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04.17.10

IRC Proceedings: April 17th, 2010

Posted in IRC Logs at 6:21 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME Gedit

Read the log

Enter the IRC channel now

Apple is Part of the Proprietary Thought Police

Posted in Apple, DRM, IBM at 6:05 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Apple as Big Brother

Summary: Apple demonstrates one of the biggest dangers of proprietary software which tells the user what to do, rather than the other way around

DISSENT is vital to democracy. It is the means by which opposition can express itself, ideally without being intimidated, silenced, or even punished. Freedom of expression is necessary to ensure that people defend their basic rights and maintain their freedoms. This is why proprietary software vendors — those which act as gatekeepers on our own computer hardware — are often a barrier to democracy. They are enemies of free thought.

Last year we learned from Amazon's remote deletion of books that proprietary software can control people’s reading lists and also the sharing of ideas. Amazon in general is hostile towards desktop GNU/Linux and as Greg Laden has just put it:

There is a Kindle reader application for the PC (and the Mac and the iPod touch). But not Linux. Which makes us sad because without Linux, your Kindle wouldn’t even turn on.

But despite this deeply insulting unforgivable slight by Steve Bozo or whatever his name is, diligent supergeeks have solved this problem temporarily. The problem is, as usual, the Intertubes are full of people who know diddley squat but don’t seem to understand that, so you will find ample instructions to make the Kindle for PC work on your Linux computer, and you will have very little success.

Amazon does several other things to discriminate against GNU/Linux, especially after it hired many executives from Microsoft. And for what it’s worth, IBM is no angel either. As Justin Ryan from Linux Journal puts it:

Fueling the fire was the inclusion in said letter of a list of patents — including two covered by IBM’s 2005 Non-Assertion Pledge. The increasingly common fury was not slow in arriving.

So what’s really going on? Very little. If one looks at the supposed “threat” letter — the full text — the real story becomes clear. The letter in question is actually one of four, part of an exchange between TurboHercules SAS (the company) and IBM, initiated by TurboHercules last fall.

The suits at the newly-formed TurboHercules SAS wrote to IBM last July, setting out what they planned to offer, and requesting IBM’s blessing for their venture. That wasn’t all they asked for, however — the letter also requested that IBM develop a special commercial license to allow TurboHercules’ customers to run legal copies of z/OS. (IBM does not license z/OS for use on non-IBM hardware, similar to Apple’s licensing of OS X.)

The similarity between IBM’s licence and Apple’s licence is worth noticing. Both are hardware companies and they limit what can run on the hardware or what hardware their software can run on. This is an attack on people’s freedom even as buyers, IBM's bad attitude towards software patents aside. But Apple’s attack on people’s computer freedom is still expanding to an attack on free speech, which in turn is like an attack on democracy.

According to this article from Wired Magazine, Apple is doing it again.

Editorial cartoonist Mark Fiore may be good enough to win this year’s Pulitzer Prize, but he’s evidently too biting to get past the auditors who run Apple’s iPhone app store, who ruled that lampooning public figures violated its terms of service.

This received a huge deal of unwanted attention [1, 2, 3] even though Apple has been behaving like this for years. Slashdot says that only backlash from the public led to a reversal from Apple. But still, Apple should be ashamed of itself. Groklaw tried to defend Apple on previous occasions when it did this (arguing that Apple tried to shield itself from lawsuits), but Apple is walking on a thin rope if it takes this role of censor who determines what content is “acceptable” and what content is “forbidden” and thus blocked altogether. The solution is for Apple not to be the middleman and to just let people install whatever they want on the device they paid for. Then, there’s no liability to worry about.

“What really worries me is that the courts might choose a muddled half-measure—by approving an interpretation of “indecent” that permits the doctor program or a statement of the decency rules, but prohibits some of the books that any child can browse through in the public library. Over the years, as the Internet replaces the public library, some of our freedom of speech will be lost.”

Richard Stallman, 1996

First Time, Shame on You — Second Time, Shame on Microsoft

Posted in DRM, Microsoft, Security, Windows at 5:17 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz


Direct link

Summary: Microsoft’s Restrictions Management Service is broken again and Windows XP is again left vulnerable with Microsoft unwilling to address the issue

Microsoft’s Restrictions [sic] Management Service (RMS) is broken yet again, proving — as always — that Microsoft cannot handle encryption properly because it is not reusing good code like Free software typically does. From The H we learn that:

An implementation flaw allows attackers to bypass the encryption mechanism used for Microsoft Office documents. Although this isn’t news, having been made public in 2005, no (officially acknowledged) attack or tool for exploiting the vulnerability has existed until now. Which probably explains why Microsoft has never fixed the problem with an update for older versions of Office.

