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05.21.09

Links 21/05/2009: New GNOME, IBM Promotes Desktop GNU/Linux

Posted in News Roundup at 10:17 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Plugging In $40 Computers

    What would you do with a $40 Linux computer the size of a three-prong plug adapter?

    Marvell Technology Group is counting on an army of computer engineers and hackers to answer that question. It has created a “plug computer.” It’s a tiny plastic box that you plug into an electric outlet. There’s no display. But there is an Ethernet jack to connect to a home network and a USB socket for attaching a hard drive, camera or other device. Inside is a 1.2 gigahertz Marvell chip, called an application processor, running a version of the Linux operating system.

  • The Loongson-2 MIPS Lemote Yeeloong Netbook

    Few hardware vendors have not yet launched their own mini laptop (or, “netbook”). Most brands these days produce their own version of the same hardware, with Intel’s i386-compatible Atom cpu’s and Windows XP installed on a spinning hard drive or sometimes still a solid state disk. Some Linux models are still sold by some vendors, among whom Asus, which more or less started selling in this OLPC-inspired genre of laptops.

  • Linux Outlaws 93 – Danish Weekend

    This week: Fab reviews the Shure SM58+X2u bundle, the new Linux.com, Wolfram Alpha, Intel gets slapped by the EU, the Ubuntu One controversy and a lot more.

  • The one thing needed to move from windows to Linux.

    Meet Will. Will is a very versatile thing. You know what they all say “where there is a Will there is a way.” Will is so powerful that previously unopened doors of opportunity are magically opened for you. Will will carry you through adversity and have you emerge stronger than ever before. All of the most successful people I know of, read or heard about all have Will on their side. If we are sick or injured Will gives us the ability to live. It is Will which drives the Human race forward. It is Will which allowed the recent Hubble huggings. It is Will which made possible the small step for man into a giant leap for mankind.

  • Top 8 reasons why Linux rocks

    Linux has many advantages over other operating systems as people who actually like to use their computers can attest.

  • 9 Ways to Make Linux More Secure

    Security Enhanced Linux was originally developed for The National Security Agency and is now merged with the 2.6 kernel to provide some additional security measures to the Linux operating system. Enabling SELinux is probably one of the most important things you can do if you care about creating a ridiculously secure operating system.

  • World’s Smallest Computer Runs on Ubuntu

    If you had been wondering what would the future of computers be, the answer seems to lie in their sizes. The future PCs would be smaller, more economical and of course very efficient. With that in mind, CompuLab’s Fit PS2 is already being touted as the world’s smallest PC.

  • Desktop

    • Bordeaux Group and MyLinuxSupport signs first reseller agreements

      MyLinuxSupport Inc., signs first reseller agreements with the Bordeaux Software Group and Wine Reviews to resell pre-paid open source support cards. The pre-paid support cards will help reduce costs, complexity and improve overall productivity for businesses and individuals. With a dedicated 24/7 support channel now available business can reduce their total cost of ownership and better protect current and future investments that are in place.

    • Linux welcomed on the desktop

      Linux desktops are easier to implement than IT staff expected if they targeted the right groups of users, a study from Freeform Dynamics has found.

    • Report: Desktop Linux in Business Environments

      Freeform Dynamics Ltd, and IBM have just released a business report titled Linux on the Desktop Lessons from mainstream business adoption.

    • New Study Shows Linux Desktop Growing Stronger
    • IBM: Linux desktops bucking the recession

      IBM put out a study datelined one minute past midnight this Thursday morning commenting on the fact that outside of netbooks, the recession has largely put the kibosh on PC growth. There is according to IBM, however, an area of PC investment that actually saves money for a company: the Linux desktop.

  • Kernel Space

  • Applications

    • Ultra X Linux V1.3 Media Edition Released May 22, 2009

      Ultra X Linux V1.3 Media Edition will be released May 22 2009, we are uploading to the web as we speak it may be up today; go to http://ultraxlinux.org to check.

    • 15+ programs you don’t have to miss when you switch to Linux

      My average customer wants to do a few key things with their system and not much else – download music, chat, send email, store digital photos, and play some casual games. Many of their preferred Windows programs are also available for Linux.

      Limewire – Just because you’re switching operating systems doesn’t mean you have to give up downloading music. Limewire is built on Java and is available for Linux.

      Picasa – Most of us have digital cameras by now, and many of us have hundreds (if not thousands) of digital photos. You may have grown to love Picasa on Windows, but you won’t have to give it up if you switch.

  • Games

    • Talking To The Developers Of The Unigine Engine

      While the Unigine game engine may not be as widely known or used as the Unreal or id Tech engines, its capabilities and features have been increasing at an incredible rate. Last year there were two tech demos released by Unigine Corp to demonstrate the capabilities of their proprietary engine — both of which were very impressive — but since then their software stack has picked up a slew of new features like improved physics and multiplayer support. This year they are slated to release a new in-house game / tech demo that will be even more impressive and will go head-to-head with the latest high-end commercial game engines. Through all of their game engine development work, they continue to support Linux gaming, so we recently carried out an interview with them to learn more about their current and future work.

    • 100 open source gems – part 2

      If you haven’t already seen the first part of our 100 open source gems, read it now – and here’s the next 50 great apps!

  • Desktop Environments

    • How can GNOME and KDE developers create the modern Linux desktop?

      KDE and GNOME are the mainstream desktop environments for GNU/Linux. There are lightweight options that use fewer resources, such as Xfce or Fluxbox, but new users are more likely to encounter KDE or GNOME, which most closely follow the familiar desktop metaphors common to Windows or Mac.

      The historic challenge for the KDE and GNOME developers has been to reproduce the functionality available to users of other operating systems, and a bit more besides. But in recent times the developers have begun to look towards a future that might take the desktop further beyond the accepted conventions.

    • KDE

      • Comparing KDE 3.5.10 and KDE 4.2.2 memory usage

        I found that both versions of KDE did swap, to a certain extent, on both PCLinuxOS (KDE 3.5.10) and sidux (KDE 4.2.2), but the memory management was excellent on each system, not too aggressive, nor too inactive, allowing swap where needed, keeping at least a modest amount of free memory at all times, and trimming swap usage when memory requirements were relieved. The result was acceptable performance, even on a system that is nearly a decade old, and contains a Pentium 3 processor with about a 1 GHz CPU and 256 MB of memory.

      • KDE4: The Future of the X Desktop?

        It will be interesting to see whether KDE keeps heading in the right direction, or they end up dropping the ball and screwing it up. It’s off to a very promising start, and I could foresee KDE becoming the default X desktop if they continue in their present direction.

      • 64-bit Arch and KDE 4.2 on ext4

        I wrote my this post last Sunday, but completely forgot to actually publish it. In any case, I’ve been running x86-64 Arch on an ext4 partition with KDE 4.2.3 since. It has been interesting, to say the least.

    • GNOME

      • The Future Of Gnome DE Looks Promising

        One thing we have learned from KDE4 is that its not a good idea to make drastic change to a desktop environment that the users have been used to for a long time. Hopefully the Gnome developers will keep that in mind as they work on Gnome 3.0 release for next year. Gnome is known for making subtle incremental changes instead of doing major overhaul, but the changes they have planned for Gnome 3 is much bigger than we have come to expect from Gnome.

