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03.30.11

The FFII Reports Bad Faith at the European Patent Office

Posted in Europe, Microsoft at 11:18 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The office of bureaucrats and businessmen, not science and technology

Golf ball in the fairway

Summary: The EPO is evolving into an independent monster lacking regulation and disconnected from seminal commitment to public interest

Patent offices are a funny sort of ‘organism’. They treat patents like business and the more patents (monopolies) they approve, the more money they can make. These organisations begin to justify their own existence by accentuating and emphasising their supposedly important role even when it harms the public. The USPTO offers plenty of examples of that and people sometimes die because of them (notable examples relate to drug treatment). The EPO has a blog now (who hasn’t?) and it goes on in MBA-speak about “Improving the patent system” (which means improving it for the EPO, not for the public). “EPO to go lobby physically MEPs and EU Ministers to become the institution outside the control of Parliament” is how the president of the FFII interprets this post and David Hammerstein, a former European member of parliament, writes:

Preparation for new EU framework for research and innovation in 2013. European Patent system. New financing mechanism. Remove bottlenecks

“Europe needs a new software patent directive, software patents through the backdoor,” adds the president of the FFI, who is linking to this article in French for support of his claim. The FFII’s Web site has meanwhile published a warning about the attempt to use liability burden as part of those legal instruments we see Microsoft pushing for because this marginalises Free/libre software. Our previous post was also about that blunder. To quote the press release from the FFII’s Web site:

The European Parliament wants to make software producers liable for defects. Ahead of the vote on the Consumer Rights Directive on Thursday 24 March, a political agreement amongst the groups in the European Parliament would put software and webservices providers liable for damages under the goal of providing consumer protection.

“During the software patent debate we underlined that Data processing is no field of technology”, explains FFII president Benjamin Henrion. “The physical world is different from the digital environment”. He continues: “Similar to the software patent directive, it is another piece of legislation that makes software development a much more risky business”.

Both Microsoft and Free software (their representatives at least) lobbied against that. But who is bound to suffer just financial toll and who is bound to be blown out of the market if this thing gets approved? Yes, it would be beneficial to Microsoft.

Over in Jamaica there is this report about so-called “anti-piracy software” (a concept which does not exist in the free software world) getting a software patent burden attached to it. How quaint:

Kariblink Digital, a local based web firm aims to patent software it has already developed to ‘Whiplash’ piracy by instantly shutting down illegal online rebroadcasters.

The firm currently awaits a response from the international copyright body having already paid the requisite fees.

About those “requisite fees”, guess who gets the money? The patent systems as they exist today are a disgrace because they are not obliged to actually serve the public, just themselves. The EPO takes that same sad road to irrelevance (in the public eye).

“Staff at the European Patent Office went on strike accusing the organization of corruption: specifically, stretching the standards for patents in order to make more money.

“One of the ways that the EPO has done this is by issuing software patents in defiance of the treaty that set it up.”

Richard Stallman

”In Europe Microsoft Have Been Putting Significant Resources in Backing The Setting Up Of the European Patent Office“

Posted in Europe, Free/Libre Software, Law, Microsoft at 10:45 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“It is not the policy of the EPO to require or examine source codes […]. Moreover, given the length and complexity of source code listings, which can often stretch to hundreds of pages, it would be quite impossible to examine them.” —European Patent Office brochure

Summary: How Microsoft lobbies to change public policies such that they discriminate, intentionally, against software freedom

THE BRAND “Microsoft” may only be a scapegoat; it’s not the brand which corrupts systems, it is the highly-influential sociopaths who accommodate the corporation who view themselves as having infinite entitlement, to the point where they are allowed to bribe whoever necessary to change the laws. One self-serving law-changer is Bill Gates, who shelters himself behind a foundation which spends about $1,000,000 per day just buying the press (they call it “advocacy”). Other major lobbyists work behind the scenes and many of these activities are undisclosed.

The situation in New Zealand as far as software patenting goes is not encouraging and Daniel Reurich explains how Microsoft uses legal instruments (as mentioned yesterday) to make things worse for GNU/Linux and software freedom. It’s like barbwiring the market to protect Microsoft’s status quo, finding new ways to label the competition “illegal”. As Reurich put it (NZICT is a Microsoft-backed lobby, it's nothing to do with "NZ" interests):

Sounds to me like Microsoft is resurrecting it’s FUD campaign. Of course Chapman Tripp have in the past provided council for Microsoft in NZ and given that Microsoft used it’s power over NZICT to try and slip in a secret Supplementary Order Paper, I’d figure this is Microsofts next step.

It seems that Microsoft are franticly purchase the law that allows them to maintain their monopoly on computer systems right across the world.

[...]

In Europe Microsoft have been putting significant resources in backing the setting up of the European Patent Office.

Europe’s similarity to New Zealand in that regard is a subject we addressed before (the likes of Microsoft use “device” as a syntactic trick). Microsoft’s Marshall Phelps gloated about the EPO not being able to “distinguish between hardware and software so the patents get issued anyway.” That’s just what Microsoft wanted and later on it got its way with FAT patents in Europe. As part of the thread above we have:

They are never going to stop. They have a lot of money, they have a lot of influence, they have a lot of friends in very high places all over the world. It’s going to take an eternal vigilance to keep them at bay.

