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08.17.09

Links 17/08/2009: More Sub-notebooks Running GNU/Linux, PCLinuxOS Reviewed

Posted in News Roundup at 6:32 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Should businesses support Linux?

    Clearly, Linux should be considered for businesses right alongside of Windows and, yes, Mac OS X. Choices are a good thing in business.

  • Secure VPN the Easy Way With the Linux-based Untangle Router

    Last month, we discovered the Untangle Network Gateway. You can install it onto a PC to help protect, control, and monitor Internet access for your entire network. You can alternatively use the Windows utility if you don’t want to dedicate a computer to the cause.

  • Kernel Space

    • Kernel Log – Coming in 2.6.31 – Part 3: Storage and file systems

      The experimental file system Btrfs, billed as the “next generation file system for Linux”, should now be even faster. Libata drivers for IDE/PATA adaptors are pushing aside the IDE subsystem. The first components for defragmenting Ext4 file systems have been merged into the main development tree. Systems with Intel ATA chipsets now boot faster thanks to parallel hardware scanning.

    • Torvalds bashes vendor-sec private Linux security list

      I completely agree. Openness and transparency are the key to true security. However, I do also understand how this can put vendors and users at risk, since patches aren’t going to be co-ordinated. It’s a tough call and very delicate balance that needs to be achieved.

  • Applications

    • 4 Little-Known KDE Apps You’ll Really Like

      Users of the KDE desktop know it has a dozens of handy tools and functions built right in, but the beauty of open source means you can tweak it to your heart’s content by adding extra plugins to make your desktop do even more. Here are five KDE desktop applications that you might not have ever heard of, but are definitely worth checking out.

    • Enhanced Command-Not-Found Hook in Ubuntu 9.10

      One of the less prominent Ubuntu features that has received an overhaul for Karmic is the command-not-found handle, which helps users find the program they’re looking for when they type an unrecognized command in the terminal. Following is a brief outline of improvements made to this tiny utility, and why they matter.

  • Desktop Environments

    • Gnome 2.28.0 beta1

      The Gnome team has released a Beta version of the Gnome Desktop Environment, version 2.28.0 beta1.

  • Distributions

    • PCLinuxOS

      • Mini Review: PcLinuxOS 2009.2

        Overall though, I like the new version. They appear to have fixed all my previous gripes and have once again made it to the top of my recommended list. Congrats to the PCLOS team, and keep up the good work, because I like where you’re going with your distro.

      • PCLinuxOS LXDE (PCLXDE) 2009 Review

        Verdict: Big thumbs up. I would highly recommend PCLinuxOS 2009, the LXDE version, to anyone who has an old computer that needs new life breathed into it. This is probably the best Linux distro I’ve found for this computer, and I’m going to keep it.

    • Red Hat Family

      • Running Fedora “Rawhide”

        A few months ago we started a series of articles on running the development releases of major distributions. So far we have covered Mandriva “Cooker”, Slackware “Current” and openSUSE “Factory”. Today, with the imminent release of Fedora 12 Alpha, we’ll upgrade a stable Fedora 11 release to the latest “Rawhide”, the Fedora development branch.

      • Red Hat Names 2009 Red Hat Certified Engineers of the Year

        Red Hat, Inc. (NYSE: RHT), the world’s leading provider of open source solutions, today announced the five regional winners of its annual Red Hat Certified Engineer (RHCE) of the Year contest. Winners demonstrated hard work, expertise and innovation utilizing RHCE skills to solve complex technical problems and deliver value to their companies and institutions.

      • Red Hat Expands Partner Program to Juice Reseller Business

        Red Hat has expanded its partner program to give companies more options for how they can work with the Linux vendor, more ways to demonstrate their areas of product expertise to customers and more discounts on product pricing, the company said Monday.

    • Debian Family

      • Linux Mint: Your Best Choice for a Desktop Linux OS

        Linux Mint, a distribution based on Ubuntu, has won a significant share of users, and represents a better Linux experience for both advanced and first time users. Simple yet effective tweaks, like the Mint Menu, might not appear very impressive at first glance but they affect your daily routines in a positive manner. It’s the same principle that makes Apple software better: an uncanny attention to details and yes, elegance.

        [...]

        A few more tweaks and applets make Linux Mint great, but they are less important and I’m sure you’ll discover them yourself. Linux Mint comes in both 32bit and 64bit, with KDE, GNOME and XFCE flavors available here. Each version includes the standard array of applications such as Gimp, OpenOffice and Rhythmbox. The Live CD image can be burned to a CD or USB stick and can be booted for testing or performing a permanent installation. A quick start guide can be downloaded for free. You might also want to check out our “Getting Started Guide to Linux”.

