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04.02.11

Red Hat’s Obfuscated Patches Harm Small GNU/Linux Players and Help Microsoft/Novell

Posted in Oracle, Red Hat at 6:22 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

James WhitehurstSummary: Suggestions to Red Hat, whose commitment to transparency has eroded somewhat and needs prodding for

TECHRIGHTS runs on top of CentOS, which relies on Red Hat for its updates. Earlier this week at work I was told that CentOS had not released patches since December, whereas RHEL patches are released at a pace of several per week. This may make one wonder about the new Scientific Linux, which might one day outpace CentOS and replace it as the de facto RHEL clone.

“Red Hat can improve its bottom line by sticking a cork in CentOS and preventing access to RHEL-targeted patches.”Red Hat defends its dubiously obfuscated patches by pointing the finger at Oracle, but let’s face it; it is often said that the most widely used distribution of GNU/Linux is the quiet giant, CentOS. Many Web hosts run it and they are not alone, sector-wise. Nobody knows just how many servers run CentOS, but it’s probably many millions. Red Hat can improve its bottom line by sticking a cork in CentOS and preventing access to RHEL-targeted patches. Oracle would be a convenient Goliath to blame, but is it really as dangerous as Red Hat wants us to believe while Red Hat’s financial numbers keep hitting new record highs? The subject of transparency at Red Hat was addressed here quite recently and Techrights will continue to pressure Red Hat to rectify these issues, both by explaining the Acacia settlement [1, 2, 3] and by providing GPL-friendly patches to those who require them. The GPL is designed to avoid exclusion, even if that means allowing Oracle to embrace other people’s work.

As we pointed out this morning, Novell is trying to take advantage of Red Hat’s practices, hoping to sell Microsoft-taxed SLE* at the expense of/instead of RHEL (there is also a peripheral article about it now). Who would that benefit?

Bill Gates and Nathan Myhrvold Find New Ways to Extort the Competitors, Using Patents

Posted in Bill Gates, GNU/Linux, Google, Microsoft, Patents at 5:56 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Nathan Myhrvold

Summary: The world’s biggest patent trolls proceed to extorting Blackberry users/devices; more news about software patents, mostly those which affect Android and Linux

APPALLING. That’s what Microsoft appears to have given the world. First it put a tax on every computer sold, removing people’s ability to avoid this tax even if they want nothing to do with Microsoft. Now they want to force people to pay Microsoft a tax no matter which phone they buy. That’s right, and if it’s not Microsoft pulling those strings, then it’s the two co-founders of the company and their former CTO, who with funding from a Microsoft co-founder created the world’s largest patent troll, Intellectual Ventures. Watch how patent lawyer types try to white-wash the patent trolls’ role in industry and cover the fact that Gates and his buddy Myhrvold are extorting RIM for its phones, just like HTC and Samsung (for Linux), allegedly after Myhrvold did his blackmail routines. Here is how patent lawyers put it (subscription required):

RIM signs up with IV as RPX hits 80 http://is.gd/c7j7YP

The sources the Microsoft-apathetic folks cite describe this extortion as some sort of “protection” or “access to patents”. This is nonsense. It’s spin. To be fair, Myhrvold is not the only patent troll who is extorting companies for their phones and also passes patents for other trolls to sue companies which do not pay to enter his pyramid scheme. For example we have this in the news:

Turns out, that patent exists — and the company that owns it is looking to sue juuuust about everyone.

The patent in question was granted back in 2009, to a company called HW Technology. Now they’re taking on Apple and their App Store, Google and their Android Market, and RIM and their BlackBerry App World. Oh, and HTC, LG, and Nokia. Oh! And Amazon, eBay, Hotels.com, Buy.com, and Priceline, and 21 other entities.

The lawsuit, filed earlier this week, primarily targets anything that “allows users to complete a merchant transaction without the need to generate a voice call.”

As expected, the pro-Microsoft Richard Waters normalises this sick status quo, but the gory details (cited and quoted by Microsoft Florian) are hidden behind a paywall. To quote the publicly-visible portion:

More than two decades ago, soon after starting out in the mobile phone business, Nokia found itself on the receiving end of a massive patent infringement lawsuit from the company that had pioneered cellular communications: Motorola.

The Finnish group was in a vulnerable position. As a newcomer, it lacked enough patents of its own to counter-sue Motorola and fight it to a standstill.

Another Microsoft booster, Preston Gralla, makes erroneous statements to belittle Google (over patent issues) and only later corrects his IDG troll piece by adding an update (but not correcting the headline):

Update: The issue about Xoom WMA support isn’t directly related to Google and Android itself — it’s instead an issue with Motorola. As a commenter on this blog below notes, WMA and WMV support wasn’t baked directly into earlier Android versions. Instead, apparently Motorola added that support in its Droid, Droid 2, and Droid X. The company dropped it from Xoom.

For those who do not remember, Microsoft sued Motorola over Android/Linux, so no wonder Motorola evades this liability. That’s what happens when Microsoft decides to act like a patent troll and Motorola is actually one of the few companies (currently the only one) which stands up for Linux/Android against Microsoft’s patent demands. So well done, Motorola.

“That’s what happens when Microsoft decides to act like a patent troll…”The mobile space is becoming a sordid mess when it comes to patents and someone who pays close attention has noticed “Internet protocol (IP) phone with search and advertising capability”, which is yet another outrageous patent (joining the likes of “over the Internet” patents, this time being “on a phone” patent)

Michael Larabel, the revered editor of Phoronix whom I considered to be my online friend for years, is also recognising that software patents are becoming a huge problem for Linux. In his new and unusual post, “What Would Be Disastrous For Linux, Open-Source”, he writes:

Here’s a few that I thought of this morning. Feel free to share your Linux doomsday scenarios in the forums.

Patent trolls increasing their assertions against Linux and key open-source software. If the Linux market-share continues to rise, the frequency of patent attacks or free software projects being impaired by software patents will only continue to rise. Enough said.

[...]

