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12.06.10

Links 6/12/2010: Xfce 4.8 is Coming, Google Chrome 8.0 for GNU/Linux Released

Posted in News Roundup at 2:34 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Kernel Space

    • 19 Percent of Linux Kernel Development by Independent Contributors aka Passionate People!

      In the third annual report about Linux kernel authorship by Linux Foundation, a number of interesting statistics popped up. Among the most important statistics is the one showing the level of contributions from different entities that include big corporates and individuals.

    • Graphics Stack

      • X.Org Server 1.9.3 May Come Next Week

        Apple’s Jeremy Huddleston has announced the second release candidate for the forthcoming X.Org Server 1.9.3 point release. This point release in the stable 1.9 series delivers on more bug-fixes, with a handful of them for Apple’s XQuartz, which is important especially as it looks the 1.9 series will be used by Mac OS X 10.7.

      • RandR 1.4 Brings Per-CRTC Pixmaps; NVIDIA Support?

        Intel’s Keith Packard wrote a few emails to the X.Org developers over the night commenting on his per-CRTC pixmap implementation for RandR 1.4 in xorg-server 1.10. For those unfamiliar, this support basically provies, “multiple scan-out buffers which applications can create and assign to arbitrary collections of CRTCs. These pixmaps can be associated with a window for use with OpenGL or drawn to directly.” This feature really becomes useful when dealing with display setups where the screen layout exceeds the maximum size of the rendering/scan-out engines, provides the abilities for integrating compositing and project transformation into one step, and eliminating visual artifacts during screen rotation.

      • Questions Arise Over NVIDIA’s Fence Sync Support

        Red Hat’s Owen Taylor started out by asking about a broad overview on NVIDIA’s Fence Sync, seeing as he is the maintainer of Mutter, the GNOME 3.0 compositing window manager that uses Clutter. “There’s already a lot of magic voodoo dances around both Damage and Texture-From-Pixmap, what extra incantations does this add to the picture?” Owen further noted, “I can understand each individual step of the magic voodoo dance, but when I go away from the individual problems and come back 6 months later, I have to work it all out again. And there’s a strong sense that only particular code paths that actually are in use are tested and anything else probably doesn’t work, at least on some drivers.”

      • NVIDIA’s Working On A New Driver Architecture?

        We have sent over an email to NVIDIA to try to get more information on this new driver architecture. Seeing as NVIDIA’s proprietary Linux driver shares a common code-base with their Windows driver and also their FreeBSD/Solaris support, it does lead us to believe that such a new architecture would continue to be shared across all platforms.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments

  • Distributions

    • Red Hat Family

      • Fedora

        • On misleading media

          The recent article about Fedora moving to Unity is a good example. The author very well understands the title to be nowhere near accurate and yet persists on it even though all the comments so far have pointed out this problem. Calling it a blog does not excuse one for a professional stand point to write crap.

    • Debian Family

      • Canonical/Ubuntu

        • How to give away computers with Ubuntu and Edubuntu

          Just in time for the holidays; your guide to giving away computers with Ubuntu and Edubuntu or your favorite *buntu. In the past few weeks I’ve been contacted by several organisations who are giving away computers pre-loaded with different versions of Ubuntu. Their stories need to be shared as they are doing some amazing work built upon all your great work in Ubuntu. So here’s a quick guide to how you can help spread Ubuntu and really make a difference in people’s lives all over the world.

        • Linaro boosts Linux on mobile

          Linaro is important because it is not simply a software project but also a hardware one. With major players such as ARM on-board Linaro is also looking at creating hardware platforms optimised for a Linux operating system. ARM is a key player in the mobile computing space, to date being most active in the mobile phone sector but rapidly moving into the larger-form factor tablet and netbook market.

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Impressions from the 12th Realtime Linux Workshop in Nairobi

      A rather small crowd of researchers, kernel developers and industry experts found their way to the 12th Real-Time Linux WorkShop (RTLWS) hosted at Strathmore University in Nairobi, Kenya. The small showing was not a big surprise, but it also did not make the workshop any less interesting.

Free Software/Open Source

  • Events

    • SCALE 9x: Is your paper submitted?

      Less than two weeks left for SCALE Call for Papers; Sponsors start lining up for event. As everyone’s sights are set on the December holidays, the Southern California Linux Expo reminds those who plan to submit papers for SCALE 9X to get them in before the deadline, which is a little over a week away. The deadline for the SCALE 9x Call for Papers is Dec. 13, with notification of acceptance being sent to speakers by Dec. 27.

  • Web Browsers

    • Google Chrome 8.0 Stable for Linux Released

      Just in time for the holidays, the Google Chrome developers at Google proudly announced last evening (December 2nd) the stable release and immediate availability for download of the Google Chrome 8.0.552.215 web browser for Linux, Windows and Macintosh platforms.

