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06.10.10

Joke of the Day: “Open Source Developers Should Thank Apple”

Posted in Apple, Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, KDE at 7:16 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“Apple is fighting against powerful and fundamental economic forces. In the short term, Apple’s technological and industrial design prowess can help to prop up dying business models.”

Timothy Lee

Summary: Responses to the mythology of Apple as a defender of open source ideals

IN MANY WIKI indexes (see Apple Deception; Apple’s Dark Side; Apple Versus Partners; Apple on Software Patents; Apple vs HTC; hypePad Watch; Apple Helping Microsoft) we have gathered bits of news and analysis about Apple’s harms and attacks on software freedom. It’s hard to deny it when the evidence is right there at one’s fingertips.

DJ Walker-Morgan, who is usually a great writer, has just written a bizarre piece that first seemed like it was comical but it’s not. Luckily for us, a lot of people have already responded to it and highlighted the flaws in the argument. Here is the best rebuttal we have found so far. It compares Apple to the mafia (Apple does support racketeering through MPEG-LA for example, not to mention Hollywood).

Blogger DJ Walker-Morgan says open source developers should thank Apple for raising the competitive bar. Rubbish! That’s like the police thanking the Mafia for making them more work

[...]

Walker-Morgan’s fuzzy logic has it that Microsoft had lowered the bar so low (I love it, another Apple fan boy bashing Microsoft. Maybe they can do a commercial on that or something) that open source developers were “doing just enough” to beat Microsoft. It wasn’t until Steve Jobs took all of his open source based know how and technology and fused it into Apple, that the open source community had to really try its best in order to do one better than Apple.

Utter nonsense! First of all, if Apple is using all of that open source technology, how is it that none of what they push down to us is open source? In my mind that makes Apple a parasite of open source. They have used the technology, are notmaking the resulting products open source and are contributing zero back to the community. Why is that any different with that and what the Mafia does? They both are just taking, not giving back and living off of the work of others.

[...]

Mr. Walker-Morgan saying that Apple makes open source better is like saying the Mafia made the police better. It would be better if they didn’t have to!

Alan Shimel later needed to defend his position in the face of Apple apologists. Apple’s propaganda says: “Apple believes that using Open Source methodology makes Mac OS X a more robust, secure operating system”

“Great,” says Shimel, “explain to me why that is not a parasitic?”

“I’d like to see Apple speak honestly and openly about what projects they have made actual contributions to and explicitly list those contributions which have been ACCEPTED by the original projects.”
      –Bill Salak
Further down in the comments Bill Salak writes: “It’s a list of open source projects Apple is using. A list of projects with links to the source code of those projects does not constitute a contribution to the project itself.

“I’d like to see Apple speak honestly and openly about what projects they have made actual contributions to and explicitly list those contributions which have been ACCEPTED by the original projects.” Yes, Apple does this just for PR most of the time. It also breeds some pro-proprietary software bullies who are pretending to be “open source” people (who only agitate and harass those who really are).

Days ago we explained why the Free software/Open Source community does not love Apple, having shown just shortly beforehand that Apple spits on software freedom and merely exploits/hijacks "Open Source" projects, then claims credit for them. How about KHTML? Apple takes it, then renames the thing, calls WebKit its own work and pretends that Google owes Apple for its so-called ‘innovation’ (no word about KDE). Let’s remember that WebKit is “Open Source” because it has to be. There was actually a dispute. Apple contributes the very least that it’s required to give. For all other purposes, Apple shields the proprietary code which is an imitation with multiple layers of DRM. Has Apple neither shame nor humility?

“Why join the navy if you can be a pirate?”

Steve Jobs

Apple headquarters

UPLS is on the Rocks

Posted in Europe, Law, Patents at 6:20 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Beach

Summary: The unified patent litigation system (UPLS) — a back door to software patents in Europe — may be on its deathbed

FOR those who do not know, UPLS is one of the latest sets of clothing for those whose goal is to subvert EU law and make Free software borderline illegal in the whole continent (freedom gone in one fell swoop). Axel H. Horns has been keeping an eye on the subject for quite some time and his latest report calls TFEU “a monster”. Glyn Moody wonders out loud, “could this kill the EU patent?”

This TFEU is a monster. I do commiserate with the Judges who are confronted with the inescapable duty to make sense of all that. In the above text I merely have picked up some of the contributions made. See the full text in the minutes of the Hearing as linked above to enjoy the full spectrum of legal arguing as presented in Luxemburg.

Obviously the points made by the opponents of the PC are least partially seen even by the supporters. For me as a humble Patent Attorney it appears to be entirely open as to whether or not the Court might accept the golden argumentative bridges built by various Governments (see above for the German version) in order to make the overall construct looking compatible with the EU Treaties.

There is even arguing that – at least in the present phase of lawmaking – the referral is inadmissible.

What I don’t understand is this: Why on earth did various EU Member States press in the negotiations so hard to include countries which are not EU Member States? It would have been a titanic effort to push through a EU Patent plus a EU Patent Court exclusively for EU Member States. But the complexity which now has been arranged by the decision of the EU Council to include non-EU countries is sheer overwhelming.

More from Axel (prior to the above):

In some earlier posting I had reported that, on the occasion of the 2945th session of the Council of the European Union – Competitiveness Configuration (Internal Market, Industry and Research) – held on May 28, 2009, and in accordance with a Presidency proposal, a decision was taken to allow for a re-examination by the European Court of Justice (now: Court of Justice of the European Union) of the compatibility of the drafted agreement on a single court system for solving patent disputes. However, the EU Council did not publish any Documents from which the gist of the questions put before the ECJ could be derived.

Here is another new take on the subject:

UPLS: ‘We will fight them on the beaches …’

The Court of Justice of the European Union has received submissions in Opinion 1/09 Unified patent litigation system. In this Report for the Hearing, almost all possibilities regarding the legality of the proposed unified patent litigation system are contemplated:

“16 The observations submitted argue one of the following: (i) that the request for an opinion is inadmissible or (ii) that the draft agreement is incompatible with the Treaty [establishing the European Community] or (iii) that it is necessary to make amendments to the draft agreement in order to ensure its conformity with the Treaty or (iv) that the draft agreement is compatible with the Treaty”.

