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04.01.10

Questioning Ubuntu’s Direction

Posted in GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Search, Ubuntu at 7:33 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Wizard of Oz

Summary: Now that the Ubuntu distribution of GNU/Linux pushes users into the Microsoft ‘cloud’, doubts rightly increase when it comes to the project’s vision

IN ORDER to keep this constructive, we won’t repeat old explanations about why Matt Asay was not a good choice for Ubuntu. This is not a personal attack, just a simple factual observation.

Several days ago we spotted remarks from Asay (Canonical’s new COO) which we found rather concerning but not surprising at all. We decided not to remark on these remarks, but Pogson has done just that when he scattered some thoughts about the ramblings of Asay:

Matt Asay wrote this on his blog, “Microsoft became the biggest software company in the world by creating an ecosystem of software that works well together.“.

[...]

I know I take the quotation out of context, but I found it a shocking view for someone of influence in Ubuntu. Later in the article he writes, “I didn’t like the Linux “desktop” until Lucid’s release.“. At the same time that M$ could not keep me happy for more than a few hours, GNU/Linux (eDesktop from Caldera Systems) purred for six months on five machines without a hitch. That was in 2000 and GNU/Linux has constantly improved since.

I am glad Mark Shuttleworth is the one working on the user interface… Matt Asay does not seem to be in touch with reality.

Mark Shuttleworth at least has a long history as a GNU/Linux user who respects Free software. Asay, on the contrary, has been promoting “open core” and the whole Fog Computing paradigm. As a follow-up from Pogson shows, Asay is still buying into the whole ‘cloud’ hype, which is just a new marketing identity/name assigned to old ideas that Richard Stallman criticises as it achieves nothing that defends the users’ freedom. In some ways, it’s even worse than proprietary software.

“Mark Shuttleworth at least has a long history as a GNU/Linux user who respects Free software.”The gist of Stallman’s thesis is that any so-called ‘cloud’ (we call it Fog Computing to emphasise the risks) gives tremendous power to the owner of this ‘cloud’. As we pointed out earlier this year, Canonical decided to take money away from Mozilla developers and instead pass it to Ubuntu developers, who willingly sell Ubuntu users to the Microsoft ‘cloud’ [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6]. It’s about search, which leads to other services. Whose masters are they anyway?

Anyhow, for those doubting the situation with Microsoft and Yahoo!, the following news from India is an early sign that not only US queries will be passed from Yahoo! to Microsoft (as expected all along).

Microsoft will be offering positions to 400 of Yahoo’s software professionals, most working on search technology, to boost the search-domain collaboration the two technology giants announced sometime back.

These are the people who will deliver search results that discriminate against Ubuntu. These are the people whom Canonical will send Ubuntu users to. In summary, Ubuntu is not going in the best direction, to put it politely.

“Anyone who doesn’t fear Microsoft is a fool.”

3Com CEO Eric Benhamou

IRC Proceedings: April 1st, 2010

Posted in IRC Logs at 7:10 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME Gedit

Read the log

Enter the IRC channel now

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

What Happens Next in the SCO Case (Post Novell)

Posted in Courtroom, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Novell, SCO, UNIX at 7:02 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Can making money

Summary: Explanations from authoritative sources of what SCO may do next (except what it publicly says it will do)

IN A PREVIOUS POST covering the outcome of the SCO trial against Novell we gave significant credit to Groklaw and also cited this post (referenced before but worth repeating). Carla from Linux Today does something similar by thanking Pamela.

The endless SCO saga is finally at an end, and justice has prevailed. But without Groklaw, would it have ended differently?

Let me rephrase that: it will probably continue to sputter and emit random gases, because the nice SCO leadership and their backers are masters of weaving grand propositions out of fantasy, and perpetuating their fantasies in the seemingly non-functional US civil courts system. But for all non-Bizarro world purposes it is over. The SCO vs. Novell verdict settles the key question of who owns the Unix copyrights. Answer: not SCO. I know, it’s a little more complex than that because there are several Unix variants. But as far as SCO’s silly claims against Linux, it is definitively over.

Pogson too writes about the crucial role that Pamela has played.

I remember, seven years later, the sick feeling I had in my stomach that any of the lies SCOG spread about GNU/Linux might be true or that SCOG could tax GNU/Linux which by then I was introducing into schools and classrooms on a regular basis. GNU/Linux was part of me and SCOG was putting forth that I had cancer. Well, I soon discovered GROKLAW and the free flow of good information there calmed my fears.

The case is not over yet. It’s lost for SCO, but here is what might happen next.

There are still some dangling legal strings that need to be trimmed, and those won’t happen for at least a few weeks — barring any more appeals, of course, by SCO Group. One of them involves counterclaims by IBM and Red Hat.

SCO has already commented about its next steps and Pogson does too. SCO is being irrational.

If trustee Cahn will not do his job the US trustee and the bankruptcy judge should move this thing along.

Over at Groklaw, the sanity of SCO is doubted too. Some money was loaned very recently by former SCO people [1, 2] and Groklaw questions the latest amendments.

SCO has filed an 8-K/A with the SEC, and the Explanatory Note says, “This Form 8K is being amended to correct information in the Exhibit 10.4.”

SCO’s battles with Novell may be over (unless the ruling is appealed), but this saga is not quite over yet. We are a lot more curious about ownership of UNIX because Novell might be sold in pieces (or entirely) this year.