    • Google releases Chrome 8.0 stable

      Previously only available in the Beta channel, Google has released version 8 of the Chrome web browser into the stable channel. This major update is the first version capable of using the upcoming web store and includes a built-in PDF viewer that’s sandboxed to help prevent attackers from exploiting security vulnerabilities in the plug-in. A sandboxed Adobe Flash Player plug-in has been integrated into the Development (Dev) channel version of the browser, so that too should appear in the stable release in due time.

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • 3-D Fun with GNU Octave

      I HAD worries that GNU Octave would not support some of the advanced graphing functionality of MATLAB, but with the help of tools like gnuplot, Octave stays on par in this game (bar some OpenGL enhancements). Much to my surprise, the 3-D charting and graphing software in GNU Octave. Here are some visualisations of cardiac images I work with.

  • Project Releases

  • Openness/Sharing

  • Standards/Consortia

    • ODF TC Creates Advanced Document Collaboration Subcommittee

      The OASIS ODF Technical Committee voted a couple of weeks ago to create a new subcommittee, on “Advanced Document Collaboration”. Robin LaFontaine, from DeltaXML will chair the subcommittee.

      Since the entire ODF TC is quite large now (almost 20 active members attend each meeting) it is impossible to do a technical “deep dive” on every topic in our meetings. So when a particular specification domain requires sustained attention for a period of time, we can create a subcommittee, to allow interested TC members to study and draft specification enhancements. We’ve done this several times before. For example, the Accessibility SC developed the accessibility enhancements for ODF 1.1. And the Formula and Metadata subcommittees drafted those key parts of ODF 1.2. I hope that this new SC will be equally successful in their work.

Leftovers

  • Defence/Police/Aggression

    • Pirate Parties Supply Wikileaks With Much Needed Servers

      While most traditional political parties are wary of supporting the actions of whistleblower site Wikileaks, Pirate Parties around the world have made it very clear whose side they are on. Just before the weekend Wikileaks moved to a Pirate Party owned domain, and today a conglomerate of Pirate Parties have just announced that they are now providing the site with several much needed mirror servers.

    • WikiLeaks cables: Barack Obama is a bigger danger
    • Supporting Wikileaks

      TODAY I decided to step up with my support of Wikileaks, which I perceive as a test case for free speech and Internet freedom regardless or irrespective of the impact of what they are doing.

    • Twitter Appears to Censor Wikileaks-Related Trends

      I’m (was?) a Twitter user. This past week I found it utterly weird that none of the words #wikileaks, #cablegate, #cables, #Assange were actually “trending”. I even tweeted about this 5 days ago. Today, my fears of secret censorship are coming true. It appears that Twitter is censoring all these words, so they don’t appear in the (much-used) Twitter “trends” list.

      It has done so for a whole week, and continues to do so. The only related trend today that currently trends in a few countries is the much less popular #imwikileaks, which shows us that Twitter’s filter engine simply hasn’t added that keyword too in their filter, YET!

    • On WikiLeaks

      To those looking for a response in advance of this, I will simply reiterate the two points of our core values that are particularly germane to the matter: first, we support open government, which is certainly an end furthered by WikiLeaks’ actions, but we also believe in the importance of protecting individual privacy, which has been compromised by a number of releases to date. Reconciling these two positions, already somewhat at odds, with the question of WikiLeaks will be the task of our membership in the days to come.

      Finally, allow me to apologize for the lack of promptness in this regard. Democracy, as you are no doubt aware, is a horrendously inefficient system of governance, but it is the only one that can achieve worthwhile results.

    • State Department To Columbia University Students: DO NOT Discuss WikiLeaks On Facebook, Twitter
    • Would you be a WikiLeaks paypal?
    • WikiLeaks founder: U of C professor Flanagan’s comments criminal

      Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s spokesman says Tom Flanagan’s remarks that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange should be assassinated are “simply not acceptable,” even if they weren’t serious.

      Dimitri Soudas commented Friday after Assange said the prime minister’s former adviser and others “should be charged with incitement to commit murder.”

    • Julian Assange under investigation by police in Australia

      Julian Assange is being investigated by Australian police to establish whether he has broken any of the country’s laws and is liable to prosecution there, foreign minister Kevin Rudd said today.

    • NSW Supreme Court solicitor Peter Kemp: Letter to Australian Prime Minister

      …Julian Assange has almost certainly committed no crime under Australian law in relation to his involvement in Wikileaks.

    • NGOs Issue Joint Appeal on Behalf of Refugees Held Hostage in Sinai Desert

      Agenzia Habeshia, EveryOne Group, Human Rights Concern Eritrea and Christian Solidarity Worldwide today sent a joint appeal to the UN, the EU, the British, the Italian and the Egyptian governments for urgent intervention in the plight of refugees from Eritrea, Ethiopia, Sudan and Somalia who are currently held hostage in the Sinai Desert by Bedouin people traffickers.

