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04.26.11

Why Google Will Invalidate Linux-Hostile Patents

Posted in GNU/Linux, Google, Microsoft, OIN, Patents at 4:58 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Crosswalk

Summary: Explanations given to clarify that Linux is not under siege and that OIN helps deter Microsoft, leaving it using patent trolls and proxies for the attempted taxation of GNU/Linux

Microsoft feeding patent trolls with “anti-Linux patents” (not our own term but a term that was widely used at the time) is not a conspiracy theory, thanks in part to proof obtained by the OIN and the Linux Foundation [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6]. As we showed before, the patent troll-led MPEG-LA is batting for Microsoft’s and Apple’s benefit, directly aiming at Google as well (there is reactive defence from Google). Google’s GNU/Linux servers, the free codec, the free Web browser, and Android are some of the lucrative targets these days. It is a subject which we tackled repeatedly over the past week [1, 2, 3], more latterly because of Microsoft Florian and his FUD about a patent ruling which will most probably be overruled.

Here are some interesting details about the source of the lawsuit:

Can’t let it pass without comment: A mystery-company called Bedrock Computer Technologies sues Google in the Eastern District of Texas for infringing on a patent. And that patent names Linux! It’s also going after Yahoo, MySpace, Amazon, PayPal, Match.com, and AOL (What??? Does AOL use Linux?).

You can just about throw a dart and hit a tech blog reblogging the story today, but I like Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols & Paula Rooney’s take on it the best: “Idiotic Anti-Linux & Google Patent Decision” says it all.

It’s almost a parody of a patent troll case. “Bedrock Computer Technologies” has a website, and what’s on that home page? A showcase of technologies for sale by them? A shopping-cart section where you can actually buy something from them? Nope, just an Art-Deco logo straight out of Atlas Shrugged, linking to an email drop – I take it whomever’s job it is to read the mail from that drop is having a jolly time hosing it out today. Bedrock is a patent troll, and they don’t give a thin damn who knows it.

Given the geography of the case and given the depth of Google’s pocket, this is more noise than signal. This will go away. It is a timely lesson, however, regarding the ridiculousness of software patents and it can rekindle this important debate.

Well, guess what? Even Microsoft boosters acknowledge that it’s not as serious as Microsoft Florian tried putting it and Groklaw has this productive suggestion and constructive response which seeks to eliminate software patents as a whole. It is the only real solution. From the introductory summary:

This article provides a detailed factual explanation of why software is mathematics, complete with the references in mathematical and computer science literature. It also includes a detailed factual explanation of why mathematics is speech, complete once again with references. My hope is that it will help patent lawyers and judges handling patent litigation understand these fundamental truths, so they can apply that technical knowledge to their field of skill.

Case law on software patents is built on a number of beliefs about how computers and software work. But as you will see, when you compare the technical facts presented in this article and in the authoritative works referenced, with expressions in case law on how computers and software work, you will find they are often in complete opposition. I believe this is a foundational problem that has contributed to invalid patents issuing.

If you are a computer professional, I hope you pay attention to another aspect of the article, on how the lawyers and judges understand software. This is critical to understanding their point of view. After reading case after case on the topic, I have concluded that the legal view of software relies on beliefs that are in contradiction with known principles of computing. Computer professionals explain their profession based on an understanding that is, on its face, the opposite of a few things the legal profession believes to be established and well understood facts. Moreover, the law is complex and subtle. Computer professionals don’t understand it any better oftentimes than patent lawyers understand software, and so they can make statements that make no legal sense.

I believe that coming to a clear and fact-based definition of what an algorithm is can help both sides to communicate more effectively. So let’s do that as well.

Brian Proffitt says that there is “no reason to worry about Linux” because this patent verdict can be overturned quite soon. To quote his column:

I was on the road in Boston late last week, and thus was unable to easily write something up on the April 15 jury finding in the case of Bedrock Computer Technologies, LLC v. Softlayer Technologies, Inc. et al.

That’s the catchy name for the patent infringement lawsuit launched in 2009 by Tyler, Texas-based Bedrock against Softlayer and CitiWare Technology Solutions, LLC, two Texas-based software companies, and a few firms that are decidedly not from Texas: Google Inc., Yahoo! Inc., MySpace Inc., Amazon.com Inc., PayPal Inc., Match.com, Inc., AOL LLC and CME Group Inc. The suit alleges that a patent that Bedrock owns, US 5,893,120, is infringed by the defendants in the suit, because such a method is employed by the Linux operating system and as major users of Linux, the defendants are liable for damages.

Back on April 15, after a five-day jury trial, the Federal jury in Tyler, Texas indeed found in favor of Bedrock and specified that Google owed the company a huge, staggering amount of $5 million in damages. (Yes, that was sarcasm.)

Patent law followers will note the location of the trial venue. The United States District Court Eastern District of Texas is well-known as a favored district for patent infringement suits. It is no coincidence, surely, that Bedrock’s founder David Garrod opted to start his company, which exists only as a holder of patents like 5,893,120, in such a patent-friendly location.

Proffitt’s former colleague, Sean Michael Kerner, reminds us of the role played by the OIN, which has no built-in immunisation against patent trolls (e.g. those whom Microsoft feeds), unlike large companies that wage patent wars under different rules. To quote Sean:

Patents remain a source of risk for the open source ecosystem, though the Open Invention Network (OIN) is doing its’ part to help reduce the risk.

The OIN launched back in 2005 as a group tasked with acquiring patents and then licensing them back to the open source community on a royalty-free basis.

