Summary: This show concentrates on the smartphones market and in particular on how failing to compete based on technical merit alone, companies like Apple and Microsoft try to tax or ban their competition which is Linux based
TODAY’S show finally touches the issue of software patents. Tim’s site, OpenBytes, has published some show notes and we must apologise for connection issues that harmed the quality of this recording.
On the show this week: Novell being bought with IP being sold off to a Microsoft spinoff, more crap from Fedora on SQLNinja, IE presumably cheating in benchmarks, Jolibook being sold in the UK, awesome kernel patches while Linus lays down the smackdown for bad ones and more…
Did you know we maintain a daily builds VLMC PPA? I bet most of you forgot because we haven’t published anything about it in a while. The development is quite slow, but something very exiting landed in VLMC recently: video effects.
For a while we have known that KDE developers have been interested in supporting OpenGL ES 1.1/2.0 (and OpenGL 3.x) within the KWin compositing window manager as well as using more OpenGL within the Plasma Desktop and on the KWin front the developers, led by Martin Gräßlin, they have been making great progress towards KDE SC 4.7 where this work will be introduced.
It is 11pm and I am on my way home from LinuxDay in Dornbirn, Austria. It was a long but amazing day. Myriam, Mark and myself were at the KDE and Amarok booth. Surprisingly Christoph (a local KDE on Gentoo user/hacker) supported us rather the whole day.
The Desktop Toolkit is the small widget that sits on the upper right on the edge of the screen. Originally shaped like a cashew, it now looks like a tab. Click on it, and you find all sorts of useful tools: Add Widgets, Add Activity, Lock Widgets, and others. However, some users never seem to have looked at it, considering that Fedora has a package called kde-plasma-ihatethecashew whose sole purpose is to remove it.
What people have noticed is that the Desktop Toolkit gets in the way. Place a panel at the top of the screen, and it overlays the similarly shaped panel customization button so that you can never be sure what you are clicking.
You can drag the cashew to some other place (mine is on the bottom left), but many people haven’t noticed that, either. At any rate, no matter where you place it, the Toolkit looks like a menu, but doesn’t close when you click elsewhere on the desktop; instead, you have to click on the button again.
All in all it was a disappointing week for me. Upstream OS provided me with a lengthy start-up process which hit a few bumps along the way. Fuduntu is basically a Fedora clone with GIMP and OpenOffice, driving up the size of the ISO. LightDesktop’s concept intrigued me, but the project needs to add some applications and improve on the installer before I would recommend it. It’s at least trying something different and I believe that to be worth while. I found it interesting that both Upstream OS and LightDesktop booted into login screens rather than automatically loading the desktop. Fuduntu’s concept of having a different scheduler and some tweaks to swap are interesting ideas, but I think the project would be better off presenting itself as a Fedora community spin rather than a separate distro.
Puppy Linux founder Barry Kauler has announced the release of version 1.4 of Quirky. The Quirky Linux distribution is a platform for trying out new, “quirky ideas” and is in the same family as Puppy Linux, but its creator points out that it’s a “distinct distro in its own right.”
CentOS 6 is just round the corner and what better way to watch the build up than Google Insights and Twitter. Below are two widgets of interest first being Google Insights with the search term “CentOS 6″ and the second is a Twitter widget from TweetGrid searching for the hash tag #CentOS6
Fedora Project developer Kevin Fenzi has issued a reminder that Fedora 12, code named “Constantine”, will reach its end of life (EOL) on Thursday, the 2nd of December, 2010. Originally released in mid-November of last year, Fedora 11 featured the 2.6.31 Linux kernel, version 2.28 of the GNOME desktop environment, KDE 4.3 and a number of software updates. As of the 2nd of December, no new updates, including security updates and critical fixes, will be available. The developers strongly advise all Fedora 12 users to upgrade to Fedora 13 or 14 to continue receiving updates.
I just returned from an intense week in the UK: an IKM Emergent workshop in Oxford, and the Open Government Data Camp in London had me almost drowning in “open data” examples and conversations, with a particular angle on aid data and the perspectives of international development.
As the result of that, I think we’re ready for a “Debian for Development Data”: a collection of data sets, applications and documentation to service community development, curated by a network of people and organisations who share crucial values on democratisation of information and empowerment of people.
Ubuntu, the Canonical-sponsored operating system is gaining new grounds – in both enterprise and consumer segments. The Company now has new challenges — the challenges which develop as a company grows. We talked to Prakash Advani, Partner Manager – Central Asia at Canonical, to understand how Canonical is preparing Ubuntu for the future.
What are the challenges? Is Canonical planning to enter the hardware business and offer an Apple-like solution, fully optimized hardware for the OS? Has Ubuntu missed the tablet bus as Android, despite being not prepared for this form-factor has seen great adoption? What is Canonical’s stand on Apple using Canonical’s brand Launchpad? Will we see professional film-editing software on Ubuntu? Will you be playing the Call of Duty on Ubuntu any soon? There are many such questions buzzing every Ubuntu user. If you want to find out the answers, read on…
Well that’s a giant leap forward. Nothing like swirling together a vague tribute to an IceBuntu desktop, which was itself a vague tribute to the old Feisty Fawn desktop. Yeah, I’m really going out on a limb there.
So how about you? What kind of Ubuntu interface do you use on your netbook? Do you just use Unity? Something more like my setup? I’m really curious about Kubuntu, but it’s a real CPU hog at this point. I haven’t figured out how to fix that yet.
It runs nicely on just about every platform, and I’ve been running it on Ubuntu as well as on my Nokia N900 cellphone for some time.
I started my daughter off with simple logo type program commands. Soon, she was drawing triangles, squares, hexagons, circles, and designs that I used to create with a spirograph when I was a kid.
We moved on to exploring a few other bits of programming and hit a few walls. The sound wasn’t working and some of the simple commands did not seem to do anything, so I figured maybe it is time to make sure that everything is up to date.
Scratch runs in a Squeak virtual machine. “Squeak is a highly portable, open-source Smalltalk with powerful multimedia facilities.” I had been running Squeak 3.9 on my various machines, and Squeak 4.1 is now out. So, I’ve started my upgrade to Squeak 4.1.
We have been tipped off that a few VA-API patches have hit the upstream libva tree for furthering along Google’s Android support for this video acceleration API. VA-API is arguably the second best video playback acceleration API available to Linux users, after the NVIDIA-created VDPAU.
