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05.02.10

Links 2/5/2010: Screenshot Of GNU/Linux Steam Client; PlayOnLinux 3.7.5 and KDevelop 4.0 Are Out

Posted in News Roundup at 2:21 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Desktop

    • Can you think of a better way to spread the use of Linux?

      Camfed International, UK, contracted 1ViLLAGE to set up 48 seats of Ubuntu Linux desktops in four districts in the Northern Region of Ghana. They also provided user training for the project. I reproduce here some photos of the computers as posted by @opentechgirl. The question I’d like you to help me answer is, can you think of a better way to bring Linux to Africa?

  • Kernel Space

    • Huge page handling and CFS with tickless kernel highlights of RHEL 6 beta

      Last week, Red Hat released the beta version of Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6 to the public, moving the next major release of their popular server operating system into the testing and hardening phase.

      I spoke with Tim Burke, Vice President of Linux Engineering at Red Hat, and he filled me in on some of the details. Red Hat also has posted a blog with extensive product specs for RHEL 6 on their website.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments

    • K Desktop Environment (KDE SC)

      • KDevelop 4.0 Stable Released into the Wild

        The KDevelop Hackers are proud and happy to announce that KDevelop 4.0 is finally available as a stable release. Released together is the first version of KDevelop PHP plugins, which make KDevelop a very interesting option for PHP developers.

      • Plasmoids in windows

        Since forever (where we define the start of time to be when I started working on Plasma) it has been possible to run Plasmoids, or any widget that Plasma can display, in a window on its own using plasmoidviewer. It isn’t completely satisfactory for running widgets in a window, though, because at its heart plasmoidviewer is a development tool meant for testing and debugging Plasmoids.

    • GNOME Desktop

  • Distributions

    • New Releases

    • Fedora

      • Expected features in Fedora 13 Goddard

        boot.fedoraproject.org (BFO) is one of the unique features in Fedora. This effort by Fedora community hopes to completely remove DVD installations in long term. It allows users to download a single, tiny image and install current and future versions of Fedora without having to download additional images.
        This method is similar to Pxeboot, can also be considered as a Fedora branded version ofboot.kernel.org.

    • Ubuntu

      • Much Awaited And Fully Loaded Ubuntu 10.04 LTS “Lucid Lynx” Released!
      • Ubuntu 10.04 – Perfect
      • Ubuntu 10.04 Screenshots
      • Put Windows to the Most Appropriate Use: Create a Bootable USB Stick with Ubuntu 10.04

        The following steps provide two methods of putting the fresh new release of Ubuntu 10.04 LTS (Lucid Lynx) on a USB stick. The first method will create a bootable USB stick with a live version and the second process will create a live version with persistence. Both methods are an excellent way to always have your favorite Ubuntu system and software with you at all times and it makes for one of the simplest ways to conduct an install to a hard drive.

      • Ubuntu Lucid Lynx 10.04 Post Installation Guide
      • (X)ubuntu 10.04

        On a final note, I will say that performance has improved drastically with the 10.04 release. Some of the issues I encountered in the previous kernel version have also been resolved. The boot time is only a fraction of what it was in 9.10, and with 10.04 being a LTS release, I am very confident that I will be more than satisfied with the *buntu family of operating systems for quite some time. The speed, security, simplicity, and stability are definitely unmatched by previous releases, and compete well with many of the other systems currently available.

      • Next Ubuntu netbook edition will have global menu

        Incidentally, the Netbook Edition of Canonical’s Ubuntu 10.04, which will be officially released tomorrow, features the “industry-leading interface for these smaller screens,” the company claims.

      • Variants

      • Mint

        • News update

          This is just a brief news update about what is going on at the moment:

          * Release date: The latest ISO is passing all my tests and I’m approving it for an RC release. It still needs to go through Exploder’s testing and it requires his approval before it can go out publicly.
          * Windows installer: Mint4Win is back and it’s fully functional. The version that comes with the CD installs what’s on the CD. We’re also considering to maintain a standalone version which would be able to download and install editions of Linux Mint as we release them.

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Phones

      • Mobile is the New Desktop: The HP/Palm Q&A

        Q: But why now?
        A: Because for all of the penetration of the iPhone and Android class devices, this market is just getting started. Look at any hardware vendor’s roadmap and you’re likely to see not only a smartphone play, but all manner of MID/tablet/smartbook devices as well – largely ARM driven. Because that’s a compelling market. The hardware, of course, is only one part of the equation. And, arguably, not the hardest part.

      • Nokia Qt SDK beta has adorable mobile simulators

        Nokia is developing a new Qt SDK that will simplify the development of cross-platform mobile applications. A beta release, which was made available this week, includes the Qt Creator integrated development environment (IDE), comprehensive Qt reference documentation, and mobile simulators that make it possible to see how a Qt application will look and feel on MeeGo or Symbian.

      • Android

        • Mobile phone sales rise as Andoid online usage soars
        • Google reportedly preparing to intro TV software next month

          Google’s TV plans have yet to be officially confirmed, though they have been rumored for at least a month now. Consistent with the company’s strategy in other areas, Google isn’t expected to be involved in manufacturing set-top boxes; rather, the company is supposedly developing a version of Android that would be especially conducive to the big screen. Third-party developers would then be able to write their own apps for the devices, giving more openness and flexibility to people’s TV watching habits.

    • Sub-notebooks

      • Proposal from OLPC Paraguay on how to manage Sugar or other educational software

        The project to deliver One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) for educational purpose in developing countries is doing great in Paraguay. According to developer Bernie Innocenti, this success comes from a way to manage the development of the Sugar educational software that other countries (or any other similar projects, see for example the Teachermate or the italian JumpPC) could and should imitate.

