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05.31.11

Links 31/5/2011: Pardus 2011.1, Openoffice.org Petition

Posted in News Roundup at 9:00 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • OpenSUSE Workstations Used for Rendering Real Facial Expressions in L.A. Noire (By Rockstar Games)

    Couple of days back, we reported that how a Fedora system running KDE SC4 was used for Animation production in BBC’s Doctor Who Series.

    Here is yet another instance where Linux systems are being used for production in entertainment industry. This time Rockstar games, who gave the world Grand Theft Auto series used Linux systems (OpenSUSE/SUSE Linux) in rendering real life facial expressions to the characters in their game L.A. Noire (released on May 17th). Again, KDE is used as the desktop environment. Though I am not able to identify which software (not seems to be native) is being run on the system.

  • Richard Stallman’s Opinion On Dual Booting – “Defenestrate It”

    We all know that Richard Stallman has some very strong, serious and unconventional views on software freedom. Well, someone decided to ask him his view on dual booting Linux with Windows. His reply? “Defenestrate it.”

    Defen what? Well, I must also admit that I have never heard this word before. According to Wikipedia, “Defenestration is the act of throwing someone or something out of a window.”

  • Desktop Environments

    • GNOME Desktop

      • Problems With The GNOME Shell

        Debates surrounding Linux desktop environments, especially the new Ubuntu Unity shell and the GNOME 3.0 Shell, tend to be very polarized. There also tends to be lots of trolling by users when such debates occur within our forums and elsewhere. But what do graphics driver developers — and those not out simply to rant — think of the new desktops? Well, Alex Deucher of AMD recently switched over to the GNOME Shell and he’s provided a list of issues he’s had with the experience thus far.

  • Distributions

    • New Releases

    • Red Hat Family

      • Fedora

        • Is Fedora 15 Faster Than Ubuntu 11.04?

          Ending out May, we have an interesting set of tests comparing the performance of Fedora 15 and Ubuntu 11.04. This is looking at the “out of the box” performance of both operating systems on three different systems. Not only is the actual test result looked at, but we also compared the power consumption of the two operating systems.

          [...]

          Overall, Ubuntu 11.04 has better disk performance than Fedora 15, but Fedora 15 has better graphics driver support and performance.

        • Fedora Blogs Going Bye-Bye?

          This may turn out to be little more than a rumor, but Mark Terranova (aka markdude) posted that the Fedora Planet blog would soon be discontinued. This comes just a few weeks after the Fedora Talk service was retired.

          Red Hat stock has seen a lot of growth the last several years. It reached a recent high of nearly $49 a share in December 2010 and has remained in the 40′s all this year. It spent years floating around $20 for after rising respectably in 2005. It hit its lowest point since 2004 with the stock market crash of November 2008 trading at little over $9 a share. However, it’s been climbing fairly steadily since. The only worrisome spots came when players in higher management dumped large blocks of stocks a few times. All that to say Red Hat has done well for itself and isn’t exactly going broke.

        • NetworkManager Downgraded
        • Annoying QA fails: NetworkManager
        • Fedora Board’s Town Hall
        • Preupgrade Fedora 14 to Fedora 15
    • Debian Family

      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Pelagicore Signs Up to Ubuntu Core for In-vehicle Infotainment Development

            Open source automotive infotainment development specialists, Pelagicore has adopted Canonical’s Ubuntu Core to build new embedded experiences based on broad architecture and open source technologies for in-vehicle infotainment (IVI) systems.

          • Mobica Adopting Ubuntu Core For Embedded Device Development

            Mobica is partnering with Canonical in the adoption of Ubuntu Core, a sub-set of Ubuntu technologies suited for the next generation of Internet-enabled embedded devices such as In-Vehicle Infotainment (IVI) systems, set top boxes, smart TV and digital devices for the home. Mobica, providers of high-end software development and integration services, is among a number of Canonical partners adopting Ubuntu Core to build new embedded experiences based on broad architecture and open source technologies.

          • Canonical rubbishes Android tablets

            UBUNTU LINUX DISTRIBUTOR Canonical believes the Motorola Atrix is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to smartphones that are able to transform themselves into more traditional computing devices.

            The dual-core Atrix was launched in May and came equipped with the optional extra of a ‘Lapdock’ which, when used to dock the phone, could turn it into a regular netbook.

          • Flavours and Variants

            • Linux Mint 11 Review

              The live CD does not come with the proprietary codecs, however you can install them now from the link provided in the welcome screen and in the Linux Mint menu. You can otherwise upgrade to the DVD edition to have the codecs installed by default.

            • What is the sense of gNewSense?

