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Microsoft Canada is Sending Out the Shills, Trying to ‘Consume’ Free Software Advocates

Posted in America, Free/Libre Software, Marketing, Microsoft at 10:16 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Joey DeVilla as a Sellout

Summary: Another new example from Canada where the monopolistic company’s staff targets its vocal critics, trying to lure them into Microsoft’s nest

BASED on the screenshot above (sent to us by a reader), Microsoft is specifically targeting the opposition (it knows his full name).

This is not the first time that a Canadian reader of ours says that Microsoft Canada uses such strategies (and there are similar stories in other countries too although it’s beyond today’s scope).

Brandon, for example, sent us an example E-mail which was sent to him by Microsoft Canada. Also see:

Notice that the messages arrive from Microsoft’s paid AstroTurfers (the euphemism for their role is "evangelists"); this one specifically tries greasing up a pro-FOSS person (maybe accidental, but the message is personalised).

“Microsoft tries to diffuse its critics (just look at Microsoft Florian the mobbyist), often turning them into highly-paid anti-GNU/Linux ‘gurus’, as we last saw earlier this month.”It seems to have become a pattern, based on internal Microsoft pages. Microsoft tries to diffuse its critics (just look at Microsoft Florian the mobbyist), often turning them into highly-paid anti-GNU/Linux 'gurus', as we last saw earlier this month.

Don’t sell out to Microsoft; support people’s freedoms and stay loyal to the friendly neighbours.

Gathering intelligence on enemy activities is critical to the success of the Slog.”

Microsoft, internal document [PDF]

Dark Day for HP: Microsoft Ally Becomes Its New CEO

Posted in GNOME, GNU/Linux, HP, Microsoft, Novell, Patents at 9:54 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“Open source is great for debugging, but it’s crucial not to touch [the code...] Intellectual property [IP] socialism is the worst that can happen to any IP-based society. And we are an IP-based society. If there is no way to protect IP, there is no reason to invest in IP.”

Shai Agassi, SAP president

Summary: A SAP CEO becomes the CEO of HP after HP began to explore Linux very seriously, just like Nokia had its CEO canned to give way to a Microsoft President after it had moved aggressively and strongly in MeeGo’s (Linux/LSB) direction

WHAT WE dreaded the most is becoming a reality. One of the biggest OEMs in the world — just like the world’s biggest mobile phones manufacturer — seems to have become somewhat of a victim of Microsoft entryism and assimilation after supporting Linux ‘too much’. The CEOs got thrown out under mysterious circumstances. The subject was discussed in IRC a few hours ago, but here is just a preliminary summary (more information to come later).

For those who know not so much about Hurd’s departure, it turns out not to have been caused by sexual harassment at all [1, 2, 3, 4] (and it’s not surprising that Oracle immediately hired him after he had been ousted). The CEO who replaces him will be far less sympathetic towards Linux at HP because it is a SAP CEO, Leo Apotheker:

Today was the day eh? HP has chose Leo Apotheker as CEO and President. Who is Leo? Well, for the last 20 years he has been the CEO of a tiny little company called SAP.

HP has already hired some top guns from Microsoft, even a ~20-year veteran who became a Vice President at HP earlier this year. Microsoft must not have liked seeing Hurd drop Vista 7 like a rock Slate, putting instead on his tablets a nice touch of Linux, which performed a lot better (Vista 7 on the Slate is a subject of ridicule at the moment). When Hurd got canned Microsoft seemed to have managed to reverse Hurd’s judgment. And who exactly is this new CEO? It’s the top man from SAP (see our Wiki page about SAP). Microsoft wanted to buy SAP some years ago because it’s Microsoft’s #1 ally in Europe, perhaps if only large companies are accounted for. SAP is also the major party among the few lobbyists for software patents in Europe. As for its relationship with Microsoft at present, they recently signed yet another partnership (right after lobbying together against SUN), building upon other relationships that they had (there are many past deals between this pair). They are close to Novell because Microsoft-taxed SUSE is the main GNU/Linux distribution SAP would dare to touch these days (it was solidified last week). It’s all rather telling and there is a lot more ugly stuff about SAP (see the Wiki and today’s IRC logs).

“Imagine what they can do with their own as well as acquired IP, including Palm. WebOS will pay the MS. tax?”
To quote Ziomatrix about SAP: “They seem like MS’s minime concerning European lobbying. What’s their market cap? [...] Hurd was no saint but who knows what this CEO may unleash onto HP. He could be their Nero. [...] either that or HP will gain abundant market share by becoming a key patent hoarder. Imagine what they can do with their own as well as acquired IP, including Palm. WebOS will pay the MS. tax? [...] you think Nokia’s fate is as much sealed?”

Well, that’s the thing though, there are similarities there too. Nokia was assimilated to Microsoft right after it had moved a little ‘too close’ to Linux (MeeGo) and declared its intent to put Linux on the future crown jewel handsets (N series phones). In Nokia too the CEO got ousted, as if putting a Microsoft President instead of him and then exploring Vista Phone 7 [sic] would provide a lifeline somehow. For background see:

Getting back to HP, Hurd was canned (some would say “framed”) not so long after Microsoft had identified HP as a “risk” and its executives said this to their investors; HP was labelled a threat specifically for ‘daring’ to support GNU/Linux on sun-notebooks/netbooks (see the SEC filing for MSFT) and so was Intel, which built Moblin at the time (now it’s merged with Nokia’s Maemo and Microsoft has influence inside Nokia, the more dominant steward of MeeGo).

