good thing to have two competing desktop environments?

  • Linux game console ready to ship

    Envizions announced that it is taking orders for an open-source Linux gaming system, and will start shipping beta units to game developers, resellers, and software partners on April 10. The EVO Smart Console is based on a 2.4GHz Athlon, and includes a Fedora-based Linux distro.

  • Compiz 0.9.x – Where are we now, and where to from here

    Anyways, this post is about Compiz 0.9.x (formerly ‘compiz++’). Compiz 0.9.x started in december when onestone announced his core rewrite on the mailing list. It had features like pluggable output backends, written in c++ (and a few nice interfaces that came with it) and other misc bits and pieces. It was designed mostly in mind to overcome a lot of the design problems we were having, like plugin-plugins and a ridiculous amound of code to manage lists. In Janurary, some developers started to toy around with it and at the beginning of this February, we announced that compiz++ would become the base for the 0.9.x series and the 0.9.x series would features some major reworks. We’ve all been quite busy during that time – so we’ve done whatever possible to push the branch forwards.

  • Watching HD Media on Linux made easy

    These new technologies are also supported by new video playback softwares, which can fully utilize the Graphics Hardware for video playback, providing smooth frames in HD and Blue-Ray movies. The VDPAU supported players include libavcodec, mplayer and ffmpeg.

  • Windows Server 2008 Foundation: April Fools?

    I have to wonder what the point is. If Microsoft really wants small businesses to get addicted to Windows Server, the offering should be free (like Linux), or provide some kind of cloud connection services as more small business reduce reliance on on-site IT.

  • How Linux killed SGI (and is poised to kill Sun)

    It sounds like a simple argument to suggest that x86 Linux killed SGI and is killing Sun, but the truth of the matter is that both companies could have made things significantly better for themselves by embracing Linux early on, instead of fighting the tide and waiting until their market position had been vanquished.

  • Channel 4 brings TV catch-up to Web browsers, Mac and Linux

    Channel 4′s free TV catch-up service, 4oD, can now be accessed with any Web browser on Windows, Mac and Linux, putting the last 30 days of its programming on its Web site, for free ad-supported streaming.

  • Australian Knight Rider controls his Mazda RX-8 using an iPod Touch

    This is what you do when you’re a geek with wheels. Jonathan Oxer has hacked his Mazda RX-8 so that he can unlock it, turn it on and even open the trunk — using his iPod Touch. All of this is possible due to the car having built-in 3G, thanks to the Ubuntu Linux’ operating system, which means he can start it up from wherever he is in the world.

  • CACE Technologies Releases TurboCap™ for Linux

    CACE Technologies, Inc., developer of tools to enhance the Wireshark user experience, today announced that they have released a Linux Fedora 10 driver for TurboCap, a feature-rich, full line-rate Gigabit Ethernet solution previously available for Windows-based platforms only.

  • Kernel Space

    • ESC: OKL hypervisor runs Linux and RTOS on Motorola’s QA4

      Linux and an RTOS are running side by side on a single ARM processor in a retail phone, claims Chicago-based Open Kernel Labs (OK Labs).

      The firm produces the ‘virtualisation’ software: code which controls access to hardware resources, allowing both the RTOS and Linux to run separately as though there were the only operating system on the processor. Such software is also known as a hypervisor.

      “Accomplished for the first time in a commercially available phone, OKL4′s mobile virtualisation solution enabled Linux and an RTOS to run side by side on a single ARM processor, offering decreased bill-of-materials costs and separation of general public licence and proprietary software code as required by companies’ intellectual property policies,” said OK Labs.

    • Choosing a Linux for the Development of Intelligent Devices

      A key presentation at this year’s embedded systems developers’ event, the Embedded Masterclass, will explore the use of the Linux operating system for electronic systems and realtime computer systems. The event is to be held in Cambridge and Bristol on the 7th and 12th May. www.embedded-masterclass.com

  • Applications

    • Getting Started With the Kate Text Editor: Kate For Coders

      In the last two articles (part 1, part 2), I looked at getting started with Kate, and then at some of the more advanced features and configuration options. This final article covers features that you may find useful if you regularly write code or markup.

    • 14 Most Popular Text Editors for Linux


      Kate is the default text editor in KDE, and also one of the most powerful and feature-rich text editors available for Linux. It can also be used successfully as an IDE (integrated development environment) and supports, among many others, spell-checking, highlighting for a huge amount of programming languages, it has an integrated terminal (which inherits Konsole’s settings), encoding support. It supports sessions, plugins, encodings, bookmarks and even the possibility to split the current document horizontally or vertically. Kate is the complete text editor for any KDE user.

    • 10 File Managers for Linux


      Nautilus is the default file manager coming with GNOME, the popular desktop environment shipped by default in distributions like Ubuntu, Fedora or Debian. Nautilus has a clean and easy to use interface, and its functionality can be expanded using scripts. It features tabs, three view modes (icon view, list view and compact view), the possibility to sort items by name, size, type, modification date or even emblems (a feature specific to Nautilus), bookmarks, file previews, possibility to browse the network, and media devices support.

    • Taking a peek at Epiphany

      A confession: I like playing with software. I’m not indiscriminate about it — I tend to pick and choose the software that I try out. While I mainline Firefox and Opera for my Web browsing, I’ve sometimes felt the need to check out other browsers.

    • An overview of FLOSS email clients

      Everybody uses email as one of its primary communication means; Free Software desktop users are no exception. In this regard, email clients play a central role in the way we work and generally live in the Internet. These last years have seen some relative decline in the usage of email clients. The use of standard, more mature web technologies such as Ajax have made the online service of email providers much more attractive, while the justified criticism of “everyone’s ” email client, Outlook Express drove many to use the simple online interfaces of some major email service providers.