OOXML Crony Admits That “Microsoft Fails the Standards Test”

Posted in ISO, Microsoft, Office Suites, Open XML, OpenDocument, Standard at 6:24 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Sad girl on steps

Summary: Microsoft back into its walled gardens after bribing, cheating, stuffing ballots, and lying to everyone for the sake of hurting document standards (ODF)

What a lovely Easter present. Even one of the people who are responsible for the OOXML fiasco [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21] admits the obvious and concedes that Microsoft was bluffing.

Alex Brown writes:

Microsoft Fails the Standards Test

[...]

Microsoft has many enemies who will no doubt see the current state of affairs as proof that Microsoft never even intended to be good standards citizens. Indeed standards and XML veteran Tim Bray, writing shortly after the standard’s approval, made a prediction which could now seem impressively prophetic:

“It’s Kind of Sad • The coverage suggests that future enhancements to 29500, as worked through by a subcommittee of a subcommittee of a standards committee, are actually going to have some influence on Microsoft. Um, maybe there’s an alternate universe in which Redmond-based program managers and developers are interested in the opinions of a subgroup of ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC 34, but this isn’t it.

I suppose they’ll probably show up to the meetings and try to act interested, but it’s going to be a sideline and nobody important will be there. What Microsoft really wanted was that ISO stamp of approval to use as a marketing tool. And just like your mother told you, when they get what they want and have their way with you, they’re probably not gonna call you in the morning.”

So Alex, how does it feel to have helped corrupt the integrity of ISO, which you purport to be a part of? Note the comment at the end, which says: “Alex, I am surprised, after all the allegations of stuffing, bribing and coercion of NB’s that were, until DIS29500, uninterested in XML document standards, that you seem surprised at the outcome thus far.” This doesn’t even mention the personal role of Alex in all that malarkey.

“The ISO process, brutal and corrupt as it was, has been covered to death by everyone.”

Tim Bray

Deutschlandfunk, Deutschlandradio, and the Nation of New Zealand Show the Way Regarding Software Patentability

Posted in Australia, Europe, Law, Patents at 6:06 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

New Zealand Parliament buildings

Summary: More radio stations and also an entire developed nation turn their back on software patents

WE finally have some good news about software patents. We’ll begin with the more minor item: The FFII formally congratulates several radio stations from Germany and Austria on their decision to embrace Ogg, obviously at the expense of patent-encumbered formats (MPEG cartel) that many other stations use exclusively.

On today’s “Document Freedom Day” the German radio stations Deutschlandfunk, Deutschlandradio Kultur and Austrian Radio Orange were lauded for their usage of the open Ogg Vorbis format for live streaming.

In Berlin staff members of Deutschlandradio received an award certificate and a big cake with the slogan “rOgg on!”. The certificate was awarded by the Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure (FFII) together with the Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE).

[...]

Often licensing fees for patented formats are not levied until everyone depends on these formats. Only after the GIF graphics format was widely spread, in 1994 the patent holder Unisys demanded royalties. Only after MP3 became popular, in 1998 Fraunhofer Research and Thomson demanded licensing fees for its audio format covered by over a dozen patents. Free open source implementations of these formats are systematically barred from the market. The way out of the “lock-in”, the patent trap, are open formats such as Ogg Vorbis.

Vigilance remains necessary. For example, the video compression format H.264 is in widespread use today. It is included in mobile devices and smartphone as well as many video platforms on the Internet. But the format is encumbered by over 1000 patents, managed by a consortium of about 25 corporations. Various companies have announced to use this H.264 format for the video functions in HTML5.

Down in the southern hemisphere, the news about New Zealand rejecting software patents continues to be validated. We wrote about this subject before [1, 2, 3] and Nat Torkington says that “New Zealand Government select committee recommends no software patents in NZ.”

The End Software Patents Web site gives credit to more local people and organisations that deserve it.

Substantial credit is due to the people in NZ that submitted letters making the case against software patents:

* Egressive Limited
* The New Zealand Open Source Society
* InternetNZ
* Guy Burgess

Mike Masnick talks about a hopeful relation to the situation in the United States.

New Zealand Politicians Want To Explicitly Outlaw Software Patents

[...]

As we wait for the Bilski ruling in the US (which my gut feeling tells me will have the Supreme Court totally punt on the issue of software patents), it seems like politicians down in New Zealand have figured out that software patents are a real problem.

“New Zealand legislators want to outlaw software patents,” says another report.

As part of an effort to update patent law, New Zealand legislators have proposed a bill which would make it impossible to patent software. If it becomes law it would no doubt cause friction with US ACTA negotiators, who are pushing to make software patents standard internationally.

Currently they are recognized in just a few countries, including the US and Japan.

Yes, very few countries actually fell into the software patents trap. It’s borderline in China and Australia as it may not be an official policy; Microsoft fights for software patents in India, Mexico, and other places including Europe of course. So far, it only exploits loopholes as it files patents but does not have them tested in court.

Other news coverage on the subject includes:

1. Select Committee Reports On New Patents Bill In New Zealand

2. New Zealand Legislators Say Software should be Inpatentable

New Zealand legislators have proposed a bill which would make it impossible to patent software. The bill, which is going through the process for patent reform, clearly indicates that software should not be patentable.

If this bill becomes a law, then it will create friction with US ACTA negotiators, who about to make software patents standard internationally.

