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06.21.11

Links 21/6/2011: Mozilla Firefox 5, GCC 4.6.1 RC

Posted in News Roundup at 5:42 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Linux: OpenType Font Challenge

    To see if this is truly a difficult task, or if the challenger is just another anti-Linux FUDster that is too ignorant to know how easy it can be to administer a Linux PC. This person does not really explain what is meant by “all apps”, so I am guessing that to mean usable in Office suites and programs like The GIMP by any user on the PC to set the font for creating documents and text in graphics.

  • Softpedia Linux Weekly, Issue 152
  • This Was a First…

    The Linux user spent the next ten minutes showing the other guy his system. He fielded the “complaint” of needing Windows for certain things by opening VirtualBox and demonstrating his Windows XP install within. He let the other student navigate throughout his laptop and provided instruction when needed.

    In the end, the biggest obstacle was convincing him that the entire shootin’ match didn’t cost anything, aside from a Windows and MS Office license for his VirtualBox and even then, it was going to be largely unnecessary.

    They then retrograded into a comparison of their classes the first semester, where each was from and other mundane conversation. After a few more minutes, the Linux guy shut down his computer and stood to leave. I glanced up at him and he looked in my direction.

  • Desktop

    • Why Can’t Free, Open Source Linux Beat Windows?

      The answer is simple: Microsoft has a better, more aggressive marketing strategy. Moreover, companies prefer to purchase licenses so that that they can blame somebody when something goes wrong.

  • Server

    • LinuxCon Preview: Marten Mickos on Why Linux Dominates in Cloud

      Eucalyptus was one of the first companies on the cloud computing scene and Mickos is among the most respected open source entrepreneurs in the industry (having been CEO of MySQL AB before its acquisition by Sun Microsystems).

      Mickos took a few minutes to share his thoughts on cloud computing and Linux, the new Open Virtualization Alliance, and how Linux has shaped our lives over the last 20 years.

    • On Mainframes, Religions & Buggy Whips

      Mainframes are dead! I was told this when I first started working in the computer industry in 1994. However, in 2010 Mainframe revenue was approximately $2.55 billion. Perhaps Mr. Twain stated it best when he said, “the reports of my death are greatly exaggerated.”

  • Kernel Space

    • Xen Enters Mainline Kernel

      Future versions of the Linux Kernel (such as 3.0) will include support for the Xen hypervisor. This means that Linux distributions will typically offer out of the box support for both hosting Xen and running as a guest operating system under Xen.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments

    • DS call for participation: BoF’s and Workshops
    • Call for Participation – Workshops & BoFs for the Desktop Summit 2011

      The Desktop Summit 2011 is a joint conference organized by the GNOME and KDE communities in Berlin, Germany from the 6th August 2011 to the 12th August 2011.

      The organizing team is now inviting applications to hold workshop and Birds of a Feather (BoF) sessions at the Desktop Summit. Read on for more details and how to make a proposal.

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC)

      • How can I be a KDE power user?

        How do I make my debugging with KDE more productive? What steps do I take? How have you debugged KDE-based applications? I know about the KDE wiki page, but is there anything else?

      • GNOME vs. KDE Apps: Which Are Best For You?

        A desktop is more than just panels and widgets. It’s also an ecosystem of applications specially written to use its resources and to fit its concepts of usability. That means that when you weigh GNOME against KDE, you need to consider their applications as much as the desktops themselves.

        Not all software categories vary with the desktop, of course. The time is long gone when KOffice and the only partly realized GNOMEOffice vyed with each other for users — although KOffice is becoming increasingly mature, and GNOMEOffice’s AbiWord, and Gnumeric are all going concerns, most people just use LibreOffice.

  • Distributions

    • DoudouLinux 1.0 is released! Great debian based distro for Children

      DoudouLinux is a Debian-based distribution targeting young children, with a goal to make computer use as simple and pleasant as possible. The project’s version 1.0, code name “Gondwana”. DoudouLinux provides tens of applications that suit children from 2 to 12 years old and gives them an environment as easy to use as a gaming console. Kids can learn, discover and have fun without dad and mum always watching!”

    • 3 Cloud-based Linux Distributions Worth Trying

      Cloud is the next big thing when it comes to desktop computing. There are many big software companies who are busy readying themselves for the cloud in one way or the other. First it was cloud-based or online backup services, and then cloud-based music, and now cloud-based operating systems are here.

    • Specialized Linux Distributions – AV Linux 5.0

      I always keep an eye out for interesting and different Linux distributions. There are quite a few which are very specialized, either for a particular purpose or application, or for particular kinds of hardware. One of those which caught my eye recently was AV Linux, a Debian-based distribution which includes a lot of audio and video creation and editing software. It is described on the AV Linux home page as first and foremost a well-rounded OS suited for most common daily computer tasks and runs on most Windows PC’s and Intel Macs. That’s fair enough, because it is a nice, solid derivative of Debian GNU/Linux – oh, and I should mention here that it is running Linux kernel 2.6.39.1, making it the first full release I have seen running 2.6.39 – but then they go on to describe the operating system optimizations they have made and the packages they have included in the base distribution, and it becomes clear that multimedia creation and editing is where this distribution is really interesting.

    • Debian Family

      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • First glimpse of Ubuntu Software Centre 5.0!

            One thing in Ubuntu, which has always hit rock bottom in terms of popularity, is Ubuntu Software Centre. The reason often cited is its weak design and layout. Lot of attempts were made, but none of them brought a wind of change in perception among the user community. The guys at Canonical have been under fire recently to resolve this problem. One more attempt is round the corner, Ubuntu Software Centre 5.0 is expected to launch soon.

          • Flavours and Variants

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Linux ARM support: A hot mess, an ugly clean-up

      I’ll tell you what, after all of that talk about forks last week, it’ll be nice to turn my attention to something less controversial today. Let me check my Topic O’ the Day board and see what’s next for discussion… Monday… ah, here we go…

      [...]