      • GNOME 2.26.2 released!

        This is the second update to GNOME 2.26. It contains many fixes for important bugs that directly affect our users, documentation updates and also a large number of updated translations. Many thanks to all the contributors who worked hard on delivering those changes in time. We hope it will help people feel better in their daily use of computers!

      • Gnome 3.0 General Sociological Research

        First of all we would like to thank the 1000+ people that took the survey in the margin of one week and thus contributed for a better gnome. I (Anton) would like to thanks the others from Gnome Usability team too about their response and advices regarding the questions asked. I have tried to present the results as better as possible by using Open Source tools and the online services of Google Docs. You can view a summary for each question as well as some thoughts at the end of the Summary Data Chapter.

  • Distributions

    • Desktop Linux For The Windows Power User

      Writing for power users, I assume that you have a good working knowledge of Windows and computers in general, but little or no experience with Linux. Therefore, this article will not tell you to compile anything from source code, and no sentence begins with “bring up the terminal” or any other UNIX techno-babble. Common Linux pitfalls like hard drive partitioning, installing software, and setup of essential plug-ins will be addressed entirely by using the graphical user interface (GUI).

    • Ekiga 3.2 on Ubuntu 9.04

      The other day my partner left the market shopping list at home. I took a few minutes off from cleaning the house to try SMSing it to her using Skype, rather than using the small keyboard on my mobile. However I found that the latest Linux Skype client, version 2.0.0.72, does not include SMS functionality (amongst quite a few other features that Windows users have). Frustrated with Skype’s treating Linux users like second-rate citizens, I resolved to see what alternatives there are to Skype. I started with Ekiga, which is pre-installed on Ubuntu. Read on to find out how I went getting rid of Skype and its limitations.

    • Dell knows what’s best for Linux users

      By having a Dell-specific repository for software updates, they’re making themselves a one-stop shop for all things Ubuntu on their hardware. The folks who want to explore the wealth of additional free software available to Ubuntu users can add additional repositories, but the average user just looking for a reliable, supported system should be extremely well served by Dell’s repository, and the work they do to make the packages secure and stable.

    • Shuttleworth’s take on Ubuntu One trademark issue

      The very fact that Canonical supports Ubuntu brings credibility towards Ubuntu. Ubuntu One will also likely be a *great* vehicle of publicity toward Ubuntu. Have you noticed Windows Live and Mobile Me already exist ? Which other alternative has Ubuntu to offer ? (don’t name DropBox, that’s a whole different thing with a different purpouse).

    • Karmic Koala Artwork

      Today I also stumbled across the great artwork by Adrien Pilleboue titled meditating koala.

    • Review: gNewSense Version 2.2

      gNewSense Version 2.2 (pronounced “guh-new-sense”) Code name DeltaH – Origin Ireland, started by and continues to be maintained by bbrazil and ompaul. A live Distribution. Gnome: 2.22.3 Build Date 2008.07.31 – Debian 5.0 Lenny is 2.22.3 Build Date 2008.09.18. gNewSense is a pure 100% Free Software Ubuntu base GNU/Linux sponsored by the Free Software Foundation and it does not contain any proprietary licence code; therefore it is completely legally distributable. gNewSense is a great Operating System.

      [...]

      Conclusion – almost everything worked right of the disk. Using most of the applications contained in this release worked without any problems. Memory sticks were accessed quickly, I burned an *.iso to disk and listen to a Music CD. I like the idea of gNewSense free from non-free software – I joined the Free Software Foundation. Is it newbie ready, well I’m a new Linux user and I got it up and running – easy as abc’s.

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Nortel choses Linux for $250 million routing platform

      “We believe Linux is the right OS for the entire architecture,” McHugh said

    • Linux development platform takes on license compliance

      Embedded Alley has upgraded its “Development System for Linux” with tools to create software Bills of Materials, track open source components, trace binary sources, and help OEMs comply with open source license obligations. The new platform also adds support for the Freescale i.MX31 PDK (pictured).

    • Modular open source phone runs OMAP3x SoC

      Open source hacker community GizmoForYou is shipping a Linux hardware/software kit for building a modular touchcreen smartphone. Based on the OMAP35x-based Gumstix Overo Earth single-board computer (SBC), the Flow phone offers modules including GPS, 3.5G cellular, Bluetooth, WiFi, and a camera, says the group.

    • Phones

      • Acer Android Phone Coming This Year

        Acer said it would be releasing this year a smartphone that’s powered by the Google-backed Android operating system.

        The PC maker jumped in the smartphone market this year with its Tempo line of devices. The company is looking to capture up to 5% of the growing smartphone market within five years by offering handsets that are free with contract or have a low price.

      • Android phone number 2 coming to 3

        Since it runs the Android operating system, you’ll get the usual features including Google Maps (complete with Street View’s compass mode), the application marketplace, and other Google services such as Talk, Gmail, Calendar and YouTube.

      • Openmoko involves the community in hardware development

        In April the Openmoko Project announced that after only ten months it was discontinuing production of the Neo FreeRunner phone and after drastic staff reductions would be moving forward with a ‘Plan B’ product. It seems Plan B has now been revealed as Openmoko is inviting the developer community to not only tinker with the software and the casing design of the open smartphone, but it’s also now releasing the hardware design of the FreeRunner (GTA02) for anyone to join in, under the codename gta02-core. The aim is to develop a modified and completely open phone hardware for the FreeRunner within the next six to twelve months.

      • Too many platforms?

        So where is the massive diversity in mobile platforms? Right now, there is Android in smartphones, LiMo targeting smartphones, Maemo in personal internet tablets and Moblin on netbooks. And except for Android, they are all leveraging the work being done by projects like GNOME, rather than re-inventing the wheel. This is not fragmentation, it is adaptability. It is the basic system being tailored to very specific use-cases by groups who decide to use an existing code base rather than starting from scratch. It is, in a word, what rocks about Linux and free software in general.

    • Sub-notebooks

      • Intel goes after Windows 7 on netbooks with Linux

        Intel has fine-tuned Linux for Atom-based netbooks with a simple user interface and improved power-saving features

      • Linux To Regain 50% Netbook Market Share

        I’m sure some will dismiss Mr. Lim’s projections as self-serving since Linpus is a Linux distributor heavily invested in the netbook market. It turns out Mr. Lim isn’t alone in seeing Linux equal or even overtake Windows on netbooks. ABI Research sees it happening but they see it taking a bit longer than a year. They see Linux regaining dominance on netbooks by 2012. ABI cites the arrival of low-end ARM-based netbooks as part of the reason for a Linux resurgence. They also cite the arrival of Linux distributions designed for mobile devices, particularly Android and Moblin. Windows doesn’t run on ARM processor based systems.

        While ARM has been getting lots of notice in the tech press a Spanish company called iUnika announced the first netbook with a MIPS processor (pictured). Linux already runs on MIPS processors. The support dates back to MIPS-powered SGI workstations running Linux back in the ’90s. Windows, on the other hand, doesn’t run on MIPS powered systems.

