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04.16.09

Coverage of Microsoft’s Pathetic Patent Attacks on GNU/Linux

Posted in GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Patents, TomTom at 7:16 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The art of attacking Linux while denying aggressive behaviour

Firey chili
Gentle bluntness

Summary: Microsoft’s legal department — not technical departments — takes on the company’s #1 threat

I

DG HAS JUST provided another reason to bury software patents. A Boston University professor argues that software patents are a recipe for litigation, not friendly compliance, maybe because it’s impossible to know whose program intersects with which ones. It is very different from parallel/identical revelations in the natural sciences. Here is the relevant portion caught by Digital Majority:

For all that, patents are weak protection. “Software patents are four times more likely to be litigated than patents covering an industry for which patents work relatively well, chemical processes,” says Michael Meurer, professor of law at Boston University.

But it’s not just a problem for the software vendors. IT professionals have felt the FUD created by patent squabbles between IT vendors. Microsoft caused quite a stir two years ago with its patent-based threats against users of Linux (albeit no lawsuits ever materialized).

This neglects to mention Microsoft's lawsuit against TomTom, which is currently being discussed in a SFLC audiocast:

Bradley and Karen discuss the settlement of the Microsoft/TomTom law suit and the implications for the software freedom community.

[...]

This show was released on Tuesday 14 April 2009; its running time is 00:34:36.

[...]

# Bradley and Karen were in San Francisco attending the Linux Foundation’s Collaboration Summit (00:46)
# “Producer Dan” is Dan Lynch of half baked media. (01:10)
# Bradley mentioned Nehru jackets, notably worn by Ricardo Montalbán as Khan in Star Trek. (01:23)
# On 30 March 2009, Microsoft and TomTom settled their patent dispute. (2:30)
# Bradley mentioned two articles on 29 December 2008 and on 29 January 2009 in SD Times where he and Sam Ramji debated Microsoft’s policies toward the FLOSS community. (04:20)
# Karen and Bradley talk about Microsoft’s historic patent threats against Linux. Bradley refers to Microsoft’s assertions just 16 months before its aggression with TomTom. (4:29)
# Bradley mentions that many agree that Microsoft’s FAT file patent should not be considered a valid patent. (6:30)

In light of all this bullying from Microsoft comes another analysis of Microsoft's Linux Foundation invasion.

Most of the pummeling sent Microsoft’s way amounts to two complaints levied against them constantly in the past: 1) you can’t talk out of both sides of your mouth about open source and open standards, and 2) stop using patents as a cudgel to keep other people in line.

[...]

Complaint #2 keeps coming back into the limelight, pretty much whenever the words “Microsoft”, “patent” or “intellectual property” (pick any two) are breathed in the same sentence. My feelings about software patents have been deeply mixed for a long time, trending towards negative. The more I see of how little protection they actually afford, and how much of a hassle they end up being for everyone involved — including the very people who are supposed to benefit from them — the less I’m convinced they need to be defended so aggressively. They create more problems than they solve, even though in the short run it looks like you’re winning.

There is some further discussion in OS News.

Microsoft Tells Antitrust Regulators to Sod Off For Another Couple of Weeks

Posted in Antitrust, Europe, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Patents, Petitions at 6:40 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Assassins and mercenaries

Summary: Microsoft delays EU response even further while ECIS lays charges against Microsoft

Yesterday we wrote about ECIS's strike against Microsoft and today it turns out that Microsoft keeps procrastinating while its existing products remain anti-competitive by design.

EU antitrust regulators have granted Microsoft yet another extension to respond to charges that the software giant abused its dominant market position by bundling Internet Explorer with Windows.

A European Commission spokeswoman confirmed to The Register this morning that Microsoft has been given a one-week extension. The company now has until 28 April to respond.

Someone has sent us a new document about Microsoft’s crimes. Yes, found within the PDF in a recent complaint is one link to this other EU document [PDF]. It is reminiscent of the Comes petition, but it’s more recent and a lot shorter. It is titled “Microsoft: A History of Anticompetitive Behavior and Consumer Harm” and it comes from ECIS. It happens to speak very concisely about Microsoft’s version of “reasonable and non-discriminatory” (really meaning “predatory and anti-competitive”).

To use an excerpt that contains references to GNU/Linux in particular, here is a new message from HPT in USENET (quoted text is unifont):

Table of contents of this document is a further indictment against the monopoly regarding its anti-competitive practises against competition.