      But despite the quiet origins of these forks, the problem has grown to the level where Linux kernel maintainer Linus Torvalds has publicly threatened to stop pulling ARM-related changes into the mainline Linux kernel; a threat that could effect dozens of companies’ livelihoods and the course of embedded Linux development.

    • Phones

    • Sub-notebooks/Tablets

      • Panasonic reveals Android tablet for the enterprise

        anasonic announced it will release a ruggedized, “enterprise-grade” Android tablet in the fourth quarter of this year. The Toughbook-branded device will have a daylight-viewable, 10.1-inch touchscreen with active stylus, a GPS receiver, “full-shift” battery life, and an optional 3G/4G cellular modem, the company says.

      • Huawei’s seven-inch tablet features Android 3.2

        Huawei announced a seven-inch tablet that will apparently be the first to include an upcoming Android 3.2 version of Honeycomb — said to be better optimized for seven-inch designs. The MediaPad offers a dual-core 1.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon, as well as a WSVGA display with a pixel density of 217 points per inch (ppi), and is set for a global launch in the third quarter.

      • India’s $35 tablet expected to launch this month

        It’s been a while since we’ve heard any major news about India’s ambitious $35 tablet, but a new report suggests that it’s finally inching toward reality. According to the Times of India, the controversial project is approaching the finish line with 100,000 units expected to ship this summer, starting this month. The government is expected to deliver 10,000 tablets to IIT Rajasthan in late June, while another 90,000 units will be rolled out over the next four months.

Free Software/Open Source

  • Keeping the Desktop Dream Alive: Q&A With Linux Foundation’s Jim Zemlin, Part 2

    Zemlin: Yeah. When you have open source components within a product — let me back up — today if you have a dedicated supply chain, you use a product data management product or some sort of supply chain management product to have data about your bill of materials across your supply chain. You get different components from different suppliers, they’re getting integrated into a factory somewhere, and so on and so forth.

  • Web Browsers

    • Friday Funnies: IE9 Reality Check
    • Chrome

      • 7 Exciting Games in the Chrome WebStore!

        Chrome Web Store is all the more important after the arrival of Chromebooks powered by Chrome OS- a radical-re-thinking of Google that assumes all the programs reside on the web. Chrome Web Store has almost anything you can look for! And thankgod, its not just apps related to work you will find some addictive games as well.

    • Mozilla

      • Download Firefox 5 Final for Linux

        Ladies and gentlemen, a few minutes ago (June 20th) Mozilla unleashed the stable version of the highly anticipated Mozilla Firefox 5.0 web browser for Linux, Windows and Macintosh operating systems.

      • Two little Firefox search helpers
      • Mozilla to release Firefox version 5 today
      • Mozilla releases Firefox 5

        As expected, the Mozilla Project has released version 5.0 of Firefox. The update to the open source web browser comes just three months after the project’s last major version, Firefox 4.0, which suffered a number of delays – Mozilla has adopted a version model similar to that used by Google for its Chrome browser.

        One of the most important additions in Firefox 5 is support for CSS animation, a feature that browsers such as Safari have offered for some time. When creating a CSS animation, a developer specifies the animation’s duration and name in the CSS rules for the HTML element in question. The @keyframes selector associated with this name is followed by the rules that describe the element’s beginning and end points as well as optional intermediate stages.

      • Webian Shell is a cross-platform full-screen browser that gives prominence to web apps

        Webian Shell is a full screen web browser that has been designed to replace your current operating system. It can be used with Windows, Linux and OS X. Get the free download here.

      • Firefox 5 Speeds to Release

        Mozilla today released Firefox 5, three months to the day after Firefox 4 was released. The new Firefox 5 release marks the successful debut of Mozilla’s rapid release process, which iterates new releases every three months.

        Firefox 5 includes new performance, standards and privacy improvements as well as improving the overall stability of the browser for Windows, Mac, Linux and Android users.

        “Firefox 5 is the fastest Firefox ever, and also the fastest ever to market,” Johnathan Nightingale, Director of Firefox at Mozilla told InternetNews.com. “Our new rapid release cycle means that the improvements get into users hands more quickly. The latest version of Firefox includes more than 1,000 improvements and performance enhancements that make it easier to discover and use all of the innovative features in Firefox. “

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

  • BSD

  • Licensing

    • Linux Foundation Releases New FOSS Compliance White Paper

      Now, we’ve released a freely available new white paper, “A Five-Step Compliance Process for FOSS Identification and Review” that discusses key aspects of two compliance actions: identifying open source in a product’s code baseline, and performing architecture and license reviews on the path to approving FOSS inclusion. The white paper reviews inputs, outputs, and essential process elements involved in five interrelated compliance steps: scanning source code; positively identifying FOSS, its licensing, and its provenance; reviewing licenses and license compatibility issues; reviewing architectural interactions of proprietary and open source components; and achieving final approval for FOSS use. So, download the white paper for some useful information!

    • German company claims it can disregard GPL requirements in aggregated software

      A Germany company that provides DSL modems, using in part the Linux kernel, is trying to deny another company the right to modify GPL’ed software. The company, AVM Computersysteme Vertiebs GmbH (AVM), says that Cybits AG is violating its copyright by distributing Internet filtering software that modifies AVM’s software. Harald Welte, who has spent a great deal of time pursuing GPL violations has intervened in the case.

  • Programming

    • GCC 4.6.1 RC Arrives; Official Release Not Far Off

      Version 4.6.1 of the GNU Compiler Collection (GCC) is imminent. A 4.6.1 status report issued this morning signals there are no outstanding P1 regressions and that this point release branch is now frozen. The GCC 4.6.1 release candidate was subsequently issued.

    • How GitHub Saved OpenSource

      For a long time I’ve been thinking about just how much Github has revolutionized open source. Yes, it has made managing the code base significantly easier but its real impact has likely been on the social aspects of managing open source. Github has rebooted how the innovation cycle in open source while simultaneously raising the bar for good community management.

      The irony may be that it has done this by making it easy to do the one thing many people thought would kill open source, more easy: forking. I remember talking to friends who – before Github launched – felt that forking, while a necessary check on any project, was also its biggest threat and so needed to be managed carefully.

