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09.04.09

IRC: #boycottnovell @ FreeNode: September 4th, 2009

Posted in IRC Logs at 7:00 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.

Software Patents Do Not Apply to Microsoft

Posted in Free/Libre Software, Microsoft, Office Suites, Open XML, OpenDocument, OpenOffice, Patents at 6:51 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Feuding cups

Summary: Microsoft shakes off the ban on Word and is meanwhile occupied with illegalising Free software globally

TO PUT a twist on the old saying, “what Microsoft wants Microsoft gets.” Given sufficient leverage over the legal system and industry, there is almost nothing that an army of lobbyists cannot achieve very quickly. As expected, Microsoft managed to dodge the Word ban (MSBBC report) and apart from other UK-based publications we were able to find some disinformation. The following legal report, for instance, makes the incorrect assertion that ODF is impacted.

This work was widely interpreted as an effort to forestall adoption of competing formats, such as the Open Document Format, and concerns were raised about whether the Office XML format was severely encumbered by the company’s patents. Despite these fears, Microsoft ultimately saw its efforts succeed. A recently granted patent, however, reveals that the entire effort took place while Microsoft had a patent pending that covers nearly any use of XML for storing word processing documents.

How did the concessions come about? We wrote about the forces at play just over a week ago. The Department of Justice (DOJ), which is filled with former RIAA lawyers, has a role in it. No wonder priorities at the DOJ have turned against the people.

The situation with OOXML is actually worth further exploration too. In relation to another matter, our reader Ryan points out that “people understand that to some degree, it’s why OOXML and WMA aren’t exactly runaway hits with anyone that Microsoft hasn’t leaned on [...] but there are always a few out there that just save to whatever format the program defaults to and then get mad when you’re using, say, Office 2003, and it can’t understand Office 2007 XML [....] it’s not new, Microsoft has been doing that to force upgrades since at least Office 97.”

“There are always a few who always think everything that comes out of Microsoft is god’s own work and perfect as it is,” adds MinceR.

Ryan responds by saying: “I’d say their formats are spread more through ignorance on the part of the user than anyone who intentionally set out to use them. Microsoft is dumping the “back to school” laptops — all have Office 2007 Home and Student Edition on them for free. Microsoft is so desperate to spread OOXML that they’re giving away free copies of it on Best Buy laptops til next month I believe it was.”

Microsoft’s variant of OOXML is a patents-encumbered format and Microsoft is meanwhile working to spread software patents to the rest of the world through so-called “harmonisation” (like the one McCreevy raves about endlessly). Stuart Johnston, a pro-Microsoft journalist, is defending Microsoft’s position, whereas Masnick at TechDirt calls it a “bad idea”.

We’ve already seen that in “harmonizing” copyrights thanks to the Berne Convention that it’s been made much more difficult for countries to correct mistakes (or even admit mistakes) with overly aggressive copyright laws. In fact, it’s created a situation where the only direction copyright law seems to go is towards stronger protection — almost always under claims of a need to “live up to international treaties.” If we created a single global patent system, you’d have that problem on steroids. Rather than being able to experiment and cut back on the excesses and problems of the patent system, the entire world would be stuck with a single system, and any changes to the regulations would be driven by those who benefit most from being able to abuse such monopoly rights.

One person has opined that the ACTA [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14] may be means of facilitating such “harmonisation”. TechDirt has another long article about how India and China should respond to intellectual monopolies now that the likes of WIPO use them as a suppressor of progress in such emerging economies and largely-populated nations.

The continued development of the knowledge economies in both China and India requires thoughtful, practical policies that will give the needed incentive and capacity to innovators while providing benefits to as many as possible. In contrast to the beliefs of many, further strengthened intellectual property rights are unlikely to provide a positive impact on the economies of China and India. Instead, the two emerging giants should dedicate maximum attention to the other ingredients of a knowledge economy while structuring, to every extent possible under international treaty obligations, their domestic intellectual property regime to provide the optimum balance between incentives and access, bearing in mind that to diffuse the gains from existing innovations, the latter is to be favored.

In summary, Microsoft has proven that is can still get away with serious and deliberate patent infringement [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10] while it is also harming the patent systems worldwide.

Eye on Microsoft: Many More “Critical” Windows Flaws, Attacks on IIS Reported

Posted in Microsoft, Security, Servers, Windows at 5:45 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Crazy people near cliff

Summary: Short summary of security news

MS fuels up five critical Windows fixes

Microsoft plans to release five critical update bulletins next Tuesday, all critical, in the September edition of its regular Patch Tuesday update cycle.

Microsoft reports attacks using IIS vulnerability [the vulnerability that we mentioned yesterday]

Microsoft disclosed the Internet Information Services (IIS) vulnerability on Monday and said Friday it’s still working on a security update to fix the problem. In the meantime, the advisory has instructions for a workaround, including disabling various elements of the vulnerable FTP (File Transfer Protocol) service to upload and download files.

