06.16.10

Links 16/6/2010: OpenCL 1.1, LinuxTag 2010 Coverage

Posted in News Roundup at 10:33 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Linux, trojans and viruses. A real threat?

    For a viable Linux virus to be written it would have to hack into the Linux system, escalate it’s privileges to root and then start infecting files.

  • Why Learn Linux at All

    Linux gives you the freedom to deepen and assimilate as much information as possible, and when you understand things from the inside out that will change your way of seeing and working with her. To me there is no operating system provides this flexibility and control.

  • Desktop

    • Why Ubuntu is harder than Windows

      Installing Software:
      To install a piece of software on Windows you just follow a few easy steps. First you go to the store and buy the software, then you pop the CD into your disc drive, enter the CD key, wait for the software to install itself onto the hard drive, and you are good to go! Be sure to put the CD and key in a safe place in case you ever need to reinstall the software.

      On Ubuntu to install a piece of software you open the software center. Type in the name of the software you are looking for (or browse by category), click install, and wait for the software to download and install.

      Default Software:
      Windows offers a fantastic default software install. Need to write a paper? No worries, Windows has the feature-rich Wordpad. Want to surf the net? Internet Explorer has always provided a safe webrowsing experience.

      Ubuntu’s default software selection is somewhat disappointing. It has a full featured word processor, spreadsheet editor, and presentation creator. I know most people don’t use facebook or twitter, but just in case you do Ubuntu includes Gwibber, a software that fully integrates your social networking with your desktop. For webrowsing Ubuntu only has Firefox and if you want to instant message Ubuntu’s Empathy only supports facebook, AIM, yahoo, MSN, IRC…

    • Linux User? 7 Good Reasons to Go Back to Windows

      1. The Sky is Blue
      And so is Heaven! BLUE! Why do you think the screen goes blue from time to time in your Windows system? That’s a reminder of what is to come and what is in store for you once Windows gets to be 8. A vertical infinity of BLUE SCREENS! Surely, you don’t want to miss it, do you?

      2. Less Clutter Means SOMETHING
      It means what? How would I know?? You have to meditate to get the answer! Windows XP gave you Explorer and Windows Movie Maker. Vista didn’t give you Movie Maker, but gave you a demon–stration of Office 2007! Windows 7 Starter didn’t give you anything! Meditate with me: Less is more, less is more, less is more…

  • Audiocasts

  • Graphics Stack

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments

    • GNOME Desktop

      • Using Gnome-Shell – Day 1
      • Using Gnome-Shell – Day 2

        Day 2 was a non event. I am beginning to generally dislike Gnome-Shell. It is not the optimum user interface. I am seriously beginning to have my doubts about Ubuntu switching to Gnome-Shell, let’s hope they have something up their sleeve to save Ubuntu from a clunky interface.

    • K Desktop Environment (KDE SC)

      • KDE at SouthEast LinuxFest

        Celeste also gave a great talk about how KDE is EVERYWHERE! It focused on enlightening the Linux community about how we’re not only on the desktop, but are also spreading our technologies into mobile, netbook, and cloud based environments. She spent some time talking about how KDE is not just software but also a vibrant community including our developers and users. Finally she also covered some of the latest and greatest features of the 4.4 and 4.5 SC releases and introduced the new “Join the game” campaign.

      • LinuxTag from my view

        Now of course I shouldn’t dismiss the other people at the booth, I especially think Torsten Thelke (our KDE e.V. intern) did an amazing job, and so did Frederik in his sometimes-scary way. Yes, showing off Fluffy Bunny themed plasma desktops, then jumping some of your fellow booth mates for a hug could be off-putting.

  • LinuxTag

    • [systemd:] Slides from LinuxTag 2010
    • Gentoo at LinuxTag 2010: A look back

      Chithanh participated in the distro contest for us and also was part of the team winning the hacking contest. I assume with his Gentoo shirt on in that moment. The hopefully complete list of current developers who I met on LinuxTag is: lu_zero, idl0r, polynomial-c, dertobi123, amne, rbu, hollow, chithanh, a3li, vorlon, hanno. Current Gentoo-GSoC student Andreas Nüsslein (rewriting webapp-config) also came by, Timo Antweiler said hello, too. Thanks for the chocolate to lu_zero, thanks to the helpful and friendly LinuxTag team (especially Jacqueline), thanks to everyone helping out, especially to Sebastian Dyroff for joining with setup on Tuesday evening. See you again next year!

  • Distributions

    • New Releases

      • Parted Magic partitioning tool updated

        Parted Magic developer Patrick Verner has released version 4.11 of his open source, multi-platform partitioning tool. Parted Magic can be used to create, move, delete and resize drive partitions and will run on a machine with as little as 64MB of RAM. File systems supported include NTFS, FAT, ReiserFS, Reiser4 and HFS+. LVM and RAID are also supported.

