To use your own IRC client, join channel #boycottnovell in FreeNode.
To use your own IRC client, join channel #boycottnovell in FreeNode.
Summary: Free software beats Microsoft to it, as usual (just without patenting); Nobel Prize winners do not like patents and other such artificial monopolies
SOFTWARE PATENTS are an instrument of control, which is exploited both by the large and the small. The large is the monopolist (oligarch) and the small is the patent troll; other than those two classes, few ever benefit from their patent systems, which grant exclusivity rights (trade secret may often be an effective enough mechanism). Failed companies may pass over their patents to large companies, or in the case of Linus Torvalds’ old employer — to Microsoft's own patent troll.
There are some signs of optimism in Europe (EPO) now that Free software defeats Microsoft at its own malicious game:
You and your readers may be interested in six oppositions currently pending at the EPO. The opposed patents are those subject to the appeal decision T424/03 cited by the president in the referral. The patents in question are EP0717354, EP1028372, EP1028373, EP1028374, EP1028376 and EP1028377 (“Expanded Clipboard Formats”) granted to Microsoft Corporation.
The principal ground for opposition is novelty and, interestingly, the prior art is open source software. These oppositions may also be of interest to the open source community who may make observations to the EPO under Article 115 EPC”.
The FFII hopefully pays attention to it.
A couple of days ago we wrote about Elinor Ostrom, an advocate of the Commons who has just received a Nobel prize. Ostrom turns out to be just one in a series of Nobel laureates in her field (namely economics) who feel similarly. We gave Maskin and Stiglitz as examples, but TechDirt has more:
Three Economic Nobel Laureates In A Row Recognizing Power Of Infinite Goods
With the Nobel Prize in Economics being awarded to Elinor Ostrom (as well as Oliver Williamson) this year, plenty of people are noting that Ostrom’s seminal work has to do with how the concept of “the tragedy of the commons” isn’t really true in many cases, and how that “commons” can often self-regulate itself. And, Ostrom definitely recognizes how this applies to the “commons” that is the public domain. I didn’t want to comment right away on this. While I’ve read Ostrom’s work in the past, I wanted to revisit some of it, to refresh myself on it.
Under the title “Elinor Ostrom and the Future of Economics,” a blog from Harvard speaks of her views that tend agree with Free software philosophy.
But Ostrom is a radical — and awesome — choice. Not just because of the “what” of her work, but, more deeply, because of the “how” of it. Ostrom’s work is concerned, fundamentally, with challenging Garret Hardin’s famous Tragedy of the Commons, itself a living expression of neoclassical thinking. Ostrom suggests that far from a tragedy, the commons can be managed from the bottom-up for a shared prosperity — given the right institutions. That conclusion challenges orthodox economics from both left and right leaning perspectives; it suggests that, yes, markets can organize production and consumption efficiently — but only when supported and nurtured by networks and communities.
The Against Monopoly Web site has just posted another bit of opposition to software patents.
In closing I would like to point out that if you affirm software/technical processes as patentable a firestorm of litigation will ensue, resulting in a massive and unjust transfer of resources. The resulting effect on innovation in the US would lead to the inevitable question: Why would we expose our company to the risk of crushing litigation in the United States when our markets are just as accessible through the Internet?
3Com is a company that like TiVo and Akamai has been using GNU/Linux extensively (see [1-13] below), but all these companies are also aggressors with patents. We gave examples of this before [1, 2, 3]. Here is 3Com working its ‘charm’. [via TechDirt, which chose the headline: "Can't Innovate? Litigate! 3Com Goes Patent Lawsuit Ballistic"]
Some big names in the computer industry were sued this week by a company claiming that they have infringed on Ethernet-related patents developed by 3Com.
The company is called U.S. Ethernet Innovations, which owns the patents spun off from 3Com for the sole purpose of launching these sorts of lawsuits. Named in the suit are Acer, Apple, Asus, Dell, Fujitsu, Gateway, HP, Sony, and Toshiba.
A reader of ours from Australia has also told us about the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) shaming itself with more lawsuits.
A patent battle between Australia’s CSIRO and 14 of the world’s largest technology companies has today been revealed to have already gained the research organisation $200 million from out of court settlements.
For some background, CSIRO is suing a lot these days [1, 2, 3] following the patent-in-a-standard scam [1, 2, 3]. CSIRO’s ‘business’ antics are something to be ashamed of, not proud of. █
 Bain, Huawei to Resubmit $2.2B Bid For 3Com: Report
Within the next several weeks, Bain Capital and China’s Huawei plan to reapply for U.S. approval for a planned buyout of 3Com, The Wall Street Journal reported on Friday.