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Phones

      • Linux, Symbian, Android, Apple or Blackberry? A tough choice for CIOs

        The recent launch of nine high-specification mobile phones that use the Mobile Linux operating system (Limo) will add fuel to an already overheated market.

      • HTC stylus to work with multi-touch screens

        HTC has applied for a patent on a magnetic stylus that can be used with capacitive touchscreens.

        [...]

        Linux, meanwhile, was also designed with resistive screens in mind, but multi-touch has now been introduced into the Linux 2.6.30 kernel. Of course, multi-touch also features in Palm’s Linux-based Pre smartphone, and is expected to be available in additional Android smartphones later this year.

    • Sub-notebooks

      • Asus Eee PC 900 Rules the Netbook Market

        The Asus EEE PC 900A-WFBB01 is now available for a cheaper price than usual and comes with the powerful Intel 1.6GHz Atom N270 processor 4GB SSD, 8.9″ display with a 1024 x 600 resolution, and GNU Linux OS.

      • Asus EEE PC 900 Netbook with 1.6GHz Atom Processor Remember Review

        The Asus EEE PC 900A-WFBB01 is powered by an Intel 1.6GHz Atom N270 processor, 1GB DDR2, 4GB SSD, 8.9″ display with a 1024 x 600 resolution, and GNU Linux OS. The netbook features built-in mic, built-in WiFi 802.11b/g, 3 x USB port, SD / MMC (SDHC) expandable storage card support, VGA-out, stereo speaker, and RJ 10/100 Ethernet amongst many others.

      • Dell Vouches for Quality of Linux Netbooks

        A PC World story, apparently covering the same event, reports that Finch revealed that in a few weeks Dell will offer Linux OS upgrades to Ubuntu 9.04. PC World also reports that Finch said Dell is looking into manufacturing ARM-based netbooks and “smartbooks”. Finally, Finch was said to have revealed that “in certain quarters” close to a third of all Dell netbook shipments are pre-loaded with Linux.

      • Preview of Jolicloud: The social Netbook OS

        One of those, called Jolicloud is launching in beta in the next few months. Created by Tariq Krim, who founded and later left widget-based start page Netvibes, the alternate OS has been designed for Web workers, or people who do most of their work (or play) on Web applications and services.

Free Software/Open Source

  • The greatest open source software of all time

    The Linux kernel was not the first open source software (some argue that GNU Emacs was), but it is certainly the most famous and successful — the prime mover behind the popularization of open source development and the use of free open source products. Today the Linux kernel is the foundation of a rich variety of operating system distributions, the poster penguin of open source software, and the number one inductee into our open source hall of fame.

  • ES: ‘Open source science allows others to get involved’

    Researchers at the Spanish University of Granada are publishing as open source their software simulating the human nervous system, saying this is the only way to allow other teams to become involved.

  • OpenBSC powered GSM network live at HAR2009

    Under license of the Dutch regulatory authority, we operate two BTS with two TRX each, forming the network 204-42. The BTS are positioned on the top of a hill, with the antennas mounted back to back on a tree, each covering about half of the HAR2009 camp site. Every transceiver runs at 100mW transmit power, which is the maximum output as per our license.

    From that tree, we run AC power and a single E1 line down to the GSM tent, where it runs into the Linux PC that runs our OpenBSC software.

  • First look at stable Firefox 3.5

    In short this is a bad, dirty nasty naughty PC, with a highly fragmented hard drive and a lot of other programs fighting for processor attention. If Firefox works well here and (so far) it does, imagine what it can do on your nice, clean, obedient and well-tended machine.

  • Hard currency and open source

    Over 150 years ago, President Andrew Jackson agitated for principles that will sound familiar to open-source software advocates. But his “back to our agrarian roots” rationale for doing so sounds as wrong-headed today as it did back then.

    [...]

    In other words, while we should rightly say “good riddance” to Enron-esque software business models, it’s counterproductive to demand a return to our “agrarian” software roots.

  • Rohde vs Viasat on GPL/LGPL

    Viasat A/S is not the only Danish company that is likely to infringe on GPL. Stofa also distributes a Motorola box in Denmark named “Zaptor”, which is loaded with software like Linux and Mozilla Firefox. When I bought the Zaptor box I never received any GPL notices with it nor an offer to receive the source code. I know that Yousee also runs Linux on their HD boxes from Samsung, but I have yet to see the source code made available anywhere.

  • FlexBooks Challenge Textbooks, at No Cost to Students or Schools

    It is not clear if this is truly an altruistic endeavor. Perhaps the founders — who come from the Silicon Valley technology world — are giving away books in order to sell software at a later date. But for now, it is an experiment that could help bring down the cost of textbooks. And we’re going to keep an eye on it.

