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12.23.09

Links 23/12/2009: Ubuntu LTS Plan, Pandora Hands-on Review

Posted in News Roundup at 9:31 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Vienna: Windows and Linux to coexist

    Based on the results of a recently announcedPDF study it has been decided that the municipal authority of the City of Vienna will not at present be shifting entirely to open source for its software needs. Rather administrative staff will have the choice of running either Windows and Microsoft Office or Linux (in the form of Wienux, a Debian/Ubuntu-based custom distribution) and OpenOffice on their desktop.

  • Kernel Space

    • Finnish Culture…

      It’s not all that often that we encounter things from Finland here in Portland. So imagine my surprise when we’re on our way to our weekly date-night with Tove, and our baby-sitter is gushing about this adorable and wonderful Finnish YouTube video.. She apparently have been watching it three or four times a day for the last few days (weeks?), laughing hysterically.

    • Ksplice – Never reboot your Linux

      Ksplice seems like a very interesting project. The prospect of reboot-less usage is most appealing, considering the complexity and the dire need for availability in some environments, where bringing systems down is simply impossible.

  • Applications

  • Distributions

    • Ubuntu 10.04 LTS: How we get there

      [W]e’re rolling out some new tools and techniques to track our development work, which were pioneered by the desktop team in Ubuntu 9.10. We believe this will help us to stay on course, and make adjustments earlier when needed. Taking some pages from the Agile software development playbook, we’ll be planning in smaller increments and tracking our progress using burn-down charts. As always, we aim to make Ubuntu development as transparent as possible, so all of this information is posted publicly so that everyone can see how we’re doing.

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Move supports Linux development on multicore processors

      CriticalBlue, which specialises in design software that makes efficient use of complex processor architectures, has joined MontaVista’s partner programme. As part of the move, it will make its Prism software available on MontaVista Linux 6 and Montavista Linux Carrier Grade Edition products. MontaVista is the first commercial Linux provider to be supported by Prism

    • Pandora gets a hands-on review

      The recent reports on Pandora’s case design and controls have been nothing short of glowing. It’s pretty satisfying information for the most part; there is no doubt that what we’re hearing from the team is genuine delight in what they’ve achieved.

    • Android

    • Sub-notebooks

      • The $75 Future Computer

        Behar says he hopes to shrink the frame around the XO-3′s display down to practically nothing, opting for a virtual keyboard instead of a physical one, and no buttons. The result, in his mock-ups, is a screen surrounded by only a thin green rubber gasket. “Nicholas [Negroponte] asked for something extremely simple and practically frameless,” he says. “The media or content on the computer will be the prime visual element.”

      • OLPC unveils slimline tablet PC

Free Software/Open Source

  • SugarCRM CEO Sets Aggressive 2010 Revenue and Channel Goals

    During a FastChat video interview, Augustin said two-thirds of SugarCRM’s business already comes from the channel. No surprise there, since SugarCRM was one of the top companies in the first annual Open Source 50 report, which tracks the most promising open source partner programs (the second-annual survey begins January 2010).

  • Project London: The Most Ambitious No-Budget Effects Movie Ever?

    Yet while the decision to use free software has obvious benefits to an independent production, it also poses its own risks. Although development body the Blender Foundation (blender.org) has completed several cinema-quality animated shorts using the software (see elephantsdream.org and bigbuckbunny.org), it remains largely unproven in live-action work, particularly on full-length movies.

  • Dreamwidth’s Diversity is its Strength

    Dreamwidth, the community-based open-source blog service, has been highlighted recently for the diversity of its developer community (specifically, the fact that, very unusually in the OSS world, it has a majority of women developers), and its newbie-friendly dev culture. I spoke to founders Mark Smith and Denise Paolucci about open source, creating community, and how the project has taken off.
    Open Source

    For community-based software, OSS has clear advantages. Denise and Mark both note how useful it is to have core developers be people who are passionate about your software, and the advantages when users can all contribute. You also get access to a large pool of volunteer developers, and a hugely diverse skillset – need a particular sort of expert? Put the word out on the grapevine, and see if someone will stop by to help out.

  • OOo has the holiday spirit all year round

    Everyone loves receiving presents, especially presents which are useful. Likewise, giving presents to others feels wonderful. An important part of the holidays is the spirit of giving. This is where OOo fits in: Not only is the OpenOffice.org office suite a great present to the world, but giving and receiving is also experienced in many more ways within the OpenOffice.org community. There are volunteers working in numerous project groups, from localizations to marketing, documentation to website maintenance, plus mailing lists.

  • CMS

  • Licensing

    • Could Apache keep Google’s regulators at bay?

      Rosenberg writes that because of Google’s open-source licensing, “others can use our software as a base for their own products if we fail to innovate adequately.” True. Google is clearly betting on its ability to innovate fast, which is incidentally also the very thing that makes the prospect of seeing its code forked so remote.

  • Open Knowledge/Data/Access

    • Modeling a Paradigm Shift: From Producer Innovation to User and Open Collaborative Innovation

      In this paper we assess the economic viability of innovation by producers relative to two increasingly important alternative models: innovations by single user individuals or firms, and open collaborative innovation projects. We analyze the design costs and architectures and communication costs associated with each model. We conclude that innovation by individual users and also open collaborative innovation increasingly compete with – and may displace – producer innovation in many parts of the economy. We argue that a transition from producer innovation to open single user and open collaborative innovation is desirable in terms of social welfare, and so worthy of support by policymakers.

    • The Shuttleworth Foundation on CC BY as default and commercial enterprises in education

      The conversation below is more or less transcribed and edited for clarity. It makes for great holiday or airplane reading, and if you’re pressed for time, you can skip to the topics or projects that interest you. This is CC Learn’s last Inside OER feature of 2009—so enjoy, and happy whatever-it-is-that-you-are-doing-in-your-part-of-the-world!

    • The landscape

      For textual information, Wikipedia has done a tremendous job of creating a vibrant public commons. The Creative Commons license prevents others from ripping off what Wikipedia has seeded. In the software world, the Free Software Foundation and others have had similar success in creating a public commons for source code through the use of the GPL and similar licenses. What is missing today though is a public commons for data.

