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Links 1/2/2010: German Migrations to Free Software, New Debian

Posted in News Roundup at 11:37 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



  • Computing, Even in Linux, is All About Failure

    Or rather, it is all about preparing for inevitable failures, and they are legion. Hardware failures, power failures, and most of all, storage media failures. Ever notice how fragile digital storage media are? Are we ever going to get digital storage media that can match plain old paper, and other analog media, for reliability and longevity? Let’s take the example of archiving photographs.

  • DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 338, 1 February 2010

    User-friendliness of computer operating systems is something that gets often discussed in open-source software circles. But adding features that are designed to attract more new users isn’t always viewed positively in some hard-core geek communities. This week’s feature story examines a case of a developer who was met with a hostile reception when he tried to present his easy-to-use live CD to an unforgiving group of OpenBSD hackers. In the news section, Sun Microsystems closes its corporate web site, but what does that mean for some of its popular products? Also in this week’s issue, we investigate the idea of converting the ext3 file system to the newer ext4, take a look at Ubuntu’s controversial deal with Yahoo, and link to an article that reveals a little-known, but useful Mandriva feature. All this and more in this week’s issue of DistroWatch Weekly – happy reading!

  • NZ Post to Try Linux Desktop

    The New Zealand Post is one of three government agencies looking to rip out their Windows desktops and replace them with Linux and open source applications.

  • Germany

    • DE: Rural district uses open source to manage IT at schools

      The rural district (Landkreis) Wittmund in northwestern Germany is using GNU/Linux to centrally manage computers usage at eleven of its schools, reports Univention, one of the open source IT companies involved in the project.

    • Study: more than 21% of German PCs run OpenOffice

      According to Webmasterpro.de, a German IT service provider, the open source OpenOffice suite and its derivatives, such as StarOffice or IBM’s Lotus Symphony, are installed on more than 21% of German PCs. A sample of over one million German-speaking Internet users showed that 72% of users preferred Microsoft Office, while 2.7% preferred Corel’s WordPerfect, 1.4% used Apple’s iWork, 0.3% selected SoftMaker Office and 0.03% chose KOffice. Among the surveyed German speaking Internet users, 17.1% did not appear to have an Office suite installed.

  • Videos

  • Desktop

    • Machine Embroidery Management is coming to Linux!

      I haven’t updated this topic since September, but I’m very excited about the progress so far. You may remember that one develope, David Boddie, had done some work, with the result that I could build .png files to visualise my patterns within Dolphin, and that we were hoping that the other developer who had shown interest, Purple-Bobby, would join us. That’s exactly what happened. David and Robert Forsyth, a.k.a.Purple-Bobby, attacked the problem from different angles, which proved to be very informative, as they could feed on each other’s ideas.

    • Senior Uses Ubuntu System 14 Months Trouble Free

      Properly setup and customized for an individual’s computing needs, Ubuntu Linux can be used successfully and easily by anyone of any age and computing ability. AND, the problems associated with computing under the Windows environment disappear.

      My only regret is that I did not start looking into and learning about Linux prior to 2006.

    • Advice on building a Linux box

      I get a lot of questions on Linux hardware: “What’s the best piece of hardware X for Linux?” “Should I go route A since I’m using Linux?” Of course not everyone builds their own computer. But there are a fair number of us out there that would rather keep as much control over the selection of their machines components as they can. And there is something to be said about hand-picking your components. But which video card? Which sound card? Which networking card? Processor? Motherboard? Will it all work with Linux? You know it will work with Windows…but with Linux there can be some gray area.

    • Linux is not hard, it’s ignored

      Honestly, Linux used to be hard to use. Ten years ago I could regularly be found sweating and cursing in front an unresponsive PC, willing the Linux software on it to do something, anything to validate the many hours I had sunk into getting it to run. It was a thankless task with little obvious reward but it somehow made sense. And when something did work right it was like being part of a secret club; a group of insiders who knew something more important than anyone else. Which probably has a lot to do with the way Linux is perceived now.

    • Yo momma uses Ubuntu

      Recently I replaced my mother’s PC, and I thought I could switch her to Linux. She was previously using Windows XP with several Open Source applications (Open Office, Firefox, Thunderbird, etc), so I decided to install Ubuntu 9.10, since it seems that it’s most devoted to non-expert users (she’s over-sixty and not inclined to change her computing habits).

    • Linux, the chicken and the egg.

      I think that this is an interesting question. Which came first, Linux or the device? What do you think? Is Linux providing the creative juices for devices? Are the devices conceived and Linux is the best choice for these devices? You tell me. Why are so many new gadgets from printers,phones, satellite boxes and just about everything under the sun using Linux?