3. New Zealand patent reform bill says no to software patents

New Zealand’s parliament is preparing to vote on a major patent reform bill that will tighten the country’s standards of patentability. One of the most significant changes in the proposed bill is a specific patentability exclusion for software. If the bill receives parliamentary approval in its current form, it will broadly eliminate conventional software patents in New Zealand.

The bill was drafted by the Select Commerce Committee, which decided to include the exclusion after reviewing feedback from the software industry. The bill’s official summary acknowledges that software patents are detrimental to the open source software development model and have the potential to seriously stifle innovation.

TechDirt has just posted another explanation of what software patents are about.

It’s always fun talking to big time patent system supporters, because it’s easy to predict their arguments. After you point out all of the evidence that has shown absolutely no proof that patents increase innovation, the supporters always shift from “patents are necessary for innovation” to “patents are really about disclosure.” The argument here is that part of the “bargain” for getting a government granted monopoly over your invention is that you have to describe the invention, so that those who are skilled in the art can replicate it from your description. Of course, as patent attorneys and software engineers admit, that’s a myth. Patents are written these days to be incredibly broad, and really only understandable to other patent attorneys, rather than other engineers.

Masnick, the author, correctly points out the lack of “proof that patents increase innovation”; should Neelie Kroes be paying attention to non-lobbyists or the monopolists that fund them?

Links 1/4/2010: MeeGo and GNOME 2.30 Are Out

Posted in News Roundup at 5:33 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Desktop

    • Linux and Small Business: The Ongoing Disconnect

      Still, Linux has found multiple back doors into the small business market — without necessarily attracting much attention from small business owners.

      Small business network appliances — everything from routers to switches to security hardware — often have Linux at the core. Plus, a range of managed services and SaaS applications run atop Linux. (One prime example: N-able’s N-central software for MSPs was written on Linux.) And Google Android will surely give Linux a lift in the mobile small business market.

  • ‘Crapware’

    • Linux and Crapware
    • Linux, Where Crapware Goes to Die

      Sure, there are dumb programs that can be installed in Linux. Generally, they are pretty straightforward to uninstall though. Sure, you could mess up your Linux system if you tried hard enough, but in general programs are fairly easy to sanitize or destroy. Certainly there are complexities at play with things like gconf, but they’re nothing compared to the Windows’ system registry.

    • The Taxes of the Tech World – Linux, Microsoft, and More!

      If your set two machines side by side at Dell, you’ll notice in some cases that both machines, although equal in hardware specs and feature, are different in price, with the Linux machine actually being more expensive than the equivalent Windows machine. So what gives? Why does a machine with Windows cost less than one with Linux on it? One simple word: Malware.

  • Server

    • Solaris

      I could rush out to try OpenSolaris now, while it still lives, but I think GNU/Linux does what I need very well.

    • Linux-ready Linksys 802.11n router rev’d

      Cisco announced an updated line of Linksys wireless 802/11/b/g/n routers for the home market, including a Linux model.

  • Kernel Space

    • The kernel column #85

      Another month, another kernel release. Last month saw what is hopefully the final RC (release candidate) 2.6.33 kernel, and so it should have been released by the time you read this. The latest kernel includes lots of shiny new features that have been developed over the past three months since 2.6.32, including some nice virtualisation speed-ups (detecting when virtual machine guest’s VCPUs are within spinlocks and automatically yielding), driver updates and the removal of the legacy ‘anticipatory’ IO scheduler (long since replaced in function by the CFQ or ‘Completely Fair Queuing’ one).

    • MeeGo

      • Creator of Linpus Lite Joins Linux Foundation

        The Linux Foundation, the nonprofit organization dedicated to accelerating the growth of Linux, today announced that Linpus Technologies is its newest member.

        Linpus is a popular Linux distribution for the consumer PC market with a long history of shipping on notebooks and netbooks for many of the world’s largest OEMs. It is becoming a member of The Linux Foundation to play an ongoing role in the MeeGo project and other community initiatives that advance Linux’s competitive position for a new generation of computing devices.

      • The first MeeGo release

        Today is the culmination of a huge effort by the worldwide Nokia and Intel teams to share the MeeGo operating system code with the open source community. This is the latest step in the full merger of Maemo and Moblin, and we are happy to open the repositories and move the ongoing development work into the open – as we set out to do from the beginning.

      • MeeGo code released for netbooks, the N900, and Aava phone

        The MeeGo community has “opened the repositories” on early code for the open source mobile Linux operating system, which combines the Intel-backed Moblin and Nokia’s Maemo platforms. Images are now publicly available for the MeeGo distribution infrastructure and OS base “from the Linux kernel to the OS infrastructure up to the middleware layer,” says the community.

      • MeeGo gets going: source code and developer builds available

        In a statement today at the official MeeGo community Web site, Intel Open Source Technology Center director Imad Sousou announced that the MeeGo source code and first installable images are available for download. The platform itself is still incomplete and under heavy active development. The purpose of this release is to make it possible for third-party developers to begin participating in the project.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments

    • KDE picks Kim Kardashian to promote next release

      The KDE Desktop Project has hit upon the idea of having the American socialite Kim Kardashian promote its next release.

      April 1st is a very difficult day for me. Both my parents tested positive for the gullible gene. The Internet makes it…

      KDE is one of the two major desktops for Linux and most of its applications have names beginning with “K”. Kardashian manages to keep her name in the headlines all the time, most recently by releasing a sex tape which led to the calling off of her marriage to American sports personality, Reggie Bush.

