EditorsAbout the SiteComes vs. MicrosoftUsing This Web SiteSite ArchivesCredibility IndexOOXMLOpenDocumentPatentsNovellNews DigestSite NewsRSS

06.10.11

Links 10/6/2011: $35 Linux Tablet, Free Software Foundation Backs LibreOffice

Posted in News Roundup at 3:06 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Linux On The Road.

    This past week, I found myself on the road and away from my studio. It was just for the day, but I needed to get some work done on my comic features.

    Luckily, I’m running Linux on all my computer systems. I run it on my studio desktop, my notebook, and my large (and slightly older) 17-inch laptop.

    Now, here’s the neat thing. Because all three systems are hooked into the same Linux repository, I download and install identical software programs. (Note: I’m running the same Linux distribution on all computers.)

  • Audiocasts/Shows

    • Podcast Season 3 Episode 11

      In this episode: Mageia 1.0 has been released while ASUS promises three new netbooks running Linux. Meanwhile, back in California, Oracle tries to give OpenOffice.org to the Apache Foundation and you can hear some of our best discoveries, our worst challenge results, and your own opinions in our Open Ballot.

  • Kernel Space

    • What’s in a Number? Linux Hits the Big 3.0

      If “a rose by any other name would smell as sweet,” as the great Bard wrote all those many years ago, shouldn’t the same be true of our beloved Linux kernel?

      That, indeed, is the question of the day, thanks to Linux creator Linus Torvalds’ recent decision to christen the next version of the Linux kernel “3.0″ rather than “2.6.40,” which would otherwise have been the next step on its longtime 2.6 path.

      [...]

      “Numbering does not matter,” blogger Robert Pogson offered, but “3.0 is a fine number — it’s prime, odd and short.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC)

      • New Kontact Suite Brings Next-Gen Groupware to Desktop and Mobile

        KDE is proud to announce the release of KDE’s next generation Kontact Suite based on the Akonadi framework. In addition to these we are also proud to announce the June maintenance update of the KDE Software Compilation 4.6. The KDE PIM hackers are happy to have beaten Duke Nukem Forever, if by only a small margin.

      • KDE Commit-Digest for 5th June 2011
      • Exclusive Interview With KDE Developer

        Muktware: What is the statues of Qt post Nokia’s deal with Microsoft? What is the sentiment within the Qt/KDE community?

        Shantanu: I’d like to say that first of all, Nokia is still contributing heavily to Qt’s development. Secondly, Qt has been moving to a fully community driven development process under the Qt Open Governance initiative, so it has a very bright future, irrespective of whether there is official support from a company or not. About the second question, the KDE community is not affected much with what happened, we are working with the same enthusiasm to make KDE even more better each day.

        [...]

        Shantanu: Calligra has seen lot of improvements since the beginning of this year. Our base platform is improved, the community has grown stronger and bigger with lots of new contributors joining in, which by the way, includes a lot of Indians. Then, we have added two new applications – Flow which is a flowcharting application and Braindump, a notes taking application which uses the Open Document standard and Calligra’s core. With help of our contributors, Calligra has undergone usability tests, and we have improved our UI according to the test findings.

        And as far as LibreOffice is concerned, Calligra has a better foundation codebase and structure. Coupled with the flexibility Qt provides us, we are sure Calligra is not just an Office Suite, its also a framework for others to build related applications. A simple example would be the Calligra Active project which I will describe shortly. If it wasn’t for the flexible and modular Calligra code, it wouldn’t have been possible to get Calligra Active up and running in just couple of months.

      • KDE’s Kontact Suite Brings Next-Gen Groupware To Desktop, Mobile

        KDE Project has announced the release of the Kontact Suite, based on the Akonadi framework. The project has also announced the June maintenance update of the KDE Software Compilation 4.6. Unsurprisingly, the port of Kontact to Akonadi is finally being released the same day as Duke Nukem Forever, making it relatively timely.

        KDE’s Kontact Suite – a set of Personal Information Management applications – is receiving a major architectural boost. The team has invested years of development in its new infrastructure layer, Akonadi, and in porting Kontact to the new foundation while keeping the familiar user experience.

    • GNOME Desktop

      • Presenting GNOME Contacts

        GNOME Contacts is a new feature that is planned for GNOME 3.2. It includes both a GNOME-wide contacts framework that can be used by different applications as well as a dedicated contacts application. I’ve been working hard on the design of the application part for a while now and thought it was about time I showed the work off.

  • Distributions

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Sub-notebooks/Tablets

      • India’s $35 android tablet-PC all set to roll out

        Nearly six years after the idea of low cost laptop was conceived for Indian students, the much awaited $35 tablet-PC for Indian students is all set be launched this june ending. The first lot of 10,000 laptops would be delivered to IIT-Rajasthan. Once it is launced it will be the world’s chepest tablet in the world.The HRD Ministry officials confirmed each Indian state would be given 3,000 devices once the supply of 1,00,000 devices is made. The Central government would contribute about 50 per cent of the cost and a student would need to pay Rs. 1,000 for the device. The device is basically targetted at students for educational content. It is perhaps the cheapest innovation of all time. The government of India would contribute about 50 per cent of the cost and a student would need to pay Rs. 1,000 for the device.

Free Software/Open Source

  • Analogies for FLOSS

    I came across an analogy for Free versus non-FREE software on Italo Vignoli’s blog today. The blog is in Italian which Google translates passibly but the analogy is an image of people under an umbrella, a dependence on some supplier of non-free software, and a bowl, filled with people sharing.

  • Web Browsers

    • Chrome

      • Want Fast, Private Browsing? Look Into SRWare Iron

        SRWare Iron originated as a German project. You can get it for Windows, the Mac OS, or Linux. You can find out more about the browser and get it here (note that you have to close an annoying ad to see the page). This page takes you directly to download links.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • OpenOffice.org ⇢ Apache

      I don’t think much of this is really relevant. I’m not sure IBM care too much about who develops the code, and I don’t think an LGPL’d code base would fundamentally stop them from shipping a proprietary product if that is what they wanted to do (it makes it harder, of course). I actually think this is all about OpenDocument Format, which is a subject virtually no-one has raised.

      If you look at the OASIS TC, you can see it’s pretty obviously dominated by Oracle (was: Sun) and IBM. There are a few representatives of various other companies and open-source projects, but fundamentally this is a closed shop with a pay-to-play rule which means you have to pony up to join. The v1.2 spec – which has been used by OpenOffice.org since 2008 – has only just managed to crawl out as a committee specification, incredibly late. What this means for OpenDocument v1.2 documents as read/written by OpenOffice.org 3.0, who knows. But with Oracle fading into the sunset (sorry), large chunks like OpenFormula finally done, maybe v1.3 will actually show up on time.

    • The Document Foundation promises enterprise-ready Libreoffice 3.4 by August

      THE DOCUMENT FOUNDATION (TDF) has said the final bugs in Libreoffice 3.4 are being worked out, and the open source application suite should be ready for corporate use in two months.

      Version 3.4.1 of Libreoffice will come out next month, and will deal with the final bugs created, in part, by a reorganising of software modules. In August TDF would release version 3.4.2, which would be stable enough for widespread deployment in business, co-founder and steering committee member Italo Vignoli told The Inq.

      “LibreOffice is going to become a completely different product in time,” he said.

      “For example we’ve completely changed the way icons are handed from Openoffice. That had duplication of icons, not a single, central icon repository. Our developers completely changed this.”

    • [FSF] Statement on OpenOffice.org’s move to Apache

      When OpenOffice.org moves to a non-copyleft license, there’s a ready replacement for people who want a productivity suite that does more to protect their freedom: LibreOffice.

      Oracle, IBM, and the Apache Software Foundation jointly announced last week that OpenOffice.org would become an official Apache project. OpenOffice.org is an important piece of free software, and many of its supporters suggest that this change will give them more control over the project’s future direction. However, users and contributors should be aware that, as part of this transition, it will become easier for proprietary software developers to distribute OpenOffice.org as nonfree software.

    • Free Software Foundation favors LibreOffice over OpenOffice

      When Oracle, IBM, and the Apache Software Foundation jointly announced last week that OpenOffice.org would become an official Apache project, some open-source developers were not happy. The Document Foundation’s LibreOffice programmers were really not pleased. Now, the Free Software Foundation (FSF) is coming out against the deal.

      In a statement that will be released later today, June 10th, 2011, the FSF states that the “OpenOffice.org is an important piece of free software, and many of its supporters suggest that this change will give them more control over the project’s future direction. However, users and contributors should be aware that, as part of this transition, it will become easier for proprietary software developers to distribute OpenOffice.org as non-free software.”

