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“Boycott Novell” and Expanded Scope

Posted in Site News at 7:47 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Suggestions needed for a name that better reflects this site’s new scope

LONGTIME readers may already know that, but “Boycott Novell” is not a site name that I like*. In fact, I never liked the name, never chose the name, and it is possible that Novell will be sold within weeks or months, so the name “Novell” will fade away, just like “Sun”. Despite opposition from some readers, we might rename the site, but not before the issue is discussed with regular contributors over at the IRC channel. If people have an opinion on the subject, then it’s time to join the discussion right now.

* It’s just too negative, like “Mono-Nono”, which got replaced with “The Source”.

IRC: #boycottnovell @ FreeNode: March 29th, 2010

Posted in IRC Logs at 7:24 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz


Read the log

Enter the IRC channel now

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

Europeans Asked to Stop Microsoft’s Subversion of EIFv2 (European Interoperability Framework Version 2)

Posted in Europe, Free/Libre Software, Microsoft, Standard at 7:09 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

European countries map

Summary: Microsoft’s continued attempts to remove Free software and standards from Europe’s agenda sure call for action

A FEW days ago we quoted David Hammerstein as saying that Microsoft had a “coup in process” against EU Commissioner Neelie Kroes. Glyn Moody discussed this with Hammerstein and called for European citizens to file complaints about Microsoft’s improper abuse of power via front groups. [more in BoingBoing]

Open source is under attack in Europe. Not openly or obviously, but in the background, behind closed doors. The battleground is the imminent Digital Agenda for Europe, due to be unveiled by the European Commission in a month’s time, and which defines the overall framework for Europe’s digital policy. According to people with good contacts to the politicians and bureaucrats drawing up the Agenda, Microsoft is lobbying hard to ensure that open standards and open source are excluded from that policy – and is on the brink of succeeding in that aim.


That’s clearly very positive about open standards and open source. And then, back in November of last year, a draft version of the revised EIF was leaked [.pdf]. It revealed a staggering re-definition of what openness meant by suggesting that “closed” was part of the “openness continuum”…


The extraordinary gulf between the original and proposed versions of the EIF gives us perhaps a hint of what is going on behind the scenes, but on its own might not be sufficient grounds for concern about the Digital Agenda itself. But last week a series of worrying tweets were posted by David Hammerstein, whose Twitter bio is “European Advocate for Transatlantic Consumer Dialogue. Spanish Green Member European Parliament 2004-2009”. They read as follows:

SOS to everyone as sources confirm that Kroes is about to eliminate “open standards” policy from EU digital agenda

Kroes has been under intense lobbying pressure from Microsoft to get rid of interoperability and open source goals of EU

Kroes wanted the EU institutions to practice what it preaches and migrate to open standards in its own software. Big backlash

DG enterprise and “revolving door” EC officials from Microsoft torpedo Commissioner Kroes open proposals. Coup in process.

As to those “sources” he mentions, I’ve been following Hammerstein for a while on Twitter, and he does seem to have very good contacts within the European Union machine – doubtless from his time as an MEP. Moreover, the French site PC Inpact not only confirms Hammerstein’s fears, but it has also managed to get hold of a copy of the draft Agenda.

I have sent several E-mails and hereby encourage European readers to do the same. I said that it had “come to my attention through former MP David Hammerstein that [...] I would like to ask and hopefully receive reassurance that the EIF retains its original goals of emphasising standards. I have been covering quite extensively the lobbying done to subvert Kroes’ work and I wish to see it not suppressing the European software industry, of which I am a part.”

Here is what the FSFE had to say on the subject [via].

More on EIFv2:

  1. European Interoperability Framework (EIF) Corrupted by Microsoft et al, Its Lobbyists
  2. Orwellian EIF, Fake Open Source, and Security Implications
  3. No Sense of Shame Left at Microsoft
  4. Lobbying Leads to Protest — the FFII and the FSFE Rise in Opposition to Subverted EIF
  5. IBM and Open Forum Europe Address European Interoperability Framework (EIF) Fiasco
  6. EIF Scrutinised, ODF Evolves, and Microsoft’s OOXML “Lies” Lead to Backlash from Danish Standards Committee
  7. Complaints About Perverted EIF Continue to Pile Up
  8. More Complaints About EIFv2 Abuse and Free Software FUD from General Electric (GE)
  9. Patents Roundup: Copyrighted SQL Queries, Microsoft Alliance with Company That Attacks F/OSS with Software Patents, Peer-to-Patent in Australia
  10. Microsoft Under Fire: Open Source Software Thematic Group Complains About EIFv2 Subversion, NHS Software Supplier Under Criminal Investigation
  11. British MEP Responds to Microsoft Lobby Against EIFv2; Microsoft’s Visible Technologies Infiltrates/Derails Forums Too
  12. Patents Roundup: Escalations in Europe, SAP Pretense, CCIA Goes Wrong, and IETF Opens Up

Apple, Microsoft, and Intellectual Ventures Versus Android, Which Finds New Home at Telstra in Spite of Microsoft

Posted in Apple, Australia, Bill Gates, Boycott Novell, Courtroom, Google, Microsoft, Patents at 6:11 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

John Bauer painting from 1915

Summary: The story of Apple, Microsoft, and about 1,100 patent-trolling satellite firms, which Apple, Bill Gates, and Microsoft are sponsoring (via Intellectual Ventures)

Apple’s lawsuit against HTC [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9] shows that not only Microsoft is the problem; Android is being challenged because it is rapidly becoming an industry leader in one of the fastest-growing areas of computing.

IDG argues that “Android Ecosystem Is Not Immune from Lawsuits”

While everyone focuses on the patent infringement suit Apple filed against HTC, there are many smaller skirmishes happening in all of software development, and the Android ecosystem is far from immune.