  • Server

    • Virtualized Supercomputer Operating System

      New work on the Sandia National Laboratories Red Storm supercomputer — the 17th fastest in the world — is helping to make supercomputers more accessible. Sandia researchers, working hand in hand with researchers from Northwestern University and the University of New Mexico, socialized 4,096 of Red Storm’s total 12,960 computer nodes into accepting a virtual external operating system — a leap of at least two orders of magnitude over previous such efforts.

  • Google

  • Kernel Space

    • Linux 2.6.33-rc6

      Hmm. About 50% arch updates, and 40% drivers, with the rest being a smattering of mainly fs and networking updates.

    • Intel Intelligent Power Sharing Coming To Linux

      Jesse Barnes, one of the Intel developers responsible for working on their Linux graphics driver stack, has published a new patch that adds “dynamic performance control support for Ironlake.” Ironlake was Intel’s codename for the onboard GPU found on new Clarkdale / Arrandale processors like the recently reviewed Intel Core i3 530. This patch takes advantage of a hardware performance and power management feature to actually increase the GPU clock (or to “overclock” it in a Graphics Turbo mode) when needed to deliver better performance. This patch is fairly large and can be found currently on the Intel driver mailing list.

    • Hybrid Graphics Comes To Linux In Crude Form

      While the support for graphics processors on Linux in the free software stack has improved a lot over Linux, there still are entire areas of support missing, such as with supporting NVIDIA’s SLI or AMD’s CrossFire technologies. Additionally, NVIDIA and AMD as well as Intel have been plopping dual GPUs into notebooks. This is not to split the rendering workload, but rather to allow one lower-powered GPU to be utilized when not in engaging in any vigorous tasks and then another performance-oriented GPU to be utilized when such speed is needed. This solution basically provides the best of both words of having maximum battery life but fast performance when needed. However, Linux has not supported this hybrid / switchable graphics technology at all.

    • Graphics Stack

      • Hybrid Graphics Comes To Linux In Crude Form

        While the support for graphics processors on Linux in the free software stack has improved a lot over Linux, there still are entire areas of support missing, such as with supporting NVIDIA’s SLI or AMD’s CrossFire technologies.

      • NVIDIA’s VDPAU Library Updated For DRI2 Work

        NVIDIA’s Aaron Plattner has announced the release of libvdpau 0.4. From November of 2008 when VDPAU was introduced to September of 2009, the Video Decode and Presentation API for Unix lived within NVIDIA’s binary display driver package. However, in September NVIDIA began releasing a standalone driver package to make it easier for other Linux graphics drivers to implement. A month later NVIDIA then pushed out a DRI2 patch that allowed choosing the VDPAU back-end implementation on a per-screen basis.

      • Mesa Code Activity Really Exploded In 2009

        Back in mid-2008 we published two articles that looked at the contributors to the X Server and contributors to Mesa, which provided statistics as to the companies and developers contributing to these two important free software projects over the years. Since the start of the new year though I’ve been meaning to provide some other statistics about how the projects themselves have evolved over the year, but this morning I am finally pushing out these new numbers for the X.Org Server and Mesa.

      • ATI R600/700 Command Checker Published

        Jerome Glisse has sent a new patch to the other DRI developers that adds a command checker for the ATI R600/700 series graphics processors.

      • ATI Radeon KMS Leaves Staging Area In 2.6.33

        David Airlie has called upon Linus to pull in a new set of DRM patches for the Linux 2.6.33 kernel, which should land with the Linux 2.6.33-rc7 release.

      • Open-Source ATI Evergreen Support Arrives

        Months after the ATI Radeon HD 5000 series (known by the “Evergreen” family codename) was introduced, AMD has finally pushed out the first bits of open-source code. This morning if you are to checkout the xf86-video-ati DDX driver branch there is initial user-space mode-setting support for the Radeon HD 5000 series GPUs. The ATI kernel mode-setting support that we really care about these days is also about done, but it isn’t yet published. The open-source ATI driver currently offers no 2D (EXA) acceleration and the 3D support either through a classic Mesa driver or Gallium3D also is not yet available.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments

    • GNOME and KDE programming at the university

      Next month I’ll start teaching GNOME and KDE programming at ETSI de Telecomunicacion at Universidad Politecnica de Madrid. This is the Application development for GNOME and KDE course we have developed for CENATIC.