Microsoft

A History of Anticompetitive Behavior and Consumer Harm

March 31, 2009


TABLE OF CONTENTS
I. INTRODUCTION .............................................1
II. MICROSOFT’S HISTORY OF ANTICOMPETITIVE CONDUCT ..........3
A. Microsoft’s Campaign To Destroy DR-DOS ...................3
B. Microsoft’s Anticompetitive Per Processor License Fees ...5
C. Microsoft’s Retaliation And Price Discrimination Against IBM
.............................................................6
D. Microsoft’s Organized Collective Boycott Against Intel ...7
E. Microsoft’s Elimination Of Word Perfect ..................7
F. Microsoft’s Deceptive WISE Software Program ..............9
G. Microsoft’s Elimination Of Netscape .....................10
H. Microsoft’s Attempts To Extinguish Java .................14
I. Microsoft’s Elimination Of Rival Media Players ..........16
J. Microsoft’s Campaign Against Rival Server Operating Systems
............................................................18
III. MICROSOFT CONTINUES TO ENGAGE IN ANTICOMPETITIVE CONDUCT
............................................................19
A. Microsoft’s Failure To Comply With The Final Judgment ...20
B. Microsoft’s Campaign of Patent FUD against Linux and Open
Source Software.............................................23
C. Microsoft’s Ongoing Misconduct Has Sparked Further European
Commission Investigations ..................................23
IV. MICROSOFT’S FALSE PROMISES OF INTEROPERABILITY .........24
V. MICROSOFT’S MONOPOLIES HAVE HARMED CONSUMERS ............25
A. Microsoft’s Operating System Monopoly Has Harmed Consumers
............................................................25
B. Microsoft’s Office Monopoly Has Harmed Consumers ........26
C. Microsoft’s Web Browser Monopoly Has Harmed Consumers ...28
VI. CONCLUSION .............................................31

Section III.B discusses FUD against Linux:


B. Microsoft’s Campaign of Patent FUD against Linux and Open
Source Software

    “This is not a case of some accidental, unknowing
infringement. There is an overwhelming number of patents being
infringed.”

    — Microsoft General Counsel and Intellectual Property and
Licensing Vice President Horacio Gutierrez [128]


Here is an indicting observation about the anti-competitive practises through unsubstantiated patent violations in Linux:


The open source Linux operating system is the principal rival to
Microsoft Windows. Linux has been taken up by both corporate
customers and, increasingly, by private individuals for home use
(e.g., with netbooks). In a recent interview with CNET, Steve
Ballmer identified Linux as one of the top two competitive
threats to Microsoft in the enterprise segment. [129]

Consistent with its behavior in response to other competitive
threats, Microsoft has used unfair and anti-competitive tactics
to try and slow the uptake of Linux. In particular, Microsoft
has made and continues to make broad, unsubstantiated claims that
software developers distributing Linux or other open source
software, as well as their customers, are infringing
Microsoft’s patents. [130] However, although Microsoft has
claimed that as many as 235 patents may have been infringed
[131], it has consistently failed to identify which patents are
at issue.


It warns of possible future legal action by Microsoft, as a part of its FUD campaign against Linux and Open Source to kill Linux, requirement for additional licensing for “immunity”.  According to this next paragraph, licensing fees have a certain ring of action for protection similar to action by organised crime:


Microsoft’s tactic is to spread fear, uncertainty and doubt
(“FUD”) as to whether developers and users of open source
software may be the target of future patent infringement
suits, and thereby chill consumer enthusiasm and demand for Linux
and open source solutions.

Indeed, Microsoft’s unwarranted threats have brought such
pressure to bear on Linux users that some have felt compelled to
enter into royalty-bearing patent licenses with Microsoft. [132]
Microsoft’s campaign of FUD effectively works to impose a “tax”
on the use of the most viable alternative software to Windows:
faced with an intimidating and powerful potential litigant known
for its hardball tactics, Linux users are driven to pay the
licensing fee despite the speculative nature of the IP claims.
Microsoft’s bullying tactics therefore raise the overall cost
and slow down market penetration by innovative technologies
intended to compete with Microsoft’s monopoly products.

Interesting is the comment about the US Law in regard to software patentability.


Moreover, there is a strong likelihood that Microsoft’s patent
FUD campaign may be unfounded in law. Recent U.S. jurisprudence
clarifies that the scope for patenting business methods, which
lie at the heart of many software patents, is much narrower than
was previously thought to be the case. [133] In addition, one of
the thresholds for patentability – that an invention is not
obvious to a person skilled in the art – has recently become
harder to meet. [134] As such, many of the patents held by
Microsoft are likely to be of questionable validity today.


According to this next paragraph, patents are a methodology to deter competition.