“Microsoft’s Elop does not even come from a mobile background, he comes from the Microsoft Movement and Steve Ballmer’s announcement of Elop’s departure seemed so optimistic that it aroused suspicion of it being arranged.”What are we trying to suggest here? In order to counter Android/Linux Microsoft seems to be invading companies which very much promote Linux and develop for Linux. In some cases, Microsoft signs Linux-hostile patent deals with those companies (e.g. HTC, Samsung, and LG), so Microsoft seems to have achieved a lot with this distasteful strategy. Just days ago it seemed like HP put Vista 7 on the HP Slate, even though Hurd had decided to call off this project (or focus a lot more on the Linux-based WebOS, which he bought along with Palm, expending billions). And then there’s the recent news about Vista Phone 7 on Nokia phones. Seriously, how much more evidence does one need to say that the Microsoft Movement is dealing some tricks? Companies don’t just reverse their strategies and return to old, discarded strategies overnight. Management can change in all sorts of ways and just as cats can be shaved in all sorts of ways, CEOs too can be disgraced and canned in many different ways. There was no reason for Nokia, for example (a longtime Microsoft sceptic/foe) to appoint a Microsoft President to become CEO. Microsoft’s mobile business is an utter disgrace and sheer failure, despite huge spendings on it. Microsoft’s Elop does not even come from a mobile background, he comes from the Microsoft Movement and Steve Ballmer’s announcement of Elop’s departure seemed so optimistic that it aroused suspicion of it being arranged.

The following timely links from Pogson may help explain why Microsoft had to prevent HP and Nokia/Intel (MeeGo) from releasing Linux-based products. Published today:

  • Tablets vs Netbooks

    The OEMs are seeing that that other OS is holding them back. They can make more money by cutting prices and selling machines without that other OS but with no OS or GNU/Linux.

  • Taiwan market: Vendors cutting older netbook models to below NT$10,000
  • China white-box tablet PC rush may fail like netbooks; white-box makers disagree

    White-box players also believe that even though they have inferior quality over hardware and software, with the addition of GPS, WiDi, micro projector and e-book reading capabilities, as well as a price point of half the mainstream tablet PC’s price, their products can still attract consumers from emerging markets such as China, India and the Middle-East.

  • Netbooks will not die, says Acer Taiwan president

    As for Intel’s new Atom N550 processor, based on Acer’s internal testing, the new processor performs 50% faster than the previous generation model, but the price is at about the same range. Since new netbooks are priced at US$300-400, about the same as previous models, while having better performance, Lin believes the price/performance ratio should help attract consumers.

  • Volume shipments of tablet PCs to not start until 2011, says CPT executive

    While a number of IT companies and handset vendors have unveiled tablet PC products, volume shipments are unlikely to hit the market until 2011 as most of the newly developed tablet PC products are still in sampling or small volume production, as well as low yields in lamination of medium-size touch panels, according to Lin Sheng-chang, president of Chunghwa Picture Tubes (CPT).

  • Netbooks are Doing Well

Microsoft is left out of these market segments.

Another question worth asking is, what will happen to HP’s role in GNOME (Stormy Peters et al.) and Free software? Why would a SAP guy be committed to it? SAP hates GNU/Linux (not Ballnux), it loves Microsoft, and it loves software patents (it still lobbies for them in Europe). SAP has a very Free software-hostile history, with notable remarks that include some from Shai Agassi (see the top of this post).

As Patent Extortion Increases, Best Strategy May be to Have Patent Trolls Sue Software Monopolies

Posted in Law, Microsoft, Patents at 8:12 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Patent ad
“A Patent Caution Notice
which appeared on 2010-09-29
in the Times of India”
By sankarshan

Summary: Another quick report on the malignant atrophy known as software patents and how it can be inoculated against

ABOVE the summary we put a wonderful new example of what patents — including software patents in India — may bring about. It’s a reign of terror for software developers and the original can be seen in full size right here. Today in the news we learn about yet another software patent lawsuit, which proudly gets announced in a press release. Is this the future of so-called ‘innovation’? Suing one’s potential competitor rather than sharing and collaborating? Writing up some papers rather than typing down better code? It’s really sad. Here in IDG’s CIO “Advice” section we have a booster for software patents. That’s the type of message that they get across:

I’ve worked with software patents on and off for roughly twenty years, but sometimes a different environment stimulates fresh thinking. In this case, as I sat there trying not to giggle while several teeth were ground to nubbins, it struck me that this experience resembled, in a surprising number of ways, the experience of software professionals working on patents. The dental analogy even struck me as potentially useful to IT executives trying to get their teams to work on patents. So what do patent and dental work have in common?

It’s rarely as bad as you expect. It’s very unlikely that you’ll be jumping for joy as you walk into the office of the dentist or patent lawyer. More likely, you’ll be dreading it more than it deserves. Neither activity is a goal you’re pursuing, but more of an inevitable necessity for pursuing the larger goal of a healthy mouth or a prosperous software company.

IDG’s pseudo-open source blog [1, 2, 3] has two of its Microsoft apologists/partners/boosters write about software patents today and yesterday [1, 2]. The latter one seems to be embellishing Microsoft’s image, just as Microsoft lobbyists (aka “mobbiyists”) do at the moment using stories like this one, which they conveniently take out of context (a rebuttal to it was mentioned just hours before this post).