Leftovers

  • Censorship

    • US tests censorship circumvention tool; Chinese shrug

      Citizens living in China, Vietnam, Iran, and other countries may soon have another option for bypassing Internet filters, courtesy of a US-based agency. The Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) announced on Friday that it was working on a new system that would use e-mail to carry encrypted data to and from the recipient, including information that would otherwise be blocked.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Can There Be A Fair File Sharing Trial When The Language Is All Biased?

      In the past, we’ve discussed the various problems with the language choices by the entertainment industry in discussing file sharing. Terms like “intellectual property,” “piracy,” “theft” and even its descriptions of “losses” are all misleading and biased. This, in fact, is a key point in William Patry’s upcoming book — where he looks at how the language has been co-opted by the industry to pre-bias the casual observer (including journalists and politicians).

    • Yes, book sequels should be allowed, transformative or not!

      The problem of unauthorized book sequels have been with us since the beginning of copyright. Charles McGrath brings us up to date on it here. By his account, if the originator doesn’t object, the sequel writer can get away with it.

    • Mandelson goes to war on teenagers downloading their music and movies… just days after dining with anti-piracy billionaire

      Lord Mandelson launched a crackdown on internet piracy just days after meeting a leading Hollywood critic of illegal file sharing.

      The business secretary plans to criminalise the estimated seven million people – one in 12 of the population – who illicitly download music and films over the internet.

Digital Tipping Point: Clip of the Day

Thomas Bartol, computational neuroscientist for the Salk Institute 08 (2005)

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

How Bill Gates Denied Access to Office File Format Documentation to Stifle Competition

Posted in Antitrust, Bill Gates, Formats, Microsoft, Office Suites, Open XML, OpenDocument at 1:18 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Microsoft’s former chairman shows the company’s attitude towards accessible file formats and competition

IT is interesting enough to know that Microsoft deliberately makes its documentation deficient and unavailable (the word “undocumentation” is actually used internally), but to know who is responsible for it is even more interesting. Comes vs Microsoft Exhibit PX03104 (2000) [PDF] provides an answer which fits the pattern seen in other E-mails.

We’ve recently change the policy for distributing our file formats, at the request of BillG. We used to be fairly lax about giving it out to pretty much everyone who asked for it (Excel even published a book through MS Press).

Our new policy (for Office2000) is that there are restrictions on use (can’t build converters, can’t be a competitor to any of the apps, etc). We required a signed license agreement in hand before we’ll send them the docs. They have to tell us who they are and what their company does, as well as their intended use.

Privileged Material
Redacted

Once we get a copy of the signed agreement back, I sign for Microsoft, and we send them back a hard copy of the agreement via snail mail, and send them the docs via email

This should not be particularly surprising. See other Comes vs Microsoft exhibits that we covered in:

For the investigative, there is more in our Wiki. The full text from this latest exhibit can be found beneath. It is particularly valuable to those who study Microsoft’s reluctance to support open standards, let alone permit other office suites to inter-operate (free of charge). Based on the correspondence below, Microsoft deliberately targets possible competition and hinders access to vital data if the competition is serious. Shouldn’t the European Commission take a look?


Appendix: Comes vs. Microsoft – exhibit PX03104, as text


Read the rest of this entry »

Links 17/08/2009: GIMP 2.7.0 and Linux from Scratch 6.5 Released

Posted in News Roundup at 10:58 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • What is this Linux thingy and why should I care?

    Why would anyone want to use GNU/Linux? Well, there are a lot of reasons but the most alluring is that GNU/Linux is completely free. It does not cost a penny and anyone can download it. A regular operating system will cost you around $200. So price is definitely a huge factor for people switching over. This saves people money and also allows them to install it on mutiple machines without licenses. Even most of the applications that you install on Linux are available for free. This gives your operating system tons of functionality from editing audio/video, playing games, surfing the web, editing documents and many more. Another reason that people switch to GNU/Linux is because of its open source nature which gives additional power to the user. Because anyone can copy, edit and distribute the software there is no one company that can control things. This is very good for innovation, comptetition and freedom for the user. GNU/Linux is a computer software revolution and many people are realising it. People are not happy with other operating systems that lock them in and dictate the rules to them. With GNU/Linux it sets you free from restrictions and limitations that are created by certain companies. Linux will run on many different computers from servers to desktops, laptops and even many gadgets. So why don’t you learn more about GNU/Linux and join the world of open source software? You will be impressed at how innovative and progressive it is.

  • Desktop

    • Recycling Lives and Computers

      Through grants and with the help of trained volunteers, the program takes at-risk youth and teaches them how to clean and repair donated computers and load them with open source software.

      [...]

      So far the program has been extremely successful. AWOL is currently, receiving more than 100 donated computers a week that need to be refurbished. But they’re running out of space to store them. They also need RAM (Random Access Memory Sticks) to make them functional.

