Familiar Villains: Apple and Blackboard Attack Linux/Free Software Again

Posted in Apple, Free/Libre Software, FUD, GNU/Linux, Interoperability, Kernel, Microsoft, Patents at 9:31 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Doodled desks

Summary: Apple kicks Palm’s Linux-powered phones out of iTunes and Blackboard spreads FUD about Free software counterparts

AFTER patent intimidation and illegal proposals [1, 2], Apple saw Palm filing a complaint against it. But more infamous would be Apple’s harming of interoperability with Palm, which really just ought to strike a deal with Amarok or something (it is a Linux gadget after all). The invitation is already there, whereas with Apple it’s an abusive one-way relationship; as The Register put it yesterday, “Palm Pre evicted from iTunes (yet again).”

Apple’s Thursday update to iTunes – version 9.0.2 – yet again kicks the Palm Pre off Cupertino’s media-sync reservation.

Typical Apple. And then we have Microsoft’s friend*, Blackboard.

Blackboard sues its rivals using patents [1, 2, 3]; when it does not use patent FUD against Free (libre) educational software, Blackboard turns out to be throwing other types of FUD. This just in:

Blackboard’s Response to Open Source: Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt


Blackboard has not been having a good time in the state of North Carolina. As I noted recently, the University of North Carolina (a Blackboard customer) reported highly favorable results of their pilot study of Sakai, with an outcome of further investigation into Sakai as a full replacement of Blackboard as their primary LMS. It turns out that this was following on the heels of a similar study done by the North Carolina Community College system favorably comparing Moodle to Blackboard. The details were different but some of the underlying dynamics were the same: the open source system in each case was found to be functionally equivalent to Blackboard for all practical purposes, the open source platforms did roughly as well as Blackboard (in the Moodle evaluation) or better than Blackboard (in the Sakai case) in usability evaluations, and Blackboard was deemed to be expensive relative to the alternatives.

Read the rebuttal; it’s funny how the notorious Magic Quadrant [1, 2] gets a mention. As a reminder, Microsoft tried to piggyback Moodle in order to promote its own lock-in. It must be stressful to them losing all this market share to Free software.
* Blackboard was initially funded by Microsoft [1, 2, 3, 4].

Gates Foundation Accused of Faking/Fabricating Data to Advance Political Goals

Posted in Bill Gates, Deception, GNU/Linux, Marketing, Microsoft at 8:46 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz


Summary: Another voice (among many) raises an issue with the Gates Foundation’s fake numbers

EARLIER this year we showed how Bill Gates uses "malaria" to attack GNU/Linux adoptions. The short story is that Bill Gates has ambitions of making money out of Africa [1, 2, 3, 4, 5], but those who are not familiar with the lesser-known deeds of the Gates Foundation will easily fall for these illusions; as for informed critics, they make rational arguments and produce evidence, but impatient politicians may find such allegations shocking and hard to comprehend (a popular defense is to say critics are “just jealous”). By pretending to help, Gates opens the door to political favours, with numerous proven examples. It’s tit-for-tat.

Well, according to Aid Watch, the Gates Foundation should once again be accused of making up numbers to exaggerate its role and present deceptive plans. From the rather detailed new analysis:

Actually, we have also previously argued that aid has been more successful in health than in other areas. However, one petty and parochial concern we had about the progress reports is that Bill and Melinda Gates continue to make a case for malaria success stories based on bad or fake data that we have criticized on this blog already twice. The Gateses were aware of our blog because they responded to it at the Chronicle of Philanthropy.

Yet they continue to use the WHO 2008 World Malaria Report as their main source for data on malaria prevalence and deaths from malaria in Africa. As we pointed out in the earlier post, the report establishes such low standards for data reliability that some of the numbers hardly seem worth quoting. From the WHO report: “reliable data on malaria are scarce. In these countries estimates were developed based on local climate conditions, which correlate with malaria risk, and the average rate at which people become ill with the disease in the area.” Where convincing estimates from real reported cases of malaria could not be made, figures were extrapolated “from an empirical relationship between measures of malaria transmission risk and case incidence.”


Of course, we HATE this political economy theory when it’s applied to US. We are VERY unhappy when people conclude that because we are skeptical about malaria data quality (and thus whether they show progress), therefore we really don’t care about how many Africans are dying from malaria and wish that all government money went to subsidize fine dining in New York. And, the Gateses would probably not be fond of this political economy explanation of their actions and beliefs either. Both of us would prefer the alternative “academic” theory of belief formation, in which it is all based on evidence and data, not political interests.

The above may suitably be described as “Numbers of Mass Distraction,” as the following new blog post (from earlier today) called the shameless tactics of the MPAA/RIAA/BPI/other front groups.

It’s not just about digital sales either. The Beatles are reported to have sold 2.25 million albums in two weeks recently. Again, data with some backing.

I like numbers. But not when they’re Numbers of Mass Distraction (NMD). Not when 136 people can become 7 million people.

Why should I care what numbers are bandied about in the press? Why should I care when someone says “Only 1 in 20 downloads in the UK is legal” or words to that effect?

Yesterday we showed another good example where Bill Gates and his colleagues deceived the gullible using warped numbers. Maybe this practice runs deep in the veins by now.

Microsoft, Ask, and the AstroTurf Against Yahoo! Remembered

Posted in Google, Microsoft, Rumour, Security at 8:13 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Dark question

Summary: Rumours and speculations about Microsoft and expansion into Ask.com; the brutal story about Microsoft’s moral corruption in the fight against Yahoo! makes a sudden return

THIS morning we wrote about Carl Icahn, who had helped destroy Yahoo!, thus making it a zombie state of Microsoft. Whilst antitrust barriers remain [1, 2, 3, 4], speculation has been spreading that Microsoft might be interested in Ask.com, leading to further enthusiasm in the Microsoft circles.

Since IAC/InterActiveCorp CEO Barry Diller indicated on Tuesday that he’s willing to sell Ask.com, the question on many people’s minds has been, “Who might buy it?” And at this point, the most likely answer seems to be “Microsoft.”

