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08.13.10

IRC Proceedings: August 13th, 2010

Posted in IRC Logs at 6:12 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME Gedit

GNOME Gedit

GNOME Gedit

#boycottnovell log

#boycottnovell-social log

#techrights log

Enter the IRC channels now

Microsoft Still Pretends That Windows is Secure, Apple ‘Fix’ Creates User Jail

Posted in Apple, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Security at 3:54 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Urban crime
iGuilty before charged

Summary: Microsoft is still spinning and lying to the press, whereas Apple ensures that it has 100% control over the user

THIS month has been an horrific one for Windows security, potentially breaking records. Over at IDG there’s some Microsoft spin about Vista changing things for the better. Well, it doesn’t explain why Vista and Vista 7 are still so damn vulnerable. To give some examples of serious Vista 7 vulnerabilities (it has been less than a year since the official release):

According to this new article from The Register, Zeus continues to cause a lot of Windows trouble this month [1, 2, 3].

More details have emerged of how security researchers tracked down a Zeus-based botnet that raided more than $1m from 3,000 compromised UK online banking accounts.

Bradley Anstis, vice president of technical strategy for M86 Security which discovered the attack, said hackers began the assault by loading compromised third-party sites with a battery of exploits designed to infect visiting PCs with variants of the Zeus banking Trojan.

The Register also writes about Apple flaws which Apple finally fixes (it took a while), but Apple also issues a patch that attacks the customer: [via]

iOS4.0.2 plugs the security hole exploited by the iPhone Dev Team to allow pain-free jailbreaking of the iPhone 4 and its manifold siblings as well as… actually, that’s about it.

Apple’s ‘control freak’ problem is one that may also extend beyond computing and into culture. Steve Jobs himself has infamous vested interests in the funding sources of MPAA|RIAA, which makes Apple doubly worrisome and also a direct threat to Linux.

Apple Benefits From Oracle’s Patent Attack on Android

Posted in Apple, GNU/Linux, Google, Java, Microsoft, Oracle, Patents at 2:56 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Steve Jobs with patent
Original photo by Matt Buchanan; edited by Techrights

Summary: Among those who benefit from an attack on Android there’s Apple, whose CEO is a good friend of Oracle’s CEO; more coverage about this development which dominates the news

THIS will hopefully be one of our last posts about Oracle vs. Google. We have already covered it in the following three posts:

Since those previous posts it has occurred to me that the party most likely to benefit is actually Apple, not Microsoft. Oracle only sues Google over Android, just like Apple sued HTC over Android. One must remember that Oracle’s CEO and Apple’s CEO are very close friends. Wikipedia reminds us that Ellison’s “friend Steve Jobs (CEO of Apple, Inc) was [Ellison's] official wedding photographer.” Anyway, it gives room only to theories.

“That’s why Apple’s iPhone is so much better than Microsoft phones.”
      –Larry Ellison, Oracle
A number of months ago Larry Ellison also said: “While most hardware businesses are low-margin, companies like Apple and Cisco enjoy very high-margins because they do a good job of designing their hardware and software to work together. If a company designs both hardware and software, it can build much better systems than if they only design the software. That’s why Apple’s iPhone is so much better than Microsoft phones.”

Could the relationship with Apple play some role here? Maybe even a small role? “Actually, It’s crApple attacking Google by proxy,” one reader of ours opines. “But, a weak lawsuit this one,” he argued, “I’m reading the points now…”

Google’s Tim Bray from the Android team says “F**k Oracle” (he doesn’t use asterisks though). This was brought up by Groklaw actually, having just addressed the spin-doctoring from Microsoft’s MVP de Icaza:

Miguel De Icaza still wants everyone to hitch their wagons to Microsoft’s star. He suggests that Google pay off Oracle and then switch to Microsoft .NET:

Google could settle current damages with Oracle, and switch to the better designed, more pleasant to use, and more open .NET platform.

Hahahahahahaha. That’s the last life lesson to to be learned from this event, I’d suggest. How about instead what the community has been warning Miguel about for years: don’t hitch your code to anybody’s patented wagon. Watch out for patents. Watch out for Mono. Watch out for C#. Stallman is warning you:

It is dangerous to depend on C#, so we need to discourage its use.

The problem is not unique to Mono; any free implementation of C# would raise the same issue. The danger is that Microsoft is probably planning to force all free C# implementations underground some day using software patents. (See http://swpat.org and http://progfree.org.) This is a serious danger, and only fools would ignore it until the day it actually happens. We need to take precautions now to protect ourselves from this future danger.

And was he not right about the Java Trap? How many times must he be right before developers listen? I’m talking to you, Gnome. I’m talking to you, Canonical. Care what version of OpenOffice you use. I’m talking to everyone trying to pooh pooh patents as a toxic danger. It is real. And remember, CodePlex was set up to push Mono. That’s what they said. Forewarned is forearmed.

Brian Proffitt goes ahead with the “SCOracle” meme:

I’ll say this for Oracle, at least they’re consistently contradictory. They’ll extol the virtues of their partners, then turn right around and kick them in the–well, you know–and deploy an “innovative” copy of their partner’s free software.

Or they’ll claim to love open source, then let a prominent open source project suffer death by ignoring.

Or they’ll tout open standards, then turn around and use patents on a standard programming language, then sue one of the biggest users of that technology.

Yes, consistent indeed.

