09.03.10

“Only Idiots Want to Pay for Novell” (Corrected)

Posted in GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Novell, Patents, Red Hat, VMware at 4:23 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Correction: the quote above goes from Rui Seabra to Red Hat’s Wildeboer

Mad Magazine cover

Summary: Strong words from Rui Seabra to Red Hat’s Wildeboer, who criticises people’s willingness to pay Microsoft for GNU/Linux

WHENEVER we discuss the problem with 'Linux tax' in Android phones from HTC, Samsung, and LG there is no intention to spread FUD; au contraire — there’s an attempt to end Microsoft’s patent FUD which had some vendors/distributors of Android sell out. It has become rather difficult to cover Android in this Web site because many of the phones we come across are what we call “Ballnux”, namely Linux phones from which Microsoft (Ballmer) extracts money for patents it never even named. Fortunately for everyone, Android phones approach 100 different models and many separate manufacturers stand behind them. It should not be hard to avoid Samsung, for example, just as it’s possible to avoid SUSE and choose Debian/Ubuntu/Mandriva instead.

The importance of choice here is that it prevents a single point of failure from permanently existing (many — such as Linspire or Turbolinux — actually evaporate). Now that HTC Wildfire is out, avoid it. Choose a different Android phone. It’s the only way to tell HTC and Microsoft that Linux is not and never will be the property of Microsoft. The same goes for Samsung and LG (there is little of Kyocera Mita in the Western market). Here is an example of OpenBallnux on Ballnux (Samsung) hardware and here is a Ballnux tablet. This, unlike the hypePad, pays Microsoft:

Samsung has launched the first ‘true’ contender of the iPad, and it’s called Samsung GALAXY Tab. Unlike the iPad, Galaxy Tab allows you to not only ‘consume’ content, but also create it.

This tablet is also taxed by Microsoft and thus it is better off avoided. There are many other Linux-based tablets and they — unlike the Galaxy Tab — do not legitimise Microsoft’s demands of a payment for every Linux device that one ships. The goal here is to reward the many companies that gave a cold shoulder to Microsoft’s extortionists rather than collaborated with them.

“After the coupon deal with MSFT has ended, NOVL found a new “sponsor” – VMWare.”
      –Jan Wildeboer
This brings us to Novell and how to stop its Microsoft invasion (including Mono and Moonlight). Does VMware offer SUSE? Avoid it. There are other options. A few days ago in VMware’s event there were mindless repetitions about their relationship in a press release that added almost nothing. As Jan Wildeboer (Red Hat) put it last night: “After the coupon deal with MSFT has ended, NOVL found a new “sponsor” – VMWare. [...] How much did VMWare pay to NOVL? [...] And how high is the renewal rate on the MSFT sponsored subscriptions?”

With takeover speculations abound (VMware a high candidate [1, 2]), one has to wonder why Novell can be seen as a safe bet in the long term. “Only idiots want to pay for Novell,” said Rui Seabra in response to Wildeboer.

Wildeboer’s concern must be that Novell is selling Ballnux, not GNU/Linux. Novell is trying to cause patent trouble to Red Hat, as evidenced by its "IP peace of mind" marketing pitch.

To Microsoft, this tactic is nothing news; Microsoft attempted to do by giving money to SCO, which despite disinformation from Bloomberg, is a company without a case. It’s just supposed to bully and muddy the water around Linux as long as possible:

SCO’s request to sell off its software business has been approved by the bankruptcy courts.

The Delaware court approved the motion to sell SCO’s software business leaving a rump company to pursue what’s left of its Linux legal action.

This action was, to a high degree, funded by Microsoft. Microsoft is doing the same thing with Novell right now and OpenSUSE is stuck in the middle. This new review of OpenSUSE 11.3 says: “I would have to say that this release is really solid and provides a really clean user interface.” 11.4 is also on its way, but will Novell still be there as an independent company by the time this thing ships?

openSUSE 11.4 Milestone 1 is available today, Thursday, September 2 for developers, testers and community members to test and participate in the development of openSUSE 11.4.

OpenSUSE is stuck in the hands of a company which pays Microsoft for GNU/Linux. Why are those “community members” still contributing to Novell (through OpenSUSE)? They will be better off buying not from Novell and contributing not to SUSE but to other distributions of GNU/Linux — ones that respect freedom, not those which respect Ballmer’s demands.

GNU/Linux Keeps Gaining Market, Microsoft-Funded Net Applications Keeps Lying

Posted in GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Windows at 3:32 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: GNU/Linux market share on the desktop approaching 5% in W3Schools.com

ACCORDING TO W3Schools.com [via Pogson], “GNU/Linux [desktop] rose from 4.2% to 4.9%, up 17% year over year” (these numbers are not precise, but any numbers derived from particular geographies will have biases).

Do not pay attention to the Microsoft-funded Net Applications. There’s a lot of new propaganda derived from their numbers. They admit that their figures are bogus (mostly US-oriented), but it doesn’t stop them from posting these over and over again, selling the illusion that GNU/Linux is a sub-percent operating system. Even Microsoft’s CEO positions GNU/Linux higher than Mac OS X on the desktop:

Ballmer's slide on Macs and GNU/Linux
Steve Ballmer’s presentation slide
from 2009 shows GNU/Linux as bigger than Apple on the desktop

Watch how Microsoft boosters try to insult those who deviate from the Big Lie, which they repeat over and over again, equipped and supported by some of the latest Microsoft-sponsored material. Pogson is one of the few bloggers who stubbornly fight against those lies, rather than take a passive approach.