It may be a suitable time to recall how Microsoft used AstroTurfing (yes, for a verifiable fact, plain and simple) to capture Yahoo! and prevent Yahoo! from escaping to Google, for example. A new article from Ars Technica reminds us of a memorable incident where Microsoft got caught hiring AstroTurf agencies:

The Arizona Supreme Court has ruled that the metadata attached to public records is itself a public record. Given the frequency with which metadata outs lobbyists’ and corporations’ efforts to mask their own contributions to public debates, this is a good thing.


The very next month, the tables were turned when the American Corn Grower’s Association somewhat surprisingly threw its weight behind the idea that Congress should launch a hearing to look into the possible anti-trust implications of the Google-Yahoo advertising deal. CNET’s Declan McCullagh took a look at the PDF letter that the group submitted to Congress, and found that it had been authored by a staffer at the LawMedia Group, a DC lobbying shop whose client list includes the anti-Google, anti-net neutrality National Cable and Telecommunications Association.

We alluded to the LawMedia Group under (in chronological order):

Metadata, in addition to the valuable leak, would have assisted in exposing another Microsoft AstroTurf group — one which affects Europe. We gave examples of its activities in:

A new Web site called OpenUpNow.org is trying to help the exposition of lobbyists and corruptible politicians. In its blog, examples are being given today:

Newspapers occasionally report that votes have been declared “three-line whips” by particular parties. Here are just a few reported examples:

* In 2002, the Conservative party imposed a three-line whip forcing their MPs to oppose the adoption of children by gay couples.
* In 2007, both Labour and the Conservatives imposed three-line whips in favour of a proposal to renew Britain’s nuclear weapons system, Trident.
* In 2008, the Liberal Democrats imposed a three-line whip which instructed their MPs to abstain on a vote to ratify the EU’s Lisbon Treaty.
* In 2009, Labour imposed a three line whip in favour of a vote to keep the full detail of MPs expenses secret from the public.

Those who rule out lobbying and politics, leaving it out of the equation and simply assuming that Free software will be chosen based on merits, ought to wake up and see what giants like Microsoft are doing.

“Geeks like to think that they can ignore politics, you can leave politics alone, but politics won’t leave you alone.”

Richard Stallman

Survey in Italy: OpenOffice.org Usage in 50% of Companies, GNU/Linux at 63%

Posted in Europe, Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, OpenDocument, OpenOffice at 8:01 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Flag of Italy

Summary: One survey — however biased it may be — claims and demonstrates that Italy’s adoption of Free software is well ahead of the rest of the world

EARLIER today we wrote about Free software migrations in France. Another European country which moves quite rapidly towards Free software would be Italy, whose story we told a year ago using heaps references that are success stories. According a new Italian survey that Glyn Moody cites, “50% of companies use OpenOffice.org; 63% use GNU/Linux.”

The original article, which is in Italian, can be found here. It states:

Tra gli altri risultati significativi del sondaggio: il 63% adotta in azienda sistemi operativi open source, il più noto dei quali è sicuramente Linux.

A reader who speaks Italian, David Alberto Osso, has just provided us with the following translation into English:

“More than the doubts, could cut the budget” said the informatics, who always came with bigger decisions, are adopting the open source suite Open Office.

In fact, according to a survey conducted on the premises of Club Bit di Unindustria Treviso, now more than 50% of companies adopted a package of office productivity that goes into direct competition with Microsoft Office.

The principal reason of this election is obviously in the fact that this saves the cost of the Licenses, that mean for companies with 100 or more employees tens of thousands per year.

It is also true that by now have mostly been allayed the doubts relative to Open Office and that the problems were mainly technical assistance. Many companies are now able to provide support for the Open Office package. Anyway, companies can also easily make do with the strength of a notable supporting documentation, and with specific online help groups.

Among other significant results of the survey: 63% in the company adopts open source operating systems, the most notable of which is definitely Linux.

Fantastic news.

Links 30/10/2009: GNOME 2.29.1 is Out, Many Distro Releases

Posted in News Roundup at 4:02 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



  • Audio

    • Podcast Season 1 Episode 20

      In this episode: Ubuntu 9.10 has been released! To celebrate, we talk about what’s new and what’s old, review a version of Ubuntu each, discuss what we love and loathe and set our minds on the future with Lucid Lynx. Koala Ho!

    • Podcast 65 Bashed In The Head
  • Desktop

    • Buntfu says buy or sell your Linux PC here and you’ll earn free ad space.

      Buntfu.com announced today that now when users list, bid, buy, invite or refers others to its Linux and BSD computer store . They will earn credits that will allow them to advertise their own ads on Buntfu for free.

    • Linux iPhone sync draws near

      One of the biggest hurdles in reverse-engineering the new protocol is the non-standard way in which the devices communicate over USB. The usbmuxd developers have been working to implement communications and now have a Release Candidate for the 1.0.0 version. Along with testing of this package, libgpod is now being updated to play nicely with the new database format and hash of the iPhone.

  • Mixed Reports

    • FOSS Goes to Washington, and Nvidia Keeps Its Driver Code to Itself

      Government breakthroughs aside, another interesting conversation came up on the blogs recently in response to a Phoronix interview with Nvidia developer Andy Ritger about the state of Linux graphics, gaming and drivers.

      One of Ritger’s revelations: The Linux graphics driver download rate at Nvidia.com is just 0.5 percent that of its Windows driver downloads.

      Also notable: “I don’t think we would ever open source any of our cross-platform driver source code,” Ritger said.

    • Some nice things happened on the way through life…..

      He reminded me that I had taken him to visit my two goddaughters, and as we sat on the floor playing with them, their father, Linus Torvalds, came into the room and talked with us a bit. Afterwards we left the house and he said that I was “never to do that to him again”. “Do what?”, I asked, “I told you I was going to see my god-daughters….”

      I had “forgotten” about these times, but of course I remembered them when he told me. I am glad when I can influence someone’s life in a positive way.

      When I met Mark Spencer, the creator of the Asterisk project, he told me that a talk I gave at a conference in 1999 convinced him to make the project Free and Open Source. It is revelations like this that keep me going.