      [...]

      Link to the open source operating system AWOL uses. Ubuntu is and African word which means “humanity to others”. This philosophy of sharing is the FOUNDATION of AWOL’s computer technology training program: http://www.ubuntu.com/

      Click here to learn more about the meaning of Ubuntu from one of the world’s most noted humanitarian, former president of South Africa, Nelson Mandela: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dx0qGJCm-qU
      If you’d like to help or if you’re in need of a computer, click here: awolinc.org

    • 5 things Microsoft Windows users do not know about Ubuntu Linux and its users.

      Fact 1
      The users of Ubuntu are to a certain extent, the owners of the OS. Everyone can participate in the development of the OS irrespective of their technical skills. They determine what goes into the development of the OS and have a lot of say in the kind of functions that the OS comes out with. They can choose to overwhelmingly reject something and the developers would have no choice than to obey. I doubt if Windows users can boast of this level of ownership and control over Windows.

      Fact 2
      Ubuntu users have the right to distribute the OS to as many people as they like without fear of attracting a lawsuit from Canonical or anyone for that matter.

  • Server

    • Distributed file system for the internet

      The server runs under Linux and Solaris, and the software is licensed under the GPLv2.

    • IBM halves mainframe Linux engine prices

      The IBM mainframe may not have a lot of direct competition when it comes to z/OS-based batch and transactional work, but the story is different when it comes to Linux. There’s plenty of competition among Linux platforms, and Big Blue can’t ignore the pressure that Moore’s Law brings to bear.

    • Linux to Command 12.5% Share of Taiwan`s Server Market by End of 2009

      Noteworthy is that Window`s penetration rate in Taiwan`s server market for this year is down from last year`s 81.52% and 2005`s 84.58%, while that of Linux moves upward from 2005`s 7.75%. Last year, 44% and 34% of Taiwan`s public research labs and schools, respectively, preferred Linux as the two most acceptable segments, according to DGBAS.

  • Kernel Space

    • Radeon Driver Picks Up VBOs, OQ Support

      There are quite a number of changes in store for Mesa 7.6, such as new state trackers for Gallium3D, other Gallium3D-specific improvements, optimized IR, and many changes to the different Mesa 3D drivers. Adding to that list, the open-source ATI R300+ driver has just picked up support for Vertex Buffer Objects and Occlusion Queries.

  • Applications

    • GIMP 2.7.0 Development Release

      The release of GIMP 2.7.0 is a first step towards GIMP 2.8, the next stable release. Please note that this is an unstable development snapshot.

    • Gaming in Linux

      One of the reasons people have a hard time making the jump to Linux is the fact that they have a hard time leaving the games they play in Windows. In this article, I’m going to describe some methods of getting around this hurdle, and make the transition to Linux easier. I’m not going to promise that your favorite game will work, but will give you the tools to be able to try. I’m also not going to be talking about native linux apps – those are pretty straightforward. This article will focus on Windows apps in Linux.

    • The 10-minute crash course in virtualisation

      Apps like Win4Lin or Win4Solaris will let you run Windows inside a virtual machine on a Linux or a Solaris box, saving you having to buy hardware and an OS. It’s not just about Windows apps, though. Virtualisation is driving plenty of convergence between different hardware standards.

      Virtualisation applications create virtual platforms and hardware that will run on all your physical machines, irrespective of the operating system. Parallels and VMware both have competing desktop virtualisation tools available for Windows, Linux and Mac users. The time when virtualisation was an esoteric technology of interest only to corporations’ IT departments or die-hard techno-geeks is over.

    • Virtualization p0wns emulation

      I have been writing a lengthy series that attempts to help new Linux users figure out the best way to cover their Windows application needs. The series starts off by showing how well the Linux community has all of their needs covered by showing the open source equivalents to the most popular Windows applications. The series then goes on to highlight the different ways a user can run full-blown Windows applications. The choices? Virtualization or Emulation.

  • K Desktop Environment

  • Distributions

    • Linux from Scratch 6.5: The DIY operating system guide

      The Linux From Scratch project has released version 6.5 of its step-by-step instructions on how to create your own Linux system from scratch. The 300 pages of instructions show how to obtain the source code components and then compile your own 32-bit Linux system.

    • Hilal Computers strengthens unique partnership with Red Hat

      Bahrain-based Hilal Computers has strengthened its partnership with Red Hat, the world’s leading provider of open source solutions, with an agreement signed recently at the company’s headquarters. Under the terms of the agreement, Hilal Computers has become a Red Hat Advanced Business Partner for IT infrastructure. Previously, Hilal Computers was a Red Hat Ready Business Partner.

    • Debian Family

      • Debian and Ubuntu: Can’t we just get along?