    • GNOME Project Updates Free Desktop with 2.30 Release

      The GNOME Project is proud to announce GNOME 2.30, the latest stable release of the popular Free Software desktop environment and applications suite. GNOME 2.30 builds on previous GNOME releases and brings hundreds of improvements for users and developers, including enhancements for user management, Web browsing, support for Facebook chat, and new productivity features.

      GNOME contributors have added improvements across the board for GNOME 2.30 in accessibility, productivity applications, Web browsing, instant messaging, and games. This release includes hundreds of new features, enhancements, and improvements over the GNOME 2.28 release from September 2009.

  • Distributions

    • April 2010 Issue of The NEW PCLinuxOS Magazine Released

      The NEW PCLinuxOS Magazine staff is pleased to announce the release of the April 2010 issue of the PCLinuxOS Magazine.

    • Happy Birthday, Gentoo!
    • PureOS 2.0 Screenshots

      Built with Linux-Live scripts 6.2.9, the Debian-based PureOS 2.0 Linux distro has been recently released. This distro and live CD features the KDE 4.3.4 desktop environment, Linux kernel 2.6.33 w/ with Squashfs 3.4 and LZMA, Iceweasel 3.5.8, Icedove 2.0.0.22 with Lightning 0.9, OpenOffice 3.2.0 and many other new applications. The PureOS 2.0 release announcement shows a Full List of included packages.

    • Red Hat Family

      • Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5.5 Released; RHEL 6 Coming Soon

        Red Hat is updating its flagship Linux server, Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL), to version 5.5 providing performance and feature improvements.

        The new Red Hat (NYSE:RHT) release takes advantage of the latest Intel and AMD processors as well as advancements in virtualization and Windows interoperability. The release of RHEL 5.5 comes as Red Hat is about to begin to ramp up its next generation Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6 platform.

    • Ubuntu

      • Ubuntu Unravelled

        There is also an Ubuntu Foundation that has dedicated funds of $10 million that could keep Ubuntu going if Canonical stopped backing it. I’ve previously been critical of Canonical keeping the grasp on the trademark, and not giving the dormant Foundation greater control. With the funds Canonical has put into Ubuntu I suppose it is reasonable for it to have a pseudo-guaranteed position. Mark Shuttleworth has been a member of the ‘Community Council’ since inception and was willing to stand for election as if he was any other person of the community. This is quite telling of Canonical not enforcing a control that it legally could. At the last developer summit Mark announced that he would be passing the helm to Jane Silber allowing Mark to take a more ‘hands on’ role.

      • OMG! Replacement coloured indicator message alert icons for Lucid

        The above icons come in all main Tango! colours as well as one awesome Ubuntu Aubergine coloured one for the brand-obsessed contingent, too. (Which, I must say, looks mighty awesome when using the Radiance theme)

      • Ubuntu 10.04 Beta One Released – My First Impressions

        I’ve read about all of the changes online (which are below), and from what I’ve read, it’s faster, more reliable, cleaner bootup screen (which is very simplified), and a brand new theme. It always seems to be that Ubuntu always has a different theme when they release a new version!

      • Variants

        • Linux Mint 8 “Helena” Xfce released!

          Quick steps:

          * Download the ISO or the torrent.
          * While it’s downloading look at the overview of the new features in Linux Mint 8 Xfce, read the User Guide and make sure to quickly go through the known issues.
          * After the ISO is downloaded verify the MD5 (as described in the user guide).
          * Burn the ISO at low speed and enjoy Linux Mint 8 Xfce.

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Intel’s Moorestown Could Be Game Changer for the Chip Maker

      As for Microsoft, Moorestown’s funky power management approach and non-standard PCI implementation could give Linux a healthy headstart in mobile x86 devices. But that’s a topic for another day.

    • Why have an Iphone if you can have a Bphone? Linux, rotating screen, Cool

      available from chinagrabber.com this is the Bphone, a hybrid netbook/cellphone which features a rotating touch screen and a keyboard…

    • Android

      • Android on HTC Kaiser (Tilt 8925)

        My current Android build of choice for my Kaiser, and the second one I would like to recommend here, is Myn’s Warm Donut. Under this build I have a fully functional Android system on my Kaiser. Warm Donut is a variation of Andriod 1.6 for your device, this version is quite snappy/responsive. Which of the two builds you would like to use is up to you – personally I recommend trying them both and seeing which one you enjoy more/suits your needs.

      • Google mum on Android split-up rumor

        Google declined to comment on Engadget’s claim that Google will decouple Android components from core code releases, offering them over Android Market, says eWEEK. In other Android news on eWEEK, the Motorola Droid started receiving Android 2.1 updates, and Google denied that it’s sharing ad revenues from Android apps.

Free Software/Open Source

  • What’s in a name? Still open source

    A few of years ago, we saw a spate of open source name changes, including Likewise and SpringSource. The reasoning then seems to remain the case today: the positive association of open source with cost savings and the positive connotations of an open source project in the enterprise outweigh any disconnect or disassociation with the project. This seems true even though differentiation from open source projects was a key challenge among vendors we polled recently for our report on sales and marketing for open source software.

  • CSH Seminar Series: Karlie Robinson

    Karlie Robinson, a Rochester local and open source entrepreneur, gave a short talk at RIT about open source and business as a part of the Computer Science House (CSH) Seminar Series. This year, CSH has hosted speakers such as Kevin Purdy, contributing editor of Lifehacker, and Charles Profitt, of the Rochester Linux User Group (LUGOR), which meets regularly at Rochester Institute of Technology in the Golisano College of Computing and Information Sciences.

