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03.02.11

Links 2/3/2011: Linux Everywhere, GIMP 2.8 Plans

Posted in News Roundup at 6:06 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Powered by Linux

    Linux Everywhere

    Do you Google (Nasdaq: GOOG)? You use Linux! Do you do shop at Amazon (Nasdaq: AMZN)? You use Linux! Do you have a router for your home network? Do you have NAS (Network Attached Storage) on your home network for shared backups? Do you own a Logitech (Nasdaq: LOGI) Squeezebox? Do you Tivo your shows?

  • Desktop

    • Windows shuts door on user, Linux welcomes the guest!

      It happened a few nights ago. My sister pulled out her laptop & was all set to do her work on it. As the login screen on her windows vista laptop prompted, she religiously entered her credentials only to be shown the door out by windows.

      [...]

      Linux came to the rescue when Windows seem to have shut its door on its loyal user.

  • Audiocasts/Shows

  • Kernel Space

    • Is Linus’ Law still valid?

      But I wonder if that Linus’ Law is really as effective today as it was 10 years ago. Today Free Software is much richer and more complex than it was in the 90s.

    • Kernel Log: Coming in 2.6.38 (Part 4) – Storage

      Expected in March, the forthcoming kernel will contain the new LIO target framework for implementing Storage Area Networks (SANs). Also new are a kernel-side media presence polling feature for disk drives and various Device Mapper optimisations that are relevant for desktop systems.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC)

      • Dropbox for KDE

        A question I have been coming across a lot lately has been, “How do I get Dropbox to work with KDE?” Most have probably noticed that when you go to the Dropbox website and go to download it, it is for GNOME and the Nautilus file manager. Unfortunately for us KDE users, we don’t use Nautilus. Or I could say fortunately for us KDE users, but I am sure that will start all kinds of flame wars in the comments. Instead, KDE utilizes Dolphin as its file manager. I will use this post to show you how to quickly get Dropbox installed and up-and-running in KDE, without the use of the terminal or command line.

    • GNOME Desktop

      • Why Did They Take My GNOME Buttons Away?

        To answer this, Allan Day, GNOME Marketing Contractor, has offered his explanation. For him, there are a number of factors for the removals. First he says that the minimize button is no longer of any use in GNOME 3 as there is no dock or window list. Where would a window minimize to? GNOME wants to focus on the new rather than trying to make the old work in some logical manner. Overall, he thinks this makes for a more streamlined experience.

  • Distributions

    • Getting Started With Linux: Pick The Right Linux Flavour For You

      Don’t try to set up Arch Linux during a lunch break. Do dig into Arch Linux if you want to learn way more about Linux, get a system at just the right size and configuration for your needs, and want a crash course in how to tweak a Linux system for better performance.

      Want some detailed guidance on the process? Whitson already showed us a step-by-step Arch installation, ending up with a system he’s still digging into today.

      As noted, we couldn’t possibly cover all the distributions out there, or even give full due to some of the more popular varieties: openSUSE, Debian, Sabayon, and the adorable and teeny-tiny Puppy. No slight intended, but we just don’t have as much experience with them. If you think a particular distribution is very friendly to beginners, whether yourself or another first-timer you know, give us the scoop on it in the comments.

    • Red Hat Family

      • Scientific Linux 6 RC2 is released| with screenshots

        Scientific Linux (SL) is a Linux distribution produced by Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory and the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN). It is a free and open source operating system based on Red Hat Enterprise Linux and aims to be 100% compatible with and based on Red Hat Enterprise Linux.

      • U.S. Government Configuration Baseline for Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5

        On February 28, 2011, the U.S. Government Configuration Baseline (USGCB) for Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 was released. The long awaited Security Content Automation Protocol (SCAP) content is the next phase in supplanting the legacy Bourne shell scripts collectively known as the System Readiness Review (SRR) scripts.