French crypto expert Eric Filiol in his presentationPDF at the recent Black Hat security conference emphasised that the situation has now changed. He says his tool can decrypt a document within a few minutes. Filiol said he began working on the statistical analysis of the RC4 algorithm used in Office back in 1994. Talking to heise Security, the expert explained why he has only now published his results: “I was employed by the French military at the time. Everything I did was classified. Now I am free speak about it.”

In other news, Microsoft is seemingly blaming users for flaws in Windows that enabled rootkits to be installed. More curiously, “Microsoft refuses to patch infected Windows XP machines,” according to PC Pro. [via]

Microsoft has revealed that its latest round of patches won’t install on XP machines if they’re infected with a rootkit.

Back in February, a security patch left some XP users complaining of endless reboots and Blue Screens of Death. An investigation followed and Microsoft discovered the problems occurred on machines infected with the Alureon rootkit, which interacted badly with patch KB977165 for the Windows kernel.

This would not be the first time that Microsoft leaves XP permanently unpatched, even by choice. Such utter negligence [1, 2, 3] can lead to loads of zombie PCs that everyone — not just Windows users — will suffer from and pay for. So where is the liability? Microsoft insists that the public should pay the price for Microsoft’s negligence [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7] and some people are currently paying the price in the form of blackmail. [via]

PCs using file-share sites and publishes the user’s net history on a public website before demanding a fee for its removal.

The Japanese trojan virus installs itself on computers using a popular file-share service called Winni, used by up to 200m people.

Suffice to say, this “Japanese trojan virus” would not install itself on anything other than Windows, but the article above is from the MSBBC [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8] and thus it addresses toddlers who equate “computers” with “Windows”. it’s like stating that cars in general — not just Toyota cars [1, 2] — have a fatal flaw.

Ubuntu Removes gThumb [2.11] and Adds More Mono

Posted in GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Mono, Novell, Patents, Ubuntu at 4:40 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Microsoft booth
Photo by pterjan

Summary: A bizarre decision is made just weeks before the final release of Ubuntu 10.04 because the latest version of an F-Spot (Mono) competitor is removed and Banshee (Mono) gains integration with Ubuntu One

Steven Rosenberg has just published a rave (finally!) about Ubuntu 10.04. He particularly likes gThumb, which can help remove Mono from Ubuntu.

From the opening paragraph of Rosenberg’s new post:

I’ve been writing about such cockle-warming subjects as how Ubuntu 10.04 Lucid Lynx beta 2 and its 2.6.32 kernel handles such things as turning off kernel mode setting for Intel video that can’t deal with said mode-setting, as well as the ever-moving buttons on application windows, and how the new gthumb is the best damn Linux/Unix photo-editing program for journalists.

Well, guess what? On the very same day (the 15th) we learn that “gThumb 2.11.x [is] Removed From Ubuntu 10.04 Lucid Lynx” and as WebUpd8 put it the other day:

This is a big hit to gThumb which adds a lot of amazing features in the latest 2.11.x series, such as Flickr and Picasaweb export support. Even more, the latest GIT build also includes a new extension to export photos to Facebook.

What was Canonical thinking? First they remove the GIMP despite opposition from most users and now they remove [the latest version of] gThumb, only to leave F-Spot (Mono) in tact as a primitive image editor that’s also a resource hog. It makes no sense. The Source shows another reason to reject Mono and in the comments it points out that “Team Apologista [Microsoft/Mono] choose[s] instead to ride the coattails of popular distros, often conflating distro success with Mono success!”

“Team Apologista [...] often conflating distro success with Mono success!”
      –Jason, The Source
Yes, the only reason Mono is actually used by some people is that Mono boosters whom we named before had plugged it into the distribution. It’s like lobbying. The very same people are still trying to push Banshee (Mono) into Ubuntu against users' will, despite the patent problems, and despite the issue of control.

Last month we wrote about Ubuntu One getting more Mono bindings for Banshee. Our reader Ryan wrote: “So Banshee brings in the offending bindings for Ubuntu One?”

Well, based on this new article from Linux Magazine, this Mono infiltration takes a step further as “Banshee 1.6 Integrates with Ubuntu One Music Store” now.

IDG ‘Forgets’ to Name Microsoft for Bending “Open Source”

Posted in BSD, Deception, Free/Libre Software, FUD, GNU/Linux, Microsoft at 4:07 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“More Open Than Open [...] I am constantly amazed at the flexibility of this single word.”

Microsoft’s Jason Matusow, integral part of the ‘Open’ XML corruptions (further background in [1, 2, 3])

Summary: Companies which are faking/misusing “Open Source” are named and shamed, but Microsoft, which violated the GPL several times last year and casts “Open Source” as “Open APIs”, gets a free ride

AT NASA, Microsoft’s “Open” or “Open Source” simply mean that “open source” platforms like BSD and GNU/Linux are excluded [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6]. When Microsoft talks about “choice”, it talks about "Microsoft or Microsoft". In many ways, Microsoft is the most guilty of subverting the meaning of “open”, “open source”, and “standard”. And yet, in IDG’s own mind, this point is being left out entirely. The following article does not cover Microsoft’s role in this perversion of the term.

