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IRC Proceedings: September 17th, 2010

Posted in IRC Logs at 9:31 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz




#techrights log

#boycottnovell log

#boycottnovell-social log

Enter the IRC channels now

Taking Over Linux, by Proxy

Posted in GNU/Linux, KDE, Microsoft, Novell, OpenSUSE, Red Hat, Servers, SLES/SLED, VMware at 9:14 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz


Summary: A glimpse at the latest news from Nokia, VMware, Novell, and SCO

MeeGo is at stake when a Microsoft president becomes Nokia’s CEO [1, 2, 3, 4]. Nokia is crucial to the survival and thriving of Free software projects like Qt (the very essence of a lot of KDE) and also MeeGo, which is co-developed with Intel (a successor to Moblin, which was once managed by the Linux Foundation too). “Nokia silent on MeeGo” says this new forum thread which worries the person who mentioned it earlier:

It sounds like Nokia has something cooking in the background, or they are totally clueless. I am not sure which, but I guess we will find out soon enough.


Hopefully they have something going on. With their ownership of Trolltech and Qt, the same toolkit used to create KDE, Nokia has the ability to define and influence development tools, which they can use across Symbian, Meego, and any other platforms they choose to support.

If Nokia screws up with MeeGo and with Qt, then surely some people will point the finger at the company’s new CEO from Microsoft.

Jos Poortvliet from KDE and OpenSUSE (OpenSUSE is a proponent and key participant in KDE) may soon work for several ex-Microsoft executives, who are now running VMware and want to buy SUSE. Poortvliet is still trying to determine how to best deal with the community he was assigned to manage. Would volunteers work for VMware like they worked for Novell? Anyway, from Poortvliet’s latest post:

Your strategy team has been working hard, as promised, to incorporate the comments you have all given over the last few months into a new document. That document aims to describe where openSUSE stands right now, what users we target, what we are doing. Who we are has been covered pretty decently in the current community statement and now we would like to present you with what users we target.

The OMG!SUSE! Web site welcomes VMware:

I can guarantee any of my sources inside Novell cannot talk about anything one way or the other, but as soon as I can find some answers to the question “What does this mean for openSUSE?” I will be sure to report back.

“One might say that VMware has been causing a brain drain and a mindshare drain in F/OSS ever since it was taken over by former Microsoft staff.”OpenSUSE is rightly called “a distro that matters” in this new post, but its developers should fork to save it from VMware. Just look at what VMware did with Zimbra. It’s almost unheard of after the acquisition because VMware is a proprietary software company with even less commitment than Novell to “open source”. One might say that VMware has been causing a brain drain and a mindshare drain in F/OSS ever since it was taken over by former Microsoft staff.

Now that SUSE is said to be sold to VMware [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6] Gartner seems happy and the VAR Guy, a Red Hat shareholder, views this as an attack on Red Hat:

Five Reasons VMware May Buy Novell SUSE Linux


1. Fending off Red Hat: No doubt, Red Hat CEO Jim Whitehurst plans to attack VMware. The strategy involves Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) and Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization (RHEV). Within the halls of VMware, there is some concern about RHEV, which is based on the open source Kernel-based Virtual Machine (KVM). Whitehurst believes RHEL and RHEV can eventually topple VMware the way Linux toppled the traditional Unix market. But it’s going to take time for Red Hat to strengthen RHEV with management tools that match VMware.

Instead of allowing RHEV to gain some momentum, VMware could use SUSE Linux to launch a preemptive strike and attack Red Hat’s core Linux business.

People have been saying that VMware would attack Red Hat for quite some time. Here is the summary from Slashdot along with a very long discussion:

minutetraders writes “According to the Wall Street Journal, VMware is attempting to acquire Novell’s SUSE Linux operating system business. This move would give VMware a full stack of enterprise software and allow it to establish itself as a full-blown infrastructure and software vendor in direct competition with Red Hat.”

Yes, it’s Red Hat again. Should SUSE not try to replace Windows instead? How much of a role do the roots of VMware’s management in Microsoft play here? Groklaw once suggested that confrontations between VMware and Microsoft are just staged. Right now Groklaw has this hypothesis about the UNIX virtual 'products' sale by SCO (also covered by The H right now):

As you have witnessed in the past decade as SCO has sued one customer after another, ensuring continued customer viability has always been at the top of SCO’s bucket list and close to its noble heart. My question is, might the timing of all this be connected with the rumored sale of Novell? Not to be cynical, but with SCO, I always assume there will be vultures.

It seems not impossible that former Microsoft executives in Nokia and in VMware help suck the core of F/OSS out of the F/OSS world. It’s just a theory and it will be tested over time.

“Pamela Jones [...] has told Infoworld that Microsoft will be the next SCO Group”


Microsoft Attacks Android With Software Patents, This Time Verbally

Posted in GNU/Linux, Google, Microsoft at 8:34 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Scruffy dog

Summary: Microsoft adds a bark to its bite in the fight against the freedom and zero-cost of Android

MICROSOFT rarely brags about its extortion (or racketeering [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7]) of Android (with Linux inside), saying that it both elevates its cost and makes money from it (two injustices at the same time). Yes, Android is not always free because Microsoft helps create new laws that simply declare Linux to be the property of Microsoft, even though Microsoft writes no code for Linux (unless it violates the GPL, demotes Linux, and promotes Windows).

Microsoft Emil, a longtime booster of the monopolistic company, helps Microsoft declare that “Android isn’t really free” because it is “patent-infringing”. From his new article:

Google’s open source Android operating system is not as free as it seems, Microsoft argues, because it infringes a number of patents. When asked whether open source models created problems for vendors with licensed software, the software giant went on the offensive. “It does infringe on a bunch of patents, and there’s a cost associated with that,” Tivanka Ellawala, Microsoft financial officer told MarketWatch. “So there’s a… cost associated with Android that doesn’t make it free.”

Our reader ThistleWeb replies by saying: “Yet more hollow “patent infringement” FUD from MSFT; is anyone still convinced they’ve changed?

