Summary: Patent tax is rammed down people’s throats in New Zealand; Rambus gets about a billion dollars from Samsung after an ambush; Google vainly claims ownership of MapReduce
AT the behest of big corporations, politicians are now trying to advance ACTA [1, 2, 3], which is the wishlist of those seeking to maximise profits and marginalise rights.
As we have shown here before [1, 2, 3, 4, 5], the ACTA [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14] is also a weapon for a monopolist like Microsoft, not just the copyright cartel. ACTA can make Free/libre software illegal and this issue is being raised in LCA, which takes place in New Zealand (NZ). To quote the opening of a new IDG article: (also published here and here)
Open source under threat from ‘grey’ IP laws
In a presentation at this year’s Linux.conf.au Linux and open source conference in Wellington, New Zealand, Jackson said free software remains under threat from the expansion of copyright, misguided software patents, the desire to control the Internet by companies whose business model it threatens and the secretive Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) treaty.
I know this to be true because I’m at what’s undoubtedly the geekiest place in the Southern Hemisphere right now: linux.conf.au 2010, the annual gathering of Australian Linux enthusiasts. With commendable broad-mindedness, this year’s event is actually taking place in Wellington. Yes, in New Zealand. You’ve probably heard of it.
You might just have heard of Linux, the open source operating system favoured by people who know Windows is too unstable and Macs are too expensive. If you haven’t, just imagine a random mixture of your work IT department, some super-enthusiastic students and some scarily clever people, and a penguin mascot. There’s about 700 Linux supporters in Wellington this week, and they know more about technology than you (or I) will ever manage.
But back to the main issue. When ACTA got mentioned during a linux.conf.au keynote presentation by NYU anthropology professor Gabriella Coleman, the audience reaction was instantaneous: much booing and hissing. This crowd knew that the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement was potentially very bad news. But that bad news hasn’t been passed along much, even though a crucial meeting to decide the future of the proposal will take place next week.
FurnaceBoysays that “there’s a bit of history there in NZ… regarding the pro-Microsoft factions there, especially lobbying government.”
“The patent ambush is shameful and Rambus should be denied the patent and forced to refund their extortion money (the loot)…”New Zealand hopefully pays attention to the worrisome developments which are occurring in its patent law [1, 2]. Microsoft New Zealand, which is in a bit of a chaos these days, is always trying block Free software in New Zealand — if not by back-room deals, then using legal means. This afternoon we mentioned the New Zealand government attempting a migration to GNU/Linux on the desktop. It is a development like this which usually leads Microsoft CEO to making emergency trips (like the one to Munich [1, 2]) and ‘pulling an EDGI’.
Controversial Rambus Ambush
In other patent news, the Rambus ambush (submarine patent) is again being exploited in order to extort competitors [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11]. The patent ambush is shameful and Rambus should be denied the patent and forced to refund their extortion money (the loot); instead, Rambus’ extortion racket finds another victim, this time Samsung.
KOREAN ELECTRONICS GIANT Samsung has raised a white flag and agreed to pay $900 million to make Rambus lawyers go away.
theodp writes “Two years ago, David DeWitt and Michael Stonebraker deemed MapReduce a major step backwards (here are the original paper and a defense of it) that ‘represents a specific implementation of well known techniques developed nearly 25 years ago.’ A year later, the pair teamed up with other academics and eBay to slam MapReduce again. But the very public complaints didn’t stop Google from demanding a patent for MapReduce; nor did it stop the USPTO from granting Google’s request (after four rejections). On Tuesday, the USPTO issued U.S. Patent No. 7,650,331 to Google for inventing Efficient Large-Scale Data Processing.”
Ars Technica correctly points out that Google may just be claiming ownership of a public good (taking away from the commons).
The USPTO awarded search giant Google a software method patent that covers the principle of distributed MapReduce, a strategy for parallel processing that is used by the search giant. If Google chooses to aggressively enforce the patent, it could have significant implications for some open source software projects that use the technique, including the Apache Foundation’s popular Hadoop software framework.
The concept of mapping and reducing fuctions has been a fundamental idea behind distributed parallel processing for many years, and in a dispute it could be reasonably claimed that Google didn’t invent MapReduce itself, but that would just move the argument on to the specific claims within the patent.
For Google, this already acts as a weapon that intimidates competitors. It gives Google leverage that it probably does not deserve; the matter of fact is that many nice inventions are never claimed by anyone in the form of a patent, until some greedy corporation comes along and decides to become “first to file”. Many simple “inventions” — PageRank included — come from academia (Stanford in Google’s case) and TechDirt debates whether or not academic research should be eligible to earn patents; after all, the purpose of patents is not to promote creation but to exclude parallel innovation, which is crucial in the mostly taxpayers-funded academic community, unlike in a shareholders-driven industry.
Should Data Collected For Academic Research Get Intellectual Property Protection?
Now, while the economic setup in the academic world may seem to be slightly different (researchers aren’t necessarily trying to maximize revenue), the overall incentive structure remains effectively the same (and money is still a part of it all). Freeing up your data so that more people can analyze it increases the overall value of the data and is more likely to lead to additional breakthroughs or interesting findings from that data. In turn, that can lead back to more interest for the original data collector and more opportunities to do more or to be involved in more relevant projects. Locking up the data, on the other hand, takes away many of those incentives for no clear benefit.
In my thesis I was strictly required to exclude others by including a statement about ownership of something called “intellectual property” (which I don’t believe in and in fact all my code is Free software). Universities really ought to rethink this if they want to innovate rather than exclude. Ideas do not spread and inspire others by decreasing their distribution and means of dissemination. The Internet has changed everything and regulations should change accordingly (in the arts, in software, and in knowledge). █
“People naively say to me, “If your program is innovative, then won’t you get the patent?” This question assumes that one product goes with one patent.”—Richard Stallman
“The day that the software sector forms a clear front against software patents, as pharma does for a unitary patent system… will be the day our cause comes close to winning.”—Pieter Hintjens, Fosdem07 Interview
Summary: TiVo is preemptively sued by Microsoft for alleged patent violation and Microsoft’s PR puts together some lies to disguise the real cause
Microsoft publicly insisted that it’s not suing anyone with patents, unless that someone happens to sue Microsoft first. Microsoft lied however; we know this because of cases such as Primax [1, 2, 3] and even TomTom, where Microsoft took a direct hit to intimidate Linux distributors.
