To use your own IRC client, join channel #boycottnovell in FreeNode.
To use your own IRC client, join channel #boycottnovell in FreeNode.
More than a year ago, I posted three articles listing a few dozen Linux discussion forums. I suppose it is time to republish the list, now in one article. Furthermore, I added a few more discussion forums just in order to have a nice title with exactly 50 discussion forums dedicated to Linux and other free Unix like operating systems.
North Korea has been discovered developing its own Linux distro named Red Star OS. To make it even more interesting, it is said to be commissioned by the infamous Kim Jong-il.
A Russian student of Kim Il-sung University at Pyongyang bought the distro for $5 USD at an information centre, and then shared his discovery through his blog.
Places like this sometimes have computers, and a reasonable amount of use for one, but they’re way outside the normal network connected sphere of influence you see in the regular world. That then begs the question, how do we get Linux into areas like that?
The One Laptop Per Child project and others like that are working to solve that problem for many of us. However, what do you do about the people who already have computers and either have never heard about Linux, or have no way to get it (ie, no internet, or limited connectivity). What can we do to bring Linux to them? Has anyone even thought about this?
This past week we were inundated by PCs with viruses. Either people were bringing their infected machines to the office or calling us to come and get them. It was a madhouse. What was really crazy was to see how many machines had either zero protection or just standard free versions of anti-virus tools (or, gasp, Nortons or McCafee). Now I will admit that even free antivirus is better than none. But recently the infected PCs have become trickier to disinfect. I came across a nice little boot sector virus last week that laughed at combofix, ccleaner, AVG, and Avast. It wasn’t until I pulled out all the stops, with the help of my good old friend Linux, that I was able to finally say goodbye to those infections. But how? Let me explain this simple method.
What you will need
* You will need a Linux machine with ClamAV (and all the trimmings – including ClamTK if you want a GUI).
* An adapter that will allow you to connect the removed hard drive to your Linux machine.
* A little patience.
The GLU3 code-base has moved to a new FreeDesktop.org Git repository, there is now a project mailing list, and he expects to finally release GLU3 1.0 within one month or so. There is some other functionality he hopes to push into GLU3, but that should be complete over the coming days.
While X Server 1.8 should be out later this month, enough bug-fixes have come along since X Server 1.7.5 (the last scheduled maintenance release) to warrant a new version. Peter Hutterer pushed out the first release candidate for X Server 1.7.6. With X Server 1.7.6 there will be many bug-fixes atop 1.7.5, including this being the first 1.7.x release where the server’s RECORD extension is actually working. There’s also about a dozen other fixes to the DIX, xselinux, and other areas of the server stack.
The latest patches clean up the HDMI audio support and makes it compatible with a greater range of ATI hardware, and new bits for DCE 3.2 GPUs.
The NVIDIA ION platform boasts a GeForce 9400M (MCP79) graphics processor and it was not until today’s commit that the PCI IDs were added along with some slight G80 hardware initialization changes.
As mentioned in the e-mail announcing the 7.8 branching, Ian Romanick shares he plans to have the first release candidate out on the 12th of March, a second release candidate on the 19th of March, and then the final release on the 26th of March.
The other thing I wanted to mention about my brief interlude with Arch a day ago, was my surprise at using wicd. Ordinarily I wouldn’t bother messing with utilities or daemons that manage network connections. I rarely see the need when I can hand-edit the rc.conf file more quickly and easily than working my way through a GUI.
Wine 1.1.40 is now available with a variety of improvements.
If you thought microblogging using Twitter and Identica was as simple as tapping out 140 characters once a day describing what kind of food you just ate, you’d be wrong. In fact, there’s a huge amount of functionality to help you follow and be followed online, and if you’re a Linux user you’re spoiled for choice.
OS9, OS X, Linux or Windows – what do you want to run today?
You don’t need a PhD in computer science and years of experience to hack the kernel. Sure, they help, but the nature of Linux development means that it’s open to all by default. All you have to do is get stuck in. You use the Linux kernel in whatever shape or form every day; wouldn’t you feel just the tiniest swell of pride if you’d helped work on it, no matter in how small a way?
We asked prolific kernel hacker (and Linux Format reader!) Greg Kroah-Hartman to tell us what it takes for newbies to patch the Linux kernel – here’s what he had to say…
Which essentially stands for “Roast Meat” is an FPS and has been written in C++. This game has been built using the rendering engine Cube 2 and runs on the main operating systems (windows, Mac and Linux). Gamers who have been thorough with the Tremulous will recognize the main distinction with Sauerbraten as the latter’s ability to edit the geometry of the map ingame. Sauerbraten supports both single-user and multiplayer modes and the latter mode offers three gameplays: Capture, Last Man Standing and Deathmatch. For the single-player mode, there is plenty to keep the user hooked on which is a welcome change from its predecessor Tremulous. Phoronix, which is a purely Linux-orientated hardware and software reviews gave Sauerbraten a positive rating due to “several improvements made to its underlying “Cube 2″ engine”.
The FREE GPLed Arena FPS game Nexuiz from Alientrap has going trough some major changes …and it doesn’t seems good.
Today Basilisk Games the developers of the cRPG Eschalon: Book I which I’ve interviewed a few months ago, are now accepting beta testers for their upcoming game Eschalon: Book II.
Some of you might have noticed that recently two new Kubuntu apps hit the CD for the upcoming 9.10 release.
As all my dear groupies probably have noticed, I started working on getting Ubuntu One a KDE frontend.
For 4.5 we plan to have an Akonadi based KMail, KOrganizer and KJots (maybe we’ll manage to get more PIM applications ported). The basic porting is already done in SVN trunk, however we still need some time to iron out all the porting bugs and make use of the new possibilities that Akonadi provides us. Next to the local address book, calendar and mail store we’ll have support for the Kolab and Open-Xchange groupware servers and all other groupware servers that support the CalDAV or GroupDAV protocols. My personal plans are to bring back some functionality in KAddressBook that people really missed in the 4.4 release.