Microsoft’s Latest Anti-GNU/Linux Moves Are Sign of Agony

Posted in Antitrust, Asia, DRM, FUD, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Vista, Vista 7, Windows at 5:40 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“I’d put the Linux phenomenon really as threat No. 1.”

Steve Ballmer, 2001

Summary: Microsoft goes ever more aggressive against the growth of GNU/Linux on the client side

LESS than a year ago we showed how Microsoft actively fought GNU/Linux at Wal-Mart, later remarking that similar tactics may have been used against OEMs that carry GNU/Linux on sub-notebooks. Now we find these leaked pages which show very vividly how Microsoft is training Best Buy staff to vilify GNU/Linux. Here is the opening statement.

So I work at Best Buy (insert boos and hisses) and I was doing some Microsoft ExpertZone training.

Well, the new one for Windows 7 allows me to get a $10 retail copy of Windows 7 after completing the courses. So I figured I’d get it and sell it for a quick buck. Now, during my training modules, a “Linux vs Windows 7″ module appeared.

Here is just one of the screenshots (down-scaled).

Anti-Linux shot

One of our readers laughs at what he calls “Vista 7 training”, adding that “Vista 7 provides none of the four promised things, choice, compatibility, familiarity or peace of mind. It’s a DRM upsell with a minor facelift that blows your old software away and confuses the crap out of the user for zero security gain.” Exposing and calling it what it really is, this reader summarises the situation as follows: “Windows 7 propaganda is laughed at in public by Best Buy employees.” Here is a Slashdot submission which calls it “Anti-Linux Training at Best Buy”:

Best Buy is one of the few national computer retailers that has survived Vista and the recession. Here’s how Microsoft is training their employees. It’s like a throwback from the badly discredited “Get the Facts” campaign.

“Microsoft themselves try to teach Best Buy employees to lie about Windows 7, and are called on it in public,” he adds.

Another person, Oiaohm, writes in our IRC channel: “Notice something funny about that training. Microsoft is mentioning Linux. You only do that if you fear your competitor, otherwise you just talk about your own product and hope the staff don’t know about the other.”

“Microsoft is mentioning Linux. You only do that if you fear your competitor, otherwise you just talk about your own product and hope the staff don’t know about the other.”
      –Oiaohm
“I hope this guy has covered his identity,” says the former person, as “Best Buy and Microsoft will fire him for sharing [...] employees are fired for such things. There are plenty of people in line for the job. [...] Vista pushed many retailers into bankruptcy. Windows 7 will challenge what’s left. Best Buy is going the full Microsoft route and will pay a terrible price. They think they have it easy because no one else is left selling computers brick and mortar.”

The latter reader adds: “The best part of it [is] Microsoft screwed up. Always a percentage of people giv[en] a briefing will question it.”

“The question is,” he concludes, “will Microsoft have to cut their price before release? Microsoft has dumped out more free copies of Windows 7 than any other version of Windows. And it’s not even released yet.”

Well, guess what Microsoft is doing right about now? It is offering small bribes (in the form of Vista 7 licences) to people who help Microsoft hype up the release. There is already a parody about it and another rather sarcastic take.

So lets now look at the party idea. http://www.engadget.com/2009/09/02/get-windows-7-[...] and see the title “Get Windows 7 Ultimate for free…..by throwing a party”. They say:

Sure, you’ll have to suck up your pride and invite your friends to a party with a theme like “setting up with ease” or “family friendly fun,”

[...]

Windows 7 party time? In my opinion the only thing to celebrate will be the end of the hangover from the Vista one. Will history be repeated with 7? Dip into your wallet and find out!

Incentives for people to hype up Vista 7? We have seen that before.

Going back to the Best Buy folly, Microsoft is clearly building an army of Microsoft salesmen even in other companies, not just Microsoft Stores. It’s a very medieval approach where suppression of minds and conformity are a live-or-die crossroad. In addition to obedient salespeople, Microsoft is now recruiting marketing people to throw house parties for a piece of software. How pathetic is that? Does anyone remember the “Show Us Your Wow” campaign that Bill Gates was hyping up? They called for contributions from volunteers who would hype up Vista, only to take down the “Show Us Your Wow” Web site a short time later (the contributions all vanished along with it).

Microsoft is bordering the edges of the realm of grassroots (ethical) and verges AstroTurfing yet again. Let’s remember yesterday's Vista 7 article/advert from The Register.

In more uplifting news about GNU/Linux, despite attempted derailing by Microsoft, GNU/Linux makes big strides in Russian education:

60 Thousand Russian Teachers Will Learn Linux by the End of 2009

[...]

As part of the initiative, Russian schools have already received CDs with Linux and other open-source tools distribution kits so that such solutions could be installed even in the schools with no broadband internet access. But of course such a large-scale deployment is not that easy to carry out without help of qualified professionals who can make it possible.