“Will MSFT EVER actually compete on merit? I’m guessing they’ve long forgotten how to even begin to make a start on that concept”

“Yet more hollow “patent infringement” FUD from MSFT; is anyone still convinced they’ve changed?”
Microsoft’s collection of money from many Android devices is unjust because Microsoft contributed nothing but FUD to Android. Why should Microsoft receive a penny? If anything, it ought to pay compensation for empty threats, which may violate the law in some countries like Germany. “Patent this that and the other, since Microsoft can’t compete properly,” remarked our reader Sebastian. Microsoft is 'winning' with Linux only in the sense that it successfully extorts or colludes with key distributors/manufacturers of Android phones, including Samsung.

Many sites across the Web are excited about Galaxy Tab. This one says “Samsung Galaxy Tab is Lighter Than iPad, Has Almost Twice The RAM, Even Has 2 Cameras” (but it also has Microsoft tax).

Android 2.2 powered Galaxy Tab was introduced by Samsung recently and is already touted as the most promising Apple iPad rival yet by many industry experts. With its latest entry into tablets, Android is spreading like wildfire.

That may be true, but there are challenges to make it non-free using software patents, Oracle being one example [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6] (Ellison helping his friend Steve Jobs at Apple by doing so [1, 2, 3]) and Microsoft being another. Microsoft booster Gavin Clarke chooses an iffy headline to make it sound like Microsoft’s extortion of Linux/Android is merely a “me-too” move following Oracle.

Faced with this prospect, Ellawala is extending the argument Microsoft has made against Linux on PCs and servers — that there’s a hidden cost to the operating system. Typically Microsoft has played up development and integration costs of working with Linux, but now on mobile it has the patent saber to rattle to convince phone makers that they’re better off using Windows.

Google has been too idle on this matter and IBM too (it has done nearly nothing since Microsoft started this extortion in 2007 or 2006, depending on whether the Novell deal counts). The above attack on Android could be a prelude to the half-a-billion-dollars “Slog” for Vista Phone 7 [sic], which other Microsoft PR agents (acing like journalists) mention for no important reason. Ina Fried for example writes a whole article about Vista Phone 7 just to tell us that it “will be GSM-only in 2010″ (who cares? Everyone knows it’s primitive and it’s not even out yet).

“Mono is trying to capitalize on Java FUD,” warned us gnufreex some hours ago. “To make people jump from pan to fire.”

Alison Diana’s new article/advertisement about Mono was brought to our attention by a new visitor to the IRC channels. It reads like it’s just promotional and it sheds light on Mono’s tight connection with Microsoft’s proprietary software:

In May, Mono Tools for Visual Studio 2.0 Beta 1 (MonoTools) was released. The tool is a commercial add-in for Microsoft Visual Studio 2008 and Visual Studio 2010 that lets developers build, debug, and deploy .NET applications targeting Mono without leaving Visual Studio, said Jorgensen. The professional version of the tool is available for $99 from Novell’s Mono store. The enterprise edition costs $249.

Mono is the sort of obvious patent problem which Microsoft MVP Miguel de Icaza hopes to put inside all Android phones [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15], giving ‘teeth’ to Microsoft’s empty allegations.

Microsoft Obeys Neither Open Standards Nor Open Source Software Doctrine

Posted in Deception, Free/Libre Software, ISO, Microsoft, Standard at 7:49 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Image: stuffing-capable ISO

Summary: Microsoft is preaching about standards and open source again, having just had managers vilify both (sometimes resorting to outright corruption); IE9 another new example of harming Web standards and snubbing Open Source

IDG’s pseudo-open source blog has a new hit today. It’s Microsoft’s Walli [1, 2] again and he wants to educate us dumb communists, explaining to us what “Open Source” really means. “Please Don’t Confuse Standards with Open Source Software” says his headline and one can imagine the rest of those Microsoft talking points. Microsoft loves proprietary software development methods and when it comes to standards, it loves labeling its own proprietary APIs/protocols “standards” (recall what Microsoft did to ISO).

“They call it open source for marketing purposes,” explained to us gnufreex a couple of hours ago, “but they are doing business by GNU manifesto.” [update 18/9/2010: gnufreex asked to emphasise he referred to Red Hat here]

As we showed earlier today, Microsoft pretty much admits that it hates Open Source (not just Free software). It’s good that the technology press has been paying attention to it. “Microsoft slags off Open Sauce” says the headline from TechEye:

While software giant Microsoft has been trying to tell the world plus dog that it really loves Open Sauce, there are signs that some company executives did not get the memo.

Hernan Rincon, president of Microsoft Latin America, has been hitting the press claiming that “open” really is a way of saying “incompetent”:

He claimed when software companies cannot compete they are declaring their product to be “open”. This apparently “masks incompetence”.

“When convenient, the companies say they are open and they they use it for your own benefit, ” he added in our Babelfish translator.

It’s not just Open Source that Microsoft is clearly hostile towards (to the point of violating licences repeatedly after exploitation). At Microsoft there is still hostility towards the Web, with obvious examples like Silverlight (very anti-Web standards) and even Internet Explorer 9 (IE9), which Microsoft boosters say will fracture of the Web. We wrote about the subject earlier today and Swapnil Bhartiya says more by claiming that IE9 is a Chrome and Firefox “rip-off” (his own headline).

The browser seems to an obese boy, unlike lean Chrome and Firefox. The setup file itself was twice the file size of Mozilla Firefox 4.

Firefox was smaller in size (10MB), almost half the size of IE9. It installed fast and was up and running while IE was still installing.

Typical of Microsoft’s flint-stone age approach, you have to ‘re-start’ your machine in order for IE 9 to work. Doesn’t matter how much important work you are doing, you have to restart.

IE9 is bad for other reasons [1, 2, 3] and no component of it is available for code audit, let alone for sharing. Just about any other Web browser — Opera and Safari included — has at least something that’s Free software inside it. Microsoft loves Open Source? Don’t bet on it [1, 2, 3, 4, 5].

