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Links 24/10/2010: Xorg-server 1.9.1 is Out, Will Canonical Sue Apple?

Posted in News Roundup at 1:57 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



  • Power Users

    The presence or absence of “power users” should be no barrier to general adoption of GNU/Linux. The same advantages seen on the server can be obtained on fast and reliable desktops running GNU/Linux: security, efficiency, uptime, lower cost etc.

  • Three Acres and a Penguin: Why Distributists Should Try Linux

    Have you heard of Linux? Maybe you went to download Firefox (a free web browser), clicked around, and noticed that after “Windows” and “Mac” there was “Linux”, with a little penguin. (His name is Tux.) Maybe you’re periodically forced to interact with your IT department, and you’ve overheard “Linux” as they discuss their arcane secrets. Maybe you’re way ahead of me, and are irritated because I’m probably not going to mention OpenBSD.

    Or maybe you have no clue what I’m talking about. What is Linux? Basically, Linux is a pile of programs that lets you take your computer, strip it down to the bare hardware, and start fresh. Linux is an alternative operating system . If you just download Firefox, you’re still in Microsoft Windows or OS X. When you download Linux, you’re in Linux.


    This also should excite distributists. Free software is a unique ecosystem. (I’m going to stop saying “Linux” now; it sounds cooler than “free software,” but it actually has a definite technical meaning, and it isn’t the only free OS in town, either.) A program is not like an apple. If I share my apple with you, we each only get half.

  • Kernel Space

    • RFC: A Preview Of The Phoronix Graphs With Iveland

      Earlier this week I shared part of the vision that Matthew Tippett and I have for OpenBenchmarking.org (the next-generation version of Phoronix Global) and how it will change Linux benchmarking when launched with Phoronix Test Suite 3.0. One of the features of OpenBenchmarking.org / Phoronix Test Suite 3.0 “Iveland” is a major overhaul to the result graphs. Here’s a preview of what’s to come and we welcome your feedback.

    • Graphics Stack

  • Applications

  • Distributions

    • Debian Family

      • Canonical/Ubuntu

        • Canonical To Sue Apple?

          It will be interesting to see if Canonical will defend the Launchpad trademark and join the “everybody is suing everybody” club. And if so, will Apple sue back like they always do?

        • Using Karma As A Deterrent

          Wouldn’t it be fun if there was a karma element to court decisions? Based on the principle of “do unto others what you will have others do unto you”. Apple announced a new feature the other day called Launchpad. Launchpad is a registered trademark of Canonical, the company behind Ubuntu Linux.

          As I understand it; being a trademark, they don’t have any choice but to defend it if they want to keep it. So how would the karma element come into play?

          Apple have a track record of just naming their products or services whatever they like, regardless if the name is already in use, or by whom. If it gets down to a court case, it’s always settled and Apple just buy off the complaints. Many of the iNames weren’t Apple’s before Apple decided to use them. They also viciously attack any names even remotely resembling one of their own. A portable scoop for campers to bury their shit while camping was sued for the name iPood, because the name was too similar.

        • Ubuntu-Rescue-Remix is one of ten essential Linux Admin Tools
        • Cloud on Cloud, UEC on EC2

          So you wanted to play with Ubuntu Enterprise Cloud (UEC), but didn’t have a couple of machines to play with ? Want to start a UEC instance right now, no problem. You can use an Amazon EC2 server instance as your base server to install and run UEC on! Of course the EC2 instance is itself a virtual machine, thus running a VM inside that would require nested virtualization which AFAIK wouldn’t work over EC2. The trick here is that we switch UEC’s hypervisor temporarily to be qemu. Of course this won’t win any performance competitions, in fact it’d be quite slow in production, but for playing, it fits the bill just fine.

        • UDS-N Call for participation

          The Ubuntu Developer Summit (UDS) is the event in which the Ubuntu community discusses and plans the upcoming Ubuntu release. UDS Natty begins Monday, October 25th (this monday) outside of Orlando, FL, USA. If you’re in the Orlando area, this event is free, and open to anyone.