What a mess. This is good news and the FFII is pleased. It will also attend LinuxTag 2010 for those who are interested.

New Doctoral Thesis Explores the Effects of Software Patent Policy on the Motivation and Innovation of Free/Libre and Open Source Developers

Posted in Law, Patents at 5:46 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Effects of Software Patent Policy on the Motivation and Innovation of Free/Libre and Open Source Developers

Summary: The thesis of Marcus Manfred Dapp offers an explanation of why software patents are bad for Europe (and for any other continent/country for that matter)

THE following thesis [PDF] is being passed around the FFII at the moment. It was written in English and it covers a topic very relevant to this Web site. The conclusion is as follows:

This study offers a first empirical investigation into the effects of motivation and SWP presence on individual innovation behavior of FOSS developers. A new metric is proposed to measure individual innovation behavior based on code contribution types: in this scale, algorithm-based code contributions are rated more innovative than reuse-based contributions. In a separate analysis, the effect of motivation and SWP presence on reverse-engineering as a special contribution type is analyzed as well. Another new metric is proposed to measure SWP presence: instead of only considering the legal situation of a jurisdiction, the patent pressure within a software domain is also included. A survey was conducted to provide a new data-set for the empirical analysis.
Concerning the effects of motivation on innovation behavior, strong support can be reported for the following result: Above-average intrinsic motivation (joy and self-expression in code-writing) increases the odds for more innovative, algorithm-based code contributions, while above-average extrinsic (monetary and skills-related) motivation seems to decrease the odds. In connection with reuse-based contributions, the opposite relationship finds moderate support: Above-average extrinsic motivation increases the odds for reuse-based contributions, while above-average intrinsic motivation decreases the odds. The third result relates to reverse-engineering: None of the five motivational factors included in the analysis seem to explain why FOSS developers engage in reverse-engineering activities.
These results emphasize the role of motivation within the FOSS system. Particularly intrinsic motivation appears to not only keep this system alive and kicking, but more of it also seems to lead to more innovative contributions. Simply put: ‘Programming challenging new stuff is fun’. On the other side, it appears that reuse-based contributions with a lower innovation level – often needed for ‘the last mile’ before a program is end-user-ready – can be supported by offering extrinsic incentives. What still remains opaque from a theoretical point of view is the question why developers engage in reverse engineering. A broader analysis of motivational factors is needed here.
Concerning the effects of SWP presence on innovation behavior, the empirical results are less conclusive. Neither opponents nor proponents of SWP will find support for their positions that the presence of SWP decrease or increase respectively the odds for innovative, algorithm based contributions by FOSS developers. None of the three metrics used to capture SWP presence lends sufficient support to either side – be it positive or negative. Support, however, is found for a hypothesis related to reverse-engineering: stronger SWP presence attracts reverse-engineering based contributions by FOSS developers.
These results confirm several challenges for research as well as for policy-makers. Both continue to lack a broad, sound empirical foundation to discuss the effects of software patents on FOSS innovation.
For researchers, the challenges raised in this study are (a) to develop an easy-to use yet nontrivial metric to measure the presence of software patents empirically; (b) to quantify their effect on the FOSS system, helping policy-makers make better-informed decision. For future research, it would be useful to verify some of the links argued for in this study using other data sources. CVS logs have been used in the past for code contribution analysis. Maybe the innovation metric proposed here could be helpful in that regard.
For policy-makers in innovation and intellectual property policy fields the challenges are (a) to decide whether FOSS deserves a special case when debating software patents because of its unique way of producing software for the common good; (b) to continue treading carefully in the field of software patents before jumping to legislation. The FOSS market has reached a size where harm cannot be considered collateral damage as it may have in the past. Although the results have not shown systematic harm to the FOSS communities, there is still no empirical support that the traditional arguments in favor of patents do hold for the FOSS system – or software in general as some continue to argue.
Some limitations of the study deserve mentioning. First, taking the individual developer as unit of analysis ignores explanatory factors on project level that can also influence innovation behavior, such as project size and organizational structure. The larger a project is, the more elaborate its organization structure becomes, the more contributors tend to specialize in their contributions – up to a point where dedicated roles may emerge. Such a division of labor biases the measurement of individual innovation behavior. Second, it is impossible to investigate whether software patents caused projects to stop by only surveying ‘alive’ projects from SF as it has been done in this study. To obtain a complete picture, it is necessary to run a dedicated study on failed projects – even if the response rate will be very low.

No extraordinary claims are made, but it is clear that a correlation does seem to exist. If a legislator wishes to encourage software freedom and local production, then software patents would only act as a deterrent. They are detrimental.

Tuxera and Ulteo Repeat Novell’s Mistake

Posted in Deception, GNU/Linux, Google, Mandriva, Microsoft, Novell, Open XML, Patents at 5:28 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Partners in Crime - US First Edition Jacket 1929

Summary: What becoming a “partner” of Microsoft actually means based on history and based on the present

WHEN someone becomes a partner of Microsoft, this often means that Microsoft will exploit the peer while pretending to be a friend. There are hardly any exceptions to this rule, as anyone who is a Microsoft watcher ought to know by now. To trust a predator is to simply ignore its inner instincts and that’s what Microsoft is — a predator.

As the SCO case comes to an end the WordPerfect case resumes. We last wrote about it in March-April [1, 2].

According to Groklaw, “Novell Appeals in Microsoft Antitrust Litigation on WordPerfect Claims”:

Novell has filed a Notice of Appeal in its antitrust litigation against Microsoft. That’s the case about its WordPerfect claims. Despite Microsoft prevailing on its motion to dismiss, for technical reasons I’ll explain a bit in a minute, I want you to read what the judge said Microsoft did to Novell:

Microsoft did not just withdraw a charitable helping hand; rather, Microsoft allegedly first cooperated in an effort to improve its own product, subsequently misled Novell into relying on information provided pursuant to that cooperation, and then withdrew its cooperation after Novell reasonably relied on Microsoft’s representations.