      Hundreds of refugees from the Horn of Africa have been held for months on the outskirts of a town in Sinai in purpose-built containers, where people traffickers are demanding payment of up to US$8,000 per person for their release, though the hostages had already paid US$2,000 for passage to Israel.

    • Twitter Joke Trial: the journey to the High Court begins

      On Thursday 2 December 2010 the papers were filed at Court for an application for an appeal of my client Paul Chambers to the High Court. In a perhaps ironic twist, the receiving court – Doncaster Crown Court – was closed because of snow.

      The appeal is formally called an “Appeal by Case Stated”. These are appeals to the High Court on points of law. The Court will now have 21 days to consider the application: the decision should be just before Christmas. If granted, then there will be a High Court hearing early in the new year. However, if the application is not successful, then Paul has the option of a judicial review of that refusal, where the High Court can order that permision be granted.

    • Like It or Not, WikiLeaks is a Media Entity

      The past week has seen plenty of ink spilled — virtual and otherwise — about WikiLeaks and its mercurial front-man, Julian Assange, and the pressure they have come under from the U.S. government and companies such as Amazon and PayPal, both of which have blocked WikiLeaks from using their services. Why should we care about any of this? Because more than anything else, WikiLeaks is a publisher — a new kind of publisher, but a publisher nonetheless — and that makes this a freedom of the press issue. Like it or not, WikiLeaks is fundamentally a journalistic entity, and as such it deserves our protection.

    • The Shameful Attacks on Julian Assange

      Julian Assange and Pfc Bradley Manning have done a huge public service by making hundreds of thousands of classified U.S. government documents available on Wikileaks — and, predictably, no one is grateful. Manning, a former army intelligence analyst in Iraq, faces up to 52 years in prison. He is currently being held in solitary confinement at a military base in Quantico, Virginia, where he is not allowed to see his parents or other outside visitors.

    • The Blueprint

      You see, this is the first time anything like Wikileaks has been attempted. Yes, there have been leaks prior to this, but never before have hyperdistribution and cryptoanarchism come to the service of the whistleblower. This is a new thing, and as well thought out as Wikileaks might be, it isn’t perfect. How could it be? It’s untried, and untested. Or was. Now that contact with the enemy has been made – the state with all its powers – it has become clear where Wikileaks has been found wanting. Wikileaks needs a distributed network of servers that are too broad and too diffuse to be attacked. Wikileaks needs an alternative to the Domain Name Service. And Wikileaks needs a funding mechanism which can not be choked off by the actions of any other actor.

      We’ve been here before. This is 1999, the company is Napster, and the angry party is the recording industry. It took them a while to strangle the beast, but they did finally manage to choke all the life out of it – for all the good it did them. Within days after the death of Napster, Gnutella came around, and righted all the wrongs of Napster: decentralized where Napster was centralized; pervasive and increasingly invisible. Gnutella created the ‘darknet’ for filesharing which has permanently crippled the recording and film industries. The failure of Napster was the blueprint for Gnutella.

    • No sympathy for evil companies, Amazon and PayPal. Go back to the bookstore and pay cash.
    • How PayPal screws open source projects

      Some of our users might know that we have been accepting donations to support us in developing TortoiseSVN for a few years now. We used PayPal to achieve this, as do many other open source projects and even some closed source but free-of-cost projects.

      Even the biggest hoster of open source projects, sourceforge.net, has a special feature built into their project pages where every project can activate such “donate” buttons, and that too is handled by PayPal.

      Now imagine my surprise when I got an email from PayPal last Wednesday with the subject “PayPal appeal denied”. Because I never had to appeal anything with my PayPal account. Reading through that email I discovered that my account was blocked because they’ve decided that I’m not allowed to receive donations.

    • WikiLeaks reveals how far the US has fallen in its principles

      The German man in question, Khaled El-Masri, was an innocent who had a misfortune to have the same name as a terrorist suspect. He was illegally kidnapped, imprisoned in Afghanistan, interrogated and tortured.

      For over a year. His family had no idea what had happened to him. He had no chance to defend himself, to seek legal representation, every human right he had was taken from him. He had to go on a hunger strike for 27 days before he was able to force a meeting with a prison official and a CIA official. And this was taking place after they’d already found out that his passport was genuine and that he was innocent.

    • #iamwikileaks Mirror #wikileaks, but do it a litte more safely…
    • WikiLeaks: Internet backlash follows US pressure against whistleblowing site

      American pressure to dissuade companies in the US from supporting the WikiLeaks website has led to an online backlash in which individuals are redirecting parts of their own sites to its Swedish internet host.

      Since early on Friday morning, it has been impossible to reach WikiLeaks by typing wikileaks.org into a web browser because everyDNS, which would redirect queries for the string “wikileaks.org” to that machine address, removed its support for Wikileaks, claiming that it had broken its terms of service by being the target of a huge hacker attack.

