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08.21.09

Patents Roundup: Microsoft Wants to Own Studying of Evolution, Sony Wants to Own Studying of Laughter, and How Patent Thickets Make Disharmony

Posted in Intellectual Monopoly, Microsoft, Patents at 7:18 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Abandoned car

Summary: Timely new picks of patent news

Microsoft trying to patent studying evolution

Microsoft filed a patent two years ago for widely used methods for determining evolutionary relatedness, causing disbelief and apprehension among researchers.

If Your Computer Detects You Laughing At This Patent Drawing, You May Have Infringed On The Patent

ChurchHatesTucker alerts us to the news that Sony has applied for a patent on an emotion detection device that could, for example, recognize when someone viewing a television or playing a video game is laughing.

There Is No Harmony In A Patent Thicket

As China and India are exhorted to increase intellectual property protection and enforcement to higher standards – “harmonization” in the rhetoric of its proponents – they risk emulating the detrimental IP systems of the developed world. The United States, widely viewed as the most innovative nation in the world, has a patent system that has, according to Jaffe, “become sand rather than lubricant in the wheels of American progress” (Jaffe 2004). Even more worrying, the trend in international intellectual property is actually speeding past the American level of protection, raising concerns that the incredibly strong IP in countries will diminish, rather than promote, innovative capabilities.

IRC: #boycottnovell @ FreeNode: August 21st, 2009

Posted in IRC Logs at 7:05 pm 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.

New Victories for ODF and i4i-imposed Word Ban as an Opportunity for ODF

Posted in Formats, ISO, Office Suites, Open XML, OpenDocument, OpenOffice, Standard at 6:49 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Paper burnt

Summary: New ODF Alliance member, more vendor support, and another, more positive way to view the i4i ruling

EARLIER in the week we wrote about a Fraunhofer study which seemed rather biased. As Glyn Moody put it, there “seems there’s some kind of Microsoft involvement.”

This study addressed and even defended the existence of multiple standards that achieve more or less the same things; one is based on the proprietary format (and platform) of a company that bribed people and corrupted an international standards body in order to call it a “standard”, whereas the other is created and backed by many organisations, universities, and governments. Needless to say, the former is Microsoft’s OOXML and the latter is ODF.

There is news right now about the ODF Alliance growing even larger thanks to the addition of Spotlight Cameroun. In its formal announcement, Spotlight Cameroun states:

OpenDocument Format (ODF) is the only open standard for office applications, and it is completely vendor neutral.

Malaysia and Brazil are among the prominent supporters of ODF (at a national level) and over in Brazil we now find more evidence of this. In addition, IDG News Service reveals that TextEdit has ODF support, which is wonderful news. It has been the case for quite some time, but we’ve just learned that TextEdit will soon support saving as ODF, which is important progress.

The most recent version of TextEdit, included with OS X Leopard, can open and edit files in rich text format (.rtf), Microsoft’s old and new Word formats (.doc and .docx), and the OpenDocument format (.odt) used by OpenOffice.

TextEdit is quite widely used, so it’s another notable win for ODF.

In previous posts about i4i [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11] we mentioned the fact that ODF FUD had arrived from the Burton and Gartner groups, both of which work with Microsoft. Sadly enough, even after Burton and Gartner were proven wrong, a few people are adding harmful noise via Twitter by linking to Asay’s misinformed post and adding remarks like this: “Of course i4i says ODF doesn’t infringe, they have no money..”

No, it’s because it’s technically not infringing. Such remarks are worth correcting as they only encourage uncertainty and doubt. The real patent danger to ODF is Microsoft, not i4i. See for example:

Regarding the i4i case itself, here is another smoking gun:

Microsoft embarrassed by new XML patent email

[...]

“We saw [i4i's products] some time ago, and met its creators,” said Sawicki in the Jan. 23, 2003, e-mail. “Word 11 will make it obsolete. It looks great for XP though.” Word 11 was the in-development code name for what was eventually dubbed Word 2003.

The infringing part is custom XML, as the following article quotes:

Specifically, Microsoft must refrain from “selling, offering to sell, and/or importing in or into the United States any Infringing and Future Word Products that have the capability of opening a .XML, .DOCX or .DOCM file (containing custom XML),” the injunction states.

Contrary to Microsoft’s sensationalist defense, the world will be fine without Word. From FCW:

Imagine a world without Word

[...]

Microsoft Word, though popular, is not the exclusive word-processing software of the federal government. For example, the Joint Forces Command is using OpenOffice for a small experimental project, said Kathleen Jabs, a spokeswoman at the command.