The Electronic Frontier Foundation, the Apache Software Foundation, and the Computer & Communications Industry Association filed an amicus brief in support of Microsoft today, asking the U.S. Supreme Court for a ruling that would have a major impact on patent litigation.

This is about Microsoft trying to help itself. Here is an overview of posts about that. As Henrik Ingo put it, “When it hurts themselves, they start pushing against #swpats [software patents]. At least a little. [...] More trolls for MSFT, ORCL etc please!”

How ActiveX Crushed GNU/Linux Adoption in Korea

Posted in Apple, Asia, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Windows at 7:38 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Seoul, South Korea

Summary: One of the most advanced societies in the world is (still) held back by Microsoft’s Web-hostile ‘extensions’ which require Windows

THIS POST offers just a pointer or two (via Glyn Moody), covering news which we covered here about half a dozen times before [1, 2, 3, 4].

  • Online banking wiggles out of Microsoft chokehold

    Microsoft had previously dominated the Korean computing experience and this had much to do with its virtual monopoly on Internet technologies used for encrypted communication like online banking and electronic commerce.

    However, with local banks starting to allow their customers to move money online on non-Microsoft Web browsers like Firefox and Chrome, the country could be witnessing the beginning of the end of the Microsoft monoculture.

    Spearheading the “open banking’’ trend was Woori Bank, which expanded its online banking service beyond Microsoft’s Internet Explorer (IE) browsers in July to support Firefox, Chrome, Safari and Opera users, who were also enabled to access the services from computers run on non-Microsoft operating systems like Linux and Apple’s Macintosh OS.

    And it now appears that the Industrial Bank of Korea (IBK) is looking to tweak its online banking service to make it available on Linux and Apple computers too. IBK’s revamped Internet services will be accessible on a variety of browsers and will also support Microsoft’s latest IE 9. The bank will sign a company by October to redesign its Internet banking system.

  • Korean banks starting cross-browser services

    Just a quick note to those who are interested in a status update from Korea. Kim Tong-hyung writes in the Korea Times that a number of major Korean banks are moving towards e-banking systems that will be cross-browser compatible vs. what is available today, which is IE.

    The short story is that online banking with Firefox or Chrome is still a long-way off, but we can now foresee such a future, whereas before the changes by the Korea Communication Commission (KCC), such a future was impossible to consider.

Microsoft tried ‘pulling an ActiveX’ again with Silver Lie. Fortunately it failed [1, 2, 3, 4], thanks in part to awareness campaigns against Silver Lie, which Microsoft kept lying about (e.g. saying it runs on GNU/Linux, which it does not). At Microsoft, these issues are usually deliberate.

“In one piece of mail people were suggesting that Office had to work equally well with all browsers and that we shouldn’t force Office users to use our browser. This Is wrong and I wanted to correct this.

“Another suggestion In this mail was that we can’t make our own unilateral extensions to HTML I was going to say this was wrong and correct this also.”

Bill Gates [PDF]

Links 30/9/2010: 48-Core Limit in Linux, Red Hat Looks Into Austin Expansion, Ubuntu 10.10 is Near

Posted in News Roundup at 7:20 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



  • Desktop

    • Operating Systems in Schools

      GNU/Linux is the clear choice for me. Here is an article written by one who shares my views. He describes use of GNU/Linux in schools in British Columbia, Canada. Wherever cost-effective performance is wanted GNU/Linux should be the first choice. I cannot imagine a more appropriate situation than schools. Students and staff need reliable IT and students need IT that is transparent and affordable to them so they can tinker as needed. Students learn by doing. They do not learn by doing what M$ wants them to do.

      A teachable moment with GNU/Linux happened in my classroom yesterday. My students have seen the inner workings of a PC, installed GNU/Linux and used GNU/Linux since school began.

  • Server

    • Current Operating Systems May Only Make Sense Up To 48 Cores

      MIT’s Frans Kaashoek has provided some clues and said that current operating systems, especially Linux can scale to take advantage of multiple cores with minor modifications to the underlying OS code. He and his team simulated a 48-core chip through an 8 x 6 core setup and monitored the performance change when cores were activated one by one. “At some point, the addition of extra cores began slowing the system down rather than speeding it up.” The explanation is that multiple cores often do redundant work and process the same data, which needs to be kept in the chip’s memory for that time. As long as the memory is used, it is not available for other tasks and a performance bottleneck is the result: When the number of cores increases, tasks that depend on the same data get split up into smaller and smaller chunks.

    • Multicore may not be so scary

      Research suggests that the free operating system Linux will keep up with the addition of more ‘cores,’ or processing units, to computer chips.

  • Applications

    • Hotot Twitter application gets a Daily Build PPA for Ubuntu users

      Users of the visually impressive Twitter application ‘Hotot’ may wish to add the projects’ daily-build PPA to automatically gain the latest features and fixes as the app strides towards a stable release.

    • Novacut distributed video editor has 40 hours left to reach reality

      Time is running out for an innovative new video editor inspired by collaborative distribution tools like bzr and git to gather enough ‘crowd-sourced’ funding to make it into reality.

    • CLI Companion Makes It Easier To Use The Terminal

      CLI Companion is a tool aimed at making the terminal easier to use: it’s a GUI that displays a list of commands and an embedded terminal under it. The application comes with a list of commonly used commands by default, each having a short description and if you want to find out more about a certain command, simply right click it and select “Help”. This will display the “man” (manual) for the selected command.

