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Links 05/09/2009: Hungarian and South African Governments Led to Free Software

Posted in News Roundup at 8:03 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



  • Why GNU/Linux Is and Isn’t like Windows

    For example, the mainstream Windows code (not the quite different versions like Windows CE ) is essentially bound up with the Intel chip architecture (once upon a time, there was a version of Windows for MIPS, but that was taken out to the back and shot in 1996). GNU/Linux, by contrast, has been ported to dozens of platforms (I wondered whether we’re up to the hundred mark, yet?)

  • Commentary: Linux at Law

    I have no problem using the electronic filing and access systems that the federal and many state courts now require. I have a variety of FOSS PDF programs that work well. Although I cannot read the proprietary electronic transcripts generated by some court reporters, I get around that annoyance by requesting my copies as indexed PDF files.

    So, you ask, “What about interaction with other lawyers and clients?” No problem. Lawyers and judges do not even know that I am using FOSS . I can read their files created with proprietary word processors and I can produce compatible files for their word processors. Although I have problems with some templates, such as manipulating data on numbered pages of interrogatories, I have developed simple work-arounds.

  • X Server 1.7 Has Its First Snapshot

    It’s coming late, but it looks like we may finally see X.Org 7.5 in the next month. The biggest component making up X.Org 7.5 is X Server 1.7, which is finally getting underway with test releases after its code was frozen earlier this week.

  • Applications

    • New Mind Mapping App Freeplane Promises Great Features, Rapid Release Cycle

      Freeplane’s codebase has been completely overhauled and new features like a spell checker, graphical links, and improved filtering have been added. It also has categorized icons, structured HTML paste, better search options, and the ability to reposition the note editor.

    • GCC vs. LLVM-GCC Benchmarks

      Last Friday we published Mac OS X 10.6 benchmarks and then on Monday they were joined by Ubuntu 9.10 vs. Mac OS X 10.6 benchmarks. One of the requests that has come up since publishing those articles are to carry out a set of tests comparing the performance of LLVM and LLVM-GCC. With Apple’s Snow Leopard release, some parts of the operating system were built using LLVM-GCC for optimized performance, although this compiler is not yet matured. In this article we have a set of 12 benchmarks comparing GCC to LLVM-GCC.

  • Desktop Environments

    • AfterStep -Just another windows manager for Linux

      AfterStep is a window manager for the Unix X Window System . Originally based on the look and feel of the NeXTStep interface, it provides end users with a consistent, clean, and elegant desktop. The goal of AfterStep development is to provide for flexibility of desktop configuration, improving aestetics, and efficient use of system resources.

  • Distributions

    • Red Hat Family

    • Debian Family

      • What’s New In Ubuntu 9.10 Karmic Koala Alpha 5 (With Screenshots)

        Ubuntu Karmic Alpha 5 includes the latest GNOME 2.27.91 development release. Alpha 5 includes the 2.6.31-9.29 kernel based on 2.6.31-rc8. The kernel ships with Kernel Mode Setting enabled for Intel graphics (see below). linux-restricted-modules is deprecated in favour of DKMS packages.

      • Ubuntu Karmic’s Installer Slideshow

        Yesterday Ubuntu 9.10 Alpha 5 was released and besides shipping with a number of updated packages and the Ubuntu One client along with Ubuntu Enterprise Cloud images, the Ubiquity installer shipped with its new slide-show feature enabled. Now during the Ubuntu installation process from the desktop LiveCD, rather than just showing a status bar it also advertises various features of this Linux operating system.

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Google improves Android Market

      Google appears to have responded to the dissatisfaction of some developers with its online store for Android applications. Eric Chu from the Android Mobile Platform group wrote in a blog entry that the forthcoming version 1.6 of Android Market will bring a number of improvements.

    • Hardkernal unveils Android open-source handheld

      A new open source Android gaming device has emerged, called the Odroid. Created by Hardkernal, the system is built around the same core technology that the iPhone 3GS uses.