“Corporate Terrorism” From Patent Monopolists

Posted in Bill Gates, Microsoft, Patents at 7:23 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

WTC site

Summary: Patents impede scientific progress, Monsanto uses patents in addition to spies from a Blackwater subsidiary to impede its competitors, and resemblance to Microsoft is shown

EARLIER TODAY we posted a reminder about today's Software Freedom Day and called software patents the #1 threat to software freedom (whether this is universally true is debatable). Technollama pointed out earlier today that “Researchers who apply for more patents tend to collaborate less with others” and it linked to a wonderful paper which can be found at Cell.com. Here is the abstract: [via Dr. Glyn Moody]

Advances in bibliometrics present new methods for analyzing emerging collaborative innovation models. These methods are illustrated by the Canadian Stem Cell Network, which fosters high-profile multidisciplinary, collaborative, international research. However, patenting negatively impacts collaboration patterns in published research. Policies directed at collaboration and commercialization may be in conflict, depending on the degree to which one activity is emphasized over the other.

Given that science works better with freedom from patents, why would anyway advocate patent monopolies? That is probably because of the selfish nature of many players, especially those who are already dominant. The title of the paper above is “Commercialization and Collaboration: Competing Policies in Publicly Funded Stem Cell Research?” (so obviously it’s to do with biology).

One of the most vicious companies in this area is the Gates-backed Monsanto, whose patent monopolies Gates is investing in and promoting. It’s truly a travesty which actually harms research rather than helps it. What makes it worse is that Monsanto commits felonies and gets away with it because it has enormous influence in government (thanks in part to former employees who famously took positions of power, the so-called ‘revolving doors’ effect).

A few moments ago we learned that “Monsanto hired Blackwater Subsidiary to Spy on Animal Rights and Environmental Activists”, based on The Nation which is quite reliable.

Jeremy Scahill reports in the latest issue of The Nation that subsidiaries of the mercenary firm Blackwater were hired by biotech giant Monsanto spy on animal rights and environmental activists.

Documents uncovered by Scahill are a chilling reflection of the overlap between so-called “domestic terrorism” and “eco-terrorism” with the broader global political climate in which mercenary armies like Blackwater exist. It is also a reminder of of how the recent “eco-terrorism” intelligence bulletin in Pennsylvania is part of systemic problem.

The article from The Nation opens as follows:

Over the past several years, entities closely linked to the private security firm Blackwater have provided intelligence, training and security services to US and foreign governments as well as several multinational corporations, including Monsanto, Chevron, the Walt Disney Company, Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines and banking giants Deutsche Bank and Barclays, according to documents obtained by The Nation. Blackwater’s work for corporations and government agencies was contracted using two companies owned by Blackwater’s owner and founder, Erik Prince: Total Intelligence Solutions and the Terrorism Research Center (TRC). Prince is listed as the chairman of both companies in internal company documents, which show how the web of companies functions as a highly coordinated operation. Officials from Total Intelligence, TRC and Blackwater (which now calls itself Xe Services) did not respond to numerous requests for comment for this article.

The person who wrote about it labelled it “corporate terrorism” and it’s easy to see why. Microsoft too has been accused of “terrorism” (instilling fear to achieve objectives) in the context of patents by several different parties [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7] and its well-documented AstroTurfing tactics include systematically stalking and harassing critics, at time causing them to lose their job. It’s a form of intimidation or gentle means of terrorising and even retaliating against individuals.

The Style of Techrights

Posted in Site News at 6:57 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Balloon in blue sky

Summary: Techrights wants to make you happy, so help us help you better by remarking on the site’s style


n order to get an idea across to many people it must be made interesting, not just important . Any scientist who sees a scientific paper transformed into something that’s popularised on television (Cosmos for example) knows it very well. Making information a little more lively and animated need not degrade or detract from its accuracy. It need not have the messenger labeled “an entertainer” (at worst “a k00k”) or the messages declared invalid, either.

“Making information a little more lively and animated need not degrade or detract from its accuracy.”Here at Techrights we chose an approach which retains accuracy, keeps the facts very dense (reuse through linking and concision for speed), makes the readers want to read, and provides as many external links as possible for claims to be validated and for readers to depart to sources of choice. Not everyone agrees with this approach.

Techrights uses a style less conventional among trade journals (which rarely contain any links at all) and verbal/graphical decorations are intended to please the reader, not to distract from the overall message. It’s not as though I have not published scientific papers or produced articles for magazines. I adjust my style based on the audience and platform. For instance, the smiling GNOME fish in daily links hopefully makes readers happier. These posts contain positive news almost exclusively.

If the message and its presentation can be improved, please advise. When it comes to feedback, everything is taken into account and has real impact. We’re here for readers and we are here because of the many readers.

Links 17/9/2010: The ZFS Linux Module, XDS Toulouse Reports

Posted in News Roundup at 6:27 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish




  • Desktop

    • The 1% Linux Market-Share Myth: Who Cares?!

      If you have paid attention to virtually any IT news site over the past few weeks, you’ve likely noticed an argument between several blogs. The topic is in regards to whether or not Linux actually has 1% market-share. This argument has been debunked and counter-debunked as of late, and no side seems to be gaining any traction in this debate. My view? I couldn’t possibly care less. Neither side between the Windows and Linux camps will ever be able to post accurate adoption numbers, and they never will.

    • Only design can save Linux

      Linux needs to be saved? Of course not, but: Linux adoption is often criticized because it’s not popular amongst the common users, anyway, most sysadmins will tell you that they’re using Linux on their servers. Linux (or Unix-like) servers are running very succesfully all around the world.

  • Audiocasts/Shows

  • Kernel Space

    • The ZFS Linux Module Goes Into Closed Beta

      We reported last month that a native ZFS module was coming to Linux and would be released in mid-September. Rather than using ZFS-FUSE that runs the Sun/Oracle ZFS file-system under the FUSE module so that it lives outside the Linux kernel (and runs rather slowly as our benchmarks show), this new ZFS module is native to Linux and open-source but due to the CDDL license it’s being distributed as a module and will not be included in the mainline Linux kernel. This module has now entered a closed beta testing process.

      KQ Infotech has been working on this native ZFS module that in turn is based on the work of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. KQ Infotech has now announced their ZFS work with a few details on their Linux kernel module and to apply to be part of the beta testing process.

    • Die-hard bug bytes Linux kernel for second time (Register)
    • Die-hard bug bytes Linux kernel for second time

      The oversight means that untrusted users with, say, limited SSH access have a trivial means to gain unfettered access to pretty much any 64-bit installation. Consider, too, that the bug has been allowed to fester in the kernel for years and was already fixed once before and we think a measured WTF is in order.

