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08.10.10

Links 10/8/2010: Software Freedom Day, Nokia and Android, GCC 4.5.1 Released

Posted in News Roundup at 4:12 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Linux safer than Windows

    Still another explanation is that Windows procedures for moving information from one application to another were not designed with security in mind. Scripts, too, such as Word or Excel macros, can be saved in data files and can alter the way Windows works, with disastrous results.

  • Events

    • SFD 2010 Registration is OPEN!!

      Dear all, this is with a lot of struggles that we have finally managed to open the SFD 2010 registration! As you can see there is still a lot of ongoing work on the site, and this includes a New Wiki where you can create your team page, a new home page for all the information about Software Freedom International and other generic and important stuff and much more to come.

    • Software Freedom Day Melbourne Photo Shoot

      Last week I was invited to take some publicity shots for the Software Freedom Day Melbourne crew at the State Library of Victoria Experimedia centre. Asides from occasional complaints from my camera (the infamous Nikon ERR CHA happened 3 times) I managed to get about 200 shots which I’ve whittled down to 26 of the best and put them up as a set on Flickr.

    • linux.conf.au 2011 Call for Papers has been Extended
    • LinuxCon: Linux’s Future in the Spotlight

      Industry observers will be looking for answers to that question this week at the Linux Foundation’s LinuxCon conference in Boston, where a wide range of participants, contributors and stakeholders in the Linux ecosystem will be gathering to discuss a broad range of topics.

    • Garrett’s LinuxCon Talk Emphasizes Lessons Learned from Android/Kernel Saga

      A LinuxCon session led by Red Hat’s Matthew Garrett discussed the lessons learned from Google’s ongoing attempts to include power-management code in the mainline Linux kernel… and revealed there’s still some emotions running high in the debate.

      If there was any doubt that feelings are still running high regarding Android code’s inclusion into the mainline Linux kernel, those doubts were quickly dispelled when Red Hat developer Matthew Garrett asked an audience member to leave the room as an argument began brewing between that audience member and another during the Q&A session of Garrett’s talk at the 2010 LinuxCon in Boston today.

  • Kernel Space

    • Lolpolicy for defining Linux security #LinuxCon

      Ever wonder how lolspeak, the language of lolcats could be used to secure Linux?

      At LinuxCon, Joshua Brindle from Linux security vendor Tresys (pic left) detailed something he called lolpolicy for making SELinux security policies easier to manage.

    • Graphics Stack

      • Ubuntu Kernel Developer releases Firmware Test Suite

        Colin Ian King, an Ubuntu Kernel Developer, has released Firmware Test Suite (fwts), a tool for the automatic testing of a PC’s firmware. King explains in a blog posting that many subtle or vexing kernel issues can be caused when a PC’s firmware is buggy and so a tool to automatically check for BIOS and ACPI errors is useful. Fwts incorporates over thirty tests and is able to offer advice on how to fix, or workaround issues, that it finds. In future, King plans to expand the number of tests whenever he finds an automatically diagnosable issue.

  • Applications

  • Distributions

    • New Releases

    • Red Hat Family

      • New Raytheon system makes GSA list

        “With a proven track record of more than 190 installations, Raytheon High-Speed Guard is able to sustain full transfer rates on dual-processor commercial off-the-shelf servers running Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 with a strict Security Enhanced Linux policy,” the company said.

    • Debian Family

      • Mini Debian Conference, Pune, Day-2

        After the first day of enthusiastic activities like talks and hands on workshops, the momentum had been set for the second day of the MiniDebConf. The proof for it was the missing students in the Seminar Hall, who were all busy in the lab since morning trying out packaging and other technical skills.

        Although, the intervention was made by us, moving the talks scheduled for the day to the lab.

      • Freeze shows Debian 6.0 release close

        John Ferlito, president of Linux Australia, has said that the latest freeze on Debian 6.0 — known as “Squeeze” — means that users are likely to see a stable release within six months.

        The Debian Project announced the freeze at its annual developer conference “Debconf10″, meaning that no new features will be added to the release.

      • Canonical/Ubuntu

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Synology to release Ubuntu-like Disk Station Manager 3.0 for its NAS range

      There’s great news in store for Synology Disk Station owners, in the form of a major update to the firmware. Although the current version – 2.3 – is well designed, Synology has clearly been busy completely redesigning the interface to its NAS products yet again.

      [...]

