07.28.10

Links 28/7/2010: Linux Mint 9 KDE is Out, GNOME 3 Delayed

Posted in News Roundup at 3:12 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • The Linux Box Achieves ISO 9001:2008 Certification

    The Linux Box, a software development company specializing in open source technology, has earned ISO 9001:2008 certification.

  • Linux Format wallpapers
  • ["Get a cat"]
  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC)

      • VLC backend for Phonon 0.2.0

        The VLC backend for Phonon is released!

      • BlueDevil, the new KDE bluetooth stack is here

        BlueDevil is a set of components, which integrates bluetooth within the KDE SC, for example adding a system preference module (KCM), or allowing to browse the files in a cell phone from you favorite file browser.

      • Blue smile
      • Linux Music Players: Amarok vs. Clementine

        Open Amarok and Clementine side by side, and the philosophical differences become apparent immediately.

        The difference goes far beyond the fact that Clementine uses two panes — one for music sources and one for playlists — while Amarok adds a third pane for context information. The number of panes does indicate a difference in assumptions about what users have want, but it is the least of the differences.

        Instead, the largest difference is that Amarok’s design philosophy is influenced by the current interface design theories, while Clementine’s are more oriented towards stone geeks, including every detail imaginable.

    • GNOME Desktop

      • Linux Storm: Stormy Peters

        Stormy: I first got involved with open source software around 1999 or 2000. I was managing the HPUX desktop and we decided that having GNOME, a free and open source desktop, on HPUX would be advantageous for users. It was a platform with a vibrant community and new features that customers wanted. The technical part turned out to be the easy part. The harder part was explaining what open source software was and how HP’s intellectual property would not be compromised, and how free and open source software was changing the software business. I ended up with a new job teaching people about open source software and creating the Open Source Program Office.

      • Terminator for GNOME lets users split terminal windows

        Although a command line isn’t a necessity anymore in modern desktop Linux distributions, there are many situations where it’s still the most efficient way to perform and automate tasks. I often spawn terminal windows in clusters on my desktop while I’m working so that I can monitor and switch between a number of simultaneous operations. A large number of terminal windows can be frustrating to manage, however, and can look cluttered on a desktop.

      • GNOME 3 not ready yet, release pushed back to 2011

        The developers behind the GNOME project have gathered in the Netherlands this week for the annual GUADEC conference. During a meeting that took place at the event, the GNOME release team made the difficult decision to delay the launch of GNOME 3, the next major version of the popular open source desktop environment.

  • Distributions

    • Reviews

      • PClinuxOS: Radically Simple

        At the end the hardware requirements of each distribution depend much on its components (Desktop Envorinment, Window Manager,…) which are in many distro’s the same, what makes PClinuxOS different from the rest is that PClinuxOS is “Radically Simple”. I have not found anyother distribution which is simpler.

    • Red Hat Family

      • Red Hat Ships JBoss Enterprise Portal Platform 5.0

        Red Hat Inc. has launched its next-generation portal solution, JBoss Enterprise Portal Platform 5.0, offering organizations a flexible, open source alternative for building, deploying, integrating and managing on-premise and cloud-based applications.

    • Debian Family

      • Canonical/Ubuntu

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Phones

      • Android vs iPhone vs Palm Pre vs Maemo: which is best?

        Mobile Linux is an unprecedented success. In a market that has been dominated for years by the likes of Nokia and Microsoft, it’s a credit to our favourite operating system that it has been able to quickly adapt and slot into the mobile ecosystem over a such a short period of time. It’s also amazing that our open source operating system is rivalling Apple without the massive research and development budgets, without the singular vision and without curtailing users’ freedom, albeit with help from the likes of Google.

        What’s most impressive is that Linux-based mobile phones can beat the iPhone without resorting to free software idealism. In many cases, they’re just better. Simple functions like modifying your home screen, or replacing your music and photo browsers, are almost impossible on the iPhone, and ridiculously easy on all three of the platforms we’ve looked at. Their APIs aren’t controlled by a single developer, they don’t force draconian limitations on their use, and you’re free to create and install any kind of application you choose, regardless of the moral judgements of the developers behind the platform.

