Links 17/12/2009: Many Mint Reviews, MySQL Update

Posted in News Roundup at 4:07 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



  • [Linux share]

    Top five operating systems used to visit PC Pro on 15 December:

    1. Windows XP 46.6%

    2. Windows 7 14.5%

    3. Windows Vista 13.7%

    4. Mac OS X 9.1%

    5. Linux 7.2%

  • Events

    • SCALE 8X Presenters Announced But There’s Room For More

      Even though the call for papers deadline doesn’t end until December 24, 2010, organizers for the 8th annual Southern California Linux Expo have announced a partial list of presenters for the February, 2010, event. Although more slots will be filled in the coming week, a variety of experts in the FOSS industry are already slated to be on hand to talk about everything from the KDE4 desktop environment to what’s happening with the development of mobile open source platform Moblin.

    • Exciting Speaker Schedule for Camp KDE 2010

      The schedule for Camp KDE 2010 has just been published! The event will be taking place in sunny San Diego at the University of California, San Diego from January 15th-22nd, 2010. Registration is free and there are still some space left for attendees so sign up right away if you’re interested in attending.

  • Desktop

    • My job is to make you happy. About using Linux. UPDATED

      I’ve convinced a few people to use Linux and most of them don’t hate me, but most of them were masochistic geeks who were probably going to use Linux anyway. But there are three people who are pretty important to me who are now using Linux because of me, but who otherwise would not likely have ever used Linux, and who are not masochistic geeks. The whole idea of Linux being “grandmother ready” now takes on new meaning for me.

    • Linux and the Mysterious Netbook-to-Desktop Gap

      Then came Exhibit B — specifically, predictions out of the recent Netbook World Summit in Paris that Linux will dominate in ARM-powered laptops next year. Furthermore, such machines are expected to take over a significant share of the overall laptop market.

      Not even the strongest eggnog can beat declarations like that for lifting a Linux geek’s spirits!

    • How I switched to Linux

      I was doing Win-Lin dual boot for some time. By reading various stuff, I got to know that there are many distributions. I’ve used Kubuntu, Edubuntu, Mandriva, Puppy, Knoppix and PCLinuxOS 2007. But none of them were able to suit me like Ubuntu did. I know, it’s psychology,… the first impression with the meaning of the word “Ubuntu” — humanity; it simply didn’t let me run away.

    • Geek Squad Wouldn’t Honor My Netbook’s Protection Plan

      An anonymous reader said a Best Buy manager refused to replace his broken laptop and threw him out of the store twice when he tried to argue. The reader had even gone so far as to purchase an $80 extended warranty. He writes:

      I’ve seen examples of Best Buy’s poor service on the Consumerist, but what I faced last weekend at the [redacted] Best Buy in [redacted] blows them all out of the water.

      My four month-old netbook’s touchpad and power adapter all stopped working. I took the machine into Best Buy for service under the Geek Squad’s Black Tie Protection Plan on Saturday, and demonstrated its problems. The manager of the Geek Squad informed me that installing Ubuntu Linux on my machine voided my warranty, and that I could only have it serviced if the original Windows installation was restored. Furthermore, he insisted that the touchpad and power adapter had been broken because I installed Linux. Another employee ridiculed me for insisting that Linux couldn’t cause a hardware issue, saying “Sure, I don’t know anything, I just work for Geek Squad!” The entire department was hostile, acting as if I was now a problem rather than a customer. I waited at the desk to see the store manager, who gave the impression that if I reinstalled windows I could return the computer.

      That night, I bought an external CD drive, dug out the system restore disc for the netbook, and reinstalled Windows.

    • Why you should not pay for extended warranty if you use Linux

      I have read a rather sad story today. Apparently the Best Buy Geeks squad refused to service the machine of someone who had purchased an $80 extended warranty for its netbook just because he had installed Ubuntu Linux. This story not only shows how best Best Buy’s Geeks squad is far from having anything even close to the technical knowledge of a geek, but also raises 2 other questions: are extended warranties worth it, and are Linux consumers correctly protected in the US? Let’s dig into these two rather important questions.

  • Server

    • [Review] OpenBlock S600, a powerful server in the palm of your hand

      Entirely made in Japan, the OpenBlockS600 may not feature the most exciting design ever made to mankind, but who would argue that design for this kind of a product is important? After all, what we want and need here is something extremely reliable, easy to handle and rock solid… And believe me, the OpenBlockS600 is ALL of those in one tiny white aluminum box.

    • InfoWorld review: Desktop virtualization for Windows and Linux heats up

      Desktop virtualization is one of those technologies that confound the experts. Just when you think you’ve got it figured out, along comes some interloping development to upset the apple cart. Most recently, that role has fallen to Sun’s VirtualBox, the plucky open source VM solution that’s quickly gobbling up the general-purpose desktop virtualization space left vacant by Microsoft and VMware. Users from the three major platforms — Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux — are flocking to VirtualBox for its scalability, robust networking, and bargain price point (it’s free).

    • Storage Highlights of 2009
  • Kernel Space

    • ALSA 1.0.22 Released With Plenty Of Changes

      There are plenty of changes with ALSA 1.0.22 but among them are continued work on the CMI8788 Oxygen APU, a few fixes for the Creative X-Fi sound card support that was introduced this year, numerous improvements to the HDA and HDA Intel drivers, and countless improvements to other Linux kernel audio drivers and codecs.

    • Graphics Stack

      • Radeon HDMI Audio Set For Linux 2.6.33 Kernel

        We still may see power management patches for the ATI kernel driver arrive in time for 2.6.33, but being called for a pull into the mainline kernel this morning is the long-awaited HDMI audio support for the ATI kernel mode-setting driver. HDMI audio support for ATI Radeon graphics cards used to be the unique advantage for the RadeonHD driver, but it’s been ported to the DRM driver and will be supported under Linux 2.6.33.