      Rather than a website-like menu on the left, though, there’s now a ‘taskbar’ at the top, which makes DSM 3.0 look a lot like Ubuntu Linux. In fact, there’s more than a passing resemblence to Ubuntu in these screenshots. Given that the Disk Stations are Linux-based devices, this is no huge surprise.

    • Phones

Free Software/Open Source

  • Foss – Strengthening the Indian Software Industry

    A home grown operating system, GNU/Linux based Bharat Operating System Solutions (BOSS) with Indian language support, has been developed by NRCFOSS. BOSS desktop version 3.1 and BOSS server version 1.0 have been released for deployment. Currently the BOSS Desktop version supports 18 Indian languages – Assamese, Bengali,Bodo, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Kashmiri, Konkani, Maithili, Malayalam, Manipuri, Marathi, Oriya, Punjabi, Sanskrit, Tamil, Telugu and Urdu. BOSS comes with features like multimediasupport, cameras and scanners, USB devices, on-line dictionary, internet tools and support for integrating mobile internet devices etc. BOSS can be downloaded for installation from http://www.bosslinux.in. Both BOSS desktop and server versions have obtained Linux Standard Base (LSB) certification from “The Linux Foundation” which ensures that any LSB (Linux Standard Base) certified application will work correctly on BOSS. BOSS has implemented the security features such as Security Audit, Cryptographic Support, Objectreuse functionality, User Data Protection, Identification and Authentication, Security Management etc.

  • Estimating source-to-product costs for OSS: an experiment

    One of my recurring themes in this blog is related to the advantages that OSS brings to the creation of new products; that is, the reduction in R&D costs through code reuse (some of my older posts: on reasons for company contribution, Why use OSS in product development, Estimating savings from OSS code reuse, or: where does the money comes from?, Another data point on OSS efficiency). I already mentioned the study by Erkko Anttila, “Open Source Software and Impact on Competitiveness: Case Study” from Helsinki University of Technology, where the author analysed the degree of reuse done by Nokia in the Maemo platform and by Apple in OSX. I have done a little experiment on my own, by asking IGEL (to which I would like to express my thanks for the courtesy and help) for the source code of their thin client line, and through inspecting the source code of the published Palm source code (available here). Of course it is not possible to inspect the code for the proprietary parts of both platforms; but through some unscientific drill-down in the binaries for IGEL, and some back of the envelope calculation for Palm I believe that the proprietary parts are less than 10% in both cases (for IGEL, less than 5% – there is a higher uncertainty for Palm).

  • Oracle

    • Oracle releases VM VirtualBox update

      Oracle has announced the availability of version 3.2.8 of its open source VM VirtualBox desktop virtualisation application for x86 hardware. The latest maintenance update includes several bug fixes and a number of changes over the previous 3.2.6 release from late June, including various stability improvements.

  • Education

  • Business

    • Rethinking the open-source money train

      In the open-source world we’ve been “hell-bent on deepening relationships with customers” through support (in whatever guise), but if the HBR article is correct, this is the very thing that will be most likely to be dropped the minute a customer can. And, in fact, this is precisely what happens, as Jon Williams (formerly of Kaplan Test) famously pointed out at OSBC years ago.

      So what’s the right revenue model?

      Red Hat has a good model in which it packages up support as an ongoing stream of software updates, patches, etc. (Red Hat Network) Salesforce has an even better model, frankly, wherein it delivers the updates as part of the application: support is just part of the overall experience. But it’s not really an open-source model, so I’ll disregard it here.

      Red Hat’s model, admirable though it may be, is not ideal for all kinds of open-source companies. For example, it is a poor fit for a Java application like Alfresco, my past employer. We considered it but there weren’t enough moving parts in the application itself to make an RHN service compelling enough in itself to justify buying an Alfresco subscription. (Red Hat’s model works precisely because Linux is so complex.)

      Nor does Red Hat’s model work in the case of Canonical, my current employer, which has made a commitment to make all software – including bug fixes, updates, etc. – completely unfettered for customers and non-customers alike. (This isn’t to say that RHEL is proprietary, but only that easy access to the code, including ongoing maintenance, is available under a subscription.)

  • Project Releases

  • Licensing

    • US court backs open source licence over TV maker’s restrictions

      It had included BusyBox software in its high definition TVs. BusyBox is a set of programs for embedded systems, part of which was written by Erik Anderson. He released his software under the GNU General Public License (GPL) Version 2, a licence used by open source programmers that allows others to use material for free under certain conditions.