    • K Desktop Environment (KDE SC)

      • KDE SC 4.4 RC3 Released
      • Software Compilation 4.4 RC3 Release Announcement

        February 1st, 2010. Today, KDE has released the third release candidate of the next version of the KDE Software Compilation (KDE SC). KDE SC 4.4 Release Candidate 3 provides a testing base for identifying bugs in the upcoming KDE Software Compilation 4.4, with its components the KDE Plasma Workspaces, the Applications powered by KDE, and the KDE Development Platform.
        The list of changes between 4.3 and 4.4 is especially long. Important changes can be observed all over the place…

      • KDE SC 4.4RC2 Fedora KDE preview

        Interested in trying out KDE SC 4.4 but don’t want to do a full installation, risking system instability? Before my presentation at Wednesday’s Phoenix Linux User Group meeting, it occured to me that I should bring a live image for folks to play with.

      • Interview with KDABian Stephen Kelly
      • Interview with KDABian Stephen Kelly

        Hi Stephen. Your nickname “steveire” already gives away something about your origin. Could you introduce yourself so our readers get to know a bit more about you?

        Sure. I’ve been using the handle steveire for a few years now on IRC and other places. For non-Irish people, it looks like a “Steve” and an “Ire” for Ireland, but in fact it’s a “Steve” and an Éire, so on the rare occasions that I say it, I pronounce it “steve-air-eh”. I moved from Dublin, Ireland to Berlin in summer 2009 to start a job at KDAB.

      • Blogilo: KDE’s blogging client

        Social media has taken over the Web in a very big way. It has even been argued that social media is the new Web or “new media”. From social networking sites like Facebook to video sharing sites like YouTube, social media services occupy all of the top 20 most popular sites on Alexa.com, excluding search engines. Two of those popular social media sites are Blogger and WordPress, two sites that host free blogs for their users.

      • The KDE 4.3 System Settings – Part 1 – Introduction + Look & Feel

        The new panel, in its new configuration, is broken into two main sections. Namely, General and Advanced. General is all of the things that are your day to day standard configuration options. Advanced contains, well, the more advanced features you’re not likely to touch more than once or twice a year, if at all. This simple separation of categories and sections really makes the System Settings panel much easier to work with.

      • Tokamak 4 cometh

        Tokamak 4 commences on the 19th of February in Nuremberg. Novell will be hosting our band of merry developers, designers and dreamers. This Tokamak is going to be the biggest one yet with 25 participants, not counting the visitors we are expecting to swell those numbers even further.

      • Qt 4.6.0, KDE SC 4.4, configChanged()

        The 4.4 release for KDE SC is coming along well. We’ve been hammering nasties, of both the crasher and general misbehavior sort, over the head at a reasonable pace, even though 4.5 is open and some work is going on there. I count 52 backport commits to the 4.4 branch in just Plasma-land in the last seven days.

      • Hacking the Amazon Kindle DX, Part 2: Qt and Sudoku

        I’ve compiled the Qt software platform for the Kindle… and I’ve written plugins for the e-ink display, the keyboard, and the fiveway.

  • Distributions

    • Five Linux Distros You Should Try

      There are many Linux distros and we have unique reasons to like them. To fully master Linux, start with the top of the list – the most user-friendly – and slowly choose the next one, until you reach the bottom of the list – the most challenging – where you can get your hands dirty.

    • Sabayon 5.1 KDE x86 to Current Sulfur Bash Complete

      Wow, feels like I haven’t blogged in a long time. Time is flying by with the new year heading into February already. I decided I would take a look at 5.1 x86 KDE edition since it’s been a long time since I have messed with x86 and KDE. I slotted myself some time, which was my first mistake as I was rushed to it and it came back to bite me. Silly mistakes when rushed can turn something into a much longer ordeal. I’ll give you the details.

    • TinyMe 2010 Beta 2 review, or: is Unity strength?

      There’s a lot of potential in this distribution. Speed and memory consumption make it a good choice for older hardware.
      There is also hard work to do before final release. The choice of browser should be rethought (it should be tested on older hardware as well). An APM option would be nice and the configuration utilities need to be finished.

    • Pardus

    • Mandrake/Mandriva

      • Noteworthy Mandriva Cooker changes 18 January – 31 January 2010
      • February 2010 Issue of PCLOS Magazine Released

        The NEW PCLinuxOS Magazine staff is pleased to announce the release of the February 2010 issue of the PCLinuxOS Magazine. Highlights include:

        10 Beginner Mistakes To Avoid
        Game Zone: Machinarium
        Behind The Scenes: davecs
        KDE 4: Konqueror or Dolphin?
        KDE 4: Introducing Plasma
        KDE 4: Plasma FAQ
        Forum Foibles: Be My Valentine
        Ms_meme’s nook: PCLOS a Smoocho
        Computer Languages A to Z: Haskell
        Command Line Interface Intro: Part 5
        Gadgets & Gear: Canyon Notebook Stand
        Screenshot Showcase
        and much, much more!