      • Nouveau Makes Its Own NV40 Firmware Replacement

        Since last week the DRM code for the Nouveau driver has been in the mainline kernel code-base for its official debut with the Linux 2.6.33 kernel.

      • Radeon DRM Power Management Moves Along

        This in-kernel power management code is working with more (older) Radeon graphics processors and offers various other improvements compared to earlier revisions.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments

    • GNOME

      • Split-View Nautilus Coming To Gnome-Shell?

        Split-panel nautilus tweaks/hacks are incredibly popular but up until now the feature remained a 3rd party enablement.

        With the upcoming GNOME Shell raising questions as to the purpose Nautilus due to features Nautilus traditionally provided instead being served-up by the Shell.

    • KDE

      • Team Sets Seventh Beta of KDevelop4 Loose

        The KDevelop team is proud to announce the seventh beta of KDevelop4. At the same time we’re a bit sad as this beta also marks our drop-out of the KDE SC 4.4 release cycle. We feel that we didn’t manage to get the needed features for the 4.4.0 release working properly and that we’ll need a longer freeze period than what is available in the release cycle. We’re now concentrating on getting the existing features shaped up and ready for release as well as fixing as many of the bugs as we can. No new features will be introduced into KDevelop anymore until the first release, which is currently aimed at end of March.

  • Distributions

    • The Five Distros That Changed Linux

      You can measure Linux’s history in many ways. We usually think of it in terms of releases. The Linux kernel got its start in September 1991 with version 0.01. The kernel turned 18 this fall with the release of 2.6.something-or-other. But, another way of looking at Linux is in terms of its important distributions.

      For users, these distributions have been the mountain tops. Each of the truly significant distributions changed how Linux was seen, and brought the operating system new and different groups of users. You can argue about which distro is more important than another, but, all the distributions in my list changed how we saw and used Linux.

      I made this list by both looking at Linux’s history, and from my own experiences at the time with Linux. While I wasn’t a Linux user in its very early years — I was working with the commercial Unix and the BSD operating systems — I did come on-board quickly.

    • Review: Slackware 13.0

      In the end, Slackware continues to grab the latest software and it continues to be the distro that leaves a lot of the decision-making to the user. I have not yet tried Arch Linux, but I intend to try it soon. It seems to be a distro trying to take the crown for most customization away from Slackware and Gentoo.

    • [conv] Why Slackers are labeled as geeks and ubuntuers as n00bs?

      My reply:

      People using a “way too User-friendly” distro has been referred to as n00bs by people using a “not so user-friendly” distro, who in turn have been labeled geeks. This has been the case for years now.

    • Ubuntu

      • Ubuntu Marketing

        I admire how Mark Shuttleworth is investing his time, money and efforts into Ubuntu, but one man can not be everywhere. Even adding in all of his team I don’t think they can have the same effect as a media campaign which is visually based.

      • My new focus at Canonical

        From March next year, I’ll focus my Canonical energy on product design, partnerships and customers. Those are the areas that I enjoy most and also the areas where I can best shape the impact we have on open source and the technology market. I’m able to do this because Jane Silber, who has been COO at Canonical virtually from the beginning, will take on the job of CEO.

      • Shuttleworth steps down as Ubuntu CEO

        Shuttleworth also added that while its work with Google on the Chrome OS isn’t Canonical’s main direction, they’re looking forward to doing more work on Chrome OS. He added that Ubuntu is looking forward to gaining more of the desktop market with its own Ubuntu offering “right under Windows 7′s nose.”

      • So a Man Walks Into a Bar and Asks for an Ubuntu on the Rocks

        Earlier today, I had to go to IT Square in Laksi to do some banking. Knowing what a geek that I am, and since there are ten branches closer than the IT Square one, you’d be forgiven for assuming that I went to bank there as an excuse for computer shopping, but you’d be wrong. I was required to go to that specific branch. After the baning, though, my gf and I walked around a little.

        She was checking out laptop bags, and my attention went to the Acer display just outside the bag store. To my shock, there was a low-end laptop (about USD400) with a localized version of Ubuntu on the computer. There was a special Acer desktop background, and the menus were in Thai. The next computer had the same system. Hmmm. The specs described the computer as having Linpus Linux installed (pictured above), but the system was definitely Ubuntu. There were about twelve models on display, but some of them weren’t on.

      • DVD Ranger on Ubuntu – Improved Functionality for a New Category of Users

        Pixbyte Development SL today announced that DVD Ranger will be available for Ubuntu users, thus expanding the range of functionality. Starting today, if you want to burn DVD on Ubuntu, you can enjoy the best video quality using our DVD Ranger.

      • Ubuntu’s Lucid plans

        In April the Ubuntu developers will release Lucid Lynx, the next version of the popular Linux operating system. Also known as Ubuntu 10.04, Lucid Lynx will be the third long term support (LTS) release from Ubuntu and is likely to have a strong focus on stability and security and will be geared at appealing to enterprise users and hardware makers. Ubuntu releases new versions every six months with LTS releases supported for five years on servers and three years on desktops.

      • My kid will, in fact, do it with Ubuntu (and other 2010 predictions)

        There he is, kid #4: his t-shirt says it all. By way of disclosure, I got that t-shirt for free from the good folks at Canonical. I don’t, however, think he will end up using Ubuntu because they gave me a free t-shirt. I think he’ll use Ubuntu because he already does. I also think that Ubuntu use will continue to spread beyond the kids of the sorts of people to whom Canonical sends t-shirts. Ubuntu is not just for geeks anymore.

      • Ubuntu 10.04 will bring panel overhaul, social network menu

        Canonical has revealed plans to bring social networking integration and GNOME panel improvements in the next major version of Ubuntu. Notification area icons will be replaced by a new application indicator system. The panel will also feature a new Me Menu for setting messaging status.