Patent assertions against Mesa. Any direct legal attacks against the core Mesa (or Gallium3D) library would endager the Linux desktop. This would likely be the greatest threat to Linux user-space or in general short of claims against the Linux kernel. When it comes to graphics IP, this is a hot area and has already held up a number of features like S3TC support from being implemented in the mainline tree and other features that are protected by patents that will not expire for many years. This is preventing even core parts of the OpenGL 3.x specification from being implemented.

What makes this particularly dangerous is that there is no other open alternative for providing OpenGL support and hardware acceleration, short of starting over from scratch (or somehow salvaging ancient Utah-GLX code). Mesa is found installed on virtually every Linux desktop, whether it is used or not. If a project like GNOME or Compiz faced serious legal challenges, there’s still at least alternatives out there, but not for Mesa aside from installing proprietary AMD and NVIDIA drivers. Intel support though would then be killed off along with other obscure drivers. Even if GCC was attacked, there’s LLVM/Clang, Open64, and numerous other compilers out there, but when it comes to the user-space graphics, there’s really only Mesa.

[...]

The US government begins taxing open-source software. It’s actually not as crazy as it sounds and could actually happen.

Linux sites must wake up and start covering the software patents situation because it is the #1 barrier to landslide victory of Free software. Techrights was born from the need to fight back against Microsoft’s patent demands from Linux (Groklaw was created for similar reasons when SCO launched analogous attacks). Microsoft hires lobbyists to be dedicated to just beating the software patents drum. It knows why it’s doing that.

The FFII Undresses the European Union

Posted in Europe at 5:24 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Processes of high secrecy exposed!

Female stucco figurine

Summary: Transparency is achieved by activists from the Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure (FFII) and a response is issued to Microsoft-funded claims that patents are good for startups

André Rebentisch from the FFII exposes or at least reveals what he calls “[s]ecret EU analysis on the unitary patent”, which is a back door to software patents. From his informative blog:

A document kept secret so far by the Council, a legal analysis on the unitary patent enhanced cooperation, was made available to me today in response to my document access secondary application (cmp. EC/1049/2001). My arguments for the secondary apllication were the ECJ turco judgement and the general character of the legal matter.

André’s colleague/friend, Mr. Henrion, writes: “EU Patent Quality study asks patent applicants what they think about patent quality: http://ur1.ca/3q27s”

There seems to be disagreement within the FFII — one that relates to diplomacy at least. Mr. Henrion, the president of the FFII, does not concur with the opinions or approach of Mr. Rebentisch, who drives the “@FFII” account in Twitter and Identi.ca. But the matter of fact is, based on the recent statements from the FFII’s Web site, there is great dissatisfaction with what the EPO has been doing. In a new formal statement, “FFII recommends EU to remove barriers for startups” by removing the patent maze (which Microsoft lobbyists claim to be good for startups, by faking them as bogus spokespeople). From the FFII’s statement:

The FFII answered a consultation call from the European Commission General Directorate Internal Market on the enforcement of intellectual property rights.

For the EU to help startup companies, the FFII advises to reduce market entrance risks for innovative companies. Most SME and startup companies that support FFII operate in digital markets. In digital markets innovators are often confronted with patent minefields.

To recall and reassess some of the latest developments regarding the EPO, see this wiki page.

The ‘Upgrade’ Will Fix Everything™, Says Microsoft

Posted in Deception, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Vista 7, Vista 8, Windows at 5:09 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Vista 8 will make coffee too, they promise!

Cup of coffee

Summary: The latest round of vapourware tactics from Microsoft helps show that Windows is having a crisis which is a matter of great urgency

FOR THOSE who have not noticed, as Windows numbers go down Microsoft is starting to float Vista 8, selling the illusion that it’s almost here and that it will do everything anyone has ever conceived. By doing this, Microsoft may discourage some businesses’ migration to Vista 7; people whom I know closely are having problems with Vista 7 and some regret leaving XP to move to it (this afternoon I had one person tell me this). On the other hand, Microsoft resorts to talking about products that do not yet exist in the market because, as its internal documents put it [PDF], “In the face of strong competition, Evangelism’s focus may shift immediately to the next version of the same technology, however. Indeed, Phase 1 (Evangelism Starts) for version x+1 may start as soon as this Final Release of version X.”

As usual, Microsoft sells the illusion that people should use the latest of everything and waste more money on it, even when the latest software is fragile, unproven, and prone to bricking. MSBBC writes about SQL flaws which have just targeted Microsoft software:

Early reports suggested that the attackers were hitting sites using Microsoft SQL Server 2003 and 2005 and it is thought that weaknesses in associated web application software are proving vulnerable.

Ongoing analysis of the attack reveals that the attackers managed to inject code to display links to 21 separate domains. The exact numbers of sites hit by the attack is hard to judge but a Google search for the attackers’ domains shows more than three million weblinks are displaying them.

Those who want a secure operating system are better off just leaving Microsoft altogether, not to mention cost savings and other commonly-stated advantages. My boss/collague has just bought a Mac, having used Vista 7 for a while. He is leaving Windows and that whole antiquated mindset. Windows does not seem to impress people all that much. UNIX and Linux become dominant not just in phones but on desktops too. One adoption curve drives the other and people who own an Apple or Google phone sooner or later rethink their desktop operating system (a personal observation).

“I’d put the Linux phenomenon really as threat No. 1.”

Steve Ballmer, 2001

Links 2/4/2011: Scientific Linux 6.0 Released, GNOME 3.0 Delays

Posted in News Roundup at 4:30 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Lady Gaga goes gaga over Ubuntu

    After enthralling the techies at Google last week, Lady Gaga has given her geek fans another reason to smile. In a press conference this Monday, the Grammy award-winning singer confessed that she is an avid fan of Ubuntu, the Linux-based operating system. Since then, Ubuntu has seen a massive surge in its popularity; particularly among teenagers.

  • 6 Linux Pranks for April Fools’ Day

    There’s been no shortage of April Fools’ Day pranks in the tech world this year, and the Linux community is no exception.

