Summary: An analysis combining Ubuntu’s relationship with Microsoft proxies such as Yahoo! search and Mono; more on how TurboHercules may be connected to Microsoft and why IBM’s response was tactless
SEVERAL days ago we argued that Canonical was making a serious mistake by sending Ubuntu users to Microsoft’s datacentres [1, 2]. The good news is that Canonical has just changed its mind, but people keep wondering why.
However, for the final release, we will use Google as the default provider. I have asked the Ubuntu Desktop team to change the default back to Google as soon as reasonably possible, but certainly by final freeze on April 15th.
It was not our intention to “flap” between providers, but the underlying circumstances can change unpredictably. In this case, choosing Google will be familiar to everybody upgrading from 9.10 to 10.04 and the change will only be visible to those who have been part of the development cycle for 10.04.
Several people reckon that Canonical did this because of backlash relating to Microsoft, not habits (why else would habits be ignored when realigning/repositioning buttons, for example?). Others say that Google perhaps offered some money or Mark Shuttleworth had a change of heart (or intervention after someone had made this decision which he did not endorse). Either way, we might never find out the whole story and who was behind the decision, unless someone uploads some videos or internal discussions that reveal the anatomy of these decisions (both the old decision and the new one, which retracts and reverses the former).
Canonical’s important decision has received a fair deal of coverage [1, 2, 3], mostly very encouraging. Ubuntu users are happy with this sudden reversal. The Source writes:
In any case, having Google as the default search engine is the best option, so I welcome the change. Whatever the convoluted dance-stepping offered to un-justify and then re-justify it.
Here is a new response to the removal of the GIMP:
The one other thing I did notice right off the bat was that the GIMP was gone. Why Canonical decided to leave out a very, if not the most important piece of software raises some questions. Canonical needs to spend less time on Google’s Chrome OS and more time on their own OS.
Some users remain dissatisfied with the decision to remove the GIMP [1, 2, 3]. In the news we have this for example:
The next major update of Ubuntu code named Ubuntu Lucid Lynx is scheduled to arrive in April 2010. This is going to be an LTS edition, which means updates will be available for three years in desktop and five years in Servers. Even though Ubuntu 10.04 is going to be an LTS release, a complete overhaul is on the cards. Lets take a peek at what’s coming in Ubuntu 10.04 Lucid Lynx.
In another rather controversial move, Ubuntu is going to ditch GIMP. In Canonical’s observation, most of the users don’t ever use the advanced functionalities of GIMP and all their basic image manipulation needs are met with other applications. Again, you can always install GIMP with a few clicks using Ubuntu Software Centre, and so IMO, this is not going to be a big deal for most of us.
Then there is Ubuntu’s Mono problem that Jeremy Allison warned about [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7]. There is a new Ubuntu-based distribution without Mono. It addresses general distrust that Canonical turns its back to. More from the news:
[Canonical's] Carr wasn’t hinting, however, about Ubuntu not including Mono, Novell’s Microsoft .NET-compatible set of software tools, applications by default. While some open-source fans really dislike Mono, thanks in no small part to Novell’s Microsoft partnership and Mono’s reliance on .NET, if anything, Ubuntu seems to be incorporating more of Mono in its default distribution.
We remain a little concerned because Canonical’s new COO, Matt Asay, is still defending hypePad (iPad) in another new blog post. As we pointed out yesterday, it’s a disservice to his Ubuntu business. As TechDirt puts it:
As it’s become clear that the iPad is more of a “content delivery vehicle” than an interactive device (and there’s nothing wrong with that), people are quickly discovering how regional licensing issues and copyright may hold the device back in some areas.
We have shared many other explanations of why hypePad is bad [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10], so we won’t be repeating the old arguments. Either way, Asay refers to source code in his blog, but he does not want to talk about Freedom (with a capital F) and what hypePad does to one’s freedom. It’s rather tragic because Ubuntu’s added value ought to be more than just source code which is shared/co-developed with other companies. Ubuntu’s leadership should be thinking about other marketing factors or at least not be represented by the views of Asay. It’s distracting from GNU/Linux. Hostility or apathy towards Free software could put off Ubuntu users, at least a good majority of them.
“Hostility or apathy towards Free software could put off Ubuntu users, at least a good majority of them.”The hypePad is very revolutionary; it introduces the renting of a tablet and merely the renting of some text for it (and paying for the privilege to rent what once could be owned). No wonder Big Media companies give it so much coverage. They love the idea. Xbox is similar to that, but it’s a console.