        I guess what I’m getting at is that it seems that Debian developers are creating a free and open Operating System for themselves, and could care less about a “stupid user”, while Ubuntu is more concerned with the end user experience, and is committed to providing the best that the Open Source world has to offer in a nice, stable easy to use package. Although there are only small fundamental differences between Ubuntu and Debian on the technical level, there is a *huge* difference in the public “opinion” of the two projects.

      • The Perfect Desktop – Kubuntu 9.04

        This tutorial shows how you can set up a Kubuntu 9.04 desktop that is a full-fledged replacement for a Windows desktop, i.e. that has all the software that people need to do the things they do on their Windows desktops. The advantages are clear: you get a secure system without DRM restrictions that works even on old hardware, and the best thing is: all software comes free of charge. Kubuntu 9.04 is derived from Ubuntu 9.04 and uses the KDE desktop instead of the GNOME desktop.

      • Ubuntu Weekly Newsletter Issue 155

        Welcome to the Ubuntu Weekly Newsletter, Issue #155 for the week August 9th – August 15th, 2009. In this issue we cover: Karmic Alpha 4 released, New Ubuntu Members, Developer News, Reporting Ubuntu Community Problems: Jono Bacon, Ubuntu US Teams, UbuCon Atlanta 2009, Brazilian Council & New Brazilian Ubuntu Members, Zim & the art of wiki development, Ubuntu Server Tips – Help Wanted, Ubuntu Community Learning Project, Ubuntu Podcast #32, and much, much more!

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Linux Based NAS Removable Hdd Enclosure

      It supports Ethenet 10/100Mbps transmission. Aside from being a data backup solution, it allows users to download files, play multimedia, share photo and share a USB printer via network.

    • Phones

      • Dell’s Android phone unmasked

        Dell’s Mini 3i was demoed alongside smartphones from several other manufacturers – including HTC – at the launch of China Mobile’s online content platform for mobile phones, which provides local subscribers with access to music, games and entertainment.

      • T-Mobile MyTouch 3G First Impressions

        Like my wife, I don’t like to buy first-generation products. So the T-Mobile G1 was out. But then the T-Mobile MyTouch 3G arrived. Google Android. Second-generation. Linux-friendly (Linux-based, actually). And with my wife complaining about dropped calls with AT&T (American iPhone users have to sign up with AT&T to use a non-jailbroken iPhone), I was ready to give T-Mobile a chance. So I took the plunge. After one day of use, here are my first impressions.

      • Getting started with developing on the Palm Pre

        I’m starting to use a specialized build of the Dojo Ajax toolkit to fill in some of the blanks that Palm’s Mojo toolkit leaves out, and that’ll probably require another post.

    • Sub-notebooks

      • The beauty, the function, the beauty

        Yesterday German users from MandrivaUser.de began working on the netbook-launcher – the desktop which made the beauty of the Ubuntu Netbook Remix. They packed it for Mandriva 2009.1 and today I installed it: there I have my beauty again!

      • Dell Switches to Ubuntu Netbook Remix, Looks Into Smartbooks

        Currently, Dell offers Ubuntu Linux 8.04 on its Mini 10v netbook, but will soon (in the next few weeks actually) be upgrading to version 9.04 (codenamed Jaunty Jackalope). On its future netbooks, the company is planning to pre-loading Ubuntu Netbook Remix, which is specifically designed for smaller screen sizes.

Free Software/Open Source

  • Winners of maddogs Colombian Multimedia Challenge

    The fact that the contestants learned about the use of Free Software multimedia tools, Creative Commons and understand media licensing more, made the effort of putting on the Challenge worthwhile.

  • Choosing the Right Open Source Technology

    The real key to a successful project is to hire the right developers. There are great developers using all of the available technologies so there is no correct choice when it comes to picking one. My advice is to pick the right developer (or team of developers) and go with the technology that they are most experienced with.

  • FSF/GNU

    • GNU Toolchain Update, August 2009

      New in this months merge are:

      * Support for the Xilinx MicroBlaze architecture has been added to
      the binutils.

      * GNU/Linux targets now supports “gnu_unique_object” as a value in
      GAS’s .type pseudo op. This marks the symbol as being globally
      unique in the entire process, a feature which is needed by C++
      binaries.

      [...]

  • Programming

    • Perl 6 due in spring 2010 – some of it anyway

      In a recent entry on his blog, Patrick Michaud has again confirmed the news which has been circulating this week in light of his presentation at the “YAPC::Europe 2009″ conference in Lisbon, Portugal – Rakudo Perl 6 will be released in the spring of 2010 (with all of the signs pointing to April). Michaud is the ‘Pumpking’ (keeper of the pumpkin patches – think ‘release manager’) for the Rakudo Perl 6 compiler, designed to run on the Parrot virtual machine.