  • Desktop Environments

    • Ubuntu 9.10 ‘Karmic Koala’ release gives KDE a boost

      Open source software vendor Canonical has released the new version of its Linux-based Ubuntu operating system, Ubuntu 9.10 — codenamed “Karmic Koala” — and with it comes a number of updates to improve the KDE experience.

      Ubuntu has been a GNOME-centric Linux distribution since its initial release, and has been criticised for treating KDE like a “second-class citizen” on the desktop with the Kubuntu distribution playing “catch up” to the standard Ubuntu.

    • GNOME

      • GNOME 2.29.1 released

        We’re only a few days after 2.28.1, and 2.29.1 is already there! We have some brave people who did some amazing work for this release, with new features in various modules. And of course, the numerous bug fixes that we’re all used to. It’s really exciting to already be able to play with some nifty new features: it announces some great fun during the next few months. Of course, some tarballs are still in the 2.28 era, but that’s mostly because the tarballs due mail was late (you can blame your favorite release team member for this — hopefully, I’m not your favorite one ;-)).

      • Gnome Color Manager is born

        Richard Hughes is next in line to become another hero of Open Source Software for photography. After giving it some thoughts, he implemented a first draft of a Gnome Color Manager.

      • Measuring performance of GTK theme

        Does GTK theme make any noticeable change in performance? Yes. as I have mentioned in previous post – Top 10 Gnome Performance Tweaks, Here is a way to figure out how much does it matter. If you are interested in creating GTK themes you should know how to check performance of theme..

  • Distributions

    • Red Hat Family

    • Ubuntu Family

      • Good Karma

        As I mentioned, new alliterating animals appear on a regular cycle – Lucid Lynx will be padding along in April next year. In a way, that’s just another manifestation of open source’s “release early, release often” mantra – the idea being that faster iterations keep the code fresher, engage the community more and generally allows features to be added sooner.

        Contrast this with the approach the Microsoft follows. There, a new operating system appears once every few years – followed by an apparently interminable sequence of service packs and patches.

        The reason this is done is largely because of the need to create a “new” product, since Microsoft’s model essentially consists of re-selling the same software to users again and again, but with each version looking sufficiently different that it can claim, with varying degrees of plausibility, that it’s worth the extra money.

      • Ubuntu 9.10 Screen Shots
      • Ubuntu Karmic Koala 9.10 Post Installation Guide
      • New Features of Ubuntu 9.10

        1. Faster startup

        Canonical aims to deliver 10-second startups for the Ubuntu 10.04 release, which is due in 2010. In this version, they have already taken some important steps toward achieving this goal in which allows users to get to their desktop faster after booting. Tests also show that it can now boot in mere seconds on a good computer with a solid hard drive!

      • Ubuntu 9.10 final ships as IBM spins Ubuntu-based cloud distro

        Canonical’s Ubuntu project released the final Ubuntu 9.10 Desktop Edition, featuring faster boot times, improved audio and 3G connectivity, an enhanced Netbook Remix, and more robust cloud support, among other features. The release follows IBM’s announcement that it is launching an Ubuntu-based cloud computing distribution for businesses.

      • ZaReason Bolsters Ubuntu 9.10 Branding

        ZaReason is taking a small but significant step to help strengthen the Ubuntu brand. To help celebrate the Ubuntu 9.10 launch, the PC maker is offering “a stick of Ubuntu aluminum case badges with each computer ordered” October 29 through November 5.

      • Ubuntu 9.10 brings karma to the market

        The consumer world is more interesting. Ubuntu gives retailers the chance to sell hardware with higher margins and more control. Logical economics suggests this would lead over time to a considerable presence. Instead, it is entirely absent. Whatever is keeping Ubuntu out of the retail channel is not technical, economic or practical, and not the result of an untrammelled free market.

      • My operating system of choice: Ubuntu Linux

        The next time you see me on campus with my laptop, I’d be more than happy to show you the eye-catching Desktop Cube I use to navigate my four separate desktops. My computer, like other Linux machines, does not crash nor does it suffer from malware such as trojans, viruses or worms due to how the kernel handles security. This is exactly the reason why most servers which power the Internet use Linux instead of Windows and, to a lesser extent, Mac.

      • Ubuntu Linux 9.10 ‘Karmic Koala’ Starts Its Climb

        On the server side of Ubuntu, enabling the cloud is also a key goal, courtesy of the Ubuntu Enterprise Cloud (UEC), another enhanced feature of the Karmic release. UEC made its initial Ubuntu debut in the Jaunty Jackalope release in April with full enterprise support services following several months later. In the Karmic release, UEC is being more tightly integrated into the server as well as being enabled with a UEC store for applications. The application store packages cloud-ready application for easy consumption and deployment by enterprise users — similarly to models like Apple’s App Store for the iPhone.

      • Ubuntu Linux Tips & Tricks: Karmic FAQ

        Following tradition, here’s my Karmic FAQ…

      • Save Bandwidth And Time Downloading Ubuntu 9.10
      • How To Enable Root (Super) User in Ubuntu
      • Caveats for audio in 9.10
      • Ubuntu 9.10 (Karmic Koala) Desktop Edition Review

        Overall I really appreciate any steps that Linux takes towards being a more viable Windows / Mac alternative. And who am I to complain? I don’t have to pay for Linux and have never really contributed to making it better. So overall I am happy with Ubuntu 9.10 and there are only a few things that I wish were better. The good news is that improvement of Linux on the Desktop is accelerating while desktop OS innovation seems to have stagnated due to the OS market being commoditized. As long as the applications that run on Linux continue to improve then the future of Desktop Linux seems bright.

      • Ubuntu 9.10 brings web sync, faster bootup, GNOME 2.28

        Other important upstream software shipped with Ubuntu 9.10 includes version 2.6.31 of the Linux kernel and Firefox 3.5, which adds new features like private browsing mode and support for the HTML 5 video element.