OIN has continued to grow over the years, and for the first quarter of 2011, the group grew by over 70 new licensees including HP, Facebook and Juniper Networks.

Since those who bemoan Linux (and constantly spread patent FUD about it) also smear the OIN, surely there is something about the OIN which worries Microsoft; it acts as a deterrent. For example, Microsoft is not suing OIN members for patent violations, assuming they join early enough, unlike TomTom. The monopolist can use patent trolls to file these lawsuits however. Microsoft is, after all, the genesis of the world’s biggest patent troll. It cannot deny this fact.

“In a world where there are $500 million dollar patent infringement lawsuits imposed on OS companies (although this is not completely settled yet), how would somebody like Red Hat compete when 6 months ago they only had $80-$90 million in cash? At that point they could not even afford to settle a fraction of a single judgment without devastating their shareholders. I suspect Microsoft may have 50 or more of these lawsuits in the queue. All of them are not asking for hundreds of millions, but most would be large enough to ruin anything but the largest companies. Red Hat did recently raise several hundred million which certainly gives them more staying power. Ultimately, I do not think any company except a few of the largest companies can offer any reasonable insulation to their customers from these types of judgments. You would need a market cap of more than a couple billion to just survive in the OS space.”

SCO’s Strategic Consultant Mike Anderer

Microsoft: We Need More Monopoly Protection

Posted in GNU/Linux, Google, Intellectual Monopoly, Law, Microsoft at 3:40 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Mujeres riendo

Summary: Champion of anti-competitive practices wants laws that further assist those practices

THE company from Redmond never changed. It’s just an abusive monopoly which subverts the law in order to perpetuate this monopoly and evade prosecution when it breaks the law. As the i4i case (that’s still in the news) helps show, Microsoft wants the law to bend over and always serve Microsoft, even become temporarily void when Microsoft breaks some particular law such as patent law. Watch how Microsoft’s lobbying blog is once again pushing monopolies, this time on design. They try to use some cynical joke called “World Intellectual Property Day” (there is no such property) to push for further restrictions, using the same blog where they lobby for software patents:

Strong design protection in the online environment will help drive continued innovation and differentiation in the cloud.

They even use the “cloud” buzzword to pressure in favour of more monopolies. Who are they kidding? What an unethical company. See, that’s what distinguishes companies like Google, for example, from Microsoft. Google is in many ways going against all those intellectual monopolies (copyright maximalists, artificial limitations and restrictions, patent lawyers, etc.), whereas Microsoft wants more protectionism. It’s all about taking from society as much as possible when it comes to Microsoft. In fact, recall what Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer wanted to do to their colleague when he was ill. Ballmer may have just validated the story by making these statements:

On his recent discussion with Steve Ballmer about the book: No one has disagreed or contradicted any fact or any memory to me. … Steve said, “Yeah, those things did happen, some of those things did happen,” like I recount. I think obviously if you’re in a leadership position at Microsoft, and I’m giving my critique of the future, or the challenges for the future, I guess I should say, those are areas that Steve’s focused on, and is sensitive about, and he talked a little bit about that.

Guess who is using intellectual monopolies against Google right now? Microsoft has helped fuel copyright battles against Google and now it launches patent attacks on Android, too. A lot of sites will insist that Google and Microsoft are fundamentally different because at Microsoft, scarcity has always been the business model; for Google it’s abundance. What is better for the public (over 99% of which is not lawyers)?

Windows Sales Keep Declining and “Windows Ecosystem is Broken”

Posted in Deception, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Windows at 3:06 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Pedestrian and highway

Summary: GNU/Linux is driving Windows off the road, gradually but surely; Microsoft continues to deceive nonetheless

AS we repeatedly show and remind our readers, Windows-related profit is on the decline, so Microsoft resorts to cheating in the SEC filings, pushing into newspapers all sorts of fake numbers. Katherine from IDG and ECT explains that “Linux Wins Big” as “Microsoft Reveals Windows Decline” and she provides supporting evidence:

3. Microsoft Reveals Windows Decline

Microsoft is nothing if not a master at trumpeting its own horn, and recently it’s being doing just that over the 350 million copies of Windows 7 it says it has sold since the software’s debut.

One thing it apparently forgot to mention, however, is that that’s not so good. In fact, it doesn’t even keep up with the total number of PCs sold, as my Infoworld colleague Woody Leonhard noted today.

One needs to add that it’s not Vista 7 , it’s just licences issued/assigned (not necessarily used) and it includes Windows XP, which Microsoft counts as Vista 7 in order to game the numbers. It is easy to see why Windows is losing inertia. As one of our new regulars in IRC put it in his blog recently, Windows is broken and the “Windows ecosytem is broken”, too, whereas Google’s Android, for example, is doing extremely well and growing rapidly.

Over the years that I have provided IT support, I have always pointed out the options available i.e Mac, Windows, Linux (and in some cases a BSD). Familiarity tends to sway users towards Windows despite the problems. Another issue tends to be that “the must have” application for which no alternatives exist (except for other proprietary apps) are only available on Windows. When I dig a little deeper into how these apps are written I tend to be horrified at how they are put together. In the VB6/.net etc etc world sometime Client/Server can mean “lets map the executable to the server, run it over the network and tell the customer to get a faster network/computer/switch if it doesn’t work properly” .