  • CMS

  • Programming

    • Eclipse Foundation Survey: Android, the Cloud and Mobile Rule the Roost

      Android is the most popular platform (85.3 percent)… Finally, the Eclipse Foundation noted in this year’s survey that it is the first survey ever that shows an increase in Windows usage among respondents and a decrease in Linux usage. Linux users dropped from 32.7 percent a year ago to 28 percent this year. That’s an incremental reduction, but notable since many of the Eclipse respondents come from the open source community.

Leftovers

  • Security

  • Finance

    • Wall Street Probe Illustrates Clout of Levin’s Senate Investigative Panel

      When U.S. Senator Carl Levin declared that Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS) “clearly misled their clients and misled the Congress,” few analysts predicted his allegations would still be reverberating two months later.

      The firm’s shares have fallen 16 percent in New York trading since April 13, when Levin’s investigative panel released an exhaustive report on the roots of the 2008 economic meltdown. The Justice Department and Securities and Exchange Commission are examining the findings. The Manhattan District Attorney last week joined in with a subpoena to Goldman Sachs.

    • Goldman Tries, Fails to Sell Soul With Libya Deal

      It was hard not to be amused to see this story by CNBC’s John Carney the other day with the following provocative headline: “Goldman Dodges a Bullet.”

      In the story an unnamed Goldman banker told Carney that there was a widespread feeling of relief within the walls of the bank after news broke that Goldman a few years ago offered to sell Moammar Qaddafi a $3.7 billion equity stake in their company. The relief, it seems, stemmed from the fact that the deal was never struck – and therefore Goldman doesn’t have to answer charges now of having funded repression in the Middle East. From the Carney piece:

    • Goldman Closes the Door on Subprime

      When Goldman Sachs (GS) bought Litton Loan Servicing, a firm that collects mortgage payments from homeowners, in 2007 for an unannounced price, it seemed like a simple way to get an on-the-ground view of the subprime market. The insight would help Goldman Sachs figure out how much to pay for loans, and Litton would work with borrowers to get them back on track. Other sophisticated investors, including billionaire Wilbur L. Ross and private equity firm Centerbridge Capital Partners, bought mortgage servicers with a similar strategy in mind.

      It didn’t work out as planned. While there were plenty of distressed mortgages and lots of eager buyers, the loan holders had little incentive to mark down prices because that would mean taking a big loss on their books. “The distressed-asset market never got as hot as people were hoping it would,” says Dean H. DeMeritte, an executive vice-president at Phoenix Capital, a Denver brokerage for mortgage servicing contracts.

Reader’s Picks

Clip of the Day

Mandriva Application Manager – New look & feel


Credit: TinyOgg

Nokia Crushed by Microsoft While Windows Mobile Dies. Is Skype Next?

Posted in Hardware, Microsoft, Windows at 1:29 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

1. Company has legacy dilemmas, suffers internal issues

Crushed cars

2. Microsoft steps in, sends mole/vulture fund/proxy battler into the company (Nokia, Novell, and Yahoo! respectively)

Crushed cars

3. Company totally crushed, run by Microsoft proxies, Microsoft takes all the pieces of interest (patents, userbase, brand names, etc.)

Construction cones

4. Profit! (another competitor eliminated at no cost)

Summary: How Microsoft is abusing the market, this time by sending Nokia to the cleaners and ruining the Skype experience with bad service and disturbances

WHEN Microsoft quits the mobile market (at last, it might have to!) it will officially become somewhat of a patent troll, a non-practicing mobile entity making money out of other companies’ phones/platforms. Before Microsoft becomes a patent troll and not just a leech it will have to burn its boats and the process has just begun with the burial of the Windows Mobile shop. “MS discontinue [an]other product,” informed us a reader yesterday. To quote an article from a fairly Microsoft-sympathetic source:

Microsoft is sending notifications to Windows Mobile 6.x users this week that it is discontinuing My Phone service, and shutting down the Windows Marketplace for Mobile site for the legacy mobile OS family.

Beginning on July 15, http://marketplace.windowsphone.com will no longer be open for business, and apps for Windows Mobile 6.x will only be available in the Marketplace app or through third party app stores.

Microsoft is trying to gain userbase of phones in the same way it did so in search. It invades one of the market leaders (Nokia), puts in some moles while paying bribe for the company to approve, and before you know it, the CTO quits. What a cheap takeover, eh? The same thing happened in Yahoo! Before a Microsoft manager was appointed to become Yahoo’s CTO (who now diverts search traffic in Microsoft’s direction). We have a special wiki page on the subject and it is detailed enough to spare repetition.

Yahoo’s CTO from Microsoft makes us wonder who is going to become Nokia’s next CTO. Will it be another transfer from Microsoft, like Elop? It never seemed like Elop really left Microsoft. Either way, the net results is that Microsoft’s entryism leads to many layoffs and the reduction in the number of options that buyers will have. Microsoft is a highly efficient destructor, not creator. It also harmed Qt and MeeGo a great deal. Nokia need not be bought by Microsoft. It was already bought, as some had predicted. Microsoft essentially bought Nokia for a few billions of dollars. It installed its own people. We sometimes refer to it as entryism.

Those who speak about Samsung buying Nokia have no basis for their claim as “Elop re. rumors Microsoft or Samsung is acquiring Nokia: “Those rumors are baseless.””

Probably true, but alas, our reader wrote: “Looks like Elop like Android and maybe it will be real that Samsung will buy NOKIA. Samsung will need QT too to save it?”

Watch Elop proceeding to belittlig of Android by saying that “Apple created Android, or at least created the conditions necessary for Android to come into being”

This is FUD. In fact, Apple imitated many others, as usual (it was new in the mobile arena at the time). Here is an article about Elop’s FUD:

Despite Elop’s comments about Android, he still didn’t choose the platform. Four months ago, Nokia announced that it was choosing Microsoft’s Windows Phone as its primary smartphone platform. Two months ago, Nokia and Microsoft finally signed a definitive agreement regarding their global mobile ecosystem partnership.

It’s generally accepted, however, that Windows Phone is not selling well. AT&T Mobility CEO believes things will start to pick up with Windows Phone 7.1 (codenamed Mango) and as the Windows Phone Marketplace gains more apps.

“Windows Phone is not selling well” to say the very least. We heard it only sold a few millions after over half a year in the market.

Upon inspection of the stagnant/falling Microsoft stock, we discovered that Elop is still the eighth largest shareholder in MSFT. Yes, Mr. Elop still works for Microsoft and has vested interests in Microsoft’s success, not Nokia’s. He has done a fantastic job so far (for Microsoft, not for Nokia). How come no lawsuit has been filed by shareholders yet? It is extremely unlikely that Nokia can save itself the way IBM did because when put in Microsoft’s hands it usually ends in tears like Novell and Yahoo! (very bad stuff going on there at Yahoo!, but no sale to a Microsoft partner like Attachmate, at least not yet). As we argued repeatedly (with evidence), Microsoft is sabotaging Nokia like an abusive spouse, maybe with the intent of getting its patents for extortion purposes. Microsoft is just exploiting what’s left in Nokia. Microsoft remains a destructive parasite and the sooner people realise it, the fewer victims it is likely to find in the future. According to a new article or hypothesis, it is sabotaging the Skype status quo following the awkward buyout [1, 2, 3, 4] in order to spread its own products. Mr. Dvorak writes:

Skype went down again. Many people, like myself, who rely on Skype for podcasting connectivity, have recognized that the service has not been up to par in recent weeks. The problems began coincidentally when Microsoft announced it was buying the company.

This could all be coincidence, as some suggest, but to me, both sabotage and outside attacks have to be considered as possible causes as well. But why would anyone do this to Skype?

If you have to ask that question, then you do not follow the industry. To be blunt, Microsoft is an extremely disliked company in many quarters of the technology community. Or maybe I should put it even more bluntly; the company is hated to an extreme by many.

Skype, on the other hand, is this benign and beloved company that has provided a free service to its users and the world at large for years. It’s a contrast. It makes sense to me that attempts would be made by certain elements of the hacking community, as well as technicians within the company, to sabotage the product in hopes that it might queer the deal with Microsoft or give Microsoft pause for thought.

As things now stand nobody really knows why Microsoft bought Skype in the first place. There are vague comments about it being used with Microsoft’s Lync product or MSN Live or who knows what. EBay bought control of Skype with some hair-brained notions and didn’t do much with it. But eBay did not ruin or dismantle Skype and, in fact, it never bought the source code to the product.

Nobody has discussed who owns the source ever since.

Guess what happens to Skype just weeks after the takeover announcement? It gets sued for patent violations. From yesterday’s news:

Internet video phone company Skype Inc was sued in U.S. federal court Thursday for infringing the patents of a Luxembourg company, which has filed similar lawsuits against Skype in Europe.