Free Software/Open Source

  • The Magic Black Box Paradox of Freedom

    Freedom is the ability to do what one wants. Some restrictions to freedom are understandable and necessary. No sane individual would argue for the freedom to kill, or the freedom to steal. In modern society, restriction on an individual’s freedom are most acceptable if said restrictions protect the freedom of others. The freedom to kill takes away the freedom to live from the killed. The freedom to steal takes away the rights of property from the robbed. However, an argument against hate speech, because it hurts others’ freedom to feel safe, is much more controversial. A line must be drawn somewhere that establishes the maximum possible freedom for all individuals.

  • A quick one on Being Free

    Just finished editing a dot story on Choqok (will go live sometime next week). Some of you might have noticed the initiative by its main developer Mehrdad Momeny to speed up development by soliciting monetary input. This will allow him to spend more time on making Choqok rock, but also give users a tangible way of influencing development priorities. This can increase commitment from the users, developers and the community – while bringing real benefits (in terms of code).

  • The Bizarre Cathedral – 71
  • Open-Xchange Simplifies SaaS Pricing, Targets Exchange

    Open-Xchange, the open source Microsoft Exchange competitor and collaboration platform that’s been turning heads in the hosted application market, has announced a simplified SaaS partner pricing structure that comes in two flavors: guaranteed revenue and flat rate. Here’s the scoop on what could be a sign of things to come for the cloud market and the IT channel.

    If Open-Xchange’s press release is to be believed, Open-Xchange only cares about two things from its partners: how big your customer base is, and how you plan to pay for the groupware subscriptions. They call it “OXrate” pricing, and they have five tiered partner levels from less than 1,000 to more than 250,000 customers. No matter what tier you fall on, though, they’re still offering both aforementioned pricing schemes.

  • How to help large organizations to contribute open source project ?

    During the 2010 thinktank in Napa, one of the participant asked the audience the following question “How could we help organizations to contribute to Open Source software”.

    The problem is the following : most of the large organizations rely on open source software one way or another. There is not necessarily an official policy about FLOSS usage but system engineers and IT administrators & developers tends to use and deploy Open Source software.

  • The USING Series: More than Just a Book

    I previously posted here in my blog that my eBook Using GIMP was going to be released within a few months. What I probably didn’t spell out, is that it’s part of a newly launched book series called Using under the imprint of the aforementioned QUE Publishing. But why should you care?

  • Open source communities must protect their interests

    When Oracle bought Sun the first reaction in the mySQL open source community was to fork it.

    Now PGP may need a fork following Symantec’s purchase of PGP Corp., and speculation it may favor Guardian Edge instead.

  • A Bushel of Free FOSS Tutorials

    You can’t knock a good FOSS tutorial. While documentation, including tutorials, is often a weakness with open source applications–even very established ones–the good news is that there are some outstanding free tutorials on the web. They’re available for many projects and platforms. Sometimes these are delivered by the community behind particular projects, and sometimes they are from enthusiasts and other third parties. In this post, you’ll find many of them.

  • Interview with Mercurial’s Matt Mackall

    Recently, Mercurial author Matt Mackall has decided to try to devote his full time to working on the distributed source control tool. He’s doing this by seeking funding from companies that use Mercurial or sell Mercurial-based products.

    [...]

    OStatic: Do you have any plans for promoting Mercurial in addition to the development work to try to boost adoption & contributions?

    Frankly, no. I’m not much interested in evangelizing. Mercurial is successful enough that I just don’t have time for it, let alone motivation. As for contributions, there are already more than I can manage in my available time, and so a large part of this efforts is to free up more of my time for that.

  • Can’t Program, won’t Program? Then Mash the Web with Mozilla’s Ubiquity

    Mozilla’s Firefox browser has been downloaded more that one billion times and its success is reflected in the millions of downloads of one of its killer features: addons (or extensions, as we geriatrics called them).

  • Events

  • Oracle

  • BSD/UNIX

    • The customer is (almost) always right

      We had produced a version of Unix called Ultrix for our PDP-11 line of computers, and several releases of this had already been shipped, proving itself to be a solid implementation of Unix.

      At the event we had a reception, with finger food, beer and wine and I was standing there, munching some chicken wings and drinking a beer when a customer walked up to me and said:

      “I think your Ultrix system really stinks.”

      He actually used another word than “stinks”, also beginning with an “s” and ending with a “k”, but this is a family-oriented blog and we don’t want to put anything bad here.

Leftovers

  • Sony to stop selling floppy disks from 2011

    Sony has signalled what could be the final end of the venerable floppy disk.

    The electronics giant has said it will stop selling the 30-year-old storage media in Japan from March 2011.

  • Kicking Outlook

    Tired of Microsoft Outlook for managing your email? Here are some alternatives.

    Mention email and most Windows users immediately think of Outlook. The Outlook email client from Microsoft has become so entrenched in the Windows desktop that most users don’t even know there are alternatives.

    We look at five alternative email clients that run on Windows, and in most cases, other operating systems such as Mac OS X and Linux.

  • Science

    • US boffin builds ultra-dense nanodot memory

      A US scientist has developed a way to store binary data on dots 6nm in size – possibly leading to a one-square-inch chip holding 2TB of data.

    • The Grandfather Paradox

      There you go, a mind-boggling speculation that explains everything oh so well. Time travel, if possible, is definitely not something to partake in lightly. At most, you may want to experiment with individual particles. Shipping off entire humans across the barriers of Time seems a little far-fetched. Then, you may also destroy the Universe by playing with matter and anti-matter, not an everyday task.