  • Desktop

    • ZaReason Teo Pro Netbook Proves Its Netbook Mettle

      It’s been nearly a month since I started testing the Teo Pro netbook, and the verdict is in: well-rounded, well-balanced and girlfriend-approved. What gives this machine such high marks? Read on for the full details …

      For a quick refresher, check out the preview article early in March 2011. To recap, however, my ZaReason Teo Pro netbook came equipped with 1.6GHz Atom CPU, 2GB of RAM and 160GB hard drive. Of course, like all ZaReason products, it’s running Ubuntu — this one featuring the latest version of Ubuntu 10.10.

      First, the good stuff. The Teo Pro is a mobile powerhouse. I’m not sure if that’s because of the 2GB of RAM, or the responsiveness I always see with Linux, but every click felt responsive. Every app loaded quickly. The entire computer boots up in 25 seconds. But what about for nitty-gritty, everyday use? I took user suggestions from my preview story and submitted the Teo Pro to the kind of torture readers wanted me to.

  • Server

    • Performance of Thin Clients on GNU/Linux

      What’s more, these tests were done with that other OS on the server. GNU/Linux scales a lot better and the real world does not have the whole office pushing enter at the same time. Intel’s test showed things taking 5 times longer with just 5 clients. My tests in a real world with real users shows tasks taking no more time with 20 users than with one user and in addition, tasks running on the server are faster than clients running on the client. That’s because people are not robots and real servers have multiple and faster drives than desktops from Dell usually have.

  • Audiocasts/Shows

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC)

      • The kde-www war: part 3

        Just a quick history lesson. In the introductory post we highlighted several tell-tale symptoms that KDE.org had a very big usability and design problem. In part 1 of the war, we discussed a back-to-basics question what are we trying to communicate, what are we trying to achieve, and outlined goals for our various target audiences. In part 2 of the war, we started to achieve the goals outlined in part 1 via restructuring the pages and site map in order to distinctly separate between the KDE: The Community and KDE: Software. In this part, we’re going to focus on the home page – the central entrance hub for new members, and how we can use design elements to achieve part 1′s goals, and still cover all of the masses of content that KDE has to showcase in a streamlined manner as in part 2, and even reenforce KDE’s identity in the process.

    • GNOME Desktop

      • Delaying GNOME 3.0, again

        The Bangalore Hackfest was really useful for the release team to evaluate the status of GNOME 3. We really want GNOME 3 to be amazing, and various recent events lead us to wonder if doing the release next week is a good thing; we had a lot of discussion and meetings, and we even had a call with the Board to evaluate different options.

  • Distributions

    • Red Hat Family

      • Scientific Linux 6.0 Released

        Linux adoption in the scientific community is very high for many reasons. Cost is a significant issue, as many university research groups typically have small computing budgets. Another key factor is the availability of quality tools and a community of support. Python has a tremendous amount of support in the academic and scientific community, specifically around tools like matplotlib, NumPy and SciPy. The recently held Pycon conference featured a large number of talks on Python in the scientific community.

      • A SCO Openserver to Red Hat Linux Conversion

        Any regular visitors to Tony’s site know that he “encourages” users to get off of SCO and onto Linux. Well, our company had been running our integrated software, written in Providex (a Business BASIC variant) for many years, and finally it was time. Before telling the tale though, I just wanted to say a couple of nice things about SCO. I certainly don’t agree with their litigation-as-a-business-strategy, but their OS did run our software very well with a minimum of problems. We started with 5.0.0 way back in late 1996, and had 5.0.7 running up until a couple of months ago. Here is how it went :
        Step 1 : Serial Terminals from C/X Concentrators onto Portservers

        This phase started before the server change, as Digi still provided SCO Openserver drivers for Portservers. Our existing C/X concentrators were linked throughout our site using Digi’s Fiber-Link devices, which communicated over fiber at 1.2 Mbaud. I was looking to buy a spare pair of Fiber-Link devices, and learned that they were no longer available. So I researched the Portservers, and decided to move over to those, as we already had network switches at each fiber end-point anyway. That went well, and the Portservers worked well, but I had a funky problem with the Zebra label printers that were connected via the terminal’s Aux port. They would somehow lose their handshaking, and would not come back even after resetting the Portserver. Luckily, most of the printers were the S4M model, which have a 9-pin female serial port. So I purchased some RJ45-DB9 adapters, and set up the printers with their own serial line. The nice thing about getting away from the C/X series, was that no host card was required. Also, If we had one server down, I could execute the drgp_cfg_node command from the other server, and provision the terminal sessions from the other site.

      • Red Hat execs pushed hard for incentives

        When Gov. Beverly Perdue donned a red fedora on Jan. 10 to join in an announcement that Red Hat was staying put in Raleigh, the celebratory mood was in stark contrast to the back-room, high-stakes drama that led up to the big day.

    • Debian Family

      • Canonical/Ubuntu

        • Natty Narwhal with Unity: Worst Ubuntu beta ever

          Last year, Mark Shuttleworth christened Ubuntu 11.04 “Natty Narwhal”, saying the disto would be stylish and create a good, lasting first impression.

          While its debut in beta form is smart looking and definitely chases the fashion in operating-system design it’s also the single worst beta release of Ubuntu I’ve ever tested.

          That’s not to say there isn’t much to love in Ubuntu 11.04 with the new Unity Interface being the primary news, but even for a beta this release is way too rough. Unity – regardless of what you think of it – isn’t ready for prime time and it seems unlikely Canonical will iron out all its problems before the planned final release in April.

        • A dark new future Compiz
        • Five neat changes in today’s Unity update
        • First Look: Ubuntu 11.04 (Natty Narwhal) Beta 1

          Since this is a beta it is not intended for real usage, and neither is it fair to carry out a full review.

        • First look at the next generation of Ubuntu Tweak!

          It has been a long time since the release of last version of Ubuntu Tweak, what is the development status of it now?

          Before we talk about the new Ubuntu Tweak, let’s go back to the November 2009.

