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07.07.11

Thoughts on Ubuntu in 2011

Posted in Ubuntu, Videos at 7:11 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: The GNU/Linux distribution called “Ubuntu” is under scrutiny; it is also said to be declining among distributions. This video is a ramble which discusses what’s going on with Ubuntu this year.

YouTube: Thoughts on Ubuntu in 2011 – Part 1

Or as Ogg:


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Internal Market Commissioner Michel Barnier and Polish Presidency Named and Shamed for Patent Policy

Posted in Europe, Law, Patents at 1:44 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

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Summary: The Polish Presidency needs to be pressured by Polish citizens in order for it not to support the plot of Michel Barnier, who might import software patents into Europe

“The patent microcosm wants software patents outside of the European Court of Justice,” alerts the president of the FFII, pointing to this new page which says:

The blog of the European Patent Lawyers Association (EPLAW) is interesting in many respects. For example it was the only place were, during Summer 2010, the opinion of the Advocates General of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) on the incompatibility of the proposed European Patent Court System with European Treaty Law was leaked. Recently, it was also the first place where the “non paper” of the Commission services about proposed solutions for a Unified Patent Litigation System was published. But here we want to focus on a series of posts on this blog, an exchange of views between two prominent members of EPLAW. Beside the opportunity to benefit from the take of of professional legal analysts about the opinion of ECJ on the incompatibility of the envisaged unified patent litigation system with European Union (EU) Treaties, reviewing this series of posts helps to understand what kind of patent system the “patent microcosm” hopes for, and what kind of alternative is the deepest fear of its members. Finally, now that Commission and Council have discussed some options about a unified patent litigation system, we can weight influence of the patent microcosm on EU institutions.

“Software patents granted by the EPO will come back under the plans of the Community Patent or the EPLA,” quotes/claims the same person in relation to another document. Taking stock of this page, he implicitly argues that the east-European nations don’t stop advertising the abomination which is the “EU patent” (we saw more of that before, e.g. Czech Republic, even Sweden):

Polish Presidency will push for software patents through the backdoor

Over in France, Free software activists name and shame Barnier for his irresponsible acts (read what we wrote here, here, here, and here for context). See this new page from April, which says:

On March 10th 2011, the Commission and the Council of the European Union rejoiced in a press release about the decision taken in the morning by the Council, to authorize “an enhanced cooperation among Member States for the creation of a unitary patent title”. But these fine statements were shattered by the next press conference: questions from a couple of reporters regarding a decision from the Court of Justice of the European Union on the very same subject embarrassed, at the very least, Commissioner Barnier. The deciphering of this Council meeting gives us the opportunity to explain this complex but essential issue in the fight against software patents, in which April is engaged.

According to this new report, Amazon is not done trying to harm Europe with software patents, as we showed before. To quote The Register:

A payment system devised by online retail giant Amazon is too obvious to patent, the European Patent Office (EPO) has ruled.

Amazon had hoped to patent the way its customers pay for products through the click of a single webpage button. The company was previously granted patent rights to the payment system in the US.

An appeals board at the EPO ruled that the “one-click” method was too obvious as it relied on existing inventions, called “prior art” in patent law. Inventions must be new, take an inventive step that is not obvious and be useful to industry to qualify for patent protection.

The ruling backed the findings of a previous EPO examination into Amazon’s application.

Amazon pays Mirosoft for Linux. This happened after Amazon had hired many former Microsoft managers, to whom Amazon was just a next-door employer.

We must stay vigilant in light of these attempts to push software patents into Europe. The EU is a sort of bridge which can prevent the rest of the world from being polluted by USPTO-style patents.

Microsoft Gains From Squashing Novell’s Business

Posted in Microsoft, Novell, OpenSUSE at 1:27 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Now that there is no Novell, the only option for some administrators is Microsoft

Microsoft not only took control of Novell patents. It also had a close partner take control of Novell’s products that compete against Microsoft. So Attachmate becomes a “controlled opposition” of sorts and in a future post we will show that Attachmate does almost nothing to compete with Microsoft (this requires a lot more research). Meanwhile, a new video uploaded to YouTube shows the sort of effect the sale has had. Here it is as Flash (no WebM yet and TinyOgg is shutting down next week):

There is nothing else about Novell in YouTube, except this one new video and some unrelated cruft. Novell is pretty much dead there and when it comes to OpenSUSE, here is all that we found:

OpenSUSE has generally been quiet recently. There is still an argument in IRC over how closely tied it is to Novell staff (or former staff).