Free Software/Open Source

  • Open Source Business Intelligence Scores Another Channel Win

    openbiForgive The VAR Guy if he sounds like Yogi Berra today, but our resident blogger has deja vu all over again. The reason: The folks at OpenBI, a systems integrator in Chicago, have scored yet another win promoting Pentaho’s open source business intelligence software to customers. This is becoming a familiar story for OpenBI and Pentaho’s channel. Here’s the scoop.

  • Interop: SAP CTO backs open source for the cloud

    “SAP is a big fan and supporter of open source,” Sikka said.

    Now Sikka did not detail any specific open source project or efforts that SAP may be involved in, but it’s still interesting to note how supportive his comment are of open source.

  • Microsoft, Digium: Heading In Opposite VoIP Directions?

    Meanwhile, Digium (the upstart company known for Asterisk) is building an online community for ISVs and partners that want to write unified communication applications.

  • Hack: Nintendo DS Controls Open Source Robot

    Surveyor makes open source robot controllers that have quite a fan following among do-it-yourself drone enthusiasts. The company’s core product is the SRV-1, a programmable mobile robot controller that is open source,wireless and video enabled.

  • When will ECM open up?

    We’re often asked why there are so few ECM open source options, when at the same time the Web CMS marketplace supports so many open source alternatives? In the Web CMS world, there are easily 20+ open source CMS options. We cover 10 of the most significant in our Web Content Management research. Conversely, there are really only 4 ECM options globally available today. For the record those are Nuxeo, KnowledgeTree, Alfresco, and InfoGrid.

  • ZooLoo.com Trusts PostgreSQL for Open Source Development

    ZooLoo.com, a soon-to-launch online environment, announced today its support of PostgreSQL, a powerful, open source object-relational database system.

  • New Kenian Open Source awards announced

    The nominations for the first ever Kenya Open Source awards, to be held on the 27th May 2009, has been declared open.

    The awards recognise information and communication industry developers, system administrators and end users who have made notable contribution to Open Source technological advancement.

  • The new economic imperative for open source app dev

    With open source platforms, developers can access technology and community feedback free of charge. “I’d say open source is more economical for all types of development,” says Caleb Houser, a software specialist professionally, as well as a student at Spokane Community College. Open source saves money that could be going for other things, he adds.

  • Leading Voices – Michael Tiemann, Vice President of Open Source Affairs at Red Hat

    This is Michael Tiemann, I am President of the Open Source Initiative and Vice President of Open Source Affairs at Red Hat.

    The IT industry is headed for its own crisis, with plenty of red flags visible if you bother to look, as well as a clear and simple plan to avert the hard landing. But, in an industry famously long on ego and short on humility, can we really hope for a change before these CEOs destroy their companies and the assets of their customers?

    [...]

    The greatest objection raised by software industry participants about Open Source software is that if users are free to read, modify, and share software, then it’s not possible to extract monopoly rents. Based on what we have seen from the monopoly these past 10 years, I’m not really sure that is such a problem.

  • Getting with the (Developer) Program

    In the open source era, do vendor developer programs matter as much as they once did?

  • Blumenthal offers deadlines but puts off the hard decision

    What all this should tell people in the health IT sector, whether proprietary or open source, is that the game is afoot, and that negotiations on how open source and proprietary programs will interact in a new health IT infrastructure are underway.

    The lobbying has begun in earnest.

  • 8 Essential OpenOffice Extensions

    OpenOffice is already a complete desktop office suite that is at par in terms of features with the proprietary Microsoft Office. However, its functionality can still be improved by utilizing useful extensions that are easily available.

  • Drupal is a Webware 100 winner for the third year in a row

    Drupal is a Webware 100 winner for the third year in a row. This year Drupal was in the Social & Publishing category with well known services including MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, and WordPress.com. Drupal was one of 10 winners in the category.

  • Mozilla

  • Business

    • The new face of open source on Wall Street

      But the more dramatic shift for Wall Street right now is that it is considering open-source alternatives for fundamental, industry-specific applications, applications like Marketcetera’s open-source trading platform, which I’ve called “a lifeline to the hedge fund industry” because it enables the industry to become more efficient and more productive. REvolution Computing, Esper, and others are also benefiting from this shift.

    • Daily P&L reconciliation capability provided by open source platform

      Marketcetera, a provider of open source platforms for automated trading, has released an update of its automated trading platform. The open-source software offers four new features.

  • FSF/GNU

    • Compliance Is The Goal

      We just announced that we’ve settled the lawsuit we filed against Cisco a few months ago. (See this previous blog post for more information about that.) The press release explains the terms we’ve agreed to, but I wanted to take a moment to talk about what people can draw from this.

  • Government

    • Our government should adopt communism to save money

      Why isn’t our government considering doing something similar? It is about to sign another deal with Microsoft locking the government in to using Microsoft software for another 3 years. This deal is called “G2009″. The New Zealand Open Source Society (NZOSS) has called for an immediate halt to the G2009 process. “We rush to criticise banks for profit-taking, but here we are negotiating for marginal cost savings from one of the government’s biggest IT suppliers while they take massive profits from the taxpayer,” says NZOSS President Don Christie.

    • ASEAN Free Software Wishlist

      But, so far as I am aware no one actually is throwing money around. Which is disappointing, given that the Australian government donates $100 million a year to the copyright lobby and even more to the closed source lobby.

    • Government and Open Source Software

      In order to understand the government’s interest in open source software, one must understand the government acquisition process.

  • Licensing

    • Wikipedia to Adopt Creative Commons License

      The Wikimedia Foundation, after a community vote and approval by the Board of Trustees, announced that Wikipedia will primarily be licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License (CC-BY-SA). The license is likely to be applied to the sites sometime during the next month. The decision came after the results of a community wide vote on the proposed the licensing change were released: 88% of voters with an opinion were for the change. The currently used license, GNU Free Documentation License (GFDL), will not be removed, just made secondary.

  • Openness

    • Transparency against malpractic

      As a result of my new enthusiasm to ‘get out more’ I found myself listening to a detailed and balanced ‘non-advocacy’ presentation from a respected OSS Watch staffer.

      He explained patiently how open source licencing worked and how it differed from proprietary licences. But what he did say whilst looking for an everyday resonance to make his points accessible to a non-geek audience, and which really sharpened every-one’s attention, was that proprietary software was built on secret code whereas open source software had transparent code.

      Proprietary software IS composed of secret code. You can’t read it, you don’t know what it does (other than what you can see it do), you don’t know how it does it and you can’t change it.

Leftovers

  • Rewriting Canada’s Copyright Law

    At some point over the last 10 years, copyright became a sexy topic. An issue that was once purely the domain of lawyers, politicians and record industry executives has seeped into the consciousness of everyday Canadians — people who feel that something just isn’t quite right about the way copyright works in this country.

  • Big Content appeals Pirate Bay case—damages were too low

    Movie and music lawyers in Sweden have appealed The Pirate Bay verdict, even though they won the case. More money (and a new legal charge) are behind the appeal. Meanwhile, The Pirate Bay claims that the new judge, the one who decided whether the first judge was biased, may be biased himself.