Russia also investigates Microsoft for misconduct while this new report from Business Week says that “even the software giant [Microsoft] has tried to tamp down expectations for the new operating system.”

“Businesses will all but ignore Windows 7 and most uptake will come from consumers.”
      –Anonymous
“In other words,” explains one person in USENET, “Windows 7 will be another dud and its release will NOT result in another PC upgrade cycle. Businesses will all but ignore Windows 7 and most uptake will come from consumers. This would be disastrous for Microsoft’s credibility in the marketplace.”

Going a little sarcastic, he adds: “I wonder what Microsoft will come up with after the failure of Windows 7, a Windows XP Second Edition? I’m pretty sure another incremental Vista update won’t cut it with Wall Street so they’ll have to try something radical. How about porting the Windows UI to Linux or (more likely) FreeBSD? Might work, but far from certain.”

In exchange for these blows of reality, the Microsoft crowd strikes back by attacking GNU/Linux. Watch this one for example. It is the second such attack (almost identical) from the same author this week. We wrote about the first one right here. The author is collaborating with Microsoft (by his own admission) and he has a pattern of attacking Free software and GNU/Linux. Attacks on GNU/Linux are typically based on false market share statistics, whose connection to Microsoft we wrote about in:

  1. Net Applications Has Former Microsoft Employee, Also a Microsoft Investor?
  2. Three New Articles Question Net Applications’ Integrity
  3. Net Applications: the Big Lie, Boosted by IDC|IDG et al
  4. Summary: Lies, Damn Lies and Net Applications (Fake ‘Statistics’)

According to statistics from one other source, GNU/Linux carries on gaining market share whereas OS X remains quite stagnant. Microsoft’s very own statistics (see Ballmer’s presentation slide below) show that GNU/Linux exceeds Apple in terms of market share on the desktop. Microsoft also considers GNU/Linux — not Apple — the #1 rival. It has repeatedly admitted this (even openly because it must) for many years. Linux has partly won the embedded market and the servers, but these days, desktop opportunities are within sight too.

Ballmer's slide on Macs and GNU/Linux
Steve Ballmer’s presentation slide
from 2009 shows GNU/Linux as bigger than Apple on the desktop

False Associations

Posted in Boycott Novell, Site News at 4:21 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Please help us spot and deter the fakes (personal or affiliation)

WE PREVIOUSLY dealt with the issue of people who pretend to speak on behalf of this Web site. There was also the issue of people (trolls) who are leaving comments under my full name or surname, usually cursing people whom I know or making self-defeating statements under fake identity. One possibility is that the former type — much like the latter — is trying to piss people off and incite people against this Web site and against yours truly.

As explicitly stated some months ago, I no longer leave comments in other Web sites for precisely that reason, except for a few where I have a registered (and long-standing) account or places where I PGP-sign my messages. If people spot fakes (messages with my name where they don’t belong), please raise the issue. It seems like some sort of a smear campaign by impostering. Some people are leaving comments with BoycottNovell.com as their homepage, but I have no idea who these people are.

Unrest in OpenSUSE Grows, Mono Faces Opposition Also

Posted in GNU/Linux, Mono, Novell, OpenSUSE, Ubuntu at 4:03 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: People of OpenSUSE see need for change, Mono criticism carries on

AS OpenSUSE support continues to diminish and releases are made less frequent, key departures are noted [1, 2] and layoffs too. Concerns are now being publicly raised in the OpenSUSE mailing lists and then deflected to another mailing list. The original message says:

WARNING (This is my honest view/perception and is not politically correct)

1. Many small business owners/small companies feel there is a lack of attention to their needs from Novell. That is to say Novell only listens to “Monster Enterprise Clients”

Solution: We form a group that combined has equivelant $$$ behind it to warrent attention.

2. Many resent replies from Novell people (although it is just their opinion) through the various mediums treat SMB’s and their staff as idiots. It comes off as if it comes from arrogant 20-something know it alls dictating what the community has to do. To quote some CEO’s and COO… “The SUSE/Novell people act like a bunch arrogant 20-something … that treat us and are staff like idiots.) SMB’s have to contribute more time/money/resources to keep openSUSE going. (Why should we when we are treated like idiots)?

Solution: Better communitcation. Some signs of improvement, but a strong feeling of being dictated, rather than lead”

Heise has already taken notice of this, being a publication which is close to SUSE much like its audience.

The reduction of the support duration for openSUSE from 24 to 18 months has sparked a discussion among the openSUSE community about a free SUSE Linux version with long-term support.

This puts even greater pressure on Novell, whose security seems to be wobbly according to this new report.

An ongoing phishing attack against UK taxpayers is being given additional credibility by using a gov.uk domain. Sefton Council is hosting the phishing content on its Novel GroupWise 7.0 site at web11.sefton.gov.uk.

There are no similar reports elsewhere.