        • Ubuntu Tweak unveils new look, features for Ubuntu 11.04
        • How to disable Unity and go back to the classic interface in Ubuntu 11.04 ‘Natty Narwhal’

          Since several people have asked the exact same question I decided to throw up a quick post on how to go back to the classic interface in Ubuntu 11.04 ‘Natty Narwhal’ rather than the new, swish looking Unity UI.

        • Flavours and Variants

          • Review: Elementary OS 0.1 “Jupiter”

            Well, after quite a long wait, it has finally happened: the first official release of Elementary OS is here! Codenamed version 0.1 “Jupiter”, it’s based on Ubuntu 10.10 “Maverick Meerkat”, so you may be thinking to yourself, “Why should I care about yet another Ubuntu derivative?” I’ll admit that I had (and still have) slightly bought into the hype about Elementary OS, but there are plenty of reasons to care about Elementary OS. Let’s look at some history.

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Phones

      • Android

        • Richard M Stallman Says Its Linux Not GNU/Linux; Linus Upset With Android

          Richard M Stallman the father of free software movement yesterday stated that “Its Linux and not GNU/Linux…” He was speaking at the Brussels Free Software & Linux forum.

          The statement came when a journalist asked, “So, Richard, is it still the GNU/Linux vs Linux debate or you guys have reached any solution?”

          One of the free software advocates, present among the audience, stated, “It must be noted that Linux is the kernel where as GNU is the user-land or the layer on top of Linux which you and I use. In addition to that GNU has played a major role in bringing useful applications to Linux, in other words GNU has put some sense into Linux. Linux itself is nothing without GNU.”

Free Software/Open Source

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • GNU/Hurd 0.401 is released!

      We’d like to pass on these marvelous news from our Release Management Team, headed by Release Manager Samuel Thibault…

  • Government

    • FR: Space agency to use Apache Commons Math

      On 18 March 2011, the Apache Commons team announced that the French space agency Centre National d’Études Spatiales (CNES) had selected the open source software Apache Commons Math as part of the basis of its future space flight dynamics systems, project Sirius.

  • Programming

    • MacOS X is an Unsuitable Platform for Web Development

      Part of the process of becoming a new eBay employee is selecting your company laptop. I was offered a choice: Lenovo Thinkpad or MacBook Pro. Coming from a Linux development world, I picked the Mac, thinking it would be closer to what I am used to.

      Man, did I fuck up.

      Thankfully, I still have my Ubuntu workstation to get real work done on, but the Mac does it duty — running Outlook, maybe Firefox or Google Chrome every now and then. Oh, I also have VMWare installed on it so I can boot Windows to browser test in Internet Explorer. I should have picked the PC, at least then I would save myself the step of booting VMWare.

      So what’s wrong with using the Mac as a development machine for Milo, a Python application backed by PostgreSQL and Redis (or any web project, for that matter)? Well, sacred cow, here come the spears.

  • Standards/Consortia

    • The Openness of the UK

      So, the approach includes mandatory open standards. The UK plans to impose compulsory open standards, starting with interoperability and security. What those standards are, is currently under discussion, and there is an open survey on 270 standards.

      What the UK quickly will discover, of course, as they raise the stakes on what their interoperability framework means in practice, is that maintaining a list of such standards is not easy, that opinions on which ones should be included will differ, and that one government rarely decides for a global market, but must enter into dialogue and actively contribute to standardization where it occurs, not ex post in a government decree. There is indeed efficiency in having a single standard for each area of interoperability. However, in practice, the marketplace may embrace multiple and competing standards.

      [...]

      Mandating Open Document Format (ODF) in Government
      In that camp, it is relatively straight forward. There is only one candidate. ODF is a special case where the “winner” can be clearly called. ODF is the only fully-open and widely used, editable document format. ODF is being adopted by governments around the world (Denmark, South Africa, The Netherlands, India, Russia, etc.).

      ODF is implemented in many office programs, including ours. Based on the Open Document Format (ODF) and open web standards, Oracle Open Office enables users to share files on any system as it is compatible with both legacy Microsoft Office documents and de facto formats and Portable Document Format (PDF). For that reason, Oracle is engaged in standardization of ODF, the only truly open standard for office interoperability.

    • Document Freedom Day

      Today is Document Freedom Day but you probably went to work anyway.

      Document Freedom Day may be one of the most misunderstood days on the open source calendar.

      Many who see the term probably think it relates to issues of copyright, and support for Creative Commons content. Or they may think it’s an answer to The New York Times’ paywall.

      Neither is true.

      Document Freedom Day isn’t about documents, but how documents are created.

Leftovers

  • Digitimes Insight: Acer needs new business model for mobile devices

    Facing fierce competition in the mobile device market, Acer has decided to replace its CEO and president Gianfranco Lanci. The company may not have to completely abandon its existing strategies of giving more emphasis on marketing than on product R&D because of Lanci’s departure. But it definitively must devote more efforts to mobile devices and establish a new business model that leverages its current advantages.

  • Foxconn announces $218 million loss for 2010

    Foxconn, the manufacturer of Apple’s iPad 2, has announced a net loss of $218 million for 2010, citing ‘tough challenges’ including shifting market dynamics and increased competition from rivals.

  • Top five datacenter stories that sound like April Fool’s, but aren’t.
  • Defence/Police/Aggression

    • By merely bolstering the weaker side, we are prolonging Libya’s civil war

      Welcome to 21st-century war, liberal style. You do not fix an objective and use main force to get it. You nuance words, bomb a little, half assassinate, scare, twist, spin and make it up as you go along. Nato’s Libyan campaign is proving a field day for the new interventionism. Seemingly desperate to scratch another Muslim itch, Britain’s laptop bombardiers and their tame lawyers go into a daily huddle to choreograph the latest visitation of death on some wretched foreigners.