              Most distros (apart from chosen few who violate first type) satisfy both criteria. With small exception. There are too many things around us which are covered by non-free (of second type) license. Most famous examples are MP3 decoder and hardware firmware.

Free Software/Open Source

  • Web Browsers

    • on the story of browser names

      One of the early graphical web browser that got really popular was Mosaic, developed at National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA). Some folks from the team, along with SGI founder Jim Clark, decided that it’s worth a venture and formed a company, originally called Mosaic Communication and then later renamed to Netscape Communication.

    • Tech Blog: Do We Still Care About The Browser Wars?

      Remember when people used to argue about Internet Explorer versus Netscape? Seems like light-years ago, but that era was big enough for documentaries to be produced and books written about it. These days, IE’s market share is plummeting while Firefox, Chrome, Opera and Safari are all gaining ground fast. So the browser wars still exist, you just don’t hear much talk about it anymore.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

  • Education

    • Local Libraries Introduce New System Tuesday

      The consortium is moving away from a proprietary system, SirsiDynix’s Horizon Integrated Library System, to an open source software system dubbed BiblioOak and based on a framework called Evergreen.

Leftovers

Clip of the Day

Murray Perahia plays Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata 3rd Movement [HQ]


Credit: TinyOgg

Microsoft is Distorting the Hardware Market to Harm Linux Again

Posted in GNU/Linux, Google, Microsoft, Patents, Windows at 8:33 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Information crisis

Summary: Microsoft is destroying independence in the OEM market (for everyone) in order to ensure that Linux suffers artificial limitations and that Windows monoculture stays for a while longer

WINDOWS is in trouble and “Microsoft [is] Worst Performing Dow Component,” says this new headline (kudos to Chips B. Malroy for the pointer).

Since Windows profits are declining [1, 2] Microsoft has decided to become a super-abusive monopolist again, but almost nobody notices.

Microsoft not only enjoys the privilege of using blackmail to monetise Linux/Android (which in itself is probably a violation of some laws as extortion [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7] is covered by the RICO Act). According to reports, Microsoft is now also distorting the hardware market, just as it did when GNU/Linux was thriving on sub-notebooks. We wrote about it in a lot of posts around 2008 and 2009.

Using manipulative tactics that should be investigated promptly, Microsoft is trying to discourage the use of Android on form factors favourable to that platform. It shows how miserable Microsoft has become, descending to a competition at the hardware layer. The company has lost the plot and even Microsoft boosters like Paul DeGroot [1, 2, 3, 4] continue to acknowledge the problem with “Software Assurance” for example (lock-in by choice, which businesses no longer accept). Found via this blog was this report from Bloomberg. Malroy has surveyed the material, quoting an interesting post titled “Acer: Microsoft hardware rules ‘very troublesome’” (watch out for Microsoft MVPs in the comments because we see them there).

“They’re really controlling the whole thing, the whole process – all feel it’s very troublesome,” to put that title in context. “However, if the restrictions are designed to hobble tablets to prevent them cannibalizing Windows PC sales (something we’ve seen Microsoft do to netbooks), then that’s definitely not good for consumers.” B&N complained about it too.

“MS hopes to control the hardware that is produced and therefore also what hardware that Android goes on as well”
      –Chips B. Malroy
“Ask why Windows Tablets did not do well back in Gates day? They have been out for a long time,” remarks Malroy. “Could it be that Bill wanted them to run on a laptop that cost four times as much? Sure would make it easy to hide the price of windows on those. Fujitsu lifebooks were some of the old tablets or touch screen laptops [...] MS simply did not have any motive for tablets to replace the current model PC. Unless the price was more so they could raise the price of windows. [...] And we know how well those tablets sold. It will be hard to hide the price of windows on a $200 computer” (not to mention what they do with patents)

“MS hopes to control the hardware that is produced and therefore also what hardware that Android goes on as well,” Malroy explains. “This appears to be some sort of anticompetitive move by MS” (for sure).

Malroy quotes the original: “Microsoft is rushing to release a version of Windows compatible with chip technology from ARM Holdings Plc (ARM) so Windows-based tablet computers can compete with Apple’s iPad, which controls an estimated 64 percent of the tablet market.”

He remarks: “notice the keyword here, rushing. MS is ‘rushing’ out windows 8 on an unwary public [...] but perhaps MS does it best work when they rush something out? After all they had 5 to 7 years to get Vista out the door, and it was still rushed. If they truly rush out a reused product like windows, they have less time to harm it” (see our page about “Microsoft’s Fight Against Sub-notebooks and GNU/Linux at ASUS”).

Cablegate: Gates and Microsoft ‘Love’ Children in America

Posted in America, Bill Gates, Microsoft at 7:54 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Girl in Antigua, Guatemala

“They’ll get sort of addicted, and then we’ll somehow figure out how to collect sometime in the next decade.”