        In 2010, the USGCB replaced the Federal Desktop Core Configuration (FDCC) which has always been associated with Microsoft® software. The USGCB initiative is to create security configuration baselines for Information Technology products widely deployed across the federal agencies.

      • Controversy surrounds Red Hat’s “obfuscated” source code release

        Red Hat has changed the way it ships the source code for the Linux kernel. Previously, it was released as a standard kernel with a collection of patches which could be applied to create the source code of the kernel Red Hat used. Now though, the company ships a tarball of the source code with the patches already applied. This change, noted by Maxillian Attems and LWN.net, appears to be aimed at Oracle, who like others, repackage Red Hat’s source as the basis for its Unbreakable Linux. Removing the visibility of information about which patches have, or have not, been applied will be difficult for companies like Oracle who use the patch information so they know what state the Red Hat kernel is in before applying their own patches.

      • Fedora

        • Defaulting to open.

          One of the fundamental principles I think our community expects from Fedora is that we default to open wherever possible. In other words, unless carrying out a process in an open and transparent way would be impossible (legal reasons, for example), we should do it. And by and large, we really do.

          [...]

          This post was prompted by a couple instances recently where I saw teams not reaching out for each other to ask questions or give information. I haven’t seen evidence of any widespread trends; in general, Fedora team members do a great job of communicating across teams. These instances were exceptions to the rule, but it would be fantastic if those exceptions never happened at all. (Zero may be an unattainable goal, but that doesn’t make it the wrong goal.) I’m not calling out specifics simply because they wouldn’t change the value of the ideas and practices discussed here.

    • Debian Family

      • Testing SimplyMEPIS 11.0 Beta 2 again, then antiX core and aptosid

        I used the version of SimplyMEPIS, Version 11.0 Beta 2 that I had already installed on my Gateway 2000 series portable 17″ PA6A system, but when I moved on to antiX core and aptosid, I ran both of these systems directly from DVDs that I had recently created. But I did something else; I loaded their images completely into memory.

      • Canonical/Ubuntu

        • Wayland snapshot available for Ubuntu 11.04

          A snapshot of the Wayland display server has been uploaded to the Ubuntu 11.04 Universe repository. Canonical developer Bryce Harrington says in his announcement that this has little relevance to end users and is experimental code intended to act as a foundation and starting point for packaging and further development work.

        • Canonical: Hardened corporate or community leader?

          Open Source is starting to become a very lucrative business model these days and I think we have Google to thank for that. However, this means money is coming in for people who didn’t get much before and who feel that it’s long overdue.

        • Ubuntu fast becoming Linux pariah

          Bruce Byfield said that political manipulation of the various software projects has miffed a lot of Open Saucers. They feel that Ubuntu is choosing projects on the basis the ability to dominate the projects that dominate its software stack.

          Shuttleworth got miffed at the glacial pace that Gnome was making interface improvements and he moved to beef up interface software called Unity and this meant that many Canonical developers were suddenly not supporting Gnome.

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Phones

      • Nokia/MeeGo/Maemo

        • froglogic Confident of the Qt Platform’s Future

          froglogic announces its continued support for, and confidence in, the Qt platform. After making significant investments in Qt and MeeGo, Nokia recently announced that it will use Windows Phone as the operating system for its smartphones. As a result many questions about the future of the Qt Platform have been raised. froglogic would like to share its take on the situation and on Qt’s future.

Free Software/Open Source

  • It’s the Free Software, stupid!

    Heated discussions are going on in the KDE community in the aftermath of the announcement of Nokia’s platform strategy change. Rationality often goes out of the window when people feel such a change goes against their personal values or beliefs. In the past days, I worked on an analysis of the impact of the changes on KDAB, Qt and the Free Software communities we work with, especially KDE. KDAB is rooted deeply in the KDE community, and many of our developers work with Qt and KDE for years now. We are sharing the same worries and hopes, so the results may be interesting for others as well. This post is about Qt, KDE, Free Software, politics, devices, markets, strategies – it does not get much better than that. Read on.