        But the best reason is that they all run Linux, and while you might not be able to get into the operating system as much as you can on your desktop, you can’t completely escape from it either. Many Linux tools and applications have been ported to these devices, and much of the third-party software you find in their app stores has been derived from open source projects. This means you’re probably already familiar with them, and it also means that there’s a great sense of longevity in these phones. The hardware may change, and so too may the operating system and APIs, but the free software bedrock upon which they’re built won’t change, and can only go from strength to strength.

      • Nokia/MeeGo

        • Nokia N900, the ultimate smartphone?

          I bought a Nokia N900 a litte more than a month ago, after having wanted one ever since when Nokia first released word that it was coming out with this new Linux based smartphone.

          [...]

          The included software is pretty good, but if you are not going to install 3rd party software then this really is not the phone for you.

      • Android

        • Why Android won

          The OS wars in the mobile space appear to be over and there are two left standing, the iPhone and Android, a Linux distro.

Free Software/Open Source

  • MagicMail Adds Collaboration, Mobility from Open-Xchange

    LinuxMagic will incorporate the Open-Xchange software in its MagicMail offering that is designed as a turn-key solution for ISPs and telcos with 2,000 to 200,000 users. MagicMail comes with integrated anti-spam protection and support from LinuxMagic, one of the foremost experts in e-mail and spam security, as well as a stable redundant infrastructure built on Linux technology.

  • Web Browsers

  • Project Releases

    • GNU make 3.82 released!

      The next stable version of GNU make, version 3.81, has been released and is available for download from http://ftp.gnu.org/gnu/make/.

  • Openness/Sharing

Leftovers

  • Genome Nobelist: The hard numbers of population growth

    The topic of population is moving up the agenda again. It was very much discussed 40 years ago. Then, with the green revolution, people felt things would be fine because the world population was increasing and everyone wasn’t starving to death as predicted. But now we are facing a whole series of resource limitations. We are also facing the results of our own emissions – it is only in the last 10 years that we’ve had the hard evidence to say that rising levels of carbon dioxide really are leading to rising levels of global warming.

  • Leaked report on Land grabs

    Today’s Financial Times has a preview of a much-awaited World Bank report on land grabs. The Bank has, for months, been promising the arrival of a report that makes a cast iron case for why allowing rich foreign investors to buy land in poor countries is win-win-win-win. The release date for the report keeps slipping because it appears that even the Bank is struggling to massage the facts to fit its case. From a leaked version of the report:

    “Investor interest is focused on countries with weak land governance,” the draft said. Although deals promised jobs and infrastructure, “investors failed to follow through on their investments plans, in some cases after inflicting serious damage on the local resource base”.

  • Environment

    • Billionaire polluter David Koch: Global warming is good for you

      This is the big pull-out quote from a profile in New York Magazine of the billionaire polluter behind the Tea Parties, whose family outspends Exxon Mobil on climate and clean energy disinformation.

      NY Mag gives Koch free rein to spread that disinformation, with not a single quote by any scientist disputing it. Of course, if conservatives continue to listen to Koch and the groups funded by him, like the Cato Institute and Heritage Foundation — and block all efforts to get off our current emissions path — then we are headed towards very high concentrations of carbon dioxide, which will dramatically reduce the land available to produce food, even as we add another 3 billion mouths to feed (see “Intro to global warming impacts: Hell and High Water“).

  • Censorship/Privacy/Civil Rights

    • Why a Uyghur Journalist Was Sentenced 15 Years

      On July 23rd, 2010, a Uyghur journalist, activist and blogger named Gheyret Niyaz (a.k.a. Heyrat Niyaz, 海莱特·尼亚孜) was sentenced to 15 years in prison. His crime, according to many reports, was “endangering state security” by conducting an interview with a Hong Kong newspaper shortly after the Urumqi riots of 2009. He played no role in the actual riots.

    • Every Small Business Needs A Privacy Policy

      Online privacy policies have taken center stage as social networking sites and search engines have recently come under fire for sharing user information.

    • Use of parking enforcement cameras suspended in west of borough

      Complaints from drivers prompted Hounslow Council to switch off CCTV cameras in some part of the borough.