Microsoft is a very major player among the software patents lobby. Then we have the patent lawyers, who are desperately defending the acts of patent trolls, too (who are themselves part of the litigation pipeline that feeds lawyers). It’s all just a big pile of propaganda. Even Gates himself once admitted that “[i]f people had understood how patents would be granted when most of today’s ideas were invented, and had taken out patents, the industry would be at a complete standstill today.”

Microsoft has no qualm about lying if it helps pass laws that forbid software freedom and make Microsoft patent boosters like Nathan Myhrvold and Bill Gates a lot richer (they both accrue power and money using patents these days, including their patents on nuclear technology that they jointly lobby for).

Why Today’s European Commission Could Face Legal Action for Selling Out to Microsoft

Posted in Europe, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Vista 7, Windows at 10:00 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Siim Kallas - GWB
Siim Kallas with George Bush

Summary: Vendor-neutral tendering processes which the Commission ought to be preaching for is not even a tenet honoured by the Commission itself; Jan Wildeboer speaks out against this unacceptable behaviour

The latest incarnation of Vista, called Vista 7, is hardly in the news anymore. There is nothing exciting about it. People could never really name any compelling reason to move from Windows XP to Vista 7. For all we know, based on very recent incidents, all that is special about Vista 7 is that it is a lot more likely to get bricked by updates (made unbootable) than Windows XP.

Earlier this week there was renewed interest in the way Europe handles software procurement. There is plenty of room for improvement and linking to Wildeboer’s blog, Robert Pogson has just said that “Switzerland [is] Owned” by Microsoft (reusing Wildeboer’s words). As a refresher:

A court has ruled that it is OK for the government to buy thousands of PCs with that other OS without public tenders preventing providers of GNU/Linux from competing. One judge disagreed but it was not enough to open the bidding process. This was a migration from XP to Vista/”7″ so it was a lot of work either way but the government did not use an open bidding process as is usual.

We wrote about this case of bad procurement in Switzerland under, e.g.:

  1. Microsoft Sued Over Its Corruption in Switzerland, Microsoft Debt Revisited
  2. Can the United Kingdom and Hungary Still be Sued for Excluding Free Software?
  3. 3 New Counts of Antitrust Violation by Microsoft?
  4. Is Microsoft Breaking the Law in Switzerland Too?
  5. Microsoft Uses Lobbyists to Attack Holland’s Migration to Free Software and Sort of Bribes South African Teachers Who Use Windows
  6. ZDNet/eWeek Ruins Peter Judge’s Good Article by Attacking Red Hat When Microsoft Does the Crime
  7. Week of Microsoft Government Affairs: a Look Back, a Look Ahead
  8. Lawsuit Against Microsoft/Switzerland Succeeds So Far, More Countries/Companies Should Follow Suit
  9. Latest Reports on Microsoft Bulk Deals Being Blocked in Switzerland, New Zealand
  10. Swiss Government and Federal Computer Weekly: Why the Hostility Towards Free Software?
  11. Switzerland and the UK Under Fire for Perpetual Microsoft Engagements
  12. Lawsuit Over Alleged Microsoft Corruption in Switzerland Escalates to Federal Court
  13. When Microsoft-Only/Lock-in is Defined as “Technology”
  14. Microsoft’s Allegedly Illegal Swiss Contracts to Take People to Court Again
  15. Microsoft’s Allegedly Illegal US Procurement Gets Frozen After Lawsuit

Bearing in mind the status of this case, there might still be room for reversal of Microsoft deals, so regarding this new report about Vista 7 plans in EU bodies, Wildeboer has a lot to say:

At a secret meeting last December, Commission civil servants agreed in principle to upgrade more than 36,000 desktop computers in European institutions to Windows 7 without holding a public tender. The proposed move could tie the Commission to Microsoft for the next four to five years, flying in the face of the Commission’s own advice to avoid public procurement lock-in.

Jan Wildeboer of Linux distributor Red Hat said on Wednesday that he was very disappointed in the decision. “The Commission’s supposed deal with Microsoft is not really strengthening its own message of avoiding lock-in. We are hopeful that the Commission will practice what it preaches. In the interests of a fair and free market we must have vendor-neutral tendering,” he said at an event organized by open source advocates in Brussels. Commission representatives attending the event were visibly uncomfortable, but did not comment.

The Commission should be pressured on this. This whole situation damages the Commission’s legitimacy and unless it assesses GNU/Linux in publicly-funded desktops, this sure will validate our observation that it is being derailed by lobbyists and newly-appointed cronies who serve Microsoft's interests. Maybe there will even be a lawsuit, which is possible given that the Swiss government got sued (nobody is immune to litigation).

Restoration of Pace

Posted in Site News at 9:36 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Modern

Summary: Idle time is over as Internet service is up to speed and news starts rushing in

WE are gradually returning to normality as wired connectivity is up (although a few issues were encountered with it earlier today). BT will issue compensation for the problems it caused and the new connection will permit considerably higher upload speeds, which ought to help with TechBytes. I’ve also sorted out the monitors such that they are 4,000 pixels wide, all combined, just like it was in 2007-2009.

Logging of the IRC channels was done by our server administrator, Tracy, and complete logs will be published at a later point when more urgent issues subside. In the mean time, during the coming days, a little bit of old news will appear in the daily links. This may be a nuisance to those who follow other sites with GNU/Linux and Free/open source software news, but the intention here is to ensure proper coverage (at least by mention) of missed items. If a lot of today’s links digests constitute reruns or belated announcements, then be sure to check things out after the weekend (I will be away in London today and tomorrow, then catch up with the very latest).