    • Mint

      • Linux Mint 8 Installation Visual Walk Through – VirtualBox

        Here’s a walk through of the Linux Mint 8 Helena. You’ll notice a ton of similarities between the installation process of Linux Mint 8 and the base it’s built from Ubuntu.

      • Linux Mint 8

        Product: Linux Mint 8
        Web Site: http://www.linuxmint.com/
        Price: Free
        Pros: Software Manager & Update Manager upgrades, configurable places, Upload Manager & File Uploader added.
        Cons: Slightly less attractive default wallpaper, no bundled games, Chrome browser not available in software repositories.
        Suitable For: Beginner, intermediate or advanced desktop Linux users.
        Summary: Linux Mint 8 brings Linux Mint up to speed with Ubuntu 9.10 and adds some custom upgrades of its own. An excellent desktop distribution that any Linux user should consider using.
        Rating: 4/5

      • Linux Mint Helena: C’est fantastique!

        Having seen what the open source community can do to improve and support a product, I have to say I’m extremely impressed with the work they’ve done. Just last week I stated that I would probably run a dual boot with Windows 7 as my primary system and Mint or Ubuntu as my secondary system. Well, after installing and using Helena, I have to say I’m strongly considering sticking with Mint and possibly having Windows 7 as a secondary OS for compatibility issues. I can definitely say that I wasn’t expecting a free operating system to work as well as this one does. Bravo.

      • Two other great Linux distributions: MEPIS & Mint

        I also like the additional utilities, the so-called MEPIS Assistant programs. These take what can sometimes be complicated tasks on other Linux distributions, such as networking and X-Windows set-up, and make them simple. Last, but not least, MEPIS has always done an outstanding job of using the KDE 3.5x to good effect. In the upcoming MEPIS 8.5, he’s using the brand-new KDE 4.3.4 for those who like the KDE 4.x series. But, for those who are still fond of KDE 3.5, and while I finally warmed up to KDE 4.x I also continue to like KDE 3.5x, he’ll continue to support it in the MEPIS 8.x line.

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Iomega Home Media Network Hard Drive 500GB

      A network drive serves two main purposes. One, it is a place to store your files – plain and simple. When you are maxed out on space on your PC, a network drive affords the extensive storage required for advanced computing work, media files and backups. The second main purpose: enhancing your digital life. More than just a network drive, the Iomega Home Media Network Hard Drive – which is about the size of a male hand and styled with an unassuming black enclosure – provides a wealth of powerful and unusual digital media features, many of which work quite well with Linux computers.

    • PC fits into keyboard, uses only five Watts

      Thailand-based NorhTec announced a device touted as “the world’s most energy-efficient desktop computer,” offered for only $99 with the Linux version. Built into a standard-sized keyboard, the “Gecko Surfboard” runs on a 1GHz x86 SoC (system on chip), operates fanlessly, and uses just five Watts, the company says.

    • Camera board plugs and plays with OMAP35x module

      E-con bundles the e-CAM32 OMAP Gstix with a Linux support package that offers Linux camera drivers with full source code. The drivers include support for V4L2 (Video for Linux 2) buffer management interface, as well as close integration with TI’s IVA 2.2 (Image, Video and Audio Subsystem) accelerator subsystem on the OMAP35x SoCs.

    • LAN appliance hosts CPUs up to 3GHz

      Lanner announced a Linux-ready network appliance that sports up to 8GB of RAM and seven Ethernet ports. Featuring LAN bypass on two of its ports, the FW-7580 supports a variety of Intel CPUs, has a 40-character front panel display, and offers both hard disk and CompactFlash storage, the company says.

    • Phones

      • Nokia N900 will be landing soon

        The Linux-based device builds on from Nokia’s N810 Internet Tablet, with a 3.4-inch 800×480 touch screen, 32GB of storage and a slide-out Qwerty keyboard.

    • Android

      • Motorola Milestone Android smartphone

        The Milestone marks another step forward in Motorola’s renaissance. It’s a joy to use, thanks to its sensitive screen and decent, if not the very best, Qwerty keyboard. The tweaks to the Android OS are welcome, if not exactly ground-breaking and though the camera could have been a bit better, and we’re bewildered by the decision to omit Motoblur, it’s a top quality smartphone with satnav.

      • Is the Google Phone an Unauthorized Replicant?

        Motorola tugged at the hearts of science-fiction fans everywhere when it announced that its first smartphone using Google’s Android software would be called Droid, the name given to the lovable robots in “Star Wars.”

      • Another Thought on the Google Nexus One Phone Announcement

        Google will continue to promote its Android OS, which is used by HTC, Samsung and Motorola, with Sony-Ericsson, Acer, and LG Electronics announcing Android-powered phones.

Free Software/Open Source

  • Alfresco, RightScale: Open Source’s Next Cloud Move

    Alfresco Chief Marketing Officer Ian Howells is talking up a new cloud relationship with RightScale. But that’s not all. More than 1,000 customers now pay for Alfresco’s open source content management system. Next, Howells expects a winner-take-all scenario in the open source market. Should VARs care? You bet. Here’s why.

  • Eight IT Predictions for 2010
  • FOSS: How Did 2009 Shape Up?

    A major release of the Linux kernel happens every three months, which means this year has seen four new versions. Of course, not all of these will see major circulation as most distros only release every six months. Typically every second or third release makes it into the major distributions. Version 2.6.32 was released just two weeks ago, but it won’t actually make it to most distros. Nevertheless, most of the major features do make it onto the desktop, eventually.

    This past year has seen some amazing new work enter the kernel. Perhaps the most work centered around file systems with the introduction of Btrfs, SquashFS, FUSE, EXOFS and NILFS2 into mainline. For the majority of distributions, the new Ext4 file system has become the default (although it was not without its problems).

