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09.21.09

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

Posted in IRC Logs at 6:46 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME Gedit

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

Microsoft and the OLPC Strategy, as Interpreted by a Reader

Posted in Antitrust, GNU/Linux, Google, Microsoft, OLPC, Windows at 3:21 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Nick Negroponte
Picture from Wikipedia

Summary: Another look at what antitrust exhibits reveal about Microsoft’s abuse of OLPC

OVER the years we have written extensively about OLPC because Microsoft was involved in sabotaging this project. The project committed the ‘sin’ of choosing GNU/Linux (the AMD component is another story), so Microsoft ‘pulled a Best Buy’ on it [1, 2, 3, 4] (or ‘pulled a Wal-Mart’ [1, 2]).

The invaluable repository which is Comes vs Microsoft has provided us with copies of confidential E-mails from Microsoft -- ones that show how it schemed to strangle OLPC. We have the entire shebang as plain text. A regular reader of ours has taken a second, closer look at the exhibits and the facts as they are known today. He shared the following thoughts with us.

“Take note of the times the emails were sent,” he writes, “it produces an interesting narrative.”

Highlighted in red are Microsoft’s own words. Quoting Microsoft, the reader shows the following: “We should see how we can “target” the funds for the specific research”

His translation of this is: “We should bend the research away from Open Source.”

More from Microsoft: “I think we should name our new open source license and romance its creation. “Education Open Source”"

“No comment necessary,” says our reader. Interestingly, Microsoft is still using the same tactics against OSI and the FSF.

Microsoft then says: “we need to manage the billg messaging carefully”

“Join ‘whatever’, then tie it up in processes until it’s a shadow of its former self. Then withdraw and implement your own version.”
      –Anonymous
There we can see the involvement of the ‘charitable’ Mr. Gates as well.

Microsoft views the truly charitable project as follows: “Clearly we don’t want a world where we’re flat footed as Google figures out how to give states or countries $x in hardware subsidy based on the devices being somehow locked to google search”

“Yet more Microsoft projection and paranoia,” calls it our reader. “This is *precisely* what Microsoft would do/is doing. How many times have they been caught leaning on the OEMs to give their stuff pre-eminence on the desktop, to keep the other fellas stuff off the desktop, including Dell and Intel – on their own hardware.”

Here is an example from Dell and several from Intel:

The E-mails from Microsoft were sent (at least in one case) “from Windows Vista Beta-2 CTP”

“If they hadn’t expended so much effort in sabotaging the OLPC,” says our reader, “then Vista might have worked.”

“This is the mother lode,” claims out reader, further calling it “the money shot.”

“Presenting a clear and unambiguous depiction of the Microsoft Strategy,” he argues, would be valuable for future reference.

Our reader described the strategy as follows: “Join ‘whatever’, then tie it up in processes until it’s a shadow of its former self. Then withdraw and implement your own version. Oh, and they do get a look-see at the OLPC from the inside.”

Further quoting from Microsoft’s own mouth (Craig Mundie[1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7]): “Remember that a key part of our strategy is to create a situation where even if Nick [Negroponte] rejects us for philosophical reasons there is a long and visible history of our attempts to work with them and then we have to ask to get a license for the “open source hardware” and we will make our own offering on the commercial side.”

Our reader’s translation of this is as follows: “Remember that a key part of our strategy is to create the illusion that we are attempting to work with them and it was they who rejected our strategy and therefore we ask *them* for an “open source hardware” license.”

“This is interesting as in how recent it is,” concludes our reader (it is from October 2005). “It’s same-ole-same-ole Microsoft shuffle.”

“Fat operating systems spend most of their energy supporting their own fat.”

Nicholas Negroponte, MIT Media Lab, rediff.com, Apr 2006

Microsoft Confirms Windows XP is Not — and Never Will be — Secure

Posted in Microsoft, Security, Windows at 2:21 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Is XP EOL?

Windows XP wallpaper style

Summary: With Windows Server 2003 and Windows Server 2000 near the dumpster, Microsoft takes a huge risk by not patching the most ubiquitous desktop operating system

MICROSOFT HAS stopped issuing patches for security flaws in Windows XP, which makes XP unsuitable (and maybe illegal) for use on the Internet.

This very bizarre stance (if not illegal because Microsoft advertised XP as supported for years to come) is more or less being ratified now that Microsoft offers radical advice for ‘removing’ the security risk:

Microsoft says turn off Windows feature to protect Windows

[...]

There’s no real reason for SMB2, (Server Message Block 2), a Microsoft network file and print-sharing protocol that ships with Windows Vista, Windows Server 2008 and Windows 7, to exist. All it does is duplicate the basic network file and print functionality that Windows has provided for over a decade. But, SMB2 is in there, it is broken, and, now it can be used to take over PCs.

Microsoft admits that the problem is real. Mark Wodrich and Jonathan Ness, part of the MSRC (Microsoft Security Response Center) engineering team wrote that an experimental exploit is already out and that it can gain “complete control of the targeted system and can be launched by an unauthenticated user.” Just what you didn’t need.