  • Open Source Software is not Free

    I believe this statement to be true for a number of reasons. The important thing to recognize is that I believe the “free” in this quote and the “free” in FOSS are two different types of “free”. In the quote the “free” refers to a monetary value. Even if you pay no monetary value for software – that software cost someone, somewhere, something. Whether that something is a paycheck for the software developer coming from a company backing the project or it is simply a dedicated individual hacking at code during his spare moments – that “free” software comes at a cost to someone.

  • The Ins and Outs of Open Source Audits: Part One

    No matter what industry your business is in, you’re almost certainly using open source software. The question is whether you know how you’re using open source, what licenses are in play, and whether you’re meeting all of your license requirements. If you can’t answer all of these questions — and most businesses can’t — you may want to perform an open source audit as a starting point. Why? An audit can answer the question of what Open Source Software (OSS) is present in your code and what licenses that OSS falls under.

  • Open Source Junction: cross-platform mobile apps

    The open source mobile app space is getting increasingly crowded. The recent opportunities for developers to produce and distribute mobile apps through a range of app stores is taking the developer world by storm. If, as the saying goes, all people dream of writing a poem at least once in a lifetime, then perhaps there aren’t many developers out there either who haven’t dreamed of building a great mobile app themselves.

  • thebigword Goes Open-Source as Lisa Shuts Down

    The global language services company, thebigword, has announced it will open-source part of its language technology software in order to support industry standards.

  • Events

    • SCALE 9X: It’s a wrap

      More people: SCALE had been flirting with overwhelming success all weekend. Friday’s “problem” at registration was that the folks in that department faced a lot more people than normally come on a Friday, to the point of where 800 of the attendees for the weekend came on Friday. The final tally — 1,802. So 1,002 folks came over the weekend to make this a record year for SCALE, and as a result, it makes the outlook for FOSS this year really robust. So get out there and FOSS it up, folks.

    • Scale 9x: Day 3

      The final day of SCALE 9x arrived far too early, since the Gentoo developers were still recovering from the merriment the previous evening/morning. We congregated in the hotel room Mike & I shared. You know you’re having some good times when hotel security places a call to your room, asking you to keep the noise down.

  • Funding

    • Boxee Gets $16 Million in Funding for its Media Center Platform

      New frontiers lie ahead for open source media center platform, Boxee, which we’ve covered ever since it was born. Today, the company is announcing a very healthy infusion of $16.5 million in venture funding, featuring some heavy-hitting new investors, and ones that had already invested. Boxee’s previous round of funding was only $6 million and came when the company had only 12 employees.

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • Exciting developments in GNU Radio

      GNU Radio had a pretty good year in 2010, and we are already on track for an even more productive year in 2011. While we only produced one release in 2010, a large amount of work went into our source repository to improve the quality and stability of the project, and we are on track for a new release soon that incorporates many of these fixes into a new stable release. From here, we have been implementing some major improvements and additions to GNU Radio that will be part of the releases in 2011, so 2010 was an important year for getting us to the next major milestones.

      [...]

      We are directly pursuing this by hosting the first GNU Radio conference in September of 2011.

  • Government

    • Open Source Tool Helps US DoD Eye in the Sky To See

      The US Department of Defense is awash in digital images and videos taken by a variety of sources including satellites, manned airplanes and unmanned drones. Going through all of that imagery by hand would take untold resources that the DoD just doesn’t have. Instead the DoD has turned to a computer vision program to help sort through the imagery. The programs they use are supplied by Kitware and get ready for this – are open source! That’s right the US Department of Defense is using open source computer vision solutions to help identify potential threats.

    • Death, taxes and open source software certainties

      Open source software gets a lot of positive press. Along with death and taxes we can say that this is a fair certainty. But are there hidden and very blatant flaws that we should be looking out for and be aware of?