    Graphics architecture was re-worked which caused no end of issues for most machines with an Intel graphics card. Kernel-based mode setting (KMS) was introduced including support for Intel and Radeon cards. With 2.6.33 on the way the Nouveau driver for NVIDIA cards has just been merged into the mainline staging tree. Linux was also the first kernel to gain support for USB 3.0, although there are no consumer devices widely available yet.

  • SaaS Partners Boost Open-Xchange

    As you may know, Open-Xchange is an open source email system. The company claims 2009 was a banner year; more than 15 million people worldwide are running Open-Xchange, an 80 percent increase from 2008.

  • Mozilla

    • Pushing Prism on Ubuntu

      One of Ubuntu’s most useful but rarely discussed features is one-click installation of a variety of popular webapps via Mozilla’s Prism. Here’s a look at what Prism can do in Ubuntu, with some thoughts on why Canonical should work harder to push features like this.

  • Sun/Databases

    • Enterprise Applications: 10 Reasons Why Sun Is Still Relevant (and One Reason Why Not)

      A nagging question has been hanging over Oracle’s long-delayed acquisition of Sun Microsystems. Is Sun still relevant after seeing its once powerful market position slowly but steadily eroded over the past decade? This question rose to prominence back in April, when the database giant first announced its plans to buy out Sun. It’s become a critical issue as Sun has continued to hemorrhage cash as Oracle has faced delay after delay in getting regulatory approval of the deal in Europe. But there are still a lot of factors that demonstrate how Sun’s products and technology remain relevant and in demand in the IT industry. This eWEEK slide show illustrates why Sun still has a strong market influence.

    • EU Set to Approve Oracle-Sun Deal

      European regulators have given Oracle the tentative green light in its long-delayed merger with Sun Microsystems now that Oracle has assuaged concerns about the stewardship of the open source MySQL database.

    • Why Oracle Ultimately Stands to Win the Bitter Battle over MySQL

      It’s not officially a done deal, but eWEEK has learned through knowledgeable sources that the standoff between Oracle and the antitrust regulators of the European Commission has been broken and that an agreement is probably imminent.

      Oracle’s complicated eight-month-long mission to annex Sun Microsystems is finally coming to an end.

      It’s not officially a done deal, but eWEEK has learned through knowledgeable sources that the standoff between Oracle and the antitrust regulators of the European Commission has been broken and that an agreement is probably imminent.

    • Nexedi Press Release

      Nexedi, the creator of ERP5, one of the most advanced Open Source ERPs used for mission critical applications in Europe, Africa and Japan in Aerospace, Central Banking, Financial Services, Chemical, Government, Health and Transportation industries has published today a position letter sent to the European Commission in the context of the recent acquisition of Sun Microsytems by Oracle Corporation. Nexedi recommends to the European Commission that Oracle should be requested to sell the MySQL Business Unit to a third party which offers reasonable guarantees for its Business development. Nexedi offers to takeover MySQL Business Unit for 1 Euro and relieve Oracle from what has become a negative asset in its merger and acquisition strategy.

  • CMS

    • Drupal 6.15 and 5.21 released

      Drupal 6.15 and 5.21, maintenance releases which fix issues reported through the bug tracking system, as well as non critical security vulnerabilities, are now available for download. Both releases fix other smaller issues as well.

    • On Microsoft’s anti-Drupal ad

      Yesterday, an anti-Drupal ad by Microsoft was spotted in the wild; see the image on the right. The news spread on Twitter like wildfire. I said this was “interesting”, not because Microsoft isn’t allowed to compete with Drupal but because Microsoft is also promoting Drupal. In fact, I was flattered by the idea that Microsoft considered Drupal worthy of competition. However, it left many of us confused about the fact that Microsoft decided to both partner with Drupal and compete against it.

  • BSD

    • FreeNAS 0.7: powerful and not dead

      Recently, the FreeNAS developers have released version 0.7 of their FreeBSD-based operating system for network-attached storage (NAS). This is a major release, which introduces support for the ZFS file system among other things. Around the same time, fears were expressed about the future of FreeNAS as a BSD-based NAS but, in the end, a solution has been found.

    • BSDTalk interview with Josh Paetzel (iXsystems)

      BSDTalk has a 12 minute interview with Josh Paetzel, IT director at iXsystems. Will and Josh talk about the recent takeover of the FreeNAS project by iXsystems.


    • Join the Free Software Foundation, and get a Trisquel USB card!

      The card can load an incredibly fast Trisquel Live environment that will keep your settings and files from one run to the next. And you can also use it as a normal USB disk, which comes with a set of free software related texts, audio and video files. A wonderful advocacy tool.

  • Openness

    • Open Science and climategate: The IPCC/CRU needs to take a leaf out of CERN’s Book

      Self serving, incestuous cliques are not unique to proprietary software or big science. Spats in open source projects are known but unlike the CRU or the IPCC, the data and code is free and open and no exclusive, corrupt peer review process can long hide facts. This article has only touched the tip of the iceberg (no pun intended). This matter is properly the subject of whole books and websites. My intention has been to see what is wrong with the process from the perspective of the culture and practice of open source methodology. I suspect though, that matters have degenerated so far that the best practice of free software geeks would not have saved the CRU from itself. What a mess. What a bloody mess.

  • Standards/Consortia

    • Web Boosts the Cause of Free Color

      But what’s to be done about it? In an effort to support open-source graphics programs and foster a wider understanding of, and engagement with, color, there’s a nascent movement underway to develop what we call, with refreshing lack of originality, an Open Color Standard.


  • Cheques to be phased out in 2018

    Cheques will be phased out by October 2018, but only if adequate alternatives are developed, the body that oversees payments strategy has said.