  • Desktop Environments

    • Planning for GNOME 3.0

      During the first few months of 2008, a few Release Team members discussed here and there about the state of GNOME. This was nothing official, and it could actually have been considered as some friends talking together about things they deeply care about. There were thoughts that GNOME could stay with the 2.x branch for a very long time given our solid development methods, but that it was not the future that our community wants to see happening. Because of lack of excitement. Because of lack of vision. Slowly, a plan started to emerge. It evolved, changed, was trimmed a bit, made more solid. We started discussing with a few more people, got more feedback. And then, at GUADEC, the Release Team proposed an initial plan to the community that would lead the project to GNOME 3.0. Quite some time passed; actually, too much time passed because too many people were busy with other things. But it’s never too late to do the right thing, so let’s really be serious about GNOME 3.0 now!

    • 5 Useful Desktop Managers for Linux

      Today I’m going to write about some of the most useful alternative desktop managers you should consider using on your operating system. To start off I have


      Xfce is a fast and a light desktop environment for unix like operating systems. It is specially desgined to improve your work productivity. It has the ability to load and execute applications really fast while conserving system resources.



      Lightweight X11 Desktop Environment is an extremely faster, performing and energy saving desktop environment.

    • KDE

      • KDE 4.2.2 Release Announcement

        April 2nd, 2009. The KDE Community today announced the immediate availability of “Cano”, (a.k.a KDE 4.2.2), another bugfix and maintenance update for the latest generation of the most advanced and powerful free desktop. Cano is a monthly update to KDE 4.2. It ships with desktop workspace and many cross-platform applications such as administration programs, network tools, educational applications, utilities, multimedia software, games, artwork, development tools and more. KDE’s award-winning tools and applications are available in more than 50 languages.

      • Debian and KDE4: Good Things Come to Those Who Wait

        Debian developer Ana Guerrero, as spokesperson for the KDE team, has announced that KDE4 will appear during the first week of April 2009.

        Guerrero’s announcement on the Debian-KDE mailing list indicated that KDE4 is moving from the experimental to the unstable repository, although the exact date is not quite certain.

  • Distributions

    • Review: Nova Linux 1.1.2

      I recently heard that Cuba had created their own Linux distribution, Nova. Like many other countries with a rocky relationship with the USA (Russia, China, Iran), Cuba is wary of running their entire computer infrastructure on software developed in the USA. As someone of Cuban ancestry, this development piqued my interested and I decided to check it out. (I figured such a specialist distro would never be on the cover of LXF). According to its distrowatch page, it is a mix of Gentoo, Sabayon, and Ututo. We’ll see if they chose all of the negative aspects of those distros and thus created Satan’s Distro or if they took all that was good and created what Gentoo has the potential to be. So I launch it up in VirtualBox.

    • Trying Arch

      Regardless, it all works in Arch. NVidia drivers and Twinview settings were copy/pasted from Gentoo, and compositing all works fine. No performance problems in KDE with resizing or dragging windows, no Plasma crashes (yet), no missing icons or invisible notification area. QtCurve works in Qt3, Qt4 and GTK just fine. My sound card worked without any manual configuration at all. My mouse worked without tweaking, including the thumb buttons. Same with networking, the install prompted me for my IP and gateway etc. and then it worked, no effort.

    • Truly great stuff

      I grabbed two or three torrents the other day, when I was testing my overworked, underpaid Pentium laptop in its role as rtorrent slave. I mentioned OpenGEU yesterday, which was disappointing because of its heavy Gnome underbelly and overdone desktop glitter. But this one is the complete opposite: function and speed combined with an appearance that underscores its efficiency.

    • Test Driving Wolvix 2.0.0 Beta

      All in all, I really enjoyed testing this distribution. Not being a big fan of Slackware, I didn’t expect to be so pleasantly surprised by some aspects. Also, Wolvix 2.0.0 makes it way easier to see what Slackware is about. Surely, there are still things that need to be polished, but I was very impressed with the up-to-date software selection and the easy install process. Hopefully, by the time Wolvix 2.0.0 final is released, all the inconveniences will be taken care of.

    • Qimo4Kids.com – Linux For Kids

      Nowadays kids are getting more and more familiar with computers. That takes place through games, movies, pictures and all kind of educational programs. And now, there is a new solution for you to give your kids the possibility to use a computer in a fun way.

      Qimo4Kids.com is a website that was specially developed in order to provide users with all the information they need about a new operative system for kids. This system was created as a version of Linux for kids.

    • Red Hat

      • Singapore’s First Local Search and Directory Engine Selects Red Hat Solutions for Reliability, Security and Ability to Scale with Business Growth

        Red Hat (NYSE:RHT), the world’s leading provider of open source solutions, today announced that rednano.sg, Singapore’s first local search and directory engine, has developed a stable, secure and reliable platform for its online search engine business using a combination of Red Hat Enterprise Linux Advanced Platform, including built-in virtualization, Red Hat Cluster Suite and Red Hat Global File System (GFS), as well as Red Hat Network (RHN) Satellite.

        A joint venture of Singapore Press Holdings Group (SPH) and Schibsted Group, SPH Search produces rednano.sg, which it aims to be the premier local online search and directory engine for users looking for information about Singapore, its people and its businesses.

    • Ubuntu

      • Mythbuntu 9.04 Jaunty Jackalope Beta Screenshot Tour

        Mythbuntu is a community built MythTV-focused distribution of Ubuntu. It aims at resolving the difficulties of setting up a standalone MythTV system with Ubuntu. MythTv as Mythbuntu becomes a full-fleshed open source DVR (Digital Video Recorder) application, with a solid developer community in the background. Its development cycle closely follows that of Ubuntu — it is also upgraded every six months.