Now, to be fair, TiVo is a patent aggressor which has been suing with software patents [1, 2, 3, 4, 5], but still, Microsoft was never targeted by TiVo. Nevertheless, Microsoft is suing TiVo, though it has nothing to do with Linux* based on Groklaw’a quick and detailed analysis. To quote portions:
That’s, in my view, Microsoft spin, that it’s doing this to help out AT&T. I would describe it more like this: remember when SCO sued AutoZone for using Linux in its business? AutoZone didn’t write Linux. It just used it. So SCO sued an end user. Similarly, TiVo is suing AT&T. But AT&T didn’t write Microsoft Mediaroom, the implicated software. Microsoft did. So naturally, AT&T has demanded that Microsoft indemnify AT&T, and so here comes Microsoft, essentially defending itself, because if AT&T loses, it’s Microsoft who has to shell out the bucks.
In short, the PR version is that Microsoft is defending AT&T as a Good Samaritan. The reality as I read this is the Microsoft is defending itself, because if AT&T loses, Microsoft faces having to pay yet another pile of bucks for having infringed someone’s patent, just like what just happened to it in the i4i v. Microsoft patent case Microsoft lost and is appealing. That is what is at stake in this picture. You can see that very clearly in footnote 1 on that same page:
1 If TiVo is willing to state on the record that it is not accusing and will not accuse the software used in the U-verse product and/or service, including any aspect of Microsoft Mediaroom, of infringing the TiVo patents, intervention by Microsoft would be unnecessary.
So, this isn’t about helping out a friend. This is about Microsoft selling software that someone is claiming is patent infringing. Again. AT&T is just using Microsoft Mediaroom. That’s why when it got sued, it called up Microsoft. So Microsoft is defending itself. You have to hand it to its PR people, though. They get their spin in print.
In short, friends, this story has absolutely nothing to do with Linux. I knew you’d wonder, because that was my first thought, too, that maybe this was another TomTom. It’s not. And as for TiVo, TiVo may use Linux in its business, but it has not shown any inclination to adopt FOSS values. Linux folks don’t sue people over patents. Some of us remember the GPLv3 discussions, and I’d say we nailed it.
It doesn’t matter if Microsoft lies about the motives; the press blindly believes anything that PR departments are saying, so reality is suddenly an illusion and “war is peace”, as the famous line goes. Almost everyone — including The Register, Joseph Tartakoff and the business press — repeats the same Microsoft talking points:
Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) is suing TiVo Inc. (TIVO) as part of a broader attempt to provide legal cover for partner AT&T Inc. (T).
Microsoft late Tuesday filed a suit against TiVo in a San Francisco federal court, claiming that the Alviso, Calif., maker of digital video recorders illegally uses technology related to purchasing and delivering video and the ability to display programming information. Both are seen as an attempt to counter an earlier suit filed by TiVo against AT&T, which uses Microsoft’s technology in its television service. Microsoft on Friday requested to intervene in the case on AT&T’s behalf.
Microsoft is standing up for AT&T because the telecommunications company is the largest, and most influential, customer of its Internet video platform. When AT&T chose to go with an Internet-based TV service, it opted to work with Microsoft, which powers the video delivery platform, as well as the digital video recording technology. As a result, it feels the need to shoulder the legal burden for AT&T.
Microsoft has filed a patent-infringement case against TiVo in one federal court and asked to intervene in a dispute between TiVo and AT&T in another federal court — setting the stage for a legal battle over some of the most popular features used to watch television on digital video recorders.
But they are wrong. That’s just Microsoft’s excuse, for the reasons given above.
In any event, as Microsoft goes patent lawsuits-happy, it is possibly repeating the mistakes of old Apple. TechDirt has a short new essay about it, titled “When Declining To Enforce Your Intellectual Property Rights Strengthens Your Market Position”
Over the years we’ve shown many examples of times when it makes much more business sense not to enforce your intellectual property rights, but reader Jerry Leichter sends in another example.
Summary: The LUG of the Indian Institute of Technology Delhi complains about attempts by Microsoft to poison Indian standards with software patents; LCA receives a wakeup call regarding Novell’s malfunctioning Mono
“Under a saner system, Microsoft would possibly be put before courts across the world. Microsoft deliberately ignores the law.”Indian citizens understand suppression fairly well because stories about the British are not so distant in their history. They too are some of the most active when it comes to resisting the invader, whose patents are being used as a tool to tell locals that they are not permitted to write their own software. Instead, they must rent software from a company that was found guilty of tax evasion in their country — a company which was actually found guilt of monopoly abuse in many other parts of the world. It really takes some nerve, does it not?
The GNU/Linux Users Group of the Indian Institute of Technology Delhi has just responded to the latest round of lobbying for software patents in Indian standards. To quote a portion:
This document examines the Draft Policy on Open Standards for eGovernment v2.4 dated 25.11.2009 and the process followed in adopting the same. You can download from http://fosscomm.in/OpenStandards .
If v2.4 is adopted as official policy, it will result in:
1. The legitimization of proprietary standards that entail the payment of royalty fees and huge foreign exchange outflows. This cost will be paid by Indian taxpayers and pocketed by monopolistic vendors located in foreign countries, since most proprietary standards are controlled by entities outside India. Unlike royaltyfree open standards, the usage of proprietary standards will mean that users will, directly or indirectly, pay a royalty to a private entity for the privilege of communicating with the government.
2. Reduce eGovernment in India to a mess of incompatible systems that cannot communicate with each other, thus defeating the very purpose of eGovernment, if multiple standards for the same purpose are allowed.
Further away near Australia, LCA takes place and it seems to be spectacularly well organised based on press coverage.
Jeremy Allison, a Brit, has just given a talk at LCA and he repeats his warning about Mono [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6]. ITWire reports:
LCA 2010: Allison warns of patent traps in Mono
Patents are the only threat that Microsoft can brandish against free and open source software and that is exactly why people should be wary of the Mono project, free software advocate and Samba hacker Jeremy Allison told a packed auditorium at the 11th LCA today.
Allison’s presentation, titled “Microsoft and free software: the elephant in the room” was held in the second largest auditorium but it was difficult to find standing room once he got going.