    • NASA’s Ambitious New Space Telescope Passes Critical Test

      NASA’s hotly-anticipated new space observatory has passed its most significant mission milestone yet – a critical design review that sets the stage for a planned 2014 launch.

  • Security/Aggression

    • Google personal suggest bug exposed user web history

      The company also points out that it has been much quicker to add SSL encryption to its online services than competitors – which is true. In July 2008, the company added an HTTPS-only option to Gmail, and in mid-January, hours after announcing that alleged Chinese had pilfered intellectual property from its internal systems, it turned the encryption on by default. It also offers SSL as an option on its Calendar, Docs, and Sites services.

      Yahoo Mail and Microsoft Live mail still have not offered such protection.

    • How Many More Are Innocent?

      Scalia wrote that an exoneration “demonstrates not the failure of the system but its success.” But these 250 DNA tests aren’t proof that the system is working. They’re a wake-up call telling us that it isn’t. Instead of falling back on groups like the Innocence Project to serve as unofficial checks against wrongful convictions, cops, prosecutors, judges, and lawmakers should be thinking about why there’s so much work for these organizations to do.

    • Kindly Endorse: Citizens against UID / Aadhaar

      We, representatives of people’ movements, mass organizations, institutions and concerned individuals including all the undersigned strongly oppose the potential tracking and profiling based techno-governance tools such as the Unique Identification number (UID) by the Government of India and the manner in which legitimate democratic processes have been undermined through this.

  • Environment

    • Deepwater Horizon oil spill to be set on fire to save US coast

      The US coastguard is to set fire to oil leaking into the Gulf of Mexico to prevent the slick from reaching shore after last week’s explosion on the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig.

      Robot submarines have so far failed to shut off the flow more than 1,500 metres below where the Deepwater Horizon was wrecked. Eleven workers are missing, presumed dead, and the cause of the explosion 50 miles off Louisiana has not been determined.

  • Finance

    • Goldman Sachs explained
    • Justice Department Investigation Into Goldman Sachs Goes Beyond SEC Cases

      But since it’s all a giant shell game anyway, and it’s likely that the other Wall Street firms are using the exact same practices, why are the stock prices dropping? It’s almost as if investors need to believe this was an aberration, and they’re clutching the idea like a security blanket. Bad Goldman Sachs!

    • What Drives Motivation in the Modern Workplace?

      PAUL SOLMAN: You’re describing a world that sounds like a marketplace, but it just doesn’t have any money in it.

      JOHN YODSNUKIS, Open-Sourcer: You know, you need adequate compensation. You have to live. You have to survive, OK? But, if you ask an artist why they became an artist, a lot of them will say, I can’t do anything else. I have to do this.

      It’s the same thing here, you know? It’s the fulfillment, the love of doing it is reason enough.

    • Open Source vs. Wall Street Bonuses
  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

    • Fox News Calls Mr. Rogers An Evil Man

      Little did I know, Mr. Rogers was an evil man. By telling children they’re special just for being who they are, he helped create this generation of worthless, lazy socialists who think they’re entitled to health care… at least according to Fox News.

    • Climate Scientist, Heated Up Over Satirical Video, Threatens Lawsuit

      The Penn State climate professor who has silently endured investigations, hostile questioning, legislative probes and attacks by colleagues has finally spoken out. He says he’ll sue the makers of a satirical video that’s a hit on You Tube.

    • Why are Tea Party Supporters So Angry?

      Tea Party supporters repeatedly assert that they are not racists and that their strong dislike of President Obama is not racially motivated. The Tea Party is clearly not a hate group like the Ku Klux Klan or the various militia movements on the fringes that openly advocate hate, hostility or violence toward those they do not like. Their income, education and political influence place the vast majority of Tea Party supporters much closer to the establishment than to any such fringe groups. And in 21st century America you cannot be a well respected member of the establishment and openly advocate racist positions.

    • Even After Law Aimed At Banning It, RNC Still Sending Misleading ‘Census’ Mailer

      The Republican National Committee is continuing to send out a misleading fundraising mailer labeled “Census Document,” just weeks after Congress passed a law aimed at banning such mailers.

  • Censorship/Privacy/Civil Rights

  • Internet/Net Neutrality/DRM

    • EZTakes: 5,000+ strong DRM-free online video store
    • AT&T (And Friends) Still Hard At Work Making Up Net Neutrality Job Loss Figures

      As the FCC gets closer to crafting network neutrality rules (assuming they even have the authority to do so), AT&T lobbyists have worked overtime to push the idea that creating such rules would automatically result in job losses. To help nudge this scary meme into the press, they hired their old friend Bret Swanson, formerly employed at the Discovery Institute — a think tank that created both the “Exaflood” (debunked here countless times) and “Intelligent Design”. Back in February Swanson, like most AT&T hired policy wonks, used completely bogus “science” to insist that network neutrality rules would result in 1.5 million job losses. He came to that number simply by adding up all of the people employed by companies that submitted comments to the FCC opposing network neutrality (seriously).

  • Copyrights

    • Interview With Will Page, Music Industry Economist

      [E]conomic analysis can only tell us so much and it’s at this point when the baton must be passed on to folks from other disciplines or backgrounds who can bring new insights to the table to work out what that actually means in terms of this intriguing thing called ‘culture’ — which also means this is a good point to conclude this interview.

    • White House Releases Public Comments On IP Enforcement

      I’m not really sure how helpful those letters really were on either side, as they didn’t add too much to the conversation. The folks responding to the call from the Copyright Alliance didn’t really answer any of the questions from Espinel. They often just said “my business is in trouble, you must help me!” which isn’t very convincing. At times, they went to extreme lengths, like this guy, who tried to convince Espinel that having his photographs copied was the same thing as if he had stolen her car. Very convincing.