Ouch. Bad doggie. Microsoft didn’t prevail because it was clean as the driven snow, in other words. It prevailed on a theory of what the contract covered that is so convoluted, I can barely explain it to you, although I will try, and because as a result of that theory, the judge ruled it was too late to go to court over what happened. I wanted to remind you, in case some of you have forgotten, that it’s not historically unmitigated good news when Microsoft decides it wants to partner with you.

“Partner with you” usually means “exploit you”. Microsoft attracts users, but not computer users. It attracts employees who are users — people who use other people. I happen to have personal experience with such people (not involving myself directly, but I discussed this with a friend who is a victim today); Microsoft employment turns them into arrogant users who think that they can exploit other people and get away with it. Judges have said so too, having looked at extensive evidence.

It was rather bizarre when Tuxera publicly stated that Microsoft would be a great partner. While it would be wise to boycott exFAT and products that use it (and refuse such products from anyone who brings them over and thus pressures a peer to buy from Microsoft), it is sometimes impractical. This trap from Microsoft is a vicious one because it means that people who swap USB devices (even cameras) may rely on or require Microsoft exFAT patents. It’s the same with exchange of documents sometimes (so exFAT is just like OOXML in some ways, therefore both should be avoided at all costs). Malik’s network of sites advertises exFAT this week and so do other Microsoft-sympathetic sources. The latter notes:

Tuxera has licensed the appropriate technology from Microsoft so companies deploying exFAT are entitled to use the technology enabled by the filesystem. The company has not named any partners who have licensed the technology for Android, but it is likely we will see exFAT on Android devices down the road.

Hopefully not. Better yet, Google ought to work hard to abolish exFAT, which mustn’t be anywhere near an industry ‘standard’. It should be considered an antitrust offence.

Speaking of Microsoft partners, Ulteo had a little announcement to make and some readers were concerned because of the Gaël Duval link (Mandrake founder). But the thing is, Ulteo has always been Windows-oriented in its newer path (adjunct to Windows function after attempts to just be a GNU/Linux distribution). Ulteo will sooner or later find out that Microsoft “partnerships” are a one-way relationship. Many companies found that out the hard way. These are partnerships of desperation or gullibility, disguised as a marriage of convenience.

“An analogy [of Microsoft] would be the owner of a toll bridge, which is the only bridge across a river, paying the owner of land to deny access to a site where a competitive bridge is partly built.”

Judge Robert Bork, former US Supreme Court nominee

“Their documents display a clear intent to monopolize, to prevent any competition from springing up. And they have used a variety of restrictive practices to prevent that kind of competition.”

Judge Robert Bork, former US Supreme Court nominee

It’s Final: Novell Owns UNIX. Now, Who Will Buy Novell With UNIX?

Posted in Novell, SCO, UNIX, VMware at 4:44 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: The judge gives UNIX to Novell, but it is worth remembering that Novell is up for sale and its assets are up for grabs

THE SCO case is over, according to Groklaw. We have heard it so many times before, so is this really it? (Groklaw has just published an older transcript as well)

Judge Ted Stewart has ruled for Novell and against SCO. Novell’s claim for declaratory judgment is granted; SCO’s claims for specific performance and breach of the implied covenant of good fair and fair dealings are denied. Also SCO’s motion for judgment as a matter of law or for a new trial: denied. SCO is entitled to waive, at its sole discretion, claims against IBM, Sequent and other SVRX licensees.

CASE CLOSED!

It’s not quite “CASE CLOSED!” considering the fact that Novell is looking for an acquirer, who would also take control of UNIX. Could VMware possibly be interested in buying Novell now that they work together? From Novell’s PR blog:

Today, Novell and VMware jointly announced a unique original equipment manufacturer (OEM) agreement through which VMware will distribute and support the SUSE® Linux Enterprise Server operating system. VMware will also standardize its virtual appliance-based product offerings on SUSE Linux Enterprise Server.

A little while earlier we wrote about this deal (still in the news). Some people speculated that VMware would buy Red Hat, but Novell is much cheaper and it is close to Microsoft, which VMware’s current management came from. Other potential buyers of Novell are SAP, IBM, Microsoft, and all sorts of hedge funds that are likely to sell Novell piece by piece.

Back in 2007 we warned that Novell owning UNIX possibly means that an acquirer of Novell would own UNIX within months or years. It seems as though we were right. It just took a while.

On Novell sale:

Links 10/6/2010: KDE SC 4.5 Beta 2, OSI Election

Posted in News Roundup at 3:58 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Why Isn’t Linux the Standard Secondary OS?

    Still, many people use multiple operating systems now, and so few use Linux as one of their choices. Among other reasons why Linux can function as a great sidekick to the more prevalent operating systems is that it’s more secure. If you’re going to jump into, say, an online banking app, why not do it in Linux, where the hackers and script kiddies aren’t?

    Additionally, many Linux distros instantly get you going on tasks instead of staring at hourglasses and are streamlined for quick results. It has long been a presumption in the Linux community that for it to really succeed, it has to be the sole OS on everyone’s desktop. Why does it? The answer is that it doesn’t have to do that.

    I’m already contemplating adding a Linux distro to the VMware-based system I’m running, and evaluating which one to use. It makes lots of sense.

  • HP leverages Linux, less known for contribution

    The 451 Group has published another open source strategy Spotlight report, this time turning our attention to longtime Linux server vendor Hewlett-Packard, which continues to dedicate resources to Linux and other open source software communities, but which also has a lower profile than others known for their open source contributions.

    HP has long been a big supporter of Linux and other open source software, particularly through its testing, certification and support of Linux on its ProLiant x86 and now Integrity IA-64-based servers. But despite its top market position, the company has also historically been overshadowed by others similarly supporting Linux and open source.

    [...]

    HP recognizes that users and customers – in financial services, insurance, telecommunications, healthcare, and among other early adopters – no longer need to be convinced on Linux. What they need now is guidance on adapting their strategy and effectively incorporating Linux and other open source software.

    More is available in the HP Spotlight report, which is available to existing 451 Group clients. Non-clients, as always, may apply for trial access via the same link.