    • Penguin in the picture: top video editors for Linux fans

      When it comes to video editing platforms, Windows and Mac own the field. They run the software from Adobe, Apple, and Avid that’s preferred by professionals, and most –including all Windows machines – come with free, basic editing software for everybody else.

      In my third piece on how media and storage applications for Linux – and particularly Ubuntu – compare, I’ll be looking at how Linux stacks up against Windows and OS X in what seems a closed race.

    • Simple Scan: Linux Finally has a Scanner Anyone could Use

      Sometimes we don’t change our habits even when we have the opportunty to make our lives easier. At least it’s true of me in terms of scanning after upgrading to Ubuntu Lynx (10.04). I don’t know why, but even though I saw that extra possibilitiy in the menu when I needed to scan, I continued using SANE — good, but a bit complicated.

    • Instructionals/Technical

    • Games

      • Primal Carnage Says Goodbye To Unigine

        The only problem is we have yet to see a Linux client make a premiere yet for any title using the Unreal Engine 3. We will not see that until Valve’s Steam Client makes a premiere on Linux in the coming months. At that point, it’s a matter of whether a Linux version of Primal Carnage for Linux is actually released. Unreal Tournament 3 for Linux has still not been released, or will it likely ever be.

      • Pioneers – a strategy board game for Ubuntu
  • Desktop Environments

  • Distributions

    • The Ideal Linux Distribution, As I See It

      The ideal candidates for this are PCLinuxOS and Linux Mint “Debian”; both are rolling-release distributions but test their packages extensively to ensure the stability and high quality of the packages. Both include Mozilla Firefox, but only Linux Mint “Debian” offers OpenOffice.org. Both include graphical package managers and most proprietary codecs (out-of-the-box). Finally, both have excellent support for mice, webcams, and printers. As PCLinuxOS doesn’t have OpenOffice.org, I’m going to continue with just Linux Mint “Debian”.

    • In praise of floppies

      Are you a Linux guru? Do you want to be a Linux guru? You’ll dazzle them at your Linux guru job interview by mentioning that you always install grub to a floppy, so your computer is unbootable without it. It’s like a primitive boot lock!

    • Reviews

      • Salix OS Live 13.1.1 LXDE

        Salix OS is a distro based on Slackware. Slackware, as you probably already know, has not had a reputation as being the easiest distro to use. Salix OS makes Slackware accessible to more users by making it easier to install, configure and manage. You can get Salix OS with the Xfce or LXDE desktop environments. For this review, I decided to use the LXDE version of Salix OS.

    • New Releases

    • Red Hat Family

      • Reports: Red Hat eyeing Austin among cities for possible new headquarters

        Red Hat Inc., a leading provider of Linux software, is looking at Austin among other cities as it considers possibly moving its headquarters from Raleigh, N.C., according to news reports and Raleigh’s mayor.

        Mayor Charles Meeker said Wednesday that Red Hat reportedly is looking at cities including Austin, Atlanta and Boston as it evaluates its need for additional space. It now occupies more than 188,000 square feet at its headquarters at North Carolina State University’s Centennial Campus, the Raleigh News & Observer reported Tuesday.

        “They’re a prominent company headquartered here, and naturally we’d like to see them stay,” Meeker said.

        Red Hat reported revenue of $748 million last year. It has 3,400 employees worldwide, including more than 600 in Raleigh. The company also has 65 offices around the world, including one in Austin on MoPac Boulevard (Loop 1).

      • Software-maker Red Hat considers Austin HQ

        Software company Red Hat Inc. is eyeing Austin for a possible headquarters move, potentially bringing hundreds of white-collar jobs.

      • Red Hat Linux is Mad Money

        He clearly understood that Red Hat doesn’t sell software license, they sell the support and services around the software. Whitehurst explained that the Open Source business model is about providing the mission critical support and reliability that big companies need.
        At one point, Cramer asked why Red Hat isn’t selling him Linux for his desktop. Whitehurst’s response was classic – desktop users are used to the Blue Screen of Death and don’t need mission critical support.

      • Sitting at the intersection of brand and culture

        But my experience running People & Brand at Red Hat has shown me there are endless opportunities to better connect HR and brand efforts within organizations. If making an organizational change is out of the question, I’d definitely recommend getting the HR and brand groups together to look for additional opportunities to collaborate.

      • Fedora

        • Fedora ♥’s Python 3

          Awhile ago Dave Malcolm transferred to the Fedora team inside Red Hat to sort out the issues looming with the Python stack within our distribution. Red Hat and Fedora has always been huge admirers of the Python programming language, using it to build a large part of our tools and infrastructure. When the opportunity arrived to build an operating system that children could tinker with and customise, we decided to base the application and desktop layer on top of Python – a tradition SugarLabs continued when they took over the development of Sugar.

          Because we value the huge benefits Python has brought to Fedora and Linux, it isn’t enough for us to simply build on top of a great system. We feel the infrastructure and Python upstream communities themselves are worthy of investing in and have taken an active role in helping to port and maintain a number of Python 3 modules.

    • Debian Family

      • Canonical/Ubuntu

        • Ubuntu font set as default for Ubuntu 10.10

          Ubuntu’s newly designed font, the work of typographers Dalton Maag, will indeed be used as the default desktop font in Ubuntu 10.10.

          Whilst the new font will only be used in the interface of the desktop, with it being held back as the default for documents and the Terminal, it will certainly make a wonderful first impression on Ubuntu users – both new and old.