    • Chile Gets New Copyright Law: Some Good, Some Bad

      The “bad” is the second one. Increasing penalties makes little sense when penalties for violating copyright law are already way out of line with the “harm” done. The “neutral” one is the last one, concerning liability for service providers. Creating good safe harbors for service providers, so they’re not blamed for the actions of their users, is definitely a good thing. But the devil is very much in the details — and what the requirements are for a service provider to qualify for those safe harbors. While the report says “the ISP must meet certain requirements in order to be exempted from liability,” it does not detail what those “certain requirements” are.

    • File-Sharers Have Little But Not Zero Privacy
    • Court OKs Unmasking Identities of Copyright Scofflaws
    • Music Industry Execs Debate Brokep From The Pirate Bay

      Finally, he also knocks BPI and others in the industry for still thinking that DRM is a reasonable solution — pointing out that it’s totally anti-consumer:

      “The problem is, nobody really asked the consumer,” he says, about attempts to put DRM on CDs. “They absolutely hated it. You put the CD into the computer and it wouldn’t play… In the future, we’ve got to bring the consumers into the business model. In fact, they already are part of the business model.”

      Geoff Taylor, the head of BPI (basically the UK’s RIAA) comes off as about what you’d expect. He trashes The Pirate Bay repeatedly, claims that it’s “destroying national cultures” (with no proof, of course) and says that there needs to be “disincentives” to dealing with unauthorized file sharing.

    • RIAA Gets AFL-CIO To Support Performance Tax: Payments In Perpetuity For A Small Amount Of Work

      The RIAA has been touting this for a little while already, but the AFL-CIO has officially signed on to support the RIAA’s highly questionable performance tax. This is a bogus attempt to boost RIAA revenue by taxing radio stations for promoting their music. The RIAA has been going around claiming that radio promoting its music is a “kind of piracy”, while at the same time claiming it’s somehow illegal for radio stations not to play RIAA music. Yeah. Logic is not the RIAA’s strong suit. Even worse, of course, is that the RIAA has blatantly demonstrated that it knows there’s tremendous value in getting its music on the air. It’s been involved in payola scams for decades. To basically get the government to mandate reverse payola is the height of obnoxiousness.

    • Irish music blogs under attack over royalties

      The Irish Music Rights Organisation (IMRO) has moved against several of the country’s MP3 blogs, demanding licences that threaten to shut down some of Ireland’s most-respected music sites. Sites including Nialler9 and the Torture Garden have been asked to pay hundreds of pounds annually to continue sharing songs – most of which are sent to them by the artists and labels themselves.

    • USTR Announces What Countries Have Been Naughty When It Comes To Intellectual Property

      The USTR has released the list again (pdf) and it’s basically the same deal as in previous years. No methodology. No real interest in hearing concerns of consumers or about the rights of individual countries to make their own laws. About the only thing that the public consultation did was allow the USTR to say in the report that it “enhanced its public engagement activities.” It notes that there were 571 comments from interested parties, which is a lot more than in the past. But there doesn’t seem to be much in the actual report that reflects the concerns raised by myself and many others.

    • Google Wins ‘Thumbnail’ Images Ruling in German Court

      Google Inc., operator of the world’s most-used Internet search engine, won dismissal of a lawsuit in Germany’s top civil court aimed at stopping the company’s use of “thumbnail” preview images.

      Google isn’t violating the copyright of an artist who had posted photographs of her works on her Web site, the Federal Court of Justice said in an e-mailed statement today.

    • Washington Post Fails To Ask NBC’s Rick Cotton Any Tough Questions

      Cotton, of course, is one of our favorite quote machines. He’s the guy who famously claimed that movie downloading was hurting corn farmers of America, because people wouldn’t buy popcorn at movies any more (a factually ridiculous statement, considering that (1) box office sales keep going up (2) corn is one of the most heavily subsidized markets and continues to grow and (3) people watching movies at home still eat popcorn). He also considered it a victory, that his efforts made it more difficult for legitimate viewers to watch the Olympics.

Clip of the Day

NASA Connect – WYGTYA – Bird Navigation (1/12/1998)


Yahoo! and Microsoft! Are Like Novell! and Microsoft!

Posted in Google, Microsoft, Novell, Search at 4:49 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Novell as Yahoo!

Summary: A timely comparison between what Microsoft does to Yahoo! and what Microsoft does to Novell in order to turn any competitor into an ally

Microsoft’s corporate hijack of Yahoo! is almost complete now that former Microsoft executives and partners run the company and those who remained inside Yahoo! are leaving too (this company’s Consumer Products Head is the latest departure). It is not troubling news for Microsoft’s insider who is running the company and is said to receive $47 million in benefits. What a disgusting display of power from Microsoft. It’s likely that no laws are broken here, not even when Microsoft hires AstroTurfers to undermine Yahoo! and Google.

“Microsoft is said to have paid Verizon half a billion dollars to dump Google and channel all customers in Microsoft’s direction.”A few months ago we wrote about Microsoft’s deal with Verizon [1, 2]. Microsoft is said to have paid Verizon half a billion dollars to dump Google and channel all customers in Microsoft’s direction. Novell’s very recent deal with Verizon [1, 2] came just shortly later (see the press release [1, 2, 3] and new coverage from the press in New England and elsewhere [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9]). It is worth keeping track of this because Microsoft to Novell is in many ways like Microsoft to Yahoo!

Novell has also been occupied by former Microsoft executives/boosters over the past few years (the same goes for European regulators to a lesser extent). In turn, judging by the past week’s news, former Novell staff finds itself in top Diebold positions. Another new example of a person with past inside Novell is David Fleck, who becomes a marketing vice president.