Furthermore, given the myriad of software patents in existence,
consumers may often be unable to determine with certainty whether
their use or distribution of certain software products actually
infringes another company’s IP rights. Therefore, contrary to the
broad and categorical statements of Mr. Gutierrez as to the
intentional nature of any alleged patent infringements, it is
widely recognized in the industry that, regardless of whether
proprietary or open source software is used, there is a high
likelihood that patent infringements will have been committed
inadvertently. Microsoft has sought to exploit the current
absence of clarity in patent law in order to deter consumers from
taking up offerings competing with Microsoft’s own products.


Below mentions Microsoft suing TomTom regarding Microsoft’s questionable patents.


In an apparent escalation of its patent FUD strategy, Microsoft
sued the navigational system vendor, TomTom, for patent
infringement at the end of February 2009. Three patent claims
related to Linux are included in the lawsuit. [135] At least two
of them are related to highly questionable patents on long file
name support in Windows, which have been partially invalidated by
an EC patent court on the grounds that Microsoft’s patent claims
were “not based on inventive activity”. [136] While Microsoft has
publicly claimed that its action is not directed against Linux or
open source, and the case was settled in March 2009 pursuant to a
mostly confidential agreement, this represents an aggressive
development of Microsoft’s use of spurious or highly questionable
patent claims to intimidate and eliminate competition from Linux
in order to maintain or strengthen its dominant position in the
OS market.




The full document is a compelling, fascinating read.

Eye on Microsoft: Search Bribery, IE8′s Inherent Insecurity, Conficker=SPAM, Microsoft Encarta Dead

Posted in Microsoft, Search, Security at 6:17 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

A splash of color
Drowning in difficulties

Microsoft cut ‘n’ shuts search engine with bribery machine (see context)

Microsoft has stitched together its product search engine with the company’s Live Search Cashback service ahead of the relaunch of its clunky, Google-wannabe brand.

A couple things I forgot to mention about IE 8, no strong encryption for you.

It seems that in an effort to hawk Vista, 2008, and 7 off as “more secure”, Microsoft bumped Internet Explorer up to support for 256-bit AES encryption…sites like Newegg and most banks now support logging in with this and it should be pretty much impossible to crack (barring some horrible vulnerability discovered in it obviously).

But Microsoft is still refusing to upgrade the cryptography engine of IE 8 for XP/2003 and users of these systems are stuck with the older 128-bit encryption.

The problem with this of course is that computing power has increased a lot since 2001 and even such novel things as using GPU (graphics processing units) to run extremely complex calculations is now possible. Obviously 128-bit is starting to seem a little weak.

Conficker likely to cause rise in spam levels (and Microsoft deserves blame [1, 2])

Commtouch’s chief technology officer, Amir Levy, warns that new spam detection methods beyond traditional content filtering must be employed to block the flood of spam that the massive botnet created by the Conficker worm is capable of sending.

Microsoft Encarta died – why? And will its contents be lost?

Microsoft has recently announced that its beloved encyclopaedia, Microsoft Encarta, will soon be discontinued. After October 31, 2009 its contents will no longer be available. Both the online version and the CD ROM version will be discontinued.

My first reaction was “what a pity”. My job is to gather and publish good contents. I know how much work goes into creating and publishing material. This news must have been quite hard to digest for people who have been working on Encarta for a while. The two main questions that come to mind, however, are: “Why?”, and more importantly, “What about the contents?”

“Desperately Seeking Patent Tax” (Microsoft, Novell, and Mono)

Posted in Free/Libre Software, GNOME, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Mono, Novell, Ubuntu at 6:07 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“I saw that internally inside Microsoft many times when I was told to stay away from supporting Mono in public. They reserve the right to sue”

Robert Scoble, former Microsoft evangelist

Summary: Some more thoughts about Mono and also new developments (against Mono)

THERE IS an element of speculation here regarding a new post which is titled “Desperately Seeking Mediocrity”. As resistance against Mono obviously grows, this vague post which does not mention any software package or particular application names argues against rejection of assimilation.

At risk of being too speculative, Jo Shields from the Mono team seems to be complaining right now because people increasingly reject ‘advanced’ (Mono?) applications. Maybe people woke up to the realisation that Microsoft is suing Linux (c/f TomTom) while Novell, additionally, seeds its software to achieve this. In essence, Microsoft needs to plant or circulate a bait before it establishes a strong case. So Jo’s latest rant, assuming it might refer to Mono, simply neglects all this by describing the issue with ‘advanced’ software (Mono?) as one of dissimilarity/similarity while characterising anything but ‘advanced’ (Mono?) as “mediocre”. But again, this is speculative.