Bill Gates

Summary: Diplomatic cables help show how Microsoft along with the Gates Foundation is distorting publicly-funded education systems and other taxpayers’ institutions (public services) for its own selfish benefit, typically under the guise of “protecting” children

WIKILEAKS has brought us Cablegate, which in turn brought us a lot of facts from privileged sources. Techrights has done some research based on the latest 10,000 or so cables, concentrating specifically on America (the continent of course, not any nation in particular). As Eduardo Landaveri from the Spanish portal of Techrights can tell us, Microsoft loves exploiting south America just like many other countries and companies. The difference is, Microsoft uses taxpayers’ money to indoctrinate the kids so that they become paying clients of Microsoft. It is a very serious abuse that almost no politician pays attention to. The Gates Foundation too intervenes in this corruption of the education systems whenever Microsoft alone cannot ensure that severe lock-in remains for future generations to cope with. How cruel is that lobbying tag-team act? They turn many children into to-be ‘pirates’ with debt to Gates and Microsoft.

Rather than dwell in diplomatic cables, let is be said that Microsoft adopts the “think about the children” attitude, which is part of the PR campaign. Rather than the predator that it is, Microsoft wishes to be perceived as a friend of children at schools. The “think about the children” line is used to pass all sorts of outrageous laws and justify extreme actions, too. Be careful any time it’s seen or heard.

So anyway, in this cable we see that “Child Exploitation Tracking System(CETS) program developed by Microsoft at the behest of the Toronto Police,” verifying a sort of collusion between Microsoft and authorities. Should Microsoft be involved in such a project given its violations of the law? There is something too awkward about it. Yes, Microsoft works with Toronto’s police whilst asking everyone to install unauditable binaries on their PCs (the police has back doors into Windows). How about this cable which says:

–Proximity and relative strength of the U.S. market:
the CVCA confirmed that of Canada’s best ideas migrate
to the U.S. where venture funding is more readily
available. As a result, Canada faces the “perverse”
situation that its publicly funded university system
acts as a great incubator for innovative ideas that are
then developed commercially south of the border (ref
(B)). A good example is the University of Waterloo, a
leading Canadian math and high-tech engineering
university, which supplies over 50 percent of its
graduating classes to Microsoft Corp. (NOTE: Bill
Gates has taken a personal interest in this university,
often slipping in quietly to meet with Waterloo
students, as he did on October 7. END NOTE)

Gates Foundation and Microsoft working together, as they usually do e.g. in Vietnam. In this cable we see yet more interesting stuff:

IDRC partnered with Microsoft and the Swiss Agency
for Development and Cooperation to support information
technology and communication development in the Middle East
and North Africa through social investment in grassroots
“telecenters.”

AstroTurfing much?

Further south we discover Microsoft’s involvement in Costa Rica: “In December 2005, PANI implemented a national information campaign in conjunction with Microsoft to help school children navigate safely on the Internet.”

The context is all sorts of documents from Costa Rica where Microsoft is shown to be making public services a Microsoft-dependent mess. Terrible stuff. In some other new cables we see references to Microsoft software by names and sometimes the requirement of presentations in “Microsoft PowerPoint”. This type of mentality comes from schools, which Gates and Microsoft are feeding with their proprietary products, using teachers as their own private trainers who are funded by taxpayers to essentially be Microsoft’s unavoidable marketers (schools are obligatory). Watch this cable from Peru. It states: “As of February 2009, FIU has been under the leadership of Ramon Enrique Saldivar Bocangel. Most recently having served as advisor to the President of the Supreme Court, he has also been the head of the Prime Minister’s National Office of Electronic Government and Information. Prior to these positions, Saldivar worked in the private sector, including five years with MICROSOFT. He holds multiple degrees from the best universities in Lima in Economics and Business Administration and has attended the Microsoft Latin American Executive Training Program in Bogota.”

Cronyism much? Revolving doors?

Here is Microsoft using the Ricky Martin Foundation for “a joint project with Microsoft to protect children” (yes, somebody think of the children!).

With similar involvements in Bogota and elsewhere it sure is evident that Wikileaks provides an important view on how Microsoft abuses its power and exploits children (who are obviously too young to stand up and resist). Microsoft’s greedy executives should mind their own children’s business before they decide to impose on everyone’s children all around the world what they should and should not do.

“My children – in many dimensions they’re as poorly behaved as many other children, but at least on this dimension I’ve got my kids brainwashed: You don’t use Google, and you don’t use an iPod.”