Sporting a T-shirt with the Samba logo on the front, and “opening windows to a wider world” on the rear, Allison presented a meticulously prepared set of arguments to show that patents were the only way which the word’s largest software company had left to attack FOSS.
Mono is an attempt to create an open source clone of Microsoft’s .NET development environment; the project was begun by Novell vice-president Miguel de Icaza who claims this will pull Windows developers over to GNU/Linux.
Allison said the patent war would be a never-ending conflict. “All the patent promises about Mono count for nothing,” he said. Other methods of harming FOSS had not borne the expected fruit.
Microsoft to declare patent war on iPhone/Android?
A key Linux developer has predicted Microsoft will use its huge patent portfolio to cripple smartphone competitors and boost its woeful Windows Mobile market share.
Microsoft will increasingly utilise its patent library to try and stifle any competition for netbook OSes and reassert itself in the mobile phone space, a prominent open source developer has argued.
That strategy is likely to be particularly prominent in the market for non-PC devices such as netbooks and smart phones, where Windows doesn’t enjoy the same strength of market share. While co-marketing schemes have seen former Linux supporters such as Asus largely shift to Windows, maintaining overall share and eliminating new competitors is critical to Microsoft’s survival, Allison said.
Connecting the dots, however, I’m tempted to push this a little forward. Contrary to what Microsoft envisioned or hoped or simply told us, the Windows ecosystem is not moving towards a .NET centric solution, but .NET is only a powerful and sophisticated execution and development environment on top of Windows .
The #1 framework or language is Java, based on data from those who track programming. █
“Did you know that there are more than 34,750 registered lobbyists in Washington, D.C., for just 435 representatives and 100 senators? That’s 64 lobbyists for each congressperson.”
Summary: Microsoft goes to Washington again, hoping to influence the government it has already funded by offering secret agents (“law enforcement” with the pretext of “security”) a free ride in datacentres
BRAD Smith, Microsoft’s general counsel, gave $25,000 to the Obama inauguration (he essentially paid Obama) and although he is not making visits to the White House like Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer do [1, 2, 3] (Bill Gates, Melinda Gates, Steve Ballmer, and his wife Connie Snyder each gave $50,000 to Obama), he still goes to Washington, along with the legion of lobbyists.
“Gathering intelligence on enemy activities is critical to the success of the Slog.”
Watch Brad Smith as he now lobbies the Obama administration for self gain (and potential harm to Google). He wants to allow access by officials, even on the very same week that we learn about the FBI breaking the law with illegal snoops (see references 1 and 2 at the bottom). Let’s not forget that Microsoft assembles dossiers about its critics [1, 2, 3, 4] (Microsoft “dissidents”, which it calls “enemies”).
During a visit to Washington, D.C., this morning, Brad Smith, Microsoft’s general counsel, asked the U.S. government to overhaul its laws to make cloud computing more secure and private, and to make it easier for cloud-computing providers and law enforcement officials to track down and prosecute online attackers.
So now we know who determines the law of the land. It’s the corporations, not the supposedly-impartial and independent officials. █
The latest example is from IDG News Service. From the summary:
Windows 7 Upgrade Troubles
• User idiocy resulted in my ignoring documented restrictions on installing Windows 7 onto a Windows XP platform.• Microsoft’s decision to ignore Windows XP systems for upgrades may be revenge for the installed base’s overwhelming refusal to upgrade from XP to Vista.• Microsoft’s diagnostic program failed to alert me to a major incompatibility on MAIN that prevents installation (so far) of Windows 7.• Microsoft provided no supported tool under Windows 7 of reading backups created under Windows XP.• A consistent business continuity plan paid off in zero downtime and zero data loss.
The Olive Media Olive 2 is a network audio player to bridge the gap between computer and hi-fi.
You interact and select tracks from your music collection on the Olive Media Olive 2 through a black and yellow-themed screen interface, with text showing in white; behind the scenes, the Olive uses a Linux operating system. The graphical user interface could be slow to update as menu items were selected, and while we usually got to where we wanted to go eventually, it was neither slick nor intuitive.
If your New Year’s Resolution includes something along the lines of “be better organized,” choosing a task manager might be in order. Linux doesn’t lack for task managers, but good ones are few and far between. To help LWN readers boost productivity, we’ve picked a few to look at.
The Day the Earth Stood Still (2008)
Shrek the Third (2007)
X-Men The Last Stand (2006)
King Kong (2005)
Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (2003)
Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones (2002)
The Matrix (1999)
Both companies are largely (or in the case of Amazon – almost entirely) powered by Linux. In addition to these, it relatively safe to say around half the internet runs on Linux powered Apache servers.
I think I’ve covered just about everyone who uses technology at this point in some form or another. Does anyone still think you haven’t uses something Linux powered at least once in your life? No? Good.
Does anyone else know of some other common places Linux is used by the masses or another large retailer/company that is Linux powered that I missed?
Bharata B. Rao, one of the speakers at the 11th LCA, is an exception – he has come to Wellington straight from Bangalore and is just recovering from the jetlag. (His talk is titled “Using performance counters to optimize task placement on multi-core systems.”)
Rao, who is in his mid-30s, works for IBM as a senior staff software engineer in the India Software Labs Systems Group. What’s more, he writes code aimed at the Linux kernel.
Midway through the week that comprises the 11th Australian national Linux conference, the two co-organisers, Andrew and Susanne Ruthven, say they are extremely pleased with the way things are working out.
It takes a lot of courage to set out on an unexplored course, especially when it comes to academia. There is nothing to compare with the withering scorn that one earns from this community if one sets out on an ambitious course – and then fails miserably.
Glyn Moody – Hackers at the end of the world. Rebel code is now 10 years old… 50+ interviews over a year – and could be considered an archaeology now I probably haven’t down the keynote justice – it was excellent but high density – you should watch it online
Glyn talks about open access – various examples like the public library of science (and how the scientific magazine business made 30%-40% profit margins. The Human Genome Project & the ‘Bermuda Principles’: public submimssion of annotated sequences. In 2000 Celera were going to patent the entire human genome. Jim Kent spent 3 weeks writing a program to join together the sequenced fragments on a 100 PC 800Mhz Pentium processor. This was put into the public domain on just before Celera completed their processing – and by that action Celera were prevented from patenting *us*.
