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11.27.09

Black Friday Film: What the Bill Gates-Backed Monsanto Does to Animals, Farmers, Food, and Patent Systems

Posted in Bill Gates, Patents, Videos at 9:11 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Stallman at protest
Richard Stallman at 2009 Munich protests against patents on pigs

Summary: Monsanto Patent for a Pig — the full programme

WE wrote about Monsanto’s patents before [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8] and here is a 1-hour programme about the subject.

Monsanto Patent for a Pig (Pt.1 of 5)

Monsanto Patent for a Pig (Pt.2 of 5)

Monsanto Patent for a Pig (Pt.3 of 5)

Monsanto Patent for a Pig (Pt.4 of 5)

Monsanto Patent for a Pig (Pt.5 of 5. End)

We have more coming soon because wallclimber works on something.

F-Spot (Mono) Can Still be Removed from Next Ubuntu

Posted in Astrum, GNOME, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Mono, Novell, Patents, Ubuntu at 8:06 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

F-Spot

Summary: Canonical at a crossroad after deciding to remove GIMP from the CD-ROM; potential replacements not finalised yet

THE DEMOTION of the GIMP in Ubuntu GNU/Linux is still being discussed and Mono folks choose to stay out of it, including one of the developers of F-Spot, Stephane Delcroix (see "Mono and GNOME 3.0".

Rumor has it that, during latest UDS, Ubuntu planned to drop Gimp from the default distro and the LiveCD. I won’t comment this decision as 1) I have no clue if that’s a rumor or more, 2) it was already commented too much, 3) I’m not a whiner, 4) there’s a rationale behind that decision and I think I understand it, 5) the full Gimp is only one apt-get away.

He says he “won’t comment [about] this decision,” but then he does comment about it.

According to this report, now is the chance to propose a Mono-free substitute.

This means that a complex program like The GIMP with its large amount of plugins and intimidating interface has been shown the door. A replacement graphics package has not yet been determined.

Canonical can add the latest gThumb [1, 2] and reduce/remove dependency on Mono.

In other news, Novell’s Sandy Armstrong puts Mono deeper inside Ubuntu (Ubuntu One) and Astrum has made this quick appearance in the OpenSUSE Web site.

On wednesday Will and me visited the Usability Symposium 2009 of the Network for User Oriented Software Design, a group which consists mainly of people from the Georg Simon Ohm University of Applied Sciences here in Nuernberg and people from local companies such as Astrum. It was the first symposium of this group and they gave three presentations about software usability.

For those who cannot or do not remember, Astrum sued Novell after Novell had stabbed it in the back (they were partners). Novell cannot be trusted. Neither can Mono/Microsoft.

“I saw that internally inside Microsoft many times when I was told to stay away from supporting Mono in public. They reserve the right to sue”

Robert Scoble, former Microsoft evangelist

Vista 7 Crashes on Certain Hardware, Stifles Samba Compatibility

Posted in Hardware, Interoperability, Microsoft, Samba, Vista, Vista 7, Windows at 7:30 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Vista 7 as text

Summary: Vista 7 has more of the same problems as its predecessor, Windows Vista, namely issues with compatibility

THE reality behind Vista 7 continues to unfold. Some weeks ago we showed that Intel P55 chipsets are not playing nice with Vista 7, which sometimes leads to freezes [1, 2]. More Intel issues are appearing, which completely prevent upgrades:

Windows 7 upgrades fail because of Intel driver

MICROSOFT MUST BE FURIOUS after software upgrades from Vista to Windows 7 failed on some machines because they had an Intel storage driver.

[...]

When people try to upgrade they get a an error messsage: “\$windows.~bt\windows\system32\drivers\iastor.sys. Status: 0xc0000359. Windows failed to load because a critical system driver is missing or corrupt.”

Compatibility issues, eh? It’s just like Vista all over again. Microsoft has also managed to break Samba compatibility/interoperability, according to the following report.

This time, with Windows 7, only half of Samba stops working.

It was the same with Vista (maybe worse), but Microsoft is now obliged by the EU not to mess things up.

Free Software Daily summarises this article by saying that “Bringing Windows 7 clients into your Linux network is exactly what the fine Samba server is made for. But every Windows release comes with new interop roadblocks, and Windows 7 is no exception. Charlie Schluting shows how to get past the latest ones.

Jeremy Allison’s recent Samba powwow with the SFLC covers some of these issues that are associated with compatibility, as well as great revelations and insights. When Jeremy Allison spoke to FLOSS Weekly two years ago, he said that had heard Microsoft tells its programmers to “f*ck with Samba”. In the newer show from last week he sets apart programmers and managers.