The i4i case is another massive opportunity for ODF (and ODF-compliant software) to gain dominance. It is good news to open standards, not just to Free software, to which ODF is a prerequisite but not the other way around.

“Microsoft sees what’s coming. Things like Word and Excel sort of like a drug now getting ready to go generic.”

Market Watch

Yahoo! Dives Right into Microsoft’s Anti-Google Agenda!

Posted in DRM, Google, Microsoft at 4:57 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The skydiver

Summary: Apart from IE8 support, Microsoft’s joint campaign against Google receives backing from its new vassal, Yahoo!

SHORTLY after Yahoo had become a "zombie" of Microsoft, the impact on Free software at the company became apparent. Yes, very shortly after Yahoo’s deal with Microsoft, Hadoop’s principal person decided to quit, which works well for Microsoft because Hadoop builds so-called ‘clouds’ that compete against Microsoft on the Web. Moreover, in contrast to Yahoo!’s recommendation of Firefox 3.0 last year (under Jerry Yang’s leadership), Yahoo! now promotes IE8.

Well done, Bartz. Really, well done. Microsoft loves you.

In addition to all this, we now learn that Yahoo is joining an anti-Google coalition, which involves no-one other than Microsoft. Well, Microsoft was Yahoo’s enemy one year ago when Yahoo was becoming friends with Google, remember? Microsoft used its might inside the government to break apart those two willing partners. And now — one year later — Yahoo! is headed by a former Microsoft ally (Autodesk CEO) and a poisoned board of directors. This changes the story completely. Engadget puts it like this:

Microsoft, its new pet dog Yahoo, and Amazon have decided to join together in the soon to be formed Open Book Alliance.

Microsoft didn’t have to buy Yahoo!, yet in many ways Yahoo! seems like an asset of Microsoft now, just like Citrix, Corel, or Novell.

“To stress how hypocritical Microsoft has been, it too scanned many books before it called the whole thing off.”It ought to be emphasised that Microsoft supported more aggressive actions, including lawsuits, against Google’s book scanning. To stress how hypocritical Microsoft has been, it too scanned many books before it called the whole thing off. It was losing the game to its competition, Google. At the same time, Microsoft used underhanded legal and political tactics to derail Google’s endeavours, so this is merely the latest such attempt. This is not the first time that Microsoft (co-)creates or supports a coalition against Google in books, either directly or by proxy, as proven many times before (it’s not a theory, it is substantiated).

It should also be added that quite a few Amazon managers came from Microsoft. Amazon’s infatuation with DRM is no news, either [1, 2].

Maggie Shiels, who routinely spreads pro-Microsoft material, is also promoting Microsoft’s cause, but to be fair, it was covered by very many people, so this may not mean much other than media contacts like Microsoft PR or even those whom Microsoft employed to seed anti-Google AstroTurf campaigns.

Apple’s Third Offense Against Linux-powered Palm Gadgets

Posted in Apple, GNU/Linux, Law, Patents at 4:15 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Palm T2

Summary: Steve Jobs wanted to collude with Palm

Apple’s abuse of Linux and Palm [1, 2] recently led to a formal complaint from Palm. It is part of an ongoing pattern where Apple uses patents, breakage of interoperability, or total lack of interoperability to stifle adoption of GNU/Linux or Linux-powered devices [1, 2]. What is Apple so afraid of? That people will find out that more affordable products are just as good — if not better — than Apple’s?

Now we come to discover that 2 years ago Apple was quietly attempting to sort of collude with Palm, as some other companies do. Palm declined the offer, which came from no-one other than Steve Jobs himself. Here is a summary from The Inquirer.

Former Palm chief executive Ed Colligan discussed the matter with Jobs in August 2007, as the smartphone war heated up. According to AP, he rejected the proposal, calling it wrong and “likely illegal”.

[...]

Jobs’ comments have come back to haunt him as the US Justice Department is very interested in how tech companies are trying to lock in staff with bizarre employment contracts.

Derick Mains, a spokesman for Palm said the company had not been contacted by the Justice Department yet.

Got to love the “free market”, eh?

The original report came either from AP or from Bloomberg, which wrote:

Former Palm Inc. Chief Executive Officer Ed Colligan rejected a proposal from Apple Inc.’s Steve Jobs to refrain from hiring each other’s employees two years ago, calling it wrong and “likely illegal,” according to their communications.

In The Register they write:

Two years ago, Apple chief exec Steve Jobs suggested to Palm’s then-CEO Ed Colligan that the two companies agree not to hire each other’s employees. Colligan reportedly refused, saying such a deal would be “likely illegal”.