One thing that is becoming increasingly common is to find that many of these apps are still written with legacy develop environments or libraries which is translating into not working well or at all in Vista & Windows 7. It seems to be that many of these apps aren’t coping well with the transition from smb 1 to smb 2 – strangely the average Windows techy appears to have no concept of this. My work with Samba has recently been helping me solve Windows problems!

So to translate the above into something less “geeky” – The Windows ecosystem is broken, littered with layer upon layer of legacy must have software. Its the more established businesses which suffer more from this, newer businesses with less software baggage do not have to weigh themselves down.

Adoption of Vista and its successors has been utterly poor in businesses and now that we discover some major wins for GNU/Linux in business desktops, there is reason to believe that a lot more of it is coming. In fact, based on information that cannot be made public just yet, a lot of desktops are going to see proprietary software stripped off. Sometimes it starts by running Free, cross-platform software on top of Windows, which in turn makes swapping the platform with GNU/Linux quite trivial. Microsoft knows that.

Links 26/4/2011: Focus on Fedora 15 and Imminent Ubuntu Release

Posted in News Roundup at 1:55 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Smart Book

    While following some links that I had received from a conversation on Diaspora* Alpha, I ran across the Smart Book, a great product from Always Innovating. While they offer them for sale, they do not yet have a shipping date. Reading their press release, it does not look like they plan to sell them in mass quantities. Imaging having a hand held Internet device, a tablet, a netbook, and screen that can be plugged into another computer, all in one device. Along with all of those features it runs multiple operating systems all at the same time. On top of everything else it is Open Hardware and Open Software.

  • Hack the D-Link DNS-323 to get an array of Linux server options

    There are a number of products currently available aimed to meet home storage needs. Rather than purchasing an entire computer to act as a file sever, these NAS (Network Attached Storage) devices are cheap, and you can typically stuff them in a corner and forget about them, using them to store backups or files that you want to share with other systems. They can be used to share files with those outside of the home network, or strictly for those inside.

    One such device is the D-Link DNS-323, a two-bay NAS system that runs Linux. It is a small box, but large enough to store two 3.5″ SATA drives, so it can be stored nearly anywhere. By itself, the DNS-323 has a web-based administrative console, has multiple disk options (JBOD, RAID0, RAID1, or individual disks), gigabit Ethernet, allows for SMB (Windows file sharing) and FTP access. It has one USB port for a printer to allow it to be a print server as well, and it can also be an iTunes media server out of the box. All of this is available for roughly $200.

  • OS-Less notebook LDLC recommends the Joli OS

    This is one of those very few manufacturers recommending the OS together with the Jolibook that has the JoliCloud preloaded already on the system.

  • Seven Keys to Success with Linux
  • Linux Wins Big in Three Coups
  • A (Finally) Winning Linux Hand

    And try as Microsoft might, the public cloud computing services are increasing their dependence on Linux operating systems that don’t require them to pay licensing fees to Microsoft.

  • Desktop

  • Audiocasts/Shows

  • Google

  • Kernel Space

    • Instituting ‘Defense in Depth’ for PCI Compliance on a Linux Platform
    • Linux Kernel Power Bug Now High Importance In Ubuntu

      There is also this Launchpad bug report from a Canonical software engineer that was created earlier this month but now with the attention of Phoronix, 33 others have officially confirmed being ‘affected’ by this bug in its entry. This morning, the Ubuntu Kernel Team has now confirmed it as being a bug of high importance for Natty (11.04) and Oneiric (11.10). It should also be acknowledged in the Ubuntu 11.04 release notes that there is a power issue.

      It doesn’t appear that they are devoting any resources to getting the issue resolved but it looks like they will be waiting for a fix to appear upstream in the stable series or in 2.6.39 and then to have that back-ported into an Ubuntu 11.04 SRU update.

    • Another Major Linux Power Regression Spotted

      Since Friday there’s been a number of Phoronix articles about a very bad power regression in the mainline Linux kernel, which is widespread, Ubuntu 11.04 is one of the affected distributions, and has been deemed a bug of high importance. This yet-to-be-resolved issue is affected Linux 2.6.38 and 2.6.39 kernels and for many desktop and notebook systems is causing a 10~30% increase in power consumption. Nevertheless, this is not the only major outstanding power regression in the mainline tree, there is another dramatic regression now spotted as well that is yet-to-be-fixed.

    • Graphics Stack

      • Will NVIDIA Optimus Inevitably Come To Linux?

        Aside from political issues surrounding open vs. closed-source (graphics) drivers on Linux, the proprietary NVIDIA Linux driver is widely liked. The proprietary NVIDIA Linux driver is relatively bug/trouble-free, has a performance parity to the Windows driver, supports new hardware right away, and has a near feature parity to the Windows driver. There’s not much more you could ask for from a closed-source driver, aside from a few missing features. One of the missing features that’s been widely talked about as of late has been Optimus.

      • Wayland Can Now Use Gallium3D Software Rendering

        Besides the obvious requirements and demands of needing to design a display server that can fully replace the needs of the long-standing X Server, and making all the tool-kits and major software support running natively on Wayland, another inhibitor to Wayland’s adoption has been its graphics driver requirements. In particular, Wayland requires kernel mode-setting, EGL (in place of a DRI2 requirement), in-kernel memory management (GEM), and 3D acceleration.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC)

      • undertow

        # Contour continues to develop, and the OS image track is similarly moving; so these will follow on nicely after the Active App announcement.