    • Debian Family

      • Why debian rocks

        It has been quite some time, actually years, since I started using Debian. Earlier I have used various flavors of Linux like SuSE, Red Hat, RHEL, Fedora, Ubuntoo but my experience with Debian has been so far the best. I just thought to write the reasons for which I really like Debian compared to other systems.


        Debian is available for a variety of architectures and platforms, which further increases the user base as well as the support base. Ports of debian exist for most common architectures like ARM, MIPS, PPC, x86, x86_64 etc. There are variety of GNU/Linux distribution which are Debian based, most notable of them is Ubuntoo, which further increases the support and user base.

      • Debian GNU/Linux 5.0 updated

        The Debian project is pleased to announce the fourth update of its stable distribution Debian GNU/Linux 5.0 (codename “lenny”). This update mainly adds corrections for security problems to the stable release, along with a few adjustments for serious problems.

      • The Bizarre Cathedral – 65
      • Ubuntu Developer Week. The Spirit of Ubuntu!

        Conclusion: The Ubuntu Developer Week is such an amazing way to gather Ubuntu enthusiasts from around the world under one roof, where they can:

        1. Learn.
        2. Get to know each other.
        3. Get involved in the community.
        4. Learn to value their freedom.
        5. Have fun.

      • 5 reasons why the Ubuntu-Yahoo deal is a win-win affair.

        The fact that Yahoo! is going to be the default search provider simply means they offered a better deal over that of Google. What this actually means is that the Ubuntu brand is now more valuable than before. This is likely to go a long way to secure other lucrative contracts for Canonical. It also means that Ubuntu is actually becoming a brand over which the tech giants try to outbid each other in order to do business with. That is a good sign of success.

      • What bothers me about the Ubuntu-Yahoo deal

        On Tuesday, Rick Spencer announced on the Ubuntu developers mailing list that Ubuntu has entered a revenue sharing deal with Yahoo! and will make Yahoo! the default search engine in the next Ubuntu release (10.04, Lucid Lynx). This sparked an extremely long discussion thread on the Ubuntu Forums about whether this is a good idea or not.

        Generally speaking (with few exceptions), the reactions fall into one of two categories:

        1. This is great. I won’t use Yahoo! myself, but if it makes money for Ubuntu, why not? How hard is it to change the defaults. Two clicks.
        2. This is unacceptable. Yahoo! is in bed with Microsoft. This is wrong. If Ubuntu needs money, we should donate. Why wasn’t the community consulted?

      • ‘Homosapien’ – Proposed Metacity for Lucid (Now downloadable)

        ‘Homosapien’ is a proposed Metacity theme for Lucid.

      • Ubuntu fans…
      • Review: Ubuntu 9.10 64-bit

        I last looked at Ubuntu 9.04 a little over six months ago. So I decided it was time to see what has changed. Since I’m now testing on a 64-bit machine, I decided to test the 64-bit version of Ubuntu.

      • Full Circle Magazine: Issue 33

        * Command and Conquer.
        * How-To : Program in Python – Part 7, Create A Media Center with a Revo, Ubuntu and Boxee, and The Perfect Server – Part 3.
        * My Story – Ubuntu in Public Education, and Why I Use Linux.
        * Review – Exaile.
        * MOTU Interview – Didier Roche.
        * Top 5 – Synchronization Clients.
        * Ubuntu Women, Ubuntu Games and all the usual goodness!

      • Ubuntu Weekly Newsletter Issue 178

        Welcome to the Ubuntu Weekly Newsletter, Issue #178 for the week January 24th – January 30th, 2010. In this issue we cover: Contribute with Ubuntu One Bug Day, Lucid changes to Firefox default search provider, Announcement: Ubuntu Server update for Lucid Alpha3, Interview With Ubuntu Manual Project Leader Ben Humphrey, Ubuntu Honduras, Back up old sources from PPA’s, Improved Bug Patch Notifications, Getting your code into Launchpad, Ubuntu Developer Week Recap, Canonical Voices, Ubuntu Community Learning Project Update, NZ school ditches Microsoft and goes totally open source, Full Circle Magazine #33, and much, much more!

      • Kubuntu 9.10 Review

        I recently broke my usual trend of sticking to Debian (stable) with a KDE 3.5 desktop and decided to try Kubuntu. I then decided to write this review…

        In the past it seemed that Kubuntu was an afterthought or some obscure side project (like Christian Ubuntu), but Kubuntu 9.10 really steals the show. As many others have said, Kubuntu seems better put together than Ubuntu in many ways. The “glitchiness” in Kubuntu 9.04 has been diminished greatly in this latest release. This is probably due mostly in part to a newer version of KDE 4 (that shows the great potential that KDE 4 has).