Leftovers

  • Italian bloggers’ silent protest

    Italian bloggers went on strike in July to protest against government measures that they claim could kill the internet. They say the Alfano decree restricts the rights of bloggers to express their opinions without fear of comeback.

Digital Tipping Point: Clip of the Day

Thomas Bartol, computational neuroscientist for the Salk Institute 07 (2005)

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

Mono Team Puts Microsoft’s GPL-incompatible Licence and Patents-encumbered Software Inside GNU/Linux

Posted in Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, GPL, Microsoft, Mono, Novell, Patents, Red Hat, Samba, Ubuntu at 3:35 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Niagara falls
The vitality of viewing dangers ahead

Summary: What the Mono team is up to and some consequences revisited

THOSE who believe that Microsoft accepts the existence of GNU and Linux are simply not paying attention. As we warned several times before, Microsoft is squeezing GPL-incompatible licences into the F/OSS world and sometimes into GNU/Linux distributions, not to mention Microsoft APIs and hooks [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9]. The following is a portion of an E-mail sent to us by a guy who used to do contract work for Microsoft. Now he is with the Mono team and he is trying to squeeze Mono into Fedora — a project which is actually in the process of getting rid of Mono.

I asked my friend [anonymised] if he would help us get it packaged up in RPM format for Fedora. He tells me that the MS-PL is not on the approved list for Redhat packages:

[...]

[ed: I mis-wrote OSL-approved]

http://www.opensource.org/licenses/ms-pl.html

I do not see MS-PL on the DFSG wiki page:

http://wiki.debian.org/DFSGLicenses

However, Mono contains code licensed under MS-PL and it is part of the main section, implying that it is compliant:

http://git.debian.org/?p=pkg-mono/pac…

Are the MS-PL pieces of Mono stripped from the Fedora package of Mono?

mcs/class/MicrosoftAjaxLibrary/*
mcs/class/System.Web.Mvc/*

Since when are parts of Mono licensed under Microsoft’s MS-PL? This is significant.

The issue of patents aside, it serves to illustrate Microsoft’s increasing grip and influence over the Mono project. Now, if only Microsoft could sink Mono and Moonlight into the guts of each GNU/Linux distribution, that would be something, would it not?

At Groklaw, Pamela Jones points to a video of the Apple-Microsoft deal (Macworld 1997), remarking quite importantly that “Steve Jobs [is] explaining how and why Apple and Microsoft did the deal in 1997, and he reveals that it began as a patent dispute.” This announcement was mentioned not so long ago for other reasons.

“Microsoft wants “Linux tax” because otherwise it cannot compete on price.”All these Mono encumberments are probably relevant because of Ubuntu’s new patent policy. It would be irresponsible to stir the hornet’s nest by putting Mono inside Ubuntu, which in turn might lead Microsoft — not any other company — to doing to Canonical just what it did to Apple. Microsoft listed Canonical as a business risk in its SEC filing and the monopoly would love to do to Canonical just what it is trying to do to Red Hat and has already achieved with Novell. Microsoft wants “Linux tax” because otherwise it cannot compete on price.

When it comes to genuine interoperability pursuits, Novell quit like a coward and joined hands with Microsoft over software patents, whereas others — like Samba — actually got their way without patent tax. As Groklaw has just put it, “Thank you, EU Commission for requiring interoperability. Thank you, Samba guys, FSFE and their lawyer Carlo Piana for not giving out and not selling out.” Well, Novell sure sold out. As a direct result, some of its Samba engineers quit the company.

In other news, here is a reminder of Gartner’s disdain for Free software (which offers no kickbacks and contracts), as evidenced in [1, 2, 3, 4]. Over the past few months we’ve written about a FOSS-hostile and pro-software patents Gartner analyst called Prentice [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]. Well, here he goes again:

One of the provisions in the Patent Reform Act of 2009 [PDF] is to recalculate the way in which damages are determined when a patent has been infringed. Currently, infringing a patent can be a very costly mistake. But the proposed legislation would allow for a reasonable royalty to be calculated as the price of licensing a “similar non-infringing substitute in the relative market.”

Does that mean that free open source products can now be considered substitutes in a relative market?

In response to this, Pamela Jones writes:

I read the section of the proposed bill he references, and it seems to me more likely that we can see why Microsoft is trying to do as many “Linux” patent deals as it can. Here’s the wording I notice:

“MARKETPLACE LICENSING. — Upon a showing to the satisfaction of the court that the claimed invention has been the subject of a nonexclusive license for the use made of the invention by the infringer, to a number of persons sufficient to indicate a general marketplace recognition of the reasonableness of the licensing terms … damages may be determined on the basis of the terms of such license.”