“What we are trying to do is use our server control to do new protocols and lock out Sun and Oracle specifically”

Bill Gates

FSFE and Others Denounce Latest Microsoft-inspired FUD Against GNU/Linux and Free Software

Posted in Antitrust, Europe, Free/Libre Software, FUD, GNU/Linux, Microsoft at 6:52 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Estonia's flag

Summary: Siim Kallas’ latest smear of Free software invites several factual responses; Jason Hiner’s new attack on GNU/Linux put in perspective

LAST WEEK we wrote about the European Commission’s vice president, Siim Kallas [1, 2]. He is too close to Microsoft and he even gives talks at Microsoft events, aside from his meetings with the company’s CEO. We also mentioned Kallas in the context of Microsoft under [1, 2] when he sheltered lobbyists.

Regardless of whose pockets Kallas is in, the Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE) has just responded to his FUD. The full text is appended at the bottom, but here are some parts that are worth highlighting:

On this background, recent remarks by Siim Kallas, the European Commission’s Vice President in charge of administration, show a worrying lack of awareness of Open Standards and Free Software in parts of the Commission. In a high-level press conference (Flash) on November 19 in Malmö, Sweden, Kallas said that he considered Free Software a problem for “business continuity”. He likened Free Software to a Wikipedia article, saying that “in Wikipedia text, you see that there are brackets and footnotes, that information should be confirmed, or should be checked [...], and if you use open source, if you use the same logic in operational things, you must have certainty what will happen next.”

FSFE is deeply concerned about these remarks. “Mr Kallas is badmouthing a whole sector of the European IT economy”, says Gerloff. “Either Mr Kallas is actively hostile to Free Software and Open Standards, or he is entirely ignorant about them. Both is simply not justifiable in a Vice President of the European Commission in charge of the EC’s administration.”

Kallas is also being denounced by Glyn Moody, who just like the FSFE does not seem to be aware of the Microsoft connections.

This kind of linguistic misunderstanding about the implications of openness wouldn’t matter too much were it not for the fact that this particular Estonian is Siim Kallas, vice president of the European Commission: for someone so senior to have such a confused idea about what open standards involve, is potentially highly damaging for IT in Europe.

Someone like Kallas could learn from his home country about proprietary insecurity. The entire nation was pounded by Microsoft Windows zombies. And in fact, just a short while ago the Estonian government chose to liberate (make Free software) part of the entire country’s Internet infrastructure. From OSOR, going back a few days:

An Estonian government project to safeguard the country’s Internet infrastructure will publish some of the tools it is developing as open source, using the European Union Public Licence (EUPL).

We append more links about Estonia’s Windows attack at the bottom of this post.

As a related notification, many readers asked for a response to Jason Hiner’s latest attack on GNU/Linux, but that would only feed a man who is admittedly an admirer of Microsoft. His attacks on GNU/Linux are nothing new (there are many prior examples). His glorification of Gates and his club is easily proven, by his previous admissions.

We decided to do a shallow search on background and almost immediately it brought up the obvious. Watch his LinkedIn profile (in full):

Jason Hiner’s Honors:

Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP) 2009
Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP) 2008
Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP) 2007
Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP) 2006
Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP) 2005
Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP) 2004
Cisco Certified Networking Associate (CCNA)
Microsoft Ceritified Systems Engineer (MCSE)
Microsoft Certified Professional + Internet (MCP+I)
CompTIA Network+
CompTIA i-Net+
Sterling Sentinel Journalism Scholarship

No more comments are needed then. Hiner is an extension of the Microsoft culture, sharing the same financial interests as Microsoft. We have given countless examples of such MVPs before, as the site’s archives will show. Hiner is also a colleague of George Ou and other such Microsoft ‘attack dogs’ that are typically seen as Microsoft's pseudo-journalists.


FSFE: EC caves in to proprietary lobbyists on interoperability

Free Software industry criticises remarks by Commission’s Vice President Siim Kallas

The European Commission (EC) has given in to the demands of lobbyists for Microsoft and SAP when it revised a key document on interoperability between electronic government services. The Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE) has analysed the evolution of a new version of the European Interoperability Framework (EIF), showing that Commission has based its work on the input of the Business Software Alliance (BSA), a lobby group for proprietary software vendors, and ignored the voices of a large part of the European software industry. At the same time, remarks by the EC’s Vice President about Free Software point to a worrying lack of awareness within the Commission.

A draft for a revision of the European Interoperability Framework (EIF) leaked to the press earlier this month. Whereas the earlier version of the document strongly supports the use of Free Software and Open Standards in the public sector, the new text only carries a meaningless description of an “openness continuum”, which absurdly enough includes proprietary specifications.