      • Linux Mint 8 is Perfect for me

        Over the last 12 yrs that I’ve been using Linux never has a distribution impressed me this good. I keep Linux Mint 8 is Perfect for meexperimenting with distributions when they are released. From Mandrake to Mandriva, Redhat to Fedora, SuSE to openSUSE and even Debian to Ubuntu… I thought I had seen it all. All the time I kept coming back to SuSE, but this time it seems different. I tried Linux Mint and I guess I will be sticking to it for long.

      • The wonder of Linux Mint – non birdy

        Finally got my new ebay-bought laptop up and running after a multitude of problems, and I’d like to say a few words to my fellow nerdy sorts, and any of those who dabble in other operating systems.

  • Devices/Embedded

    • When is it worth saying it’s Linux?

      At the recent Consumer Electronics Show there was a flood of netbooks and Android based devices about to be launched into the market. The folks at the Linux Foundation couldn’t be more pleased about the incursion of Linux into this new generation of portable connected devices, but the software that appears on these devices often doesn’t look or feel like “Linux”.

    • Android

    • Nokia

      • Ovi Orion: The phone we wish Nokia would make

        No one has made a great gaming phone. Sure, Apple sells lots of iPhone games but have you ever tried to play a first-person shooter or football game on an iPhone? It’s not a terrible experience but it’s nowhere near as good as playing those types of games on a Nintendo DS or Sony PSP. As for why Nintendo or Sony hasn’t released a gaming phone yet is beyond us but the demand for a device that bridges the gap between a smart phone and a portable gaming console is definitely there.

      • Review: Nokia N900

        Nokia’s N900 is not a phone, OK. Well, it is a phone, in that it has a SIM slot, and you can use it to make voice calls. And it supports HSDPA and has a front facing camera so you can make video calls. But actually it is more a mini computer than a mobile phone.

      • Handset Review: Nokia N900

        It’s been a while since my last substantial review but I’m back with something a little different for you today. I’d like to talk about the Nokia N900 Linux-based phone I’ve been testing for the past 6 weeks. It’s the first Maemo powered device to feature phone functions. Does this move signal a new direction for Nokia? Nobody seems quite sure just yet, but the hardware and software are causing a lot of interest in the Linux community. Here’s my thoughts on the experience so far.

    • Sub-notebooks

      • Is the iPad good for Linux?

        After the iPad successfully lowers resistance to non-Windows computing devices, Linux will have a much better chance of competing in the mobile computing market and, eventually, on the desktop.

Free Software/Open Source

  • The real value of FOSS to business – A personal example

    The bottom line is that FLOSS is not about cheap software. It’s about control. If you have the source code then you are in control of the situation, although good support from the vendor is always welcomed. Cheap price comes with the openest/freedom, since you are not restricted to pay support to a particular vendor if you are not happy with him.

  • One neighborhood changing the world part one

    Why would people be so giving? The foundation of open source is belonging. Everyone to the hardest working contributor to the new user is equally entitled to their license. You do not need to pay thousands of dollars, go to a certain school, work for the right employer, or live in the right country. Open source is a free gift to all. Like grace, those who receive it want to share it. We stand together as neighbors living everywhere changing the world where we live.

  • One neighborhood changing the world part two

    Open source is not just a methodology for releasing software for people like Helios and I. It is a way of life that we pay for by giving back in abundance with the resources we have to our avail. So, when Helios posted that the founder of the website that him understand Linux was dying, I was happy to help again. This way the website: brunolinux.com and the “Bruno Knaapen Technology Learning Center” will leave a legacy.

  • Enough with this “Free Software is communist” myth! Please!

    A few weeks ago I was finally able to put down an English version of a short article I had written in October 2009 about the risks for Italian schools hidden in a deal between Microsoft and the Italian Government. Some days later, almost by chance, I discovered that that translation had been linked from Linux Today and that it had caused a couple of comments that really deserve an answer, for reasons that will be clear in a moment. The comments I refer to are those titled FOSS perception in Italy and ALL FALSE, both reported here for your convenience.

  • Richard Stallman in new college magazine [PDF]
  • Can open source guide a moon mission?

    I’m a sucker for audacious ideas. Big, huge things with a hint of insanity. And if you put those ideas in space I get really interested. That’s why the Open Luna Foundation is right up my alley.

    OSCON 2010 This nonprofit project wants to use open source technologies and private donations to build a permanent outpost on the moon. (This isn’t associated with the Google Lunar X Prize.)

  • FOSS CAD and 3D Modeling Software?

    “I work at a privately funded, open source, manned, return to the moon mission — Yes really, and Yes, we really are going to put man (and woman) back on the moon. Since we are open source, we want all of our tools to be, too. What we are looking for is CAD software that we can feed into Blender (or the like) to do 3D modeling with. Many of the engineers have tried working with Blender and Art of Illusion, but have not been pleased. They want to just draw the parts, then feed them to the art people who will run them through the 3D modelers for videos, illustrations and such. What is your preference?”