      The Coverity Scan 2010 Open Source Integrity Report was launched at the end of last year to examine open source software integrity and was originally initiated between the company itself and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

  • Programming

    • Origins (Part 01)

      It may seem odd to people today, but programming came around long before the computer. Actually, it came about so much earlier that it wasn’t really recognizable as such. The three earliest examples I can think of are the Antikythera Mechanism, the Castle Clock, and the Jacquard Loom. The Antikythera Mechanism was a mechanical computer designed to calculate astronomical positions. It is estimated to be from about 150 BCE, and is thought to be of Greek origin. Much later The “castle clock” of Al-Jazari (1206 CE) displayed the orbits of the Sun and Moon, along with the Zodiac. On the Castle Clock, one could change the length of day and night, important for the seasons. The first largely reprogrammable (something more than day and night on the Castle Clock) device that I found anything about was the Jacquard Loom. The Jacquard loom used punch cards to change the pattern of weaves going through the device. This was so profound a revelation that our early computers used these cards as well. These three innovations are by no means the limit of pre-computer programming, but they were important achievements. They show the want of mankind to automate tasks before significant means to do so had been made available.

Leftovers

  • Mayor Ford would aim to privatize TCHC

    Toronto Mayor Rob Ford says he would “absolutely” consider privatizing the Toronto Community Housing Corporation in the wake of revelations of wasteful spending and untendered contracts at the agency.

    Ford made the comment in a Wednesday morning interview with Toronto radio station Newstalk 1010.

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

    • Fox News uses fake footage to make Wisconsin protests seem violent

      Doesn’t seem to get much lower than this. Remember the peaceful protests for worker’s rights in Wisconsin that Vanessa wrote about last week? Via Amanda Marcotte, it looks like ever-trustworthy Fox News is using fake footage to make it seem as if the Wisconsin protests are violent.

    • UK: Stop Rupert Murdoch!

      Murdoch has exploited his vast media empire to push war in Iraq, elect George W Bush, spread resentment of muslims and immigrants, and block global action on climate change. And he has interfered with our democracy — determining our election results, bolstering political careers in exchange for influence and destroying others with media smears when they refuse to do his bidding.

Clip of the Day

Gigabyte M528 MID, Ubuntu Mobile UI


Credit: TinyOgg

BSA is Lobbying (and Lying) to Exclude Software Freedom From the British Public Sector

Posted in Deception, Europe, Free/Libre Software, Law, Microsoft, Patents, Standard at 11:53 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Big Ben at dusk

Summary: A Microsoft front group, the Business Software Alliance, leans on the British government to reverse policies that favour software freedom through open standards

THE BSA strikes again. Mark Taylor writes: “Apparently the BSA have started whining about the new Cabinet Office policy on Open Standards… now there’s a big surprise” (not!).

Well, he wrote this in Twitter anyway (disclosure: I work for Sirius, his company). Glyn Moody found this accompanying article about the subject, noting: “great slapdown of BSA’s kneejerk FUD” (and below are some expansive quotes for future reference).

Government departments were told in a Cabinet Office policy note (PDF) dated 31 January that they “should wherever possible deploy open standards in their procurement specifications”. In its note, it defined open standards at those that are “publicly available at zero or low cost” and that have “intellectual property made irrevocably available on a royalty-free basis”.

On Tuesday, the Business Software Alliance (BSA) lashed out at the policy, which puts software companies with proprietary standards at a disadvantage.

[...]

However, open-source advocates such as the Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE) complained that the EIFv2, compared with the first version, showed the Commission had abandoned the idea of mandating open standards as a “key enabler for interoperability”.

Mark Taylor, chief executive of the open-source systems integration firm Sirius, said the BSA’s response to the government policy note was “rubbish” and “absolutely predictable”.

“A lot of time and effort was spent by those particular interests lobbying in Brussels,” Taylor told ZDNet UK. “EIFv2 was definitely a step back from EIFv1.”