FSFE has tracked how key parts of the revised European Interoperability Framework have evolved over time. A version of the document was the basis of a public consultation in the summer of 2008. FSFE’s analysis shows in detail how from this basis, the views of the BSA lobby group have influenced the present draft of the text. At the same time, the European Commission has ignored comments by companies, groups and individuals in favour of Open Standards and Free Software.

“The European Commission must not make itself the tool of particular interests. The current draft is unacceptable, and so is the total lack of transparency in the process that has led to this text,” says Karsten Gerloff, FSFE’s President.

On this background, recent remarks by Siim Kallas, the European Commission’s Vice President in charge of administration, show a worrying lack of awareness of Open Standards and Free Software in parts of the Commission. In a high-level press conference (Flash) on November 19 in Malmö, Sweden, Kallas said that he considered Free Software a problem for “business continuity”. He likened Free Software to a Wikipedia article, saying that “in Wikipedia text, you see that there are brackets and footnotes, that information should be confirmed, or should be checked [...], and if you use open source, if you use the same logic in operational things, you must have certainty what will happen next.”

“Elmar Geese, Chair of Linux-Verband, a German association of Free Software businesses with 80 members, shows himself surprised at Mr Kallas’ remarks.”FSFE is deeply concerned about these remarks. “Mr Kallas is badmouthing a whole sector of the European IT economy”, says Gerloff. “Either Mr Kallas is actively hostile to Free Software and Open Standards, or he is entirely ignorant about them. Both is simply not justifiable in a Vice President of the European Commission in charge of the EC’s administration.”

Elmar Geese, Chair of Linux-Verband, a German association of Free Software businesses with 80 members, shows himself surprised at Mr Kallas’ remarks. “We do not know who advised Mr Kallas to say these things. To me, this sounds like the propaganda of fear, uncertainty and doubt from 10 years ago. We invite Mr Kallas to inform himself about the Free Software industry. I am sure this will change his mind.”

Jan Wildeboer, Red Hat EMEA Evangelist, rejects Kallas’ remarks. “Compared to many proprietary alternatives, Free Software shows that it not only saves money but also delivers high quality solutions. The use of Free Software in mission-critical environments all over the world is proof of its quality.”

Such statements from the EC give a boost to the critics of the new version of the EIF. FSFE argues that the original EIF has served well as a guideline to the European public sector. Even though it is only a recommendation, it has become an important reference in Europe and beyond. If it needs to be revised, the new document should improve interoperability through reliance on Open Standards, rather than promote proprietary software and specifications. The Commission should go back to the consultation document and work from there, making sure that this time comments from all sides are properly addressed.

Red Hat’s Wildeboer shares the criticism: “It is good to see that EIFv2 is under more scrutiny now. We need a strong focus on interoperability based on Open Standards. The leaked draft version shows how a lack of transparency can hurt that goal. Now is the time to ask some serious questions. I fully trust the Commission to reinstate the goals of EIFv1. Open Standards and Open Specifications are key to interoperability.”

FSFE’s President Karsten Gerloff argues: “If the Member States of the European Union want to preserve the credibility of European institutions, they should reject the current draft of the EIF. Instead, they should help the Commission to build a better one that puts Open Standards front and centre.”

Verbatim copying and distribution of this entire article is permitted in any medium, provided this notice is preserved.

________
[1] Estonian DDoS attacks “highly organised” but spontaneous

Such a confederation was identified in the case of the Dark OwneD Mafia cracker network, 110760 five of whom were recently arrested in Spain. It might indeed explain why only one person has so far been prosecuted in connection with the Estonian attacks.

[2] Estonia announces public procurement for additional ID-card development

The development brings ID-card software to Mac OS and to the majority of the Linux distributions. For Linux EIC aims to get it into the installation packages.

[3] Another Estonia Cyberattack

The attack, which ended Tuesday, was minimally disruptive, according to Hillar Aarelaid, manager of Estonia’s Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT). He described it as an “ordinary DDOS” (distributed denial of service) attack in which the news agency’s servers were flooded with Internet traffic, in an attempt to crash them.

[4] Bush, Estonian president talk cyberattacks

“When you are a highly Interneted [sic] country like we are, then these kinds of attacks can do very serious damage.”

[5] EU should class cyber attacks as terrorism: Estonia

Estonia will propose at a meeting of European Union justice ministers next week that the bloc consider cyber attacks as “acts of terror”, Estonian Justice Minister Rein Lang said Thursday.

Did Bill Gates Really Compare Law Enforcement to Fascism?