      • New Ubuntu Linux server is for business

        I couldn’t say that Canonical is ready to go head to head with Red Hat for the king of the Linux server hill … this year. I can say, though, that that’s exactly what Canonical is planning to do by next year. There are interesting times ahead friends.

      • Ubuntu Linux Sneaks Into Managed Services Market

        During the Autotask Community Live conference, Ubuntu Linux made a surprise appearance and a surprise encore. Twice during the event, managed service providers (MSPs) told me how they were building their businesses on top of Ubuntu. The two prime examples involve Rezitech and Network Depot. Here’s the scoop.

  • Devices/Embedded


      Investing in targeted growth product areas: We are focusing engineering, sales, and marketing resources in certain targeted growth product areas, including Linux platforms, Multiple Independent Levels of Security (MILS) solutions in the aerospace and defense industry and multiprocessing capabilities.

    • Palm opens up WebOS SDK

      PALM IS opening up the software development kit for WebOS, its next-generation mobile operating system.

    • Sub-notebooks

Free Software/Open Source

  • Rule #4: Grow, Don’t Build

    Since free software and other free culture products are formed by an organic, incrementalist process, they tend to be highly organic in their design as well. Free software is not so much built as it is grown. Thus, when considering a new project, you must think not about how to break it down into implementable chunks that can be assembled into a working product, but rather about how the project can organically grow—moving from working product to working product as it does so—becoming progressively more useful as it is developed.

  • Dries Buytaert’s rules for creating a great community

    At OSBC last week I saw a great presentation by Dries Buytaert on how to build community. Dries is the founder of Drupal. The slides for his presentation (20 MB) include “Dries’ 7 secrets” which I’ll write about here.

    Dries started out by showing us how the Drupal community really is a community excited about Drupal. He had pictures of people carrying around cutouts of people that couldn’t attend a conference, hand made Drupal socks, Drupal cookies, etc.

  • Cloudera CEO: Hadoop, Open Source and the Cloud

    But Cloudera has heavyweight backing. It has raised money from venture capital group Accel Partners (though admittedly only a tepid $5 million). And its array of additional investors reads like a list of tech glitterati, including Marten Mickos, former MySQL CEO, and Diane Green, former VMware CEO.

  • Linuxtopia: Over 100 Free Books & Tutorials for FOSS Apps/Platforms

    One of the chicken-and-egg problems that keeps some users from trying out and becoming skilled at good open source applications is lack of adequate documentation. How are you supposed to learn effectively without it? The good news is that for a whole lot of open source applications and operating systems, there are good, free books you can get online. We’ve covered these for the powerful Blender 3D graphics and animation app, for Ubuntu, for Linux hacks, and for the GIMP (graphics). We’ve also covered FLOSS Manuals, which free documentation for many open source applications. In addition to these, one of the best online sources for free books and tutorials is Linuxtopia.


    • HARDWARE TOOLS: Macraigor Systems brings debug support to MIPS32 24KE

      Macraigor is offering full support for Eclipse Ganymede and a free port of the popular GNU toolset, including gcc, gas and gdb, at www.macraigor.com.

    • Statistical Machine Translation using Moses

      Various machine translation tools are available like Apertium (GNU license), OpenLogos which is the open source version of Logos Machine Translation System, SYSTRAN which is one of the oldest Machine Translation company and Moses (GNU General Public License).

    • All April Fool’s Joking Aside, Omuk Sounds Better Than Kumo!

      Google had the scientific/math term kind of savvy user appeal and we wanted something akin to that. One of the real clever product names of all time was the operating system Gnu, which stood for Gnu’s Not Unix, with the G not really standing for anything. Kind of quirky and kind of fun.

  • Government

    • IT agency outlines OSS progress made in SA government

      The South African government’s State IT Agency (Sita) Free and Open Source Programme has released its second public newsletter outlining the progress of open source software in government. Among the range of issues covered are details of the progress made in migration the SA Revenue Service over to open source software (we recently covered that) and steps forward in the education arena.

  • Open (But No Source Code)

    • 250,000 Images Donated to the Commons

      Not wanting April Fool’s Day to overshadow this announcement, we’re posting today about the 250,000 images recently donated to Wikimedia Commons, a sister project of Wikipedia.

  • Programming

    • Python goes Mercurial

      Python is moving to a distributed version control system (DVCS), but unlike many projects which have moved to Git, Guido van Rossum has selected Mercurial, also known as Hg (the chemical symbol for mercury), as the DVCS for Python

    • Not A Product

      Continuing in my “State of Eclipse” retrospective, today’s column is about Eclipse’s bipolar nature as both a framework and a product. I think this is a mistake and that we’re doing a disservice to both our users and our members.

      By providing packages and pre-compiled binaries on the eclipse.org download page, we are promoting Eclipse to our users as a product. It’s a product like Firefox or Visual Studio: one click to start the downloader/installer and then, moments later, we’re running a slick looking integrated development environment for Java or C++ or PHP. As an Eclipse user myself, I admit that this product-packaging is very convenient.

      But by providing easy-to-install packaged binaries, we’re also entering a social contract with our users. In today’s web world, the “download now” button implies a tested and supported product, neither of which we offer.

    • Integration Watch: Qt: suddenly resurgent

      For many years, the Qt toolkit has been the best GUI toolkit available on the market. Better than the Java client libraries (Swing and SWT), better than Microsoft’s libraries, better than the excellent third-party component libraries for .NET, and superior even to Apple’s Carbon and Cocoa GUI frameworks. As to OSS products, such as GTK or wxWidgets, there is no comparison whatsoever.