  • Security/Pseudo-Security

  • Environment

    • Christmas baubles on icy mission

      Greenland holds the equivalent of 7m of global sea-level rise in its ice sheet, so its future evolution is a subject of considerable interest to researchers.

    • Photos from Copenhagen protests

      Treehugger photographer Matt McDermott happened to be in the right place when the massive climate demonstrations in Copenhagen broke out, and the site has a great gallery of shots of the action.

    • Johann Hari: Leaders of the rich world are enacting a giant fraud

      Every delegate to the Copenhagen summit is being greeted by the sight of a vast fake planet dominating the city’s central square. This swirling globe is covered with corporate logos – the Coke brand is stamped over Africa, while Carlsberg appears to own Asia, and McDonald’s announces “I’m loving it!” in great red letters above. “Welcome to Hopenhagen!” it cries. It is kept in the sky by endless blasts of hot air.

    • How to Slow Climate Change for Just $15 Billion

      Weaning humanity from its fossil fuel habit will take decades, and it will take decades more for global warming to stop. But one simple measure could slow warming in some of Earth’s most sensitive regions, effective immediately — and it would cost just $15 billion.

  • Finance

    • Obama brings purrs from Wall Street’s fat cats

      “I did not run for office to be helping out a bunch of fat-cat bankers on Wall Street,” President Obama told “60 Minutes” onSunday, the eve of White House meeting with top Wall Street bankers. This line, and the credulous media coverage that followed, fed the image of Obama as the people’s crusader against the wealthy special interests.

      But if you skip the rhetoric and focus instead on verifiable facts — campaign contributions, administration appointees, White House visitor logs, Obama’s bailouts and even his proposed regulations — you see instead that Obama may be closer to Wall Street than any modern president.

    • McCain backs restoring Glass-Steagall bank limits

      No immediate comment was available from Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Wells Fargo and JPMorgan Chase.

    • Two bills in Congress to restore Glass-Steagall

      Both would reinstate the 1930s-era Glass-Steagall laws that barred large banks from affiliating with securities firms and engaging in the insurance business. Those limits were largely repealed in 1999, a high-water mark for deregulation.

    • Hoffa Says Goldman Sachs Is Driving Trucker YRC Into Bankruptcy

      International Brotherhood of Teamsters President James Hoffa said Goldman Sachs Group Inc. is creating derivatives trades that would benefit from the bankruptcy of YRC Worldwide Inc., the trucking company trying to avert failure with a debt exchange.

    • Goldman Sachs Mortgages Should Be Probed, Union Says

      Goldman Sachs Group Inc. should be probed for its role in the subprime mortgage crisis, according to letters sent to 10 state attorneys general by a labor union that represents 150,000 people in the U.S. and Canada.

      Workers United sent the letters this week urging officials to follow the example of Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley. In May, Goldman Sachs agreed to a $60 million settlement to end an investigation by Coakley’s office into how the New York-based bank packaged securities containing home loans made to Massachusetts residents.

    • Goldman Protests Mount

      The union, whose members include janitors and security guards, has no specific grievance on behalf of any Goldman employee.

      Rather, the SEIU, part of a coalition, Americans for Financial Reform, which is set to demonstrate in front of Goldman’s headquarters today, says it is merely standing up for millions of working class people.

    • Max Keiser: “Goldman Sachs Are Scum”

      “They are literally stealing a hundred million dollars a day. Goldman Sachs is stealing every day on the floor of the exchange. They should be in the Hague, they should be taken on financial terrorism charges. They should all be thrown in jail”

    • As Goldman Thrives, Some Say an Ethos Has Faded

      Even so, many Goldman employees are stunned by the public resentment directed at the bank in general and Mr. Blankfein in particular, who, after first steadfastly defending Goldman’s profits and pay, recently offered a vague apology for “mistakes” that led to the financial crisis.

    • Dumbest moments in business 2009

      Last month, however, he got a bit carried away, telling a Times of London reporter that he was just a banker “doing God’s work.” For $43 million a year.

    • Has Goldman Sachs Lost Its Luster?

      The Washington Post says the U.S. Government gave up billions in tax money when it agreed to let Citigroup (C) out of the TARP program this week. “The Internal Revenue Service on Friday issued an exception to long-standing tax rules for the benefit of Citigroup and a few other companies partially owned by the government. As a result, Citigroup will be allowed to retain billions of dollars worth of tax breaks that otherwise would decline in value when the government sells its stake to private investors.” A Treasury source paints the decision to let Citigroup keep the tax exemption as a Catch-22. If the government hadn’t granted the break, Citigroup might not have been able to raise the money to exit TARP and foot its tax bill. “Either the government changed the rules and parted ways with Citigroup or the company kept the government as a shareholder and kept the tax break anyway.”

    • Bank Bonuses: The ‘Fat Cats’ Try to Look Slimmer

      December has been tough for the global banking elite. First Britain’s Chancellor of the Exchequer, Alistair Darling, slapped a 50% tax on bonuses paid to bankers. Then, days later, President Barack Obama chided “fat-cat bankers” on national television in the U.S. On Dec. 14, Wall Street began cranking up its PR machine to contain the damage, sending U.S. Bancorp (USB) CEO Richard Davis—a lesser-known, lesser-paid member of its ranks—to address reporters in Washington. America’s top bankers, he said, “agreed very much” with the President “on the principles of executive compensation,” adding that they “are looking forward to you seeing the good efforts we’ve taken in the last couple of months.”

      But a close look at Goldman Sachs’ (GS) recent maneuvers shows that some of the changes in pay practices on Wall Street are more stylistic than substantive.

  • Internet/Censorship/Web Abuse/Rights

    • What is DRM doing in my garage?