Closed source vendors hijack the term ‘open’

[...]

The ultimate irony? What is really posted on GitHub, at least as far as 15 minutes of searching would reveal, is not even the API itself, but merely a wrapper written Ruby for the API.

Open source? NOT.

The second instance of attempted-open-source-by-association was for a new software/hardware/storage bundle I can’t tell you about until Monday. On Monday, a vendor will be introducing what it says is the first “open” product for <ok, I can’t tell you that yet>. The vendor has determined that its new product is “open” because it will be publishing an API.

Open source? NOT.

Open? Well, let me just note that Windows has had an API for decades (it is an operating system after all). After so many rounds with antitrust litigation in both in the U.S. and in Europe, I doubt anyone would call it open.

Actually, Microsoft does call it that and has done this for years, with help from O'Reilly and others whom Microsoft is paying (IDG is also receiving money from Microsoft [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]). There are even software patents on these APIs, and Microsoft does guard these patents.

So Microsoft’s fake notion of “open source” (usually Windows-only) is being boosted by the ignorant and those whom Microsoft is paying. When it comes to real Open Source (or Free software) like Drupal, Microsoft is attacking. Let’s not forget Microsoft smearing Drupal in its ads. After this had happened and Microsoft apologised, Matt Asay, who considers himself a friend of Microsoft’s Jason Matusow, was right there defending Microsoft and this time he writes about Jive bad-mouthing Drupal and Liferay.

In a somewhat Quixotic quest, Jive Software has been showcasing a white paper titled “Jive vs. Open Source” (PDF), with a page devoted to what it claims are the negatives of Drupal and Liferay.

On one hand, as CMS Watch argues, it’s Marketing 101 to accentuate one’s positives while highlighting the competition’s weaknesses.

But by choosing to focus on open source, in general, and Drupal, in particular, Jive has effectively taken out a billboard advertisement that essentially proclaims: “We’re really worried about Drupal. It’s a big-time threat to our business.”

[...]

Jive doesn’t have the heft of Microsoft, but perhaps it’s taking a page from the same marketing handbook.

Compare that to what Asay wrote when it was Microsoft — not Jive — attacking Drupal in its ads.

Does anyone still believe that Microsoft cares about Free/open source software? Microsoft is just exploiting it to sell its proprietary stack that restricts and discriminates.

“I would love to see all open source innovation happen on top of Windows.”

Steve Ballmer, Microsoft CEO

New Papers Explain the Harms of Software Patents

Posted in Europe, Law, Patents at 3:32 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Hand idea

Summary: Critics of the misguided scope of patents point to scholarly work that arguably supports the abolishment of software patents; Pirate Party UK promises to abolish software patents

THE previous post concentrated on New Zealand's imminent exclusion of software patents (unless there is a reversal due to lobbying from monopolies and patent lawyers). Brad Feld, who works at a small company, writes about “The Typical Kinds of Software Patent Plaintiffs” and later presents this pointer to a paper which he believes proves that software patents have no beneficial role in society.

I expect this to be a key paper cited in the ongoing debate about software patents (and patents in general). Anyone in the software industry will quickly understand this paper and the massive shift we’ve seen from a “producer innovation model” to a “open single user and open collaborative initiative model” of innovation.

Glyn Moody, who is another staunch critic of software patents, writes about the film which we posted about yesterday. As he puts it:

Fortunately, there is a growing body of evidence that patents in general are based on a false premise: that giving someone a monopoly on an invention increases the overall innovation, and hence benefit to society.

Here is a relevant paper Moody links to [via] and here is a reminder of the fact that the British Pirate Party (Moody is based in the UK) is still very stubborn regarding abolition of software patents.

Pirate Party UK: sees the abolition of software patents as a way of spurring rapid change in the development industry; sees “overly-broad” hardware patents as disincentives to effective competition.

The president of the FFII says that there are still some problems with the policies of the Pirate Party.

The New Zealand Computer Society Opposes Software Patents

Posted in Free/Libre Software, Law, Patents at 3:09 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Kiwi

Summary: While groups representing the interests of foreign companies lobby for software patents, actual computer scientists from New Zealand reject them

Techrights.org has this new Wiki/Kiwi page about software patents in New Zealand. Some days ago we showed that NZICT, which lobbies for software patents, actually represents multinationals; it does not represent the local software industry. It is unfortunate that journalists pay attention to NZICT (also posted here without attribution to the lobby in the URL) because it does not know what it’s talking about and it lobbies not from the point of view of New Zealand; it promotes foreign interests and makes ludicrous statements such as this one to support its position:

He said that they consider that it is vital for firms to keep hold of the alternative to shield their originality under copyright law, if that is their option.