Some developers have been the target of patent claims, such as for displaying city of a caller on an inbound call. Some developers get attacked for more nebulous concepts, such as look-and-feel of applications.

Microsoft has already hinted that there might be more such action on the way. iTWire covered it:

This morning AEST, we have Horacio Gutierrez, corporate vice-president and deputy general counsel, issuing a statement in support of Apple’s lawsuit.

Of course, Gutierrez, like many of his colleagues, loves to instill as much fear as he can among all and sundry in order to hike up the fear factor. This is a tactic that has been used by companies, governments and individuals since time immemorial. (As an aside, the BBC’s Adam Curtis released a wonderful documentary about this a few years ago.)

Microsoft never misses a chance to try and scare smaller companies for all kinds of reasons.

A few days ago we wrote about the world’s largest patent troll, which has about 1,100 shell companies (and investments from Apple, Bill Gates, and Microsoft), arming one of its shells with a patent that can be used against just about any modern phone [1, 2]. Here is what The Register wrote about it:

Paczkowski has now discovered that the current owner of the patent is Intellectual Ventures (IV), a self-styled “invention company” which The Reg wrote about just this Wednesday in conjunction with its TerraPower division’s work on small-scale nuclear reactors.

Those reactors may be small-scale, but IV certainly isn’t. According to a 1,989-page report published by the “Strategic IP Counseling” group Avancept LLC in January of this year, IV has a patent portfolio that could include as many as 25,000 to 50,000 patents squirreled away in around 1,100 shell companies.

“Apple display patent enslaves sun,” says another article from The Register and a final one says that “Apple director [was] ‘disgusted’ by Jobsian health secrets” (there are also patent extortion secrets from Jobs).

The web is abuzz with instant replays of Thursday’s revelation by the Wall Street Journal that recently deceased Apple board member Jerry York told the paper that he was “disgusted” with CEO Steve Jobs’ secrecy over his health problems.

Here is the original report and IDG’s comments about it.

The recent passing of Apple director Jerome York has left a hole in the company’s board of directors, but it’s also revealed that the group is not quite the unified front that it’s often thought to be.

According to a report in The Wall Street Journal , York was unhappy with the way that Apple CEO Steve Jobs handled his health problems last year. In a 2009 interview with the Journal–comments from which weren’t published until this week–York said Jobs should have publicly announced his health issues when he backed out of appearing at Macworld Expo, less than a month prior to his taking a leave of absence.

Several other news reports say and also show that Jobs and Schmidt met to discuss business over coffee. The details are unknown because secrecy prevails. What we do know is that Telstra is adopting Android.

Telstra has put its weight behind Google’s Android mobile operating system, announcing plans to make its applications available through the Android Market app store.

The news comes with the launch of the HTC Desire Android-based handset, which will be exclusive to Telstra for three months from April 27.

We are rather surprised by this move because Telstra has also tightened its relationship with Microsoft, which seems to have some kind of a big shuffle in Australia (Microsoft New Zealand too has been in somewhat of a state of turmoil recently [1, 2, 3). Two days ago we wrote about Telstra’s relationship with Microsoft [1, 2] (Microsoft executive entering Telstra) and iTWire now tells the following story.

Telstra-Microsoft tie up spawns international copycats

Six months into its cloud computing hook-up with Telstra, the president of Microsoft’s business division has made clear this is how the software giant will manage SME access to its cloud globally, with similar deals with international telcos now in the wings.

Speaking exclusively with iTWire on his first visit to Australia since joining Microsoft, Stephen Elop said one of the key reasons for the trip was to meet Telstra. “What we are doing with Telstra in taking advantage of a large and successful telecoms company in a country to help us extend our reach is a strategy for the world.”

Stephen Elop is the man who is responsible for Microsoft Office. Let’s not forget how Telstra stifled OpenOffice.org a few years back.

If You Distrust Mono, Then You Are Called a “Microsoft Hater”, “Paranoid”, and “Conspiracy Theorist”

Posted in GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Mono, Novell, OpenSUSE, SLES/SLED, Ubuntu at 5:26 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz


Summary: Microsoft’s obey-or-be-ostracised method for daemonising and thus silencing opposition expands to GNU/Linux through former employees and other collaborators

THE FSF already knows that Mono and Moonlight are a patent liability. It doesn’t take an expert investigator to look at the simple facts, but it does take some thick skin to face insults from Mono bullies. Several of those Mono advocates who try to poison Ubuntu (Canonical) just like they poisoned Novell are former Microsoft employees whom we prefer not to name. Both Mark Shuttleworth and Matt Asay are currently being pressured by former Microsoft employees whom we see, which leads to entryism and newer Mono incursions [1, 2] (Canonical hired some people who worry us). Microsoft influence probably ruined SUSE, which had the best desktop distribution at the time of the Microsoft deal (I used only SUSE on all my computers at the time, except one which ran Ubuntu 4.10). It becomes increasingly important that people stand up and talk about the Pandora’s box or the jar of worms that is Mono. It’s about assimilating GNU/Linux to Microsoft and saturating job ads with “.NET” and “Silverlight”. It’s about ruining Free software not just with patents but with the notion and tool of control. Microsoft could adapt to Java, PHP, Python and so forth; but instead, it is trying to persuade Free software developers to work in reverse and coming to its rescue are former employees, existing Microsoft MVPs, and people whose wage comes via Novell from Microsoft. Mono would not pass the ‘smell test’ if it was developed inside Microsoft.

“Mono would not pass the ‘smell test’ if it was developed inside Microsoft.”We are occasionally seeing people dismissed as “paranoid” if they suggest that Microsoft has something to do with slow adoption of GNU/Linux on the desktop. Honesty is important. Setting information free is important for the goal of spreading the software, at least through education of people, distributors, and decision-makers. “Ten people who speak make more noise than ten thousand who are silent,” argued Napoleon Bonaparte.