Posted in Antitrust, Bill Gates, Europe, Microsoft, Quote at 5:49 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“The government is not trying to destroy Microsoft, it’s simply seeking to compel Microsoft to obey the law. It’s quite revealing that Mr. Gates equates the two.”

Government official

Summary: A look back at an outrageous quote whose authenticity we are trying to confirm

CAN anyone help find the original source where the following statement was made?

Bill Gates is quoted as saying: “The U.S. couldn’t even get rid of Saddam Hussein. And we all know that the EU is just a passing fad. They’ll be killing each other again in less than a year. I’m sick to death of all these fascist lawsuits.

“By that definition, Microsoft would be a manifestation of fascism.”Is this a legitimate, real quote? In the next post we will show how Microsoft's cronies in the EU Commission are turning the tide.

Is it not funny that the US, along with Asian countries, have filed similar lawsuits and found Microsoft guilty of violating the law? It’s not an “EU” thing and it it not a “passing fad”. Just what is it that makes “fascism”? According to a US president, that’s when business controls the government or is inherently the government (former staff moving back and forth). By that definition, Microsoft would be a manifestation of fascism. How hypocritical a statement from Gates.

Direct link to deposition video | Full set of the deposition videos (including Ogg Theora versions)

Study: Intellectual Monopolies (Patents) Vastly Dominated by… the Monopolies

Posted in Europe, IBM, Intellectual Monopoly, Law, Microsoft, Patents at 5:32 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

EPO backlash

Summary: A not-so-overly-alarmist reminder of how monopolies are taking over society using self-serving laws and establishments, including the patent office

WE frequently repeat the fact that the patent system benefits monopolies, patent trolls, and lawyers who are sometimes patent trolls too*. Somebody has just shared nice new proof (a study) that agrees with what we showed before — that there is increasing concentration of power in the US patent system, meaning that very few powerful companies devise it as a protectionist measure to prevent market entry by competitors.

The findings of this study are summarised by Justin Gray, an intellectual monopoly assistant for Foley & Lardner LLP (those who help one scientist or patent troll fight with another scientist for profit, mostly by lawyers). It’s summarised as: “Top 150 “Customers”: Increasing Domination of the Patent System”

This implies that it keeps getting worse. An accompanying presentation which covers this study can be found here [PDF]. Gray prepared/delivered it jointly with Harold Wegner just a few days ago.

Slide 3 says:

Increasing Concentration

Within the coming decade it may be estimated that just 150 companies will account for 50% of all American patents granted, while just the top ten companies will soon account for 20 %  of all patents granted

Right now, more than 40% of all patents are said to have been granted to the top 100 among those awarded. Tough luck, eh? Well, maybe that’s just how this system is supposed to work. After all, IBM is happy about it and Microsoft disliked the system (when it was still a small company), later describing itself as an IP champion and singing praises of patents (when it became a monopoly that sneakily gained ownership of other people’s ideas).

Glyn Moody shares this new piece which has just been published in The Guardian (UK). Going under “The Manchester Manifesto”, the key message expressed there is that “science is shackled by intellectual property”

The myth is that IP rights are as important as our rights in castles, cars and corn oil. IP is supposedly intended to encourage inventors and the investment needed to bring their products to the clinic and marketplace. In reality, patents often suppress invention rather than promote it: drugs are “evergreened” when patents are on the verge of running out – companies buy up the patents of potential rivals in order to prevent them being turned into products. Moreover, the prices charged, especially for pharmaceuticals, are often grossly in excess of those required to cover costs and make reasonable profits.

IP rights are beginning to permeate every area of scientific endeavour. Even in universities, science and innovation, which have already been paid for out of the public purse, are privatised and resold to the public via patents acquired by commercial interests. The drive to commercialise science has overtaken not only applied research but also “blue-skies” research, such that even the pure quest for knowledge is subverted by the need for profit.

Digital Colonisation

Leila Deen and Lord Mandelson
“Business secretary Peter Mandelson is slimed by an environmental protestor outside the Royal Society on Carlton House Terrace, Pall Mall after allegations of ‘favours for friends’ over the Heathrow third runway decision” [Courtesy of "Plane Stupid", via Wikimedia]

A similar trend seems to be occurring in the field of copyright, which in turn stifles art and creativity. According to this, Mandelson may be violating the Magna Carta (think about the US Constitution for parallels).

Again, the Secretary of State can make anyone do anything, or pay anything, without due process, preserving livelihood, lawful judgment. It’s the exact opposite of the ‘anything by which any part of these concessions or liberties might be revoked or diminished’ being ‘null and void and we will at no time make use of it’ clause.

I’m not a lawyer, but I’ll take the drafting of Geoffrey de Mandeville and the other 24 Barons from 1215 over Peter Mandelson and Sion Simon.