There is a way to fix it. Well, sort of. You have to turn SMB2 off.

This stuff cannot be made up. Microsoft is also neglecting Windows Server 2003 and is officially ending support for Server 2000 at the moment. This is a huge strategic risk for the company. Now is the time to advance GNU/Linux for domestic and commercial use.

Miguel de Icaza “is Basically a Traitor to the Free Software Community,” Says Richard Stallman

Posted in FSF, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Mono, Novell at 1:56 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Miguel de Icaza
via Wikipedia

Summary: Strong words from the revered founder of the Free Software Foundation and more Microsoft/Mono news

Microsoft has lost its key pseudo-source person, Sam Ramji, and discussion about this carries on because a replacement will be needed. Some people honestly say that board member of Microsoft's CodePlex Foundation Miguel de Icaza is a likely candidate. Having already been criticised by the FSF before (de Icaza mocked them too), he should not be surprised to find this report from Software Freedom Day at Boston. The author quotes Richard Stallman as follows:

Miguel de Icaza “is basically a traitor to the Free Software community” This was in response to my question about the new Microsoft “Open Source” labs. He went on to say that Miguel’s involvement in the project doesn’t give much confidence as he is a Microsoft apologist. The project looks to be concerned with permitting “Open Source” programs to work on the Windows platform and thus divert valuable developer time away from free platforms such as Gnu/Linux.

Mono framework is not so much of a problem, but C# shouldn’t be used in core apps as legal problems would be hard to work around. Recommends uninstalling any apps using C#.

These words about Miguel de Icaza are harsher than anything we have seen from Stallman in the recent and distant past. The FSF has also formally explained why C# is a problem. Like many others, we have already explained why the CodePlex Foundation is yet another trap. Among our posts on the subject:

The less informed commentators use an invalid comparison to a company which does not attack Free software, namely IBM. Here is another new article on the subject. It’s from Linux Magazine and the headline is: “Speculations About Microsoft’s Open Source CodePlex Foundation”

Newer CodePlex takers include a Gold Partner of Microsoft called Telerik, which has been working with Novell [1, 2, 3]. There is also Gaia in the news: “The Carbon Project today announced the beta release of Gaia 3.4 for Mono, a powerful free platform designed to support Spatial Data Infrastructure (SDI) users.

“Mono is basically a Microsoft product made and maintained outside the Microsoft labs.”
      –Omar
If that’s not enough, Novell also brings .NET to Apple’s product line at the moment, using MonoTouch [1, 2] which Novell marketing people are actively promoting, accompanied by partner blogs. There is also a bunch of new videos that promote MonoTouch, which gets demonstrated on a Mac PC [sic].

At FS Daily, Omar argues that “Mono is basically a Microsoft product made and maintained outside the Microsoft labs.” For peer confirmation he asks: “Am I right?”

lozz responds by saying: “You’re not wrong. Novell is already so close to Microsoft that many people automatically think of this trojan entity as M$-Novell.

“Mono developers are more dangerous to GNU/Linux than a court full of patent trolls.”

ODF Alliance Newsletter: September 2009

Posted in OpenDocument, Standard at 1:09 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Courtesy of Marino Marcich, ODF Alliance

Spread ODF


ODF TO BE OBLIGATORY IN NORWEGIAN PUBLIC SECTOR

Beginning on January 1, 2011 it will be obligatory to use ODF or PDF when exchanging documents as e-mail attachments between government institutions and users in Norway. ODF and PDF were included in the government’s so-called Reference Catalog and is the second step in a long-term effort by the Ministry of Government Administration and Reform to establish recommended and obligatory IT standards to be used by public institutions and enterprises.

http://www.regjeringen.no/en/dep/fad/press-cent…


HUNGARY, MALAYSIA APPROVE ODF AS A NATIONAL STANDARD

ODF has officially become a government recommended Hungarian National Standard (MSZ ISO/IEC 26300) as of June 1, 2009. ODF was also approved by the Malaysian national standards body, SIRIM. Hungary and Malaysia now join, Brazil, Croatia, Ecuador, Italy, South Korea, South Africa, and Sweden as countries whose national standards bodies have formally approved ODF. Taiwan’s approval of ODF by its Bureau of Standards, Metrology and Inspection (BSMI) was announced 21 January 2009.

http://mszt.hu/angol/general.htm


ODF WORKSHOP CONCLUDES WITH SIGNING OF BRASILIA PROTOCOL

Brazil’s approach to putting ODF policy into practice took another major step forward with the signing of the Brasilia Protocol at the margins of the 3rd International ODF User Workshop, which concluded August 26 in Brasilia. Major government institutions across Brazil formally signed what is in effect a commitment, which will proceed in phases, obligating signatories to begin using ODF internally, with each other, and ultimately in their electronic interaction with third parties and the public. The protocol was also opened to private-sector entities for signature. The workshop – organized by the Brazilian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, SERPRO (Federal Service for Data Processing – Ministry of Finance, Brazil) and Caixa Econômica Federal, in collaboration with the ODF Alliance – brought together government officials from twelve countries that have already made the move to ODF or are actively considering such a move. Workshop participants expressed a strong interest in “internationalizing” the approach taken in the Brasilia Protocol.