We sometimes suspect there is a PR effort to make labels like “Microsoft hater” [1, 2] and “patent piracy” (yes, they now say this about patents too) more commonplace until people repeat them. Bruce Byfield prefers using terms like “conspiracy theorists” (Miguel de Icaza called Jeremy Allison just that because he had criticised Mono [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7]) and there is a plethora of other terms to capture mental pictures. McCarthyism was similar to this (“Soviets sympathiser” and the likes of that).

If more people get the courage to speak out against Mono, then Microsoft and its followers will struggle to just paint everyone a “Microsoft hater”. They try to classify and separate. Mono disdain should be the norm, not the exception or the silent sentiment.

“I saw that internally inside Microsoft many times when I was told to stay away from supporting Mono in public. They reserve the right to sue”

Robert Scoble, former Microsoft evangelist

Microsoft Services Cyber Crime

Posted in Antitrust, Mail, Microsoft, Steve Ballmer at 4:41 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Cowboy 1887

Summary: A look at some news about (in)security and how it relates to Microsoft’s role on the Web

JUST OVER a decade ago Microsoft decided to increase its online presence and gradually after it had acquired Hotmail, the service became a mess and probably the world’s largest source of SPAM (except Windows zombies). Last week in the news we found:

1. Botnet pierces Microsoft Live through audio captchas

The prolific Pushdo spam botnet has found a new way to penetrate Microsoft’s Live.com by exploiting weaknesses in the audio captchas designed to prevent automated scripts from accessing the popular email service.

A new version of the bot causes infected PCs to pull down Live.com audio captchas and return the correct response within 10 seconds, according to a researcher at anti-virus firm Webroot. The attack allows the zombie machines to send email through accounts with a Live.com address, which are whitelisted by many spam filters. The technique offers spammers an alternative to sending spam through open mail relays, which are often blacklisted.

2. MS coughs to Hotmail block

Microsoft has apologised to its UK Hotmail users after some of the software vendor’s IP addresses were embarrassingly blocked due to spamming.

“Microsoft is dedicated to providing the most trusted and protected consumer experience on the web,” said a Redmond spokesman.

For obvious reasons, it breeds poor security (some of this mail can be phishing and malicious executables for Windows). Also in the past week’s news we have:

3. Beware Botnet’s Return, Security Firms Warn

Why Rustock has adopted this technique is open to debate. Adding TLS to outbound spam slows the rate at which spam can be delivered, which would seem to hurt the spammer’s intention to spread non-legitimate email as far and fast as possible. It is also the case that TLS-encrypted email is no longer automatically trusted by receiving servers, so it is unlikely to be a simple evasion technique.

4. Unfashionable DDoS attacks still menace websites

Internet security research firm Team Cymru has begun publishing a four part series explaining the hows and whys of denial of service attacks.

5. Trojan poses as Adobe update utility

Duc explains: “From analysis, we found that malware is written in Visual Basic, faking such popular programs as Adobe, DeepFreeze, Java, Windows, etc. In addition, on being executed, they immediately turn on the following services: DHCP client, DNS client, Network share and open port to receive hacker’s commands.”

6. New Malware Overwrites Software Updaters

For the first time security researchers have spotted a type of malicious software that overwrites update functions for other applications, which could pose additional long-term risks for users.

The malware, which infects Windows computers, masks itself as an updater for Adobe Systems’ products and other software such as Java, wrote Nguyen Cong Cuong, an analyst with Bach Khoa Internetwork Security (BKIS), a Vietnamese security company, on its blog.

Microsoft’s presence online may turn out to be more of a curse (SPAM is a nuisance not just to Windows users [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6]) than a benign existence. Comes vs Microsoft Exhibit PX06959 (2001) [PDF] is an E-mail from Steve Ballmer about “Transforming Microsoft into a Software Services Company.” Microsoft sure became quite a service — for cyber criminals. We append the text of this exhibit beneath. We also wish to point out that Microsoft saw GNU/Linux as a competitor one decade ago, but AOL too was seen as a “greatest competitive challenge”. Ballmer wrote:

We face plenty of competitors in this new world – not just Sun, Oracle, IBM and Linux, but perhaps our greatest competitive challenge is America Online.

At least with AOL there weren’t quite so many security blunders.

Appendix: Comes vs. Microsoft – exhibit PX06959, as text

Read the rest of this entry »

Links 29/3/2010: Sony’s Bait and Switch

Posted in News Roundup at 4:10 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



  • Sony Zaps PlayStation 3 ‘Install Other OS’ Feature

    Sony’s spin goes something like this: By removing the feature, the company says it “will help ensure that PS3 owners will continue to have access to the broad range of gaming and entertainment content from SCE and its content partners on a more secure system.”

    Translation: You get something you already have (“access to [a] broad range of gaming” etc.) in trade for nothing, while Sony gets to close what it now deems a hacker loophole. What’s good for Sony is good for you, in other words.

    Except when it’s not (good for you, that is). Running Linux on the PS3 allows amateur developers to tinker with the PS3′s Cell processor, Sony sanctioned, and cobble together home-baked utilities and games. It’s also been used by researchers to build “discount supercomputers” to run scientific simulations that might otherwise “cost thousands of dollars.” North Carolina State University professor Frank Mueller called it “$50,000 worth of computer power for a mere $5000.”

    The majority reaction on Sony’s PlayStation blog won’t surprise anyone.

  • Mandriva 2010.0 on a Dell Latitude XT

    Sound works out-of-the-box and so did Compiz desktop effects (once enabled) which is better than I expected for this weak of a CPU and GPU configuration in this machine.

    This is not meant to be a review for Mandriva 2010.0, rather some comments regarding Mandriva 2010.0 being installed on a Dell Latitude XT notebook giving insight on what works natively and what doesn’t. I’m impressed with KDE4 and the Mandriva distribution, but I’ll save that talk for another post.