Last night, when Oracle announced it was suing Google for alleged infringement of Oracle’s Java patents, my initial reaction was one of resigned realization: when Oracle bought Sun Microsystems last year, I always wondered if it was just to get control of MySQL, arguably Oracle’s once-biggest potential threat. They weren’t doing anything with OpenSolaris, after all, and just this week at LinuxCon, praised Linux to the heavens.

Oracle’s action shocked many in the Free software world, but Dennis Howlett was not surprised (neither was James Gosling).

Oracle’s patent suit against Google seems to have taken many by surprise. I’m neither surprised nor stunned. If anything, I am surprised it has taken Oracle this long to saddle up its lawyers.

Florian Müller carries on pushing his point of view into some online journals, pretending to be a FOSS representative and mass-mailing many journalists, still. His spin is still actively being challenged by the FFII.

Links 13/8/2010: Linux Winning, Enemy Territory and Return To Castle Wolfenstein Become Free Software

Posted in News Roundup at 2:15 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • LinuxCon Analysts: Linux Is Winning

    Linux is now in the mainstream of enterprise adoption, according to analysts presenting new research here at the LinuxCon conference.

  • Did Open Source Need Linux To Hit the Mainstream?

    Open source has officially “crossed the chasm from early adoption to mainstream adoption,” pronounced Jeffrey Hammond, principal analyst at Forrester Research, at this week’s LinuxCon conference. According to ZDNet’s Paula Rooney, Hammond based his pronouncement on analysis of several studies, most of which have to do with Linux. Is Linux really the best barometer for this kind of announcement, though? Didn’t open source hit the mainstream without it?

  • Kernel Space

    • Graphics Stack

      • The Updated XGI Open-Source Graphics Driver Released

        Even the nearly-defunct XGI Technology Inc is able to produce open-source graphics driver code for Linux while VIA continues on with their Linux mess, even with XGI developers working from Windows. In preparations for the X.Org 7.6 Katamari and this month’s release of X Server 1.9, a new release of the XGI DDX driver has been made available.

      • PhysX SDK Support Comes Back To Linux

        Back in 2006 a start-up company known as AGEIA launched the PhysX PPU, the first Physics Processing Unit (PPU) for offloading physics calculations in games and applications that utilize the PhysX API onto this discrete processor for boosting overall system performance.

      • AMD Releases New Stream SDK For Linux With OpenCL 1.1

        AMD has released a new ATI Stream SDK this morning and, among other improvements, it features OpenCL 1.1 support. The OpenCL 1.1 specification was released by the Khronos Group back in June as the first major update to the Open Computing Language since it’s original draft in 2008.

  • Applications

  • Distributions

    • Red Hat Family

      • Red Hat’s Australian Road Tour 2010 unlocks the value of cloud computing

        Red Hat, Inc. (NYSE: RHT), the world’s leading provider of open source solutions, will host a series of briefing sessions across Australia based on cutting through market hype to reveal the true value of cloud computing for businesses.

        The free, half-day business seminars sponsored by IBM will address why cloud computing is one of the most significant shifts in information technology to occur in decades, as well as why it offers local organisations a very real opportunity to thrive in the current economic climate. The sessions will also unveil how open source tools and services can unlock the potential for cloud computing, as well as covering:

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Sub-notebooks

      • Two Reasons Rwandan Children Don’t Take XO Laptops Home

        Both of these reasons can be traced back to local culture. Where teachers and administrators are personally responsible for school items, they’ll be very reluctant to have children take computers home. And where children are essential workers in family life, there is little time to “goof off” with an XO.

Free Software/Open Source

  • Open source’s ardent admirers take but don’t give

    Interestingly, these two developers sparred over this very issue at LinuxCon in Boston, Massachusetts, this past week, as The Reg reported. Google has come under fire for allegedly forking the Linux kernel with its Android project, for failing to contribute Android changes to the mainline Linux code thereby setting up itself, and the wider Linux community, for prolonged inefficiencies and incompatibilities between the two.

  • Project Harmony Takes Aim at Open Source Contribution Agreements

    Open source licenses help to define the terms and conditions of software use and redistribution. But what are the terms and condition under which developers actually contribute code? That’s the realm of software contribution agreements.

    A new effort spearheaded by Amanda Brock, general counsel at Canonical, the lead sponsor of Ubuntu Linux, is trying to help solve the problem of contribution agreements. The effort is called Project Harmony, and it’s a multi-stakeholder project that aims to help provide some clarity and uniformity to software contribution agreements.

  • VMware: Using Alfresco to Attack Microsoft SharePoint?

    Not by coincidence, open source community members have been creating integrations between Alfresco and Zimbra. As a result, the Alfresco-Zimbra combination could give VMware a one-two punch against Microsoft SharePoint and Microsoft Exchange, The VAR Guy believes.

  • Open Source Business Intelligence Software Ranked by Analysts
  • Gluster Brings Open Source to Unstructured Data

    Gluster is an open source startup that most people in storage have never heard of. Yet its value proposition could spell trouble for the big boys and potentially send the prices of proprietary hardware crashing down.

  • Open source already used in 80% of corporates

    A great success story for Linux is the London Stock Exchange, which is moving its trading platform onto it. The company bought an entire software firm that developed the Linux based system to make sure it had the developlment resources.

  • Databases

    • Sun, IBM and MySQL Storage Engine Chicanery

      A while back I was doing some research for a client and came across an apparent GPL slight of hand engineered by Sun and IBM. Time constraints and competing priorities kept me from writing about this until now, and Oracle’s acquisition of Sun has taken Sun off of the hot seat (see in particular paragraph 2, Non Assertion), but it’s still a pretty juicy story. What’s more, I think it’s healthy to expose vendor behaviors that cut against the spirit of open source, creating unfair advantages for a privileged few at the expense of everyone else.