        # Plasmate has seen renewed development and is polishing up nicely. We have a new contributor who has popped up recently, and both Sebastian K. and myself have been plonking away on it. I need to do a screencast soon! :)

      • Kate’s Tab Bar Plugins
      • announcing Season of KDE 2011

        I’m super happy that KDE could accept 51 student for GSoC this year. It’s an impressive number and they’ll make a difference in KDE this year. But this number also means that we had to say no to many students. A lot of tough choices had to be made. Now I can’t magically make more GSoC slot appear unfortunately. But I can do something else. I can run another Season of KDE together with an awesome team of mentors and co-admins.

    • GNOME Desktop

      • A revelation of an idea for GNOME3′s Shell

        I’ve made heavy use of the revelation-applet on my gnome 2 desktop panel to search for passwords inside my revelation password file. I’d like to restore that sort of quick password search inside the preferred mechanics of GNOME3 shell.

      • Diodon – GTK+ clipboard manager

        Diodon is a simple clipboard manager for GNOME with application indicator support. Aiming to be the best integrated clipboard manager for the Gnome/GTK+ desktop.

      • One week with GNOME3

        I’ve installed GNOME 3 ppa on my ubuntu natty last week, and have been using it exclusively since then. To be honest I’ve been ranting a lot against GNOME3 before using it for my day to day activities, so I feel I should share my observations now that I really know it. Here are all the good and bad things I’ve seen, with no particular order. I’ll try not being too polemic (that’s hard exercise for me), please keep in mind I’m not pretending being a normal user; I’m a developer so my needs probably are different.

        [...]

        GNOME3 is a good base for upcoming releases.

  • Distributions

    • Reviews

    • New Releases

      • Elastix 1.6.2
      • ALT 5.9.9-20110401
      • Kalumbata Rev 4 released

        The Bayanihan Linux 5 Revision 4 is now available for download! The newest Kalumbata revision now features LibreOffice by The Document Foundation, an Open Source office productivity suite greatly derived from OpenOffice.org. However, OpenOffice.org 3.3, the latest version, is still bundled in the installer. Also packed in the new ISOs is the latest release of BL5′s default web browser, Mozilla Firefox 4. Tons of security updates are also added.

      • 1+1 = Calculate Linux

        Another Monday, another review. This week it’s Calculate Linux 11.3 Gnome Edition! Get ready for another wild and crazy ride into the ever changing landscape known as FLOSS! (Free Libre Open Source Software)

    • Red Hat Family

      • Fedora

        • Fedora dons the new Gnome
        • Fusion Linux 14 Thorium – Fedora Plus Plus

          Comparing to Fedora, Fusion Linux is a clear winner, as it only builds upon the existing without taking away.

        • Ubuntu to the Rescue: A Tale of Broadcom Wifi Drivers, Prerelease Software, and a new Acer Aspire One Netbook

          Let me say, however, that this is a STRONG argument for Fedora to have something like the restricted drivers menu. Sure, I know they want to have a freedom-only desktop. But I see nothing wrong with looking for certain hardware and telling people they may get better performance in the non-free repos. They aren’t doing anyone any favors by making them thing their computer doesn’t work with Fedora. And they’re losing potential users.

        • From Ubuntu to Fedora – Landing on foreign soil (the good, the bad and the ugly)

          During the past weeks I noticed how difficult it was to hack on a desktop environment that I am not using myself. And since most of my work now is about GNOME (and KDE) I came to the conclusion I have to use bleeding edge GNOME 3. Sadly Ubuntu 11.04 with GNOME 3 is pretty shaky for my taste.

          I am a very impatient developer who really does not enjoy compiling stuff and playing with packages a lot. Mutter gave me some hard time on a Virtual Machine. So I chose to move to Fedora, luckily though this has given me a new perspective as I have been a long time Ubuntu user.

        • Moving to Fedora

          Except for the apparently broken Eclipse in F15—couldn’t get the Android ADT plugin to install—and a few glitches and rough edges here and there, the experience has been quite good so far.

        • Fedora Talk: First static, then silence (talk.fedoraproject.org closing up 2011-05-05)

          For many years Fedora infrastructure has been running a talk.fedoraproject.org asterisk server. This allows contributors to talk to each other, or send voice mails, etc.

          However, it gets very very little usage and also has no one really maintaining it or fixing issues with it. In the last 130days there have been a total of 95 calls using the server. There are a number of outstanding infrastructure tickets on the service that no one has dealt with. The server running it is running an outdated OS version and asterisk version.

    • Debian Family

      • Ubuntu Unity Keyboard Shortcuts Wallpapers

        Can’t remember all the Unity keyboard shortcuts? Then check out the AskUbuntu keyboard shortcuts thread – you’ll find two wallpapers (one is also available in German) with most of the Unity mouse tricks / keyboard shortcuts:

      • Canonical/Ubuntu

        • Is Canonical Attacking Its Own Ubuntu Communities?

          Ubuntu is growing big – bigger than ever. And there is a price you have to pay when you grow big. The dust of Ubuntu vs Banshee just settled and here is another storm, in a tea cup.

          Anthony Papillion, a blogger and quite a good writer, stirred the bee’s hive by posting an emotional blog about the shut-down of Sounder.

        • Why I love Unity

          In GNOME 3 it was closer to an inch and three-quarters ( or close to 44.5mm), with close to half an inch(12.5-13mm) dedicated to the title bar. I know there are plenty of deeper differences between the two interfaces (which plan to get int in a later post), but given the minor superficial differences, I would take Unity any day just because of screen real estate.

        • Why Is Ubuntu’s Unity Squeezing out GNOME 3?