The BSA said that the EIFv2 created a “level-playing field” for all types of software, including open source, to compete in providing the public sector with interoperable solutions. According to Taylor, this statement is “not true” and the new European recommendation is “discriminatory against open source”.

“Fortunately, the UK government is one of the governments that had identified that,” Taylor said. “If EIFv2 hadn’t been a step backwards, there would be no need for governments like the UK government to come out with these policies.”

Über-lawyer Carlo Piana quotes: “BSA strongly supports Open Standards, if we agree what ‘open’ means…”

In response, writes Piana, “eg h.264 yes, webm no? ie a travesty!”

The BSA is trying to characterise proprietary and monopoly as “open” and “choice”. It’s the same lie Microsoft uses.

AICTE’s (India) Back Room Deals With Microsoft: Taxpayers Stay Out!

Posted in Asia, Free/Libre Software, Microsoft at 11:37 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Public institutions, secretive deals

AICTE's letter to Narendra Sisodiya

Summary: The sham at AICTE (All India Council for Technical Education) goes deeper than initially thought

IT SMELLS like corruption. Well, Microsoft is involved, so back room deals are a standard routine. The AICTE fiasco is a subject that we’ve been writing about since last year and Narendra Sisodiya, an educator promoting software freedom in India, is now appealing with help from SFLC-India in order to get to the bottom of it. To quote his letter (response to the above statement):

To

The Appellate Authority(E-Governance) in AICTE,

7th Floor, Chanderlok Building, Janpath

New Delhi- 110 001

Sir,

Sub: Appeal under Section 19 of the Right to Information Act, 2005.

Ref.: Application under the Right to Information Act, 2005 dated 21-10-2010

This is with reference to my application under Right to Information Act, 2005 dated October 21, 2010 filed before the The Central Public Information Officer, All India Council for Technical Education, 7th Floor, Chanderlok Building, Janpath, New Delhi- 110 001, for obtaining the following information:

1. Copy of the agreement signed on 15 October 2010 between between All India Council for Technical Education and Microsoft to deliver free access to development software and design software for institutions, students and faculty in India under DreamSpark program

2. Copy of the agreement signed on 15 October 2010 between All India Council for Technical Education and Autodesk to deliver free access to development software and design software for institutions, students and faculty in India

In response to my application, the CPIO has sent a letter dated January 11, 2011 refusing to provide the information requested, as per Section 8(1) of the RTI Act as the information is coming under commercial confidence, trade secrets or intellectual property. It is submitted that the letter does not specify reasons as to how the disclosure of an agreement entered with an organisation to provide software to students will result in giving information relating to commercial confidence, trade secrets or intellectual property. The CPIO has not given any justification for denying the information sought by the applicant. The letter furnished by the CPIO is not a speaking order and hence the refusal to provide information is not justifiable.

An agreement entered with an organisation to provide software to students cannot be withheld from the public citing commercial confidence as a reason. The Central Information Commission has held in Gita Dewan Verma Vs. Additional Secretary (UD) Govt. of NCT Delhi decided on 27.01.2009 that claim of ‘commercial confidence’ in denying access to agreements between private parties and the masters of the Public authorities,- Citizens, – runs counter to the principles of the Right to Information. The Central Information Commission has held in K.S. Jasrotia v Hindustan Steelworks Construction Limited dated 18-05-2007 that Memorandum of Understanding between two parties should not be treated as confidential papers. Hence withholding the information sought for from the applicant is unjustifiable and against the provisions of the Right to Information Act, 2005.