http://www.odfworkshop.org/home_en.html


2ND ODF ‘PLUGFEST’ NOV 2-3 IN ORVIETO, ITALY

The second in a series of events bringing together ODF implementers to fine-tune their interoperability capabilities and develop test scenarios, recommendations and best practices will take place November 2-3, 2009, in the Italian city of Orvieto. The ultimate aim of the “plugfest” is to achieve full seamless interoperability for the entire feature set of ODF across all suppliers, platforms and supported technologies. All implementers of ODF are invited to participate. The event is organized by the Dutch government program Netherlands in Open Connection and the OpenDoc Society together with the OASIS ODF TC, OASIS ODF OIC TC and ODF Adoption TC. The first plugfest held in The Hague in June of this year under the aegis of the Netherlands government attracted sixty-five participants from forty companies, open source projects and governments.

http://plugtest.opendocsociety.org/dok…


NEW OR IMPROVED ODF APPLICATIONS SUPPORT

GMV Solutions’ atlas GMV lets you open ODF files on your Blackberry smartphone.
http://www.gmv.com/e-mailing/atlas_gmv/atlas.pdf

FileAid 1.3, the latest version of the file manager and viewer for your iPhone and iPod Touch, now allows you to view ODF text, presentations, and spreadsheets.
http://www.digidna.net/fileaid/

Serif PagePlus X4 desktop publishing software now imports ODF files.
http://www.serif.com/pageplus/

The ODF Toolkit Union’s ODFDOM 0.7, an open source Java toolkit for programmatically reading, writing and manipulating ODF documents, is now available.
http://odftoolkit.org/projects/odfdom/downloads/dire…

The new release of GemBox.Spreadsheet, a .NET component which provides a way to write, read or convert native Microsoft Excel files without the need for Microsoft Excel on either the developer or client machine, now fully supports ODF for spreadsheets (.ods files).
http://www.gemboxsoftware.com/GBSpreadshe…

Office-o-tron is a web application that accepts ODF packages and validates the XML within, returning a summary report.
http://code.google.com/p/officeotron/

FastReport.net, which allows you to create application-independent reports, can now edit, print or convert to multiple formats including ODF.
http://www.fast-report.com/en/products/FastRepor…

SlideBoom, a slide-sharing platform, now supports ODF presentation files.
http://blog.slideboom.com/index.php/2009/05/07…

The Sun ODF Plugin 3.1 for Microsoft Office has been released giving users of Microsoft Office Word, Excel and PowerPoint the ability to read, edit and save to ODF.
http://www.sun.com/software/star/odf_plugin/

JDBReport is used for generation, viewing and a print of reports in ODF and other formats.
http://downloads.zdnet.com/abstract…


NEW ALLIANCE MEMBERS

Please welcome the following new ODF Alliance members: Instituto Federal de Pernambuco – Campus Ipojuca (Brazil); Prefeitura Municipal de Silva Jardim (Brazil); Gnutech (Brazil); Ledger Consulting (USA); Done Deal ICT (Saudi Arabia); OUR Technology, LLC. (Azerbaijan); The SFL Audio Visual Group (UK); SOLAR Software Libre Argentina; Activistas por el Software Libre (Venezuela) : carolus-it EDV-Dienstleistungen und Software (Germany); Laboratório de Documentos Digitais/CCSH (Brazil); JSS Academy Ltd Mauritius; Cooperateva Tecnológica (Venezuela); SOLVE – Asociación Civil Software Libre de Venezuela; EQ Soft Consultoría y Soporte EIRL (Peru); ecology foundation еко.com (Bulgaria); Infogrid Pacific Pte. Ltd. (Singapore); Opentelematics Internacional (Bolivia) ; Technology Initiatives (USA); Banco do Brasil (Brazil); Spotlight Cameroun (Cameroon); International Open Source Network (IOSN) – ASEAN+3 (The Philippines); Alsyrinx Tecnologia (Brazil); Asociación de Software Libre del Ecuador; TreeO Technology (USA); Inovis (UK); and Revista Espírito Livre (Brazil).


ODF IN THE NEWS

Report says IBM is switching from Microsoft Office to Lotus Symphony [The H Open]
http://www.h-online.com/open/Report-says-IB…

Microsoft focuses on ‘pragmatic interoperability’ [David Worthington, SD Times]
http://www.sdtimes.com/link/33574

“Productive” OpenDocument Plugfest [The H Open]
http://www.h-online.com/open/Productive-Open-…

ODF and the Art of Interoperability [Glyn Moody, ComputerWorld UK]
http://www.computerworlduk.com/community/blogs/in…

ODF Interoperability: Rough Consensus and Running Code [Roberto Galoppini, Commercial Open Source Software]
http://robertogaloppini.net/2009/06/22/odf-interoperabil…

Office Shots for Confirmed ODF Interchange Fidelity [orcmid, nfo Works: Pursuing Harmony]
http://nfoworks.org/diary/2009/06/office-shots-for-co…

Links 21/09/2009: Qt Developer Days 2009; GNOME 3.0 Previews

Posted in News Roundup at 12:59 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Tux Takes To The Air

    It’s simply news that Linux is now on the air. It will air on KLBJ AM. It’s also a way for you to use the data without having to remove our taglines.