The NEW PCLinuxOS Magazine staff is pleased to announce the release of the March 2010 issue of the PCLinuxOS Magazine.
In the March 2010 issue:
*Flash! PCLinuxOS 2010 Beta 1 Available For Download*
» Secure Passwords, Made Easy
» Game Zone: gbrainy
» Behind The Scenes: travisn000
» KDE 4: A Brief Look at Configuring Dolphin
» KDE 4: Okular Does More Than Just PDFs
» KDE 4: KRunner Grows Up
While I am surprised how many bugs we fix each day I am also shocked that each month almost 70 bugs go on top of the current pile.
Red Hat, Inc. (NYSE: RHT), the world’s leading provider of open source solutions, today announced that Deutsche Börse Systems, the IT division of Deutsche Börse AG, is implementing Red Hat Enterprise MRG with the open Advanced Messaging Queuing Protocol (AMQP) standard and Red Hat Enterprise Linux. Both are designed to enable realtime transaction risk management for its financial services clients. AMQP, an open standard messaging protocol, is an integral part of Red Hat Enterprise MRG, a next-generation IT infrastructure incorporating messaging, realtime and grid functionality that is well-suited for cloud computing environments.
Red Hat, Inc. the provider of open source solutions, has announced that Deutsche Börse Systems, the IT division of Deutsche Börse AG, is implementing Red Hat Enterprise MRG with the open Advanced Messaging Queuing Protocol (AMQP) standard and Red Hat Enterprise Linux. Both are designed to enable realtime transaction risk management for its financial services clients. AMQP, an open standard messaging protocol, is an integral part of Red Hat Enterprise MRG, an IT infrastructure incorporating messaging, realtime and grid functionality that is well-suited for cloud computing environments.
Red Hat, Inc. (NYSE:RHT) jumped 1.06% to $29.66. The stock has a 52-week range of $12.98-$31.76. So far in the last six months trade the stock went up over 25%.
Matthew Szulik will remain chairman of Red Hat for another year, the Raleigh-based software company said in a filing made Thursday with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
There are, of course, excellent reasons for asking folks to use the existing DoD infrastructure, but I can’t help but wonder what would happen if the doors were flung open, and the bar was lowered for participation. This isn’t to say that I’m less enthusiastic about these experiments. I’m very excited at the idea of encouraging employees — in the Army, or anywhere else — to solve their own problems. That’s a goodness in and of itself. We just can’t forget that software isn’t a product — it’s a process that requires nurturing. The best way to nurture is to build a community, and that requires transparency and a low barrier to entry for participants. The larger and more active the community, the more likely the software will be better. The more closed, prescriptive, and limited the project, I think, the less likely that it will be viable in the long-term. So these “Apps for…” competitions are instructive. Each project is building its own kind of community, and I’m eager to see how these projects fare in the months and years ahead.
The Elive team has released a long-awaited upgrade to its Debian-based, live CD-ready distro. The New Stable version of Elive 2.0, code-named Topaz, is equipped with the Enlightenment E17 desktop environment, but now offers an alternative Compaz desktop, plus new autolaunchers, system-recovery tools, and “configurators.”
A full house of Laura Cowen, Ciemon Dunville, Alan Pope, Dave Walker and Tony Whitmore bring you season three, episode two of the Ubuntu Podcast from the UK LoCo Team!
Ubuntu One Music Store – An iTunes Equivalent For Linux Users
In the next version of Ubuntu – namely Lucid Lynx, you will find a well integrated Music store in the same lines as Apple’s iTunes for Mac and Windows users. With one major difference namely – Ubuntu One music store will be selling DRM free songs. Each song will use 256 kpbs (or higher) encoding which enhances the quality of the song.
I love this. This Plymouth theme looks really classy, clean and is tastefully done. Not that I’ll get to see it for long as my main machine has raided SSDs and boots in a few seconds!
Anyway, here’s the short visual tour I’ve compiled with some of the new things that are coming straight to your Ubuntu machines at the end of April.
The trend had already started with the release of Ubuntu Karmic. A number of community contributed themes started pouring in and some of them even got into the list of default themes for Ubuntu. Now, community contributed themes are gaining further traction with the release date for Ubuntu Lucid Lynx 10.04 getting nearer everyday. Meanwhile, take a look at 15 Awesome Wallpapers from Ubuntu Artwork Pool.
A fresh install of Ubuntu yields one annoyance that seems to irritate most people: the default ‘Sans’ font is set at a gigantic 10px.
The Ubuntu developers are moving quickly to bring you the absolute latest and greatest software the Open Source community has to offer. The Lucid Lynx Alpha 3 is the third alpha release of Ubuntu 10.04, bringing with it the earliest new features for the next version of Ubuntu.
While the Ubuntu rebranding is still at the forefront of everyone’s mind, I think I’ll throw in my meager opinion: It’s great. I love it. It’s clean, it’s fresh, it’s a new direction. It’s classy, it’s simple, it’s sharp and it’s light —
Ever since the Palm Pre was announced for a premier on Sprint last year, speculation has raged about when this contender for the smartphone crown would show up on the technologically compatible Verizon network. With the Palm Pre Plus and Pixi Plus, announced in January, a souped up arsenal of WebOS phones finally arrive on the Big Red Carrier. Was it worth the wait?
Wednesday night, Google added gesture search for Android phones, which allows a user to “write” a gesture (such as a letter) instead of type in a character.
It’s an alternative form of input, and one that may be of use to some. Google Gesture Search should be available in the Android Market as of Wednesday evening, although if you don’t have an Android 2.0 phone (or higher) you’re out of luck.
The Android gaming market is still growing and evolving in many ways, but as an Android user myself, I fully realize that it’s still nowhere near the Apple store in many respects. Specifically, multiplayer games seem to be lagging behind on the Android especially given the rapid pace with which the Android market is growing.
One of the surprising things about the Kogan tablet is that it will probably be delivered with two operating systems. When the machine starts, the user can choose between either Android or Linux.