      If you’re not familiar with the GNU General Public License (GPL), which is at the heart of this article, you can get a quick and relevant primer here.

  • Business

    • StatusNet’s Evan Prodromou on Facebook, Twitter & more

      LU&D: How do we get users to care about who owns their data?

      EP: I think that’s a really difficult sell. It’s boring and pedantic. Compared against the fun that social networking services provide, talking about privacy issues is really a downer. Who wants to worry about obscure marketing issues when there are friends-of-a-friend to send flirty private messages to?

      It’s much more likely that change comes from another direction. There are entities that simply cannot accept turning over their data and online presence to a third party: governments, political parties, corporations. As these organisations become more engaged with social networking, and want to get more engaged with each other, they’ll insist on a federated approach that gives them full control of their data and presence.

    • Semi-Open Source

      • The Organic Source Movement?

        It is when an “open core” company claims it is an “open source company” that some become vexed. They feel that an open source company shouldn’t be owning and closing their code, even if they have a large part of it under an open source licence. The “open core” vendors respond by saying they are catering to customer demand for their closed extensions and that this is their route for monetising the open source code. There are numerous points of view on the issues and an active debate.

  • Project Releases

    • cURL 7.21.1 – New version released!

      Having spent a considerable time within the command line environment, I consider myself reasonably competent with completing the tasks I require with script. Over the years of these small projects, two programs stick out that are essential to many of my life simplifying BASH scripts. The first one would be dialog, which can spruce up even the most mundane script tasks, the other being cURL.

  • Openness/Sharing

    • Sharing of Data Leads to Progress on Alzheimer’s

      In 2003, a group of scientists and executives from the National Institutes of Health, the Food and Drug Administration, the drug and medical-imaging industries, universities and nonprofit groups joined in a project that experts say had no precedent: a collaborative effort to find the biological markers that show the progression of Alzheimer’s disease in the human brain.

      [...]

      Companies as well as academic researchers are using the data. There have been more than 3,200 downloads of the entire massive data set and almost a million downloads of the data sets containing images from brain scans.

    • Open Hardware

      • Open Source Wheelchair Design Aids Disabled in Developing Nations

        The wheelchairs sport design features unique to the needs of riders who must regularly get around on rough terrain. The rear wheels are made of bicycle tires that can easily be repaired or replaced, and the front wheels are specifically designed to not sink into sand, soil, or loose pavement. WWI also makes sure riders are well-equipped to service their own wheelchairs — each one ships with a tire repair kit, pump, and detailed user manual.

  • Programming

Leftovers

  • Probe of Bribery at H-P Heats Up

    The U.S. Department of Justice has asked Hewlett-Packard Co. to provide a trove of internal records as part of an international investigation into allegations that H-P executives paid bribes in Russia, according to people familiar with the investigations.

    German prosecutors, as first reported by The Wall Street Journal in April, are looking into the possibility that H-P executives paid about €8 million ($10.9 million) in bribes to win a €35 million contract under which the U.S. company sold computer gear, through a German subsidiary, to the office of the prosecutor general of the Russian Federation. The German probe has been joined by U.S. and Russian authorities, according to people familiar with the matter.

  • Flattr Opens Beta of Its Micropayment Platform

    Flatter was founded by Peter Sunde, the former spokesman for Pirate Bay, a file-sharing site that the entertainment industry is trying to shut down, and one of four people being prosecuted in Sweden for their involvement with the site.

  • Journalism Warning Labels

    It seems a bit strange to me that the media carefully warn about and label any content that involves sex, violence or strong language — but there’s no similar labelling system for, say, sloppy journalism and other questionable content.

  • Health

    • CMD Calls For Federal Investigation of Health Insurers

      Judy Dugan, research director of Consumer Watchdog, said, “Insurance companies appear to be making sure that when new federal rules for spending on health care kick in next year, they can keep their administrative bloat and profits intact.” Wendell Potter, who co-signed the letter, said that red flags went up when Cigna showed a startling drop of 6.4% in its medical spending radio (also called a Medical Loss Ratio, or MLR) to 78.8%, a cut that appears unprecedented for a large insurer. You can read the entire letter to Kathleen Sebelius here (pdf).

    • Executives at health insurance giants cash in as firms plan fee hikes

      The top executives at the nation’s five largest for-profit health insurance companies pulled in nearly $200 million in compensation last year — while their businesses prepared to hit ratepayers with double-digit premium increases, according to a new analysis conducted by healthcare activists.

      The leaders of Cigna Corp., Humana Inc., UnitedHealth Group and WellPoint Inc. each in effect received raises in 2009, the report concluded, based on an analysis of company reports filed with the Security and Exchange Commission.

  • Security/Aggression

    • DNA fingerprinting techniques ‘can sometimes give the wrong results’

      DNA evidence is not an infallible tool for criminal investigations, experts have warned.

      Interpretation of samples can be highly subjective and prone to error, a study has found.

    • Volunteers needed to man CCTV in Malmesbury

      Volunteers are needed to man a CCTV project in Malmesbury.

      The town council and Malmesbury & Villages Community Partnership (M&VCAP) are working on the project aimed at improving safety in the town.

    • Scanners at airports are manned by mature, experienced, responsible, highly trained professionals, remember!?