    • T Mobile to launch first pay-as-you-go Android phone

      With Google claiming there will be 18 Android-powered phones available by the end of the year however, this first offering aimed at the larger market for cheaper mobiles could prove a tipping point for widespread uptake of what Richard Warmsley, head of internet and entertainment of T-Mobile, has described as “an exciting global platform for the next few years”.

    • Jolicloud’s Netbook OS is Getting Noticed, Looks Unique

      Malmrose isn’t the only one taking notice of Jolicloud. CNet’s Josh Lowensohn has taken the beta version of Jolicloud’s OS through some early paces, and says: “I’ve been giving it a thorough run-though over the past few days and have come away impressed at what it’s trying to do. Some bits and pieces are definitely still beta, but the underlying approach of making Web sites and software applications feel the same, as well as introducing users to new ones to use is really innovative.” Does this unusual netbook operating system have a chance?

Free Software/Open Source

  • InfoWorld Best of Open Source winners you may not know (yet)
  • Student Data Interchange Gets Open Source Boost

    The OpenEAI Software Foundation is a non-profit corporation organized to develop and promote open source enterprise application integration. The foundation was founded by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

  • Pentaho updates open source BI suite

    US software vendor Pentaho has released version 3.5 of its open source Business Intelligence suite.

  • Radio Station KRUU Saves Thousands Thanks to Open Source Software

    Open source radios are nothing new, but what about open source radio stations? Actually, community-led over-the-air radio stations powered by open source software are more common than you’d think. With a total yearly operating budget of just $77,000, Fairfield, Iowa’s KRUU (100.1 FM) runs largely on open source software, and the FOSS philosophy has carried over into the station’s general programming decisions as well.

  • Kosovo: ‘Ownership of e-government code a step towards open source’

    The ministry of Public Administration now owns the source code to many of the country’s applications that offer electronic government services. This is progress towards open source, said the deputy minister of Energy and Mining, Blerim Rexha, speaking at the Software Freedom Kosova Conference that took place last week in Prishtina. “Previously, the government only had the executables, not the source code.”

  • What a Tomcat Did to the Mule

    One of the most powerful features of open source is the ability to draw on pre-existing code or even projects. This avoids the proverbial re-invention of the wheel that has plagued traditional software houses (just how many times do people need to write a word processor from scratch?)

    It also means that open source startups can build on other free software projects to beef up their product portfolios in a rapid and low-cost fashion.

  • First Sale – Davidson v. Internet Gateway

    Why even spend time on it? Several reasons, actually, which I’ll enumerate for you, but first, let me ask you a question, those of you who hope that EULAs get tossed overboard by this case:

    Why are you looking for freedom in proprietary software?

    You won’t find it there. Why not instead use and develop Free and Open Source software, where you are free of such things as EULAs? No. Seriously. Why not? If you want freedom, stay away from proprietary software and you’ve solved all your EULA troubles. GPL code has no EULA.

    Oh, my games! My games! I hear some say. I sometimes see comments where someone says the only thing they still do on Windows is play games. OK. Do as you wish, but then here’s another question:

    If you use proprietary software to play proprietary games, why do you expect the courts to care about freedom more than you do?

    I want you to realize that proprietary means what it says, so be realistic. Courts are set up to protect property rights, including copyrights and trademarks and trade secrets and patents. It is what it is. If you want freedom in software, you know where you can find it.

  • Mozilla

    • Do You Want to be a Firefox Test-Pilot?

      Given that, the Test Pilot project sounds like a good opportunity to get an early look at what’s might be coming in Firefox 4.0 and beyond, and maybe even influence the final choices.

    • So’s your facet: Faceted global search for Mozilla Thunderbird

      Following in the footsteps of the MIT SIMILE project’s Exhibit tool (originally authored by David Huynh) and Thunderbird Seek extension (again by David Huynh), we are hoping to land faceted global search for Thunderbird 3.0 (a la gloda) in beta 4.