    • The Definitive User’s Guide to OCWConsortium.org

      College is becoming more expensive, and some colleges this year have set records with their lowest admissions percentage rates in history. If you cannot afford college and your SAT scores are average, you can attend a larger college where the cost is lower and admission rates are higher. And, you can supplement your education with free courses offered through colleges that are associated with the OCW (Open Courseware) Consortium.

    • Open Knowledge Foundation Newsletter No. 13
    • Margot Wallström on transparency and openness

      Commissioner Wallström does not provide an amended Commission proposal for the Cashman report, although the Lisbon treaty makes the older Commission proposal for a EC/1049/2001 reform obsolete. She makes some encouraging points on the criticial reform aspects…

Leftovers

  • [Satire] Microsoft promises to play nice this time

    The new Microsoft Amazingly Open And Genuine Public License allows you complete freedom to use, modify and redistribute the software provided that every copy comes with a DVD of Windows Vista Ultimate, you acknowledge that Microsoft’s FAT patent protects a remarkable and valuable innovation in computer science and all accompanying documentation is in OOXML. Also, all your data belongs to Microsoft.

    The overwhelming dominance of Microsoft was assured, he said, pointing to their success in paying netbook manufacturers to use Windows XP and paying US retailers not to stock the Linux versions of the computers. “We’re also enforcing our patent on right-clicking. And on the number seven.”

  • Yahoo May Shut Down MyBlogLog Soon

    Original Article: Yahoo will reportedly shut down MyBlogLog in January. Marshall Kirkpatrick at ReadWriteWeb claims to have heard from “sources close to the project” that this is the case.

  • Special report: FoI requests show extent of Section 44 use

    Photographers in two-thirds of the country are subject to the rule of Section 44, despite Home Office instructions earlier in the year advising police forces against using the powers to prevent or curtail street photography, finds Olivier Laurent

  • Crowdsourced document analysis and MP expenses

    It’s a crowdsourcing application that asks the public to help us dig through and categorise the enormous stack of documents—around 30,000 pages of claim forms, scanned receipts and hand-written letters, all scanned and published as PDFs.

  • UK ID card project descends into muddle

    Further confusion has broken out over the UK government’s controversial ID scheme, after it emerged that the Home Office was announcing an extension to the scheme, days after Chancellor Alistair Darling questioned the future of the project.

  • Some learnings from the erosion of Parliamentary privilege

    In pre-digital times, it would have been possible to restore the sanctity and rule of Parliamentary privilege to the Parliamentary estate to protect MPs from unwarranted intrusion by the state, or officers acting on behalf of the state such as the police. After all, MPs often receive information in confidence from their constituents and others. They rightfully need to be able to preserve such confidentiality, as journalists are likewise able to ensure the confidentiality of their sources. Ensuring that the Parliamentary estate offers such protection would be relatively easy to enforce.

  • Lithuanian spy agency set up secret prisons for CIA

    Lithuania’s intelligence agency helped the CIA to set up secret prisons in the Baltic country, a parliamentary panel said today.

    However, the national security committee found no evidence that any suspects were interrogated in Lithuania.

  • Security

  • Environment

    • China’s climate stonewall

      THERE were 45,000 people at the Copenhagen summit and more than 100 world leaders, but in the end it came down to an extraordinary personal showdown between the leaders of the world’s two superpowers and biggest greenhouse gas emitting countries, China and the US.

      The deal itself was anything but historic. But the implications of how the Chinese handled this negotiation well might be.

    • Produced Water, GOSPs and Saudi Arabia

      To the uninitiated the thought of a gas or oil well is one where a pipe goes down into the ground, and out of it flows either a steady stream of oil or natural gas, that is fed straight into a pipeline and then delivered to them (often at what they consider to be an outrageous price) with no further treatment.

    • The People vs Polluters

      The hopes of the whole world fell when Copenhagen collapsed in a weak agreement this weekend. But one group was cracking open the champagne – the polluting industry lobbyists who have bent our politicians’ ears.

    • UEA CRU climate data is a free data issue too

      I’ve been researching the apparent hack of the University of East Anglia’s Climate Research Unit (CRU), where a huge amount of email going back more than a decade, plus huge numbers of documents, have been released onto the internet – they’re indexed on various sites in searchable form and through Wikileaks, for example.

      What I find interesting is some of the discussion around it. There have been multiple freedom of information (FOI) requests to the CRU from people who want to examine the underlying data used to make the analysis about human-driven global warming.

    • How do I know China wrecked the Copenhagen deal? I was in the room

      To those who would blame Obama and rich countries in general, know this: it was China’s representative who insisted that industrialised country targets, previously agreed as an 80% cut by 2050, be taken out of the deal. “Why can’t we even mention our own targets?” demanded a furious Angela Merkel. Australia’s prime minister, Kevin Rudd, was annoyed enough to bang his microphone. Brazil’s representative too pointed out the illogicality of China’s position. Why should rich countries not announce even this unilateral cut? The Chinese delegate said no, and I watched, aghast, as Merkel threw up her hands in despair and conceded the point. Now we know why – because China bet, correctly, that Obama would get the blame for the Copenhagen accord’s lack of ambition.

      China, backed at times by India, then proceeded to take out all the numbers that mattered. A 2020 peaking year in global emissions, essential to restrain temperatures to 2C, was removed and replaced by woolly language suggesting that emissions should peak “as soon as possible”.

    • Ed Miliband: China tried to hijack Copenhagen climate deal

      The climate secretary, Ed Miliband, today accuses China, Sudan, Bolivia and other leftwing Latin American countries of trying to hijack the UN climate summit and “hold the world to ransom” to prevent a deal being reached.

  • Finance

    • Tiger Woods, Person of the Year

      AS we say farewell to a dreadful year and decade, this much we can agree upon: The person of the year is not Ben Bernanke, no matter how insistently Time magazine tries to hype him into its pantheon.

      [...]