It was hardly happening before Microsoft touched Skype. The company from Redmond has a tendency to ruin everything it touches. Well, let us hope this helps promote SIP at the end.

Europe’s Software Patents Problem Summarised

Posted in America, Europe, Microsoft, Patents, RAND at 12:52 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Earth

Summary: Monopolists like Microsoft, based in the United States, try to transport software patents across the Atlantic, so Techrights provides a news summary and a general summary of trends to watch out for

HERE at Techrights we have been covering the situation of software patents in Europe almost since the dawn of this Web site. It was always about software patents and more people begin to understand the importance of this issue when they hear that Microsoft makes money out of HTC's Android phones. Additionally, as one reader shows us this week, “HTC paid for patents and started to use aspx.” Can someone verify this? Netcraft history does not go far back. We already know about Microsoft’s pressure on Intel to use Windows on servers because we found internal documents about it. Microsoft is bundling such deals, making agreements conditional upon migration and PR for Microsoft.

Anyway, to learn about Microsoft’s lobbying for software patents in Europe, one needs to be familiar with the proxies they use for lobbying, e.g. Association for Competitive Technology. Microsoft has ways of trying to portray itself as “European” and also use ‘Euro-washed’ firms to push its agenda there. We mostly covered these in 2008 and 2009, so we advise readers to look back (we strive to decrease repetition). It is clear that Microsoft is a major component of this problem, others being Siemens and Nokia. It should not be shocking that those in favour of software patenting are giants. Patent monopolies make giants stronger and the only small entities to whom such a system might be of use are patent trolls and lawyers’ firms specialising in so-called ‘IP’.

Last year in the United States, Bilski and his colleague shattered the US system by further legitimising software patents, at least based on some people’s analysis (inconclusive). They took it all the way up to the SCOTUS, whose rulings on the subject of patents have been rather terrible recently. SCOTUS deserves no blind respect because laws too are relative and they depend on principles one adopts in a certain civilised culture. There is no absolute justice or definition of “civilised”; the bias is ‘built in’.

Bilski’s patent was classified as belonging to the business methods category and this new report from the Wall Street Journal says that patents on tax strategies (emulating pen-and-paper methods) may soon be ruled illegal:

U.S. patent number 7,698,194 isn’t an ingenious new machine or a breakthrough medical treatment. It’s a method of analyzing the taxes associated with college-savings plans.

It’s also one of the 144 patented tax strategies and 162 pending applications, as of late May, that tax preparers say have burdened their job and made it harder for citizens to pay their taxes.

Consumer and tax groups have pushed since 2007 to get such patents banned, and their efforts are poised to come to fruition this month. The House of Representatives is expected to vote when it returns from this week’s recess on a major overhaul of the patent system that would effectively prohibit patenting tax strategies.

While there is hope that the USPTO will be reforming (in accordance with public backlash), things are not improving in Europe. Recently, for example, Mrs. Wilcox decided to usher in a scheme [1, 2, 3] that may help legitimise/change the bar for US patents (even in Europe) and to quote the sort of fallacies she is repeating: [via Benjamin Henrion]: Baroness Wilcox, the minister for intellectual property, said: “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.”

Innovative businesses actually did not require patents. Look at Google for a recent example. Meanwhile in Europe we also have the worry about the RAND lobby at the Commission [1, 2]. Benjamin highlights this new page which signals more of the same. RAND is not compatible with Free software, but the Commission is guarding RAND nonetheless, after lobbying from Microsoft front groups. This relates to the first issue which we covered. Most important, however, is the current push for the EU Patent, which seeks to make litigation of larger scale easier and can also spread software patents such that they transcend borders with the mere signing of some document/s (treaty superseding the law using a ‘hack’). Consider the fact that in the United States a patent previously owned by Microsoft’s patent troll (Intellectual Ventures) is the subject of litigation seeking its invalidation. At the same time we see companies turning into a pile of patents ripe for picking by trolls. To them, patents are just means for suing, using patent lawyers. Rather than breed an industry which innovates, patents expand an industry which litigates. Consider this one firm which is “specializing in software patents, copyright and trade secrets.” The source article is here (New York Times blogs). What value can such firms actually bring to an economy? Here it is in context:

Andrew Schulman wasn’t. He’s a Lens reader in San Francisco, a photographer and — most important for the purposes of this post — a lawyer specializing in software patents, copyright and trade secrets.

Now they want to patent umbrellas too? It is not even an idea previously unexplored. About a decade ago I typed down on my PDA an idea I had for an umbrella. Many of the so-called ‘inventions’ people seek patents on have not just been thought of before but also implemented. This whole business of patents merely adds complexity to the system and slows down its advancement.

To summarise some of the key points, Europe faces new threats from lobbying (e.g. For RAND), so-called ‘unification’ (which can actually be the import of software patents), and an attempt to start from the premise that the problem is “quality” of patents rather than their type (e.g. software, tax). We must all stay vigilant. It is possible that software patents will die in the States before they manage to spread to other countries like some of kind a virus.

Government Procurement in the UK

Posted in Europe, Free/Libre Software, Microsoft at 12:09 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

How the vocation of taxpayers’ money is determined

Coin towers

Summary: The exclusion of important and viable market players by putting the “Microsoft” brand name, for example, right there inside the requirements

THE BUSINESS of procurement sure is funny. In Switzerland it was such “funny business” that it led to a lawsuit which we covered mostly one year ago in:

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

The practice of illegal procurement which excludes competition to what’s currently being used is an issue we have covered many times since 2007. We wrote about the situation in the UK under posts such as:

  1. Has Microsoft Unleashed Its Trolls at the UK Authorities?
  2. Microsoft UK’s Chief ‘Accomplice’ Jumps Ship
  3. Richard Steel’s and Microsoft Ballnux Franchise (Updated)
  4. Signs of Microsoft Corruption in the United Kingdom and Czech Republic
  5. The Newhamicrosoft Saga: Part Deux

The important factors which which are cronyism and nepotism sure play a role everywhere, government procurement included. It is worth understanding just where it happens and when it happens; as this new article explains, Microsoft somehow ‘wins’ not because it has technical merit but because it is embedded into the policy. To quote:

European public sector IT contracts are unfairly favouring large suppliers such as Microsoft by ignoring the rules governing the use of trademarks in tender requests, according to a new report.

[...]

Where tenders were found to include trademarks, the overwhelming majority mentioned ones belonging to Microsoft.

Bertrand Diard, chief executive of open-source data management vendor Talend, called on the UK government to enforce best practice and to encourage fair competition for UK public sector contracts.

“The current process of IT contract tender [in Europe] is rife with issues,” he said. “If there is to be any development for open standards in the UK, then responsibility falls upon the shoulders of those in the Cabinet Office to follow through on their initial plans.”

Under EU rules, public sector bodies should avoid using trademarks in tender notices for software packages and information systems, in order to encourage competition.

In the wake of its long-running anti-trust dispute with Microsoft, EU officials had be keen to encourage public sector organisations to consider alternatives to Microsoft’s technology, particularly in areas where the Redmond-based firm dominated the market, such as desktop operating systems and productivity tools.

Had platforms been assessed based on their technical features (and antifeatures), Microsoft would rank quite low. As an educator, Mr. Pogson explains what is wrong about Windows, for starters:

We don’t need more

* DRM,
* phoning home,
* re-re-reboots,
* ABI/APIs,
* exclusive dealing,
* stuff KLUDGED to the OS like mud pies, and
* complexity.

Enough! Use GNU/Linux to be free of this burden on IT. I have been using GNU/Linux for IT almost exclusively since 2000 and I have only had a few problems, not usually involving security, in all that time whereas with that other OS people are getting rafts of problems to fix monthly like a woman’s curse.

One regular reader of ours told us that Mr. Pogson had been laid off possibly because of his preference for GNU/Linux, which in the education sector is not so widespread. In some sense, he may have been expelled, so to speak, for having other opinions (which are very defensible by the way). Similarly, one British journalist insinuates that by issuing veiled threats following the Bristol incident (see links at the bottom for background), the side which empowers and profits from proprietary software in the British public sector only reinforces the perception that those who favbour Free/open source software suffer retribution. One article says: “A Linux shop has spoken out in defence of boo-hissstems integrators otherwise blamed for dominating the industry, stifling competition, ripping off tax payers and presiding over public IT failures so infamous they discredited the last government and stained the reputation of an entire profession.”

Another article, from the excellent journalist Mark Ballard, speaks about the threats. To quote: “The big IT suppliers are so powerful, it is said, they control the vast majority of public sector IT, which is done in their commercial interest. That may count as quid pro quo from supplier’s perspective. But when that supplier is part of an oligopoly servicing a monopoly, it is a little unfortunate for anything trying to breathe outside that comfortable little world that has become known as government IT.” For some background, see the links we posted under government and public sector earlier this week. We reproduce them below.