Over the past few months we have noticed Pogson’s blog coming under a great deal of trolling from Microsoft boosters/agents whose nicknames we recognise from other places that they sabotage. They attack people’s character rather than the message a lot of the time, so watch out for that. When Microsoft employees were trolling Techrights the same tactics were used. We were left alone after we had filed complaints to the FTC about Microsoft AstroTurfers who admitted being paid by Microsoft.

Substituting some of the “M$” (it gives ammunition to trolls) in Pogson’s latest post we have:

A stock analyst has written a good piece about the economic/market forces keeping Microsoft afloat.

e.g.

* When desktop PCs dominated, Microsoft had a virtual competitor in small businesses and individuals building their own PCs from parts and installing illegal copies of Microsoft’s stuff. Now that notebooks dominate that is more difficult. There are still relatively few notebooks produced without that other OS, mostly netbooks. Except for the netbook this is a big up-side for Microsoft.

* That other OS is tricky to move from one PC to another so large deployments keep a few prototypes and do disc copying to install/update/repair systems. GNU/Linux loves to run on anything so this is a huge threat to Microsoft.

* The virtual machine makes it much easier to run other OS with the stability/reliability of MacOS on Apple and the low cost of GNU/Linux.

* GNU/Linux is more than ready for the desktop.

For those who are not reading Pogson’s blog yet, consider it a place that does not drink Kool-Aid. It could use some help against the trolls.

The Truth About Thomas Edison and New Species of Patent Trolls

Posted in Europe, Patents at 2:50 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Thomas Edison

Summary: A look back at very abusive behaviour from a patent office icon; new critique of the patent process

WHEN most people hear the name Thomas Edison they think of a great scientist and inventor, not a ruthless businessman. Edison was somewhat of a raider, who became legendary for the number of patents he had amassed. Just how inventive was he really? Well, actually, he had the habit of taking other people’s ideas and claiming credit/monopoly for them after slight modifications. Edison essentially hacked the patent office, just like some of today’s patent trolls. This is a subject which we alluded to before [1, 2].

Edison probably deserves to be remembered as a shrewd businessman (like Bill Gates and his publicity/taxation tricks), not an icon of scientific ingenuity. Ars Technica has this new article about Edison and it’s far from flattering.

Thomas Edison’s plot to hijack the movie industry

[...]

But what ultimately did the Edison monopoly in was the assumption that its legal/technological dominance over the trade, and its moral stance, would trump the public’s demand for ever more creative motion pictures. Unlike the independents, the MPCC system did not invest in its network. Consumers would simply have to watch Edison Trust fare, the monopoly’s principals figured.

[...]

Thus the Edison Trust was sunk, even before a federal court agreed with prosecutors that the Patents Company and General Film had broken every antitrust principle in the book, “terrorizing exchanges and exhibitors” and driving away competitors by “arbitrary, oppressive, and high-handed methods.”

The sage took his defeat like a good sport. He was, after all, still America’s beloved inventor. At the end of the conflict, Edison dropped by to dedicate Universal’s new all-electric movie studio, now located in a pleasant southern California town called Hollywood.

Take heed, tech giants of today. Some of your companies or services aren’t much older than the Edison Trust was when it collapsed. How much of your current business strategy is based on offering new and original products, and how much of it is based on laws, courts, and the fact that you got there first?

“Show me a thoroughly satisfied man and I will show you a failure,” Thomas Edison once warned. He ought to know.

Slashdot has this new entry right now — one that’s titled “A New Species of Patent Troll” even though it covers a differently titled piece on a disturbing drama around patents and marking.

Patents have a life span of 17 or 20 years. To keep them valid, companies must pay maintenance fees every four years. Once they expire, the holder is expected to remove the numbers from products.

Why go through all this trouble? Is there truly an economic benefit to society as a whole? Similar questions ought to be asked about CIIs/software patents, which increasingly bring Edison-like abusers to the field of programming. The problem is, the lobbyists from the United States try to expand these to Europe, triggering reactions of many who saw and learned from the errors of the USPTO. Just days ago the president of the FFII spotted some nice short propaganda containing the word “technical” 45 times at a high level of density, e.g.:

However, it is often difficult to separate a claim into technical and non-technical features, and an invention may have technical aspects which are hidden in a largely non-technical context

“Technical” is one of those words that are used excessively by lawyers (another one is “invention”) to justify their paperwork and outrageous fees that they extract from work of actual creators.

AOL Escapes Microsoft

Posted in Google, Microsoft, Search at 2:16 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Corridor sky

Summary: AOL turns to Google, despite rumours that Microsoft wanted to buy AOL

IN RECENT MONTHS we have seen AOL-Microsoft staff moves and also rumours that Microsoft might buy AOL [1, 2, 3, 4, 5] in order to float a dying ‘search’ engine. Well, AOL ended up sticking with Google at the end.