    • Hole in Linux kernel provides root rights

      A vulnerability in the 32-bit compatibility mode of the current Linux kernel (and previous versions) for 64-bit systems can be exploited to escalate privileges. For instance, attackers can break into a system and exploit a hole in the web server to get complete root (also known as superuser) rights or permissions for a victim’s system.

    • Graphics Stack

      • A Few Notes From Day 2 Of XDS Toulouse

        More details will come later along with the audio/video recordings that ended out the X.Org Developers’ Summit in Toulouse, but here are a few random bits from so far today:

        - For those that have become interested in coming up with a new logo for X.Org, Alan Coopersmith issued this mailing list message today. Coming up with a new logo for the X.Org Foundation has been on their agenda for many years, but now it may finally materialize thanks to Phoronix readers.

      • Luc Calls For A Dead Linux Desktop If Keith Gets His Way

        Back in February at FOSDEM in Brussels, Luc made a presentation on modularizing Mesa and DRI drivers, which ended up in a very heated discussion but ultimately his ideas fell on deaf ears. With X.Org Server 1.10, Keith Packard of Intel has expressed interest in merging the drivers back into the server, or in other words de-modularizing the X.Org Server after it was modularized a few years ago as being a feature.

      • Bringing D-Bus Into The Linux Kernel

        Alban Crequy, a Maemo developer, for the past several weeks have been working on bringing D-Bus directly into the Linux kernel. Why? Huge performance improvements.

        Alban’s kernel D-Bus work is based upon the previous work of Ian Molton did for Collabora with KDbus for prototyping a kernel implementation so that D-Bus cuts down the number of required context switches that are needed compared to running the D-Bus daemon in user-space.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC)

      • rekonq: KDE’s Webkit Browser Continues To Come Of Age

        As many of you no doubt know, and a few might not, rekonq is KDE’s Webkit-based browser. Under heavy development for a while now, we can see this super-fast browser coming of age in a hurry. For users of Linux Mint 9, the version in the repositories mirrors that of what was installed by default on Kubuntu 10.04 Lucid – 0.4.0.

      • In Search of the Perfect KDE4 Distro – Disqualifiers

        This was just a short update to the series – KDE4 still has a lot of good points, and computer users learn to live with the flaws in their chosen desktop environment.

      • Okular: Universal Document Viewer For KDE 4

        One of the new applications introduced with KDE 4 was Okular. KDE 3 had a PDF viewer named KPDF, but Okular aims to be a complete document viewing solution, supporting many different file types. Okular is fast-loading and works in any operating system and desktop environment that can run KDE applications.

    • GNOME Desktop/Novell

      • Interviews from GUADEC, Part 5

        This week we have the last video in Jeremy Allison’s series of interviews from his trip to GUADEC, the GNOME conference. In this video, he talks to Michael Meeks, early GNOME hacker and OpenOffice.org developer. Jeremy and Michael talk about collaboration, malware, and how Michael started his involvement with GNOME. For those who are new to open source, Michael gives tips for those who want to get involved in the GNOME community, developer and non-developer alike. For non-developers, Jeremy also gives translations of geek-speak throughout.

      • OSC2010 Sneak Peaks – Vincent Untz: Explaining GNOME 3
      • Fundamental Round Gnome Theme 2.1 Adds 6 Color Schemes

        Johan has updated his beautiful Fundamental Round 2 theme which we featured in our “5 Beautiful Elementary-ish Gnome Themes” post. The new version – 2.1 – comes with 6 color schemes, each with and without Nautilus breadcrumbs.

  • Distributions

    • Security advisories for Friday
    • PCLinuxOS/Mandrake/Mandriva Family

    • Red Hat Family

      • Why Red Hat should fear Amazon Linux

        While Red Hat’s leadership in the enterprise Linux market is without question, the cloud tells a different story altogether. Red Hat’s cloud strategy has thus far focused too narrowly on customer retention, opening significant opportunities for Ubuntu to gain traction in the cloud — and gain traction it has, according to EC2 cloud market statistics.

      • RedHat gets cloud-evangelical

        We caught up with Gordon Haff, Red Hat’s Cloud Evangelist, on the floor of VMworld last week and grabbed a short interview with him. In the discussion, we touch upon what the cloud really is, and where it makes the most sense in terms of enterprise use.

    • Debian Family

      • Linux Mint based on Debian installation screenshots
      • Look out Ubuntu, look out Arch: Linux Mint Debian

        Ubuntu, look out: This one offers more, and eats up less. And Arch, look out, because this one can do much the same, with a lot less time spent setting up.

      • Canonical/Ubuntu

        • This week in design – 17 September 2010
        • Canonical partners with AMI, Dell & Intel

          Canonical, Ubuntu Linux’s parent company is meeting with engineers and product managers from many top device and computer manufacturers in Taipei, Taiwan on September 24, 2010.

          The commercial sponsor of Ubuntu will be hosting its second annual Original Design Manufacturers (ODMs) and Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) at the Ubuntu Hardware Summit. Companies confirmed as attending include: American Megatrends Inc. (AMI), Phoenix, Compal, Dell, Foxconn, Intel, MSI, Marvell, and Quanta. In other words many of the leading PC, laptop, and tablet players will be there to learn about how to work with Ubuntu on boot time optimizations, hardware enablement, debugging, multi-touch, networking and more.

        • Ubuntu Maverick Meerkat Review + Screenshots Tour

          For Ubuntu enthusiasts, you should know that the next iteration of Ubuntu – Maverick Meerkat is set to release on 10 Oct 2010. For those who are keen to find out what’s new in this release, here is the full review (and screenshots) of Ubuntu Maverick.

          This review was done on Ubuntu Maverick beta. While most of the features should be finalized, the artwork might still change prior to the final release.

          When you run the LiveCD, it will first boot up and show you the option to choose “Test Ubuntu” or Install Ubuntu. In the past, this is usually done before it boots, but now, it has been moved to after the boot.

        • Ubuntu Software Center on Cranky Geeks

          As many of you know I enjoy listening to podcasts during my commute to and from work. One that I regularly listen to is Cranky Geeks featuring John C. Dvorak and guests. It’s also no secret that I’m a massive fan of Ubuntu. So today was a double-whammy when Ubuntu got a mention on the show.

