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Links 31/3/2010: Linux 2.6.34 RC3, Netrunner Announced

Posted in News Roundup at 6:51 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



  • Linux – A supercharged development environment

    Linux has come a long way from being just a geek’s operating system. But there is no doubt that Linux is still the best operating system for geeks and developers. The effect of Linux as a development environment has not just been limited to Linux, but has spread on all systems including embedded devices. Projects like Firefox, FileZilla, Qt and SuperTux were originally created on Linux and then made their way to different platforms.

  • Sony Deletes Feature On PS3′s; You Don’t Own What You Thought You Bought

    It used to be when you bought a product, you owned it. Simple, right? And once you owned it, you could do what you want with it? But, lately, thanks to digital products and an always connected world, many companies have changed things around — so the products you thought you owned, you actually rent.

  • Chelsea School Uses Ubuntu To Create VMampache

    I have an awesome story that I would like to share, it involves Ampache, Ubuntu, Chelsea School, and the use of FOSS in education.

  • Server

    • Oracle’s Linux Server Slant

      Based on Oracle’s recent actions, it seems the company is hell-bent on driving as many of its potential customers as possible away from the UNIX offerings it acquired from Sun and into the arms of Red Hat and other enterprise Linux vendors.

    • A Sys Admin’s Guide to the Server OS of Your Dreams

      What’s startlingly clear from this little exercise though is how dismally Apple’s operating systems match up to this list of ideals. Quite simply, OS X Server doesn’t tick any of these boxes at all. If Linux is the closest thing to a dream OS, then OS X is without doubt an OS nightmare. Think, being chased by monsters, your teeth falling out and finding yourself naked in public all rolled into one.

  • Kernel Space

    • Linux 2.6.34-rc3

      Ok, so -rc2 was messy, no question about it. I’m too much of a softie to hold back some peoples work, so my hard-line -rc1 didn’t work out the way I wanted. But _next_ time! For sure this time.

      Anyway, from a messy -rc2 we now have a -rc3 that should be in much better shape. Regressions fixed, and the ShortLog is short enough to be worth posting to lkml (-rc1 never is, and -rc2 seldom is. It’s not like -rc2′s are generally wondeful, this time around wasn’t _that_ much different).

    • Coming Soon: X Server 1.8

      According to the release plans, the release of X Server 1.8 should take place, and while in reality it will likely not be released today, its release is coming soon. When this release does arrive, it will add a new set of features to the X.Org stack and a number of other minor improvements and bug-fixes.

  • Applications

  • K Desktop Environment (KDE SC)

  • Distributions

    • Red Hat Family

      • Red Hat update supports the latest server chips

        LEADING LINUX VENDOR Red Hat has released Enterprise Linux version 5.5 and it is capable of running the latest Intel and AMD server processors.

        RHEL 5.5 comes out just as Intel has announced its launch of the Xeon 7500 line based on its Nehalem EX architecture, and it has support for users wanting to run Linux workloads with cool stuff like virtualisation, cloud deployments and high-performance computing.

      • Red Hat optimises Linux for new multi-core Intel and AMD chips

        Open source enterprise software company Red Hat has updated its flagship operating system, Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL), to take full advantage of the latest spoils from the heated microprocessor battle between Advanced Micro Devices and Intel. RHEL version 5.5, released this week, has been reconfigured for Intel’s just-released eight-core Nehalem-EX and AMD’s almost-as-recently released 12-core “Magny-Cours” Opteron 6100 Series processors, said Tim Burke, Red Hat vice president for platform engineering. The software also supports the IBM eight-core Power7 processors, released in February.

        “This is a great time for the next version of RHEL to hit the market,” said Pund-IT analyst Charles King. This latest round in the continued proliferation of cores within AMD, IBM and Intel processors represents an “inflection point” for the industry, one that could spur a lot of data centre server consolidation, through the use of virtualisation, he said.

    • Ubuntu

      • OMG! Interviews: Chris Johnston from the Ubuntu Beginners Team

        Chris started using Ubuntu on his server back in 2007 with Ubuntu Server 7.10. After realising the awesomeness of Ubuntu, he began using it on his desktop and laptop in 2008 with the Hardy Heron. Last year he was awarded Ubuntu Membership status for his continued work in the Ubuntu Beginners Team, Ubuntu Classroom and his LoCo in Florida.

      • Variants

        • Trisquel 3.5 and Truly Free Software

          WHAT price do you put on a principle?

          Some people put their principles before their lives, dragging the whole of the human race along with them to a better place.

        • Announcing Netrunner!

          This is something that’s been cooking for a while now and we are finally ready to serve it up to a hungry world!


          Here’s the bullet points:

          * Based on Ubuntu
          * GNOME
          * Includes Wine by default
          * No Mono
          * Some QT/KDE apps by default
          * More you, less them

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Zotac MAG HD-ND01 Nettop review

      Price: £229
      Tech Specs
      OS Tested: Ubuntu 9.10, Moblin 2.1, Fedora 12


      We found the Zotac MAG HD-ND01 a real pleasure to use for everyday tasks. It dealt with fully fledged 32-bit distros like Fedora 12 and Ubuntu 9.10 wonderfully, thanks to its dual-core Atom processor. And its Ion-powered graphics will really hit the spot with videophiles looking for a slimline media unit.

    • Phones

      • Linux phone ships with RF-enabled keyfob panic button

        Italian start-up Synaps Technology announced a Linux-based feature-phone that ships with an RF-connected keyfob panic button for GPS-enabled security response. The Petra phone is equipped with an ARM9 processor clocked at 266Mhz, and offers a 2GB SD card, GSM tri-band cellular service, a 2-megapixel camera, and a highly sensitive uBlox Neo 5G GPS receiver.

      • Android

    • Sub-notebooks

      • Cool portable linux music studio

        If you like ubuntu and like making digital music you should definitely take a look at Indamixx’s Transmission.

      • ASUS Confirms Tablet Plans

        Although it hasn’t been confirmed, one device is expected to be Windows-based while the other is either Android or Chrome.

      • Linux on Netbooks Reloads With Ubuntu-based Jolicloud

        Jolicloud plans to release an SDK to help port apps to its platform, but since apps are in HTML5, any developer writing HTML5 apps won’t need to make a “port,” per se, said Krim.

        For now, Jolicloud is a free product. Krim said the company is looking at different ways to monetize the software and/or services but for now, “we want to provide a compelling user experience before charging people.”

Free Software/Open Source

  • What if all software was open source? A code to unlock the desktop

    What if all software was open source? Anybody would then be able to add custom features to Microsoft Word, Adobe Photoshop, Apple iTunes or any other program. A University of Washington project may make this possible.

    “Microsoft and Apple aren’t going to open up all their stuff. But they all create programs that put pixels on the screen. And if we can modify those pixels, then we can change the program’s apparent behavior,” said James Fogarty, a UW assistant professor of computer science and engineering.


    “It dramatically lowers the threshold to getting new innovation into existing, complex programs,” Fogarty said.

    Research has been funded by the Hacherl Endowed Graduate Fellowship in the UW Department of Computer Science & Engineering, a fellowship from the Seattle chapter of the Achievement Rewards for College Scientists, and Intel.

  • The Palmetto Open Source Software Conference is coming

    Registration opened last week for the Palmetto Open Source Software Conference (POSSCON,) the premier free and open source software confence in Columbia, South Carolina. It’s a great way to both educate and involve yourself, or your organization, in free and open software and technology.

  • Mozilla

    • Five questions about building community with Chris Blizzard of Mozilla

      Our role in the market is to act on their behalf and make their lives better, both through strong positive product improvements, but also sometimes by standing up and saying that something is wrong. Our market share (30% of all traffic to Wikipedia comes through Firefox!) gives us a lot of leverage in that space to make choices in the market or drive other browser vendors to make the web better as well. It’s a virtuous cycle.

    • a ten year old dream realized

      Ten years ago next month, I moved to California to work on Mozilla full time and one of my first discoveries was a metal worker building giant metal dinosaur sculptures. I suggested to folks at Mozilla, back then, that we get one. Today, thanks to the efforts of Tiffney Mortensen, we finally have one.

    • Early Build of Firefox Mobile (Fennec) Sneaks Out [VIDEO]

      MartinSchirr put together a few videos of Fennec on his Milestone (Droid) to show how things are progressing.

    • What your web browser says about you
  • Databases

  • CMS

  • BSD

    • Geek Of The Week: Bill Joy

      After finishing his Bachelors Degree from the University of Michigan, and his Masters Degree from UC Berkeley, Joy wrote the original BSD (Berkeley Software Distribution) UNIX operating system. Many modern operating systems are based on BSD, including NetBSD, OpenBSD, DragonFly, Ultrix, and Mac OS X. In addition to BSD, he also wrote VI (Visual text editor), NFS (Network File System), and Csh (C shell). Yes… you read that correctly… Bill Joy wrote the VI editor and the C shell!!! Any UNIX-guru is more than familiar with these programs. They are still widely-used today.


    • The Software Freedom Law Show

      Bradley and Karen discuss the obligations and details of serving on a Board of Directors of a not-for-profit organization. Following that, they briefly discuss The Open Source Business Conference and LibrePlanet conference.