  • New Jammie Thomas Lawyers Vow to Put RIAA on Trial

    A new team of lawyers representing accused music uploader Jammie Thomas said Wednesday they would defeat the Recording Industry Association of America on its own turf. Stay tuned for the upcoming do-over of the nation’s only music file sharing case to go to a jury.

Digital Tipping Point: Clip of the Day

Steve Weber, creator of the phrase “anti-rival goods” 18 (2005)

Ogg Theora

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

BBC Wants to Build Another Windows Botnet

Posted in Apple, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Security, Windows at 10:26 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Microsoft BBC

Summary: The BBC wants to hijack loads of Windows PCs (again) while hiding their inherent vulnerability from the British public

Going a couple of months back, the BBC got slammed for breaking the law and paying botmasters in order to create entertainment (a television show) in which not a word was truly or properly said about Microsoft Windows being a culprit. We wrote about this in:

The BBC seems not to have learned its lessons about recruiting malicious people who can spam the Internet and take down Web sites. It did, however, learn something about asking for permission before hijacking innocent people’s computers.

The BBC has followed its recent controversial botnet demonstration with a new filmed demo of how a Trojan attack works – except this time it made sure to ask nicely.

Looking at this morning’s news at the BBC, there is this article about malware, but Windows and Microsoft are not mentioned even once! This is part of a disturbing pattern which shows that the BBC is not willing to educate people. Microsoft is the BBC’s technical partner and it shows. For some background see:

The latest from the BBC:

The struggle between computer security firms and hi-tech criminals has often been likened to an arms race.

Does it affect GNU/Linux? How about Apple Macs? Are they merely victims of spam and DDoS attacks that arrive from Windows botnets? The article says not a word about operating systems. To the BBC, it’s as though they don’t exist and Windows is just synonymous with (and embedded into) a computer.

In other security news, it is turning into chaos in China, but they fail to realise that criminalisation does not result in prevention.

A year ago, when a Time Magazine reporter told Tan Dailin that he’d been identified as someone who may have hacked the Pentagon, he gasped and asked, “Will the FBI send special agents out to arrest me?”

The answer, it turns out, was, “No, the Chinese government will.”

Dailin, better known in Chinese hacker circles as Withered Rose, was reportedly picked up last month in Chengdu, China, by local authorities. He is now facing seven years in prison under a new Chinese cybercrime law that was passed in late February.

Prevention would come from changes in infrastructure, not law and enforcement.

Writing in relation to the economic stimulus, one reader tells us that Conficker alone cost 9.1 billion dollars in damage and still growing. From today’s news:

Conficker still infecting 50,000 PCs per day

The Conficker worm is still infecting systems at a brisk rate and continues to snag computers in Fortune 1000 companies, according to security researchers.

“Even Microsoft still has infections,” he claims, “which puts a bullet in the myth that the company’s products can be secured if one “knows enough”. The number of Microsoft Office users is reckoned [PDF], rightly or wrongly, to be about 500 million. We can speculate that that’s slightly greater than the number of Microsoft Windows desktop users. So the damage comes out to…”

Your guesstimate.

More on Conficker:

Personal Abuse from Novell

Posted in Microsoft, Novell at 9:29 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Playing with paint

Summary: Smear campaigns from Novell employees

Employees of Novell have not been posting comments from their PCs at work ever since we publicly showed that they used to do this. It does not, however, prevent them from doing this in other Web sites where there is less supervision or control. Groklaw famously argued that SCO preferred Slashdot (as opposed to Groklaw) because SCO was able to send its spinners to Slashdot without getting caught (and potentially exposed) by Pamela Jones and Mathfox.

Apart from personal abuse, of which there is plenty at the moment, there is also intimidation and hate (Web sites got flooded with slander and smears about me around the time of those DDoS attacks). In addition, as we know that Novell.com IP addresses are leaving anonymous comments not only in this Web site but in other Web sites too, it was interesting to find the following in Digg just two days ago. The managing editor of LinuxToday, for example, wrote:

I’ve seen a number of troll campaigns against Roy on my site. Mostly one or two people posting multiple comments from the same IP address and using different names on each comment (Like duh, people! Who do you think you’re fooling?), sometimes even from Novell.com addresses. (Like duh again, sheesh!) It’s rare when any of them attempt any kind of factual rebuttal using their real names, or at least disclosing their Novell affiliations. Love Roy or hate him, stooping to these tactics doesn’t do much for their credibility.

ps- I haven’t seen anything that even hints that Novell management have anything to do with the trolling or other attacks, and I think that is the least likely explanation. There are plenty of thin-skinned fanbois.

It is really pathetic when they go personal. They should counter the points, not the person. Additionally, disclosure would only be fair if they comment as Novell employees. Companies are, after all, just embodiments of their employees.

Microsoft is doing similar things and then there is the verge of AstroTurfing. Days ago I received this message: “Microsoft XBox 360 (XBox360Free) is now following your updates on Twitter.” We have already written a lot about Microsoft’s Twitter AstroTurf [1, 2, 3, 4]. Perhaps tweeting about something that says “Microsoft” just triggers Microsoft bot accounts that want attention from people who might co-follow. And maybe this one example is not directly affiliated with Microsoft, but other examples are confirmed.

Microsoft Kills Another Product a Year After Buying it

Posted in Free/Libre Software, Microsoft at 8:47 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Sunken ship in Souda, Crete

Summary: Was TrueSpace bought just to be buried?

Microsoft has shut down many services, programs, and products over the past 6 months. Many of these were bought by Microsoft, whose track record shows a long history of acquisitions. As Microsoft's earnings have just sunk 32% and the future looks not-so-certain, Microsoft is now discontinuing TrueSpace, only a short time after promising it a place at Microsoft.

Microsoft took over Caligari TrueSpace earlier last year and later released the software as freeware. They have now decided to discontinue TrueSpace – the first services will be disabled by tomorrow. This is a truly sad day for their loyal user base.

To keep this wonderful project alive it might be worth turning it from freeware to Free/libre software (if that’s legally possible).

“Usually Microsoft doesn’t develop products, we buy products.”

Arno Edelmann, Microsoft’s European business security product manager

Minor Update (Maintenance)

Posted in Site News at 8:29 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

novell-chair

T

HERE was another DDoS attack yesterday and we are running things through Squid at the moment. This means that requests arrive indirectly through localhost and thus the rating system won’t permit more than a single vote (from localhost). This disruption will end at a later stage. The highest priority at the moment is to issue posts and serve pages.

Links 21/05/2009: IBM’s GNU/Linux Desktops Again, FSF and Cisco Settle

Posted in News Roundup at 8:15 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • The CLIophobia of the Linux Newbie

    CLIophobia (n): An irrational fear of operating ones’ computer using the Command Line Interface. Sometimes referred to as Terminal Angst.

  • Desktop Linux: it ain’t a better Windows
  • Acer Tells Kid’s Charity – Pay Up or Shut Up

    We will not accept any donations for the 100 dollar extortion by Acer.

    If they can’t see past their company policy long enough to see an exceptable circumstance…

  • ES: Socialist Party wants open source on school laptops

    According to a report by the Spanish newspaper El Mundo, Leire Pajín, the party’s secretary in a speech in the city of Toledo last Friday said: “We will ensure these computers use open source.”