  • How and why contributing to FOSS can benefit your organization

    At first glance, the ecosystem in the Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) world can seem a bit complicated. There are several ways to get software: project websites where you can download it directly, use a software management tool that your Linux distribution provides, or you may also be able to install a Linux distribution that includes everything you need right out of the box! Once you understand this ecosystem, you can find where your contributions would be most useful, and why contributing is beneficial to your organization and the FOSS community.

  • Fusion

    • New Application Could Make All Software ‘open Source’

      Imagine controlling Apple iTunes from inside Microsoft Word without having to switch applications. That could be possible, according to researchers at the University of Washington who are working on a project that could essentially make any proprietary software open source.

    • Prefab system ‘makes all software open source’

      A University of Washington team has developed a system it says makes all software effectively open source, allowing users to add custom features to any program.

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

    • Is Prefab legal?
    • GNU/Linux and freedom: non-free software hidden in your GNU/Linux distribution

      Most people with an interest in software freedom will turn to GNU/Linux as their operating system of choice. Few realize however, that the vast majority of GNU/Linux distros are not entirely free. Imagine migrating away from Windows, only to find that by installing GNU/Linux you are accepting a restrictive Microsoft license!

      Many distros promote the use of proprietary software, knowingly show incorrect licenses, and attempt to hide the problem under the guise of an ‘option of freedom’. When the majority of developers of a collection of software don’t care about freedom, neither will their users. Non-free distros make almost no attempts to inform their userbases of the importance of freedom, even though they wouldn’t exist without it. I will discuss how the option of freedom is an unacceptable solution, and propose some real fixes.

      The problem

      I’ve been using GNU/Linux for over 5 years, but I’ve only recently discovered just how much non-free software my distro contains. I decided to search through my system and remove everything that was non-free, and there was quite a lot that I removed.

  • Education

    • The Journal: State Leaders Weigh In on Open Source Assessment

      As an advocate for open source the additional observations left me feeling good because I can assist with many of them. I currently present at educational technology conferences about FOSS and how it provides greater value to education than merely lowering costs.

    • A K12 Educator’s Guide to Open Source Software

      Since this needed to be a single double-sided sheet of information, it’s been edited quite judiciously! A lot of great stuff has been left out here, but I think this is a sampling of the best-of-the-best of the resources out there. So if you’re a K12 educator looking for more information on open source but overwhelmed by the amount of info out there, I’m hoping this will be a good shortlist for you to start from!

  • Mozilla

    • Mozilla’s Q1 2010 Analyst Report – State of the Internet

      Today we released the first ever Mozilla Quarterly Analyst Report, focusing on the State of the Internet. This is the start of something new… in addition to metrics related discussions on this blog and across the broader community, we wanted to create a somewhat standardized, ongoing report capturing the state of the internet as seen through Mozilla’s eyes. You should expect to see this report released at the end of each calendar quarter.

    • Firefox 3.5.9 and 3.0.19 security updates now available

      As part of Mozilla’s ongoing security and stability update process, Firefox 3.5.9 and Firefox 3.0.19 are now available for Windows, Mac, and Linux for free download. As always, we recommend that users keep up to date with the latest stability and support versions of Firefox, and encourage all our users to upgrade to the very latest version, Firefox 3.6.2.

    • Mozilla Updates Firefox for Security, Ends 3.0.x Branch
    • Firefox coders propose fast-graphics deadline

      And now the Mozilla graphics team have issued themselves a goal, according to a mailing list message: ship a developer preview version of Firefox with Direct2D support that will work on at least some machines by the end of the second quarter.

    • Firefox developers block old CSS leak

      The issue is caused by the fact that traditionally web browsers have displayed visited and unvisited links differently. A web application can use this information to find out what pages a user has visited. The W3C has responded to this problem by modifying the CSS 2.1 specification to allow browsers to represent all links as unvisited, or to take other measures to ensure the privacy of the user.

    • Mozilla spits out last version of Firefox 3.0

      On Tuesday, the open sourcers pushed out Firefox 3.0.19, which includes several security and stability updates, and in a brief blog post, Mozilla’s Christian Legnitto confirmed that this would be version 3′s final incarnation. It patches six vulnerabilities, five listed as critical.

  • SaaS

    • JumpBox: Delivering “Open Source as a Service”

      JumpBox, providers of IT infrastructure solutions, announced a major upgrade to their offering, including the unveiling of their new product, which delivers open source server applications as a service. Here’s what resellers should know.

      “Open Source as a service,” as JumpBox calls it, is exactly what it says on the tin. The company now allows 55 of their namesake “JumpBoxes,” each one a virtual machine containing an open-source server application like Ruby on Rails or MySQL, to be deployed in on-premise, cloud, and hosted environments. The packages can be downloaded directly from JumpBox with a paid subscription.

  • Funding

    • Enterprise Open Source is Booming

      VC’s pouring more money in, record setting financials and analyst acclaim validate that open source is finding an eager market in the enterprise

      [...]

      First MuleSoft, makers of open source middle ware announced that they have just raised another 12 million dollars in a level C round. In the present money raising market, this is no small feat. MuleSoft has raised nearly 30 million dollars now from some very blue chip Silicon Valley investors. They claim 5 out of the top 10 banks in the world as their customers, 2,500 deployments and over 1.5 million downloads.