Steve Ballmer (on CNN)

“Children are often taught “computer skills” that are really “Microsoft Windows skills” – how to use Microsoft’s operating system and its Office suite (its two monopolies) – rather than the possibilities of making computers do what you want. As such, children are being equipped to be uncreative office workers, just as those at the end of the 19th century were equipped for the routine of adding up huge lists of numbers in the accounts departments of big companies.”

The Guardian

Peer To Patent: A Lawyers’ Solution to a Lawyers’ Problem

Posted in Law, Patents at 7:11 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Seal happiness

Summary: The New York Law School clings on to a system which makes patent lawyers relevant and legitimises the patent system rather than crush monopolies (now in the UK)

THE LAST thing we need right now would be software patents in Europe. We wrote about it in the morning. There are those who are trying to legitimise software patents in Europe (Nokia and Microsoft for example) and it’s actually a global issue because Microsoft legimitises them in South Africa too. There is this new article from South Africa which talks about such a problem: “The patenting of South African software is the subject of much heated debate. While the concept has never having been examined by our judicial system, software patent applications are being granted by our Patent Office, writes Elaine de Beer.”

“The only real solution is destruction of patent monopolies that impede progress (and that is a lot of them).”This brings us to today’s key subject. A press release has been issued by the Peer To Patent folks, whose initiative we commented on some days ago (EN, ES). It is not a bad thing, but it is not a good thing either. It’s a the lawyers’ solution to a lawyers-imposed issue, or at least the solution foreseen by academics in the legal field. To gain legitimacy, the Peer To Patent folks got backing from Judith Wilcox, whom we mentioned here before as we disagree with her supposition that patents breed innovation. Usually it is sharing that creates value more quickly, as opposed to litigation (or filings in general, which necessitates lawyers). They are drooling over cases like this one which has just been concluded in the United States: “Wireless Ink Corp, which runs the Winksite Service and is based in New York, has won a lawsuit against Google and Facebook in connection with a software patent, reports TOI.”

Yes, based in New York, just like the New York Law School, which is training lawyers to make money out of patent monopolies and such unjust paperwork which makes no sense. What they want now is for the public to help validate or garden patents by reviewing them, removing what they call “bad” patents and not software patents. How does that actually address the key problem introduced by the likes of Nokia/Symbian? This is not the sort of reform we need, but we wish Peer To Patent luck because fewer patents are always better than too many (many of which should not be granted, ever). As we said before, the lines of work of the FSF, FSFE and FFII should be adhered to. The only real solution is destruction of patent monopolies that impede progress (and that is a lot of them). Excluding competitors is rarely (if ever) beneficial to progress.

The PR spin can be found below. Just because it’s pasted does not mean we endorse it.


Baroness Wilcox launches Peer To Patent in the UK

An innovative new tool designed to help improve the patent application process was launched today by the Minister for Intellectual Property, Baroness Wilcox. Peer to Patent is a review website which allows experts from the scientific and technology community to view and comment on patent applications.

During the six month pilot up to 200 applications in the computing field will be gradually uploaded for review on the website. These will include a range of inventions from computer mice to complex processor operations.

Today, the first group of applications have been uploaded to the Peer to Patent website (www.peertopatent.org.uk) and are now open for review by registered users for three months. Following this, the system will create a summary of the comments which will be sent to a Patent Examiner at the Intellectual Property Office (IPO). Examiners will then consider these as part of the patent review process.

Speaking about the launch in the UK today, Baroness Wilcox said:

“Patent applications granted after using the Peer to Patent website review will be potentially stronger, giving businesses better protection to grow their innovative ideas. This will give the IPO access to a wider body of knowledge when deciding whether a patent should be granted.

“The pilot will give experts the opportunity to comment on patent applications and share their vital expertise before patents are granted. It will also mean that inventions already known in the wider community will be filtered out more readily.

“Peer to Patent is a step forward in supporting growth by reinforcing the patent bedrock on which innovative businesses thrive.”

President of the Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys (CIPA) Alasdair Poore said:

“The quality of patent applications is so important. Interested observers are the ones who have the expert knowledge, so Peer to Patent gives them the chance to make a real contribution. We welcome this pilot as a way of exploring how third party opinions can really improve the quality of patents. I hope users, observers and applicants will engage positively and constructively in the pilot to show that it can work, and help to build a stronger UK patent system.”

The UK pilot goes live today (1 June) and follows on from successful Peer to Patent websites that have already been run in the USA and Australia. The project was developed by the New York Law School (NYLS) from the work of Professor Beth Noveck. The pilot will end on 31 December 2011.