      If you use linux or OS X, I just linked you to try server builds. The windows try server was sadly on fire and so couldn’t attend the build party. The bug tracking the enhancement is bug 474711 and has repository info if you want to spin your own build.

  • Business

    • Selling Open Source software in your company

      Why consider open source? Who can resist a way to reduce costs while finding ways to address business needs? Low to no-cost options are more important than ever. Some organizations have strict policies against such software, but if you can provide valid data to prove open source provides similar functionality to commercial, off-the-shelf software, you may be able to provide some real value to your organization.

  • Government

    • Broad open source plans promised

      Nthabiseng Mosupye has been appointed chairperson of the Open Source Software Standing Committee (OSSSC).

      The OSSSC is a body of the Government Information Technology Officers Council (Gitoc). The committee is tasked with gathering information on open source trends in government, facilitating discussions and advising the Free and Open Source Software Programme Office (FPO) on implementation.

    • FreeSoft consortium wins open-source government tender

      A consortium led by FreeSoft has won a Central Service Directorate contract to supply the government with open source software for Ft 4 billion and educational software for Ft 2 billion. Multiráció and Kventa are also members of the consortium.


      The government initially excluded open-source software from public procurements but included them in the new tender after pressure from civil groups.

  • Openness

    • ‘Cyberlaw Cases’ blog monitors top Internet-related cases

      Two University of California, Berkeley, professors are teaming up with two colleagues to launch “Cyberlaw Cases,” a blog covering what they consider the top 10 most important pending U.S. legal cases involving issues that impact the Internet, databases and software programs.

    • Peter Murray-Rust on the (Scientific) Value of Sharing

      There has been a history of controlling data through commercial means, and there are a lot of organizations which up until now have made an income by collecting data from the community and then packaging it and selling it back. That was a reasonable thing to do in the 20th century. But in the 21st century, so much information is now born digital that it makes sense to think of an economy where as we create the data, we release it to the community rather than locking it up.

    • Open Source DNA: Mathematical Formula Protects Genetic Privacy

      In the chilling science fiction movie Gattaca, Ethan Hawke stars as a man with “inferior genes” who assumes another’s genetic identity to escape a dead-end future. The 1997 film illustrates the very real fear swirling around today’s genome research — fear that private genetic information could be used negatively against us.

    • Making the most of open-source hardware

      Many designers are familiar with open-source software, such as Linux, in which the source code is available to all. However, fewer are familiar with organizations offering open-source hardware. These organizations release free information, including schematics, BOM (bill-of-materials) information, and PCB (printed-circuit-board)-layout data, covering the overall hardware design.

      Designers with this information can build or add to a freely available design. In many cases, open-source software supports the original design, providing additional advantages.

    • Smart sensors power interaction

      These days, researchers from the Open University’s e-Sense project have pared the idea back its most basic form, developing the “tummy vision” corset from cheap, off-the-shelf parts and programmed with open source software.

      A camera tracks the progress of a participant’s gloved hand as well as that of ball rolled across the table. The table is divided into 16 sections, each corresponding to one of the tiny mobile phone motors.

  • Programming

    • ‘Proud to be a C/UNIX programmer …’

      Unix systems are also inextricably linked to the free software movement, and not just because the idea of free software originated in programmer Richard Stallman’s attempt to build GNU (’GNU’s Not UNIX’), a non-proprietary version of Unix, when AT&T, who had taken over Bell Labs and therefore owned the copyright in the main commercial version of Unix, tried to lock it up. Unix always encouraged tinkering, innovation and experimentation, and in order to do that effectively you need to look under the bonnet and read the source code- something that remains central to the free software philosophy.


  • AstroTurf

    • Pfizer Pays $2.3 Billion to Settle Marketing Case

      Marketing fraud cases against pharmaceutical companies have become almost routine, with almost every major drug maker having been accused of giving kickbacks to doctors or shortchanging the Medicaid program on prices.