        • Flavours and Variants

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Phones

      • Android

        • Gingerbread man signals pending announcement of Android 2.3

          It’s that time again. Another giant treat arrived at the Googleplex today, which means a new version of Android is just around the corner. A video was just uploaded to the Android Developers YouTube account which shows a giant Gingerbread man joining his friends FroYo, Eclair, Donut, and Cupcake.

          As it was pointed out today, Gingerbread will likely become Android 2.3 and Honeycomb is expected to become Android 3.0 when it hits tablets next year. If history repeats itself we could have an official announcement on Android 2.3 features sometime next week. The FroYo statue appeared just one week before Google I/O where Android 2.2 was unveiled.

        • What to Expect from Internet-Enabled Televisions

Free Software/Open Source

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Web Browser Supports Time Travel

        For those who use the Mozilla Firefox browser, you now have the option to time travel through the web. MementoFox is a free extension that users can add-on to their browsers.

  • Oracle

    • End of File

      In 1997, I decided to come join the kernel team at Sun Microsystems because I was eager to work on Solaris– the best operating system on the planet. I was very privileged to work on some incredible technology over many years with some of the most talented engineers in the industry. Our work culminated in Solaris 10, the most innovative release of Solaris ever to that point, and what I think will be remembered for all time as a huge leap in operating system technology and the idea of what an OS can do.


      I am resigning because my effort on behalf of my team to bring ZFS Storage to maturity and to success and a strong position at its new company in a real storage org is now done: we made it. From outside, as a fan, I will be waiting eagerly to see what the team will accomplish next.

    • Calif. Judge Certifies Class of Oracle Employees in Wage-and-Hour Suit

      An Alameda County, Calif., judge late last week certified a class of an estimated 3,000 Oracle Corp. employees who allege that they were misclassified as exempt and deprived of overtime pay.

    • Dear Oracle, Get a Clue
    • SAP asks for gag order in legal battle with Oracle

  • Openness/Sharing

    • Open Data

      • Windsor and Maidenhead publishes linked spending data online

        The Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead has staked a claim as the first local authority in the UK to publish open and linked data, in support of financial transparency.

        In April, local councils were asked by the Department of Communites and Local Government to reveal details of supplier spending over £500, and then have this same information published to the internet by January 2011. It is a requirement for all local councils to publish details of their spending in an open, CSV file format on a monthly basis from January next year.

  • ODF

    • KLISS: Author/edit sub-systems in legislative environments

      ODT was chosen as it presented the best trade off when all the competing requirements of an author/edit subsystem for legislatures were analyzed. A discussion of the issues on the table when this selection was made are listed here. To that list I would also add that ODT is, to my knowledge, without IP encumberments. Also, the interplay between content and presentation is so important in this domain that it is vital to have free and unfettered access to the rendering algorithms in order to feel fully in possession of the semantics of the documents. I’m not saying that a large corpus of C++ is readily understandable at a deep level but I take great comfort in knowing that I can, in principle, know everything there is to know about how my system has rendered the law by inspecting the rendering algorithms in OpenOffice.

      Next up, long term preservation and authentication of legal materials in KLISS.

    • Here there be Dragons

      Microsoft Write developed into Word and became the world’s most-used word processor. Those that chose a different one could always open and save documents in the almost universal doc format. Most now use ODF, a free-to-use, universal standard devised to guarantee long-term access to data without legal or technical barriers. The data storage is far more sophisticated than earlier formats and the resulting files automatically ZIP compressed. Of course, Microsoft bludgeoned a new ‘standard’ into existence, their semi-proprietary Open XML or docx format.

      My colleagues can be reasonably sure they can open any document made in just about any version of Word currently running, including ODF files. Except that is their new ’standard’ the dreaded docx. Installing their free converters (how many times have I had to do that?) doesn’t necessarily mean the converted docx will look remotely like the original Unlike documents saved as RTF or ODF.