Regardless of the perils which OpenSUSE is facing, Mono development is going strong at Novell, despite the obvious problems it will pose to everyone but Novell and Microsoft. GreyGeek writes an excellent summary of the situation, part of which goes as follows:

To make matters worse, the Ubuntu Technology Board voted on June 30, 2009 to make the Ubuntu desktop remix DEPENDENT on MONO! Since MONO is a clone of .NET, and .NET is owned and controlled by Microsoft, that means that Microsoft will, directly or indirectly, control the Ubuntu desktop in future releases, unless the UTB comes to its senses and reverses itself. Now, consider this: GNOME is built using C and the GTK+ API, and compiled with gcc. MONO (.NET) has it’s own API and GUI dialog frameworks, and is written using C#. There is NO NEED for GTK+ if GNOME because dependent on MONO. Expect the Ubuntu Technical Board, after a “reasonable” period of time to allow MONO based GUIs and utilities to gradually replace GTK+ counterparts, to announce that it is removing the GTK+ toolkit to “save room” on the ISO. That is the same reason it used to remove GIMP from the ISO in favor of MONO.

So, the Ubuntu Linux user doesn’t have to install SAMBA to have a fully functional desktop. Currently, if the Linux user removes the files dependent on libmono* it will disable only half a dozen applications, none critical to Linux. HOWEVER, when GNOME becomes dependent on MONO one will NOT be able to remove MONO without making GNOME inoperable.

“GreyGeek’s response is here,” tells us a reader (via E-mail), who adds that “IMHO, pretty well sums up why Mono is not a good thing and gives me even more reasons to not use any of the *buntus.” GreyGeek has also written about the personal attacks I’ve been receiving, with Jose_X adding his own point of view. Generally speaking, the pattern at Microsoft/Mono’s side of things remains one of suppression and cyber-bullying. Jason has called it “pro-Mono zealotry”; neither users nor developers actually want Mono.

“The patent danger to Mono comes from patents we know Microsoft has, on libraries which are outside the C# spec and thus not covered by any promise not to sue. In effect, Microsoft has designed in boobytraps for us.

“Indeed, every large program implements lots of ideas that are patented. Indeed, there’s no way to avoid this danger. But that’s no reason to put our head inside Microsoft’s jaws.”

Richard Stallman

Weird-looking monkey

Google — Like Mozilla — Sheds Off Some Microsoft Impact

Posted in Asia, GNU/Linux, Google, Microsoft, Virtualisation, VMware at 3:07 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Departure sign

Summary: Lee Kai-Fu from Google leaves the company, just like Mark Lucovsky (both of whom came from Microsoft’s management)

Last year we wrote about how Mozilla lost the influence of Microsoft and this morning we wrote about how Telstra has gained Microsoft influence. It is a fact of life that people move between places, but not every company engages in what it calls "Jihad" and uses what it calls the "insider friend, 'the Fox'."

It has been abundantly clear for a while — also based on input from our informants — that Google was partly influenced by Microsoft employees whom it hired*. There are (or were) some very major ones among them. The good news is that one of them is now leaving.

Lee Kai-Fu, who joined from Microsoft in 2004, will step down as president of Google in greater China in September, the company said.

When he joined, Microsoft sued Google and Mr Lee, claiming he had violated an agreement that prohibited him from working for a rival for one year.

Mark Lucovsky, the man who led Steve Ballmer to throwing a chair when he abandoned Microsoft for Google, has also left Google, but he is now with the same group of former Microsoft employees that manage VMware (at least 4 of them). They messed up the company, but it’s good for their former employer. VMware is no longer serious enough about Linux.
______
* Microsoft software/API like DirectX and ActiveX was sometimes chosen, which left GNU/Linux users in the dark. A lot of software was also Windows-only.

Links 04/09/2009: New Wine, Mesa, Lubuntu

Posted in News Roundup at 1:56 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • 25 tips to make the switch to Linux easy

    If you are still in doubt if it’s wise to switch from Windows to Linux, you should have a look at the recently published list with “25 Linux tips for Windows switchers”

  • Apple Built a Better Kitty (Thanks to Linux)

    Now, where do you think Apple and MS might have learned this salubrious lesson, my fellow geek-watchers? Could it have been largely from watching Linux take off in Netbooks and cheap PCs? Might it possibly have something to do with the remarkable success of the Ubuntu Linux product and its increasingly sophisticated, feature-rich, but eminently small and functional OS? Linux desktops, led by GNOME and KDE, along with distros such as Ubuntu, PCLinuxOS, Linux Mint, and MEPIS, have been quietly carving the path that the corporate monsters of the software industry have at last chosen to follow: make thy kernel light, stable, and versatile, and let thy desktop be smart and slim, with only enough features to support and enhance the user’s experience, and no more.

    And incidentally, would it be too much to ask of Mr. Ballmer or Mr. Jobs to simply say so, to give credit where it’s due? No, that wouldn’t be the corporate thing, the profitable thing, the we’re-number-one thing, the competitive thing to do. It would only be the fair thing.