The company also announced that David Fleck, former vice president of marketing and business development for Second Life, has joined IMVU as vice president of marketing.

More of Novell’s former PR staff finds itself inside a new host.

A tech PR agency veteran with client experience including HP, Lenovo and Novell, Margherita thrives on European PR strategy and campaign coordination. Steve Loynes, director at Chameleon, says: “Margherita’s international background and extensive experience is hugely relevant for our international work and we are pleased to have her on board.”

What PR people do is spread dishonesty with apparent sincerity. Here for example is Novell’s latest PR response to an article about Red Hat:

A recent article in in TechTarget has speculated that only one commercial Linux vendor will prevail and be viable in the data center, arguing that Novell and others won’t be able to compete. This kind of simplistic analysis makes for a good headline but, we believe, is bad research based on faulty logic and a selective use of the facts.

What a group of hypocrites. If anyone makes use of “faulty logic and a selective use of the facts” it’s Novell’s PR department. We gave a very large number of examples before. Does Novell’s PR department consider itself the foundation of truth now? PR is of course derived from propaganda.

“[The Novell/Microsoft package] provides IP peace of mind for organizations operating in mixed source environments.”

Ian Bruce, Novell’s PR Director

Novell Adds Support for Vista 7, .NET Applications, Winforms, and Microsoft WPF While Its Own Business Erodes

Posted in Mail, Microsoft, Novell, Vista 7, Windows at 4:18 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“[The partnership with Microsoft is] going very well insofar as we originally agreed to co-operate on three distinct projects and now we’re working on nine projects and there’s a good list of 19 other projects that we plan to co-operate on.”

Ron Hovsepian, Novell CEO

Summary: “Everything Microsoft” inside Novell SecureLogin 7.0 SP1; Novell’s own installbase on Windows continues to decline

BASED on new posts such as this one, it is easy to see why Novell develops and promotes Mono and Moonlight while occasionally boosting Vista 7. Here are the latest SecureLogin “enhancements”:

The new enhancements include:

* Next-generation integration wizard for faster application enablement and a shorter, error-free deployment
* Support for .NET applications, Winforms & WPF
* Support for Microsoft Windows 7 (32 & 64 bit)
* Support for Citrix XenApp 5

Judging by the above, Novell is not much of a GNU/Linux company. It’s not.

Novell’s loss of big clients has been covered by the following sources over the past week:

IDG: Oregon Schools To Use Google Apps–And Why Microsoft Should Worry (more here and here)

The City of Los Angeles recently announced plans to migrate its 30,000 employees from Novell GroupWise to Google’s collaborative suite.

The Inquirer: Los Angeles snubs Microsoft for Google

The city has been using Novell Groupwise collaboration software but has found that its mailbox sizes are too small for its needs.

Washington Technology: The City of Angels soars into a cloud

The companies are building a cloud e-mail system to replace the existing Novell GroupWise service for the city’s municipal agencies using Google’s suite of Web-based productivity tools.

The Ithacan: ITS to switch campus server from Novell

Information Technology Services is putting the final touches on plans to migrate student and faculty users off the Novell network operating system onto a new system, making campus computer use more efficient.

As long as Novell loses business, a sale of Novell becomes more inevitable. The worth of Novell keeps declining though. The workforce is also being moved to India and to the far east. Sandeep Menon, Novell’s Country Head in India, was speaking to the Indian press some days ago, but this issue did not come up.

Apple’s and Microsoft’s New Motto: Do More Evil, Together

Posted in Apple, GNU/Linux, Google, Microsoft, Patents at 4:01 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Steve Ballmer

Steve Jobs
Original photo by Matthew Yohe, modified by Techrights for humour

Summary: Apple and Microsoft share tactical moves in their fight against common enemies, notably Linux and disablers of software patents

Increasing amounts of analysis and interpretation, not just anecdotal evidence, may suggest a correlation between Apple’s action against HTC/Android and Microsoft’s action against HTC/Android. At the very least, Apple and Microsoft fight against the freedom of software and the low cost which hits proprietary software’s business paradigms at their very core (no software acquisition costs, as opposed to costs associated with services and no revenue from patents on codecs for example).

Yesterday we wrote about Apple shutting down Lala shortly after acquiring it. We explained that it could have something to do with Apple's relationships inside the copyright cartel. Apple is also promoting software patents and working against Ogg Theora. Hugo Roy’s open letter, which shows this rather clearly, has just received a lot of attention, starting with his blog post that reached Slashdot.

May I remind you that H.264 is not an open standard? This video codec is covered by patents, and “vendors and commercial users of products which make use of H.264/AVC are expected to pay patent licensing royalties for the patented technology” (ref). This is why Mozilla Firefox and Opera have not adopted this video codec for their HTML5 implementation, and decided to chose Theora as a sustainable and open alternative.

[...]

From: Steve Jobs
To: Hugo Roy
Subject: Re:Open letter to Steve Jobs: Thoughts on Flash
Date 30/04/2010 15:21:17

All video codecs are covered by patents. A patent pool is being assembled to go after Theora and other “open source” codecs now. Unfortunately, just because something is open source, it doesn’t mean or guarantee that it doesn’t infringe on others patents. An open standard is different from being royalty free or open source.

Sent from my iPad

Since it was an open letter, I think I have the right to publish his answer.

Xiph already has a response about Apple: “It would only strengthen the pushback against software patents and add to Apple’s increasing PR mess.”

To quote more fully:

Here is Montgomery’s response:

Thomson Multimedia made their first veiled patent threats against Vorbis almost ten years ago. MPEG-LA has been rumbling for the past few years. Maybe this time it will actually come to something, but it hasn’t yet. I’ll get worried when the lawyers advise me to; i.e., not yet.