For a thorough legal discussion, read Lillian Edwards post, then sign the petition and join the Open Rights Group.

According to The Register, there may also be a violation of EU law in this particular bill.

The Government’s Digital Economy Bill could be in breach of EU laws, according to an internet law expert. Professor Lilian Edwards has also warned that the Bill could make it impossible to operate a free wireless network legally.

Mandelson’s Digital Economy Bill is being slammed by Cory Doctorow, who rightly argues that Mandelson defends the analogue age with such an outrageous bill. From The Guardian:

There’s a lot to hate about Peter Mandelson’s controversial Digital Economy Bill, but there’s one provision that perfectly captures the absolute, reality-denying absurdity of the whole enterprise. That titbit is the provision that holds the Bill’s most drastic measures in reserve, only to be used if Britain’s illegal filesharing doesn’t drop off by 70% within a year of the main part of the Bill coming into force.

Also in The Guardian we find this reasonable article about the situation that the British government is in. It is too deep in the pockets of the ‘content’ industry (Luddites), which treats individual people as “naughty consumers” who deserve to be repressed.

ISPs disagree with content companies and government over where the costs of prevention should fall. Last month, BT and Carphone Warehouse, TalkTalk’s parent, estimated policing broadband would cost about £2 a line a month. The latest estimate from the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills (which is piloting the bill through Parliament) is lower – in the region of £3 to £10 a notification (ISPs think the number is closer to the lower of those).

The billionaires behind intellectual monopolies are clearly fighting against the people. They use crooked politicians to get their way. People must unite and fight back against intellectual monopolies, or else we may all return to neo-feudalism, in the digital sense. The ACTA makes it an international issue by canceling borders [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13].
____
* They discovered that patent trolling is profitable too, just like Haliburton found out that war — not just oil — can be exceptionally profitable. The “father of patent” trolling, Ray Niro, was a lawyer [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8].

Links 27/11/2009: New GNU/Linux Releases, Wikipedia Hit by FUD

Posted in News Roundup at 2:06 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • How to Fix Your Relatives’ Terrible Computer

    Ubuntu Live CD or Knoppix Live CD: Both are Linux distributions, but we’re just using them because they run on most kinds of hardware without installing, and can transfer the files you need to your backup media. Ubuntu should work; if it doesn’t, give Knoppix a go. You can use the free tool UNetBootin to transfer the ISO you downloaded to a thumb drive, which is necessary if you’re backing up to DVDs, and recommended in any case to speed things up.

  • Google

    • First Look at Google Chrome OS — Extensions, Options and More

      As far as the first question, Chrome OS is for someone like me — someone who spends 98% of their day in a browser. Or it could be for everyone else, provided they use it in the manner intended. Is it meant to replace a daily operating system for most people? No more so than a netbook would be a replacement for a high-powered workstation. It’s simply not that kind of tool. Chrome OS is intended for quick access to the web on a portable notebook-like companion device. Think of it as the environment and device you’d go to when you don’t want to boot up a full OS but you want a larger screen and keyboard than your smartphone has.

    • Let’s explore a little more: home clouds

      Google’s Chrome OS is stirring up a lot of discussion and last time we talked, I looked at it from the public cloud end. This time, what are the possibilities with home clouds?

    • Epiphany, take a seat. Chromium, you’re up.

      There’s also one killer feature to Chrome’s add-ons. You don’t need to close Chrome to get the benefits of an extension. Yep, you can use a new extension as soon as it’s installed. The same goes for enabling/disabling an add-on. I seem to remember hearing that other browsers can do that (I know Epiphany can), but Chrome/Chromium kicks Firefox’s tail on this count.

  • Kernel Space

    • Kernel Log: Coming in 2.6.32 (Part 5) – Architecture code, memory management, virtualisation and tracing

      The forthcoming kernel version will support Intel’s Moorestown platform, SFI – the alternative to ACPI, and the Trusted Execution Technology, which used to be called “LaGrande Technology”. If required, the new KSM can now reduce memory loads by combining identical memory content in virtual machines. The new kernel also includes Timechart, a new tool for visualising what’s going on in the system and kernel.