“As promised earlier this month, greater emphasis will be put on concepts and not brands.”Our IRC channels have been thriving in recent months, especially with the return of some brilliant members. We also have a following in sites such as identi.ca and Twitter, having attempted to expand to other medium types as opposed to staying the same like “Linux Today” did (they appear to have some internal difficulties, which they will hopefully resolve because everyone needs them).

As promised earlier this month, greater emphasis will be put on concepts and not brands. There are already many brands in the Linux world, including WebOS and Android (which are decreasingly participatory, much less than Ubuntu for example). They have their own plans and their own promotion methods, so we need not help them. They don’t need the help. Instead, we should attempt to remove barriers that harm everyone (collectively), software patents for example.

Server load is very high at the moment, so it’s nice to be back. Thanks to all those who support us by active involvement, for example Eduardo Landaver who built the Spanish portal of Techrights. As we keep broadening our reach and focusing a bit more, meaning in terms of scope (departing a bit from pure politics for instance), we hope to have more impact and offer to our readers a platform in which they can make a positive difference. If you have relevant essays that you want published here, please mail them over or come to discuss this in the IRC channels. If we can sort of ‘outsource’ authorship, then we can post a lot more, leading to POV pluralism too.

Links 30/3/2011: OLPC Training and “Linux Today” Re-rectified

Posted in News Roundup at 8:25 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Ubuntu 10.10 Vs Windows 7 Vs Mac OS X 10.6 (Snow Leopard)

    Ubuntu is by far the fastest OS in our tests, until multi-tasking is brought into the picture, where it becomes a lot slower.

  • Mum’s the Word at “Linux Today”

    There seems to be trouble in the works over at Linux Today, and everybody’s keeping damn quiet about it.

    The first hint that something was wrong came on Saturday when the site posted no new content. This seemed odd, but not too unusual since weekend postings are often slim on the site. But when usually busy Monday came and went with still no new posts, the “what’s-up-with-that” factor was raised. Things started to get back to normal on Tuesday, however, when new posts began showing-up on the site again, though the pickings were slim, only six posts on a day when normally there would be four times as many.

    I figured that the folks at Linux Today had just experienced some kind of hiccup in their operations or that maybe everyone took the weekend off to celebrate some sort of open source spring break. Then, yesterday at about 1 pm EDT, the site posted a rather cryptic article, Picking Ourselves Up, Dusting Ourselves Off, by Michael Hall, a former managing editor at both Linux Today and Linux Planet who’s been spending the last several years working “on other sites in Linux Today’s parent company.”

  • Audiocasts/Shows

    • FLOSS Weekly 158: The 2600hz Project

      The 2600hz Project is home to a collection of open-source telephony software that enables the use of the FreeSWITCH, Asterisk and YATE switching libraries.

    • The Linux Link Tech Show Episode 395
    • Podcast Season 3 Episode 6

      In this episode: Canonical and Gnome may benefit from some relationship counselling. GTK+ 3.2 will enable you to run Gnome apps through a web browser. The Debian Derivatives Exchange (DEX) project has launched and Firefox 4 is here. Share our discoveries, listen to our marketing slogans and hear your own opinions in our Open Ballot.

  • Kernel Space

    • When does Linux turn 20?
    • Kernel-Switcher .38 GCC
    • Kernel Log: Development of 2.6.39 under way, series 33 revived

      Among the additions for kernel version .39 are the Xen network backend, support for ipset, and the rudimentary Poulsbo graphics driver; the kernel hackers have now also completely eradicated the BKL. Greg Kroah-Hartman has taken up maintaining the series 33 kernel again because it is the basis of the real-time branch.

    • “A Clear Example Of Why DRM Has Been Problematic”
    • I am now a Linux Kernel Developer

      I have no idea if the patch will be accepted, or even noticed, but I’ve done it and now anyone who gets the compile error…

    • Some Distributions Still Live In A KMS-Less World

      One of the most commonly mentioned terms at Phoronix is KMS, as in kernel mode-setting, whereby the GPU mode-setting is done in kernel-space rather than user-space with an X.Org DDX driver. The major open-source drivers were quick to adopt KMS support in their DRM drivers since it allows for cool features like a cleaner boot process, faster and more reliable VT switching, more reliable suspend-and-resume, greater security by running the X Server as a normal user, the ability to have a Linux kernel panic message (like a Windows BSOD), and for new technologies like the Wayland Display Server to emerge. However, not all Linux distributions are yet on this KMS bandwagon.

    • Graphics Stack

      • Wayland, Dumb Frame-Buffers & Embedded SoCs

        If you’re not following the many Linux development mailing lists out there, the latest major discussion surrounding the Wayland Display Server that’s spanned the Wayland, DRI/DRM, and Fbdev mailing lists has been about using Wayland on “dumb frame-buffers”, KMS vs. fbdev, and DRM drivers on embedded SoCs.

      • Will H.264 VA-API / VDPAU Finally Come To Gallium3D?