  • Fallacy Debunking: Successful New Business Model Examples Are The ‘Exception’

    I’ve been meaning to start to put together a series of posts that debunk the common “criticisms” we get that are all too often based on logical fallacies. I end up spending way too much time in the comments responding to people posting those same logical fallacies over and over again, and it would be nice to be able to point to posts that “answer” the complaints quickly. I’m still not sure if I’ll ever really get around to it, but sometimes someone else does such a nice job of it, that I might as well highlight it with a post here.

  • Science

    • Scientists: Usable Water Found in Moon Crater

      There’s more water on the moon than on certain places on Earth.

      That’s the conclusion of many scientists who have spent the past year analyzing data from NASA’s LCROSS spacecraft, the Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite, which was intentionally crashed into the south polar region of the moon.

  • Defence/Police/Aggression

    • The New York Times Torture Euphemism Generator!

      Reading the NYT’s stories about the Iraq War logs, I was struck by how it could get through such gruesome descriptions — fingers chopped off, chemicals splashed on prisoners — without using the word ‘torture.’ For some reason the word is unavailable when it is literally meaningful, yet is readily tossed around for laughs in contexts where it means nothing at all. It turns out the NYT has a reputation for studiously avoiding the word, to the point of using bizarre bureaucratic alternatives.

    • Why hasn’t the US government crushed Wikileaks? Why hasn’t the US crushed Wikileaks?

      So, Wikileaks has done it again. The largest military data leak in history has revealed grisly truths about the Iraq war that the US and Iraqi governments would surely prefer had never been widely known.

      It was clear that some serious evidence against the US was coming when almost a week ago The Pentagon urged news organisations not to publish the data. As news organisations around the world that had been analysing the war records for weeks released their reports a few hours ago, the US government condemned Wikileaks, saying they “Threatened national security”.

    • US Court Bans Use of Encryption

      On the question of encryption for email, it goes back to the phrase: “shall not use a computer that contains”. It seems to me he can have his email encrypted unknowingly (e.g. as part of a service). More to the point the court should have been more clear with their term “use”. They could have qualified it with terms like “inappropriate”, “malicious”, “harmful”, etc. but instead their terms seem overly broad in leaving it open to ANY and ALL forms of use.

  • Finance

    • Vodafone given $2.5bn Indian tax bill deadline

      Indian tax authorities have given Vodafone 30 days to pay a 112bn rupee ($2.5bn, £1.6bn) tax bill, as part of an ongoing tax dispute.

      The formal demand relates to the mobile phone company’s 2007 purchase of the Indian telephone assets of Hong Kong conglomerate Hutchison Whampoa.

    • Health Insurance Scam Alleged in California

      The HealthMarkets group of insurance companies uses deceptive and illegal methods to sell “junk insurance,” hiding their policies’ many “exclusions and limitations” behind jargon and double-talk, leaving sick policyholders without coverage, the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office says. Prosecutors say co-defendants the Blackstone Group and Goldman Sachs bought the companies knowing that they “sell junk insurance products by whatever means it took.”

    • In Clearing Bayou, Quagmire for Goldman

      “Did Sam Israel come to the dinner? Has Bayou ramped it up yet?” asked a top Goldman Sachs executive in a 2004 e-mail.

      The executive, Duncan L. Niederauer, now head of the New York Stock Exchange, was writing to make sure that Goldman would keep the business of Samuel Israel III, whose hedge fund, the Bayou Group, was paying the firm often millions of dollars in fees a year to clear its trades.

      The next year, Bayou collapsed amid fraud investigations. Mr. Israel would later be convicted of defrauding investors of hundreds of millions of dollars and was sentenced to 22 years in prison.

      Bayou’s unsecured creditors filed an arbitration contending that Goldman knew for several years that the Connecticut hedge fund was hemorrhaging money even when it was claiming impressive returns.

      Now, newly unsealed court documents — including Goldman e-mail and internal reports — portray a firm that at times seemed to turn a blind eye to its own internal concerns about Bayou as it raked in fees from the hedge fund.

      During the arbitration, Goldman denied allegations it had ignored signs of wrongdoing. “We have asked the court to review the arbitration panel’s decision and believe it is inappropriate to comment.”