And this is why I find myself baffled when reading web forums, seeing the number of people who actively want Ubuntu to be less awesome, by dropping superior apps on the basis of perceived “difference first” attitudes, the feeling that they “don’t want to be using a lagging version of proprietary foo”. Perhaps there’s something I’m missing here. Or perhaps a lot of people on the Internet are idiots. Hard to say.

Are those “idiots” also those who reject Mono? Speaking of which, pseudonym Béranger, who pretends to have ditched Free software, is still experimenting with GNU/Linux (he probably misses it too much). He tried OpenSUSE and had this to say:

[H]ave you noticed that in this review of SLED, the morons have mistaken Mono for the original? “Microsoft .NET applications, such as Banshee, Tomboy and F-Spot, have a prominent place in the SUSE enterprise desktop.”

In more encouraging news, the bestest[sic] project in the world — called Gnote [1, 2, 3, 4] — is now in OpenSUSE-planet and there is also a new release. Gnote replaces Tomboy, which is a Mono entrapment.

Nomo

Links 16/04/2009: GNU/Linux Business Up, More Devices

Posted in News Roundup at 5:03 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • System76: Ubuntu PC Maker’s Revenue Up 61 Percent

    The New York Times recently reported that Canonical’s annual revenue was about $30 million. That’s impressive for an open source company. But remember: Red Hat generates more than $650 million in annual revenue. And Red Hat’s revenue grew more than $130 million in 2009 — meaning that Red Hat is pulling away from Canonical even as Canonical continues to grow.

  • Microsoft trashes its brand — and Apple’s the winner

    Linux looks to be a big desktop OS winner — at least in the enterprise. White reckoned that, in the 2007 version of this annual survey, 42 per cent said they’d switch to Linux, but two years later in 2009, half said they’d switch. And when asked if they either had switched or were in the process of switching, nine per cent said yes in 2007, 11 per cent in 2008 and 14 per cent this year.

  • Microsoft Windows 7: Upgrade or just buy a pizza?

    BusinessWeek is running a piece on Microsoft’s latest attempts to fight back against Apple and Linux and its secret strategy to force unwitting Windows users to upgrade to various flavors of Windows 7.

  • Alcatel-Lucent Networking Embraces Linux, NAC

    Sitting inside of every networking device is an operating system. In the case of Alcatel-Lucent, that operating system is the Alcatel-Lucent Operating System (AOS), which today is getting a significant new upgrade — even though it could be one of the last AOS releases before the company moves it to Linux.

    The new AOS version 6.3.4 integrates network access control (NAC) directly into the operating system, a move that comes as intelligence is becoming increasingly part of the network fabric, rather than an add-on.

  • The difference between Linux and Windows

    What all this means for end-users is that if you really want the best of the best and the most secure systems possible, Linux is clearly the better choice. Windows like the dinosaurs is much slower than the quick and clever Linux mammals.

  • Aware A-View netbook with detachable screen, only $150

    Details are a bit scarce here, but Taiwan’s Aware Electronics has apparently been the talk Global Sources trade show, introducing a new netbook with a nice surprise. It features a detachable screen. The only other info is that it will come have just 512MB of RAM, an 8GB SSD, and either Windows or Linux for an OS.

  • Linux Works Even When Your PC is Committing Suicide

    My troubleshooting was rather hasty and disorganized, though it did finally lead to a solution. What can I say, there are good days and there are twitterpated days. As so many readers of my blog suggested, the first thing I should have done was boot up a live Linux CD. That is a fast way to determine if the problem is hardware or software; if the live CD boots normally then the hardware is OK. It would have saved me some time.

  • You have work to do? Well so do I!

    Fortunately with Linux we can do our work and let them do their work too. While they are happily working away on their urgent work we are connected through the wire in the back of their computer and are performing our own computing miracles.

  • Roku—Breaking the Linux Not Invited Rule

    Many of you probably are familiar with the Roku media streaming device. In a partnership with Netflix, the Roku is one of several officially supported devices for streaming the large collection of Netflix’s available movies and television shows. What makes the Roku interesting is that although Netflix doesn’t support streaming its DRM-protected movies to Linux users, the Roku itself runs Linux.

  • Automation computer runs Linux from flash

    Moxa has announced a 19-inch rackmount computer that is intended for power substations and other industrial automation applications. The DA-681 runs Linux from flash storage and includes a 1GHz Celeron processor, four RS232 ports, eight RS485 ports, six Ethernet ports, and dual power inputs, says Moxa.

  • NSW Government not giving away Linux vs Microsoft details

    I pursued the office of Hon. Verity Firth, Minister for Education. I’d asked if it was possible to get information detailing the companies who had tendered, the technical specifications of their hardware and software, and their costings.