          Not too long ago, I wrote about Ubuntu’s embrace of the Unity desktop and what that would mean for Ubuntu users who might prefer a traditional GNOME shell.

          At the time, I was called out by some readers regarding my belief that Ubuntu was limiting itself with its choice in relying on Unity. Now as we approach Ubuntu 11.04, it looks as if I might have been right all along.

          While users can certainly select the older GNOME shell, the move to the Unity desktop has clearly not been greeted with unanimous applause.

          Unity is not GNOME 3

          One fact that ought to be made clear from the start is that in the name of Ubuntu seeking to make Unity their default desktop experience, the development team has indeed locked some users into a singular desktop experience. “But Matt, that’s nonsense! Users can install any desktop they choose! Besides, if they want GNOME 3 instead, users can just add the PPA repository for it!”

          The above statement is what I feel makes this entire thing surrounding Unity so amusing. In the Ubuntu development team’s desire to make Ubuntu more “accessible,” they’re actually assuming new users even realize other desktop environments are possible.

        • One more step for Ubuntu Natty

          Final beta release paves the way for this week’s final release of Ubuntu 11.04

          It’s just a few days to go until the next major release of Ubuntu and the developers have issued a final testing version. Released late last week the second Ubuntu Natty Narwhal Beta will be the final pre-release ahead of a planned 28 April final release.

        • Deployment Ease, Experimentation Highlights of Ubuntu 11.04

          The latest and greatest release of Ubuntu — 11.04, or “Natty Narwhal” — is nearly upon us. To get a sense of how the new version situates Ubuntu and the rest of the open source community going forward, I recently spoke with Canonical VP Steve George. Here’s what he had to say about the new release and more:

          For starters, anyone who reads Linux blogs at least once in a while knows by now that Natty’s major claim to fame is the Unity desktop interface, which will become the default in new installations. Traditional GNOME will remain available as an option, at least for this release cycle, as will a 2D version of Unity catered to users whose hardware doesn’t support the video acceleration demanded by the default interface.

        • Ubuntu Transforms Your PC Experience
        • Latest Ubuntu Offers Business-Added Cloud Features and Sleek New Desktop Interface
        • Ubuntu 11.04(Natty) installation screenshots Gallery

          The Ubuntu developers are moving quickly to bring you the absolute latest and greatest software the open source community has to offer.

        • How Ubuntu Unity can help Linux really succeed

          What the Linux operating system needs, is for Canonical to really step it up, with the upcoming release of 11.04, and get that wonderful Unity desktop on retail boxes and tablet PCs, such that end users do not have to bother with the installation. That is the single biggest hurdle and, as much as it pains me to say it, Ubuntu and Canonical are probably the only shot Linux has of overcoming this monumental obstacle.

        • Ubuntu Download of the Week Episode 1 – TuxCards
        • Top Things to do after installing Ubuntu 11.04 Natty Narwhal

          The final release of Ubuntu Natty Narwhal is almost out. It’s scheduled to be out in the 28th of this month. After you actually get done with the installation, there would likely exist a heap of things you still need to take care of. This post will share some interesting insight and ideas about what you can and should do after a successful installation.

        • Flavours and Variants

          • Developer Interview: Ronald “wattOS” Ropp

            Biff Baxter, real name Ronald Ropp, is a technology consultant based in Portland, Oregon. He’s also the developer behind wattOS, an Ubuntu derived Linux distribution (see our overview). We were quite impressed with wattOS, so we got in contact with him for some Q+A.

          • Linux Minx XFCE Roller Coaster
          • Peppermint Two Plans Publicized

            Shane Remington, co-founder of the Peppermint operating system (OS), announced plans to merge the previous two Peppermint OSes into one OS to be released as Peppermint Two.

          • Linux Mint 5 LTS Elyssa reached end of life

            Repositories will remain open but no more updates or security fixes will be made available. Users of Linux Mint 5 LTS Elyssa are asked to migrate to Linux Mint 9 LTS Isadora (Long Term Release which will be supported until April 2013).

  • Devices/Embedded

    • TI updates DSP line with new chips, Linux support

      Texas Instruments (TI) announced a new single-core TMS320C6671 member of its multicore TMS320C66x digital signal processor (DSP) family, as well as enhancements to its TMS320C6670 radio system-on-chip (SoC). In addition, the company released a free multicore software development kit (MCSDK) update for its C66x DSPs featuring updated Linux kernel support, optimized DSP libraries, and support for the OpenMP programming model.

    • Tablets

      • Nook Color gets tablet makeover

        Barnes & Noble announced an automatic update this week for its Nook Color e-reader that turns the device into more of a low-cost Android tablet. New features offered by the 1.2.0 update include 125 apps, an email application, and support for Adobe Flash, says the online retailer.

Free Software/Open Source

  • Open-source backup

    Simon Brock rounds up the open-source options for backing up your critical data

    Everyone would like all their work securely backed up, with every version of every file instantly accessible, but few backup solutions come anywhere close to this ideal. And making backups is just boring.

  • Events

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Firefox 4: A Review

        Popular web browser Firefox unveiled its newest iteration, dubbed ‘Firefox 4: Tecumseh’, free for download just last month. It introduced several new features, as well as several major improvements on already extant features like Tab Groups and App Tabs. Here’s a quick review.

      • Mozilla Can’t Attract Enough Firefox Testers

        Mozilla’s new Firefox channels may have launched with a bang, but they do not seem to be doing so well now.