    Yeah, that’s me…Mr. Considerate.

    Both raw tracks are available for download and released under Creative Commons Attribute-ShareAlike 3.0 license. We stipulate no attribution is necessary. You can download the short broadcast version we used, minus our info tagline in mp3 or ogg. You can get the long version in mp3 here and the ogg cut here.

  • No Support?

    I recently mentioned Linux in a conversation that started with “I’m tired of the problems my computer has with Windows” and was told that Linux doesn’t have any support.

    Really? Then the dozens of websites, mailing lists, news feeds and IRC channels that I use must be figments of my imagination.

    Searching “Linux support” at Google returned:
    Results 1 – 10 of about 1,160,000 for “Linux support”. (0.26 seconds)

  • Why I Can Never Be Exclusive to Linux and Open Source on the Desktop

    Arguably, in the last 10 years, Linux has matured from a OS that was strictly for UNIX and technical sysadmin-types to a robust enterprise server OS that can scale all the way up from low-power x86 processors to the most powerful mainframe computers and massively distributed architectures. Nobody, especially myself, will question Linux’s huge impact on mid-range and enterprise computing as well as in embedded devices.

    As a desktop OS, the situation has improved greatly, especially in the last 3 to 4 years, particularly with the rise of the user-friendly Ubuntu Linux distribution. Sun’s OpenOffice.org has matured to become a very functional office suite and even my employer, IBM, has gotten in on the Linux productivity suite act with Lotus Symphony 1.3 and we’ve all been encouraged to learn and start using the software.

  • Enterprise LAMP Summit & Big LAMP Camp

    The Enterprise LAMP Summit for CTOs (Nov. 5-6) will feature a case study about the use of several parts of the LAMP software stack in a sophisticated and highly effective patient white board developed by the Vanderbilt University Medical Center Informatics Center.

  • DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 321, 21 September 2009

    Welcome to this year’s 38th issue of DistroWatch Weekly! Computer security has been a hot topic of discussion on these pages in recent weeks. As a result, Caitlyn Martin has embarked upon writing a series of articles covering the basics of computer and Internet security, starting today with part one – user authentication. In the news section, the openSUSE user community launches an initiative to build an enterprise-level distribution with long-term security support, Mark Shuttleworth announces the code name for Ubuntu 10.04, Clement Lefebvre reveals some early information about the improvements in Linux Mint 8 “Helena”, and OpenBSD delays the planned October release by a month over a CD manufacturing error. Finally, don’t miss the New Distributions section which includes some interesting new additions to the waiting list, including a Linux-based operating system built around Google’s Chrome browser and a new Slackware-based desktop distribution called Salix OS. Happy reading!

  • Remuco as Remote for Your Media Player

    The Remuco project has packages for Arch Linux, Debian, Gentoo and Ubuntu. If you’re using any of the mentioned distros, you should have a way to install the package instead of installing from source.

  • Working with multiple operating systems

    If your guest OS is Ubuntu, restart the Ubuntu virtual PC. Now you will find the guest addition CD icon on the desktop. Access its contents, install the guest addition by clicking on the script file ‘autorun.sh’ and restart Ubuntu. At this point you will find the mouse moving freely all over your machine. You can run the Ubuntu in full screen mode or in seamless mode. The advantage of seamless mode is that you can keep the virtual machine application windows along with the application windows of your host. You will find the Ubuntu application panel on the top of your screen and Windows-XP task bar at its bottom. This means you can listen to a radio programme via Ububtu’s music player RhythmBox while composing an article with MS-Word from Windows XP.

  • FUD

    • Microsoft FUD An Unfired Gun In Austin

      The salesperson could no longer take it and approached us with a smile. He asked Staci if she needed any further help in making a choice. I believe it was the laptop opened for ten minutes with her full attention that got the best of him.

      “Do any of these come with Linux”. Her question was direct and without malice…she glanced over at me just for a milisecond after doing so.

      “Um…no, we don’t carry Linux products here. I’m sorry.”

      No “Windows pitch”….no “comparisons…”

      Just no.

      So…

    • When Someone Says We Should NOT Use Linux..

      Everyone has biases. It’s that bloggers end up broadcasting them to the entire world.

      For us to find out whether something is good or not, useful or not, we have to research further. What could help us in our research? Here are some things that I look for:

      * Other blog entries. What do other people say? Are a majority of relevant search results show that whatever that thing is, is truly terrible? In this case, do we see nothing that says that Linux is good? What are the reasons pointed out by other bloggers? Are those reasons relevant to me as a user?
      * Forums. Checking up user forums could be helpful too. You could gauge if the users stick with it or not. You will also learn some of their hacks, tips and tricks. A lot of forums have a section for beginners or newbies so that’s one place to check. You could search for your hardware in forums too. There will be a chance that someone has already posted a problem and/or solution to hardware specific issues.