        Generic video decoding is not new to Gallium3D or even to being worked on with Google’s Summer of Code. Back in 2008 was the first attempts at Gallium3D video decoding when MPEG support in shaders and exposed by XvMC (X-Video Motion Compensation) was the target. It made progress with the Nouveau driver, but the work is not heavily used at this time.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments

    • The Collaboration Imperative

      People tend to attribute what happens around us in the world to intentions. We believe things happen for a reason. This is quite a strong human tendency already present in very young children. Put a 3 year old in front of a room where stones are moved around by some invisible means like magnets. Ask the kid what is going on and he or she will describe the events in the room in terms of “the blue stone wants to talk to the red one”. We know stones usually don’t really want a lot – so why does the child perceive such intentions? This phenomenon not only forms the base of early religions (attributing ‘intentions’ to weather, trees or growth of crops) but also results in making conflicts worse. Psychologists call it “the fundamental attribution error” and it is fundamental (hence the name) to our perception of the world.

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC)

      • Connect to the Internet in More Than 10 Clicks (BUG)

        (As requested by my audience, I wish to make a distinction in pointing out that my post is mistaken in thinking that the described features of KDE are a default. They are, contrarily, a BUG with my own installation. Nevertheless, I will hold the secondary method of connecting to the internet as something that can be revised and improved.)

        As KDE worked on the new Network Manager for version 4, they decided to make the interface more powerful and through the use of the network manager widget, more accessible to users. The interface is indeed powerful and full of features aimed at working out every corner of customization on a given network. Wireless or wired network, they both have their particulars when it comes to connecting to the internet.

      • Qt Compositor For Wayland Is Made

        If you head on over to the Nokia Labs Qt Blog there is a post about “multi-process Lighthouse”, which is worth reading. It’s written by Jørgen Lind about how up until now Qt has lacked a multi-process client/server solution, but now they are looking for the Wayland Display Server to fill this void. Jørgen and other Qt developers ended up writing “Qt Compositor”, which is a Nokia Labs project for making Qt-based Wayland compositors.

      • The “bleeding edge” dilemma
      • KDE Commit Digest for 13 March
      • New Features in digiKam 2.0: Geolocation

        Geolocation is not a new feature, but in digiKam 2.0 it has been thoroughly reworked to streamline the process of geotagging photos. The new Geolocation interface (Image » Geo-location) aggregates all geotagging tools in one place. The interface itself consists of three parts: the map pane contains a map and a toolbar with several navigation tools; below the map pane, there is a list of selected photos; the sidebar on the right displays the currently active section.

      • platform ho-ooooOOO!
      • Moving media players into the future, and Camp KDE
      • Introducing: Phonon 4.5.0

        After 2 months of development the Phonons are proud to present Phonon 4.5.0, the new and incredibly awesome version of our multimedia abstraction library for Qt and KDE.

    • GNOME Desktop

      • With Days Left, GNOME Shell Continues Advancing

        The release candidate of GNOME 3.0 is due out, and the final release is just days away (6 April), but the GNOME Shell continues to advance with just days to go. GNOME Shell 2.91.92 is now available with a number of improvements.

      • GNOME Shell 3.0 Nears Release

        It’s only been a little over two weeks since the last developmental release, but a substantial list of bug reports have been closed. Several changes have occurred as well. Some of these include:

        * New network indicator for NetworkManager 0.9.

        * Multi monitor improvements

        – Enable workspaces_only_on_primary so that workspace switching only affects the primary monitor
        – In the overview, show windows for each monitor on that particular monitor
        – Use new “pointer barriers” to trap the mouse cursor at hot screen corners
        – Don’t use a slideout for the workspace selector if it’s at a monitor boundary

        * Greatly sped up search

        [...]

      • GNOME 3 live image release 0.2.0 is out

        This week release is version 0.2.0. It features GNOME 2.91.92, including :

        * soon to be released Network Manager 0.9 and new UI integrated in GNOME Shell and GNOME Control Center (be careful, it has still rough edges)
        * a11y support should be improved

  • Distributions

    • A New, Happy Pardus User!

      Pardus 2011 is not only beautiful; it’s also effective. A new, happy Pardus user may be right now playing with her laptop and she may be learning about a totally new–and certainly safer–computing experience.

    • Slackware 13.37… I Couldn’t Wait
    • LWN Picks Up On Package Signing

      The author, Nathan Willis, contacted me earlier this week to ask some questions, and I feel his article provides a very comprehensive review of the core issues, including the problems with Arch’s devs refusing contributions in this area and stalemating Arch’s security improvements for years. I think it’s great that LWN is reporting to their subscribers so candidly and giving this issue much needed visibility.

    • Sabayon Five Oh!

      Sabayon. I’m unsure if it got the name after an infamous Italian dessert. Still, it’s “the most beautiful linux distro out there” as some people would say. That might be the case out of the box, but we all know that we can modify any distro to any extent and make it look any way we want. I’ll admit, I’ve always wanted to try Sabayon. This gentoo-based distro is one of the rare that is quite popular, and that I haven’t ever tasted. It currently ranks #6 on DistroWatch (last 6 months ranking), but for some weird reason, none of my friends are running it – I even have some linuxy friends that have never even heard of it (!). But maybe I just have strange friends. Anyway, Sabayon comes in 2 versions: G and K. Obviously, these are the first letters to their respective desktop environments. It also comes with Xfce, LXDE, and E17, but the first two are the most “important” editions of Sabayon. What’s interesting is that neither G or K can be burned to a CD, as the ISO is over 2 GB in size. I smell a lot of crapware. Do continue reading about this interesting distro.