As per Section 8(1) (d) of the RTI Act, 2005, there shall be no obligation to give any citizen information including commercial confidence, trade secrets or intellectual property, the disclosure of which would harm the competitive position of a third party, unless the competent authority is satisfied that larger public interest warrants the disclosure of such information (emphasis supplied). AICTE is vested with the role of proper planning and co-ordinated development of the technical education system throughout the country. The agreement entered into by AICTE with Microsoft Corp and Autodesk has definite public interest considering the fact that it has a direct bearing on education provided to the student community. The Government of India and many State Governments have undertaken various initiatives to promote Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) in the field of education as well as governance. Recently a letter was sent by Mr. N. K. Sinha, IAS, Additional Secretary (TEL), Department of Higher Education, MHRD to AICTE and Directors/VCs of Central Educational Institutions to explore Open Source Software Solutions before adopting proprietary solutions for their academic, administrative and financial needs. A copy of this letter dated January 12, 2011 is enclosed along with this appeal. In the light of initiatives undertaken by the Government in promoting Free and Open Source Software (FOSS), it is in public interest to disclose details of an agreement entered into by AICTE that could result in promotion of proprietary software. Knowledge Commons is a Non-profit organisation involved in development of Free software like SchoolOS, in collaboration with NCERT, and hence has a public interest in learning the details of such agreements entered into by the AICTE. As the information sought for is in larger public interest, the refusal to provide the information to the applicant is unjustifiable.

For the reasons stated above, I request you to quash the decision of the CPIO and to direct that the required information be furnished to the applicant at the earliest. I am enclosing a copy of the application along with this appeal.

Although the letter from the CPIO is dated January 11, 2011, it was delivered much later at my office and as I was on sick leave, I received the letter only on February 14, 2011. Considering these facts, I request you to condone the short delay in filing the appeal.

Encl:

1.

Copy of application under RTI Act, 2005 dated October 21, 2010
2.

Letter dated January 12, 2011 of Additional Secretary (TEL), Department of Higher Education

Place: New Delhi

Date: 28/Feb/2011

Signature of Applicant

E-mail Address :- narendra@narendrasisodiya.com

Tel. No.(Office) :- 011-26693563

Mobile :- 9312166995

Postal Address :- B-130, Lower Ground Floor, Shivalik, Malviya Nagar, New Delhi – 110 017

Our Indian readers are kindly asked to help Narendra Sisodiya by sending similar complaints. India’s population should demand real education (not Microsoft et al. training), so it should take this abuse to the highest level. Under scrutiny, those who sign secret deals will have to flee — maybe even get fired — or simply improve their behaviour.

Software Patents + Litigation = Misconduct

Posted in Patents at 11:24 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Not just the recipe of patent trolls

Prison

Summary: Another sob story involving software patents, this time ending badly for Rosenthal Collins

AS companies keep bragging about earning patent monopolies on software we try to accumulate a sample of the associated problems. A few days ago we showed evidence of misconduct and now there is a fine of “$1M for misconduct in patent case with Trading Technologies”:

The two companies countersued each other in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, with Rosenthal Collins filing a lawsuit in 2005 against Trading Technologies to fend off allegations of patent infringement, and Trading Technologies filing counterclaims of infringement on two of its electronic trading software patents. While the Rosenthal Collins claims have now been dismissed, the Trading Technologies claims remain, with damages yet to be determined.

This must be the recipe for innovation, right?

IEEE is Still Against Scientists, Protects Monopolies Instead

Posted in Patents at 11:15 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Criticism of the IEEE’s stance on monopoly, both in past and at present

THIS IS A tough subject to write about. As a necessary disclosure, I’ve presented at IEEE-organised events and I may do so in the future, so my criticism of the IEEE is intended to be constructive, it strives to help the organisation by highlighting flaws. I’ve written negatively about the IEEE (it even made the front page of Slashdot) in posts such as:

There are several more complaints like these, but they are not necessarily in Techrights. The notion of an untouchable IEEE that cannot ever do any wrong is misguided because the IEEE can be quite malicious at times, just like ISO. Rob Weir has just joked in Twitter by writing: “I suspect that today the 10 Commandments would be written by an ISO committee, copyrighted, and require a licence.”