Corbet took his typical potshot at Ubuntu, saying that LKML is now friendlier than the Ubuntu mailing lists. Thankfully two other speakers today (mako and mjg) mentioned the Ubuntu Code of Conduct as being both important and effective in the Ubuntu community. In my opinion, there seems to be an ever-growing trend of LWN.net attacks on Canonical and Ubuntu. I think I’ll dedicate a post on that topic soon.
The glorious weather that had punctuated the first two days of the conference held, heralding in the third day in a blaze of sunshine. The conference proper was introduced by a keynote by Benjamin Mako Hill on Antifeatures: Why your software works against you and why software freedom offers hope of a better future. Mako explored the concept of anti-features as deliberately included functionality or a lack of functionality that users hate so much they will pay to have them removed. Some classic examples included the gator spyware that was included with free version of p2p software on the windows platform – with a spyware-free version available for a fee.
This year’s Linux.conf.au gathering has placed more emphasis than ever on the broader impact of free and open source software (FOSS), and how the models it utilises could benefit society in all kinds of other ways. It’s a fascinating argument and a worthwhile goal, but it’s still hard to escape the feeling that it’s not being tailored well for the non-geek community. The way the case is being presented at LCA 2010, Joe Blow won’t want to know.
New Zealand will begin a test of a homegrown free and open source desktop solution next month, with the Horizons Regional Council to be one of the guinea pigs, according to the president of the country’s open source society.
I agree with Vincent Danen that wondering whether Linux is ready for the desktop is silly, even irrelevant — wider usage tends to foster growth in related sectors (think cloud computing and virtualization). But Koenning’s made a particularly strong (and strangely parallel) point that encouraging “non-technical” end users to use open source software is a great way to ease vendors into supporting non-proprietary platforms.
Three New Zealand government agencies will begin a pilot next month to replace their existing Windows desktops with machines running Linux and other open source software.
The Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, Horizons Regional Council and NZ Post will all begin trialling the use of Linux desktops in February. NZ Post’s open source plans were outed by Computerworld in August last year.
A quick visit to Ubuntu.com, and I found Buying Ubuntu on CD and DVD. This links to authorized distributors all over the planet, and their pricing is rather different than WashingtonCD. For example, at On-disk.com CDs and DVDs are under $5.00US, and couple bucks for shipping. (WashingtonCD is not an authorized distributor.) Canonical will ship you a CD edition for free. Really free, not free + money.
Don’t wait, folks, get your unauthorized no-cost Windows killer for only $20 + $6 shipping now!
Lenovo’s Ultra portable Skylight smart book, is also powered by efficient cell processors most of us have never heard of. It runs on a Lenovo user interface on Linux, although you wouldn’t know it when using it. One battery charge gives you 11 hours on the go. It has WiFi and always – connected cellular 3G. It basically bridges what has been missing between smart phones and Netbooks.
Any system administrator worth their salt has some kind of system for collecting and maintaining information about all the systems they’re responsible for. Gathering that info by hand, especially when the systems are inherited, can be time-consuming. Or you could try out boxinfo, a Perl script that gathers most or all of the information you’d want in a few easy steps.
The A8T84140-AMC is supported under Linux 2.6 and is supplied with RPMs for Red Hat Enterprise Linux and CentOS. The card is compatible with the PICMG AMC.0 base specification with options for compact, mid-height and full-height versions, enabling the card to be installed into any AdvancedMC slot in an ATCA carrier or a ?TCA chassis.
This Linux-based IBM solution provides staple collaboration tools such as email, file sharing, and remote access and affords peace of mind through automated network security features, data protection, backup and recovery. With Engate, Lotus Foundations Start will offer a security suite that proactively protects SMBs from a diversity of email-borne threats.
Chromium hacker Hexxeh has released a faster, USB-bootable build of Google’s Chrome OS called Chromium OS Zero. Meanwhile, ArsTechnica interviewed Google’s Engineering Director for Chrome OS, Matthew Papakipos, regarding the past and future of Chrome OS.
Hexxeh’s final build of Chromium OS Zero follows earlier, well-regarded releases of versions including Chromium OS Diet and Cherry. Based on the open source Linux Chromium code that Google began to release in late November, with the goal of releasing a final Chrome OS for netbooks later this year, Chromium OS Zero promises major speed improvements “for many users,” according to Hexxeh’s blog announcement.
Today we are proud to announce a new operating system, a port of Google’s famous Android platform for the x86 (32-bit) architecture. Simply named Android-x86, this Live CD Linux distribution is designed mostly for the Eee PC netbooks, but can also run on any other 32-bit (x86) platform. The current stable version of Android-x86 is based on Android 1.6 (Donut) and it’s powered by Linux kernel 2.6.29 with kernel mode-setting (or KMS for short) enabled. It has support for the EXT3, EXT2, NTFS and FAT32 filesystems, and can be run directly from the CD (yes, no installation required)! But, if you like it and you want to install it on your hard drive or on a USB stick, we have a short tutorial for you at the end of the article.
To that end, on February 10, 2010 the Linux Foundation and the Open Source Initiative will host a Strategic Planning Session for lawyers active in support or adoption of free and open source software. At this meeting our legal community will consider what legal issues we anticipate may arise and what foundations we might be able to lay to support continued rise of free and open source software.
Forget lofty ideals about the open-source community: most Linux kernel code is written by paid developers at major corporations.
During a presentation at Linux.conf.au 2010 in Wellington, LWN.net founder and kernel contributor Jonathan Corbet offered an analysis of the code contributed to the Linux kernel between December 24 2008 and January 10 2010. (The kernel serves as a basis from which individual distributions such as Ubuntu, Debian or Red Hat are developed, though these will often add or remove specific features.)
Geany was just the text editor I was looking for after switching from Windows to Linux. I wanted a lightweight, nimble application with functionality that would serve my writing needs when a full-fledged word processing app wasn’t necessary — for me, most of the time. I found it in an IDE designed for programmers.
Nearly five months after the release of the first beta, the Skype for Linux developers have announced the availability of the second beta for version 2.1 of their Linux Skype client. In addition to several localisation updates and bug fixes, version 220.127.116.11 of Skype for Linux adds a number of new features that have been available on Mac and Windows editions of Skype for some time. The full release for Windows is currently at version 4.1 and for Mac OS X is at version 2.8.