  • BSD

    • FreeBSD 7.3-release: I’m not done yet

      I’ve heard on BSD Talk, which I recommend highly, that some kind of journaling is coming to the FFS/UFS in FreeBSD. I don’t know what the real-geek opinion of journaling in BSD is, but it seems to me like a good idea.

      So I’ll have a whole lot of user files (with my 3 GB+ of Thunderbird mail on an 8 GB ext3-formatted USB stick) on this FreeBSD installation, and I could very well see myself in this environment at least until Debian Squeeze’s release as a Stable distribution is imminent.

  • Releases

  • Openness

    • Law.Gov — opening up primary legal materials

      The primary legal materials of the United States — laws, hearings, opinions, dockets, regulations, and other writings issued by the government that govern our daily lives — are not readily available. A national conversation is taking place in 2010 at many of the top law schools in the country to help define what it would take for our government to embrace the ideas behind Law.Gov that all primary legal materials should be readily available in authenticated registries and repositories. These workshops have strong participation from the legal academy, including law librarians, professors, and deans. But, they also involve senior officials from the federal and state government as well as a strong representation from non-profits and for-profits involved in presenting legal information to the public and to the legal profession.

  • Standards/Consortia

    • The importance of Document Freedom Day explained by Microsoft job offer

      On January 4th, 2010, Microsoft published on his website a job offer for a Linux and Open Office Compete Lead. Since then the offer has been removed, but a PDF version of that page is still available here and in other places online. Reading that offer is very interesting because it proves, in case you weren’t convinced yet, what really constitutes the reason of Microsoft’s huge market “share”.

      Among other things, the job offer says that (bold fonts are mine) “the job consists of focusing on one of the biggest issues that is top of mind for… Steve Ballmer… The core mission of CSI is to win share against Linux and OpenOffice.org”. Responsibilities include (last bullet on page 1) “to see where Linux Server and OpenOffice challenges arise.”

      Here is, in normal language, what Microsoft actually said with that job offer:

      1. Operating systems which are alternative to Windows, like Linux, are a “big issue” only in the server market (the servers are the computers powering websites, databases and other centralized services: the computers on people’s desks, and by extension the software they run, are called “desktops” instead)
      2. In the desktop market the real “big issue” for Microsoft are not alternatives to Windows, like Linux, but alternatives to Microsoft Office, like OpenOffice

    • Document Freedom Day Interview with Chris Moore, CIO, City of Edmonton

      ODFA: Edmonton is obviously in good company among leading Canadian cities embracing open standards and interoperability, along with efforts underway in Vancouver and Toronto. Have you been working collaboratively with those cities to share insights, and do you think the Canadian Federal Government will follow the lead? What are they doing in this area, and should they be following your lead? Do you think it’s harder for a Federal Government to transition than municipal or local governments?

    • OpenOffice market share worksheet

      Drew Jensen, a stalwart OpenOffice.org community contributor, pointed us to this worksheet describing office suite market share. It should probably be posted, too, to Major OpenOffice.org Deployments – OpenOffice.org Wiki and also to our Market Share wiki, http://wiki.services.openoffice.org/wiki/Market_Share_Analysis

    • Why I support Document Freedom Day

      In this sense, I am reminded how Tommy Douglas, the founder of universal medical coverage in Canada, explained why he stood by his social democratic beliefs when most of them had no chance of being widely accepted:

      You say the little efforts that I make will do no good; they never will prevail to tip the hovering scale where justice hangs in balance. I don’t think I ever thought they would, but I am prejudiced beyond debate in favor of my right to choose which side shall feel the stubborn ounces of my weight.

      In other words, sometimes you need to stand up for what you know is right, regardless of consequences, simply out of self-respect. Campaigns like Document Freedom Day give the opportunity for such self-reaffirmation, and I would support them for that reason alone, even if more practical reasons did not exist as well.

    • Flash clash

      Adobe’s Flash is still the dominant rich media platform on the Internet, but HTML5 is coming.

      Love it or hate it Adobe’s Flash technology is a key part of the Internet as it currently exists. It hasn’t always been so and it may not remain so for much longer if the likes of Google, Apple and Microsoft have anything to do with it.

Leftovers

  • Security

    • FBI, DOJ Falling Short on Identity Theft: Report

      An audit by the Justice Department’s Office of the Inspector General reveals that while the FBI and Justice Department have made “various efforts” to fight identity theft crimes in recent years, these initiatives have “faded as priorities” mainly because the agencies have failed to develop a coordinated plan to deal with what’s become an epidemic of cybercrimes.

    • Why do our paranoid, anti-fun police seem to think they run the country?

      This Thursday a year will have passed since Ian Tomlinson died after a police assault at the G20 protests. No charges have been brought against the police; no one has been punished. Despite 300 official complaints about the policing of the protests on 1 April, and plenty of video and photographic evidence, no officer has faced serious disciplinary proceedings. Those who removed their identification numbers, beat up peaceful protesters and bystanders and then repeatedly lied about what had happened remain untroubled, either by the law or their superior officers. There has been no apology to Tomlinson’s family.

  • Environment

    • Climate researchers ‘secrecy’ criticised – but MPs say science remains intact

      MPs today strongly criticised the University of East Anglia for not tackling a “culture of withholding information” among the climate change scientists whose private emails caused a furore after being leaked online in November.