      What makes Qt so demonstrably superior are the scope of the library, the quality of implementation and its portability. I’ll get into each of these attributes shortly. But for the moment, I want to discuss the product’s perceived limitations and some recent developments that are of interest.


  • Distorted amendment 138 tries to present graduated response as legal

    The Council of EU is trying to reintroduce a distorted version of amendment 138 to “Telecoms Package”1. It could be interpreted by the archaic industries promoting “graduated response” as authorizing any administrative authority to order restrictions on fundamental rights and freedom. Such a legalization of parallel administrative justice, comparable to the French “graduated response” is unacceptable. The European Parliament must strongly reject this huge threat to EU citizen’s freedom.

  • Open Science Requires Open Source

    The central argument is important: that you can’t do science with closed source software, because you can’t examine its assumptions or logic (that “incomplete scientific record”). Open science demands open source.

  • ACTA

    • ACTA Stakeholders’ Consultation Meeting

      Directorate General for Trade of the European Commission is organising a meeting to inform and consult interested parties about the negotiation of a plurilateral Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA).

      The goal of ACTA is to provide an improved framework for countries committed to intellectual property protection, in view of effectively addressing the challenges of IPR infringement today.

    • Battle over top-secret treaty heats up

      Next week, the Department of Foreign Affairs will conduct one of the stranger consultations in recent memory. Officials have invited roughly 70 stakeholder groups to discuss an international intellectual property treaty that the U.S. regards as a national security secret and about which the only substantive information has come from a series of unofficial leaks.

      Since then-minister David Emerson announced Canada’s participation in the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement negotiations in October 2007, the ACTA has been dogged by controversy over the near-total lack of transparency.

Digital Tipping Point: Clip of the Day

Nat Friedman 10

Ogg Theora

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

US Taxpayers Spend Money to Repair Microsoft-Imposed Damage

Posted in Bill Gates, Europe, Finance, Microsoft at 10:47 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

White house

Summary: Conficker tools developed by the DHS shortly after Microsoft had entered it

THE Department of Homeland Security (DHS) seems to have already become somewhat of a department of Microsoft. It happened soon after they had appointed a Microsoft executive to take charge [1, 2] under pressure from BSA folks (some of whom are former employees of Bill Gates' dad, who habitually assists his son’s business [1, 2, 3]).

The DHS has just developed and released Windows-only software — a tool that should have been made at Microsoft’s own expense, not by a department of the government. The DHS essentially has taxpayers pay for the damages caused by Microsoft's incompetence/negligence, namely Conficker, which we wrote about earlier today.

Speaking of the BSA, which routinely fights against Free software [1, 2, 3, 4, 5], here it is bragging about the bullying of yet another business that mistakenly chose non-Free software. The BSA even uses a press release which appears in Fox and comes from Washington. It’s a brand-new example.

The Business Software Alliance (BSA) today announced that Taney Engineering, Inc. and Taney Cunningham Equipment, LLC of Henderson, Nevada, a joint civil engineering and land survey services company, settled a lawsuit filed in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California (Docket #C08-03132) alleging copyright infringement. BSA initially contacted the companies through its out-of-court audit program. When that proved unsuccessful, a lawsuit seeking an injunction to stop the defendants from making or distributing unauthorized copies of Autodesk software as well as an unspecified amount of damages and attorneys’ fees in connection with the litigation, was filed on behalf of Autodesk, Inc., a BSA member company. The suit was filed on June 30, 2008 and settled in December.

So, what is the contribution of non-Free software to local businesses? Apart from promoting cheaper foreign labour [1, 2, 3, 4, 5] at the expense of decent working conditions, Microsoft is now also advancing more of the same (Abramoff visas).

Microsoft reiterates H-1B support despite layoffs, tough economy

In a new blog post, Microsoft general counsel Brad Smith voices continued support for the H-1B visa program that Microsoft and other technology companies use to bring foreign guest workers into the United States. Smith’s post, titled “Appreciating our Immigration System,” come in advance of the annual window in which companies file for the visas.

What’s good for Microsoft is good for Microsoft (a privatised monopoly abuser), not for America. Let us not forget that Microsoft is using stimulus money to build bridges. That would be American taxpayers sponsoring Microsoft and there are similar blunders in other parts of the world [1, 2]. It is looting of the public, plain and simple.

Someone has anonymously sent us this presentation about “European ICT Strategy: Software Tea Party.”

Microsoft-sponsored infiltrators like ACT [1, 2] are trying to ensure countries across the world remain digital colonies to Microsoft. And in a special April Fool’s prank, IDG states that Microsoft is asking the government for taxpayers-funded bailout.

Microsoft asks feds for a bailout [Joke]


Pepper also said that his sources within Microsoft were indicating that the money might be used for a surprising purpose: suing Apple, Google, open source companies, and other entities Microsoft has labeled “revenue stealers” in internal communications. Microsoft has antagonized the companies in the past and most recently sued Linux vendor TomTom over alleged patent violations.

According to Pepper, Microsoft sees litigation as a possible revenue stream, although he believes such a strategy would be for the short term only. “I don’t see Microsoft getting into the business of suing everybody willy-nilly,” he said. “But as a stopgap measure while it struggles with the economic climate, Microsoft believes litigation can be a revenue-positive undertaking.”

Yes, to be a little sarcastic here, the American public absolutely must invest in lawsuits against 'nasty' European companies like TomTom because they dare to use Linux, which is not American.