    • Red Hat Family

      • Does Open Source Suffer From A Glass Ceiling?

        But looking up today’s market cap shows Red Hat with a 5.9B market cap. Not too bad for a company that is doing 750 million in revenue.

      • Red Hat Provides Snapshot Into Red Hat Summit and JBoss World Content

        The Red Hat Summit and JBoss World team presented a preview into this year’s events during a one-hour Red Hat Summit and JBoss World in a Glimpse webinar offering. Four Red Hat presenters, including Red Hat’s global events strategy manager, JBoss product line director and two product marketing directors, detailed why customers, partners and community members attend the event, described the typical attendee and outlined highlights of the events from recurring session topics to the many networking opportunities.

      • Red Hat Summit: Even Microsoft Will Lend a Virtualization Hand

        Frankly, it’s difficult to track everything that’s expected to occur at Red Hat Summit, because the open source company continues to diversify beyond its Linux heritage to promote JBoss middleware and Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization (RHEV). Here’s how The VAR Guy expects the conference to unfold…

    • Canonical/Ubuntu

      • Ubuntu 10.04 review

        UNR, the netbook version, benefits most from the new theme and more efficient use of screen space, but we’re waiting for Canonical’s Unity and Gnome 3.0 for any real taste of revolution on the small screen.

        What we’re left with is a division. If you’re not a current Linux user then Ubuntu offers the best Linux experience you can have. The desktop looks ultra-modern and the package manager is slick, expansive and easy to use.

        But if you’re a Linux user looking for a spring break from your current distribution, this release doesn’t do enough to warrant the upgrade. While it looks nice, there’s no real innovation and nothing we can get too excited about.

      • How does Ubuntu do it?

        I’m again stuck with a full-blown Ubuntu desktop, full of goodies I don’t need and running much slower than I could make it run. But here’s the maddening part, it works. Right-click folder, share, adjusting smb.conf, done. Even worse, I can’t find any reference to my share in smb.conf ! If I knew where the right config is saved, I could simply copy/paste it to a leaner system, but now I can’t.

        Curse you Ubuntu! Curse you for making my life so easy and so difficult at the same time!

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Android

      • Exclusive: Motorola Droid X preview

        Not interested in waiting until the 23rd for Verizon’s big announcement? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered right now! The Motorola Droid X has probably been one of the worst kept smartphone secrets in recent memory, but after spending two hours with the phone we sort of see why. In short, it’s pretty awesome. Call it a superphone or a mega-smartphone, but the 4.4-inch handset is absolutely Verizon / Motorola’s answer to the HTC EVO 4G, and makes the Droid Incredible look like a bench warmer. What do we mean? We’ll let you see for yourself just after the break in a breakdown of exactly what this phone is all about — and in a video or three of it in action. Oh, and on your way down, make sure to feast your eyes on the gallery, too.

      • DejaOffice Unveils New Productivity Features for Android

Free Software/Open Source

  • ‘Appleseed’ Open Source Alternative to Facebook Gathers Steam

    All-volunteer, open source Appleseed project seeks to decentralize the social web, and turns to crowdsourcing website IndieGogo.com for funding.

  • A Fatal Flaw For Open Source

    Treb Ryan is chief executive of OpSource, a company that specializes in enterprise cloud and managed hosting. In a recent interview with Forbes, Ryan explains his analysis of how the multi-tenant architecture used for most large software-as-a-service applications will become dominant and present a challenge to the relevance and importance of a large amount of open source software.

  • How Open Source Can Lead to Improved Management of Customer Data
  • Ready For Open Source WAN Acceleration?

    Enter open-source WAN acceleration. Don’t expect to see open-source alternatives as mature as those in NMS, but projects like WANProxy and Squid can perform surprisingly well if you have some Linux talent on staff. WANProxy accelerates and compresses TCP and Squid does the brute-force work of caching; drop the software onto some spare servers and your staff can get a feel for the benefits of WAN optimization for short dollars.

  • Open Source Software Company Joins Forces with ForgeRock

    ForgeRock OpenAM, initially created by Sun Microsystems is an open source access management, entitlements and federation server platform.

  • Mozilla

  • Oracle

    • Geek Of The Week: Larry Ellison

      He also attended the University of Chicago before finding his calling in software at the Ampex Corporation, where he created a database for the CIA called Oracle. It was up from there, and Oracle became a huge force in the enterprise software world. Ellison is known for his extravagant taste, and his home cost about $200 million.