  • Microsoft’s Linux Rivals Try to Head Off Acrimony

    There is already some confidence that existing programs written for multiple versions of Linux will run in some fashion on Moblin, as long as they adhere to a general set of specifications called the Linux standard base. But it gets tricker when application software vendors start exploiting specific features of the operating system’s new interface, and if computer makers customize the software; their ability to do that is one of the main selling points of Linux over Windows.

  • TeamDrive Collaboration Solution expanded to Linux Desktops

    Today’s release of its Linux client completes the popular cross platform collaboration solution TeamDrive, which is now available for Windows, Mac and Linux. TeamDrive enables users to work across the Internet, securely and easily. Whether you’re working as a team, mobile or between your home work station and your company: while guaranteeing your privacy, every single file and document, always up-to-date and even offline, is readily available to users by dint of TeamDrive.

  • Desktop

    • Gruppo Amadori to Roll out Linux-based Desktops with IBM Software to Cut Costs

      IBM (NYSE: IBM) today announced Gruppo Amadori, a wholesale distributor of quality food products in Italy, is rolling out Linux-based desktops running IBM email, word processing, spreadsheet and presentation software to select employees.

    • Windows 7′s XP Mode Could Boost Linux and The Mac

      Last month, Microsoft announced that Windows 7 will include an XP Mode, which combines the company’s desktop and presentation virtualisation technologies to serve up applications that won’t run properly on Windows 7 from a virtual XP SP3 instance.

      When I heard about XP Mode, I was immediately struck by the marketing benefits that the feature can provide for non-Windows platforms. That’s because tapping desktop-based virtualisation as a bridge for Windows software compatibility gaps is one of the keys to achieving a smooth transition from Windows to a competing platform.

  • Server

    • What Does a Linux Support Contract Buy?

      “It’s the fastest-growing server-side operating system of any of them that are out there — Unix, Windows, you name it,” Jim Zemlin, executive director of the Linux Foundation, told LinuxInsider.

      “The reason it’s growing so fast,” he continued, “is because in a down economy, companies now know that Linux will save them real money.”

    • LinMin™ Bare Metal Provisioning 5.4 adds Turbo-Imaging™ and Hosting, Cloud Data Center Enhancements

      LinMin, maker of award-winning LinMin Bare Metal Provisioning™, today unveiled Release 5.4, featuring “Turbo-Imaging,” a high-performance disk imaging subsystem for disaster recovery, new operating system media management, updated Linux® and Windows® Server provisioning, extensive logging and numerous other features requested by corporate, cloud and hosting company data center managers.

    • IBM Launches Smart Cube i and Linux Appliances in the U.S.

      The X64-Linux versions of the appliance are known as the Smart Cube for Business Applications, and it currently comes in two flavors, both being single-socket machines based on Intel processors.

    • Ubicom(R) Announces OpenWRT Compliant Router Platform

      Ubicom(R), Inc., a leading provider of networking and multimedia processor solutions, announced today the availability of a Linux-based OpenWRT compliant router platform that runs on the Ubicom IP7100 Router Gateway Evaluation board.

  • Kernel Space

    • AMD Catalyst 9.5 Driver For Linux Released

      If you closely follow the Phoronix Forums you already know that the Catalyst 9.5 Linux driver is available for download. In fact, it has been available since this past Friday on their web server, but it was not officially announced and linked to from their driver web-site until now. The Catalyst 9.5 driver release notes do not mention much, in fact they are basically a facsimile of the Catalyst 9.4 driver release notes.

    • The State Of The Wayland Display Server

      As Wayland clients are responsible for direct rendering to the screen, some work is required to get this graphics library working under Wayland, but it will be a big step forward considering that GNOME/GTK+ rely upon Cairo. Intel’s Eric Anholt has also been working on an OpenGL-based back-end for Cairo, which would allow Cairo to run under Wayland no matter the graphics hardware in use. This is in contrast to the approach Kristian Høgsberg and Chris Wilson have been doing of hardware-specific support in a Cairo DRM branch. Coming soon, work will be underway in getting GTK+ to work with the cairo-drm back-end.

    • Linux 2.6.30 strong ARMs into mobile device support

      If amount of development activity is any thing to go by the next Linux kernel release, version 2.6.30, will be a boon for mobile device makers with more than 50 updates for the ARM platform being included.

      The Advanced RISC Machine (ARM) architecture is running billions of mobile phones and other portable devices and has attracted Google and Canonical for their Android and Ubuntu Mobile ports the chip, respectively.

      [...]

      According to Wikipedia, as of January 2008, over 10 billion ARM cores have been built, and iSuppli predicts that 5 billion a year will ship in 2011. That’s big potential for Linux on mobile devices.

  • Applications

    • 8 Great Linux Apps Worth Bragging About, part 1

      There is such a wealth of great Free and Open Source software applications it’s almost an embarrassment of riches, and we’re going to look at 8 of them in this two-part series. Yes, we keep hearing the repetitive klaxon of the tireless FUDwagon: “Linux is no good because everyone needs Adobe Flash and Reader, Photoshop, and Games”. I have news for those silly FUDsters: there is a whole galaxy of great software beyond silly old Adobe, Photoshop, and gory fragfest games.

  • Desktop Environments/Window Managers

    • Intro to AwesomeWM

      awesome is a highly configurable, next generation framework window manager for X. It is very fast, extensible and licensed under the GNU GPLv2 license.

    • KDE

      • The KDE 4.3 beta: KDE Returns to Incremental Releases

        The last sixteen months have been intense for the KDE desktop. The release of KDE 4.0 brought a user revolt that was only partly subdued by the 4.1 release, and did not completely quiet down until the 4.2 release last January with its emphasis on usability.

        [...]

        For those tired of a static desktop, the KDE 4 series already has the slide show option for wallpaper. Now, in the 4.3 beta, you also have options called Virus and Mandelbrot, which slowly alter the desktop, or Weather, which changes the wallpaper with the weather report.

      • Integrate Google Gadgets with Plasma in Kubuntu 9.04 Jaunty

        With the release of KDE 4.2, Google Gadgets became fully integrated into Plasma. You can add them to your desktop with a few clicks of your mouse, unless you happen to be a Kubuntu user. For reasons that are outside the scope of this article, Kubuntu developers decided to remove the Google Gadget code from Plasma. Being the stubborn hackers that we are, however, we are going to get them back. This will require a little compiling of software, but I will walk you through each step.

  • Distributions

    • Slackware64 -current made public!

      Ready or not, Slackware has now gone 64-bit with an official x86_64 port being maintained in-sync with the regular x86 -current branch. DVDs will be available for purchase from the Slackware store when Slackware 13.0 is released. Many thanks go out to the Slackware team for their help with this branch and a special thank you to Eric Hameleers who did the real heavy lifting re-compiling everything for this architecture, testing, re-testing, and staying in-sync with -current.

    • Musix

      • Musix2.0-DVD-beta1

        We have released a new version of the 100% free operating system for musicians, graphic designers, video makers, artists and all kinds of users. Musix 2.0 beta1 Live DVD can be tested on your PC without installing anything on your hard disk, then if you wish, you can install it.