Remember two years ago when Nokia open-sourced the Symbian mobile operating system? The thinking was that cell phone manufacturers who depended on the Symbian OS could help keep it going. But it was already too late.
There is already a community around open-source library software, says Don Christie of open-source developer Catalyst IT, but it is developer-focused. The support and marketing around Koha and related products is not well coordinated, he suggests.
ONL is an attempt to remedy that shortcoming, making New Zealand’s libraries more aware of the existence and potential of open-source software in the field.
As the abuses and technical gaffes of the mainstream social networking operators contribute to growing concerns about privacy and autonomy in the cloud, it’s possible that users who are sensitive to such issues will begin to appreciate the availability of more open alternatives. Even if the open source options never gain serious mainstream momentum, they have the potential to draw some attention to the underlying issues that they are trying to solve. Diaspora doesn’t have to topple the entrenched giants in order to inspire positive changes in the industry; it just has to get a critical mass of people to start thinking more seriously about privacy issues and the right kind of interoperability.
Scans of old (19th and early 20th century) art magazines, journals, and catalogues can be found on archive.org along with text extracted from them. These are a very useful resource for study of the history of art.
Google Books is better for searching for them, but archive.org is better for downloading them.
Given the broad number of open source data collection and analysis libraries and utilities freely available on the Internet, the concept of combining data analysis with open source tools is a topic worthy of deeper exploration. How well does author Philipp Janert fair with this effort? Read on to find out.
This is the second book review I’ve written in the past month that was written by a physicist turned software developer and book author. However, unlike Ruby on Rails Tutorial author Michael Hartl, Data Analysis with Open Source Tools Mr. Janert has pursued a consulting practice in algorithm development, data analysis, and mathematical modeling. As such, his specialty makes him the ideal subject matter expert to write such a book.
Whether your computer is showing colourful fish floating in an aquarium, bouncing balls, or a mouse pointer that takes on the form of a paintbrush, it’s probably thanks to Flash technology.
But soon, many of these same features could be delivered by HTML5, an up-and-coming web standard. That would mean freedom from Adobe and its Flash Player plug-in. But will this new technology spell the end of Flash, Experts say – maybe.
The recent decision by Apple boss Steve Jobs to pick HTML5 over Flash has caused the debate to perk up again. But at the end of the day, both technologies have their advantages – and their limitations.
If you need another reason to give thanks at the dinner table on Thursday, how’s this: people who maintain an “attitude of gratitude” tend to be happier and healthier than those who don’t, according to a lengthy and instructive article this week in the Wall Street Journal.
When William Gibson published his seminal sci-fi novel Neuromancer in 1984, it seemed improbably dystopic. More than a quarter-century later, so much has changed that he now writes in the present tense. His latest book, Zero History, is the final volume of a loose trilogy that concentrates on a culture increasingly obsessed with branding and, well, stuff (though Gibson prefers the term “artifacts”). “I’ve always been, for whatever reason, very conscious of the world of things,” he says. We spoke at length with him about plenty of these things — from the iPad to those old-fashioned anachronisms called “books.”
The National Audit Office is carrying out a new, fast-track investigation into the NHS IT scheme, including an inquiry into whether BT received £400m over market prices.
The NAO has confirmed that it plans a further audit of the National Programme for IT [NPfIT], after a request by Conservative MP Richard Bacon, a long-standing member of the Public Accounts Committee, who has followed the scheme since its inception in 2002.
Philip Morris International has been especially aggressive in fighting marketing restrictions overseas. The company has deployed a $5 million campaign in Australia to fight a government plan that would require cigarettes be marketed in plain brown or white packages. PM designed the campaign to make it look like it was coming from small store owners, and got help financing it from competitors like BAT and Imperial Tobacco. The companies also argue that higher cigarette taxes will stimulate smuggling, but tobacco industry documents reveal that global tobacco companies are not only complicit in cigarette smuggling, but that they oversee it, and even depend on it to gain access to closed markets.
During my interview on Countdown with Keith Olbermann on MSNBC Wednesday night, I explained the sinister work of an industry-funded front group to discredit Michael Moore as a filmmaker and citizen and especially of his 2007 movie, Sicko. The PR firm hired by health insurers to do the evil deed set up and operated the front group, which it named “Health Care America,” to conduct a fear-mongering campaign designed to scare people away from the movie’s core message: that every developed country in the world except the United States has been able to achieve universal coverage for their citizens largely because they don’t allow big insurance companies to call the shots like they do here. I wrote about this in my book, Deadly Spin, in the chapter entitled “The Campaign Against Sicko.”
Health insurers last year gave the U.S. Chamber of Commerce $86.2 million that was used to oppose the health-care overhaul law, according to tax records and people familiar with the donation.
The insurance lobby, whose members include Minnetonka, Minnesota-based UnitedHealth Group Inc. and Cigna Corp. of Philadelphia, gave the money to the Chamber in 2009 as Democrats increased criticism of the industry, according to a person who requested anonymity because laws don’t require identifying funding sources. The Chamber got the money from the America’s Health Insurance Plans as the industry urged Congress to drop a plan to create a competing government-run insurance plan.
The health insurance industry plowed $86.2 million into drumming up opposition to the health care reform bill, and that was just the money they spent in 2009. Big insurers UnitedHealth Group, CIGNA Corporation and others funneled the money to America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), the industry’s lobbying group, which in turn gave it to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which is acting as a front group for big industries to influence elections.
Details about the U.S. State Department cables obtained by WikiLeaks are starting to come out. Although WikiLeaks itself may be under a denial of service attack, it provided several newspapers around the world access to the raw documents it is preparing to release later today. The New York Times just posted it’s first article summarizing the contents of the cables and highlighting the most newsworthy ones.
I am a biochemist working in the field of biophysics. Specifically, the lab I work in (as well as many others) has spent the better part of the last decade working on the molecular mechanism of how mutations in the breast cancer susceptibility gene, BRCA2, result in cancer. The result of that work is that we now better understand that people who have a deficient BRCA2 gene are hypersensitive to DNA damage, which can be caused by a number of factors including: UV exposure, oxidative stress, improper chromosomal replication and segregation, and radiation exposure. The image below shows what happens to a chromosome of a normal cell when it is exposed to radiation. It most cases, this damage is repaired; however, at high doses or when there is a genetic defect, the cells either die or become cancerous.