    After a fortnight of calls and e-mails I received a single paragraph response.

    [...]

    He said, “NSW DET manages one of the most extensive and complex information technology environments in the world. Operating systems and application software for teaching and learning are selected to account for their fitness to purpose, affordability and manageability in DET’s network. On this occasion NSW DET determined that a Microsoft-based solution best met its needs, particularly with respect to multimedia applications. A range of operating systems and applications was offered to meet the NSW DET requirement, including solutions based on Apple, Linux and Microsoft platforms. Each offering was methodically assessed through the different phases of the procurement process, with solutions based on Linux and Windows finally being considered.”

    No vendor names. No specifications. No costings.

  • An interview with Codename

    8. What would you like to see happen with Linux in the future? with Ubuntu?

    I’d definitely like to see Linux in general expand on to the desktop market, which we have kind of seen today. I mean Dell offers computers pre-installed with Ubuntu which is great. I also love the fact that Asus has the option you can buy a Eee PC with Linux pre-installed, I think that’s a step forward. I wish for Ubuntu and Linux in general the best.

  • Audio

    • Podcast Season 1 Episode 6

      In this episode: Gtk+ developers announce plans for version 3. Microsoft proclaims 96% domination of the netbook market and both Mono 2.4 and MonoDevelop 2.0 are released. Is the new Linux Spotify library a good thing and should netbook manufacturers standardise on a single distribution?

    • Linux Outlaws 87 – Broadcasting Uranus

      This week: Dan talks about Arch some more, Fab gives you tips on remastering Ubuntu and we also have your usual Linux news, Microsoft-bashing and dirty in-jokes.

  • Kernel Space

    • Exciting changes in the 2.6.30 Linux kernel

      Every Linux kernel release has interesting changes but 2.6.30 really stands out to me as having a lot of features I would like to take advantage. In 2.6.29 the only really great feature to me was the inclusion of barrier support for simple DM devices. It’s only 1 change but an important one in my opinion as it will allow an increase in either performance or reliability for LVM and dm-crypt devices. But 2.6.30 has a lot of changes that I am likely to take advantage of such as:

      * The addition of nilfs – I’ve tested nilfs and I am happy to see it adopted. I’ve run into problems using it but would like to see it become stable. It seems likely to beat btrfs as the first stable Linux disk filesystem with snapshots.

      [...]

    • Ext3 ‘data=guarded’ mode coming for Linux kernel 2.6.30?

      There were some patches from Theodore T’so – the Ext4 maintainer, Jens Axboe – the block layer maintainer, Chris Mason – the Btrfs developer et al. An overview of the discussion can be found at LWN.net, here.

    • ATI vs. NVIDIA on Linux – the showdown

      Almost five years have passed since my last formal comparison of ATI and NVIDIA on Linux. At the time, it was only a brief mention as part of a larger tutorial article, and the result was “an NVIDIA card three times cheaper is three times faster”. Since then, I’ve let the impressions left on me remain, and have been pretty religious in buying NVIDIA hardware, to ensure performance under Linux.

    • PulseAudio with Bluetooth support

      Following a good two months of testing, the development team has released a version 0.9.15 of PulseAudio.

  • Terminal

    • CMus Review – A Great ncurses Music Player

      Overall, except for the lack of Last.fm support, CMus is one hell of an audio player for using in a terminal or in an environment without X. It is lightweight, powerful, fast, highly configurable and it seems, at least to me, intuitive and easy to use once you grasp the commands and keyboard shortcuts. A great piece of software, and I really hope for a future release to include by default Last.fm integration.

    • More lightweight diversions

      A couple more, that deviate slightly. Terminal-based entertainment, short of watching movies piped through aalib, could always take the obvious route and remain text-based, as it was a long time ago. To that end it’s still possible to play some telnet games, including Space Tyrant, which is still maintained too.

  • Applications

    • Desktop Linux Video App Roundup

      While the Mac does provide great applications such as iMovie at almost no cost, other apps for this platform do cost plenty. So unless you have the budget of a small independent film being supported by third-party contributors, going with the Mac for the most powerful software might not always be a viable plan.

      But what about those of us on Linux? There’s a persistent belief with this platform that there’s really nothing available that can create a usable experience for newer video editors, not to mention seasoned professionals. Understanding this perception, I’ll show you that this is not entirely true.

    • 4 IM Clients for Ubuntu Jaunty Jackalope – Overview

      This article is an overview of 4 most popular IM clients available on Linux, and particularly in the upcoming release of Ubuntu, Jaunty Jackalope. I included only graphical applications here, but I’m sure I’ll make a review of several command-line clients in the near future too. I also decided not to include Sim and KMess, since currently they only offer versions for KDE3.