      • Musix To My Ears

        Musix may include free audio tools that are missing a feature here and there but don’t underestimate the power of free software whether it’s audio, video, graphic design or any other applications. Give Musix a try and you may just find a few tools that belong in your studio.

    • Red Hat

      • Red Hat’s JBoss Leaps Into Business Rules

        New software platform will bring open source middleware into more direct competition with Oracle, and IBM but full parity is not quite there, yet.

      • Red Hat and JBoss Solutions Enable Banka Koper to Become Slovenia’s First Bank to Bring All Banking Services Online

        Red Hat (NYSE: RHT), the world’s leading provider of open source solutions, today announced that a combination of Red Hat and JBoss solutions are providing a high-performance, flexible and efficient platform for Banka Koper’s innovative online banking solution, Banka IN. Red Hat Enterprise Linux and JBoss Enterprise Application Platform on HP Blade Center systems were selected to avoid vendor lock-in, reduce costs and provide the scalability to adapt to continued business growth.

      • Red Hat improves JBoss Java enterprise rules management

        Over the last year, Linux-house RedHat moved up the middleware stack, reinforcing its version of the open-source JBoss Java application server with an open-source software service bus, an open rules engine, and other enterprise-style enhancements. This week the company furthered its enterprise incursions with a new set of rules authoring and management tools, as well as a business rules repository.

    • Ubuntu

      • Managed Services Meet Linux Clouds

        So where do Canonical, Ubuntu and Landscape potentially fit into the managed services picture? Canonical pitches Landscape primarily for corporate IT managers that want to manage virtual or physical Ubuntu servers. The remote management efforts can involve in-house servers or Ubuntu systems living in the Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2).

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Wireless Linux group chalks out ambitious plans

      Open-source wireless Linux foundation LiMo aims to grow its share of the mobile phone operating system market, dominated by Nokia (NOK1V.HE: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz), by adding about 10 members and launching 20 new models this year.

    • Phones

      • Delicious Dell Cupcake…(Android Cupcake, that is)

        Care for a Dell Cupcake? We knew you would. Credit to Dell for not only listening to reader suggestions, but for doing their own video hacking. At their own labs (hey, those kinda look like ours), they demonstrate the newest Android update, “Cupcake,” on a Mini 10v, being quick to announce that “they have no plans” to announce such a thing…but that it “runs really nicely.” So says Doug Anson, a technology strategist who works at the office of the CTO, who demonstrates.

      • Dell says Windows 7 price is possible barrier

        Some schools and smaller businesses may not be early adopters due to price. “Schools and government agencies may not be able to afford (the additional cost). Some of the smaller businesses may not be able to enjoy the software as soon as they’d like,” Ward said.

      • Access’s NetFront claims top mobile browser spot

        Access is also the company that bought PalmSource and the old Palm OS – subsequently renamed Garnet – in 2005. The firm is currently working on its Garnet-based Access Linux Platform, which has thus far failed to find any takers in the handset manufacturing industry. The inclusion of Access Linux Platform mini – a cut-down version of the open source platform – in a portable navigation device was however announced earlier this month.

    • Sub-notebooks

      • The Moblin V2 User Interface Is Very Impressive

        We first got excited for Moblin 2.0 back in January when seeing how fast this Linux distribution had booted on Atom-powered netbooks. This Fedora-derived distribution booted even faster with a newer development release that came out this past March. While Moblin 2.0 final is not yet released, there is now more to get excited over than just amazing boot times. Moblin 2.0 will introduce a Clutter-based user interface and from our initial encounters with this release, it is very impressive! In this article we have more information on this new UI along with screenshots and videos.

      • Hands-on: Intel brings rich UI to Moblin Linux platform

        Intel has unveiled the next-generation user interface of Moblin, the company’s open source Linux platform for netbooks and mobile Internet devices. We tested it on real netbook hardware so that we could give you a detailed hands-on look.

      • Spanish Solar-Powered, Bio-Degradable Netbook

        The solar powered “GYY” is just one of the range of ”ordenadores 100% libre” or 100% free computers (100% free apart from the actual price, we guess). The little machines are made of biodegradable plastic (fashioned from maize or other renewables) and run only open-source software under the GNU license.

      • Fidelity ships $250 mini Linux notebook

        Fidelity Electronics out of Vaughan Ontario announced last week that it has begun shipping its VPC computer, a one and half pound netbook featuring 7 inch LCD, 2GB of RAM, and USB, Ethernet and WiFi connectivity.

Free Software/Open Source

  • License Agreements Before Acquisition

    We (On-Disk.com) are trying a different angle for software license acceptance that *may* provide Open Source software users with more of an incentive to financially support Open Source development.

  • Officeshots.org available in closed beta

    The Netherlands in Open Connection and OpenDoc Society are happy to announce the immediate availability of the beta of Officeshots.org, a free webservice that allows users to compare the output quality of office applications. The Officeshots project entails both an open source service framework, and a free online service based on this framework. The service is now in closed beta, exclusively available to members of the international OpenDoc Society on http://www.officeshots.org. If you wish to join the beta program you can become a member or sponsor of the OpenDoc Society. Officeshots will be put to the test significantly in the first ODF Plugfest that will be held June 15/16th 2009 in The Royal Library in The Hague.

  • Review: My good ol’ friend FreeBSD (actually PC-BSD 7.1)

    For those of you who are regular visitors, you may already know that before I started playing with GNU/Linux (2001/2) I was using FreeBSD. And while I continue to use GNU/Linux, I still hold an emotional tie to BSD-based operating systems. It was not until recently that I had decided to give the latest version of PC-BSD a try. This is version 7.1: Galileo Edition. A side note: PC-BSD is a desktop oriented version of FreeBSD intended to be extremely user friendly, primarily because of their implementation of their PBI package management system along with other features.

    [...]

    While I only skimmed the surface with this article as I primarily wanted to emphasize the PBI application installation system, there is still so much more to do with PC-BSD. From the Wardens to Jails, and everything else that most GNU/Linux and UNIX users may be familiar with, PC-BSD is worth a try. It is extremely user friendly. And from the point of installation with auto-updates running in the background and having the right applications installed, I can see someone coming from a Windows environment and having little problems settling in. The development teams involved have done an excellent job in packaging this OS together.

  • Health Care

  • Server

    • Why are you not running Apache? New IIS holes should make you rethink your web server

      It has been a while since I have played with Apache, I will admit that. The last time I used it, version 2.0 was the norm, and version 2.2 was just coming out of beta. Today of version 2.2.11 is the current version. What got me thinking about Apache was partially nostalgia and partially head banging and continued frustration with government use of IIS, especially given the exciting events this week.

    • Microsoft IIS hole fells university server

      Hackers have wasted no time targeting a gaping hole in Microsoft’s Internet Information Services webserver, according to administrators at Ball State University, who say servers that used the program were breached on Monday

  • FSF/GNU

  • Government

    • Newham and the Prisoner’s Dilemma

      First the bad. Newham demonstrates that once Microsoft products are used for a large number of functions in a large organisation, there is a natural tendency to use even more of them because of the way that Microsoft links and binds them together. As more and more Microsoft-based skill sets are acquired, the switching costs become very high – which is precisely why Microsoft adopts this tightly-integrated approach.