  • Releases

    • OpenSSL 1.0.0 arrives

      After a beta phase lasting exactly a year, the final version of OpenSSL 1.0.0 is here. The source code is now available to download and the list of changes from the previous version 0.9.8(n) is extensive. Version 1.0.0 includes several new features and enhancements, including support for the Whirlpool free hash algorithm, an alternative to the MD5 and SHA-1 algorithms, which have been under scrutiny due to the existence of simplified collision attacks.

    • Shishi 0.0.43 (release candidate for 1.0.0)

      Shishi is an implementation of the Kerberos 5 network authentication system. Shishi can be used to authenticate users in distributed systems. Shishi is part of a GNU system.

    • GCC 4.5.0 Status Report (2010-03-31), trunk is frozen

      We have reached the zero P1 GCC 4.5 regressions required for a release candidate build of GCC 4.5.0. To allow this state to prevail the trunk is frozen for non-documentation changes starting April 2nd (use your timezone for your advantage). A release candidate will not be built before the end of Easter.

  • Government

    • A landmark decision of the Italian Constitutional Court: granting preference to free software is lawful

      In short, according to the Court, favoring Free Software does not infringe freedom of competition, since software freedom is a general legal feature, and not a technological aspect connected to a specific product or brand. This ruling demonstrates the weakness of the arguments of those who, until now, have opposed the adoption of rules aimed at promoting and favoring Free Software arguing that they conflict with the principle of “technological neutrality”.

  • Schools

    • What’s your school project? An alternative to Microsoft Windows!

      The final year of all Italian High Schools (18/19 years age students) ends with a formal State Exam. Depending on which category of school they attend, all students are tested in a different group of subjects and the final vote also depends on personal projects prepared for each subject. This year, among all the final year students in Italy there are two who are preparing a project that is as unusual (at least for Italy) as interesting.


      The final year of all Italian High Schools (18/19 years age students) ends with a formal State Exam. Depending on which category of school they attend, all students are tested in a different group of subjects and the final vote also depends on personal projects prepared for each subject. This year, among all the final year students in Italy there are two who are preparing a project that is as unusual (at least for Italy) as interesting.

    • CH: School IT agency recommends switching to open source

      The Swiss agency for IT in education, SFIB, is recommending that all schools switch to open source software. The IT agency is developing support offerings for schools that are using free and open source software.

      The IT agency for Swiss schools, SFIB (Schweizerischen Fachstelle für Informationstechnologien im Bildungswesen) on 1 March posted several documents on its web site, recommending schools to start moving to free and open source software and to stop purchasing or renewing proprietary software licences.

  • Licensing

    • The GPLv3 in Plain English – The Parts Microsoft Worries About

      Whiskey Tango Foxtrot Batman! What the fsck does that say? Here’s my plain English translation:

      If you (or one of your partners) provide software licensed under GPLv3, and agree not to sue anyone — the agreement not to sue (and the use of patents that are in the software) will apply to all future recipients of that software.

      Any patent agreement which attempts to nullify any rights given to you or others in the GPLv3 is invalid. This includes paying a partner distribute the software for you and agreeing not to sue them.

  • Openness

    • Go Ahead, Play with Your Food

      Open-source recipes

      After a day of shopping and a night of stirring, seasoning, tasting and waiting, you’ve created a food symphony — a perfect meal and a killer recipe. Now, thanks to open-source recipe sharing, you can make your recipe public for chefs everywhere to recreate.

  • Standards/Consortia

    • Document Freedom Day: Passion and politics

      Incidentally, an Italian court ruled yesterday that public authorities in Italy’s Piedmont region can legally maintain a preference for Free Software in their purchasing decisions. The court considered that such a requirement refers to a characteristic of the software, rather than to a specific product or technology.

      This should give a further boost to public bodies that want to use Free Software and Open Standards. It should also remove an obstacle for those that are interested, but haven’t yet made the jump.

      In this context, Document Freedom Day is a day of hope. It shows that people around the world are passionate about Open Standards, Free Software, and the freedom to use technology as they wish. Governments in Europe and elsewhere should take note.

    • Document Freedom Day – March 31st, 2010

      Today (March 31st) is Document Freedom Day, and I encourage everyone to talk about Document Freedom with all of your friends, and even your enemies.

      In 1973 I worked for Aetna Life and Casualty, at that time the “largest commercial user of IBM equipment in the Free World”. We did not know what the government was using, and we did not know what the Russians were using, but other than that, Aetna was the largest.


      One day I was finding out where a series of magnetic tapes were located for a project that I was working on and I typed the tape numbers into the mainframe. Eventually I was finished, and curious, I typed in the tape number “000001”. The machine came back:


      I typed in “000002”.


      Being persistent (some people unkindly say I am “stubborn”), I typed in “000003”:


      Astonished at this, I went to my boss and said “Tom, how in the world are we ever going to read this magnetic tape in the future?” Tom looked at me wisely and said, “No problem. If we ever have to read that tape we have a seven-track tape drive wrapped in bubble-wrap at the salt mine too.”

    • Freedom! (Document-wise)

      So of course this is all hinting at ODF (OpenDocument Format), which has a specification (v.1.1) and a process for updating the specification when needed. I believe the specification itself has its issues — it really is difficult to specify syntax and semantics with rigor — but it gets the job done and, most importantly, is written in good faith and available for everyone to implement on a royalty-free basis. The latter is important because we want to play by the rules but also need to enable current and future implementations of tools that use the document format without restrictions.

    • Send me attachments I can read, use open standards!

      When you attach a file to an email, please make sure that your correspondent will be able to read your files correctly. It is a basic principle of courtesy. And there is an easy way to make this possible: use open standards. If you do so, your correspondent will have the possibility to choose which program he or she wants. Open standards guarantee sustainability and interoperability for your data, making sure you will be able to access them in the future, even with another software, on another platform or operating system.

    • Why I’m rejecting your email attachment

      The Free Software Foundation (FSF) today launched a campaign calling on all computer users to start politely rejecting email attachments sent in secret and proprietary formats: for freedom and the good of the web!

      The campaign is in support of Document Freedom Day and the OpenDocument format. OpenDocument is an ISO standard that allows anyone to create software that supports it, without fear of patent claims or licensing issues. Documents, spreadsheets and presentations sent in Microsoft Word or Excel native formats, or documents created in Apple’s iWorks, are proprietary and incompatible with freedom and an accessible web.

    • Created with Free Software! A button to spread the word
    • Document Freedom Day 2010


  • NYTimes Has To Apologize, Pay $114k For Mentioning Singapore Had Father/Son Prime Ministers?

    According to other reports, the NY Times also paid $114,000 to the father and son (and to a lawyer representing both). Either way, this whole thing is very odd. Why would a reporter for a respectable publication ever agree not to give an opinion on something? And why would the NY Times’ cave for merely stating that having a father and son both as prime minister’s represents something of a dynasty?

  • 9 Teenagers Are Charged After Classmate’s Suicide

    The prosecutor brought charges Monday against nine teenagers, saying their taunting and physical threats were beyond the pale and led the freshman, Phoebe Prince, to hang herself from a stairwell in January.

  • April Fool’s Day Pranks for Geeks
  • Security

    • Senate panel passes Cybersecurity Act with revised “kill switch” language

      Last April, Sen. Jay Rockefeller [D, WV] (pictured at right), the Chairman of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, introduced the Cybersecurity Act of 2009 to his committee. The goal of the bill was to develop a public-private plan for strengthening national security in the case of internet-based attacks. But it stalled almost immediately because of a controversial provision that would have give the President unilateral authority to declare a cybersecurity emergency and then shut down or limit access to parts of the internet without any oversight or explanation.

    • Fingerprint system ‘stigmatises pupils’

      Schools are denying pupils their civil liberties by fingerprinting them without seeking the consent of their parents, teachers warned yesterday.

      Around 80 secondary schools have introduced a new method of scanning the thumbs of pupils as part of a biometric system to replace swipe cards for registration, library book borrowing and cashless catering for school meals. The use of fingerprinting comes despite fears – acknowledged by the Information Commissioners’ Office – that some parents believe the practice leads to children being “treated like criminals”.

    • Barnet Council admits loss of 9,000 secondary school pupils data

      PERSONAL details of 9,000 school pupils has been stolen from the home of a Barnet Council worker, it has been revealed.

      Twenty unauthorised and unencrypted CDs and memory sticks with details including names, date of birth, addresses, phone numbers and school attainment were taken from the house a fortnight ago.

    • Video Surveillance deployed inside London Public Bathrooms

      You can imagine my surprise after I paid my 50pence to use the public bathroom, walked in and found myself staring at not just one but three ceiling mounted video surveillance cameras. I had to get real close to their enclosures to convince myself that I wasn’t seeing things. Not only was it really there, but it was a Pan-Tilt-Zoom model with a microphone to top it off. Must get some great noises coming from there. It has also been reported that London officials are now installing cameras with speakers to allow them to talk as well as see and listen. Perhaps its just me, but I had absolutely no idea that this was legal anywhere, let alone in downtown London, UK. Sure I knew that London has more cameras per square mile than any other country on the planet, but in bathrooms?! How are they getting away with that one? It is appalling!

    • DNA misdirection from our former PM

      The second issue is that the former Prime Minister implies that those opposed to an expansion of the DNA database are somehow letting ‘murderers, rapists and those who commit violent assault’ get away with their crimes. Yet, as a staunch opponent of the retention of DNA from those who are later proven innocent, I can say without any doubt that I am not opposed to DNA being collected from those three groups of ne’er do wells.