  • Desktop

    • The GNU/Linux Desktop and Borrowed Assumptions about Usability

      The trouble with this assumption — like many others — is that it easily becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. All interface designers that I met have told me that it is impossible to design a desktop application that includes all possible functionality or meets the need of every possible user. Besides, they add, if you tried, users would suffer the anxiety of having too many choices. And so you get file managers, for instance, that have less than a third of the functionality of basic commands like cp or mv.

    • ZaReason’s New Linux Netbook, How to Thrive in a Tough Market

      Cathy and Earl Malmrose founded ZaReason several years ago. ZaReason is a Linux OEM that has long intrigued me for a number of reasons: they encourage customers to open their boxes and tinker, they specialize in OEM Linux boxes, and they demonstrate that there is still room for independent shops in the rough-and-tumble world of computer retailing. In many ways the independents out-perform the big businesses as they understand Linux and Linux users, and a Linux-only shop doesn’t have to contend with the pressures and restrictions that Microsoft puts on its partners.

    • Zenity Brings a Little GUI Goodness to Linux Shell Scripts

      One of the powers of the Linux command shell is the wealth of commands available to accomplish most any task. That amount of power can be intimidating to the less experienced users. Most typical computer users rarely open up a terminal window, or a DOS command box in Windows, unless they need to do some trouble shooting.

    • Repair Damaged Drives With Linux

      When you’re used to the world of Windows or OS X, Linux can seem a little unforgiving. Not only does command-line access hand over the complete keys to the manor to any unwitting user with access to the administrator’s account, there’s rarely a safety net should things go wrong. Despite advances in most Linux desktops (where the ubiquitous Trashcan safely buffers deleted files), you get no such protection from most system-specific configuration, installation and maintenance tools. And while it’s rare for anything to go wrong without your direct input, some accidents do happen, especially if you enjoy tinkering with the latest distro release each month. But this being Linux, there’s plenty you can do to dig yourself out of a hole, which is why it’s always a good idea to have a repair-worthy distribution close to hand when performing configuration and installation tasks.

    • How to convert non-techies to Linux.

      Eyecandy is also very important. Most new and non technical users are not interested in code. What they see is the GUI. Make their distro look very cool and pretty and they will fall in love with it. You can get themes from Gnomelook.org. Lots of people like Apple computers because of aesthetics. This might seem superficial to you but we are talking about the non technical users switching over to Linux. Another great application is Compiz. If their computer is powerful enough you can give them excellent eyecandy with compiz. With themes and cool 3D effects you will be able to make their Linux desktop nicer than Windows or Mac OS. Show them a little razzle dazzle.

  • Server

  • Kernel Space

    • Kernel 2.6.31 to speed up Linux desktop

      With the next version of the Linux kernel, 2.6.31, due for release soon, Linux desktop users can look forward to a faster experience in addition to USB 3.0 support and new Firewire drivers.

    • Mesa 7.5.1 Brings Bug Fixes

      As a follow up to the Mesa 7.5 release that occurred back in mid-July, Brian Paul has now announced the release of Mesa 7.5.1. This point release brings a number of bug fixes and minor improvements, while a plethora of new work over the past few months has been going into what shall become Mesa 7.6.

    • Anatomy of the Linux virtual file system switch

      The flexibility and extensibility of support for Linux file systems is a direct result of an abstracted set of interfaces. At the core of that set of interfaces is the virtual file system switch (VFS).

  • Applications

    • Sizing up Opera 10 Final: Can it Compete with Chrome and Firefox?

      Opera’s browser share seems to be slipping a bit, at least according to the stats over on W3Schools. Chrome is making inroads with 7% of the market, Firefox commands 47.4% (slightly down from July), and Opera is at 2.1% for the third month in a row — which is down from 2.3% at the beginning of the year.

    • The Wine development release 1.1.29 is now available.

      What’s new in this release (see below for details):
      – Improved Gecko integration by using Wine’s network layers.
      – Use of external libmpg123 for mp3 decoding.
      – Support for JPEG and PNG formats in WindowsCodecs.
      – Many regression test fixes for Win64 and Windows 7.
      – Various bug fixes.

    • My Favorite Brain Games

      I wanted to take a few minutes and share a couple of games that I enjoy quite often. I’ve never been one for the shoot-em-up games, rather I prefer games that put my brain to work solving problems. There are many “brain games” available for Linux, but I would like to let you know about two games that I use to feed my puzzling addiction.

  • Desktop Environments

    • Akademy 2010 in Tampere, Finland

      The KDE community is proud to announce the location of next year’s Akademy: Tampere, Finland. Akademy is the yearly world conference held by the KDE community to celebrate the Free Software desktop and work towards the future of KDE.

      After a successful Akademy 2009 on the Canary Islands, as part of the Gran Canaria Desktop Summit, Akademy heads north to the birthplace of Linux where contributors will enjoy the midnight sun as they spend a week to present, plan and participate in the development of KDE software.