  • Openness/Sharing

    • On Governments and Intellectual Property (or why we move slowly)

      The article discusses the travails of Mathew Burton, a former analyst and software programmer at the Department of Defense who spent years trying to get the software he wrote into the hands of those who desperately needed it. But alas, no one could figure out the licensing rights for the software it was supposed to work with… so it never went anywhere. Today Mathew has (unsurprisingly) left Defense and has open sourced the code so that anyone can use it. The lesson? The tangled mess of navigating all the license agreements isn’t protecting anyone and certainly not the public. It’s just preventing interesting new and derivative works from being used to render American safer.

      In short, the crises here doesn’t have to do with size of government, but in a misplaced desire by many governments to protect “intellectual property.”

      Now I understand the need of government to protect physical property. A forest, for example, can only be logged once every few generations, so allocating that resource efficiently matters. But intellectual property? Things like documents, data, and software code? It’s use is not diminished when someone uses it. Indeed, often its value increases when numerous people start to use it.

    • Cameron Neylon on practical steps toward open science

      Throughout all of this accept that as research becomes less directed or applied that the measurement becomes harder, the error margins larger, and picking of winners (already difficult) near impossible. Consider mechanism to provide baseline funding at some low level, perhaps at the level of 25-50% of a PhD studentship or technician, direct to researchers with no restrictions on use, across disciplines with the aim of maintaining diversity, encouraging exploration, and maintaining capacity. This is both
      politically and technically difficult but could have large dividends if the right balance is found. If it drops below an amount which can be useful when combined between a few researchers it is probably not worth it.

    • “Knowledge is a mashup”

      If the Smithsonian Commons project is any indication, the answer is yes. I talked to Michael Edson, director of Web and New Media Strategy for the Smithsonian about the project.

    • All Our Ideas facilitates crowdsourcing — of opinions

      Meet All Our Ideas, the “suggestion box for the digital age“: a crowdsourcing platform designed to crowdsource concepts and opinions rather than facts alone. The platform was designed by a team at Princeton under the leadership of sociology professor Matt Salganik — initially, to create a web-native platform for sociological research. (The platform is funded in part by Google’s Research Awards program.) But its potential uses extend far beyond sociology — and, for that matter, far beyond academia. “The idea is to provide a direct idea-sharing platform where people can be heard in their own voices,” Salganik told me; for news outlets trying to figure out the best ways to harness the wisdom and creativity and affection of their users, a platform that mingles commenting and crowdsourcing could be a welcome combination.

    • Open Access/Content

  • Programming

Leftovers

  • FTC busts domain name scammers

    The Federal Trade Commission said today that it had permanently killed the operations of a group that it said posed as domain name registrars and convinced thousands of US consumers, small businesses and non-profit organizations to pay bogus bills by leading them to believe they would lose their Web site addresses if they didn’t.

  • FDA Tells Novartis That ‘Facebook Sharing’ Widget On Its Site Violates Drug Ad Rules

    Technology can certainly make for some interesting clashes with regulatory regimes. Social networking, for example, starts to bring up all sorts of questions about the fine line between certain regulated areas of advertising, and basic free speech communication issues. Eric Goldman points us to the news that the FDA is warning pharma giant Novartis (pdf) over its use of a “Facebook Share” widget on its site promoting the drug Tasigna (a leukemia drug).

  • HP Needs Ann Livermore to Steer It Out of the Muck

    How many CEOs will the Hewlett-Packard board have to force out before it realizes that the person who should have succeeded Lew Platt back in 1999 is Ann Livermore, the HP veteran running the company’s enterprise business? If the board blows it again and fails to name Livermore to replace ousted chairman and CEO Mark Hurd, the way it blew it when Carly Fiorina was booted out in 2005, the wasted opportunity will be inexcusably senseless.

  • TSA Agent Accused of Stealing Cash from Wheelchair-Bound Woman

    A Transportation Security Administration agent has been arrested for allegedly stealing nearly $500 dollars from a wheelchair bound passenger as she passed through a security checkpoint at Newark Airport.

  • Britain’s oldest house found in North Yorkshire

    It was snug, round and had a stunning view of a lake, and its residents liked it so much that they stayed put for several hundred years.

    Welcome to the oldest house in the UK, newly unearthed by archaeologists amid a series of finds which are changing our knowledge of the earliest Britons.

  • Science

  • Security/Aggression

    • U.S. Urges Allies to Crack Down on WikiLeaks

      The Obama administration has asked Britain, Germany, Australia, and other allies to consider criminal charges against Julian Assange for his Afghan war leaks. Philip Shenon reports.