Another Microsoft Partnership That Killed: Novell Left Broken, Managers Who Signed the Microsoft Deal Vanish

Posted in Microsoft, Mono, Novell at 1:43 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Assured self-destruction by liaison with Microsoft (Novell’s legacy explained)

Rabbit skull

Summary: Novell gets absorbed by a Microsoft Gold-certified Partner, its GNU/Linux distribution is taxed by Microsoft, its patents are owned by Microsoft (through a consortium), and the people who signed this deal with Microsoft are no longer with the company as they became redundant

NOVELL’S top management was dismissed and let go some weeks ago. No more massive bonuses and wages, eh? Party’s over and guess whose party it is. Microsoft must be having champagne this month, despite all of those other failures. Microsoft thrives in annihilation of competitors, not in creating something of substance. It has also just collected Novell’s patent portfolio, with which it can extort remaining competitors.

Anyway, Novell’s CEO has not yet found a new job. He is still associated with a company though:

Director
Ann Taylor Inc

Retail industry

1998 – Present (13 years)

It is the fashion industry in a sense. How odd a fit. If the LinkedIn page is simply out of date, then it does not explain lack of announcements from elsewhere in the news. Mr. Hovsepian must be out of work and who would hire a man who drove Novell into the ground? We decided to check who in Novell is going where, but only among the public figures and managers. We respect privacy, but when one has a lot of impact on the rest of society, then professional privacy is less deserved. Take Hovsepian for example. He did a lot of damage and he has lied to the public repeatedly since he became CEO, affecting not only Novell. He should not be immune to criticism.

Watch what happens to him upon his departure. Hovsepian did very well for himself (tens of millions of dollars in years with Novell) while many other people lost their jobs and Microsoft got some new FUD against GNU/Linux. The legacy of this CEO is probably the worst any Novell CEO ever left behind. There is not even a “Novell” anymore. He helped Microsoft kill it.

Other staff moving from one company to another can be seen here:

Travelzoo hired Glen Ceremony from eBay, where Ceremony is corporate controller, effective June 15. C urrent Travelzoo CFO Wayne Lee will depart the company at the end of July. Meanwhile, Rearden Commerce appointed Rick Simonson to a newly created CFO postion and as president, business operations. Simonson previously filled the CFO slot at Nokia. All three companies believed they are positioned for growth and hope the new CFOs will help them get there.

And from CFO.com: “Online travel service Kayak has hired its first CFO, Bill H. Smith. Smith was previously vice president of global finance for Novell, where he worked for 13 years.”

According to this press release, “Adam joins Prinova from Novell, where he was Director of Software Testing and Customer Escalations for Data Center products. He started his testing career with 724 solutions, followed by PlateSpin Ltd., a Toronto-based software company where he was a valuable contributor to the company’s successful acquisition by Novell for $205 million.”

More about Hale leaving, as we mentioned about a week ago, can be read in [1, 2]. The announcement can be found in a belated press release about Sophos.

What generally appears to have happened is that Attachmate axed many of the managers, leaving inside its guts just the remnants of what might be useful to this close partner of Microsoft (and the patents went to Microsoft through CPTN). This press release helps shed light on what was done and there were many articles about it recently [1, 2, 3].

There are many items from Novell that appear to have been neglected. Despite this type of announcement from a partner (also here), GroupWise is hardly mentioned anymore. We could only find some articles about GroupWise abandonments in recent weeks, including more shameless Microsoft advertisements from Shane O'Neill (see this), who is still advertising Microsoft, as usual.

Adrian Bridgwater promotes Novell’s gift to Microsoft and the SD Times, as usual, does so too. Yes, we are talking about Mono. This is the type of legacy Novell has left us stuck with amid its destruction of yet another suicidal competitor. Attachmate can now use SUSE to compete with Red Hat and insist that users of GNU/Linux pay Microsoft a patent tax, which is an integral part of SLE*.

Microsoft dirty tactics

Microsoft’s Lies and Internet Explorer Hubris Cost Society a Lot of Money

Posted in Google, Microsoft, Security, Windows at 1:11 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“In one piece of mail people were suggesting that Office had to work equally well with all browsers and that we shouldn’t force Office users to use our browser. This Is wrong and I wanted to correct this.

“Another suggestion In this mail was that we can’t make our own unilateral extensions to HTML I was going to say this was wrong and correct this also.”

Bill Gates [PDF]

Summary: Why Internet Explorer should be a candidate for exclusion if not banning, especially given that Microsoft knowingly ignores security problems that in turn pass the cost to society, collectively

Negligence is a matter of routine at Microsoft, but this is a subject we wrote about many times before (e.g. [1, 2, 3]), so we shall look at this from another angle today.

Microsoft desperately wants its Internet Explorer (IE) monoculture back. It uses many dirty tricks to get there and around my house there are many billboards promoting IE this year. It is not something that Mozilla, for example, can afford. But the reality is that Microsoft deliberate and well-understood negligence is costing everyone a lot of money. A couple of years ago a lot of businesses including Google got burned by users and/or staff that insisted on using IE. As a result, Google essentially banned Windows and the damage to the economy was great, not to mention the effect on national security (Wikileaks released cables related to this).