        • Nautilus Review in Ubuntu 10.10 Beta

          There is always a lot of debate whether which file manager is the ‘best’ for the Linux desktop. Some would argue for Dolphin because they are KDE users, or Dolphin because it’s KDE but also offers a more simplistic interface, other prefer GNOME and use Nautilus, and still, some will like Krusader because of the many features or PCManFM for it’s simplicity, or Midnight Commander due to its TUI interface. So, even though you may have heard this many times before, I’m going to repeat: the best application for a specific user is the one which fits him better and helps him get the work done, in an easy fashion.

        • Ubuntu 10.10 moves towards completion

          Some of the features we are seeing in Maverick are, as usual, newer versions of applications. This release potentially has a larger jump in versions, as Lucid synchronised and merged from Debian Testing; but Maverick reverted to the usual practice of importing from Debian Unstable, which has higher version numbers. One of the surprises that came out of Debconf (the Debian conference) was the announcement of their feature freeze, which meant that Debian stabilisations commenced mid-cycle for Maverick in preparation for their next stable release.

        • More on Canonical’s Contributions

          Shuttleworth continues to list how hard the Ubuntu team works for the idea of free software and how important their work is. He points to the Papercuts Project, which formed to simplify the interface and fix as many bugs as possible. He mentions their cutting-edge design department and how they (and he) are shaping the desktops of tomorrow. He points out that Ubuntu is where the action is.

          In conclusion, Shuttleworth again praises projects from each corner of the community and urges members not to argue with each other because that is counterproductive.

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Phones

      • Android

        • Could Euro Carriers Be Planning Their Own OS?

          An interesting piece in the Mobile Business Briefing points to the possibility that European carriers like Orange, T-Mobile, and Vodafone could be working together to build their own OS, possibly following the China Mobile model of creating their own flavor of Android far-removed from the official Google code.

        • StatusNet for Android Available in the App Market

          I’m happy to announce that the StatusNet client for Android recently hit the App Market for Android systems. I think it’s a really nice piece of software. I’m proud that the hard work of our great development team — especially Zach Copley who’s led our client development, Brion Vibber who’s worked on the client platform, as well as Sam Doherty’s excellent UI design — has paid off so well.

    • Tablets

      • Motorola Planning a Tablet Device for Early 2011, Jha Says

        Motorola Inc., maker of the Droid smartphone, is aiming to introduce a tablet device early next year to challenge Apple Inc.’s iPad, said Co-Chief Executive Officer Sanjay Jha.

        “Just as Droid was competitive I think with iPhone, we want to make sure that any tablet that we deliver is competitive in the marketplace,” Jha said yesterday at a technology conference hosted by Deutsche Bank AG in San Francisco. “We will only deliver that when that occurs. Hopefully that’s early next year.”

      • Augen brings $190 Android netbook to Kmart

        Following up on its $150 Android-powered tablet called GenTouch78, Augen has now brought a netbook with Android to Kmart and priced it at $190. The 10.2-inch device has a 1024×600 display and uses Android 2.1, which should now be legally sanctioned rather than a pirated copy. Processing is kept light even relative to smartphones with an 800MHz, ARM11-based chip and 256MB of RAM.

      • Philippine government to make $75 tablet PC for schoolchildren

        Unlike the iPad, Galaxy Tab and Kindle, the XO-1 is not a touchscreen device and runs on the free operating system Linux.

Free Software/Open Source

  • OpenIndiana project first screenshots
  • On Writing, Funding, and Distributing Software to Activists Against Authoritarian Regimes

    Writing software to protect political activists against censorship and surveillance is a tricky business. If those activists are living under the kind of authoritarian regimes where a loss of privacy may lead to the loss of life or liberty, we need to tread especially cautiously.

    A great deal of post-mortem analysis is occurring at the moment after the collapse of the Haystack project. Haystack was a censorship-circumvention project that began as a real-time response to Iranian election protests last year. The code received significant levels of media coverage, but never reached the levels of technical maturity and security that are necessary to protect the lives of activists in countries like Iran (or many other places, for that matter).

    This post isn’t going to get into the debate about the social processes that gave Haystack the kind of attention and deployment that it received, before it had been properly reviewed and tested. Instead, we want to emphasize something else: it remains possible to write software that makes activists living under authoritarian regimes safer. But the developers, funders, and distributors of that software need to remember that it isn’t easy, and need to go about it the right way.

  • FLOSS Manuals Continues to Deliver Great Documentation

    Every so often, we here at OStatic compile guidance resources for popular open source platforms and applications, and one of our favorite ongoing projects for producing documentation is FLOSS Manuals. It’s an ambitious effort to produce free, online guides for open source software that we initially covered in this post. FLOSS Manuals is an excellent learning and reference resource for titles such as OpenOffice, Firefox, Audacity, Blender, Inkscape and more. There are now quite a few titles available there that are worth taking note of, and that you can get for free. Here is our updated guide to the site.

  • Events

    • Eclipse Summit Europe 2010 program published

      The Eclipse Foundation has published the program for this year’s Eclipse Summit Europe (ESE), which will take place from the 2nd to the 4th of November in Ludwigsburg, Germany. This fifth annual summit will feature several workshops, lectures and demonstrations.

  • Web Browsers

    • Five Web Browsers: Which is the Fastest?

      Given that I benchmark PC hardware on what seems like a daily basis, benchmarking a slew of Web browsers felt both strange and familiar at the same time. After all, the process of benchmarking isn’t far different, and interestingly, it was actually kind of enjoyable. It’s interesting to see just how vastly different the performance is in various areas from browser to browser, and unless you actually see results on “paper”, you may not ever realize the differences.

      It’s clear that Opera is the big winner here, topping both of our performance tests, and also scoring a perfect 100/100 in Acid3. Google’s Chrome comes in a close second, and after that, there are large gaps between the others. Safari performed quite well also though, especially with regards to Acid3 and Peacekeeper (though it still was only half of Chrome and Opera in the latter).

      Firefox 4 is good competition also though. Its Mozilla Kraken results topped the charts, and its Acid3 results are closing in on perfect. Plus, it also closes the gap with Safari in Peacekeeper, but again, it still comes nowhere close to Chrome and Opera. Those two browsers are the ones to beat right now, it goes without saying.