    • Suspect in $9 Million RBS WorldPay Hack Extradited to U.S.

      One of the alleged ringleaders behind the 2008 hack of RBS WorldPay has been extradited to the U.S., where he was arraigned Friday in the Northern District of Georgia on charges that he helped coordinate the global $9.5 million bank card heist.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

    • In Crackdown on Energy Use, China to Shut 2,000 Factories

      The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology quietly published a list late Sunday of 2,087 steel mills, cement works and other energy-intensive factories required to close by Sept. 30.

      Energy analysts described it as a significant step toward the country’s energy-efficiency goals, but not enough by itself to achieve them.

    • If an ice sheet the size of four Manhattans falls into the ocean, is it global warming yet?

      Global warming is one of those really strange, politically-charged topics. Politics is weird that way. Sometimes really obvious things, like rising global temperatures, become wedge issues between the political parties.

      On one level, it makes sense. If the world is getting warmer and we’re all doomed, fixing the problem could get expensive. After all, environmentally-sound behavior isn’t necessarily cheap.

  • Finance

    • Census Returning $1.6 Billion to Treasury

      Thanks to a better-than-expected response rate, lots of advertising and a little luck, the Commerce Department announced today that it is returning to the Treasury $1.6 billion in savings from the 2010 Census.

    • Why founding a three-person startup with zero revenue is better than working for Goldman Sachs.

      I joined Goldman Sachs in 2005, after five flailing years in a physics Ph.D. program at Berkeley.

      The average salary at Goldman Sachs in 2005 was $521,000, and that’s counting each and every trader, salesperson, investment banker, secretary, mail boy, shoe shine, and window cleaner on the payroll. In 2006, it was more like $633,000.

      [...]

      Wall Street, like Scientology, has an all-inclusive and claustrophobic value system all its own. Particularly at Goldman Sachs, which prided itself as a breed apart from other firms, this provincialism went even further. Former employees who had left Goldman were rarely mentioned. The unanimous phrase for it was ‘no longer with the firm,’ said in the same tone used to describe the passing of a family member.

      This tendency reached the height of comedy inside the strategies division, where some of the quants published academic papers on the more theoretical aspects of their work. If an author quit Goldman though, his name would be removed from the official version of the publication. It got to the point that some papers had no authors, and had apparently written themselves. So it goes. No longer with the firm.

      [...]

      The Goldman meat grinder doesn’t really need me. It doesn’t really need you either, gentle reader. That feel-good saying that made the rounds on Twitter a couple months ago is actually totally right: go out and write your own story, or you’ll just be a character in someone else’s.

    • House passes bill to help teachers, public workers

      House Democrats on Tuesday pushed through a $26 billion jobs bill to protect 300,000 teachers and other nonfederal government workers from election-year layoffs.

      The bill would be paid for mainly by closing a tax loophole used by multinational corporations and reducing food stamp benefits for the poor. It passed mainly along party lines by a vote of 247-161.

    • For the Housing Convulsion, Good Data Is Hard to Find
    • For G.M., a Subprime Solution

      The president’s comment came the same day that G.M.’s chief executive, Edward E. Whitacre Jr., avowed, “We don’t want to be known as Government Motors,” and told an industry conference, “If you liked our first-quarter financial results, stay tuned for our second-quarter financial results.”

    • Fed leaders meet as U.S. economic recovery loses steam

      As Federal Reserve policymakers meet Tuesday, they will face the challenge of a faltering economic recovery without a clear consensus on what, if anything the central bank should do about it.

      Fed leaders still think that the recovery is on track, though the pace of growth has slowed and the risks of a dip back into recession have risen since their last policymaking meeting in late June.

    • Gov’t likely to keep big mortgage market role

      Keeping Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in business will cost taxpayers billions. But getting the federal government out of the mortgage business would cost home buyers dearly, in the form of higher interest rates.

    • Pentagon belt-tightening will cut jobs

      Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Monday that tough economic times require that he shutter a major command that employs some 5,000 people around Norfolk, Va., and begin to eliminate other jobs throughout the military.

    • More on UBS and Secret Banking Jurisdictions

      Birkenfeld got paid, too: A starting salary of 180,000 Swiss francs (just over $170,000) plus an American-style bonus, which in his best year, he said, put him at one million Swiss francs in total compensation (about $946,000). When home from the road, Birkenfeld drove a BMW M5 and split time between a plush apartment in Geneva and a chalet in the shadow of the Matterhorn in the Swiss Alps. Id, Part II.