  • Healthcare

    • Halamka: Open standards are ‘key to interoperability’

      At the Opensource.com Open Your World Forum on May 27, John D. Halamka, MD, CIO of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and CIO of Harvard Medical School, described where open source and open standards fit into the ARRA expectations for healthcare IT. The short answer is, everywhere.

      “We run a data center with a couple of petabytes of healthcare data for three million patients and the entire infrastructure is run on Red Hat technologies,” Halamka said. “We have multiple data centers, multiple clusters of Linux servers and we haven’t had downtime in a couple of years. No CIO in healthcare is afraid of open source. In fact, the movement to Linux clusters that are highly reliable for healthcare is the way the back end in most healthcare data centers seem to be going.

  • Government

    • Open Source Software Gaining Acceptance (Opinion)

      In Inc.’s January 2005 article Open Source: It’s Not Just for Geeks Anymore!, Al Canton wrote: “No one is quite sure how to define fire, but everyone knows what it is. Open source software is the same. Like fire, we know what open source does, we know what open source looks like, and we know it when we see it, but no one agrees on a definition.”

    • Brazil and India: The Next Generation of Open Source

      India is a heavy user of open source. Sectors leveraging open source include software development outsourcing, business process outsourcing, government services, technical education as well as industries such as banking, insurance, manufacturing, oil and gas, defense and space. According to Wikipedia, India produces 2.5 million graduates every year from which only a small percentage, about 700,000 people are employed by India’s BPO industry. The BPO industry which has flourished on cheap, skilled labor has started to leverage open source software based automation to gain further cost advantages.

      Brazil

      Brazil has also been a hotbed of open source activity in recent years. Government agencies, private industry, universities have been teaching and implementing open source solutions to create local centers of knowledge and gain expertise around open source in the country. Seeing India’s success in IT outsourcing, Brazil has also declared an interest in using open source to gain leadership in the market of software development outsourcing.

  • Licensing

    • FOSS Compliance: What Are the Basics You Must Know?

      Software compliance isn’t exactly the sexiest topic we tackle at the Linux Foundation, but it’s one of the most important. While we focus *our* efforts on open source software, the vast majority of software compliance efforts are focused on proprietary licenses. Just ask a CIO of an enterprise who has been audited by one of their software suppliers recently, or look at the well funded efforts of the Business Software Alliance, an organization dedicated to stamping out piracy and keeping companies in compliance with their members.

  • Openness/Sharing

    • Free Art License
    • Open Correspondence

      From these we can infer what books, authors, or authors who influenced the author or were being influenced at the time. From this, we can see the growth of the social graph into the cultural graph. Essentially it is the same notion as the social graph but the cultural graph links items like books, poems and events together. In itself it means nothing but linked to the social graph, it allows the user to discover who is being written to whilst a book was being written. Is the author talking to other authors or only to his agent about it?

    • TfL Gives Data To Developers, Now National Rail Must Get Aboard

      Transport For London (TfL) is making its data freely available to web and mobile application developers, in a move that leaves Britain’s overground trains trailing.

    • Open Data

      • Open Data is necessary but not sufficient

        John Wilbanks is Director of Science Commons and a co-author of the Panton Principles. He has responded to my concerns about access to climate change data, with the observation that Open data is not the major problem or solution. I’ll comment at the bottom. I agree with what he says, but I will argue why there is a role for Open Knowledge in this issue.

      • Exoplanet Hunter’s First Data Withholds the Good Stuff

        Without all the data in hand, it’s hard to answer the question that Kepler was built to answer: How common are planets like Earth? Though we now know hundreds of exoplanets, most of them are big, hot Jupiters around very bright stars that could not sustain any kind of life that we recognize. It’s easy to detect the bigger planets that orbit close to their stars because their gravity makes the star “wobble” more noticeably and their size dims its light more. So, the data we’ve collected on extrasolar planets over the last two decades is muddied by observation bias.

  • WebM

    • FSFE Newsletter – June 2010

      Good news about open video formats. In March both our sister organisation the FSF and our associated organisation FFII asked Google to free the video codec vp8 and use it on YouTube. This month Google announced they will do so. From now on users will be able use Free Software to play and encode the new WebM format. “WebM is based on the Matroska container format — replacing Ogg — and the VP8 video codec which replaces Theora. Crucially, the Vorbis audio codec is part of the new WebM specification.”

    • Firefox 4 sneak peek flaunts Google open video codec

      Mozilla has turned out a Firefox 4 prototype that includes Google’s newly open sourced WebM video format, while Opera has rolled the format into a developer build of its own.