        • Fingerprint Reader from Validity Inc. getting official Ubuntu support

          OMG! reader Tobias Knight faced such a situation with a fingerprint reader made by Validity Inc. With the open-source driver on-hold, and wanting to make use of the device, he asked Validity Inc. whether they had any plans to provide support for Ubuntu users of their devices.

          They replied with some good news: -

          “We plan to release Ubuntu support package by the end of the year. It will include proprietary sensor daemon with sample for fprint. We do not have plans for Fedora, but the same package might work (no guarantee).”

        • Ubuntu on ARM, the best since sliced bread !!

          Have you already heard about the new shiny TI OMAP4 CPU ? If you haven’t yet and are interested in ARM stuff you surely will very soon. Ubuntu will additionally to the already known OMAP3 images release images for the OMAP4 architecture with the 10.10 Maverick release.

        • ‘Party the real way for Ubuntu 10.10’ says Vancouver LoCo team

          “Don’t Call It A ‘Party’ If It’s Not!” yells the catchy slogan from the Ubuntu Vancouver LoCo team in their promotional call-to-arms for celebrating Ubuntu 10.10’s release next month.

        • Ubuntu 10.10 beta preview

          Perhaps the most important evolution is the updated Ubuntu Software Center. The application store now has more than just free software, and installation of third party applications is just as easy as Apple’s App Store or Google’s Android Market. The changes from 10.04 are subtle but it’s easy to see that the Ubuntu Software Center could become a major selling point and a money-spinner for Canonical.

          There are the usual accoutrements of updates to the kernel and applications software such as browsers, productivity applications, social networking clients and media players. Ubuntu One, the cloud based storage system that is in public beta, has been intertwined more deeply within the operating system, allowing users to backup folders with a simple right click.

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Phones

      • Nokia/MeeGo

        • Tuxrace for the Nokia N900

          A top speed of 75km/h, 3D, a good object to use and an objective, its called Tuxrace! It is compatible with your Nokia N900. Use a penguin to catch each fish with many different levels. The sliding penguins name is Tux. That is the origin of the name of the game.

      • Android

        • Some Android apps caught covertly sending GPS data to advertisers

          They used TaintDroid to test 30 popular free Android applications selected at random from the Android market and found that half were sending private information to advertising servers, including the user’s location and phone number. In some cases, they found that applications were relaying GPS coordinates to remote advertising network servers as frequently as every 30 seconds, even when not displaying advertisements. These findings raise concern about the extent to which mobile platforms can insulate users from unwanted invasions of privacy.

        • Star Wars DROID R2-D2 Available

          The limited edition DROID R2-D2 will be available online at www.verizonwireless.com and in select Verizon Wireless Communication stores beginning Sept. 30.

          With a graphic design to look like the iconic Astromech Droid from the Star Wars Saga, the DROID R2-D2 by Motorola will be packaged in a custom box resembling carbonite and come with a Star Wars media dock and wired stereo headset. Exclusive content comes pre-loaded on the special edition smartphone, including:

          * R2-D2 notification sounds and ringtones
          * Four live wallpapers
          * R2-D2 Clock Widget
          * “The Best of R2-D2″ video with the original Cantina music
          * Exclusive Binoculars App

Free Software/Open Source

  • Events

    • StopBadware Bay Area Event October 4

      StopBadware is offering an exciting opportunity for anyone in the Bay Area interested in Internet security: Join StopBadware and The Commonwealth Club the evening of Monday, October 4 in Menlo Park, CA, for a discussion on how to keep the Net safe. Three Internet pioneers—all StopBadware Board members—will lead a conversation entitled Keeping the Net Healthy: How Can We Develop an Immune System for the Internet? with opening and closing remarks by StopBadware’s Executive Director, Maxim Weinstein.

  • Databases

  • Oracle

    • Lustre file system finds life post-Oracle

      Despite reassurances from Oracle, advocates of yet another ex-Sun Microsystems technology are voicing concern about the future of their software. In this latest case, the technology is Lustre, a file system widely used across the supercomputing community.

      “Lustre is in a bit of a flux at the moment. The community feels a little bit that Oracle is turning its back to them, and there is discussion going on over whether or not Oracle is forking the code,” said Brent Gorda, CEO of Whamcloud, a San Francisco-based, venture capital-funded company recently started to service the potential market of HPC (high-performance computing), Linux-based Lustre users.

    • Oracle’s New Kernel: Custom Tuning or Proprietary Lock-In?

      In a year, “my guess is they’ll roll out a new Sun Solaris setup with a nice sticker that says, ‘Optimized for Oracle Database,’ and while they’ll pay lip service to Linux, they will wind down and then kill off their Linux offering,” predicted Slashdot blogger hairyfeet. “And while Linux guys will scream it will make tons of money because it gives a corporation ONE vendor to deal with.”

    • Sun Employees Leaving Oracle In Lockstep

      It has not been easy for Oracle, for as many employees of Sun were supposed to remain, it now is beginning to look as though they are all getting fed up and leaving, perhaps because they were sold a bill of goods, and now they find no merchandise.

      Over at TechEye, the news of two more major players are found to be leaving Oracle as quickly as they can disentangle themselves.


    • Free Software PDF Readers

      What would you think about a sign on the highway stating “You need a Volkswagen to drive on this road. Contact your Volkswagen dealer for a gratis test drive – Your Government”? When it comes to PDF reading software, many governments do this every day. With the pdfreaders.org campaign we will turn the spotlight on public institutions who behave in this way, exposing how frequently such non-Free advertisements appear.