    • A disgraceful judgement

      Earlier this month we highlighted the tragic case of Jim Railton – the auctioneer from Alnwick who had been arrested for putting a 19th Century wooden cabinet containing birds eggs up for sale at his auction house.

      Jim is a parish councillor and a law-abiding man who, because of this ridiculous episode, has now had his DNA added to the national database and gained a criminal record.

    • The Disappearing Blood Stain

      John Thompson spent 18 years in a Louisiana prison, 14 of them in a windowless, six-by-nine-foot death row cell. According to a federal appeals court, “There were multiple mentally deranged prisoners near him who would yell and scream at all hours and throw human waste at the guards.” Thompson, whose execution was scheduled half a dozen times, was a few weeks away from death by lethal injection when his life was saved by a bloody scrap of cloth.

    • Break TrueCrypt hard drive encryption quickly

      The latest version of Passware Kit Forensic has become the first commercially available software to break TrueCrypt hard drive encryption without applying a time-consuming brute-force attack. It was also the first product to decrypt BitLocker drives.

    • Report: Malware capital of the world is Shaoxing, China
    • Weak passwords stored in browsers make hackers happy

      Nearly a quarter of people (23 per cent) polled in a survey by Symantec use their browser to keep tabs on their passwords.

      A survey of 400 surfers by Symantec also found that 60 per cent fail to change their passwords regularly. Further violating the ‘passwords should be treated like toothbrushes’ maxim (changed frequently and not shared), the pollsters also found that a quarter of people have given their passwords to their spouse, while one in 10 people have given their password to a ‘friend’.

    • Eyes turn to “value for money” London 2012

      London is “on budget and on time”, according to organisers, but the cost is about three times the original estimate. The economic downturn scuppered its private and public partnership plans for two of the park’s biggest projects, the Olympic Village and media centre, forcing the taxpayer to step in.

      Experts say the security budget of 600 million pounds, the same as Vancouver, is hopelessly optimistic given that Britain will be a much bigger target for potential attackers after its support of U.S. military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq.

  • Environment

    • The iPad, internet, climate change link in the spotlight

      To be clear we are not picking on Apple, we are not ‘dissing’ the iPad, but maybe someone can come up with an app that calculates the carbon footprint of using different web sites based on their location and energy deals. Apple is the master of promotion, and while we marvel at the sleek unpolluted design of the iPad, we need to think about where this is all leading and how like all good surfers we can make sure our environment stays clean and green.

  • Finance

    • Could Bloomberg Lawsuit Mean Death to Zombie Banks?

      Bloomberg, which has done some of the best reporting on the financial crisis, is also leading the charge on the fight for transparency at the Federal Reserve and in the financial sector. While many policymakers and reporters were focusing their attention on the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) bailout bill passed by Congress, Bloomberg was one of the first to notice that the TARP program was small change compared to the estimated $2-3 trillion flowing out the back door of the Federal Reserve to prop up the financial system in the early months of the crisis.

    • Prosecuting Financial Crimes: Will Anyone Bunk with Bernie?

      Kaptur is authoring a bill, H.R. 3995 the “Financial Crisis of 2008 Criminal Investigation and Prosecution Act of 2009,” that gives the FBI 1,000 more agents and forensic experts and tells them to get cracking.

    • Ex-contender for top IBM job pleads guilty on securities charges

      The insider trading scheme revolves around Raj Rajaratnam, the founder and managing director of Galleon Management, formerly a $7bn New York hedge fund that was unwound last year in the wake of the scandal, and Danielle Chiesi, an employee at New Castle Funds, formerly the equity hedge fund group of Bear Stearns.

    • Bank security guru: Sue your bank for refund

      Noted banking security expert Ross Anderson was forced to threaten action in the small claims court before his bank agreed to refund a disputed transaction.

    • There’s wealth and then there’s wealth.
  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

    • PR Firm Behind Propaganda Videos Wins Stimulus Contract

      President Obama’s push for electronic medical records [1] has faced resistance from those who question whether health information technology systems can protect patient privacy.

      So last week, the U.S Department of Health and Human Services hired a public relations firm to try to win consumer trust.

    • Coverage Now for Sick Children? Check Fine Print

      Just days after President Obama signed the new health care law, insurance companies are already arguing that, at least for now, they do not have to provide one of the benefits that the president calls a centerpiece of the law: coverage for certain children with pre-existing conditions.

    • Toxic Sludge Taints the White House

      Unfortunately for the Obamas, and for the entire nation, once the story hit the news, it became politicized. While the issue was initially raised as a comment on the safety of using sewage sludge as fertilizer – an issue that has no political party – the right soon grabbed a hold of the story as a way to make fun of the Obamas. Some on the left fiercely defended the Obamas in return. But the Obamas are not the villains in this story; they are the victims. They are among many other Americans whose yards and gardens are contaminated with sewage sludge without their knowledge and who, as a result, are exposed to toxic contaminants in the soil. And lead is just a fraction of the overall problem.

    • John Boehner “Hell No You Can’t” Video Mashup Making Waves

      The original “Yes We Can” video set to music Obama’s campaign speech featuring the phrase, “Yes We Can.” In the new mashup, Boehner repeatedly interrupts Obama’s “Yes We Can” speech with his harsh yell of “Hell no you can’t!” The soothing and melodic guitar in the piece only serves to make Boehner’s yell sound harsher. The mashup video has gotten over 445,000 views in the last six days, and prompted an opinion piece from the conservative media outlet FoxNews.com which said Republicans are close to “destroying their brand” and desperately need a new, more positive marketing spin, or else “the Republicans will be in the wilderness for a very long time.”

  • Censorship/Privacy/Civil Rights

    • Government goes to war with Google over net censorship

      The Communications Minister, Stephen Conroy, has launched a stinging attack on Google and its credibility in response to the search giant’s campaign against the government’s internet filtering policy.

    • Are you being watched online?

      Many broadband users wonder whether their broadband provider is monitoring and recording their online activity. We get the facts.

    • Do You Need Absolute Privacy?

      You would think that the owner of every single WordPress site out there would want as many visitors as possible, but you’d be wrong. Not everyone needs Sunday Morning SEO.
      There are plenty of reasons why you would want to keep a blog as private as possible. Perhaps you’re using it as an project site in conjunction with the awesome P2 theme and you only want the project members seeing the posts and responding or perhaps you have just set up a site for you newly born and you want to share those early updates with just your family.

    • Tech coalition pushes rewrite of online privacy law

      That law, the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, or ECPA, is notoriously convoluted and difficult even for judges to follow. The coalition hopes to simplify the wording while requiring police to obtain a search warrant to access private communications and the locations of mobile devices–which is not always the case today.

    • FTC alerted to Buzz

      A GROUP of lawmakers have written to the US Federal Trade Commission and asked it to have a look into Google Buzz.

  • Intellectual Monopolies/Copyrights

    • Million pound Usenet indexer found guilty

      Newzbin was a members-only website and had turnover of more than £1m in 2009. It provided members with a search engine for Usenet groups. Precise terms of the judgement are still to be decided, but the site is unlikely to continue in its current form.

    • ‘Smallville’ producers claim Warner Bros. self-dealing cost them millions

      The frequency of vertical integration lawsuits has slowed in recent years, thanks to increased studio efforts to negotiate at arms length and new deal language that has kept many disputes in private arbitration rather than public litigation.

    • James Cameron: Innovation trumps digital piracy

      Oscar-winning director James Cameron says the key to combating digital piracy in the movie industry is to use technology to create an experience that is unmatched anywhere other than the theater.

    • House Bans File Sharing By Government Employees

      The House has passed a bill that would prevent government employees from using peer-to-peer file-sharing software either in the office or when accessing government networks remotely from home.

    • IFPI and BPI goons get brought up short

      THE CROWN PROSECUTION SERVICE has dropped a legal case against a seventeen year old boy accused of illegally distributing copyrighted material.

      The boy in question, Matthew Wyatt, was seventeen when he was accused of sharing three albums and one single and arrested at home in front of his parents despite a lack of evidence.

    • Extortion-Like Mass Automated Copyright Lawsuits Come To The US: 20,000 Filed, 30,000 More On The Way

      Uh oh. It appears that a group of independent filmmakers don’t seem to recognize the kind of backlash they can receive for going to war against file sharers. It appears that a company, ridiculously named the US Copyright Group, has signed up a bunch of independent filmmakers, with the unofficial backing of Independent Film & Television Alliance, to follow in the footsteps of the disastrous European automated copyright infringement threat letter campaign, and have already gone after 20,000 alleged file sharers with another 30,000 about to follow. Five specific lawsuits have been filed, listing the 20,000 IP addresses accused of infringement.

    • Warner Bros. Recruits Students to Spy on Pirates

      Warner Bros Entertainment UK is recruiting tech-savvy students to help the company with their anti-piracy efforts. During the 12 month internship the students will have to maintain accounts at private BitTorrent sites, develop link-scanning bots, make trap purchases and perform various other anti-piracy tasks.