    • PCLinuxOS/Mageia/Mandrake/Mandriva Family

      • PCLinuxOS 2010.12 Gnome – Rushed out too early

        PCLinuxOS 2010.12 is not as good as the spring edition. There are just too many errors, most of which could have been solved by a more careful system validation. After all, few or almost none of these showed up in the last two releases I’ve tested, so it’s nothing inherent in PCLinuxOS that is bad, it’s the integration of parts done in a sloppy manner. A bodge work, if you like, which fits nicely with my username, Roger Bodger.

        At the end of the day, PCLinuxOS worked, but it was scarred. There’s no benefit to its default scheduler, most people won’t notice or care. The 32-bit only architecture is not a dealbreaker, but it projects a certain reputation. Multimedia problems are a sore spot. But the worst thing is the package manager. You can’t really enjoy your Linux without it.

        I like PCLinuxOS and I hope it will break into the big league one day, but the Holiday release just shows how difficult this task is, without immense resources to check and double-check every little thing. Now, since PCLinuxOS is a rolling release, you can safely install an older edition and then upgrade it to the latest patch level, which is what I’d recommend. For me, PCLinuxOS 2010.12 Gnome is a missed opportunity.

    • Red Hat Family

      • Is CentOS Dieing?

        There’s apprehension that Centos is probably not going to survive for long. The developer group is really too small and the method that they use to prepare and subsequently deploy Centos is too slow. Scientific Linux and OEL are infinitely superior in every way (paid developers, planned schedules, better communication, etc). IMO, Scientific Linux is no less stable, it’s just that CentOS has gained the reputation for the earlier timely and good releases. And there’s this inertia of change on the mindshare. However, the recent irregularity will definitely force a lot of CentOS user to move to Scientific Linux, and it’s for good.

      • Is Scientific Linux 6 Right for You? The Review.

        Most of you will need no introduction to Scientific Linux, but, as it’s sort of customary for a review to give a short overview before getting started I’ll do just that.
        Scientific Linux is a clone of Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) much like the CentOS project, rebuilding the distribution from upstream source rpms and removing and replacing the branding that vendor has applied to the installer, slides, wallpapers and whereever else in the system.
        Scientific Linux is put together predominantly by CERN and Fermilabs with the help of “various other labs and universities around the world” as the web site puts it. It provides a common install base while also leaving space for site specific customizations and modifications to fit more
        specialist needs for the labs, but can of course also just be installed as is. It is fully compatible with RHEL, being essentially the same product, but makes a few minor but important tweaks and additions, in contrast to CentOS. Being based on EL but having the additional layer of QA of the Scientific Linux community should make for a very stable product indeed, but you might as well use it because in a way you have paid towards it with your taxes, as long as you live in Europe. After all, I believe these institutions are all government and EU funded. Now, if that isn’t a good reason, finally we’re getting something for our money.

      • Red Hat and Ubuntu pushing buttons in the community….

        Both Red Hat and Ubuntu have been in the press a lot lately because of changes they are making in their distribution. What everyone seems to forget with both companies are just that companies not communities. While they do a great job of being great community members, people will always complain about them. Here is what we gleaned from the posts I read:

        For Red Hat the change is just how the distribute the kernel itself. They are now shipping just a completely patched Kernel. This is instead of shipping a patch set for each and every bug release that was available. Who does it affect? The folks that want to look in the kernel. As far as we can tell that’s it. We at Linuxinstall.net don’t think that this is an issue for them and more just a reason for people to complain and wish things were better the old way.

      • Red Hat’s Steady March to the Big Leagues

        The idea of an open source company pulling in a billion dollars in annual revenue probably would have been unimaginable a decade ago, but Red Hat has drawn close to that milestone — and it’s likely because of its commitment to Linux, not in spite of it. Red Hat’s continually evolving use of Linux and open source makes it “a more reliable multi-product, multi-service company,” observed Geek 2.0 blogger Steven Savage.

      • Red Hat Proves That Open Source Is Good for Business

        Critics of free and open source software are fond of making the argument that software must be locked up, patented and jealously guarded if it is to serve as the basis for a successful business. Well, Red Hat just refuted such claims in a big way this week with its fourth quarter earnings report, which blew away analysts’ expectations and placed the company well on track for billion-dollar revenues in the upcoming year.

      • Founder of Lulu.com and co-founder of Red Hat speaks at Wake Forest University
    • Debian Family

  • Devices/Embedded

    • An introduction to Embedded Linux, BeagleBoard & its Linux kernel port

      Jon Masters takes a break from his usual kernel column format this month to introduce us to the world of embedded Linux with an overview of the BeagleBoard and its Linux kernel port…

    • Sub-notebooks

      • Dell Inspiron Duo Convertible welcomes Jolicloud

        The Dell Inspiron Duo is a netbook that can transform to a tablet and it uses the Dual Core processor. The screen is 10 inches with a resolution of 1366×768. It uses a capacitive touch display. The convertible feature was designed in a unique way so that it will not rely anymore on swivel that seems not too robust for many users.

    • OLPC

      • Over 900 Teachers to Get OLPC Training

        971 teachers from primary four to six, in all schools designated to receive laptops countrywide, will undergo an extensive training in using the One Laptop per Child (OLPC) computers.

        The second phase of the capacity building program kicked off yesterday in several primary schools in the Northern and Southern provinces.