      If there’s been a consistent narrative to this year and every other in this decade, it’s that most of us, Bernanke included, have been so easily bamboozled. The men who played us for suckers, whether at Citigroup or Fannie Mae, at the White House or Ted Haggard’s megachurch, are the real movers and shakers of this century’s history so far. That’s why the obvious person of the year is Tiger Woods.

    • FBI Probes Hack at Citibank

      The attack took aim at Citigroup’s Citibank subsidiary, which includes its North American retail bank and other businesses. It couldn’t be learned whether the thieves gained access to Citibank’s systems directly or through third parties.

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

    • Deteriorating USOC-IOC relations threaten both organizations

      The U.S. Olympic Committee nominated Chicago in the race for the 2016 Olympics determined to bring the Summer Games back to American soil for the first time since 1996 in Atlanta. Embarrassed four years ago when New York was eliminated in the second round of voting for the 2012 Games that were awarded to London, the USOC and Chicago bid leaders appeared to have left nothing to chance. They secured airtight funding, a sound infrastructure plan, the relentless enthusiasm of Mayor Richard M. Daley and — in what many viewed to be the clincher — an unprecedented final-hours lobbying appearance by a sitting president.

    • Keeping it secret

      Barack Obama’s promise to break with secrecy has been short-lived, says Melissa Goodman, in an exclusive article for Index on Censorship”s review of 2009

      For those looking forward to open, accountable government, Barack Obama began his presidency with a bang. On the campaign trail he had pledged to operate the most transparent administration in the history of the United States and on his first day in office he took decisive steps to make good on that promise.

  • Politics

    • All the President’s Mendacity

      President Barack Obama grimly warned America last week that if his health care plans fail, the nation will go “bankrupt.”

      Sure, adding another trillion-dollar entitlement program to our $12 trillion of debt may seem like a counterintuitive way to stave off economic ruin, but who are we to argue? The president’s got smarts.

    • 58%: Bush years ‘awful, not so good’

      A decisive 58 percent of respondents described the 2000-2009 years as “awful” or “not so good.” Twenty-nine percent called it “fair,” and a mere 12 percent said it was “good” or “great.”

  • Censorship/Civil Rights

    • Italian Courts, latest score: Berlusconi 1; YouTube 0

      The Italian court today struck a significant blow in favour of Mediaset, the broadcaster controlled by Silvio Berlusconi, and against YouTube.

      [...]

      No doubt lawyers in other jurisdictions are already sharpening their writs in pursuit of YouTube – in the meantime, the Viacom v YouTube litigation continues to wend its way through the New York courts, with no sign of an imminent conclusion.

    • Why you will regret using Vimeo.

      The email read as follows:

      We see that you are using Vimeo for uploading commercial content.

      We’re sorry, but as stated in our Terms and Conditions of Use, on
      our Community Guidelines page, and on the upload page itself, Vimeo is for noncommercial use only, and we cannot host this content for you. Please take 24 hours to move your videos to another hosting service.

      My immediate reaction was disbelief. After all I had read their guidelines which state:

      You may not upload commercials, infomercials, or demos that actively sell or promote a product or service.

      I didn’t believe any of my videos fell into this category.

  • Broadcast

    • Verizon Wireless Phantom $1.99 Data Usage Fee

      The Cleveland Plain Dealer has been doing an excellent job this week highlighting a $1.99 “data usage fee” Verizon’s been imposing on wireless customers who, well, aren’t using any data.

    • Verizon Responds to Consumer Complaints

      A few weeks ago, I wrote about two particularly nasty Verizon Wireless practices. First, Verizon doubled the early-cancellation fee for smartphones, the price you pay for canceling before your two-year contract is up (it’s now $350).

    • Satellite TV to FCC: we’re special, don’t make us open up

      DirecTV says that the new FCC push to bust open video should only apply to cable; satellite is plenty competitive already. Also, a tale of woe from a Comcast subscriber illustrates just why some common video decryption standards are needed.

    • Ofcom sets 60GHz free

      UK regulator Ofcom has announced it will make 6.8GHz of spectrum – from 57GHz up – licence exempt for fixed-wireless links, unless you’re too near the MoD.

  • Intellectual Monopolies/Copyrights

Digital Tipping Point: Clip of the Day

Joerg Heilig, Sun Microsystems Senior Engineering Director talks about OpenOffice.org 10 (2004)


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

IRC: #boycottnovell @ FreeNode: December 23rd, 2009

Posted in IRC Logs at 7:21 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME Gedit

Read the log

Enter the IRC channel now

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

Microsoft’s Moonlight “Promise” Full of Holes

Posted in Deception, Finance, GNU/Linux, Law, Microsoft, Mono, Novell, OpenOffice, Oracle, Patents, SUN at 5:02 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Novell bumper sticker

Summary: Detailed analysis of the Moonlight covenant reveals at least 10 holes that make it unacceptable to Free software desktops and potentially forbidden to ‘non-desktops’

MOONLIGHT is a Microsoft and Novell project. It depends on both companies and it is the fruit of labour from both companies. It is almost as though they are a single company in some particular areas of operation and we have provided substantial proof to defend this claim. Novell is increasingly desperate at this point and with such a great dependence on Microsoft, who would ever want to buy Novell (the company or the products)? Based on the latest financial results, not many. To inherit a company that loses well over $200,000,000 in just one year is no great privilege.

“To inherit a company that loses well over $200,000,000 in just one year is no great privilege.”Novell is so frail at this stage that it would do anything — just anything — to grab some money here and there. A lot of Novell income has come in the form of cash infusions from Microsoft (about a third of a billion).

Over the past couple of days we have shown rather clearly that Novell and Microsoft spread a lot of spin and disinformation about Moonlight and most of the mainstream (syndicated) press swallowed it without checking the facts [1, 2].

Well, fortunately, as the Internet is a vast universe with a diversity of assessments and access to information such as contracts, it is easy to see just what utter poison Moonlight has remained, even after that so-called ‘milestone’ reached by Microsoft and Novell.

Jason, of the Mono-Nono Web site, has analysed the Moonlight covenant and published 10 problems with it over at The Source (which is an excellent Web site by the way). The 10 problems in brief:

Problem #1: Novell-Only, Pt. 1

[...]