  • Government

    • UK Open Government Licence removes barriers to re-use of public sector information

      Launched today by the National Archives, a new UK Open Government Licence (UK OGL) is said to remove many of the existing barriers to re-use of government held information. The new licence is claimed to be simple. flexible and compatible with other recognised licensing models such as the Creative Commons licence.

      The UK OGL will be applicable across the entire public sector throughout England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. Replacing the existing Click-Use Licence it will enable the free re-use of a broad range of public sector information, including Crown Copyright, databases and source code. Users will not be required to register or formally apply for permission to re-use data.

    • Pirate Bay User Database Exploited By Spammers

      A large number of The Pirate Bay users have received an email, allegedly from the site’s operators, inviting them to join the private BitTorrent tracker Demunoid. The Pirate Bay team has distanced itself from the senders, but it remains a mystery how the spammers gained access to the site’s user database.

    • Access Copyright Strikes Back re Status of 99 of 101 Objectors

      Here’s an update on the Access Copyright (“AC”) proposed tariff that would, if approved, result in a cost if about $60 million a year to the Canadian post-secondary educational sector. There is no such mechanism in place in the USA, where much of the money collected will inevitably end up.

  • Openness/Sharing

    • Transparency, participation, and collaboration: The distinguishing principles of open source

      Collaboration is about collective engagement for the common good and is the fastest route to open source project success. If an open source project is a neighborhood, then collaboration is the barn raising. Distinguishing this from “participation,” collaboration is about helping others in the community because doing so advances the project and its usefulness for everyone.

      My favorite example of collaboration is knowledge sharing through forums, blogs, and idea exchanges (in some circles, called ideagoras). On JasperForge, Jaspersoft’s open source community web site, there are more than 160,000 registered members who have collectively offered nearly 80,000 forum entries across all the listed top-level projects. The variety of questions and issues being addressed by and for community members within the forums is staggering. And, the vibrancy that emerges through this exchange of skill is core to large-scale community success.

    • South Africa welcomes POSSE

      One of the most important programs at Teaching Open Source is the Professors’ Open Source Summer Experience (POSSE). POSSE is a weeklong bootcamp that gets professors and POSSE instructors productively lost. The idea is to help educators understand how to include being productively lost in their curriculum.

      Being lost is a special state in open source projects. Although we discuss the open source way of doing things and most of us seem to practice similar techniques, the actual navigation within a project is always unique. Getting a first patch accepted for even a small bug involves the issue/bug tracker, coding practices, patch submission processes, and at least a few rounds of human interaction with people in different roles and different timezones. The same is true for any contribution, from documentation to translation.

  • Standards/Consortia

    • WebP, a new image format for the Web

      As part of Google’s initiative to make the web faster, over the past few months we have released a number of tools to help site owners speed up their websites. We launched the Page Speed Firefox extension to evaluate the performance of web pages and to get suggestions on how to improve them, we introduced the Speed Tracer Chrome extension to help identify and fix performance problems in web applications, and we released a set of closure tools to help build rich web applications with fully optimized JavaScript code. While these tools have been incredibly successful in helping developers optimize their sites, as we’ve evaluated our progress, we continue to notice a single component of web pages is consistently responsible for the majority of the latency on pages across the web: images.

      Most of the common image formats on the web today were established over a decade ago and are based on technology from around that time. Some engineers at Google decided to figure out if there was a way to further compress lossy images like JPEG to make them load faster, while still preserving quality and resolution. As part of this effort, we are releasing a developer preview of a new image format, WebP, that promises to significantly reduce the byte size of photos on the web, allowing web sites to load faster than before.


  • Coalition Movement Camp work party set for 10/10/10

    You’ve seen the film, Coalition of the Willing and perhaps read the opensource.com interview. On October 10, 2010, Coalition of the Willing launches the second phase of the Coalition project: the Coalition Movement Camp 10/10/10 Work Party — a flash mob development party for the climate movement. This is your opportunity to log on, converge, and swarm!

  • Science

    • Levitating graphene is fastest-spinning object ever

      A flake of exotic carbon a few atoms thick has claimed a record: the speck has been spun faster than any other object, at a clip of 60 million rotations per minute.

      Graphite is made of stacks of carbon sheets. Separate these, and the result is graphene, which shows a suite of novel properties, including incredible strength.

      Bruce Kane at the University of Maryland in College Park sprayed charged graphene flakes a micrometre wide into a vacuum chamber. Once there, oscillating electric fields trapped the flakes in mid-air.

  • Security

  • Finance

    • Bailout Not Over, Taxpayers Still Owed $2 Trillion In Federal Reserve Loans and TARP Program Funds

      While it is true that many TARP bailout programs have ended, Center for Media and Democracy research shows that money is still due to taxpayers under the TARP. More importantly, the research shows that the U.S. Treasury Department’s ten TARP programs represent less than seven percent of the $4.7 trillion disbursed by the U.S. government in an effort to aid the financial services industry. Far more money has been disbursed by the Federal Reserve to prop up the financial system than by the U.S. Treasury, and those loans are still outstanding.

  • Censorship/Privacy/Civil Rights

    • Democracy After Citizens United

      Lawrence Lessig argues that the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission will lead to further corruption of Congress by making legislators more dependent on special interests rather than on voters. Allison R. Hayward, John Bonifaz, and Gabriel Lenz join the discussion. Moderated by Stephen Ansolabehere, Professor of Political Science at Harvard University.