    • Pfizer whistleblower’s ordeal reaps big rewards

      Kopchinski, appalled by Pfizer’s tactics in selling the pain drug Bextra, filed a “qui tam” lawsuit in 2003, sparking federal and state probes that led to Wednesday’s agreement by the company to pay $2.3 billion in civil and criminal penalties and plead guilty to a felony charge for promoting Bextra and 12 other drugs for unapproved uses and doses.

      “In the Army I was expected to protect people at all costs,” Kopchinski said in a statement. “At Pfizer I was expected to increase profits at all costs, even when sales meant endangering lives. I couldn’t do that,” added Kopchinski…

  • Censorship/Web Abuse

    • Vietnam Clamps Down On Bloggers And Online Journalists

      The Committee to Protect Journalists is condemning the recent arrests of online journalists and political bloggers in Vietnam.

      The crackdown comes as online journalists and bloggers independent reporting challenges Vietnam’s tightly censored state-run media’s monopoly on local news and opinion.

    • Natalia Estemirova, champion of ordinary Chechens

      Natalia Estemirova was Chechnya’s great champion of human rights until her kidnap and murder last month.

    • Umberto Eco leads writers’ revolt against Silvio Berlusconi’s attempt to gag press

      Italy’s artistic and intellectual elite was in open revolt yesterday against Silvio Berlusconi’s moves to sue at least three newspapers at home and abroad. More than 120,000 people have signed an online petition defending press freedom.

    • Korea: copyright against censorship

      Just as South Korea prepares to spend more on protecting IP, copyright law appears to have become a thorn in the side of the government’s historical revisionism.

    • MLB Refuses To Give Permission To Guy To Describe Game To A Friend

      Now, obviously, this is a bit of a joke (and a funny one), but it does highlight a rather serious problem. Copyright holders are pretty regularly claiming significantly more rights than they actually hold over content, and many people simply assume that they can do this. This leads to them to think that they don’t have basic rights concerning not just “fair use” but stuff that is obviously not covered by copyright, such as an “account of this game.” There really should be sanctions against such copyfraud.

    • Amazon

      • Amazon withdraws Man U chants CD

        Amazon have withdrawn a CD of Manchester United chants from sale on its website because of complaints that some of the lyrics are offensive.

      • Amazon Offers Redelivery or $30 to People Who Lost ’1984′

        Amazon took a lot of heat in July when it wirelessly deleted copies of two George Orwell titles from the Kindle e-readers of some customers. CEO Jeff Bezos eventually apologized for the incident, calling it “stupid, thoughtless, and painfully out of line with our principles.”

      • Skeptical Shopper: The Pros and Cons of Buying E-Books

        Always download and save any e-book you purchase directly to your PC (you’re allowed to do this). When you want to read one, transfer it to your Kindle via USB.


        If you don’t want to deal with Amazon or DRM hassles at all, download e-books from sites that offer public-domain works. They might not have the breadth of titles that Amazon has, but you can find some intriguing things. Project Gutenberg has thousands of e-book titles available for free download, from Ulysses to the Boy Scouts Handbook. Project Gutenberg is hosted by Ibiblio, a collaborative project of the University of North Carolina that conserves freely available information about subjects including software, music, literature, art, history, and science. What’s great about these sites is that you can view much of the content on other e-book readers or on your mobile phone–not just on the Kindle.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Junk maths

      Spurious formulae – from the perfect joke to the perfect penalty kick – are used by PR firms to get their clients’ products mentioned in the media.

      Is it just a bit of harmless fun? Or pernicious maths vandalism?

      Science journalist Simon Singh debates the question with Len Fisher, who pioneered the tactic with his formula for the best way to dunk a biscuit.

    • How UK Government spun 136 people into 7m illegal file sharers

      The British Government’s official figures on the level of illegal file sharing in the UK come from questionable research commissioned by the music industry, the BBC has revealed.