SCOTUS Reinforces Its Position of Hostility Towards Science and Technology

Posted in America, Courtroom, Law, Microsoft, Open XML, Patents at 7:25 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Supreme Court US, 2009

Summary: The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS), comprising no scientists, rules in favour of software patents and thus endorses a $290 million fine, affecting OOXML

AS PROMISED, this is a standalone post about the i4i ruling at the SCOTUS.

So the news is just about everywhere, especially in the Canadian press (because i4i is a Canadian company). The SCOTUS ruled against Microsoft as we mentioned earlier. King of the trolls, Microsoft, suffers from a verdict which is good news for patent trolls. The i4i case is not about patent trolls (in fact, i4i does have products), but the consequence of it is that rogue patents get legitimacy from the incompetent and at times technically-illiterate SCOTUS (they went to law school many decades ago). The SCOTUS is against fundamental principles that legalese experts rarely grasp and it neglects the people’s interests, too, not just technologists’. It helps monopolists under the assumption that their disinformation campaigns actually bear truths.

About Microsoft losing the case, Rui Seabra says that “being a patent aggressor themselves, they kind of deserve it, however… SCOTUS validating #swpat is definitely not good.” As pointed out by the other side of this debate (patent lawyer Mike Wokasch):

Prediction: Breyer’s concurrence, (w/ Alito & Scalia) re:role of courts, becomes important fodder for the anti-#swpat crowd. #patents #i4i

A FOSS respective on this case can be found in Groklaw, which calls it a “Disappointing Supreme Court decision”. This was covered by Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols and Joe Brockmeier too. They explain the relevance to FOSS.

Here is the official decision [PDF] and other news coverage below. The success of Free software is hinged upon eradication of software patents because they impede dissemination.

ES: Microsoft Utiliza el Sistema de Patentes de los EE.UU. Para Atacar a Linux/Android Desde Múltiples Frentes, Quiere las Patentes de Nokia También

Posted in Bill Gates, GNU/Linux, Google, Hardware, Microsoft, Patents at 7:09 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Roadsigns

(ODF | PDF | English/original)

Resumen: Microsoft realiza un MS-DOS (Multi-Source Denegación de Servicio) ataque a Linux y a Android, utilizando los monopolios de patentes y a sus compadres los trolls de patentes.

ADEMÁS del post anterior[http://techrights.org/2011/06/07/fallacy-re-a-rise-in-patents_es/], hay abundante evidencia de que la USPTO (Oficina de Patentes y Marcas de los Estados Unidos) está quebrada, ya que no cumple con sus objetivos. No hay tal cosa como una “calidad” de patentes. Una patente es un monopolio y todos los que se aplican al software, impiden el uso de la lógica y las matemáticas. Aquí hay otra interpretación de la sentencia SCOTUS (Corte Suprema de los Estados Unidos), de la que escribimos hace unos días (ENhttp://techrights.org/2011/06/02/scotus-vs-freedom-labour/[], ES[http://techrights.org/2011/06/03/scotus-vs-freedom-labour_es/]). El Register lo dice de la siguiente manera[http://www.theregister.co.uk/2011/06/01/us_supremes_update_patent_law/]:

En un caso con el apoyo de HP, eBay, Red Hat, Yahoo, y General Motors, la Corte Suprema de los EE.UU. emitió un fallo que puede hacer más difícil para una empresa sea demandada por induccir a otra empresa a infringir una patente.

Según la sentencia, un acusado de inducir a la infracción de patente, debe ser demostrado que tenía bien sabido que estaba infringiendo, o fue “voluntariamente ciego” a la infracción. El conocimiento real de la infracción puede presentar pruebas documentales o declaraciones juradas.

Esto de nuevo no se ocupa de las cuestiones principales con el sistema de patentes – Cuestiones que, incluso en el caso Bilski[http://techrights.org/wiki/index.php/Bilski_Case] SCOTUS no pudo resolver. Echemos un vistazo a algunas de las últimas víctimas sobre la base de noticias de esta semana.

Twitter dejó en claro que está en contra de las patentes de software y ahora está siendo atacada por los trolls de patentes de nuevo[http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/technology/twirpy-patent-troll-threatens-twitter/2011/06/03/AG9MwxHH_story.html]. Los trolls de patentes son, estadísticamente hablando, muy dependiente de las patentes de software.

Un troll de patentes llamado Kootol Software ha puesto en alerta a Twitter. La «sociedad», que luce un logotipo de empresa (y nombre) que es sospechosamente recuerdan a Google, esta mañana dijo que ha enviado un aviso de precaución a Biz Stone, Jack Dorsey y cooperación para expresar “preocupación” acerca de las posibles violaciónes de propiedad intelectual.

Citando la fuente original (“Twirpy Patentes Troll amenaza Twitter”), TechCrunch/AOL ha dicho[http://techcrunch.com/2011/06/03/twirpy-patent-troll-threatens-twitter/]:

La solicitud de patente en cuestión (un número de patente no se ha asignado aún) se titula “Un método y sistema para la Comunicación, Publicidad, buscar, compartir y dinámicamente proporcionar un diario de alimentación.”

Ellos están haciendo que sea muy complicado para los desarrolladores de software a desarrollar en paz y sólo empeora cuando la gente hace dinero de este sistema enfermo[http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20110531006845/en/Patent-Research-Software-Tools-Disrupt-Market-Patent]. Esto incentividad la mantiene quebrada. Jan Wildeboer, que es uno de los más prominentes entre los opositores de las patentes de software en Europa[http://techrights.org/wiki/index.php/Software_Patents_in_Europe], señala que algunas personas construyeron sus empresas basados en la explotación del sistema de patentes. Él pregunta: “¿Está Myhrvolds de Intellectual Ventures con patentes de estilo CDO perturbando el mercado? Lodsys como ejemplo? ”

También se pregunta[http://twitter.com/jwildeboer/status/76581369601470464]: “¿Es señal de Lodsys del nuevo tiempo? 1. Licencia patentes 2. Venta de patentes 3. Nuevo comprador trata de licenciarlas de nuevo? Patentes == negocio CDB?”

Recuerde que el mayor troll del mundo (que vino de Microsoft), dijo antes de dar esta patente a Lodsys[http://techrights.org/2011/06/02/lodsys-and-intellectual-ventures/]. “La propiedad intelectual es el futuro software”, argumentó[http://www.newsweek.com/id/55777/page/2]. Microsoft y él están juntos en esto. Bill Gates es un afiliado cercano de este shakedown y Matt Asay reta esto yendo atrás en el tiempo[http://www.theregister.co.uk/2011/06/03/microsoft_ip_technology_battle/] (volver a los días en que Gates denunció las patentes, como una pequeña empresa):

Microsoft, alguna vez el gobernante del universo del software, ni siquiera hace de el presidente ejecutivo de Google, Eric Schmidt, Pandilla de cuatro compañías de tecnología influyentes. No es que Microsoft haya perdido su ambición. Pero puede ser que la ambición de Microsoft ha cambiado, y para peor.

Microsoft alguna que vez se enorgullecía de acuñación de las ganancias de copias de licencias de Windows y Office. Ahora parece más contento con lograr $ 5 por unidad de HTC y otros, matonea con patentes. Así es: en lugar de vender productos, está tráficando la propiedad intelectual (IP).

Escribimos acerca de esta extorsión antes. No sólo Microsoft está extorsionando HTC[http://techrights.org/2011/05/27/linux-swpats-own-cash/], parece como si Intelectual Ventures[http://techrights.org/wiki/index.php/Intellectual_Ventures] también lo hace. Otra persona de Microsoft, Paul Allen, de Interval[http://techrights.org/wiki/index.php/Interval] el troll de patentes, sigue atacando a muchas partes[http://www.groklaw.net/article.php?story=2011060220384836], incluido Android/Google por la mera aplicación de algunas ideas. “Las personas preocupadas por Ridículo reclamaciones de patentes de Paul Allen Hace que la USPTO comienze de nuevo a exáminar sus patentes”, dice Techdirt[http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20110601/02413214504/people-concerned-about-paul-allens-ridiculous-patent-claims-gets-uspto-to-begin-re-exams-his-patents.shtml]. Para citar a:

El año pasado, hemos cubierto demanda de patentes ridículas Paul Allen en contra de un montón de empresas de tecnología. Afirmó que todas estas compañías violaron cuatro patentes increíblemente amplio que declaró lo siguiente:

* 6263507: “Navegador para su uso en la navegación de un cuerpo de información, con aplicación especial a la información de navegación representada por los datos de audio.”
* 6034652 y 6788314 (en realidad la misma patente, con la participación continuaciones): “Atención gerente para ocupar la atención periférica de una persona en las proximidades de un dispositivo de pantalla”
* 6757682: “Alerta a los usuarios temas de interés actual”

Groklaw sigue este caso muy de cerca, o al menos solía hacerlo. Lo que la gente de Microsoft hace (incluso los que se fueron de la compañía) es lo que Microsoft siempre ha hecho, Ellos quieren que todo el mundo pague un impuesto en lugar de realmente hacer cualquier cosa de valor. Ellos están librando guerras legales y acumular patentes que ejercer presión para, con el fin de aumentar su valor.