  • Databases

    • SkySQL Forms Regional Customer Advisory Boards to Deepen Relationships With Key Customers

      SkySQL Ab, the first choice in affordable MySQL® database solutions for the enterprise and cloud, today announced the creation of regional Customer Advisory Boards (CABs) to facilitate deeper relationships with its growing global customer base. In addition to the opportunity to influence future offerings and network with their peers, members of the boards will be the first to try new SkySQL products and services. The board will also provide insight into their business priorities and strategic directions, allowing SkySQL to meet growing customer demands.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • Libre Office 3.4 Beta 1
    • Oracle’s OpenOffice Surrender

      It’s hard to believe that it was only about six months ago that LibreOffice was born.

      The free and open source productivity software suite was created, of course, in response to Oracle’s (Nasdaq: ORCL) unclear intentions regarding OpenOffice.org, which had long been the community’s suite of choice. At the time, Oracle chose to keep OpenOffice to itself, but now — fast forward to just a little more than a week ago — it appears to be giving it up after all.

  • Project Releases

  • Licensing

    • Do we want to be 1991 forever?

      KDE’s licensing policies do not allow GPLv3+, LGPLv3+ and AGPLv3+ software in KDE’s repositiories (I guess it is for git, too, not only for SVN). But do we really want to keep that policy? There are more and more web-applications, ugly cloud-stuff, “software as a service”, is growing, and developers want to protect their Free Software by using the GNU Affero General Public Licens e. KDE is going to be adapted on embedded devices, and we should not care about tivoization? We should only use a 1991 license not targeting a lot of important issues of our times? Why should a KDE-application not be relicensed under the conditions of the GLPv3+ or AGPLv3+? In many cases that may be good.

  • Programming

  • Standards/Consortia

    • Google and friends wrap open video codec in patent shield

      Google has announced a patent-sharing program around WebM in an effort to guard the open source web video format from legal attack.

      On Monday, with a blog post, the company introduced the WebM Community Cross-License (CCL) initiative, which brings together companies willing to license each other’s patents related to the format. Founding members include AMD, Cisco Systems, Logitech, MIPS Technologies, Matroska, Mozilla, Opera, Samsung, Texas Instruments, and the Xiph.org Foundation, as well as Google.

Leftovers

  • Amazon’s Cloud #fail is a wakeup call

    Amazon has been the poster child for everything that is good, right and holy about the cloud.

    After today, Amazon will also be demonized for everything that is wrong with their own cloud. Amazon today suffered a major outage crippling hundreds (maybe thousands?) or sites (including a few of my favs like reddit).

    For years, Amazon has been suggesting that their elastic cloud (leveraging Linux throughout as the underlying OS) had the ability to scale to meet demand. The general idea was supposed to be massive scalability without any single point of failure.

  • Time for your cloud gut check

    From Amazon’s and other providers’ perspectives – the cloud stubbed toe of this week also highlights how communication and reaction are perhaps as critical as the technical aspects of addressing what’s wrong and fixing it. Open source software also provides lessons here, indicating vendors and providers are best served by transparency and openness. What the message boards and Twitterverse are telling us now is that users will accept some degree of downtime and difficulty, but they want straight information on how long and how severely they will be down. Just as vendors face a challenge in fairly yet effectively pricing and charging for cloud computing, it may be difficult to provide guidance on recovery from an outage, but the same rules of PR crisis management apply: don’t over-promise and don’t under-deliver.

  • Cloud Haters Jump At Amazon EC2 Fiasco
  • Google Will Save Videos After All
  • HAPPY WORLD PENGUIN DAY!

    Each year, on or about the 25th of April, the Adelie penguins of Ross Island leave their brooding grounds and swim to their winter sanctuary northwest of the Balleny Islands. Some decided to mark the occasion by including all penguins and dubbing the day World Penguin Day.

    Most penguins do participate in migratory habits. Why they favor some places more than others as their destination is the current work of biologists. Current belief is that the Adelies favor a place that has more pack ice, thereby providing more protection. This appears to be true, as the Davis Station Adelies migrate north, then west, staying close to the Antarctic continent. Also, Antarctica’s days become much shorter and the Adelies do not feed well in the dark. Traveling north, these birds have longer days in order to fish and feed.

  • Hardware

    • Breaking in a Kingston SSD

      adation over time. Memory devices make use of internal garbage collection to regain areas no longer being used by programs. But due to certain drawbacks with garbage collection (such as time required to move data around), TRIM is recommended as well. The TRIM function detects and “informs” an SSD which blocks are no longer being used and can be wiped and reused. In Linux, one can use TRIM with ext3 and ext4 by adding the word discard to the options when mounting (or in /etc/fstab). An example of use could be: /dev/sda3 / ext4 acl,user_xattr,noatime,discard 1 1.

  • Finance

    • Hidden Handouts to Corporations Found in Walker’s Budget

      The almost $200 million in tax cuts that Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker has given to corporations have been both lauded and hated by the public and media. When it was discovered that businesses like M&I Bank and others who were large contributors to Walker’s gubernatorial campaign were receiving extra provisions through changes in the consolidated reporting law, questions started cropping up about why Walker was giving handouts to corporations even though he declared the state broke.

    • What Did Walker Admit?

      Union supporters celebrated and right-wingers raged when the Associated Press reported on April 15 that Governor Scott Walker admitted Wisconsin saves no money by “weakening government workers’ collective bargaining rights.” When responding to a question from Rep. Dennis Kucinich during congressional testimony, did Walker really admit the union-busting bill costs no money? And will implementing the annual recertification requirement actually cost Wisconsin taxpayers?