Federal Agents Unhappy About Microsoft’s and Apple’s Patent Strategy, Reversals Possible

Posted in Apple, GNU/Linux, Google, Microsoft, Patents at 1:14 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Christian ParadisSummary: News about software patents that affect Free software and Android developers in addition to the increased backlash from the public and some people inside government

TECHRIGHTS is pleased to see the opposition to software patents growing. More people are made aware of the problems and they also speak out about these problems, sometimes passionately. Sooner or later we might all win this fight for sanity. It’s definitely achievable if the population is on the right side and those in power (the monopolists, oligarchs, or whatever we may wish to call them) will perform an analysis and realise that the backlash from the public outweighs the benefits (protectionism) they get from software patents. It would not be a simple matter of altruism as that alone is never enough to make power-greedy people become more civilised and considerate.

Anyway, an Apple booster notes that the socipaths from Apple got Nortel’s patents and we soon learn that the Canadian “Industry Minister [Christian Paradis, based on this report] tells Bloomberg he plans to look into Nortel patent sale under foreign investment law.” Muktware even calls for a boycott following the outrageous sale:

Enemies of Google, the world’s largest open source company, are acquiring software patents after patents through direct or proxy acquisitions. Earlier it was Novell’s patents and now its about Nortel’s patents. The companies which are acquiring these patents are not only known monopolists or abusers but have also been seen lately to discourage innovation and kill competition by using patents as threats.

One common player in these two acquisitions is Microsoft, a company which earlier tried to hide behind a consortium to acquire Novell’s patents.

Microsoft has signed 5(+-) deals in a week with small Linux players over Android/Google Chrome. The details of the deals were not disclosed so we don’t even know which patents Microsoft is using to threaten small companies with lawsuits forcing them to sigh such deals.

What is the guarantee that Microsoft or Apple will not use the patents that they acquired through these acquisitions to block innovation and kill competition in the market? Patents were meant to protect the inventor, but softrware patents are nothing more than a way to kill competition.

Regarding the government’s action:

According to a report today by The Canadian Press, the auction may come under government scrutiny. Industry Minister Christian Paradis has reportedly asked his department to examine how the Investment Canada Act could apply to the auction. If the auction us found to be reviewable under the act, Paradis could potentially block the sale if it’s found to not be a “net benefit” to Canada.

Groklaw‘s Webbink wonders why the US DOJ and FTC are missing in action:

Last year the big news was that Attachmate was buying Novell, but that Novell’s patent portfolio was being sold separately to a little known buyer named CPTN Holdings LLC. It was known that Microsoft was one of the companies behind CPTN, but then it came out that CPTN was not just a single company, it was a consortium, and more importantly, it was a consortium of competitors. Included in the CPTN fold were Microsoft, Apple, EMC and Oracle. Their common enemy? Google.

But Google was not the only entity concerned about this alliance of the largest companies in the information technology sector, almost all of which compete with each other on some level. The Free Software Foundation and Open Source Initiative filed complaints with competition authorities in the U.S. and Germany. In the end German and U.S. competition authorities extracted changes in the transfer, ownership, and licensing of the Novell patents to assure a level playing field that allowed room for free and open source software.

So where are they now that Nortel’s patents cast doubt on fair competition? This is a lot worse than CTPN, but as we demonstrated before, the federal system is inherently corruptible and tilted in favour of the USPTO (which is a sibling of sorts)

As the Australian press puts it this week, it is a lot worse, and to quote verbatim:

New legislation shows how much sway banks have over Congress, writes Andrew Ross Sorkin.

WALL Street often tries to play down its influence in Washington. As the US Congress pushed through financial regulations that seemed to get watered down last year, Wall Street’s chief executives tried to suggest, somewhat surprisingly, that their highly paid lobbyists did not have much sway.

If there is still any question about how much power Wall Street actually has in Washington, here is some fresh evidence worth examining.

In a piece of legislation recently passed by the House of Representatives and the Senate to revamp patent law, a tiny provision was inserted at the last minute called section 18. The provision has only one purpose: to allow the banking industry to skirt paying for certain important patents involving ”business methods”.