Fortunately to some people who decided to pay hundreds of dollars to rent an hypePad, there is a way out of Apple’s prison. Within less than a day hypePad got jailbroken.
Apple’s iPad has already been jailbroken, using a variation of the iPhone method and demonstrating just how much the two devices have in common.
The hack was completed in less than 24 hours. In theory it enables the owner to install everything from Wi-Fi scanners to pornography – applications Apple disapproves of – though for the moment it just allows a remote terminal connection.
Another new complaint about Asay comes from The Source, which writes about his response to IBM:
Be careful now – if you want to excuse IBM by pointing out that they can chose to enforce patents outside of the 500 named (let’s assume they listed the 2 by mistake and will retract them), then you must in turn acknowledge that projects like Mono and Moonlight which range far far beyond the standardized core are in explict danger as well.
I do not think IBM is legally out-of-bounds here, no more than I think Microsoft would legally be out-of-bounds to shut down vast portions of Mono and Moonlight now or in the future. (Perhaps after Novell is bought out and agreements are no longer renewed?)
I’m just surprised Mr. Asay finds this an encouraging development for Open Source.
Ubuntu GNU/Linux currently claims 12 million users worldwide and with this privileged position comes responsibility to represent GNU/Linux properly. Ubuntu stands on the shoulders of giants (other people’s labour). According to some recent surveys that are geography dependent, about a third of GNU/Linux users — at least on standard desktops/laptops — use Ubuntu (source: Linux Journal, 2010). Fedora has many users too.
Since the subject of IBM was brought up, here is a quick roundup of what we wrote about TurboHercules so far:
- Microsoft Proxy Attack on GNU/Linux Continues With TurboHercules
- Eye on Security: Windows Malware, Emergency Patches, and BeyondTrust’s CEO from Microsoft
- IBM Uses Software Patents Aggressively
- IBM’s Day of Shame
- IBM Will Never be the Same After Taking Software Patents Out of Its Holster
Groklaw believes that it’s just another Psystar. We agree to the extent that this quite likely has Microsoft involvement (we wrote this a month ago). It was weeks ago that sources told this to us privately, after we had raised suspicions. Our criticism of IBM is not for threatening (Groklaw suggests suing) TurboHercules, but for using software patents, including some that were part of an “open-source pledge” [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6]. Florian Mueller, who we do not consider to be a friend of Free software (he lobbied against the GPL for example), is having a day trip with this one.
The free and open source software community in Europe is going after IBM for using its patents against an open source project by a French company called TurboHercules. “IBM is using patent warfare in order to protect its highly lucrative mainframe monopoly,” open source advocate Florian Mueller wrote on his blog Tuesday. “The Hercules project is anything but anti-IBM. Hercules just wants to provide customers with an interesting and much-needed choice.”
IBM screwed up very badly by attempting to use software patents and it is trying to undo the damage right now [1, 2]. All in all, IBM is not an enemy of GNU/Linux, but it is not a true friend, either (it’s a selfish interest). It needs to be scrutinised, but not shunned. Here is IBM’s spin:
IBM may be using a further clause from the original pledge which says that they reserve the right to terminate the pledge if any company “files a lawsuit asserting patents or other intellectual property rights against open source software”. TurboHercules filed an antitrust complaint with the European Commission last month, and IBM may be considering that as a move that qualifies for revocation of the pledge in this case.
As one person points out:
One thing is for sure, IBM is certainly a friend of the Patent Office.
Indeed. With IBM’s Kappos at the top of the USPTO, there’s almost ‘incest’ in there.
Jim Zemlin, who is working for IBM (indirectly), is not an impartial observer and he helps IBM spin the incident in the two Linux Foundation Web sites.
There’s been recent interest in IBM’s “500 patent” pledge made in 2005 and how it applies today. It’s always important to get the facts, and the words of the pledge itself are the facts we need.
“The pledge will benefit any Open Source Software. Open Source Software is any computer software program whose source code is published and available for inspection and use by anyone, and is made available under a license agreement that permits recipients to copy, modify and distribute the program’s source code without payment of fees or royalties. All licenses certified by opensource.org and listed on their website as of 01/11/2005 are Open Source Software licenses for the purpose of this pledge.
“IBM hereby commits not to assert any of the 500 U.S. patents listed below, as well as all counterparts of these patents issued in other countries, against the development, use or distribution of Open Source Software.”
IBM stands by this 2005 Non-Assertion Pledge today as strongly as it did then. IBM will not sue for the infringement of any of those 500 patents by any Open Source Software.