    • Insurers Getting Rich By Not Paying for Care

      UnitedHealth Group, the biggest health insurer in terms of revenue and market value, earned so much more during the first three months of this year than Wall Street expected that investors rushed to buy shares of every one of the seven health insurers that comprise the managed care sector. In my view, it would be more accurate to call it the managed care cartel.

    • What happens to our £220bn annual procurement spend?

      Any business needs to know where its money goes. This is especially so if it is spending £220bn a year – the equivalent of £3500 per adult and child in the UK – purchasing goods and services on our behalf. That is nearly 20% of our gross domestic product.

      The need for decent data on how it is spent and with whom has been highlighted in several reports including a National Audit Office report last May, Sir Philip Green’s report last September and my own, Towards Tesco, published by the Institute of Directors.

  • Privacy

    • State Police can suck data out of cell phones in under two minutes

      You don’t want to be pulled over by the police in Michigan. When law enforcement wants half a million dollars to produce documents for a FOIA request, something is not right. And since the high-tech mobile forensic device in question can grab data in one-and-a-half minutes off more than 3,000 different cell phone models, it could be used during minor traffic violations to conduct suspicionless and warrantless searches without the phone owner having any idea that all their phone data was now in the hands of authorities.

    • Big Apple, Big Google, Big Brother
    • Android Location Tracking is Opt-In

      The iOS operating system tracks your location without your knowledge and stores the data it collects in an unencrypted form on your phone. For Android users who maybe wondering the same thing, no, your location is will not be tracked without your express permission and approval.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • Digital Economy (UK)/HADOPI

        • The Digital Economy Act: where we go now

          Yesterday morning Justice Kenneth Parker handed down his ruling on the Judicial Review of the Digital Economy Act. The Judge dismissed all grounds save for one aspect of the claim about the costs imposed on ISPs. The ruling means that Justice Parker deemed the other provisions of the Digital Economy Act are consistent with EU law.

          So what does this mean for those of us who place privacy, freedom of expression and due process ahead of chasing fictional losses from the creative industries’ revenues? On the face of it the decision feels like bad news for those who see important flaws in the Act. But it just means that this particular route to halting what we think is a damaging law may not work, depending on whether BT and TalkTalk appeal.

Clip of the Day

Working Title: “We use GNU linux”


Credit: TinyOgg

Umbrella for Techrights and an OpenBytes Partnership

Posted in Site News at 4:25 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Umbrella

Summary: A quick note about “Bytes Media” and the possibility of adding “Techrights Legal” to counter a new type of attacks on GNU/Linux

TIM and I have been working on a new site which helps unify our work from the past few years. It is intended to avoid confusion and to also more properly separate between the different areas and activities, e.g. wiki, recordings (video/audio), IRC, opinions, legal documents, and analysis. The site is more of a placeholder at this moment and it is still under construction.

There were plans underway to create something more decentralised around TechBytes, which will have Richard Stallman as a guest in a future show (and we’ll hopefully have a special episode about Mageia very soon). Recently we also considered creating another site, maybe Techrights Legal. Legal issues require someone who is trained in the area, so a subsite is still pondered, maybe for the purpose of hosting documents from PACER. We will see what happens next month when Groklaw goes into archival mode.

The Lobby Against Linux

Posted in FUD, GNU/Linux, Google at 4:02 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

FUD attacks on Linux are increasing, particularly in “patent” flavour

Diagram

Summary: The role played by Microsoft (and parts of the media it controls) in daemonising Linux, not just in the form of Android but Red Hat servers too

EVEN though the world has a lot to gain from Linux, there is a virtual coalition that has a lot to lose, so it really hates Linux. Microsoft is not alone among those haters, but it is a major part of it and it has a lot to lose. For example, if Linux becomes a dominant operating system on large devices that are not servers, then Microsoft’s Office franchise is at great risk.

It is abundantly clear that, just as in many cases, the media plays a major role in shaping people’s opinions and thus can affect outcomes, defining winners and losers based on who it sidles with. It is therefore not too shocking that a lot of former Microsoft UK staff occupied the MSBBC, which even in this new article about Stars completely fails to mention Microsoft and Windows as that would damage the brands. Likewise, the MSBBC is misrepresenting a legal case in order to create fear of Linux. It’s Maggie Shiels again and she calls Microsoft Florian “Intellectual property activist” while quoting his tripe. Why does she even quote him and his FUD? Anyway, Groklaw once challenged Florian Müller to say he does not get paid by Microsoft or a Microsoft partner and he refused to do so multiple times (about a dozen times). We know that he is injecting anti-Linux bias into the news by mass-mailing journalists, but good journalists should know how to avoid being used. The Register, for example, does not do it this time around. Dana Blankenhorn, who has been sympathetic towards Müller, berates him now. Yes, he does this despite the fact that he previously helped Microsoft Florian get his FUD a platform. To quote:

This did not stop some from taking Florian Mueller’s Oh Noes as gospel. Florian’s German, not Texan. He knows there are courts there who can be as loony as any in Texas, but the appeals process there is shorter, and what happens in Germany usually stays in Germany. (He’s also a very nice guy, as I learned when I visited him in Munich last year, where this picture was taken.)

[...]

But don’t let that stop a reporter from scaring the pants off people. Especially a lazy one. Don’t spend a half-hour with the Google, guys. Write first, and ask questions later.