  • Apple iPad: Will it run Second Life?

    As a Second Life enthusiast, I really want the iPad to run Second Life. There’s no reason why it shouldn’t. As my friend Wagner James Au points out on the blog New World Notes, the iPhone already has a couple of rich, text-only Second Life clients, and the iPad now has the horsepower and screen size to support Second Life graphics.

  • Mozilla

    • 5 Reasons I would swear my loyalty to Firefox!!!

      Extensions: Who wouldn’t like if their browser wears a haute couture skins or the pleasure of viewing Megan fox images on a 3D wall with uncluttered black background or get to know if the weather permits you to tee over the weekend just by moving the mouse over or download all the links on a page with just one click! That’s the beauty of Firefox extensions! They not only make the browser look good, but provide the user with oodles of configurable plugins that makes browsing whole lot of fun.

    • Firefox for Mobile Now Available on Nokia’s Maemo Platform!

      We’re pleased to announce that Firefox is now available for Nokia’s Maemo platform. Starting today, Nokia N900 owners can enjoy many of the same Firefox features they know and love on the desktop on their mobile device.

  • Databases

    • Oracle climbs up the food chain

      The fact that Oracle has decided to do most of what Sun was doing, only better, is bad news for many other vendors. Its breadth now rivals that of HP and IBM. And that means Oracle is going to be a serious (or more serious) competitor on many fronts.

  • BSD

  • Books

  • Government

    • Are Quotas Good For Open Source?

      Sounds great doesn’t it? But rightfully so, many in the open source community say thanks but where is the beef here? Who is monitoring to make sure these policies are followed? What are the repercussions of not following these policies? Setting these policies at the cabinet level does not trickle down to the procurement office per say.

  • Licensing

    • Not All Copyright Assignment is Created Equal

      In an interview with IT Wire, Mark Shuttleworth argues that all copyright assignment systems are equal, saying further that what Intel, Canonical and other for-profit companies ask for in the process are the same things asked for by Free Software non-profit organizations like the Free Software Foundation.

      I’ve written about this before, and recently quit using Ubuntu in part because of Canonical’s assignment policies (which is, as Mark correctly points out, not that different from other for-profit company’s assignment forms.)

  • Standards/Consortia

    • DK: Danish state administrations to use ODF

      The Danish parliament and the Danish minister for Science this morning agreed that the Danish state administrations should use open standards, including the Open Document Format (ODF), starting on 1 April 2011. A formal vote on the agreement is planned for next Tuesday.

    • Denmark to switch to Open Document Format.
    • Save ‘Sita Sings the Blues’ from the Flash format: can you convert FLA?

      Nina Paley’s “Sita Sings the Blues” is becoming a huge critical success, and may even succeed financially, which is unusual for any independent film, but virtually unprecedented for free culture films (“Sita” was released under the CC By-SA). There’s only one sad thing about this for free software fans, and that’s that “Sita” was made using proprietary software, and the “source code” is in a proprietary format: Adobe Flash’s “FLA” format, to be precise. Paley has posted these files on the Internet Archive, but she doesn’t know how to translate them into any free software friendly format (and neither do I). Can you help?


  • Security

    • Jobs slates Google and Adobe

      INSECURITY OUTFIT McAfee has named the US as the most likely source of cyber attacks, beating out the widely perceived favourites China and Russia.

      McAfee conducted a study that questioned 600 IT and security executives from various countries to discuss, rate and rank their biggest Internet security concerns. Most of the report just states the bleedin’ obvious, except for the finding that the Americans are the most feared by the others.

    • FBI Takes Down Cable Modem Hacker

      The FBI has announced it arrested a man on Thursday for allegedly selling hacked cable modems that provided free Internet access.

    • WATCH: BBC Breakfast, Monday 7.15AM – Alex Deane debates full body scanners.

      Alex Deane, Director of Big Brother Watch, will be appearing tomorrow (Monday) on the BBC Breakfast Show (available on BBC One and the BBC News Channel) debating the government’s decision to roll-out full-body scanners to all UK airports.

    • People shouldn’t have to choose between their dignity and their flight

      In response, Alex Deane, Director of Big Brother Watch, who was inteviewed about this very issue this morning on BBC Breakfast, said:

      “People are understandably afraid of terrorism. But we didn’t allow the IRA to impede our freedoms or change our way of life, and we shouldn’t change now either.

      “Those upset by the prospect of undergoing these scans shouldn’t be forced to choose between their dignity and their flight.

      “What kind of a free society does the Government think it is “protecting”, when it invades our privacy like this?