    • Release logs are important!
  • Standards/Consortia

    • ODF Interoperability: Berlin ODF Plugfest, 14-15 July 2011

      This Plugfest is a two day interoperability workshop on open document exchange formats hosted by the Federal Ministry of the Interior and the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology in Berlin, in collaboration with OpenDoc Society, the OASIS ODF TC, OASIS ODF OIC and the OASIS ODF Adoption TC.

    • Adobe Cuts Off Linux’s AIR – ‘and Nothing of Value Was Lost’

      Adobe simply “is not serious about GNU/Linux,” said blogger Robert Pogson. “They’ve made many of their GNU/Linux releases second-rate and refused to release many products for GNU/Linux.” The longer the company continues on that path, “the more irrelevant they will become. … If Adobe cannot or will not compete in the FLOSS market, to hell with them. The world can cooperate to make the software it needs.”

Leftovers

  • IBM’s Centennial

    So, as The Economist observed in 1100100 [100 in binary] and Counting in its June 9, 2011 issue:

    “The firm’s centenary is an occasion to reflect on many things digital, but one question stands out: why is IBM still alive and thriving after so long, in an industry characterised perhaps more than any other by innovation and change? This is not just of interest to business historians. As IBM enters its second century in good health, far younger IT giants, such as Cisco Systems, Intel, Microsoft and Nokia, are grappling with market shifts that threaten to make them much less relevant.”

  • Special Feature Week 1st Digital Agenda Assembly – ITW Joe McNamee
  • Haiku OS Advances With New Official Release

    The Haiku operating system, which seeks to be free software and implement compatibility with the BeOS platform, has now experienced its third official release in ten years of development. Haiku R1 Alpha 3 is this new official release and it offers a lot of changes.

  • Security

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • Big media in the hot seat at CRTC hearings

        The CRTC’s hearings on vertical integration begin Monday. For the next two weeks, this means that the four major vertically integrated media companies in Canada – Bell, Shaw, Rogers and Quebecor – could face tough questions about whether they have the clout to dominate telecom, media and Internet services across the country and, if so, what should be done to curb that potential?

      • ACTA

        • Legal questions about ACTA

          Sources say that the European Parliament’s Trade Committee (INTA) will tomorrow consider asking the Parliament’s Legal service to answer questions about ACTA (Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement). Here are some questions the FFII would like to suggest. The questions may resolve uncertainties regarding ACTA.

        • DEBATING ACTA & PLAYING ACTA

          Join us for an informative discussion on the effects of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement on music. Known as ACTA, the agreement has been for years under international negotiation and is designed -amongst other issues- to drastically change the policies concerning counterfeiting copyrighted works.

          While ACTA has attracted strong support and fierce opposition, this talk brings together trade associations, artists and academics with different views to discuss the effects of the legislation to the creative process. The panel will tackle important questions like: How the proposed ACTA will affect ‘fair use’ and equivalent practice? What will be the effects of the enforcement practices on the creative economy and music creativity? Issues of finance, property and matters of sampling/remixing will also be discussed.

Clip of the Day

Ubuntu 11.04 ‘Natty Narwhal’ Awesome New Plymouth Theme!


Credit: TinyOgg

USPTO is Driving Away Businesses to Countries Like New Zealand, US-based Multinationals Attack New Zealand With Imperialistic Patent Lobbying to Assimilate Policies

Posted in Deception, Free/Libre Software, Microsoft, Patents at 3:39 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The Empire Strikes Back

New York City skyline

Summary: Haven from absurd laws is offered by countries which are in turn being corrupted (through crooked oliticians and domestic partners) such that software patents are inescapable

A FEW years back, when the second-biggest financial collapse (in the past century) happened in the United States, a lot of Americans migrated to places like Australia and New Zealand. Amid the rise of Bush and the war he brought about, some people left the country in protest and moved to New Zealand, which is also where a former colleague of mine moved with his wife partly for idealogical reasons. If the goal is to drive away talented people (including veteran professors and immigrant students), then parts of the administration are doing a darn good job. For everyone else in the States this should be cause for concern and alarm because this puts in jeopardy the nation’s status as a leader in innovation (marked by achievements from NASA for example). When patenting becomes a norm and patent trolls a fact of life, surely there is a deterrent that can suppress absorption of “real” scientists — those interested in researching in peace. Colleagues in my field cannot obtain software patents, so they can only ever apply for such monopolies in the USPTO. And what for? We work for the Computer Science department that is ranked 15th in the world and patents were not needed to get there at all. In fact, ranks do suggest that for researchers, the United States becomes a less desirable vocation. To what extent has the USPTO been responsible for this? It is hard to reliably measure this because, as stated earlier, it’s a multi-factor/factered problem which includes debt, militarism, competitive trends (notably the rise of the Far East), and even the network effect that drives Nobel prize winners to countries where they are better funded (which in turn takes their research groups to those other countries). Software patents can truly depress a field and limit one’s freedom of exploration. Who on Earth would engage in this practice of self-punishing by bringing legitimacy to software patents? As Dr. Richard Stallman explained a few years back, Europeans should repeal and repel any attempts to legalise software patents because it puts Europe in a considerable advantage over the neighbours across the Atlantic (consider the European developer who was safe from Shazam’s software patent bullying [1, 2]). Needless to say, if the US lobby manages to turn the EU into a hub of software patents, e.g. via the unitary patent, then it instantaneously belittles Europe, which has almost no software patents and thus “starts behind”, so to speak. Replace “EU” with “New Zealand (NZ)”, “China”, “India”, “South Africa” and so on, then realise that the same applies to all of those countries, where American multinationals assisted by their government (which they fund through campaign contributions) are trying to corrupt through selected politicians — some of whom we named here before — so as to enslave foreign populations by the “IP” arm and the lawsuits boot. Treaties can usher bullying, even if the bullying is silent and often blamed on illusionary culprits. Too political? Fine. Get used to it, as that’s how patent policies are set in stone. It’s not about technical merit but about those who lean to the green (money).