The $2.2 billion transaction would still leave Huawei with 16.5 percent of the company and Bain holding the rest, said the Journal citing people familiar with the matter.
The U.S. Department of Defense uses 3Com intrusion detection products, and Chinese hackers have targeted the agency, McCotter said. “Given this and other instances of communist China’s persistent cyber warfare against us, approving this sale would be an abject abdication of CIFUS’ duty to protect America’s vital defense technologies from enemy acquisition,” he said.
Q: Has your Linux strategy helped against competitors?
ER [Edgar Masri]: We have an open strategy, which is open source based on Linux. Many networking companies are starting to do that, but I believe we have an 18-month head start. We recognize customers want open architecture and source, mainly in small and medium businesses. We also have the Open Services Networking architecture. One very large customer wanted better network monitoring and had made a clear choice about the application it wanted to use, and said we were doing it better than other providers.
As part of 3Com’s commitment to providing the platform and support for clients to implement best-of-breed Open Source solutions, the company also is launching the 3Com Asterisk Appliance, an Open Source voice-over-IP (VoIP) system based on Digium’s Asterisk Appliance.
Orcun Tezel, technical director of 3Com South Asia, explained that although 3Com routers and switches now come with pre-integrated open-source applications, its Open Services Networking (OSN) further allows “best-ofbreed” applications to run on the Linux-based platform.
The OSN infrastructure runs on Linux.
The VCX/Sametime interoperability also extends to 3Com and IBM software running on stand-alone servers. (3Com ships VCX systems on a Linux-based appliance, and IBM’s Sametime runs on a variety of operating systems and server hardware).
And that open source voice over IP system, called Asterisk, has reached its tipping point. But instead of ignoring such threats, 3Com appears ready to embrace them. In fact, I hear that 3Com plans to address the Asterisk market within the next few months.
The manager politely danced around the question, then indicated that 3Com planned to address Asterisk without necessarily competing with the open source system. Sounds like 3Com is piecing together a strategy to embrace Asterisk. Could there be a partnership or acquisition around the corner?
Supporting Asterisk would propel 3Com?s open platform strategy forward.
3Com’s OSN module is a Linux-based server blade that fits into the company’s 6000 series routers. It is designed to run applications that benefit from being close to the network layer, the company says.
Launched at the end of last year, OSN is basically an effort to bring some server capabilities into network appliances by using a Linux-based server blade, as well as to allow users to plug open-source modules into the appliance.
Interestingly, there is a twist in 3Com’s adoption of open source: Its founder, Metcalfe, was once known to be anti-open source. Fortunately, Metcalfe has since become a convert in line with the OSN.
A more technically interesting solution that 3Com has just rolled out is a Linux blade running in its high end switches.
“Imagine a switch or router with a little bit of extra hardware running Linux. We are inviting our partners to put their stuff on there, essentially a Linux PC on a blade. It’s not about replacing servers, it’s about putting an app into the network, like WAN optimization, packet analysis, netflow, security, things like this,” he said.
Summary: Bing failed to make a difference for Microsoft; Lloyds TSB requires Microsoft Windows for Web access
FOR the great investment and deception that has gone into Bing, Microsoft has received almost nothing. It all goes badly as soon as the marketing offensive exceeds its shelf life expectancy and even in the US it shows almost no gains (before and after the renaming/rebranding of Microsoft search). Available numbers and charts may seem meaningful (people trust pictures), but as usual, reporters are sticking to US-only data, which gives the illusion that Microsoft has more than a few percent in market share (globally). Mary Jo Foley uses these biased numbers to project optimism.
While some other reports have claimed that Microsoft lost a point — or in some cases, substantially more — of the U.S. search it has been slowly but steadily gaining, comScore is claiming Bing actually grew a bit.
Nothing is being said about the comScore-Microsoft business relationship [1, 2, 3]. For a company like comScore it would too simply to change a few parameters or data samples to fit a predetermined, desired outcome.
To clarify, it’s not that Google is benevolent, innocent, or benign, but to allow Microsoft to gain at Google’s expense is to promote an additional peril to Free software.
A few days ago we explained why it's important to keep Microsoft off the Internet. Microsoft excludes GNU/Linux from the Internet (example from a few days ago) and Lloyds TSB plays along, based on the following new report.
Many Lloyds TSB business customers who use Firefox as their default browser are currently unable to access their online banking accounts.