  • Graphics Stack

    • NVIDIA Launches GeForce GTX 470/480

      If you wondered why NVIDIA chose today to announce its canning the xf86-video-nv driver for all future GPUs and diverting users to use the VESA X.Org driver (even though most of them will start out using the Nouveau driver) until downloading their proprietary driver, it’s because they have finally launched Fermi.

    • H.264 VA-API Support For Intel Clarkdale/Arrandale

      Intel’s Zou Nan hai has published a patch for the Intel kernel DRM code that provides multiple ring buffer support for Clarkdale and Arrandale systems, in other words Intel’s new IGPs that are embedded onto CPUs such as the new Core i3 530 and its stellar integrated graphics.

    • Mesa 7.7.1 & 7.8.0 Released For Open-Source 3D

      Ian Romanick has just released the 7.7.1 and 7.8.0 versions of the Mesa3D open-source OpenGL stack with the DRI/Gallium3D drivers. As planned, this release is coming right on time for the end of March with Intel preparing to make its quarterly Linux graphics driver update and there is also the release of X Server 1.8 coming in the near future.

    • S3TC Support For Mesa Brought Up Again

      Besides the Mesa 7.8 release announcement hitting the Mesa mailing list over the weekend, also catching our interest is a new discussion concerning S3TC texture compression in this open-source software stack. One of the developers working on Spring RTS, an open-source real-time strategy game engine for Linux and Windows, is wanting the open-source Mesa developers to implement S3TC texture compression/decompression. But this is a rather sticky situation.

    • Catalyst vs. Mesa Performance With Ubuntu 10.04

      Over the past two weeks, we have published a variety of articles looking at different aspects of the open-source Linux graphics stack. These articles range from comparing the Gallium3D and classic Mesa performance to comparing the kernel mode-setting and user-space mode-setting performance. Today we are continuing with this interesting Linux graphics coverage by publishing benchmarks comparing the performance of the Radeon Mesa DRI graphics driver to AMD’s Catalyst 10.4 proprietary driver. Is the open-source driver finally catching up to AMD’s highly optimized driver? Continue reading to find out.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments

    • Clementine-player – A cross-platform music player based on Amarok 1.4

      Clementine is a modern music player and library organiser. Clementine is a port of Amarok 1.4, with some features rewritten to take advantage of Qt4.

    • Pretty penguin: five great themes for the GNOME desktop

      The GNOME desktop environment and its underlying Gtk+ widget toolkit—which provide a user interface and a standard set of applications for Linux—have an elaborate theme system that enables users to customize the appearance of their desktop.

      GNOME has attracted a vibrant community of open source artists who are collaborating to produce aesthetically sophisticated visual styles for the desktop environment. Many custom GNOME themes are published in online galleries so that they can be downloaded and installed by regular end users. The most popular of these repositories is the GNOME-Look.org Web site, which has become the de facto standard home of downloadable GNOME theming content.

  • Distributions

    • An introduction to Igelle 1.0

      I think that is the audience Igelle is targeting: not the type of people who run Debian, Gentoo and Fedora, but the sort of people who enjoy technology like OS X, iPods and iPads. People who want to find a balance between the simplicity of a dedicated appliance and the power provided by Linux. In short, it looks like Igelle has the potential to make the netbook/tablet/mobile device market a very interesting place in the coming year.

    • Minimalist

      • Minimalist Linux desktops

        Lightweight desktops have a multitude of uses, on netbooks, for mobile devices, for older hardware, for users with limited requirements of their systems, for connecting to applications in the cloud, and for bare knuckled programmers who prefer to work closer to the metal.

      • Greetings from Slitaz 3.0

        It’s been a year since the last “stable” release of Slitaz, and whether or not the yearlong break is part of the development plan, I have been chomping at the bit, waiting for this new version.


        If I could build an entire system — and I have tried — I would want it to turn out just like Slitaz. Even my lightest, fastest efforts with outdated software in custom-built configurations can’t stand up to what Slitaz gives you for nothing. It’s fantastic stuff.

    • Ubuntu

      • First look at Ubuntu 10.04 Beta 1 ‘Lucid Lynx’

        There has been quite a bit of controversy of late in the Ubuntu and Linux communities regarding the decision by Canonical to move the buttons within the Window Manager of Ubuntu to the left hand side as opposed to the right. A lot of people are upset that this is actually more of a pain than an advance in usability and want it restored but it looks like we can expect it to stay regardless of the feedback from the community. Canonical seems convinced this is a good change and doesn’t seem eager to listen to their community on this particular topic. We’ll have to see how this affects (or doesn’t) the adoption of 10.04.

        In the interim, the first beta release has been made available and we decided to take it for a test run and see the changes for ourselves. Come along for the ride why don’t you?

      • Quick Review: What You Should Expect For Ubuntu 10.04

        Ubuntu is set to release their next Long Term Support version at the end of April, and we now have a beta version to look at and see what we can expect. There are some pretty big changes coming in Lucid Lynx, many of which are partly or fully implemented in the current beta. There are the surprising changes, the controversial changes, and the just plain cool. Though the full release is still a month away, Ubuntu 10.04 is clearly shaping up to be an impressive release.


        While not technically a feature of 10.04 itself, the opening of Ubuntu One Music Store will coincide with Lucid’s release, and support for it is already built in. The simplest way to access it is by opening up Rhythmbox, the default audio player. In the panel on the left, you should see Ubuntu One. Clicking that will let you browse the available music.

