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Links 12/7/2011: Pardus 2011 Released, New President of Executive Board at Mandriva, Firefox 8 Previews

Posted in News Roundup at 5:13 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



  • Softpedia Linux Weekly, Issue 155
  • The Linux Setup – Lateef Alabi-Oki, Scribes text editor

    My name is Lateef Alabi-Oki. I’m a software developer, IT consultant and computer technician. I’m modestly known in the Free Software community as the maintainer of Scribes, the esoteric, unconventional, unorthodox text editor for Linux and Unix-like systems. I also maintain less popular projects like Striim (the Internet Radio Player), Germinal (the terminal emulator designed to be used with a terminal multiplexer like Tmux), gomodoro (a pomodoro timer) among others.

  • 13 fun Android apps for Linux/Unix fans!
  • My favorite Linux.

    Soon the task of re-installing and re-installing Windows got so frustrating I decided to get rid of Windows altogether and install Linux in its place. So began my search for a Linux distribution that works with my old hardware and my wireless card, and I have tried plenty of distributions with no luck. I tried Ubuntu, Fedora, FreeBSD, Damn Small Linux, Puppy Linux, and a bunch of others. They were either too demanding on my resources or didn’t work well with my wireless card.
    After some more searching I have finally found a nice flavor of Linux that’s perfect for my needs, and it’s the one I’m using right now.

  • Desktop

    • ‘Satchbook’ is a powerful, but pricey, Ubuntu laptop

      With a 15.6″ screen, a dual-core i5 processor and 8GB of DDR3 RAM German company Rockiger‘s Satchbook might read like a MacBook Pro, but it comes with Ubuntu preinstalled.

    • Commodore 64’s revival

      It can run also on Windows 7, even though it has the base of Ubuntu.

    • The Linux Desktop: We’ve Arrived.

      Linux Desktop articles are all over the place. I can hardly open up a browser without tripping over one. Most of them are negative whine-fests, complaining that Linux is too hard for new users, or has become too dumbed-down for technical users, or the fonts are ugly, or the next generation desktop environments are too different, or… well I could go on, but I think you get the point. So today, I feel like whining about the whiners. Give em’ some of their own medicine, and bring something a bit different to the table: A positive viewpoint on the state of the Linux Desktop. Don’t look so shocked, just keep reading.

      We have what we need folks! The Linux Desktop has arrived. The solid foundation of GNU’s tools and the Linux kernel; topped with many desktop environment choices and all the wonderful Linux desktop applications has got us there. Due to the hard work of the entire Linux developer community there is now a viable, open, free, full desktop computing alternative for those who seek it out. There are user friendly distributions out there for non-techies, and highly technical ones for those who prefer to build a custom desktop experience. Available in your favorite distribution’s repositories are three modern and beautiful desktop environments to choose from. Ubuntu’s Unity is becoming more polished and user friendly. KDE is mature and highly configurable. And Gnome 3 takes the minimal, “get out of my way so I can get stuff done” desktop philosophy to new heights. For those that prefer more classic desktop experiences there is the fast, stable, fully featured xfce4; and the super-fast lxde desktop. For the nerdiest of the nerds there are multitudes of fully configurable window managers out there; from tiling powerhouses like Xmonad, to flexible floating window managers like Openbox. Linux users have never had more choice and quality available for their desktops.

  • Server

    • IBM heaves new System z minis at mainframe shops

      In the hope of continuing the System z upgrade boom that started last summer, Big Blue has rounded out its lineup with a midrange – what IBM calls “Business Class” – mainframe, the System zEnterprise 114.

  • Audiocasts/Shows

  • Kernel Space

    • AMD Pushes gDEBugger Away From Linux, Mac OS X

      gDEBugger, a program developed by Graphic Remedy for debugging, profiling, and analyzing OpenGL (and OpenCL) applications, was a very useful tool for graphics developer. gDEBugger worked with GPUs from all major vendors, is capable of locating graphics pipeline performance bottlenecks, allowed dynamically editing GLSL shaders in real-time, and had many other capabilities. This powerful utility was even made free of charge to Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux users. Graphic Remedy was acquired by AMD last month and already the non-Windows users have been shafted with their OS support being dropped.

    • Visualizing Linux Performance Data In New Ways

      One of the items I’ve been working on recently for Phoronix Test Suite 3.4-Lillesand is new ways to visualize performance result data generated by the many test profiles and suites available via OpenBenchmarking.org. Here’s one of the new ways that was committed over the weekend to the Lillesand Git code-base.