      “When we are forced to expose ourselves at the airport in order to go on holiday, the terrorists have won.”

    • Many voice encryption systems easily crackable

      A vast majority of voice encryption products are seriously flawed, according to controversial tests by an anonymous hacker.

    • Police must use profiling tactics to stop suspected terrorists says anti-terror chief

      John Yates, Assistant Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, said that it was essential to use a range of “common sense” profiling methods to spot suspicious individuals at airports and in other areas sensitive to attack.

    • Four Security Worries of Cloud Computing

      The total number of dollars rushing toward cloud computing is massive. The various top research firms – IDC, Gartner, et al. — all have eyebrow-raising forecasts about the growth rate of cloud-based computing services.

  • Finance

    • Paulson Says Russia Urged China to Dump Fannie, Freddie Bonds

      Russia urged China to dump its Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac bonds in 2008 in a bid to force a bailout of the largest U.S. mortgage-finance companies, former Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson said.

      Paulson learned of the “disruptive scheme” while attending the Beijing Summer Olympics, according to his memoir, “On The Brink.”

    • New Embattled Minority: Wall Street Brokers

      The well-groomed brokers and traders bent on sticking up for Wall Street gathered on Wednesday in best-behaved form — no chanting, no shrill whistling, pretty much no noise at all — to mark the formation of the financial world’s modest alternative to the Tea Party movement.

    • Judge Carey Approves Trib’s Bankster-Style Bonuses

      Talk about spin by the Trib’s big thinkers! I don’t know about you, but two million would cover a lot of reporting salaries. Of course, that’s just one bonus. For $70 million or $45 million, how many reporters could a company that actually cared about reporting keep on staff for the next five years? I’m not sure, given the variation in journalists’ salaries, but I’m sure it’d go a long way. So, I for one am sure hoping the federal bankruptcy court throws the Tribune’s bonus request in the trashcan, where it belongs.)

    • This Week in Banking: Root Canals, Rhetoric or Real Reform?

      The President understands that the Wall Street bailout was “about as popular as a root canal.” But if Democrats continue to peddle this type of rhetoric while neglecting meaningful reform as they have done this week, the Republicans will run away with the anti-bailout message and with the election in November.

  • PR/AstroTurf

    • Wal-Mart Using Fake Community Group to Manufacture Support

      The controversy over Wal-Mart’s attempts to break into the Chicago retail market has flared up again recently. Opponents argue that Wal-Mart drives down wages, destroys local businesses and leads to no net increase in jobs or tax revenue for the city. Wal-Mart and its allies contend that neighborhood residents deserve to have a say in what happens in their neighborhood, and people that don’t live there should stay out of the matter.

    • Lobbyists Get Access to House Republicans Retreat

      The day after President Barack Obama urged members of Congress to be more transparent about their interactions with lobbyists, the House Republican Caucus headed up Interstate 95 for a retreat where they will be able to mingle privately with… lobbyists.

    • Lobbyist Dinner With Pelosi Costs Up to $30,400

      When you get an invitation from the city’s hottest lobbyists for a dinner in honor of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, expect to pay.

      But even with the promise of dinner prepared by “celebrity women chefs,” ticket prices ranging from $5,000 to $30,400 are enough to choke on. “Whatever,” Democrats will say as they fork over the money to attend the exclusive fundraiser for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee at the home of überlobbyists Heather and Tony Podesta. And the truth is, this is now an annual event.

    • Murray Hill Corporation to run for Maryland’s 8th Congressional District

      To all those devoted to the principle that, ” Greed is good,” Zaid Jilani on Think Progress covered the announcement that a Maryland Corporation intends to run for U.S. Congress testing the new principle that the Roberts Court enshrined by the decision in Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission that corporations have equal rights as real persons including free speech.

    • Corporation Enters Race for Congress

      Murray Hill has designated a human to fill out the necessary forms to apply for its run for office, and it’s political slogan is “Corporations are people too!” It has started a Facebook page and says it plans on using automated robo-calls, “astroturf” lobbying, and computer-generated avatars to win over voters.

    • NPR Finds Right-Wing Crank to Spit on Zinn’s Grave

      When progressive historian Howard Zinn died on January 27, NPR’s All Things Considered (1/28/10) marked his passing with something you don’t often see in an obituary: a rebuttal.

      After quoting Noam Chomsky and Julian Bond, NPR’s Allison Keyes turned to far-right activist David Horowitz to symbolically spit on Zinn’s grave. “There is absolutely nothing in Howard Zinn’s intellectual output that is worthy of any kind of respect,” Horowitz declared. “Zinn represents a fringe mentality which has unfortunately seduced millions of people at this point in time. So he did certainly alter the consciousness of millions of younger people for the worse.”