      • Ubuntu Weekly Newsletter Issue 186

        Welcome to the Ubuntu Weekly Newsletter, Issue #186 for the week March 21st – March 27th, 2010. In this issue we cover: Mark Shuttleworth: Less is more. But still less, Ubuntu Server Survey 2010 released, Ubuntu One Music Store now in public beta, Ubuntu One Blog: Updates to web contacts, Call for LoCo Council Elections, Launchpad read-only 11.00-13.00 UTC March 31st, 2010, Planning For 10.10 – Growing Our Translations Community, Ubuntu participates in Google Summer of Code, Reviewers Team – Where are we, Ubuntu 10.04 LTS – Free Culture Showcase Winners, Full Circle Magazine #35 & Podcast #3, and much, much more!

      • Variants

        • Blankon Linux version 5 Review

          I was just installed a popular distro in Indonesia called Blankon. This distro is based on Ubuntu 9.04. Off course with all features and capabilities of Ubuntu 9.04. Here I want to write my opinion or self review regarding this Blankon Linux.

        • Xubuntu 10.04 Beta 1 remains borderline irrelevant

          Although not many readers of OMG! Ubuntu! use Xubuntu I thought it’d be polite of us to check in with the Xubuntu team and see what was going on in their forthcoming release of Xubuntu 10.04.

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Palm Pre Plus and Pixi Plus are officially coming to AT&T

      The Palm Pre Plus and Pixie Plus are coming to AT&T though the timing of the release is up to the carrier to announce at a later date.

    • ARM

      • Netbooks Decline or ARM’s Ascent?

        The Atomic netbooks are still too pricey, heavy and brutal. Many consumers considering buying a netbook may be waiting for the expected flock of new offerings with ARM power, a kind of hardware-vapourware. The netbook will continue to have a growing market, just not with x86.

      • Scaling Arm Chips

        TFA also does hint that with ARM it is conceivable that devices for power users and servers are just around the corner. In the Year of ARM, all things are possible. AMD and Intel are now producing chips with multiple cores each of which is more powerful than necessary. ARM can just walk in and take up slack because there is no way Wintel can offer more than ARM can. We see that in smartbooks now. There are more apps available for ARM on smartbooks than that other OS because developers can move phone apps to ARM on a smartbook very easily. There are tons of phone apps out there.

Free Software/Open Source

  • Learning competence with free and open source software

    This personal change is one of the biggest reasons that I am committed to free software. Using Windows only reinforced my belief in my own incompetence at fixing or improving things. By contrast, free software proved to my that I was capable of far more than I had ever imagined.

  • Tony Wasserman’s thoughts on joining the OSI Board

    As a new member of the Board (as of 1 April), I thought that it would be useful to explain why I wanted to join the OSI Board and what I hope to achieve during my term. As you can see from my bio (on the Board member page), I’ve been involved with software, both proprietary and open source, for my entire career, both in industry and in the research community.

  • Articles of regional Free Software law violate the Italian Constitution

    Can you see now what the real problem is? Especially considering that even recent law proposals at the national level aren’t so robust after all? This sentence may be just the first confirmation that several laws already approved, even with the best intentions, are in fact weak enough to not be enforceable. At this point, I really wonder how many local Free Software laws in other Countries are in the same situation. If you know the answer, please tell me! As far as Italy is concerned, it will be very interesting to hear what the new Piedmont Regional Council, that will be elected on March 29th 2010, will say about this, since there should be in it at least some of the 31 candidates that had officially committed to support Free Software if elected. Even other italian Regions, however, will have to rethink very carefully their Free Software strategies.

  • Oracle

    • Oracle’s OpenSolaris 2010.03 Is M.I.A.

      We’ve known that Oracle is to make some Solaris / OpenSolaris changes, but all signs have been that they would move forward with the OpenSolaris 2010.03 release in March as planned. OpenSolaris 2010.03 will supersede OpenSolaris 2009.06 that was released last June.

  • Openness

    • Base Map 2.0: What Does the Head of the US Census Say to Open Street Map?

      Ian White, the CEO of Urban Mapping, makes his living collecting and selling geo data. For next week’s Where 2.0 has put together a panel of government mapping agencies (the UK’s Ordnance Survey and the US’s Census Department) and community-built mapping projects (Open Street Map and Waze). Crowdsourced projects like Waze and Open Street Map have forced civic agencies to reconsider their licensing. They have similarly encouraged larger companies like Google, NAVTEQ and Tele Atlas to implement their own crowdsourcing platforms (like Google Mapmaker and Tele Atlas’ MapShare). Ian and his panelists will discuss all of this in Base Map 2.0 on Thursday at Where 2.0 – you can consider their conversation as Part 1 of the panel.

    • Open Source Ethics and Dead End Derivatives

      Open Source Hardware is hardware that has an open license. You can copy it, develop it, and even sell it yourself. You must provide attribution to the designer and you must also release the derivative source files under the same license. This applies even if you use a proprietary program for your designs.

    • Search engine collects historical resources

      A search engine is being created to help historians find useful sources.

      The Connected History project will link up currently separate databases of source materials.

      Once complete, it will give academics or members of the public a single site that lets them search all the collections.

  • Programming

    • Review: Geany IDE – Integrated Development Environment for all OS

      Geany is an Integrated Development Environment (IDE) that was created to be light-weight and independent as possible. I’ve used Geany for sometime now. I haven’t used it on C or anything like that, but I use it (daily) for xhtml, css, and php. When I learn JavaScript and Python I will be programming those in Geany also.

  • Standards/Consortia

    • Document Freedom Day 2010 in The Netherlands

      Document Freedom Day is a global day for document liberation. It will be a day of grassroots effort to educate the public about the importance of Open Document Formats and Open Standards in general. Every year on the last wednesday in March, we celebrate his day. This year in The Netherlands in conferencecentre “Het Brandpunt” in Baarn, the former residence of the Dutch queen, we will have five speakers who will talk about the importance of open documents and open standards for the Dutch government.


  • Ex-IBM exec heads to court in insider trading case

    IBM’s former server chief, Robert Moffat, is heading to court on Monday after he agreed to waive his right to a grand jury in a case related to the Galleon Group insider-training scandal, according to court documents.