In a surprisingly quick and even stealthy move, AOL has renewed and expanded its search agreement with Google, even though many had expected there to be more-competitive bidding throughout the fall to win the deal.

The five-year partnership to provide search technology and search advertising by powering AOL Search is more wide-ranging than the one it replaces, also including improved search products, global search, mobile search and also a video-distribution arrangement with YouTube, which could evolve over time to include content partnerships.

This probably rules out any possibility of Microsoft gaining power over AOL in the near future.

In reference to this article, TechDirt now opines that “Microsoft Missed The Disruptive Innovation In Paid Search”:

Both cases highlight the same basic point: the claim that big companies will automatically recognize a disruptive innovation and “copy it” is wishful thinking in many cases. Time and time and time again we see stories more like the ones above, where truly disruptive innovation isn’t just ignored, it’s actively blocked at big legacy companies who fear it cannibalizing an existing business, rather than recognizing the opportunity.

In the end, both Microsoft and Yahoo failed to jump into keyword search in any serious way until long after Google established it as a giant business. At that point, both tried to play catch-up, with Yahoo buying Overture and Microsoft rebuilding its product — and as we’ve also seen over and over again, by waiting that long, it was too late. The two companies still haven’t come anywhere close to catching up in market share, even if the technology is considered to be about equal at this point.

It seems unlikely that Microsoft or the user interface (for Bong [sic]) called “Yahoo!” will ever manage to gain real traction and deceive people through ‘search’ results. That’s a good thing, in a way.

Eye on Security: Windows Ransomware, DLL Hole, Malware, and More

Posted in Security, Windows at 1:46 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Tips cup

Summary: Menaces and unpleasant ‘niceties’ that only affect users of Windows this week

Russian cops cuff 10 ransomware Trojan suspects [via]

PCs infected by the WinLock Trojan at the centre of the scam were rendered unusable because the malware disabled key Windows components. More embarrassingly pornographic images were displayed on compromised machines, IDG adds.

Polymorphic ransomware tops malware charts

Ransomware variant TotalSecurity is topping the malware charts, according to the latest threat report from security firm Fortinet.

August was the biggest comeback month since March for TotalSecurity, which locks out applications and data, and then demands a ransom to restore access.

Microsoft Releases ‘Fix It’ for DLL Hole

The DLL security vulnerability first grabbed headlines in August when a Slovenian security research firm pointed out that, under some circumstances, a malicious hacker could deploy a booby-trapped DLL file into a directory where Windows will load it, potentially granting the attacker control over the system. But it later surfaced that a U.S. security researcher had warned Microsoft about the DLL issue almost a year before, and had even published an academic paper on the threat last month.

Google Code hosting malware-spreading project

Google Code’s project hosting feature has occasionally been used by malicious individuals for storing and spreading malware.

[...]

After this discovery was made public, Google removed the offending project. But this instance shows that the company must find a better way of detecting malware hosted on its sites.

University loses nearly 1 million dollars to malware

Thieves appear to have stolen the funds from University of Virginia after compromising a computer belonging to the University’s Financial Controller. Malware intercepted the Online Banking Credentials for the University’s Bank accounts and initiated a fraudulent wire transfer for $996,000 to a Bank in China.

25 percent of Windows malware now targets USB storage devices

In a survey of small businesses, PandaLabs discovered that 48 percent had been victims of malware in the past year. Of those businesses infected, 27 percent were able to verify that a compromised USB device was at the root of the issue.

New malware detects browser, shows fake malware warning page

While the malware is a pretty good attempt, it’s not perfect. The goal is to get the user to download and install something, shelling out some cash in the process, which neither of the three browser vendors would ever recommend. The Firefox warning page, meanwhile, has an obvious typo (“Get me our of here”). In addition, it’s suspicious that a webpage is going out of its way to tell you it is protecting your purchase. It’s also not hard to check that the supposedly detected files do not actually exist on the user’s computer. All of these missteps should raise red flags immediately; having said that, we’ve still not before seen this level of detail and effort from the bad guys.

Heartland pays another $5.4m for malware infection

The United States’ fourth largest credit card payments processing company Heartland Payment Systems has agreed to pay a US$5 million ($5.4 million) settlement to its financial services customer Discover over a data breach caused by a malware infection.

Heartland processed card payments for Visa, Mastercard and other financial service providers to the tune of US$70 billion in 2009.

Rogue Win7 AV Copies the Microsoft Security Essentials Site

There are downsides to market success, and in the case of Microsoft Security Essentials is that attackers build malware designed to piggy-back ride the free security solution from Microsoft.

Links 3/9/2010: GNOME 2.32 Beta 2, Android Tablets

Posted in News Roundup at 1:29 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Desktop

    • Dell Studio 1747 Laptop: One Fatal Flaw Away from Linux Perfection

      If you’re looking for a workhorse, desktop replacement laptop it’s hard to find one more powerful than the Dell Studio 1747. Armed with an Intel Core i7, a 17″ inch display, and as much RAM as you’ll find in any laptop, the 1747 is a monster. Power aside, how does it fare as a Linux box? Almost perfect, but with one major flaw.

      [...]