      • Distro Review: Ubuntu 9.10 Karmic Koala

        I’m impressed with Karmic, it’s a very solid release with some nice improvements over Jaunty. The Software Centre is a great addition and I hope it will be pushed up stream to the likes of Debian. Canonical have been criticised in the past for not contributing enough back to the upstream projects they depend on, but I think that’s a little harsh. Let’s see what they do with this and then judge.

    • New Releases

      • Ubuntu 9.10 ships — and we round up other new distros

        The following briefly summarizes in reverse chronological order some of the key Linux distribution announcements over the last two months…

      • 2009.10 release: 40 new appliances + Amazon EC2

        I’m proud to announce the 2009.10 release batch featuring:

        * 25 new additions to the TurnKey Linux virtual appliance library
        * added native virtual appliance packaging (OVF support included)
        * Amazon EC2 support, with EBS persistence
        * Core improvements: Ajax web shell, upgraded to Ubuntu 8.04.3

        The project recently celebrated its one year birthday. Since our last major release in March the project picked up steam with weekly downloads increasing over 500% (we just flew past 60,000 downloads). Not bad for a new server oriented project. With all the goodies in this new release, and all the stuff we’re working on for the next release, TurnKey Linux’s second year should be even more interesting.

      • Berry 0.99
      • PCLinuxOS 2009.4 (Phoenix)
      • Toorox 10.2009
      • Baltix GNU/Linux 4.2
      • Clonezilla 1.2.3-7
      • ALT Linux releases Platform Five products

        ALT Linux announces public availability of two products based on Platform Five: ALT Linux 5.0 Ark, a suite designed for making integrated solutions, and ALT Linux 5.0 School, a suite that is targetted at secondary and high schools.

      • [openwall-announce] fresh Owl ISOs; Linux; Packetfactory mirror

        1. Fresh ISO images of Owl-current for x86 and x86-64 (generated on October 25) are available on our FTP mirrors. There are also direct download links on the Owl homepage:


        These ISOs use Linux as the kernel, and, compared to last month’s ISO snapshots, they contain updated versions of many packages (vsftpd, iptables, passwdqc, cpio, e2fsprogs, strace, VIM, and xinetd), as well as minor changes to some other packages.

      • New version of Owl security-enhanced operating system

        Openwall GNU/*/Linux (or Owl for short) is a free security-enhanced operating system with Linux and GNU software as its core, compatible with other major distributions of GNU/*/Linux. It is intended as a server platform.

  • Devices/Embedded

    • ARM vs. Atom: The battle for the next digital frontier

      Consider: Intel sold its 1 billionth x86 chip in 2003. Its closest rival, AMD, broke the 500 million mark just this year. ARM, on the other hand, expects to ship 2.8 billion processors in 2009 alone — or around 90 chips per second. That’s in addition to the more than 10 billion ARM processors already powering devices today.

    • MontaVista’s market-specific distros support Android, Atom

      MontaVista Software announced more Market Specific Distributions (MSDs) for its MontaVista Linux 6 commercial embedded development distribution. The MSDs are separated into industrial automation, multi-core networking, Android, automotive and portable multimedia, and multifunction-printer versions, and support processors from Cavium, Freescale, Intel, and Texas Instruments, says the company.

    • Cortex-A8 COM gains touchscreen board

      Gumstix is shipping a new expansion board for its Linux-supported, ARM Cortex-A8-based Overo computer-on-module (COM) series, aimed at small form-factor wireless devices. The Palo35 is designed to incorporate one of Gumstix’s four Texas Instruments’ OMAP35xx-based Overo modules, and supports a 3.5-inch LCD touchscreen from LG, says the company.

    • IP camera boasts 1080p video at 30fps

      Texas Instruments (TI) announced a DaVinci-family, HD-ready Internet Protocol (IP) camera reference design. The Linux-ready DM368IPNC-MT5 is built by Appro Photoelectron, incorporates a TI DM36x-400 SoC, and can process H.264 main-profile 1080p video at 30fps while consuming only three Watts, says TI.

    • Maemo

      • Maemo Summit 2009: Fremantle, Harmattan, and N900

        Nokia’s second annual Maemo Summit brought together 400 developers and power users of the Linux-based tablet community in Amsterdam over the October 9-11 weekend. Maemo Community Manager Quim Gil said the primary goal was to bring the community together for the social and interactive benefits, but the three-day program also provided a solid introduction to the new Maemo 5 release, a preview of Maemo 6, and a chance to work with the Nokia N900 — which ships with as close to a standard Linux distribution as the marketplace has seen delivered on a usable mobile phone.

      • Kickoff for KDE on Maemo

        A Qt developer has brought a piece of KDE to Maemo. After plasmoids, this week brings the Plasma desktop. Also a KDE Maemo mailing list.

    • Phones

      • HTC Hero gets Eclair update

        Although not officially announced, as all HTC Android smartphones rely on the same CPU, it shouldn’t be long before we see other handsets getting this update too.

        Eclair is also now available to developers, as Google has just announced that the Android SDK supports the latest version of the OS.

      • Android gets a PowerPC port

        Mentor Graphics has completed an initial port of Google’s open source Android mobile operating system to Freescale’s PowerPC processor architecture. According to LinuxDevices, Freescale Semiconductor is “now accepting orders for a hardware / software platform for developing Android applications on Power Architecture PowerQUICC and QorIQ processors”.

    • Sub-notebooks

      • Kubuntu 9.10 Release Adds Plasma Netbook Preview

        KDE-based distribution Kubuntu has released version 9.10 which adds a new variant showcasing the up and coming Plasma Netbook setup. The release also adds OpenOffice KDE 4 integration and extra installer beauty thanks to artwork from KDE’s Oxygen team.

      • Canonical Matures Linux-based Netbook OS

        Canonical on Thursday updated its Linux distribution for netbooks, simplifying the interface and adding new programs that the company says will make it easier for users to access and use Web content.

        The Ubuntu 9.10 Netbook Remix is designed to run basic Web and office applications typically used on netbooks. Netbooks are cheap and lightweight laptops characterized by limited computing resources and small s\creen sizes.