VP, Open Systems Development
IBM Linux Technology Center
Given that IBM funds the Linux Foundation (and is among the founding members of OSDL), this is not too shocking at all. Jim Zemlin has always been an IBM stickler. He really ought to at least criticise IBM’s use of software patents, but he can’t. As The H puts it, “Linux Foundation say ‘breathe easy’ on IBM patents”
This is rather funny. It’s like IBM saying, “be easy on IBM.”
In any event, IBM is currently celebrating the 10th anniversary of GNU/Linux for the mainframe. What a timing!
2010 marks the 10th anniversary of Linux for the mainframe. Here, Knowledge Center contributor Bill Claybrook delves into the 10-year history of Linux for the mainframe, discussing its first deployments, advantages and appropriate workloads, as well as its current market outlook, cost of ownership and available applications. He also offers advice on how you can determine if Linux for the mainframe is the right choice for your data center’s server virtualization project.
The year was 1999. It was the beginning of Linux for the mainframe. IBM and SUSE (which was later acquired by Novell in 2004) began working on a version of Linux for the mainframe. By 2000, the first enterprise-ready, fully supported version was available: SUSE Linux Enterprise Server for S/390. The first large, important customer was Telia, a Scandinavian telecommunications company. This year, 2010, is the 10th anniversary of Linux for the mainframe. The value propositions for Linux for the mainframe that were important in 2000 are still important today.
They ought to move to Red Hat.
In other important news, Slashdot has caught IBM patenting optimisation.
jamie(really) writes “IBM appears to want to patent optimizing programs by trial and error, which in the history of programming has, of course, never been done. Certainly, all my optimizations have been the result of good planning. Well done IBM for coming up with this clever idea. What is claimed is: ‘A method for developing a computer program product, the method comprising: evaluating one or more refactoring actions to determine a performance attribute; associating the performance attribute with a refactoring action used in computer code; and undoing the refactoring action of the computer code based on the performance attribute. The method of claim 1 wherein the undoing refactoring is performed when the performance attribute indicates a negative performance effect of the computer code.’”
IBM ought to stop patenting software. Better yet–IBM should use its connections in the USPTO to stop software patents as a whole. As long as IBM refuses to do this, the Big Blue may be a friend of “Linux”, but it is not a friend of Free software; one just cannot be a friend of Free software and software patents at the same time. █
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“Patent pending” pizza fraud from Domino’s (no kidding!)
Summary: The latest batch of evidence showing that the patent system is simply not working (with the exception of monopolies, conglomerates, and trolls)
• Apple Wins Patents for iChat, iDVD, Virtual Keyboard & Multi-Touch
• Stop Wasting Money On Patents
Patent law is currently broken. Especially software patent law. A pending Supreme Court case (Google Bilski for more info) may fix it or make further break it. In short, you can expect to pay more for, wait longer for, and get less from your patents than you would have 5 or 10 years ago.
• Patent Litigation Weekly: DataTreasury Wins First Patent Trial, Against U.S. Bank
• Infamous Check Scanning Patents, That Senators Tried To Bury, Wins First Lawsuit
A couple years ago, there was a really sleazy move by some Senators to try to exempt banks from lawsuits brought by a company called DataTreasury, who held a patent on a method for scanning checks. The only purpose for this legal change was so that banks could avoid having to deal with patent infringement threats and lawsuits for doing something as basic as automatically scanning their checks. What we couldn’t understand is why the Senators would single out two specific patents to be ignored, rather than trying to actually fix the patent system. Well, actually, it wasn’t hard to figure out: the Senators were trying to do the banks (the same ones they were about to bail out) a big favor — and doing real patent reform is difficult. Anyway, that story got some publicity and it forced the Senators to back down, so that specific “exemption” never made it through to being law.
• Launching Public Discussion of CC Patent Tools (Simon Phipps adds: “Creative Commons starts to address patents. This should be interesting, they have pointedly avoided patent issues until now.”)
We’re happy to announce that we’re launching the public comment and discussion period for our new patent tools: the Research Non-Assertion Pledge and the Public Patent License. We invite you to join the discussion at our public wiki. There you can read about these tools, catch up on hot topics of interest to the community, or join our public discussion list to contribute your thoughts and suggestions.
• An uncompromising look at the Domino’s Pizza Tracker
“The Tracker is a fraud,” claimed one pizza eater who requested anonymity. In a rambling online post, the man insisted that, despite the tracker’s insistence that his pizza had been successfully baked and cooked to perfection, Domino’s had left numerous messages on his voicemail explaining that his order could not be filled because the store had run out of dough.
• Can You Patent Pretending To Let Customers Know Their Online Ordered Pizza Is In The Oven?