Here is a report of interest about the position Google is in. Google should really spend that famous “Pi Billion Dollars” on abolishing sofwtare patents, not acquiring some. But this is how Bloomberg puts it:

Google Inc. (GOOG)’s loss in bidding for the $4.5 billion portfolio of Nortel Networks Corp. patents last week means the Internet-search company will be looking to buy other inventions to build a bulwark against lawsuits targeting its Android system, patent brokers said.

“There are a lot of phenomenal portfolios for sale,” said Dean Becker, chief executive officer of ICAP Patent Brokerage in Palm Beach, Florida, the world’s largest patent seller. “Every operating company is in the market because of the expense, distraction and the potential financial risk of patent litigation.”

Google ought to just quit this conformism and do what is right for the population as a whole — that is — ending software patents. We urged Google to do this many times before and we shall continue to do so.

Meanwhile, Microsoft goes to companies that are partners (like Samsung and HTC) for a tax on Android and the Linux sites are finally starting to wake up [1, 2] and cover such shocking news that changes the whole way software is made and sold. Tim and I talked about this in last night’s TechBytes episode. See the show notes from Tim.

HTC pays Microsoft for Android and Apple sued HTC using software patents. HTC picks up some patents now, maybe for defensive purposes (e.g. against Apple).

It is mostly Apple that is going to lose from Android’s growth, but Microsoft is ahead of Apple when it comes to extortion although they increasingly collaborate in their patent attacks on Linux. The Linux-hostile and pro-Microsoft lobbyist is doing what he can to spin the news. Yes, he is a lobbyist, not an analyst (he also told me that he has had 4 clients this year but refused to name them). “Thumps [sic] up, Apple,” writes the lobbyist, “for buying the Nortel patents. Thumbs down, Google, for not doing so.”

Wait, what?!

Well, coming from the same lobbyist who reposts many other Google-hostile articles and tweets, even some from Rob Enderle and other Microsoft boosters (also celebrating patent extortion against Android) this week, this oughtn’t be too shocking. He also found friends like Miguel de Icaza and one can call him a liar for painting Google as the “bad” party for being the victim of Apple’s patents acquisitions (if anyone is bad here, it’s Apple). This is part of a pattern we explained here before — even when Google is victimised, it is still the “bad” party in the eyes of Microsoft Florian.

One has to be very dishonest to carry on with this spin. I spent a lot of time yesterday and the day before that challenging him in Twitter. The more he speaks, the uglier his activity seems. He probably enjoys the attention, but nevertheless, lobbyists like him need to be exposed, just like Zuck; otherwise, their posturing (e.g. as an ‘analyst’ or ‘activist’, even though he has no qualifications in this area) might fool some reporters who are being mass-mailed.

Last month we showed Florian pushing Lodsys’ agenda by urging developers to pay the patent troll. He turned out to be wrong when Apple stepped in. Well, he tells them to give up — the same defeatism on which he was wrong before. How can anyone takes him seriously? Just because he is mass-mailing people with publications and blogs does not mean they should just publish it and that others should take him seriously.

Groklaw has this update on the case:

Another day and three new declaratory judgment actions against Lodsys with respect to the four patents it has been asserting. While one of the three new actions is in the Northern District of Illinois, where several of the other declaratory judgment actions have been filed, two of them are in new venues – one in Arizona and one in the Southern District of California. This changing of venues is important. While Lodsys may seek to consolidate the cases in the Northern District of Illinois for the sake of efficiency (and saving Lodsys attorney’s fees), Lodsys will likely have to defend in each of the other jurisdictions where a declaratory judgment action is filed, thus increasing the cost of defense as local counsel is retained in each case.

One of the latest to be attacked is the New York Times and over at Forbes, Martin Zwilling writes that software patents have become a “tax on innovation”, citing the Lodsys saga:

I always advise software startups to file patents to protect their “secret sauce” from competitors, and to increase their valuation. The good news is that a patent can scare off or at least delay competitors, and as a “rule of thumb” every patent can add up to $1M to your startup valuation for investors, or for M&A exits (merger and acquisition).

The bad news is that patent trolls can squeeze the lifeblood out of innocent and unsuspecting entrepreneurs, as exemplified by the current mess around Lodsys patent No. 7222078. This patent holding company is charging infringement and demanding royalties from every app developer for the iPhone and Android, for a feature most agree has been in apps for many years.