  • Applications

    • The Grumpy Editor’s hugin experience

      It is an impressive piece of work, even though it has not yet reached its 1.0 release (version 0.8 came out in July). It definitely belongs on any Linux-using photographer’s system.

    • Midori: lightweight browsing

      Despite an already crowded browser market Midori promises to be a lightweight alternative to browser bloat

      Despite an already wide range of browser options available there is always space for one more browser, it seems. Midori is one of the most recent additions to the browser market and bills itself as one of the lightest browsers around. Which is what Firefox billed itself as in the early days of existence, before it became increasingly bloated.

    • Update on using Chromium

      It’s been a little over a month since I started using Chromium, the Open Source version of the Google Chrome Web browser. Since then, I’ve been using Chromium quite extensively. While the honeymoon isn’t over yet, I do have a better handle on what I like and dislike about Chromium and how it fits into my Web browsing and use of Web apps.

  • Desktop Environments

    • Community Members Invited To Qt Developer Days 2009

      The last few years has seen the company formerly known as Trolltech open their arms to one of the largest parts of their supporting community, KDE, in a new way: By offering a few members of the KDE community free admittance to the Qt Developer Days conference. This year is no different, and they have invited a number of people to attend this year’s conferences. Yes, that’s plural: There are two conferences. One from the 12th to 14th of October in Munich, Germany and one from the 2nd to the 4th of November in San Francisco, USA.

    • GNOME

      • Gnome 3 – A Quick Visual Tour

        Gnome 3, which will be available to install in Ubuntu 10.04, will mark the first radical change to the Gnome Desktop since it’s inception, thanks to it’s “new” interface ‘Gnome-Shell’.

      • The path to GNOME 3.0

        GNOME – the FOSS desktop for Linux and Unix – is currently at version 2.26. The next release will be 2.28, leading towards the next major release, version 3.0, which if everything goes well should be released in the spring of 2010. Our associates in Germany, heise open, recently had the opportunity to interview GNOME release manager Vincent Untz about the project. Untz reveals the projects future plans for the GNOME desktop and talks about the User Interface, the new window manager Mutter, the GNOME Shell, Zeitgeist and GNOME Mobile.

  • Distributions

    • Time for a New Puppy: Puppy Linux 4.3

      Mac OS X Snow Leopard? Windows 7? Forget it. The coolest OS release of the year is Puppy Linux 4.3. By now you already know that I have a soft spot for Puppy Linux, so for me each new release of this nifty little distro is a cause for a minor celebration. And the freshly-baked Puppy Linux 4.3 is no exception. In fact, the previous 4.2 release left me somewhat unimpressed, so I’ve had especially high hopes for the 4.3 version coordinated by Barry Kauler himself. Let me tell you straight away — I wasn’t disappointed.

    • Ubuntu

      • Atlanta Linux Fest: Top 9 Ubuntu Highlights

        More than 600 people registered to attend Atlanta Linux Fest, which was held Sept. 19. Many of the standing-room-only sessions focused on Canonical and Ubuntu. Here are nine Ubuntu-oriented highlights from the event.

      • Ubuntu Weekly Newsletter Issue 160

        Welcome to the Ubuntu Weekly Newsletter, Issue #160 for the week September 13th – September 19th, 2009. In this issue we cover: Karmic Alpha 6 released, Mark Shuttleworth Announces via video Ubuntu 10.04: Lucid Lynx, Countdown Banner Deadline, UDS Update, Ubuntu Screencasts: Reporting Bugs, The first Ubuntu-DK podcast, Swedish LoCo Bug Jam: Linköping, Ubuntu-NH SFD ’09 Report, Launchpad 3.0 & Bug Filing changes, Ubuntu Forums tutorial of the week & Community interview, PostgreSQL security/bug fix testers needed, Ubuntu Packaging: Fixing FTBFS, Launchpad Nautilus Preview, In the Press & Blogosphere, Ubuntu-UK podcast: The Tribe of Gum, Linux-ready mini PC powers up, The Art of Community available for free download, and much, much more!

      • From Windows to Linux – Ubuntu & Me

        However, all this took some tweaking to accomplish, but being so user-friendly, Ubuntu makes it easy. If I have a question about how to install a new app, or a plug-in — which I always do — help is only a few keystrokes away. Also, I am easily able to update at any time.

      • Finally, FBOs on intel

        Big, big, big thumbs up to the Xorg/Mesa-developer crowd and the hackers behind the intel-driver for OpenGL 2.x support (especially FBOs and GLSL)! Also big props need to go to Bryce Harrington and Alberto Milone for integrating this and pulling in all the needed bits and bytes into Ubuntu! It’s one thing to see stuff landing on f.d.o git, but only when it reaches “mere mortals” in the form of repository-updates it’s truly there (read: where the end-user “sees and feels” it).

      • Mint 8: mintInstall improvements

        The development on the upcoming Linux Mint 8 ‘Helena’ started in the Summer and a series of improvements are already implemented. Today, I’d like to show you the impact on one of our most popular application: mintInstall.