“They are not a service for the people, contrary to common delusions.”Yes, some of these organisations work like a business. They are not a service for the people, contrary to common delusions. It’s more like those “guilds” and other such fronts for companies with common interests. There is even competition between several organisations which do similar and at times overlapping things, so to disown the IEEE and ISO is not impossible or even impractical.

Stav from Identica has pointed out that “[p]roposed patent reform legislation in US Senate will disadvantage small and startup companies.” See what we wrote about it in older posts which note that the “reform” is not actually solving the real issues. It’s more like a hijack of the word “reform”, which prevents real reforms from taking place. After the IEEE-USA had lobbied for software patents (see links above), there was yet more evidence that it did its unhelpful thing. To quote the new article from Stav’s dent (“IEEE-USA, others challenge patent reform”):

A handful of groups fired off letters opposing a draft patent reform bill the U.S. Senate will debate starting Monday (Feb. 28). Their common theme: the legislation will disadvantage small and startup companies.

The IEEE-USA, the National Small Business Association (NSBA) and a group including seven other organizations said the draft bill will give large corporations a leg up in winning patents.

[...]

Senator Patrick Leahy (D., Vt.) challenged the groups’ assertions in one of a regular stream of emails from his office promoting the draft bill. Leahy has been one of the leading champions of efforts over several years to pass a patent reform bill.

Leahy said the bill “will require the PTO to provide a 50 percent reduction in fees for small business and will create a new micro-entity designation for truly small and independent inventors [who] will receive a 75 percent reduction in fees,” he said.

This is not really the key question; the problem is that patents as a whole do not offer any benefits to small businesses. They just cannot find something to sue giants for (without being sued in return, using a much broader patent portfolio). But more importantly, watch what the IEEE does regarding copyrights: [Matt Blaze's blog, via Glyn Moody]

Why do IEEE and ACM act against the interests of scholars?

[...]

In my field, computer science (the very field which, ironically, created all this new publishing technology in the first place), some of the most restrictive copyright policies can be found in the two largest and oldest professional societies: the ACM and the IEEE.

Fortunately, these copyrights have been honored mostly in the breach as far as author-based web publishing has been concerned. Many academics make their papers available on their personal web sites, a practice that a growing number of university libraries, including my own, have begun to formalize by hosting institution-wide web repositories of faculty papers. This practice has flourished largely through a liberal reading of a provision — a loophole — in many copyright agreements that allows authors to share “preprint” versions of their papers.

But times may be changing, and not for the better. Some time in January, the IEEE apparently quietly revised its copyright policy to explicitly forbid us authors from sharing the “final” versions of our papers on the web, now reserving that privilege to themselves (available to all comers, for the right price). I found out about this policy change in an email sent to all faculty at my school from our librarian this morning…

As an ‘old school’ publisher, the IEEE still advocates protectionism and not sharing. It still services big players while forgetting those small members whom it gives some illusion of support. If the IEEE cares about the advancement of science, then it will encourage dissemination of knowledge and fight against patent monopolies. It’s rather clear which side the IEEE is on, yet again.

Spain is Still Against the EU Patent

Posted in Europe, Patents at 10:42 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Flags of EU and Spain

Summary: Opposition to the software patents loophole arrives from Spain, contrary to disinformation amid the rush for expansionism

“Spain [is] opposed to close cooperation in matter of EU patents,” argues the president of the FFII based on this new article/opinion which says: “your correspondent claims that the Italian and Spanish opposition to enhanced co-operation in the field of the European patent is based on their perception “that the translation regime would focus heavily on French, German and English”.”

The headline of the said article from FT is “Unequivocal reason to oppose enhanced co-operation”. As we explained a couple of months back, there is no consensus on the EU patent and fortunately this helps impede the intrusion of software patents into Europe (there are talks about blackmailing Spain into it). In other patent news from Europe, “Patent row gets Playstation 3s banned from Europe” and “PS3 imports banned in patent row” (both are headlines from the British press). To quote: “European customs officers have been told to seize all shipments of PlayStation 3s (PS3), following a patent row between Sony and LG.”