Yes, the software patent process is a mess. I say this with conviction even after I survived the process, and have a software patent pending. Consider this list of commonly recognized software patent flaws, as summarized from my research, Paul Graham’s “Are Software Patents Evil?” essay, and the most recent “Enough is Enough” article by VC Fred Wilson, sparked by the Lodsys case

AP speaks of a story we have mentioned for a while about automobiles becoming victims of software patent litigation too, raising the cost of vehicles. Here is another take on it (less formal):

According to AP, the lawsuit centres on patents involving software and electronic components that are used in features to make phone calls, play music and access navigation tools with vocal commands.

As we noted a while ago, the developer behind Winamp made his stance clear on this quite recently (his take became popular this week for whatever reason). The opposition to software patents grows, thanks in part to Lodsys and the patent it got from Microsoft’s former CTO. We need to keep fighting the enabler of monopoly abusers, not just the monopoly abusers themselves.

Links 7/7/2011: Linux 3.0 RC 6, CentOS 6.0 Coming

Posted in News Roundup at 5:41 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Desktop

    • Of Operating Systems and Oil Companies

      The bill often comes due with the same inflated price tag. Computer repair shops more and more choose scorched earth methods to fix an infected or broken system. Being a person who partially makes their living from the same pain, it is much, much cheaper to recover data and reinstall than it is to untangle the tentacles of a rootkit or sophisticated virus from the registry.

      Even when things are running smoothly, the Windows user pays for the “convenience” by updating virus software, tolerating Windows updates and suffering sluggish behavior from a system that is six months or longer installed.

  • Kernel Space

    • Linux 3.0-rc6

      And quite frankly, Christoph Hellwig has now _twice_ said good things about that driver, which is pretty unusual. It might mean that the driver is great. Of course, it’s way more likely that space aliens are secretly testing their happy drugs on Christoph. Or maybe he’s just naturally mellowing.

    • Could you do Linus “Linux” Torvalds job?

      At $500 US through July 8th and $600 thereafter, that’s a nice discount. Student Registration is $100. Student attendees will be required to show a valid student id at registration. LinuxCon will be held in Vancouver, B.C. on August 17-19, 2011 It will celebrate the 20th Anniversary of Linux. Besides a host of far more important Linux and open-source movers and shakers, I’ll be speaking at the conference as well.

    • PCIe, power management, and problematic BIOSes
    • Graphics Stack

      • Nouveau Driver Power Management Against The NVIDIA Blob

        Following last week’s completion of the Radeon driver power management tests against the AMD Catalyst driver, now it is time to turn the tables on NVIDIA. In this article are some power consumption and thermal tests when comparing the latest open-source “Nouveau” driver code against NVIDIA’s closed-source proprietary driver.

        Testing went nearly the same as last week’s Radeon driver power management test. The Watts Up Pro USB power meter was monitoring the system’s power consumption, which was being automatically logged by the Phoronix Test Suite. Also monitored at the same time by the Phoronix Test Suite was the CPU usage and GPU temperature.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments

    • GNOME Desktop

  • Distributions

    • New Releases

    • PCLinuxOS/Mageia/Mandrake/Mandriva Family

      • Eugeni Dodonov Sails Away, Quits Mandriva

        There is a community. Hackers hack and take flak. Artists create beauty. Managers manage. Bloggers write and commenters comment. Names become familiar. Personalities began to emerge. Friendships form, rivalries rear, and animosities appear.

    • Red Hat Family

      • Centos 6.0 will be released in the next few hours

        According to Centos’ QAweb Blog, since July 2nd the ISO images of Centos 6.0 Final had been composed and built to be pushed to the staging machine which would then start syncing out to the internal centos.org mirror.

        Yesterday the os/ and isos/ tree had been finally synced out to the internal mirror servers. The updates/ tree were also signed. Since a few things have been fixed, the update should be on the way to the QA machines and synced out to the internal mirrors. So it is ready to be opened to public mirrors in a few hours.

      • Red Hat Previews JBoss Application Server 7

        Red Hat’s JBoss middleware division is now previewing the next generation of its Java middleware. JBoss AS 7 (Application Server) is currently in beta, providing developers and enterprise with an opportunity to see the future of Red Hat’s middleware server technology.