The MPEG-LA has insinuated for some time that it is impossible to build any video codec without infringing on at least some of their patents. That is, they assert they have a monopoly on all digital video compression technology, period, and it is illegal to even attempt to compete with them. Of course, they’ve been careful not to say quite exactly that.

If Jobs’s email is genuine, this is a powerful public gaffe (‘All video codecs are covered by patents.’) He’d be confirming MPEG’s assertion in plain language anyone can understand. It would only strengthen the pushback against software patents and add to Apple’s increasing PR mess. Macbooks and iPads may be pretty sweet, but creative individuals don’t really like to give their business to jackbooted thugs.

The FFII’s president says that “MPEGLA will go after Theora, Apple and Microsoft, along with a host of tech companies, are also members of MPEGLA” (MPEG-LA's CEO Larry Horn is a patent troll who extorts 'on the side').

Here is some of the press coverage about the implicit threat from Steve Jobs:

Steve Jobs: mystery patent pool to attack Ogg Theora

Patent Pool to Thwart Open Source Codecs

Apple May Be Gunning for Open Source Codecs

Patent challenge looming for open-source codecs?

If authentic, a new e-mail from Steve Jobs indicates that Apple and Microsoft–of all bedfellows–could be preparing to challenge the validity of open-source video codecs.

Jobs’ e-mail to Hugo Roy of the Free Software Foundation Europe, coupled with a similarly worded announcement from Microsoft on Friday, is a shot across the bow of backers of the open-source Ogg Theora video codec, used by Mozilla to bring HTML5 video technology to Firefox. Both Apple and Microsoft plan to use the h.264 codec in their HTML5 strategy, which is governed by a licensing body called MPEG LA. Apple and Microsoft, along with a host of tech companies, are also members of that group.

On a separate note, Apple’s (or Steve Jobs’) hypocrisy which we mentioned the other day is being exposed and criticised in Ars Technica which writes:

Pot, meet kettle: a response to Steve Jobs’ letter on Flash

[...]

Part of the reason why Flash and iPhone OS are proprietary is that Adobe and Apple agreed to the terms of the H.264 patent license. H.264, despite Jobs’s claim, is not a free standard—patents necessary to implement it are held by a group that requires all users to agree to a license with restrictive terms. Those terms have previously even been unavailable for examination online. We are publishing them on fsf.org today in order to comment on their unethical restrictions. The fact that H.264 is a commonly used standard does not make it a free standard—the terms of its use are what matter, and they require all licensed software to include the following notice:

THIS PRODUCT IS LICENSED UNDER THE AVC PATENT PORTFOLIO LICENSE FOR THE PERSONAL AND NON-COMMERCIAL USE OF A CONSUMER TO (I) ENCODE VIDEO IN COMPLIANCE WITH THE AVC STANDARD (“AVC VIDEO”) AND/OR (II) DECODE AVC VIDEO THAT WAS ENCODED BY A CONSUMER ENGAGED IN A PERSONAL AND NON-COMMERCIAL ACTIVITY AND/OR WAS OBTAINED FROM A VIDEO PROVIDER LICENSED TO PROVIDE AVC VIDEO. NO LICENSE IS GRANTED OR SHALL BE IMPLIED FOR ANY OTHER USE. ADDITIONAL INFORMATION MAY BE OBTAINED FROM MPEG LA, L.L.C. SEE HTTP://WWW.MPEGLA.COM

You’ll find similar language in the license agreements of Final Cut Studio, Google Chrome, Mac OS X, and Windows 7.

A Red Hat-run Web site covered this conundrum and so did another which went with the headline: “Meet the Hypocrites: Steve Jobs”

That led to the following paragraph:

Adobe’s Flash products are 100% proprietary. They are only available from Adobe, and Adobe has sole authority as to their future enhancement, pricing, etc. While Adobe’s Flash products are widely available, this does not mean they are open, since they are controlled entirely by Adobe and available only from Adobe. By almost any definition, Flash is a closed system.

Notice anything curious about that paragraph? It’s a perfect description of Apple’s own business practices! Just replace “Adobe” and “Flash” with “Apple” and “iPhone”, “iPad”, “iPod/iTunes”, or “Mac” and you get a nicely worded four sentence critique of Jobs’ own company. Seriously… How can Jobs talk about openness when his notoriously secretive company is not only hypocritically on the warpath against Adobe, but recently goaded police into initiating a criminal investigation over the disappearance of Apple’s fourth generation iPhone prototype, which was lost by one of Jobs’ own employees!?

For some background about this, see [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8]. Apple has spin on the sin.

Adobe is already drifting towards Linux by “giving employees Android phones with Flash,” according to Apple Insider.

Following Apple CEO Steve Jobs’ public attack on Flash this week, Adobe is now reportedly planning to give its employees Android phones running Flash.

Three sources familiar with Adobe’s plans told CNet that Adobe plans to give its employees mobile phones powered by Google’s Android mobile operating system, and running a new mobile version of Flash created for the platform. Adobe reportedly has not yet decided which Android phone it will give its employees, though “various HTC phones and the Nexus One” were specifically mentioned.

A reader of ours wrote just to say that “Adobe responds to Apple on Flash” and that it “Just goes to show what happens when you do business with a closed source company.” From the BBC he quotes a report which says that “Adobe confirms plans to move away from Apple” and in it Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen is quoted as saying that “when you resort to licensing language” to restrict development, it has “nothing to do with technology”.

“Our view of the world is multi-platform.”
      –Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen
Further it says: “He said it was now “cumbersome” for developers who were forced to have “two workflows”.

“Mr Narayen said the problems highlighted by Mr Jobs were “a smokescreen”.