      This means that, realistically, there is little scope for swapping in open source solutions to replace those of Microsoft, even when the total cost of acquiring and running the software is lower. The re-training costs will always be a barrier.

      [...]

      Indeed, that was perhaps the most important insight that I gained from yesterday’s meeting: that local councils find themselves in something of a Prisoner’s Dilemma when it comes to choosing whether to go with Microsoft or free software.

      Individually, it makes sense to do deals with Microsoft, since councils can use the threat of turning to open source to obtain better deals. But if they *all* turned to open source, the overall cost savings would be much greater.

    • Secret code and the damage it does to our society

      Microsoft’s Jerry Fishenden’s very recent and (I found) chilling presentation concerned their massive Public Sector IT commitment. Simply put, it was about the next generation smart surveillance programme or ‘proof of entitlement’ initiative.

    • Open Cities: Popularity lessons for municipal politicians

      Prior to the posting the motion several of my friends wondered if the subject of open data, open cities and open source were niche issues, ones that wouldn’t attract the attention or care of the media, not to mention citizens. I’m not sure that this is, as of yet, a mainstream issue, but there is clear, vocal, engaged and growing constituency – that is surprisingly broad – supporting it.

    • Video: Open source government

      Open source is answering the call at government agencies on all levels as they look for opportunities to carve out costs and improve security, transparency, public participation, and collaboration. Why? Open source is stable, trustworthy, and secure, and Red Hat solutions are being used across government agencies to create efficiencies, eliminate vendor lock-in, meet mission-critical IT demands, and improve service delivery.

  • Openness

    • Plans for a documentary about Free Knowledge

      The other day I met with two filmmakers in Spain. They are planning to make a documentary about Free Knowledge in general. They would like to show to the general public the aspects and culture within the various communities, ranging from Free Software projects to the editors of Wikipedia, from people protecting public knowledge and culture to people fighting for keeping the internet open. And place these movements in perspective to the intents of corporate interests in the privatisation of knowledge and enclosure of our culture.

    • Fighting Fund for the Big WOBber

      I got a note from him yesterday telling me a new problem has come up. Despite the fact that the local authorities – like all in Europe – have a legal duty to provide the information, they have started sending Brenno big bills for the administrative work involved, in a kind of denial-of-service attack on his campaign.

  • Programming

    • Will the Java Platform Create The World’s Largest App Store?

      For details on how Vector will work, when it’ll be available, how to submit your content or application – alongside insights into Project Vector’s technology, roadmap, features and business model, come see us at JavaOne… In the interim, you can learn more about the latest JavaFX news at sun.com/javafx, and download the latest JavaFX design tools at netbeans.org.

    • GNU tools touted for faster compiling

      CodeSourcery has updated its commercially supported GNU- and Eclipse-based software development toolkits with compiler optimizations and other enhancements. The Spring release of Sourcery G++ also offers a QEMU emulator and updated runtime library routines, as well as new IDE debugging support, says the company.

Leftovers

  • A Modest Proposal: Three-Strikes for Print

    Yesterday the French parliament adopted a proposal to create a “three-strikes” system that would kick people off the Internet if they are accused of copyright infringement three times.

  • Usenet Community Takes Anti-Piracy Group to Court

    A Usenet discussion community is taking notorious anti-piracy outfit BREIN to court. BREIN, which has taken action against many Usenet and BitTorrent sites including Demonoid and Mininova, has declared the activities of FTD illegal. Angered by these claims, FTD is now taking BREIN to court to force it to eat its words.

  • Copyrights

    • The RIAA Has Got to Stop

      I ask this simple question: If there’s a band out there whose CD I would buy, how am I supposed to discover this band? Tell me how! Is Rush Limbaugh going to play them?

      The current mechanism for discovery is arcane and getting worse by the day, as thousands of incredibly mediocre musicians muddy the water with MySpace pages, free downloads, and Web sites. The worst bands of the old punk-rock era sound like Mozart compared with some of the no-talents flooding the market with their wailing.

    • The 14 Most Ridiculous Lawsuits Filed by the RIAA and the MPAA

      Nine years ago the RIAA won a groundbreaking suit against Napster.com in what would become the beginning of a nearly decade-long flood of litigation.

    • Biased Pirate Bay Judge Judged by More Biased Judges

      To determine if the verdict in the Pirate Bay case was biased, the connections of Judge Tomas Norström to national and international pro-copyright lobby groups will be reviewed by another judge. However, the judge that was initially appointed has already been replaced because she was linked to the same organizations as Norström, and her replacement is not exactly unbiased either.

    • France Continues Its Campaign To Pass The Worst Internet-Related Laws Around

      Perhaps it’s a race of some sort to see which country can pass the worst laws related to the internet possible, and France feels that it’s falling behind other countries? After approving a “three strikes” law that will kick those accused (not convicted) of file sharing off the internet, someone in our comments reminded us that France is also looking to implement a file sharing tax on ISPs (Google translation) — even though there’s already such a levy on storage media.

    • Music Labels Trying To Force Pirate Bay Offline Now

      Earlier this month, we noted that the record labels were already stretching The Pirate Bay ruling to use it to go after web hosting firms who clearly were far separated from the actions of their clients.

    • A living art reborn

      Digital technology has made music easier to make and copy, with the result that recorded music is about as readily available as water, and not a whole lot more exciting.

      This seems like bad news, until you pick up a copy of Time Out. Then you realise that the live music scene is exploding, for, unable to make a living from records sales, more and more bands are playing live. That experience can’t be put onto a memory card–and people are willing to pay for it, and to pay quite a lot. Concert attendances are at an all-time high: recordings are increasingly ads for live shows, and live shows have become once again the real thing, the unduplicable…..

    • Artists Don’t Want Pirate Fans to be Disconnected

      Last week, a group of music and other entertainment industry representatives urged the UK government to consider drafting legislation that would force ISPs to disconnect alleged pirates. This proposal now faces opposition from an unexpected corner as a coalition of top artists has spoken out against it, saying that disconnecting their fans is the wrong path to take.

    • Record Labels Continue Their Attack On Spanish File Sharing Programmers

      We’ve seen a series of efforts by the big four major record labels to shut down file search engines and software in Spain, despite the fact that such systems have been ruled legal in the country in the past. In one case, they were able to get one guy to cop a guilty plea and get jail time, because he couldn’t afford to fight the charges.

Digital Tipping Point: Clip of the Day

Steve Weber, creator of the phrase “anti-rival goods” 17 (2005)

Ogg Theora

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

IRC: #boycottnovell @ FreeNode: May 20th, 2009

Posted in IRC Logs at 4:41 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME Gedit

Read the log

Enter the IRC channel now

To use your own IRC client, join channel #boycottnovell in FreeNode.

Latest Report About Microsoft’s Newly-Found Affair with Software Patents (as Anti-FOSS Mechanism)

Posted in America, GNU/Linux, Kernel, Law, Microsoft, Patents at 3:51 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“If people had understood how patents would be granted when most of today’s ideas were invented, and had taken out patents, the industry would be at a complete standstill today.”