Problem #2: No Deviations

[...]

Problem #3: OS Limitiations

[...]

Problem #4: The Killswitch

[...]

Problem #5: Overlapping Promises

[...]

Problem #6: Novell-Only, Pt. 2

[...]

Problem #7: Novell-Only, Pt. 3

[...]

Problem #8: Platform Limited

[...]

Problem #9: GPL-Hostile

[...]

Problem #10: Expiration Date

There are many important points in there. Microsoft is totally in control of Moonlight, which is still a Novell-only piece of software. Users must take a look at this so-called ‘promise’ to convince themselves without speculation or blind trust (maybe they should start calling Mono and Moonlight “promiseware” and beg Microsoft for mercy). The codecs must be retrieved from Novell, so this whole brouhaha is not much more than another round of PR which pretends Microsoft’s Moonlight (yes, the official site says "Microsoft Moonlight") has been given its "blessing". It’s all about combating (X)HTML and Flash.

As a side note, Microsoft’s Novell’s Meeks is a it again, trying to pry OpenOffice.org off Sun/Oracle by providing justifications [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7]. There is already a discussion about it, but given the timing (just before Christmas), it is not likely to have the intended effect of giving Microsoft’s Novell more control of OpenOffice.org.

One in Two Windows PCs is a Zombie PC (Part of Botnet/s)

Posted in Free/Libre Software, Microsoft, Security, Windows at 4:10 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Michael Jackson - Thriller

Summary: Trend Micro reveals catastrophic but unsurprising figures about the loss of control of Windows; End is in sight because of erosion of Windows (revenue already down 40%)

Recently we saw Trend Micro claiming that Vista 7 is less secure than Windows Vista. Trend Micro was not the first to make such a claim. Trend Micro is by no means a fan of Free software, either. In fact, it sued a Free software project last year, so questions about bias ought to be quelled [1, 2, 3, 4], except the fact that Trend Micro is an insecurity company, which means that it makes money from problems it exaggerates and accentuates (like OpenLogic and like Black Duck, who target perceived security of Free software licensing).

“A few months ago, Microsoft itself claimed that a third of all machines which it scanned had been infected.”Vinton Cerf and Mr. Geer, both of whom are highly regarded individuals, estimated the Windows zombies levels (head count) to be somewhere around hundreds of millions. That was 2-3 years ago. In 2008, a security firm showed that almost half of all PCs (Windows) are zombies. 40% was the rate that it found. A few months ago, Microsoft itself claimed that a third of all machines which it scanned had been infected.

Those numbers make a lot more realistic and defensible the following new figures from Trend Micro, which claims that about half a billion PCs (about 50% of all systems) are infected with malware.

Trend Micro World Virus Tracking Center (WTC) recorded that 253.4 million systems were infected with malware. The comparable volume for 2009 is almost double at 491.2 million…

This did not prevent the US government from putting one of the men responsible for Windows insecurity in charge of national cybersecurity. Amazing!

On the bright side, however, Beth Lynn Eicher provides this summary which shows that Microsoft’s days as very dominant on the desktop are numbered. She is backed by many renowned individuals who concur and provide evidence.

I am not the first to predict Microsoft’s demise with Linux to the better. Heck, I am not even the first to predict a dramatic drop in a 24 month period. Be sure to put Newsweek and Techblorge on your list of people who are calling doom for the software giant. What makes my prediction unique, is I allow you, the spectators of this $20 bet, participate in the discussion of what will we use on June 30, 2011. Now that is community.

[...]

From what I can see, Microsoft is shrinking. It would be to Microsoft’s benefit to get out of the FUD business and focus on selling out of Windows 7.

Sadly, Vista 7 would do nothing to improve security (see links below). Meanwhile it is safe to assume that 1 in 2 Windows PCs is already a zombie waiting to unleash another payload on the Internet. Australia might need to kick half of all computers off the Web, leading more people to installing GNU/Linux on the same PCs.

  1. Cybercrime Rises and Vista 7 is Already Open to Hijackers
  2. Vista 7: Broken Apart Before Arrival
  3. Department of Homeland Security ‘Poisoned’ by Microsoft; Vista 7 is Open to Hijackers Again
  4. Vista 7 Security “Cannot be Fixed. It’s a Design Problem.”
  5. Why Vista 7 Could be the Least Secure Operating System Ever
  6. Journalists Suggest Banning Windows, Maybe Suing Microsoft Over DDoS Attacks
  7. Vista 7 Vulnerable to Latest “Critical” Flaws
  8. Vista 7 Seemingly Affected by Several More “Critical” Flaws This Month
  9. Reason #1 to Avoid Vista 7: Insecurity
  10. Vista 7 Left Hijackable Again (Almost a Monthly Recurrence)

Links 23/12/2009: OLPC XO 3.0 Concept Surfaces

Posted in News Roundup at 1:17 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • New Decade Forecast: Cloudy with a Chance of Tarballs

    Most of the business growth and business start-ups will leverage Linux and other so-called open source software projects. This time, though, “dot com” businesses will start and thrive in non-Silicon Valley locations providing a more widespread recovery to historically non-technical regions. Technical folk who’ve made the exodus from high cost, high tech areas of the country will spring up in lower cost locations to capitalize on their newfound frugality.

  • AARNet completes major upgrade to mirror [note: it is not "public domain Unix"]

    According to Steve Maddox, director of operations at AARNet, the mirror contains “most of the major public domain Unix software” available, including Ubuntu, Fedora, Debian and FreeBSD. The mirror automatically downloads all updates to these systems – such that when systems within Australia’s academic community download an update, they download it from a local source.

  • Kernel Space

    • Staging tree status for the .33 kernel merge

      This was originally sent to the linux-kernel and driver-devel mailing lists. Might as well post it here to get a wider audience as the last report was received well.

      Here’s a summary of the state of the drivers/staging/ tree, basically what will be coming in the 2.6.33 merge, and what the status of the different drivers are so far.