There seems to be no respite from the predations of Microsoft FUD and the machinations of Big Business. Just when it seemed safe to come out of the closet and admit to being a user of free and open source software without being accused of being a Communist, it appears that we are now criminals too—even if we are not using pirated versions of proprietary software. The culprit this time is something called “Special 301”, an annual review of the status of foreign intellectual property laws carried out under the auspices of the Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR) which is an Executive Office of the President. It’s definition of criminal would make criminals of every single user of FOSS.
Special 301 is not a specific attack on individuals users of GNU/Linux. It’s target is foreign governments with less restrictive copyright laws than the United States. You can bet your bottom dollar that it wouldn’t stop there. Private individuals would be next. Now, I have an unscientific notion that many FOSS users are of a liberal, not to say leftwing bent. I’m somewhat atypical here: anyone who knows me would probably describe me as being somewhere to the right of Atilla the Hun. So, being described as some pinko subversive causes me to smile — a knowing smile. I can live with that.
Topics for this podcast:
*Novell gets unsolicited bid
*More deals and drive for devops
*Dual licensing debated
*Patent and IP deals, fights involve open source
I have written a Netbeans plugin for editing test scripts for the VCLTesttool.
Here is a screen shot showing Netbeans where the plugin is used.
Open source components are also used within the company. In order to support this approach, the company needed a new way to reliably share components. Intuit was looking to improve developer productivity while maintaining control over what third-party artifacts were used by the teams.
rPath, an innovator in automating system provisioning and maintenance, today announced it is adding support for configuration management to its system automation solution. Effective immediately, rPath will support interoperation with key open source configuration management tools, including Reductive Labs’ Puppet, Cfengine, and Opscode’s Chef. During the second half of 2010, the company will introduce native support for configuration—including native implementation of a configuration management engine—to be delivered as part of its Project Javelin roadmap.
The main concept is: a resource is “key” if without it your company would not be able to operate; and whenever you have a key resource you should have a person that manages it with a clearly defined process.
This is pretty cool. You can see a bump when I took over the project in 2002, but due to my limited Java skills it doesn’t grow much until 2004 when Matt Brozowski joined the project. After that the growth is pretty phenomenal. We do have a slight plateau as we are preparing for our next stable release, but nothing like the 18+ month long ones for the other projects, and the size of our code base is much, much larger.
In the end, I think it’s great that the NoSQL movement is happening. It’s awakening people to traditional RDBMS alternatives. It’s making people understand that they don’t have to write big checks for commodity software. It’s helping people solve problems that they can’t solve, or solve efficiently, on relational technology.
REvolution Computing, the leading commercial provider of software and support for the open source “R” statistical computing language, announced today the appointment of Zack Urlocker, a former executive at the global open source database company MySQL, to its board of directors.
For example, users of Drupal Gardens can help improve Drupal Gardens, simply by contributing to Drupal. By staying close to the Open Source project, everyone can help shape the service. Along the same lines, we want people to be able to export their Drupal Gardens site — the code, the theme and data — and move of the platform to any Drupal hosting environment. By doing so, we provide people an easy on-ramp but we allow them to grow beyond the capabilities of Drupal Gardens without locking them in.
Webcamd is a small daemon that enables use of hundreds of different USB based webcam and DVB devices under the FreeBSD-8.0 and later operating system. The webcam daemon is basically an application which is a port of Video4Linux USB drivers into userspace on FreeBSD. The daemon currently depends on libc, pthreads, libusb and libcuse4bsd.
The idea of an open source car is just awesome, with potential benefits like better fuel-efficiency, faster innovation, and safer cars. An open design based on open standards could also lead to more interchangeable parts, which means more flexibility and choice to consumers. Even with all this, I still think there are opportunities for the automakers to compete. It might be cool to build my own car, but I don’t have the time. Do you?
The consequences that this earthquake will have for the Chilean people are frightening. It is estimated that at present 2,000,0000 people have lost their homes and are literally on the streets. We’re talking of more than 10% of the total population, which gives you an idea of the daunting task of reconstruction ahead. —- I. Chile has again been hit by an earthquake of apocalyptic magnitude, like in the earthquakes of 1938, 1960 and 1985. With the precision of a Swiss watch, the centre and south of the country is hit every 25 years by a seismic movement that puts the country in a state of deep shock. The earthquake we saw on 27 February was one of the strongest recorded in history – 8.8 degrees on the Richter scale, 9 on the Mercalli scale.
• Civil rights report shows 250% rise in ‘patriot’ groups
• Economy and media conspiracy theories fuel growth
Evidence from a respected scientific body to a parliamentary inquiry examining the behaviour of climate-change scientists, was drawn from an energy industry consultant who argues that global warming is a religion, the Guardian can reveal.
Little-known brokerage firm Monness, Crespi, Hardt & Co has long toiled in the shadows of Wall Street, but the boutique suddenly has been thrust into the limelight because of an “ideas dinner” it sponsored last month for a group of about 18 hedge fund traders.
Monness Crespi sponsors unscripted dinners from time to time, said people familiar with the get-togethers. They provide a chance for managers to swap trading ideas, network with their peers and meet some of Monness Crespi’s largely equity-focused analysts.
A Feb. 8 dinner is sparking controversy because one of the nearly two dozen topics discussed during the program was how hedge funds could profit from a decline in the euro, one of the world’s most heavily traded currencies.
The Justice Department is investigating whether hedge funds such as SAC Capital, Greenlight Capital and Soros Fund Management improperly colluded to bet against the Euro. The DOJ sounds serious, but can it build a case?
In a letter last week, the department has asked hedge funds including SAC Capital Advisors LP, Greenlight Capital Inc., Soros Fund Management LLC and Paulson & Co. to retain trading records and emails relating to the euro, say people who have seen the letter.