We previously showed the same thing happening at Microsoft's partner, Citibank. Banks that do not understand the dangers of banking with Windows do not deserve business. The collective financial damage caused by account compromises is to be paid for by all customers somehow (interest rates, commission, service quality, and so on). █
Summary: Microsoft is sued for the disaster that hit T-Mobile customers last week
MICROSOFT NOW claims to have only recovered part of the data that it lost in the recent catastrophe. But it’s too late (almost a week late) and a lot of damage was done not only to the brands but also to customers and staff whose company that they trusted (Danger) got devoured by Microsoft. As we correctly predicted some days ago, the lawsuits are coming regardless of what Microsoft does (T-Mobile tried compensation in vain).
Document: Microsoft, T-Mobile sued over Sidekick data outage
Here’s a copy of one (PDF, 21 pages), filed on behalf of Maureen Thompson, a Georgia resident who experienced a “complete and catastrophic loss of all data on her daughter’s Sidekick.” The suit claims that the architecture of Danger’s Sidekick data system contributed significantly to the problem.
We will definitely hear more about this in the near future. It could quickly develop into class action (people ‘chaining’ their previously-restrained lawsuit onto existing one/s). Microsoft is being sued a lot in recent years. █
Summary: Spin, deception, lobbying and the likes of them as demonstrated by new examples from Microsoft
AT THE beginning of 2008 we wrote about Microsoft's taxoperability proposition. Ballmer and Smith made it abundantly clear that they shall use elite-serving front groups like WIPO to protect their monopoly against the biggest competitor, Free software. While Mr. Ramji is still producing “fluff pieces” for Microsoft (that’s his job [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12], even after departure) in order to give the impression that Microsoft is not fighting Free software when in fact it does, even in the courtroom, business goes on as usual. As Glyn Moody explicitly warned in 2007, Microsoft was bound to exploit this dishonest duality to pretend that its interests are the same as those of Free software and therefore its suggestions on the matter should be accepted. It also happens in ODF at the moment. They try to control both sides of the debate, so in a future post we will explain and show how this devious strategy works in practice.
“They try to control both sides of the debate…”One reader of ours has written about Microsoft’s attempt to fool the EU-based regulators into thinking that applying software patents to Free software in Europe would be reasonable. We wrote about this last week [1, 2, 3, 4] and now that the European Commission invites feedback, another reader of ours is working on a document as long as several dozens of pages — a document which will be submitted to the Commission as a recommendation. We may put it in the Wiki for regulars to help edit and improve.
All the above is not particularly new or exciting, but there are exceptions. Perhaps the most fascinating bit of news is this report from The Register. It shows rather nicely Microsoft’s influence in (or intersection with) the United States government. It not only relates to Microsoft’s role in promoting terms like “intellectual property” and support of bodies that are protectionist (for elite/national interests). It also relates to Microsoft’s influence at the DHS [1, 2, 3, 4]. If time permits, we will expand on it later. █
“David Smith commented that Gartner will not bash MS if MS chooses to slip Vista.”
Summary: Gartner Group promotion of Vista 7 brings back memory of its bullish outlook for Windows Vista
THE Gartner Group recommended Windows Vista in all sorts of way. It hailed Vista when it comes to security for example and as the quote above shows, it negotiated with Microsoft how the operating system would be covered. From February 6th 2007, for instance, we extract the “The Vista Imperative?”
It states: “Sooner or later, most organizations will deploy Windows Vista. Learn how Gartner can help you understand what the effects will be, what the benefits are and how much it will cost, so you can decide how fast to move.”
We wrote about Gartner a few days ago in light of an detailed exposé from another Web site and now we find Gartner promoting Vista 7, despite its many known problems. Will Gartner eat crow? We may only find out in a few months when the PR campaigns run out of steam (i.e. budgets). █
More on the Gartner Group:
Summary: Some Apple news that can be found today
APPLE’S BUILD QUALITY goes from strength to strength with users of its expensive Time Capsule product complaining that it bricks their hard-drives.
The Apple Time Capsule Memorial Register, which went live over weekend, has already logged 294 dead devices that have been killed by Apple’s rogue Time Capsule.
The site assures those who have lost a hard-drive to Apple’s superior build quality that they are not alone.
In fact the problem is more like what other PC users call a crash and it is bloody annoying.
Like most Apple confessions of poor quality, its statement says that the problem of philosophical Macbooks only affects a small number of users. In other words it’s just those Mac computers that believe in “thinking differently”, just like Steve Jobs has always told them to.
Realising she wasn’t carrying any anti-ursoid equipment, Rowley decided to throw her Apple handset at the bear in the hope of distracting it.
The tactic worked and Rowley escaped.
She later returned to the scene in hope of retrieving her precious smartphone, only to find that – unsurprisingly – the beast had chewed and mauled the device.