  • Desktop

    • Memo From Dell: Ubuntu Linux Is Safer Than Windows

      Even as Dell ships millions of Windows 7 systems, the PC giant is making a bold statement on its web site. Indeed, if you look hard enough you’ll find Dell stating that “Ubuntu is safer than Microsoft Windows.” Moreover, Dell quietly says it plans to ship Ubuntu 10.04 systems in mid-2010. Here’s the scoop from The VAR Guy.

      Visit Dell.com/ubuntu and you’ll find a “Top Ten” list of “things you should know about Ubuntu.” Item number 6 on Dell’s list states:

      * “6) Ubuntu is safer than Microsoft® Windows® The vast majority of viruses and spyware written by hackers are not designed to target and attack Linux.”

  • Audiocasts

  • Linux Foundation

    • Making Open-Source Software Free and Fabulous

      Linux, by being truly open, lets hardware vendors and network operators offer an attractive code base that they can build their own applications and services on top of to more equally balance profits. Those include app stores, online music services, and add-on hardware.

      Does Linux have a shot at challenging Apple’s dominance? We’ve seen this movie before. There was an Apple of the business computing market not so long ago. Sun Microsystems’ high-end servers made the company a darling of information technology departments, Internet startups, and Wall Street investors in the late ’90s and 2000. Linux was the underdog. A decade later, Sun no longer exists and Linux and Windows rule the data center.

      The control and flexibility that hardware vendors and network operators gain with Linux, plus the ability to share research and development costs and move faster, make Linux a powerful choice for mobile computing development. The computer industry is seeing a seismic shift wherein longtime Microsoft partners such as Intel and Hewlett-Packard are making huge bets on Linux, relegating Windows to a lesser role. This was inconceivable a decade ago.

      Apple has set a high bar, no doubt. But if you don’t believe Linux can beat an entrenched market leader, just ask the folks who used to run Sun.

    • Counting the Cost of Free: What Value, Linux?

      Bentley: Your study found that it would cost $1.4 billion for a company to build the Linux kernel from scratch today, and $10.8 billion to build an entire Linux distribution similar to Fedora 9. Can you explain how you reached those figures?

      McPherson: The conclusions were reached by using David Wheeler’s well-known SLOC tool, SLOCCount, which makes use of the industry standard COnstructive COst MOdel (COCOMO). This methodology takes into account lines of code written, the appropriate number of labor years, and salary adjustments for inflation. We wanted to come up with a real number based on the one thing you can quantify in open source — code. We used a well-regarded methodology and tool that had been used before. Instead of making random projects, we thought this was the best way to approach it.

      Bentley: Why the Fedora community distribution and not another?

      McPherson: Fedora is the basis for Red Hat Enterprise Linux, which represents a large percentage of the Linux market. This provided us with a very relevant model to assess. Also, David A. Wheeler had used Red Hat for his study in 2002. OpenSuse and Debian/Ubuntu would, of course, also be great targets for this study. We may do that at a later date. We also would like to use an embedded distribution.

      [...]

      Bentley: Do the findings have added significance in light of the current economic climate?

      McPherson: I think so. Linux has always been a lower-cost alternative to Windows, but this report illustrates its economic impact on technology innovation. It’s exciting to see how the collaborative development model is fueling a new category of devices and technologies that would be at least a decade into the future if it weren’t for Linux. Let’s remember that in software, time is money; oftentimes time is more important than money. For a company like Google or Intel to be able to make use of this code that has taken years to develop, drives innovation and keeps costs low for consumers.

  • Kernel Space

    • Where The Btrfs Performance Is At Today

      For testing we used a ZaReason Verix notebook that we are currently reviewing. This notebook that is based upon an MSI MS-1656 has an Intel Core i7 Q720 processor, 6GB of system memory, an 80GB Intel SSDSA2MH08 SSD, and a NVIDIA GeForce GTS 250M GPU. We loaded Ubuntu 10.04 LTS on this powerful notebook with the Linux 2.6.35-rc1 kernel while continuing to use X.Org Server 1.7.6, GCC 4.4.3, and the GNOME 2.30.0 desktop.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments

    • K Desktop Environment (KDE SC)

      • Announcing the KDE e.V. Supporting Membership

        This morning KDE e.V., the legal organization backing the KDE community, launched its Supporting Membership programme under the slogan “Join the Game”. The Join the Game programme strengthens the bonds between KDE e.V. and the wider community and provides a more sustainable and independent source of income for KDE activties. By becoming part of KDE e.V. as a Supporting Member you can help to keep the KDE servers running, fund developer meetings, let developers organize and attend conferences and trade shows and protect the legal interests of the KDE community — this is all handled by the KDE e.V. in support of the KDE community.

      • KDE Software Compilation 4.5 Beta2 Release Announcement

        Today, KDE has released the second beta version of what is to become KDE SC 4.5.0 in August 2010. KDE SC 4.5 Beta2 is targeted at testers and those that would like to have an early look at what’s coming to their desktops and netbooks this summer. KDE is now firmly in beta mode, meaning that the primary focus is on fixing bugs and preparing the stable release of the software compilation this summer. Over the last two weeks, roughly since the first beta, 1459 new bugs have been reported, and 1643 bugs have been closed, so we’re witnessing a lot of stabilization activity right now. More testing is in place, however, while the restless developers continue to create a rock-stable 4.5.0.

      • Second Beta for KDE SC 4.5 Available for Testing
      • Review: Amarok 2.3.1

        I only used Amarok lightly on KDE 3, so I am not equipped to answer claims that the recent releases still lag behind the 1.x releases (although I might some day investigate by looking at Pana, a project whose purpose is continue the development of Amarok’s first version.

        However, with five releases, Amarok’s second series is approaching maturity in its own right. Although some of the newest features are less than perfect I appreciate the Amarok team’s constant efforts to improve the application, and to accommodate a variety of user styles. Despite a few imperfections, it remains my music player of choice — and the 2.3.1 release simply reinforces my preference.