      In almost every way I’m satisfied so far with the 1747. However, the lack of working wireless is really problematic for people who actually use the laptop to move around. I’ve already ordered an ExpressCard adapter that’s gotten good reviews for working with Ubuntu and Linux Mint, which set me back less than $30 on Amazon. Given that I scored a good deal on the laptop, I’m not too unhappy at having to pick up a wireless card.

  • Kernel Space

    • Graphics Stack

      • Who Contributed The Most During X Server 1.9?

        Two years ago we compiled a list of the top contributors to the X Server over the years and that was followed by compiling a similar list of the developers behind Mesa. Tiago Vignatti has now compiled some statistics surrounding the top contributors to X.Org Server 1.9 and related X components just looking at this most recent development cycle. There’s also numbers for the input, video, and Mesa components too.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC)

      • 7 Things You Can Do in KDE, But Not in Windows

        When the KDE 4 series was still being developed, Aaron Seigo announced in his blog that it would do away with icons on the desktop.

        He was being deliberately provocative, because what he really meant was that users would no longer be stuck with a single set of icons on the desktop. By abstracting the desktop icons into a separate feature called FolderView, KDE makes it easy to maintain and load separate sets of icons for different purposes. If you take the time to setup FolderView to suit your work habits, it reduces the number of icons on the desk at any one time, and makes finding them much easier.

        2) Running Multiple Activities

      • Dolphin in KDE 4.5

        KDE 4.5 has been good to me so far, except the monstrosity that is Dolphin. I was already irked by the slowness and the crazy sorting behaviour, now it hangs 10 t 15 seconds when I try to do CPU-heavy tasks like no file manager was ever meant to do, oh, I don’t know, move a file. Or maybe copy one. Opening a directory. Stuff like that.

        But in KDE it’s always been easy to switch file manager. Most people in this case would use Konqueror instead, but I don’t like that one either. Thunar is my application of choice here, but up until now the Oxygen theme and Thunar didn’t play along, resulting in horrible default folder icons.

    • GNOME Desktop

      • GNOME 2.32 Beta 2 Has Been Released

        The second beta of the next GNOME release has arrived full of bug fixes and updates. Many of the standard packages have been updated for GNOME 2.32 Beta 2 (2.31.91) and more translation work has been done.

  • Distributions

    • A Guide to Today’s Top 10 Linux Distributions

      Choosing the distribution–or “distro”–that’s right for your business will depend in large part on five key factors, as I’ve already described. It’s also helpful, however, to have a basic understanding of how the major Linux distros differ.

    • What I want from computers

      Well, my first blog post on this subject generated some broad agreement (and a few flames), but I think it’s necessary to be a little more specific about the three main things I want from from computers, from Linux, from whatever, as opposed to just from Fedora or any one Linux distribution. Here we go, and remember, this applies always to a “stable” release, not to the latest half baked bits that are under work, and it’s equally applicable to any Operating System you care to mention…

    • Reviews

      • I wrote a review article about antiX core today

        The result is a REALLY fast system, faster than anything else I am using in fact. I really like it. It is fast – I said that more than once for emphasis, but its also flexible, and it provides only what you configure, nothing more, nothing less. What I have built represents what I prefer to use in my personal computing environments.

    • Red Hat Family

      • Magento Appoints Software Veterans Michel Goossens and Jary Carter to Spearhead Global Expansion

        Goossens joins Magento from Red Hat (NYSE: RHT | PowerRating), where he was vice president EMEA of the organization’s JBoss division.

      • Fedora

        • Caroline’s Identity Crisis
        • On updates and user experiences and so forth

          In fact I could be quite happy if we revised Fedora’s process completely. I can see a future where we aim to be a rolling distribution, and put out a point release only when we *have* to; when I asked people within Fedora a while back why point releases still exist, the only really valid answer was more or less ‘because sometimes changes happen that we can’t handle with an in-place update’. That’s fine, but in that case, there’s no real reason besides PR to schedule releases every six months; why not just do a release when some change means we *have* to do one? When such a change comes along we put out a set of images and give people six months to reinstall or upgrade, pushing security fixes for the previous codebase during that period, and then just declare it dead and say everyone needs to be on the new code now? Most of the objections to this kind of thing are about providing stable platforms and dependable updates and yadda yadda, but I already said, there’s no reason Fedora has to be that project. In a lot of ways I think Fedora could be a much more interesting and useful project in the long term if it wasn’t.

    • Debian Family

      • Canonical/Ubuntu

        • Ubuntu in Education

          The Andalusia deployment of over 200,000 systems is well documented and Amtron deploying 28,000 in Assam in northern India and Oxford Archaeology and Johns Hopikins and Oakland University and the list continues to grow. Next week I’m visiting a local school in my backyard of Houston, TX that has migrated to Ubuntu using Moodle and other open source SIS (Student Information Systems). The project lead is also the volunteer coordinator of the Moodle Core Contrib team. I had to travel out of town to meet him and learn about this great project. I’m really glad I did!

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Phones

      • Android

        • Android, iOS Gap Is Wider Than It Appears

          Jobs’ love-hate relationship with Google became apparent when he pointed that “some of our friends are counting upgrades in their numbers.”

          Who are these friends — Microsoft or Google?