      Here’s a further example. A member of staff responsible for carrying out screening at Heathrow Terminal 5 has been accused of stealing from a passenger during the screening process.

    • Video: The moment Medway’s CCTV car is caught on camera

      He is heard saying: “Do not take my photograph, you haven’t got my permission to take my photograph.”

      Mr Khan responds: “But this is public.”

      The operator replies: “No, it’s not, cause you are not allowed to take my photograph like I’m not allowed to take yours. Why are you doing this, you’re harassing me.”

      He then says he is going to phone the police and can be seen dialling a number before Mr Khan wanders off.

    • Health warnings on mobile phones..?

      What is it this time, you ask? San Francisco has become the first city in the US to mandate the posting of radiation emission information beside every single phone that is for sale in every single mobile phone shop in San Francisco. Obviously, the mobile phone lobby is fuming over this mandate, but the local government “health experts” are thrilled, even though mobile phone radiation emission research has proved inconclusive over the years.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

    • T-Boone Pickens and the Truth about All that Drilling

      The home page of T. Boone Pickens’ “Pickens Plan” is emblematic of the oil industry’s aggressive push to drill for natural gas in the Marcellus Shale basin. The page greets visitors with the blaring headline, “WE MUST BREAK AMERICA’S ADDICTION TO FOREIGN OIL. The Pickens Plan will do it, but we need your help.”

    • Peak oil is the villain governments need

      Could peak oil lever politicians out from between the rock of the electorate and the hard place that is climate change mitigation? As Daniel Gros wrote in the Guardian: “the climate-change bill, for which President Barack Obama had pushed so hard, will not even be presented to the US Senate, because it stands no chance of passage”. His analysis ends with a fatalistic statement: “Determined action at the global level will become possible only when climate change is no longer some scientific prediction, but a reality that people feel … A world incapable of preventing climate change will have to live with it.”

    • Jellyfish sting hundreds on Costa Blanca beaches

      A vast flotilla of small, almost undetectable jellyfish have stung hundreds of people on Spanish beaches this week – an event swimmer’s nightmare biologists say will become increasingly common due to climate change and overfishing.

  • Finance

    • For-Profit Colleges: Undercover Testing Finds Colleges Encouraged Fraud and Engaged in Deceptive and Questionable Marketing Practices

      Enrollment in for-profit colleges has grown from about 365,000 students to almost 1.8 million in the last several years. These colleges offer degrees and certifications in programs ranging from business administration to cosmetology. In 2009, students at for-profit colleges received more than $4 billion in Pell Grants and more than $20 billion in federal loans provided by the Department of Education (Education). GAO was asked to 1) conduct undercover testing to determine if for-profit colleges’ representatives engaged in fraudulent, deceptive, or otherwise questionable marketing practices, and 2) compare the tuitions of the for-profit colleges tested with those of other colleges in the same geographic region. To conduct this investigation, GAO investigators posing as prospective students applied for admissions at 15 for-profit colleges in 6 states and Washington, D.C.. The colleges were selected based on several factors, including those that the Department of Education reported received 89 percent or more of their revenue from federal student aid. GAO also entered information on four fictitious prospective students into education search Web sites to determine what type of follow-up contact resulted from an inquiry. GAO compared tuition for the 15 for-profit colleges tested with tuition for the same programs at other colleges located in the same geographic areas. Results of the undercover tests and tuition comparisons cannot be projected to all for-profit colleges.

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

    • Progressives Up In Arms Over Brand Obama’s Insult

      A year and a half after his November 4, 2008 election, the progressive left is, rightfully, up in arms over the lack of integrity President Barack Obama has shown across the gamut of burning contemporary political issues. These include, but are not limited to issues such as war, health care, secrecy, warrantless wiretapping, and environmental issues, among many others.

      A healthy and flourishing representative democracy depends on an engaged citizenry standing up and demanding that their representatives represent them. President Obama said so himself at this year’s Netroots Nation conference in Las Vegas in his desperate plea to show progressive activists that he is, indeed “one of them.”

  • Censorship/Privacy/Civil Rights

    • Telecom Complaints Commissioner Remains a Relative Unknown

      Notwithstanding the public interest, the Commissioner for Complaints for Telecommunications Services toils in relative anonymity. Established in 2007, the CCTS came as part of a deregulation bargain initiated by then-Industry Minister Maxime Bernier, who deregulated many local telephone markets and established an industry-funded telecom complaints commissioner.

    • India threatens to suspend Blackberry by 31 August

      India has given Blackberry phone maker RIM a deadline of 31 August to give the government access to all of its services or face being shut down.

  • Internet/Net Neutrality/DRM

    • T-Mobile Sued For Offering Limited ‘Unlimited’ Service

      Parts of the suit are melodramatic for effect, lawyers arguing that the surprise limit makes smartphones “essentially useless for anything other than making or receiving phone calls and text messages.” T-Mobile’s current 10 GB cap is rather generous, and last we checked, unlike some other carriers, T-Mobile only throttles users who cross it — they don’t impose unreasonable overages or boot users from the network.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • How to extract money for using copyrighted performances

        The article also fails to note that there has been criticism of how the royalty administering organizations distribute the money and account for what they do, as is clear from the Wikipedia article on ASCAP link here. Instead it is an account of how one of BMI’s enforcer’s is really very nice and works hard to deal pleasantly but firmly with the poor bar owners and other small businesspeople that use music to attract customers.

      • The copyright cops

        Sound confusing? That’s because it is. Copyright law has evolved largely as a response by governments to the demands of powerful media and content industries. As new forms of recorded media have been invented, legislators have created new spheres of copyright to fence off that intellectual property from perceived threats to the earnings of artists and corporations.