“He added that if Flash crashed Apple products it was something “to do with the Apple operating system”.

“He said he found it “amusing” that Mr Jobs thought that Flash was a closed platform.

“”We have different views of the world,” Mr Narayan told the Wall Street Journal. “Our view of the world is multi-platform.”"

Our reader also made us aware that “Microsoft’s Internet Explorer 9 shuns open video”, which shows quite clearly that Microsoft’s ‘embrace’ of HTML5 was an embrace, extend, and extinguish move (who didn’t see that coming?). Microsoft may have embraced <video> only to ensure that Theora is not supported in it. For shame, Microsoft. Apple does the same thing and it's not surprising. Here is Microsoft’s spin in Slashdot and the original post that says:

H.264 is an industry standard, with broad and strong hardware support.

Define “industry standard”. What about software patents?

Our reader has insisted that Microsoft merely embraces “open ‘standards’ [with scare quote]” and that “Microsoft [is] yet again playing the ‘open standards’ shuffle.” He argues that Microsoft is more or less saying: “You can use our open codecs but only on our closed proprietary system, and as long as you pay us our royalties.”

“Microsoft [is] yet again playing the ‘open standards’ shuffle.”
      –Anonymous reader
Apple and Microsoft are very much together in this. To them, Free software is a common enemy which is very strong and at the very least forces Microsoft and Apple to keep their prices down.

Here is a new article titled “In Mobile Video Standards Fight, Consumers Are Poised to Lose” and signs that Korea finally learns its lessons from ActiveX [1, 2] and moves further away from Internet Explorer, which does not support Theora, either. From Mozilla we learn:

For those of you who have followed my blog, you know that it has been 3 years since I first reported on the fact that Korea does not use SSL for secure transactions over the Interent but instead a PKI mechanism that limits users to the Windows OS and Internet Explorer as a browser. Nothing fundamentally has changed but there are new pressures on the status quo that may break open South Korean for competition in the browser market in the future.

[...]

Dr. Keechang Kim of Korea University has been working tirelessly for many years to try to change the status quo in Korea around browsers and the reliance on a PKI mechanism that is tied to one platform. With concern being raised by different parts of the Korean government, including the Korean Communications Commission as well as the Office of the President of Korea, Keechang has gathered a very interesting panel of presentations for April 29th in Seoul. The panelists will be addressing the (Korean) Financial Supervisory Service (FSS) which is the regulatory body in Korea that is currently mandating the PKI mechanism that is in place today (which requires Active-X, etc.) Unless the FSS relaxes or changes their regulations, Korean banks cannot offer other mechanisms for Korean users to bank online, etc. In short, unless the FSS changes their stance, nothing will change in Korea.

[...]

Thank you to Keechang and everyone in the OpenWeb.or.kr community for your tireless efforts to try to break open the Korean market. Thank you also to Channy Yun who has put aside his own schedule in order to participate and guide Lucas in Seoul. There is still a long road to walk to an open, competitive market in S. Korea for browsers, but I am starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Speaking of security, Netcraft writes about security issues and points out that “Windows users are vulnerable to flaw in Java Web Start”. Korea ought to change its preferred platform too.

One might argue that Apple’s big sin here is that it’s greedy and that the same applies to Microsoft. But in fact, both companies misbehave in ways that go beyond this. “Boycott Apple,” says a new headline from LinuxToday’s editor, stating the case against Apple for its abuse of bloggers.

This is an abuse of police powers, an exercise in intimidation. The message is clear: annoy Apple, and Apple will crush you like a bug. A more appropriate response would have been dueling lawyers firing subpoenas at each other and racking up the appropriate number of billable hours. The most appropriate response would have been “Oops, we goofed, we let one of our trade secrets out, we need to be more careful.”

Trade secrets are exposed all the time. Execs lose things. Employees blab. Some journalists feel it is beneath their dignity to take advantage of such lapses. But it is not our job to protect their trade secrets, and especially not in this era of intellectual property madness where the balance of power is tipped heavily into the hands of big business, and every last little thing that displeases the corporate overlords is criminalized.

[...]

At best, in my un-legal but common-sense opinion, this is a minor civil matter, and surely not a criminal case that warrants a door-busting raid and possible felony charges. Both Mr. Hogan and Mr. Chen face possible felony charges, which is utterly insane.

Attacking messengers seems to be Apple’s unofficial way out of it after it bullied Gizmodo and received bad press (context below).

“Those Who Can, Do. Those Who Can’t, Sue.” (Updated)

Posted in Apple, Europe, Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Google, Microsoft, Patents at 2:38 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Steve BallmerSummary: Microsoft may have actually threatened to sue HTC in order to sign a patent deal covering Android for unnamed patents

“Those who can, do. Those who can’t, sue,” said Canonical’s COO Matt Asay. Further he said: “This is the clearest indication of MS’s irrelevance: it’s now the hapless litigant” (whose products are being cancelled, Courier being the latest example).

He said pretty much the same thing about Apple when it sued HTC.

Florian wrote about Microsoft software patents in Europe, alluding to the bizarre new decision regarding FAT (at the core of the TomTom lawsuit).

Last week the Federal Court of Justice of Germany upheld a Microsoft patent related to the Windows file system named File Allocation Table (FAT). As H-Online mentioned in this context, European software patent critics dread the notion that rulings such as that one could elevate the status of software patents in Europe, where different national courts have different approaches to how to interpret the European Patent Convention and its exclusion of patents on “programs for computers [as such]“.

So Microsoft has just gone after HTC. Some articles suggest that there was a settlement and therefore a possibility that Microsoft threatened to sue in order to sign a patent deal (like in Melco’s case).