    • Mozilla releases Firefox 3.7 Alpha 5 developer preview

      The Mozilla Developer Preview of Firefox 4.0 features several user interface changes, such as an updated Add-ons manager and Aero Glass support on Vista and Windows 7 systems, and adds support for the latest open WebM / VP8 video format introduced by Google as part of the WebM Project. Platform changes include an updated about:memory page that shows the amount of memory being consumed, Mac support for Cocoa event model for NPAPI plug-ins used by Flash 10.1 and the latest Apple Java plug-in, and support for ChromeWorkers with jscytupes.

Leftovers

  • Texas schools board rewrites US history with lessons promoting God and guns

    Cynthia Dunbar does not have a high regard for her local schools. She has called them unconstitutional, tyrannical and tools of perversion. The conservative Texas lawyer has even likened sending children to her state’s schools to “throwing them in to the enemy’s flames”. Her hostility runs so deep that she educated her own offspring at home and at private Christian establishments.

  • The Desktop PC Is *NEVER* Going Away. Period.
  • Environment

    • Gregor MacDonald – Energy, transportation, and transitions

      Gregor MacDonald is an independent energy analyst & investment consultant. He publishes public analysis to his website, Gregor.us and hosts the internet investment show, StockTwits.tv, with Howard Lindzon. He offers private consultancy and regular email newsletters on global energy trends & investment guidelines.

      I asked him some questions about his background, the state of global energy, the BP disaster, and California’s dependency on oil…

  • Censorship/Privacy/Civil Rights

    • MEPs want an ‘Internet of things’

      THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT has started calling for something it says is an “Internet of things”.

      The “things” is stuff that combines electronic chips and Internet addresses.

  • Internet/Net Neutrality/DRM

    • Do you like the new sticker from Defective by Design?

      The campaign to free the digital world from Digital Restrictions Management just got a new sticker. The old one is on my laptop’s screen represents the famous iPod silhouettes with white wires acting as shackles. It was a simple and powerful design. The new one is a the famous 1984 Apple ad, but I’m not sure its message is as clear as before. It also seems to give a sense of ‘victory’ for Apple fans: they now rule the digital world –with shackles, ok, but still winning.

    • Wireless Oligopoly Is Smother of Invention

      If the people who brought us television had played by the same rules that today’s wireless carriers impose — we’d probably all be listening to the radio.

      Which is a nice way of saying the wireless industry — AT&T, Sprint, Verizon and T-Mobile — needs some ground rules that make clear they are common carriers that get the right to rent the airwaves by abiding by fair rules.

      Right now, they play by their own rules.

      Imagine if the wireless carriers controlled your wired broadband connection or your television set. You’d have to buy your television from your cable company, with a two-year contract, and when that ended, you’d have to ask them to unlock it so you could take it to another provider.

  • Copyrights

    • James Gannon – Is He Responding To His Master’s Voice?

      Who exactly is James Gannon representing? He claims, as does Barry Sookman, that what he publishes in his blog is his own opinion. But is it really? Your life experiences, including work are part of what colors your opinions. We know that he’s a lawyer. We don’t know who his clients are – and those clients and their interests will have had an effect on his opinions. But he refuses to say who they are.

    • Assassinate a Pop Star By Illegally Downloading Music

      Anti-piracy campaigns come and go every other month – most of them are either endlessly boring or end up becoming an object of ridicule. A new one just launched takes the form of a site which appears to offer free downloads from top artists, but with a twist. Clicking to download results in various pop stars meeting a grisly end by a bullet to the head or a careless hand grenade.

    • Music Biz Set To “3 Strike” Two-Thirds of Irish Broadband

      Keeping its promise to Ireland’s largest ISP, Eircom, the music industry has targeted the country’s second largest ISP, Vodafone. According to a new report, Vodafone is in talks with the Irish Recorded Music Association about issuing warnings and eventually disconnecting its file-sharing customers. Since its introduction last month, around 800 Eircom customers have already received their first strike.

Clip of the Day

Tony Whitmore on RSS: News, blogs and podcasts (2006)


Striding Towards Codec Freedom to Remove ‘Linux Tax’ from Dell

Posted in Dell, Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Google, Patents, Red Hat, Ubuntu at 6:30 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: The importance of WebM, its progress in GNU/Linux-compatible Web browsers, and Google’s situation wrt MPEG-LA FUD

A few weeks ago Mozilla's CEO was quoted as saying that WebM is safe to use and it finally comes to Firefox 4 (trunk):

Opera is getting it too and optimisations are being reported by the developers at Google:

Since WebM launched in May, the team has been working hard to make the VP8 video codec faster. Our community members have contributed improvements, but there’s more work to be done in some interesting areas related to performance (more on those below).

The elephant in the room is still MPEG-LA, which is a patent aggressor that agitates Google. We wrote about the subject in posts such as:

The patent issue continues to come up in some articles about WebM:

In other words, if Google doesn’t address patent indemnification-or at least release information about its findings on the patents efficacy-a new licensing pool will be created to capitalize on fear, uncertainty, and doubt. Yet Google seems more concerned with modifying its WebM FAQ than it is with helping the online video world understand the practical and financial benefits of an open-source competitor to H.264.