Clip of the Day

Android 3.0 – Gingerbread – Web API’s


FFII in More Disagreements With NoSoftwarePatents Founder, James Gosling Foresaw Java Lawsuit

Posted in Java, Oracle, SUN at 10:34 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

James Gosling in 2008

Summary: As the Oracle vs. Google case is being analysed, the FFII further distances itself from Florian Müller; James Gosling speaks out

Florian Müller may have started a Web site called NoSoftwarePatents (and FFII took over his site/project/initiative later on), but this does not mean that Müller’s opinions in any way overlap or intersect with the FFII’s. In fact, as we noted in this previous post about Oracle vs. Google (case filing accessible here), the lawsuit is being used by ‘Team [Microsoft] Apologista’ to promote C# (Novell employees communicate the issue with anonymous agitators). Yes, the Microsoft boosters are celebrating this lawsuit and it seems like Novell/Ximian does this too, along with Müller in the sense that he defends Microsoft.

We have already shown several examples where the FFII publicly disagrees with Müller and his attitude. Estranged or ostracised? Either way, here is the latest argument involving those two (where “fosspatents” is the Microsoft apologist who uses Vista 7, not FOSS)

[ffii] @FOSSpatents FFII does not endorse your anti-corporate moralism but supports legal steps to reduce risks http://stopsoftwarepatents.eu/

“FFII does not endorse your [Müller's] anti-corporate moralism but supports legal steps to reduce risks”
      –FFII
[fosspatents [Müller]] @FFII We’re in sync that no software patents means no patent lawsuits, no patent royalties. Then why do you partner with patent aggressors?

[ffii] @fosspatents FFII defends your right to code without patent threats, promotes a less-risk ecosystem for small medium-sized innovators

[ffii] @fosspatents FFII promotes an inclusive Free Information Infrastructure. We oppose #FOSS discrimination, other orgs advocate #FOSS models.

[ffii] But #FFII provides a #foss discussions list http://lists.ffii.org/mailman/listinfo/floss/ #freesoftware

[ffii] …then why does he beat his wife? #ubertroll #oracle

[ffii] #Oracle’s #Android case quickly examined http://carlodaffara.conecta.it/?p=478 #scoracle

[fosspatents] I’m so with you on the question of patentable subject matter. But that’s not the issue. I meant your standards lobbying alongside OFE.

[schestowitz] @ffii he doesn’t seem to mind so much when Microsoft sues, just saying Microsoft does not exclude like “evil IBM”

[fosspatents] @schestowitz Please get real and recognize the fact that I distinguish between failed attempts to license that go to court, and others.

[ffii] #Gosling about #Scoracle http://nighthacks.com/roller/jag/entry/the_shit_finally_hits_the #google #java

[zoobab [FFII president]] Any idea where to download the source code of Dalvik VM? Time to ask national courts everywhere in Europe for non-infringement #fuckoracle

[zoobab] Florian Mueller promotes the usage of the undefined RAND term: http://ur1.ca/149dt

We are not defending Oracle by the way; in fact, it’s possible that Oracle will also attack Mono by suing Novell. Advogato.org is rightly concerned about Oracle’s attitude.

Seems Oracle bought Sun to become a java patent troll. Trying to destroy the alternative free java implementation that is part of android. Sun used to be agnostic towards Free Software in the past, then became a huge fan on java liberation day. Now that Oracle is in control and starts its quest to destroy the free java world, we are back to the dark ages. So, now what?

Watch what Java’s father has to say:

Oracle finally filed a patent lawsuit against Google. Not a big surprise. During the integration meetings between Sun and Oracle where we were being grilled about the patent situation between Sun and Google, we could see the Oracle lawyer’s eyes sparkle. Filing patent suits was never in Sun’s genetic code. Alas….

I hope to avoid getting dragged into the fray: they only picked one of my patents (RE38,104) to sue over.

In better news, the EFF is saying that it “Staffs Up in Patent, Copyright, and Trademark Law”

EFF is pleased to announce the hiring of our newest staff member: staff attorney Julie Samuels. Julie will be working on intellectual property issues, with a focus on stopping abuse of software patents.

Gene patents ought to be tackled too [1, 2] (although these are not electronic as in “Electronic Frontier Foundation”). “20% of the Genes in Your Body are Patented,” says this new blog post. [via Glyn Moody]

Here’s a disconcerting thought: for the past thirty years, genes have been patentable. And we’re not just talking genetically modified corn – your genes, pretty much as they exist in your body, can and have been patented. The US government reports over three million gene patent applications have been filed so far; over 40,000 patents are held on sections of the human genome, covering roughly 20% of our genes.

Upset? You’re not alone. Critics argue that the patents stifle potential research into disease, keep new treatments off the market, and bring in serious money to Big Pharma – all by exercising property claims that shouldn’t exist. After all, genes aren’t inventions, which are patentable – they’re discoveries, which aren’t. As Luigi Palombi noted recently at the Open Science Summit, “You can’t patent Mount Everest; why can you patent a gene?” Here, we review the history of genetic law, the current state of affairs, and interview David Koepsell, an attorney and author of a recent book on gene patenting, Who Owns You? The Corporate Gold Rush To Patent Your Genes.

Humanity is just hurting itself using patents, which are about greed (for power), not documenting one’s inventions.

“I would much rather spend my time and money and energy finding ways to make the Internet safer and better than bickering over patents.”