Pytone is a curses based Jukebox program with advanced features like crossfading, multiple players (libmad,xmms,mpg321/123), prehearing with a second soundcard, search functionality, logging, mixer functions and an English and German interface.
On Ubuntu, the default text-editor Gedit works great, and has a few extra features that make taking plain-text notes a bit more convenient, like a side-bar file browser so you can easily open multiple files, and automatic time/date insertion if you’re keeping a journal.
It’s called Ubuntu tweak and you can get it from http://ubuntu-tweak.com/. The new version of Ubuntu tweak (0.5) came out about 2 weeks ago and has some improvements in it so go ahead and grab it from their website.
Back in 2008, I looked at Boxee on the Apple TV. Boxee, if you aren’t familiar with it, is a free and open-source media center app. It is now also available in beta form for Mac OS X, Windows, and Linux.
I thought this was a good time to take a look at the last. This is not a formal review, just some initial thoughts on my experience with it. Please do not forget that Boxee is labeled “beta,” so if you try it out you may run into some bugs.
Boxee has great things on the way — some we can’t tell you about yet — but here’s one we can: video on demand in the form of the Boxee Payment Platform, bringing one-click payment for shows that will hopefully be worth your money.
The idea that Linux users would want to play old MS-DOS games might seem strange to some, whats even stranger for me is the fact that this task needs similar software to do exactly the same thing under the latest Windows versions.
After month of development, QuantZ is now available for Linux. For the record, QuantZ is a fun and innovative 3D puzzle and action game. In QuantZ you have to control a cube with your mouse and launch marbles onto it, create explosions of color, chain reactions and try to clear the cube using as less QuantZ (Marble) as possible!
According to the announcement, beginning next month a limited number of developers will be invited to begin working with the Kindle Development Kit, which includes sample code, documentation, and the Kindle Simulator, which helps developers build and test their content by simulating the 6-inch Kindle and 9.7-inch Kindle DX on Mac, PC, and Linux desktops.
The Haiku operating system, an open source remake of BeOS, has gained support for running a number of KDE applications, including the KOffice productivity suite. This was made possible by a native port of Nokia’s Qt development framework to the Haiku platform.
The first day of Camp KDE is behind us, with the first of the many presentations being well attended. A full summary of the talks lives behind the break, and videos will be online shortly. If you are in the San Diego region, feel free to join us for Camp KDE for talks and training.
The second day of Camp KDE was filled with many more interesting talks. This day’s talks were of the more technical nature versus the first day, and the KDE team took notes. As usual, the talks were recorded and videos will be available soon. A detailed rundown of the second day of talks are behind the link.
I have always been searching for some amazing stuff from the linux world.And this time i was thunderstruck by one of them and that is Nimblex Linux.It is a linux distribution that allows the users to select whatever they need from a long list of programs.The linux is so overwhelming that it is worth a nobel price.It enables us to create a custom cd from a mere 200 mb cd.It is based on live scripts .After you select the modules you need you can make an .iso image and save that to your harddisk.It is termed as the new wave of linux.
There is no shortage of Linux distros. For dozens, if not hundreds, of different tastes, there is a distribution made for you. And now, there is even a version of Linux that doesn’t even look like Linux at all. It looks like Windows XP.
I like Debian for being somewhere in between a beginner’s distro and an advanced distro. Many of the high-end, menial chores required by Crux et al. simply evaporate in Debian, and at the same time Debian doesn’t seem to “push your face in the plate” like Ubuntu sometimes can. You’re still responsible for managing a lot of what happens with your system … kind of like Arch.
Looking from a FOSS point of view, the inclusion of proprietary software within the Ubuntu library will be of concern to some. I can understand that point, however we have to be realistic. Ubuntu is arguably the most popular Linux distro, it has a legion of very happy users who champion the product. Unfortunately Canonical is a company and its a company that needs to generate revenue to stay in existence. If Canonical could “live” off good will and praise then it would probably be the most valuable company in the world. I have often said there is a place for proprietary software and if by offering titles that were traditionally the mainstay of a Windows platform will bring new users to Linux, then bring it on.
If you have ever introduce someone to Linux, you will know that they always ask “Will this software work? Will that software work?”. If you say “No they won’t work”, they instantly loose interest. For example, I have been asked if Photoshop will work when I try to get my friend to install Ubuntu. When I told him that it will not, no amount of convincing from me that Gimp is a great alternative could move him. However, if Windows (or Mac) users get to use their favorite applications in Ubuntu as well it will increase the number of Ubuntu users greatly.
From Canonical’s point of view too this makes a lot of sense. If they make paid softwares like Photoshop available in their repository, they are effectively acting as an online store. This can potentially be another revenue source for them.
I’ve finally got Plymouth up and running on Ubuntu Lucid. Well, up and partially running – I only get to see the new Plymouth at shutdown, but considering I have an Nvidia graphics card and only installed Ubuntu Lucid in VirtualBox so far, I’ll take what I can get.
Let’s take a look at the Ubuntu Lucid Plymouth themes (already included in Lucid). I should have made this post about the “Solar” theme only, as it’s the only one which is nice, the others are either static or just a “glow”.
These videos can be a great way to demonstrate the power of Linux/Ubuntu to family members, friends or the hardened Linux sceptic. What better way to prove your OS is good looking, useable and feature-filled than to show your good looking, useable and feature-filled desktop?!
Most VPM’s are forged from hardened versions of Linux on a diet due to flash drive size constraints. USB 3.0, SLC flash, and larger flash drives have all, but removed this limit and embedded versions of more full featured, user friendly versions of Linux are popping up. While it may seem extreme, maintaining corporate intellectual property and securing assets from disgruntled employees can mean big bucks in today’s bleeding edge world. Look for the rapid proliferation of ideas like this in the years to come.
There has been a fair bit of hand-ringing recently about free and open source software’s impact on mobile phones and other consumer devices. Lysandra Ohrstrom of the SFLC last week celebrated the increased use of FOSS on devices available at the Consumer Electronics Show, but lamented the fact that often the user does not get to “share, tinker, and adapt the devices”. Meanwhile Bradley M Kuhn recently warned that “we are in a very precarious time with regard to the freedom of mobile devices” while Glyn Moody questioned whether it is healthy that most Android applications are closed-source.