    • US demands right to snoop the world

      No sooner does the world agree to one request from US law enforcers for the right to snoop on its citizens than they are back with yet more demands. This week, however, the US may finally have pushed too far: the EU is not happy – and it is pushing back.

      First up is the news that, little over a month since signing up to the Swift agreement that both enables and restricts the US’ right to collect information about bank transfers in and out of the United States, the Obama administration has unilaterally decided to tear up the agreement and claim the right to monitor any and every financial transaction, whether it can show good cause or not.
      Click here to find out more!

    • Thursday’s security advisories

      Translation: The Senate Judiciary Committee won’t be considering the dangerously flawed “Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act” (COICA) bill until after the midterm elections, at least.

      This is a real victory! The entertainment industry and their allies in Congress had hoped this bill would be quickly approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee with no debate before the Senators went home for the October recess.

    • Wiretapping the Internet

      The government wants to force companies to redesign their communications systems and information networks to facilitate surveillance, and to provide law enforcement with back doors that enable them to bypass any security measures.

      The proposal may seem extreme, but — unfortunately — it’s not unique. Just a few months ago, the governments of the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and India threatened to ban BlackBerry devices unless the company made eavesdropping easier. China has already built a massive internet surveillance system to better control its citizens.

    • “Piracy” & Privacy – Can the UK ever get it right?

      What a great place the UK is for Web users. We have reports of law firms making “requests” for information about accounts alleged to be downloading pornography with personal details linked to that pornography leaked on the Web. Phorm with its Webwise allegedly snooping in on your browsing usage for directed advertising and the DEB looming on the horizon…..what a lovely picture of “Digital Britain”.

  • Internet/Net Neutrality/DRM

    • Public consultation on the open internet and net neutrality

      DG Information Society and Media has launched a public consultation on key questions arising from the issue of net neutrality. European Commission Vice-President for the Digital Agenda, Neelie Kroes, announced in April 2010 her intention to launch this consultation in order to take forward Europe’s net neutrality debate. The consultation is part of the Commission’s follow-up to its commitment – one of the prerequisites for the successful conclusion of the 2009 EU telecoms reform package – to scrutinise closely the open and neutral nature of the internet and to report on the state of play to the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

Clip of the Day

Laurent Guerby – “The GCC Compile Farm”

IRC Proceedings: September 30th, 2010

Posted in IRC Logs at 6:47 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz




#techrights log

#boycottnovell log

#boycottnovell-social log

Enter the IRC channels now

Sintel is Published: Blender-made Film Demonstrates Free Software Power (Updated)

Posted in Free/Libre Software, Videos at 3:20 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Sintel is now available in Ogg format

Please note that a high-bandwidth connection is required for streaming it

Update: The source we gave is overloaded, so we switched to one mirror in Denmark. More download options here.

Strong Momentum in the Fight Against Weak Patents

Posted in America, Europe, Free/Libre Software, FUD, GNU/Linux, Law, Microsoft, Oracle, Patents, Red Hat, SUN at 3:00 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Power expression

Summary: A roundup of stories about the fight against software patents in the United States and the fight to ease elimination of extremely bad ones (even Microsoft supports this latter fight)

STRONG OPPOSITION is being formed against software patents and yesterday we mentioned Red Hat's filing. Ars Technica covers this right about now, arguing very clearly that Red Hat is pushing for the end of software patents.

When the Supreme Court heard the Bilski case earlier this year, it ruled that the specific business method patent at issue in the case was invalid and contended that the patentability of intangible methods should be reduced but not eliminated. The court declined to provide clarity on the scope of software patentability, however, which leaves a lot of important questions unanswered.


Red Hat’s submission was authored by Rob Tiller, the company’s vice president and assistant general counsel. He argues that a growing number of vague patents on software methods have made it impossible to guess whether a new product will face the risk of litigation. His statement contends that the resulting landscape of uncertainty discourages innovation in the software industry.

LWN has covered this too and the thread is being trolled by Microsoft Florian, who spreads disinformation as usual (daemonising Red Hat and just about anything that resembles competition to Microsoft). For those who don’t know yet, Microsoft Florian works almost exclusively with Microsoft software. He only pretends to be a “FOSS” guy. He also lobbies in favour of software patents, not against them. It’s like with ACT, where the lobbyist pretends to represent the very opposite side which he or she lobbies for. It’s a common and highly unethical lobbying technique in the United States. It’s so common because it’s very effective (something along the lines of the “I like Linux, but…” troll). For those who do not know, Microsoft Florian’s mission seems to be ‘injecting’ the Microsoft line into GNU/Linux-oriented Web sites (he blocks feedback on his own ridiculous posts). Right now he is spinning it just like Microsoft Nick, simply because there is common ground on the issue of invalidating bad patents [1, 2, 3], not the stance against software patents. Microsoft spinners would love to mix the issues and fool those who are gullible or do not verify the facts. The Linux Foundation and Microsoft (and at times even the SFLC/FSF) agreed on some issues and worked together when it came to software liability for example. This does not mean that Microsoft is a friend of the Linux Foundation. To Microsoft it’s just a selfish deed, intended to save the Office cash cow from i4i (c/f i4i vs Microsoft).