Only a monopoly can get away with it, but it does not escape scrutiny from the journalist who likes to expose Microsoft security problems:

Microsoft today downplayed the threat posed by an unpatched vulnerability in all versions of Internet Explorer (IE) that an Italian researchers has shown can be exploited to hijack people’s online identities.

The bug, which has been only discussed and not disclosed in detail, was part of an attack technique described by Rosario Valotta, who dubbed the tactic “cookiejacking,” a play on “clickjacking,” an exploit method first revealed in 2008.

At Microsoft they simply hide the vulnerabilities in order to pretend that these do not exist. By silently patching in addition to secrecy and evasion, Microsoft can also game the numbers and fraudulently claim that Windows is more secure.

Linus Torvalds Reiterates His Hatred of Software Patents

Posted in Bill Gates, FSF, GNU/Linux, IBM, Kernel, Microsoft at 12:53 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

[Deliberate use of the word "hatred" because Microsoft criticism is not "Microsoft hatred" (loaded term [1, 2, 3) as he once called it.]

“It’s certainly a lot more likely that Microsoft violates patents than Linux does [...] Basic operating system theory was pretty much done by the end of the 1960s. IBM probably owned thousands of really ‘fundamental’ patents [...] The fundamental stuff was done about half a century ago and has long, long since lost any patent protection.”

Linus Torvalds, 2007

Summary: Defense of Torvalds’ stance on patents and criticism of the spineless ‘Guardian’, which has become preoccupied and entangled with bizarre corporate agenda

IT HAS got to be hard for Torvalds to speak out. When he criticises Microsoft or Apple technologies, then the Wintel press portrays him as a basher, as someone who is immature and disrespectful. When he announced Linux 3.0 Microsoft Jack decided to go with a rather malicious headline and spin that negatively, as expected. When he speaks out against software patents Microsoft Florian repeats his smears of the funding sources of the Linux Foundation (which have the same inclination as many of the FSF’s funders) and other Microsoft boosters point to Torvalds’ patents that are not software patents and were acquired on behalf of an old employer of his. Linus Torvalds does not advocate software patenting and he never caved and got lured into it. “Muchas patentes son totalmente ridículas” says a new headline from Argentina (in Spanish), which basically quotes Mr. Torvalds. It is abundantly clear what his position is and nevertheless, Microsoft apologists for the most part wish to distort this fact. Likewise, some detractors of Techrights tried to portray yours truly as an apologist or hypocrite on the subject of software patents because some people in my field — not myself — are pursuing patents. I do not publicly attack other people my field or even my colleagues, but I do attack the practice of patenting in general. To expect Torvalds to attack his paymaster IBM in public is unreasonable. He probably knows IBM's stance and just being paid by IBM (like the FSF is) does not mean he inherits the same principles. There is some serious distortion of views these days, sometimes being the fault of lawyers who try to make it seem like their views are the views of programmers. Likewise, news which professes to be a watchdog has in fact become the rich men’s attack dog.

Glyn Moody, who used to write for the now-Gates-funded Guardian (which is promoting patents, even in Europe), has had enough of that. Not only does he show that Gates is a hypocrite but he also shows that the Gates-funded Guardian has lost its way. To quote:

That’s what Bill Gates said in 1991. He changed his mind, of course, when he realised that Microsoft could use its huge wealth to acquire vast numbers of software patents and deploy them as a weapon to crush or tax competitors. Granting software patents in the UK would simply allow that strategy to be applied here. It would be insanity to hand over such a huge advantage to the well-funded, established US software houses in this way.

That’s why the Hargreaves report was quite correct that the status quo must be preserved: to do anything else would probably spell the end of the UK software industry as we know it.

If the errors of the article are easy enough to rebut, there remains one more troubling issue: why on earth is the Guardian running it? At least the attack on open source that it published last week was flagged up in the headline as a comment piece – that’s fair enough. But the current post in the Guardian Technology Blog has no such heading. The author’s background is given at the foot of the piece, but a naïve reader would still assume that his views are shared by the Guardian. Are they? Does the Guardian really believe that the UK should emulate the US and allow software patents? If so, what on earth is it the guardian of, these days – intellectual monopolies?

I have occasionally read The Guardian since I was a teenager, even on this PDA on which I am typing this blog post. This publication is no longer to be treated as defender of the people. Many publications perished because of the Internet; The Guardian is now surviving in rich men’s pockets. It is no way to be credible. It’s more like controlled opposition, depending on who pays.