    • GNOME Desktop

      • New module decisions for GNOME 3.0

        Following some lengthy discussions within the GNOME community, release manager Vincent Untz has published a summary of the new modules to be included in the next major release of the GNOME desktop environment for Linux and Unix. GNOME 3.0, scheduled to arrive in September of this year, will not include the GNOME Activity Journal, formerly known as GNOME Zeitgeist. The Activity Journal allows users to locate documents chronologically and supports tagging and relationships between groups of files. According to Untz, it will not be included because it “needs more integration with the rest of the desktop and the overall GNOME design; right now, it feels too much like a stand alone application.”

  • Distributions

    • Gentoo

      • Fwd: Thanks from a Gentoo user

        The mail below reached the PR team today. I felt like sharing it with you.

      • blu-ray on gentoo

        I’m pretty excited because I got my first BD-ROM drive last night from NewEgg, a LITE-ON iHOS104-06. That means I can do some real testing, ripping and playing around.

    • PCLinuxOS/Mandrake/Mandriva Family

      • Review: PCLinuxOS 2010 Gnome – With Screenshots

        I know I said I would review Xubuntu next, and keep PCLOS Gnome for the July edition of SaGeek MAG, but I wanted something other than a Gnome Distro to review for the MAG, and I only had the 10.04 RC available of Xubuntu, not the final release. Hence PCLOS 2010 Gnome it is for tonights review.

        Well how did it perform?

        [...]

        PCLinuxOS is good, but not good enough. The Gnome edition especially needs some sanding on the edges, and then some polish on top of that. I would recommend the KDE edition over the Gnome edition any day, but as far as Gnome based distros goes it loses out to some really serious competitors, and this is reflected in my comparative scoring.

        There are many little touches that give me hope for the future of PCLOS, help menus, auto installer for OpenOffice – little things that might just make this the next best Gnome distro to arrive. Right now it just falls short of Ubuntu’s 3/5 Q-rating.

    • Fedora

      • Why I’m still using Fedora 13

        I must say I’m impressed with the latest Fedora. I haven’t met any deal-breakers for me yet, but then again, I’ve only used it for a week. Still, there’s much to like.

    • Canonical/Ubuntu

      • What indicator applets were made for: Mock-up Power Manager Applet for Ubuntu

        Power management in Ubuntu is a largely poor effort – particularly as Ubuntu stretches it’s leg in the field of mobile computing devices; users need a more coherent and accessible way to control power settings. Users currently need to use 3 (!) applets in-order to manage the oft-most power-related used features of screen brightness, CPU performance and battery life indication.

      • Canonical developing Ubuntu OS for tablets

        Canonical is preparing a version of the Ubuntu OS for tablet computers as the company looks to extend its presence in the mobile space, a company executive said.

        Tablets with the Ubuntu OS could become available late in winter 2011, said Chris Kenyon, Canonical’s vice president of OEM services. The OS will be a lightweight version of Linux with a simplified, touch-friendly user interface.

      • 10.10

        • Chromium default Browser for UNE 10.10

          Firefox will surely remain available in the repositories, so there will be an open door for everyone who, like me, is more comfortable using it. My concern is that Canonical is apparently sacrificing some of its original values, like security and reliability, in favor of the “flavor of the month”. I didn’t understand the excessive push on social interaction tools and now I don’t understand getting rid of an Internet browser which has been their flagship for so long, which is also an industry standard. Do they think popular is better? Hard to tell, but with all the bugs pending fixing, I find it funny that they actually waste a second thinking of replacing the Internet browser.

        • 5 new things can happen in Ubuntu 10.10

          It really sounds great when canonical announces new Version of Ubuntu . Personally i always look forward for new things and changes . In this post i am going to discuss about new changes in Ubuntu 10.10 which is going to happen .Till now only alpha-I version have been released .

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Make your fridge run Linux!

      OMG, what? My refrigerator, that thingie that keeps all them foods and whatnot cool and edible can run Linux? Well, definitely. And in this article, I will show you how.

Free Software/Open Source

  • Innovation: Still Open for Business

    These days it’s hard to get excited about anything short of the most innovative solutions. Still, it takes time and effort to stay on top of it all and then be prepared to sell it internally to your organization. Linux, largely due to its roots in the open source community, consistently leads the market with rapid innovation and feature-rich development.

  • Can FOSS Skills Be Measured?

    Sure, FOSS is fun, but is it profitable? Or is it just a spare-time hobby? There are actually two sides to FOSS: FOSS as free and open source software for a set of tools and platforms; and FOSS as a methodology for the development of software. One cannot exist without the other. And the reason for the superiority of FOSS tools is precisely because they are the result of FOSS methodology.

    The FOSS software development/deployment methodology — a child of the Internet, and which is based on openness, sharing and collaboration — is also a powerful tool to develop ‘soft skills’ like the ability to communicate, search for and find solutions, and to think out-of-the-box. Over a long time, I have noticed that people who actually participate in projects following the FOSS methodology are eminently better programmers and far better at communicating, solving problems and collaborating, than people who follow the ‘closed methodology’.

  • 10 considerations for maintaining open source in your organization

    So you’ve decided to use some open source code in your organization, company, or enterprise. What’s the same or different about maintaining open source versus traditional software. Here are ten things to consider:

    1. The term “maintenance” can be considered one component of “subscription, support, and maintenance” or it can be used more generally to mean “now that’ve I’ve installed this software, how do I make it do what I want, patched, and updated?”.

    [...]

  • OSI Committee Chairs Election for 2010-2011

    Earlier this month, the OSI board held elections for the organization’s committees. Board members interested in working on OSI initiatives such as membership, education, policy and economic development, outreach submitted their candidacy to the board. Based on the slate of candidates, the board voted the following chairpersons to lead each OSI initiative for the next year.

  • Brazil Wants To Be The Next India and Open Source Is Their Secret Weapon

    Going back 5 or 6 years, Brazil tried to free itself of Microsoft’s stranglehold on the software it used. It put a big push into supporting, using and lead development in open source software technology.

    Much the same way it supported the use of bio-fuels like ethanol, this has led to Brazil being less dependent on Microsoft and other closed source software. Additionally, a booming open source development community has been fostered and cultivated.