What if it means, instead, that some hardware folks who also have some Linux somewhere signed up because they are afraid of Microsoft, or it was one part of a larger and quite legitimate deal, or it was a small Linux vendor hardly anyone uses who was embraced? What does it mean, then? I hope someone has noticed this clause and has thought it through. Then again, given the history, what law can you write that works with 800 pound gorillas? Antitrust law, I guess. But why write a law so easy to undermine as this section seems to be?

Similarly, Dana Blankenhorn writes:

Google open source strategy not just a patent dodge

[...]

Google has lost this battle before because the pharmaceutical and medical device makers refuse to go along.

[...]

I have no doubt Google acts in its self-interest, as all companies and indeed all institutions and individuals generally do. But self-interest and evil are different things. Until Google crosses the line I’m not crossing them off my “nice” list.

In a reactionary fashion, Jones writes: “I don’t think dodge is a pretty word, but I don’t think either that it was meant in a derogatory way. Speaking for myself, while I agree with Dana that the patent reform act isn’t even happening at the moment, even if Google or anyone was thinking up strategies to avoid Microsoft’s attempt to use patents to strangle FOSS, I’d say, Please do. What would be wrong about that? I wake up nights thinking about how to do precisely that. Avoiding people’s patents is legally required, after all. You can be nice and smart at the same time.

Those who can reject Mono are hopefully paying attention because although there are plenty of software patents in the United States, few are as obvious an “infringement” as Mono (exact copy) and only a small proportion is owned by the company which has been trying to crush Free software for over a decade.

Groklaw has also found this barrage of amicus briefs regarding the Bilski case. Yahoo’s new life of a “Microsoft zombie” — to borrow SJVN’s token [1, 2, 3] — might play a role there.

As the first commenter there put it, read ‘em and weep. Yahoo! submitted one, which he summarizes like this: “The focus on physicality does not make sense in today’s technology.” The brief does, at the end, say that Bilski was properly rejected, because it was vague and overbroad. But then it says, “If Bilski had developed a process that, in machine-like fashion, directed commodities traders to take a clearly defined series of steps to hedge their positions, that process might lead to useful, concrete, and tangible results. Such a process would be a manmade tool for achieving a particular result, not an unpatentable law of nature.” Excuse my simplicity, but is this saying you can patent people acting like cogs in a machine, as long as the movements and steps they take are rigid and reproducible? Where does that end?

Allies of Microsoft are widely represented there. Among the new amicus briefs there are also many lawyer-oriented firms (not the same as engineers). Even the BSA submitted one and its connection to Microsoft is obvious [1, 2, 3, 4].

“Microsoft is unique among proprietary software companies: they are the only ones who have actively tried to kill Open Source and Free Software. It’s not often someone wants to be your friend after trying to kill you for ten years, but such change is cause for suspicion.”

Bradley M. Kuhn (SFLC)

Emergency Motion to Prevent a Ban on Microsoft Word

Posted in Bill Gates, Courtroom, IBM, Law, Microsoft, Open XML, OpenDocument, Patents at 2:19 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

No photos

Summary: Some of the latest developments in the i4i saga

Microsoft has filed an emergency motion to prevent a ban on its cash cow, Word. i4i’s retaliatory response to Microsoft is a subject we have been covering since the beginning of the year. In reverse-chronological order:

  1. Commonalities Between i4i and Microsoft
  2. Microsoft Engaged in Misconduct in i4i Trial
  3. The Microsoft Crowd Uses the Word Verdict to Throw FUD at ODF, More Spin Comes from Denmark
  4. Microsoft and Friends Want to Add More Bugs to OOXML
  5. The Patent Trolls and McKool Smith Show Why OOXML and Software Patents Should be Shunned
  6. Microsoft Will Not Comply with Software Patents But Will Eventually Comply with the GPL
  7. Microsoft Accused of “Willful and Deliberate” infringement and “Discovery Misconduct” in Another Patent Case
  8. XML Patents, Microsoft Aggression, and ODF Hostility
  9. Reader Explains “Microsoft Innovation”
  10. Microsoft is Again Paying the Huge Price for Wanting Anti-Free Software Laws

The “What Will We Use” Web site wrote about the subject and reminded readers that Microsoft has a history of extreme legal aggression against Free software, including OpenOffice.org.

RIP Microsoft Office – October 3, 2009

[...]

Microsoft has been fighting free and open source software in court on a patent issues for quite some time. It is no secret that Microsoft had funded SCO’s lawsuits against many major players in the Linux market which Bill Gates used to slow Linux’s growth. Now, nobody cares about SCO anymore? Why? SCO filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy in May of 2009. Microsoft used SCO to do ligation five years ago but lately it is has been taking matters into its own hands. First they extorted Novell into “partnering” with them.