Quick Mention: Dewey Square Group Still Caught AstroTurfing

Posted in Deception, Fraud, Google, Microsoft at 9:58 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Dollars in the scanner

Summary: Another quick glance at the current activities of a group which served Microsoft

THE Microsoft-Dewey Square Group connection is something that we covered here before. This post is intended to point out that, according to PR Watch, Dewey Square Group is still up to no good.

Nadler could see his phone number, and traced it back to the Dewey Square Group, a high-powered, Democratic-associated lobbying firm. Nadler notes that “their Web site doesn’t list their clients, but it doesn’t take a genius, or a newspaper editor, to figure out they’ve been hired by someone with an interest in keeping Medicare Advantage in business.” The firm’s site “promises ‘grassroots’ communication,” but, he concludes, “it looks more like Astroturf from here.”

There are many groups just like this. A recent example would be LawMedia Group, which Microsoft hired to AstroTurf against Google. This is the world we live in and it’s time to recognise how it works.

More on Microsoft AstroTurfing:

How OLPC Failed Where Industry Succeeded with GNU/Linux

Posted in GNU/Linux, Hardware, Microsoft, OLPC at 7:39 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz


THE One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) project — an initiative whose purpose was to give underprivileged children around the world a better chance at modern education using technology — may have been stifled though a combination of disinformation and other coordinated efforts by hardware and software monopolies that needed to stop it.

The project’s original goals were soon neglected, ultimately defeated, and blame then passed to a scapegoat that was Free Software. Let’s take a look at ways in which OLPC was derailed and why Free software was never the problem at all, as evidenced by its success in the industry, even outside the realms and shelter of a non-profit with goodwill and several sponsors.

“The project’s original goals were soon neglected, ultimately defeated, and blame then passed to a scapegoat that was Free Software.”In order to view this in from the right perspective, I also discuss an ongoing transformation of what companies often refer to as “the desktop” and why disruption plays a considerable role. This angle explains why existing monopolies battle against such change or — when all else fails — attempt to absorb that change, sometimes by means of devouring one’s competition.

The Breaking Moment

To give a little background to this, back in April, a major split in the OLPC project had generated a lot of headlines. Precedence was given to Windows over GNU/Linux on the children’s laptops. It soon became a proprietary versus Free software debate. The split was characterised in the media as one that revolves around practicality, but there are other ways of approaching and analyzing this issue.

The debate is important for various reasons. Come to consider, for instance, recent success stories about low-cost GNU/Linux laptops from industry giants, along with the lessons they can teach us about OLPC, and vice versa. There are several commonalities worth exploring and myths that are worth busting. Free software and modern PCs increasingly enjoy a symbiotic relationship, so where and why did OLPC fail?

Revolution Arrives from the Bottom

In recent months, spurred initially by OLPC (which in turn inspired ASUSTeK, having received Intel’s endorsement), there has been this incoming wave of low-end laptops. Many of them are running the GNU/Linux operating system, which challenges existing cost barriers and offers some unique advantages.

The seminal and exceptionally successful move from ASUSTeK ignited many similar ones, more latterly from Dell and Acer, which even promised to focus on GNU/Linux. This so-called ‘race to the bottom’ provides a valuable lesson about the merits of Free software in personal computing.

Similar rules apply to OLPC, so what ever went wrong? Why did OLPC liaise with Microsoft at the end? More importantly, what would be the impact? In order to answer these questions, let’s step aside for a moment and consider disruptive trends.

The Personal Computer Reinvented

Personal computers are not just word processors and they are no longer terminals or workstations in the traditional sense. This is made ever more evident partly because a lot of processing gets done over the network nowadays. Our computers are not necessarily gaming machines either, especially since there is a game console-TV receiver convergence. Entertainment is often taken to the living room where there is greater interaction. The standalone ‘fat client’ is aging and may soon become irrelevant.

“The standalone ‘fat client’ is aging and may soon become irrelevant.”Further to this, attempts are sometimes made to explain why affordable laptops are no longer capable of running the latest operating system from Microsoft, namely Windows Vista. People’s expectations from computers and new patterns of their use, e.g. Web-based applications, play a significant role here.

There are more different classes — or tiers — of personal computers these days. With PDAs, smartphones and pocket-sized PCs, people sometimes have more than a single PC. This observation is particularly important because adoption of small GNU/Linux laptops depends on it. Multi-purposeness makes a niche, an emerging market to address and to fill. The OLPC project needed such a gap for great expansion to be assured and for mass-production levels to be reached. Competition from Intel, however, stood in the way and there were other barriers.

The Great Misconceptions

Since its inception, OLPC has come under heavy criticism from some. There is a lot of disinformation suggesting that OLPC’s vision was to raise children that engage in programming tasks. This is false and it’s also a means of distraction. It is a fear, uncertainty and doubt (FUD) tactic that may or may not rely on deliberate misunderstanding.

The openness of program code and its accompanying rights is a question of control by an individual or a trusted capable peer, e.g. a fellow countryman who is ably trained to customise the software to better suit the needs of local schools, address requirements of individual classes of children, and contribute back the changes for everyone else to take advantage of. OLPC is an international and global-scale project, so this peer production cycle is an essential ingredient for its success. The project needs inertia that depends on software and hardware developers; it does not attempt to create or recruit any.

Another pattern of disinformation revolves around the user interface. A simplified desktop metaphor, Sugar, was used at the core of the OLPC XO, along with Fedora. It does not assume that one universal user interface should be tailored for every person or that all user interfaces should be created equal. It taken into consideration the audience (children) and the key purpose (education). Sugar boldly takes a step further what many adults are unable to grasp peacefully due to their personal prior experience. This leads to antagonism and hostility.