      The parliamentary science and technology select committee was scathing about the “standard practice” among the climate science community of not routinely releasing all its raw data and computer codes – something the committee’s chair, Phil Willis MP, described as “reprehensible”. He added: “That practice needs to change and it needs to change quickly.”

    • Chagos Islanders attack plan to turn archipelago into protected area

      This week the British government, backed by nine of the world’s largest environment and science bodies, including the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, the Royal Society, the RSPB and Greenpeace, is expected to signal that the 210,000 sq km area around the Chagos Islands in the Indian Ocean will become the world’s largest marine reserve. If it does, all fishing, collection of corals and hunting for turtles and other wildlife will be banned across an area twice the size of the British isles.

  • Finance

    • Fed Releases Details on Bear Stearns, AIG Portfolios

      The Federal Reserve for the first time released details of individual securities acquired in the rescue of Bear Stearns Cos., part of the information that Bloomberg News sued the central bank for in 2008.

      The Fed, through its New York regional bank, also identified securities acquired in the 2008 bailout of American International Group Inc. The central bank had agreed to take on the Bear Stearns assets, including mortgage-backed securities and commercial real estate loans, to ease the investment bank’s sale to JPMorgan Chase & Co.

    • Attention Bloomberg Readers, No, There Was Not One Trader Who Lost AIG $35 Billion

      He did lose them $616 million though. Here’s how he did it.

      1. Lucido’s team bought a bunch of CDOs. For example, a $7 million of a mostly subprime bond.
      2. They put the CDOs in a $1.5 billion fund managed by TCW (like these guys Lewis shows us were total idiots in his new book) called Davis Square Funding.
      3. A few months later, TCW asked them to buy more and Lucido bought $3 million more.

      [...]

    • California Debt Beats Greece’s in Bond Sales: Credit Markets

      Debt issued by California, the world’s eighth-largest economy, is outperforming Greece’s bonds as funds including Cumberland Advisors say investors are betting the lowest-rated U.S. state’s credit risk has been exaggerated. The cost to protect against California not paying its obligations is the lowest relative to Greece in at least 15 months, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

    • Goldman Sachs Isn’t as Good as You Think

      But Goldman seems to be proving that it will continue pushing forward in the aftermath of the financial crisis and amid a media backlash against the company. After a dismal fiscal 2008 and a systematic burying of its December 2008 results, $13.4 billion in 2009 profits makes it look like the Golden One is back to printing money from the cozy confines of its New York office.

    • Regulator seeks to rein in energy market trading by big Wall Street firms

      By reversing course, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, under its activist chairman, Gary Gensler, is trying to prevent the concentration of power in the hands of a few large businesses. For example, a single firm, the United States Oil Fund, was able to gain the rights to nearly one-fourth of all the publicly traded crude oil scheduled for delivery during one month last spring, the fund’s head said in an interview.

  • Censorship/Privacy/Civil Rights

  • Intellectual Monopolies/Copyrights

    • Usenet – The new(old) target? – Newzbin fails to convince court?

      Usenet is now looking to be the new target for those seeking civil recourse for their material being shared without authorisation.

      [...]

      So we repeat the cycle (yet again) of sucess, failure, sucess, failure (in respect of filesharing cases) and whilst both sides take their delight in their respective victories, the filesharing issue continues and damages the industry. Mark my words as we see more aggressive attacks on filesharing, we will merely see a change of technology, I don’t think the industry can keep up with the innovation nor can law have the remit to cover all facets of modern tech.

    • What’s inside your home is yours, except computer files

      I’ve written two controversial pieces concerning intellectual property. One with the view that if it should come to pass that the MPAA / RIAA / xyz advocating new enforcement law to monitor users of the Internet and are found to have illegal copyright material, then who should regulate it, in which I proposed that the FCC is one possible solution.

      I wrote immediately thereafter that intellectual property associations are going way overboard and border on the absurd? Just because file sharing is going over the internet, should these associations have the right to find you guilty, have multiple different mediums content distribution, many of which are free to the public while being able to sue you for infringement? They need to change their business models.

      This week, 50,000 new lawsuits have been filed against downloaders. It’s only going to get worse.

    • Stop The Digital Economy Bill

Clip of the Day

SourceCode Season 1: Episode 3 (2004)


Patents Roundup: “Lawyer’s Trick” in Gene Patenting, Elan Microelectronics and HTC Connected, Neelie Kroes Confused About Role of Patents

Posted in Apple, Europe, GNU/Linux, Google, Microsoft, Patents at 9:18 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

DNA stairs

Summary: How companies want to privatise human DNA, an HTC supplier wants to block iPad, and Commissioner Kroes passes on clichés about patents and entrepreneurship (after heavy lobbying from Microsoft)

Yesterday’s news about gene patents led the president of the FFII to saying that “Genes and software patents are granted thanks to the “lawyer’s trick” (or a computer program as such)” [1, 2, 3, 4]. The New Scientist asks, “Is this the end of gene patenting?”

Elan Microelectronics’ embargo attempt against Apple was also mentioned yesterday (contained in the same post) and here is what TechDirt had to say:

Given all of this, it was really only a matter of time until the patent litigation began flying over the iPad. Slashdot points us to the news that Elan Microelectronics is seeking to ban the import of iPads into the US via the ever-popular ITC loophole.