Many have wrongly speculated or assumed that i4i is a patent troll, but it is not. The story behind i4i and Microsoft as a pair goes a long way back. In fact, one reader sent us this pointer yesterday, nothing that it reveals “more Microsoft interaction with the intelligence community.”

Six years ago, an unusual and powerful alliance approached a tiny Toronto software company with a fateful proposition. Microsoft was helping U.S. intelligence sift through relentless mountains of documents relating to the 9/11 terrorist attacks but had few means to sort them out. This firm, i4i, had the software that could intuit crucial, revelatory patterns that its own software could not.

As we now know, Windows contains back doors and the FBI has CIPAV, with which to tap suspects’ Windows PCs. Actually, while on the subject, worth highlighting is this new page about the Trilateral Commission.

MORE, MORE, MORE MONEY

More foreigners demanded more U.S. money at a lunch panel called “European and Asian views on U.S. Foreign and Security Policy.” Participants were Elisabeth Guigou, a member of the French National Assembly and former minister for European affairs and Han Sung-joo, former minister of foreign affairs for South Korea.

An afternoon session addressed “global health” with more calls for American tax dollars. A major voice in this cause came from Sylvia Mathews Burwell, president of Global Development Programs, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Bill Gates has attended at least one Bilderberg meeting.

We last mentioned this here because other Microsoft executives also are attending Bilderberg meetings, including the Free software-hostile Mundie [1, 2, 3]. The Gates family and Bilderberg organisers are no strangers as Melinda French too was once there. That’s at least once. Other previous posts which mentioned this are [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7] and this may be relevant when assessing Microsoft’s connections not just with the US government [1, 2, 3, 4] but with the world at large.

“The Gates family and Bilderberg organisers are no strangers as Melinda French too was once there.”Going back on topic, in relation to the news that Microsoft Office might allow users to set the default format as MSODF [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7], Pamela Jones wrote in Groklaw: “if this is true, why do we need two formats? Didn’t Microsoft say we need both ODF and OOXML because they were not for exactly the same thing? And thy put us through all that grief for absolutely nothing? There must be a catch.”

Regarding i4i she wrote: “Tell that to Microsoft. They are pushing for patents on standards to be considered “open standards”. Ah. The judge just gave them a lesson on that theme, did it not? The chickens have come home to roost. But for the rest of us, an object lesson. This is what life is like when you allow software patents, even on standards. How do you like it? Keep in mind that in this case, it affects only one company. When it is a standard everyone uses, it affects the entire market. By the way, I hear ODF is a standard that does not allow Custom XML in documents, so in this case it’s just Microsoft and its users who are impacted. And by the way, here is an article on the XML patent Microsoft was granted on August 4 by the oh-so-clueful Patent Office, which, the article says, “would appear to cover all usage of XML and XSDs in word processing document, which would effectively leave all other modern word processors – and other software that used their documents – liable to licensing by the company.”"

Microsoft’s own XML patents are an issue that we covered under (in reverse-chronological order):

Groklaw also links to this analysis which asks whether or not In Re Bilski can be used to invalidate i4i’s patents. The answer is said to be negative.

* Bilski?: i4i’s claim 14 may well fail the Federal Circuit’s Bilski machine-or-transformation test. The claim reads as follows:

A method for producing a first map of metacodes and their addresses of use in association with mapped content and stored in distinct map storage means, the method comprising:

* providing the mapped content to mapped content storage means;
* providing a menu of metacodes;
* compiling a map of the metacodes in the distinct storage means, by locating, detecting and addressing the metacodes; and
* providing the document as the content of the document and the metacode map of the document.

Regarding the Bilski machine-or-transformation test, it comes from IBM (at least in part) and IBM is still a proponent of software patents. Thanks, IBM? Here is Glyn Moody’s reaction to IBM’s stance:

There we have it: “IBM is committed to ensuring that such technology is and remains patentable” – no two ways about it.

But wait – IBM goes even further, claiming that software patents are so desirable in part because they actually *powered* the rise of free software…

[...]

So, no, IBM, that’s a load of cobbler’s, and it’s disgraceful you should even try to pass off this apology of an argument that patents are somehow precursors of true “free sharing” in a submission to a court considering such an important matter, for self-proclaimed selfish reasons. This is clearly an attempt to head off the criticism that software patents harm free software, the most vibrant sector of computing today, and should therefore be scaled back by the US Supreme Court. Cynical ain’t in it.

Some more pressure ought to be put on IBM too.

“The only patent that is valid is one which this Court has not been able to get its hands on.”

Supreme Court Justice Jackson

IRC: #boycottnovell @ FreeNode: August 16th, 2009

Posted in IRC Logs at 1:35 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

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