      Each day the tacticians tot up a gruesome calculus of wins and losses. Wednesday’s defection of Libya’s foreign minister, Moussa Koussa, somehow cancelled out two days of retreat by the rebels towards Benghazi. That retreat cancelled out a weekend of victory over Gaddafi’s army along the northern highway. Nato bombing cancelled out rebel ineffectiveness. Everything is stalemate punctuated by surprise.

  • Cablegate

    • Reflections on Wikileaks, Spycatcher and Freedom of the Press – speech given to Sydney University Law School 31 March 2011

      220 years ago the United States of America ratified the Bill of Rights, the most influential clause of which is the First Amendment:

      “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

      [...]

      The lesson for Governments, apart from improving their security, is to assume that everything said or written will, sooner or later, see the light of day. That may not be a good thing, and it certainly doesn’t make life easier, but it is, I fear, a reality.

      The Governments with most to fear from such disclosure are those whose public statements are at odds with their private opinions – and as I noted earlier so far it appears, to its credit, that the US State Department’s private cables have been consistent with their public policy.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

    • Gulf Coast Residents Dismayed as Effects of Oil Spill Continue

      A billboard on Highway 1 says: Devastating Spill, Devastating Feelings. Inside the Gulf Coast Claims Facility building on the far end of Grand Isle, about 60 people have turned out for a National Resource Damage Assessment public scoping meeting. “You talk about 18 months or so before we get started,” a resident tell trustees. “That’s a long time for us who live here, while our environment and animals are dying.

  • Finance

    • Citibank debt collectors allegedly kill client

      An employee of Citibank and two debt collectors hired by the major international bank allegedly killed a customer who complained about his ballooning credit card bill.

      Citibank customer Irzen Octa, who was also the secretary-general for the National Unity Party (PPB), was allegedly killed by the three suspects after complaining that his credit card bill was inflated from Rp 48 million (US$5,300) to Rp 100 million at the bank’s branch office in Jamsostek Tower in Central Jakarta.

  • Internet/Net Neutrality/UBB

    • North Carolina bill would prohibit cities from upgrading Internet access

      The Republican-dominated North Carolina State Assembly this week approved a bill that would prohibit communities from upgrading their internet access, forcing individual municipalities into a private monopoly of managed broadband services by companies like Time Warner and Comcast.

      Both firms have been restricting the amount of bandwidth users can consume, even though bandwidth itself is not a tangible, meter-able commodity.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Startup companies and the IP playing field

      We would like to thank the European Commission for this opportunity to provide feedback on the Report.

      To stimulate startup companies, the EU legal situation should minimize market entrance risks for innovators. Startup companies are often confronted with patent minefields. Even a mere allegation of infringement may easily lead to market exclusion. Startup companies often do not have enough resources to litigate. Established players in late stages of their own market life cycle may abuse the patent system to stifle entrants and emerging competitors, patent trolls drain market entrants in a phase where they want to grow.

    • Copyrights

      • Discussions About Scarcity vs. Abundance In Copyright From A Century Ago Sound Just Like Those Today

        A reader by the name of Shadow-Slider points us to a fascinating report from a 1897 Copyright Commission in Great Britain in which the report points out how content is different than real property because of the difference between scarcity and abundance. It sounds very much like what we discuss here — just well over a century ago.

      • Why Is It Rocket Science That Laws Should Apply Online Too?

        One of the primary demands of the Pirate Party has been that the same laws that apply offline should also apply online. I think it’s an entirely reasonable thing to demand; the Internet is not a special case, but part of reality. The problems appear when an obsolete but powerful industry realizes that this just and equal application of laws means they can’t enforce a distribution monopoly any longer.

        To understand the absurdity of the copyright industry’s demands, we must pause and consider which rights we take for absolute granted in the analog world. These are rights that already apply in the digital part of reality as well, but are somehow hidden in a legal game of hide-and-seek.

      • The IP Maximalist’s Guide To Making It Big

        Techdirt talks a lot about how to make money in the music biz without actually selling music. Consider this an improvement. With these instructions, you’ll hardly have to produce any music at all, and if you do, you won’t have to go through all that time-intensive and “extremely expensive” production/promotion stuff.

      • TV Site Sued For Linking To Completely Legal Videos

        There are thousands of sites that link to video on the Internet and it’s becoming increasingly common for them to be threatened by rightsholders when they link to unauthorized content. However, things have gone a stage further as a site is now being sued by a copyright group for linking to completely legal content provided by official sources.

      • Parliamentary question on the EU Commission’s new copyright czar

        Yesterday it was reported that the EU Commission has appointed former IFPI lobbyist Maria Martin-Pratt to be the new Head of Unit responsible for copyright issues at the Commission.

Clip of the Day

How to root HTC Hero, Desire, EVO 4G, Wildfire, Aria, Incredible,


Credit: TinyOgg

ES: La FFII Desviste a la Unión Europea

Posted in Europe at 2:29 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Los procesos de alto secreto expuestos!

Female stucco figurine

(ODF | PDF | English/original)

Resumen: La transparencia se logra por los activistas de la Fundación para una Infraestructura de Información Libre (FFII) y una respuesta se emite a las reclamaciones financiadas por Microsoft que dice que las patentes son buenas para nuevas empresas (¿Qué estan fumando?

André Rebentisch de la FFII expone o por lo menos revela [http://twitter.com/FFII/statuses/53822575041708032] lo que él llama “secreto análisis de la Unión Europea UE sobre la patente única”, que es la puerta trasera a las patentes de software. Desde su blog informativo[http://arebentisch.wordpress.com/2011/04/01/compatibility-of-possible-enhanced-cooperation-in-the-field-of-patents-with-the-internal-market-and-the-other-provisions-of-the-treaties/]:

Un documento mantenido en secreto hasta ahora por el Consejo, un análisis jurídico de la cooperación reforzada patente unitaria, hoy se puso a disposición mía en respuesta a mi solicitud de acceso a los documentos secundarios (cmp. EC/1049/2001). Mis argumentos a favor de la aplicación secundaria fueron la sentencia del Tribunal de Justicia turco y el carácter general de la cuestión legal.