    • NPR Includes Trash Talk in Obituary for Howard Zinn

      But NPR’s remembrance also included darkly insulting comments from conservative pundit David Horowitz: “There is absolutely nothing in Howard Zinn’s intellectual output that is worthy of any kind of respect,” Horowitz said. “Zinn represents a fringe mentality which has unfortunately seduced millions of people at this point in time. So he did certainly alter the consciousness of millions of younger people for the worse.” Horowitz called Zinn’s famous book, A People’s History of the United States, “a travesty.” While NPR arguably tries to balance news reports with views from opposing sides of issues, it has not consistently adhered to this principle in its radio obituaries.

    • Journalists Hooked on Same Health Care Sources, Such as Jonathan Gruber
    • Bob McDonnell, Human Wallpaper & the Stagecraft of the Response to the State of the Union

      As I watch the response to the State of the Union address, I cannot help but notice that Virginia’s new governor, Bob McDonnell, in his response to the President’s speech, has continued the George W. Bush PR stagecraft in setting the scene for his remarks. Like tokens, he has four supporters strategically positioned behind him to fit in the television screen: an African American woman, a white male soldier, an Asian man, and a young woman.

  • Censorship/Civil Rights

    • Internet Blackout: The final verdict

      The Great Australian Internet Blackout campaign against mandatory ISP-level filtering has attracted twice as many websites to its cause as had pledged before it began.

    • WikiLeaks whistleblower site in temporary shutdown

      WikiLeaks, a whistleblower website that allows people to publish uncensored information anonymously, has suspended operations owing to financial problems.

    • Madrid Privacy Declaration

      The Madrid Privacy Declaration is a substantial document that reaffirms international instruments for privacy protection, identifies new challenges, and call for concrete actions.

    • Data Privacy Day is January 28, 2010!
    • Europe to Begin Digital Privacy Overhaul

      Viviane Reding, the EU’s Information Society and Media commissioner, said Thursday that she seeks to modernize the general privacy directive the EU has had in place since 1995, singling out social networks and RFID tracking tags as examples of technologies that have vaulted ahead of current statutes.

  • Intellectual Monopolies/Copyrights

    • DRM- A greater cause of piracy?

      Ara Technica, citing a Freedom to Tinker blog post, has an interesting article about a research that-albeit some caveats- makes some really important points about the relationship between the level of restriction in an intellectual property and the level to which it is shared illegally, chiefly over Bittorrent.

      To sum things up, the research discovered that digital media like movies and music that contained DRM were highly pirated than their non-DRMd counterparts.

    • Making Sense of ACTA

      “This past week Guadalajara, Mexico hosted the 7th secret meeting of ACTA proponents who continue to ignore demands worldwide to open the debate to the public. Piecing together official and leaked documents from various global sources, Michael Geist has coalesced it all into a five part ACTA Guide that offers structured insight into what these talks might foist upon the populace at large. ‘Questions about ACTA typically follow a familiar pattern — what is it (Part One of the ACTA Guide listing the timeline of talks), do you have evidence (Part Two), why is this secret (Part Three), followed by what would ACTA do to my country’s laws (Part Four)? Countering the momentum behind ACTA will require many to speak out” (Part Five).’”

    • Bono risks becoming next Lars Ulrich

      Ever since Paul McGuinness, manager of the rock band U2, began lashing out at Internet Service providers for allegedly profiting from and encouraging illegal file sharing, U2 fans have wondered whether McGuinness spoke for the band.

    • Grandma endures wrongful ISP piracy suspension

      All Cathi “Cat” Paradiso knew for sure, as she learned that her Web access was being shut off, was that she was losing her struggle to stay calm.

    • Law firm’s piracy hunt condemned

      Music industry representative the BPI has criticised the approach used by a UK law firm in chasing file-sharers.

      Law firm ACS:Law has sent thousands of letters to people it claims have downloaded illegal content.

      The BPI said it did not condone the approach of mass-mailing alleged internet pirates.

    • BPI rejects scareletter approach to possible pirates

      The tactic of using IP addresses extracted from internet service providers to send scare letters to suspected pirates is not something the British music industry would consider.

    • India objects to Google book settlement

      About 15 Indian authors and publishers, and two organizations in the country, submitted their objections on Thursday to Google’s plan to scan and sell books online.

    • TalkTalk CEO sticks two fingers up at Mandy

      It was reported yesterday that Charles Dunstone, Chief Executive of Carphone Warehouse, said if the Digital Economy Bill is enacted he would be prepared to fight the Government in court.

    • Dunstone talks up TalkTalk TV

      Charles Dunstone, CEO of Carphone Warehouse, hasn’t given up on the dream of being a quad-player, after revealing plans to launch TV and mobile TalkTalk services.

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