So the patent issue and Google’s existing plan matter a lot here. Fortunately, we have received some valuable information over the past few days. It helps us understand how Google views MPEG-LA. Florian Müller has had a scoop and he finally gave us the needed permission to shoot off the following:

“[S]omeone told me something that raises doubt about MPEG LA’s $5 million license fee cap but that same source has now substantially weakened its claims to the extent that the cap actually seems to be the case at least for most companies,” Müller told us.

Prior to this there was a stronger claim. “Concerning video codecs I heard something that raises doubt about the $5 million license fee cap, but I’ll try to obtain authorization from someone so I can attribute a quote to a person rather than just saying it’s a good source,” he expounded.

“The source originally claimed that contrary to the related claim made on MPEG LA’s website, the source has information that some licensees do indeed have to pay much more for such reasons as the $5 million per-company per-year royalty cap not including all categories of products.”
      –Florian Müller
Later he wrote: “The source does not want to be named. The conversation took place at this event in Brussels on Wednesday. The house rules allow quoting from what was said at the event, but it’s not allowed to say WHO said something (without permission, of course). The source originally claimed that contrary to the related claim made on MPEG LA’s website, the source has information that some licensees do indeed have to pay much more for such reasons as the $5 million per-company per-year royalty cap not including all categories of products. With a view to the house rules of the event, I asked the source, which was present at the event and may have information I don’t, whether I could provide its name when quoting. The source asked not to be named. Meanwhile (yesterday) the source also added this clarification: “For most companies, they probably don’t see much more than one overall fee.” I will mention this on my blog next time I report on codecs [...] The thing is that philosophically I’m against those codec royalties, but economically, if big companies pay a maximum of $5 million per year, it’s not a fundamental problem to the industry and those who end up paying are largely in favor of software patents anyway, so I’m not much more sympathetic to them than to MPEG LA. I’m most sympathetic to those who want to get rid of software patents but are attacked nevertheless.”

Finally, Müller said: “I don’t know when to put it out because it was no longer the “gem” I thought it was once I received that additional clarification about most companies just seeing one item on the bill. You know, I would really have liked to call into question the truthfulness of the representations they make about the cap, but with the clarification the same source provided, it doesn’t really have a lot of teeth anymore.”

Google is often criticised for secrecy, so we found it neither surprising nor curious that “there are some confidentiality-related sensitivities there: at the start of the event in Brussels, the chairman announced the “house rules” which related to quoting…”

This matter is extremely important because codecs like Theora and VP8 help eliminate the patent problem often associated with codecs in GNU/Linux. To platforms like Windows and Mac OS X it matters a lot less, for sure (they already ship the codecs on the computer/CD). A couple of years ago Red Hat cited codecs as a key reason for abandoning plans to release a desktop product.

Some days ago we learned that software patents may affect the motivation of Free software developers — a subject that Glyn Moody has just elaborated on:

What this might mean is that although hackers’ views and motivations are relatively unaffected by the existence of software patents, they might in fact find themselves hugely affected if major software companies or patent trolls start trying to assert their software patent portfolios – something that many fear might happen. True, this is only speculation, but at the very least, it might provide an interesting topic for further research….

Here in Europe, codec patents can be more or less ignored, at least in theory*, but as multinational companies like Dell are selling computers here, it is hard to avoid the MPEG ‘codec tax’ which even a Ubuntu machine from Dell comes with [1, 2] (yes, also in Europe). This issue ought to be resolved in order to make GNU/Linux free (which it’s not, at least not from major, multinational OEMs).
____
* Nevertheless, as Müller points out, “you can find links to stories on the rigid enforcement of MP3/MP4 patents in Europe, particularly at the CeBIT trade show. So much for the exclusion of patents on software in Article 52 of the European Patent Convention…”

United States of Microsoft?

Posted in Europe, Microsoft at 6:06 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

[Note: the title and image are intended to be purely humourous, even if text leaves that out]

Microsoft - US

Summary: Microsoft’s coup against independent US politics is a subject that mustn’t be ignored if the danger of government-imposed lock-in is to be properly understood and countered

IN ORDER to maintain some dominance, Microsoft relies a great deal on politicians (whom it sometimes funds). Microsoft’s influence in the United States government continues to increase thanks to spineless politicians who would rather help companies than help their people. According to this report (pointing to another), “state and local incentives” are being arranged for Microsoft in Iowa (venue of the Comes vs Microsoft trial). Forget about foreclosures; it’s poor Microsoft that deserves financial favours right now, correct?