Dean Drako, Barracuda’s CEO

Links 13/8/2010: Linux 2.6.36 Sighted, Fedora 14 Delayed

Posted in News Roundup at 9:39 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • 32 bit vs 64 bit Linux – Which to Choose?

    For the average desktop user the applications issue, especially with flash – something most of us use everyday, is the driving factor to use a 32 bit version of your Linux distro of choice. If you are using your system as more of a work station (compiling and decoding) then maybe the 64 bit version is a better selection for your needs.

  • Linux is Political!

    People have a hard time understanding that there is no single company behind Linux. They don’t understand that Linux cannot be monopolized like Windows or Mac OS because no single entity owns the Linux source code. When these people realize that there is much more to Linux than its technical strengths and weaknesses, then they really understand its potential to change the software industry.

  • Desktop

    • Confessions of a Windows 7 to Ubuntu switcher

      The other night, I got quite the shock. A good friend, who is a Windows enthusiast and IT administrator/consultant, informed me that he had dumped Windows 7 for Ubuntu.

    • What Tweaks Could Make Linux Even Better?

      Maybe that’s why it’s been so hard to wrap our brains around the topic of a recent poll on TuxRadar entitled, “What would you change about Linux?”

      At first, Linux Girl’s mind drew a huge blank. Then she read on.

      “If you had the resources, what single thing would you change?” the daring minds behind the site asked. “Would you merge KDE and Gnome? Would you introduce a new package manager? (eek!) Would you find all mentions of ‘Linux’ and replace it with GNU/Linux?”

  • Kernel Space

    • Kernel.org shares some cute e-mails

      “I’ve been using linux for years (since Red Hat 4, i think). But I just thought – after all this time – why is the “kernel” called that? A ”kernel” is just a little, potentially not even viable, grain of vegetative material. Why not call it the “Colonel?” A Colonel is almost a flag officer, with semi-executive capabilities, etc. – altogether cooler that a mere “kernel,” which mostly connotes an unpopped grain of corn. Huh?”

      No, it doesn’t look like Hawley made it up. He was kind enough to shield the writer’s name.

      I’d love for Linus Torvalds to weigh in on that one — as well as this recent blanket e-mail granting Linux the coveted Famous Software Award — one that will be treasured for years.

    • Linux kernel report shows continued innovation. 2.6.36 coming soon

      Corbet said that Linux kernel development is maintaining a fast cadence with about 80 days between Linux releases.

    • Linux Security, Then and Now

      Linux is inherently not a secure operating system. The reason it’s not secure is because Linux was based on the architectural design of UNIX, and the creators of UNIX didn’t care about security – it was 1969 after all.

      “The first fact to face is that UNIX was not developed with security, in any realistic sense, in mind; this fact alone guarantees a vast number of holes,” Dennis Ritchie wrote in his paper, “On the Security of UNIX” in 1979.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments

    • At Work with Linux: Linux Mint 9 Gnome and KDE

      For general use I consider Mint 9 Gnome to be the better distribution, especially for getting inside and tinkering about. It’s also better to just stick with the Gnome desktop throughout, even if the Mint 9 Gnome desktop is using the slab-style mintMenu. At least if folks get annoyed with the pretty Mint Gnome menu, they can install the more conventional Gnome menu bar.

      I feel that the Mint 9 Gnome desktop is snappier than Mint 9 KDE in operation. This is purely subjective, and it may be due to the fact that the VirtualBox additions in Mint 9 KDE are not aligned with the latest version of VirtualBox.

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC)

      • In Search of the Perfect KDE4 Distro – 4 Linux Mint 9?

        This weekend I will be downloading and installing my next KDE4 candidate, which one will it be? Well kids, YOU decide!

      • Two cool KDE Plasmoids

        It’s time to head off to that wonderful land of KDE where the desktop only gets better and better with each release. In fact, a new release should be out now – KDE 4.5 with 1,723 new features and 16.022 bug fixes. I don’t believe the packages have hit the repositories just yet, but they will soon. And when they do, you should make sure you download and install very quickly.

        [...]

        The KDE desktop keeps getting better, and so does its Plasmoids. The two you have been shown here are only a tiny portion of an ever-expanding set of tools available for the KDE desktop.

      • KDE Reaches New Audiences in North America

        KDE software has traditionally been strongest in Europe and South America. With the growth of events such as Camp KDE and many key contributors calling North America home, KDE is increasing its presence in this region.

      • How Much Faster Is Konqueror With WebKit?

        So, there you have it you cannot even compare Konqueror (KHTML) with Konqueror (WebKit). The one with WebKit is way faster. Not only is it faster than KHTML, it is also much faster than Firefox 4.0 Beta 2.

        Of course, there is much more to a browser that the speed of its JavaScript engine. We are not saying Konqueror is a better browser than Firefox; we are only saying it is faster. If you check out the results we got in our previous tests, Konqueror (WebKit) is however not nearly as fast as Opera, Google Chrome and Chromium.

      • Plasma: now comes in tablets

        In Plasma we always tried to avoid this, by having everything as a plugin, so it will be necessary to replace maybe the shell itself and just the components that really have to be changed.

        With Qt 4.7 a new framework ha been introduced: the declarative UI, that permits to do quite fancy stuff in the QML language in a very short time.

      • Stripes wallpaper

        If you haven’t noticed, KDE SC 4.5 comes with a new wallpaper named Stripes. It has replaced the old default_blue that has been our friend since 3.x days (and maybe even earlier, I don’t know).