    • Music industry cooks UK government’s piracy stats

      The government’s dizzying statistic that over seven million Brits are involved in online piracy comes from dubious research commissioned by the music industry itself.

    • CONFIRMED: YouTube Negotiating With Studios to Rent Movies Online

      YouTube is negotiating with major Hollywood studios on a plan to stream rented movies on Google’s popular video-sharing site. If an agreement is reached, still an uncertainty, it would be the first foray by YouTube beyond advertising.

    • Rumored YouTube streaming rental gambit could flop

      YouTube is rumored to be in negotiations to offer streaming movie rentals. The rental model would blur the line between streaming services like Hulu and rentals such as Amazon On Demand, potentially leaving YouTube in a no-man’s land no one will want to visit.

    • Interview With a BitTorrent Embracing Record Label

      The label is comprised of several bands that tour internationally and draw comparisons to bands like Cursive, Explosions in the Sky and At the Drive-In. The guys at the label pride themselves on Beep! Beep!’s united brand and quality of music, as well as the elaborate album artwork that is part of the physical releases – two characteristics that they believe separate Beep! Beep! from the net labels.

    • Consumer advocates: Got sued for file sharing? We’ll help you.

      Many recipients of these settlement letters have never even shared any files, according to the consumer advocacy group, but merely registered the Internet account used for the alleged infringement.

    • How Not To Do Things: Redskins Suing Over 100 Fans

      We’ve been talking about ways that individuals and organizations can better connect with fans… while also highlighting examples of what not to do, so it should come as little surprise that many of you sent over the news that the Washington Redskins have sued well over 100 season ticket holders, after those fans faced financial hardship and were unable to pay up for new season tickets, despite having signed long-term contracts at some point. The article is long and detailed, and reading through the examples, the Redskins management appears about as heartless as can be. The Redskins chief lawyer tries to come up with excuses on each case, and it just makes the team look petty. Even worse, is that he claims that every team does this, but the Washington Post found most of the teams they contacted do not, and the few that do, only do so in the rarest of circumstances.

    • U.K. Minister Defends Internet Suspension In MPAA Speech

      Meanwhile, a joint statement from the Featured Artists Coalition, the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors (BASCA) and the Music Producers Guild also condemns the plan.

    • Lammy appeals to film and music industries to help tackle online piracy

      Lammy cites apparent inconsistencies in copyright law, citing the example of a CD owner who wants a copy on his MP3 player. “Is he breaking the rules or just refusing to be ripped off?”

      “Something isn’t right with copyright. Not just in the UK but as a whole. And I want to do something about that,” he says.

    • An open letter to Lord Mandelson

      Your proposal is wrong for purely economic reasons. It is wrong because it will stifle a major opportunity for economic growth right at the point where we need it most. And it is wrong because as a government your role is not to legislate to protect business models but to regulate in a way that balances the risks of damage in one sector against the potential for encouraging new sectors to develop.

    • Creative industries and consumers’ rights

      We hope that the Government will consider genuinely consumers’ rights in its endeavours to protect the creative industries.

    • Good Thoughts on Naughty Lord Mandelson
    • The Right to Science and Culture
    • Pirate Bay Appeal To Be Heard By Judge Tied To Copyright Group As Well

      As The Pirate Bay gears up for the appeal of its trial in Sweden, it’s worth noting that the judge chosen to hear the trial happens to be the same one who was removed from reviewing the fairness of the original trial because she happens to belong to the same pro-stronger copyright group as the original judge. How is that fair?

    • Spectrial 2: Pirate Bay Appeal Scheduled for November
    • NY Post Reporter Admits That It’s Company Policy Not To Credit Blogs Or Other Sources

      So, the author of the blog post, one “Miss Heather” contacted one of the NY Post reporters, who quite openly admitted to using the blog post for his story, and then said it’s against corporate policy to credit bloggers with scoops.

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