Yesterday Paul Chambers lost his appeal against his fine and conviction for posting a joke on twitter which was prosecuted under the anti-terrorist legislation.
The case was so obviously ridiculous that everyone thought common-sense would prevail, but eschewing humour and reality, Judge Jacqueline Davies deemed the tweet “menacing in its content and obviously so. It could not be more clear. Any ordinary person reading this would see it in that way and be alarmed.”
North Korea has placed surface-to-surface missiles on launch pads in the Yellow Sea, Yonhap news agency said, as the United States and South Korea began military drills and China called for emergency talks.
In short, the torpedo recovered from the ocean where Cheosan was attacked is NOT the same torpedo shown in the North Korean plans. As I stated above, there are additional differences as well between the blueprints and the actual torpedo, but the actuators are the clincher.
The torpedo recovered fronm the oceasn where the Cheosan was sunk is not the North Korean torpedo shown in the blueprints.
Israel has instructed its embassies in 10 European countries, including the UK, each to recruit 1,000 members of the public to act as advocates for its policies in a new public relations offensive.
A cable from the foreign affairs ministry was sent to embassies last week, with instructions from Avigdor Lieberman, the controversial and extreme right-wing foreign minister, to adopt a range of measures aimed at improving Israel’s standing in Europe.
A cache of a quarter-million confidential American diplomatic cables, most of them from the past three years, provides an unprecedented look at back-room bargaining by embassies around the world, brutally candid views of foreign leaders and frank assessments of nuclear and terrorist threats.
While the world’s media are afire with yesterday’s WikiLeaks data release of secret US diplomatic cables, the local media in China are strangely quiet.
The reason, according to a Twitter update by Al Jazeera English’s correspondent in China, Melissa Chan a short while ago, is that China’s Propaganda Department have directed all domestic media outlets to stop reporting the WikiLeaks content.
How did such an enormous electronic database come into existence and then apparently be so easily leaked? The answer lies in the tag “Sipdis” which appears on the string of address codes heading each cable.
It stands for Siprnet Distribution. Siprnet is itself an acronym, for Secret Internet Protocol Router Network. Siprnet was designed to solve the chronic problem of big bureaucracies – how to share information easily and confidentially among large numbers of people spread around the world. Siprnet is a worldwide US military internet system, kept separate from the ordinary civilian internet and run by the defence department in Washington.
Disclosures and leaks have been of all times, but never before has a non state- or non- corporate affiliated group done this at the scale Wikileaks managed to with the ‘Afghan War Logs’. But nonetheless we believe that this is more something of a quantitative leap than of a qualitative one. In a certain sense, these ‘colossal’ Wikileaks disclosures can simply be explained as a consequence of the dramatic spread of IT usage, together with a dramatic drop in its costs, including those for the storage of millions of documents. Another contributing factor is the fact that safekeeping state and corporate secrets – never mind private ones – has become rather difficult in an age of instant reproducibility and dissemination. Wikileaks here becomes symbolic for a transformation in the ‘information society’ at large, and holds up a mirror of future things to come. So while one can look at Wikileaks as a (political) project, and criticize it for its modus operandi, or for other reasons, it can also be seen as a ‘pilot’ phase in an evolution towards a far more generalized culture of anarchic exposure, beyond the traditional politics of openness and transparency.
251,000 State Department documents, many of them secret embassy reports from around the world, show how the US seeks to safeguard its influence around the world. It is nothing short of a political meltdown for US foreign policy.
The protest on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving was called National Opt-Out Day, and its organizers urged air travelers to refuse the Transportation Security Administration’s full-body scanning machines.
But many appeared to have opted out of opting out. The TSA reported that few of the 2 million people flying Wednesday chose pat-downs over the scanners, with few resulting delays.
Many questions remain unasked as the U.S. continues its war on terrorism. One is whether Washington possesses the moral right to condemn terrorism when its own hands are so bloody.
Let’s examine our use of terror directed against civilians to achieve political or military goals, beginning with the atomic devastation of Japan. “Little Boy,” exploded over Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945, killed 130,000 people immediately (including a dozen U.S. POWs) and 200,000 within five years, all but some 20,000 of them civilians. Twenty-five square miles of civilization were gutted.
The well paid securitocracy have been out in force in the media, attacking wikileaks and repeating their well worn mantras.
These leaks will claim innocent lives, and will damage national security. They will encourage Islamic terrorism. Government secrecy is essential to keep us all safe. In fact, this action by Wikileaks is so cataclysmic, I shall be astonished if we are not all killed in our beds tonight.
Except that we heard exactly the same things months ago when Wikileaks released the Iraq war documents and then the Afghan war documents, and nobody has been able to point to a concrete example of any of these bloodurdling consequences.
Yesterday we received a letter from a customer who wore her GladRags Pantyliner through a security scanner and was so traumatized by her resulting TSA genital search that she wanted to warn other women. (Read her letter below). Her past history of sexual assault made this experience a nightmare for her. At first we thought yes, we will warn people not to put themselves through this risk.
On closer examination of sources it appears that Lt. Col. Aliyan left his position as Rotem commander in May 2008, six months before Operation Cast Lead. Therefore, he is not the Rotem commander who suppressed the death report in the following post. My apologies for not vetting the source more carefully. But thanks to two other Israeli sources we’re all convinced that we now have the right guy.
Haiti is scheduled to hold elections on Nov. 28, and nothing — neither the cholera outbreak that has killed more than 1,000 people nor the fact that more than 1 million earthquake survivors remain homeless — seems likely to convince the Haitian government or its international backers that the vote should be postponed. It should be. Why? The electoral process is rigged. Unfortunately, the Obama administration seems happy to go along with the charade.
Scotland Yard is under pressure after video footage emerged of police officers on horseback charging a crowd of protesters during a demonstration against increases in university tuition fees, 24 hours after they denied that horses charged the crowd.
Footage posted on YouTube showed mounted police riding at speed into a crowd of around 1,000 protesters who had gathered south of Trafalgar Square on Wednesday night.
Some of the world’s largest oil, mining, car and gas corporations will make hundreds of millions of dollars from a UN-backed forest protection scheme, according to a new report from the Friends of the Earth International.
The group’s new report – launched on the first day of the global climate summit in Cancun, Mexico, where 193 countries hope to thrash out a new agreement – is the first major assessment of the several hundred, large-scale Redd (Reduced emissions from deforestation and degradation) pilot schemes. It shows that banks, airlines, charitable foundations, carbon traders, conservation groups, gas companies and palm plantation companies have also scrambled into forestry protection.