Microsoft is in discussion with Iowa officials about restarting a stalled data center project in the state, although envisions a considerably smaller budget, according to local media reports. The company is seeking to rework state and local incentives to support a $100 million project, reports the Des Moines Register.

The state of Florida became a victim of American EDGI [1, 2] a few week ago. Andy Perez is selling out his state based on this new press release and Microsoft claims to ‘donate’ access to some Internet resources that indoctrinate citizens. Quite a donation, eh?

Heartland Workforce is working with Workforce Florida Inc., the Florida Agency for Workforce Innovation and the Microsoft Corporation as part of a public-private partnership to provide free technology training to individuals across the state. The Microsoft Corporation, through Microsoft Elevate America, will donate 35,000 vouchers to the state of Florida for no-cost, online technology training and certification. This initiative will be implemented through collaboration with the state’s 24 Regional Workforce Boards.

Forbes Magazine has a new article titled “Tech’s Attack Of The Freebies”; Microsoft is mentioned in it and the author is insightful enough to interpret “donations” not necessarily as a blessing.

Once again we witness Microsoft using children to promote the financial ’cause’ of Microsoft (good PR to be named alongside “Boys & Girls Club”):

The Digital Arts Festivals are a dynamic component of the national Club Tech program, a partnership between Boys & Girls Clubs of America, founding sponsor Microsoft and Comcast with the goal to provide youth with the skills needed to thrive in a technology-driven world.

Here is another press release which shows Florida giving Microsoft even more political power:

The Florida House of Representatives is making one final push over the next month for its state residents to be counted in the 2010 Census, through its MyFloridaCensus (http://www.myfloridacensus.gov) website and Web-based application. MyFloridaCensus is an innovative component in Florida’s overall effort to ensure a complete count of residents during the ongoing 2010 Census, supplementing door-to-door canvassing, which ends nationwide July 10.

This is part of a trend because Microsoft has been getting into politics with free-of-charge proprietary software since earlier this year [1, 2, 3] (starting around April). This now includes a platform for campaigning, based on several new sources [1, 2, 3] including the Microsoft booster Marius Oiaga. What are these candidate politicians thinking?

“This is part of a trend because Microsoft has been getting into politics with free-of-charge proprietary software since earlier this year.”Microsoft is now tightening its relationship with governments (covered in relation to an event that involved the The Economist too). More lock-in is promised and advertised by Mary Jo Foley. We previously covered Microsoft's plan of controlling government data. There is an ongoing race to control healthcare in the nation (lock-in proponents don’t seem to mind), but what makes it worse is that even Canadian healthcare is something which Microsoft tries to control. Here are the latest reports [1, 2]. Something ought to be done to stop this. The NHS is a lesson in Microsoft’s harms to healthcare.

Two years ago we warned that Microsoft wants to control healthcare data in case it goes bankrupt. If healthcare depends on Microsoft, then it will receive bankruptcy protection. Other companies have used similar tricks to reduce their risk, or rather to pass the risk to the public (socialism) while they make all the profits with outrageous bets that are secured by taxpayers.

“Microsoft Is Down 17.84% Since Reporting Quarterly Results 43 Days Ago” — that’s the title of this new report. We have also just learned about a possible shake-up coming to Microsoft now that Apple is worth more than Microsoft and there is no major new product over the horizon (Courier, for example, died prematurely [1, 2]).

Across the Atlantic we’ve held elections recently and a new government came to power, removing unnecessary bureaucracy like BECTA in the process. This will save a lot of public money that can instead be spent on developing/deploying Free software.

The closure of Becta will save £10m over the next year, the government said yesterday.

Former education minister and Labour MP Ed Balls tabled a parliamentary question in which he asked the Secretary of State for Education to estimate the cost and savings to the Exchequer expected from kyboshing the schools IT quango.

There is also news from New Zealand. Microsoft has had many problems there recently, so it may have become a matter of urgency and here is Microsoft’s apparent response:

Microsoft has officially designated this country “Tier One”, meaning Microsoft products will become available here at the same time as larger markets on the first launch “wave” such as the US, Japan, Germany, Singapore and Australia.

Microsoft has been trying to bring software patents to New Zealand. It probably won’t work. Microsoft may have a lot of political influence in the United States (and to a certain degree in Canada), but as the firm gets smaller, it also becomes more politically feeble. So, all in all, we are optimistic that change will come not from the United States but first from distant nations, which gradually move towards software freedom and in turn will help the US liberate itself from tyrants like Microsoft.