      Through a spokesman, Mr. Niederauer declined to comment.

    • Open Letter To The SEC’s Worthless Enforcement Division

      I have a question. Why does the SEC allow high frequency traders/co-location traders/etc., to front run retail orders every day in almost every security? When I say front run, I mean the practice of utilizing sub-penny orders whereby these so called traders step in front of real bids and offers by 1/100th of a penny to get the trade done, knowing there’s a bid or offer right behind them. This has happened to me at least fifty times in the last year. It is particularly a problem on illiquid issues in which the sub-penny order that front runs my orders may be the only business done at that level. And so my order just sits there and never gets filled.

    • Regulators shut down 7 banks

      Bank regulators closed seven banks Friday, bringing the total of number of bank failures for the year to 139, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation said.

      Friday marked the largest number of banks closed since July 23, when the FDIC also closed seven banks, according to the FDIC’s website.

      The closed banks are the First Arizona Savings in Scottsdale, Arizona; First Bank of Jacksonville, Jacksonville, Florida; The First National Bank of Barnesville, in Barnesville, Georgia; First Suburban National Bank in Maywood, Illinois; The Gordon Bank in Gordon, Georgia; Hillcrest Bank in Overland Park, Kansas; and Progress Bank of Florida in Tampa, Florida.

    • Proposed S.3898 Amendment to the Electronic Fund Transfer Act Would Shift Risk of Loss to Banks

      Just a step below widows and orphans on the sympathy scale, at least when it comes to ripoffs and theft, sit school districts, boards and local municipalities. And in a era of tight budgets, when school districts are robbed of tax monies from halfway around the world via ACH/wire fraud, state and federal politicians take notice. After the Duanesburg Central School District in upstate New York, a district with 1,000 students and an annual budget of approximately $15 million, suffered a brazen cybertheft of $3 million in December 2009, which eventually left the school district potentially on the hook for over $400K of un-recovered funds (details about the Duanesburg cybertheft here and here and here), the District approached State officials on the issue (here) and then federal representatives, including Senator Schumer.

    • Foreclosure Fraud For Dummies, 2: What is a Note, and Why is it So Important?

      The SEIU has a campaign: Where’s the Note? Demand to see your mortgage note. It’s worth checking out. But first, what is this note? And why would its existence be important to struggling homeowners, homeowners in foreclosure, and investors in mortgage backed securities?

    • Washington Firms Prepare for Boom in Foreclosure Work

      Washington law firms are seeing an uptick in work thanks to the recent furor over mortgage companies’ foreclosure practices. And they’re not expecting it to drop off anytime soon.

      To keep up with demand, K&L Gates has launched a U.S. foreclosure task force designed to aid clients in addressing questions related to potential lawsuits, hearings and foreclosure moratoriums.

    • Niche Lawyers Spawned Housing Fracas

      The paperwork mess muddying home foreclosures erupted last month. But the legal strategy behind it traces to a lawyer’s gambit in 2006 that has helped keep one couple in their home six years beyond their last mortgage payment.

    • Big Problem for Banks: Due Process

      Earlier this week, Bank of America, the nation’s largest consumer bank, reported its third-quarter earnings. It was a very good quarter; putting aside an accounting charge — a very large, $10.4 billion accounting charge, admittedly — the bank reported $3.1 billion in profits. It was the third consecutive quarter that Bank of America had earned more than $3 billion.


      The prospect of a second legal assault is more recent. Shortly before the earnings call, Bank of America received a letter from a lawyer representing eight powerful institutional investors, including BlackRock, Pimco and — most amazing of all — the New York Federal Reserve. The letter was a not-so-veiled threat to sue the bank unless it agrees to buy back billions of dollars worth of loans that are in securitized mortgage bonds the investors own.

      Mainly, they are saying that Bank of America was servicing loans in these bonds that the bank knew violated the underwriting standards that the investors had been led to believe the bank was conforming to. What’s more, they said, the bank had never come clean about all the bad loans, as it was required to do. Therefore, say the investors, the bank has a contractual obligation to buy back the bad loans.