    • digiKam digest – 2009-08-31

      This week we saw finishing of work on new color management code; updating of libraw to stable 0.8.1 (28 new cameras comparing to previous 0.7.x stable release, API extension and fixes); optimizations in thumbnails display; preparations for 1.0-beta4 (released on 31st August).

    • Open Source Photo Processing Comes of Age

      Without a doubt digiKam has a lot to offer for the photographers among us. Unfortunately, it still has one glaring omission – a clone tool. You may have noticed that the original RAW image had some dust specks in the sky above the trees and in other parts of the clouds. In digiKam, the only tool available for trying to remove such things (other than cropping them out as I did here) is a tool called In-painting, found under Enhance > In-painting. However, that tool is not easy to use and is rather slow. With a proper clone tool, as available in most other photo editors, removing such items only takes a few seconds. The good news is that the digiKam developers have acknowledged this omission as a bug and we can expect to see it implemented in a future version of digiKam. In the mean time we can use the Gimp to take care of these items as a final touch up step.

      I think you will agree that digiKam is an amazing open source tool. It has now become my main photo editor. If you are into photography, why not give it a try?

  • Distributions

    • Slackware Linux 13.0 Released (and Installed)

      Experienced Linux administrators are likely to feel “right at home” with the installation process – I certainly did. Just about everything is there, presented clearly for your selection. It took me about an hour to get it installed on MMS. The only significant stumble was that Slackware uses the LILO bootloader, which I choose not to use, but even that wasn’t a major problem for me because I have to keep the openSolaris GRUB as the bootloader anyway, so I just told it to skip the LILO installation, and added Slackware to the openSolaris GRUB configuration file manually.

    • Installing ReactOS on KVM virtual machine on Gentoo

      Documentation of KVM shows that much more can be done in this case. It is nice to use working software with man pages encouraging learning about it.

    • Red Hat Family

      • Fedora, good and bad

        In the past few days, since I’ve been spending time at my sister’s house, I’ve used as single system the laptop I bought a few months ago, with runs Fedora 11. This has been my first time, since I started working in Gentoo, that I had to work with just a laptop (if you exclude the hospitalisations) and especially the first time since I started using Gentoo that I had to work with just another Linux distribution.

      • New Red Hat Linux’s top five features

        I’ve been using RHEL and its twins, CentOS and Oracle Unbreakable Linux, since day one, and I like them a lot for business server use. Of these releases, RHEL 5.4 is the most impressive of the lot, for these reasons:

        1) Baked-in virtualization.

      • KVM is the feather in Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5.4

        Red Hat has released RHEL 5.4, a major point update of its commercial Linux distribution. This version introduces support for KVM, a significant milestone in Red Hat’s evolving virtualization strategy.

      • Jaspersoft’s New Channel Partner Amentra Further Strengthens Product Integration With Red Hat

        Amentra, a Red Hat company, will sell to and train customers who want to deploy Jaspersoft’s open source BI suite with Red Hat’s JBoss Data Services Platform

      • Scientific Linux: A Distro For More Than Labs

        The distribution itself is a customized version of Red Hat Enterprise, with the most recent build dating from July 21 (for the 4.x branch). Most of the changes are on a site-specific basis — for instance, customizations for Fermi’s work as opposed to CERN.

      • Red Hat launches GateIN open source portal project

        Red Hat (NYSE:RHT) today officially launched the GateIN portal project on its JBoss.org project site.

        GateIN melds JBoss Portal technologies with the eXo portal to create a new portal framework. Red Hat originally announced the partnership with eXo in June and the today’s availability of GateIN is the first deliverable.

      • Red Hat Summit: Top 7 Observations

        1. Open Sourcing Clouds: Red Hat is warning attendees not to get locked into “proprietary” clouds from Microsoft (Windows Azure) and VMware, among others. Red Hat also took a few subtle shots at Oracle. Read between the lines and Red Hat sees the software market as a four horse race: Microsoft, Oracle, Red Hat and VMware. For the sake of political correctness, The VAR Guy listed the four vendors alphabetically and refuses to choose favorites.

      • Red Hat CEO: Choose flexibility or Larry

        During his keynote presentation at the Red Hat Summit 2009 conference in Chicago, Whitehurst covered Red Hat talking points, including how the company is working to build future IT architectures that are flexible and allow its customers to meet demands of their own internal customers. Ellison, on the other hand, presents the opposite of flexibility, according to Whitehurst.

      • Red Hat’s CEO Whitehurst takes aim at Oracle during ‘Summit’

        “Do you want to buy into Larry Ellison’s vision of what your IT infrastructure should be and what functionality you should provide to your customers, or should you listen to your customers and be flexible,” Whitehurst asked the crowd.