Some more thoughts about the HTC settlement have come from various influential GNU/Linux users, some of whom wait for software patents to be ultimately abolished.

I believe Bilski will be decided this year and software patents may be kicked into the garbage heap where they belong.

The other day we wrote about Klausner's latest round of patent trolling (against HTC). Here is another interesting perspective about what Apple and Microsoft did to HTC (and to Android by inference).

Microsoft claims that the Linux operating system infringes 235 Microsoft patents, and Android, which is Linux-based, violates Microsoft patents, too. Microsoft has convinced HTC to pay royalties for the alleged Microsoft technology in Google’s operating system.

Why would HTC do that?

Well, Apple is suing HTC for violating 20 Apple patents covering a wide range of technologies. One theory is that with both Microsoft and Apple claiming patent infringement, HTC has to pick sides. It chose Microsoft because the company also makes a wide variety of devices that run Microsoft operating systems. Because it has an extensive relationship with Microsoft, and none with Apple, choosing to work with Microsoft solves its Apple problem. In court, apparently HTC will be able to say that it’s already licensing the technology Apple claims as its own, but from Microsoft. That would imply that Apple’s beef is really with Microsoft, not with HTC. Case closed!

Can anyone confirm that Microsoft pressured and intimidated HTC (with a lawsuit) in order to sign that latest extortion deal [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7]? Microsoft tried to paint it as something signed in good faith, but it’s beginning to seem doubtful.

Update: Florian wishes to correct that last reference by saying (via E-mail):

The “interesting perspective” you quote from the Datamation article on HTC is actually legally wrong. I’ve already contacted the author of that article and here’s the information for you as well:

Every patent stands on its own. Every patent is a little monopoly. So if Apple has some patents that read on HTC’s software, HTC can’t defend itself in court by saying it has a license from Microsoft. That’s legally impossible as a defense. Not only is it very likely that Apple’s patents read on different features (touchscreen etc.) than Microsoft’s patents (there may be some overlap but it’s just impossible that two such large players would have 100% overlapping patent portfolios), but even if that unrealistic scenario of both patent portfolios covering the same functionality that HTC needs was the case, then that still wouldn’t change anything about the monopoly rights connected to each single patent. If Apple has a patent on, say, selecting a menu on a touchscreen and Microsoft has one as well, and if there aren’t differences in the details of the “methods taught”, the fact that there are two patents on the same thing doesn’t mean you get a license to one of them and don’t need the other. Instead, it would have to be sorted out whether one of those patents is prior art based on which the other (newer) patent could be invalidated. Only in that case would it be sufficient to obtain only one patent license.

Patents Roundup: University of Colorado Conference on Software Patents and Free Software; “Patent Absurdity” in Connecticut Film Festival; Amazon’s Absurd Patent; Monsanto’s Meat Patents

Posted in Free/Libre Software, Patents at 2:24 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Spare rib

Summary: 4 new items covering the absurdity of the patent system and resentment against it

A conference on software patents and free software (Jonathan Corbet went to the University of Colorado to study these issues)

A survey was done back in 2008, with 15,000 surveys sent out to a large number of firms. 1,333 of them – representing over 700 companies – came back. The numbers that came out were interesting, if arguably unsurprising.

According to this survey, 65% of software companies have no interest in software patents; they do not see patents as an important part of doing business. That compares with 82% of non-software companies which said they were working toward the acquisition of patents. It is worth noting that companies with venture capital backing had a higher level of interest in software patents than those without.

Film, new media and music featured at Connecticut Film Festival workshops (the film “Patent Absurdity” was already mentioned in [1, 2 3, 4, 5])

The Connecticut Film Festival will also feature the world premiere of the film “Patent Absurdity,” which explores the case of software patents and the history of judicial activism that led to their rise, and argues that programmers are finding it increasingly difficult to write programs for which they won’t be liable to be sued.

Amazon Patents Selling Used Goods At Starbucks, Barnes & Noble Or Other Locations (we have a new reference page about Amazon)

theodp writes “Having already been burned by Amazon’s 1-Click patent, one imagines Barnes & Noble will be fuming to learn that the USPTO granted Amazon a patent Tuesday covering the use of Barnes and Noble’s physical stores to fulfill orders placed for used goods on Amazon. The e-tailer was awarded U.S. Patent No. 7,702,545 for its System and Method for Facilitating Exchanges Between Buyers and Sellers, legal-speak for arranging a place to meet to exchange cash for used goods ordered online. From the patent: ‘In an exemplary embodiment, buyers and sellers are permitted to designate exchange locations in the system 100. An exchange location may be a location that the user regularly visits. For example, users may designate locations such as health clubs, schools, coffee shops, book stores, and so on, as acceptable exchange locations.’”

Meat claimed as invention by multinational company of Monsanto (we wrote about Monsanto in some of our previous posts because of Microsoft/Gates connections [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8])

*Stop patenting the food chain!

Multinational seed corporations are following a consequent strategy to gain control over basic resources for food production. As recent research shows not only genetically engineered plants, but more and more the conventional breeding of plants gets into the focus of patent monopolies: International patent applications in this sector are skyrocking, having doubled since 2007 till end of 2009. Further on the multinationals expand their claims over the whole chain of food production from feed to animals and food products such as meat. In a pending patent application from Monsanto even bacon and steaks are claimed: Patent application WO2009097403 is claiming meat stemming from pigs being fed with the patented genetically engineered plants of Monsanto. A similar patent is applied for fish from aquaculture in March 2010 (WO201027788). Far reaching patents on food are even already granted: Monsanto received a European patent (EP 1356033) in 2009, which the chain of food production from seeds of genetically engineered plants up to food products such as meal and oil are covered.

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