      My new garage door opener comes with both DRM and a DMCA warning: don’t even think about using a third-party remote. But didn’t a federal court already say this sort of behavior was illegal years ago?

    • Google accused of scrubbing bloody Berlusconi pics

      Move over, Facebook. Now Google is caught in the middle of Italy’s epic row over Sunday’s violent assault on Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.

      Bloggers, netizens, and at least one news organization are claiming that the web giant has removed images of a bloodied Berlusconi from the Italian incarnation of Google Image search. On Wednesday afternoon, a blog post from Google Italia said it had not removed the pics, pointing out that it takes time for newer content to appear on Image Search, but many continue to insist that the photos appeared on the site earlier in the week.

    • Rapist ex-lawmaker claims copyright on his name, threatens legal action against anyone who uses it without permission

      Former South Dakota State Rep. Ted Alvin Klaudt — presently serving time for raping his two foster daughters — is sending bizarre “copyright notices” from prison to news agencies and outlets that use his name in print or online, claiming a “common law copyright” on his name and demanding $500,000 for any unauthorized use.

    • Ex-Lawmaker Convicted of Rape: Name Is Copyrighted
    • North Face sues South Butt

      The North Face Apparel Corp. has sued the South Butt LLC, seeking to put a stop to University of Missouri college freshman Jimmy Winkelmann’s parody clothing line.

    • Hiring Of FCC Scholar Criticized

      The FCC’s hiring this week of Stuart Benjamin, a telecommunications law professor on leave from Duke University, as a “distinguished scholar in residence” drew sharp criticism Friday from the Parents Television Council, which claims that he’s called for long-standing broadcast indecency law to be found unconstitutional, CongressDaily reported.

    • Journalist Fired After Critical Report Published

      A journalist who wrote for the Summit Daily News claims he was fired because his publisher was concerned about losing advertising dollars after he wrote a column that was critical of how ski resorts report their daily snow totals.

      Bob Berwyn has more than a decade reporting the news in Colorado’s high country. He was terminated at the Daily News five days after the column was published.

    • Filtering coming to Australia in 2010

      It looks like the Australian blogosphere and twitterverse are in an uproar, and the media have not been very kind. What remains to be seen is how much this issue can crossover into the mainstream public consciousness. If the policy is seen as a vote-loser rather than a crowd pleaser, the Government might be a little readier to see reason.

      So is Australia the new Iran? Should you encrypt your hard drive or install a VPN before visiting Australia next year? Well, it’s not the law of the land yet, but unless the political winds change, Australia is set to join a club with some rather unsavoury members.

  • Intellectual Monopolies/Copyrights

    • Three strikes law reintroduced in New Zealand

      The New Zealand government has reintroduced its controversial “three-strikes” Internet law, Bill 92A. Previously defeated after widespread outcry, the new 92A was introduced minutes before Parliament recessed for the holidays, and makes no substantial improvements over the initial proposal. Under the revised proposal, if anyone in your house is accused of three acts of infringement (without any proof of wrongdoing), your entire household loses stands to lose Internet access for six months, and/or pays a NZ$15,000 fine (the previous version of the bill would have taken away your family’s internet for life). The major change in the bill is the opportunity for a counter-notice, if you believe the accusation is false.

    • Leaked secret EU-Canada copyright agreement – EU screws Canada

      Leaks have emerged from another secret copyright treaty, this one between the EU and Canada. The EU is really screwing Canada with this one, demanding longer copyright terms, more liability for ISPs (which means that it gets harder and more expensive to host anything from a message board to a video), laws against breaking copyright protection (even for a legal purpose, like getting your own files back), and a royalty on the sale of used copyrighted goods (so you’d have to track down and pay the rightsholder when you resold a painting or other copyrighted work).

    • CD seller pleads guilty to breaking copyright law

      The owner of a local record store said he had no choice but to plead guilty Tuesday to a charge of offering for sale 100 CDs that were illegal under Canadian copyright law.

    • Fees for playing music in charity shops ‘will be excessive’, Association of Charity Shops warns

      The Government’s plan to make charities pay royalties to play music will apply to each charity shop individually and could cost charities that run shops a total of more than £500,000 a year, according to the Association of Charity Shops.

    • Payment pending; Canadian recording industry set for six billion penalties?

      A report published last week in the Toronto Star by Professor Michael Geist of Canada’s University of Ottawa claims a copyright case under the Class Proceedings Act of 1992 may see the country’s largest players in the music industry facing upwards of C$6 billion in penalties.

      The case is being led by the family and estate of the late jazz musician Chet Baker; moving to take legal action against four major labels in the country, and their parent companies. The dispute centres around unpaid royalties and licensing fees for use of Baker’s music, and hundreds of thousands of other works. The suit was initially filed in August last year, but amended and reissued on October 6, two months later. At that point both the Canadian Musical Reproduction Rights Agency (CMRRA) and Society for Reproduction Rights of Authors (SODRAC) were also named defendants.

    • Obama Sides With Blind in Copyright-Treaty Debate

      The Obama administration announced Tuesday it supports loosening international copyright protections to enable cross-border distribution of special-format reading materials for the blind, a move that puts it at odds with nearly all of U.S. industry.

      The government announced its support for the underlying principle of the WIPO Treaty for Sharing Accessible Formats of Copyrighted Works for Persons Who are Blind or Have other Reading Disabilities. The announcement was made in Geneva (.pdf) before a subcommittee of the the World Intellectual Property Organization, which has about 180 members.

    • Sarkozy’s Party Found Violating Copyright Yet Again With Awful Lipdub

      French President Nicolas Sarkozy has been pushing himself as a defender of copyrights, and even helped create the original three strikes plan in France. And yet, he and his political party keep getting caught infringing on copyrights. First there was the use of a song in some online videos without proper licensing. Then there was the issue with mass pirating DVDs. So you would think that his party would be extra careful when putting together yet another online video involving music. Apparently not.