      • Distribution branding and Stripes

        So, without a further ado, the preview version of a Debian-specific version of the Stripes wallpaper…

  • Distributions

    • Screenshots

      • Backtrack 4 R1 Screenshots

        For those of you that have yet to discover it, Backtrack is a popular Linux security distribution focused on providing a powerful selection of penetration testing tools. It runs mostly as a Live DVD or USB but is suitable for installation. Once in use, this distribution has excellent hardware detection and a low memory footprint, running well on older hardware too. Backtrack brings users over 300 tools to help with various security-related tasks like hacking wireless, exploiting servers, learning about security and much more.

      • Salix OS 13.1.1 Screenshots

        Today users were greeted by the Salix OS 13.1.1 release. Salix OS is based on Slackware and includes Xfce as its desktop environment. This latest release of Salix OS includes several enhancements over its previous release including Lilosetup, a graphical tool for settings up the Lilo bootloader, a few graphical system administration tools have been added, and more. Find a full list of changes in the official release announcement. You can download Salix OS 13.1.1 in 32 or 64 bit versions or buy Salix OS in our cart on CD. Here are some screenshots of Salix OS 13.1.1.

    • Red Hat Family

      • Fedora

        • Well, Fedora 14 Will Not Ship On Time

          Jared Smith, the new Fedora Project Leader, announced last night that the decision was made by the Fedora engineering, development, and QA teams that a delay was in order for this release that is codenamed Laughlin. This decision was made as the Fedora 14 Alpha release was not ready and they felt an extra week was needed to get this first test release in order. With the alpha release slipping, the entire release schedule has been pushed back by one week time.

    • Debian Family

      • Debian 6.0 on Track for December Release

        After several delays and many months behind schedule, Debian 6.0 appears to be one step closer to release. As of August 6, the testing branch is now frozen except for fixes and translation updates. This puts Final on track to possibly be released by the end of the year.

        Neil McGovern, Debian Release Team manager, wrote in from DebCon10 in New York to announce this milestone for Debian 6.0. Freeze had been delayed until Python 2.6 migration and updating Glibc was completed. Now only critical bug fixes, documentation changes, and translation updates will be accepted into the Testing branch as a general rule. This will give developers the opportunity to polish 6.0 for final release. The last two major versions have seen a four month stabilization period before final release, allowing estimates that 6.0 will arrive sometime in December.

      • Canonical/Ubuntu

        • Feature Freeze in place for Ubuntu 10.10 (Maverick Meerkat)

          The Feature Freeze is now in effect for Maverick. The focus from here until release is on fixing bugs and polishing.

          If you believe that a new package, a new upstream version of a package, or a new feature is needed for the release and will not introduce more problems than it fixes, please follow the Freeze Exception Process by filing bugs and subscribing ubuntu-release.

        • Why this Linux veteran runs Ubuntu

          I keep hearing Ubuntu described as merely a noob’s distro lately. However, Ubuntu has around 50% of the Linux desktop market share, give or take, but Linux as a whole has only gained a tenth of a percent or so since Ubuntu’s introduction. So either noobs adopted Ubuntu in such numbers that half of Linux veterans switched to Windows in protest, or there are quite a few veterans out there running Ubuntu, but who apparently don’t think it’s cool to admit it.

        • Talking about Ubuntu Studio with Scott Lavender, Project Lead for Ubuntu Studio

          SL: I would like to see Ubuntu Studio accomplish at least two things in the next 3 to 5 year; develop an active and supporting community around it and to identify and explore the possibility of cultivating additional user bases.

          KDE has a rich and vibrant community, something similar is what I would like Ubuntu Studio to develop. This would be characterised by significant and frequent user suggestions and feedback, user contributions of art and music to be include in the releases and web site, and user testing of ISO images and bug fixes. Already users routinely report bugs, for which I am grateful.

Free Software/Open Source

  • Events

    • LinuxCon Day 2: Lies, Damn Lies, and Statistics: Linux has Arrived.

      As a society, we are all about numbers — How much, how far, how fast. In IT, it is all a numbers game. Teraflops to compare computing power, TPC results to compare databases, analyst numbers to compare penetration — We are all about the numbers. And as a wise man once said, there are lies, damn lies, and statistics. And after sitting through not one but two presentations about the numbers, I am more convinced than ever that numbers are best left to the accountants.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Firefox 4 a big deal

        The impending final release of Firefox 4 is something of a big deal for the Mozilla Foundation. Over the past year the popular open source browser has been facing some stiff competition from the likes of Google’s Chrome and, even, Microsoft’s Internet Explorer browser.

        Around a year ago Firefox hit a peak in its popularity with almost 25% market share, something that was achieved in the space of just a few years. Since then its popularity has remained largely static, even dropping slightly in the last few months.

      • Mozilla Looks Ahead to More Secure Firefox

        Additionally, the Firefox team continues to grapple with what Stamm described as “social-technical security” issues, those scams that rely on persuading a user to share personal information or take an action that navigates to a malicious site.

  • Government

Leftovers

  • Science

    • Critical plant bank in danger

      Plant scientists around the world are warning that hundreds of years of accumulated agricultural heritage are in danger of being plowed under after a Russian court ruled today (August 11) that the land occupied by a world-renowned plant bank on the outskirts of Saint Petersburg may be transferred to the Russian Housing Development Foundation, which plans to build houses on the site.

    • Greed vs. Survival: Which Prevails?