More Rebuttals to Latest GNU/Linux Security FUD

Posted in FUD, GNU/Linux, Security at 4:08 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Guard

Summary: Linux backdoor? Not so fast, say people who are familiar with the issue

THIS subject has come up quite frequently in the IRC channel. We addressed this in a previous post, but in the interest of FUD-fighting, here’s more:

i. Gnu/Linux Infection Is Unreal

Windows world is still the same, nothing has changed from security point of view other than more bloated systems. The entire security industry thrive on Windows platform — if there is no Windows there is no security industry. Security firms hate Gnu/Linux, they love Windows, they want Windows – to survive.

There is no lesson to be learned from Windows peers, if you know the nature of this flaw, it is quite different from the flaws of poros Windows Machines.

So what happened here? Some cracker wrote a virus and send it to you through an email and you installed it by clicking on it? No, nothing as dramatic as it happens in Windows world. It was actually so boring you may not even want to read it.

ii. Trojaned App Demonstrates Need for Better Practices, Not More FUD

The Unreal team handled it pretty well, in my opinion. They embraced the suck and made a clear announcement free of blame or denial–an announcement that also pointed out how to confirm the trojaned version and how to replace the trojaned version with the clean version. This is not, I should emphasize, the worst exploit ever: “This backdoor allows a person to execute any command with the privileges of the user running the ircd. The backdoor can be executed regardless of any user restrictions (so even if you have passworded server or hub that doesn’t allow any users in).”

iii. Rootkits: Hiding in Windows shadows

While rootkit problems still exist in Unix and Linux, they’re far more common in Windows. That’s in part because the Unix operating family has many built in system monitoring and logging tools. In other words, while Unix and Linux can be attacked this way, it’s a lot harder to pull off without leaving tracks.

This hopefully provides ‘ammunition’ for those who come across the latest bit of FUD that Microsoft boosters use against GNU/Linux in their blogs. They hope to suppress migrations to GNU/Linux (like Google’s) which are motivated by security.

Mono Cleanup

Posted in GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Mono, Novell, Ubuntu at 4:00 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Bucket

Summary: Ubuntu GNU/Linux follows the footsteps of projects like Fedora and sweeps Novell’s Mono aside

BY “Mono cleanup” we are not referring to the latest refinements from Microsoft MVP de Icaza and his team. And actually, there is not much news from Mono anymore, with the exception of the MeeGo issue [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]; it has been months since we last heard anything about Moonlight.

“Have these pro-Microsoft projects been neglected?”Is it possible that amid negotiations of a sale Novell just doesn’t put much effort into .NET? Have these pro-Microsoft projects been neglected? We do hope so. It will also be interesting to see what happens to UNIX now that SCO is in the gutter [1, 2, 3] and there is legal certainty that Novell owns UNIX.

Over the weekend Slashdot gave room to the story about Shotwell [1, 2, 3]. Then, many blogs started reciting old news about the removal of F-Spot from Ubuntu (examples of new coverage in here). To cite more examples we have just found:

i. Track the Desktop and UNE in Maverick

ii. gThumb Brings Better Photo Browsing and Importing to Linux (yes, gThumb is a possibility as well [1, 2])

Ubuntu’s next version will switch out the F-Spot photo manager for Shotwell, a young but promising tool. Want a better tool than either of them? Try gThumb, which does well at importing, viewing, organizing, and lightly editing your shots.

[...]

gThumb is a free download for Linux systems running GNOME desktops, and is available in most major Linux repositories. Ubuntu users, in fact, can install gThumb with one click from the app’s home page.

iii. Ubuntu one step closer to dropping Mono

Update: This has also been detailed by Rick Spencer, engineering manager for the Ubuntu desktop team.

The decision will please the growing anti-Mono crowd which is keen to rid Ubuntu of it. Mono is an open source implementation of Microsoft’s .Net platform founded by Novell’s Miguel De Icaza. Mono is used to run applications such as F-Spot and Tomboy notes on Ubuntu but there is a distinct movement towards removing Mono-based applications from Ubuntu releases, particularly UNR in which space is at a premium.

The decision will also please the users that complain F-Spot is unstable and unreliable as an image organiser. F-Spot has been the default image organiser in Ubuntu since the Edgy Eft (6.10) in October 2006.

[...]

With F-Spot being shown the door Tomboy could be next. Tomboy is the last remaining Mono-based app included in Ubuntu by default and could well be replaced with something like GNote to remove the last signs of Mono-dependency.

Actually, there is gbrainy too [1, 2, 3, 4], but it’s just a little game that would not justify leaving the whole bloat of Mono on the Ubuntu CD (space constraints and possibly performance).

The CTO of Canonical is aware that Mono has issues associated with it.