With that long introduction aside, we shall turn our attention to the southern hemisphere. NZ is having the same problems Europe is having at the moment and there is this new “Podcast on software patents legislation in New Zealand” (links directly to a software patents-encumbered file, ironically enough). Well, the file is an MP3, so for the sake of those without MPEG-LA patent licences we have made an Ogg version (direct link) and we hope someone can transcribe.

“Over and over this island nation has proven a rational understanding of innovation in software as something that can and should be copyrighted but not patented.”
      –ClearFoundation
NZ is reaping the benefit of Free/open source advocacy groups like NZOSS (which recently drove away Microsoft software patents [1, 2], as still reported by the neighbours in Australia too) and the general policy in this large island, which is admirably hostile towards software patents. In our NZ/kiwi software patents wiki we provide some chronological background for the uninitiated and we are routinely getting some gratifying feedback from readers based in NZ. Just yesterday, Aaron Bylund, writing to me in Twitter, explained “[w]hy ClearFoundation (non-profit entity supporting ClearOS) is incorporated in New Zealand.” He is going to connect us with the ClearFoundation. He links to this post which says: “As our involvement with the Clarkconnect team grew tighter and tighter, we realized that to protect something that is fundamentally protected by copyright alone (as it should be) we needed to keep it safe and untainted. In our search we considered some great places like Canada, Australia, Switzerland, Singapore and even the Principality of Hutt River. In the end we decided on New Zealand. Over and over this island nation has proven a rational understanding of innovation in software as something that can and should be copyrighted but not patented. Additionally, it grants freedoms to businesses better than nearly any other nation. So, we give a shout out today and cheer to New Zealand. Let those that would seek to implement software patents there join the ranks of those that have decided to back down. Long live New Zealand, home of ClearFoundation! Hip Hip Huzzah! And thank you NZOSS and NZCS for all your hard work.”

Well, yesterday we explained Microsoft’s lobbying for software patents as a FUD weapon against Linux and Android and based on this good NZ-based source Microsoft is angry and its executives are not even hiding it. Quoting the article at hand:

The Government may need to go back to the drawing board over the way software patents will be treated under its proposed Patents Bill, after guidelines drawn up by officials to safeguard hi-tech manufacturers were slated by legal experts.

Parliamentarians delighted the open-source software movement and troubled large corporates such as Microsoft last year by including a clause in the Patents Bill that says software is not a patentable invention.

Microsoft New Zealand legal counsel Waldo Kuipers hoped dissatisfaction with the separate guidelines, which are designed to accompany the legislation and address the specific issue of embedded software, would open the door to a fundamental rethink.

A spokeswoman for Justice Minister Simon Power said he had received advice from the Economic Development Ministry, but it was too early to say whether the Government would consider amending the Patents Bill, which is currently awaiting its second reading.

Critics of software patents have argued they have mainly been used to lay claim to rights over obvious ideas or to extort money, creating a nuisance and stifling innovation.

Intel too is named there by the BusinessDay.co.nz reporter, Tom Pullar-Strecker. He ‘forgets’ to mention who NZICT actually serves (it’s a lobbying group for the likes of Microsoft, pretending to stand up for "NZ" for extra credibility) and there is also the Institute of Patent Attorneys. No need to tell the expected bias there, right? None of these is interested in the interests of NZ but only in profit, usually for some billionaires abroad (lawyers too need them as clients).

“Do not listen to US-based multinationals, who are willing to lie for their own wallet.”If Mirosoft is dissatisfied, then it means that it is good for software freedom and for the freedom of the population in NZ. Do not listen to US-based multinationals, who are willing to lie for their own wallet. It’s their obligation to their mostly American shareholders. For example, Intel participating in this FUD and it should be disgraced for this. In another article from NZ (this time from IDG, which is based in the US), there is a complaint about the current NZ patent policy. It says: “Most submissions on the guidelines formulated by the Intellectual Property Office of New Zealand (IPONZ) on patentability of software suggest the guidelines have not achieved the desired clarification of proposed legislation and may have served further to muddy the question of what software is or is not patentable.

“Section 15 (3A) of the Patents Bill – currently awaiting its second reading in Parliament – simply states “a computer program is not a patentable invention”. This clause was inserted by the Commerce Select Committee, on the strength of a number of submissions.”

“Show us the way, NZ, and prove to the world that even small nations can stand up to multi-trillion-dollar (aggregated market cap) coercion machines that grease up politicians and retaliate against critics.”Well, loopholes using the “embedded” or “device” trick, companies like Microsoft can probably get around the law (hacking it), just as they do in Europe already (no hacking “as such”), IDG seems to be missing this important point, but then again, it’s IDG, so don’t take it too seriously. It’s the Fox 'News' of IT.

All in all, the press in NZ usually gives a lesson to the US-based press, which hardly does enough (if anything) to oppose the bad laws that permit software patenting. The watchdog press is dead there, as we noted several days ago in relation to US coverage on software patents (too conformist, too obedient to existing law and afraid to challenge them). Show us the way, NZ, and prove to the world that even small nations can stand up to multi-trillion-dollar (aggregated market cap) coercion machines that grease up politicians and retaliate against critics.

US Chamber of Commerce Patent Lobbying, Redmond Patent Troll, and the Fight Against RAND

Posted in Free/Libre Software, Microsoft, RAND at 2:40 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Fallout shelter

Summary: The SCOTUS on Mayo Collaborative Services vs. Prometheus Laboratories; The Chamber of Commerce on fake patent ‘reform’; a look at a patent troll, Scott Redmond; continued fight against patents inside standards, courtesy of Xiph.org and the FFII

According to this short update from the SCOTUS Blog (generally a reliable source of information), there is an important ruling in the pipeline, on which Dan Ballard (pro-patents person) comments as follows:

Supreme Court decided to hear another #patent case today. Issue is patentability after Bilski

We have summarised our posts about the Bilski case in our wiki. The case did not provide the basis for eliminating all software patents as we had hoped, but it did help on occasions, e.g. by eliminating some software patents, upon court rulings.