Smart bear? █
Summary: Jeremy Allison from the Samba team argues that Mono and applications that depend on Mono should be put in “restricted” repositories
Jeremy Allison comes from Novell and so does Mono, which was acquired by the company along with Ximian. But as our interview with Allison shows, this man who worked for Novell (on Samba) was brave enough to make his voice heard and finally move to Google. He protested against the patent deal with Microsoft. Just as a reminder and a little bit of background, Novell issues have not been resolved yet*.
“A few days ago we also wrote about Git#, which is part of the trend of making GNU/Linux building blocks more closely tied to Microsoft APIs and/or programming languages.”Novell’s Banshee has a new release but little is said about the fact that the software uses parts of Mono that Microsoft explicitly excluded from its Community Promise, which means that the software is only “safe” for Novell customers to use.
A few days ago we also wrote about Git#, which is part of the trend of making GNU/Linux building blocks more closely tied to Microsoft APIs and/or programming languages. Here is some newer coverage of Git# from a source that typically promotes a lot of Microsoft tools.
Still aren’t convinced that Mono is a trap which ultimately only benefits Microsoft?
Take a look at this “Highly Confidential” document from Microsoft (from Comes vs Microsoft case) entitled “Effective Evangelism” and decide for yourself. It exposes Microsoft’s game plan for dominating the market with their platforms (which we already know, but some choose to ignore).
To quote a memorable (and not out-of-date) quote from Microsoft President Bob Muglia: “There is a substantive effort in open source to bring such an implementation of .Net to market, known as Mono and being driven by Novell, and one of the attributes of the agreement we made with Novell is that the intellectual property associated with that is available to Novell customers.”
Next, this brings us to Jeremy Allison’s latest good columns where he politely approaches one problem with Mono.
But the problem is that Mono is dangerous for Free Software. The heart of the matter is, as usual, software patents. Microsoft have patents on the technology inside .NET, and since the Tom Tom lawsuit, Microsoft have shown they are not averse to attacking Free Software using patent infringement claims. Microsoft have tried to allay some fears by putting the .NET specification under their “Microsoft Community Promise” which you can read here:
Miguel hailed this a the solution to all the patent problems with Mono. But this promise is simply not good enough to base a language environment implementation upon. After all, if the rug is pulled out from under that implementation by the threat of patent infringement you don’t just lose the implementation itself, you lose all the programs that depend upon it. That’s a really dangerous situation for Free Software programs to be in. The Free Software Foundation wrote a good analysis of the problems with this promise here:
But my basic issue with the Microsoft Community Promise is that Miguel doesn’t have to depend on it like everyone else does. Miguel’s employer, Novell, has a patent agreement with Microsoft that exempts Mono users from Microsoft patent aggression, so long as you get Mono from Novell.
The emphasis above is not ours. Allison knew about the Novell deal and also saw it from the inside ahead of journalists. Allison also proposes a solution:
Microsoft isn’t playing games any more by merely threatening to assert patents. Real lawsuits have now occurred and the gloves are off against Free Software. Moving Mono and its applications to the “restricted” repositories is now just plain common sense.
That would include applications like Tomboy and F-Spot.
“Mono is a problem for many reasons, the main of which is the fact that it promotes Microsoft, the company which attacks Free software more than many other companies combined.”There are many comments on this new article (lots more to come), which include: “Nasty stuff! In the meantime, RedHat keeps a strong leadership in the server, and I am starting to move my desktops to purely Qt/KDE installs (to avoid any Mono contamination).”
Why is Novell doing this to itself? Or is it doing it for Microsoft? Mono is a problem for many reasons, the main of which is the fact that it promotes Microsoft, the company which attacks Free software more than many other companies combined. Mono puts Microsoft in control of developers (as in “developers developers developers developers”) and on top of this there are software patents to tighten the grip.
Imitation is rarely the path to winning (or just winning over developers). In order to recruit new support for Free(dom) software, one needs to offer something unique; experience suggests that Mono failed to attract even Visual Studio people.
In Novell’s headquarters, what’s debated at the moment are issues of marketing, not necessarily freedom. A longtime apologist of the Novell/Microsoft relationship elaborates on this subject. █
*This Web site’s goal remains to put pressure on Novell — using its customers — and to rectify its commitment to its suppliers, the Free software world which includes not just developers but also other companies (development peers), enthusiastic users, and people who spread the software. The main issue with the deal is a combination of software patents and an obligation from Novell to do all sorts of things which advance Microsoft’s own ecosystem. SUSE intervention was attempted as means of alleviating or annulling the deal. Attempts were made in the past to do so through negotiation and many people who were using SUSE got involved, myself included. Novell argued that the deal with Microsoft was “irrevocable”, so there was little left to do but to protest through explanation of the consequences and have Novell regret the path that it chose.
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