    • Who Is That Masked Chocolate Candy? Zorro Slashes M&Ms Over Trademark

      You may have seen the news that Zorro Productions is suing Mars, the makers of M&M’s, over a trademark infringement claim, concerning an M&Ms commercial that apparently involves some sort of Zorro costume. But wait a second… just like Sherlock Holmes, it appears that at least some of Zorro should be in the public domain by now. Pamela Chestek writes in to give her very thorough analysis of this particular case, noting that, in some ways, it may be setting up some future lawsuits concerning the difference between trademark and copyright in characters.

    • The Economics Of The Music Industry: A Band Has To Work Hard To Get Its Part

      These days, a lot of that money is up for grabs — and the record labels are upset that they’re not getting more of it. Instead, it may be going to others, such as Apple or an ISP or someone else entirely. But, really, it’s up for grabs — and that’s why we see a lot of smart musicians figuring out how to take advantage and get their share.

    • OK Go and the Old Media Model

      This presages the direction a lot of creators and artists will start to take as they leave the copyright-mired Old Media Dinosaurs behind.

    • Google Sued For Using The Term ‘Gadgets’; Tiny Company Afraid People Will Think They Support Google
    • Digital Economy Bill

      • The Digital Economy Bill: A taxation on salt

        MPs have the opportunity now to take the Digital Economy Bill in wash-up and do just what a wash-up implies: clean it out. If they don’t, and if lobbies like BPI get their way, we’re in for a satyagraha.

      • Lib Dems to fight Digital Economy Bill over ‘wash-up’

        The Liberal Democrats will try to block the Digital Economy Bill from being fast-tracked into law before the election.

        On Tuesday afternoon, the party’s chief whip Paul Burstow tweeted that he had told the government the Liberal Democrats will not support the bill as it is drafted because there is “not enough time for MPs to examine it in detail”.

        The bill is expected to be become part of ‘wash-up’, a brief period at the end of a sitting parliament when outstanding legislation becomes the subject of back-room deals between the main two parties, the Conservatives and Labour.

      • 7 days to stop the Bill!

        ORG and 38 Degrees are pushing to get national advertising placed just before the debate on Tuesday next week: when Parliament will, in effect, allow the Bill to be passed into ‘wash up’ without proper democratic scrutiny, denying us a national discussion about the rights and wrongs of this Bill.

Clip of the Day

SourceCode Season 1: Episode 2 (2004)

Microsoft Acquires Novell

Posted in Deals, Humour, Microsoft, Novell at 6:04 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“Microsoft and its employees now think it is indeed the Master of the Universe.”

Stewart Alsop, Fortune

WALTHAM, Mass., April 1 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ — Novell, Inc. (Nasdaq: NOVL) today announced that Microsoft had agreed to acquire Ximian, along with its owner which possesses UNIX, one of Microsoft’s most formidable competitors.

Microsoft and Novell choose to keep the details of their deal secret but are delighted to assure customers that it is absolutely good news to them all.

About Novell

Novell, Inc. (Nasdaq: NOVL) delivers a Microsoft-taxed Linux platform and a portfolio of integrated software patents designed to help customers around the world increase cost, complexity and risk.

About Microsoft

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) is the worldwide leader in racketeering, extortion services and collusions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.

“It’s possible, you can never know, that the universe exists only for me. If so, it’s going quite well I must admit.”

Bill Gates

IRC Proceedings: March 31st, 2010

Posted in IRC Logs at 5:58 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz


Read the log

Enter the IRC channel now

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

Consequences of UNIX up for Sale

Posted in Courtroom, Finance, GNU/Linux, IBM, Java, Novell, Patents, SCO, UNIX at 1:01 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Novell suicide

Summary: How the outcome of the SCO case — as positive as it is — relates to the future

THE SCO case is almost over and just about everyone has already seen the news (so we won’t repeat it). As we shall show at the end, it’s not quite over because of the vulture fund that’s running after Novell (or circling Novell’s decaying body rather) and SCO wants to carry on with the case against IBM. We urge readers to remember what Groklaw said about the timing of the vulture fund’s arrival at the scene. It was only days before the SCO trial.

In this post we’ll try to contain as much coverage as possible and leave readers to explore the sources, which mostly comprise overlapping and obvious information.

Prior to the ruling we found quite a lot of anticipatory coverage such as:

SCO v World Bombshell

The malloc code is stuff that was released years ago by Caldera and certainly is not something SCOG defended in the SCOG v IBM case. Judge Kimball expressed astonishment at how little evidence SCOG presented after years of discovery and litigation.

If a corporation cannot be jailed for fraud, its officers should be.

No Verdict Today, the Final Day, in SCO v. Novell – Deliberations Begin Again Tuesday

SCO v Novell is unfair to Novell

Judge Stewart is obviously capable of great insight and has the legal knowledge. This case suggests strongly that he is not ruling based on law but on some hidden agenda to give every advantage possible to SCOG. Novell has taken the steps to document their motions very well should an appeal be necessary. I believe whichever way the case turns out, some peer review of Stewart’s conduct of this case is in order. Courts run this way are pointless. We can find bullies galore on the street. We do not need them in courts.

Just before the judgment we had:

Court Grants SCO’s Oral Motion for Judgment on Novell’s Slander of Title Claim

Jury deliberating UNIX ownership in ongoing SCO trial

SCO’s fate has been placed in the hands of 12 Utah jurors who will resume deliberations on Tuesday. They are tasked with deciding whether the UNIX SVRX copyrights were transferred from Novell to SCO in a 1995 asset purchase agreement.

SCO’s legal battle began in 2003 when the company claimed that Linux includes code that was misappropriated from UNIX. Novell claims that SCO does not have standing to pursue litigation relating to SVRX copyright infringement because it does not own the relevant copyrights. A bench trial that concluded in 2007 ruled in Novell’s favor but was later overturned. The case was put before a jury, which heard the closing arguments on Friday.

Ownership of Unix copyrights in hands of Utah jury

A Salt Lake City jury has started deliberations in a case pitting two software companies that each claim ownership of the Unix computer operating systems used by large corporations.

Jury rests for weekend in SCO Group-Novell trial (and it’s here also)

A federal jury began deliberations Friday in the trial pitting The SCO Group against Novell Inc. in their dispute over which owns the copyrights to the Unix computer operating systems used by many businesses.

Ownership of Unix Copyrights in Hands of Utah Jury

SCO UNIX Claims Could Be Decided This Week – Or Not.

SCO the company that has been claiming that it owns UNIX copyrights and that Linux infringes on those rights is still alive….barely.

SCO Novell Jury Decision Pending

Ownership of Unix copyrights in hands of Utah jury (AP coverage)

Is this the end for SCO?

I’ve given up on predicting when the zombie movie series staring the undead SCO monster is finally going to stay quietly in its grave Still, this week a jury is deciding whether SCO or Novell owns Unix’s intellectual property rights.

You may have thought that this was settled. Most of us who followed SCO certainly thought that was a done deal. After all, the matter of who owns Unix comes down to a fairly simple issue of contract law and not some esoteric IP (intellectual property) legal gymkhana. And, no matter how SCO sliced it, Judge Dale Kimball decided that Novell owned Unix’s copyrights. Alas, another judge decided last August that Kimball had had no right to make that call and that a jury should decide who Unix’s copyrights instead.

Here is an interesting one which is worth bearing in mind: “SCO Wants to Sell Java Patent and (Mostly) Pay the Professionals”

SCO Chapter 11 Trustee Edward Cahn has now reported to the bankruptcy court that he’s closed on the loan from Ralph Yarro and his friends, and now Cahn wants to pay most of the bills in the bankruptcy from SCO’s numerous professionals. And he wants to sell the Java patent, since SCO’s never used it and has no use for it going forward. He has a buyer, Liberty Lane, LLC, and so he asks the court to approve the sale to Liberty Lane “or another higher and better bidder.” That seems unlikely, in that they claim to have shopped the patent to around 40 potential purchasers. Liberty Lane is offering $100,000.


And who is Liberty Lane LLC? According to Exhibit B [PDF], they have an office in San Diego, CA but are a Delaware LLC. Exhibit D says Liberty Lane is a company affiliated with Allied Security Trust I, and if that is this patent-protection (from trolls) company, that might not be half bad. Google and HP are members of Allied. At least they’d keep it out of the hands of the litigation lizards. That’s Allied’s purpose, to dry up patent trolling as a “business” by buying up patents that might be used that way. And Exhibit E [PDF] indicates they are one and the same, in that the letter of intent shows the same name as CFO, Kerry Hopkin.

It is worth watching who gets such patents.

Anyway, the statement from Novell’s PR people was probably the first to announce the results of the trial. It’s a good outcome for Novell, which also issued a press release about it. Groklaw has already gotten over 1,500 comments and Brian Proffitt gives Groklaw credit.

Then came heaps of press coverage, such as:

Even a former Novell employee wrote about it (there was no disclosure).

The major news is included in many news digests too [1, 2, 3].

On Tuesday, a jury in Nevada sided with Novell in its long-running legal dispute with SCO. The jury in the U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada ruled that Novell owns Unix copyrights that SCO has tried to assert as its own. Pamela Jones, a paralegal who has closely followed the SCO v. Novell case since its beginning on her Groklaw blog, initially deemed this the end of the line. “It’s over,” she wrote on her site. However, SCO could appeal the ruling.