    • Digital McCarthyism

      The campaign against WikiLeaks is a clear move to censor political material on the Internet and, potentially, on other media. The first moves made by lawmakers such as Senator Joe Lieberman, who chairs the Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee, have no legal foundation and yet have succeeded with Amazon and PayPal. What has followed is shockingly repressive and obscurantist. The Library of Congress blocked access to WikiLeaks across its computer systems, including reading rooms, and Columbia University students aspiring for diplomatic careers have been advised not to comment on, or link to, the whistleblower website’s revelations. It is doubly tragic that such concerted attacks are securing support from countries with a progressive legacy such as France. The intolerant response to WikiLeaks is a potential threat to all media and must be fought. Senator Lieberman and other lawmakers have introduced legislation that proposes to make the publication of an intelligence source a federal crime. Already, U.S. law allows the shutting down of some Internet domains managed in that country on grounds of infringement of copyright. The threat to the publication of inconvenient material, even with responsible redactions, is all too real.

    • Prove my aide is Russian spy, says MP Mike Hancock

      A British MP whose parliamentary aide was arrested over claims she is a Russian spy has challenged the security services to “prove their point now”.

      Lib Dem Mike Hancock said Katia Zatuliveter, 25, had nothing to hide, he backed her 100%, and would appeal.

    • [Elizabeth May (Green Party Leader in Canada) on Wikileaks]

      It is a witch-hunt against Wikileaks, while largely ignoring the content of what was exposed.

    • TMI, WikiLeaks

      WikiLeaks is a website started by freedom-of-information activist and former hacker Julian Assange. On November 28, WikiLeaks sent a massive cache of government documents to five news organizations. You can’t see the leaks on its own site at the moment, as it’s currently suffering from a massive denial of service attack that has the site closed for business at the moment, although there is a mirror site in Switzerland where you can see the “Cablegate” documents. These documents are diplomatic cables that Private First Class Bradley Manning downloaded at an army base in Iraq between November 2009 and April 2010. Manning then passed them on to Assange.

    • New WikiLeaks website now available in UAE

      As of late afternoon, wikileaks.ch was freely accessible to UAE consumers using etisalat lines. Earlier in the day, users reported browser inconsistencies, with the site available to those using Firefox but not to those using Internet Explorer.

    • Complaint filed over call to assassinate WikiLeaks founder

      A B.C. lawyer has filed a complaint with the Vancouver police, urging them to investigate whether Tom Flanagan, a former campaign manager for Prime Minister Stephen Harper, broke the law when he said WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange should be assassinated.

      Gail Davidson, a co-founder of the group Lawyers Against the War, wrote in the complaint that, on Nov. 30, Flanagan “counselled and/or incited the assassination of Julian Assange contrary to the Criminal Code of Canada,” while commenting on the CBC program Power & Politics.

    • Twitter is censoring the discussion of #Wikileaks

      Twitter, the very popular 140 character social networking site, has a feature called “Trends” and is supposed to capture what the most popular topics of discussion are, at any given time. When people “Tweet” about a given topic, they can insert what is called a hash tag into their Tweet. For example, if I wanted to Tweet about Richard Feynman, and I wanted other people interested in Richard Feynman to be able to find it, I could put something like “#Feynman” within my post. Twitter would then automatically categorize this post under “Feynman” and voila, people can search for it on Twitter. This is how “Trends” are calculated. If say, within a given time span of perhaps 10 minutes, a million people put the tag #Christmas into their tweets, and this would be a very popular Twitter topic and should make it into the “Trends” list. Simple enough.

  • Censorship/Privacy/Civil Rights

    • FTC Is In Talks With Adobe About The ‘Flash Problem’

      So-called Flash cookies—chunks of data embedded in the Adobe Flash Player on internet users’ browsers that can’t be eliminated with standard privacy controls—have been on the radar of privacy advocates since last year. But the FTC made it clear today that it’s now starting to take a more active role in addressing what it referred to as the “Flash problem.”

    • Wayne Crookes vs Jon Newton

      Tomorrow I’ll travel by land, sea and air the length of Canada to sit in a room full of strangers.

      One of them, a man named Wayne Crookes, wants me to pay him what will be, if he gets his way, an inordinate amount of money for something I haven’t done.

      Others of them, a panel of legal experts chosen for their wisdom and knowledge of Canada’s archaic defamation laws, will decide if that’s going to happen.

  • Internet/Net Neutrality/DRM

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • curiouser and curiouser: more on the metaphysics of copyright

        Those who wish to justify copyright as something more or other than an intrusion into the rights of owners of things must then advance an account of the objects of copyright, and in doing so explain how such an account can make sense in one or more of the accounts of ideas and things so far advanced. To date they have failed to do so.