    The waiver sets the stage for Moffat to enter a plea in the case relating to his involvement in an insider-trading scheme that netted some stock traders millions of dollars in illicit profits.

  • Nokia Acquires Mobile Browsing Company

    Nokia on Friday said it will acquire Novarra, a privately-held company based in Chicago that specializes in mobile browsing.

  • Geek Gang Signs :)
  • BT hijacks business browsers

    BT is annoying business broadband customers by hijacking their browsers to nag them to download a branded desktop utility.

  • Apple boycotts Fox News because of Glenn Beck

    A two-week old report by the Washington Post is only now gaining traction in the tech section. It appears that Apple has boycotted Fox News based on Glenn Beck and his ludicrous statements, including calling President Obama a racist and branding progressivism a “cancer.”

  • Security

    • Zurich Insurance promises changes after data loss

      Zurich Insurance has promised to improve its information security after losing personal financial information on 46,000 British clients through careless handling of unencrypted backup tapes.

    • Hackers hit where they live

      The countries of hackers originating malware-laced spam runs have been exposed by new research, which confirms they are often located thousands of miles away from the compromised systems they use to send out junk mail.

    • UK government wants to secretly read your postal mail

      As Britain heads for the next general election, the Labour government is rushing through a new surveillance law that gives the customs office the right to open your mail without you present, replacing the old system that only allowed the government to read your mail after notifying you, giving you a chance to appeal, and only then could they open it, with you present.

    • Obama Twitter hacker freed

      INSPECTOR PIERRE KNACKER of le Paris Yard has fingered the collar of the 25 year-old unemployed bloke who hacked into US President Obama’s Twitter account.

    • WikiLeaks to release video of civilians, journalists being murdered in airstrike

      Whistleblower Web site WikiLeaks is planning to release a video that reveals what it’s calling a Pentagon “cover-up” of an incident in which numerous civilians and journalists were murdered in an airstrike, according to a recent media advisory.

    • Government holds too much info on citizens

      The UK Government holds more data on citizens than it needs to, according to members of the Chartered Institute for IT (the British Computer Society).

      Nudging two-thirds (61%) of the 400 IT professional members questioned said the state held more data on citizens than necessary. Only 17% believed that citizen’s rights were adequately protected by the current regulations.

    • Top US domain name registrars lag on DNS security

      The leading domain name registrars in the United States appear to be dragging their feet on the deployment of DNS Security Extensions, an emerging standard that prevents an insidious type of hacking attack where network traffic is redirected from a legitimate Web site to a fake one without the Web site operator or user knowing.

    • The Story behind the Nigerian Phishing Scam

      The campaign to freeze accounts associated with former Nigerian dictator Sani Abacha and former Zaire dictator Mobutu Sese Seko led to the birth of Internet scammers, posing as family members with millions of dollars to hide from the authorities.

    • Sneaky Flying Spy Cameras Provoke Civil Liberty Fears

      CIVIL liberties groups have condemned a sinister new plan for Scottish police forces to spy on ordinary citizens using unmanned surveillance drones.

      The Big Brother-style move will mean the public could be monitored constantly, under the pretext of a crime crack-down.

    • Government plans fingerprint passport bill

      The home secretary has revealed plans for primary legislation requiring passport applicants to be fingerprinted and enrolled on the National Identity Register

  • Environment

    • Greenpeace Protests Outside Dell Offices in Europe, India

      Greenpeace held protests outside the offices of Dell in Bangalore, Amsterdam, and Copenhagen on Monday, to demand firmer commitments from the company that it will phase out harmful chemicals from its products by 2011.

      Officials at Greenpeace said that the environmental group planned the action ahead of a meeting on Monday at Dell headquarters in Round Rock, Texas, at which Michael Dell, the company’s CEO, is scheduled to discuss the phasing out of the harmful chemicals.

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

    • Researcher: China pays 280K people to boost its Web image

      If you thought corporate “astroturfing” (fake grassroots activity) was a problem at sites like Yelp and Amazon that feature user reviews of products, imagine how much worse it would be if the U.S. government employed a couple hundred thousand people to “shape the debate” among online political forums. Crazy, right? What government would ever attempt it?

  • Censorship/Privacy/Civil Rights

    • Ottawa joins the war on photography

      I suppose if terrorists were precision bombers who had to place their charges to the millimetre in order to succeed, this would make sense, but given that no one’s ever shown that terrorists attacks involve carefully photographing the attack-site (as opposed to simply walking up to it, finding a likely spot, and blowing up), this is simply a good way of absorbing police/security time that could be spent chasing actual bad guys.

    • How the American phone companies used to feel about privacy

      Back in 2008, Matt Blaze put the push for immunity for telcos that participated in GW Bush’s illegal wiretapping program in context: “As someone who began his professional career in the Bell System (and who stayed around through several of its successors), the push for telco immunity represents an especially bitter disillusionment for me. Say what you will about the old Phone Company, but respect for customer privacy was once a deeply rooted point of pride in the corporate ethos.

    • Wikipedia Founder Praises Google Over China Decision

      A co-founder of popular online encyclopedia Wikipedia praised Google for its decision to stop censoring Internet searches in China and called on other major U.S. companies, including Microsoft and Facebook, to follow.

    • Cecilia Malström filters the net

      It’s been a long time but it seems Commissioner Cecilia Malström is the next person to pick up the poisoned apple of net filtering and apply cynical arguments from the proponents of these measures. Feels like 1996.

  • Lost Battles

    • French pirates ‘dodge’ tough laws

      A small-scale study shows that some French people are changing their habits and getting pirated music and movies from sources not covered by the law.

    • Peers warn of backlash fears over digital radio

      The government could face a public backlash over its plans to switch national radio stations over to digital transmission, peers have warned.

      The Communications Committee of the House of Lords says there is “public confusion and industry uncertainty”.