The Chamber of Commerce, a scrupulous lobby for big businesses (and for patents), is meanwhile promoting a fake patent reform that can make things worse. As one political site put it:

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce came out in support of the bipartisan patent reform bill on Tuesday as opposition to one of the bill’s key provisions grows in the House.

The Chamber expressed public support for the America Invents Act for the first time in a letter to the House, arguing the bill would help drive economic growth and create jobs.

That’s a lie. Patents may help create jobs like patent lawyers, which are of no substantial value to economic growth. If anything, they depress it.This whole ‘reform’ is a “wolf in sheep’s clothing,” to quote an analysis we cited the other day when we also mentioned Microsoft's lobby regarding Nortel's patents (Apple reportedly wants these too). On the same day which is yesterday we also mentioned the lawsuit against Torrent software (algorithm or design as allegedly patented technology) and we happen to have found something out about the source of the lawsuit, Redmond. “Interesting Gizmodo piece on the guy apparently behind the BitTorrent patent troll, ” writes Len Sassaman who shares details about Scott Redmond and his scams. To quote: “The Greatest Scam in Tech? Scott Redmond would like us to clarify.Last week we posted an exposé of Peep Wireless. Despite repeated attempts, we initially couldn’t reach the company for comment, but founder Scott Redmond has since contacted us. He’s nonplussed. For transparency’s sake, we’d like to show you his objections.

“What follows is the Peep Wireless post, in its entirety — and then some. Mr. Redmond demanded that we remove the original story by 5pm today but instead, we are reposting it with his comments included — the @’s and bold red text were his idea. Read his grievances and judge for yourself whether we were too harsh.”

Patent trolls are ruthless sociopaths. Here we just see that again. The world’s biggest patent troll is located near Redmond, too (the place, not the person). Finally, on that same day we wrote about the Xiph.org complaint (I wrote all of these posts in Media City), on which Dr. Glyn Moody remarks in an excellent post:

This episode emphasises Xiph.org’s other important role, alongside writing great codecs: standing up to attempts to cow the free software world with vague threats of software patent Armageddon. Long may it continue to do so.

Free software is under a constant attack from software patents proponents and RAND proponents (there is major overlap between those two groups). In Europe, for example, the Commission has been working recently towards RAND as permissible for standards (meaning software patents through the back door). We have shown some documents confirming this, thanks to research from the FFII, which is now warning about today’s discussion. The head of the FFII wrote yesterday: “Software patents to be legalised in Europe with the Unitary patent, discussion tomorrow in EU parliament” (so let us keep watching). He also shows this page about ludicrous patents that demonstrate the corruption of the patent system as a whole. To those who write the policies it no longer matters what will benefit the customers (over 95% of the population, putting top managers, developers, and lawyers aside), it just matter what gets them re-elected, usually with funds from big business that adore patent monopolies, i.e. protectionism. More on that in our next post…

The End of Novell Marketing and Dispersion of OpenSUSE Community

Posted in GNU/Linux, Google, Marketing, Novell, OpenSUSE at 2:07 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Novell is circling down the drain

Swirl

Summary: The degradation of the entity once known as Novell following the Microsoft-assisted buyout (euthanasia) which left the patents in Microsoft’s coffers and the OpenSUSE volunteers rather aimless, disinterested even

TECHRIGHTS spent entire years covering Novell and upon the company’s demise we continue to track its last days (pre- and post-acquisition). In recent posts we noted that managers and PR people had vanished from Novell and the OpenSUSE community lacked the level of activity it once boasted. Over the past week we have observed more of the same trends and this post is a short summary of evidence.

“In recent posts we noted that managers and PR people had vanished from Novell and the OpenSUSE community lacked the level of activity it once boasted.”Novell in Poland (Novell w Polsce) is the only source of new Novell videos [1, 2] and the only PR blogger left (there used to be a handful) is pushing proprietary software (SUSE-washed though) while a Novell-oriented site emits a couple more [1, 2].

As in prior weeks, with the exception of weekly news (from Sascha Manns in his blog and elsewhere), it is hard to see much evidence of progress on the Free/open source side of things, namely OpenSUSE. SUSE bloggers move to other places and some resort to less activity due to new jobs. To quote this one new example:

Nevertheless, Yast has fallen behind on design. The program is powerful and versatile. But there could be some improvements made in organization and space-use customization.

There is still a lot of stuff from Greece in the Planet and the blog, e.g. this post. There is some support and funding from other companies — that which is able to keep some progress going. Google Summer of Code, as we noted before, helps fund some projects that are beneficial to OpenSUSE [1, 2]. For Google it is a good investment for PR reasons and also for advancement of the Free software commonwealth that Google’s largely proprietary empire is built upon. Google is mostly a ‘cloud’ (or Fog Computing) company and the hype around this buzzword does not escape OpenSUSE, either. But just riding the Wave [pung intended] won’t save it. Attachmate is not genuinely interested in helping Free software.

Amid the Demise of the Microsoft Windows Operating System, Pressure in Europe to Prevent OEMs From Forcefeeding Windows

Posted in Europe, GNU/Linux, Microsoft at 1:43 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Stack of disks

Summary:Microsoft’s notorious bundling tactics are under more fire in Europe, indicates the OpenSUSE Community Manager

SEVERAL months ago we saw the FFII and others campaigning to put an end to unwanted preinstalls of Microsoft Windows, whose numbers are on the decline anyway. Jos Poortvliet, a Dutch member of KDE and OpenSUSE, has just explained that there is another motion to address the problem:

[T]he well known Microsoft tax is unavoidable, even if you don’t want or use it! They can’t ship back the licenses as MS doesn’t accept that. In effect, their customers have to pay Microsoft even though they don’t use their software.

It is called Tying and illegal, but who has the financial power to do something about it? In the USA, this has been solved – MS has been ordered to accept customers who send back licenses and give them $30 for each. They don’t make it easy but at least it is possible now. However, as far as I know, in NL there is no such a rule and I’m not sure about the rest of the EU either. Hettes is talking to the Department of Economics in the Netherlands but frankly, I’m not sure that’ll help much.