This is proof of ignorance (maybe deliberate). It’s not at all about options. If a company is being attacked by patents, then it does not get to select which law will apply to it. It’s like saying that by choosing conventional weapons over nuclear a country can guarantee that it won’t be attacked by nukes.

Among some other articles about this (not just from New Zealand [1, 2] we have the voices of the New Zealand Computer Society (NZCS), which says “no” to software patents. From IDG we have:

The New Zealand Computer Society has come out in support of a ban on software patents, sending a letter yesterday to Minister of Commerce Simon Power supporting a Commerce Select Committee recommendation to remove patent protection for software in New Zealand law.

The move comes after a quick poll of NZCS members, IT professionals from around New Zealand, found 80 percent opposed patent protection for software.

“The Society acknowledges this is a complex issue with many reasons for and against patentability of software. However on balance, it is in New Zealand’s best interests for software to be covered through the provisions of copyright in the same way movies and books are, rather than through the patent system which has significant problems,” NZCS chief executive Paul Matthews says in a blog post.

The New Zealand Computer Society does not speak just for Free software. Developers of software in general find that copyrights alone cover and suit their needs.

Links 17/4/2010: ClearOS 5.1 Reviewed; Stefano Zacchiroli the Leader of Debian

Posted in News Roundup at 2:37 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Desktop

    • Editor’s Note: the Quest for the Perfect Desktop Linux

      Naturally, the perfect Linux is different for every user. I want something that Terry can use without having vexing little problems cropping up all the time. It is enough work learning to use applications like Audacity, Ardour, Digikam, and OpenOffice without also having to babysit a colicky Linux. It seems to me that the “noob-friendly” distros like Ubuntu, Mandriva, and openSUSE start out great, but the more you use them the more weird little glitches they exhibit. I want something with a reasonable degree of sanity, and something I can fix without having to untangle mare’s nests of distro-specific “improvements.”

      These are my criteria for the perfect desktop Linux distro:

      * Rolling releases and continual upgrades. I think fresh installs with new releases are silly and should be done only when it’s absolutely necessary, like a system that is hopelessly messed-up. A good Linux gets better with age, it’s not like Windows which runs down like a cheap wind-up clock.
      * Reasonably fresh package versions
      * Stable
      * Easy to maintain
      * Active dev team and community

    • Acer, and Others, are Surging Ahead

      If the old guard wish to remain relevant they must innovate and/or reduce prices. Both Dell and HP have obvious GNU/Linux expertise. There is a lot of room to innovate there. They could reduce unit prices $100 or more by switching to GNU/Linux. From what I have seen of Debian GNU/Linux, Squeeze (my recent bug has been fixed by an update), once the bugs are out in a few months, they could put out products as smooth as “7″ and much cheaper. Further, they could put ARM into mainstream products and cut prices another $100 or so. ARM+GNU/Linux would permit HP and Dell to put out units at about half their current price.

    • Late Night

      Six hours of fiddling instead of a 20 minute installation of GNU/Linux… Was it worth it? I do not know. Certainly the student is very aware of the high cost of maintaining that other OS. At my usual rate of pay, six hours would be worth roughly the value/price of the netbook so it could have been scrapped and replaced for the cost of “fixing” it until next time. His family is also aware that that other OS cost the boy an evening at home with family. I will write up an advertisement to send home with students promoting our “InstallFest” to be held next week. Such costs will figure prominently.

    • Installfest at School

      This installfest is for fund-raising for various projects like graduation expenses. At the last bazaar, I ran hockey target-shooting. This could be more fun and more profitable, I hope. By parallel processing I should be able to do 20 machines easily, about double the take on the last bazaar.

  • Server

    • Inside a Migration

      OSNews: Which brand of Linux is the company looking to implement and why?

      ZA: Most of the servers I have built for are being shared by multiple applications so I require a hearty and stable operating system. With that in mind, I have decided on 64-bit Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 (kernel version 2.6.18). The servers usually have 2x CPUs and have around 8GB of RAM. I try to get away with 50 GB of disk space. I have jobs that run, which regulate any of the disks from filling up with logs, by archiving them. I will usually build a web application server on these boxes with either Tomcat 6.x for simple Java applications, or for more of a heavier load of applications containing EJB or Cluster requirements, with Weblogic 10gR3. When Oracle bought out BEA, costs for the use of Weblogic in production environments rose quite high, so I only use it when I feel it is necessary to, and not as our primary application server.

    • Dell Acquiesces to Angry Mob Over Firmware Locked Raid Controllers

      While I wish they had not tried to do this in the first place, I do want to be sure to give kudos to Dell for listening to reason. Matt Simmons is reporting that Dell is reversing its position on 3rd party drives.

  • Audiocasts

  • Google

    • Google Chrome OS brings printing to the cloud

      The developers behind Google Chrome OS, the forthcoming cloud-enabled operating system from the internet giant, have explained how they are dealing with a key need for any computer – how well it plays with the printer.