One of Gates’ boosters, Heim, wrote that “Cooper, the journalism professor, finds it “laughable” when media claim Gates money doesn’t influence their coverage.”

“It would be naive to believe big-money foundations don’t play the same game that corporations and other special interests do,” wrote Cooper. Since Gates owns a lot of key outlets and uses them to seed his propaganda, we should not expect much resentment against patents coming from these sources. Gates adores patents, it’s what he is all about and what he invests his money in.

In order for GNU/Linux to ‘win’ software patents must die. Do not expect those in power to want software patents to vanish. Protectionism supports and increases the power of those already in power. This includes patent bullies like Steve Ballmer.

‘A fund manager from one of Microsoft’s largest shareholder’s reportedly told Reuters, “Bill Gates is a ruthless capitalist. If he wanted to, he’d walk Ballmer to the door himself”.’ [Four days ago]

Why Europe Must Prepare to Abolish and Block All Software Patents

Posted in Europe, Microsoft, Patents at 12:26 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Baroness Wilcox
Credit: Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS)

Summary: In the interest of Business, Innovation and Skills, the EPO (and UK-IPO or other patent offices) should avoid the travesty of allowing patent monopolies on mathematical processes

THERE IS some big news coming out tonight in Europe. Techrights received an embargoed press release (clue at the top) and will therefore post some details today in a preparatory fashion. As many of our readers may know by now, Europe in highly critical in the fight against software patents. If Europe surrendered to the United States (pressure from lobbyists), then it would instantaneously make software patents legal in the majority of the Western nations, which in turn would lead to pressure and coercion, flipping into line all the rest of the world like domino bricks.

Microsoft is by no means a scapegoat when it gets blamed for software patents. Microsoft’s co-founder, just like the other co-founder and his good friend the former CTO (a very bad man), has become a patent troll and thankfully Groklaw continues to keep track of his lawsuits, which also target Android/Linux. From Professor Webbink:

You may recall from our last communication on this case that the judge declined to issue a stay of the case pending the anticipated reexamination of the asserted patents because the USPTO had yet to accept the reexamination request. Well, that worm has now turned.

According to a status report filed with the court by Yahoo! (see full text below), the reexamination requests with respect to three of the four patents have been granted, and we should expect to hear about the fourth any day now.

Allen can help show why the USPTO is broken. When a company that produces nothing sues the whole world, who can possibly benefit?

In other important news found by the Groklaw research Web site (although this time by Pamela Jones, who is still coaching Webbink), the USPTO will “Host Public Discussion on Newly Proposed Process to Streamline Patent Reexamination” (putting lipstick on a pig much?) which leads nicely into this new piece. The problem here is that they polish the wrong bits, failing of course to address the fundamental fallacies of the USPTO.

“Patents are examined and granted by the patent office but their true value is ultimately decided by the courts,” explains the page, “At this conference, officials from the United States Patent & Trademark Office, District Court Judges, academic experts and experienced practitioners will examine the existing contours of the interface between the USPTO and the Courts to discuss proposed improvements that could make patent prosecution and litigation more efficient and effective.” (read: make it easier to sue)

“If that is the case,” remarks Jones, “that the courts are where a patent owner finds out if the patent is valid or not, why aren’t jurors told that, and why then are issued patents presumed valid?” When even a site accommodated by lawyers is unhappy with the US patent system, then something surely is awry.

Over in Europe, the president of the FFII warns that:

Patent lobby wants substantive patent law (software patents) outside of the European Union

He links to this report about globalisation of the patent system (so that nobody can get away from bad laws and corporocracies):

In first discussions with the interested circles and experts the EU Commission announced that it will continue its work for a patent jurisdiction system and is planning amendments of the Draft Agreement of 23 March 2009 (St07928) which shall comply with the Opinion of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) in order to achieve compatibility with the EU Treaties.

Truly shameful and dangerous. This is the type of loopholes they need for introducing software patents in Europe, as matter of law. “The World Patent and the World Patent Litigation System” is another new piece remarking on “the US judge, who wished to allow patents on business methods and computer programs”:

Imagine: Wouldn’t it be fantastic to have one single patent which you could apply for at the WPO, the World Patent Office? A World Patent, which would be valid worldwide and which could be enforced in each single country of the world with worldwide effect? Decisions of the national local chambers of the World Patent Court (WPC) could be appealed at the WPSGC, the World Patent Global Supreme Court. Wouldn’t this be a major breakthrough in improving IP protection and decreasing patent costs for the industry?

Well as always, the problem comes with the details: Shall the system allow distinguishing between first, second and third World Patents? Will there be an exemption for extraterrestrial use? And what about the language regime?

While Europe is still struggling to establish a unitary patent and a European litigation system, the IP judges of the world already seem to have a much broader perspective.