En este momento parece que Microsoft está a la caza de las patentes de Nokia para que pueda agravar a todos los teléfonos móviles. Nokia tiene un valor para Microsoft por su software y sus patentes de hardware, hemos escritó tanto sobre éllo que no es necesario repetir las pruebas de ello. Este es un tema que hemos hablado en el IRC el otro día[http://techrights.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/irc-log-techrights-02062011.html#tJun%2002%2020:22:39]. Suponiendo que Microsoft quiere “tirar de un CPTN ‘de Nokia, será más sobre el uso de las patentes de Nokia ofensivamente y la explotación de la marca Nokia (como lo hizo con Yahoo y Novell). Mediante el envío de topos Microsoft sólo mejora sus posibilidades de convertirse en el receptor de patentes. Vea cómo Microsoft puso su mole en[http://www.businessinsider.com/ballmer-wanted-nokia-deal-so-bad-he-sent-a-huge-limo-to-pick-up-stephen-elop-2011-6]: [a través de F. Cassia]

Steve Ballmer estaba tan decidido a conseguir a Nokia a bordo del teléfono de Windows 7, que envió una limusina super-extendida de baile de estilo para recoger Stephen Elop de Nokia y otros ejecutivos de cuando visitaron el área de Seattle.

Esa es una de las revelaciones de perfil largo de BusinessWeek en los primeras seis meses de Elop en la empresa.

Microsoft está aplastando Nokia con tal de que esto pueda ayudar a Microsoft a recoger un buen precio junto con sus patentes. Teniendo en cuenta lo que ha sucedido hasta ahora, Elop ha hecho un trabajo maravilloso (para Microsoft, de la que es accionista mayoritario). El acuerdo no tenía sentido y que fue firmado en una carrera por la Stephens dos que son antiguos compañeros. Miren el Booke de Elop[http://www.techeye.net/business/ye-booke-of-elop] de un sesgo divertido. Es evidente lo que está pasando allí, pero no hay nada divertido en ello. Nokia representa la última víctima en la línea de los cadáveres dejados por el comportamiento abusivo-agresivo de Microsoft -otra compañía en el remolino del inodoro de la historia-. Nokia se estaba convirtiendo en una empresa de Linux antes de que Microsoft acabe de poner un topo dentro de ella. “Elop” es “Polo” hacia atrás y Microsoft puso su polo interior de Nokia, a pedir prestado broma de Brandon. En lugar de tener Meego y LSB en Nokia, ahora tenemos otro aliado de Microsoft por ahí, amenazando con el uso de sus patentes y la promesa de ofrecer un “nuevo” sistema operativo algún momento a finales de este año (momento en el que Nokia va a estar maduro para la cosecha por otra empresa). La cabeza de la Fundación Linux estaba muy decepcionado por esto y es fácil ver por qué. Nokia fue un contribuyente valioso para la Fundation Linux y su sitio tiene un nuevo cómic sobre las patentes de software. Se puede encontrar aquí[http://www.linux.com/news/biz-os/legal/453668-friday-funnies-bringing-a-little-levity-to-the-patent-system]. De alguna manera Microsoft se volvió varias empresas de Linux de usar como Nokia, Yahoo, Novell y Microsoft en refuerzos (antiguo socio de Microsoft Bartz no hizo nada de valor excepto estrechar la mano de Ballmer, al igual que Elop). Alguna gente todavía pregunta tonta lo que hace Microsoft mucho más dañino que otras compañías de una escala similar. Microsoft es muy, muy destructivo. Simplemente le importa un comino.

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

Links 10/6/2011: Btrfs for Fedora 16 by Default, Kernel 3.0 Previews

Posted in News Roundup at 5:49 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Say Goodbye to Google Search Portals for Linux, Mac and More
  • Javascript PC emulator runs Linux
  • Desktop

    • Life with the Lenovo S10-3s

      Mageia 1: This is the other distribution which installs and runs with no problems right out of the box. I obviously haven’t had much time to really work with it yet, but at least the WiFi and ClickPad both work properly right off. If this distribution weren’t so new, and I had just a little more experience with it, I would probably rate it above openSuSE on this system.

  • Server

    • On Virtualization and The Cloud: The Most Ridiculous Article I’ve Read in a Very Long Time

      Having said that, they get the award for most ridiculous, the silliest, the most off base and seriously flawed article I’ve read in a very long time. In a piece published this morning called Don’t Throw Away Your Physical Servers Just Yet, the author, Ken Hess, wrote a piece that ridicules and derides anyone who doesn’t virtualize literally all, as in every last one, of their servers.

    • Percentage Of Websites Using Microsoft IIS Down To Pre-1998 Level – But Does It Reflect The Reality?

      The percentage of websites using Microsoft IIS has decreased to such an extent that it is now at the level that it was before 1998. Within a one month period between May 2011 and June 2011, Microsoft IIS lost as many as 1.4 million host names while Apache gained 21 million host names.

      With the market share of Microsoft IIS down to around 16% only, Apache with a market share of around 65% is the only major web server software left. Other software like nginx also saw a decrease in the market share in the May-June 2011 period – but not as much as that of Microsoft IIS.

  • Kernel Space

    • Linux kernel to fully support Xen: Too little too late?

      Almost eight years since its first release, Xen has finally been accepted into the Linux kernel. But it may be too little, too late.

    • Understatement of the Year by Linus Torvalds

      Here many commentators tell me that thin clients will never fly and that desktop PCs must have that other OS but refuse to believe that my GNU/Linux terminal servers and thin clients are much less expensive and have better performance than thick clients with that other OS. In an interview, Linus Torvalds said, “A lot of people end up spending a lot of time waiting for that traditional rotational media”

    • Kernel Log: Coming in 3.0 (Part 1) – Networking

      A Just-in-Time compiler promises to provide fast network packet filtering. The Wi-Fi stack now supports the Wake-on-Wireless-LAN standard, and unprivileged users are allowed to “ping”. New and improved drivers enhance the kernel’s support of network components by Ralink and Realtek.

    • Linux Foundation’s t-shirt competition

      Normally, I look at serious subjects, but what the heck, Linux is turning 20 this year–although as its creator Linus Torvalds is the first to say deciding exactly when Linux turns 20 is a matter of debate–so why not tell you about the Linux Foundation’s “20th anniversary of Linux” t-shirt contest.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments

    • Keynote Interview: Thomas Thwaite

      Thomas Thwaite, designer and technologist, will be a featured keynote speaker at this summer’s Desktop Summit 2011 in Berlin.

      Thomas is perhaps best known through his Toaster Project. The Toaster Project was an attempt to build a toaster from raw, self-mined materials. The project exposed the complexity of seemingly simple and everyday technology. It leaves us to wonder how technology will change our lives in the future, and shows how we all need others to get even simple products.

      William Carlson contacted Thomas to ask him about his projects, his views on technology and what makes him tick.

    • The Grand Review of three new desktops, pt. 1: topyli stumbles upon KDE after a decade of GNOME

      In a very short while, I have had the opportunity to try three new desktops. KDE 4 (not new but completely unknown to me previously), Unity on Ubuntu Natty (not a new desktop, but a novel shell nevertheless), and GNOME 3. In the coming few days, I shall describe my experiences in a big review of each, in three parts.

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC)

      • WebWorld 2011: Building the Next KDE Web

        Randa was not the only place to welcome KDE contributors at the start of June. In an altogether warmer part of the world, nine contributors with an interest in KDE’s websites gathered outside Essen in Germany at the world famous Linux Hotel (page in German).

        Attendees included members of KDE’s design, web, promotion, UserBase and sysadmin teams, bringing a healthy mix of creativity and pragmatism. We looked at technical, design and promotion issues facing the kde.org website and the UserBase (and, to a lesser extent, the other KDE wikis).

      • The Future of KDE Multimedia

        In Randa I became Lord President of KDE Multimedia with the primary agenda item of unifying what belongs together: the people behind our great multimedia applications.