    • Debian Family

      • Get to Know Debian Goodies

        If you work with Debian-based systems, you probably know the basics of working with dpkg and APT’s tools. But there’s much more available. To find out which packages have release-critical bugs, hog the most disk space or still use older versions of files that have been upgraded, you want Debian Goodies.

      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Flavours and Variants

            • Xubuntu 11.04 Natty Narwhal review – Struggling

              A great fan of Xfce-flavored desktops, I am not. Xubuntu, specifically? Well, it has never really struck me as good as its brethren, the Gnome- and KDE-based desktops. However, once in a while, a refresh of bias and opinion is necessary. My last encounter with Xubuntu was back in 2009, almost two years back, a century-worth of time in the Linux frame of reference. So let’s perform another Dedoimedo transformation.

            • Seven Months of Bodhi Linux in Pictures

              Bodhi Linux is still a fairly young project. We gained a good bit of recognition for providing a usable Enlightenment desktop while many others still do not (if they offer one at all). We started back in just November of last year, but the project has matured a good deal in just this short bit of time. The following are screen shots (and some history) from the nine developmental and two stable releases we have had during the last seven months.

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Cars: The Next Big Platform Opportunity for Linux?

      If you cycled the clock back a few years, you would find that most people who were enthusiastic about Linux tended to debate its prospects as a desktop operating system. Fast-forward to today, and it’s clear that Linux is finding many of its biggest opportunities at the server level, in embedded Linux deployments, and in other scenarios that lie outside the desktop computing arena. There are more and more signs that the next frontier for Linux may be in cars, as evidenced by Toyota’s decision to join the Linux Foundation as a Gold member.

    • Phones

      • Android

        • GNU/Linux is out Java/Linux is in.

          Why has Java/Linux become so popular? Quite simply because it is being marketed under a single common name. Android. It is not seen as a hobbyist operating system. It is not seen as something done by rebels without a cause. It is recognised as a commercially viable operating system to add value to manufacturers products. In short it has the respect and recognition which GNU/Linux has never been able to achieve. It has become a household name. You ask anyone what Android is and they will be able to tell you. It is being mentioned specifically in television adverts. It is being describe as a feature in manufactured products. That has never been done for GNU/Linux to the extent is being done for Android.

    • Sub-notebooks/Tablets

Free Software/Open Source

Leftovers

  • Security

  • Finance

    • Goldman Sachs, The Federal Reserve – The Big Bad Wolfs

      Goldman Took Biggest Loan in Fed Program was reported today in Bloomberg both on Bloomberg TV and here on the internet…click here…to read story. While this was a secret loan program at the time – dating back to 2008 and other banks participated – Bloomberg TV reported that Goldman received the lowest interest rates of any of the participants, from near zero to 2.6% as well as the single biggest loan.

      Goldman Sachs & Co., a unit of the most profitable bank in Wall Street history, took $15 billion from the U.S. Federal Reserve on Dec. 9, 2008, the biggest single loan from a lending program whose details have been secret until today.

    • President Obama Calls Jon Corzine “Our Wall Street Guy”

      President Obama recruited the former Goldman Sachs CEO Jon Corzine to help him fundraise for his re-election campaign, according to the NYPost.

      The main news is that Corzine has been working on Obama’s 2012 campaign for months. IE: He hosted a fund-raiser at his Fifth Avenue home for Obama. He’s attended secret meetings with Obama, and he organized a meet-and-greet at the Four Seasons for key finance-industry execs and Obama’s new chief of staff, former banker Bill Daley.

  • Civil Rights

  • Internet/Net Neutrality/Telecom

  • Intellectual Monopolies

Reader’s Picks

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YouTube Copyright School


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Don’t Support Mono

Posted in Microsoft, Mono, Novell at 4:05 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Thoughts on Mono and a summary of reasons why Mono is not good for Free/open source software agenda

Microsoft MVP Miguel de Icaza has this new update about Mono, but frankly, it would be better if he and his team just let the project rest in its deathbed, which following layoffs at Novell is where the project really belongs. Due to lack of time* I’ve done some quick videos where I explain without preparation why Mono is a bad idea and a dangerous project that should not be supported (the wiki page on Mono has better explanations which took more time to write).

YouTube: Thoughts on Mono – Part 1

Or as Ogg:


YouTube: Thoughts on Mono – Part 2

Or as Ogg:


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