      With Chrome OS on course for arrival at the end of 2010, the details of how the operating system, which is all about cloud computing, will do familiar computing tasks are an increasingly important factor.

      The Chrome OS developers are mindful of the interest and the latest blog post from Mike Jazayeri, group product manager for Chrome OS, explains the detail.

    • Update: Google drafts cloud printing plan for Chrome OS
  • Kernel Space

    • ALSA 1.0.23 Is Here With Better Linux Audio

      As the first update in 2010, ALSA 1.0.23 has been released this morning to replace ALSA 1.0.22 that was released last December. Like usual, this update to the Advanced Linux Sound Architecture brings mostly individual driver fixes but there is also support for Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5.4 and a few ALSA core fixes.

  • Applications

  • Distributions

    • Red Hat Family

      • ClearOS 5.1 review

        ClearOSClearOS is a network and gateway server distribution derived from RedHat and CentOS. Formerly known as Clark Connect, it is developed and maintained by the Clear Foundation, an IT solutions provider based in Wellington, New Zealand.

      • Fedora

        • Btrfs System Rollbacks In Fedora 13

          One of the benefits of Btrfs besides offering competitive performance against other Linux file-systems and SSD optimizations is its support for sub-volumes and writable snapshots. While Btrfs is still in development and is not yet used as a default file-system by any Linux distribution, Red Hat has been looking to capitalize upon the capabilities of Btrfs by introducing support for system rollbacks into Fedora. The Btrfs-based system rollback support has been a feature for Fedora 13 so with the release of the Fedora 13 Beta earlier this week we decided to further investigate this feature.

        • Desktop Enhancements in Fedora 13

          Simple scan is also a tool to make scanning fast and simple. This tool is like Deja-Dup maintained in the launchpad.net community, and if you want to use an newer version of the program just add the PPA. I will add a list of PPA´s that will be good to have when we got the release of Fedora 13.

        • Fedora 13beta mini-review

          But looking through the list of changes in Fedora 13, I’m really excited to try out Déjà Dup. It’s a new backup tool that should make life a lot easier. With it, you can do local or remote backups, including to Amazon’s S3 cloud storage. Everything is encrypted and compressed, and backups are such that you can restore from any particular snapshot.

    • Debian Family

      • Stefano Zacchiroli is new Debian leader

        Senior developer Stefano Zacchiroli has been elected the leader of the Debian GNU/Linux project for 2010-11, having defeated the other three candidates in the race.

      • Debian Project Leader Elections 2010
      • [Results]
      • Ubuntu

        • Ubuntu 10.04: review

          There are more things to this version of Ubuntu, each time cleaner and smoother (I didn’t have any problems in spite I’m using the Beta version). Probably a 6 months schedule for a new version is too tight for fixing all the bugs. In the other hand the One Hundred Paper Cuts is obviously having good results and the system looks clean and professional.

          The system still doesn’t accomplishes what it promises: to work from the moment its installed. Nevertheless I discover a nice script that will make most of the task you have to do after install Ubuntu (like add repositories and install third party codecs, web browser plugins. Updates, etc.). But I think any people could use this OS without much problems (older versions of windows and even Mac use to have more problems and people still use to work with them without much problems).

        • A critique of some Ubuntu Critics

          The theme of most of the baseless criticisms is that Ubuntu is unstable for everyday use. Why you ask? Because either the author plugged in a peripheral that Ubuntu did not recognize right away or because there are some bugs that have not been fixed for period of time. This has even caused some to label Ubuntu as ‘garbage salad.’ I have no problem with people expressing their views, but then certain basic facts should never be misconstrued to the unsuspecting person out there.

          [...]

          Global powers like Dell and IBM are shipping Ubuntu preloaded computers, that should go a long way to attest to the reasonable reliability of the OS. Besides, those companies have more resources at their disposal to conduct even more rigorous testing on the OS than Canonical itself can. So on what basis can someone claim that Ubuntu is so unreliable that the project needs to be scrapped? Sure Ubuntu has problems, heck everything made by man has problems, but we must learn to be fair and give praise where it is due.

        • Girls like computers, too

          It’s especially appropriate from Ubuntu Women, as studies have shown women in open source development are even more underrepresented than in other tech fields.

          If women are going to change the future, they have to change the now. And this contest actually makes sense.

          It’s not asking for what many sneer at as a form of affirmative action, for girls.

  • Devices/Embedded

    • CloudPlug Wall Wart Backs Up Linux

      Let’s face it. Most people don’t back up their important computer files with any regularity. The time you do think about doing a backup is typically right after you discover your hard drive has crashed. At that point it’s too late. The only real way to consistently backup your files is to have it done automatically for you.

    • Linux AI robot baby dinosaur

      Watch this: a Linux powered baby dinosaur, with a arm processor heart. The robot runs Live OS. An embedded, linux based operating system which features a custom programming language, giving the possibility to interact with the robot on the programming level. It features Artificial intelligence,programmable emotions and lot’s more.