The 1992 UN Framework Convention on Climate Change commits signatories to preventing ‘dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system’, leaving unspecified the level of global warming that is dangerous. In the late 1990s, a limit of 2°C global warming above preindustrial temperature was proposed as a ‘guard rail’ below which most of the dangerous climate impacts could be avoided.
Next week, Mexico hosts the UN convention on climate change in Cancún. It is ironic that such an important conference on the environment should take place in a country whose environment has been devastated, and in a city that exemplifies everything you should not do if you wish to protect the environment.
The world warmed more rapidly than previously thought over the past decade, according to a Met Office report published today, which finds the evidence for man-made climate change has grown even stronger over the last year.
What fun! We’re tracking all of these, and we’ll be getting in touch with the 10 iPod Touch winners (picked at random) on Monday, November 29 — because we want to catch all the time zones, and don’t want to miss you over the holiday. We’ll then contact you via Twitter to get your shipping info, and we’ll get your iPod Touch in the mail ASAP.
I’ve spent much of this long weekend curled up on the couch reading Too Big To Fail, Andrew Ross Sorkin’s history of the financial crisis of 2008. I’ve wanted to read this book since it came out last year but it took me a while to get to it. I’m enjoying it very much.
But I do think we are seeing signs of excess in the markets we invest in and I do think we are seeing investors chasing returns in deals they don’t fully understand. That is a red flag. And I am choosing to observe it, pay attention to it, and share it with all of you.
Cut Ireland’s minimum wage? Check. Collect more in property taxes from beleaguered homeowners? Check. Raise the corporate tax rate, which could plug the gaping hole in Ireland’s tattered balance sheets even faster? Well, no.
History is awash in rags-to-riches stories; they not only inspired generations of would-be entrepreneurs by offering a formula for success, but also provided the world with remarkable iconic figures to look up to.
However, we hardly hear about rags-to-riches and then back to square-one stories. The economic crisis that is engulfing Ireland, the Celtic Tiger, is an intriguing case in point.
Thousands of people marched through Dublin Saturday, demanding the Irish government default on the country’s debts, call an immediate election, and reverse plans for tough budget cuts and financial support from the International Monetary Fund.
Just the other day, President Obama urged other countries to stop censoring the Internet. But now the United States Congress is trying to censor the Internet here at home. A new bill being debated this week would have the Attorney General create an Internet blacklist of sites that US Internet providers would be required to block. (The first vote is scheduled Thursday, November 18!)
This is the kind of heavy-handed censorship you’d expect from a dictatorship, where one man can decide what web sites you’re not allowed to visit. But the Senate Judiciary Committee is expected to pass the bill quickly — and Senators say they haven’t heard much in the way of objections! That’s why we need you to sign our urgent petition to Congress demanding they oppose the Internet blacklist.
You see, Torrent-Finder, which is back up under a new domain name, Torrent-Finder.info doesn’t host Torrent file or even BitTorrent file trackers. It’s just a search engine dedicated to file torrents such as movies, TV shows, or software programs. You can find the same file torrents with Google if you know what you’re doing. Torrent-Finder, and sites like it, just makes specific kinds of file searches easier.
So I eventually succumbed. My joy of tech over won my aversion to the e-book reader and I bought a Kindle. The years fighting it and making better and better arguments for not needing or wanting one suddenly slip away.
And I apologize. I still love and define myself large parts of myself by my physical library but I have become a follower. Instead of constantly needing to carry books inside my heavy laptop bag I have this little device. I can choose from a great library of works and I can read them in a dark corner in a crowded bus.
Attorneys for the U.S. Copyright Group have filed a lawsuit against a lawyer who sold “self-help” documents to people who had been sued by the USCG, demanding that he pay the costs involved in dealing with the people who used the documents he sold.
Try to stick with me here, because this one gets weird. Back in August, an attorney by the name of Graham Syfert began selling documents that would allow defendants in lawsuits filed by the U.S. Copyright Group to respond in court without having to fork over the huge piles of money needed to hire an attorney. The USCG sued “thousands” of BitTorrent users who had downloaded films like The Hurt Locker, Far Cry and Call of the Wild, demanding a settlement of $2500 to avoid the much more expensive proposition of going to court.
Last week while everyone was waiting for the COICA bill to move through Congress, the US Immigrations and Customs Enforcement agency one upped the Attorney General and seized domain names from a group of over 70 copyright infringing websites. A visit to the blacklisted domains now results in the ominous looking message from Homeland Security below.
Every new year since the first copyrights expired, back around 1724, the world has looked forward to expiration of copyrights and the public domain availability of the works that have been kept under publishing monopolies.
This coming January 1 Europeans will see a nice list of great works entering the public domain as the copyright terms expire, some listed below, but the United States, where their landmark Supreme Court Case decided that an extended copyright term could last literally forever, a person can no longer look forward to such happenings.
M$ buying Novell through a third party controlled by M$ is interesting. It is obvious that they did not buy Novell directly to avoid anti-competition considerations but it seems a smoke-screen. It will be interesting to see how ugly GNU/Linux can be made when M$ manages things. They could just shut Suse down or diversify. It will be interesting to see how they sell two products that are so different.
The “anti-competition” part should warrant a lawsuit; but with this whole AttachMSFT loophole it won’t pass muster.
Novell is practically dead as a company and it will not report its results as it promised several weeks ago. It just won’t have to face this embarrassment. The stock is still publicly traded for the time being and financial news which mentioned Novell over the past week may include (not a complete list by any means):
Not everyone is happy about Attachmate’s bid to acquire Novell for $2.2 billion. In fact, the deal has now attracted at least two (and likely many more to come) legal ‘investigations’ which could ultimately result in class action law suits.
One of the investigations is being led by Weiss & Lurie, a national class action and shareholder rights law firm while a second investigation is being run by Kendal Law Group, led by former federal judge Joe Kendall.
Both groups are going to examine whether or not Novell has breached its fiduciary duty with the proposed Attachmate deal, by not getting the best deal possible for Novell’s shareholders.