          Apple/Google inspired Microsoft entered this number game (do you remember when was the last time they came out with an original idea?) and announced that they are activating 10 Windows 7 per second.

          So, the jab could be at Microsoft! However, in most cases Microsoft gets free rides, Windows 7 comes pre-installed with generic PCs and most users were forced to upgrade from grandpa XP and rouge Vista.

    • Tablets

      • Tablet Computers Will Thrive Because They Are Shareable

        -Google’s Tim Bray, co-creator of XML and now Android Developer Advocate, discussing the new Samsung Galaxy Tab, and tablet computers in general. The Galaxy Tab has a 7″ screen (almost 30% smaller than the iPad screen) and runs Android 2.2 (Froyo).

      • Samsung ‘Prioritizing’ Android Ahead of Windows Phone 7 and Its Own Bada

        In a recent disucssion with Reuters that took place at IFA, Samsung head of marketing for their mobile division YH Lee asserted the companies commitment to Android as its main smartphone focus. Lee said, “we are prioritizing our Android platform” due to the operating system being “very open and flexible.” He also noted high consumer demand for the platform that has quickly risen as a prime challenger against Apple’s iOS.

      • Samsung: ‘we are prioritizing our Android platform’

        Samsung may be one of the big players that Microsoft is pinning its hopes on for Windows Phone 7, but you wouldn’t know that from listening to the company at IFA. Speaking to Reuters at the show, Samsung’s head of marketing for its mobile division, YH Lee, said flatly that “we are prioritizing our Android platform,” adding that, “Android is very open and flexible, and there is a consumer demand for it.”

      • PC replacement trend for enterprise market to appear in 1Q11, says Asustek

        Asustek is also set to launch a tablet PC, the Eee Note, and an e-book reader, the Eee Reader, in Taiwan and Europe in October. The Eee Note adopts an ARM-based Marvell processor and Linux-based operating system, designed by Asustek, for a price of US$199-299. Asustek will also launch a Wintel-based Eee Pad tablet PC in December with the model using a 10-inch panel, Nvidia Tegra processor and Android operating system, to show up in the first quarter of 2011 for a price below US$399.

Free Software/Open Source

  • Blender 2.5 Quizzes

    An enjoyable little time-waster: test your Blender 2.5 knowledge with a Blender quizz. Right now there are four quizzes to take, and more will appear in the future.

  • Introducing fise, the Open Source RESTful Semantic Engine

    As a member of the IKS european project Nuxeo contributes to the development of an Open Source software project named fise whose goal is to help bring new and trendy semantic features to CMS by giving developers a stack of reusable HTTP semantic services to build upon.

    [...]

    A semantic engine is a software component that extracts the meaning of a electronic document to organize it as partially structured knowledge and not just as a piece of unstructured text content.

  • Open-Xchange Releases Free Migration Tool For Microsoft Outlook Users

    Open-Xchange, a provider of business-class open source collaboration software, announced the availability of data migration tools for users of Microsoft Outlook to easily move e-mails, contacts, appointments and tasks to Open-Xchange Server.

    [...]

    Due to PST file size limitations, PST files can be distributed amongst several workstations without a proper back-up strategy. Having all data centralized on the Open-Xchange Server enables administrators to integrate that data into their server-side backup environment and security policies. The software is available for free download at http://oxpedia.org/wiki/index.php?title=OX_Outlook_Uploader

  • FOSSFactory: Collaborative Free Open Source Design, Development & Funding Community

    There is no doubt that open source movement is taking over the world, 72% web sites run on open source server Apache, wordpress the open source blogging platform based on PHP/MYSQL is the #1 blogging platform in the world. Major sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin and Google on open source software such as PHP, Python, Ruby and Java.

    FOSS stands for Free and open source software software that is liberally licensed to grant the right of users to use, study, change, and improve its design through the availability of its source code.

  • Is Open Source Software Competitive With Cutting-Edge Applications?

    Indeed, the larger problem is that it’s very rare to see open source software really leading innovation in important, emerging software categories such as speech recognition or social networking. The problem isn’t lack of good developers in open source. In social networking, for example, developers have created good open source offerings, but they don’t lead the pack, and they certainly don’t challenge Facebook.

    Open source is home base for renegades, rebels, and out-of-the-box thinkers. It remains a conundrum why open source software doesn’t lead the way in more important, cutting-edge tech categories.

  • More Organisations To Be Hosted On Open Source Stacks: Dave Hall

    As the desktop becomes less important, open source developer and enthusiast Dave Hall sees greater opportunities for organisations to switch to Linux-based desktop environments. In an exclusive interview, Hall talks about his contribution to FOSS and open source software and the way forward.

  • SaaS

  • Oracle

    • Print file format changes on Linux

      The CUPS print system that is used on Linux and other Unix operating systems is switching its file format from PostScript to PDF. As part of this OpenOffice.org should switch its print output file format to PDF, too. This was implemented in OOo for issue 94173.