      • African Union, OLPC laptop plan faces hurdles

        Although the African Union (AU) has sealed a deal with the One Laptop per Child (OLPC) project to buy XO laptops for distribution in African schools, the project still faces funding and organizational hurdles.

Free Software/Open Source

  • Free software, a form of escapism?
  • 5 things to consider when evaluating open source

    According to Kareem, following 5 factors must be considered when deciding whether or not to use open source software:

    1) Cost reduction
    2) Speed of implementation
    3) May not have a foundation to support future desired functionality
    4) Code ownership may be a problem
    5) May need to change systems to match the OSS application

  • Events

  • Web Browsers

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

  • CMS

    • ING using Drupal

      You know when a piece of software is mature when it starts being adopted by financial services organizations. ING Financial Services recently moved a number of sites from Oracle Stellent to Drupal. Among these sites are http://ing.us, the main portal for their US market. The driver behind this migration was to move to a platform that was more dynamic and provided faster time to market.

    • Upstream release monitoring for Drupal modules.

      Today I added a couple examples to the Fedora wiki’s upstream release monitoring page that will allow maintainers to track new releases of Drupal modules. You can simply follow the template to add yours.

      The upstream release monitoring system is provided through the courtesy of long-time Fedora contributor Till Maas, whose cnucnu software informs participating maintainers by filing a bug when the upstream releases a new copy of their software. Although most if not all maintainers monitor feeds and mailing lists, the bug is a reminder of what’s left to do, and doesn’t require the maintainer to stop what they’re doing when they get an email or RSS notification. Instead, they can trust their bug list.

  • Business

    • Cutting the cost of innovation

      Open source software might be free to download, but it ends up costing as much as traditional software because of the complexities of supporting it, or inflexible licensing structures. Or so the argument goes.

      You would expect to hear this from Steve Ballmer, Larry Ellison or any of the other grand old men of proprietary software. It is more surprising when you hear such thoughts being aired by the head of corporate services at Canonical, the commercial operation behind Ubuntu-flavoured Linux.

  • BSD

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • 2010 Free Software Awards announced

      This year, it was given to Rob Savoye. Savoye is a long-time free software hacker, who has worked on GNU and other free software for over 20 years. He has contributed to dozens of projects including GCC, GDB, DejaGnu, Newlib, Libgloss, Cygwin, eCos, Expect, multiple major GNU/Linux distributions, and One Laptop Per Child. Savoye has led the effort to produce a free software Flash player, Gnash. This work has enabled free software users to avoid dependency on a pervasive piece of proprietary software. Rob is also CTO and founder of Open Media Now, a nonprofit dedicated to producing a freely licensed media infrastructure.

    • Fellowship interview with Dan Leinir

      Chris Woolfrey: Can you explain what GamingFreedom.org is, and it’s relationship with Gluon?

      Dan Leinir Turthra Jensen: GamingFreedom is a social network for makers and players of games, based on the concept that there are very few people who make games who don’t also play them. So, rather than view game distribution as a way of pushing a product to the users in order to make back the money that was invested, GamingFreedom views it as a social thing: you have an idea for a game, you build that game, and you distribute the game to some repository, which in our case is GamingFreedom.org. From there you can download the game and play it, and you can then provide feedback if you want; through ratings, commenting, even user submitted screenshots and other such things.

  • Government

    • Cost savings in The Netherlands: Now you see it, now you don’t

      Interestingly, a headline from the Court of Audit’s own news excerpt is: “Ministries already use a lot of open source.”

      This report, too, doesn’t seem to be available, except for a summary in English.

      Headlines from outfits covering the story have read “Netherlands open source report says no savings can be made.” Discussion boards have chimed in stoking a conspiracy to cook numbers, government succumbing to Microsoft lobbying, and so on.

      My take: Much ado about nothing.

      First, I think we can agree The Netherlands has an issue with transparency, at least when it comes to handling this issue. But, beyond that I doubt there is any behind-the-scenes-lurking.

      When the Open Source Observatory wrote about the first report, they noted it was written by one person in the Ministry of Interior, and largely meant for an internal audience. Only after pressure from representatives in Parliament did the Ministry send over the report.

      Report, here, may even be the wrong word. Governments do a lot of internal prospecting via memos, briefs, etc. just like any other organization. Similar to the issues I brought up about the relationship between the US Congress and its Congressional Research Service, government needs some room to think on its own. Not every document amounts to an answer that should be translated into policy.

      It could be that in this case the Parliament caught wind of someone’s quick calculations and wanted to see the analysis without any word on how “official” the document was, the background of the writer, or the vetting process, if any, the report was put through. In all reality, it may be a “bad” report.

  • Licensing

    • Are Your Licenses Compliant?

      The moral of the story is this. Do not wait until the phone rings. Do not wait until the lawyers are sharpening their pencils. Make sure you are in good shape now. The costs — monetary, health, and welfare — are not worth it.

      For more on how you can get your hands around Open Source licensing, read my post from Day 1 of LinuxCon 2010 and visit the Linux Foundation for more details on their license programs.

    • HTC are still incredible ********s

      As has been discussed before, HTC have a somewhat “interesting” interpretation of the GPL that allows them to claim they don’t need to provide source code until between 90 and 120 days after the release of binaries. It’s probably noteworthy that the FSF (who, you know, wrote the license and all) disagree with this interpretation, as do the kernel copyright holders (who, you know, wrote the code that the license covers) I’ve talked to about it. Anyway, after a pile of screaming and shouting from all sides HTC have tended to release their source code in a timely manner. So things seemed better.