Our reader Oiaohm says that it took him “a bit of digging” but he found that “Elan Microelectronics is a direct supplier to HTC. Now this is good. Apple attack HTC so now HTC suppliers lining up to eat them for lunch.” Apple tried to embargo HTC phones consisting of Android (Linux) and now the iPad [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9] is at risk.

A week ago we wrote about Amazon's pushing of software patents into Europe and now we find another bizarre patent that “could make returns harder” according to CNET.

A new patent awarded to Web retailer Amazon.com could change what customers see in their shipping confirmation e-mails, as well as making falsely problematic returns more difficult.

Amazon does not respect competition or Free software and along with Microsoft it hurts GNU/Linux [1, 2, 3, 4].

This brings us to Neelie Kroes. We previously complained about her bad attitude towards software patents [1, 2, 3]. Last week David Hammerstein revealed what Microsoft had been doing to her [1, 2]. She is being bamboozled and lobbied heavily and it may have led her to making the following statement three weeks ago:

To give you one example of the barriers to smart growth: protecting a patent is 13 times more expensive in the EU than in the US. How does that help you as entrepreneurs? It does not!

There’s a fallacy here. Patents do not spur growth; this myth has been debunked many times by several independent studies. TechDirt currently has this new explanation which it titled “The Patent System Does Not Scale”; in short, patents become a burden at some stage. They only hinder and distract, rewarding lawyers and monopolists, not scientists.

Eye on Security: Windows Malware, Emergency Patches, and BeyondTrust’s CEO from Microsoft

Posted in Antitrust, GNU/Linux, IBM, Microsoft, Security, Vista 7, Windows at 8:54 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Security holes — some of which highly critical — continue to be found in Microsoft software; Justification of skepticism when it comes to new ‘research’ from former Microsoft staff, based on Microsoft-supplied data

OVER the past few days we have gathered more evidence to show that security problems only affect/target Windows and that those who flatter Windows for security are often tied to Microsoft (Window Snyder is just one example).

Windows-only Threats

Download Squad has this new post which compares Norton’s Security Scan to malware (it sure takes up a lot of resources). Those who think it’s bizarre should check out this minor piece of FUD and the rebuttal from The Source.

Right, so the Murphy’s Law headline is “Stop Supporting Open-Source Bloat“, where the author goes on to decry shady tactics of several programs, like:

* Revo Uninstaller
* Digsby
* ImgBurn

…NONE OF WHICH ARE OPEN SOURCE

Ignorance or deliberate deception? Either way, it looks bad for Maximum PC. Windows problems are now being described as “Open-Source” for no apparent reason.

TechDirt shows how copyright scare is being used to install malware/back-doors on people’s Windows machines. This relies on the infamous click-to-execute mentality that’s so prevalent in the Windows world. Actually, Microsoft software also tends to execute arbitrary code when one just visits a Web page (Active X is notorious for this reason).

Microsoft Emergency

The security flaws are so serious that Microsoft has just released an “emergency” patch for no less than 10 holes in Internet Explorer (which Microsoft neglected to patch for many months, leading to otherwise-preventable chaos [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12]).

From The Inquirer:

SOFTWARE INSECURITY SISYPHUS Microsoft has released an out-of-cycle patch for users lazy or ignorant enough to still be using an old version of Internet Explorer.

It’s generally rare that threats are deemed serious enough for Microsoft to not wait until its next Patch Tuesday, which would be April 13th now, but a vulnerability hit Internet Explorer 6 and 7 that left them open to potential remote code execution.

More at CNET:

Microsoft issued an emergency security update on Tuesday to plug 10 holes in Internet Explorer, including a critical vulnerability that has been exploited in attacks in the wild.

The cumulative update, which Microsoft announced on Monday, resolves nine privately reported flaws and one that was publicly disclosed. The most severe vulnerabilities could lead to remote code execution and a complete takeover of the computer if a user were to view a malicious Web site using IE, Microsoft said in the bulletin summary.

Internet Explorer 8 is also affected.

BeyondTrust is Hard to Trust

BeyondTrust logo

Judging by previous incidents, past Microsoft employees who become 'researchers' typically produce output that's biased in Microsoft's favour. That’s why we decided to take a careful look at BeyondTrust. Their web site is all Microsoft stack-based (showing the lower probability that they understand security) and their CEO “spent seven years at Microsoft Corporation in a variety of executive sales and marketing positions,” according to the company’s own pages. “Sales and marketing,” eh? Now, we have already covered security problems Vista 7 suffers from, in a wide range of posts including:

“Statistics must not depend on Microsoft’s own data and presented in a favourable way by design.”This brings us back to BeyondTrust (wow, what a name!). Their latest promotion of Windows for security is quoted a lot by Microsoft boosters like Emil this week. They are measuring the wrong thing by wrongly assuming that Microsoft tells the truth about its patches. Microsoft is patching its software secretly a lot of the time. We saw that many times before and thus we urge people to be skeptical. Statistics must not depend on Microsoft’s own data and presented in a favourable way by design. Remember that there are “lies, damned lies, and statistics,” according to Benjamin Disraeli and others. There may also be reason for bias here.

Speaking of potential connections to Microsoft, an anonymous reader told us to “beware that TurboHercules might be financed by Microsoft”. This reader has not produced evidence to show what led to such suspicions (it may give away the identity), but as we recently showed, TurboHercules did join a Microsoft front. It aligned itself with Microsoft and companies/campaigns that are partly owned by Microsoft.

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