Digital Tipping Point: Clip of the Day

Joerg Heilig, Sun Microsystems Senior Engineering Director talks about OpenOffice.org 01 (2004)

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

UK Intellectual Monopoly Office (UK-IPO) May be Breaking the Law

Posted in Bill Gates, Europe, Intellectual Monopoly, Law, Microsoft, Patents at 7:05 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz


Summary: The UK-IPO sees itself as above Freedom of Information (FOI) Act; EPO and Monsanto revisited; Microsoft sued by BetaNet LLC for patent infringement

“That’s what I call innovation,” says Glyn Moody, who links to this “hilarious visual image of selected 2009 patents…”

This whole patent framework is obviously causing great harm to everyone except monopolies (which swap mutual protection in bulk) and patent trolls (or lawyers). To make matters worse, this system has gone underground (secretive) and having received a dosage of Microsoft influence, it now refuses to obey the law and to reveal to the public what is happening behind closed doors.

On the 8th of November one of our members, Gordon Harrison, submitted a Freedom of Information (FOI) request to the UK Intellectual Property Office (IPO). The request was for a complete list of the organisations that made submissions for the report ‘The Way Ahead; A Strategy for Copyright in the Digital Age’, together with a copy of each submission. The IPO had already published some of the submissions but according to their website a number of submissions were made in confidence. Gordon asked that they be made public under the the terms of the Freedom of Information Act.


We have looked at the list of organisations that made public submissions, such as the BBC and Microsoft, but there are some surprising ommissions from that list, such as Google and Yahoo.

This is not the end of it, but the above clearly shows that the UK-IPO works for unaccountable corporations, not for people. That’s just a shame.

The EPO has had people marching in the streets on several occasions. At one stage (last year) it was EPO staff protesting against the EPO and this year it was a protest against the likes of Monsanto (‘pig patents’), a company which is strongly backed by the Gates Foundation and recently fell under investigation for market abuse. For the EPO to back Monsanto’s plot would in some way be abusive as well. TechDirt has some more information on this (including many comments).

How Monsanto Used Gene Patents To Corner The Market In Seeds

Dark Helmet points us to the news of an Associated Press investigation into how Monsanto basically cornered the market in seeds by using gene patents and coercive licensing agreements that basically make it impossible to grow certain products without having to first reach a restrictive agreement with Monsanto. And they did this all in about a dozen years. Gene patents are already troubling enough, and reading this report on how Monsanto used its gene patents to basically wipe out all competition is quite telling in exactly how patents can be used to significantly harm a market.

Yesterday we wrote about Eolas suing everyone in Texas, having previously sued Microsoft [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7]. Another Eolas-like parasite has just launched a fresh attack on many companies that include Microsoft.

An east-Texas company, BetaNet LLC, has filed a patent-infringement suit against Apple, Microsoft, Adobe, Oracle, IBM, SAP, and a dozen other companies.

Make no mistake; Gates and Microsoft invest billions of dollars in the world's biggest patent troll. Increasingly, as time goes on and evidence mounts, the patent systems seem like a government-approved racket. Companies like Monsanto potentially kill a vast number of people using their patents. It may be worse in the pharmaceutical industry whose patents Bill Gates is also backing [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8]. This industry makes an obscene amount of money from people’s deaths (externality) and this usually gets defended by the “R&D” lies, despite the fact that most of the money is pocketed, a lot of the research is already publicly funded (sometimes invested in through academia and then passed to private hands), and a huge amount of money is spent on just marketing (imposed deception disguised as information) and unimportant products for rich people (like anti-wrinkle creams). The scams of the big pharmaceutical companies are a broad topic in their own right and are worth exploring in isolation one day.

Related posts:

Apple Behaves Like Rogue Nation, Poor Intel Under Attack by ”Anti-American“ FTC

Posted in Antitrust, Apple, Europe, Fraud, Hardware, Microsoft at 6:16 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Intel: criminal inside

Summary: Scrupulous behaviour from two companies that are now working as partners

YESTERDAY we cited a rant about this post, which obviously broke Godwin’s law. The Inquirer removed the Nazi analogy from that post and told the story of what Apple was doing:

PURVEYOR OF RIDICULOUSLY EXPENSIVE GADGETS, Apple has hired a secret police force to keep its black shirted employees in line.

Gizmodo has confirmed the existence of a division that reports directly to Jobs and Oppenheimer.

Dubbed the “Worldwide Loyalty Team”, its sole function is to purge Apple stores of people who are not rabid fanboys or toeing the company line on everything.

Apparently the division has moles who are ordered to report deviant activity amongst the staff and management of the stores. High on the list are people who might be talking to the media.

Apple is now controlling the crowd and suppressing dissent, very much like Microsoft. Maybe that’s why they have managed to create hype and build an image which is difficult to surpass.

“Apple is now controlling the crowd and suppressing dissent, very much like Microsoft.”It is worth adding that Apple does not break the law here, but it is important to understand how the company works. It is reasonable to describe this as deceitful and even unethical.

As for criminal companies, Intel is a leading example. When the EU Commission found Intel guilty (so did Korea) Intel was quick to respond with the same talking point as Microsoft. They quickly call the regulators “anti-American” (there can never be anything wrong with Intel’s and Microsoft’s conduct, it must be those envious nationalist zealots!), but this poor defense is contradicted by the US FTC, which is on the move again. From the news:

i. FTC takes Intel to court

THE US FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION (FTC) filed a lawsuit in federal court against Intel today, seeking to stop the world’s largest chipmaker from threatening, anti-competitive actions.

Although word processing applications will soon start to auto-complete the sentence, “Intel has been accused of antitrust violations”, we’ll have to keep typing it, and explain once again that someone has accused the firm of throwing its weight around and dominating the chip market.