      • frameworks and applications

        The words we use matter, as they often shape not only how one does think about things but also how one can think about the subject. This is because the words we use can lead to excluding some valid options and including invalid ones.

        In past releases of the KDE software compilation, right back to when we called it all just “KDE”, whenever library development needed to enter a major release cycle (e.g. 2.0, 3.0, 4.0), everything entered that “big change” phase. This included the applications, the desktop, etc. This worked pretty well when the number of applications were low and the overlap between “people who work on kdelibs” and “people who work on applications” was very high. It ceased working so well by the time we started working KDE Platform 4, however.

    • GNOME Desktop

  • Distributions

    • PCLinuxOS/Mageia/Mandrake/Mandriva Family

    • Red Hat Family

      • Developing a software giant on the ideals of open-source
      • Fedora

        • Fedora 16 To Use Btrfs By Default

          When it comes to adopting the newest technologies, Fedora is always at the front among the major Linux distributions. Well, Fedora might very well do it again by adopting a new file system for its next release.

          According to proposals for Fedora 16, Btrfs will be the default filesystem used in that release. The proposal has been approved by the Fedora Engineering Steering Committee. In Fedora 16, the switch from EXT4 to Btrfs will be a “simple switch” – it means that major Btrfs features such as RAID and LVM capabilities will not be forced onto users.

    • Debian Family

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Two Genivi automotive IVI platforms debut

      Two in-vehicle infotainment (IVI) reference platforms based on the Genivi Alliance’s Linux-based automotive middleware standard have been announced in conjunction with this week’s Telematics Detroit 2011 show. MontaVista and Rightware Oy are collaborating on a platform that integrates Rightware’s Kanzi UI Solution with MontaVista Linux, and Renesas Electronics is readying an ARM-Cortex-based “R-Car” platform incorporating CSR’s SiRFstarIV-based GPS technology.

    • LinuxLink support offered for HD-ready Cortex-A8 SoC
    • Phones

    • Sub-notebooks/Tablets

      • ViewSonic toys with the Idea of MeeGo Tablets

        The newest addition to tablet companies that have possibly got MeeGo as part of their future options are ViewSonic. At Computex the hardware makers product marketing manager Derek Wright told The Inquirer that an 8in or 9in model is “not out of the question”. More and more companies seem to be going in the direction of choice and as an expansion of choice MeeGo seems to fit the bill.

      • HP Tablet TouchPad Will Be Available In July

        HP has announced that the Wi-Fi version of HP TouchPad will be available in the United States on July 1. HP is using Linux-based WebOS to power these tablet.

        TouchPad will be available in the United Kingdom, Ireland, France and Germany a few days later and in Canada in mid-July, with availability scheduled to follow later this year in Italy and Spain, as well as in Australia, Hong Kong, New Zealand and Singapore.

Free Software/Open Source

  • Waugh partners call it quits after nine years

    Australian open source industry identities Pia and Jeff Waugh have separated after nine years together, the last six in wedlock.

    In a coordinated blog posting, the Waughs said the decision was “mutual and amicable… and we wanted everyone to know that we’re both okay”.

    Pia (nee Smith) Waugh wrote on her blog: “Though we still care for each other and will remain good friends, unfortunately we have grown significantly apart and out of love.”

  • An Open Source Solution for Master Data Management
  • Web Browsers

    • Chrome

    • Mozilla

      • ShouldMozilla Pitch This Firefox Full Screen Browser?

        Let’s face it. Whether we like it or not, there is a lot of buzz surrounding a minimalistic browser interface that aims to maximize contents pace. The result is what we commonly would describe as a “full screen browser”. Mozilla Labs posted a prototype, but we wonder whether such a browser actually makes sense.

      • Mozilla disables Firefox 5 WebGL’s cross domain textures – update 2

        Mozilla is disabling cross domain textures in Firefox 5′s WebGL implementation after a researcher demonstrated an ability to abuse the capability. A report released in May by Context Information Security on WebGL security included a proof of concept which used cross domain textures as to reconstruct a displayed image without directly accessing the image. The Khronos Group, home to the WebGL standard, responded to the issue saying that it was considering requiring opt-in to Cross Origin Resource Sharing (CORS) or some other mechanism to prevent possible abuse.

  • SaaS

    • Avoiding a Cloud Computing Armageddon

      Nor did the hosting of data end there. After Congress resolved the copyright ownership of “orphan” works of authorship in 2012, the digitization of the world’s books was completed. Even the largest libraries began pulping all but volumes of the greatest historical significance. Budgets previously spent on bricks, mortar, shelving and physical books were now spent on acquiring access rights and the means to deliver millions of remote, digitized works to the eReaders of library patrons everywhere.

      With the costs and benefits of central hosting of information so compelling, local storage of information had become as rare as an AOL dial up account. Experts estimated that c. 85% of all of the world’s important data and software was now hosted in twenty-three gigantic data farms that collectively consumed a spectacular 9% of the global output of electricity. Together, this new system of instant, global, open access was widely and justifiably acknowledged to be one of the great achievements of the modern world.

    • Mind in the clouds

      Some of the thoughts above might be accurate. However, there are users who still have something that is very human: preferences. Yes, for the better or worse, they like their desktops to look one way or another; they cling to an office suite (more because of tradition than because of usability) and they do not trust services that charge you to buy a music file from them (especially if the seller keeps the file!). Call them recalcitrant if you may, but they prefer to stick to Yahoo Mail Classic regardless of how much longer it takes for them to attach a document to an email message.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • A plea to save OpenOffice.org from Apache

      Former Microsoft developer-turned-free-software-advocate Keith Curtis has outlined his thoughts on why it would be a bad idea to make OpenOffice.org an incubator project stewarded by the Apache Software Foundation.

      The missive, drafted to the Apache Incubator mailing list and sent as an open letter to the community at large, details a myriad of reasons why Curtis does not think Oracle’s proposal to donate the code to Apache should happen.

      Curtis sees the question of failure for an Apache OpenOffice.org incubator as not just simple failure, but one that will potentially damage the entire Open Document Format ecosystem.

    • New Objections to the Apache/OpenOffice Lash-Up Arrive
    • Oracle v. Google – Before We Talk About Damages

      At least one so-called patent expert has been quoted extensively in the past few days asserting that the damages that could be assessed against Google could be astronomical and will wipe out Android. That strikes this writer as getting the cart before the horse. First, the Oracle patents will have to be found valid, either by the court or in reexamination. To the extent the claims contained within those patents are modified and/or narrowed, the basis for the alleged infringement by Google may not survive. As I have noted in earlier articles, more than 50% of patents that are subjected to reexamination end up with their claims being denied or narrowed. So there is a strong likelihood that, at least in reexamination, the Oracle patents may not end up being what they appear to be today.

  • CMS

    • PaaS based on Drupal, Ruby on Rails announced

      Red Hat isn’t the only open source provider pursuing the Platform-as-a-Service market for developers.

      This week, Acquia and Engine Yard announced they have joined forces to create a cloud service for Drupal and Ruby on Rails. The new fully managed PaaS will incorporate Acquia’s open source web content management system based on Drupal and Engine Yard’s Ruby on Rails development platform for the cloud.

  • Education

    • An Open-Source Web-Enabled Revolution in Education

      Thanks to the financialization of the higher-education “industry,” a traditional college education has become a gigantic financial liability as its value in the “end of work” era diminishes. Even as we recognize the value of a long, arduous, costly education to train doctors, dentists, nurses, engineers and research scientists, we have to ask: what about the rest of the workforce and citizenry who make up the vast majority of the working populace? Is traditional college really working for them?

      As noted yesterday in The “End of Work” and the Coming Revolution in Education (June 7, 2011), a university degree has become a “necessary credential” for jobs within heirarchical bureaucracies such as the State (government) and Corporate America.

  • Business

    • Semi-Open Source

      • Zarafa announces new Community Hub and certification program

        The open source groupware vendor has also introduced a new certification program for integrations. With the program, projects can register and apply to become Zarafa Ready or Zarafa Certified, provided that they meet certain criteria. Some certified projects can also gain official (end user) support by Zarafa.

  • Funding

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • Mentor goes open-source with GNU and Eclipse IDE

      Sourcery CodeBench does just that by offering an IDE based on Eclipse, the Eclipse C/C++ development tools and compilers, and GNU tool chain, including an assembler, linker, runtime libraries, and source-level and assembly-level debuggers.

  • Project Releases

    • Samba 3.6 release soon, Samba 4 pushed to late 2011, 2012

      The final version Samba 4.0 won’t be delivered until late 2011, or 2012, yet a major update is expected soon.

      In a recent email to this blogger, Jeremy Allison, a lead developer on the project who works in Google’s open source programs office, said he is unsure of the exact date of 4.0’s release. But 3.6 is right around the corner, he notes.