“[W]e all know patents are good for consumers,” Gordon (of TechBytes) wrote sarcastically, “stock seized and banned” (smell the scent of “innovation”). This is what maximisation of patent monopolies and cross-border actions may lead to.

Eye on Security: Windows and Mac OS X Can’t Get Security Right

Posted in Apple, Security, Windows at 10:26 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Secrecy is not security

Chained door

Summary: Our latest accumulation of security problems found in proprietary operating systems

HP Acquires Firm Hostile Towards Free Software, a Microsoft Ally

Posted in Free/Libre Software, FUD, HP, Microsoft, Petitions, Security at 10:17 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: New article about software patents reveals that HP, under new leadership, has quietly bought a group of Microsoft allies (Fortify)

Following Hurd’s departure [1, 2, 3, 4] a former Microsoft ally was made the CEO of HP [1, 2, 3, 4] and this is important because of HP’s leading position in the desktops/servers market, not to mention all of its patents. “Every time a software patent is registered, an angel is bludgeoned to death with a shoe,” wrote “MrAlanCooper” to a former Microsoft employee. Yesterday we noticed this article about software patents in security, in which it’s mentioned that Fortify has just been acquired by HP. It’s important because Fortify too is a Microsoft ally, as we noted in [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]. The article says:

Can you patent the obvious? Apparently when it comes to software security, maybe you can. Gary McGraw explains how another party may get a patent on a technique he had a hand in inventing.

The notion of software patents is extremely controversial. The basic idea is simple and mirrors “regular” patents. An inventor invents something and files a number of claims about the invention. The Patent Office reviews the filing and determines whether to grant a patent for the invention. Holding a patent guarantees the inventor some rights to enjoy the fruits of the invention for a fixed period of time. Not so bad if you invent the next great inside-the-peel Tomato twaddler, but a bit harder to understand in the software space.

Can you patent the obvious? Apparently when it comes to software security, maybe you can.

[...]

On to patent land. Apparently the security testing firm Cenzic believes that they deserve a patent for software fault injection. In February 2007 (a decade after our book was published) Cenzic was awarded patent number 7185232 for “fault injection methods and apparatus.” The basic claims in the patent involve injecting some faulty input into a web program (thing one) and watching for error responses (thing two). Very nice. Or maybe not. A grass roots effort to collect prior art and dispute the patent is being spearheaded on the net byEnrique A. Sanchez Montellano.

As an inventor of security technology, I am not completely opposed to the idea of software patents. In fact, we hold eight patents in various aspects of software security at Cigital (some of which are likely to be infringed upon). We like the idea of licensing our ideas and our prototypes to others. In fact, that’s exactly what happened with Fortify which was recently acquired by HP. We licensed our code scanning ideas and prototypes to Kleiner-Perkins who went on to found Fortify, build a real commercial product, and sell the heck out of it. So the notion of protecting our ideas with patents is not foreign to us.

A lot could be said about the article’s attitude w.r.t. software patents, but the news that we missed about Fortify may be important in the future. Fortify attacks Free software quite routinely, so it’s unclear why HP would want this culture to become ‘in-house’. Incidentally, considering that Hurd was fired after Microsoft had pointed out that his work on a homebrew Linux-based operating system was a major threat (c/f SEC filing), one ought to watch carefully what Apotheker does at HP. Microsoft also named Intel’s work on MeeGo as a major threat (alongside HP) and we all know what Microsoft did to Nokia [1, 2, 3, 4], harming MeeGo a great deal using entryism (a manager from BT privately told us by mail that it was probably illegal, he called it “100% corrupt”). Yesterday we wrote about the contractual obligations of Micromoles. Watch out, HP.

Microsoft way

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