The last noteworthy misconception involves the belief that developing nations will thrive in supply rather than self-sufficiency. If the project’s goal is to only to provide tools that inspire and permit everyone to gain control, then there is no dependency. To an extent, OLPC has a lot to do with economical and technical autonomy. It’s an enabler that liberates and potentially expands a local workforce.

Mission Goals Forgotten

“While capitalising on Free software, OLPC was in some sense a tool (with surrounding infrastructure) for connecting and delivering information.”So, what was OLPC all about in the first place? While capitalising on Free software, OLPC was in some sense a tool (with surrounding infrastructure) for connecting and delivering information. It was not a case of preparing children for life at the office, so utility of such laptops shouldn’t be equated to what we know as business-class laptops. A direction as such would just beg for a “let them have cake” parody. It would be a harsh scenario. Originally, OLPC XO was seen as somewhat of a book equivalent, a communication and exploration tool. It was about embracing and absorbing knowledge, not products.

To use an analogy, OLPC might as well be seen as the equivalent of setting up an electrical framework before departing from a colony, thus jump-starting development. On the other hand, if put in hands of a proprietary software vendor, it might, if anything, perpetrate a cycle of practical dependency, a state of digital imperialism if you like.

The understanding of dependency goes a long way back and Bill Gates’ reference to copyrights infringement of software in China was very revealing. He confessed: “They’ll get sort of addicted, and then we’ll somehow figure out how to collect sometime in the next decade.” Therein lies the danger of introducing and permitting any centralization of control inside OLPC.

For educational purposes, one must not be treating the target audience like customers. One should never be providing lessons (training) in a particular user interface that prepares the children for dependency on a limited set of products they can neither afford nor control.

Getting as many laptops out there as possible, no matter the means, was perhaps the project’s mission once it had been revised. The collaboration with Microsoft was praised by some adults to whom computers are probably synonymous with Windows. Nonetheless, adults’ existing skills can be blinding. It’s hard to envision oneself in the shoes of a brand-new user, so options may not be assessed correctly.

Justification with Name-calling

After changes were made to the project’s direction, things got a little confrontational, which is truly a shame. Those who support the project’s original goals were at times labeled “open source fundamentalists,” which is a religious equivalent of some more political slurs such as “communists”. It’s a daemonisation technique that lacks reasonable logic.

Free software is neither politics nor a religion. It’s an engineering practice that prevailed in the industry long before proprietary software came about. Today’s principal backbones, including the Internet, are largely based on Free software.

“Free software is neither politics nor a religion. It’s an engineering practice that prevailed in the industry long before proprietary software came about.”In the context of education, closing of source code can be equated to deprivation of rights at a young age and passing of control (technical and financial) while compromising system security. That too can be considered rather “fundamentalist”, so hypocrisy springs to mind immediately. Such characterizations widened a gap and put more cracks in OLPC.

Considerations of Practicality

Isolated claims of contradictory goals have always seemed baseless. There is nothing that makes “Free software” + “pragmatism” an oxymoron unless the pertinent tools which are sought and chosen are themselves constructed to restrict, spy, or shift balance of control. Such tools are rarely needed owing to increased standardization that ensures seamless operation across different platforms. As an example of this, one might consider the success of the GNU/Linux-based Eee PC. It demonstrated good assemblage of Free software for day-to-day use.

In conclusion, failures that have thus far been found in OLPC ought to be attributed, at least in part, to lesser-visible and external factors. It might also be useful to look back and ponder the following questions: why can a for-profit industry summon the value of Free software whilst OLPC cannot? Are there inherent deficiencies or just perceptual ones? Is blame being diverted to the wrong direction? Were the goals of the projects subverted? Moreover, how could moral and ethical aspects of this fine project be conceded by those most dedicated to them, for it is a human responsibility and not just an ordinary business?

Originally published in Datamation in 2008

The War Against USENET Symbolises an Assault on Free Speech

Posted in Boycott Novell, Google at 7:17 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Child-molesting terrorists who ‘pirate’ films are to blame (the classic excuses)

THE CONSTANT WAR on the Internet is a war against disruptive means of business and communication. The Web is perpetually under threat because, as Richard Stallman put it, you need to “value your freedom or you will lose it, teaches history.”

One person who speaks a great deal about the use of laws against modern communication in a digital age is Professor Lawrence Lessig and here is a very recent talk of his where he covers important points that he routinely repeats:

Because this talk is very long, we are unable to produce an Ogg version and we apologise. I’ve personally asked him to make his talks available in free formats.

Appended at the bottom we have references which show the ongoing war on USENET [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]; the material is mostly self explanatory and the references are all from 2008. Also compare Microsoft’s role [6] (spying and profiling) to Google’s role [7] (accumulation, retention, and dissemination) in USENET.

In this post, we wish only to pass on the details of an experience encountered by one of our readers, who put to the test some comparable services to investigate potential throttling. This needed to be reorganised and clarified, so he summarised his experiences as follows:

Before last Monday, I was using individual.net to access Usenet via port 119 without any problems. Starting Monday, I started experience some extreme problems with speed of access to Usenet. I used to be able to download a complete list of active newsgroups in under a minute. Now it takes 10 minutes or more to do this. The speed problems did not affect any other service except for Usenet to individual.net.