SCOTUS Blog had this to say:

Issue: Whether the “writing” referenced in 17 U.S.C. § 204(a) — requiring for a transfer of copyright ownership “an instrument of conveyance, or a note or memorandum of the transfer” that is “in writing and signed by the owner of the rights conveyed or such owner’s duly authorized agent” — must specify which copyrights were conveyed, or instead requires only that the written instrument could be construed to convey some copyrights.

It’s not so crucial. This is more or less a repetition of a 2007 decision. If Novell owns UNIX, there are greater troubles now than there were back then. Since Novell is up for sale, then UNIX may be up for sale, too.

Financially, here is what was happening around that time [1, 2]. Novell got downgraded.

Novell (NOVL) was downgraded today by analysts at Thomson Financial – Gradient and the stock is now at $5.77, up $0.02 (0.35%) on volume of 4,690,115 shares traded.

Now, to emphasise the important part, according to some sources, “SCO vows to press ahead with IBM lawsuit.”

But Cahn said SCO intends to continue its lawsuit against IBM, in which the computer giant is accused of using Unix code to make the Linux operating system a viable competitor, causing a decline in SCO’s revenues.

From Briefing.com (via Microsoft) we learn:

It was rumored that IBM (IBM 128.46 -0.13) could be interested in Novell (NOVL 5.80). NOVL shares did not react to the rumor. As mentioned before, while many rumors circulate during the day, and the validity of the source of these rumors can be questionable, the speculation may increase volatility in the near term.

At ZDNet, one GNU/Linux enthusiast asks, “Why doesn’t IBM just buy Novell already?” (we did an April prank about it one year ago)

I actually started pondering this a few days before the Novell-SCO ruling on Tuesday clearly put Novell in an important position as a “[defender of] Linux on the intellectual property front.” Why, you ask, would a Googley Edu blogger be thinking about major players in the enterprise Linux market? Because I can see an open source showdown in the making here, the beneficiaries of which will be consumers, SMBs, enterprises, and educational institutions. I don’t get the feeling the showdown will be any fun, though, if Novell is left to its own devices.

What we do know is that Novell may be looking for a buyer. As Tim puts it:

That is the question? It certainly seems like its a possibility in the case of Novell, with rumours abound on the Net that it may be up for grabs. Speaking personally, I wonder how much of an opportunity Novell missed when it signed a deal with Microsoft. Regardless of if there is a “master plan” in operation, I don’t think it can be argued that the “deal” did damage to the Novell image.

The eternal boss of JBoss (Marc Fleury), who met Ron Hovsepian, argues that Novell is likely to sell itself.

So let’s see if I can summarize the Novell thing as i understand it.

a/ The offer is from a hedge fund
b/ the offer is 50% above EV
c/ the offer was turned down

c/ can be written off as a mere negotiation step. The board is rejecting the first offer on the table. What else do you expect them to do? There is nothing to see here and I would still put the odds very high on Novell is a sell.

Novell has rejected the first bid (probably as expected from a negotiator) and here is a new video that covers that.

For more background on the subject, see the following older posts:

  1. Vulture Fund Still the Only Bidder for Novell
  2. Novell May be Going Private, Hedge Fund Has Cash
  3. Analyst Expects Microsoft Bid to Buy Novell
  4. Ron Hovsepian Receives Another Large Lump of Cash as Novell Sale Looms
  5. GNU/Linux-Savvy Writers View Elliot Associates as Bad Neighbourhood
  6. Firm Behind Novell Bid Has Shady Past, Could be Tied to Microsoft (Paul E. Singer’s ‘Vulture Fund’)
  7. Simon Phipps: “Seems Even With Microsoft’s Support Novell Couldn’t Cut It”

The bottom line is that SCO does not own UNIX. But we don’t really know who might be the owner of UNIX later this year.

The ‘Conspiracy’ of Mono

Posted in Free/Libre Software, FUD, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Mono, Novell, Red Hat, Virtualisation, Xen at 12:01 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Get the facts

Summary: Further analysis of the response to Mono criticism and the abuse directed against those who dissent against Mono

A COUPLE of days ago we joked about how people who ‘dare’ to criticise Mono and Moonlight are being labeled “conspiracy theorists” (or other such labels). It’s an ad hominem attack.

But let’s look at the facts; we are not suggesting that there is a ‘conspiracy’ (mind the scare quotes); rather, there are centres of influence involving people who may benefit from their belief that Mono is acceptable and that Microsoft is benign. We are talking about journalists like David Worthington, who even this week continues promoting Microsoft inside “Open Source” (like the PR effort mentioned some days ago).

Microsoft and its allies are spinning using the usual people, who are simply supportive of their cause. There is nothing new about Worthington’s coverage on these subjects [1, 2, 3, 4, 5] and the latest highly-publicised incident [1, 2, 3], which Bruce Byfield decided to spin along with Worthington and Microsoft MVP de Icaza, is not exactly surprising. There is some history there, as Sam Varghese rightly points out:

Of Mono, apologists, and missing the news for the spin


But what is extremely interesting about this whole episode is the way that Bruce Byfield, a self-described computer journalist, has gotten involved and tried to make out that there was nothing newsworthy about De Icaza’s comments.

Byfield attempted to turn the focus on the fact that Melton and others had questioned the disappearance of the March 17 article. He lumped a link to my iTWire piece in a portion of his article which had a sub-heading “The Rumor Mill Grinds Coarsely” – though everything reported in my piece was strictly factual – and, for good measure, also took aim at Roy Schestowitz who runs the BoycottNovell website. There is some history between Byfield and Schestowitz.

In other words, Melton, I and Schestowitz comprised the rumour mill. The oracle of truth was apparently Byfield.


De Icaza begins the March 25 blog post by saying “It seems that David’s article on Windows strategy tax on .NET lacked enough context for my actual quotes in there.” But, as Melton, who, in truth, shows more of an analytical mind than both Byfield and De Icaza combined, points out, De Icaza had already congratulated Worthington on the article, posting a tweet: “@dcworthington I am in whole agreement with you there; Btw I loved the article, good balance.”

Let me echo Melton, who, in a long analysis of the episode, asked: “So did the article lack enough context or was it a good balance?” It surely can’t be both!

Byfield, of course, did not bother about minor contradictions like this. He was on a path to uncover the “The Mono Mystery That Wasn’t” – that’s the headline for his article, which makes it appear to be some kind of fairytale, as indeed it turns out to be.

Basically, Varghese shows that it’s extremely unlikely that the article was removed by accident; it looks more like a cover-up and ‘damage control’. Byfield is attempting to look professional while using words like “conspiracy” to just smear those whom he and his friends do not agree with. That’s just the type of treatment one receives from Mono bullies and Varghese goes further in a newer article by claiming that “Mono apologists drive developers away”.

When Hubert Figuiere, a developer who had lost his job with Novell in the first quarter of 2009, released the note-taking application Gnote on April 1 last year, one doubts that he had any idea about the kind of attacks which would be launched on him by Mono advocates and apologists.


Figuiere’s sin? Gnote is a port of the note-taking application Tomboy, which is written in Mono and is an official part of the GNOME Desktop. Gnote is a port of the same code in C++/GTK.

Mono, for those who are unaware, is an attempt by Miguel de Icaza, co-founder of the GNOME desktop project and a vice-president at Novell, to create an open source implementation of Microsoft’s .NET development environment. Mono has attracted a fair share of controversy as many in FOSS circles fear that it may pose patent problems.

Figuiere received abuse from the pushers of Mono. Eventually he left the project at the hands of Fedora where it’s maintained.

As we pointed out a couple of days ago, it is important that people find the courage to speak out against Mono. A lot of influential voices prefer not to be entangled in controversy, even if they know that Mono means trouble. The Source continues to take a careful look at Mono-related issues and a few days ago it also found this interesting new item. It shows what Xen really thinks about “Open Source” after joining Microsoft’s Partner of the Year (2008), Citrix.

This is ultimately another “let’s point out a software problem that applies to both Open and Closed Source and pretend like it only applies to Open Source” bit of misdirection.

It sure seems like a lot of entities in the GNU/Linux world — the Linux Foundation included — move away from Xen (Citrix) and mostly adopt KVM. Microsoft tends to just ruin projects that it touches.

Court Pardons Microsoft for Antitrust Violations

Posted in Antitrust, Courtroom, Microsoft, Novell, Office Suites, OpenOffice, SCO at 11:30 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Wordperfect 5.1 for DOS

Summary: The WordPerfect case gets dismissed just around the same time SCO loses to Novell

Microsoft’s and Novell’s "Special Relationship" may soon improve now that the case against Microsoft is dropped (despite evidence that we have provided in “Boycott Novell” to weaken Microsoft’s claims).

The coverage mostly came from Microsoft blogs, such as TechFlash (Todd Bishop) and Mary Jo Foley:

The two remaining antitrust claims that Novell brought against Microsoft in 2004 were dropped by the court Tuesday.

Novell, a leading enterprise software vendor, alleged six years ago that Microsoft abused its monopoly power by limiting sales of WordPerfect and Quattro Pro, a spreadsheet application. Novell had sold those products to Corel in 1996 after just two years of owning them, but didn’t sue Microsoft until eight years later.

The latter source also mentioned “Novell’s victory on March 30 in a longstanding Unix patent case with SCO overshadowed another court ruling on March 30 involving the Utah-based company.” We’ll write about that shortly. The timing is interesting because of the SCO news. It’s a convenient time to bury this development. It’s most likely just a coincidence though.