El colega/amigo de André, el Sr. Henrion, escribe[http://twitter.com/zoobab/statuses/53754584132362240]: “El UE Estudio calidad de patentes pide a los solicitantes de patentes que es lo que piensan acerca de la calidad de las patentes: http://ur1.ca/3q27s”

Parece que hay desacuerdo dentro de la FFII – una que se refiere a la diplomacia, por lo menos. El Sr. Henrion, el presidente de la FFII, no está de acuerdo con las opiniones o planteamiento del Sr. Rebentisch, que conduce la “@FFII” cuenta en Twitter y Identi.ca. Pero la realidad es, en base a las declaraciones recientes del sitio Web de la FFII, hay una gran insatisfacción con lo que la Oficina Europea de Patents OEP ha estado haciendo. En una declaración formal de nuevo “la FFII recomienda a la UE eliminar las barreras de patentes para las nuevas empresas[http://press.ffii.org/Press%20releases/FFII%20recommends%20EU%20to%20remove%20barriers%20for%20startups]“, eliminando el laberinto de patentes (que los grupos de presión Microsoft dicen ser buenas para las nuevas empresas, fingiendo ser sus portavoces falsos). De la declaración de la FFII:

La FFII respondió a una llamada de consulta de la Comisión Europea Dirección General de Mercado Interior de la observancia de los derechos de propiedad intelectual.

Para que la UE ayude a las compañías que estan comenzando, la FFII aconseja a reducirles los riesgos de mercado de entrada para las empresas innovadoras. La mayoría de las PYMEs y las empresas que apoyan a la FFII operan en los mercados digitales. Los mercados digitales innovadores se enfrentan a menudo con los campos minados de patentes.

Para recordar y reevaluar algunos de los últimos acontecimientos relativos a la OEP, ver esta página wiki[http://techrights.org/wiki/index.php/Software_Patents_in_Europe].

Translation produced by Eduardo Landaveri, the esteemed administrator of the Spanish portal of Techrights.

ES: Perspectiva de la Libertad del Software: 2006-2011

Posted in Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux at 8:06 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Looking

(ODF | PDF | English/original)

Resumen: Una mirada retrospectiva de 5 años de Open Source, Linux, y de Techrights

La manera que la gente percibe el Software Free/libre ha cambiado durante los años, probablemente conforme a varios progresos psicologicos y técnicos. Techrights, que fue centrado antes solamente en Novell, ha existido desde 2006 y durante ese tiempo muchas cosas han cambiado en cuanto a la manera la gente se comunica y de la manera que las compañías interactuan con el software que es libre de compartir. En este post hay una perspectiva personal de lo qué ha sucedido durante estos años. Puede no ser enteramente objetivo y debe ser tratado simplemente como una perspectiva más entre muchas otras. La meta es explicar como ha cambiado la manera como es comercializado el software Free/libre, contra que luchó, y como fue cubierto través del Internet. Este poste fue escrito en el tren (cuente con los errores tipográficos) con el objetivo de explicarme a mi mismo porqué las cosas la manera progresaron de la manera que lo hicieron y destacando las tendencias a partir de diversos años (con su sucesión de tendencias), y ojalá llege a ser obvio cómo el mundo se movió desde cobertura sobre gran software a distraerse en materias como patentes, de la discusión sobre Open Source en negocios/empresas, a la computación de la niebla (Fog Computing) y a los bombos y platillos de la comercialización, y pasando por el entusiasmo de Linux a la fanfarria alrededor de Android, de Ubuntu, etc.

2006

Este año fué algo especial para Open Source. Nunca hubo de antemano tanta promesa en almacén para las compañías que se caracterizaron siempre como siendo de código abierto (Open Source). Los capitalistas de riesgo también invirtieron grandes sumas de dinero en compañías que podrían ser etiquetadas de Open Source. Desde el punto de vista de GNU/Linux como plataforma de escritorio viable, las cosas parecían absolutamente positivas. Compiz había llegado y ofreció algo único a GNU/Linux – algo que la competición NO TENíA simplemente en aquel entonces (aunque las estructuras de la prueba de Windows Vista demostraron una cierta clase de efectos tridimensionales rudimentarios como “modo de tirón”). En lado de servidor las compañías como Novell y Red Hat ganaron bastante y su alcance creció constantemente tanto como su cuota de mercado. Casi al final del año solamente Novell hizo lo increíble y anunció que había negociado un reparto de patentes con Microsoft por medio año.

En el espacio encajado, parecía como que Linux había madurado al punto donde podría poderosamente funcionar en dispositivos ampliamente utilizados tales como TomTom, los dispositivos tempranos de Nokia con Maemo a bordo, y todas las clases de routers, de hubs, etc. No mucho cambiaría en un cierto plazo, pero Linux continuaría solidificando su posición como opción de hecho para los dispositivos tan pequeños como simples chips a bordo hasta algo la escala de una unidad central (Mainframe) y más allá (aunque éstos no se clasifican realmente como dispositivos más). En aque entonces mirando hacia atrás, como todavía hoy se coloca, la parte en el centro que constituye el escritorio (Desktop) era el talón de Achilles de Linux (el núcleo) y también de otras partes del apilado típico de GNU/Linux.

Cuando viene a la cara pública del escritorio (Desktop) libre, absolutamente algunas revisiones de distribuciones populares fueron publicadas por la prensa corporativa, especialmente en las secciones dedicadas solamente a la tecnología. Las noticias de aquel entonces fueron una diversa area porque los blogs llegaban a ser seriamente competitivos y los medios de sitios sociales ganaron tracción al punto donde eran una entrada al Internet para mucha gente. La defensa de GNU/Linux se podía encontrar fácilmente en lugares previstos tales como LXer, Linux hoy, y también sitios con audiencias más amplias o diversas tales como Digg. La impresión que mucha gente tenía era en ese entonces que GNU/Linux estaba a punto de tener un “año de escritorio” absolutamente pronto; no era todavía una opinión conformista a tener si una creía de verdad que los smartphones sobrepasarían factores de forma tales como escritorios y ordenadores portátiles.