  • LCA

    • LCA 2010: Getting up close and personal with the Arduino

      When Jonathan Oxer turns up at Australia’s national Linux conference, you can be sure that he’ll have an interesting idea, either to talk about or else to demonstrate.

      [...]

      Oxer, who looks a bit different these days after shedding his locks for a good cause, will be conducting a mini-conference, a one-day workshop, on the Arduino .

    • LCA 2010: Guiding little ones down the FOSS path

      He’s probably New Zealand’s best-known FOSS figure today but modestly attributes his achievements to seizing opportunities that came his way and, occasionally, creating one or two of his own.

  • Applications

  • Distributions

    • New Releases

      • Softpedia Linux Weekly, Christmas Special

        Summary:
        · Announced Distro: Download Linux Mint 8 for 64-Bit Platforms
        · Announced Distro: Second Beta of SimplyMEPIS 8.5 Brings KDE SC 4.3.4
        · Announced Distro: Available Now: Tiny Core Linux 2.7
        · Announced Distro: Parted Magic 4.7 Is Powered by Linux Kernel 2.6.32.2

      • The Straw That Broke The Penguin’s Hat

        I’m going to create my own distro.

        Those who favour “convenience” and “simplicity” over security and Freedom, need not apply.

        Like nearly every other distro out there, mine will be initially based off another. In this case, I’m going to start with the source RPMS from Fedora 12, rebuilt to be i386 compatible, and then it’ll slowly diverge from there. Ultimately it will use Alexandre Oliva’s linux-libre, the blob-free version of Linux, with the longer-term goal of possibly even moving to the GNU Hurd, at which point I’ll take great pleasure it telling Linus “Microsoft hatred is a disease” Torvalds where to shove “his” kernel, along with those other things he endorses, like Tivoization. It’ll have a strict “No Microsoft” policy, both in terms of the actual technology, and the paradigms which define the operating system and software.

        Other features which will be depreciated include SELinux and PulseAudio, the bane of nearly every Fedora user’s existence. These technologies are “solutions” to entirely fictitious problems, and the former in particular is closely related to the same issues surrounding the PackageKit scandal. If unprivileged users are never given elevated privileges in the first place, then there simply isn’t any need for mandatory access controls – standard UNIX security methods are sufficient.

    • Red Hat Family

      • Profits remain strong at Red Hat

        Results that would make other companies go ho-ho-ho have become ho-hum for Linux software company Red Hat, which on Tuesday posted the latest in a string of strong quarterly results.

        The Raleigh-based company, which performed well even when the recession was at its worst, once again exceeded analysts’ expectations for both the top line and the bottom line – revenue and profits.

        Investors responded positively to the results, which were released after the markets closed. Red Hat shares rose as much as 7percent in after-hours trading.

      • Red Hat has a jolly Q3

        Commercial Linux distributor and platform wannabe Red Hat ended the year with a peachy quarter. For the third quarter of fiscal 2010, ended November 30, sales jumped 17.5 per cent to $194.3m.

      • Red Hat Chief Says Demand for Company’s Software Is Rebounding

        Red Hat Inc., the Linux software maker whose sales and profit in the latest quarter exceeded analysts’ estimates, said demand for its products is reviving, especially in North America.

      • Subscriptions Boost Red Hat Revenue
    • Debian Family

      • Canonical’s opportunity to simplify Ubuntu

        Red Hat is instructive. Though many of us would like to see it broaden its focus, the company remains rooted in the enterprise server and middleware markets. Canonical, in my view, should take a lesson from Red Hat and channel some of its energy into fewer markets, markets where it can thrive.

  • Devices/Embedded

    • MicroNet Expands MaxNAS Product Line with Rackmount Units

      The MaxNAS devices give users the option to configure the storage systems with Linux-based ext3 file system or ZFS file systems based on their individual requirements.

    • Fuji Soft humanoid robot

      Fuji Soft has just introduced its first commercial bipedal humanoid robot that will see its official name and price unveiled early next year. For those who have tight purse strings, fret not – Fuji Soft maintains that their robot will be highly affordable.

    • Phones

      • Nokia N900 in Review: Maemo 5 comes alive!

        What can we say about the Nokia N900, it is easily the most anticipated Nokia handset in quite some time. The Nokia N900 came out, officially, last week – November 2009 – and has so far been widely received as one of ‘The’ devices of 2009. Obviously, we’ve been covering the Nokia N900 extensively since we first got wind of it at Nokia World 2009 – and rightly so, it is one hell of a device, and completely different direction for Nokia. Read on after the jump to find out more about the device, its capabilities, and why it was so highly anticipated.

      • Nokia N900: Powerful, but Missing Some Key Features

        The Nokia N900 is a powerful smartphone with many options for customization and tinkering. It has a superb browser, and the multimedia features are hard to beat. The user interface, however, can be frustrating to navigate, and consumers who are used to their smartphone’s interface coming in a friendly, pretty package will likely be turned off by the N900. If you’re looking for something a little more intuitive but still customizable, check out the HTC Hero or even the Motorola Droid.

      • Updating N900’s Firmware on Linux
    • Android

      • Best Mobile Innovations of 2009

        Google unleashed its mobile OS Android in full force this year. The open source operating system, which runs on a Linux kernal, has gone on to power devices such as the HTC Hero and the Motorola Droid. The beauty of Android is that it is open source, meaning its literally a pleasure for developers to work with, and isn’t tied to anyone device in particular – essentially, any mobile phone manufacturer can pick it up and use it to its full potential.

      • Would Android Tablets bombard the enterprise space?

        Android is an open source mobile operating system running on the Linux kernel. Various Smartphones based on the platform is already available in the market like HTC G1, HTC Droid Eris, Motorola Droid, Samsung Galaxy, GW620 Eve, etc. However, the Android platform still has a long way to cover in the tablet segment. Meanwhile, various PC vendors like Dell, Archos, and IDC are preparing to launch their tablet PCs based on the operating system.

        [...]

        Various other companies like GiiNii, Camangi, NEC, Moto, etc are also working on the Android-based tablets. The new tablets can differ in sizes, which will resemble iPod touch or MIDs available in the market. However, the success of these devices will depend on the prices, overall functionality and the consumers’ willingness to carry a connected device in addition to mobile phone.