Here is a little table showing my experiments to trace the source of the speed problem:

>From home DSL connection (in the USA):
  -- slow to individual.net port 119
  -- not slow to individual.net port 80
  -- networks to individual.net: Covad, Level3, Telia, DFN
  -- not slow to motzarella.org port 119
  -- networks to motzarella.org: Covad, Level3, Mcbone, Fdknet

>From another shell account in the USA:
  -- not slow to individual.net port 119
  -- networks to individual.net: Cogent, DFN

Both my ISP and Individual.net deny doing any sort of rate limiting or traffic shaping on port 119. My experience with motzarella.org tends to exonerate my ISP and their upstream, level3.net. From the fact that I have no speed problems from another US-based shell account to individual.net, that tells me that there is no rate limiting on their end or with DFN. My primary suspect for the cause of the speed problem is Telia.

We’ve already inquired in the IRC channel, hoping to see if anyone has had negative USENET experiences. When asked whether “anything has changed recently,” said balzac: “I think ISPs are freezing USENET out.” Some people are already aware that politicians — along with the media industry — are shutting down such servers gradually, claiming that USENET is antiquated anyway. It is a self-fulfilling prophecy. This is done also for political reasons. USENET is not centralised enough for them, so there is no control over content (censorship cannot be imposed).

Will people be told the truth though?

“Both “individual.net” and my ISP deny doing any kind of rate limiting,” says our reader. “I have also tried connecting from different networks and I also noticed the slowness from an old Unix shell account I have. The upstreams of my DSL account and the Unix shell account have level3.net in common. [...] Either somebody made a mistake or they are deliberately trying to slow down Usenet. If it’s the latter, then no doubt the RIAA/MPAA has pressured the network provider into doing it on the theory that they are curbing copyright infringement in binaries newsgroups. Ironically, “individual.net” does not carry binary newsgroups so they would have missed their target here.”

If essential channels of communication are under attack, then it ought to be publicised somewhere, even if does not fit the central theme of this Web site. The issue is important to us because this site now drives 6-7GB of traffic per day and some influential companies really don’t want it to exist.
[1] Comcast to shut down free Usenet access

Comcast is just the latest of the large ISPs to buckle under to MAFIAA pressure from the music and movie cartels, but that doesn’t mean that they deserve to get away with this.

[2] Usenet: Not Dead Yet”

Over the last few years, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and other organizations looking to eliminate the illegal swapping of digital media files have attacked the problem through the courts, publicity campaigns, and other means.

[3] Comcast, NetZero latest providers to bow to Cuomo’s Usenet campaign

But in reality, Cuomo’s pressure tactics have misfired. They led Time Warner Cable to pull the plug on some 100,000 Usenet discussion groups, including such hotbeds of illicit content as talk.politics and misc.activism.progressive. Verizon Communications deleted such unlawful discussion groups as us.military, ny.politics, alt.society.labor-unions, and alt.politics.democrats. AT&T and Time Warner Cable have taken similar steps.

[4] Verizon offers details of Usenet deletion: alt.* groups, others gone

Cuomo claimed that his office found child porn on 88 newsgroups–out of roughly 100,000 newsgroups that exist. In a press release, he took credit for the companies’ blunderbuss-style newsgroup removal by saying: “We are attacking this problem by working with Internet service providers…I commend the companies that have stepped up today to embrace a new standard of responsibility, which should serve as a model for the entire industry.”


What this means in practice is that, thanks to the New York state attorney general, Verizon customers will lose out on innocent discussions. Verizon is retaining only eight newsgroup hierarchies, even though over 1,000 hierarchies exist.

[5] Usenet Villified In NY Deal With ISPs

Time Warner Cable will turn off all newsgroup access, while Sprint plans to cut access to the whole alt.* segment. Verizon may follow Sprint’s example.

Blocking all newsgroups does appear to be a broad approach to a problem involving a minority of such groups. As with the Internet in general, not everything in Usenet poses a threat. But no one wants to be tainted with even a suggestion of being soft on child porn, hence the rush to apply censorship with a sweeping axe rather than a skillfully-wielded scalpel.

[6] Microsoft Shuts Down Netscan (Usenet groups Analytics Tool)

Microsoft Netscan system has been scanning and collection activity of all newsgroups since 1999 but unfortunately, things are about to change.

[7] Deja Googled

Google was, thus, compelled to offer free access to the CONTENT of the Deja archives to alternative (non-Google) archiving systems. But it remains mum on the search programming code and the user interface. Already one such open source group (called Dela News) is coalescing, although it is not clear who will bear the costs of the gigantic storage and processing such a project would require. Dela wants to have a physical copy of the archive deposited in trust with a dot org.

Patents Roundup: OIN, ESP, Microsoft and Apple

Posted in Africa, Apple, Microsoft, OIN, Patents at 6:20 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Novell soup

PATENTS — and in particular software patents — have become an important issue to Free software. That is because, having already shown superiority in many areas (e.g. Apache on the server, Firefox on the client side), Free software faces injurious intimidation from miserable companies that — failing to compete based on technical merits — resort to litigation or preemptive threat (FUD). Here are some of the latest tidbits to be aware of.


The OIN takes a very different approach to that of End Software Patents (ESP). The former uses the patent system to defend against certain software patents, whereas the latter seeks to abolish software patents altogether. OIN is mostly backed by companies that possess software patents (large corporations), whereas the latter caters for small players which long ago realised that this system only serves as a gatekeeper for status quo — one that keeps competition out of the market. It’s not even about Free software; any small played is equally vulnerable and stifled regardless of its attitude towards Freedom. As Marco Schulze from Nightlabs Gmbh put it, “small software companies cannot afford to go to court or pay damages. Who is this software patent system for?”