Resounding no-vote expected on deal to repay money owed to UK and Netherlands after they guaranteed deposits at failed bank Icesave
Thanks to a trillion dollars in credit losses write-downs on mortgage-related securities in 2007 and 2008, financial companies around the world had a lot of capital to recapture. So, in the first half of 2009, they issued stock. More than half the new shares to come out worldwide in those six months were issued by banks and brokers. All this stock, of course, translated to fees for investment banks. In a strange way, consequently, the financial industry healed itself.
The money is being held by JPMorgan, which bought Washington Mutual’s bank for $1.9 billion after it was shut by federal regulators.
We’ve told you before that the Tribune Co. was prepping to take their five lending banks. Now it has finally happened.
Wilmington Trust Co., the agent for bondholders owed $1.2 billion, filed a lawsuit in Delaware yesterday against JPMorgan Chase Bank, Merrill Lynch Capital Corp., Citibank NA, Bank of America NA and Morgan Stanley & Co, according to Bloomberg.
Examiner Anton Valukas spent a year and $38 million investigating the demise of the fourth-largest investment bank, using information supplied by banks including JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Barclays Plc. He has said he will ask a judge to make public his 2,200-page report, filed under seal last month, if he can’t persuade companies he interviewed to give up their right to confidentiality. JPMorgan and Barclays have said they waived confidentiality.
Macroeconomic Advisers, a leading forecasting firm, calculated the storms would cost 150,000 to 220,000 jobs.
I digress. I refer you back to my article here where I propose the Digital Economy Bill be changed as I think that this type of conflict will only become bigger and more costly as a government imposed 3 strikes policy investigates an area which in my view requires so many resources to be fair and effective that it will do more harm than good. Let’s face it, if the “experts” can find themselves referred to the SRA, what hope is there for anyone else?
I keep repeating myself when I write about this topic and it seems always a case of one step forward two steps back. Whilst it seems to me we also have FACT basking in the glory of removing DVD sellers from the streets, the real issue, the real damage to the industry in being done online by the file-sharer. Even the price of a “pirate” DVD can’t compete with free file sharing, especially when the material is often newer and far better quality than the things you can buy at a “dodgy” market. – Food for thought that not only do the entertainment industry suffer as a result of file sharing, but also your average pirate DVD seller on the street!
In respect of the Haiti fund, Torrentfreak may be providing an answer:
..they say that those illegally downloading “We Are The World” are undermining fund raising. However, they leave out the fact that the music industry itself profits big from such charity singles.
So there you go readers, its ok to take away from the fund because (and I quote) “the music industry itself profits big from such charity singles”
As I have mentioned before the anti/pro file sharing argument is equally as stubborn on both sides. To coin a phrase “The unstoppable force meeting the immovable object” I think is very applicable when the RIAA uses emotive words like:
The posting highlights a truly ugly side of P2P piracy – the undermining of humanitarian fundraising efforts via online theft of the “Hope for Haiti Now” compilation.
Source: RIAA Blog
Now really, is that required? Any reasonable person would know that piracy would take away funds from the project, afterall if I downloaded for free instead of buying, then my money (no matter what percentage) would be taken from the fund. It’s not rocket science after all. The RIAA in my view makes no friends by trying to use emotive words like “theft”, “undermining”, “humanitarian” and it was very similar to the claims made by FACT in the UK when they claimed piracy was linked to benefit fraud. The question I asked at the time was, if someone is selling copied movies at a market then that is not “legitimate employment” (and an offence) therefore if that person is claiming benefits, it’s hardly benefit fraud as they are not in gainful employment in regards to legitimacy.
Nakata Maho, founder of the OpenOffice.org Language project 02 (2004)
Digital Tipping Point is a Free software-like project where the raw videos are code. You can assist by participating.
Summary: Latest OpenSSL FUD and Microsoft’s Howard Schmidt’s role informing the public about cyber-security risks
Ok, Be Afraid if Someone’s Got a Voltmeter Hooked to Your CPU
Boy, do I hate it when a FLOSS project is given a hard time unfairly. I was this morning greeted with news from many places that OpenSSL, one of the most common FLOSS software libraries used for cryptography, was somehow “severely vulnerable”.
I had a hunch what was going on. I quickly downloaded a copy of the academic paper that was cited as the sole source for the story and read it. As I feared, OpenSSL was getting some bad press unfairly. One must really read this academic computer science article in the context it was written; most commenting about this paper probably did not.
First of all, I don’t claim to be an expert on cryptography, and I think my knowledge level to opine on this subject remains limited to a little blog post like this and nothing more. Between college and graduate school, I worked as a system administrator focusing on network security. While a computer science graduate student, I did take two cryptography courses, two theory of computation courses, and one class on complexity theory. So, when compared to the general population I probably am an expert, but compared to people who actually work in cryptography regularly, I’m clearly a novice. However, I suspect many who have hitherto opined about this academic article to declare this “severe vulnerability” have even less knowledge than I do on the subject.
Three Spanish men were arrested last month for allegedly building an international network of more than 12 million hacked PCs that were used for everything from identity theft to spamming. But according to Spanish authorities and security experts who helped unravel the crime ring, the accused may very well never see the inside of a jail cell even if they are ultimately found guilty, due to insufficient cyber crime legislation in Spain.
Regarding this new article about Scott Charney’s outrageous remarks [1, 2] (he worked for the US government before Microsoft hired him), Groklaw wrote 3 days ago: “First Microsoft fills the world with security issues and problems, then it wants the public to be taxed to fix them? I think Microsoft needs to fix its own software itself.” Microsoft’s own negligence [1, 2, 3] ought to have Microsoft bear the bill.
Howard Schmidt, the US Cyber Czar who came directly from Microsoft [1, 2, 3, 4], claims/pretends that there is no problem, even though many firms that include Google were intruded due to an Internet Explorer hole that Microsoft had knowingly ignored for 5 months [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12] (there are more security patches coming shortly). Even Google source code got grabbed. [via]
Operation Aurora continues to be a hot topic inside and outside of security circles. At this week’s RSA Conference in San Francisco many conversations are on the topic of the attacks that hit Google and dozens of other companies in January.