        It is assumed that the devices will have Google Talk, which replaces cellular connectivity. Hence, VoIP and other Google support could make a difference for the Android-based tablets.

    • Sub-notebooks

      • OLPC teases $75 tablet features, images [U]

        The One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) project today provided a deeper glimpse into its XO-3 tablet, including concept shots and more features. The roughly letter-sized computer will now hopefully include a camera on the back to record video in a more intuitive way than the XO-1. The developers also clarify that founder Nicholas Negroponte’s desire for “no holes” would involve wireless power.

      • OLPC shows off tablet XO 3.0 concept

        Along with announcing two other new models, the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) project has shown off its latest concept – with a tablet style approaching its previous vision of a dual screen book laptop.

Free Software/Open Source

  • International Health Terminology Standards Development Organisation (IHTSDO) Open Sources Health Terminology Workbench

    “Open sourcing the IHTSDO Workbench will make it easier for developers from around the world to work together to further develop these tools,” said John Gutai, IHTSDO’s chief technical architect. “It also means that organizations and standards bodies from around the world can use the same tools to maintain their own terminologies and coding systems, leveraging the investment that IHTSDO and its Members have made.”

  • Survey Looks at Open Source Data Integration Tools

    This report is a great read for understanding how open source data and BI solutions are being adopted, but it also includes short list of recommendations for those considering open source. I also found the discussion on the difference between “community” and “enterprise” editions helpful in avoiding or at least understanding one of the common gotchas of open source — finding you have to pay if you want to unlock the more useful features.

  • Hail And Farewell, Part Two

    If open source’s collective mission is to change the way software is designed and used, a goal like this would have more genuine benefit than almost anything else I can think of. The real dividing lines would be between what programs are worth using and which ones fall short — not which ones hew to a specific licensing model or were built under the auspices of a given social contract. In many realms, this has already happened: most people don’t care if a given CMS, for instance, is open source or not; they care if it fits their needs as a business. The next step will be to have the software makers themselves reach this stage — where they can consider open vs. non-open without it being a political issue.

    I don’t know if that day will ever come, but it sounds like a pretty good goal to me.

  • ERP in 2009: Looking back, looking ahead

    Free and open-source ERP options proliferate

    Going into 2010, companies have more options than ever for free and open-source ERP software. There are at least 10 open-source products in the market, with some more mature than others.

  • E-Voting in Ghana and the 2012 Elections

    Only a few weeks ago (December 1st 2009), Sequoia Voting Systems became the first major company of its kind (Voting Systems Manufacturers) to publish it’s source code openly for public download and study. You can read the following article for more information (http://www.businesswire.com/portal/site/topix/?ndmViewId=news_view&newsId=20091201006177&newsLang=en). The move follows an earlier disclosure made by the California based Open Source Digital Voting Foundation (OSDF) which made available the source code of its Prototype Election Software in October 2009 (see: www.wired.com/threatlevel/2009/10/open-source/).

  • What a Difference a Year Makes

    2009 Prediction #1: Adoption of open source software will increase as the economy worsens.
    Accuracy: Grade B+

    We can say with some conviction that this indeed was the case in 2009. While we obviously do not have financials for all open source companies we can parse through the data that is available to prove our point.

  • RIA development framework Qooxdoo debuts

    The open source qooxdoo (pronounced “ku:ksdu”) software development framework, which leverages object-oriented JavaScript and enables developers to build rich Internet applications, became available earlier this month in a 1.0 version, developers of the framework said.

  • Technology Vs. Design–What is the Source of Innovation?

    But we don’t have to wait and repeat the past. Thanks to design thinking and new tools and methods in ethnographic research, we now have a new model of innovation that is flat, open-source and dynamic.

  • Google

    • Google’s creed: ‘Open will win’

      “There are forces aligned against the open Internet–governments who control access, companies who fight in their own self-interests to preserve the status quo. They are powerful, and if they succeed we will find ourselves inhabiting an Internet of fragmentation, stagnation, higher prices, and less competition,” Rosenberg wrote.

    • Google’s Open-Source Talk Is Empty Posturing

      Google talks a lot about openness and their commitment to open source software. What they are really doing is practicing a classic business strategy known as “commoditizing the complement“*.

    • Why Google isn’t open about its “openness”

      He also launches a clear attack on Apple, noting the iPod and iPhone range as examples of how closed technology can produce excellent short-term results but soon leads to a firm only being able to make minor improvements rather than an entire industry creating better products.

  • Mozilla

    • App stores will have short day in the sun, says Mozilla

      The Mozilla Foundation claims that Fennec, now officially launched as Firefox Mobile, will sound the deathknell for app stores because its browser-based experience will be so advanced as to make downloads, optimized for smartphones, redundant. The open source organization is releasing Firefox Mobile on Nokia’s new N900, Linux-based superphone, and it will come to Windows Mobile and Android early next year.

  • Databases

    • MySQL 6 Features Roll Into MySQL 5.5 Milestone

      Even with all the drama surrounding Oracle’s pending acquisition of Sun and critics’ concerns about its impact on Oracle’s open source database competition, Sun developers are still hard at work on MySQL. One of the fruits of their labors is the recent MySQL 5.5 milestone 2 development release, which introduces many new features to the open source database — some of which were originally intended for MySQL 6.0.

  • Releases

    • Open source media player Songbird 1.4.2 released

      Songbird Logo Six months after the last stable release – version 1.2 (version 3 never got out of beta) the Songbird developers have announced the availability of version 1.4.2 of their popular open source media player. According to a post on the Songbird Blog, the 1.4.2 release, which appeared one day after Songbird 1.4.1, addresses a “UI glitch” bug in the release that “made mashTape and LyricMaster hard to use”. In addition to several bug fixes, the latest stable release of the cross-patform player focuses on improving device and format/codec support.

    • Groovy 1.7 goes final

      The new version includes more support for Java constructs like anonymous inner classes and nested classes, enhancements to annotations, which allow annotations to be added to imports, packages and variable declarations, and a more expressive and readable output from assertions.