Leftovers

  • Security

  • DRM

    • Judge Spero Rules on Jurisdictional Discovery in SCEA v. Hotz

      The telephonic hearing in SCEA v. Hotz was yesterday, the one about how to handle jurisdictional discovery, and here’s what Magistrate Judge Joseph Spero decided to do. Keep in mind, though, that this is still not the main event. This was about how to handle George Hotz’s impounded devices, which is related to Sony’s expressed need to do discovery to oppose Hotz’s motion to dismiss on jurisdictional grounds. So we’re still in the buildup phase, where SCEA is fighting like the devil to find a way to pin Hotz to California’s jurisidiction, which so far it has been unable to do. It’s a split decision, you might say, with Hotz winning some and losing some and ditto for SCEA.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • Paramount goes with no DRM bittorrent distribution

        I almost fell off my chair when I heard the news that Paramount will be releasing the Tunnel for free on bit torrent with no DRM of any kind!

        No matter what the film is like, Paramount and the guys behind the tunnel have basically won. A film which would have gone straight to DVD somewhere in a junk bin somewhere could just have been elevated to the most downloaded movie of May (maybe).

Clip of the Day

Bodhi Linux v1.0.0 Distro Review with Enlightment Desktop


Credit: TinyOgg

Patents Roundup: Ill-conceived System Under Siege, Microsoft’s Attacks on Linux and Google’s Response

Posted in Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Google, Microsoft, Patents at 2:57 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The patent litigation system is getting rusty, must go away

Summary: Opposition to software patents appears to be on the rise and Microsoft’s lawsuits against Linux distributors (whom Microsoft just cannot compete with) contribute to this opposition; Google and Red Hat are encouraged to abolish software patents altogether, not adapt to them

“I’m trying to think of another business,where breaking the law is a necessary part of the business model,” explains this person whose article “Start-ups in the maze of software patents” sheds light on the real benefactors of the patent system:

Have you ever thought about patenting a pop up note, an online poll, a leaderboard in an online game, or a system where you open apps by clicking icons? I have some bad news for you – it’s impossible. Not because the claim is stupid, it’s just that all of those things are already patented (take a look here, here, here, or here).

And it’s all fun and factoids, until one day you find yourself in the role of a software start-up, looking down the long black tunnel of software patenting, leading from Happy Town to Reality Check Station in Breakdown City.

Alexandra Weber Morales argues that the Supreme Court should care about software patents. Really, it’s about time something is done about it. Having addressed the Bilski case, there seems to be not enough precedence to block similar patents from being granted and it’s “iculous software patents,” as Slashdot calls them, that turn into “a developer’s Nemesis”.

Things are not quite as the propaganda puts it — propaganda which typically comes from patent lawyers and lobbyists (working for large aggressors). Those who can benefit from software patents require a lot of patents, otherwise they can easily be defeated in court; everything infringes on everyone else’s monopolies and even Red Hat saw the need the get some patents, for what it claims to be defensive purposes. Sean Michael Kerner discusses a subject mostly brought up by Microsoft boosters who are openly hostile and very combative against Red Hat; he reassesses Red Hat’s relationship with software patents. We touched this subject before [1, 2, 3, 4, 5], concluding that Red Hat must change its attitude.

Red Hat played a role in the patent fight in Europe back in the days. It even funded Microsoft Florian, who recently defected to clients on the other side on the face of it. To recall some of the things which happened back in the days, one blogger writes:

For years, the free software movement rallied European citizens and small and medium businesses to reject a very bad directive on patentability of ‘computer implemented inventions’ (in other words, software) that would have damaged society in the long run. We managed to coordinate a strategy between different organizations, like FFII and FSFE. The movement succeeded in building a vast coalition of supporters against the directive, across the political spectrum. We isolated European giants SAP and Nokia, left alone to support a directive that appeared to be written by US-based multinationals.

The FFII has also just responded to Microsoft’s latest attack on Linux — an attack which is of course using software patents. “We predicted years ago that Microsoft would go after Linux challengers with software patents”, the FFII’s president, Benjamin Henrion, is quoted as arguing and to quote the entire thing (from E-mail).

Patent wars on – Microsoft sues Android retailers
===========================================================

Berlin, May 25rd 2011 — This week Microsoft sued the retailers Barnes&Noble, Foxconn and Inventec for distributing devices using the Android platform. The Android is a Linux derivate from Google. It is the most recent lawsuit in a battle of dominance on the tablet and smartphone market.

“”We predicted years ago that Microsoft would go after Linux challengers with software patents”
      –Benjamin Henrion
“What a desperate sales argument to sue retailers which use a competing platform. It’s ‘Take our platform or get sued’. Patent war is on. I am inspired by products like Openmoko and Android, not libel and lawsuits.”, finds FFII vice president Rene Mages.

“We predicted years ago that Microsoft would go after Linux challengers with software patents”, explains FFII president Benjamin Henrion. “It shows how patents stifle innovation”.

The FFII has a track record of making contructive proposals for reforming the patent system to eliminate software patent threats for developers.