Thanks to Dana and his honesty. He is not afraid of expressing him mind on this and maybe even change sides; “thought it was a good write up to counter the recent patent FUD,” wrote Barnie Giltrap, who gave us the link in IRC.

Watch how the MSBBC ignores Linux even in mobile unless there is something bad like a "virus" (malware) in it. There is clearly bias here and it is always against GNU/Linux; the BBC got slammed a few years ago when it finally, after many years, reviewed a GNU/Linux distribution and actually bashed it using unsubstantiated myths. Those who ignore the origin of the editorial team will probably think these convictions are very innocent and coincidental; they are not. We covered this thoroughly around 2008 when a lot of Microsoft folks took positions of power inside the BBC. The whole broadcaster is shooting itself in the foot by accommodating corporate bias, which is what it was designed to be resistant to. What we need are more independent sites.

Wayne has decided to write about Pamela Jones and he also mentioned some of the types who belittle and taunt her. To quote:

Her background as a paralegal meant that she knew about little details like Pacer, and could tell us about them. And things like how to ask for courthouse filings. She knew there were local court rules. We didn’t even know there were local courts. She knew about the need for lawyers to be admitted to the local courts to practice. The sort of details that if you hadn’t some experience with the legal system, you just wouldn’t know.

And let’s face it. Most of us had little experience with the legal system. Sure, at one time or another most of us had hired lawyers for one reason or another. Real estate. Wills. Business setup. But in most cases we hadn’t had to deal with the courts. Most legal issues never go near a court.

[...]

Contrast that with my sparring partner Florian ‘The Sky is Falling’ Müller (who can’t even spell his own name correctly – he spells it Florian Mueller). He’s always willing to give you the 100% benefit of his non-existent expertise. Out of all of the articles he has written on the Fosspatents blog which have made predictions I cannot remember a single one which was correct.

Or take Rob Enderle, who once told me in email that he knew that Linux programmers had ‘stolen Unix code’ and put it into Linux (sorry, I no longer have that email, the account went dead when we moved and our ISP messed up the transfer of our broadband connection). How many times has Rob been right in his predictions?

Or Maureen O’Gara who kept writing the most fascinating accounts of how The SCO Group was bound for victory, only to watch them sink like a stone. We now know from her deposition which was entered as evidence in court that she was being fed false information from inside the company. Some of her articles were demonstrably based on that information, which is why she got it so wrong. Rather than following the facts, she trusted the people, and it turned out that the people involved at The SCO Group weren’t very trustworthy.

Another reason has to do with PJ’s legacy. A lot of people have a lot of money tied up in companies like Microsoft. Many of you know that I’ve predicted Microsoft’s filing for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy in the fall of 2014. One of the reasons I made the prediction is the Network Effect.

Most people think that the Network Effect favors Microsoft, the industry leader, with a huge market presence. This is incorrect. What the Network Effect actually favors is an open market using open systems, using open standards, where Free Software Darwinism can drive innovation at faster and faster speeds.

PJ’s backing of the Gnu General Public License, the Free Software Foundation, the Creative Commons, and other forms of openness is dangerous to those who have their money invested in legacy businesses like Microsoft. It may also be dangerous to Apple, I think that it’s quite possible that Apple may peak within the next five years, and unless it adopts Steve Wozniak’s suggestions, may begin to fail.

In short, by being honest, and telling the truth as she saw it, Pamela Jones annoyed some rich and powerful people. Rich and powerful people don’t like being annoyed. They have a tendency to strike back.

There are more challenges ahead and even though Groklaw declares victory, there is a lot left to be done, especially now that entities like CPTN get formed, owing to Novell’s sellout. CPTN also includes SCOracle and Apple, which is apparently feeling the pinch from Linux even in tablets now, not just phones. To quote the sceptical Register: “The iPad sold 4.69m tablets, fewer than the 6.1m predicted by analysts or the 7.3m of the holiday quarter. It remains to be seen whether this is a short-term supply issue or an indicator of limited demand for the form factor.”

No wonder Apple is suing Samsung. But Apple does not have patent superiority. In fact, the CPTN too may get defanged, in which case it won’t do much to help Apple’s cause. The patents there won’t be effective against Linux, so both the FSF and the FSFE replied and the latter’s response opens with encouraging words:

Competition authorities in Germany and the United States today highlighted the fundamental role that Free Software plays for competition in the software market. After several months of discussions, the US Department of Justice (DOJ) and the German Federal Competition Office (FCO) have allowed a consortium of Microsoft, Oracle, Apple and EMC to acquire 882 patents from Novell only subject to conditions clearly intended to prevent their use against Free Software players.

“This is an historic step”, says Karsten Gerloff, President of the Free Software Foundation Europe, which was involved in the FCO investigation since the beginning. “The regulators acknowledge that Free Software is crucial to competition; that patent aggression can well be anticompetitive behaviour; and that fear, uncertainty and doubt serve to push smaller competitors out of the market.”

This is a struggle against big proprietary software, which naturally favours patent monopolies. In the next post we will explain and introduce our preparations for the next steps in this battle for software freedom. We might create another site for this. As in Sunday's morning post, this text is intended to gather links of interest and we encourage readers to follow them. In the future we plan to have in-depth analysis of issues rather than aggregation with commentary. I am currently writing 80 pages of technical text documenting computer science research, so my time contributing to Techrights is limited.

IRC Proceedings: April 25th, 2011

Posted in IRC Logs at 2:56 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

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