Free Software/Open Source

  • French Government Chooses Mozilla To Replace IBM and Microsoft For 130,000 Desktop PC’s

    The French Government’s public finance department will switch 130,000 desktop PC’s to Mozilla’s email and calendar applications. Mozilla’s Thunderbird email service, Lightning Calendar and an open-source groupware will replace IBM Lotus Notes and Microsoft Office.

  • ‘Bill Gates of Belgium’ Fights SAP With Free Software

    Free programs such as Linux first challenged Microsoft Corp. in software that runs personal computers. Linux has gradually gained enough acceptance that government agencies and even some corporations are willing to try such programs for some of their most important tasks: applications that run billing, payroll and purchasing.

  • I’ve Seen the Data: Economy Goes Down, Open Source Goes Up

    I know everyone’s been saying it: The economic downturn will drive more people to open source. Because OpenLogic sells support on 500 projects as well as open source governance services and solutions, we get a very broad view of enterprise use of open source. After analyzing our Q3 and 2009 results, I’ve seen the data, and I’m here to tell you that open source is looking good.

  • Where the battle lines are drawn

    To where do we take the battle in support of OpenSource and Free Software? We are told to choose our battles carefully and not to fight where it is least effective.

  • gvSIG Mini launchment. An open-source tile map viewer for cell phones

    We are proud to announce that gvSIG Mini has been born. gvSIG Mini is a brand-new open-source project (GNU/GPL) aimed to cellular phones.

  • Rule the Web with Four Firefox Add-ons

    Most of the time, we think of the Web as static: We accept sites the way they are and grumble about the problems with sites that aren’t entirely optimal. With Firefox, this isn’t necessarily the way it has to be. With a few well-placed add-ons, you can tweak some of your favorite sites to be just what you want them to be.

  • Sun

    • 6 must have addons to enhance your Openoffice.org experience

      Almost everybody does a certain amount of word processing on their systems. One of the most popular word processing apps around is OpenOffice, the 3rd version of which as at yesterday (October 28) has been downloaded a hundred million times.

      What makes this great office suite wonderful to use is the extent to which you can customize it with the thousands of freely available addons. These addons add extra features to make working with Openoffice very interesting. Below are 6 of such addons you definitely need to install to take your Openoffice.org to the max.

    • Oracle unveils plans for MySQL, GlassFish, NetBeans, and OpenOffice

      To be completely honest, none of Oracle’s plans come as a surprise. And at the end of the day, the FAQ is not legally binding, nor is it a commitment to deliver products, code, or functionality. Oracle clearly states this at the end of the FAQ. This too is completely understandable. Oracle, like any other company with shareholders, will have to evaluate and adjust its plans and intentions on a product-by-product basis over time. Oracle has a fiduciary duty to do so.

  • Richard Stallman

    • Richard Stallman’s interview

      BSDBetty kicks off the show with an interview with Richard Stallman before his talk at the Edinburgh University Informatics Colloquium, with particular focus on ethics in the field of software. Transcription of this interview can be found at Indymedia Scotland.

    • ep0473 :: Tit Radio Ep 011.1a – RMS and Aftershow

      BSDBetty kicks off the show with an interview with Richard Stallman before his talk at the Edinburgh University Informatics Colloquium, with particular focus on ethics in the field of software. Transcription of this interview can be found at Indymedia Scotland.


    • GNU IceCat 3.5.4 released

      This new version includes all the bug fixes present in Firefox 3.5.4 plus some minor changes.

    • Encrypting with GNU Privacy Guard

      While the best way to learn how to use GPG is to actually use it, Emmett shows you a how to perform a few typical tasks.

    • FSCONS 2009

      Join us at the third annual FSCONS, a meeting place for social change, focused on the future of free software and free society. Open discussion and brainstorming are two of the primary factors that pave the way for change. In FSCONS, we seek to engage, inform, sometimes provoke, and always motivate social change through these discussions.

  • Releases

    • Zenoss 2.5 released

      More details about the release can be found in the release notes. Zenos 2.5 is available to download for Mac OS X and various Unix and Linux systems. VMware virtual appliances for Windows, Mac OS X and Linux are also provided. Zenoss is released under version 2 of the GNU General Public License (GPLv2).

  • Government

    • Berners-Lee to develop government data access point

      The government has asked web inventor Tim Berners-Lee to create a single point of access to public data as its data site begins to take shape.

      It is hoping this access will lead to new technologies and services being developed.

      Prime minister Gordon Brown asked Berners-Lee to look at access to government data in June, after Barack Obama’s administration launched an open source data site.

    • Open-Source Obama

      We don’t know a lot about how it was done. We do know, thanks to NetCraft, that the White House is running a typical LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL, and PHP) stack to support Drupal. The actual credit for designing the new Linux-based infrastructure goes to GDIT (General Dynamics Information Technology), a well-known government IT contractor.

  • Openness

    • UK Will Urge EC To Legalise Mashups, Format-Shifting, Content Sharing

      It wants to “move toward a pan-European approach for copyright exceptions in the digital age”, allowing more use of copyrighted works – just one of a range of measures that must be continental because “the UK cannot act independently”.

      Lammy, speaking at the C&binet creative industries gathering on Tuesday, put his ambitions full-square in European policymakers’ court.

    • Adobe is Bad for Open Government

      So next week, Adobe’s having aconference here to tell Federal employees why they ought to be using “Adobe PDF, and Adobe® Flash® technology” to make government more open. They’ve spent what seems to be millions of dollars wrapping buses in DC with Adobe marketing materials all designed to tell us how necessary Adobe products are to Obama’s Open Government Initiative. They’ve even got a beautiful website set up to tout the government’s use of Flash and PDF, and are holding a conference here next week to talk about how Government should use ubiquitous and secure technologies to make government more open and interactive.

    • WHATWG puts HTML5 on the home straight

      From the WHATWG group’s point of view, work on HTML5 is almost complete. A blog entry from project manager Ian Hickson states that development has reached the ‘last call’ stage. This applies to the “Web Workers” and “Microdata vocabularies” standards. The FAQ describes just two further stages in the standardisation process before the standard becomes widely deployed.

    • Call for Participation: Join the Open University Campaign!