      • Viacom’s Dangerous Appeal Brief in Viacom v. YouTube

        Viacom would like the court to carve out an exception to the DMCA, essentially reinterpreting the law so that YouTube no longer qualifies for the DMCA’s safe harbor immunity. It’s, to me, a really dangerous document, in that it suggest in effect a system whereby fair use is technically impossible or so difficult and expensive to make use of that no average guy will do so. It argues that YouTube’s refusal to implement a technology-based filtering system Viacom likes, Audible Magic, to prescreen uploaded video places YouTube outside the protection of the DMCA. It also argues that you can be guilty of direct infringement if you benefit financially from infringement, even if you don’t specifically know it’s happening.

      • Joi Ito: The web needs copyright tools

        Joi Ito, 44, an entrepreneur and venture capitalist with a particular interest in the world wide web, was an early investor in Twitter, Technorati, Flickr and Last.fm. He grew up in Japan and the US; he once owned a nightclub in Tokyo and worked as a DJ in Chicago. Time magazine hailed him as a member of the “cyber-elite” in 1997 and two years ago Businessweek named him “one of the 25 most influential people on the web”. Ito has a special interest in issues of copyright in the digital sphere and is CEO of the organisation Creative Commons. He is now based in Dubai.

Clip of the Day

Sony Ericsson ZEUS – Z1-PlayStation Phone (spy)


Credit: TinyOgg

Microsoft Clarifies That Making Money in Mobile Market by Extorting Makers of Linux Phones is the Plan

Posted in GNU/Linux, Google, Microsoft, Patents at 1:04 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Nathan Myhrvold

Summary: New signs that Microsoft’s sheer aggression with unnamed patents against Linux (threats of lawsuits) is not a thing of the past but a plan for the future

MICROSOFT SOFTENS unspeakable acts of racketeering [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7] using euphemisms like “respecting intellectual property” (it’s neither to do with respect nor about intellect and physical property). The lawyers who keep bullying distributors of Linux and Android (reportedly Chrome OS too) are trying to make it look amicable for PR reasons. As this recent article puts it, “HTC has also been pressured into” a patent deal (involving Linux) with Microsoft just shortly before surrendering to Intellectual Ventures, Microsoft’s special patent troll. It’s an extortion by “Club Microsoft” and Electronista says:

HTC has also been pressured into a licensing deal with Microsoft for Android-related patents that Microsoft allegedly owns but which won’t be tested in court until Motorola defends itself.

Well, as we mentioned the other day, Murdoch’s press (and its technology equivalent) continues to spew Microsoft patent propaganda from all sorts of sites and controversial Microsoft boosters like Paul Thurrott join the FUDfest. Microsoft-affiliated companies and trolls are also taking a shot at Android. An Android-based Huawei phone, for example, has just been sued by a patent troll called Helferich Patent Licensing, LLC.

Ina/Ian Fried, who recently joined AllThingsD (Murdoch site) to promote Microsoft, says in the headline that “Microsoft’s Plan B to Make Money in Phones: Patents” (that’s after having a jolly good time with Microsoft’s Smith). Recall what Microsoft recently did with Acacia and ACCESS [1, 2, 3, 4], which holds patents on mobile software/hardware.

“Recall what Microsoft recently did with Acacia and ACCESS, which holds patents on mobile software/hardware.”In other patent news, laws are being disrupted and rewritten to suit those who exploit counter-productive laws. As we showed 2 days ago, Microsoft is actively involved in this (also translated into Spanish) because it hires lobbyists to legalise software patents in all countries. An Israeli blog about patents potentially implies that there is an opportunity to sneak in a pro-Microsoft “fox” [1, 2] who will be more open to software patents in Israel and another notorious writer leads the patent lawyers lobbying for software patents in a blog. Yes, Steve Lundberg, a software patents booster who was celebrating the abduction of a country's law regarding software patents, is still at it in his blog. What a bunch of self-serving folks who contribute nothing but litigation and paperwork. There are other patent lawyer types who try to justify patenting software for personal financial reasons and not for scientific reasons. It is quite saddening also to see this coverage from Patently-O, a beehive of patent lawyers. Daniel Ravicher from the SFLC (now the Executive Director of the Public Patent Foundation at Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law) is optimistic about SCOTUS planning to revisit software/BM patents, as hoped. In the Huff & Puff he writes:

Patent attorneys are generally too corrupted by being in favor of expansive patent policy (because that makes their services more valuable) and/or too fearful of retaliation to decry the CAFC and its practice of judicial activism. For better or worse, the net result has been that the Supreme Court has had to repeatedly step in and slap down the CAFC when its expansionist policy has gone too far. Cases like eBay, MedImmune, KSR, Quanta and many others from the 2000′s are all examples of the Supreme Court having to take time away from other important issues of social policy to reverse the CAFC’s judicially activist opinions (often unanimously). This is the right result, but not the most efficient process for society. So, it is with only slight satisfaction that I report the Supreme Court yesterday accepted another patent case. This is another instance where the CAFC went far beyond merely interpreting the patent statute in order to benefit patentees and harm the public. I am confident it will be another instance where the Supreme Court will correct the CAFC.