    • Homeowners Win Fights Over Mistaken Foreclosures

      Magaly Cervantes and Julio Bermudez started this week in tears. But they ended the week in celebration.

      I met the couple on Tuesday when I visited the Dade County Courthouse to observe the foreclosure court proceedings. The court heard dozens of of cases that day, but Ms. Cervantes stood out immediately: Her eyes were red and puffy from several days of crying.

    • In Goldman, Sachs We Trust \

      One method of increasing the number of stocks, relatively new in the U.S., was the creation of the investment trust. Such companies did not really produce anything or foster new enterprises; instead, they “merely arranged that people could own stock in old companies through the medium of new ones”; that is, the trust’s sole purpose was to invest its funds in the stocks of other companies. The problem, however, was that there was often no relation to the amount of money invested in the trust to the amount of money the trust invested, in turn, in stocks. “The difference,” Galbraith writes, “went into the call market, real estate, or the pockets of the promoters.”

      The investment trusts succeeded largely because the “product” they sold to the average trader was expertise: “One might make money investing directly in Radio, J. I. Case, or Montgomery Ward, but how much safer and wiser to let it be accomplished by the men of peculiar knowledge, and wisdom.” And the trusts were not really new companies; instead, most of them were sponsored by existing companies—for example, J.P. Morgan was behind the investment trust United Corporation. Furthermore, it almost goes without saying, investment trusts would sponsor investment trusts that would, in turn sponsor investment trusts; each of these companies issuing stocks that they would often sell to each other or to other investment trusts. Many of these companies learned quickly that through the “the miracle of leverage” (the degree to which borrowed money is used), they could “swing a second and larger [trust] which enhanced the gains and made possible a third and still bigger trust.”

  • Censorship/Privacy/Civil Rights

    • Top state court drops mall’s free speech challenge

      The state Supreme Court rejected a shopping mall’s challenge Wednesday to a ruling that allows people at the mall – a pastor, in this case – to approach strangers and talk about subjects other than shopping.

      The court denied review of an appellate decision written by its chief-justice nominee, Tani Cantil-Sakauye, who found the mall’s restrictions violated free-speech rights. Justices Marvin Baxter and Ming Chin voted to hear the case, two short of the majority needed for review.

    • Virginia Thomas’ group backs off on calling healthcare law unconstitutional

      A conservative group founded by Virginia Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, removed references to the “unconstitutional” healthcare law from its website on Thursday and blamed staff errors for statements indicating the group believed the law should be struck down.

      “Liberty Central assiduously avoids taking a position on the constitutionality of this, and other issues, and will continue to do so in the future,” said Sarah Field, the group’s chief operating officer.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • Debt collectors may join antipiracy fight

        First it was the lawyers. Then it was the politicians. Now debt collectors may be coming after people accused of film piracy, even before they have their day in court.

      • ACS:Law Still Sending Out Letters, Recipients Not Giving In

        On September 24, 2010, at approximately 10 AM EST, the root directory of the ACS:Law website was exposed. Among the files publicly available was a backup of the site, which was subsequently downloaded by hundreds of curious visitors. Within this backup file was an email database of ACS:Law, containing months worth of all kinds of correspondence between ACS:Law and suspected file-sharers, ISPs, interoffice memos, and personal emails. It has proven to be a treasure-trove of information, providing valuable intelligence on just how weak the copyright trolling business is.

      • ACTA

        • Is the US going to get a free pass in ACTA?

          In the Plenary debate on ACTA on October 20, 2010, the Commission repeated “ACTA will not change the EU acquis”. One day later, the Swedish minister of Justice said ACTA will require changes in Swedish law, increasing the powers of the police to act on its own initiative to enforce intellectual property rights.

          So how can this be true? First you say no changes in EU law, then law in Europe changes??? Well, the EU acquis is not the same as Swedish law, EU directives must be passed by the Swedish Parliament. So the Commission gets away with the “don’t worry”-promises over here in Europe.

Clip of the Day

Linux tutorial. Installing a .deb application on a Slackware based system example Yuuguu.

Credit: TinyOgg

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