There should be antitrust action, not just this form action where money is the central issue. Novell’s board got filled with Microsoft-friendly people over the years, as we covered at the time it happened (multiple examples), so the sale of company assets to Microsoft is not at all shocking. It’s a fine example of entryism and market distortion. █
Will AttachMSFT bother with Vibe, which is not even a finished product just yet? Whatever they decide to do, Novell’s marketing puppets (in Spanish) will carry on throwing videos into YouTube [1, 2], hoping for one last “hurrah” before the less successful operations get shut down. AttachMSFT is not a charity and being the proprietary company that it is, it is likely to behave like Oracle.
Within months or just weeks we won’t be hearing so much about Novell. Perhaps AttachMSFT will carry on using the trademark (like AMD uses “ATI”), but there has been no clarification about it. █
Summary: Novell clarifies that UNIX was not sold to Microsoft, but it is being passed over to AttachMSFT, which has little or no reason to keep it
Linux Australia says that SUSE is safe from Novell’s patent sale to Microsoft, but what about all the other distributions and companies? As Groklaw resumes covering more news from SCO vs. Novell [1, 2] one has to wonder if AttachMSFT will even bother with this case. HP shows up in this case now, as well:
HP has now joined the growing group of companies reserving its rights in the SCO bankrupty regarding SCO’s Notice of Cure Amounts in connection with SCO’s hoped-for sale of its assets. But its reason is different: it can’t find all the contracts SCO says it has with HP, and neither can SCO.
This is a case which does not matter so much anymore. Think about it. It matters a lot less because even if Novell wins, Novell is a goner. Is UNIX safer in AttachMSFT’s hands?
One blogger asks: “Is Open Source under Siege? Let’s Hope Not!”
In the last months, Oracle has stepped away from the open software community, focusing more on short-term monetizing of the open source products they have acquired from Sun Microsystems. There are speculations that Red Hat might have sold out the wider Open Source community in favor of its own customers in a sealed patent infringement settlement, which might have a similar effect as Novell’s deal with Microsoft which has let to calls to boycott Novell.
Now, Novell has been acquired by Attachmate, apparently backed by Microsoft, with the side-effect that at least 882 of Novell’s patents will be transferred to a Microsoft backed consortium.
Novell has announced that it will be retaining the copyrights to the UNIX operating system. In the wake of the acquisition of Novell by Attachmate, which included a sale of intellectual property to CPTN, a Microsoft led consortium, there were questions raised over whether that intellectual property included the copyrights to the UNIX operating system.
This was also covered in [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8]. As one site put it very concisely, “Novell has said that the copyright to its Unix operating system will remain with Attachmate Corporation after the merger, and not go to the Microsoft led CPTN Holdings.” Well, but who controls AttachMSFT?
Charles Schulz from LibreOffice wrote: “This is a security announcement: #Novell still owns the #Unix copyright. The kept the nukes but sold the bioweapons?”
Novell’s PR blog has generally gone quite silent and posted very little [1, 2] compared to its weekly average (the PR staff is probably busy somewhere else). Red Hat’s Jan Wildeboer tells Glyn Moody: “IMHO #AttachMSFT will offer SUSE+UNIX as a package soonish to $BUYER.” That is a possibility too. James Turner says that patents are still the main problem to worry about:
Life is definitely less clear now that Novell is being consumed by Attachmate. For one thing, part of the deal involves transferring a big chunk of Novell IP to a company fronting for Microsoft. Hopefully, it’s just the normal collection of garbage software patents every big company seems to end up with, and not anything that would provide an avenue of attack against Linux.
Attachmate acquires Novell, then it combines Longview and Novell and then the combo is called Novell going forward. That’s what I read, anyway. So there will still be an Attachmate parent company and a Novell subsidiary, I guess, going forward, and Novell will hold the UNIX copyrights.
Anyway, here is Novell’s press release (spin) and some of the remaining coverage, the full extent of which is hundreds if not thousands of links.
Summary: The CEO of AttachMSFT was arrested for slaying large animals (just like Microsoft’s Kempin) and his company is a neighbour of Microsoft; the deal’s financier is an unethical thug with Cayman Islands connection
THE MORE we investigate and the deeper we look into AttachMSFT, the more evidence we have that AttachMSFT will be bad news to everyone except Microsoft. Matt Rosoff, a Microsoft booster from a Microsoft-based firm [1, 2, 3, 4], chose a rather daunting title for this whole new affair. He does deliver a bit of FUD (along with his new employer) by stating in the headline that “Today’s Novell Deal Helps Microsoft Continue Linux Fight” and Rob Enderle, a longtime foe of GNU/Linux (also paid ally of Microsoft), draws a similar card.
John C. Dvorak’s headline (for IDG) says: “Will Microsoft Go After Linux, Again?” He thinks Microsoft just prepares to attack.
Microsoft managed to buy 882 patents this week from Novell. Maybe amongst this treasure trove is the elusive Holy Grail of Patents—the Linux killer.
Linux is the real thorn in Microsoft’s side, and it’s not because Linux is making a serious move against the Windows and Office cash cows, but because it just cannot be dethroned as the server OS of choice. The Linux-Apache stranglehold on servers is costing Microsoft money.
But wait, there’s more. The entire Google search engine mechanism consists of millions of small computers linked together in an elaborate Linux network creating one giant search machine that, for this purpose, out performs anything ever invented. Microsoft would love to find a way to de-rail the entire Google operation if it could.
Microsoft was sort of the money behind the agonizing SCO attack on Linux and open source, and there is no reason to believe that Microsoft has mellowed in regards to the destruction of Linux and everything related to Linux. It may be too late, of course, but I can assure you these patents have something Microsoft wants to help it continue the battle.
It often takes years to dissect a patent portfolio to figure out what the patents mean and who is violating one or more of them. Of course, Microsoft may have done all that in advance and could have been laying in wait to get hold of this portfolio, so it could pounce sooner than later.
This isn’t going to sit well with the open source community and the fur will start flying. Within six months, I expect the battle to commence.
Paula Rooney says that “Microsoft refuses to specify what it bought from Novell” and the very weird suggestion from her is that “Microsoft patent move may be defensive”. What she also wrote is that “[o]bservers say the dust hasn’t settled on the so called Attachmate-Novell merger –and that Novell’s Linux business may still be up for sale.” There are mostly negative takes from her, whereas regarding UNIX, the pro-GNU/Linux Brian Proffitt says that “The End of the Penguin is Not Nigh”. Proffitt wrote this when he thought that Microsoft bought UNIX from Novell, which turns out to be wrong (more on that in the next post). The discussion in Slashdot goes under the headline “Microsoft (Probably) Didn’t Just Buy Unix” and Proffitt claims:
[I]t is troublesome that Microsoft, which leads the CPTN investment group, has so far declined to specify just what IP was part of the $450 million side deal. But not too troublesome–after all, that kind of uncertainty only works in Microsoft’s favor for now.