      • Enable Ubuntu Restricted Extras for Hassle-free Multimedia Playback
  • Devices/Embedded

    • Rugged PC/104+ SBC withstands extreme temperatures

      Eurotech subsidiary Parvus is readying a rugged PC/104+ single-board computer (SBC) that incorporates Intel’s thermally optimized Z520PT Atom processor. The Linux-ready, mil/aero-focused Isis XL boasts a fanless operating range of -40 to 85 deg C (-40 to 185 deg. F), and a five-Watt TDP, says Parvus.

    • CompactPCI board touted for 10 Watt power draw

      Kontron announced a 3U CompactPCI board based on the Intel Atom N270, boasting soldered components and 10 Watt power consumption. The Linux-ready CP305 comes in a 4HP version with dual gigabit Ethernet and USB 2.0 ports, or a developer-focused, dual-slot 8HP version with additional I/O, says Kontron.

    • Anonymous browsing on Android – Update

      A group of developers at the Digital Technology Group (DTG), formerly the Laboratory for Communication Engineering (LCE), at the University of Cambridge have released two Android applications that allow users to browse the web anonymously using The Onion Router. The Onion Router, commonly referred to as Tor, is free software designed to provide internet anonymity to users while browsing online. It does this by bouncing the communications around a distributed network of relays run by volunteers from all around the world, preventing visited sites from learning a users physical location.

    • Jolicloud OS seeks to move past browsers

      Jolicloud starts with a great OS, Ubuntu Netbook Remix, and couples it with a different way to use existing web applications. We think the developers have done a great job integrating Prism into their interface and find it very usable. Only time will tell if users are willing to migrate from traditional browsing, to using web apps for what they really are: an application.

Free Software/Open Source

  • Firefox is my PLE

    I also find myself valuing ever more highly Mozilla Firefox’s rich armoury of extensions, which are rapidly transforming the humble web-browser into my portable desktop and, in effect, my personal learning environment. Below are a few of the extensions I’ve discovered, but I’d be very interested to hear about extensions you use yourself, and any you use with pupils.

  • How one Melburnian spent Software Freedom Day

    But for computer science student Minh Van Nguyen, it was a wee bit different. A full-time user of free and open source software for the last three years, he was up bright and early and off to the Chadstone shopping centre in Melbourne’s south-east to spread the message of free software.

  • New Release of Encryption Wizard for Oracle Provides Transparent Data Encryption With Free Software Foundation’s GNU Crypto

    In the new release, users can optionally load the GNU Crypto Java library directly into the Oracle database. Once this is accomplished, intelligent PL/SQL modules integrate the Java AES ciphers into the Encryption Wizard’s cryptography definitions. This provides Oracle Standard Edition databases a free open-source alternative to Oracle’s DBMS_Crypto package.

  • Openness

    • Better world: Share things

      Looking for a romantic way to do your bit for the planet? Then move in with your lover, take baths together and snuggle up on the sofa to watch TV together.

      An awful lot of energy could be saved if only people shared things more, especially their homes. The evidence comes from the opposite end of the love spectrum. According to a recent study, if all the couples who divorced in the US had stayed together, in 2005 alone they would have used 2373 billion litres less water and 73 billion kilowatt-hours less electricity. Each divorced person spent 46 per cent more on electricity and 56 per cent more on water.

    • At End of Act II: Are we Played for Fools OR Building a Enlightened Digital World?

      This would be the World Wide Web of Books that we have been dreaming of rather than a Monopoly of Books. Google has helped build momentum– lets take it the rest of the way without blowing it. This could be done by Congress or the Justice Department– both of which are working on this right now.

    • The Open PhD – What a Concept

      Did you know MIT has 1800+ courses available for your viewing pleasure? You can even download the syllabus and assignments (with answers). Some courses even provide copies of old exams. How could I have missed this? It’s not just MIT – other schools belong to the consortium – Carnegie Mellon, Standford, Oxford, Yale, the list keeps going.

    • Show us the data now damnit! Excuses are running out.

      A very interesting paper from Caroline Savage and Andrew Vickers was published in PLoS ONE last week detailing an empirical study of data sharing of PLoS journal authors. The results themselves, that one out ten corresponding authors provided data, are not particularly surprising, mirroring as they do previous studies, both formal [pdf] and informal (also from Vickers, I assume this is a different data set), of data sharing.

    • Open Source Digital Voting Foundation

      One of the signal failures of digital technology in recent years has been e-voting. Practically every high-profile attempt to switch from quaint analogue technologies to swish new digital ones has proved a complete and utter disaster. But taking a closer look at these failures it becomes evident that the problem is not so much e-voting itself, as the toxic combination of e-voting with black-box software.

      The problem is quite simple. If you can’t see what the software is doing by looking at the code, you can’t possible trust it. And e-voting without trust is about as useful as the proverbial chocolate teapot.

      The solution is equally obvious: mandate open source solutions so that the code can be checked before use.

Leftovers

  • New EU website goes live

    The European Commission will today (21 September) launch a revamped version of its Europa website. After two years of analysis and review, the EU executive hopes its new central web portal will make for a simpler, more organised experience for EU citizens.