    • Blackburn town centre CCTV cameras ‘faulty’

      CRUCIAL evidence of Blackburn town centre incidents could be being missed because of faulty CCTV cameras.

    • Your mobile app is spying on you

      The odds are pretty good that if you’re a big consumer of mobile apps, the private information on your phone has been collected and sent somewhere without your knowledge.

      That’s the finding of the App Genome Project mammoth study by Lookout, a mobile security company that has scrutinized more than 300,000 apps on both the iPhone and Android mobile phone platforms.

    • 100 million Facebook pages leaked on torrent site

      A directory containing personal details about more than 100 million Facebook users has surfaced on an Internet file-sharing site.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • ASCAP Boss Refuses To Debate Lessig; Claims That It’s An Attempt To ‘Silence’ ASCAP

        We were among those who were amazed at ASCAP’s misguided and factually incorrect attack on EFF, Public Knowledge and Creative Commons. ASCAP’s Paul Williams falsely made the claim that those three groups were against copyright and against compensating content creators. Nothing could be further from the truth. All three groups responded politely to the bizarre and factually incorrect attack, and many ASCAP members who support these groups and use Creative Commons licenses expressed their displeasure with ASCAP for such a blatantly misleading letter. Larry Lessig responded with a blog post, again pointing out the blatant errors in ASCAP’s attack, noting that these groups actually look to help content creators by providing them tools to better exercise their rights. In that blog post, Lessig also challenged Williams to a debate so they could iron out their differences and ASCAP could (hopefully) retract their false attacks on these groups, and focus on helping artists again.

      • Digital Economy (UK)

        • Digital Economy Act “not fine” – great understatements of our time…

          One of the consequences of this act is that internet service providers (ISPs) will be require to keep a dossier on individuals suspected of illegal file-sharing. Individuals will be identified via an IP address associated with them (an ID assigned to equipment connect to the internet).

        • DE Act: could the UK Parliament revisit it?

          The Digital Economy Act, and the issues raised by it, will be addressed by a new Committee of the UK Parliament. At its first meeting yesterday, it was rights-holders v citizens. But where were the telcos?

Clip of the Day

Dell Streak


SUSE Gallery an Increasingly Rare Case of Novell’s SUSE Promotion

Posted in Microsoft, Novell, OpenSUSE, Servers, SLES/SLED at 1:20 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Grounded lizard

Summary: Novell promotes SUSE for a change, but it also leaves OpenSUSE to continue struggling with downtimes

NOVELL has hardly done anything to promote SUSE this month (unlike Fog Computing), until it issued this press release, had Markus Rex write for Novell’s PR, made a buzz in the OpenSUSE community [1, 2, 3], and probably contacted journalists in order to generate some coverage [1, 2, 3, 4, 5] which included:

It has been a year since Novell launched its SUSE Appliance Program, which offers a set of online tools, dubbed SUSE Studio, for spinning up software appliances based on its SUSE Linux distro. The appliance tools were aimed at software developers who wanted to code appliances for their own purposes – perhaps as a means of more easily supporting and redistributing their own application software to their customers – not for distributing software appliances to the general public.

Now there is SUSE Gallery.

Novell uses these appliances to sell SUSE though some ‘open’ core companies that put SUSE Studio underneath. Novell also has some SUSE server collaborations going on with IBM [1, 2] and while more volunteers are needed in SUSE (packaging helps), there is also this OpenSUSE Build Service job opening. Novell’s Duncan Mac-Vicar P. produces Build Service for Android.

There is hardly any other OpenSUSE news, except perhaps for the release of OpenSUSE 11.3 (covered before), the end of 11.0, some work on the Wiki, and server downtimes (Novell does not properly support the OpenSUSE project, which is looking for sponsors as a result). If Novell neglects OpenSUSE, then it’s time to move on.