Today the FTC said that Intel had unfairly harmed its rivals in semiconductor markets by either offering sweeteners or dishing out threats to its customers. In a statement released today, Richard A. Feinstein, director of the FTC’s bureau of competition, said, “Intel has engaged in a deliberate campaign to hamstring competitive threats to its monopoly. It’s been running roughshod over the principles of fair play and the laws protecting competition on the merits. The Commission’s action today seeks to remedy the damage that Intel has done to competition, innovation, and, ultimately, the American consumer.”

ii. Intel being sued for using size to keep out rivals

Intel, the world’s biggest maker of computer chips, is being sued by a US competition authority.

iii. FTC whacks Intel with anticompetition complaint

Intel is accused of locking AMD out of key vendors by using “threats and rewards… to coerce them not to buy rival computer CPU chips.”

Intel is apparently responding with shameless PR and distraction. Microsoft should be sued by the FTC under similar charges.

Microsoft Smears — Not Embraces — Free Software Projects

Posted in Boycott Novell, Free/Libre Software, FUD, GNU/Linux at 5:49 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“I would love to see all open source innovation happen on top of Windows.”

Steve Ballmer, Microsoft CEO

Summary: Microsoft’s assault extends to the entire LAMP stack (and above), not just GNU/Linux

MICROSOFT has been pretending that it is willing to play nice with AMP as long as it’s not preceded by anything other than “W” (Windows). That’s a lie and it provides insight into what Microsoft would do had there been no choice for Free software developers but to deploy on Windows (Netscape's lesson). In line with its ally Blackboard, for example, the company has been trying to stick Microsoft hooks into Moodle in the form of a plug-in [1, 2, 3]. And yet, as the following article shows, Microsoft has begun treating Drupal like it treats GNU/Linux.

MICROSOFT HAS PULLED an advert telling punters to “Forget Drupal”, which is an open source website software framework and content management system, and has said sorry to the community for the aggressive ad.

The managers at Microsoft probably did not regret what they did. They only regretted the backlash, which was apparently worse than they had anticipated. Let this teach develop[ers that Microsoft attacks not only the “L” in LAMP. Microsoft’s xenophobia just extends to just about anything that’s not made by Microsoft. That’s why they promote Mono so much.

Matt Asay takes the “Microsoft apologist” hat and spins the incident above.

“Open source is an intellectual-property destroyer [...] I can’t imagine something that could be worse than this for the software business and the intellectual-property business. I’m an American; I believe in the American way, I worry if the government encourages open source, and I don’t think we’ve done enough education of policymakers to understand the threat.”

Jim Allchin, President of Platforms & Services Division at Microsoft

FSFE Highlights Brad Smith’s Attack on Free Software, Microsoft Blogs Present Smith’s Spin

Posted in Antitrust, Deception, Europe, Free/Libre Software, FUD, Interoperability, Law, Microsoft at 5:27 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Handful of screws

Summary: Microsoft’s legal team keeps trying to screw Free software and people do notice, then respond

IN A prior post on the subject we explained that Microsoft managed to pull out of punishment for crimes that it had committed against rival Web browsers (Microsoft was found guilty). According to news sources (some more mainstream than others, e.g. [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]), this might be the end of it, but Glyn Moody refers to the part we wrote about last night, namely the part which is a threat to Free software.

[Y]ou can code away to your heart’s content without needing to worry about those nasty patents that Microsoft claims; but as soon as you or anyone else starts offering that code commercially, “You do not benefit from this promise for such distribution or for these other activities.”

Now, if memory serves me correctly, this is precisely the utterly useless promise that Microsoft offered previously when it came to its patent pledge for the open source community, so it’s shocking that somebody within the European Commission didn’t pick up on this weakness and ask for it to be changed. For, clearly, the current wording means that the patent pledge doesn’t apply to precisely those companies that are most of a threat to Microsoft.

The Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE) has already responded, warning that “Free Software is excluded from interoperability.”

The European Commission is also investigating the way Microsoft prevents competitors from interfacing with many of its desktop productivity programs. Microsoft has offered a unilateral commitment. Yet these promises are useless for Free Software developers, since they exclude commercial use of Microsoft’s interoperability information.

Carlo Piana, FSFE’s legal counsel, says: “The patent commitments are clearly insufficient, because they don’t allow commercial exploitation. This keeps out competition from Free Software, which in many areas is the biggest competitor to Microsoft’s programs. Instead, Microsoft will continue to threaten commercial Free Software developers and their customers with patent FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt).”

Speaking of which, the FSFE is still challenging WIPO. It did so earlier in the year, but WIPO is philosophically against Free software.

The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) is one of the 16 specialized agencies of the United Nations system of organisations. Its role is administrating 23 international treates dealing with different aspects of limited monopolies on knowledge.

According to its own web page, it is

“an international organization dedicated to promoting the use and protection of works of the human spirit. These works — intellectual property — are expanding the bounds of science and technology and enriching the world of the arts. Through its work, WIPO plays an important role in enhancing the quality and enjoyment of life, as well as creating real wealth for nations.”

As explained in articles such as “Fighting intellectual poverty” or “On ‘Intellectual Property’ and Indigenous Peoples” on FSFEs web page — as well as many others on the net — the statement above did not match reality in the past. The Geneva Declaration states clearly how in the past WIPO has had a history of “intellectually weak, ideologically rigid, and sometimes brutally unfair and inefficient policies.”

Despite obvious discrimination against Free software (the deal needs to be mended), a Microsoft-funded blog gives the source of discrimination (Brad Smith) a platform so that he gets to tell their own self-glorifying version of their story. CNET’s Microsoft PR puppet Ina Fried does the same thing with Smith.

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