    • Mozilla

  • Oracle

    • A Rebuttal to “Goodbye, OpenOffice. Nice Knowing You.”

      First of all, he made some very good points. Many people expect software to just work right out of the box. They expect the spell checker to just work, for example. Unfortunately, proprietary software has bred a certain laziness and culture of dependency in people, in my opinion. If you use a piece of proprietary software such as Microsoft Office, the proprietor will always be there to hold your hand. They hope that you decide to stay locked in to their product so that the state of dependency continues from cradle to grave so that they perpetually profit from you. This is the point that I think that Mr. Yegulalp may have missed. The whole point of free software is that if you find an inadequacy in a piece of software, you have the freedom to change it yourself!

  • CMS

  • Diaspora

    • Code for open-source Facebook littered with landmines

      Four New York University students who raised a bundle of cash to build a privacy-preserving alternative to Facebook sure have their work cut out for them.

      The release of pre-alpha source code for their Diaspora social Website was only a few hours old on Wednesday when hackers began identifying flaws they said could seriously compromise the security of those who used it. Among other things, the mistakes make it possible to hijack accounts, friend users without their permission, and delete their photos.
      Click here to find out more!

      “The bottom line is currently there is nothing that you cannot do to someone’s Diaspora account, absolutely nothing,” said Patrick McKenzie, owner of Bingo Card Creator, a software company in Ogaki, Japan.

    • A Brief Look at What Diaspora Will Do
    • Diaspora review – first experiences UPDATED

      So this is the first developer release! Can’t wait for alpha, beta & stable releases!

    • Facebook Competitor Diaspora Revealed: Sparse, But Clean; Source Code Released

      A post has just gone up on Diaspora’s blog revealing what the project actually looks like for the first time. While it’s not yet ready to be released to the public, the open-source social networking project is giving the world a glimpse of what it looks like today and also releasing the project code, as promised.

    • Diaspora puts out Developer Release — source code is here!
  • BSD

    • FreeBSD’s Summer Highlights

      FreeBSD is a modern open source operating system for servers, desktops, and embedded systems, based on over 30 years of continuous development. The FreeBSD Project has participated as a mentoring organization in Google Summer of Code each year since the program’s inception in 2005. This year, FreeBSD mentored 18 students with a final success rate of 89%. The cumulative total over 6 years has been 117 students improving FreeBSD. This participation in the program has brought many new features into FreeBSD, several new long-term committers to the project, and many of the former students have by now joined some of the mentors as colleagues at their respective companies.


    • Celebrate Software Freedom Day

      All around the world people will be celebrating Software Freedom Day on Saturday. The idea is of course to both celebrate and raise awareness of Free Open Source Software issues.

      I believe the first software freeing license was the GNU General Public License

      Free Software Foundation is probably the heart of the Free Software movement which is defined by Richard Stallman’s Four Freedoms.

  • Government

    • Cenatic report: “Europe leading in development and use of open source”

      Europe is leading in the development and adoption of open source, according to a report by Cenatic, Spain’s national competence centre on this type of software, published yesterday at an IT conference in Palma de Mallorca. “Government support is key for the adoption of open source.”

      Government IT policies that promote open source have made Germany, France and Spain the three countries were open source software is used the most, Cenatic writes in its report “Informe sobre el Panorama Internacional del Software de Fuentes Abiertas. 2010″ (International overview on Open Source Software, 2010). The report is currently only available in Spanish.

    • Government ‘committed’ to open source

      Open source software will be favoured where there are no significant cost differences between open source and proprietary solutions, Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude has said.

      Responding to a parliamentary question, Maude said the Cabinet Office and the Office of Government Commerce are working on ‘guidance for procures’, which specifically covers open source software.

    • Government favours ‘flexible’ open-source software

      Francis Maude has said that when costs are similar, the government will buy open-source rather than proprietary software.

      In a parliamentary written answer on Tuesday, the Cabinet Office minister said that even where there are no significant overall cost differences between open and proprietary products, open source will be selected “on the basis of its additional inherent flexibility”.

  • Licensing

    • Managing Open Source: New Tools and Techniques

      Open source has now become ubiquitous, yet management of its use remains uneven. The recent Forrester Research report at LinuxCon notes that 2010 was the year of using open source to improve business process execution speed and company growth. The adoption of open source has decreased in importance because open source is now so widely adopted.

  • Openness/Sharing

    • Open chocolate: Saving $800 million through collaboration

      Triple yields of cocoa crops. New lives for 6.5 million poor farmers on small farms in developing nations. More sustainable chocolate for you. Those are the goals of a collaborative team crossing public and private organizations that has been working to improve the cocoa growing process to benefit the world’s cocoa farmers and help lead us to a more sustainable world cocoa supply.

      They’ve also finished three years ahead of schedule. And after only a little over two years of work unlocking the Theobroma cacao genome, the team didn’t call the patent office. Instead, they released their first findings into the public domain. They say that by opening it up to the public, it will help breeders grow more robust, higher yielding, and drought- and disease-resistant trees.

  • Programming

    • Programming Lessons From Linux Geeks in the Trenches

      Before learning such lessons, “I was always frustrated and rarely accomplished much,” Masover admitted. “I would instead rail about the state of languages, frameworks, OSes, and so on.

      “Now, while my Ruby scripts aren’t as fast as if I’d done them in C, and my C programs aren’t as elegant as if I’d done them in Ruby, and I haven’t come up with the perfect language that’s the best of both worlds … the fact that I can live with that means that I do actually have C programs, Ruby programs, Java programs, and so on, instead of no programs,” he pointed out.

      Dziuba “makes a good argument for not just jumping to new technologies that are supposed to make things easier,” Montreal consultant and Slashdot blogger Gerhard Mack opined. “People are always looking for the magic ‘make my app regardless of my programming ability’ switch, and there just isn’t one.”

    • GTK Impression – Making Sense of Metacity

      Metacity is a window manager for the Gnome desktop. By window manager I mean it controls the placement and appearance of windows on the desktop. A window may be described as the header, footer, and borders which contain content. Metacity does not format content, that job belongs to GTK.

      During the Lucid development cycle the decision was made to change the placement of the Metacity window control buttons which resulted in many folks expressing their opinion pro and con. The desire was to free up space on the right for new functions expected to arrive in subsequent releases and these themes adhere to this design.