Jeff Nolan points us to an amusing article trying to dig into some questions over whether or not Domino’s “patent pending” pizza tracker is real. Launched a little over two years ago, apparently, if you order a pizza from Domino’s online, it takes you to a website where it alerts you in real-time to the status of your pizza: is it in the oven, has it been put in a box, is it on its way, etc. Domino’s was quite proud of the fact it had filed a patent for the technology, but there have been some concerns about whether the technology is real, or if it’s just a pretty flash animation connected to nothing in reality.
• Pat Lit Weekly: FedEx Sends Scott Harris Patent Packing [via]
Over the years, Harris’s patents have been used to sue a wide range of companies, including Dell, FedEx, Motorola, and Google. The Harris patent that had progressed furthest towards trial, No. 6,666,377, is controlled by BarTex Research LLC, a patent-holding company that filed an infringement suit against FedEx in the Eastern District of Texas two weeks after it was formed there. In the company’s complaint, BarTex lawyers at the Chicago patent boutique Niro, Scavone, Haller & Niro claim that the existence of the ’377 patent, which covers bar code-scanning technology, means FedEx should make the holding company a royalty payment on every package it ships.
• Careful What You Wish For: Greater IP Enforcement In China Being Used Against Foreign Companies…
It turns out that was just the beginning. Joe Mullin points us to a story about how there have been a series of recent patent and trademark rulings in Chinese courts all of which appear to be going against large multinational companies and in favor of Chinese companies.
• The world and its dog get sued over encryption [via; It's clearly a patent troll]
The Pacid Group alleged that Asus, Samsung, Sony, Sony Ericsson, Fujitsu, LG, Gigabyte, GBT, MSI, Motorola, Research in Motion, Nikon, Microsoft, Nintendo, HTC and Palm breached US patent number 5,963,646 and another patent 6,049,612.
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Summary: Guest post from a person whose name we keep anonymous
I give my permission for anyone to freely post, publish or distribute this information in the hopes it may prevent others from being exploited by Apple Management in the future. The only thing that I ask is to please send me a link so I can see where you post or publish this to: email@example.com.
If you would like any further information or details, you may contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here is the case info:
Filed: August 4, 2009 0:2009cv61183 Updated: August 5, 2009 05:45:57
Defendant: Apple, Inc.
Presiding Judge: Judge William J. Zloch
Referring Judge: Magistrate Judge Robin S. Rosenbaum
Cause Of Action: Fair Labor Standards Act
Court: Florida > Southern District Court
Type: Labor > Plaintiff
Here is the story:
I expect many people are curious why I sued Apple (filed 8/4/2009). The short answer is that I and the rest of the Genius Team were exploited by the assistant manager, Steven Commander to make his “productivity” look better. When I made this known, I was summarily terminated after a case was “created” against me.
“I helped thousands of customers at the Genius Bar with an almost perfect NPS score of 100%. (NPS is a management tool used by Apple to gauge the loyalty of customer relationships).”I was employed as a MAC Genius at the Galleria Apple Store in Ft. Lauderdeale, Florida from 10/08 – 6/09. By anyone’s account I would be considered an ideal employee. I was never late or sick. I helped thousands of customers at the Genius Bar with an almost perfect NPS score of 100%. (NPS is a management tool used by Apple to gauge the loyalty of customer relationships). Additionally, being fluent in Spanish, I was able to assist the Spanish speaking customers. I always gave over 110% in all my interactions with customers and fellow employees.
When I was initially hired, we were short staffed and I expected that more Geniuses would soon be on board. I quickly learned that this understaffing had been going on for a number of months.
My typical schedule would be at the Genius Bar assisting customers from 12:30 p.m. to close to 9:30 p.m. with an hour for lunch. Immediately upon entering for work I would be told to go to the Genius Bar.
The store closed at 9:00 p.m. but we always had standbys for iPhone repairs and sometimes computers. I never refused service to anyone. I was almost always multitasking, working with 2 and sometimes 3 – 4 customers at once while still maintaining almost 100% customer satisfaction.
When a female customer would enter the store she immediately received “special” attention from Steven Commander. It did not matter that she had no Genius Bar appointment or stand-by position. These added customers further increased our workload.
If we were lucky at the Genius Bar, we would be finished will all the customers by 9:10 to 9:20. Then myself and another Genius had to clean and organize the Genius Bar, replenish printer papers, secure replacement inventory, organize, sort and file the daily paperwork, complete our final daily reports and email the results, clean and organize the Genius Room (as necessary).