    • Android

      • How Could Android Ever Be Considered “The Evil OS”?

        Taking a quick look at the definition of “open source” provided to us by the Open Source Initiative – who is highly regarded as the authority in what “open source” is – I have to present the question: where is Google stepping outside of any lines to call Android so? Source code is readily available, compilable, downloadable, freely distributed, properly licensed, free to be modified (for use with any field without discrimination), and it definitely isn’t an OS that is restricted to be used on anything other than phones.

      • So, What’s a Little Android?

        Lately, it seems as if quite a few people are concerned about the status of Android as a Linux fork. There is quite a bit of talk about re-admitting the Android Linux kernel into the vanilla Linux kernel source.

        Chris DiBona commented on many things in Android being irrelevant to the majority of Linux users, such as mobile phone chipsets. Is most of the kernel relevant to most people, or is it that we de-select the majority of device drivers when we do our kernel configs? I think that the latter is more the case, and quite often we de-select the vast majority of filesystems. For most people, NTFS, FAT, Ext2/3/4, swap, proc, and sysfs are really all that is required. A few may get into Reiser (what a killer filesystem), JFS, Squashfs, and UnionFS for particular machines. So, why is there a fuss over certain things making little difference to main stream Linux users, when most things in the Linux kernel are irrelevant to start with?

      • Report: Google TV Is Coming to Your Living Room

        The TV technology will run on Intel’s Atom chips, the report says, and Google will develop a new version of its Chrome browser for the TV project.

      • Sprint Hero Getting 2.1 “First Week of May”
      • Dell Aero Due in June, Larger Streak Tablets Coming

        Engadget scored a couple bits of Dell-related Android news today and was only happy to share with the world. First up, the Dell Aero handset is due out in early June. You know the Aero, right? It’s that other locked down AT&T handset besides the Backflip.

      • Orange Copies AT&T, Stifles Openness On Android Devices

        This is asinine. Orange couldn’t find a better company to imitate than AT&T, seriously? As we know, AT&T has decided to lock down Android devices and limit app installation from the Android Market. Not that we support this notion, but fine. Orange is taking it one step further in stifling Android and its open nature, according to Android Community.

Free Software/Open Source

  • Choosing Open Source Solutions

    Finding the right open source product is just as important as the decision to use an open source product to begin with. In every business software environment there are a few common components. There is the commercial product we’ve all used for years. There are the two or three popular open source alternatives, and there is a list of migration headaches we all experience that eventually becomes the list of reasons why we should stick with what worked before. Occasionally there is a product that inspires us to stay in the fight. A classic example we can all relate to is a product most of us use all day, every day: the email client.

  • Using GIMP
  • Wave Goodbye to E-mail?

    Late last year, getting a Google Wave invite was reminiscent of getting a Cabbage Patch Kid in 1983. It was the newest gizmo everyone just had to have. As a geek, I was one of the kids begging the loudest. Thankfully, one of our readers from across the pond (Paul Howard, thanks!) sent me an invite, and I cleared my schedule for the product that was going to change the way I communicate. Only, it didn’t.

  • Memos for your Boss: Proprietary Problems & OpenSource Proposal

    Open source software is usually developed as a public collaboration and made freely available” (John Hopkins). Exploring software alternatives like open source is critical considering all business or personal information and finances may be dictated by private software companies agendas.

  • Mozilla

    • Security Features of Firefox 3

      Since its release, I have been testing it out to see how the new security enhancements work and help in increase user browsing security. One of the exciting improvements for me was how Firefox handles SSL secured web sites while browsing the Internet. There are also many other security features that this article will look at. For example, improved plugin and addon security.

    • How To Customize The Firefox Layout
    • Cool stuff coming soon.

      It looks like there’s a good chance the code will make it in to Thunderbird 3.1 beta 2, so with any luck, soon your Thunderbird will be a pretty as mine.

  • Oracle

    • [ogb-discuss] Call for Action

      So unless you can figure out how having OpenSolaris running on millions of devices everywhere ultimately translates to revenue, I doubt Oracle mgmt will be impressed. Business is only a popularity contest when people vote with dollars.

    • Solaris Licensing Changes: The Real Story

      Let’s move on to people that run Solaris on non-Sun servers: No Solaris for you, not yours! Items 1 and 6 make it clear that there is no possible way to legally run Solaris on non-Sun servers. Period. End of story.

  • Government

    • Open Source EU Funded Projects: FLOSSMetrics

      Looking into EU funded open source initiatives I stepped into few projects, included EDOS, QualOSS and few others around FLOSS metrics and quality. Over the last 7 years a number of open source software assessment methodologies have been proposed, and FLOSSMetrics definitely achieved some interesting results in this respect, and not only.