There is more information from the legal community about the EU patent. It says that:

Under the date of May 26, 2011, the EU Council has published Document 10629/11 titled Proposal for a Regulation of the Council and the European Parliament implementing enhanced cooperation in the area of the creation of unitary patent protection including a Proposal for a Council Regulation implementing enhanced cooperation in the area of unitary patent protection with regard to the applicable translation arrangements. The text is said to facilitate discussions on political orientation as well as an exchange of views.

Axel H. Horns, who wrote this summary, is actually a good and almost balanced source of information. The above helps verify that the EU Patent is still underway; it must meet scrutiny because it is easier to block bad laws than to withdraw them. The EU Patent would have devastating effects for all software developers, not just Free software developers. Here is a new warning from Europe about software patents. “EDRi said that software patents hamper competition and said that the EU’s push towards a unitary patent protection system would encourage more patent lawsuits,” says this report. It is the only quoted opinion on this matter.

“HP, Quest Sued Over Medical Records Software Patent” says this new headline, so people’s lives are further compromised yet again due to software patents. To quote the report: “Patent holder Medsquire LLC sued Hewlett-Packard Co., Quest Diagnostics Inc., Athenahealth Inc. and others Wednesday in California, alleging they infringe a patent covering software that organizes patient information records.”

“Patent holder” is a kind name for a patent troll. Does anybody wants these patent trolls to enter Europe as well? At present, patent trolls are uncommon in Europe. Also, statistics shown last year showed that the trolls thrive in software patents. There is a strong correlation there.

Suffice to say, Microsoft is a major lobbyist for software patents in Europe although it often operates through other entities which hide this. Jones notes that earlier this month in France we saw yet another case of Microsoft nepotism and string-pulling in France (recall the Ballmer 'Kissinger moment'). “Uh oh,” she wrote.”Here’s one you might like to watch, with EFF’s John Philip Barlow included, so you’ll know what they mean by “a flourishing Internet”. Stay for the questions at the end. Remember when Steve Ballmer and Sarkozy were high-fiving each other and saying, “Win, win”? Is this what they meant? I can’t help but wonder. Yes. Microsoft was a sponsor and Craig Mundie was there, talking about the future of the Internet, which is odd, considering that the company didn’t see it coming, had to play catch up and now is no longer viewed as representing the cutting edge of products people use on the Internet. Where was Apple at this conference, by the way, speaking of the future? Where was Red Hat? The Internet was built with Open Source software, by people who did not patent it, so where were the people who came up with the Internet at this conference? Robert Murdoch was there though, giving a talk, speaking of Internet visionaries. Not. In short a lot of people who have no clue would like to regulate the Internet so they can keep their 20th Century “content” business models alive a little bit longer by strip mining the world’s Internet. Here’s a page on YouTube where you can find many more videos and check to see if I have overstated matters. Or the opposite.”

Regarding the news that ” HTC Pays Microsoft $5 Per Android Phone” Jones wrote: “That was SCO’s dream too, if you recall, a tax on Linux. They collected millions from SCOsource by bullying companies falsely alleging copyright infringement, and analysts predicted a rosy future for SCO and doom for Linux, and yet look at them now.”

One Identi.ca/Twitter user whom we follow says:

#MSFT earns more from #Android than from Windows Phone 7. Awesome. http://ur1.ca/4azkc So, when do we kill #swpats ? /via @tante

Also quite importantly, when will software patents be rejected as a matter of strong principle in Europe? We are not quite there yet. Citing Glyn Moody, Mike Masnick too explains to his large audience why patents are damaging the EU economy and there is also a mention of the EU Patent:

Much of the report is about harmonizing both patent and copyright laws across Europe or creating pan-European infrastructure for patent and copyright laws. I’m of a mixed opinion on those proposals. While I can definitely see the problems of having so many different local patent and copyright laws, historically, attempts to “harmonize” such laws only lead to much more draconian laws with little flexibility. Having different laws in different places allows for countries to experiment with, perhaps, less protectionist efforts, and to show that you don’t necessarily need greater protectionism for the economy to function. On top of that, in my discussions with people throughout Europe, one of the concerns with harmonization was that each market is so different, that a single set of laws would lead to very bad policies in certain countries.

Unification sounds like a positive and constructive idea assuming that the side which expands brings improvement to the remainder. In Europe, however, such treaties would be constructed so as to help the large corporations from overseas. We will have major news about this subject tonight. More people must get involved in the fight against software patents (all of them, not just “bad” ones), which is why Jones stepped out and let someone like Webbink (or Peer to Patent) take the podium. GNU/Linux will win hands down if software patents are removed as all sorts of barriers — including multimedia codecs — will be history.

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