  • E.U. Releases E-Mails to Defend Decision on Intel

    European antitrust regulators on Monday published a torrent of internal e-mails and other company documents to back up its record fine against Intel, arguing that they showed computer manufacturers were afraid to cross the chip-making giant.

    Neelie Kroes, the European Union competition commissioner, imposed the €1.06 billion fine in May for abusing its dominance in the computer chip market to exclude its only serious rival, Advanced Micro Devices. Since then Intel has appealed against the decision to a European court, accusing her investigators of botching procedures and trampling on the company’s rights of defense.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Music industry talks break down in illegal downloading row

      Many in the music business believe that the disunity, which has involved public spats between the FAC and artists such as Lily Allen, Abba and Muse, will derail Lord Mandelson’s proposals, as the industry fails to present a united front.

      UK Music, the umbrella organisation for the whole music industry, has already dropped all mentions of disconnection from its public statements on the issue, in a desperate attempt to unite the industry. The consultation period for the plans ends in a week’s time.

    • German Youth Would Vote Pirate Party Into Parliament

      Next week the German Pirate Party will compete in the elections for the German Parliament, but this week the country’s youth already cast their votes. In the youth polls nearly 9% of all votes went to the Pirate Party, a result that the party hopes to match in the upcoming election.

    • Brazilian Court Bans P2P Software

      After an earlier decision failed to reach its objective, this week a Brazilian court made an unprecedented ruling against file-sharing clients. Following legal action by anti-piracy groups against a website offering a file-sharing client for download, the court decided that software which allows users to share music via P2P is illegal.

Mark Shuttleworth Announces Ubuntu 10.04: Lucid Lynx

Direct link

Patents Roundup: World Day Against Software Patents is Coming, Patent Trolls Still Attack Critics

Posted in Apple, Bill Gates, Europe, Finance, Microsoft, Patents at 7:30 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Patent Troll Tracker - Rick

Summary: Abolishers of software patents organise an event this week; demonstrator against patent trolls receives abuse

LAST YEAR’S World Day Against Software Patents was marked (some would say “celebrated”) all around the world, so it was a smashing success. The event comes back later this week, so the FFII is rallying for supporters.

September 24th software professionals around the world will celebrate the annual World Day against Software Patents. This year the Swedish EU Presidency happens to contributes a minister consultation to the #ssp09 celebrations with an aim to “[review] Community innovation policy in a changing world”.

Those in the vicinity of these events can hopefully attend or help organise more such events. Other activists against the broken patent systems have been dragged into court [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7] and The Prior Art blog reports from there as follows:

i. Troll Tracker defamation case goes to trial — opening statements heard

Holmes repeated the last clause slowly, emphasizing each word to the jury: “The Banana Republic of East Texas.” Then he showed the modified version of the post that went up the next day, which eliminated that last sentence and changed “conspiring” to “may have… helped.” (Frenkel had regretted his earlier harsh phrasing and changed the post of his own accord, his lawyer told the jury later on Monday.)

ii. Johnny Ward and Eric Albritton on Troll Tracker blog: ‘Let’s get this shut down.’

Ward took legal action the following month, seeking to depose Google officials to determine the identity of the then-anonymous patent blogger. Once Frenkel was identified as the Patent Troll Tracker several months later, both Ward and Albritton sued Frenkel and Cisco for defamation.

Ward and Albritton say Frenkel’s posts, about changing a date on official court documents, were defamatory because they accused the two Texas lawyers of committing a crime. Lawyers for Frenkel and Cisco maintain that the posts contain no such accusations, and are a mix of true facts and legally protected opinion.

As the above shows, patent trolls are unable to accept criticism even from blogs, so they are trying to get them “shut down”. Troll Tracker was unmasked after the father of all patent trolls, Ray Niro, put a bounty on his head. These are borderline thugs who treat their “Banana Republic” down in Texas as though it’s the new Wild West.

Ray Niro is also connected to the world's biggest patent troll, which came from Microsoft and received financial support from Microsoft, Apple, and Bill Gates. The Economist’s new article which is titled “Trolls demanding tolls” writes about this patent troll which Microsoft created. It received at least $5 billion in investments from ‘charitable’ Mr. Gates and related entities.

The market is still small but it is growing quickly—by perhaps 20-30% a year, reckons Coller Capital, an investment firm that has snapped up, among other prizes, IBM’s portfolio of medical-device and health-care patents. Intellectual Ventures, based near Seattle, has spent a large chunk of the $5 billion it has raised from investors on buying patents; at the last count it had 27,000. Fortress, a big hedge-fund and private-equity group, is also active. Ron Epstein of iPotential, a patent-brokerage firm, says he is getting an ever-increasing volume of calls from hedge funds looking for patents related to mobile telecoms, medical equipment, biotechnology and the internet. He estimates that $4 billion-worth were bought and sold last year overall.