    • OpenOffice.org Conference 2010: preparing the next ten years

      Florian Schiessl explained what made the Munich’s conversion to OpenOffice.org work: maniac attention to detail and patience. They looked at some 21000 different templates and macros one by one and converted each of them manually, but only when they were sure they couldn’t be abandoned, eventually reducing their number of about 40%. More info is at WoLimux. They had problems when they sent ODF files to other organizations that had never seen them before, but Schiessl’s suggestion is “do talk with your partners when they refuse ODF and there will be good results and simplification for everybody, for example like using MS formats, but abandoning MS-only macros because they were not necessary in the first place”. (of course, being one of the largest cities in Europe helps a lot in this approach… single users still have less opportunities to be heard).

    • Live from the OpenOffice.org Conference in Budapest

      This week the world-wide OpenOffice.org community comes together at the annual OpenOffice.org Conference in Budapest. Oracle, the steward of OpenOffice.org, is sponsoring the event and the Oracle Office team participates in various work groups and technical sessions. In his keynote, Michael Bemmer, General Manager of the new Oracle Office Global Business Unit, underlined the “importance of Oracle Open Office and OpenOffice.org to Oracle and its customers” (photo). The Open Document Format (ODF) is one of this year’s main topics of the conference with governments and businesses from all around the globe sharing their ODF experiences and discussing the overall benefits of open standards. Stay tuned to learn more about how the new solutions will make life easier for end users, and reduce the total cost of ownership for enterprises and public sector customers.

    • From the Editors: Keeping Sun’s open-source software open

      In other words, Oracle seems to be saying, competitors shouldn’t be using Oracle technology in their own products, and that includes Sun’s technology. This is, quite frankly, what many observers (including SD Times) were concerned about. Oracle does not have a tradition of playing well with others.

    • Celebrating 10 Years of OpenOffice.org – Congratulations!
  • Education

    • An open source education–for educators

      One of the challenges of working in the space between academia and open source communities is translating the cultural and timescale differences. One approach to bridging the gap is to empower people already in the academic space–like professors–to navigate the free and open source software (FOSS) world and bring that knowledge back to the institutions they come from. The week-long POSSE Professors’ Open Source Summer Experience (POSSE) workshop, sponsored by Red Hat, aims to do just that.

  • Business

  • Project Releases

    • Lightspark 0.4.4.1 released

      ver­sion 0.4.4.1 of the lightspark player has been just released. It’s mainly a bug fix release, the most rel­e­vant news are:

      * Fixed a crash when using flashblock
      * Restore sup­port for YouTube

  • Openness/Sharing

    • Three Keys to Success For the 21st Century Manager

      A trio of recent Harvard Business Review blog posts all center around a common theme: what does it take to be a successful business leader and manager in the 21st century? What traits and characteristics should this new generation of business leader possess?

      The posts center around three key areas: how a successful leader will handle the “new normal” of the 21st century business landscape, how the leader will exhibit the necessary people management skills, and how the leader can exponentially increase the amount of value generated by the company or organization.

    • Open Access/Content

      • Discovery, rediscovery, and open access. Part 2.

        In Part 1 of this essay (published in SOAN for August 2010) I sketched some ways in which the growth of OA modified William Garvey’s 1979 observation that “in some disciplines, it is easier to repeat an experiment than it is to determine that the experiment has already been done.”

        http://www.earlham.edu/~peters/fos/newsletter/08-02-10.htm#rediscovery1

        Here I’d like to connect OA with three variations on Garvey’s theme. Garvey focused on cases in which redoing past work is undesirable but easier than looking up the original results. The problem to solve or work around is a dysfunctional access system. Sometimes, however, we positively want to redo past work. The problem is that the original results are untested or unconfirmed, not inaccessible. Sometimes we redo past work inadvertently. The problem is our near-sighted review of past literature. Sometimes redoing past work and looking it up are both undesirable. The problem is that we’ve allowed knowledge to become taboo and replaced curiosity with a defensive preference for what we already believe. Anything is easier than looking up past work or redoing it. All literature reviews are near-sighted. The problem lies in us, our fears and complacency, or in our predecessors, who might have broken the access system, burned the books, or created a culture in which inquiry is stigmatized as disloyal and harmful to party, profits, or faith.

  • Programming

    • Eclipse Day at the Googleplex 2010

      Here at Google, we have engineers using Eclipse every day to build our external and internal products, as well as engineers building and releasing Eclipse tools. Earlier this year, we announced Eclipse Labs, which is “a single place where anyone can start and maintain their open source projects based on the Eclipse platform with just a few clicks.” Since we use Eclipse so much here at Google, hosting Eclipse Day at the Googleplex is one way of giving back to the community and providing an environment for Eclipse contributors and users to network and share ideas. We hosted Eclipse Day before in 2009 and 2008, and last week we hosted our third year where we tried out some new ideas: a brief lunchtime unconference and post-conference Ignite talks.

Leftovers

  • Six more cops indicted in Danziger Bridge shootings, coverup

    Six current or former New Orleans police officers are the latest to be indicted in the sprawling civil rights investigation into shootings on the Danziger Bridge and a subsequent conspiracy to cover up what happened. Two people died and four were injured in the tragic incident that happened in the chaotic days after Hurricane Katrina.