      It said people were still buying analogue radios which will be out of date in a few years’ time.

  • Intellectual Monopolies/Copyrights

    • Makers audiobook: direct from the author, no DRM, no EULA

      I get an additional 20 percent on top of my customary royalty if you buy it from me, and you get a book that has no DRM and no crappy “license agreement” requiring you to turn over your firstborn in exchange for the privilege of handing me your hard-earned money.

    • EU Demands Canada Completely Overhaul Its Intellectual Property Laws

      Late last year, a draft of the European Union proposal for the intellectual property chapter of the Canada – EU Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement leaked online. The leak revealed that the EU was seeking some significant changes to Canadian IP laws. Negotiations have continued and I have now received an updated copy of the draft chapter, complete with proposals from both the EU and Canada. The breadth of the demands are stunning – the EU is demanding nothing less than a complete overhaul of Canadian IP laws including copyright, trademark, databases, patent, geographic indications, and even plant variety rights.

    • ACTA/Digital Economy Bill

      • Anti-ACTA poster on 4chan

        If you believed Rupert Murdoch’s droppings and other offerings from the lamescream press corpse, you’d think the net was a minor event, a passing fancy which, while it’s having a certain effect on traditional media, isn’t terribly important in the overall scheme of things.

        The reality is: modern 21st-century communications wielded person-to-person, direct, have already permanently unseated the old-style print and electronic media outlets. Increasingly, ordinary people are talking to each other one-on-one, or group-to-group, via blogs, citizen journalist sites, IM, chat, cellphones and other hand-helds, and so on.

        Rupert, et al, don’t stand a chance.


        Bottom line, although ACTA being touted as a trade agreenment, it’s the thin end of a wedge which would ultimately give the cartels what amounts to governmental-type control over what people do and how they do it not only online, but off.

        But for the first time in history, People Power rules. And they know it.

      • Delusional EU ACTA negotiator claims that three strikes has never been proposed at ACTA
      • Secret ACTA fights over iPod border-searches

        The copyright industries wanted border-searches on anything digital you were carrying that could be used to infringe copyright, from your phone to your iPod to the laptop that had your confidential client documents, your personal email, your finances, pictures of your kids in the bath, etc.

      • IFLA Position on the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement

        IFLA and its members are gravely concerned by the extreme secrecy surrounding the ACTA negotiations and the complete lack of transparency related to ACTA’s procedures, provisions, and priorities, which is unprecedented for a global-norm setting activity among democratic nations. The issues involved have many facets and should be discussed in an open and fair manner at WIPO, the appropriate forum for such topics.

      • UK record lobby has vehement feelings on Digital Economy Bill debate, won’t say what they are

        My latest Guardian column, “Does the BPI want MPs to debate the digital economy bill properly?” addresses the British Phonographic Institute’s weird, vehement silence on Parliament’s debate on its pet legislation, the dread Digital Economy Bill. Vehement silence? Oh yes.

      • Leaked ACTA Text Shows Possible Contradictions With National Laws

        “No changes in domestic” law promised the partners currently negotiating the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement. A leaked 56-page recent consolidated version of the much-discussed agreement shows that this might not be completely true. The draft version with a lot of bracketed text shows that some countries are more open about the potential need to change their domestic laws than others.

      • Three core reasons for rejecting ACTA

        These three points have been repeatedly documented in each and every piece of information that has been disclosed, since the beginning of the ACTA process:

        * ACTA is policy laundering1 in which an international negotiation is used to circumvent democratic debates at national or European level and adopt policy that the Parliaments will have no choice but to reject completely or adopt as a whole. Congress might not even be consulted in the case of the United States2.
        * The promoters and drafters of ACTA have created a mixed bag of titles3, types of infringement and enforcement measures, in which life-endangering fake products and organized crime activities are considered together with non-for-profit activities that play a role in access to knowledge, innovation, culture and freedom of expression. ACTA would create a de facto presumption of infringement.
        * In the negotiations, the EU is pushing the worse parts of the former directive proposal on criminal sanctions for IPR enforcement (IPRED 2, withdrawn because of uncertain legal basis), that is criminal sanctions for abetting or inciting to infringement.

Digital Tipping Point: Clip of the Day

Till The Clouds Roll By (1946)

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

Microsoft and Its Patent Trolls Remain #1 Threat to Free Software

Posted in Apple, Google, Microsoft, Patents at 10:47 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Microsoft has not changed its patent spots. just its games (patent sports)


Summary: How Microsoft, its offshoot Intellectual Ventures, and to a lesser degree Apple (which invests in Intellectual Ventures) harm Free software through the courtrooms

TWO weeks ago there was a blog post (semi-formal report) from Glyn Moody which led to some more sensationalism about Microsoft's intent following Apple’s lawsuit against Android [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6]. Microsoft supported this course of action [1, 2], which led Moody to the conclusion that Microsoft will sue again and Ken Hess subscribes to exaggeration when he asks (in the headline): “Another Linux Lawsuit Storm Brewing?”

Now that Microsoft’s big operating systems, Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008, are on store shelves, is it time again for them to pick up the legal sledgehammer and go after Linux? I think the evidence for it is mounting. Microsoft has signed a deal with Novell, penned an agreement with Red Hat, sued and won against TomTom, signed a secret deal with Amazon, has lost costly suits against Uniloc and VirnetX and lost an appeal in its case against i4i. But this time, they’re going to go for the jugular with a broad and sweeping patent infringement suite against major Linux adopters that haven’t signed indemnification deals with them.

As one commenter points out: “This article is fraught with conjecture and not well thought out. It is pure FUD.

“Linux CAN’T be sued because one company does not control it. Linux CAN’T be stopped…because it has the GPL…and Microsoft has complied with the GPL on numerous occasions which subsequently means that they know they have to comply with it aka they’ve endorsed it with their actions.”