Earlier today we found an odd new blog post that provides revisionism on the subject (no link needed, hopefully). Despite court evidence which shows us how Microsoft abused the OEMs, some people push the story that Windows is just the operating system of choice (but customers are not actually given choice) and that GNU/Linux became less popular on sub-notebooks for technical reasons as opposed to Microsoft’s anti-competitive tactics (which we covered here 2-3 years ago).

Links 21/6/2011: Commodore C64 With GNU/Linux, N8 With Linux

Posted in News Roundup at 5:18 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Just how hard is Linux to use?

    As an example, to my knowledge the Android operating system is the most popular one for smart phones right now. Why? Presumably because of it’s ease of use. Android is at it’s heart a Linux distribution. It has simply been configured to provide an easy to use interface between you, the user, and the hardware.

  • A Linux User Tries Mac OS X

    I was bothered to learn that my customization options for OS X were much more limited than I had anticipated.

  • New ‘Commodore 64′ systems start shipping this week

    The new Commodores come with Ubuntu Linux installed, but eventually the company promises to offer a copy of ‘Commodore OS 1.0 ‘ which supports all old Commodore compatible software via emulation. Too bad the device doesn’t include a floppy drive or we could all dig out our copies of Lode Runner and Raid on Bungeling Bay and relive the 80′s. Er, assuming the disks are still good after sitting in a damp basement for 25 years. The company does say a “classic game pack” will come with the Commodore OS pack.

  • Commodore C64 Units Begin Shipping Next Week, Custom Orders Available
  • Server

    • Japan’s 8-petaflop K Computer is fastest on earth

      The K Computer’s success marks the first time Japan has claimed the number one spot on the Supercomputing Top 500 since November 2004, when NEC’s Earth Simulator was dethroned after a two-year reign.

    • New Managed Virtual Private Servers by Bitpalast

      In a race for new customers web space provider Bitpalast makes additional In addition to its Managed FreeBSD servers, web space provider Bitpalast now also offers Managed Red Hat Linux servers.

  • Kernel Space

    • Graphics Stack

      • Gallium3D Clover Can Now Execute OpenCL Native Kernels

        One of the Google Summer of Code projects pertaining to Mesa / X.Org is to bring-up open-source OpenCL support with the Gallium3D driver architecture. There’s long been a branch of Mesa dubbed “Clover” that provides an OpenCL state tracker for the Gallium3D driver architecture, but it hasn’t been usable as there’s a lot of work to be finished. This GSoC project attempts to change that and there’s already been a big milestone achieved.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments

    • The Grand Review of three new desktops, pt. 2: the Unity experience

      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. I shall describe my experiences in a big review of each, in three parts.

      Part 1 concerned my experience as a KDE newbie and also provided some historical background on my desktop habits. This one is about Unity, Ubuntu’s new desktop shell.

  • Distributions

    • What’s cooking? It’s SliTaz

      The system installer is probably the most obvious weak point in SliTaz. It’s brief, which is nice, but it’s missing options. It would also be nice if the installer handled partitioning (or offered to launch GParted) and made setting mount points easier. There are just over 2,700 packages in SliTaz’s repositories and the amount of available software (or the lack of) may be an issue for some users. The basics are in there, but it’s a small selection compared to the big name Linux projects. On the positive side, SliTaz is the smallest distro I’ve used that’s useful as a desktop OS right away. The speed is impressive, especially when running from RAM, and the flexibility shown by the developers, for example providing floppy images, is welcome. This is a good project to look at if you’re in possession of older equipment or plan to perform hardware testing, data recovery or other tasks requiring a live disc. I wouldn’t recommend SliTaz to newcomers to Linux, but for people who don’t mind seeing the command line occasionally and are passingly familiar with device naming, this distribution packs a lot of tools into a small bundle.

    • New Releases

      • Greenie 9N
      • Clonezilla 1.2.9-7
      • Absolute 13.38 released
      • Webconverger 8.0
      • PelicanHPC GNU Linux

        15 June 2011. Out a bit earlier than expected, v2.5 is available. The virtualbox guest stuff seemed to be causing some trouble, so it has been removed. Added dynare 4.2.1 (from source) and some examples for a research paper. If you would like to replicate results from “Indirect Likelihood Inference” by D. Kristensen and myself, see the directory /home/user/Econometrics/MyOctaveFiles/Econometrics/IL. Most PelicanHPC users will have no interest in that, of course!

      • DoudouLinux – The computer they prefer!

        DoudouLinux [1] is specially designed for children to make computer use as easy and pleasant as possible for them (and for their parents too! [2]). DoudouLinux provides tens of applications that suit children from 2 to 12 years old and gives them an environment as easy to use as a gaming console. Kids can learn, discover and have fun without Dad and Mum always watching!

    • Red Hat Family

    • Debian Family

      • apt-get, aptitude, … pick the right Debian package manager for you

        This is a frequently asked question: “What package manager shall I use?”. And my answer is “the one that suits your needs”. In my case, I even use different package managers depending on what I’m trying to do.

      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Why Google will not buy Canonical

            I personally don’t see google buying canonical happening any time soon. (Nor should they) Canonical’s business model is built round the very thing google wants to kill – The Desktop (as we know it)
            Google’s business model is built round ads and cloud services, imperative to this model is the need to get everyone to the browser, the cloud and away from the traditional means of using the computer which involves having an OS built around local computer resources Hard drive, CPU, etc.. Ubuntu (Windows and Mac OSX) represent the very thing google is trying the get the world away from.

          • Is Ubuntu on the way out?

            A distinguished Website is asking the question: “Is Ubuntu on the way out?” They cite Distrowatch’s Page Hit Rankings as the catalyst for this query. According to said PHR, Ubuntu has fallen to the number three position in the one month tally behind Linux Mint and Fedora.

            The the past year Mint has remained in the number two spot with Fedora occupying the third position. For the last six month Ubuntu’s popularity remained stagnant and fell within the last three months. And as said it actually fell down the chart this past month.