That fact is, that while many in the Linux community are wondering if UNIX is now owned by Microsoft, we don’t know if that’s what has happened, and even if it was, it doesn’t necessarily mean The End of All Things Penguin.
I have two points, somewhat unrelated, as to why I am not highly concerned yet. First, it’s not evident to me that Attachmate/Novell would sell off UNIX IP rights for $450 million to anyone. I would think that UNIX would be worth a lot more, particularly with Oracle’s investment in Solaris, and HP in HP-UX, IBM in AIX, and so on…
With no offense meant for the SUSE or NetWare sides of the business, but I think it’s a reasonable assertion that UNIX is long-term the most valuable piece of Novell’s property. That Attachmate would up and sell it first chance they get seems rather short-sighted. It’s possible Attachmate needed the sale to raise the extra cash to complete the acquistion of Novell, but without UNIX, they are left with yet-another-Linux company that has yet to go successfully head-to-head with its closest rival, Red Hat.
Microsoft is likely walking away with valuable technologies and FUD fuel, but it still won’t have control over open sources
Katherine Noyes wrote in IDG that “Microsoft’s Hand in Novell Deal Bodes Ill for Linux” and this was cited by “Homer” in this thread titled “Novell sold to Microsoft-sponsored vulture capitalists” (also put in his personal blog). There is pretense from Novell’s CEO who, according to several IDG domains (like this one), insists that it is “business as usual” after an AttachMSFT takeover. Groklaw does not exactly buy it and as usual it digs deeper and comes up with treasures such as:
Novell has sold itself to Attachmate Corporation. There is a side deal selling “certain intellectual property assets” to CPTN Holdings LLC, “a consortium of technology companies organized by Microsoft”. SUSE goes to Attachmate, I gather, and will be a separate unit, so what goes to Microsoft’s consortium?
No doubt we’ll find out in time. It is being reported that what it will get is 882 patents. Blech. How many does Novell own? Is that all of them? If so, will we get to watch Son of SCO, but with patents this time? But keep in mind that the WordPerfect litigation could be in this picture, and I wonder if this could be a kind of deal to tactfully settle it out, with Microsoft paying to end it this way? $450 million isn’t a lot, though, so how could it be all of the patents? Nevertheless, selling any patents to Microsoft is like selling your baby to a pedophile in the limited sense that you can reasonably predict what it will do with the acquisition.
Novell’s CEO is telling “valued customers” in an email that it’s a merger agreement, that Novell believes “the transaction is great news for our customers,” that all contracts will be honored, and that the IP sale to Linux’s sworn enemy “will not impact customers”, whatever that means. Not a word about Linux and what it means for SUSE. Not a word to reassure the community.
Well, I told you in 2006 that Novell had sold out, did I not? The Microsoft patent deal was a big hint. The sale to the Microsoft consortium could be about that too, actually.
But I note that Miguel de Icaza tweets that Mono goes to Attachmate. Watch out, y’all. We warned you and warned you about Mono, did we not? Did you listen? I hope you will now.
I have a question, actually, although I’m not a shareholder. What exactly did Attachmate pay? TechFlash, above in the media section, wrote: “Novell says in its news release that the $450 million cash payment from the Microsoft group is “reflected in the merger consideration” paid by Attachmate…” so how does that figure in, and what is the connection between the two deals or the two entities for that matter?
There are several updates and many comments in there too. It is a good reference to have. Another recommended reading comes from Andy Updegrove, who insightfully writes about the deal and commences as follows:
Two days have now passed since Novell announced the high-level terms of its proposed sale, and so far the press has not been able to prize any additional details out of the parties involved. As a result, speculation is rife on several key points, and especially with respect to the 822 patents that Novell proposes to sell to a consortium of companies, only one of which has been disclosed: Microsoft.
In the fine comments we find:
And if, as I’ve read elsewhere, Elliott Associates is going to retain its stake in the surviving company (which I’ll call “New Novell”)
Were you aware that Attachmate’s press release said,
As part of the transaction, Elliott Management Corporation, one of Novell’s largest shareholders, will become an equity shareholder in Attachmate Corporation.
Over at Identi.ca, the FSF’s Bradley Kuhn wrote: “Always bad when proprietary sw company buys one dabbling in !FaiF. #Oracle : Sun as Attachmate : #Novell. #swpats to #Microsoft makes worse!”
Carlo Piana told Jan Wildeboer (Red Hat): “I think that WRT “linux” #swpats Novell has created estoppel via #OIN. WRT IDmgmt, that arguably is not effective and dangerous”
“[A] full analysis of #OIN licensing is on my TODO list.” –Bradley Kuhn, FSFHe also told Bradley Kuhn: “i confess I am no expert in OIN agrmnt, but your position does not seem evident from the reading of it. Will ask KeithB to comment.”
Kuhn replied with: “Usually #Bergelt dodges questions re: specifics of #OIN agreement. Guess I should write up my analysis to dispel false marketing [...] basically, there’s a “grace period” in #OIN crosslicense. Any member can withdraw & after N months, #swpats licenses evaporate. [...] a full analysis of #OIN licensing is on my TODO list. Frankly, I haven’t done it b/c I fear it’d give them undeserved publicity”
Red Hat’s Oliva wrote to Kuhn: “OIN agreements: it’s trivial to withdraw & there’s no estoppel. OIN is mostly useless.”
We are going to write about the OIN’s role later on.
The deal itself is a “reverse triangular merger.” That means that Novell, the “acquired company continues its corporate existence, since in a merger the parties are free to designate which company will be the ‘surviving corporation.’ Attachmate will therefore form an empty shell company before the closing, all of whose shares will be owned by Attachmate. On the closing date, that company will merge into Novell, rather than the other way around.”
Why would they do it that way? Well, there are usually two reasons. The one that seems important here is, “It will lessen a major headache under other structures, which is getting the permission of many hundreds of third parties to assign their contracts from Novell to the acquirer. While every company seeks to limit the number of contracts that it signs that require such permissions, granting this term is sometimes unavoidable (and especially if you want the same right in return). Since Novell will be the surviving legal entity.”