Here is what the Microsoft-loving Seattle Times had to say on the subject:

Motz said his earlier ruling allowing Novell to pursue two antitrust claims was in error.

“Novell’s primary contention is that all the asset purchase agreement meant to assign was claims for harm inflicted” on Novell’s PC operating system, Motz said. “Here there is no ambiguity in the asset purchase agreement. It encompasses all claims ‘associated directly or indirectly with’” operating system products.

Here is the original source [PDF] (also added as plain text below) and some remarks from a former Novell employee about the role of office suites in the near future.

And at some point, CIOs are going to realize that the vast majority of their employees don’t spend any time mucking around with pivot tables or drafting documents. At most, people use Outlook, and buying an entire Office license to get e-mail feels like overkill.

This merely repeats what many people have been saying for several years, namely that the Internet changes everything when it comes to office suites. Even Microsoft is forced to evolve as its Office franchise declines (in terms of money [1, 2, 3, 4]). Microsoft has already tried extorting OpenOffice.org.

Related posts:

Read the rest of this entry »

Patents Roundup: Several Defeats for Bad Types of Patents, Apple Risks Embargo, and Microsoft Lobbies Europe Intensely

Posted in Apple, Australia, Courtroom, Free/Libre Software, Microsoft, OIN, Patents, Standard at 8:56 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Techrights image

Summary: News from around the world about government-approved monopolies on general banking methods, human genes, computers, and even mathematics (encoded in the form of algorithms)

BLOG POSTS have been very scarce and rare over the past few days because we rearrange the Web site to better fit our scope of coverage (Boycott Novell becomes just a subset). We kindly ask for some patience from readers. The logo above is only temporary as one contributor works on a permanent one.

So, what has happened all this time? The big story is about SCO (more on that later), but equally important there’s this old patent issue that Novell made worse when it signed the 2006 deal with Microsoft. The following post only looks at patents.

In Re Bilski (Business Method Patents)

Let’s begin with the impending ruling on Bilski — an important decision that has been escalated to the Supreme Court. From the EE Times we have:

The Supreme Court could issue a decision any day on a controversial case limiting business method and software patents. Legal experts expect the court will uphold the Bilski decision but may call for the Federal Circuit court broaden a test of what can be patentable it set in that case.

In 2008, the Federal Circuit Court upheld a decision from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office rejecting a 1997 patent application filed by Bernard Bilski on a business method for hedging financial trades. In its decision, the Federal court laid down a controversial test for any patent: it has to be tied to a device or transform something physical.

Gene Patents

How about patents on life? The encouraging news is that scope of patents seems to be narrowed rather than broadened now that gene patents may die, leading to the suspicion that invalidation of software patents in the United States is reachable (Bilski already shatters business method patents and sometimes software patents too).

There’s been an important development in the world of US patents:

Patents on genes associated with hereditary breast and ovarian cancer are invalid, ruled a New York federal court today. The precedent-setting ruling marks the first time a court has found patents on genes unlawful and calls into question the validity of patents now held on approximately 2,000 human genes.

That’s notable because it asserts definitively (well, subject to appeals) that genes are not patentable matter – overturning decades of practice. Here’s what the judge said on the issue:

Judge Sweet, however, ruled that the patents were “improperly granted” because they involved a “law of nature.” He said that many critics of gene patents considered the idea that isolating a gene made it patentable “a ‘lawyer’s trick’ that circumvents the prohibition on the direct patenting of the DNA in our bodies but which, in practice, reaches the same result.”

Note that it singles out “a ‘lawyer’s trick’ that circumvents the prohibition on the direct patenting of the DNA in our bodies but which, in practice, reaches the same result”. That’s interesting, because it is essentially the same technique that is used in the world of software patents.

Here is what ACLU had to say on the case:

Patents on genes associated with hereditary breast and ovarian cancer are invalid, ruled a New York federal court today. The precedent-setting ruling marks the first time a court has found patents on genes unlawful and calls into question the validity of patents now held on approximately 2,000 human genes. The ruling follows a lawsuit brought by a group of patients and scientists represented by the American Civil Liberties Union and the Public Patent Foundation (PUBPAT), a not-for-profit organization affiliated with Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law.

Apple & Embargo

From Bloomberg we now learn that Apple gets hit with an embargo attempt similar to the one it tried to pull against Android/Linux when suing HTC [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9]. Irony at its best.

Elan Microelectronics Corp., a Taiwanese maker of chips and touch-screens, asked a U.S. trade agency to ban the import and sale of some Apple Inc. products, including the forthcoming iPad, because of alleged patent infringement.

Elan’s complaint filed yesterday with the U.S. International Trade Commission in Washington claims Apple “knowingly and deliberately” used Elan’s technology, while continuing to introduce infringing products, the company claims in the complaint. The petition also seeks to ban imports of the iPhone and iPod Touch products, Elan said in the complaint.

“Our goal is to protect our technology and to stop sales of those products in the U.S.,” Dennis Liu, spokesman for Hsinchu, Taiwan-based Elan, said by phone today.

Microsoft & EIF

Earlier on we wrote about allegations (from a reliable source) that Microsoft had a “coup in process” at the European Commission [1, 2]. The head of the FSFE has responded to that as follows:

The European Commission started updating the EIF in 2006, and called for public comments in the summer of 2008. Then, the document was still very strong on Open Standards, and gave clear directions to the European member states that wanted their public sector IT to be more efficient and vendor-independent.

Until the Business Software Alliance (BSA) got its hands on it.

The Business Software Alliance is a lobby group of proprietary software vendors, backed above all by Microsoft. FSFE has prepared an overview page showing how the BSA’s demands are reflected in the latest draft of EIFv2.


In its current state, EIFv2 would do only one thing: Cement the vendor lock-in and network effects that are keeping too many public bodies from migrating to Free Software and Open Standards. FSFE is not the only group with serious concerns about the text. Open Forum Europe has written a strongly worded letter (.pdf) to Member States and the European Commission, calling for the document to be rejected.

There is also this article in German about the subject. Even the Document Freedom Web site could not help remarking on that.

You could be forgiven for thinking that Open Standards are a rather dull topic. Specifications are probably the most boring kind of reading known to man.Who will be able to read what you wrote? Who can you share documents with? Will you be able to read your own writings in the future, or will it all be locked into proprietary file formats developed by companies that have long since disappeared, leaving you sitting on a pile of digital toxic waste?


As far as we know, this sort of thing doesn’t sit well with everyone in the European Commission. DG INFSO appears to be under huge pressure from other DGs to remove the reference to Open Standards from the text, and make it less ambitious overall.

FSFE is active on both issues, talking to policy makers and calling public attention to the problem. What’s at stake here is the fate of Open Standards in Europe’s public sector in the coming years.

Open Invention Network (OIN) Grows

The patent pool that’s designed to protect Linux by hoarding patents just keeps growing with the addition of Guest-tek.

Open Invention Network (OIN), the company formed to enable and protect Linux, today extended the Linux ecosystem with the signing of Guest-tek™ as a licensee. By becoming a licensee, Guest-tek™ has joined the growing list of companies that recognize the importance of participating in a substantial community of Linux supporters and leveraging the Open Invention Network to further spur open source innovation.

Software Patents Suffer a Blow in New Zealand

A few months back we wrote about the terrifying possibility that New Zealand may authorise the patenting of software [1, 2, 3] (like Australia, for example). If the press from New Zealand (IDG in this case) is reporting accurately, then local supporters of Free software have been rather successful at defending their country’s software industry.

Open source software champions have been influential in excluding software from the scope of patents in the new Patents Bill.

Clause 15 of the draft Bill, as reported back from the Commerce Select Committee, lists a number of classes of invention which should not be patentable and includes the sub-clause “a computer program is not a patentable invention.”

“We received many submissions concerning the patentability of computer programs,” says the committee in the preamble to the Bill. “Under the Patents Act 1953, computer programs can be patented n New Zealand, provided they produce a commercially useful effect.

More here:

So, there you are. New Zealand MPs of all parties are to be congratulated on recognising, what to many, for many years, has been patently obvious. There are some members of that committee that paid particular attention to the detail of the debate, there were also lots of submissions made be patent lawyers in favour of patents.

The issue is also being discussed in Slashdot. The assessment from the FFII’s president, who looked at the “Patents Bill” draft, says concisely that New Zealand is “trying to exclude software patents, not an easy task, confused by the embedded software trick” (as posted in Twitter).

Links 31/3/2010: KDE Software Compilation 4.4.2, New GNOME Journal

Posted in News Roundup at 2:53 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



  • Linux Journal Insider – May 2010
  • Apple: Simplicity taken too far?

    One could discard such fulminating, except for the fact that Google (with Android) and other open-source communities are increasingly focusing on delivering open-source software that prioritizes ease of use, as Canonical’s latest Ubuntu 10.04 LTS (aka Lucid Lynx) release shows.

  • What Linux needs

    Because what Linux needs is people who want to use Linux. I said a long time ago that if Linux was Windows, nobody would need Linux. By corollary, if what you need is Windows, don’t tell me Linux has shortcomings. Linux doesn’t need application X, it needs someone who is so prepossessed with the idea of creating application X that they spearhead an independent movement to duplicate it, gather a few like-minded and talented peers, and as a group they roll up their sleeves and get to work making application X.