    • Again, Linux is not an OS

      This brings me back to something I wrote earlier this year: Linux is not an OS. Besides the typical point that Linux is just the kernel my basic point was that what we typically call “Linux” is not really a single coherent operating system, but rather a framework for developing them or an ecosystem which spawns them. I instead opt to call specific distributions as operating systems rather than all of Linux, whatever that may include.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments

    • We Don’t Really Want Innovation

      I can see how it is very frustrating for a developers out there. The public clamors for innovation, but when you give it to them, they balk at the differences from what they’re used to. I think this is why the word innovation is beginning to lose its meaning from overuse in marketing materials. We claim to want one thing, but want another. It’d be easier if we just said what we wanted, but I don’t think most people realize they don’t want innovation until they are faced with it and want to crawl back to the familiar. I’m hoping the Gnome developers can have the resolve to see their innovation through. They should do their best and people should give it a shot. If there truly aren’t any benefits and if it truly sucks – we can go back to the old style. Otherwise maybe we’ll be the next thing Microsoft and Apple copy.

  • Distributions

    • Linux Text Processing using Damn Small Linux

      Damn Small Linux can be an excellent tool for learning Linux commands and running the Linux operating system. But what if you are not interested in becoming a computer nerd; can this software still be useful to regular people? The answer is a resounding yes; you can make use of this tiny operating system whether or not you want to learn the sometimes gruesome details of operating systems. This article introduces the text editors that come with your free Damn Small Linux that runs on even obsolete Windows computers. You can use these applications to compose simple text or programs of any level of complexity.

    • From Ubuntu… to Gentoo..? No, to Debian!

      Instead of moving to Gentoo, I will move to Debian, which I’m already familiar with, but with an interesting idea. My idea is to compile my kernel (get the latest stable release from Kernel.org), then I would like to compile my Desktop Environment, which will be XFCE. If I do all of this, I should have then an efficient system. What happens with the applications? Easy, if I see that I need special good performance on a program, then I shall go and compile it from the sources. What if not? Then use “apt-get”, as always.

    • Mandriva 2010 – I mean … Wow!

      Autumn in the Northern Hemisphere is a happy time. Lots of fresh Linux distribution releases coming out, all ready for plucking and testing. Mandriva 2010 is one of those. Debuting two weeks ago, it has drawn many, mainly positive reviews, sparking intrigue and a desire to take it for a spin. The previous version, Mandriva 2009 was a decent distro, with some small issues here and there; overall it behaved nicely and gave the average desktop user a solid, unique package. So the big question for me is, what does Mandriva 2010 bring to the table?

      [...]

      It does not have the openSUSE corporate-leaning class or the Ubuntu userbase, but for the desktop user like you and me, it’s everything you could ask for. I’m genuinely pleased and surprised. Mandriva 2010 is a keeper.

    • New Releases

    • Red Hat Family

      • Ubuntu User on Fedora 12: Using It and Liking It

        I find Fedora 12 fast and responsive. It loads quickly and after it is set up it seems stable. I can find most of the applications that I use and there are many online resources to assist me with setting up my system. So far, I have installed KDE 4 and GNOME and like the look and feel of both. The community has been helpful but quite a bit smaller than what I am used to. I expect to write more about Fedora in the future.

    • Debian Family

      • Less blogging about Ubuntu – (Funny) Howto

        The story for the first article is “I bought a SSD and Ubuntu is faster on it”. Good for you. Now, on Linux you can really alter the system to take advantage of a peculiar device, so I suggested three things to try: disabling the readahead service, any re-ordering IO scheduler and try some filesystem that has optimizations for flash memory, in a one-line comment.
        The day after the guy has a whole new post about optimizations for a SSD. Hilarious. Also, since the filesystem suggestion required too much effort, he puts in the evergreen noatime mount option instead. That’s less than 24 hours of condensed experience for the world!
        Clearly the tweakings suggested are done in the worst possible way and upgrades will undo them.

        Surely there is a lot of this kind of blogging and the magic word seems to be “Ubuntu“, possibly the latest release.

Free Software/Open Source

  • Apache

    • Apache Incubator: Extraordinary Made Ordinary, the Subversion case

      Few days ago Subversion has been submitted to the Apache Incubator, a move praised by many as the natural fit for both projects, both for technical reasons (Apache projects use Subversion, Subversion relies on many Apache projects) and a shared vision about IP (same license) and community governance (same voting process).

  • Freedom

    • I was afraid of worms, Roxanne!

      A word like “freedom” has a fairly short dictionary definition, but you can see that much has been written on different meanings of freedom. That is, as a word it has a wide coverage, which then needs a great deal of talking about to pin down again. Consider Wikipedia’s freedom (philosophy) and freedom (political). Those articles are actually fairly short. I wonder why? And of course we know that “the Four Freedoms” can mean only one thing. Oh, wait .. it doesn’t. I never knew there was a disambiguation page even for that.