Novell Promotes — Then Disses — Fog Computing

Posted in Google, Novell, Servers at 12:33 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Foggy morning

Summary: Novell is still schizophrenic about Fog Computing, but it continues to advance this freedom-hostile trend for better or for worse

“Fog Computing” is what we call the hyped-up phenomenon which was rebranded and marketed as “cloud computing” (dressing up a wolf as a sheep). To clarify, what “cloud computing” means is connecting to a bunch of servers somewhere else and usually leaving one’s personal data on them. Sometimes it’s about virtualisation too (for compartmentalisation; Novell is promoting VDI too).

Novell is very hardcore on “Fog Computing” these days. Many posts in Novell’s PR blog (this new one for example) talk about “cloud” and we previously covered the news about the Fog Computing centre in China. That’s one of Novell’s latest accomplishments which it bragged about to generate a lot of press [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6]. There is also bad press [1, 2].

The strange thing is, when Novell loses a contract due to someone else’s ‘cloud’ (e.g. to Google), then it starts saying negative things about that so-called 'cloud' and those who choose it (former Novell customers). Here is a timely excerpt from a new article:

Top 10 Reasons Cloud Computing Deployments Fail

[...]

Michele Hudnall, solution marketing manager for BSM at Novell, emailed me to emphasize the importance of well-defined SLA’s. According to Hudnall, things you should watch out for are a lack of SLA’s, vague SLA’s and poor overall service management.

Will Novell ever decide whether it loves or hates the ‘cloud’? It sure has many products which it markets as “cloud” something. For instance, just days ago Novell was seemingly promoting Fog Computing for identity and security management:

Also of note: Novell’s Intelligent Workload Management (IWM) strategy includes identity and security management for physical and virtual systems located on-premises or in the cloud, according to Chief Marketing Officer John Dragoon.

Another area where Novell follows the Fog Computing trend is inspired by Google’s Wave. Novell calls it Pulse, but it can integrate/interoperate with Wave.

Google offers IE [Internet Explorer] users faster Wave gravy

[...]

Wave has a number of early adopters – including Novell, SAP and Accenture – who’ve likely emphasized the need for better IE support.

Novell sometimes recommends Internet Explorer, but that’s another story.

At any rate, Novell is still preoccupied with proprietary software and Fog Computing (which is somewhat of a subset of proprietary software, depending on the licence). As Mark Pack put it some days ago:

The world however is full of companies which used to be massive, even dominant, but fell from grace. Remember the days when Novell dominated the server market?

Novell’s friends continue to rely on legacy alone, so it won’t last forever. Novell could possibly be part of the World Wide Web revolution, but instead it is losing even to Ubuntu. CentOS is said to be most dominant in Web servers now; Techrights too runs on CentOS.

“Forty percent of servers run Windows, 60 percent run Linux…”

Steve Ballmer (September 2008)

Migration Disinformation Claimed in Los Angeles, California

Posted in America, Google, Microsoft, Novell at 11:58 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Los Angeles, California

Summary: Google says that reports about the situation in LA (where Google replaces Microsoft/Novell) are overblown

NOVELL’S main source of revenue is proprietary software and one of those products which Novell sells (and still actively markets these days) is GroupWise, which it brings to many platforms including its own and Apple’s:

GW Mail is a GroupWise email client for the iPhone. With this app you get a much better interface than Novell delivers by default through GroupWise WebAccess. This app gives you some of the enterprise features that you wouldn’t get with simple POP/IMAP – like access to your Frequent Contacts and GroupWise address book.

There is a lot of news at the moment about a Fog Computing battle between Microsoft and Google [1, 2]. A central point of this coverage is Los Angeles, where Google is replacing Microsoft and Novell. A report that we found some days ago in Market Watch gives the impression that something went wrong, so Microsoft boosters in IDG, in The Register, and others in ZDNet [1, 2] repeat the claims about a delay.

The Los Angeles City Council was reportedly told that the costs of keeping employees on that old Novell system while the kinks are worked out could exceed $400,000, but Google says the costs will be closer to about $135,000 and that it will cover them. One of the key issues behind the delay: security concerns by the city’s police department.

More Microsoft-connected press has this to say:

As Washington Technology reported in May, the city awarded Computer Sciences Corp. and Google a $7.25 million contract to build a cloud e-mail system to replace the existing Novell GroupWise service for the city’s municipal agencies using Google’s suite of Web-based productivity tools.