  • Openness/Sharing

    • Scientists develop open-source genome analyzer

      There are about a dozen genome browsers that are currently available. GenPlay has a major advantage over the others, says Dr. Bouhassira, because it “emphasizes letting biologists take control of their own data by providing continuous visual feedback together with extremely rapid browsing at every decision point during an analysis.”

  • Standards/Consortia

    • Stylesheets reloaded: W3C releases CSS 2.1 after 13 years

      W3C, the standards body for the web, has published the Cascading Style Sheet Specification 2.1 (CSS 2.1) as a Recommendation, making it an official standard. CSS 2.1 is a language that adds style to web content. It supersedes CSS 2, which was released 13 years ago, and collects all previously published errata of CSS 2 into one document. Most web users won’t experience any difference while visiting pages that use CSS 2.1 stylesheets as most recent browsers already implement most of the definitions.

Leftovers

  • World IPv6 day started glitch-free, but most web surfers won’t notice

    After months of preparation and anticipation, World IPv6 Day kicked off fairly quietly. More than 200 organizations around the world turned on IPv6 at 12 a.m. UTC on June 8 for the world’s first mass test of the second-generation networking standard.

  • Where is Linux on IPv6 Day?
  • Testing Ipv6 today

    IPv6 will assure the growth of the future internet and give rise to a whole generation of new smart services. Moving from IPv4 to IPv6 is therefore essential to let the internet evolve and create new apps and services. It will offer many advantages including larger address, space, support for new mobile and wireless services and built-in security.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Tobacco Companies Adjusting Strategies to Remain Prominent Political Players

      Health advocacy groups have toiled during the last decade to force the tobacco industry to quit politics. And they’ve gotten close — close, but no cigar.

      After weathering legal wranglings and widespread health concerns, tobacco companies have attempted to transform their image in the eyes of Americans. Once seen as corporate giants who could use their money for political favors, the biggest tobacco companies now often approach politics more discreetly.

    • Commission says Roundup causes birth defects

      A study published yesterday by the science cooperative Earth Open Source says that the EU is ignoring evidence of the dangers of glyphosate (Roundup) herbicide, and that it should not be approved for European use. Roundup, originally developed by Monsanto, has been used in the US since the 1970s, and its US patent has expired.

  • Security

    • RSA admits SecurID tokens have been compromised
    • Banks risk hack attack after global security breach

      ANZ and government departments that are using compromised security tokens will replace them but Westpac and CBA are taking a risk that the global hacking incident won’t affect them.

      ANZ Bank said it would replace 50,000 secure identification tokens used by customers and staff following an overseas hacking incident at RSA, the company that provides the technology. The action by ANZ was initiated yesterday.

  • Defence/Police/Aggression

    • You can be arrested for secret reasons — in America

      Cop: You’re under arrest!

      Victim: What for?

      Cop: Its a secret. I can’t tell you.

      This is America?

      That is the Patriot Act, parts of which were about to expire but were just renewed for 4 years with almost no debate.

  • Finance

    • Senators seek crackdown on “Bitcoin” currency

      Two senators are pressing federal authorities to crack down on an online black market and “untraceable” digital currency known as Bitcoins after reports that they are used to buy illegal drugs anonymously.

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

    • Koch-backed group’s fake eviction notices rile up Detroit

      Residents in a Detroit neighborhood received a scare this week when they found what appeared to be eviction notices on their doors. The flyers, however, turned out to be political pamphlets in opposition to the construction of a controversial new bridge.

      The fake eviction notices were posted by a local chapter of Americans for Prosperity, the conservative political advocacy group backed by Charles and David Koch, the billionaire brothers who run Koch Industries and are longtime libertarians. Local political leaders and columnists are condemning the group for scaring residents — whose homes sit in the epicenter of the nation’s foreclosure crisis — while refusing to disclose which of its corporate backers are funding the flyers.

    • With Affordable Housing Under Attack, Wisconsinites Fight Back

      Protesters formed a picket line on Thursday morning in front of University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Fluno Center for Executive Education chanting, “Housing for the needy, not profits for the greedy!”

      About 100 people gathered with signs and noisemakers to protest the Wisconsin Real Estate and Economic Outlook conference, headlined by Gov. Scott Walker and Rep. Paul Ryan. The event was sponsored by several groups, including the Wisconsin Realtors Association (WRA). Walker received not only an endorsement from the WRA, but also more than $150,000 in WRA-related campaign contributions in the 2010 election cycle, according to the Wisconsin State Journal.

    • R.I.P., Fairness Doctrine

      On June 8, Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chair Julius Genachowski agreed to wipe the Fairness Doctrine completely off the agency’s books, even though the rule has been officially dead since 1987. House Republicans have long pushed to get the Doctrine off the rule books for good, and they’ve finally gotten their way.

      From the time it was put in place in 1949 until its demise in 1987, the Fairness Doctrine required holders of broadcast licenses to provide the public with news and public affairs programming, and present opposing viewpoints on controversial issues. Back then, the airwaves were dominated by the “big three” networks ABC, CBS and NBC — which broadcast over publicly-owned airwaves under licenses issued by the government. The idea behind the Fairness Doctrine was to keep broadcasters from monopolizing the airwaves with a biased viewpoint, and assure that those entrusted with the public airwaves broadcast a diversity of viewpoints on important issues.

  • DRM

    • Richard Stallman: Break free of e-book ‘chains’

      Richard Stallman, who bridles to see the idealistic purity of his free-software philosophy debased into the more pragmatic open-source movement, can be a prickly character. But I find myself agreeing with some of his concerns about e-books.

      In a piece titled “The Danger of E-books” (PDF), Stallman bemoans the e-book’s loss of freedoms that most of us take for granted with physical books and places the blame on corporate powers.

      “Technologies that could have empowered us are used to chain us instead,” he said. “We must reject e-books until they respect our freedom…E-books need not attack our freedom, but they will if companies

    • Future Apple iPhone May Not Let You Record and Shoot

      Apple has patented a technology which it can use in association with music labels and studios to put more chains around its users.

      According to PatentlyApple, the iPhone maker has patented a technology which uses infrared emitter to register if you are at a concert or watching a movie and it will disable the camera function so you can’t record it.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Slave Labor and Intellectual Property

      Finally, it is curious that the first thing that occurs to people on first hearing the anti-IP case is plagiarism: “You mean it would be okay for someone to take an author’s work, put his own name on it, and sell it?”

      Two issues are conflated here. One can plagiarize without violating a copyright, and one can violate a copyright without plagiarizing. Under copyright law you may use brief verbatim excerpts of another’s written work without permission as long as you use quotation marks and attribute the text to the author. It’s called “fair use.” (Question for copyright fans: Isn’t even fair use a violation of an author’s rights?) If you were to use an excerpt that otherwise would qualify under the fair-use principle but without attribution, you would be guilty of plagiarism but not copyright violation. The same would be true if you quote Shakespeare without attribution. (Shakespeare wrote without benefit of copyright.)

      On the other hand, if you publish Atlas Shrugged with Ayn Rand’s name on it, you would be guilty of copyright violation but not plagiarism.

      For the sake of clear thinking, let’s keep these issues separate.

      Well, is plagiarism okay? No, it’s not! Obviously it is dishonest and dishonorable to represent someone else’s work as one’s own. But note, according to LegalZoom, “plagiarism is not a criminal or civil offense.” Nor should it be. It’s a breach of good conduct, and there is a plentitude of nonviolent, non-State ways to deal with it, especially in the Internet age.

    • Trademarks

      • Trademark Squatters 0001 – OutbackZack – Part 2

        My publication was not a defamation of character. Under Canadian Law, you cannot defame someone’s character by telling the truth. So I if were to say that Mat Swyers was a rotten American Rebel, there is no defamation. Technically all Americans are rebels, and ought to be hung, for rebelling against their legal King, George III, back in 1776. It might make Mat less than happy, but I don’t care about him.

        He claims that the name was thoroughly researched, and was not found to be used anywhere in 2004. Note that I used the word ‘claims’, because he has provided no proof, quite possibly because he has none.

    • Copyrights

      • Canadian Chamber of Commerce Floats Fake $30 Billion Counterfeiting Claim

        This week the Canadian IP Council, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce’s IP lobby arm, issued a release placing Canadian counterfeiting costs at $30 billion per year. That figure is being used to lobby the government to enact new border measure provisions that could lead to the searching of luggage as travellers enter Canada. It is tempting to dismiss the claims on the basis that the policy rationale makes no sense – if counterfeit toothpaste is indeed “coming across the border in droves” as the Chamber claims, searching traveller luggage won’t address that issue. Moreover, it should be noted that even the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement features an exception for de minimis imports that an individual might carry as it recognizes that addressing counterfeiting concerns does not involve targeting individuals. Yet given the decision to resurrect the bogus $30 billion figure, it is important to again call attention to its origins and how it is simply a fabrication.