En cierto modo, 2006 fué un año fuerte para muchas cosas asociadas a la Libertad del Software. Varias cosas tales como Open Source parecían haber subido la cuesta o haberse mantenido en la cuesta – algo que no duraría por siempre. Microsoft tenía problemas con el desarrollo de Windows, Apple todavía intentaba crecer su negocio más allá del perímetro de sus partidarios a largo plazo (hasta cierto grado) y para las fuerzas propietarias el tiempo se les estaba acabando en cierto modo porque su materia fue hecha de lo qué fue escaso por medios artificiales. Oracle hizo algunas adquisiciones estratégicas que interrumpieron las bases de datos baratas e introdujeron más adelante Unbreakable Linux para aplicar presión a Red Hat. El reparto de Microsoft con Novell fue anunciado poco tiempo después y era una tentativa clara comenzar su campaña de FUD y también encender una nueva estrategia, en donde Microsoft utilizará patentes como vaca de efectivo (cash cows). 2007 serían el año que Microsoft también dió esas intenciones a conocer y actuó más público de acuerdo a ellas.

2007

El reparto de Novell llevado a algunas declaraciones tempranas indignantes de Microsoft, vertiendo gradualmente más luz en lo que había planeado pues Vista era un lío y personal clave se iba de la empresa. No fue sin precedente o inesperadadmente. En las entrevistas publicadas en años anteriores Microsoft lo hizo saber que puede ser que recurra a usar patentes un día. Citó la obligación a sus accionistas o algo así entre líneas.

Eso es lo que hacen las compañías típicamente cuando no pueden vender los productos reales que hacen. Bien, Microsoft nunca hizo productos por sí mismo, cualquiera. La fabricación no es su campo y mucho de su negocio se basa apenas en la ley de Derechos de Autor, accesoo a las compañías de hardware, y PATENTES cada vez más también, Microsoft se convirtió en una sanguijuela que explota las leyes que cabildea o ejerce presión por, en un cierto plazo.

En el frente de Open Source, inversiones continuaron arrivando, no obstante algunas compañías comenzaban a derivar hacia direcciones que favorecían una clase de compromiso, significando mucho menos adherencia a los principios del código abierto. La discusión sobre GPLv3 (Licencia Pública General v3) y las confrontaciones que trajo fueron pusieron en títulares y también puso a la FSF Fundación de Software Libre en el centro de muchas cosas. El estancamiento de Open Source acababa de comenzar solamente y la carencia de certeza acerca de la misión de supuestas “empresas de código abierto” daba la sensación cada vez de mayor desconfianza.

En el frente de escritorio, Ubuntu ganó mucha terreno y absorbió a muchos nuevos usuarios, incluso alguna gente que desertó de distribuciones como OpenSUSE. Crecía impaciencia en algunos sitios frente a los artículos que llamaban GNU/Linux apenas Ubuntu. Atrás estaban aquellos días mucha gente llamaba a muchas de las distribuciones simplemente Linux , pero Canónical ganó una posición donde su producto fue visto como muy único y también fue tratado esta manera por los periódicos. En aquel entonces era poco lo que se considerará polémico al interior de Canónical que distribuía sobre todo un escritorio GNOME “vainilla”, como como sus contrapartes.

En el lado del servidor, GNU/Linux continuó esforzándose y los dispositivos llegaron a ser más comunes. Por ejemplo, las iniciativas se consolidaron cuya meta a largo plazo era tener un ambiente basado en Linux unificado para los teléfonos, mucho antes que el hypePhone de Apple fuese conocido. Algunas de estas iniciativas fallecerían en una etapa u otra, pero las que encuentraron éxito (notablemente Android) lograrían un home run y dejarían a sus contrapartes si no en conjunto obsoletos, tímidos.

El enredo de ODF/OOXML comenzó a ser la corriente principal en la última mitad de año, llevando a todas clases de hostilidades y también a la realización que los estándares importan mucho, no apenas para tener acceso al código fuente.

2008

Éste es el año cuando mucha la mala conducta de OOXML se convirtió en ABUSO escarpado visible y de Microsoft, no apenas con software patentes pero también el soborno, se convirtió en una cosa corriente.

2008 fue no más un año de muchos picos y entusiasmo general, por lo menos en el sentido que no mucha gente mencionaría el término/buzzphrase el “año de linux en el escritorio”. No es que la gente se rindió, fue apenas que como OLPC era “mejorado” por Microsoft e Intel (una ofensa que mucha gente ha olvidado ahora) ASUS comenzó a introducir lo qué se conocería como “netbooks”, y apenas sobre todos funcionaría inicialmente una distribución de GNU/Linux. Pronto se convirtió en un espacio apretado también con Moblin y Android. Era imposible negar que en dispositivos portables por lo menos, Microsoft carecía de un sistema operativo ligero. Microsoft devaluaría Windows (lo que lleva a la declinación de márgenes) y presentaría a gente a los nuevos sistemas operativos en un cierto plazo.

El reparto de Novell con Microsoft mostraba mayoría de edad y de Novell ya era asimiladas absolutamente, así que promovió mucho mono y moonlight, a desdén de la comunidad. Mucho personal dejaba Novell, mientras que a Red Hat le iba excelente, ambas compañías fueron demandadas por las patentes de software de Acacia de Xerox, con el pleito que fue anunciado en finales de 2007. Microsoft ya no firmaba tantos repartos de patentes como firmó el 2007, así que las entidades asociadas a Microsoft harían una cantidad cada vez mayor de esta sucio trabajo. No fue hasta 2009 que Microsoft decidió también a demandar para conseguir su capricho porque TomTom no se entregaría a la extorsión.