    • IN DEPTH: VirtualBox 2.2.0, the free Virtualizer

      Bryan and Chris review the latest release of VirtualBox, which includes Guest openGL support with working Compiz in Linux guests. What sets VirtualBox apart? Where can it improve? We discuss!

    • 5 Apps Every Self Respecting Linux User Should Have

      Linux distros come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, but the one thing that is pretty consistent through all of them are the applications you can use. Out of the hundreds and hundreds of available apps in the Linux universe, here are 5 that no self respecting Linux user should ever be caught without.

    • 4 IM Clients for Ubuntu Jaunty Jackalope – Overview

      This article is an overview of 4 most popular IM clients available on Linux, and particularly in the upcoming release of Ubuntu, Jaunty Jackalope. I included only graphical applications here, but I’m sure I’ll make a review of several command-line clients in the near future too. I also decided not to include Sim and KMess, since currently they only offer versions for KDE3.

    • SMILE – Powerful Slideshow Maker In Linux

      SMILE is a slideshow building program by Stephane Gibault, author of manDVD, and is the successor to manslide.

  • Desktop Environments

    • GNOME 2.26.1 Released!

      This is the first update to GNOME 2.26. It contains the usual mixture of bug fixes, translations updates and documentation improvements that are the hallmark of stable GNOME releases, thanks to our wonderful team of GNOME contributors!

      The next stable version of GNOME will be GNOME 2.26.2, which is due on May 20. Meanwhile, the GNOME community is actively working on the development branch of GNOME that will become GNOME 2.28 in late September 2009.

    • GNOME 2.26.1 Fixes Various Bugs

      Some of the changes in Totem movie player 2.26.1 include: the screenshot capture keyboard shortcut was changed from Shift+S to Ctrl+S; the seekbar is now reset after closing a file; renamed files are not removed from the playlist anymore; the icon is now correctly reset when disabling the thumbnail plugin.

    • 10 (Latest) Beautiful Plasma Themes for KDE 4 Desktop

      Since a lot of you loved our collection of some of the most beautiful Plasma Themes for KDE 4 desktop, we decided to give you more. This time, we compiled the very latest, good-looking plasma themes for all the KDE lovers out there to appreciate and perhaps to download.

  • Distributions

    • A Few Questions For Bartosz Fenski

      As far as I remember I tried using Linux around the year 1998. I tested many distributions and each of them had some glitches that were very annoying for me. In fact even my first attempt at using Debian was a fail.

    • Zmanda Joins Open Source Channel Alliance

      Zmanda™, a leader in open source backup and recovery software, today announced that the company has joined the Open Source Channel Alliance as a charter member. The mission of the alliance is to drive the adoption of open source software and solutions in the mid-markets. Red Hat (NYSE: RHT) – a provider of open source operating systems, management and middleware solutions – and SYNNEX Corporation (NYSE: SNX) – a leading business process services company, servicing resellers and original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) – are the founding members of the Open Source Channel Alliance.

    • Ubuntu

      • Ubuntu 9.04 Free CDs: Orders Are Taken Now

        There’s only one week left until the final release of Ubuntu 9.04 and, if you are anxious to get your hands on some nice CDs with the new Ubuntu operating system, then you should pre-order them right now from Ubuntu’s ShipIt service, free of charge (a free account or an OpenID is required). They have started taking the orders a few minutes ago, so hurry up!

      • Ubuntu Tech Support: It’s All A Matter Of Timing

        Any company considering Ubuntu, however, should also pay close attention to how Canonical, Ubuntu’s corporate sheperd, handles technical support. Once you understand Canonical’s support strategy, you will also understand why this version of Ubuntu server looks a bit more appealing to bleeding-edge surfers than to mainstream small-business IT users.

        “Technical support” means two things here: professional technical support from Canonical, and maintenance updates for a particular release on an as-needed basis. The first form of support is available on a paid basis for those users who require it; the second form, like the Ubuntu Linux releases themselves, is always free.

      • Announcing Ubuntu Open Week

        I am pleased to announce that this cycle’s Ubuntu Open Week will be held the week after Ubuntu 9.04’s release, from 27 April to 1 May on #ubuntu-classroom on Freenode. The sessions take place from 1500UTC to 2100UTC (With a special session on Monday night after-hours)

      • 10 Awesome Themes For Ubuntu

        Since I have started to use Ubuntu I came across many cool themes so I decided to make a list of them. Let me know if you like them and if your favorite is not in this list, post a comment and let me know and I will give it a try.