      The Open University Campaign recognizes that scholastic advancement occurs most readily in an environment of sharing, openness and collaboration. By providing a cross-index of leading universities, the project will add important comparative measurements to encourage increased academic openness. Our hope is that these resources will provide a platform from which openness activists can endeavor to improve the scholastic environment.


  • The New Operations Manual from the F.B.I.

    In September 2008, the Bush administration changed domestic intelligence-gathering rules. The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s interpretation of those rules was recently made public when the bureau released a redacted copy of its “Domestic Investigations and Operation Guide” in response to a Freedom of Information lawsuit.

  • Finance

    • Capmark Financial files for bankruptcy: reports

      Financial Group Inc., one of the largest commercial real-estate lenders in the U.S., has filed for bankruptcy protection, according to reports Sunday.

    • Did N.Y. Fed Engineer Sweetheart Deal for AIG Debt Holders?

      A year after the onset of the greatest financial crisis since the Great Depression, details continue to emerge of the sordid secret deals cut by the Federal Reserve in bailing out certain financial giants. The very latest, courtesy of Bloomberg News, alleges that the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, under the leadership of Timothy Geithner (now U.S. Treasury Secretary), engineered a sweetheart deal to pay off holders of AIG debt at par, rather than the 40 cents on the dollar that AIG negotiators had been pushing for.

    • What Goldman Sachs Can Learn From Bill Belichick

      Note to Goldman Sachs: The charm offensive isn’t working.

      Goldman executives have been pulling out the stops trying to persuade the public that Goldman bankers aren’t the greedy, heartless profiteers that the firm’s record profits and bonuses might suggest. They have been arguing that Goldman has profited, while contributing to the greater good. The firm’s unflappable finance officer David Viniar told analysts during an Oct. 15 conference that Goldman took advantage of trading opportunities in the post-crisis environment because “we knew that we had an important role to play in supporting global capital markets and economies.”

    • Whitney Tilson: We Need To Break Up Goldman Sachs
    • Goldman Sachs Blasted For Sucking On Lehman’s Corpse (GS)

      The New York Post highlights an apparent contradiction at Goldman Sachs, with respect to its Lehman exposure.

    • BBC: Buffett on Goldman Sachs deal

      When the market was fearful last September, Mr Buffett was greedy, putting $5bn (£3bn) into the investment bank Goldman Sachs on favourable terms.

      He says he was only able to negotiate the deal because not many people had $5bn to hand at that particular moment.

    • The boom in squid-puppet manufacturing

      This was the scene in front of Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein’s apartment building Sunday, as photographed by TIME’s Deirdre van Dyk (who came across it after running a race in Central Park). The protesters were mad about, among other things, a Goldman-backed company shutting down the Stella D’Oro biscuit factory in the Bronx and moving production to Ohio.

    • Goldman Sachs (NYSE: GS), Wells Fargo (NYSE: WFC) Picketed at Chicago Offices

      Stirred up by union activists in Chicago, protesters picketed the offices of Goldman Sachs (NYSE: GS) and Wells Fargo (NYSE: WFC), and then went to the Sheraton hotel, where the annual American Bankers’ Association convention was held to protest there as well.

    • Wells Fargo (NYSE: WFC) and Goldman Sachs (NYSE: GS) See Protesters on Monday

      The Chicago offices of both Wells Fargo (NYSE: WFC) and Goldman Sachs (NYSE: GS) saw picketers and protesters on Monday morning, as reported by the Wall Street Journal. The protest was part of a larger multi-day protest that focused on the American Bankers Association (ABA) annual meeting. Individuals carried signs and chanted slogans voicing their concern at bank executives for profiting from the mortgage crisis and directing their anger at what they perceive as predatory lending practices.

    • Goldman Sachs And Morgan Stanley Cannot Afford To Remain Silent On Galleon Charges

      Late last night the Financial Times broke the news that the hedge fund firm Galleon Group paid $250 million to its Wall Street banks last year in return for received market information that other investors did not get.

      Those banks need to come forward immediately and explain what information they were selling to Galleon

      The FT’s report didn’t specify which banks provided the information but noted that Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs were Galleon’s top providers of hedge fund services and prime brokerage. Both declined to comment on the story. But the allegations are so explosive that both firms are going to have to start talking.

    • Galleon Paid Bankers Millions For Extra, Non-Public Info (MS, GS)

      The latest development in the Galleon story makes Wall Street banks, like Morgan Stanley (MS) and Goldman Sachs (GS), look pretty bad.

  • AstroTurf

    • How Business Propaganda Hijacks Canadian Democracy

      A book review in western Canada’s Georgia Straight newspaper asks, “Do you ever wonder why so many of the Fraser Institute’s right-wing commentaries get into Canadian daily newspapers? Perhaps you’ve been disturbed by the spate of articles about the inevitability of Canada forming closer ties with the United States. Maybe you’re troubled by the constant media attacks on Medicare or on the scientific consensus about global warming.

    • Donald Gutstein’s Not a Conspiracy Theory pries the lid off think tanks

      Do you ever wonder why so many of the Fraser Institute’s right-wing commentaries get into Canadian daily newspapers? Perhaps you’ve been disturbed by the spate of articles about the inevitability of Canada forming closer ties with the United States.

  • Health

    • Health insurance industry secret weapon: Swine flu

      Ho ho ho. But then I read about what the swine flu is doing to healthcare insurer profits in Brett Chase’s Portfolio blog, Heavy Doses.


      Now I’m rethinking whether The Onion’s report really is satire. Maybe Republicans do oppose efforts to combat the swine flu. Because, perversely, no swine flu would mean higher profits for the healthcare insurers which would mean a better chance of tougher reforms getting passed.

      Ha. Ha. Ha.

    • Sebelius Prods Senate to Move on Surgeon General Nominee

      A GOP stall on all Health and Human Services nominees has left the department without a surgeon general during a period of a global flu pandemic, prompting the HHS secretary to call for Senate action.

    • Dude, Where’s Our Surgeon General?