  • Ingres VectorWise goes GA, open source by end of year

    Ingres have made Ingres VectorWise generally available to download for free evaluation or commercially licence and say that an open source release for the accelerated database technology should be expected by the end of the year.

  • Not All Open Source is Created Equal

    It became obvious that like any social network, open source has its own code of conduct that needs to be adhered to. Whether you think of it as business environment or community process, people that are part of a particular social network do not appreciate individuals (or companies) that diverge from these agreed-upon “rules.”

  • Open Source Lightworks Makes Centurion An Epic

    Award-winning editor Chris Gill utilized Lightworks to edit Neil Marshall’s latest adrenaline-fused thriller, Centurion.

    Building upon blockbuster buzz, including Centurion, EditShare recently announced plans to make Lightworks into the most advanced Open Source editing solution available in the industry. Beginning in Q3 of this year, a free Lightworks download will be made available to all users.

    Customers will be able to familiarize themselves with the Lightworks editing system and its multitude of features including: true shared projects, instant save, 3D editorial functionality, Universal Media File support, native RED editing, native 2K support with DPX and RED, dual outputs, and a format-independent timeline.

  • Government

    • EU warns against proprietary software

      The European Union’s top Internet official took aim at Microsoft Corp. on Thursday, warning that governments can accidentally lock themselves into one company’s software for decades by setting it as a standard for their technology systems.

      EU Internet Commissioner Neelie Kroes, in her previous post as EU antitrust chief, fined Microsoft hundreds of millions of euros (dollars) in a lengthy row over the company’s refusal to share some data with rivals and the tying of a Web browser to a best-selling operating system.

      She now says she wants to draw up detailed guidelines for European governments to encourage them to require other software, especially programs based on open source code that is freely shared between developers.

    • MT: Directive to boost uptake of open source

      Malta’s public administration wants its institutions to increase their use of open source software. In a directive published early last week, the government says it also wants to share more of its own applications by publishing them using the European Union’s open source licence (EUPL).

Leftovers

  • Environment

    • Inhofe: Fiorina ‘is supporting’ my push to gut the Clean Air Act, agrees climate change is a ‘hoax’

      Today on Capitol Hill, Americans for Prosperity, the corporate front group founded and funded by David Koch of the oil conglomerate Koch Industries, hosted an event to urge the passage of Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s (R-AK) resolution to gut the Clean Air Act’s power to regulate carbon emissions. Several Republican Senators came to the AFP event to encourage support for the resolution, which was drafted by lobbyists from the coal and oil industry.

      After the event, ThinkProgress spoke to one of the speakers, Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK), about his support for Carly Fiorina (R-CA), the U.S. Senate candidate to emerge from the primary last night. Inhofe gave Fiorina an early endorsement, and his nephew, Fred Davis, created the infamous “demon sheep” ads for Fiorina’s campaign.

  • Finance

    • Trial Begins for French Trader Accused of Costing a Bank Billions

      It took Jérôme Kerviel, the celebrity rogue trader who stands accused of losing billions of euros at the French bank Société Générale, 10 minutes to make it through the scrum of microphones and journalists outside a courtroom Tuesday.

    • Goldman’s Hudson Mezz CDO Is Now Focus Of Brand New SEC Probe

      As disclosed earlier, Australia’s Basis Yield Alpha sued Goldman today for failing to “disclose material information knowing that, by this omission, information that they did disclose was rendered misleading.” That lawsuit opens the way for every single investor who ever bought a CDO from Goldman as a primary issuer (not in the secondary market). As we have pointed out previously, Goldman and BP will soon be competing over which firm has more active lawsuits against it. On the other hand, Goldman may offset some costs by IPOing the largest corporate litigation firms, as their partners will soon be rolling in the dough. While completely impossible, the mutual conflicts of interest in the risk factors of such a prospectus would make for a comic book all on its own.

    • Ex-Fla. lawyer gets 50 years for Ponzi scheme

      Disbarred attorney Scott Rothstein, whose seemingly unlimited wealth bought palatial homes, exotic cars and mega-yachts, was sentenced Wednesday to 50 years in prison for operating a $1.2 billion Ponzi scheme using faked legal settlements.

    • Timberwolf Lawsuit: Goldman Sachs Sued By Australian Hedge Fund Over ‘Sh–ty Deal’

      In addition to generating some laughs and populist outrage during a contentious Senate hearing in April, Goldman Sachs’s infamous “shitty deal” is also turning into a major headache for the embattled firm.

      Today, Goldman was sued for securities fraud by an Australian hedge fund, which claims that it was suckered into buying $81 million of toxic subprime mortgage securities, which led to the collapse of the fund, according to a lawsuit obtained by Huffington Post.

      Basis Yield Alpha Fund claims that Goldman engaged in a “series of fraudulent and deceitful acts or practices” and “put profits before integrity,” according to its complaint filed in Manhattan federal court. The fund is seeking to recover more than $1 billion in total damages.

    • Bad News for Banksters
    • Unemployment and Despair

      Americans who have been unemployed for more than six months are much more likely to report having emotional distress than people who have been unemployed for a shorter period, according to new Gallup survey data.

    • Wall Street’s Naked Swindle

      The nation’s largest financial players are able to write the rules for own their businesses and brazenly steal billions under the noses of regulators, and nothing is done about it. A thing so fundamental to civilized society as the integrity of a stock, or a mortgage note, or even a U.S. Treasury bond, can no longer be protected, not even in a crisis, and a crime as vulgar and conspicuous as counterfeiting can take place on a systematic level for years without being stopped, even after it begins to affect the modern-day equivalents of the Rockefellers and the Carnegies. What 10 years ago was a cheap stock-fraud scheme for second-rate grifters in Brooklyn has become a major profit center for Wall Street. Our burglar class now rules the national economy. And no one is trying to stop them.

    • House duo backs banks on cards

      The fee issue is emerging as one of the biggest battles in the issue as House and Senate lawmakers look this month toward a conference agreement to resolve scores of differences in the legislation. Congress is planning to approve the overhaul package, stretching more than 1,500 pages, before the Fourth of July recess.