Android is an application framework on top of Linux. We will look at the details of the layers of the framework, shortly. It is supplied as open source code, but does not bind the user with the constraints of the GPL ” there is no requirement for developers to make public any code developed using Android.
Believe it or not, this electronic guitar is actually a Gentoo Linux box, running a 500MHz AMD Geode processor, an 8.4-inch, 800×600 LCD touch screen with an SSH server and a MIDI output. It is made of milled, solid plastic, and could probably be hooked up to Rock Band. But that is to rob it of the romance.
The Cool-er is based on a Linux OS and we’ve been informed that the entire OS will be made GPL in the near future, allowing developers to chop and change the firmware to add the features they require. It supports PDF, EPUB, FB2, RTF, TXT, HTML, PRC, JPG and MP3, so you’ll be able to view images and listen to music if you choose. Annoyingly, the Cool-er uses a 2.5mm headphone jack instead of the standard 3.5mm jack – although an adapter is included.
Nokia’s N900 is a Linux-based mobile device with a number of advanced features, including application multi-tasking, built-in VoIP support, stereo speakers, graphics acceleration, video output to a TV, and more.
The first bugfix release for version 4.6 of Qt GUI toolkit, acquired by Nokia in 2008, is now available. Similarly, an update for the cross-platform Qt Creator development environment, version 1.3.1, is also available to download. Both combine numerous fixes with performance enhancements and revised documentation. Qt 4.6.1 contains more than 90 changes, whilst debugging (especially under Mac OS X 10.6 ‘Snow Leopard’) and the C++ editor have both been revised in Qt Creator. Both technologies are available on the Qt project’s Git resource under the open source LGPL 2.1 license.
Entourage Systems is taking pre-orders for its dual-display, Android-based “Entourage Edge” e-reader, bundled with DataViz’s Documents To Go. In other recent e-reader news, Spring Design’s “Alex” will access Borders’ e-book store, Samsung announced two e-readers, Amazon announced a new Kindle DX model, and Amazon is broadening its Kindle self-publishing platform.
People who like to try new cell phones on a regular basis should brace themselves; this year, Motorola’s going to do its best to make it rain Android devices. In an interview today, one exec committed to releasing something like two dozen smartphones based on the mobile operating system.
Motorola this week unveiled its first Android phone for the South Korean market. The phone, called the Motoroi, looks similar to the Motorola Droid handset in the U.S. or the Milestone in Europe but without the slide-out keyboard.
You are probably already aware that Google has launched the Nexus one, aka “the Google Phone”.
The reviews are mixed from what I have read so far.
Early in the rumor mill — way back when there was first talk of a Google-backed device — the thought was that perhaps the Google phone would be “free” but laden with advertisements. The idea being that if you let Google display ads to you morning, noon and night on your mobile phone, you could enjoy free… everything.
HTC hopes it can encourage a wider audience to choose the Tattoo by offering customisable casing. At the point you buy you can choose pre-defined colours or use your own imagination and customise with your own designs. We couldn’t test this service before writing, but it sounds promising.
Without good usability none of this matters, of course, and there is both good and bad news on this front. In general we found working with the Tattoo comfortable enough. Its screen is a bit small at 2.8 inches, and its 240 x 320 pixel resolution is the lowest we expect to see from any finger-friendly smartphone. But for the most part it was good enough.
Last month cloud computing and systems management expert John Willis published his best of Cloud Computing for 2009 list he calls the Cloudies. I am not an expert on the latest developments in cloud computing so it was nice to get a list of the best (in his expert opinion) cloud computing tools. I was especially interested in the latest open source software and I did a little research on each of these projects to see if they had active development mailing lists, regular releases and a real community behind them. At first glance my final list read like a cast of manga characters with names like Bitnami, CollectD, Enomaly, OpenNebula, RabbitMQ and Zenoss. However they all seem to benefit from a strong development ethic, a growing community of users and the ability to address challenges associated with cloud computing.
Both BT’s open source innovation capability, Osmosoft, and its open source governance unit, the Open Source Operations Team, aim to operate in as transparent a manner as possible. In support of this we contribute to initiatives such as FOSSBazaar and the European Legal Network, and where possible publish information about how we deliver using F/OSS technologies and how we implement the associated governance.
I am pleased to officially announce the 2010 revision of Nuxified.org, an alternative outlet for all Free Open Source Software users and fans. This revision proves that there’s still plenty of life behind this site and is a token of my continued interest in maintaining and improving it.
The slogan marking this revision is a “FOSS Clique” translating perfectly to a “community of people interested in Free Open Source Software”.
CompTIA — a large association serving the IT channel — has longstanding relationships with Microsoft and the traditional software industry. But one of CompTIA’s new board members could help to drive open source solutions across the IT channel. Here’s the scoop.
Oh dear. After the debacle with Microsoft Poland’s apparent racist photoshopping, Microsoft China went and got the company in hot water for allegedly “stealing” code. Yes you read that right: Microsoft and wholesale “theft” of code from another website. Of course it’s not “theft” it’s copyright infringement but tomayto/tomarto. Microsoft confessed blaming a vendor they had worked with. No surprise really but the damage to their name may have already been done. There’s more to discuss here than Microsoft’s already tarnished reputation though. The issue raises some important points in favour of free software and points to why more if not all code should benefit from free licencing.
At this week’s AsteriskWorld conference, Digium will officially launched Asterisk Exchange — an online marketplace that allows customers and channel partners to piece together solutions involving Asterisk (the open source IP PBX). If successful, Asterisk Exchange could expand the ecosystem for alternative VoIP and unified communication solutions. Here’s the scoop, including a FastChat video with Digium CEO Danny Windham.
Pika Technologies announced a GSM Module for its open source Asterisk- and FreePBX-based IP-PBX device. The dual-channel GSM Module for the Pika Warp Appliance for Linux enables PBX developers to offer connections to one or more GSM cellular networks, offering backup and LCR (least cost routing), the company says.
Modern PBX phone systems often have lots of capabilities that end-users never actually see, since they don’t actually directly use the PBX — they use the phones that the PBX enables. That’s a situation that VoIP vendor Digium is aiming to change with the new release of Switchvox 4.5.
Switchvox is Digium’s commercially licensed VoIP IP PBX and was last updated a year ago for enhanced unified communications collaboration services. Digium itself is best known as the lead commercial sponsor behind the open source Asterisk IP PBX effort, which also serves as the base for Switchvox.