Bill Gates (when Microsoft was smaller)

Summary: A roundup of news and observations about Microsoft’s exploitation of software patents

AS THE previous post showed, Microsoft and its offshoots may be paying politicians for software patents. One of the benefits (to Microsoft) which comes out of this is that it bans competition. Microsoft’s #1 competition is GNU/Linux and Free software and the company already sues this competition using software patents which is lobbies for. Microsoft views software patents as something that the GPL is naturally vulnerable to.

LWN.net has just made public its latest debate about the TomTom/FAT case, which represents Microsoft’s first legal shot at Linux. From the article:

When Microsoft filed its lawsuit against TomTom, it named two patents which cover the VFAT filesystem. That, naturally, led to a renewed push to either (1) get those patents invalidated, or (2) move away from VFAT altogether. But some participants have advocated a third approach: find a way to work around the patents which retains most of the VFAT filesystem functionality while, with luck, avoiding any potential infringement of the claims of the patent. But, as a recently-posted patch and the ensuing discussion show, workarounds are not a straightforward solution even after the lawyers have been satisfied.

There is a rather terrible and demeaning article in Ars Technica right now. It is about Microsoft's patent propaganda book and the reviewer plays right into Microsoft’s hands, maybe intentionally.

Far from being the evil monopolist, Microsoft has in many ways become the cooperative giant—and it’s all thanks to intellectual property. The company’s IP czar takes us inside the corporate transformation in a new book, Burning the Ships, to show us how it happened (and to take a few potshots at Richard Stallman).

Glyn Moody responds to the shallow take contained in this book review, which seems only to defend Microsoft’s offensive behaviour. Software patents did not make Microsoft nicer; they only made it more ruthless and anti-competitive.

To call this “collaboration” is a perversion of language: it’s about *enslavement*, pure and simple. It’s just that Microsoft has become subtler.

Moody also shows what Microsoft has done to the idea of patenting and Microsoft’s tactics of intimidation may be working because, according to this new article, some companies seek indemnification.

But for many large enterprises, potential intellectual property (IP) lawsuits and lack of support staff still keep open source tools out of data centers.

Indemnification is also mentioned in Bluenog’s new press release — being a company that more or less uses the term “open source” for marketing purposes.

“Bluenog is disrupting today’s enterprise technology space with Bluenog ICE, an integrated suite of CMS, Portal and BI software that offers the benefits of open source, such as access to source code, backed by indemnification and the comprehensive support typical of commercial solutions,” said Suresh Kuppusamy, chief executive officer, Bluenog. “It is no small feat to be selected among the best and brightest companies competing to be winners of the Red Herrin

Some of Microsoft’s patents are rather outrageous. Take this newly-approved patent for example. It’s hilarious, it’s an embarrassment to the USPTO.

“On Tuesday, Microsoft was granted US Patent No. 7,536,726 (it was filed in 2005) for intentionally crippling the functionality of an operating system by ‘making selected portions and functionality of the operating system unavailable to the user or by limiting the user’s ability to add software applications or device drivers to the computer’ until an ‘agreed upon sum of money’ is paid to ‘unlock or otherwise make available the restricted functionality.’ According to Microsoft, this solves a ‘problem inherent in open architecture systems,’ i.e., ‘they are generally licensed with complete use rights and/or functionality that may be beyond the need or desire of the system purchaser.’ An additional problem with open architecture systems, Microsoft explains, is that ‘virtually anyone can write an application that can be executed on the system.’ Nice to see the USPTO rewarding Microsoft’s eight problem-solving inventors, including Linux killer (and antelope killer) Joachim Kempin, who’s been credited with getting Microsoft hauled into federal court on antitrust charges.”

Regarding this news, one reader writes to us: “Microsoft Openness, I don’t think so. It just goes to demonstrate how – they aren’t ever going to stop – until they own it all.

“This ‘patent’ a perversion of everything the technology is supposed to be about. Guess who the gate keeper of of this functionality is going to be. Not content with messing with the ever changing system calls, they now want to control the whole industry at the OS level.”

Now that XBox is struggling against Nintendo Microsoft also resorts to ‘copying’ and then patenting this:

In a newly disclosed patent application, naming Allard and others as inventors, Microsoft seeks intellectual property protection for a concept described, literally, as a “MAGIC WAND.” Although it was only made public a few days ago, the application was originally filed in November 2007 — about a year after Nintendo launched the Wii, with its distinctive, wand-style controller. (Update: Timing of Nintendo’s Wii launch has been corrected since original post.)

More coverage in:

Gene Quinn, a lawyer and proponent of software patents (the more patents, the more money for lawyers) says that In Re Bilski is not bad for software patents. The patent reform (deform), which is by all means a farce, seems to have negative impact in other places where equivalents crop up. Here is one from New Zealand:

Patents Bill

[...]

I will begin by looking briefly at software. The bill proposes that software should be patentable; the opposite direction to that being pursued by the European Union. This is a very bad idea. The foremost theorist in this area is Richard Stallman. Stallman eloquently argues that the use of software patents stifles creativity, massively reduces efficiency, and can lead to whole areas of software usefulness remaining unexplored. Software patents are a substantial cause of software incompatibility, for example. He draws an analogy with the composition of a symphony. Suppose someone had patented particular chord progressions, sequences of notes, or combinations of instruments playing at the same time. What sort of problem would Beethoven have had? We regard him as a brilliant and innovative composer, but he wrote symphonies using a musical vocabulary comprised of very many musical ideas developed by multiple composers. Stallman argues that even a genius software programmer must draw on a standard vocabulary of programming ideas. If software patents are permitted, then the programmer cannot draw on such ideas without infringing patents. The consequences are that whole areas of software development are avoided lest software developers breach patents, and in other areas inefficient or otherwise unsatisfactory programmes remain in use because it is not technically feasible to develop better options because of this restriction. In this area patents are clearly a brake and a hindrance on innovation.

In the United States, patents (monopolies) are seen as the notion with which to save the economy. [via Digital Majority]

IP Enforcement As US Foreign Policy

The United States Chamber of Commerce, the largest US business group, on Monday issued a release applauding a new bill introduced into the US House of Representatives by House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Howard Berman (Democrat, California) that would “enhance State Department resources and training for intellectual property enforcement efforts in countries not meeting their international obligations,” the Chamber said.

In essence, this is competitive strangulation using pieces of paper. As we showed earlier, Microsoft being the example, even crippling of an operating systems is now a US patent. Here is another funny new patent which is consumer-hostile:

MLB Gets A Patent On Making It More Difficult To Watch Your Favorite Baseball Team Online

[...]

Limiting access by subscription levels has been around forever. Combining the two hardly seems new and innovative. This seems like it should fail based on general obviousness, as well as the new tests under the KSR ruling (on obviousness) and the Bilski ruling (on pure software patents). About the only “good” that comes of this is that perhaps it means other sports leagues won’t use such an anti-fan policy.

Where is this patent system going? And other than selfishness and infinite greed, what is it that motivates Microsoft to support it?

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