These reports indicate that proprietary source code got nicked from Google. Microsoft also nicks proprietary source code from companies/projects like Plurk [1, 2, 3, 4], which probably puts the Redmond-based company at the same side as the crackers.
The biggest threat to the open internet is not Chinese government hackers or greedy anti-net-neutrality ISPs, it’s Michael McConnell, the former director of national intelligence.
McConnell’s not dangerous because he knows anything about SQL injection hacks, but because he knows about social engineering. He’s the nice-seeming guy who’s willing and able to use fear-mongering to manipulate the federal bureaucracy for his own ends, while coming off like a straight shooter to those who are not in the know.
And on the other hand, on the same occasion we find that “US urges ‘action’ needed to fight net attacks,” according to the BBC.
Homeland Security secretary Janet Napolitano has admitted there is an urgent need to step up efforts to protect Americans from cyber attacks.
They seem to contradict themselves. Now they claim to be looking for ideas:
Homeland Security wants to pick your brains
The lucky winners will be invited to an event in Washington DC in late May or early June. They’ll get to partner with the department to lead in the planning of the National Cybersecurity Awareness Campaign, due to launch in October.
Over at CNET, Dennis O’Reilly has this new article about “five ways to keep your [Windows] PC free of viruses and Trojans”. Here is one of his suggestions.
If you can’t give up Windows, you may still be able to install Linux on an old PC or in a partition of your Windows PC. Then you can use that system (or partition) whenever you engage in any sensitive computer activities. You’ll find instructions for dual-booting Windows and the Ubuntu version of Linux on the Ubuntu Community Documentation site.
Thumbs up to Dennis. █
“Usually Microsoft doesn’t develop products, we buy products. It’s not a bad product, but bits and pieces are missing.”
Summary: ACTA, patents, and tax law challenged
TECHNICALLY, GNU and Linux make a fantastic platform that is Free (libre), stable, versatile, affordable, yet rather prestigious. The main rivals of GNU/Linux include Apple and Microsoft, both of which are already fighting GNU/Linux using software patents. Sadly for them, software patents are still invalid in the vast majority of the world, so they need to change the law. Here at Boycott Novell we strive to keep track of these issues which we consider to be most vital to the future freedoms of software. We also need to preserve developers’ right to develop programs without dreading a lawsuit over the use of some idea or algorithm. It’s not Free software which cripples the software industry; it’s ludicrous secret code and software patents that do this.
Yesterday we showed that the ACTA conspiracy is trying to launder patent law around the world and the USPTO is likely to remain broken because the fox watches over this hen house. Here is an interesting USENET post from yesterday:
Subject: ACTA is one big con-artist scheme
Date: Saturday 06 Mar 2010 09:53:35
I’m starting to understand why the U.S. is trying to con other nations into ACTA:
First Step: Implement a patent system which allows the patenting of obvious and trivial ‘inventions’, including software patents, business processes etc.
Second Step: Prod your citizens and corporations to patent virtually everything, even the most straightforward and trivial algorithms, patent things which were invented previously and allow the eternal extension of the patent’s duration by so-called Patent Extensions where trivial improvements are made to a patent, but will make it impossible for anyone to take use the invention in the expired patent because there’s hardly any difference between it and the Extended Patent.
Third Step: Force other nations through secret negotiations to accept you ‘Everything’s Patentable’ patent system (i.e. ACTA).
Fourth Step: Since U.S. companies and individuals have patented everything under the Sun, start litigation in countries which were stupid enough to adopt the U.S’s patent system and start raking in money without ever having to lift a finger. Start threatening with trade sanctions against countries that did not adapt the Trivial Patenting scheme, accusing them of ‘Intellecual Property Infringement.’
The Obama Administration has been slowly ramping up its attention to intellectual property issues. Over the past few months, we’ve seen an IP “summit” at the White House. We’ve seen the successful nomination of a new cabinet-level “IP Czar” position. We’ve seen the announcement of a new DOJ task force for IP issues. What does it all portend?
The first bad omen came last December, when Vice President Biden invited the RIAA, MPAA and other representatives of the mainstream entertainment industry to a closed-door “Piracy Summit” at the White House. Although Biden’s office sold the summit as “bringing together all the stakeholders” in the piracy debate, it failed to invite a single representative of the public interest or the technology industry.
One outcome previewed at the summit was the formation of a new Department Of Justice “Intellectual Property Task Force”, which was formally announced in February. Unfortunately, the Department of Justice already has a history of coming down disproportionately hard on victims of the copyright conflict. And while the task force’s announcement stressed that IP crime “threatens not only our public safety but also our economic wellbeing,” it didn’t even pay lip-service to the harms to privacy, free speech, and innovation in the industry’s long war on piracy.
Intellectual monopolies are for monopolies; they have almost nothing to do with advancement.
OSS Watch writes about “threats to copyleft” in a guest post which says:
Combining freedoms and copyleft in the Gnu GPL license (invented by Richard Stallman) was the cornerstone of free software. This is now questioned due to the proliferation of incompatible copyleft licenses.
After counting 1,800 free software licenses used in hundreds of thousands of projects, the Black Duck company patented (Patent US 7,552,093 B2) the technology for controlling the use of open source licensing in a multi-source development process (meaning combined works, elaborated from multiple free components under different licenses).
No need to say that patenting proprietary technology to solve copyleft licenses incompatibility may not be seen by everyone as a major achievement!
This kind of incompatibility is exactly what the monopolies want. They want more patents, which help discriminate against the ‘small’ people. Here are some new reports that are mistaking patents for “inventions” [1, 2]. It’s about some person called NakaMats, who might just be a bit like Edison — that is, someone who took other people's ideas and filed them in the patent office (claiming credit for small variants of existing ideas). That’s not invention, it’s organisation.