    • Open letter to Nexon

      Nexon having developed in part “Counter-Strike: Online”, have knowledge of the GoldSrc engine, which is based on id Software’s Quake engine. With this recent history of gaming engines, the developers must be aware of the decision by id Software to license the Quake engine under the GNU GPL. I am proposing the developers and those in charge of licensing consider making the same decision. As Combat Arms licensed under the GNU GPL would benefit Nexon greatly in the long term.

  • Mozilla

    • Mozilla Jetpack Design Challenge Extended

      Jetpacks are basically add-ons for Mozilla Firefox that are written in HTML, JavaScript, and CSS. They’re meant to be easier to write and deploy for Web designers than standard Firefox extensions that can involve needing to know Mozilla’s XUL, too. While Mozilla has tons of people writing add-ons for Firefox, the group of people who know standard Web development is far larger than the group that know (or want to learn) XUL.

  • Government

    • NICTA Speech: Government 2.0 – Co-designing A Better Democracy

      Open source software as an example of another, often less thought of opportunity for open and transparent government is through the tools we choose to use. Software underpins almost everything we do, whether it be for work, play or creative endeavour. To be able to scrutinise software – to see the human readable instructions and trust it has, if you will – becomes almost a democratic issue, for many in the technology community.

      [...]

      So we consider that the time is now right to build on our record of fairness and achievement and to take further positive action to ensure that Open Source products are fully and fairly considered throughout government IT; to ensure that we specify our requirements and publish our data in terms of Open Standards; and that we seek the same degree of flexibility in our commercial relationships with proprietary software suppliers as are inherent in the open source world.

    • SE: Losing vendor dependence helps Swedish police save 20 million

      The Swedish National Police Board (SNPB) estimates to save about 20 million euro in the next five years by switching to open source application servers, open source database servers and standard computer server hardware, according to a case study published by the Open Source Observatory and Repository.

  • Openness

    • Why not open flu data?

      In interesting thread keeps popping up in The Globe’s reporting on H1N1. As you examine the efforts of the federal and provincial governments to co-ordinate their response to the crisis only one thing appears to be more rare than the vaccine itself: information.

      For example, on Nov. 11, Patrick Brethour reported that “The premiers resolved to press the federal government to give them more timely information on vaccine supplies during their own conference call last Friday. Health officials across Canada have expressed frustration that Ottawa has been slow to inform them about how much vaccine provinces and territories will get each week.”

    • Cfree Takes an Open Source Approach to Telescope Development

      The components of a standard reflecting telescope haven’t changed much since Issac Newton built the first one more than 300 years ago — it’s still essentially mirrors in a tube. As the technology behind telescope development and construction advances, however, so does the expense of building them. Cfree is a new project aimed at using open source principles to make reflector technology more accessible to — and less expensive for — the scientific community.

    • Wither Wikipedia?

      Putting aside all criticism, I do have this bit of advice. The Wikimedia Foundation ought to post a few snapshot copies of Wikipedia from the last few years, warts and all. If Wikipedia’s quality declines, at least the world will still have some “not too bad” Wikipedia articles to view. I have always maintained that Wikipedia is tremendously useful, and it would be a shame if there were not some “canonical” versions of the resource that we could consult.

    • Wikipedia denies mass exodus of editors

      Wikipedia has disputed claims that it has lost a huge number of editors that help maintain the online encyclopaedia.

    • How To Organize A Mapping Party

      We had a mapping party at NIT Calicut recently. After the first day of the event I shared some ideas to make such mapping parties better with GeoHackers team.

      [...]

      Maps are created at this stage. The data we have mined are ordered, analyzed, and tagged. We need to make sure that all the team follows a naming convention or comment. The coordinator should watch for over marking / mis-marking of the same location. Once the data is properly tagged, it is time to upload it to the OSM server.

Leftovers

  • Cell is no longer HPC material

    Notwithstanding all of this, the future of the Cell processor is uncertain. It hasn’t made a hit with consumer electronics devices as Toshiba and Sony had promised, and the encroachment of GPGPU processing definitely throws a spanner in the works.

  • Police State

  • UK Surveillance Society

    • Alan Johnson on DNA retention – a quick fisk

      The Home Secretary Alan Johnson has today written a short defence of the practice of retaining innocent DNA on the national database for six years. You can read the article in full on the Guardian Comment is Free, but we thought we’d pick out a few choice cuts and show why his reasoning is faulty, unreferenced and internally inconsistent.

      “The most recent research supports the case for the retention of DNA profiles of those arrested but not convicted. It also shows that, after six years, the probability of re-arrest is no higher than for the rest of the population.”

      [...]

      The Minister quotes several cases in which the DNA evidence was critical in securing convictions, but we all know that the police frequently solve crimes committed by people who have never given a sample. Yet again this is a policy driven by political expediency, research we can’t read and the desire to be ‘seen to be doing something’ with little consideration of the wider consequences.