  • Justice Department Sues Infamous Joe Arpaio, ‘America’s Sheriff’
  • Nadine Gordimer goes back into battle

    Twenty years after helping defeat apartheid, the eminent writer is fighting government plans to muzzle South Africa’s media

  • Woman Sues Facebook After Being Banned From Site

    Would you drive all the way from Maryland to California to try to get your Facebook account reinstated? That’s what Karen Beth Young did but apparently this wasn’t enough to impress the Facebook receptionist on duty. “Oh, people have driven farther than you, from Canada,” she was reportedly told, according to this Forbes story.

  • The 8 Best Sites For Funny Computer Desktop Wallpapers

    When you work a lot on the computer, you come face to face with the desktop several times a day. The most important is first thing in the morning, when you start up your computer for the day, to check your email and read a few of your favorite blogs.

    There are few greater opportunities to get your mood off to a good start every day than the appearance of a really funny image or quote. With your coffee perched up to your lips, you’ll find yourself chuckling, and the entire mood of the morning has changed – you have a smile on your face before the coffee even reached your blood stream.

  • Does Cisco buying Skype make sense?

    A Cisco buyout for Skype makes sense for Skype as well. Skype, despite some efforts such as trying to combine VoIP with private branch exchange (PBX) and Unified Communications systems with Skype Connect, may be popular with people in general, but it’s never made much of an impact in the corporate markets. I’m sure Skype’s private equity owners would also welcome a buyout more than casting their bread on the uncertain waters of a Skype IPO in this shaky market.

  • Security/Aggression

    • Pathologist in G20 death case found guilty of misconduct

      The Home Office pathologist criticised for his autopsy on the body of the newspaper seller who died at the G20 protests in London was found guilty of misconduct and “deficient professional performance” today.

    • Life in America’s toughest jail

      In “Tent City”, a notorious convict camp in the Arizona desert that lacks even basic air conditioning, temperatures regularly top 130 degrees, causing no end of heat-related health problems among its internees. Arpaio once boasted that he spends more feeding his police dogs than he does on feeding his prisoners: “The dogs never committed a crime and they work for a living,” he said to justify the poor quality of the food served in his jails – just a couple of reasons, perhaps, why his jail system is subject to the most lawsuits and has the highest prisoner death rates in the US. One man who has experienced Sheriff Joe’s brand of justice at first hand is Shaun Attwood.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

    • US salmonella scare: farm inspections reveal manure, mice and maggots

      US politicians are coming under pressure to increase regulation of the country’s largest egg producers after a federal inspection of two companies at the centre of a salmonella scare revealed breaches of basic hygiene.

      Food and Drug Administration (FDA) inspections of Wright County Egg and Hillandale Farms, both in Iowa, found piles of chicken manure up to 2.5 metres (8ft) high beneath the hens’ cages. Employees crushed flies underfoot and live and dead maggots were seen in a manure pit.

    • Weaning the world off oil

      Ten days ago I received a letter from Cairn Energy, the British company at the centre of Greenpeace’s current direct action in the Arctic. I was told that its drilling operation is “relatively straightforward” and that the blue whales, polar bears and kittiwakes in Baffin Bay are safe, because, according to Cairn, “our programme is conventional”.

    • 75 months and counting …

      To minimise the danger of alarmism, but without hiding from the facts, we set our parameters to assume that humanity would be on the lucky end of the spectrum of environmental risk. We were optimistic, perhaps too much so, about the speed and likelihood with which ecological dominoes might fall in a warming world. Nevertheless, what we found was startling. One hundred months on from August 2008 we were set to cross an atmospheric threshold.

  • Finance

    • Auto-tune The Financial Crisis: ‘Bankers’ Song’ Takes On The Financial Crisis (VIDEO)

      Ever heard of Commissioner Rouglas Scholtz-Tweakin of the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission? Neither had we.

      To go along with their new expose on banks’ self-dealing, NPR and ProPublica collaborated with “reporters” at Auto-tune the News to bring us exclusive footage of the “eleventh commissioner” at the private hearings. (Hence, the reference to commissioner Douglas Holtz-Eakin.)

    • No bank account? Get your tax refund on plastic

      A new Treasury Department program to give people without bank accounts faster access to their tax refunds will help some avoid costly short-term loans. But careless consumers could end up racking up fees and padding bank profits.

    • Productivity falls while labor costs increase

      American companies experienced the largest drop in workplace productivity this spring in nearly four years and a rise in labor costs, suggesting businesses may no longer be able to squeeze more work out leaner staffs.

      Productivity dropped at an annual rate of 1.8 percent in the April-to-June quarter, the Labor Department said Thursday. That’s double the 0.9 percent decline originally reported a month ago.

    • Bernanke: Shut down banks if they threaten system

      Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke told a panel investigating the financial crisis that regulators must be ready to shutter the largest institutions if they threaten to bring down the financial system.

      “If the crisis has a single lesson, it is that the too-big-to-fail problem must be solved,” Bernanke said Thursday while testifying before the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission.

    • Wonkbook: Romer wants more stimulus; five reasons for economic optimism; illegal immigration down

      In her final speech as chair of the Council of Economic Advisors, Christina Romer issued the clearest call any member of the administration has made for substantial new stimulus. “The only surefire ways for policymakers to substantially increase aggregate demand in the short run are for the government to spend more and tax less,” she said. As is her trademark, Romer delivered her “scary descriptions and warnings” with a “perma-smile and singsong delivery.”