In other patent news, the USPTO’s new chief [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9] is asked to change how patents get written, but this should really be a minor issue for someone who says that patents are a “20-year monopoly” to deal with. Yes, the chief of the USPTO actually said that patents are “monopolies”. They also happen to be monopolies that can be sold by the pound to patent trolls, which renders this whole system a farce.

“Software patents have been nothing but trouble for innovation. We the software engineers know this, yet we actually have full-blown posters in our break-room showcasing the individual engineers who came up with something we were able to push through the USPTO. Individually, we pretty much all consider the software-patent showcase poster to be a colossal joke.” —Kelledin, PLI: State Street Overruled… PERIOD

Microsoft Breaks the Law Again for the Sake of Office and Manages to Get Away with It

Posted in Google, Law, Microsoft, Office Suites, Open XML, OpenDocument at 6:50 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Runaway

Summary: Microsoft’s case with i4i takes another turn, but at the same time, Microsoft Office dominance continues to erode

MICROSOFT has learned very well over the years that crime pays. It pays well. It apparently pays more than obeying the law, so Microsoft continues to break the law and then lie, bribe, collude and whatnot to somehow get away with it. Extraordinary allegations require extraordinary evidence, but nothing about Microsoft’s crime is extraordinary and the evidence is abundant enough to occupy one’s lifetime to study. One of our contributors opines that Microsoft has the habit of hiring people who have become familiar with Microsoft’s violations of the law because paying them means that they are removed from the “gene pool” of those who can tell the story and provide satisfactory material to support strong claims.

Coverage in the press is still somewhat disheartening. It’s lacking and it is largely biased. Gizmodo, for example, does quite a job concealing Microsoft’s OOXML corruptions and continued attacks on interoperability and open protocols/formats. In an article with a provocative headline and the following opening, Gizmodo sells the false perception that Microsoft has changed. It hasn’t [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6].

The other week, we explained how Apple influences a ton of what goes on in tech by shaping industry-wide standards. This week, we’re gonna look at Microsoft, and what’s it’s done with standards.

Microsoft obviously has a more complicated relationship with “industry” standards, because anything it decides is its standard—even proprietary ones—becomes a kind of de facto standard for everybody else, simply because of Microsoft’s overwhelming marketshare.

As we showed yesterday using a document from Microsoft, the company sees itself as the only standard. It refuses to accept standards that are created outside Microsoft. But to make matters worse, it is attacking anything that ‘dares’ to pose a threat to this Microsoft ‘standard’. For instance, patent law does not apply to Microsoft if it puts Office at jeopardy, never mind the case of the victim [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10].

According to some of the latest reports about the i4i case, Microsoft sees nothing wrong with breaking the law if Office continues to feed Microsoft and its ecosystem. As in the document above, Microsoft perceives itself as a ‘chosen one’ and all those who harass it must therefore be inherently dangerous and evil. Microsoft proponent Stuart Johnston gives a voice just to Microsoft’s side, as expected, whereas Gregg Keizer is a lot more sober and balanced in his coverage for IDG:

Microsoft Corp. marketed i4i Inc.’s XML software to potential customers at the same time it planned to drive the small company out of business by infringing on its patent for the technology, according to court documents filed last week.

In a brief submitted to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal District in Washington, Toronto-based i4i argued that an injunction blocking Microsoft from selling current versions of Word should stand.

There is also this from Keizer and the Canadian press (i4i comes from Canada) accuses Microsoft of “thievery”.

Microsoft Word may contain thievery

American software giant accused of stealing Canadian software in latest version of word processor

Since the trial takes place in the United States, it is likely that Microsoft will summon enough political support to win the case, settle in a self-serving fashion, or drive i4i to total bankruptcy by dragging things on in the courtroom.

The only positive outcome of this case is that Microsoft Office is distracted and there is uncertainty over its future. Google and Free software are among those which capitalise on it; According to the pay-to-say firm IDC, Google Docs is gaining very fast.

The poll, conducted in July, showed 19.5% of respondents claiming Google Docs is widely used in their organization, up from 5.8% a little more than a year and a half ago. Some 27% of respondents are either already widely using Google Docs or expect to be widely using Google Docs a year from now.

This contradicts the FUD from former Microsoft employees (dressed up as "analysts") and there is wider coverage of this in IDG, including notable case studies.

Google announced today at the NASA Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif., that it’s tailoring cloud computing services for agencies within the U.S. government. That means, for instance, that an agency can get its hands on the Web-based Google Apps that meet regulatory requirements.

For the record, it’s not just Google that’s gaining. From Business Week:

Google, Zoho Challenge Microsoft Abroad, Too

In India and China, upstarts aim to erode Microsoft’s dominance by delivering business productivity software that’s cheaper and more accessible

The money made from Microsoft Office has declined for quite some time now, even in the financial report of April 2008. That was despite the crimes Microsoft had committed to have OOXML passed by ISO on the very same month.

“Microsoft corrupted many members of ISO in order to win approval for its phony ‘open’ document format, OOXML. This was so governments that keep their documents in a Microsoft-only format can pretend that they are using ‘open standards.’ The government of South Africa has filed an appeal against the decision, citing the irregularities in the process.”

Richard Stallman, June 2008

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