This does not look particularly good. A year ago we also wrote about alleged involvement in backdating, but Steve Jobs — like all rich men — was eventually acquitted of all charges.

Links 21/08/2009: ABI Compatibility Checker, 64-bit Chrome

Posted in News Roundup at 3:33 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Synology® Launches Beta for New Synology Assistant, Introducing Linux Version, Multiple Disk Station Installation, Resource Monitor and More

    The Linux version of Synology Assistant is designed for Ubuntu distribution. In addition to the existing Windows and Mac version, users can now install Synology Assistant on Linux environment. “The Linux version completes our commitment in providing convenience of Disk Station setup on different platforms,” said Edward Lin, marketing director of Synology.

  • Linux backup guide

    Performing data backup and recovery in a Linux environment poses some unique challenges. Brien Posey, a freelance writer and former CIO, answers some of the most common questions about Linux data backup in this Q&A. His answers are also available as an MP3 below.

  • Linux Just Keeps Growing

    And therein lies the biggest strength of Linux. It’s flexibility means that it can be almost anything to almost anyone in need of a good operating system, on almost any piece of hardware. And it’s here to stay.

  • Virtualisation

    • Disaster-proof virtualization on a dime

      This type of Linux choice is not typical of two-person IT staffs, especially those who are in the middle of major upgrades, analysts say.

    • Desktop virtualization stirs interest

      But perhaps the advantage that came through most strongly was in terms of ‘flexibility’ to run software on whatever physical platform may be wanted. For example, TheBloke mentioned it being possible to employ “Linux as the host OS while allowing me to continue to use the Windows apps I want – Microsoft Office, Toad for Oracle, Photoshop and more. Plus it allows me to use all those USB peripherals I have that don’t work properly under Linux. My mobile phone, for example.” He then made the valid point that “Having lots of RAM is important of course”.

  • Kernel Space

    • Platform shared with CUDA in software bundle deal

      As of the spring, nVidia had shipped over 100 million CUDA-compatible GPUs, although most of them were probably not in supercomputer clusters. The nVidia Tesla GPU co-processors are supported in both Linux and Windows environments.

    • Linux Plumbers Conference 2009 Announces Speakers and Conference Program

      The Linux Plumbers Conference today announces the speakers and conference program for the 2nd annual conference to be held September 23-25 in Portland, Oregon immediately following LinuxCon Portland 2009. Both events will be held at the Marriott Downtown Waterfront in Portland, home to one of the largest Linux communities worldwide.

    • Compatibility checker for Linux libraries

      As part of its LSB Infrastructure Project, the Linux Foundation has released a tool for testing the ABI compatibility of different versions of a C or C++ library. The ABI Compliance Checker tests whether data types or parameters passed to functions have changed between two versions of a library. Applications can behave incorrectly or crash where the binary interface is not compatible.

  • Google

    • Google’s 64-bit Chrome starts emerging on Linux

      Google has begun work on a 64-bit version of Chrome for Linux, a move likely to whip Linux loyalists into a lather of excitement.

      “The V8 team did some amazing work this quarter building a working 64-bit port. After a handful of changes on the Chromium side, I’ve had Chromium Linux building on 64-bit for the last few weeks,” said Chrome engineer Dean McNamee in a mailing list message Thursday.

    • 64-bit Chrome takes centre stage in Linux land

      Google engineers have been beavering away at a 64-bit version of the company’s Chrome browser for the Linux platform.

      According to Chrome developer Dean McNamee, Mountain View’s V8 team has been tinkering with a Chromium Linux 64-bit for several weeks now. V8, in case you were wondering, is the web kingpin’s JavaScript engine.

  • Desktop Environments

    • Five Improvements For KDE 4.4

      KDE 4.3 is a great desktop, but there are improvements I think should be made to make it perfect. I have high hopes for KDE 4.4 and I’m hoping some of these ideas will be considered for the next release, which will probably be due in January. I’ll definitely make sure to submit them to the KDE team for consideration, as you should too if you have any suggestions. With all that out of the way, let’s get started.

  • Distributions

    • Red Hat Family

      • The “e” of the Internet

        For me as the operator and head of the StartCom Certification Authority, every computer application making use of SSL and cryptography is of importance, specially those of the various platforms from the house of Microsoft. That’s one of the reasons why I’m today extremely pleased to announce the upcoming default support of the StartCom Authority by Microsoft. Starting approximately the 22nd of September, Microsoft intends to distribute a non-security update package to the Windows operating systems which includes the trusted StartCom root certificate and the automatic root certificate update service will update the cryptographic certificates root store on those systems whenever a StartCom issued certificate is encountered.