===========================================================
Patents
===========================================================

U.S. Patent 5,778,372 “Remote retrieval and display management of electronic document with incorporated images” U.S. Patent 6,339,780 “Loading status in a hypermedia browser having a limited available display area”
U.S. Patent 5,889,522 “System provided child window controls”
U.S. Patent 6,891,551 “Selection handles in editing electronic documents”
U.S. Patent 6,957,233 “Method and apparatus for capturing and rendering
annotations for non-modifiable electronic content”

===========================================================
Links
===========================================================

Microsoft press release

http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/press/2011/mar11/03-21corpnewspr.mspx

Complaint for patent infringement

http://www.geekwire.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/msvbandn.pdf

Stop Software Patents in the EU petition

http://www.stopsoftwarepatents.eu

Permanent link to this press release:

http://press.ffii.org/Press%20releases/Patent%20wars%20on%20-%20Microsoft%20sues%20Android%20retailers

===========================================================
Contact
===========================================================

FFII Office Berlin
Malmöer Str. 6
D-10439 Berlin
Fon: +49-30-41722597
Fax Service: +49-721-509663769
office at ffii.org

Benjamin Henrion
FFII Brussels
+32-484-56 61 09 (mobile)
bhenrion at ffii.org
(French/English)

===========================================================
About FFII
===========================================================

The FFII is a not-for-profit association registered in twenty European countries, dedicated to the development of information goods for the public benefit, based on copyright, free competition, open standards. More than 1000 members, 3,500 companies and 100,000 supporters have entrusted the FFII to act as their voice in public policy questions concerning exclusion rights (intellectual property) in data processing.

Microsoft’s lawsuits are actually a sign of failure according to some people’s views:

It’s pretty clear that Microsoft, a many-time failure at mass-market tablets has decided that if they can’t beat Apple and Android at popular tablets, they’ll sue them instead. That’s my only explanation for Microsoft suing Barnes & Noble, Foxconn, and Inventec over their Android e-readers.

Vista Phony 7 is still grappling with copy and paste, so Microsoft realises it simply cannot compete by making new products. More Microsoft partners are getting fed up too. Expensify’s CEO explains ‘Why We Won’t Hire .NET Developers’ and “Phone maker publicly says ‘No’ to WP7″, as we noted earlier this month.

The Consumerist says: “Microsoft says Barnes & Noble isn’t licensing the concepts that others, such as Amazon and HTC, pay Microsoft to use.” It’s just extortion. As noted here before, it’s easy to debunk Microsoft’s contention and as Tim noted before, it just shows how Microsoft really feels about “open source” and competition in general, namely:

Again I find myself making the observation that Microsoft’s future appears rather more in the courtroom than actual products on shelves. A rather sad state of affairs? Is Microsoft the dog that sits under the table in the hope that someone will take pity and throw it a scrap of food? I’ll let you decide.

Rob Pegoraro writes (about Microsoft and also Apple): “Throwing out ill-founded software patents is the solution. Until that happens, Microsoft may collect some extra royalty fees from companies like Amazon and HTC that find it easier to settle than to slug things out in court. But the company certainly won’t be earning any respect for this move.”

“Robocast Sues Apple For Infringing Its ‘Automated Browsing’ Patent,” says another headline about another patent, “which is, of course, utterly trivial,” says Glyn Moody.

Apple is on the receiving end of yet another patent infringement lawsuit. A company called Robocast alleges that Apple has willfully incorporated its patented automated browsing technology in a number of products, including iTunes, Apple TV and Front Row, without licensing their ‘invention’.

Robocast, which was founded by Damon Torres, who claims to have pioneered the use of automated web browsing in the nineties, has earlier sued Microsoft on similar grounds.

The court documents offer a fascinating read – as far as I’m concerned – so I’ve embedded them below.

In other news, from CNET, “U.S. backs I4i in patent case against Microsoft” (showing that Microsoft does not respect software patents, either, wilfully infringing some). Microsoft is trying to portray Google as some kind of firm that disrespects so-called ‘intellectual property’. Aoife White writes about Google’s latest patent-promoting move and “Google gets patent for its doodles” says another CNET headline:

And yet I still found myself sensing a momentary twitch of the single gray hair between my eyebrows when I heard that Google had been awarded a patent for its doodles.

Sometimes Google seems to be fighting against software patents, just like Red Hat. But at the same time both companies show no true commitment to such a goal, as we repeatedly showed before. Microsoft has just paid Nortel $7.5 million for IPv4 addresses, whereas Google considered buying Nortel’s patents. “Google hasn’t said what that means. But it appears to involve calling on the services of Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan’s Charles Verhoeven to help fend off the complaints,” states this new article, adding context later:

Verhoeven, who helped Google win several patent trials last year, has appeared on behalf of HTC Corp. or Motorola Inc. in four of the five Android-related suits filed at the International Trade Commission and in more than a half-dozen suits in federal court.

One of the most closely watched is Apple’s ITC claim against HTC, which is set for trial next month. Verhoeven and his firm joined the defense in August.

Neither Verhoeven nor his clients will confirm or comment on the arrangements under which he’s appeared on their behalf. “A lot of people like Charlie,” said Michelle Lee, who heads patent litigation at Google. She referred further questions to Google’s press office, which declined to comment.

Rather than concentrate on making products and hiring engineers Google is now wasting effort on lawyers and patents. Who does this benefit? But more importantly, it sometimes seems like there is internal tension between the lawyers and the engineers in companies like Red Hat and Google (the lawyers justify their existence by harbouring patents). This ought to be resolved.

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