Bribosoft

Posted in Finance, Hardware, Microsoft, Windows at 3:27 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The gift

“I’ve been thinking long and hard about this, and the only conclusion I can come to is that this is ethically indistinguishable from bribery. Even if no quid-pro-quo is formally required, the gift creates a social obligation of reciprocity. This is best explained in Cialdini’s book Influence (a summary is here). The blogger will feel some obligation to return the favor to Microsoft.”

Former Microsoft manager

Summary: Microsoft gives very expensive gifts to many journalists with the expectation that positive coverage will follow; developers too are being paid to target Windows

IT IS no secret that Xbox is having a hard time. As we showed some days ago, there are rumours that Microsoft might rename it (which means it’s failing), but for the time being Microsoft just tweaks the design and then pulls old tricks by giving pricey gifts to many journalists it preselected. One of the sites which previously received an expensive Vista 7 laptop from Microsoft is naming what Microsoft does with a new Xbox 360 “Shameless Bribe” but it adds a question mark to the headline. To quote the first paragraph:

Short on shocking moments and big reveals, Microsoft pulled the trump card at the end of its E3 press conference on Monday: Everyone in attendance would get a brand new, redesigned Xbox 360 for free. For all the journalists in the audience, it was time to make an ethical decision. For the rest of us, it was suddenly clear why Microsoft chose a small venue for the event, forcing many reporters, myself included, to watch via live video feed.

The FTC promised to regulate this type of practice.

“Microsoft reminds me of the joke about the ugly kid,” writes Chips B Malroy, “whose parents had to tie a pork chop to the kid’s neck, so that the dog would play with him. Unless they give away Xbox 360, no one will write nice[ly] about it?”

According to another report, “Microsoft is paying developers to port iPhone games to Windows Phone 7″ and Information Week caught this item.

Microsoft has been throwing around cash lately to help bolster the application offerings for Windows Phone 7. Compared to Android and iPhone application stores. Windows Mobile’s library is at best anemic. To make matters worse, everything has to be rewritten for WP7. Microsoft seems to be taking the “if you want things done right, do it yourself” approach to filling the library.

[...]

PocketGamer is now reporting that Microsoft has been contacting “successful iPhone developers” to front them cash and get their iPhone app in the WP7 Marketplace.

Microsoft cannot pay to have 100,000+ applications ported to a platform whose present is depressing and whose future is uncertain. One of the reasons Microsoft has a stranglehold on the desktop is the abundance of Windows applications; after starting from scratch in the mobile arena, Microsoft put itself in the very opposite position. Those bribe simply won’t save Microsoft, whose history of bribery is partly documented in the posts below (like bribes to vote for OOXML in Sweden).

Related posts:

“Ballmer’s Departure Seems to be Imminent”

Posted in Finance, Microsoft, Steve Ballmer at 2:50 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: As Steve Ballmer takes more operations to India and receives flak for poor leadership, a German magazine foresees/predicts major change

“Ballmer’s departure seems to be imminent,” wrote to us a reader from Germany last night. “A major German business & management magazine has already published a “funeral” eulogy about Microsoft and Ballmer. Right on their cover: http://www.wiwo.de/”

A few days ago, amid a lot of disdain such as this, Ballmer was defended by Bill Gates, but it might not be enough now that Microsoft performs poorly and takes additional debt.

“Steve Ballmer and the (Gloomy) Future of Microsoft” is the title of another new post which quotes:

…Not everyone buys this BS. One blogger, Horace Dediu, offers what many believe is the right explanation: Robbie Bach was fired because he lost the HP account. As the largest PC maker, HP is a hugely important Microsoft customer. A few weeks ago, HP acquired Palm for its WebOS smartphone software platform. The slap in Microsoft’s face still resonates; it’s a verdict on the failed Windows Mobile offering and a negative prognosis on its upcoming Windows Phone 7 Series operating system for smartphones. Days after the acquisition, Mark Hurd, HP’s CEO, let it be known that WebOS will be used in connected printers. As a final blow, HP’s (future) Slate Tablet, once held high as a Windows 7 device, will also use Palm’s WebOS.

According to another report a reader told us about yesterday, “Microsoft ranks India over Silicon Valley” (possibly a sign of cost savings to come).

Even though Indian CIOs are largely sceptical about the “revolutionising” cloud computing, Microsoft boss, Steve Ballmer has taken an attempt to silence the critics of cloud computing in India.

The Microsoft CEO has ranked India’s prospects over Silicon valley’s in terms of growth in cloud computing. Ballmer firmly believes India would become the global hub for cloud computing which might take the world by storm.

This is part of an ongoing trend we’ve been covering for months if not years. Ballmer’s behaviour has made a lot of people angry (see video below) and he became a PR disaster for Microsoft; in a way, it’ll better for GNU/Linux if he stays.


Direct link

IRC Proceedings: June 15th, 2010

Posted in IRC Logs at 1:47 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

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