      • BT and Talk Talk appeal of judicial review decision

        In March the two ISPs contended that the DEA fell foul of several provisions of EU law – namely the Technical Standards Directive, Authorisation Directive, E-Commerce Directive and the Privacy and Electronic Communications Directive – and was a disproportionate response to the problem of online copyright infringement.

        Handing down his judgment in April, Justice Kenneth Parker dismissed the appeal on all grounds with the exception of cost-sharing, ruling that ISPs should not have to pay a portion of the costs incurred by Ofcom in implementing the new regime. You can read our round up of the hearing here.

        The ISPs now wish to take the matter to the Court of Appeal, seeking further clarity with regard to the Act’s compliance with EU law. BT stated that “the High Court’s conclusions on many of the other important and complex issues put before it were not robust enough to provide the certainty and clarity which the companies sought”.

Clip of the Day

Krita : Drawing Comics DVD trailer


Credit: TinyOgg

Q&A With Puppet Labs’ James Turnbull Regarding Pro Puppet

Posted in Free/Libre Software, Interview at 12:39 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

[As ODF | As PDF]

Introduction:

As someone who deals with Puppet quite a lot at work, I had the great pleasure of speaking to longtime open source pundit James Turnbull, who recently co-authored his latest book “Pro Puppet” through Apress Media with colleague Jeffrey McCune of Puppet Labs. This is his fifth technical book about open source software. “Pro Puppet” is an in-depth book about how to install, use, and develop Puppet, the popular open source systems management platform used by organizations including Twitter, Rackspace, Digg, Genentech and more.

Q&A with James Turnbull

1. What in your estimation is the number of servers (including virtual instances) that run Puppet at any level of capacity?

A: This is a question that I ponder every few months. Our largest installation is around 50,000 nodes and we have several more at the 25,000 to 50,000 node range. Given the size of the community, I think we’ve quite easily reached the million plus node mark.

“Given the size of the community, I think we’ve quite easily reached the million plus node mark.”
      –James Turnbull
2. Throughout your work on the book, have you had a chance to
measure/survey the operating systems on which Puppet is deployed? Have you any insight regarding the distribution of usage?

A: Puppet Labs did a survey earlier in the year and gathered some data about usage. Based on that and interactions with the community I think we can pretty comfortably say that our core operating systems are Linux-based with Red Hat (and derivatives) and Ubuntu/Debian being the biggest platforms. The next largest block is Solaris with a smaller number of OSX, *BSD, HP UX and pSeries/AIX systems also being represented.

3. There is a common perception that Free/Open Source software suffers from deficient documentation and lack of support (despite this being the business model of many companies). How do you challenge these types of allegations?

A: This is a common perception that regularly makes me laugh. I usually respond that all software has deficient documentation and lacks support! It’s true some open source tools lack documentation but others, for example MySQL, have exemplary documentation. Some open source software communities are hard to get help from and others fall over themselves to help people out. I’m always immensely proud of how the Puppet community, which is largely made up of some of the busiest people in IT – sysadmins, goes out of its way to help newcomers and share knowledge.

Of course this same problem is present across enterprise and commercial software. Otherwise authors wouldn’t be able to sell books offering insights into using commercial software. :) It’s even perhaps somewhat worse for enterprise software where submitting a bug request can lack transparency and where examples of how others have solved issues can be hard to find or perceived as proprietary information.

4. How can your book address or assist a crowd of people with no prior knowledge of UNIX/Linux and how can it assist those who are familiar with everything but Puppet?

A: Pro Puppet is aimed at users with some Linux/Unix knowledge, albeit at a fairly basic level — a few friends and I created an earlier book called Pro Linux System Administration designed to teach someone with zero Linux knowledge how to be a Linux sysadmin. Pro Puppet is aimed at junior and mid-level sysadmins looking to get started with Puppet and take them through to advanced topics like scaling and extending Puppet.

5. What impact do you foresee the licensing changes from the GPL to the Apache licence as having?

A: Both the GPL and Apache licenses are free and open source licenses and we’re very much staying true to our open source roots. However where we are with Puppet now we need a license that people, for whatever reasons, consider easier to integrate with. In the open source world that license is Apache and we’re already starting to see Puppet being used heavily as an integrated tools in Cloud and Infrastructure/Platform as a service (IAAS, PAAS) offerings as a result.

6. Manual operators of Puppet seem to rely mostly on the initial setup. What proportion of the work would you say a Puppet expert needs to invest in setting up the software compared to the overall lifetime of a box and its operation?

A: With Puppet, the large proportion of the work you need to do to get started is up front. Once you’ve done that work setting up new boxes becomes a routine and easy task. Maintaining and managing them is also fast and simple. Indeed, one of the benefits of Puppet is that not only do you get fast and automated setup, but you can make sure they stay the way you configured them for as long as you need. That ability to stem the tide of configuration drift and limit the potential for human error and entropy causing issues is an enormous timesaver.

7. What is the most eccentric/fascinating/uncommon use of Puppet that you have come across?

A: One that fascinated me recently is the Deutsche Flugsicherung, the German air traffic control network, who use Puppet to ensure all the operator workstations and tower servers are up to date. They have a very strict and structured work flow and an interesting deployment model where any configuration drift is anathema. I also find Air Traffic Control really interesting (I’m a geek it’s true) so it was pretty exciting to see Puppet being used in such an interesting arena.

8. Puppet functionality lags behind in platforms such as Windows. What would you advise organisations that choose to run it on this platform?

A: We’re actively working on Microsoft Windows support but we’re not there yet. What we’d love to see is people telling us what they need. I’m not primarily a Windows guy so I actually don’t know what the pain points are for Windows sysadmins. If a few of them could tell us “If you automated these 4, 5, 10 things that would make my job easier!” then that would help us structure that future support.

9. How does Puppet compare to its proprietary counterparts?

A: I think the key difference is time to value or as I prefer “how long before I’m doing something useful”. Often when you install one of the larger proprietary tools it can take significant time and people to deliver value or to get things done. We find people can download Puppet, install it and be doing something useful in a matter of minutes or an hour rather than months.

“One of the new features in Puppet 2.6.0 though was a Ruby DSL for Puppet. This allows any developer (and sysadmins too) to write their Puppet manifests in Ruby.”
      –James Turnbull
10. If one receives proper training or learns from your book, how would the difficulty of using Puppet compare to the difficulty of using other products that are out in the market?

A: I think Puppet is pretty easy to use (but I’m also biased!). It does have rough edges and things that are hard to get your head around though. One thing I think we do really well in the book is build on knowledge. You can start simple and grow into the more complex topics. I think having that sort of resource makes it really easy for people to learn how to use Puppet. The other resource I’m really excited about is a new section in the documentation called Learning Puppet (http://docs.puppetlabs.com/learning/) that offers a similar “grow into using it” experience.

I think as a result of having the book plus documentation and training available that makes Puppet a lot less difficult to understand than some of the alternatives out there.

11. How would you say the Puppet learning curve compares if a programmer and non-programmer were both faced with the task of learning it?

A: I recently came to the conclusion that I now spend more time cutting code than I do being a sysadmin which is a big change in my life. As a result I’ve been thinking about how both groups approach learning and problems. I think for a lot of sysadmins Puppet is very easy to engage with. Puppet’s language is a logical extension for people use to dealing with configuration files and scripts.

For developers that’s perhaps not as natural a progression and some have struggled in the past with learning Puppet. One of the new features in Puppet 2.6.0 though was a Ruby DSL for Puppet. This allows any developer (and sysadmins too) to write their Puppet manifests in Ruby. This approach is something that may make more sense and make it easier for developers to learn Puppet.

As a result of this Ruby interface (which we cover in the book too) I think the learning curve for both non-developers and developers is rapidly approaching parity.

Conclusion:

We would like to thank James for being available for this interchange of insights and we hope his literature will spread Puppet to more and more companies, aiding the spread of Free/open source in systems management. Puppet sure helps the company that I work for.

RSS 64x64RSS Feed: subscribe to the RSS feed for regular updates

Home iconSite Wiki: You can improve this site by helping the extension of the site's content

Home iconSite Home: Background about the site and some key features in the front page

Chat iconIRC Channels: Come and chat with us in real time

New to This Site? Here Are Some Introductory Resources

No

Mono

ODF

Samba logo






We support

End software patents

GPLv3

GNU project

BLAG

EFF bloggers

Comcast is Blocktastic? SavetheInternet.com



Recent Posts