James Love, who also occasionally writes for the Huff & Puff, recently wrote that on February 25th, 2009 “President Obama announced the appointment of Gary Locke, the former Governor of the State of Washington, as the Secretary of Commerce. When appointed, Locke was partner at Davis Wright Tremaine LLP, and had been a consultant to Microsoft.”

Love also pointed out that: “Through its seat of the UNITAID board of directors, the Gates Foundation nominated a Microsoft patent lawyer to the founding board of the UNITAID medicines patent pool. The UNITAID board deferred action on all nominations.”

As we showed many times before, the Gates Foundation is a big patents booster. It promotes patents (monopolies) in many areas and helps Microsoft and Intellectual Ventures along the way, even very directly. Government influence is only part it.

Wikileaks/Cablegate Reveals That Microsoft Gave Windows Source Code to TOPSEC, Which Trains and Employs Chinese Cyberspies

Posted in Microsoft, Security, Windows at 11:56 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Kevin Mitnick
Putting Windows source code in the hands
of the Kevin Mitnicks of China

Summary: Microsoft equips private companies — not just governments — with just what they need to intrude all Windows-running computers, namely a key to potential remote access without liability

NOT just incompetence and negligence [1, 2, 3] are the cause of Microsoft’s security problems. Based on Cablegate leaks, it is possible that Microsoft’s secret (and poorly audited) code is exploited so often in China because Microsoft gives them access to this source code (which security researchers in the West cannot see and scrutinise prior to release in binary form).

Several days ago we showed some Egypt cables (prior to Wikileaks being targeted by censors) and it helped show just how closely Microsoft works with governments on ‘security’. The Guardian noticed this independently from us and highlighted the following block (filed under “US embassy cables: China uses access to Microsoft source code to help plot cyber warfare, US fears”):

56. (S//NF) CTAD comment: Additionally, CNITSEC enterprises has recruited Chinese hackers in support of nationally-funded “network attack scientific research projects.” From June 2002 to March 2003, TOPSEC employed a known Chinese hacker, Lin Yong (a.k.a. Lion and owner of the Honker Union of China), as senior security service engineer to manage security service and training. Venus Tech, another CNITSEC enterprise privy to the GSP, is also known to affiliate with XFocus, one of the few Chinese hacker groups known to develop exploits to new vulnerabilities in a short period of time, as evidenced in the 2003 release of Blaster Worm (See CTAD Daily Read File (DRF) April 4, 2008). 57. (S//NF) CTAD comment: While links between top Chinese companies and the PRC are not uncommon, it illustrates the PRC’s use of its “private sector” in support of governmental information warfare objectives, especially in its ability to gather, process, and exploit information. As evidenced with TOPSEC, there is a strong possibility the PRC is harvesting the talents of its private sector in order to bolster offensive and defensive computer network operations capabilities. (Appendix sources 51-52)

So, not just governments are getting access to source code. The “agreement with Microsoft… allowed select companies such as TOPSEC access to MICROSOFT source code in order to secure the Windows platform.” Here it is in raw form. “TOPSEC that trains most of china cyberspys,” Oiaohm quotes from it. “It’s in that cable,” he says. He then gives another direct quote from the cable: “TOPSEC provides services and training for the PLA and has recruited hackers in the past.” On this one he remarks: “Then latter on in the cable to says they have been granted access to MS source code.” The remainder can be read in our latest IRC logs, which make operation of this Web site entirely transparent, unlike governments. “Security by obscurity is that you don’t give the source code to the people attacking your system,” Oiaohm adds and “[i]If you are not using Security by obscurity you might as well publish the source code for everyone to see… At least then you have a better chance that truful ones will tell you where the flaws are.” (typos corrected)

“Proper obscurity can be done with open source”
      –Oiaohm
He continues: “that cable is a security research document in what the hell has gone wrong… That the USA was being breached so much… Also if you dig deeper the USA side is doing the same thing… Both are trying to use closed source to give them a cyberadvantage while both have access to the source code… Proper obscurity can be done with open source… Each system must be able to have many different combinations in its security system to attacker is not quite sure what he will be walking into… So attacks take longer to develop… MS Windows where most installs have basically the same security config… Basically have a obscurity level of nothing.”

Another cable speaks of an “invitation for a private meeting with a named DoS employee. The attached Microsoft Word document was a malicious”. Microsoft is mostly mentioned negatively (for security reasons) in Cablegate, at least thus far. What will be revealed in the remaining 99% of Cablegate (the part which has not been published yet)?

In actual security news (not leaks of old confidential reports), Vista 7 is being bricked by software which claims to improve Windows security:

THOSE WHO ARE RUNNING 64-bit Windows 7 systems should not download the update for AVG Technologies’ AV software.