Luis Villa from GNOME responds to the presentation from Dr. Andrew Tridgell, who suggested that Free software developers should start reading patents. Villa, who is in the field of law, disagrees.

The problem here – with software patents in particular- is that they are so numerous, so broadly worded, and so inconsistently worded, that searching for them is like searching for a submarine in the ocean. It is incredibly difficult, incredibly expensive, and very frequently ineffective to look for the ones that could torpedo your software product. And so most of the industry doesn’t bother- they just cross their fingers and hope.

Sticking with software like Mono and Moonlight, which is already known to be surrounded by Microsoft patents (and even Miguel de Icaza acknowledges this [1, 2, 3]), would not be smart, would it? To quote DZone:

In an article titled “Does Windows cost Microsoft opportunities” by the SD Times, Novell VP and Mono Project lead Miguel de Icaza had some strong opinions about Microsoft’s handling of the .NET platform. For reasons unknown, the article has been taken down but is still available on Google’s cache. Here were some of the criticisms de Icaza had: “Unlike the Java world that is blossoming with dozens of vibrant Java Virtual Machine implementations, the .NET world has suffered by this meme spread by [Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer] that they would come after people that do not license patents from them. Microsoft has shot the .NET ecosystem in the foot because of the constant threat of patent infringement that it has cast on the system.”

As we stressed in the previous post, Microsoft has a lobby for software patents in India, South Africa, and Europe. Microsoft advocates software patents in Europe, notably with the help of the BSA and ACT (formerly related to ATL, also led by Microsoft lobbyist Jonathan Zuck, who pretends to represent ~3,000 European SMEs). This “advocacy” (lobby) not only harms Free software in Europe but proprietary software too. Software patents are a threat to small companies, not just Free software. It’s becoming a universal problem.

The following news article was listed here before, but it has just been republished in Times of India:

‘Vested interests behind discussion on patents’


Prominent sponsors and organizers of the GW Law programmes have included multinational pharmaceutical companies like Novartis, Gilead Sciences, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), a club of the big pharma in the US, and the US-India Business Council (USIBC), and companies with a vested interest in software patents such as Intellectual Ventures, Microsoft, and Qualcomm. Many of these companies have patent applications pending in the Indian patent office and some like Novartis and Bayer are even dragging the Indian government to court in an attempt to undermine the safeguard provisions in Indian patent law.

Microsoft and its patent troll Intellectual Ventures are both sponsors and organisers of this. As we showed earlier this month, Microsoft is also responsible for spreading MPEG LA patents and Apple promotes these too (in HTML5 even).

What it also means is that it drives HTML5 farther towards a proprietary implementation. H.264 patents are owned by a group of companies who license the format through independent Denver-based MPEG LA, LLC. In countries that uphold software patents (like the U.S.), both browser makers (like Apple) and commercial content providers (like CBS) may have to pay to use the codec.

John Gruber, who writes quite a lot in favour of Apple, repeats the Apple/Nokia lies, which they used to interfere with Ogg adoption. There is a rebuttal to it coming from an unexpected direction:

To sum up: first, submarine patents have been impossible for the past 15 years, which severely limits this supposed threat. Second, the patent claims against Theora come from its competitor, and not from a neutral party; the threats are well-countered by Xiph. Third, Google supporting Theora so openly effectively means that Google believes that Theora’s patent threat is minimal.

In fact, this last part is delightfully interesting in light of Apple’s original complaint against Theora. Back in 2007, Apple’s Maciej Stachowiak argued that while Ogg/Theora/Vorbis are free of patents now, they might get into trouble later on.

Why did Gruber repeat these lies in the first place? Mozilla sure didn't fall for these.

I’ve been arguing with some people over the role of Apple in all of this, especially because of its recent lawsuit that has an impact on GNU/Linux. “Using software patents for aggression is always wrong,” Richard Stallman argues, “so Apple’s action is certainly bad. But it does make a difference to our community whether the software being attacked is our community’s free software, or proprietary software being distributed alongside our community’s free software.”

Apple’s challenge to HTC would generalise to almost any other distributor of Android. Thus, the patent case acts as a deterrent against a platform that uses Free software. I do agree with Stallman’s point, but looking at the circumstances, it’s exactly the same explanation given when Microsoft sued TomTom for various things including its VFAT support. This is a preparation to collection of “royalties” from all users of the same Free software.

“Apple’s challenge to HTC would generalise to almost any other distributor of Android.”The TomTom case taught that by claiming to just target one company the claimant clearly tries to establish a precedence that will make others buckle.

Stallman says that “Apple is suing HTC, and the HTC phone runs software which includes Linux. But that doesn’t make it clear whether the suit is about Linux, or other software.”

It’s worth explaining that Android will be remerged into Linux. Linux and Android had split before the latest release of Linux. Novell’s kernel hacker, Greg K-H, was among those who rejected it because it became improperly engineered. Several weeks ago Google said that it would tidy Android up and put it back in mainline Linux.

Android is a complete platform that includes modified Linux and no GNU at all. Android is maintained by many developers from Google and it’s now similar to a patchset to Linux (at least part of it), which cannot be included in the main branch anymore. I do not like Android all that much. I told Linus Torvalds about the issues with limitations like DRM in it, but he seemed apathetic.

“I think Microsoft’s VFAT patent attack targeted free code which is part of Linux,” Stallman recollected. And indeed, Tridgell developed a workaround shortly after TomTom had settled and enabled Microsoft to extort other users (distributors) of Linux using “TomTom” as the ammunition. Microsoft has used Novell in a similar way since 2006 and it was soon brought to light by Jeremy Allison and then Microsoft itself (in 2007). To Microsoft, patent FUD has been the strategy of choice for quite a few years, but it keeps quiet about it unless there is a lawsuit, cross-licensing, or an occsional roar.

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