  • Standards/Consortia


  • Google’s Chief on Social, Mobile and Conflict

    He described another rivalry — the one between Google and Apple over mobile phones — as different than the one with Facebook. By increasing competition, that rivalry benefits both companies and both can do well, he said.

  • Science

    • Lies, damn lies and Chinese science

      Zhang Wuben is a 47-year-old nutritional therapist from Beijing, whose best-known claim, elaborated in his book Cure the Diseases You Get from Eating by Eating, is that consuming half a kilogram of mung beans every day can cure diabetes and short-sightedness, while eating five times that amount improves a patient’s chances of surviving various cancers. A frequent guest on television talk shows, his clinic was so popular that regular 300-yuan (£29) consultations, which lasted ten minutes, were booked up until 2012. Patients who wanted a fast-track service could pay 5,000 yuan (£483) for an emergency appointment with the health guru.

  • Security/Aggression

    • Security a Concern as HTML5 Gains Traction

      From animated logos to Web videos for hip, independent bands, HTML5 is getting buzz and gaining traction. But concerns about the security of features in the new version of the Web’s lingua franca persist.
      Every technology innovation has its coming out party, and Google Inc.’s recent “dancing balls” logo experiment was widely interpreted as a high-impact debut for the next version of HTML, dubbed HTML5. But web security experts are warning that the sprawling new Web standard may favor functionality over security, enabling a new generation of powerful Web based attacks.

    • Most common SSH passwords revealed

      New computer users are often criticized for weak username and password combinations which can create significant security vulnerabilities in any organization.

      Many companies have even imposed strict password policies which may include regular forced password changes, automated password generation and ‘strong password’ validation before accepting a new password.

      While strict password policies may work well in theory, their value is often undone by something as simple as a post-it pasted on a computer screen to help an employee remember his newly generated strong password.

  • Finance

    • Wall Street Ends Mixed as Data Reflects a Sluggish Recovery

      Stock prices were little changed on Thursday as investors reacted cautiously to data suggesting that the recovery remained halting.

      The Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia’s survey of regional business conditions showed that manufacturing activity was nearly flat in September, while claims for unemployment benefits dropped to a two-month low but still remained high.

      The mildly reassuring data reduced investors’ expectations that the Federal Reserve, which meets on Tuesday, would renew quantitative easing in the form of large debt purchases aimed at stimulating the economy.

    • Basel rules for riskiest trading could further raise bank’s capital requirements

      The measures also stand to shape the behavior of bank executives in undetermined ways, with some analysts suggesting the rules could lead to steep price hikes for some business and consumer services or push financial firms to pump more cash into government bonds and other low-risk investments.

    • Elizabeth Warren: The Right Appointment At The Right Time

      Some of Ms. Warren’s supporters think this move is something of a half-measure – they would have preferred a conventional nomination, with all the fanfare of a classic confirmation battle in the Senate. There is something to be said for that, but the interim appointment route is by far the best way forward for three reasons.

    • Senate GOP looks to compromise in tax debate

      Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) and his House counterpart, Minority Leader John Boehner (Ohio), are locked in a standoff with President Obama over the fate of tax cuts enacted in 2001 and 2003 during the Bush administration. Those cuts, scheduled to expire at the end of this year unless Congress acts, lowered the tax burden for every taxpayer – but helped to drive the federal deficit to record levels.

    • Obama to name consumer advocate to new post Friday

      President Barack Obama is naming Elizabeth Warren a special adviser to oversee creation of a new consumer protection bureau, dodging a fight with Senate Republicans who view her as too critical of Wall Street to be confirmed as the agency’s chief.

    • Secret funds flow into races

      Ever since the 1973 Federal Election Campaign Act passed, public disclosure of the money used to influence elections has been a cardinal rule of U.S. politics.

      Voters’ right to know who is behind the money spent trying to sway them was firmly established by the Supreme Court’s 1976 decision in Buckley v. Valeo, which upheld the constitutionality of campaign finance disclosure laws.

    • SEC eyes new rules on banks’ debt-level disclosure

      Federal regulators are set to propose new rules that could make it harder for financial firms to disguise their level of debt.

      The expanded disclosure requirements would apply to banks’ practice of temporarily trimming their debt at the end of quarters to make their financial statements appear stronger. The practice is legal but regulators say it can give investors a distorted picture of a bank’s debt and level of risk.

    • White House defends stimulus, highlights projects

      Rehabilitating New York’s Staten Island Ferry Terminal. Cutting a new highway through Nelsonville, Ohio. Building a trio of battery factories in Michigan.

      In a report being released Friday by Vice President Joe Biden, the White House pushes back against criticism of its $814 billion stimulus program and highlights 100 projects that it says are creating jobs and growing the economy.

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

    • Canada “Fox News North” Campaign — Attempted Sabotage, Avaaz Responds

      Yesterday Avaaz experienced an attack on our “Stop ‘Fox News North’” petition consisting of fraudulent sign-ups of targeted individuals.

      There is evidence of a deliberate and illegal effort designed to discredit Avaaz and violate an important form of democratic expression for Canadian citizens. If this is confirmed we will request a full investigation, and help to bring the perpetrators to justice.

  • Censorship/Privacy/Civil Rights

    • Afghan women join fight for election

      Despite death threats and intimidation a record number of women are contesting seats in this month’s Afghan parliamentary elections. But Channel 4 News International Editor Lindsey Hilsum, who travelled to Bamyan earlier this year, says women there still live in fear of the Taliban.

    • California Ban on Violent Videogames Violates First Amendment

      The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and The Progress & Freedom Foundation (PFF) urged the United States Supreme Court Friday to protect the free speech rights of videogame creators and users, asking the justices to uphold a ruling throwing out unconstitutional restrictions on violent videogames.

  • Internet/Net Neutrality/DRM

    • Internet must remain neutral, says Sir Tim Berners-Lee


      Mobile operators and internet service providers must not be allowed to break the principle of “net neutrality” – that there should be no favouritism for connecting to certain sites online – Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the world wide web, warned today.

      He also said that low-cost mobile phones with a data connection were essential to ensure that the 80% of people who are not yet connected to the web could benefit from its ability to bring new information.