    • Blanche Lincoln fends off Bill Halter in Arkansas

      Sen. Blanche Lincoln beat back a ferocious Democratic challenge from Lt. Gov. Bill Halter in Tuesday’s Arkansas runoff, holding off the hard-charging lieutenant governor whose campaign became a priority for unions and the progressive movement.

      Lincoln’s victory presented a stinging rebuke to organized labor, including the Service Employees International Union and to progressive groups such as MoveOn.org and Democracy for America and the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, which poured millions of dollars into television ads, phone calls and ground troops in an attempt to upend the two-term incumbent.

    • Reversing the revolving door

      The career path for congressional aides with an eye for big money used to be clear: Toil in anonymity for years in a Hill office before cashing in with a lobbying gig or heading to a Wall Street powerhouse for a consulting job.

      Now it’s the revolving door in reverse.

      Capitol Hill has become a magnet for some former financial industry executives, who have traded high-flying jobs for the grind of congressional hearings and committee markups. Some are taking Hill salaries that would have been a mere Christmas bonus on Wall Street. One former Lehman Brothers analyst still calls his buddies in the trading pit in New York. Another who did work for the defunct investment giant landed a spot in a congressional office — as an unpaid intern.

  • Censorship/Privacy/Civil Rights

    • Risky Business #154 — Adrian Lamo: Why I turned informer

      In this week’s feature interview we chat with Adrian Lamo. Best known as the “homeless hacker,” Lamo is in the news again over his decision to inform on US Army Specialist Bradley Manning, the alleged leaker of the so-called “Collateral Murder” video published by Wikileaks in April.

    • Scott Horton Interviews Daniel Ellsberg

      Daniel Ellsberg, the man who leaked the Pentagon Papers, discusses Specialist Bradley Manning’s arrest for passing classified information to Wikileaks, the unfortunate negative connotations of the “whistleblower” moniker, how Obama has decriminalized torture, 260,000 possible sources of embarrassment for the State Department and the Obama administration’s eager prosecution of whistleblowers.

    • Conversations with History: Daniel Ellsberg

Clip of the Day

Imran Chaudhry on Meet the MySQL Database (2006)


Microsoft is Again “Sabotaging” Free Software on Windows (and Why Windows is the Least Secure Platform)

Posted in Free/Libre Software, Microsoft, Security, Windows at 9:12 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Firefox search

Summary: Microsoft has once again pushed its own code into Firefox, without any consent from the users

Putting Free software only on Windows is not a smart decision. On Windows, Microsoft is in total control and Microsoft does abuse this control all the time.

When it comes to Mozilla Firefox, Microsoft is routinely tinkering with it without permission (assuming one runs it on Windows). The word “sabotaging” first came up here, with additional coverage in:

Microsoft is doing it yet again. Microsoft boosters are among the first report on it: (and yes, Ars Technica has at least two Microsoft boosters as well)

i. Microsoft hides mystery Firefox extension in toolbar update

As part of its regular Patch Tuesday, Microsoft released an update for its various toolbars, and this update came with more than just documented fixes. The update also installs an add-on for Internet Explorer and an extension for Mozilla Firefox, both without the user’s permission. As you can see in the Windows Update screenshot above, Microsoft does not indicate that the update will install anything for either browser. It’s also not really clear what the installed extension actually does.

ii. Is Microsoft pushing stealth updates to users again? This time, it’s toolbars …

I’m getting numerous reports from readers claiming that Microsoft is back to pushing stealth updates to Windows users via Windows Update. This time, the update seems related to its browser toolbars.

Readers started reporting this issue to me yesterday, when Firefox users started noticing that Extensions window was opening up when launching the browser and showing something new – Search Helper Extension.

When it comes to Microsoft’s security patches, there is a lot of secret behaviour such as the above. Microsoft claims to be handling 34 flaws this week, but there are actually more because of secret patches.

Ars Technica writes about Richard A. Clarke’s new book, which blames Microsoft for national and international security problems (Windows has a huge number and proportion of zombie PCs).

Who wrote those lines? Steve Jobs? Linux inventor Linus Torvalds? Ralph Nader? No, the author is former White House adviser Richard A. Clarke in his new book, Cyber War: The Next Threat to National Security and What to Do About It.

[...]

Money talks

Why has the national response to this problem been so slow? Lack of consensus on what to do and fear of the “R-word”—government regulation, Clarke contends. Then there’s Reason Number Five on his list, which basically boils down to “Microsoft.”

“Some people like things the way they are,” Clarke obliquely observes. “Some of those people have bought access.” Microsoft, he notes, is a prominent member of OpenSecrets.org’s “Heavy Hitters” political donor list. Most of the list’s stars are trade associations. “Microsoft is one of only seven companies that make the cut.”

The software giant’s largesse has shifted from Republicans back in the Clinton antitrust days to Obama, he continues, but the agenda is always clear: “Don’t regulate security in the software industry, don’t let the Pentagon stop using our software no matter how many security flaws it has, and don’t say anything about software production overseas or deals with China.”

Clarke tries to be fair. He notes that Microsoft didn’t originally intend its software for critical networks. But even his efforts at fairness are unflattering. Microsoft’s original goal “was to get the product out the door and at a low cost of production,” he explains. “It did not originally see any point to investing in the kind of rigorous quality assurance and quality control process that NASA insisted on for the software used in human space-flight systems.”

But people brought in Microsoft programs for critical systems anyway. “They were, after all, much cheaper than custom-built applications.” And when the government launched its Commercial Off-the-Shelf program (COTS) to cut expenses, Microsoft software migrated to military networks. These kind of cost cutting reforms “brought to the Pentagon all the same bugs and vulnerabilities that exist on your own computer,” Clarke writes.
Floating i-brick

The former White House advisor cites the 1997 USS Yorktown incident as a consequence. The Ticonderoga-class ship’s whole operational network was retrofitted with Windows NT. “When the Windows system crashed, as Windows often does, the cruiser became a floating i-brick, dead in the water.”