  • Programming

    • Introducing SourceForge Downloads

      SourceForge.net introduced a new service this week. Until now, if you wanted to distribute your software on SourceForge’s global network, you needed to set up a complete project, which for project leaders who preferred to develop elsewhere meant generating services for collaborative software development that they didn’t need. Now you can develop your software anywhere you like, but just distribute it via SourceForge, and get the benefit of our free, global distribution network, along with the visibility of being listed on the leading open source software directory.

    • Employers and Developers Alike Are Favoring Open Source

      Clearly, there is growing interest from employers in open source programming languages and platforms, not just from developers. I tend to agree with Asay that it will take time for these trends to lead to a seismic shift toward open source, but as long as the developers and employers, in tandem, favor open source, there is no stopping the shift.

    • Tech Comics: “A Day in the Life of a Coder”
  • Standards/Consortia

    • Notes from ODF Plugfest in Granada, Day One

      The ODF Plugfest is a Conference whose goal is to to achieve the maximum interoperability between competing applications, platforms and technologies in the area of digital document sharing, and to promote the OpenDocument format (ODF). This page, as the others that will follow on this website, is a short technical summary, primarily aimed at developers, of what happened during the first day of the conference. Later next week I’ll also post a non-technical summary of the whole event at the Stop.

    • Google May Free The World From Flash Slavery!

      Adobe Flash is one of those shackles which keep the ‘free’ citizens of the world tied to the chains of Slaveware (proprietary) technologies. You have to install proprietary software to watch videos and other rich content like animation.

      Apple bursted Adobe’s bubble when it refused to allow Flash on its mobile devices like iPhone and iPad. The reason Apple did that was not that it preferred Free Standard based HTML5, but because Flash would allow a lot of applications run in these devices without Apple’s permission.

Leftovers

  • Congress outlaws all Caller ID spoofing (VoIP too)

    The House has passed the “Truth in Caller ID Act of 2010″ (PDF), which does exactly what its name would lead you to believe.

  • Russian Authorities Raid HP Moscow Offices In Bribery Probe

    Hewlett-Packard (NYSE:HPQ)’s Moscow offices were raided by Russian authorities Wednesday as part of a joint Russian and German bribery investigation.

    According to The Wall Street Journal, which first reported the story, German and Russian authorities are investigating whether HP paid nearly $11 million in alleged bribes to win a lucrative government contract in Russia worth 35 million Euro, or approximately $47 million. Ironically, the contract, which HP won in 2003, was to supply computer equipment and software to Russia’s criminal prosecutor department in Moscow.

    The report states that authorities suspect HP of allegedly using a German subsidiary to win the Russian government contract and then using an assortment of shell companies throughout the globe to funnel the bribe payments to the intended parties in the Russian government.

  • Science

    • Midwestern Sky Sees Large Meteor Blaze

      One of the eyewitnesses commented on his You Tube account, that it was a tiny red dot with a tiny white tail traveling leisurely and then suddenly it became enormous and green and then travelled at a super fast pace.

    • Obama lays out bold revised space policy

      You may remember that his last revamping caused quite a stir, with people screaming that it would doom NASA. I disagree. Canceling Constellation still strikes me as the right thing to do, because it was becoming an albatross around NASA’s neck. Mind you, this was also the recommendation of the blue ribbon Augustine panel. You may also note that NASA astronauts are split over all this, with Buzz Aldrin, for example, supporting Obama, and Neil Armstrong and many others disagreeing.

    • Why We Can’t Do 3 Things at Once

      For those who find it tough to juggle more than a couple things at once, don’t despair. The brain is set up to manage two tasks, but not more, a new study suggests.

      That’s because, when faced with two tasks, a part of the brain known as the medial prefrontal cortex (MFC) divides so that half of the region focuses on one task and the other half on the other task. This division of labor allows a person to keep track of two tasks pretty readily, but if you throw in a third, things get a bit muddled.

  • Security/Aggression

    • NSA Director Says Cyber Command Not Trying to Militarize Cyberspace

      NSA Director Lt. Gen. Keith Alexander tells senators the U.S. Cyber Command aims to protect the privacy of American citizens despite the uncharted legal territory in cyberspace.

    • Home tutors boycott vetting and barring scheme

      In the Big Brother Watch manifesto released yesterday, we have written that we want to see the Independent Safeguarding Authority scrapped within the first 100 days of a new government. There are several reasons for this, but the main ones are:

      1. It encourages suspicion and fuels the paedophile-paranoia that infects our society

      2. It is an unnecessary layer of bureaucracy ,which is scarring public life and making it very difficult for adults to volunteer with children’s groups like after-school sports clubs and the scouts

      3. It is yet another state database, affecting 9 million people who will have to surrender their personal details to an unaccountable and expensive quango

    • ClamAV and the Case of the Missing Mail

      Rather than simply phase this geriatric version out (it was at least one year old, revised to versions .95 and .96 since release, and announcements about the need to upgrade had been made for six months) the development team put to halt instances of V0.94 in production yesterday, April 15, 2010. This was to protect users from an issue that existed with the older version in terms of its inability to be updated with fresh virus signatures.