En cuanto a Open Source, las cosas se secaban un poquito. Tantas noticias sobre el tema fueron publicadas más, compañías como MySQL fueron vendidas, Sun comenzaba a luchar realmente, y los discusiones sobre Software Libre contra Open Source llegaron a ser comunes. Microsoft también embarró el agua apareciendo en todas clases de acontecimientos de Open Source, en las cuales no podría poner sus garras. Las sitios de noticias sin embargo, declinaron. Algunos cerraron y llegaron a ser inactivos; el derrumbamiento del mercado de septiembre (más adelante) no ayudó tampoco. Esta situación entera significó que por esta etapa, no mucho periodismo investigador se realizaba – revisión de distribuciones – podría ser incluído. Las PR Relaciones Públicas llenaron algo del vacío dejado por ello, lo que fue desafortunado.

2009

Esto fue un año reservado en cierto modo. Microsoft arruinó gradualmente la dominación de GNU/Linux en notebooks descargando productos en el mercado y quizá incluso pagando fabricantes para que eviten todo menos Windows. El uso de patentes y una cierto retórica relacionada se convirtieron en más trivialidad y Microsoft incluso demandó. En cuanto a Open Source, dejó gradualmente de ser discusión de mucho interés en la prensa como que las compañías utilizaron cada vez más la etiqueta para sus propósitos de comercialización y diluyeron lo que significa Open Source realmente. GNU/Linux para los escritorios era en esta etapa sobre todo Ubuntu, que también llegó a ser sinónimo con el escritorion de linux. Esto puso fin a la pasión que alguna gente de tenía para el linux, excepto los que promovieron Ubuntu muy entusiásticamente hacia adelante (yo mismo he sido un usuario de Ubuntu desde el comienzo).

2010

Con el arribo de Vista 7, la subida continua de sitios como Twitter y Facebook, y el debilitamiento de los sitios de noticias en conjunto, fue hecho algo evidente que aunque Linux fue encajado en casi todo y por todas partes fue referido comúnmente por otras marcas de fábrica y Microsoft continuó el demandar y las amenazas. Apple hizo esto más adelante y así como Oracle, aunque en el caso de Oracle no la plataforma de funcionamiento fuera el objetivo. En cuanto a Open Source, las noticias eran absolutamente secas, pero el impacto del movimiento era fácil de considerar en áreas tales como acceso abierto (OA), apertura de datos, etc. Muchas compañías apalancaron tecnología free/libre de código abierta como los medios para acelerar el desarrollo y aquellos que se llamaban compañías de Open Source típicamente mezclaban lo propietario con algo más. Esto fue algo como un golpe a algo que tuvo una vez una dirección más clara.

2011

Éste es el año en curso, que ha visto a Novell maduro para que una toma de posesión sea terminada, Androide está preparado para la dominación mundial inminente en algúnas áreas, y en el mercado de superinformática Linux se aproxima a un 100%. Muchos sitios de Linux se concentran en el chisme y la escoria, cubriendo progresos de menor importancia alrededor de fuentes, los papeles de transfondo y los progresos de Unity en Ubuntu. El Android es tratado como cosa separada, HP pone Linux en muchas PC (pero con software propietario sobre eso), y muchas compañías grandes como IBM celebran reservado el PODER de Linux.

¿Califica esto como victoria para Linux? ¿La meta original fue alcanzada? Depende probablemente de los objetivos de quién.

Translation produced by Eduardo Landaveri, the esteemed administrator of the Spanish portal of Techrights.

Novell Leeching More, Creating Less

Posted in Novell, OpenOffice, Red Hat, SCO at 2:51 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: An overview of recent Novell news, of which there is a good deal about proprietary software, Red Hat leeching, LibreOffice/OpenOffice leeching, etc.

NOVELL has been a wasteland of news recently (OpenSUSE being the exception), especially now that the acquisition is put on hold amidst investigation. It leads to paralysis. To quote Redmonk’s “State of Novell” post:

My own is that SUSE faces some fundamental challenges.

Linux foes like Microsoft would love to ensure that it carries on because Microsoft is paid for SLE* sales, unlike RHEL sales. But Red Hat is still the market leader, despite Microsoft’s continued efforts to change that. In general, there is not much to say about Novell these days. News about the company is banal, but it sure seems like they still want Red Hat’s business based on statements by Michael Applebaum, who takes advantage of the patches controversy/blunder:

From a maintenance perspective, Novell doesn’t face any problem in providing regular kernel updates for RHEL.

On another front, Novell promotes proprietary GroupWise and abend.org keeps track of that when it reposts (it also covers new flaws [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]):

Novell today announced new partner solutions to meet the growing demands of its GroupWise(R) customer base and address the changing collaboration landscape. Within the past two months, Novell partners, including GWAVA, Notify Technology and SEP, unveiled eight new products which provide GroupWise customers with advanced security, compliance and mobile management features. Combined with more than 1,200 active GroupWise solution providers in 2010, the Novell ecosystem of ISVs and channel partners has driven more than 70 percent of GroupWise sales over the past year and continues to gain momentum.

“We have come to rely on GWAVA and Novell GroupWise as critical solutions to our overall messaging infrastructure,” said Andrew Simpson, head of ITT at Public and Commercial Services Union. “Having two partners work so well together gives us confidence into the future.”

This is just proprietary software, akin to this type of stuff which Novell PR people are pushing. Go-OO development has been moving resources to LibreOffice, which Novell tries to monetise using support, just like SUSE which Novell’s PR people carry on promoting [1, 2]. Meike Chabowski, the product marketing manager for Enterprise Linux Servers at Novell, is pushing SUSE content into ZDNet to strengthen SUSE in mainframes.

With funds from dubious sources and despite bankruptcy [1, 2], SCO or UnXis [1, 2, 3] wish to carry on threatening Linux with a tax. Groklaw pointed out that Novell would file for an appeal against SCO’s latest move.

I expect Novell will immediately appeal. You will notice that on page 11 of the Order there is a 14-day waiting period, so it can do so, something Novell requested at the hearing. When the judge said he’d have to make sure Novell had that time, I knew how he would rule.

At the end of the day, an insolvent Novell which will probably be forgotten a few years down the line, just like SCO. Both companies are no longer seen as creating much at all. Their virtual assets are being passed around.

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