Now, let’s check who’s behind AttachMSFT anyway. We wrote about it before as Novell’s new name/parent company will be a disservice to everyone. It’s run from Seattle (Washington) with funding from an unethical vulture fund, Mr. Singer [1, 2].
For those who do not know, AttachMSFT was founded in Bellevue, Washington (Microsoft’s executives reside there). It is now headquartered in Seattle, Washington (just next to Microsoft then). According to Wikipedia, AttachMSFT’s CEO was misbehaving recently:
In January, 2009, Jeff Hawn, the president and CEO of Attachmate, was sentenced to 10 days in jail for authorizing the 2008 slaughter of 32 of his neighbor’s bison that had wandered onto his Colorado ranch. Hawn pled guilty in November, 2008 to criminal mischief and animal cruelty and was released on $15,000 bail. Hawn and hired hands shot and killed 32 bison—including cows carrying calves—which had wandered onto and near his property from a neighboring ranch in Park County, Colorado. The arrest warrant said most were left to rot. In Colorado, bison are allowed to wander under open-range laws.
Here are some links about the incident [1, 2]. So, a guy who slaughters animals makes a promise to SUSE, eh? Well, the nature of people who run those companies matters a lot. Jeff Hawn sounds like a cowboy and thus a lot of bad news, just as SCO under McBride was bad news. AttachMSFT has made no promise to keep Novell staff. At Novell, redundancies were long overdue since 2008, so expect them to take effect soon.
Our reader gnufreex points out that “AttachMSFT makes Enterprise Fraud Manager. “[T]rusted employees commit more fraud and compliance violations than anyone else” says their page. How prophetic.
Novell will be bought by a North American group called Attachmate that appears to be made up of financiers buying assets as investments. As someone who has seen one acquisition of a company by financiers up-close, and an acquisition of legacy products, where they languished as cash cows, I feel partly qualified to guess what might happen to Novell post acquisition – although I am often wrong about these things, so take all this with a pinch of salt.
So you sell on some patents & copyrights that you’re not really interested in (presumably with a free license to use said patents for a period of time), you split your business up into the cash cow moneymaker (Old Novell) and the new, growing business that can sell at a high valuiation relative to its earnings (Suse Linux), and you line up a buyer for the speculative Linux business. With $450M for patents and perhaps $800m for the Linux business, you get old, profitable business with limited growth potential, but with regular earnings (~$600M for the last financial year, as far as I can tell, in legacy revenues, with an operating net margin of >10%) and $300M cash on hand (after subtracting liabilities & deferred revenues from cash on hand).
Bill Beebe has been hostile for a while and rather than realising that out goal was to keep people away from Novell’s (Microsoft’s) grip he spins it the other way, as though supporting Novell would have been better. From his blog:
Remember just four years ago, when Novell entered into the now-infamous joint patent agreement with Microsoft? Remember the hue and cry that went up to boycott Novell? So that Novell would be driven out of business, and thus punished for entering into that “evil” agreement with the enemy?
Well, guess what.
Frankly I hope Microsoft does have Linux by the short hairs over this. If Katherine Noyes of PCWorld is finally right for once, and Microsoft is indeed looking for a new, more potent way to make Linux vendors “an offer they can’t refuse”, then all I can say is suck it up; you asked for it.
Sleep well tonight, all you self-righteous open source software heroes. Sleep well in the bed you’ve made for yourself.
Acquisitions almost always lead to some product line consolidation or outright discontinuation, often coupled with changes in pricing and terms of support. It can take months or more before the impact of a merger is felt. Statements by top officials of the acquiring company are supposed to sound reassuring, while they typically lack meaningful details. Such was the case today.
With that background, we can follow the next step. Elliott Associates, L.P. (through The Liverpool Limited Partnership) bought a lot of stock beginning in January. And Elliott International, the Cayman Islands entity, bought the rest, to a combined total of approximately 7.1% of Novell stock…
Nothing rogue ever happens in Cayman Islands, eh? We wrote about Singer’s (Elliott is like his shell) operations in the Cayman Islands earlier this year. The man is a ruthless thug and anyone who gives him the benefit of the doubt should definitely read more on the subject. █
Summary: Advice to OpenSUSE now that a company without any affection towards free/open source software inherits the assets
AttachMSFT is a rather hostile (towards GNU/Linux) takeover and OpenSUSE should fork as soon as possible. It needs a new trademark to go by because AttachMSFT owns it and it might treat it just like Larry Ellison’s Oracle treated OpenSolaris. When it comes to SLE* — just like in Solaris’ case — it’s an entirely different story because there is a lot of money to be gained, e.g. via IBM’s mainframe business. Here is a new video about it:
SLE* and OpenSUSE should not be confused because they are quite different and as long as companies like Red Hat develop GNU/Linux SLE* does not really rely so much on OpenSUSE. Joe Brockmeier from Novell (he is the former OpenSUSE community manager) doesn’t mince words when he says via IDG that “Attachmate says openSUSE is safe” and that it’s a “Sad end for Novell: Sold to Attachmate” (Novell does not call it “sad”).
Though many (myself included) had Novell pegged for sale to VMware, the company is being sold mostly to Attachmate with “certain intellectual property assets” being sold to a consortium backed by Microsoft. It’s unclear what those assets are, but Novell holds more than 460 patents (according to a quick skim of the USPTO patent database online) and the copyrights to early UNIX, among other IP.
We are going to cover this later (UNIX and patents) because it’s a broad subject which IDG put emphasis on (posted in several of its domains). The Microsoft booster from ZDNetlooked at these patents and so did Erik Sherman from BNet. His old headline was apparently “Did Microsoft Hit the Mother Lode with Novell’s Patents” (now it is a lot gentler). In part it says:
Add those together, and you still end up with only 748 granted patents or patent applications, which at a minimum leaves another 134 unaccounted for. I have a call in with Novell in hopes of straightening out the question. But even if clarified, it wouldn’t be surprising to see a lot of IP lawyers with technology clients searching through the list to see just how much trouble those companies might be in.
Well, that’s just another aspect of it. Peter Judge does not seem to understand the WordPerfect case based on this article of his:
No official word, but it looks like Microsoft is getting out of a long-running lawsuit as a result of the sale of Novell
The case is not related to patents and there are many who confuse copyrights with patents. Fortunately they got their behinds handed to them. We’ll expand on it later.