      • EU Commission Opens In Depth Investigation of Sun-Oracle Deal

        The EU Commission has just released a press release. They are not going to approve the Oracle takeover of Sun just yet anyway. Instead they are launching an in depth investigation of the deal, and it’s MySQL that seems to be the issue. Here’s the press release. This doesn’t mean it won’t happen, and the deadline for a final result of the investigation is January 19, 2010. But they are certainly asking the right question, namely, what happens to MySQL in Oracle’s hands?

      • EU delays Oracle-Sun deal, probing database market
      • Red Hat opens up the cloud with Deltacloud

        The way that Stevens explains Deltacloud, is that that it will have drivers that map onto Amazon EC2 as well as private clouds that uses VMware or Red Hat Enterprise Linux.

      • Red Hat eyes REST standardization

        Red Hat is seeking REST standardization through an effort it is calling REST-*, which could serve as a counterpoint to the alternative WS-* specifications for Web services.

      • Red Hat promotes cloud projects, pans Microsoft and VMware

        Declaring that Microsoft and VMware will not drive cloud interoperability, Red Hat on Thursday detailed projects to proliferate use of clouds, including Project Hail, for putting applications onto a cloud.

    • Ubuntu

      • Canonical rents out Ubuntu mavens

        A PSE Ubuntu expert would working as a single point of contact for Canonical’s larger customers, becoming “virtual team members” with the company’s IT staff. Canonical says PSEs will provide regular technical and service reviews, share best-practice wisdom, and help companies optimize Ubuntu environments. Apparently, PSEs will even serve as advocates for the company for future Ubuntu releases.

      • Canonical adds Advanced Ubuntu Service and Support Offering

        Canonical, the company behind the Ubuntu project, announced today an advanced service and support offering that gives large enterprises with complex IT environments a highly-skilled, dedicated Canonical support professional.

      • Ubuntu’s Karmic Koala Alpha 5 arrives

        Pre-releases like this are not recommended for anyone who needs a stable system or who isn’t comfortable with “occasional, even frequent breakage”, and should not be used on production systems. Ubuntu 9.10 is scheduled to be released on October 29th, 2009.

      • Ubuntu 9.10 Alpha 5 Has OpenOffice.org 3.1.1

        A few minutes ago, the Ubuntu development team unleashed the fifth alpha version of the upcoming Ubuntu 9.10 (Karmic Koala) operating system, due for release in late October this year. As usual, we’ve downloaded a copy of it in order to keep you up-to-date with the latest changes in the Ubuntu 9.10 development.

      • Ubuntu 9.10 (Karmic Koala) Alpha 5 – A Few Quick Comments

        Ubuntu hit their target date with Karmic Alpha 5, it is available for download. I have only installed it on the S6510 so far, but here are a couple of quick observations about it.

      • New Look for Ubuntu Network Installs

        There are still quirks and such, we can’t yet get it to install ubuntu restricted extras by default, although we have gotten skype, libdvdcss2 and java to install by default, but once sorted out these OEM machine installs will have all the updates, all the common desktop packages, anything extra we want to add including replacement gdm theme or extra docs / manuals and it’s must less hassle than a CD or USB boot media.

      • Ubuntu Related Links

        I recently helped a friend switch to Ubuntu and he wanted a list of Ubuntu-related links. I compiled the following list for him and thought it might be useful to others.

      • Lubuntu

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Update: More Platforms With MontaVista Linux 6

      Update: When asked exactly how the software can be obtained, MontaVista explained that separate licenses for MontaVista Linux 6 and SDK can be purchased by emailing the local sales department. Once the transaction is complete, a code will be sent allowing access to “MontaVista Zone” where the relevant downloads are available.

    • Eight-core PowerPC SoC begins sampling

      Freescale Semiconductor has begun sampling the top-of-the-line eight-core version of its Linux-compatible, PowerPC-based QorIQ system-on-chips (SoCs). Aimed at high-end networking applications, the 1.5GHz QorIQ P4080 offers a private backside cache per core, tri-level cache hierarchy, datapath acceleration, a Virtutech-based hypervisor, and a CoreNet “coherency fabric” inter-core interconnect, says the company.

    • Mobile

      • Googlephone set for second US carrier

        While most wireless carriers have pledged support for the Android camp, T-Mobile’s G1 and myTouch 3G (also manufactured by HTC) are the only phones currently available Stateside powered by Google’s open-source platform.

      • Sprint Joins March of the Androids With HTC Hero

        The Android mobile operating system has officially expanded to a second U.S. wireless carrier. The HTC Hero smartphone, sporting the Google-backed Android OS, will be offered by Sprint this October; meanwhile, T-Mobile still also offers a line of Android handsets. The Hero is a feature-rich smartphone with a competitive price, but will it bump up against another top-shelf Sprint phone, the Palm Pre?