AVG has withdrawn the update after complaints that the update completely bricked systems by forcing computers to go into an infinite crash loop.

Users of GNU/Linux and BSD never have such problems. Why won’t the US government encourage adoption of Free software, whose transparency makes it secure? It’s the same fallacy about secrecy which toppled both Windows security and now the US government. It arguably censors Wikileaks more zealously than other governments.

Fake Numbers and Possible GPL Violations at Goldman Sachs

Posted in Finance, Free/Libre Software at 11:12 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Henry Paulson - official Treasury photo (2006)

Summary: The Goldman Sachs code scandal reveals that they are mixing Free/open source software with their own proprietary software which exploits the market

A LOT of companies build their empire on a bundle of lies. Some governments do the same, but that’s another story. Just very recently we found a new example of this. “I remember him [Larry Ellison] very distinctly telling me one time: Bruce, we can’t be successful unless we lie to customers,” recalls Bruce Scott, the co-founder of Oracle. So basically, Oracle’s boss starts by lying and then hopes to reach a position where he can dodge/justify/defend this lie. Yes, well, now he is suing Google/Android based on an invalid case with improper copyright claims, just like SCO’s. If the lie sticks for long time, they win. If the lie never leads to a total collapse at the expense of everyone, it is possible that nobody will notice. This is very similar to what banks are doing when they make money (loans) out of thin air, based on assumptions of inflation and based on the belief that people will pay high interest rates on money they borrow — money that the bank does not even really have. Yes, it’s a sort of nasty scheme, but when big companies do this they get bailout rather than time in jail. Small predators like Bernard Madoff are selectively treated in the same way that many large banks ought to be treated and would practically be treated if it were not for revolving doors (former employees and lobbyists running the government by working in it).

“In the next post we will show that Wikileaks/Cablegate means trouble to Microsoft too.”Techrights supports Wikileaks for reasons I wrote about yesterday and because Techrights did something similar to Wikileaks when it handled and put out there Comes vs Microsoft (around 9,000 confidential documents). In the next post we will show that Wikileaks/Cablegate means trouble to Microsoft too. Next year Wikileaks plans to leak proof of misconduct at a large bank based in the United States and we have come across speculations that it’s Goldman Sachs. How does it all relate to software? Well, Techrights has posted over a thousand headlines about Goldman Sachs in the daily links (there is also a wiki page) because Goldman Sachs seems to be one of the most corrupt banks out there. And to make matters worse, Groklaw writes: “Goldman Sachs uses Open Source code intermingled with the rest of their code? That’s interesting.” Groklaw links to reports like this one which says: “A defense lawyer, Kevin Marino, argued in his opening statement that Aleynikov intended to strip out pieces of open- source software — software available for use by the public — contained within the Goldman Sachs code files.” There is also:

The trial of Sergey Aleynikov, a former Goldman Sachs computer programmer accused of stealing the computer code underlying Goldman’s high-frequency trading programs, has gotten underway. In opening day arguments, Aleynikov’s defense lawyer said he did not intend to take any proprietary code from Goldman. Rather, he intended to take only open source code.

If the SFLC wants some money from an unethical ‘money machine’, this one could be the jackpot. It would not be shocking if Goldman Sachs also broke the law when it comes to software licensing. The company is reckless and views itself as above the law (with privilege of being rescued by the taxpayers whom it loots). The business model of Goldman Sachs is based on fake numbers, speculations, inside trading, and other common abuses. On the other hand, Goldman Sachs was one of the early enterprise adopters of GNU/Linux (on the server).

Analysts and speculators thrive in lies. They say what they are paid to say as objective research rarely pays the bill (people and firms buy bias, not knowledge). The latest meaningless numbers from IDC claim to be showing “market share” in servers, but what IDC knows damn well (yet ignores) is that measuring just revenue is an improper way to measure such things. “Imagine if they could really count all the Linux servers, keeping in mind that you can set up a Linux server for free and tell nobody,” Groklaw remarks about the latest batch of meaningless numbers from IDC, part of IDG.

CNET Shows Anti-Google AstroTurf (‘Consumer’ ‘Watchdog’) is Connected to Edelman, “Microsoft Goes on the Offensive” Against Google

Posted in GNU/Linux, Google, Marketing, Microsoft at 10:09 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

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Summary: Unethical propaganda and AstroTurfing firm Edelman is the original host of an anti-Google project and Microsoft starts going “offensive” against Google in government

THE FIRM which does a lot of work for Microsoft (including bribing bloggers for pro-Microsoft coverage) is one that we already showed to be connected to ‘Consumer’ ‘Watchdog‘, which only ever relentlessly attacks Google (but never Microsoft, even where Microsoft does the exact same things Google is accused of, if not worse). When AstroTurf operation ‘Consumer’ ‘Watchdog’ smears Google it is also going against Android and Chrome OS, which help in bringing GNU/Linux to the masses (at Windows’ expense). So who benefits the most from the acts of ‘Consumer’ ‘Watchdog’? We previously covered its relationship to the Rose Foundation and to Edelman, to whom Microsoft is a major customer. As this new article from CNET puts it:

It used to be affiliated with Grassroots Enterprises, a division of the huge public relations firm Edelman that counts Microsoft among its clients, and, amusingly, uses Google Analytics to chart traffic on sites hosted under its domain. Court said Consumer Watchdog has recently moved its site off Grassroots’ servers and is now using an open-source analytics tool to measure traffic on Consumerwatchdog.com.