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Linux table radio does Pandora

      Livio has announced a Linux-based Internet “radio” that plays back customized streams from Pandora, as well as approximately 11,000 other stations. The “Livio Radio” includes 802.11 wireless networking, an RJ45 port for wired Ethernet, plus “thumbs-up” and “thumbs-down” controls for rating songs, according to the company.

    • Phones

      • The Verizon Hub Widget Phone Just Got a Lot More Exciting

        I’m reviewing the somewhat anachronistic Verizon Hub connected phone. Now that I’ve seen its future—an open platform built on Linux with sleek hardware from this decade, like capacitive touchscreens—it’s way more exciting.

      • One Dozen Super-Useful (and Free!) Android Apps

        Six months ago we pointed out the best Android apps to boost your mobile productivity, but since then more free applications have appeared in the Market that offer useful features you don’t want to miss.

Free Software/Open Source

  • Open source tunes into the channel

    A new effort was announced by prominent open source software vendors — Red Hat and charter members Alfresco, EnterpriseDB, Ingres, Jaspersoft, Likewise, Pentaho, Zmanda, Zenoss and Zimbra — and channel player SYNNEX to extend open source software into the all-important sales and distribution channels of mid-market value-aded resellers (VARs) and system integrators (SIs).

  • A Little Start-Up Success Story

    This is how FOSS wins, too. Not by being a charging elephant. But by being a million nimble, determined penguins.

  • Study: Open source worth $387 billion (in savings)

    That’s good news, because as the recession takes its toll on IT budgets, a new study suggests that companies can save $387 billion in development costs by using open-source software.

  • The smallest unit of freedom: a Fellow

    Myriam Schweingruber is a devoted Free Software advocate with a flair for convincing people. Having worked as a translator, a school teacher and a pharmacist, Myriam is quite experienced in the art of communication, and gives a clear impression of trustworthiness. She has been especially active in the Swiss community, and helped found FSFE’s associate organisation, Whilhelm Tux, where she also served as the President. I had a nice chat with Myriam and asked her about some of the projects she’s involved in, as well as her experiences promoting Free Software in Switzerland.

  • Five Ideas To Get FOSS Into Governments

    # Fix the procurement policy. While a policy that says open source is great is a good thing, if you don’t change the procurement policy it will have no effect. The best open source solutions result from a two-phase procurement process where the first phase buys prototyping and iterating and the second phase buys production deployment and scaling. If you have a procurement process that basically defines software as “something you buy a license for” you’ll never get the adoption-led benefits of open source.

    # Publish tenders by default. In most places, it’s illegal to specify a vendor explicitly in a generic request for tender. To deal with this, many countries have open procurement policies, but very, very few publish tender documents, so we have a problem. Initiating a scheme like the one Brenno de Winter has in the Netherlands brings the cleansing power of sunlight into the process. Brenno uses Freedom of Information requests to secure tenders and then posts them to a wiki for community review. You could do that too where you live.

    [...]

  • AGPL: Open Source Licensing in a Networked Age

    It’s tempting, then, to ask what problem is being solved by the Affero GPL. But that would be facetious, and would serve to trivialize what could be a real problem for some projects. Projects that are considerably less visible than Linux or MySQL, for example, might require the protection that the AGPL affords. For them, closing the loophole might seem like a life or death matter. The difficulty will be in determining which the license will guarantee: even as AGPL licensed protects are protected from those that would use them without contributing, it also represents an insurmountable barrier to entry for some potential players.

    I’m glad then that the Affero GPL is an option, but I’m with Mark Radcliffe: I wouldn’t look for it to compete with the GPL any time soon.

  • Programming

    • Google Summer of Code Just Around the Corner

      If April showers bring May flowers, what does May bring? That’s when student developers in the Google Summer of Code (GSoC) program buckle down and get to work. The popular volunteer program drew almost 5,900 proposals from nearly 3,500 applicants who are no doubt pacing the floor until Google posts the list of accepted candidates. They’ll have to wait until April 20 to find out.

    • Q&A: James Gosling on Sun-IBM, cloud, SOA, and of course Java

      Q. One of the most enduring things about Java is the virtual machine, that helps to give it its ‘write once, run anywhere’ capability. You must have been watching with interest as so many vendors now espouse the benefits of virtualisation, albeit on a different level?