According to TechCrunch, Google says that the Los Angeles Apps delay is overblown, so one might wonder if someone is misreporting in order to advance Microsoft’s (and Novell’s) interests. The City Of Los Angeles is important because of the chain effect.

On Friday, we learned that this delay became a reality, and Google missed its June 30 deadline to deploy Apps to all 34,000 employees. But today, at the launch of Google Apps for Government, a specialized version of the suite to meet government security needs, Google said the situation was in fact overblown.

Los Angeles was foolish to go with Fog Computing, but at least it is leaving Microsoft’s proprietary software in the process. Under more controlled environments, all governments would probably choose an infrastructure they control, which means that Free/libre software is the only viable choice.

How Novell’s Mono Mob Operates

Posted in Microsoft, Mono, Novell, OpenOffice at 11:16 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Sheep says mono

Summary: Novell staff spots negative feedback about Mono and says “Hey Mono community, help me reply all this nonsense.”

Novell’s Mono employees have often been accused of being bullies. They cannot quite tolerate dissent, so they resort to personal attacks (Novell employees used to comment here anonymously on Mono posts). Based on some recent news we have just caught up with, Novell is still putting Mono on more things and there is further promotion from Microsoft’s MVP Miguel de Icaza [1, 2], whose blog is all about Mono and Microsoft stuff.

According to this blog post from Planet SuSE, Novell still wants to 'own' OpenOffice.org (Go-OO is a start) and this time it increases Mono dependencies in OpenOffice.org:

It was hackweek here again in Novell, I spent an enjoyable ( but also sometimes frustrating ) couple of days trying to extend support for Mono in Openoffice.org. Recently on IRC there was some interest in using C# to write extensions for Openoffice.org where it became clear that only being able to ‘drive’ Openoffice.org from C# is severely limiting. To provide decent custom functionality you need to be able to get called by Openoffice.org, integrate with the Menus and Toolbars etc. Clearly to write an extension you need to be able to be ‘plugged’ in.. There are many many C# developers ( and potential extension developers ) and
we are just ignoring them. I have to admit I always wanted to play with C#/DotNet/Mono and I even proposed a GSOC task to try and faciliate this ;-)
Unfortunately the project didn’t make the cut but fortunately there is Hackweek yay! So, I spent the last couple of days playing around with Mono and C#, first I wrote a new loader for Mono, this allowed me to use recomp to register some services, next I modified unopkg to accept a Mono component bundled in an extension.

Now we come to the interesting part. We have found the following new blog post from Andrés .G Aragoneses, who works for Novell. It’s about an article/post titled “.NET Culture Shock: Why .NET Adoption Lags Among Startups” and here is what Aragoneses has to say:

Especially sad to find that Mono is not mentioned in the article.

Especially super sad to find that Mono is mentioned in the comments, but in a negative way.

Hey Mono community, help me reply all this nonsense.

The first comment says: “Huh? A lot of those comments are actually in favor of Mono – many of the folks really seem to like and even recommend it. So don’t worry. Except for the few Anti-Microsoft zealots that are always around and usually don’t know what they’re screaming around, people are finally realizing the potential and value of Mono.”

The second comment is from Aragoneses, who says: “Winni, those comments were actually left after I posted my blog entry ;)”

It’s like some kind of a “Mono response team”. Like Visible Technologies

We still remember how Novell staff publicly daemonised us (Techrights) when we warned about Novell’s participation in MeeGo, inside of which it put a load of Mono [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6].

Indonesia is Moving to OpenDocument Format (ODF)

Posted in Asia, IBM, Microsoft, Office Suites, OpenDocument at 10:50 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Flag of Indonesia

Summary: Another Asian country decides to become vendor neutral when it comes to documents which government agencies handle

“Mandatory State use of ODF coming in 2011,” says Rob Weir (IBM) regarding this new article and there are already some blog posts about it (in English). The translation says: “When all of the computers in government agencies completed a migration to Open Source at the end of 2011, the government also plans to migrate all the important documents of the country using open document formats (Open Document Format / ODF).”

Further to Weir's rant about Microsoft's FUD against ODF, The Source had this to say about Microsoft’s strategy:

Lie. Lie Big. And Stick to It.