        This not only means that Internet Explorer will finally support web sites secured with StartCom issued certificates by default, the implications for SSL security and the Internet at large are potentially reaching further than that:

        StartCom is the only public certification authority providing digital certificates for free!

      • Red Hat takes on the recession

        The open source revolution may have yet to happen, but with company budgets on the line, change is in the air.

        [...]

        Thus far, Red Hat has been focusing that help on the infrastructure side of corporate IT, so the kind of behind-the-scenes software on top of which applications run. It has branched out from its core Linux OS into all kinds of infrastructure software that enable things like clustering and virtualization.

    • Debian Family

      • Apple MacBook Pro speaks Ubuntu Linux

        Recently I wrote about installing Ubuntu Linux on my MSI Wind netbook. Now that my netbook is happily running Ubuntu, my MacBook Pro is feeling deprived and slighted. It is time to do something about that.

    • New Distributions

  • Devices/Embedded

    • ARM9 SoC has mixed-signal analog onboard, too

      Freescale says a Linux board support package (BSP) and multimedia codec library for the i.MX233 is available now, along with an EVK (evaluation kit) discussed later in this story.

    • Box PC has Atom, optional PCI slot

      Datasound Laboratories has announced a pair of Linux-ready, fanless box PCs employing 1.6GHz Intel Atom N270 processors. The ACS-2663 and ACS-2664 include hard disk and CompactFlash storage, dual gigabit Ethernet ports, plus both VGA and DVI video outputs, the company says.

    • Phones

      • Palm seeking submissions for App Catalog beta

        Those developing applications for the Linux-based Pre smartphone can now submit them to be considered for inclusion in an upcoming “Palm App Catalog” beta. The test version of Palm’s online store will open in mid-September, the company said in a blog posting yesterday.

      • Garmin-Asus nuvifone G60

        The phone runs on Linux (the first smartphone to do so, to the best of my knowledge).

    • Sub-notebooks

      • The shape of things to come

        It seems that every vendor is getting on the netbook bandwagon-and if they’re not, they’re trying to get their own bandwagon rolling with a raft of similar form factor devices. Consumers love netbooks as a cheap, internet-enabled PC substitute and carriers seem happy to subsidise them in order to drive mobile broadband subscriptions.
        [...]

        Linux will be the glue that holds the joint effort together

        Both companies have their own in-house Linux projects-Intel with Moblin and Nokia with Maemo-and will align their respective strategies around a number of key open source technologies such as oFono, ConnMan, Mozilla, X.Org, BlueZ, D-BUS, Tracker, GStreamer, and PulseAudio. Incidentally, Intel recently acquired mobile and embedded devices software firm Wind River for $884m and said it would licence Nokia’s HSPA 3G modem technologies to complement its own mobility platforms.

      • Android Tablet Due Sept. 15

        Google’s Linux-based Android mobile operating system has been fingered for powering mobile devices beyond the smartphone for some time now. On Sept. 15, Archos Technology will unveil just such a device, a tablet computer.

        At the Sept. 15 press conference, the company will showcase the touchscreen device, it said this week. The tablet will have a 5-inch display, with 720p video support, an HDMI output and native OpenGL libraries, all with a Texas Instruments processor.

Free Software/Open Source

  • How open source saved enterprise IT…

    Despite all the nifty, gee-whiz technology that the Web 2.0 craze brought the software industry, it’s still stodgy enterprise software that continues to command a significant price tag.

    That’s because however much we may enjoy Facebooking, Twittering, etc., ultimately we pay for what helps us get our jobs done.

  • Top 10 Open Source Hall of Famers
  • FOSS vs. the Winged Monkeys: Q&A With Open Source for America’s Chris Lundberg

    For Chris Lundberg, open source is as much a philosophy as it is a method of software development. Open source and open access represent the idea that solutions are often better found via many, than via few, he says. Those are some of the ideas he takes to the table as a member of Open Source for America’s advisory board.

  • Open-Source VMFS Driver Used in New Fluid Operations eCloudManager 2.0

    fluid Operations today announced a breakthrough in the use of storage-assisted virtualization to drive IT efficiencies. After the initial publishing of the VMFS technology in March 2009 and making it available with an open-source license, the market started to anticipate new private cloud management features that would become possible.