“Microsoft Goes on the Offensive after U.S. Government Opts for Google Products” says this other headline, which may relate to observations we made before.

A decision by the U.S. government’s General Services Administration to go with Google over Microsoft for internal messaging has really annoyed the folks at Microsoft.

Wherever the Internet is concerned, Microsoft is going nowhere fast. It’s Google which is gaining a lot of power on the Web (be it good or bad, that’s not the point right now) so Microsoft is distorting the Web, hoping that a large installed base on the desktop would enable Microsoft to poison the Web with proprietary garbage like Silver Lie. Based on what Microsoft booster Gavin Clarke is saying right now, Microsoft has not given up on disrupting the Web for GNU/Linux users — including Chrome OS — and Google’s crawlers just yet (an issue we first brought up in 2007-2008). His article says:

Silverlight 5 will let you host HTML content as browser control so HTML pages can be added to an application. Apps and devices on the PC will be called using COM components – Microsoft first added COM support to Silverlight 4 – while unmanaged code will be called using Pinvoke.

Call it ActiveX 2.0 or whatever; this is Microsoft continued disruption to web standard, which parallels work from the now-dead Novell — work that helps spread .NET in the form of Mono. Speaking of which, watch what OMG!Mono keeps promoting. We’ll deal with this problem later.

At Microsoft, “Choice” Means Adding Windows, Marginalising/Suing GNU/Linux

Posted in Deception, Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, IBM, Microsoft at 9:35 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

TurboHercules

Summary: Microsoft keeps spinning itself as a company promoting choice while it’s actually doing the opposite

WE finally know that TurboHercules is funded by Microsoft (partly owned by Microsoft) and the main mobbyist who promoted the case of TurboHercules and Microsoft (right from the very start) has begun spinning this as a hardware issue. Just like T3 (after it was made partly owned by Microsoft), pretense time is over and mobbyists are shown for what they really are. Groklaw proudly posts a link to this third report about the news that Microsoft is behind TurboHercules, as Groklaw and ourselves have argued all along.

News that the world’s biggest software company has backed a company at the centre of a dispute involving a rival is likely to be watched with interest in Brussels, given a wider pattern that has emerged in investigations involving the technology industry….

The move echoes investments Microsoft has made in companies that have become thorns in IBM’s side. For instance, T3, which complained about IBM’s behaviour in the mainframe market, also had Microsoft as an investor. The software company also put money into PSI, which complained to Brussels over the mainframe market, though it was eventually bought out by IBM.

“Microsoft shares TurboHercules’ belief that there needs to be greater openness and choice for customers in the mainframe market,” a Microsoft spokesperson told The Register (article cited last week). “Hahahaha,” responds Pamela Jones from Groklaw. “Yes, Microsoft is historically always on the side of openness and greater choice for customers. I hate to say I told you so, but I told you so.”

“I hate to say I told you so, but I told you so.”
      –Pamela Jones, Groklaw.
To quote further from Microsoft spin: “Customers tell us that they want greater interoperability between the mainframe and other platforms, including systems that run Windows Server. For that reason, we continue to invest in companies like TurboHercules to develop new solutions for our mutual customers.”

“Microsoft is working towards establishing a long-term community connection” says the headline of this bait ‘article’ (lending Microsoft a platform) which we discussed in last night's episode of TechBytes. Microsoft uses Vijay Rajagopalan, who talks a lot of PR nonsense and leads to a lot of hot debate about how much lying Microsoft can do (apparently it does fool some people). “Microsoft Invests in TurboHercules” says another post that we found. We don’t know yet just how much money Microsoft gave to TurboHercules, but putting all of these things together helps show that Microsoft can only ever pretend to favour openness and choice.

Software giant Microsoft has invested in a small French business called TurboHercules SAS in what analysts are saying is a move by the Windows OS maker to attack rival IBM by proxy. TurboHercules received an undisclosed amount from Microsoft, according to reports.

At Microsoft, promoting “choice” means adding Windows or making Windows-exclusive support. Where Microsoft has a monopoly the word “choice” is never mentioned.

IRC Proceedings: December 5th, 2010

Posted in IRC Logs at 2:13 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

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