One more thing to be said about Microsoft Florian (there are more details in our IRC logs) is that he attempts to be omnipresent by allegedly pasting the same comments in many different GNU/Linux-oriented sites and then modifying them slightly. That counts as spamming, just like mass-mailing journalists with slight personalisation is a form of spamming. Microsoft Florian does both. And all this coming from the same lobbyist who called FSF “spammers” for merely asking supporters to write their own letters in support of abolishing software patents? People are entitled to write to their own government or patent office? What a hypocrite. As gnufreex put it in IRC, “Mueller is attacking Red Hat for comoditising, and at same time, he defends TH’s [TurboHercules'] right to commoditise.” Microsoft Florian just repeats his lies over and over again in many places (with different audiences).

“Truth is, if Oracle’s acquisition failed, Sun would be sold to pieces. James Gosling implicitly admitted that the other day. Some pieces would go to trolls. So Moglen is right.”
For those who wonder where repeated messages are allegedly posted (and even double-posted in at least one case), the list includes Ars Technica, IT world (IDG), Computer World (IDG), LWN, Slashdot, and various blogs (he was banned from Groklaw). In Twitter, Microsoft Florian is promoting Mono, Microsoft repositories, and he is chatting with the Microsoft crowd, conspiring to smear all the groups and people who support software freedom. Microsoft MVP de Icaza even helps him smear some of those groups and sites. Perfect couple, eh?

“Florian’s points are all pretty weak,” explained to us a reader who brought some of these allegations (gnufreex). “But enough to fool the ignorant. So it is dangerous. Best bet is to elegantly refute his points. For example, his Moglen smears goes like this: “Moglen supported Oracle’s acquisition, so he is a sellout. Moglen also said that Oracle better home from Sun patents that Microsoft, and Microsoft never made bid for Sun. So Moglen is fear-mongering people against Microsoft/trying to make ‘em believe in bogeyman called Microsoft.

“Truth is, if Oracle’s acquisition failed, Sun would be sold to pieces. James Gosling implicitly admitted that the other day. Some pieces would go to trolls. So Moglen is right. Oracle is better than the alternative.”

Anyway, moving on a little, journalism on the subject of patents appears to be poor. TechDirt has just caught a good new example where a reporter could not tell the difference between copyright and software patents and thus misreported:

Michael Scott pointed us to a story from the Mass High Tech Business News claiming that Adobe had been hit with a copyright infringement lawsuit by EveryScape. That caught my eye because it’s pretty rare for there to be copyright infringement claims between software companies, since there needs to be actual copying of the code in question (in most cases), and that’s pretty rare. And, reading the article, it didn’t sound like anyone was actually alleging copying of code. The more I read, the more I suspected that the reporter just got the story totally wrong, and that this had to be a patent infringement case, rather than a copyright one.

And, indeed, that’s what it appears to be. The company EveryScape, appears to have two patents (7,327,374 and 7,593,022) on the technology being discussed here. I get that not everyone recognizes the differences between copyrights, patents and trademarks, but honestly, if you’re passing yourself off as a high tech publication, it seems like you should be able to get the basics down.

Here is one letter which has just been sent to the USPTO to protest against software patents:

I am a US citizen and software engineer. I am a named inventor on at least three patents (numbers 7,346,839, 7,409,383, and 7,783,639) and am named as an inventor for numerous pending patent applications. I am employed by Google, Inc.; this letter represents my personal opinion and not necessarily that of my employer.

Software patents are a significant threat to innovation in the software industry and, by extension, all of America’s technology-related businesses. While I understand the theoretical case that software patents can foster innovation – by encouraging investment and advancing the state of the art through disclosure – I have not seen this to be the case in any way in the software industry.

Software patents are not wanted even by American software engineers, but can they outnumber the patent lawyers and the lobbyists of software monopolists? It usually boils down to bureaucracy and greed, not science.

“The FT on the push for an EU patent,” says James Love regarding another new article whose first couple of paragraphs (needs subscriptions to read the rest) say nothing about the long-term impact on patentability of software. They make the Community patent (there are variations to this name) sound so attractive and sane.

A political push to create a single European Union-wide patent will get under way on Wednesday evening as EU industry ministers gather for an informal meeting in Brussels.

They will be urged to back a plan for a single patent that could apply across the 27-nation bloc and would be granted in one of three official languages – French, German or English.

Also on the subject of patents, gene patents [1, 2] suffer another well-deserved blow:

Several months ago we reported that a group of Australian plaintiffs had initiated litigation challenging the validity of Myriad’s Australian BRCA patents. Much like its U.S. counterpart, the Australian lawsuit represents a frontal attack on the patentability of genes.

Here in the U.S., the gene patent litigation shows no signs of reaching a swift resolution. Over the summer, Myriad appealed March’s widely-discussed district court ruling invalidating several of its key BRCA patents and claims, and the current appeal is unlikely to be the last, regardless of the outcome. In Australia, however, Myriad appears to be taking a different tack: offering to surrender its BRCA patent.

Recall the recent actions of Richard Stallman in Australia [1, 2]. Power to him.

Oddly enough, there is this new article with a sentence that bothered us slightly:

The number of U.S. software patents held by women has increased 45-fold since 1985; three times the national average.

Patents are not a measure of success and people need not measure innovation by the amount of papers accompanying some lines of code. Lawyers have an entirely different perspective and patent lawyers include the “innovation” meme alive as means of propaganda. Crosbie Fitch wrote to me and said: “People correlate patents as having caused innovation, not vice versa, inexorable progress attracting monopoly as a parasite. Indoctrination has it patents are modest reward for innovation, NOT that monopoly is excused by enumerating the obvious.”

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