  • Open source server monitoring

    Computers get faster and smaller every year, but in the case of servers – the building blocks for many modern businesses – the tasks we expect them to perform have increased to match. We so rely on these servers that we increasingly need to monitor what they do, how they do it and when they hit problems.

  • BBC launches open-source Digital Revolution

    The BBC is starting work on what it calls its first ever open-source documentary, a collaborative blend of blogging and broadcasting that will chart the impact of the internet over the past 20 years.

  • Pentaho Corporation Opens San Francisco Office to Meet Growing Demand

    Pentaho Corporation, the commercial open source alternative for business intelligence (BI), today announced the opening of its newest office in San Francisco. The expansion is in response to growing demand for Pentaho offerings, and represents the latest in a series of 2009 achievements and milestones.

  • VLC Media Player 1.0.1: A Must-have

    Many of us are consuming video and audio content as part of our working lives; some of us are broadcasting it and encoding it, too. For both types of tasks, one of the best applications that you can get is the free, open-source VLC Media Player. It recently came out in a significantly updated version 1.0, and is now out in a stable version 1.0.1. I’ve been using the new version, and highly recommend it, whether you’re running Windows, Mac OS X or Linux.

  • Q&A: OSSEC, the open source host-based intrusion detection system

    OSSEC is an open source HIDS that merges log analysis, file integrity monitoring, rootkit detection and active responses. It started as a side-project to help me solve some problems that I had on a previous job (6-7 years ago). They had the need to do integrity checking on multiple systems (Linux, Solaris AIX, etc) and Tripwire just didn’t scale for us. We were forced to make it scale, and started using it because was the only solution available at the time, but it was a pain to manage individually on 100+ servers.

  • Openness

  • Programming

    • A proposal for unifying Java modularisation

      Eminent Java developers Richard Hall, BJ Hargrave and Peter Kriens have formulated a new proposal for a simple module system for Java, which could be developed as part of Java Specification Request (JSR) 294 ‘Improved Modularity Support in the Java Programming Language’. The authors hope their proposal will bring the different ideas on modularisation into some sort of harmony.

    • Path Free for Python with Qt and AMD’s OpenCL

      The Qt-Python bindings might not be 100% stable, say the PySide project developers, but it’s in a usable shape — “especially if you can tolerate an occasional rough edge and unpainted surface,” as they put it in their announcement. Along with the Qt bindings, PySide provides automated binding generation tools. It thus not only targets Qt developers in the narrow sense, but is also applicable for other Qt-based or more general C++ bindings.The Qt-Python bindings might not be 100% stable, say the PySide project developers, but it’s in a usable shape — “especially if you can tolerate an occasional rough edge and unpainted surface,” as they put it in their announcement. Along with the Qt bindings, PySide provides automated binding generation tools. It thus not only targets Qt developers in the narrow sense, but is also applicable for other Qt-based or more general C++ bindings.

Digital Tipping Point: Clip of the Day

Jack Vice, Founder of robot maker Anthrotronix, Inc. 01 (2005)

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

Links 21/08/2009: CentOS 4.8 is Coming, Ubuntu 9.10 Preview

Posted in News Roundup at 9:49 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Using a USB Turntable with Linux

    Personally, since I bought my own USB turntable, I’ve been enjoying albums that I haven’t listened to in years because they were in storage. Not only that, but, despite the fact that the cult of vinyl seems likely to be around for a few more years, I can’t help being relieved that I’ve transferred my old music to a more accessible format while I still can.

  • Two Notable Linux Updates

    The other release worth checking out is the updated version of Open Discovery, a USB turnkey bioinformatics Linux distribution with a customized MPI specifically designed for multi-core processors. Open Discovery 2 ships with an MPI compiled GROMACS V-3 3, the molecular dynamics software application. You can download Open Discovery 2 here.

  • Desktop

    • Build a High Powered Linux Workstation on the Cheap

      For this series of articles we set out to build a high powered workstation with the latest Linux virtualization software capable of running multiple operating systems (OS) at the same time. Our goal was to get the fastest multiple-core processor and most memory while staying close to the $500 price tag of the other off-the-shelf machines. We also wanted the ability to install at least three hard drives to help with performance issues when running multiple OSes from the same disk.

    • Linux, FUD and Misunderstanding

      Linux is not struggling anywhere, at-least not in my knowledge or on my Desktop.

      Linux is a Free, Rich featured, Fast, and Powerful Operating system.

      That does not mean everyone should use it. Objective of Linux is not to get installed on every computer in world, but to provide a free Operating System to anyone who NEEDS it.