We were also supposed to check our company email, stay current on the latest company policies, technology changes/updates and any procedural changes in addition to our more specific responsibilities as “geniuses”. With many times only 10 minutes or less left during my assigned shift, it was humanly impossible to accomplish this workload without “working off the clock” which was encouraged by immediate management.
I was also supposed to be allowed time for further education including Apple Technical Certification but obviously given my schedule this was impossible.
Although we were told no over time, it was understood and encouraged by my fellow team members and our team leader, Rich Chang to “work off the clock” to get our expected work done. Rich was constantly “working off the clock” even working from home on his days off to send email correspondence and make our new schedules.
“Apple had system wide downtime beginning 5/22/09 for 2 days. Everything had to be done manually and written by hand to be entered into the system upon reactivation.”When I was initially hired, there was no store manager (he had gone to open a new store in Dadeland) so I had no one to speak to about “working off the clock” above Steven Commander until Kendall Scrape was hired as the new store manager. It was over a month before I had the chance to speak to Kendall about the “working off the clock” situation. At first Kendall was sympathetic but soon sided with Steven and a case was quickly made against me to support termination. Alan Wu, a fellow team member, helped create the case against me (Do you think that somebody you greet everyday for over 7 months and he never says hello may not like you?) It was a very negative environment. Apple had system wide downtime beginning 5/22/09 for 2 days. Everything had to be done manually and written by hand to be entered into the system upon reactivation. It took most of the next week to sort out all the errors everyone had made and create and correct the paperwork from this downtime. These errors were used as the final piece in the case against me for termination.
As the case against me was created, my many emails to Rich regarding supposed errors were unanswered. I believe Alan Wu actually made changes to some of my documentation with customers to create errors. This was witnessed by several other Geniuses.
In my opinion, this “working off the clock” situation did not need to occur. Apple had and still has no financial problems that would require exploitation of its employees. This situation could have been easily corrected by simply adjusting our schedules, hiring more Geniuses, limiting or eliminating standbys and other means but there was no desire to do so. This extreme workload was obvious to everyone else who worked in the Galleria Apple Store but apparently not to Steven Commander or Rich Chang.
“Apple had and still has no financial problems that would require exploitation of its employees.”I do not blame Apple as a Company. I am one of the original Mac “addicts”. Three weeks after Macs first went on sale in 1984 I bought one. I have personally owned almost every make and model Mac (even a couple of clones).
I was an initial subscriber to MacWorld, MacUser and MacAddict and used to keep every issue (until I moved out of the country). I also attended many of the first MacWorld Expos in San Francisco.
I worked in Mac Retail Sales at Personal Support Computers in Beverly Hills, California and did Mac Phone Sales for Digicore in Van Nuys, California.
Later, I became a Mac consultant to many businesses and individuals specializing in installation/integration of AVID systems, Mac systems and upgrades including software and peripherals.
Yes. I admit it. I am what some refer to as a MacAddict.
On the advice of my attorney, I settled with Apple for payment of a very few hours of overtime from my allegations of “working off the clock”. In addition to being illegal by not paying the overtime “worked off the clock”, Apple avoided paying taxes, unemployment and social security benefits.
“In addition to being illegal by not paying the overtime “worked off the clock”, Apple avoided paying taxes, unemployment and social security benefits.”If you Google my name you will see me on around the first 15 pages as a result of my lawsuit against Apple. I have already lost one potential new job that I know of when the perspective employer Googled me. I never expected this publicity nor desired it. Unfortunately, I guess Google is for life.
I feel I was exploited by Apple Management. I was given virtually no support by my immediate managers. Specifically, Steve Commander, Richard Chang and Kendall Scrape. I have named the specific people involved as my own name has been widely publicized by Google and other search engines.
I left my wife and then 1 ½ year old son in Costa Rica during this time in the hopes of bringing them both to live and start a new life as a family in the U.S.
I did seek other employment after it became apparent that I would be terminated by Apple but given the economic conditions at the time, it was nearly impossible to find another job quickly. I had no more money left so I had to return to Costa Rica.
During this stressful time, my systolic blood pressure shot up to over 200. I visited 2 different cardiologists but was unable to successfully control my blood pressure with medication. I have probably suffered permanent heart damage as a result.
“Thanks Apple, for ruining my life.”My life savings is gone (I had used it to relocate to Florida). My marriage is now in jeopardy (my wife and I are currently living separately). I may lose my house from being unemployed for over 9 months now (unemployment here in Costa Rica is above 20%). My son may never learn English as his native language.
Thanks Apple, for ruining my life.
Oh – I almost forgot. On a positive note, I did get quite a few T shirts. █
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