  • Licensing

    • Episode 0x1D: GPL Enforcement

      Karen and Bradley discuss enforcement of the GNU General Public License, and in particular the lawsuits recently filed by SFLC against various violators of the GPL.

  • Programming

    • What Should We Teach New Software Developers? Why?

      Computer science must be at the center of software systems development. If it is not, we must rely on individual experience and rules of thumb, ending up with less capable, less reliable systems, developed and maintained at unnecessarily high cost. We need changes in education to allow for improvements of industrial practice.

    • Building a network performance analysis test system with Linux, Tcl/TK, SQL & extremeDB

      The devices underpinning today’s communications networks grow increasingly powerful, in their speed, throughput, features and supported services. That’s great for users – but it presents a significant challenge for manufacturers.

    • PRODUCT HOW-TO: A New Approach to Embedded Linux Development

      The commercial embedded Linux market was created ten years ago when Jim Ready founded MontaVista Software. At the time, skeptics said Linux would never work for embedded development, it lacked key features required for embedded systems, and the performance wasn’t comparable to existing real time operating systems (RTOS).

Leftovers

  • Network effects

    The internet may kill newspapers; but it is not clear if that matters. For society, what matters is that people should have access to news, not that it should be delivered through any particular medium; and, for the consumer, the faster it travels, the better. The telegraph hastened the speed at which news was disseminated. So does the internet. Those in the news business use the new technology at every stage of newsgathering and distribution. A move to electronic distribution—through PCs, mobile phones and e-readers—has started. It seems likely only to accelerate.

    The trouble is that nobody knows how to make money in the new environment. That raises questions about how much news will be gathered. But there is no sign of falling demand for news, and technology has cut the cost of collecting and distributing it, so the supply is likely to increase. The internet is shaking up the news business, as the telegraph did; in the same way, mankind will be better informed about his fellow humans than before. If paper editions die, then Bennett’s prediction that communications technology would be the death of newspapers will be belatedly proved right. But that is not the same as the death of news.

  • 8 Practical Uses for Your Old Laptop

    One sensible use for a last year’s netbook is to turn it into a network-attached storage server. This allows you to store files on the hard drive, assign user groups, and access the drive over your home network. Most of the popular NAS applications — such as Openfiler and Nexenta — provide a few options for how you install the NAS software. You can load it up as a distro that actually takes over the laptop or as a client that runs in Linux or Windows. These open-source tools are similar to Microsoft Home Server and many offer a Web-based console to control the NAS from a remote computer, so once you set up the NAS on your netbook, you can leave it to sit idly next to your router and never have to even open the lid.

  • Censorship/Civil Rights

  • DRM

    • Hackers break Amazon’s Kindle DRM

      The hack began as an open challenge in this (translated) forum for participants to come up with a way to make ebooks published in Amazon’s proprietary format display on competing readers. Eight days later, a user going by the handle Labba had a working program that did just that.

  • Intellectual Monopolies/Copyrights

Digital Tipping Point: Clip of the Day

Joerg Heilig, Sun Microsystems Senior Engineering Director talks about OpenOffice.org 09 (2004)


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

Touchscreen in GNU/Linux for Gaming

Posted in GNU/Linux, Kernel, Videos at 8:50 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: 2006 video of a GNU/Linux gamer (debunking two myths at once)


Direct link

Patents Roundup: Software Patents and ACTA at STOA, Gates-backed Monsanto Wants to Own Mexico’s Food Supply

Posted in Bill Gates, Europe, Intellectual Monopoly, Microsoft, Patents at 7:15 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Many Mexican flags

Summary: The rights of freelance/small developers are further abolished by big business and so-called ‘trade’ agreements; Mexican farmers too are at risk of becoming vassals of patent monsters

YESTERDAY we wrote about the sad state of European law, which is being ‘massaged’ by multinationals that want to protect monopolies with more patents and ACTA [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14]. The FFII has gotten a copy [WMV] of proceedings at STOA and its president reports that it covers “how to get software patents in Europe.” He also adds: “ACTA [is] mentioned in length in the video recording of the STOA meeting in the European Parliament”

This is very troubling because TRIPS [1, 2, 3, 4, 5] inside ACTA is another enabler of patent colonialism.

Over in the UK, a developer has explained why software patents are highly undesirable. He writes to his MP and here is the beginning of the letter:

Dear Rob Wilson MP,

My accountants have drawn my attention to a little-noticed clause in the Chancellor’s recent pre-budget statement that announces a measure (curiously named the “patent box”) whose effect is to offer a reduced rate of corporation tax for profits deriving from patents. The stated intent is to encourage and reward innovation. As far as the software business (so important to the economy of your constituency) is concerned, the effect is likely to be exactly the opposite, and I would therefore like to encourage you to oppose it and to ensure that a Conservative government will not only reverse it, but move in the opposite direction.

First let me explain where I am coming from. After 25 years as a senior software engineer with ICL, I spent 3 years with the mid-size German company Software AG, and for the last six years I have been running my own one-man software company here in Reading. It’s a successful small business, selling globally over the internet, and relying 100% on innovation: my competitors are companies like IBM and Intel. They have both produced products similar to mine this year, but 5 years behind.

Technically, UK and EU law disallows patents on software. However, the patent lawyers have found ways around that, and the current situation is that the patent offices are accepting applications that are software patents in all but name, and the courts are accepting them as valid.

The software business does not need incentives to innovate. If you don’t innovate, you die.

As we pointed out a few weeks ago, Mexicans too are at risk of having software patents imposed on them by the multinationals and the monopolists. According to this, the Gates-backed Monsanto wants a monopoly on Mexican food as well. [via Richard Stallman]

Mexico doesn’t have an adequate system to monitor or protect natural maize (corn) varieties from transgenes, say prominent scientists concerned about the experimental planting of genetically modified crops.

In the past month, Monsanto and Dow AgriSciences have received government permission to plant transgenic maize across 24 plots, covering a total of nearly 13 hectares, in the northern states of Sonora, Sinaloa, Chihuahua, Coahuila and Tamaulipas. The planting of transgenic maize had been prohibited for 11 years in Mexico, where maize was first domesticated.