Patents help lawyers, as lawsuits clearly suggest. Bad players like Rambus (which ambushed the market [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9]) get to mess around with competition, using patents. From Reuters we learn that:
Memory chip designer Rambus Inc (RMBS.O) said the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office had affirmed two of three patents at the center of a legal dispute over whether graphics chip maker Nvidia Corp (NVDA.O) infringed on Rambus technology.
Can one hope for amendments after a co-called ‘reform’ we’ve been hearing about for years. According to TechDirt, the patent reform bill is “more of the same”.
It still tries to switch the US to a “first to file” system, rather than “first to invent” — which just encourages more patents being filed faster, rather than better patents being filed. It has the same (controversial) damages setup as last year, which would be useful in limiting damages from infringement, but which many special interests hate.
Here is some detailed information about the changes.
Supplemental Examinations: Permits a patent holder to provide additional, potentially material prior art regarding the patent to the PTO. If the PTO considers the information and determines it has no effect on patentability, that additional information cannot serve as the basis for an inequitable conduct claim later in court. The information must be presented to the PTO and any reexamination must be completed prior to litigation.
It was unreasonable to expect the USPTO to become reasonable. It is run by lawyers, to whom more patents mean more business and personal income. The fox controls the hen house again.
Speaking of income, tax laws are broken because Microsoft is able to evade taxation, leaving it for others to pay the national bills. One of Microsoft’s former employees keeps complaining about this [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9] and in his latest updates on this issue [1, 2, 3] he also includes hilarity from Rep. Larry Seaquist:
Does the Department of Revenue think Microsoft is following the law? Well, we’ve recently received a more detailed response from the department about this issue and will post more shortly. All I’ll say for now is that HB3176 labels this kind of out of state tax dodge an “abusive tax practice”.
As for Rep. Seaquist, when I wrote him to be sure he understood the problems with the bill (and to ask him for a public statement for the blog), he replied, “Gents, please direct your continuing concerns to Rep. Hunter. Very best wishes, Larry”
But Rep. Hunter is a former Microsoft manager. Smell the corruption that Microsoft presence in the United States government has brought about. The fox dominates the hen house again. █
Summary: The upper hand of GNU/Linux (and to a degree Google/Android/Chome OS) compared to consumerised production+marketing from those other two contenders
LAST WEEK we argued that Microsoft's Vista 7 is still trying to catch up with GNU/Linux. One of the writers of Lockergnome is now saying something similar about Microsoft’s endeavours online, where Microsoft loses over $2,000,000,000 per year for obvious reasons. Here are some portions of the argument:
Microsoft Has Become The Follower & Will Lead No More
It sounds so wrong. Microsoft, one of the two remaining companies that helped bring the idea of personal computing into the mainstream is saying that the future it is betting on is in the “cloud”. How strange is that? That is somewhat like a black person from the 1870s stating that he was betting on the institution of slavery.
Now, in a story from PC Magazine, we have a message that Steve Ballmer has stated the company is betting its future on cloud computing. What a turnaround.
The trouble is, I don’t think Mr. Ballmer is doing anything but hedging bets, and being disingenuous in the process, because he knows (or should, anyway) that once cloud computing comes, Microsoft becomes irrelevant and unnecessary.
The problem in the end is that Microsoft is not, and never really wanted to be, like IBM. If any change in the pecking order comes as a result of “the cloud” catching on, it will be IBM, Oracle, and others that know what distributed computing, and client-server computing are all about on the grand scale. That doesn’t say Microsoft; that says the companies that make and use the big iron.
“Ballmer: Google wasn’t first to market,” alerts us one reader by E-mail. He cites an article written by a former Microsoft booster from the Seattle P-I (there are better articles out there). Our reader uses an analogy: ‘”I am sure they are sour,” said the Fox.’
Microsoft uses similar excuses when asked about the iPhone and the iPod. We gave an example two weeks ago.
When you manipulate the world into using your stuff and you use non-standards to do it, you have to eat your own dog-food. Intel is choking on it as they move to “7″.
This is a fine example of why we should use Free Software and stick to open standards. All the IE6isms built into the web and LANs lock us forever into obsolete technology. Those of us who migrated to GNU/Linux years ago are laughing. We can upgrade with scarcely a concern for widespread incompatibilities.
Meanwhile, Microsoft announces fake numbers referring to “sales” of Vista 7 and “research” spendings. We have debunked these myths and fake numbers on numerous occasion before in this Web site. These are lies and they should be treated this way.
“Meanwhile, Microsoft announces fake numbers referring to “sales” of Vista 7 and “research” spendings.”Vista 7 is in some sense irrelevant to the future because it is too heavy for mobile devices (there are signs of the weakening of the desktop, including games, some of which go Web based or mobile as they rely on different business models). Microsoft is truly late to the game, trying to fight embedded Linux with software patents it cannot even name.
In order to keep up with the device space, Microsoft is now making some noise about “Courier”, but there is no decent operating system for this device (which could end up like Zune). Roughly Drafted, a site that’s close to Apple (enough to get access to confidential meetings), has already explained why “Courier” has no real chance in the market.
Additionally, the only success surrounding the Xbox as a software platform came only after Microsoft dumped many billions into a loss leader hardware platform over the course of several years, after claiming a year or two head start over rival Sony’s next generation console.
Microsoft isn’t going to give away 75 million mobile devices to catch up to Apple. Microsoft’s fan base might do well to stop and listen to what the company says out the other side of its mouth, such as when it talks about “attach rates” of games for the Xbox. What’s the attach rate for the Zune HD? Does one need more than one hand to count the number of apps for it? And how many hundred hardware units has Microsoft sold at retail these days?
In this new multitouch mobile race, Microsoft is already three years and three product categories behind. And of course, WP7, the Zune, and Courier all sport completely different interfaces that were conceived and designed by far-flung teams who were not even aware of each other’s goals within the cat herds that are Microsoft.
For those who think that iPad stands a chance, evidence suggests otherwise [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8]. Its function is far too limited compared to that of GNU/Linux. Apple stifles and limits its users rather than empower them and the latest examples of this include the removal of Wi-Fi finders. [via]
Apple on Thursday began removing another category of apps from its iPhone App Store. This time, it’s not porn, it’s Wi-Fi.