  • Censorship/Privacy/Civil Rights

    • Google Agonizes on Privacy as Ad World Vaults Ahead

      A confidential, seven-page Google Inc. “vision statement” shows the information-age giant in a deep round of soul-searching over a basic question: How far should it go in profiting from its crown jewels—the vast trove of data it possesses about people’s activities?

    • Internet, schminternet”

      I am baffled by the Google-Verizon agreement on nonnet-nonneutrality. I’m mostly baffled by why Google would put its name to this. What does it gain?

      As I see it, the agreement makes two huge carve-outs to neutrality and regulation of the internet: mobile and anything new.

    • Google under probe in S.Korea over data collection

      South Korean police raided Google Inc’s Seoul office on Tuesday, the latest in a series of legal challenges the company is facing because of data collected by its controversial fleet of “Street View” cars.

    • About That Open Internet Thing

      The Verizon-Google Net neutrality deal is now public. In brief: neutrality for Plain Old Internet, transparency but not neutrality for wireless, and nothing for “Additional Online Services” unless they “threaten the availability” of POI. They’re pushing their plan as a legislative framework.

    • Is Google Naive, Crafty or Stupid?

      The question is, why would Google do this?

      Is it a matter of corporate naivete? Verizon is, at base, a telephone company; it thrives in the interstices of state regulation the way small marine organisms thrive inside the nooks and crannies of a coral reef. That is its preferred habitat. Its organizational culture evolved there and it is brilliantly adapted to it. Google is a company built by engineers.

    • FBI Lab Gives Short Shrift to Missing Persons Cases

      The Federal Bureau of Investigation is giving short shrift to processing DNA from missing persons cases, taking as long as two years to handle profiles, according to a Department of Justice Office of Inspector General report.

      Overall, about 40 percent of the FBI’s backlog of processing 3,200 DNA profiles stems from missing persons cases, according to Monday’s report.

      [...]

      “Backlogs can also prevent the timely capture of criminals, prolong the incarceration of innocent people who could be exonerated by DNA evidence, and adversely affect families of missing persons waiting for positive identification of remains,” the report added.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Newspaper Gets Around Photography Ban At Football Event With Cartoon Illustrations

      We’ve covered a few different recent stories of various sports leagues or professional sports teams trying to limit how journalists and photographers can report on their games, and have even covered cheeky attempts to get around such restrictions by having reporters cover events from home while watching on TV. Now, a whole bunch of you have been sending in variations on a story in the UK, where the Southampton football team apparently has decided to ban photojournalists from taking images of matches, instead telling newspapers they need to buy photos from the team’s “official” photographer.

    • Copyrights

      • Take.fm Pushes Movie Torrents To The Next Level

        Take.fm is a new movie torrent indexer that is a step above the plain old torrent indexes most BitTorrent users have become used to. The site, which only lists verified and high quality releases, combines a pleasant and great looking user interface with all the functionality needed to find the best films.

      • Sunday Times avoids punitive damages over unauthorised Hendrix CD

        When an edition of the Sunday Times newspaper included a free CD of a Jimi Hendrix concert without the permission of Hendrix’s estate it deprived the estate and two film-makers of potential profits for a year, the High Court has found.

        The paper believed it had permission from the concert’s rights holder to distribute the CD but the musician’s estate said that it had not. The paper will not have to pay additional damages, though, because it had genuinely attempted to licence the music, the Court said.

      • Sunday Times faces £150,000-plus payout over Jimi Hendrix CD
      • Rupert Murdoch, Pirate? Gave Away Jimi Hendrix CD Without Clearing The Rights
      • Yet Another Study Shows How Copyright Can Hinder The Spread Of Knowledge

        The research compared the book markets in the UK (with a strong copyright law) and Germany (with either weak or non-existent copyright), and found much more writing going on in Germany and (more importantly) much more innovation in the bookselling market. In the UK, where copyright limited printings, books were expensive and only owned by the wealthy and elite. In Germany, where copyright was weak or didn’t exist, certainly there was a fair amount of copying of other books, but it resulted in widespread innovation in the book market, including segmenting the market into hardcovers (for the wealthy and the elite) and cheaper paperbacks for those less well off.

Clip of the Day

Richard Stallman Speech Sina 2005-09


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    Chinese firms that are struggling resort to patent litigation, in effect repeating the same misguided trajectories which became so notorious in Western nations because they act as a form of taxation, discouraging actual innovation


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