      The global environmental catastrophe that we all face is, of course, a typical tragedy of the (analogue) commons. Resources that are held in common like the atmosphere, or water, or fisheries are exploited for short-term gain by powerful players able to push to the front.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

  • Internet/Net Neutrality/DRM

    • Verizon and AT&T Ban BitTorrent On Wireless Networks

      A recent Net Neutrality proposal from Google and Verizon has dominated the news this week, with opponents claiming that the deal would kill Net Neutrality on wireless (cellular) networks. What hasn’t been mentioned thus far, however, is that BitTorrent and other types of evil traffic have already been banned for years by Verizon, AT&T and others.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • Anti-Piracy Failure Takes Down Creative Commons Videos

        An anti-piracy group has caused a storm of controversy by taking down movies it has no rights to. GVU successfully ordered video hosting site Vimeo to take down several Creative Commons videos created by a freelance journalist and an independent filmmaker. The anti-piracy tracking company hired by GVU claims that its technology failed.

Clip of the Day

Android vs iphone


Novell Uses Linux Foundation Event (LinuxCon) to Promote Proprietary Software and Fog Computing

Posted in GNU/Linux, Kernel, Novell, OpenSUSE, Servers, SLES/SLED at 7:30 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Foggy slant from Novell staff at the event which promotes Linux (LinuxCon) but not necessarily software freedom

Novell has a lot of influence inside the Linux Foundation and its employee Markus Rex used to be a chief there. Notice this new report from Sean Michael Kerner.

Rex was speaking at the LinuxCon conference in a keynote address.

As Sean points out, “It’s not just about the cloud as a delivery model either. Rex noted that workload management, security and tools to build appliances for the cloud (all of which Novell has products for) is the key to really unlocking innovation in the cloud.” Novell is again hyping up Fog Computing, which is a route into lock-in, proprietary software included in this case. Why can’t Rex just promote SUSE without resorting to marketing terms like “cloud”?

Anyway, Rex is not the real problem here. The marketing/management people at Novell must have indirectly pressured the staff to recite nonsense like “cloud”. What does OpenSUSE have to say about it? There are still some flaws in OpenSUSE but also some better coverage (mostly technical). Susan Linton, for example, says that:

It’s hard to find another Linux distribution equal to openSUSE. Many try, but most fail. It’s an excellent choice for any level of user from beginner to developer.

Linton has been an OpenSUSE sidler for years, so it’s actually more curious to find Charles installing it:

Last but not least, I have to share something that may interest a relatively minor portion of the readers of this blog, nonetheless I won’t refrain from letting you know that upon installing the latest OpenSuse 11.3 on my father’s laptop, I noticed a notable performance improvement of the Evolution Email and groupware suite. However, I still do not understand why for the love of G*d Evolution cannot use multiple inboxes…

Now that Novell has at least 3 options for sale, it seems possible that OpenSUSE will be separated from Novell. We shall see.

“EPO Still Operating in a Vacuum”

Posted in Europe, Law, Microsoft, Patents, SCO at 7:06 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“Staff at the European Patent Office went on strike accusing the organization of corruption: specifically, stretching the standards for patents in order to make more money.

“One of the ways that the EPO has done this is by issuing software patents in defiance of the treaty that set it up.”

Richard Stallman

Summary: The EPO is still operating/behaving in a questionable manner; some updates about the SCO case

“No appeal of EPO decisions to the ECJ,” says the president of the FFII, not “even in the future system.”

He alleges that the “EPO [is] still operating in a vaccuum [sic]” and cites this new report:

Hearing of EU Court of Justice on EU Patent System did not Address Representation before Patents Court

In 2007, the European Commission presented different options regarding the creation of a unified patent litigation system in Europe [COM (2007) 165 final]. The following discussion in the Council Working Party on Intellectual Property based on various working documents presented by the Portuguese, Slovenian, French and Czech Presidencies, resulted in a first, preliminary Draft Agreement prepared by the Slovenian Presidency in May 2008 [Doc. 9124/08], which was then further elaborated and revised to yield the latest version of the Draft Agreement as proposed by the Czech Presidency on 23 March 2009 [Doc. 7928/09].

The situation with software patents in Europe is not made any better, especially after malevolent self-serving moves from Microsoft in Germany and from Siemens in Germany. It all matters in case Microsoft, for example, tries to prosecute Free software developers in Europe (like it did to TomTom).

The Microsoft-funded SCO has been harassing IBM for about 7 years using copyright law (but fined in Germany for slander). Here is some of the latest from Groklaw:

i. SCO’s Brief in Opposition to Novell’s Petition to the US Supreme Court

Here it is SCO’s brief [PDF] in opposition to Novell’s petition for a writ of certiorari filed with the US Supreme Court.

ii. IBM’s Memorandum in Opposition re Status Conference

“IBM believes the Novell ruling effectively rejected all of SCO’s claims and effectively granted several of IBM’s counterclaims,” IBM tells the court in its Memorandum in Opposition to SCO’s recently filed motion asking for a status conference to discuss SCO going forward on four of its claims, while keeping IBM’s counterclaims stayed by the bankruptcy rules.

iii. Eyewitness Reports from Today’s SCO v IBM Status Hearing

Software patents need to be kept out of Europe in order to prevent Microsoft from funding another SCO (or attacking directly).

“…Microsoft wished to promote SCO and its pending lawsuit against IBM and the Linux operating system. But Microsoft did not want to be seen as attacking IBM or Linux.”

Larry Goldfarb, BayStar, key investor in SCO approached by Microsoft

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