      Berners-Lee suggested that concerns over privacy and the sharing of personal data will mean that businesses will have to improve their ability to segment the use of user-specific data such as addresses and where people are using their phones.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • The Significance of the Huge European Warez Scene Raids

      At the behest of Belgian authorities, two weeks ago police around Europe conduced coordinated raids on so-called Warez Scene topsites. Hailed as some of the most important raids of their type in recent memory, the action generated hundreds of headlines. But just how significant were the raids? To find out that, first we should look at how the Scene is organized.

    • British Library plans for a digital future

      “If we in the UK are going to safeguard our intellectual heritage and ensure it can be used by future generations of researchers, it is essential that we make a step-change in the amount of digital content that we collect, store and make accessible for the long term,” she said.

    • Copyrights

      • Stallman calls for file-sharing to be legalised

        Stallman was giving a talk at the RMIT University in Melbourne today on “Copyright vs Community in the Age of Computer Networks”, one of the lectures he is giving during a six-week stay in Australia.

        At the end of his talk, Stallman auctioned what he called “an adorable GNU” (pic below) – a soft toy – saying, “if you have a penguin (the Linux mascot) at home, you need a GNU because the penguin is useless without the GNU.” This was a dig at people who refuse to acknowledge the contribution the GNU Project has made to GNU/Linux distributions.

        Stallman said file-sharing should be made legal to allow people to share files on a non-commercial basis as they had done during earlier eras.

      • ACTA

Clip of the Day


Credit: TinyOgg

Novell’s Transition Into a Fog Computing (Proprietary) Asset and Its Legacy Remembered

Posted in GNU/Linux, Identity Management, Novell, SLES/SLED, VMware at 1:29 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Novell in Provo

Summary: A bundle of Novell news emphasising the company’s Fog Computing (‘cloud’) moves, former Novell staff, and space sharing (amid the company’s shrinkage and approaching end)

THIS post accumulates one week of Novell news, excluding the imminent sale of the company. Earlier this month Novell or some surrogate account threw some “success stories” at YouTube [1, 2]. It’s not entirely clear why Novell should even bother marketing itself at this stage.

Moving on to SUSE (probably to become VMware’s property soon), SUSE received a special mention in the following press release some days ago:

Zend Server Supports SUSE Linux Enterprise Server


Zend Technologies Updates Zend Server PHP Web Application Server and Zend Server Cluster Manager

Another item says that “Novell Announces New SUSE Linux Certification Programmes” (probably old news reposted) and there is some news about Packman in SLE*:

The Packman software archive is now offering a multimedia software package for SUSE Linux Enterprise 11 (SP1). As well as a range of media players, including VLC and MPlayer, it includes a number of codecs for proprietary formats. These include a Windows Media codec package and several GStreamer plug-ins which can be used by applications such as Totem, Banshee and Rhythmbox.

There is little about OpenSUSE except some security alerts [1, 2]. As a takeover by VMware seems highly likely, Novell continues to promote its proprietary Fog Computing agenda with Cloud Manager, which received belated coverage from [1, 2, 3]. There’s a quiet new release of another proprietary software product from Novell.

“Swicon360 takes HCM Spectrum in the Cloud service online” says this new press release about an adoption by a site which “represents a key step in an industry-leading initiative involving the joint expertise of Swicon360, SAP, Vodacom Business and Novell.”

Novell is increasingly moving in the direction of Fog Computing, as we have stressed and demonstrated for months. The article “Cloud Computing Investors Need to Consider Architecture” says

BasisOne is using Novell identity and security solutions for its platform that deploys SAP ERP solutions as a service using Vodacom (News – Alert) Business’s private cloud, TMCnet reported. Novell’s solution enables BasisOne to extend an enterprise organization’s security policies onto the applications that are running on virtual servers at Vodacom Business’s state-of-the-art data center.

Novell has not bought a single company in a long time, but memories are brought back about one company which sold identity management to Novell a long time ago:

“It’s a great asset, a market-leading company,” says Jon Oltsik, an analyst with Enterprise Strategy Group. He notes ArcSight’s main competitors today include RSA with its enVision product, as well as vendors Q1 Labs, LogLogic and LogRhythm. Oltsik admits he was a bit surprised to see HP going out to snag ArcSight since HP has not built up a large security product portfolio and has at times divested products, such as its identity management suite, which it sold to Novell.

Elsewhere in the news we found Novell partners but no key announcements of any kind. Here is Novell plugging itself into an IDG report:

Mary Jo Swenson, a manager with Novell Training Services, says her company “looks for someone who knows the technology and can present well.” To ensure a trainer meets those criteria, Novell wants him to be a Certified Novell Instructor, or better yet, an Advanced Certified Novell Instructor with significant hands-on product experience. The instructor must hold the certification for the course he is teaching, and must stay current on Novell product knowledge. He can lose his status as a trainer if he doesn’t stay current on Novell products. Swenson says the trainer also should hold the Certified Technical Trainer (CTT+) certification, which validates that the person can perform classroom management duties and handle the “teaching” portion of being a trainer.

Former staff of Novell gets mentioned here:

Microfueler was founded in 2008, and has 25 employees. It’s based in Paso Robles, Calif., and is founded by Tom Quinn, who invented and holds the patent for the motion-game controller used by the Nintendo Wii. Its management also includes Bruce Padula, former VP of sales at Novell.

The Novell Technology Center in Provo turns out to be sharing room/space/place with other companies (maybe due to Novell shrinking over time). From this week’s news we have:

VMT (Vernier Moon Torque) Technologies, a development and licensing company headquartered at the Novell Technology Center in Provo, Utah, is developing a positively engaged, metal-to-metal infinitely variable transmission. The Universal Transmission, which uses an engaged drive chain rather than a friction belt, will be able to increase fuel efficiency by up to 30% or more while generating high torque performance, according to the company.

More space sharing with Broadcom got reported this week: “They will join other market leading companies including Novell, GMAC, and Honeywell, already based at the business park.”

Another last tidbit:

The heart of the laboratory is a 225-gigabyte database of environmental and agricultural project records running on six HP servers and two Novell servers storing the data and running the software being tested.

Novell’s sale in two parts can prove rather disruptive to existing Novell customers such as this one. It sure has been a huge distraction.

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