Apple may find that telling its customers what to do rather than listening to them is a poor business strategy that emphasises control rather than enablement. The “think different” motto has become somewhat of a misfit. Apple is now trying to stifle Linux using software patents [1, 2, 3, 4, 5], which means that it’s afraid of Linux, not Windows. █
Summary: More Mono news and changes in Novell’s staff
Several days ago we wrote about I-O Data joining Microsoft's Linux racket. There is a discussion about it in Slashdot and in relation to another issue, says this one person: “Microsoft has been using those patents to get the scared to ink patent deals. Nothing from a court to make a single patent claim from Microsoft valid, while somehow we are to believe that Microsoft is about playing nice with opensource ?; that it uses it patents against ?.”
“Novell had whitepapers bumped up a couple of days ago (reappearing in the news) in order to demote Red Hat, not Microsoft.”How can Novell and its sympathisers still pretend that Microsoft is safe to work with? Novell had whitepapers bumped up a couple of days ago (reappearing in the news) in order to demote Red Hat, not Microsoft [1, 2]. This has gone on for several weeks now.
Novell has also laid off many employees and often replaced them with people who are more familiar with Microsoft software (products like .NET). The following post is based on an article that we’ve mentioned here several times in recent weeks. Novell’s CEO admitted radically changing his workforce.
A quarter of Novell’s work force translates into a pretty large number of people scrambling to find work. (Even though there might not have been a net job loss, since Novel hired replacements.)
Those replacements are not always GNU/Linux oriented. Some are serving Microsoft with Mono and Moonlight in in Planet SUSE we just find updates about Moonlight accessibility (and accessibility for Mono too). Due to patent-related statements from Microsoft, it is safe to say that key Novell projects like Banshee (still in the news this week) are Novell-only software and OpenSUSE is viewed by some as a place for Mono. Here is an example from several days ago:
I am a C# programmer at work so I looked to see who was managing the Mono project, turns out Novell/OpenSuse are lying in bed with the Mono project. SO fast forward to today. Installed OpenSuse 11.2 on a server at work. This server is going to house Solr (running on Jetty) which will be used for product searches.
Is it Novell’s plan to capture and to spread C#? Is that its added value? "Peace of mind"? Microsoft is already playing hardball with software patents, so what is Novell thinking? It also helps Microsoft get its way with programmers (“API wars”). █
Summary: Updates from the news regarding what seems like Novell’s imminent sale
SINGER’S BID to buy Novell is a subject that we’ve covered in:
Nobody is through covering what will be a saga running for several months to come. Dana Blankenhorn writes about Microsoft’s stake in this:
In all the talk about New York financier Paul Singer’s plan to go all Gordon Gecko on Novell, one word has not been mentioned nearly enough.
Microsoft needs a viable Novell, and Novell’s Linux business was on the verge of becoming viable when Singer’s Elliott Associates swooped in with an offer to break up the company, seize its cash, split off the old NetWare business, and auction off Suse Linux.
I doubt Microsoft wants to actually buy that business. Owning a Linux would be a real complication. Suddenly all those patent cross-licenses that claim Microsoft has patent rights to the software take on a different odor, and Microsoft is forced to go down the SCO road to prove its claims.
Microsoft has been doing well against Linux through bluff. What the Elliott move does is threaten to make Microsoft show its hand.
Even the due diligence process could threaten Microsoft. Singer is going to get a look inside that 2006 agreement.
Microsoft’s friend Rob Enderle [1, 2, 3, 4, 5], who shilled for SCO and cursed its opposition for profit, says that “Another SCO Moment [is] Coming” (because of Novell). Given his proximity to Ballmer, maybe this is how Microsoft views it too. Novell has UNIX and it has many software patents. The ‘Microsoft press’ covered it too and one Microsoft booster over there says that these are “Exciting times in Waltham.”
Redmond too? One might suggest that on the one hand, Microsoft would benefit from having less competition in networking (except the fact that Novell may sell this bunch of assets). On the other hand, argues Peter Judge:
Why Microsoft Can’t Afford To Let Novell Die
Make no mistake – The hedge fund offer for Novell could effectively mean the end of the company. And Microsoft could suffer the worst, says Peter Judge
But Microsoft has staked any open source credibility that it has, on Novell’s SUSE distribution. If Novell falls to bits, then Microsoft’s efforts to gain open source cred pretty much disappear with it. It’s something that would have been impossible to imagine a few years back, but if we’re looking for someone to prop Novell up, Microsoft would now be a prime candidate.
Of course, given the hostility within the open source community towards Microsoft, Novell and the deal between them, as well as to Codeplex and other open source moves by Microsoft, there would be big questions about how commercially viable Novell would be within Microsoft. But Redmond would be looking at this as an essential purchase for credibility, not a profit centre.
Whoever makes a “White Knight” bid for Novell is going to have to move fast, because talent there is going to leave if it looks like the company will be broken up. And even if the Elliot deal goes through, there is still the possibility of deals behind the scenes, points out Updegrove. For instance, Elliot might agree to instantly sell on parts of Novell to a differnet player – say an IBM, a Microsoft or an Oracle – as soon as it seals a purchase for the whole company.
The Elliot bid is on the table and there is no going back. Novell, as we know it is going to end – and at this stage, we simply don’t know what will replace it.
Scott M. Fulton, a Windows-oriented writer, argues that the “$1 billion takeover bid may mean the end of Novell’s makeover addiction”.
Elliott Associates is more likely to flip divisions of Novell to interested buyers than it is to oversee a long-term strategy for the company as it stands. Novell’s Linux business is most likely to be flipped first. At that point, companies ranging from Oracle, to VMware to IBM could be buyers, but smaller players could be too.
Finally he says that:
Elliott Associates will almost certainly carve Novell up, and it won’t be a surprise to see a big, household name in the software industry inherit Novell’s core assets.