    • Africa’s Lessons for OSCON

      This was the message that FOSSFA brought to OSCON. Open source is not only about technology. It is about the people who use the technology to solve day-to-day problems. Being an advocacy and a support group, FOSSFA emphasizes the opportunities that open source offers to Africa in reaching its development goals in all socio-economic areas.

  • Interview

    • ROSE Blog Interviews: Carla Schroder

      I know for a fact that there are many other interesting women working and playing in open source, and plenty of them I haven’t had the pleasure of meeting yet. Last week I met Kelaine Vargas at OpenSourceWorld and she sat down and answered my questions in person. I enjoyed that meeting so much that I’ve decided to continue my efforts to find out what women in open source are doing and why they do it. And if I can’t meet you in person, I’ll try to track you down online.

    • Interview with Stephen Lau – Songbird

      In this interview we talk with Stephen of Songbird. In specific, we talk about:

      * How Songbird fits into the Mozilla pantheon
      * Aligning user interests with those of content providers
      * How Songbird fits into the larger world of open source media players
      * Songbird’s business and revenue model in the near term and beyond
      * Usability and expandability as strategic precepts
      * Apple as an inspirational model

  • Distributions

    • Top ten Linux distributions

      One metric is to refer to the popular Linux-tracking website Distrowatch which logs interest in the various distributions. There are certain limitations to using Distrowatch to pinpoint the best Linux distribution because it only tracks user interest in each distribution which can be affected by ongoing news, frequency of releases and many other intangibles. But as a list of the ten most popular distributions it is a useful guide.

    • Austrumi Linux 1.9.3

      As you might imagine, Austrumi Linux is not geared toward competing with Ubuntu, Fedora or any of the larger desktop distributions. Rather it’s all about portability and the ability to maximize utility while minimizing the actual size of the distribution.

    • Gentoo and Arch Linux

      The documentation is extremely good, is updated often and covers everything from basic installation and configuration to getting X up and running and installing and configuring most the popular DE/WM.
      The Arch Linux repos have recently received the new KDE 4.3 packages which allows includes many, many great features, however the one the more interesting ones is that now you can download specific packages from KDE without needing the entire desktop environment, again giving you more level of control over things. I will definitely give KDE a try when I get back home (I am a GNOME user at the moment) especially since the have upgrade kwin, the X Windows manager in KDE, to include Compiz-like effects.

    • Distro Review: Pardus Linux 2009

      Ease Of Installation & Setup: 4/5
      Stability & Speed: 4/5
      Community & Online Support: 3/5
      Features: 5/5
      Overall: 4/5

      Overall I had a lot of fun with Pardus and it may even have finally taught me the virtues of KDE, which was no small task indeed.

    • CentOS 4.8 finally there ?

      So it looks like we are going to have CentOS 4.8 before RHEL 5.4 after all. I blogged about the big 4.8 release delays a week ago and we can expect CentOS 4.8 on Friday if all goes well. Maybe the weekend ?

    • Debian Family

      • What’s New in Ubuntu 9.10

        Karmic won’t bring any revolutionary changes to the default desktop software stack, but there have been some useful overhauls of individual components. Provided the backend of the system is also solid (note to Ubuntu developers: I’d love to have an ath5k wireless driver that finally works without a fuss), Ubuntu 9.10 looks to be a promising release.

      • Karmic: Gnome Control Centre

        In the first of a series on what new software users can expect to find in Karmic Koala come October, we take a peek at the ‘Gnome Control Centre’. Akin to the Windows Control Panel, it will better help users make all-important changes when/if needed…

  • Appearance

    • What a difference fontconfig makes

      Time for a collection of screenshots, as an illustration of Qt applications on OpenSolaris, both on a local display driven by a Radeon X1200 and on a Sun Ray thin client. Not from KDE applications (although we have KDE 4.3.0 packages for OpenSolaris now) but from qtconfig — possibly the first Qt app you will want to run in OpenSolaris to set up some of the fonts correctly. Before running this version of qtconfig, I removed ~/.config — the whole directory tree — so I would get the default settings. There are screenies of the same 300×100 section of the application on four setups: local display or Sun Ray thin client, and system fontconfig or one built from our own packages. I switched my set of package builds to use the system’s fontconfig a while back, but the specfile for fontconfig (useful if you care about Solaris10) is still there. Both are version 2.5.0; for freetype system is 2.3.7 and the specfiles build 2.3.6.

    • Balanzan, a nice looking theme for Ubuntu

      While surfing the internet I came across this blog article about the Balanzan theme. I saw it and realized it’s a nice looking theme and decided to share the view with you.