    • Street Artist Cautioned and DNA taken

      Prolific and talented street artist Nathan Bowen was formally cautioned by the City of London police on 17th November for causing £100 worth of “damage” to building boards in the City of London. He spent two hours at
      Snowhill police station being cautioned and having his DNA taken.

    • A Proportionate Response to “Proportionate”

      It’s the ultimate argument-killer when people raise the big issues like liberty to defend themselves from ever-more intrusive “security” legislation – which strangely always turns out to be “surveillance” of the little people like you and me. Yes, it seems to say, you’re right, this *is* a tricky one, but we must find a compromise “to balance all these factors”, as Alan Johnson puts it. And the way we do that is by making a *proportionate* response.

    • IAB and Pinsent Masons try to confuse the public over new cookie rules

      IAB and Struan Robertson from Pinsent Masons (among others with a vested interest) are all over the press today claiming that the ammendments to Article 5(3) of Directive 2002/58/EC allow companies to continue to use Opt-Out. But today they have stooped to new levels of delivering misinformation.

      They claim that the new rules state that cookie management can be done through the browser (such as Firefox or Internet Explorer) and hark this as a triumph both for industry and consumers. Unfortunately for them, their claims are utter rubbish and Commissioner Reding has been quick to issue a clarifying statement to the press this morning

    • The Emperor’s Codes: The Breaking of Japan’s Secret Ciphers

      lso, just like in today’s GSM (A5/1) crypto attacks, even back then the importance of known plaintext could not be underestimated. The verbosity of Japanese soldiers addressing a superior officer and the stereotypical nature of reports on weather or troop movements gave the cryptographers plenty of known plaintext for many of their intercepted message.

      What was also new to me is the fact that the British even back then demanded that Cable+Wireless provides copies of all telegraphs through their network. And that’s some 70-80 years before data retention on communications networks becomes a big topic ;)

  • Environment

    • World Oil Production Forecast – Update November 2009

      World oil production peaked in July 2008 at 74.74 million barrels/day (mbd) and now has fallen to about 72 mbd. It is expected that oil production will decline at about 2.2 mbd per year as shown below in the chart. The forecasts from the IEA WEO 2008 and 2009 are shown for comparison. The IEA 2009 forecast has dropped significantly lower than the 2008 forecast. The IEA 2009 forecast also shows a slight decline from 2009 to 2012 implying that the IEA possibly agrees that world oil peaked in July 2008.

    • Because As We All Know, The Green Party Runs the World.

      Now. In what can hardly be a coincidence, just a few weeks before the Copenhagen summit the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia got hacked. The sixty-odd megabytes of confidential e-mails that ended up littering the whole damn internet either a) blew the lid off a global conspiracy to fake the global warming crisis, or b) lay there in a big sludgy pile of boring communications about birthdays, conference meet-ups, and whether or not Poindexter over at Cal State was going to be allowed into the tree fort this year. Judging by the criteria I described at the top of the post, I should just stick my fingers in my ears and hum loudly until the current shitstorm abates.

    • Statement from Professor Trevor Davies, Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Research

      The publication of a selection of the emails and data stolen from the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) has led to some questioning of the climate science research published by CRU and others. There is nothing in the stolen material which indicates that peer-reviewed publications by CRU, and others, on the nature of global warming and related climate change are not of the highest-quality of scientific investigation and interpretation. CRU’s peer-reviewed publications are consistent with, and have contributed to, the overwhelming scientific consensus that the climate is being strongly influenced by human activity.

  • Finance

    • What was really behind last year’s market crash?

      There was, however, another factor that played an important role: the enormous incentive packages that many traders and senior executives on Wall Street received. Once the credit bubble got started, the men who ran the biggest financial institutions in America were determined to surf it, regardless of the risks involved. Because from where they sat, and given the financial incentives they faced, pursuing any other strategy would have been irrational.

    • Tibet thrown under the bus

      First, because of the American debt to Beijing, they have the power to force the issue. Up to this point, American presidents had artfully dodged the issue. In 1986, President Reagan signed a piece of minor trade legislation he might not have read that included the acknowledgement of Beijing’s rights to Tibet. But no American president, until now, had been forced to walk the plank in public.

Digital Tipping Point: Clip of the Day

Michael Shaw, community reporter for Assigment Zero 03 (2007)


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

GNU/Linux Gaming on 8 Monitors (Video)

Posted in GNU/Linux, Videos at 11:48 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

…and they say “Linux is not for games”

Summary: A demonstration from last year of the power of GNU/Linux


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