            Some initial comments seem to indicate that premise is incorrect. Several assert that Ubuntu is probably just finding a new audience. One said, “I think the real question is ‘Is Ubuntu on the way out for new users?’” Another said, “I get the feeling that those of who are more power-users are moving over to other distros such as Fedora and Arch. Another echoed similar thoughts by saying, “Ubuntu is repositioning itself. It obviously is no longer targeted at the new comer. That role has been taken over by Mint.”

          • How the open source community reacts to poor design

            As you well know, I’ve been going off a lot lately on how Canonical and Ubuntu made quite the mistake with Unity. Not only has it seemingly had the opposite effect of its name, it was quite poorly designed. Unity is filled with design flaws (such as the window menu system and the horrible new scroll bars that don’t always work) that make its usage less than ideal.

          • Flavours and Variants

            • A Quick Look at Pinguy OS 11.04

              Ubuntu may be the most popular desktop Linux choice, but it wouldn’t surprise me if the total install-base of its derivatives proved to be the more impressive of the two. Out of the box, Ubuntu does a lot right, but it does leave a lot up to the user in terms of installing codec support, tweaking tools that are actually worth using, common proprietary applications and of course, some eye candy. For that reason, distros like Linux Mint have deservedly earned a die-hard fanbase over the years, as it looks good, takes care of many basic post-install chores for you, and is enjoyable to use.

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Sub-notebooks/Tablets

      • Ready or not, here come the business tablets

        It’s not just iPads, though. At CES, everyone and his OEM announced tablets, including the BlackBerry PlayBook from RIM, numerous Android tablets such as the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1, HP’s webOS tablets and even some Windows tablets. But, while everyone might want a tablet, or maybe two if they’re small, will these mobile devices find a home in business?

      • Netbook charges via built-in solar panel

        Samsung announced a netbook with a built-in solar panel and 14.5-hour battery life. The NC215S also offers hybrid fast start technology, the ability to charge portable devices even when it’s turned off, a choice of Atom processors, and a 250GB or 320GB hard disk drive.

Free Software/Open Source

  • Ad Bard, The Advertising Network Serving FOSS Only Ads, is Shutting Down
  • No more technology lock-in

    With the open source adoption, the company estimates cost savings of close to ` 5 crore a year. With the deployment, MMFSL has reduced connectivity, power and other recurring costs by almost 90 percent. ROI was seen within three months of implementation.

  • Why ‘Free and Open’ matters

    Adobe is drop­ping Linux sup­port for their Adobe AIR devel­op­ment plat­form. To be hon­est, I don’t really care. Why? Because I’ve been care­ful enough to not tie my efforts to a pro­pri­et­ary platform.

    I’ve had sev­eral groups offer to write applications/activities for OLPC Aus­tralia using pro­pri­et­ary tools like AIR. I’ve dis­cour­aged them every time. Had we gone with the ‘con­veni­ent’ route and acqui­esced, we would have been in quite a spot of bother right now. My pre­cious resources would have to be spent on port­ing or rewrit­ing all of that work, or just leav­ing it to bit-rot.

  • Web Browsers

    • For Mozilla, Google and Bug Hunters, Bug Bounties Are Big Business

      We’ve written before about bug bounties–cash prizes offered by open source communities to anyone who finds key software bugs–ranging from FOSS Factory’s bounty programs to the bounties that both Google (for the Chrome browser) and Mozilla offer. Over time, these cash rewards for the identification of software problems have become essential parts of the quality control process for many major open source projects, and not just browsers. Now, some interesting, specific information is emerging about exactly which kinds of bug discovers are capitalizing on this trend. You may be surprised at what some of the big earners in the bug bounty business are paid for their efforts.

    • Mozilla

      • Mozilla Firefox 5 web browser arrives early

        It’s only three months since Mozilla outed the official Firefox 4 browser, but the fifth generation is already ready to roll.

        The Firefox 5 release candidate emerged on Mozilla’s ftp server over the weekend, and barring a few tweaks here and there, the complete version is now available to download.

      • 10 Must-Have Firefox Extensions

        Using browser extensions is a lot like tricking out your car with a new air spoiler, tinted windows, chrome rims, and big flame decals. Too much junk, and you bog down your ride and look silly. With thousands of Firefox extensions to choose from, the main challenge is finding the right ones–and avoiding the lame ones.

      • To understand recursion…
      • Firefox 5 Ready To Launch: Why It Matters

        The final build of Firefox 5 has been available for a few days from the Mozilla HTTP server and it appears that the company has successfully transitioned to a rapid release process. However, Mozilla will face headwind and criticism that Firefox 5 does not offer anything new over Firefox 4. Such claims aren’t exactly accurate: Firefox matters more than it has ever before, but Mozilla needs to realize that it has problems communicating what Firefox really is.

      • Firefox 5 Benchmarked – Faster And Better Than Ever Before!

        Officially, Firefox 5 is scheduled for release tomorrow. However, users of the beta channel have already got their hands on it. One of the promises for Firefox 5 is better performance. We took tested Firefox 5 and benchmarked it against two other browsers – Google Chrome and Opera. We used the latest version of Google Chrome from the beta channel and the latest stable version of Opera – Opera 11.11.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • Developer Interview : Markus Mohrhard

      Coding LibreOffice to relax a bit from studying tough mathematical problems? Reed why and how Markus Mohrhard works on LibreOffice!

    • A totally unscientific look at the historical trends regarding forks

      Back in September last year, as the LibreOffice announced its separation from OpenOffice.org and Oracle, I published a quick post comparing the relative success of a variety of forks.

      [...]

      Almost three quarters after the split, LibreOffice (in red) has certainly narrowed the gap on OpenOffice.org (in blue), but not by a significant margin. However, it is too early to draw any conclusions.