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Windows Mobile Needs Identity to Attack Android, iPhone

      The amount of support for Android has been pretty astounding so far, with Motorola, HTC, Samsung, Garmin-Asus and Lenovo all planning or releasing phones with Google’s OS. Some of these manufacturers are using WinMo as well, but it’s not the everyman Windows was for PCs. Perhaps that’s due to 6.5′s lethargic pace of development.

Free Software/Open Source

  • Locate These Open Source Geocaching Applications

    If you’re already a geocaching fan or want to give it a try but don’t have an iPhone, try out these open source apps for your computer, netbook, or cell phone.

  • Picok: An Open Source Personal Information Manager

    Picok is developed in Switzerland so most of the existing modules, or portlets as they’re known in this app, are aimed at European users. Current portlets include a Swiss weather radar, Pons German-English dictionary, and European rail schedule. However, the project wiki has clear instructions for creating custom portlets on your own.

  • Open Source Web Conferencing Apps Make Meetings Easier

    We’ve covered Dimdim a lot here at OStatic. It’s a full-featured free Web conferencing app that raised $6 million in Series B funding last year and has taken aim at expensive commercial options like Cisco System’s WebEx and Microsoft’s Placeware. Up to 20 people at a time can get together withDimdim’s free version which also includes audio and video sharing, event recording, whiteboards, and private messaging.

  • Under the Hood With VLC Media Player: 4 Resources

    [Y]ou can use it to broadcast your own video content, you can use it as a video transcoder for converting video file formats, and you can listen to and manage podcasts with it. VideoLAN, which makes VLC Media Player, reports that version 1.0 has already hit 14 million downloads.

  • What Free Software, Linux and Microsoft Have Taught Us

    On the other end, seeing Free Software in action has I think given us an appreciation few can match for the potential of fairly egalitarian co-operation. People argue about whether Open Source is Communist or Capitalist or whatever. I think that’s basically a category error in a way. Certainly for most capitalist businesses in practical terms, Free Software lets them save money and get more done better. That’s good for business. But I’d have to say that Free Software does refute the idea that competition is the only way to get anything done, or that self-interest is the only motivator. And we don’t see that only in the software itself.

  • Fog Computing

  • Government

    • DISA promotes open source

      The Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) is releasing an open-source code named the Open Source Corporate Management System (OSCMIS) as part of its move to support open-source software across the federal government.

  • Literature

    • Are Open Source Textbooks Poised for Their Day in the Sun?

      Now, though, there are some signs that Flat World Knowledge’s effort is paying off. Wired reports that more than 40,000 college students at more than 400 colleges will use digital, DRM-free textbooks from the company as the school year starts in a matter of days, and that’s up from 1,000 in 30 colleges in the Spring.

    • FreeReading Helps Early Learners Strengthen Literacy Skills

      Sponsored by the University of Minnesota, Wireless Generation, and Primary Concepts, the goal of the site is to offer an alternative to many of the expensive tools and textbooks “so that schools and districts can redirect textbook funds to other valuable, highly-impactful components of education. Whether those options include professional development, technology, formative assessment or something else, FreeReading provides an opportunity for districts to rethink the return on their education investment dollars.”

  • Standards/Consortia

    • Linux Needs Open Multimedia on the Web

      The state of web multimedia on Linux is pitiful. Proprietary codecs, plug-ins and closed standards are helping to keep Linux a second rate citizen. What Linux needs is not another proprietary framework like Moonlight, but more open standards. Can Google help by making YouTube a Theora-fest?

Leftovers

  • Oracle’s Sun acquisition passes US anti-trust test

    The $5.6bn takeover of Sun Microsystems by Oracle moved another step toward closing as the US Department of Justice has given the acquisition its nod.

  • TV Everywhere Looks Like A Mess So Far

    There’s also no real consensus between cable companies on how to proceed. One result? Users not having a central resource for video content:

    Bowman suggested that projects like TV Everywhere may not yield a single site that will contain content from dozens of programmers. Instead, the authentication system the industry develops may be used to point pay-TV subscribers to several different sites to view their pay-TV content online.

    No standards, no consensus, and no legal agreements — no problem?

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Pirate Party swashbuckles into Finnish politics

      The Pirate Party, which first rose to prominence in Sweden during June’s European elections, has now been officially launched in Finland, the group’s leader said on Wednesday.

    • Why aren’t we paying for news?

      Apart from determined-sounding utterances from certain notable publishers and new pay walls erected this summer in Harlingen, TX, and Schenectady, NY, the industry has made essentially no progress in figuring out how to effectively monetize the formidable web traffic that represents its strongest asset as print franchises wane.