Just when you think you’ve got all the Firefox add-ons you’ll ever need, the developer community is busy dreaming up more. Here’s five add-ons you’ll love that also might solve some problems you didn’t even know you had.
Mozilla Labs has rolled out a major update to Bespin, an open source text editing engine that is built with standards-based Web technologies. The project has undergone a “reboot” with the aim of improving the ease with which it can be used and enhanced.
Bespin 0.6, codenamed Ash, reflects the significant effort that went into the architectural overhaul. The code is more modular and is designed so that virtually all of the core functionality is implemented in plugins. The developers have also made it considerably easier to embed Bespin in webpages, an improvement that will lower the barriers to adoption.
Early on in the first year of this blog, I got to investigating the use of Drupal for creating an article-based subsite. In the end, the complexities of its HTML and CSS thwarted my attempts to harmonise the appearance of web pages with other parts of the same site and I discontinued my efforts. In the end, it was Textpattern that suited my needs and I have stuck with that for the aforementioned subsite.
The Daemon series is an exploration of a could-be-now, constantly connected society. Suarez has taken cutting edge technology and inserted it into everyday life. It’s a great exploration of where our society might be headed. In many ways it reminds me Cory Doctorow’s excellent Little Brother. Cory’s young-adult novel is a great primer for hacker and maker culture. Daemon serves a similar purpose providing a primer for what a networked society that is structured like MMORPG will look like.
Admit it, when many of you think of open source you assume software. But new concepts of open source in hardware and design promise to transform many industries. Open Source’s allure of faster, more agile development, quicker innovation and accelerating evolution of technology doesn’t apply to software alone.
The first time I heard of open source hardware was when both my friend Brad Feld and Fred Wilson wrote about Bug Labs in their blogs. I was intrigued by the idea but didn’t quite grok it. I knew that if Brad and Fred invested in it there must be something to it and I would watch it develop. But the idea seems to have some legs.
Today we’re officially announcing the brand new jQuery Forum. We’ve been using mailing lists, and subsequently Google Groups, over the past 4 years to manage the discussion and community around jQuery. That particular solution has simply not been able to scale to our discussion requirements both in terms of participation and in managing spam.
Sauce Labs has released Sauce IDE, a record and playback system for Selenium tests that allows individuals new to Selenium do automated application functional testing on multiple browsers including Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari, Chrome and Opera and multiple operating systems, all without writing any code.
(3) Of all things, you’re trying to sell me design in .NET/ .ASP. Now, can anyone see Idiot’s mistake? Ah, yes, in the second row. A website about Free-and-Open-Source Software? Hosted on a Linux server? With an email address with the word “Linux” right in the string? With numerous posts about coding in Python and PHP? Yeah, that does raise a red flag, doesn’t it?
Open source has bought us some great products, but even if you’re a programming genius, working out how to get involved in a project can be challenging. The TeachingOpenSource.org site offers a wealth of material to help you learn the basics.
I had done my best to sort out the why’s and wherefore’s of Google’s first consumer OS effort in my initial launch coverage but I still had many questions about the past, present, and future of the project.
EB: The way that we’ve thought about this for a while is if you read the Chrome OS blog post that we did in July, and you read the Chrome browser blog post that we did in September in 2008, they’re very similar. They’re essentially the same thing. And the reason is because when we were building Chrome the browser, we realized that everyone is spending their time online. So essentially we were trying to build something that mimics this operating system feel—there’s a task manager in Chrome, and that was one of the early additions to Chrome.
An internal audit found the FBI broke the law thousands of times when requesting Americans’ phone records using fake emergency letters that were never followed up on with true subpoenas — even though top officials knew the practice was illegal, according to The Washington Post.
The FBI illegally collected more than 2,000 U.S. telephone call records between 2002 and 2006 by invoking terrorism emergencies that did not exist or simply persuading phone companies to provide records, according to internal bureau memos and interviews. FBI officials issued approvals after the fact to justify their actions.
This kind of error is unforgivably stupid. Not only is it irresponsible, there’s no conceivable excuse for this kind of administrative incompetence. Even worse, it makes it less likely that people will serve as magistrates in the future.
Students were evacuated from Millennial Tech Magnet Middle School in the Chollas View neighborhood Friday afternoon after an 11-year-old student brought a personal science project that he had been making at home to school, authorities said.
Maurice Luque, spokesman for the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department, said the student had been making the device in his home garage. A vice principal saw the student showing it to other students at school about 11:40 a.m. Friday and was concerned that it might be harmful, and San Diego police were notified.
Unfortunately for Mr Chambers, the police didn’t see the funny side. A week after posting the message on the social networking site, he was arrested under the Terrorism Act and questioned for almost seven hours by detectives who interpreted his post as a security threat. After he was released on bail, he was suspended from work pending an internal investigation, and has, he says, been banned from the Doncaster airport for life. “I would never have thought, in a thousand years, that any of this would have happened because of a Twitter post,” said Mr Chambers, 26. “I’m the most mild-mannered guy you could imagine.”
Warren Buffett opposes President Barack Obama’s proposed levy on financial institutions because firms including Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Wells Fargo & Co. already repaid bailout funds, he told CNBC.
The Federal Reserve Bank of New York paid French banks 100 cents on the dollar to settle trades with American International Group Inc. in November 2008, the same month an AIG competitor negotiated payments of less than a third of that to retire similar bets.
The hearings into the roots of the recession aren’t scaring Wall Street. What’s really frightening is public anger at the industry shows no signs of abating, and Lloyd Blankfein, the man leading the charge to turn that around, is only making matters worse—and possibly putting his job at risk.
According to the Post, “Goldman officials refuted the claim that Goldman was delaying the bonus information in order to avoid a PR flap, saying the delay was more the result of the bank changing the timeframe of its discussions with employees.”
It’s the biggest bank robbery in American history, but the banks are doing the robbing. I mean, just go through the facts. What, overnight in 2008 they turned Goldman Sachs, that venerable investment bank – how about casinos that gambled and lost – into a bank holding company. Why? Well, so that they could borrow at ridiculously low rates and they could be given approximately $10 billion dollars to put them on the road to gambling.