      Because Senate Republicans are blocking approval of Dr. Benjamin’s nomination in homage to the health insurance industry. Republicans are trying to pressure the Obama administration to end its efforts to hold health insurer Humana accountable for sending a misleading mailer out to its Medicare Advantage members to try and scare them out of supporting health insurance reform.

  • Internet/Censorship/Web Abuse/Rights

    • Trademark: The tort of choice for censors

      That won’t stop a wealthy plaintiff, though — and who’s wealthier these days than public employee unions? — from suing, however. After all, there’s pretty much never fee-shifting in defendants’ direction under the Lanham Act, although the statute does provide for it (or for that matter for frivolous copyright claims) But good luck on that.

      So trademark infringement remains the legal claim of choice for those seeking to shut down smaller, poorer message opponents. File yours today!

    • Chamber Sues the Yes Men

      The Chamber of Commerce is suing the Yes Men over the parody press conference the group pulled off last week.

      The Chamber has filed a civil complaint in the US District Court of Washington, DC, accusing Yes Men Jacques Servin and Igor Vamos (also known as Andy Bichlbaum and Mike Bonanno, respectively) of trademark infringement, unfair competition and false advertising. The Chamber’s suit also lists several members of the DC-based activist group the Avaaz Action Factory as co-defendants. The conduct of those who organized the event was “destructive of public discourse,” the Chamber argues.

  • Intellectual Monopolies/Copyrights

    • TalkTalk threatens legal action over Mandelson’s filesharing plan

      TalkTalk, the second largest internet service provider in the UK, has threatened to launch legal action if business secretary Peter Mandelson follows through with his plan to cut off persistent illegal filesharers’ internet connections.

    • ISP’s attack government anti-filesharing tactics

      THE UK’S TOP Internet service providers have opposed Business Secretary Lord Peter Mandelson’s daft plan to cut off persistent illegal filesharers’ Internet connections.

      Talktalk has even said that it feels the scheme infringes upon people’s rights and it will be happy to go to court to have it struck down.

    • Mandelson and “Three Strikes”: Not So Much “Dark Lord”…

      Unjust, because it allows the media industries to function as prosecutor, judge and jury, with only minimal oversight by proper legal authorities; unjust because it cuts people off from what is fast becoming a necessity of modern life, as the UK government itself is promoting; unjust because it penalises an entire family for the alleged actions of one member: something that in war would amount to a disproportionate and vindictive act of reprisal – a war-crime, in fact.

      It is unworkable because it will be almost impossible to tell whether copyrighted material is being transmitted legally or not; and ultimately it is unworkable because people will simply start encrypting material before downloading.

    • Mandy confirms he’ll cut off filesharers

      Labour’s plan is that the music industry will monitor what people are downloading, and on their say-so (not in any court of law), internet subscribers will receive two warning letters and then have their internet access cut off. The music industry will not have to prove that the subscribers have being doing anything wrong; instead Mandelson’s plan is that they will act as judge, jury and executioner. And it’s not just the subscriber who will be cut off, their whole household will be too; this collective punishment, if done in wartime, would be a war crime under the Geneva Convention.

    • We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to abolish the proposed law that will see alleged illegal filesharers disconnected from their broadband connections, without a fair trial.
    • The Globalive Decision: Time To Pick Competition Over Canadian Ownership

      It is tempting to blame the CRTC or the incumbent telecom providers (who filed the complaint over the Globalive structure) for this mess, but the real culprit lies with outdated legislation that prioritizes Canadian ownership over a competitive Canadian marketplace.

    • Live From Hollywood: Google’s Music Onebox Launches, Powered By MySpace And Lala

      Here’s how the new feature will work: Onebox will let users stream songs directly from Google’s search result page, and will also include additional content like tour information and music videos (the actual content shown will vary depending on the partner — more on that later). Enter a query for “Use Somebody”, and you’re going to see a small ‘play’ button in your search result that lets you stream the Kings of Leon song in its entirety, or buy the song. Clicking on the play button will bring up a small browser window that will immediately start streaming your song. If you enter the name of an artist rather than a song title as your search query, Google will present a handful of popular songs by that artist with multiple ‘play’ buttons.

    • F. Scott Fitzgerald Made $8,397 On Great Gatsby; His Daughter Gets $500,000 Per Year From It

      The article this comes from goes into great detail into F. Scott Fitzgelald’s earnings over his lifetime, and what’s striking is that with a different sort of copyright system in place, he barely seems to rely on copyright royalties at all to make money. Instead — like most jobs — he recognizes he needs to keep producing new works to earn money, selling stories to various publications, along with working for Hollywood studios in addition to his novels. How much things have changed.

    • Debunking The Idea Of A Music Tax For The Creation Of New Music

      Now, I’ve gone into great detail on why a music tax is a terrible idea in the past — but that was addressing ideas like Jim Griffin’s Choruss plan (which, by the way, we’re still waiting to find out who the tens of thousands of students who are supposedly already using it are, but we’ll leave that aside for now). This idea, from Chris Ovenden, is slightly different. It is not a “download license” or a “download tax” as it’s really a fund to pay for the creation of new music…


      Which, of course, brings up the third problem: you still have a bureaucracy, and how does it determine who to distribute the funds to? How is it possibly fair for someone — rather than the fans themselves — to determine who gets the money.

    • Tommy Lee Gets Interactive With Fan Generated Content

      Ron Kujawa writes to us about The Public Record and Tommy Lee’s project to collaborate with fans to produce his next album, Public Mayhem. Aiming to interact with fans and get more attention, Tommy Lee has posted some rough “stem” tracks online for anyone to download, and he’s encouraging fans to upload their own music that might go with those tracks.

    • Widespread availability of online video means less P2P use

      Has Keyboard Cat captivated you in 2009? You’re not the only one. Online video has continued to grow in popularity while P2P is on the decline, according to the latest data from Sandvine. The trend is good for both content producers and users alike.

    • DRM by any other name: The latest from Hollywood

      And, of course, once you’ve stored the video, it’s just not that hard to extract it. And it always will be. The challenge for Hollywood is to change the incentives of the game. Maybe sell me a flat-rate subscription. Maybe bundle it with my DSL provider. But make the experience compelling enough and cheap enough, and I’ll do it. I regularly extract video from my TiVo and copy it to my iPhone via third-party software. It’s practically painless and it happens to yield files that I could share with the world, but I don’t. Why? Because there’s real downside (I’d rather not get sued, thanks), and no particular upside.