      If you’re looking for actual optimism, however, we’ve got some of that, too: Neil Irwin sees at least five reasons to be upbeat about the economy. Many will be glad to hear that illegal immigration has fallen by two-thirds since 2005. And Republican House chairmen will be happy to know that John Boehner plans to make them more powerful if he becomes speaker.

    • Former Lehman Brothers CEO Fuld: U.S. regulators acted on ‘flawed information’

      U.S. regulators acting on “flawed information” denied Lehman Brothers the bailout assistance that its Wall Street competitors received, dooming the investment bank to collapse, former company chief executive Richard S. Fuld said Wednesday.

      In remarks before the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission set up by Congress, Fuld testified that Lehman gave government regulators a number of options for saving the company but that these were rejected. He said the regulators just weeks later extended similar measures to other Wall Street banks.

    • Ex-Lehman CEO says regulators refused to save firm

      The former chief of Lehman Brothers told a panel investigating the financial crisis that the Wall Street firm could have been rescued, but regulators refused to help – even though they later bailed out other big banks.

      Richard S. Fuld Jr. told the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission at a hearing that Lehman did everything it could to limit its risks and save itself in the fall of 2008.

    • Manufacturing rebound spurs biggest stock rally in months

      After their worst August in nine years, stocks kicked off September with a big snap-back rally, following the release Wednesday of surprisingly good news about the U.S. manufacturing sector.

    • Small businesses hold off spending while waiting for aid

      Small businesses have put hiring, supply buying and real estate expansion on hold as they wait out the vote on a small-business-aid bill that stalled in the Senate earlier this summer.

      The much-debated legislation offers tax breaks and waived loan fees. But it also comes with more divisive components, such as a $30 billion fund that would help community banks give loans to small businesses. Opponents say the fund would be a mini version of the often-criticized TARP large-bank bailout program.

  • Censorship/Privacy/Civil Rights

    • China accused of holding woman in mental hospital for challenging officials

      They snatched Liao Meizhi on her birthday, dragging her off the street and into a dirty blue van as others held back her husband.

      It was only two months later, when a stranger knocked on the door, that her family learned where she had been taken. The man said he had just been discharged from a nearby mental hospital – and that Liao was being held there against her will. Her husband insists she has no psychiatric problems.

    • Assange: The Amazing Adventures of Captain Neo in Blonde Land…

      …as no doubt the story of Julian Assange’s escapades in Sweden will be known once it inevitably makes its way into the hands of one of the goofier Hollywood directors – say Robert Zemeckis or Mel Brooks, or perhaps Stephen Herek of Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure. It would do better in the hands of Andy Wachowski, where he might do for Julian Assange what he once did for Keanu Reeves.

      Who could ask for a more beautiful set-up? It’s a story fit for a tabloid, yet it might be transformed into something an intellectual could read without embarrassment. This latest adventure is the stuff of pulp fiction, and chock full of Langley spies, computer hackers, crazy feminists, flatfooted cops and sleazy rags in the female kingdom of Sweden!

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • Scammers using fake copyright infringement notices for profit

        HADOPI, meet the internautes. The French “high authority” that oversees the country’s three strikes anti-P2P file-sharing campaign is now being used by spammers and scammers who attempt to trick people out of their cash by accusing them of copyright violations.

        The e-mails have appeared in recent days, purporting to come from France’s Haute Autorité pour la diffusion des œuvres et la protection des droits sur Internet (HADOPI). This is the government group that will accept file-sharing complaints from movie and music rightsholders, then issue sanctions and fines to users, with Internet disconnection and blacklisting the ultimate penalty.

      • The Era of Copyrighted Cocktails?

        So, can a cocktail be copyrighted? In short, no. The publication of a recipe can be legally protected, but the “expression of an idea,” as the lawyers in the seminar explained, cannot. It’s the reason musicians can’t be sued for covering another band’s song in a live show. But few bartenders publish their recipes. They tend to pass them on as an oral tradition.

      • iTunes song-sample plan runs into music publishers

        A trade group representing music publishers and songwriters informed Apple on Tuesday that the company could not go ahead with a plan to extend the length of iTunes song samples without the publishers permission.

      • ACTA

        • Informal Meeting of EU Foreign Affairs Ministers may discuss ACTA on September 10th

          The Dutch Parliament moves the ACTA dossier from the Economic Affairs committee to the Foreign Affairs committee.

        • US told EU to hide ACTA from public

          The United States is behind the wall of secrecy surrounding global trade talks to combat counterfeiting, say EU policy sources, who claim that American officials are refusing to let their European counterparts publish the draft agreement online.

        • USTR Behind ACTA Secrecy; This Is Not The Transparency We Were Promised

          Transparency? Not around the USTR, apparently. They’ve been using transparency as a negotiating ploy, and when they don’t get what they want, they refuse to let the document be released. Of course, in being so childish, all the US has really done is draw more scrutiny, and pretty much guarantee that a draft (including the markup that the one and only official release left out) get leaked.

Clip of the Day

Stephen Hawking


Credit: TinyOgg

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