Hank Greenberg, former chief executive officer at American International Group Inc., said Goldman Sachs Group Inc. is responsible for the collapse of the insurer during the economic crisis, the Wall Street Journal reported.
Hundreds of banks issued warrants to the government in return for government aid under the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program, after a credit crunch caused financial markets to seize up in 2008.
Yves here. Admittedly, it is much easier telling Americans that the pursuit of lucre is a false god when most of the country is broke. But more is that FDR from the very outset set himself up as an opponent of rule by the banking classes. He depicts them as failures and calls them unscrupulous and selfish. By contrast, have were ever heard Obama even hint that bankers were less than ethical? Let’s see, last December, he called them “fat cats“! Ah yes, of course, everyone knows a cat will steal a sardine if you aren’t watching. Yeah, that Obama sure knows how to dress those bankers down!
As we discussed at greater length earlier this week, this new “get our money back” idea is pure three card Monte. Put the spotlight on the TARP so everyone will ignore all the other massive subsidies that the banks have gotten, continue to receive, and are abusing. Those who claim many banks have “paid back the TARP” are missing (more likely choosing to obfuscate) the point: the TARP calculus grossly understates of the gives and the gets here (although as we have said before and will say again, Obama’s focus on the TARP is pure political expediency).
As the Chinese government expands what it calls a campaign against pornography, cellular companies in Beijing and Shanghai have been told to suspend text services to cellphone users who are found to have sent messages with “illegal or unhealthy content,” state-run news media reported Tuesday.
Every year in China, Internet executives are officially rewarded for their “patriotism.”
Last November in Beijing, I sat in a large auditorium festooned with red banners and watched Robin Li, the CEO of Google’s main competitor, Baidu, parade onstage with executives from 19 other companies to receive the 2009 “China Internet Self-Discipline Award.”
The rhetoric was all about the “strength and confidence of the Chinese Internet” and “harmonious and healthy Internet development.” The reality is: China’s annual “self discipline” award is for private sector censorship.
How do the above fines compare to other crimes? Gapers Block uses the Illinois Criminal code to find that file-sharing is worse than arson, child abduction and second-degree murder, among others. This just shows how ill-conceived laws are sometimes, and copyright and patent law unfortunately provides too many examples.
Notably, in the category of recorded music (the realm of active copyright lobbyists) both countries show a declining compounded annual growth rate. But Canada’s decline is projected to -1% whereas its American counterpart shows -4.7%. Similar comparisons to U.K (-3.9%), France (-7.4%), and Germany (-1.9%) all place the Canadian music scene as more stable. This, despite the state of our copyright law.
How do you deal with an entrenched content industry that tries to pump its twisted values down your throat with ludicrously illogical emotional appeals? Well, one way is to fight fire with fire by making your own emotional appeals, and trust to the viral amplification of free culture distribution to get the message out. This is the essence of the “minute meme” idea from Question Copyright, and animator Nina Paley has fired the first volley with her one-minute animation “Copying Is Not Theft.”
This week we released a new album, and it’s our best yet. We also released a new video – the second for this record – for a song called This Too Shall Pass, and you can watch it here. We hope you’ll like it and comment on it and pass the link along to your friends and do that wonderful thing that that you do when you’re fond of something, share it. We want you to stick it on your web page, post it on your wall, and embed it everywhere you can think of.
We may soon finds out – at least for the metal genre. Metal label and digital distributor Metalhit has dropped the prices on 95% of its album releases and catalog to $5.25. The company represents dozens of underground metal labels and artists.
Update: Aaaaaaaaaaaaand, let the backtracking commence. Verizon is apparently now claiming (to Broadband Reports) that it was all an exaggeration and that Verizon only said that it “reserved the right” to kick users off:
I’m not aware that we’ve ever terminated anyone’s account for excessive consumption, although we reserve the right to do so. Verizon has no bandwidth caps. That part of the CNET story is wrong. I did not say “we’ve cut people off.” I said we reserve the right to do so.
Update 2: And, again, Broadband Reports comes through. It has a new update with Verizon now claiming that, no, it has never kicked anyone off its network for file sharing accusations. It might want to tell its spokespeople that for future reference.
Fortunately, Judge Gertner is an eminent Constitutional Law scholar, and has demonstrated time and again that she is anything but lazy, and that even when the lawyers in the case do a lousy job, she and her staff will actually do the research and find the applicable law.
I haven’t always agreed with her decisions, and the major body of her work in the consolidated RIAA cases has been very helpful to the RIAA, but she has demonstrated time and again that she is the best lawyer in this case. -R.B.]
For Bono is probably the person least likely to say “we need to find a way to have many more artists and performers make a decent living, while allowing people on below average wages, and their children, to enjoy as much music as they like within their weekly budget”. Or he might say it, in a sudden rush of blood to the head, but is surely least likely to do anything to make it happen.
The trial will see Virgin monitor about 40 per cent of its customers — none of whom will be informed of their participation. Virgin insists that the system seeks only to determine the amount of file-sharing traffic that infringes on copyright and that it will disregard data that can finger individual users.
Over in the UK, the OSA’s Mark Antony is told that politicians can be believed “they’re sincere when Whitehall is running on Ubuntu & documents on govt. websites are available in ODF…”
“Currently, Microsoft does not properly support ODF and it still treats it like a second-class citizen.”SJVN has his personal interpretation of the impact of the i4i decision [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12]. “Maybe in the aftermath of the i4i decision,” he argues, everyone will “just have to bite the bullet & support ODF.” Currently, Microsoft does not properly support ODF and it still treats it like a second-class citizen. Google too has some catching up to do, based on D. R. Evans, not to mention Apple, which has been helping Microsoft against ODF. As one person put it earlier this month, “ISO’s current defect report for ISO 29500 (OOXML) has 809 pages. That are 71 pages more than the full specification of ODF 1.1! !” Miguel de Icaza helped Microsoft address some of these errors, but since then he has been crowned and named Microsoft MVP [1, 2]. He’s like part of that company.
Open Formats – I’m Moving all Mom’s Poetry to Open Document Format
Of course if you do want access to Mom’s poetry, you can just go to OpenOffice.Org, and download Open Office at no cost. There’s no reason you can’t have both Microsoft Office and Open Office installed on the same computer.
In summary, even though there are no major ODF events, this international standard continues to develop and be adopted all around the world. █