One of the things Mr. Weir points out is that through a simple Google search, it’s easy to see how a troop of zombie “tech journalists”, bloggers, and astroturfers simply parrot Microsoft talking points – right down to the exact phrasing.

(The audacity of Microsoft complaining that someone else is “restricting choice” is nearly as amusing as when Microsoft complains of “Google’s monopoly status”. )

Separately, one reader of this site claimed that he explained to Google “the problems they were bringing in by hiring Microsofters.”

“[T]here are problems with [Google] not indexing ODF and doing a terribly poor job of it.”
      –Anonymous
“Also,” he said, “the supply of skilled people is drying up. Not just in IT, but the drought is especially hard in IT.”

This reader confirmed that “there are problems with [Google] not indexing ODF and doing a terribly poor job of it.”

We truly hope that Google — like Indonesia and many other countries — will realise that ODF is here to stay and to thrive (we posted a couple of ODF files this morning). Sooner or later Google will have to accept it fully. Public pressure on Google would help accelerate this.

USPTO Wants Feedback About Post-Bilski Guidelines, EPO Might Let Monsanto Patent Life

Posted in America, Europe, Novell, Patents at 10:33 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Patents on software and on life are making headlines again and there is also room for public participation

IP WATCH is telling readers that the USPTO seeks comments on post-Bilski guidelines (direct link [PDF]) and this is important because it may help determine that some software is not patentable in the United States (some software patents die over there due to the Bilski case [1, 2]).

According to this, Novell — like Microsoft — has also some long history as a victim of software patents. To quote:

We’ve all seen high-tech lawsuits that amounted to little. A prime example: The infamous Roger Billings vs. Novell lawsuit, in which Billings claimed Novell violated his patent for client-server computing. Novell ultimately won the case, though Novell customer Bank of America allegedly paid Billings $125,000 to go away.

Over here in Europe, the debate over Monsanto patents carries on. Should Monsanto be allowed to “own” certain life forms?

Monsanto holds a European patent that covers modified soybean DNA sequences that confer herbicide immunity on the plant (so-called “Roundup Ready” soybeans). A “European” patent is in fact a bundle of national patents issued by the European Patent Office (EPO) in Munich. (The EPO was established by a treaty, the European Patent Convention, and is not a European Union institution.) The EPO applies a single standard for judging patentability, but enforcement of patents is then delegated to the courts of the individual European countries, and those standards may differ. Monsanto’s European patent is in effect in several countries, including the Netherlands, where Monsanto brought this infringement action.

Need European farmers take it to the streets again?

EPO backlash

British Computer Society (BCS) Still Serves Agenda of Large Multinationals

Posted in Europe, Free/Libre Software, FUD, Security at 10:18 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

BCS logo

Summary: The BCS has moved beyond public policy misrepresentation and is now spreading FUD about “Open Source”

SEVERAL months ago we acquired and assembled yet more proof to show that IEEE serves not the interests of people; rather, it promotes the agenda of large corporations [1, 2], including their monopolies on software. Over the past few months we have also accumulated evidence (especially from Simon Phipps although sometimes backed by Glyn Moody, a fellow Brit) to show that BCS should not necessarily be seen as a friend of the British public [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6]. The latest example of this comes in the form of FUD against Free(dom) software, which is rebutted thusly:

An article published by the BCS was brought to my attention, and it was full of such glaring omissions and implicit attacks on free software that it had to be dealt with. initially written as a comment, it quickly extended way beyond the length of the original article…

i am very confused. the BCS is supposed to be a reputable organisation, yet this article – every paragraph – is complete horse-shit. i thought about saying otherwise, so that the chances of this comment not being censored are reduced, but i cannot think of any other words to choose which express clearly enough what _really_ needs to be said.

Notice that the BCS also goes along with the lie that "commercial" is opposite of "Open Source".

Thanks to Advogato for pointing this out and posting a very detailed rebuttal. For the BCS, this is just the latest among many PR blunders so far this year (for background see the links we gave and scroll down to BCS EGM). If nobody points out these issues, nothing will improve.

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