Digital Majority has found something rather interesting. About RMS and his work, said head of the OIN:

Because of the legacy of Richard Stallman in the, when you’re trying to drive a new paradigm it almost requires a certain level of extremism and I think, you know, so I am not in any way saying that Richard Stallman’s view was a defective one given the times but I think a more balanced view that we now have the benefit of time and being able to adopt and take is that it’s not about throwing the baby out with the bathwater, all intellectual property is not bad and to be rejected by the open source community. I am not anti patent, I am clearly focused on improving the quality of patents and ensuring that there is greater granularity in what ultimately does get granted by the patent and trademark offices around the world so that the patent system is back to what it was designed to be.

This is why companies like IBM call it “Linux” and distance themselves from a doctrine of ethics (GNU). They quietly cherish intellectual monopolies on software, despite the fact that there is something inherently flawed in them. The South African press has just published an article which recites the words of Geraldine Fraser Moleketi.

In March 2008, the Third Idlelo Conference on Free and Open Source Software and Digital Commons was held in Dakar, Senegal by the Free Software and Open Source Foundation for Africa (FOSSFA). South Africa’s then Minister for Public Service and Administration, Geraldine Fraser Moleketi, stated: “The adoption of open standards by governments is a critical factor in building interoperable information systems which are open, accessible, and fair and which reinforce democratic culture and good governance practices”. The minister further said patents are “exclusive and anticompetitive in their nature” and there is no reason to believe society benefits from monopolies granted on computer program inventions.

It seems clear there is some disunity within government and its agencies, when the Innovation Fund through its funding instruments is urging the filing of patent applications in the ICT sector to enhance economic growth and competitiveness, while on the other hand a government minister suggests that patenting of computer program inventions is undesirable.

Details about this can be found in Tectonic and the video right here in Boycott Novell. We also recommend the new talk from Ciaran O’Riordan regarding software patents. There is a bunch of points in his Web site as well. Georg Greve claimed the other day that “UMTS patent thicket [is] amounting to 10.000 patents, according to France Telecom/Orange.”

Who benefits from this sordid chaos? It is a big maze of unnecessary complexity.

Microsoft and Apple

Someone has found this good page which accumulates information about Microsoft and software patents. Here is a good sample of the type of things Microsoft wants a 20-year monopoly on.

There are many patents held by Microsoft which should have been denied due to the existance of prior art or because they’re self-evident and are not true inventions as defined by U.S. patent law:

* Double-clicking a button (6,727,830)
* Grouping task bar buttons (6,756,999)
* Two-way scroll mouse (6,700,564)
* Task list generated for software developers (6,748,582)
* Using the human body as a conductive medium for power and data (6,754,472) (much prior art done by research labs)
* The equivalent of the sudo Unix command (6,775,781) as old as at least 1980

Mary Jo Foley discusses the novelty of multi-touch because Apple and Microsoft both claim ownerships in the area, despite the fact that neither has really been an inventor. As Bill Gates once said in reference to Xerox (probably the pioneer/inventor of touchscreens too), “Hey, Steve [Jobs], just because you broke into Xerox’s store before I did and took the TV doesn’t mean I can’t go in later and steal the stereo.”

The multi-touch patent game: Who was first?


While Apple and Palm have tussled over who “owns” multi-touch, Microsoft has kept surprisingly silent.

Apple’s obsession with weird patents has gotten the wrath of The Register yesterday. It was having loads of fun on April 1st.

Another subsection of the filing lists an “electronic device for the inculcation of data-denial modalities among front-line liveware”. This iPod-like device can be securely locked into a trainee’s ear canal, where it will repeat an infinite loop of denial vocabulary until switched off by a prequalified Apple HR officer.

Another joke came from the FFII:

FFII and EPO announce ‘Binaries-As-Prior-Art’

After years of confidential work, the European Patent Office (EPO) and the Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure (FFII) today announce a radical way to improve software patent quality: Binaries-As-Prior-Art, or BAPA. BAPA combines a database of billions of compiled computer programs (“binaries”) with a powerful Cloud search engine that can find any invention in microseconds.

There is nothing funny about an utterly broken patent system, but good humour on this special day sheds light on obvious problems; it contains or brings out an element of truth.

Conficker Aftermath and Links

Posted in Humour, Microsoft, Mono, Novell, OpenSUSE, Security, Windows at 5:07 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Stories of interest from yesterday

Conficker: Millions Hit, 300,000 Domains Blocked

Shipley told InternetNews.com that the Conficker.C worm has infected about 10 million Windows-based computers in 150 countries, with China’s level of infection estimated at 3 million, Brazil at 1 million and Russia at 800,000. In the United States, researchers suspect about 200,000 computers have been infected.

UltraDNS back online after DDoS assault

A distributed denial of service attack knocked NeuStar’s UltraDNS managed DNS service offline for several hours on Tuesday.

NeuStar runs high-availability DNS services for customers such as online retailers and IT giants, including Oracle and Juniper. In a statement, NeuStar told Networkworld that the attack affected only a small (unspecified) subset of its customers.

Three-fold global increase in infected websites

There was a three-fold increase in the number of malicious websites around the world infected with malware in March, with almost 3,000 potentially harmful sites intercepted every day of the month.

April 1st posts of interest:

Ubuntu to rewrite Linux kernel using Mono

Mark Shuttleworth, the Benevolent Dictator for Life of the popular Ubuntu Linux distro, has announced his plans to rewrite all of Gnome, X11 and the Linux kernel using the Mono platform.

YaST and Compiz during Installation

We (Thomas Göttlicher, J. Daniel Schmidt and Arvin Schnell) have use all our remaining ITO for this really cool feature.

IRC: #boycottnovell @ FreeNode: April 1st, 2009 – Part 4

Posted in IRC Logs at 4:30 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz


Enter the IRC channel now

Read the rest of this entry »

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