    • Oracle v. Google – Posturing Over Damages – UPDATED

      More filings with and orders from the court this past week with respect to the damage claims asserted by Oracle. You may recall that Oracle hired Boston University finance and economics professor Iain Cockburn to serve as its expert witness on damages it is asserting in its patent infringement claims against Google. The report Cockburn prepared has not been made public, but a copy was delivered to Google. Google perceived the report to be inaccurate, grossly overstating the potential damages, and possibly inflammatory. So Google’s next step was to challenge Cockburn as an expert (this is referred to as a Daubert motion) and supporting their motion with a précis (a summary of the Cockburn report) explaining their position. At the same time, Google asked the court’s indulgence in suppressing a good deal of the précis lest it become public and have the exact inflammatory effect Google was seeking to avoid.

  • Licensing

    • AVM violating license of the Linux kernel

      Tomorrow on June 21st a legal case will be heard before the District Court of Berlin which may have enormous consequences for the way that software is developed and distributed. The adversaries in the case are the manufacturer and distributor of DSL routers AVM Computersysteme Vertriebs GmbH (AVM), and Cybits AG (Cybits) which produces children’s web-filtering software. Both companies use the Linux kernel, which is licensed under the GNU General Public License, version 2 (GNU GPL); a Free Software license permitting everyone to use, study, share, and improve works which use it.

      The case was brought to court by AVM with the aim of preventing Cybits from changing any parts of the firmware used in AVM’s routers, including the Linux kernel. The Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE) and gpl-violations.org consider AVM’s action as a broad attack against the principles of Free Software, and thus against the thousands of individuals and companies developing, improving and distributing Free Software.

    • With GPLv3, Everything Old Can Be New Again

      I was invited last week to keynote at the Sixth OpenFOAM Conference held at Penn State University in State College, PA. OpenFOAM is a computational fluid dynamics software package released under GPLv3. I was grateful for this opportunity, because rarely do I get the opportunity to meet what I think of as insulated Free Software communities.

      By “insulated”, I don’t mean that these communities are naïve in any way. They are, however, insulated from the usual politics of the general software freedom community. While the users of OpenFOAM are all familiar with GNU/Linux and other interesting software freedom packages, OpenFOAM users and developers aren’t generally reading blogs like mine or following the weekly discussions about copyleft and non-copyleft licensing, or debating with Simon Phipps what “Open By Rule” means.

    • An Attack that Goes to the Heart of Free Software

      The key hack that made free software possible was a legal one: using copyright to keep software free. It did that by demanding a quid pro quo: if you use software made available under the GNU GPL, modify it and distribute it, you too must make it available under the GNU GPL.

      [...]

      Let’s hope the German judges see through this ploy – and realise just what is at stake here. The current case is nothing less than an attempt to remove what is a key guarantee for the sustainability of the free software movement. If AVM win, the danger is that the whole legal underpinnings of free software may be seriously compromised.

Leftovers

  • Hardware

    • USB 3.0: Great technology, but hard to find

      Over the last few years, the Universal Serial Bus (USB) has become the universal interface. Starting in 1995, when USB 1.0 could only transfer 12 Mbps (Megabits per second), the standard started up slowly. But when USB 2.0 came along in 2000, with its 480 Mbps, the days were numbered for PS/2, serial, parallel, and even the FireWire interface. So, why hasn’t USB 3.0, also known as SuperSpeed USB, with its 5 Gigabits per second (Gbps), become the interface of choice since its introduction in 2008? Well, there are several reasons.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • An American robs a bank of $1, just for free health care in jail

      9News, a local North Carolina news site has posted an unusual story of James Verone, who robbed an RBC bank on Thursday of last week. He had no gun but handed the teller a note that said, “This is a bank robbery, please only give me one dollar.”

      Then he said, I’ll be sitting here on the chair waiting for the police. So, why did he do everything he could to get arrested? He says he did it for medical reasons. Verone has a growth on his chest, two ruptured discs and a problem with his left foot. At 59 years old, no job and a depleted bank account, he thought jail was the best place he could go for medical care and a roof over his head. Verone is hoping for a three-year sentence.

  • Security

  • Cablegate

    • Glenn Greenwald: Supporters of Bradley Manning Risk Jail for Refusing to Testify in WikiLeaks Probe

      Earlier this month, the FBI served a subpoena on David House, one of the founders of the Bradley Manning Support Network who helped publicize the oppressive conditions of Manning’s solitary confinement at the Quantico Marine Corps Base. U.S. Army Private Manning has been imprisoned without charges for his alleged role in releasing classified U.S. documents to the online whistleblowing website, WikiLeaks. House testified before a grand jury last week investigating WikiLeaks and invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. Political and legal blogger Glenn Greenwald of Salon.com says if House and other witnesses are offered immunity, they will no longer be able to invoke this right and may refuse to cooperate with the grand jury, risking jail time rather than aid the investigation. [includes rush transcript]

  • Finance

    • Goldman Sachs Fined by ICE Exchange for ‘Disorderly’ Trading

      An ICE committee that investigated the trades “found no evidence of intentional manipulation of the market; nevertheless it considered the breach to be of a serious nature,” ICE said in a circular on its website dated June 17.

      Kelly Loeffler, Atlanta-based spokeswoman for IntercontinentalExchange Inc. (ICE), which owns ICE Futures Europe, said the company doesn’t comment on investigations. Joanna Carss, a London-based spokeswoman for Goldman Sachs, said she couldn’t comment on the matter immediately.

    • Too Big to Fail Redux?

      We spent $700 billion to bail out the too big to fail banks on Wall Street.

      And yet, we might have to do it again.

      Why?

      Because the big banks are still too big to fail.

      And next time, we might have to spend $5 trillion.

      It ain’t a pretty picture.

      As Neil Barofsky knows better than most.

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

    • Duke Nukem PR firm dropped following online review row

      US games publisher Take 2 has parted company with public relations firm The Redner Group, following Twitter comments concerning Duke Nukem Forever.

      Redner’s contract was terminated after it said journalists who gave the game a poor review would be blacklisted.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • British Library makes Google search deal

        Thousands of pages from one of the world’s biggest collections of historic books, pamphlets and periodicals are to be made available on the internet.

        The British Library has reached a deal with search engine Google about 250,000 texts dating back to the 18th Century.

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