    • Boy, 9, accused of hacking into Fairfax schools’ computer system

      Police say a 9-year-old McLean boy hacked into the Blackboard Learning System used by the county school system to change teachers’ and staff members’ passwords, change or delete course content, and change course enrollment. One of the victims was Fairfax Superintendent Jack D. Dale, according to an affidavit filed by a Fairfax detective in Fairfax Circuit Court this week.

  • Censorship/Privacy/Civil Rights

    • South Korea To Shut Some Video Games Off For Six Hours Every Night

      Apparently the curfew will help “eradicate video game addiction”, and will apply only to underage users.

    • Ex-NSA worker from Md. charged in classified leak case

      A former high-ranking National Security Agency employee was indicted on 10 felony charges Thursday for his alleged role in leaking classified information to a news reporter.

      The federal indictment does not identify the reporter, but several news organizations, citing government sources, named a former national security correspondent for The Baltimore Sun as the recipient of the leaks.

    • Putting up barriers to a free and open internet

      THE GOVERNMENT has had extensive private discussions on introducing internet blocking – barring access to websites or domains – according to material obtained under a Freedom of Information (FOI) request.

      The approach is used by some internet service providers (ISPs) and mobile network operators to block access to child pornography. But increasingly, governments and law enforcement agencies are pushing for much broader use, ranging from blocking filesharing sites to trying to tackle cybercrime and terrorism.

    • Yahoo Beats Feds in E-Mail Privacy Battle

      Yahoo prevailed Friday over Colorado federal prosecutors in a legal battle testing whether the Constitution’s warrant requirements apply to Americans’ e-mail.

      Saying the contested e-mail “would not be helpful to the government’s investigation,” (.pdf) the authorities withdrew demands for e-mail in a pending and sealed criminal case. For the moment, the move ends litigation over the hotly contested issue of when a warrant under the Fourth Amendment is required for Yahoo and other e-mail providers to release consumer communications to the authorities.

  • Internet/Net Neutrality/DRM

    • Frontier Users Facing New 100, 250 GB Caps

      Note that this is apparently a trial, but it’s a very expensive one. According to the letter that’s now being sent to customers in the trial market, users (on any speed tier) who breach the 100 GB monthly threshold are being asked to suddenly pay $99.99 per month. Customers who breach 250 GB a month are being told they’ll need to pay a whopping $249.99 per month. Users who don’t respond in fifteen days to the letter get disconnected (how’s that for a business model?).

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Company That Sends Out Almost-Extortion-Like ‘Pre-Settlement Letters’ Sees No Problem With Almost-Extortion-Like ‘Pre-Settlement Letters’

      Germany-based DigiProtect has a long history of using a machine-gun approach to “fight piracy”, in which it sends out tens of thousands of letters to people it says have illegally downloaded its clients’ content, and demanding a “pre-settlement” payment to stop them from being sued.

      [...]

      These answers from Digiprotect are completely unsurprising, and it’s not clear if the BBC expected the company to have some sort of epiphany and shut down or what.

    • RIAA/MPAA Want Monitoring Software, Border Checks

      Another article on intellectual property enforcement? Yes, since I consider this to be the most important struggle technology has to face over the coming decade. We already know that content providers don’t care one bit about hard-fought concepts like freedom and privacy, but the joint proposals by the RIAA and MPAA to the US Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator really blew my brains out: monitoring software installed on people’s computers, border inspections – it’s all there, and then some.

    • ACTA

      • Acta copyright enforcement treaty to go public

        Negotiators will on Wednesday publish the first officially-released draft of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, a new treaty designed to harmonise copyright enforcement around the world.

        The decision to release the consolidated draft on 21 April was made at the eighth round of Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (Acta) negotiations, which took place this week in Wellington, New Zealand. So far, the only publicly available information on the negotiating countries’ proposals and amendments have been leaked documents purporting to be drafts of the agreement.

    • Digital Economy Bill

      • Digital Economy Act: This means war

        With the rushed passage into law of the Digital Economy Act this month, the fight over copyright enters a new phase. Previous to this, most copyfighters operated under the rubric that a negotiated peace was possible between the thrashing entertainment giants and civil society.

        But now that the BPI and its mates have won themselves the finest law that money can buy – a law that establishes an unprecedented realm of web censorship in Britain, a law that provides for the disconnection of entire families from the net on the say-so of an entertainment giant, a law that shuts down free Wi-Fi hotspots and makes it harder than ever to conduct your normal business on the grounds that you might be damaging theirs – the game has changed.

      • Jo Shaw: why I opposed the Digital Economy ram through

Clip of the Day

SourceCode Season 1: Episode 10 (2004)


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