This is a huge mistake! Monsanto is just trying to own their crops and their food, but people might not be made aware of it because über-lobbyist for Monsanto, Bill Gates, is monopolising/controlling communication about the subject [1, 2, 3]. Below we have added some more information about Monsanto.

  1. With Microsoft Monopoly in Check, Bill Gates Proceeds to Creating More Monopolies
  2. Gates-Backed Company Accused of Monopoly Abuse and Investigated
  3. How the Gates Foundation Privatises Africa
  4. Reader’s Article: The Gates Foundation and Genetically-Modified Foods
  5. Monsanto: The Microsoft of Food
  6. Seeds of Doubt in Bill Gates Investments
  7. Gates Foundation Accused of Faking/Fabricating Data to Advance Political Goals
  8. More Dubious Practices from the Gates Foundation
  9. Video Transcript of Vandana Shiva on Insane Patents
  10. Explanation of What Bill Gates’ Patent Investments Do to Developing World
  11. Black Friday Film: What the Bill Gates-Backed Monsanto Does to Animals, Farmers, Food, and Patent Systems
  12. Gates Foundation Looking to Destroy Kenya with Intellectual Monopolies
  13. Young Napoleon Comes to Africa and Told Off
  14. Bill Gates Takes His GMO Patent Investments/Experiments to India
  15. Gates/Microsoft Tax Dodge and Agriculture Monopoly Revisited
  16. Beyond the ‘Public Relations’
  17. UK Intellectual Monopoly Office (UK-IPO) May be Breaking the Law
  18. “Boycott Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in China”

The Lies About Moonlight Carry on, MSBBC to Block Free Software Users Again

Posted in Deception, DRM, Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Mono, Novell at 6:40 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Drums Novell

Summary: Inaccurate reporting and spinning about Novell’s gift to Microsoft; The BBC to prevent Free software users from accessing services they have already paid for

YESTERDAY we wrote about Novell's and Microsoft's latest Moonlight spin. They really want people to advance Silverlight at the expense of Flash and at the expense of web standards. Microsoft is desperate for more control of the World Wide Web and Novell helps Microsoft in that regard.

Novell’s (and Microsoft's) de Icaza is now pointing to Microsoft’s Web site, which altered some terms that relate to Microsoft Moonlight. It is worth remembering that Microsoft ports Silverlight to Intel's Moblin, which makes Moonlight rather worthless and insulting.

There is an inaccurate report from Justin Ryan (Linux Journal) over at OStatic. He calls Moonlight “Silverlight”, which it is not. “Microsoft Brings Silverlight 2 to Linux,” says the headline. It’s deceiving.

The first comment says:

Moonlight isn’t written by microsoft; in fact microsoft’s main involvement is to offer not to sue anyone using the technology.

I downloaded moonlight a while ago, but to be honest I was struggling to find any sites that

a) use silverlight at all

b) work with moonlight.

In fact the only ones I did find were demo sites pointed to by the moonlight website! Needless to say its now uninstalled, with no intention of re-installing it…

Moonlight is and always will be several steps behind silverlight; its principal use is as a microsoft marketing tool rather than have any useful application. Flash, although it has pretty annoyingly slow performance under linux, at least works.

From the other comments:

Same experience. Had a video site using it, Moonlight video player was failing hard. Even Windows users were having a ton of trouble.

In the end, they went back to Flash, who’s Adobe does more for Linux than “promise not to sue you for propagating *our* technology”.

Also:

Misleading.

Patent/legal protection is assured to ONLY moonlight provided by Novell to it’s clients and users.

Verify by reading here:

http://www.microsoft.com/interop/msnovellcollab/moonlight.mspx

The complete package is still Novell-only [1, 2] (codecs need to be retrieved from Novell). Another person writes:

Oh no, more work on sight!

As to date I have removed Silverlight from over 200 computers tha got infected somehow. will I also have to start removing silverlight from Linux boxes?

Microsoft has also “infected” Firefox without permission, later doing the same thing again [1, 2] until Mozilla sort of banned Microsoft. Microsoft still behaves like an outlaw company, but Novell does not seem to mind because it is funded by Microsoft.

Another crooked company is the BBC, whose affairs with Microsoft we wrote about many times before (see references at the bottom). Cory Doctorow has just written about the BBC’s latest exclusion of Free software users.

The BBC’s digital rights plans will wreak havoc on open source software

[...]

As Ofcom gears up to a second consultation the issue, there’s one important question that the BBC must answer if the implications of this move are to be fully explored, namely: How can free/open source software co-exist with a plan to put DRM on broadcasts?

A brief backgrounder on how this system is meant to work: the BBC will encrypt a small, critical piece of the signal. To get a key to decrypt the scrambled data, you will need to sign onto an agreement governed by a consortium called the Digital Transmission Licensing Administrator (some of the agreement is public, but other parts are themselves under seal of confidentiality, which means that the public literally isn’t allowed to know all the terms under which BBC signals will be licensed).

DTLA licenses a wide variety of devices to move, display, record, and make limited copies of video. Which programmes can be recorded, how many copies, how long recordings can last and other restrictions are set within the system. To receive a licence, manufacturers must promise to honour these restrictions. Manufacturers also must promise to design their devices so that they will not pass video onto unapproved or unlicenced devices – only DTLA-approved boxes can touch or manipulate or play the video.

[...]

This is where the conflict with free/open source software arises.

Free/open source software, such as the GNU/Linux operating system that runs many set-top boxes, is created cooperatively among many programmers (thousands, in some cases). Unlike proprietary software, such as the Windows operating system or the iPhone’s operating system, free software authors publish their code and allow any other programmer to examine it, make improvements to it, and publish those improvements. This has proven to be a powerful means of quickly building profitable new businesses and devices, from the TomTomGo GPSes to Google’s Android phones to the Humax Freeview box you can buy tonight at Argos for around £130.

This is another case of DRM against GNU/Linux.

More on the BBC:

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