As everyone digests the news of Novell’s acquisition by Attachmate, valued at approximately $2.2 billion, there are many who will note that all the signs were there that Novell wouldn’t be sustainable as an independent company. We wrote about the war drums surrounding Novell multiple times, and we noted that, since Sun Microsystems was acquired by Oracle this year, a Novell acquisition would leave one company in an advantageous situation: Red Hat. Among other things, the acquisition of Novell leaves Red Hat as the only public, U.S.-based company primarily focused on open source. There are also interesting Microsoft connections to the Novell acquisition, and more.
Brockmeier’s other colleague, Susan Linton, who used and recommended OpenSUSE for a long time (along with other distros), wonders “What Will Become of openSUSE”, but it’s the update which matters the most (already covered in the UK technology press [1, 2]).
Update: Attachmate has addressed openSUSE in a statement released November 23. They said,
The openSUSE project is an important part of the SUSE business,” commented Jeff Hawn, chairman and CEO of Attachmate Corporation. “As noted in the agreement announced today, Attachmate plans to operate SUSE as a stand-alone business unit after the transaction closes. If this transaction closes, then after closing, Attachmate Corporation anticipates no change to the relationship between the SUSE business and the openSUSE project as a result of this transaction.
Xandros also said that it would take good care of Linspire. It’s not a legally-binding obligation, these are just words.
Susan set up a poll to inquire about an OpenSUSE future without Novell’s commitment or help. The results at the time showed 24% (80 votes) saying that “openSUSE will survive”. 4% said that “openSUSE will be axed”, 14% said that “openSUSE will be starved”, 28% said that “openSUSE will be forked”, and 30% just didn’t care.
For its part Attachmate said in a brief statement that it planned on retaining Suse Linux as a “stand-alone business unit after the transaction closes.” It also said that it foresees “no change to the relationship between the Suse business and the openSuse project.”
While this might soothe fears of a sudden demise of OpenSuse in the coming months, there are also some fears that the deal will have far-reaching patent ramifications.
Novell already has a controversial 2007 patent agreement with Microsoft and now, as part of the sale of Novell, Attachmate has agreed to sell a raft of Novell’s patents to CPTN Holdings, a Microsoft-backed consortium, for $450m. There could be as many as 882 software patents included in the deal with Microsoft, although for now there is no indication of which patents these will be.
Naturally the open source community is uneasy about this with some commentators suggesting that it may re-ignite the patent wars between Microsoft and the open source community.
Over the course of a few years, and after openSUSE was launched, the relationship of openSUSE internally has been one of constant rediscovery and also lethargy. openSUSE heaveily relies on the power of the community and their votes on certain issues, features, etc. Simply put, openSUSE is democratic.
In a sense, this means that openSUSE has developed a system that slows down the process of innovation and has become an acolyte of other Linux distributions such as Fedora and Ubuntu. Fedora, on the one hand, has the fairly advanced support from the Red Hat giant. A company that has enough capacity to make changes which are matured enough and set examples for other distributions to follow. Then Ubuntu has Mark Shuttleworth. A character with a strong personality and defying attitude to break the routine of being a “common” Linux distribution.
In turn openSUSE “had” Novell. A company which had slowed down its business quite a bit in the last years and has not recently been bought out by a company related to Microsoft. Consequently, openSUSE was born dead like a mummy. The problem was that the reliance on Novell to help openSUSE was great and Novell as a company never delivered as did Red Hat to Fedora. Also, openSUSE never had strong personalities to drive its distro development as does Ubuntu. Too fearful to change radically, openSUSE followed in the steps of its godfather Novell and lost personality, for everything was handled and voted on by the community.
OpenSUSE’s reputation got ‘tainted’ by Microsoft, so it’s probably a good time to fork. AttachMSFT will obviously not talk about layoffs just day after a major deal; it has not made any contractually-binding agreement, either. Words are cheap and OpenSUSE should not operate based on them. Later in this series we will explain just what type of people run AttachMSFT. █
Summary: With the core of the Mono team shifting to Seattle (Washington) management there is concern that this Microsoft threat will increase activity rather than be decommissioned
THOSE WHO say that AttachMSFT will axe Mono were mentioned here last week. We no longer cover silly posts that help adoption of Mono (and sometimes Moonlight) because the project seems to have hit a wall. The Mono boosters saw the AttachMSFT announcement last Monday and kept pretending nothing had happened. Their Microsoft-groomed leaders are still defending Microsoft and promoting a surrogate of Visual Studio, NoDevelop [sic].
Microsoft MVP Miguel de Icaza gets flak for his attitude and some pro-GNU/Linux sites are thinking he might join Microsoft (he already did in a way). To quote Muktware for example:
As feared, Microsoft is acquiring technology assets developed by Novell, the leading Open Source vendor. Novell will sell its ‘so-called’ Intellectual Properties to Microsoft-owned CPTN Holdings LLC for mere $450 million in cash.
The foundation of Novell’s acquisition (or its technology assets) by Microsoft was laid when the two companies signed a highly controversial patent-agreement to cover their products on November 2, 2006. Under the five year agreement, the companies also agreed to work closely in the name of ‘inter-operability’.
We did not see any Microsoft products being made available on Linux platform at the consumer front. However, we did see Novell’s attempts to create products which lock Linux user/develops into the Microsoft technologies — Mono and Silverlight being two examples which were developed under the leadership of Miguel de Icaza. It will be interesting to see if Mr Icaza joins Microsoft!
Yes, the author did write: “It will be interesting to see if Mr Icaza joins Microsoft!” He is already trying to float a copy of a dead project (Silver Lie [sic]), which is better off abandoned, not developed any further. It ought to be emphasised that Mono is where Novell and Microsoft intersect a great deal. Watch Microsoft boosters (former Microsoft employees who promote Mono) mentioning this acquisition’s announcement and trying to ride it with a press release and shallow coverage following it [1, 2, 3] (some are just almost identical copies of the press release).
One fellow Mono booster, who is rude towards Mono sceptics, is joining Collabora which was employing Philip Van Hoof when he lobbied to push GNU out of GNOME [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6].
I am very, VERY proud to say that from the start of January, I’ll be joining Collabora Ltd as their new Systems Manager.
It’s sad to see Collabora too getting filled with Mono boosters. █