      • Archos’ Android Tablet Looks Imminent–and Slick

        That’s the Android operating system running on this fairly slick looking ARCHOS tablet, which is concrete proof that Android is headed for more than just smartphones. As JKOnTheRun notes, the ARCHOS 5 Android-based Internet Tablet isn’t scheduled to go on sale until September 15th, but online retailer B&H jumped the gun and has a 500GB version of it shown and listed on its site. The ARCHOS 5 is a 5-inch slate, and JKOnTheRun reports that at one time B&H listed both HDD and SSD models, with prices ranging from $294 to $420, depending on configuration. Those specs have since been removed.

      • Android, WiMax mobile device and chip kit unveiled in Taiwan

        A Taiwanese research group unveiled a personal Internet device (PID) on Thursday made from its WiMax chips and a reference board that runs a version of Google’s Android mobile operating system tweaked for PIDs.

      • Palm Pre Slows, So Sprint Hopes Android Will Be Its Hero

        Palm is selling about 25,000 devices a week, according to David Eller, an analyst with Town Hall Investment Research.

      • Preview and pics: Nokia’s first Linux phone

        The Nokia N900 has some powerful guts. The device packs a powerful ARM Cortex-A8 processor and has 1GB of memory for running applications. The N900 also features OpenGL ES 2.0 graphics acceleration, opening a window of opportunity for high-quality mobile games.

      • PC-Z1: Sharp’s Ubuntu-powered, touchscreen “Mobile Internet Tool”

        Sharp says the device is targeted as users who look for a device that rolls Internet access, an electronic dictionary and an e-Book function into one. The PC-Z1 goes on sale in Japan on September 25 for $450 (in white and black). Sharp hasn’t said anything about international sales plans yet.

Free Software/Open Source

  • SMB And ERP: No Longer Mutually Exclusive Terms

    Finally, this week Inforworld.com named another open-source ERP provider, Compiere, as a recipient of its annual “Bossie” award in the Best Open Source Enterprise Software category. Compiere is another strong contender in the small-business ERP market; among other features, it offers a very well-regarded, cloud-based implementation of its ERP solution.

    [...]

    The other, based on an Ubuntu Server software stack, is being positioned as a better solution for companies that want more control over server configuration, including the use of complementary third-party components. Both are suitable for deployment as single-server solutions.

  • Fresh Roadmap for Firefox

    The Mozilla Project has updated its roadmap for the coming versions of Firefox. The next big release, Firefox 4.0 with Geko1.9.4 underneath, is scheduled for the end of 2010.

  • Boom Time for FOSS

    The current economic recession may be pummeling companies around the globe, but amid all the dire reports and grim statistics littering what can only be compared to a bloody battlefield, one oft-cited exception appears to be still standing tall: free and open source software.

  • Will new Skype owners deal differently with open source?

    There is growing speculation, especially given its deal with Digium, that the new owners of Skype may take a different attitude toward open source.

  • Open-Xchange Teams With Rack-Soft, Combines Telephony and Groupware Tools

    Open-Xchange’s collaboration with Rack-Soft brings an all-in-one solution that’s an actual solution. The partnership combines Open-Xchange’s open source groupware with Rack-Soft’s telephony products.

  • Four Open Source Software Updates You Should Know About

    AbiWord 2.7.10 Beta – Open source word processor, AbiWord, mainly fixes bugs associated with plugins but there are also a handful of fixes for some cross-platform issues. You’ll also want to check out this beta version if you’ve been having issues with importing and exporting Open Office XML docs.

    Blender 2.49b – This is a full-blown point release of the powerful 3D modeling application that’s so powerful some artists use it to create full-length animated films.

  • New Open-source Camera Could Revolutionize Photography

    Within about a year, after the camera is developed to his satisfaction, Levoy hopes to have to have the funding and the arrangements in place for an outside manufacturer to produce them in quantity, ideally for less than $1,000. Levoy would then provide them at cost to colleagues and their students at other universities.

  • Frankencamera: A Far-Reaching Open Source Camera Project From Stanford

    The concept of hacking digital cameras has been around for a while, and there are even books on how to hack filters, hack remote controls for cameras, and more. For the Frankencamera effort, though, researchers envision an open source community contributing camera customizations that become available to everyone. I can envision some photography junkies that I know getting behind that idea.

  • Events

    • Blender World Cup 2009 Contest Open for Artist Submissions

      Calling all artists: If you want to try your hand at creating images as spectacular as the one on the left and win a prize for them, then you need to enter the Blender World Cup 2009 contest. This year’s topic focuses on “the other world which should contain fantasy, creativity, and interest.”

    • 4 + 1 ways to celebrate the Software Freedom Day

      Maybe the most important thing you can do that day is learn more about Software Freedom and reflect on how it applies to you and your community. Checkout The Free Software Definition, learn Why Schools Should Use Exclusively Free Software and understand why Your Freedom Needs Free Software. Don’t take these at face value; think about them, and form your own opinion. Then act.

  • Licensing

Leftovers

Digital Tipping Point: Clip of the Day

Mandriva CEO Jean Francois Boncilhon 01 (2004)

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

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