Here are some thoughts about other companies that may bid for Novell.
Though Elliott insists that isn’t its strategy, another buyer could result in a nice payday for Elliott, which began buying up Novell stock only in early January.
A rival buyer would guarantee at least $75 million in profit for Elliott’s 8.5% stake — not bad for two month’s work.
So who are the most likely suspects? IBM tops the list. The company is probably the biggest proponent of open-source software out there, such as Novell’s Suse Linux, which holds about a third of the Linux server operating system market, the rest held by Red Hat Inc.
“IBM could use its own Linux distro and x64 hypervisor as well as the systems management and identity management tools that Novell has taken possession of over the years,” opined The Register, “and it knows how to ride down a legacy software business like NetWare.”
An IBM-Novell merger has been suggested before. “Red Hat’s dominance leaves IBM almost entirely dependent upon SuSe/Novell,” wrote Sun Microsystems Inc.’s then-COO Jonathan Schwartz in 2004. “Whoever owns Novell controls the OS on which IBM’s future depends.”
Novell has had a hard time making profits ever since its NetWare product was knocked off the pedestal it occupied in the ’80s and early 1990s. In November 2006, the company signed a patent-licensing deal with Microsoft but has yet to show substantial gains from the deal.
Varghese later explained why these may be the last days of Novell as we know it.
As the former editor of Linux Today, the erudite Brian Profitt, points out, Elliott, like quite a good many other hedge funds, behaves like a vulture. It buys companies, dismembers them and sells them for a profit.
There will be no emotion where Elliott is concerned; the fund even purchased debt in a poor country like Costa Rica when it was possible to make a few million there, Profitt writes. In this respect, Elliott appears to follow in the grand tradition of asset management companies like the legendary Kohlberg, Kravis and Roberts.
Free software and open source types may agonise over a sale, since one of the better known GNU/Linux distributions, SUSE Linux, is one of the main assets that Novell still possesses.
But Elliott can probably only see dollar signs when it looks at Novell and if the commercial SUSE distribution suffers as a result, I doubt that there would be any tears shed.
The bid in its current form is “unlikely to go through”, according to someone whom Forbes quotes.
Broadpoint AmTech analyst Bradley G. Whitt agreed that Elliot’s bid as it stands is unlikely to go through. He thinks the bid could trigger a sense of urgency among other large software companies that might have interest in some of Novell’s assets but cautioned that Novell’s broad product suite would make it hard to pinpoint any one software player that might be interested in an all-out acquisition. A more likely scenario would be Elliot, or whichever firm wins the acquisition, breaking up Novell and selling the pieces to various other players.
A bidding war is still expected by investors, but no company has stepped up yet.
There’s a storm brewing over Novell (Nasdaq: NOVL). The Linux specialist got an unsolicited buyout bid from a private equity firm — but investors seem to expect a bidding war.
The takeover bid is “long overdue”, writes someone in the New York Times.
A Novell buyout is long overdue. The software maker’s shares have languished for 20 years, yet it generates healthy profit and has no debt. Moreover, a big chunk of the company’s $1 billion of cash is trapped overseas. Elliott Associates’ $2 billion bid could draw out other suitors that have dawdled.
Novell’s legacy enterprise networking business is a slowly shrinking cash cow. Clients are locked into paying highly profitable maintenance fees. The company should bring in about $300 million of revenue from this business this year, with roughly half of it flowing through as operating profit, according to analysts. Moreover, this business doesn’t require much capital expenditure.
Another attraction for some buyers is Novell’s overseas cash pile. The company can’t repatriate these funds without taking a tax hit. It could use the cash for international acquisitions. But with many of its rivals in the same position, attractive targets are hard to find.
Another attraction for some buyers is Novell’s overseas cash pile, according to Breakingviews. The company can’t repatriate these funds without taking a tax hit. It could use the cash for international acquisitions. But with many of its rivals in the same position, attractive targets are hard to find, it notes.
Kendall Law Group announced that it has launched an investigation into Novell Inc. in connection with the proposed acquisition by Elliott Associates, L.P. The firm is concerned that the Board of Directors of the Company may breach their fiduciary duties by failing to seek other deals to better represent the value of the company if they agree to this proposal.
As we noted before, Singer has had it planned all along based on the dates.
Elliott began acquiring Novell stock on Jan. 4 and controls about 8.5 percent of the company.
Institutional shareholders of Novell provided feedback on a range of issues, including capital structure, strategy, corporate governance and executive compensation. Participants responded to 20 specific questions, providing direct company assessments and detailed commentary.
A timely presentation too:
– “Are You in Control of Your Sales Expenses?” — executive workshop presentation by Jim Parker, director of global finance at Novell.
For completeness, here is some additional Novell news which is more about money than technical issues relating to the bid [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16]. “Novell Soars After Elliott Makes $2 Billion Offer,” says Bloomberg. They seem to have a deal with BusinessWeek (article sharing/aggregation) and HedgeFund.net says: “Novell, according to Elliott, has “meaningfully underperformed.” The company had manufactured its Netware operating system with considerable success until Microsoft, the software giant fueled by the ambition of its founder Bill Gates, began gobbling up marketshare with its Windows NT platform. Novell has also undergone a lot of management turnover. Current Google Chief Executive Officer Eric Schmidt used to head the company. But Novell is still considered valuable, in large part because of its Linux business.”
“The value, net of cash, is roughly $1 billion in enterprise value,” says another source (because Novell has cash too).
Other market news that mentions the effect on Novell’s stock can be found in [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25]. Here is the coverage from Zacks (also here) and a video that covers the news.
More from the news:
It could take weeks or months before Novell’s vocation is known. The uncertainties are unhelpful to business. █
Summary: Highlights of Novell news, including the important announcement of Cloud Security Alliance
THE news about the takeover [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6] is very major and we will cover it separately in the next post. Novell’s proprietary business did not receive much coverage because of this news about a takeover bid, but there are still some bits worth going through.
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