      A. The Java VM is much more abstract than say a Microsoft or VMware VM. There were a variety of issues that drove me to use a VM for Java. We needed to virtualise a very wide variety of hardware – not just Mac, Unix, Linux, Windows but things like cellphones and even smartcards. Also to encapsulate computations and be able to move them around, and handle them in a way that they can be optimised differently and map to individual machines.
      VMs were not very common when I did the Java VM, but I had been doing a project I got involved with as a graduate, a PASCAL compiler that used byte codes to represent compiled programs, and I had to target it at other architectures, which gave me the idea of building VMs into bytecode instruction sets. I actually thought about doing a PhD in this but in the end I did it in something else.

    • Python 2.6.2 released

      The developers of Python, the free scripting language, have announced the release of version 2.6.2. This is the second bug fix release in the Python 2.6 development branch and contains nearly a hundred bug fixes and revisions, all listed in the release notes.

Leftovers

  • Would You Believe Teens Have No Interest In Paying For News?

    In a study that should surprise just about none of you (unless you’re one of those newspaper execs who still thinks people will pay for the news), it turns out that teens have absolutely no interest in paying for news (thanks Felix Pleşoianu!), and they really like aggregation sites that provide them with a lot of info quickly and efficiently.

  • Want To Know Why Newspapers Are Dying? Maureen Dowd Shows Us

    And that is where Google adds value: it helps to connect people with the information they want. If Dowd would just pause the dramatics long enough, maybe she would recognize that this concept sounds very familiar. Just like newspapers have always done, Google tries to find information that its users want, and deliver it to them in a way that is useful — and news stories are just one example of what people want Google to find for them.

  • Copyrights

    • YouTube orchestra makes its debut

      At least 90 musicians from more than 30 different countries have given their first performance in the YouTube Symphony Orchestra in New York.

    • UK ‘has the worst copyright laws’

      UK copyright laws “needlessly criminalise” music fans and need to be updated, a consumer watchdog says.

      UK laws that make it a copyright violation to copy a CD that you own onto a computer or iPod should be changed, says Consumer Focus.

    • “US copyright law is far too strict” – GNU founder

      American software freedom activist Richard Stallman, better known as the author of GNU General Public License, joined RT to give his comments on modern software copyright laws, and the risks of cyber sneaking.

Richard Stallman’s New Talk at Philadelphia is Released

Posted in GPL, Law, Videos at 2:12 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

High-quality

Ogg Theora

Low-quality

Ogg Theora

This is CC-No Derivatives (attribution-no derivatives).

Ecuador’s Adoption of ODF Formalised, ODF Turkey Takes Off

Posted in America, Asia, OpenDocument at 7:22 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

There is some good news from Ecuador (in English) and also from Turkey:

ODF Turkey was officially established on April 10 during the annual Government IT Managers event in Antalya. I made the announcement during my presentation there together with Prof. Dr. Turhan Menteş, President of the Turkish Informatics Association (Türkiye Bilişim Derneği). Current members include Sun, Oracle, IBM, the Turkish Informatics Association, the Software Freedom Initiative, and the Pardus team (a national GNU/Linux distribution).

AbiWord as ODF

Are the Microsoft Memoranda of Exclusivity in India and the US Illegal?

Posted in Asia, Europe, Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Vista, Windows at 6:34 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Wriiting

WE HAVE already been through the reasons (and evidence) why a lot of procurements/tenders are inherently corrupt, usually because they are simply designed in this way. The conditions created simply permit it and as Anthony J. D’Angelo famously said, “If you believe that discrimination exists, it will.”

A couple of days ago we found the article “Govt love for Windows,” which speaks about India.

The party has promised to standardise open standard and open source software in its IT vision, but by its own claim, the IT savvy state government has signed MoUs with Microsoft India Pvt Ltd in the Vibrant Gujarat summit. The aim: to enhance adoption and use of IT in the state education sector using the licensed software.

For those who do not know what Microsoft did in India, we have some leaked documents [1, 2]. The question remains, does the same thing happen in the United States? We sure know that it happens in the United Kingdom where people help expose the problem (there are even lawsuits against the Canadian government over this), but over in the United States it seems like Ken Starks is among the few people who make noise about the government’s blind marriage to Windows (it would be an exaggeration to say so, though). OStatic has this good summary:

According to Texas Department of Information Resources data the state has already spent many millions on Windows Vista deployments and maintenance across more than 40 agencies. Starks’ letter points out that governments around the world are switching to open source, and the Obama administration is pursuing open source at the federal government level as well.

One thing that really jumped out at me from Starks’ letter is that he singles out malware, viruses, disk defragging, and other common Windows problems as creating cost centers for any Windows deployment. It is true that open source platforms are far less targeted by hackers than the Windows platform, and thus there is far less of a cost center created for the “other software” that Starks mentions.

It ought to be added that Microsoft has an extraordinary amount of leverage over the United States government.

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