In response to this “and a legion of other failures,” the government began looking into the Linux operating system. The Pentagon could “slice and dice” this open source software, pick and choose the components it needed, and more easily eliminate bugs.

“Never mention Windows and security in the same breath,” writes Sam Varghese in the headline of another new article. It refers to the dishonest "damage control" from Microsoft after Google's mass-desertion, as seen last week.

If I had a dollar for every time Microsoft was forced to defend the abysmal security of its Windows operating system, I would probably be lying on a beach in the Bahamas and sipping a cocktail right now, with my financial future secured.

The latest defence, from Windows communications manager Brandon LeBlanc, has as many holes as Windows does in its security armoury.

As my colleague Jake Widman reported earlier today, LeBlanc took issue with a story stating that Google was moving its internal workstations away from Windows to OSX and GNU/Linux due to Windows’ poor security.

In his response, LeBlanc talks of security issues with the Mac and Google too. That isn’t the point – no system or company is perfect.

We are talking here about the relative security of various operating systems – and Windows is, without any doubt, the worst. Put it up against OpenBSD, Solaris, NetBSD, FreeBSD, GNU/Linux, OpenSolaris, or any other, Windows comes out last when it comes to security.

“Being virus and malware-free” is another new article about escaping Windows (like Google did, for security reasons). The haven from security problem really is seen as a reason to embrace software freedom, not just an afterthought or excuse.

Mac OS X: The ‘Missing’ Development Platform

Posted in Apple, FSF, GNU/Linux, GPL at 8:57 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Steve Jobs and GNU
Source of original photo

Summary: Developers increasingly favour Free software, which means no Apple, a suppressor of the GPL

THE Eclipse Community Survey came out a few days ago and we posted some links about it yesterday. Few people pointed out the absence of Mac OS X in this survey. It’s a nice reminder of the fact that GNU/Linux is ahead of Apple in many areas, one of which is development (depending on the type). To quote some more articles about the survey (ones which we didn’t post before):

i. Eclipse Community Survey: Good News, Bad News

That’s really significant, because for many free software applications, historically people have tended to develop on Windows, and then deploy on GNU/Linux. If the developers are moving to GNU/Linux on the desktop – as this survey suggests – maybe the tide is beginning to turn there, at least among that particular community (well, it’s a start…).

ii. Eclipse users developing on Linux, considering cloud

The primary takeaway from the results is the shift in how engineers are choosing to develop and deploy. Linux, especially Ubuntu, has taken market share from Windows on an ongoing basis, and is now used by just shy of one third of respondents as their developer desktop, up from 20 percent in 2007.

iii. Eclipse Community Survey shows good growth for Linux

In 2007, 20% of users said that Linux was their development operating system, but by 2010, that had increased to 33%, with Windows dropping from 74% to 58% in share. Linux continues to be the most popular deployment platform for Eclipse developers with 46% saying it is their primary target platform.

iv. Eclipse Study Shows Major Gains for Linux Among Developers

The confidence and comfort associated with developing on Linux, reflected in the growing number of developers who say they prefer the OS to alternatives, are also leading indicators of Linux’s adoption in the enterprise. Linux use has been growing among enterprise users for a decade, but we’re at a proverbial tipping point. The collision of technology maturity, a new generation of developers and IT professionals, and a new economic reality are putting Linux in a position to experience faster growth than other OSes in the enterprise.

In other news of interest, Apple gets flak for its disdain or ‘allergy’ to real software freedom (not the BSD-type freedom, which to Apple means that “oh! We can have all of this decent code and stuff without paying”). Here is the the comprehensive coverage from LWN.

Smith followed up the original post with a more detailed explanation on May 27. In it, he says that the particular license violation that FSF bought up with Apple was section 6 of the GPLv2, which states that a redistributor of the licensed program may not impose further restrictions on the recipients to copy, distribute, or modify the program. Apple’s App Store terms of service do impose several restrictions, such as limiting usage of the program to five devices approved by Apple.

With the exception of Apple worshippers (with employment history at Apple) who masquerade as something else, the GNU/Linux community was on the FSF’s side. In general (or statistically speaking), GNU/Linux users are not terribly fond of Apple. The options from Apple are “not Microsoft” but they are not “not proprietary”.

Here is a sceptical look at Apple’s actions and the FSF’s response (or vice versa). It is not from a GNU/Linux-oriented Web site:

One might point out that you can certainly work with GNU Go and test out modified source on your own iPad. All you have to do is join Apple’s developer program, which is not really too much of a big deal.

But the FSF doesn’t really see this as freedom. First, developers in Apple’s program can only redistribute software to others under Apple’s terms. The GPL insists that redistribution not attach any additional restrictions to derived works. And secondly, a user who develops a modified version of GNU Go may or may not be able to distribute it – they are subject to Apple’s capricious approval process. Again, this is a limitation on their freedom.

As it stands right now, the Apple iPhone/iPad ecosystem is not going to work with code published under GPLv2 or GPLv3. This is a shame, and it would really be nice to see Apple do something to remedy the situation. Free software has been very good to Apple, and in many cases, Apple has given back to the movement. But the current situation is such a blatant slap in the face to free software that every one of us can feel the sting.

The Bangkok Post writes:

Apple removed the product, prompting the FSF to note that Apple doesn’t value people’s independence and creativity.

That’s just true. We previously wrote about the FSF-Apple standoff in [1, 2].

The Financial/National Post is also giving Apple a hard time, emphasising that Apple is very closed and restrictive.

Apple is so hot right now that everything it unveils flies off the shelves, sending its share price higher. The question longer term however, is whether its “closed” strategy of development can continue to deliver the goods — and the buzz — as open-source operating systems such as Android offer slick new applications and growing competition.

Poor Apple has gained market share among the world’s wealthiest population, but can it maintain such a lead as Linux continues to advance? Apple’s aggressive reaction (suing Linux) says that Apple is afraid. Linux is not a company that Apple can compete with. Linux represents people’s perpetual desire to control their digital destiny. Apple cannot deliver this. Instead it combats people’s natural desires, teaching them that choice is bad and “free” means shoddy and inadmissible.

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