  • Sony

    • PS3 Hacker Geohot on Lost Linux Support: I’m Sorry

      Sony has only pinned the change on “security concerns,” but hacker George “Geohot” Hotz, who released the first-ever PS3 hack earlier this year (preceded by several high-profile iPhone jailbreaks), which could ultimately allow piracy or other nefarious uses of the consoles, believes he played a role:

      First off, I want to apologize to all the people who use Linux on their PS3. Before releasing, I weighed the pros and cons, and considered the possibility of an impact on OtherOS support. My logic was this. OtherOS support had already been removed from the Slim … The builders had apparently no intention of including it in future products. So for the purposes of openness why not release?

    • iPhone Hacker: I’ll Hack to Keep Linux on PS3

      iPhone hacker George Hotz promises PS3 users a work-around for Sony’s decision to nix OtherOS support.

    • Geohot Looks To Enable Other OS Support For The PS3 3.21 Firmware

      It looks like Geohot (a famous hacker) isn’t too happy that Sony will be removing Linux support from its upcoming PS3 3.21 firmware, and the person who demoed an untethered iPhone jailbreak a short while ago, is determined to do something about it.

    • Hacker vows to avenge Sony’s PS3 Linux cut-off

      Hacker Geohot claims he has a plan to permit PlayStation 3 (PS3) users to continue running Linux on the gaming system, despite Sony’s announcement that it will block alternate operating system installs. On Sunday, Sony announced that a 3.21 update due on April 1 will prohibit the installation of alternate installations, due to security concerns.

  • Desktop

    • A plea for relief from Microsoft’s escalating anti-competitive tactics.

      For years the Microsoft corporation has earned around 70% to 80% net profit from sales of its operating systems and application software. Only in areas like Thailand where Linux on the desktop has just begun to gain a foothold has Microsoft stated that it will release versions of its operating system platform and application software at a lower price to Original Equipment Manufactures (OEMs) and retail consumers than is available in the rest of the modern world. Consumers benefit where real competition exists.

    • An Easy and Inexpensive Quad-Core System for Debian or Ubuntu GNU/Linux

      The quad core processor especially makes a difference for GNU/Linux users because most of the time we are running a lot of separate processes. These can be shared over the available processors, achieving a degree of parallelism. The most remarkable thing, though, is that the 3D graphics and sound software (often major headaches to configure) appear to work exactly as they should on this hardware.

      Everything clicks into place and works. The worst problem so far has been a few lock-ups of the X windows system which might be due to video driver issues (or it might just be a flaky hard drive — the one we’re using is pretty old. We’re eventually going to replace that).

  • Applications

    • 10 Alternative Web Browsers for Ubuntu Linux

      With the Lucid Lynx release of Ubuntu just around the corner, we decided to take a look at some alternative browsers for Linux (some of them making their first appearances in the Ubuntu repositories with the 10.04 release). While Firefox is arguably still the champion of Linux web browsers, it can sometimes be slow and get bogged down by sites like Facebook. As a result (and just because it’s fun), some people have started to search for alternatives to Firefox on Linux. Thankfully, the Linux browser market has never been more full of competition. If you’re looking for a break from Firefox, there’s probably an alternative browser out there for you.

    • Instructionals

  • Desktop Environments

  • Distributions

    • Mandrake/Mandriva Family

      • Free Cloud Alliance Formed – Open Source IaaS, PaaS and SaaS for the Enterprise

        IELO, Mandriva, Nexedi and TioLive join forces to create the Free Cloud Alliance (FCA), an alliance of Free / Open Source Software publishers which provides 100% Open Source solutions for the fast growing market of Enterprise Cloud Computing. The Free Cloud Alliance (freecloudalliance.org) is the first Open Source Cloud Computing Stack which covers both Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS) and Software as a Service (SaaS) with a consistent set of technologies targetted at high performance and mission critical applications.

      • PCLinuxOS 2010 KDE 4.4.1 Beta 2

        Saw a notice that the subject’s beta 2 for their first KDE 4.4.x release was available. Downloaded, burned and booted it.

        First impression: I saw HAL leave a note on the screen about detecting my Intel GM45 chip, setting up its parameters, and configuring the AGP aperture. The result was that when KDE 4.4.1 came it it was lightening fast. Installed Stellarium and got 50-60 fps, which is unprecedented for this GM45 chip in any version of Kubuntu, Mandriva, or several other LiveCDs I’ve tried in the last year and a half. The best Lucid gives me in Stellarium is about half, 25-40 fps. Turning on Desktop effects had NO noticeable slowdown in PCLOS. In Kubuntu it drops my fps to 10-15 fps. Kubuntu’s 3D gives me an occasional tearing over the bottom panel. PCLOS’s 3D is rock solid stable.

      • Planning a move to PCLinuxOS 2010

        But, all in all, it’s a sour-sweet thing, because my current 2009 installation is absolutely solid, stable, and fast. Everything works as it should, and when rebasing a Linux distribution there’s always the chance of a rough start. I trust Texstar and his team, but something could slip through the cracks. So I’ll be on the safe side and wait a few weeks before reinstalling everything.

    • Red Hat Family

      • Red Hat expands to desktop virtualization

        Open-source enterprise software company Red Hat has updated its virtualization platform, Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization (REV), to include support for desktop virtualization, the company announced on Monday.

    • Debian Family

      • SimplyMEPIS 8.5 Goes Gold

        MEPIS LLC has announced the availability of SimplyMEPIS 8.5 from MEPIS and public mirrors. The ISO files for 32 and 64 bit processors are SimplyMEPIS-CD_8.5.01-rel1_32.iso and SimplyMEPIS-CD_8.5.01-rel1_64.iso respectively. Deltas are also available.

        On behalf of the MEPIS Community, Paul Brooks was on hand to say: “This is one of the best releases ever. The Community collaboration with Warren has strengthened over the past couple of years, with in-depth testing and the contribution of ideas and tweaks. In particular, the Community provided artwork and documentation, which I believe are top notch. Also community member Marcos led the charge to improve MEPIS utilities and to create new Community contributed utilities.”

      • Ubuntu

        • AAC codec may be removed from Ubuntu repos

          A closer examination of the libfaac codec, a free software project containing an AAC encoder installable and used by various packages in the Ubuntu repositories, has turned up a conflict: the codec cannot be freely distributed under the LGPL, a common license used for the distribution of media libraries in free software, due to the inclusion of several other licenses’ which are incompatible with the LGPL. This is despite the fact libfaac declares itself as compatible with LGPL.

          Ubuntu 10.04 users wishing to play AAC format audio may find themselves out of luck.

        • More Right Window Button Ideas For Ubuntu 10.10

          A recent idea by Izo makes a lot more sense than all the previous ideas. Have a look (it’s called “The Workflow Button”)…

        • ‘Additional buttons’ concept for the right-hand side of windows

          It’s a refined – and do-able – concept that makes use of the current way in which many people use their desktops (i.e. workspaces) but whether it’s ‘innovative’ enough to come to life will remains to be seen.

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Gemalto Expands Range of Secure Linux Payment Terminals

      MagIC3 W-1 is part of Gemalto’s MagIC3 product family, which incorporates the Open&Sec technology running on Linux.

    • DeviceVM Co-Founder and CEO Mark Lee Elected to Board of Directors of the Linux Foundation

      DeviceVM Drives Linux Proliferation Across More Than 30 Million PCs;Company Also Will Support the Open-Source MeeGo Project Hosted by the Linux Foundation

    • Phones

      • Reality Check: Making mobile Linux work

        The variety of Linux-oriented initiatives and activities in the mobile industry, including the recent announcement from Nokia and Intel regarding the formation of MeeGo, clearly reaffirms the fact that Linux will be the technology that underpins a large proportion of next-generation mobile devices. In fact, leading analyst firms predict that between 30-40% of smartphones shipped will be based on Linux by 2015. This column addresses a few key issues pertaining to this growth in mobile Linux including the need for consolidation at the core level of the mobile software stack, the choice of Linux as the technology that will be common across a large array of mobile devices of various form factors and the business models around mobile Linux.

      • Android operating system to power a smarter Telstra phone

        MOBILE phones powered by Google’s Android open-source operating system have been scarce in Australia until now.

        Occasionally, models from Taiwan’s HTC have bobbed up on Optus and Vodafone, but they have failed to make much impression on a smartphone market dominated by BlackBerry and iPhone.

        That may change with a coming explosion of new models, featuring the much improved Android 2.1 version of the OS.

    • Sub-notebooks

      • Jolicloud 0.9 Robby Pre-Final Brings the ‘Cloud’ Closer

        The makers of Jolicloud have been on a roll lately. Jolicloud is a Linux distribution based on Ubuntu aimed at netbooks. It lays a great emphasis on cloud apps and many believe it to be a true competitor to Google Chrome OS. Several big updates have arrived in the span of just a few days so the team believs the OS is pretty much ready for its final release and have launched Jolicould 0.9 Robby Pre-Final. It’s not quite production-ready, but it is the de facto release candidate.

    • Tablets

      • Ekoore releases 10in slate PC to compete with iPad

        The device – previewed on Linux for Devices – has a 10.2in display with a resolution of 1,024×600, 1GB of RAM, a 160GB hard disk, and a plethora of connectivity options including both wireless and wired network along with Bluetooth and USB. The main system processor is the 1.6GHz Intel Atom N270, as found in many netbook devices on the market today.