Digital Tipping Point: Clip of the Day

Jin Sato, father of humanoid robots 02 (2005)

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

Trusting Mono While Microsoft Attacks GNU/Linux Left and Right

Posted in FSF, GNU/Linux, Kernel, Microsoft, Mono, Novell, OIN, Patents at 3:55 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Walking gorilla
Can an 800 lb. Gorilla coexist with little Mono?

Summary: Yet another analysis of Microsoft’s relationship with Mono and GNU/Linux

HEISE has just published a piece which insinuates that Mono is “monkey business”. The FSF too addressed the issue about a month ago. “More indication of course that Microsoft has everyone’s best interest at heart,” sarcastically claims Neighborlee, quoting the following text: “…[Microsoft] released an ‘extended’ version of the JVM for Windows, which resulted in the writing of Java apps that would work on Windows but not on other platforms, in Internet Explorer but not in Netscape…”

To quote from Heise:

This stance has been countered to some degree by Microsoft’s Community Promise, but doubts remain as to what is actually covered, and de Icaza concedes as much. “In the next few months,” he wrote, “we will be working towards splitting the jumbo Mono source code that includes ECMA + A lot more into two separate source code distributions. One will be ECMA, the other will contain our implementation of ASP.NET, ADO.NET, Winforms and others.” In theory, the core components of Mono and the Mono development stack for Gnome are covered by the Community Promise. The elements that provide compatibility with Windows are not.

From the beginning Mono has been beset by misunderstandings, misconceptions and political ineptitude, not least by Novell, de Icaza’s employer, which allowed Microsoft to insert patent indemnification into its commercial agreement of 2006, souring its relationship with the free software community and giving Microsoft grounds for suggesting, without substantiation, that GNU/Linux and other free software infringed Microsoft patents – and by Microsoft’s ongoing ambivalence towards free and open source software within its own halls.

The author, Richard Hillesley, has actually been a critic of Mono for quite some time. He apparently did try to tone it down for the H, just as he did in other publications. Other writers were not allowed to even express their real opinions — let alone assessments — about Mono, especially in the press (probably grumpy editors).

This is risky judgment.

Back at the beginning (more towards middle) of the decade, people warned against invasion of Iraq, saying it was misguided and would prove rather fruitless. Major newspapers gave little or no attention to such voices, but knowing what we know today it was a colossal mistake. So, the message to get across here is that to forbid criticism of Mono is to make ourselves a lot more vulnerable. A lot of people did not denounce Novell for its patent deal with Microsoft until the middle of 2007 when Microsoft started using this deal to accuse everything and everyone of ‘stealing’.

Jim Zemlin is quoted in this fluffy new piece which is doing too much to commend Microsoft (it’s from Gavin Clarke after all).

Zemlin, though, thinks Microsoft can and should go further by ending any claim to patents in Windows that may or may not be present in Linux.

“They should take a patent license out with the OIN – put their money where their mouth is to make sure patents don’t get in the way of operating systems, make operating systems a no fly zone when it comes to patents,” Zemlin said. “That sends a clear message Linux is solid, and we validate this collective development model and we want to interoperate.”

Most of the article is pretending that Microsoft's eventual GPL compliance (after violation and boundless spin [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8]) makes up for patent racketeering. Regarding the latter bits, Microsoft was invited to OIN before. Microsoft declined the invitation. Microsoft is spreading not only patent FUD against Linux; it is also spreading lies about the acceptance of GNU/Linux in the market. To quote yesterday’s column from James Gaskin:

In this case, Dell: Linux v Windows Netbook Returns a “Non-issue,” a report from OpenSource World reported Dell exec Todd Finch refuting Microsoft’s Kevin Turner’s lies that Linux netbook returns were “four or five times higher” than Windows netbook return stats.

You’d think Microsoft would treat Dell with a little more decency, since Dell is either number one or number two in PC and server sales depending on sales results in a particular quarter. But no, Microsoft spokespeople keep slamming Linux and netbooks at every opportunity.

“You’d think Microsoft would treat Dell with a little more decency,” writes Gaskin. He apparently isn’t entirely familiar with Microsoft's previous attacks on GNU/Linux at Dell. That is just how Microsoft operates, which brings us back to the question, “has Microsoft changed?” The answer is no, and thus Mono cannot be trusted.

“I’d be glad to help tilt lotus into into the death spiral. I could do it Friday afternoon but not Saturday. I could do it pretty much any time the following week.”

Brad Silverberg, Microsoft

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