    • Med students hoist P2P Jolly Roger to get access to papers

      A study provides evidence that file sharing takes place with some very specialized media: the research papers published in scientific journals.

Clip of the Day

Visit msnbc.com for Breaking News, World News, and News about the Economy

Jeremy Allison on “Why Free Software” (as Ogg)

Posted in Free/Libre Software, Google, Videos at 10:59 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: New video from Jeremy Allison, Samba (transcoded and posted here because some people want Ogg Theora)

Direct link


Jeremy was asked to take part in the Free Software Foundation’s video campaign entitled “I use Free Software, and I support Free Software”, which launches on Monday, and decided to do something targeted at Windows users, and salesman-like :-).

Ellen Ko spent half a day coaching him through “about 20 bloody takes, most of which were disastrous and ended up with me screaming into the camera after screwing it up one way or another.”

Free Software Sued by Red Bend, Patent Reform Called for Again

Posted in Apple, Europe, Free/Libre Software, Google, Law, Patents at 7:23 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Chrome logoSummary: Chrome comes under software patent attack, Apple to fight back against Nokia over patents, a new (if any) model for protectionism is needed

RED Bend, a patent-loving company that is located in the same city as Novell, has decided to sue Free software, or at least Google’s proprietarised version of it (Chrome is not Chromium, but Chromium too is affected by the lawsuit). This was covered by TechDirt, which also corrected some misinformed reporter.

Specifically, Red Bend claims that Google’s Chrome browser violates this patent by including an algorithm, called Courgette, that lets Google push compressed software updates. Of course, plenty of companies have come up with various ways to push compressed software updates over the years, so I’m at a loss as to why it requires a patent… but that’s a different issue. The problem here is the reporting on this lawsuit by Mass High Tech and reporter Galen Moore. First, he claims that this lawsuit suggests Google’s “open-source Chrome browser isn’t so open source after all.” Huh? I’ve read that sentence over and over again and I can’t figure out how a patent dispute would mean that Chrome isn’t open source. This kind of reporting suggests that a patent simply wipes out the type of license covering a software.

Interestingly enough, Red Bend does not even make Web browsers. It describes itself as “the leader in Mobile Software Management (MSM)” and speaking of mobiles, Apple is now responding to Nokia’s lawsuit:

Apple will “vigorously” defend itself against Nokia’s patent infringement suit, according to Cupertino’s SEC 10-K annual-report filing (PDF) issued Tuesday.

We previously wrote about this in [1, 2].

Anyway, this whole mess leads to wondering about the impact of software patents on advancement in science and technology. The patent system has reached the point where it achieves exactly the opposite of what it was set up to do. Copyrights should be sufficient. As a followup to this older piece, an editor at Information Week writes:

[C]opyright protection “is available only for a particular expression of an idea, not for the idea itself”–not for procedures, methods of operation, concepts, and principles, the stuff of thin software and business process patents.

Lora Bentley remarks on the above as follows:

When I talked to technology attorneys early this year regarding the patent system, most agreed that the system as it exists now is broken, but they all differed regarding how it should be fixed. Matthew Schantz, a partner in the Indianapolis-based law firm of Bingham McHale, told me in March that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office is underfunded and understaffed. That’s why the patent process takes so long and is often prohibitively expensive. On the other hand, Bruce Abramson sugggests neither copyright nor patent laws should apply to software, but that Congress should come up with a completely separate set of rights for intellectual property.

In Heise, a new article has just been published to establish a case against software patents.

Software evolved in a climate free of patents, but a relaxing of the rules by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has lowered the bar for patent claims. During the last two decades, thousands of software patents have been issued on business methods, data structures and process descriptions that take no account of how software is developed – and this effect has been enforced around the world through the auspices of the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) and the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

Because software deals in language and the expression of mathematical constructs and ideas, advocates of free software have argued that code should be treated in the same way as the written word, which is subject to copyright. Patents on software are, in effect, a tax on ideas. We are obliged to search and exclude the idea that someone else may have claimed ownership to, or pay the price for having the same idea. Eben Moglen of the Software Freedom Law Center (SFLC) takes the view that: “Software patenting has been a scourge in the global technology industries,” and that “computer programs should be as ineligible for patent protection as mathematical equations or precise descriptions of physical laws.”

It ought to be remembered that Heise is printed in a country where software patents are illegal.

“Small enterprises generally adopt a rather negative position towards the current increasing granting of patents for software and algorithms because they fear that these will hamper or eventually even impede their work (more than 85%).” —German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), Study of the Innovation Performance of German Software Companies, 2006, p. 86

Sun Microsystems and SirsiDynix Libel GNU/Linux and Free Software

Posted in Free/Libre Software, FUD, GNU/Linux, Kernel, SUN at 6:45 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Evil faces on pillar

Summary: Two companies are shown for their smears of Free software competitors, one using a leak (probably disgruntled employee) and another using a former employee

OUR READER David Gerard has found this new addition to Wikileaks. Titled “SirsiDynix Corp restricted lobby paper against Open Source technologies,” the paper contained therein shows an ongoing slander of Free software and it is summarised as follows:

This document was released only to a select number of existing customers of the company SirsiDynix, a proprietary library automation software vendor. It has not been released more broadly specifically because of the misinformation about open source software and possible libel per se against certain competitors contained therein.

SirsiDynix is currently embroiled in a lawsuit with one of the largest public libraries in the U.S. (Queens Borough, NY) and this document does illustrate the less-than-ethical nature of this company.
The source states that the document should be leaked so that everyone can see to what extent SirsiDynix will attempt to spread falsehoods and smear open source and the proponents of open source.

In other news, just two hours ago Pawel let us know that a former Sun employee (and one of the developers of ZFS) is spreading lies about GNU/Linux. We append the communication below for those who wish to read it in isolation.

Read the rest of this entry »

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