        Perhaps the most interesting feature of the ET10TA is the software: Ekoore has announced that the device will ship with both Windows XP and Ubuntu Linux as a dual-boot system, giving purchasers the option of running either operating system – or both, for different tasks.

Free Software/Open Source

  • New technology could open gaming world to disabled

    A new computer game designed by Imperial College London students could open the gaming world to those with severe physical disabilities.

    Using the open source game Pong, students at Imperial College London were able to make adaptations so that the player moves the bat using their eyes while wearing special glasses.

  • Zenoss: Open Source Infiltrates Large Service Providers?

    Olivier Thierry (Chief Marketing Officer) and Brian Riley (VP Global Alliances) described several Zenoss business milestones to me earlier today. Among the anecdotes Thierry and Riley shared:

    * Zenoss generated roughly 150% year-over-year revenue growth in 2009 vs. 2008;
    * the Zenoss customer base grew roughly 40% in 2009 vs. 2008
    * for every $1 customers initially spent with Zenoss, the same customer typically spent an additional 40 cents in order to expand their use of Zenoss;
    * major service providers and consulting firms embracing Zenoss include Accenture, CSC, Perot and Verizon; and
    * VMware itself uses Zenoss to manage virtualized data centers.

  • Open10MS: Still Open … Still Free

    I’m sitting in my office, which once housed all three of the OpenNMS Group founders, drinking some Copperline Amber while listening to the “tap tap tap” of the drums as the guys in the next room play Rock Band on our HD projector.

  • SaaS

  • Databases

    • 10gen Announces Commercial Support for MongoDB

      10gen, the company that started the MongoDB project, today announced commercial support and training for MongoDB. MongoDB is an open source, non-relational, document-oriented database used in production at organizations including Boxed Ice, SourceForge, Justin.tv, GitHub, Business Insider and Disqus.

  • Oracle

    • Oracle clamps down on Sun hardware support contracts

      “This sudden about-face in which Oracle wants a support contract for essentially any use of Solaris will make me think long and hard about deploying Solaris instead of Linux or another free OS in the future,” said Bill Bradford, a senior systems administrator at an energy services firm in Houston, Texas.

  • CMS

    • concrete5 Launches Version 5.4 With a Trip to SXSW

      concrete5 powers over 35,000 websites today, with a developer community some 18,000 members strong.

    • Platinum and Gold Sponsors Announced for DrupalCon

      “Open source software adoption reached a major tipping point over the past year, and Drupal is leading the charge. From WhiteHouse.gov to the US Department of Defense official memo on open source software to adoption by global organizations like Nike, Intel, General Motors, Proctor & Gamble and thousands more, tells us that open source software is changing how enterprises do business,” said Tom Erickson, CEO of Acquia. “The tremendous growth in Drupal adoption is a testament to the talent and passion of the Drupal community, and Acquia is proud to support this community as a Platinum DrupalCon sponsor.”

    • Why WhiteHouse.gov chose Drupal

      From the minute President Obama walked into the White House it was clear that the web team would have to rethink their strategy. “Branding is what the Obama administration and campaign team are all about,” said Klause. The new administration also had greater demands for connecting with constituents and using rich media. “We couldn’t keep up with what the new media team wanted,” he said.

      The WhiteHouse.gov team needed a fully functional content management system with an improved workflow and blogging features. Klause also wanted to be able to create new content types on the fly and add community-building features. Klause decided it would be helpful to go with a platform with an active and innovative community. “We needed a system with agility and to me, innovation happens in the open-source communities,” explained Klause.

  • Government

    • Italian Court OKs Preference for Open Source

      Here’s a big win for open source: the Italian Constitutional Court has approved a law in Piedmont giving preference to open source, ruling that it is not anti-competitive:

      Just over a year ago, the Piedmont Regional Council passed a law which states: “… the Region, in the process of choosing computer programs to acquire, prefers free software and programs whose source code can be inspected by the licensee” (Article 6, paragraph 2).

      This choice was welcomed with enthusiasm by Free Software supporters and civil society, while the Presidency of the Italian Council of Minister contested this law, by referring to the Constitutional Court in order to declare it unlawful.

      On March the 23rd, 2010, the Court ruled that the preference for Free Software is legitimate and complies with the principle of freedom of competition.

    • Watering down European standards

      The concept of open IT standards, which is central to the European Interoperability Framework (EIF), is to be watered down to such a degree that it will fade into insignificance. At least that’s the impression given by a current EIF 2 release leaked to the Free Software Foundation Europe.

      The internationally recognised European Interoperability Framework (EIF) for using open standards is to lose further weight and definition during the version 2 revision process. After a first draft became public in November 2009, a new EIF 2 “Release Candidate” leaked in March has added further fuel to the earlier criticism.

    • EIFv2 ad nauseam

      What do you get out of this? The whole EIF2 was a document to be ready and delivered in 2007 latest. We are in 2010 now. It is just a small paper to be attached to a communication.

  • Openness


  • ‘Meow meow’ review may be hampered after drug adviser quits in scientific objectivity row

    Dr Polly Taylor, a consultant veterinary surgeon and long-standing member of the government’s drugs advisory council, offered her resignation to the home secretary, Alan Johnson, in an email late last night.

    Taylor is the sixth expert to resign from the committee since the controversial sacking of the chairman, Professor David Nutt, last October. Several other council members are considering their positions, the Guardian has learned.

  • Science

    • LHC research program launched with 7 TeV collisions

      At 1:06 p.m. Central European Summer Time (CEST) today, the first protons collided at 7 TeV in the Large Hadron Collider. These first collisions, recorded by the LHC experiments, mark the start of the LHC’s research program. For more information about this milestone event, the LHC’s physics potential at 7 TeV and American participation in the project, read the press releases below. You can also tune in live to CERN’s LHC First Physics webcast before 12:15 p.m. Eastern time (6:15 p.m. CEST) today.

    • Mars robots may have destroyed evidence of life

      HAVE Mars landers been destroying signs of life? Instead of identifying chemicals that could point to life, NASA’s robot explorers may have been toasting them by mistake.

  • Security

    • High-tech copy machines a gold mine for data thieves

      Want to know what expenses your boss claimed last month? How much your colleague makes? What the co-worker down the hall is really working on? Forget about hacking their computers – you might want to hit the nearest photocopier instead.

  • Environment

    • The trillion-dollar question is: who will now lead the climate battle?

      As an array of expertise, it is formidable: but then so is the task they have been set by the UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon. In effect, the world’s top financiers have been told to work out how to raise at least $100bn a year for the rest of this decade, cash that will be used to help the world’s poorest countries adapt to climate change.

  • Finance

    • Bill Lockyer, Furious That California Is Riskier Than Kazakhstan, Sends Angry Letters To Goldman et al About State CDS Trades; (Or The Greek CDS Scapegoating Campaign – Animal Style)

      Do you see what happens Larry when you sell CDS on California? You get a Greek-style scapegoating campaign. Cali’s State Treasurer Bill Lockyer, exasperated at his impotence to sell $2 billion in GO bonds, has resorted to the last option: sending angry missives and trying to make a media circus out of it. It is now all Goldman’s fault that California is bankrupt, just because it dares to make a market in Cali CDS. Ring a bell? It worked miracles for Greece, whose bonds are now tumbling a day after everyone said Greek issues were resolved. Also, we can’t wait to uncover, just like in the Greek case, that the biggest buyer of Cali CDS is PIMCO, CalPERS, TCW, Western, Oaktree, or some other California-based fund. Now that would be even funnier than Cali considered a more worthless “asset” than Kazakhstan. At least their potassium deposits are best in region.

      From Bill Lockyer’s letter, attached below:

      Dear Mr. Blankfein:

      I write to request information about your firm’s market activities related to credit default swaps on municipal bonds in general, and State of California general obligation (GO) bonds specifically.

    • PR problems hurting Goldman Sachs’ business

      We suggested recently that the Treasury (Treasury news) really couldn’t select Goldman Sachs (NYSE: GS) as top underwriter and advisor for its staggered sale of its massive horde of Citigroup (NYSE: C) stock. It just would’ve been way too controversial, red meat for the conspiracy theorists.

  • Censorship/Privacy/Civil Rights

    • Missing Chinese dissident Gao Zhisheng reappears

      But now the outspoken activist, feared by some to be dead, appears to have re-emerged in circumstances as mysterious as his disappearance. Reporters and friends said he spoke to them by phone today, saying he was living at a Buddhist landmark in Shanxi province.

    • China has just blocked Google, Conroy to follow suit?

      A news report in Forbes says that China has blocked Google with its great firewall, now the world waits to see if Australia’s Minister for Censorship, Senator Stephen Conroy, will do the same following his outrageous attacks on Google.

    • US reveals concerns over Conroy’s net filter plan

      The Obama administration has questioned the Rudd Government’s plan to introduce an internet filter on the grounds that it runs contrary to stated US foreign policy of using an open internet to spread economic growth and global security.

  • Intellectual Monopolies/Copyrights

    • High Court Finds Newzbin Liable For Copyright Infringement

      Newzbin, the Internet’s premier Usenet indexer, has lost its High Court case against several Hollywood movie studios. Justice Kitchin found the company, which turned over more than £1 million in 2009, liable for copyright infringement and will issue an injunction restricting its activities later this week.

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