    • Graphics Stack

      • Mesa Gets OpenGL 3.0 Floating-Point Depth Buffers
      • XreaL Is Still Around, But Without Any Release

        XreaL, the heavily modified Quake 3 game engine that its developer says is the most advanced open-source game engine, is still in-development even without an official release for this project that’s been around for years.

        Back in 2009 when we first featured XreaL, the graphics were incredibly impressive with many advancements made to the ioquake3 engine not found in other incarnations of the game. The feature-set was incredible. Back then the attempt was to turn XreaL into a full-fledged game, but the artists and engine developer parted ways and it turned into more of an effort just to make the best game engine possible.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments

    • Prettyfying Your LXDE

      LXDE, the Lightweight X11 desktop environment, has gained quite a following over recent years seemingly coming from nowhere, and many distribution spins are now using it for their user interface. This is really a follow-up to my previous post about beautyfying Xfce. Because both are using gtk+ the same themes will work and the same engines are needed to make them look as intended.

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC)

      • Amarok vs. iTunes

        In my old company long standing employees get an iPod when they leave. I’m happy with my Sansa Clip+, but since my wife wanted one I was very ok with that. Since it’s currently not possible to set up an iPod Nano (6th gen) with Amarok as I was told on IRC I finally installed iTunes. And I must say I was impressed.

      • KDE Commit-Digest for 3rd July 2011
      • Process Photos with digiKam’s Batch Queue Manager and a Bash Script

        One of digiKam’s lesser known features is the ability to link scripts to notifications. At first sight, this may seem like a rather obscure functionality, but it can be put to some clever uses. Say, you want to keep a portfolio of selected photos on a mobile device. Resizing multiple photos to a specified size to make it easier to view them on the mobile device and transferring the processed photos from digiKam to the mobile device manually is not very practical. And this is where the ability to trigger scripts via notifications can come in handy. You can attach a simple Bash script to the Batch queue completed notification, so it’s triggered automatically when the Batch Queue Manager tool is done processing photos.

      • rekonq, 1 feature a week. #1
    • GNOME Desktop

      • GDM3Setup: GUI To Change GDM3 Wallpaper, Theme, Logo And More

        Last week we’ve posted about changing the GNOME 3 login screen background / GTK3 theme via command line but if you want to use a GUI for this, you’ll be glad to know that one already exists: GDM3Setup.

        GDM3Setup is a simple GUI tool to tweak GDM3 (GNOME3 login screen). Using it, you can change the following GDM3 settings: wallpaper, GTK3 theme, icon theme, logo, disable the login screen user list or restart buttons.

      • drwright: GNOME-native typing breaks in GNOME 3
      • XpGnome

        At our latest Linux Users Group meeting, I was given a copy of the May 2011 issue of Linux Format magazine. In the midst of an article about convincing Windows users to switch to Linux, was a sidebar about XpGnome. It’s a script that customizes the Gnome desktop to make it look like Windows XP.

  • Distributions

    • Damn Small Linux: Still Damn Fun

      I’ve described how to refurbish mature computers in several articles. The emphasis has been on machines in the four to ten year old range — Pentium IV’s, D’s, M’s, III’s and Celerons. But what if you have a really old computer, like a Pentium II, I, or even a 486? Can you use it for anything worthwhile? A vintage distro named Damn Small Linux answers “yes.” This article describes DSL and tells how to make 1990′s computers useful again. Screenshots follow the article.

    • New Releases

    • PCLinuxOS/Mageia/Mandrake/Mandriva Family

      • PCLinuxOS Review: What Does PCLinuxOS Have to Offer?

        In the quest to find the perfect Linux distribution, we often hit an obstacle that makes the grass look greener on another distro’s lawn. When we reach that point, the first instinct is to turn to another distribution and hope that something fresh will also be something better. This time around, I decided to see if PCLinuxOS was indeed greener.

        Time and time again, I have learned that something new is not always something better. Take Ubuntu’s switch to a new desktop shell with Unity in Ubuntu 11.04. This switch has left a number of Ubuntu users pondering other distributions in search of more familiar territory.

      • Mandriva, at the heart of the CompatibleOne project

        The realm of remote, scalable and automated computing, also known as Cloud Computing, is currently progressing at a very fast pace.

        CompatibleOne is a research project, under the aegis of the two competitiveness clusters System@tic and SCS, aiming at facilitating the deployment, the configuration and the administration of public, private or hybrid Clouds using open standards and interoperable open-source technologies.

      • New President of Executive Board

        Dominique Loucougain will replace Arnaud Laprévote in the position of President of Executive Board (Directoire) for Mandriva France.

    • Red Hat Family

      • Red Hat clone CentOS 6.0 arrives late, but with security updates
      • CentOS 6.0 Release Notes
      • Release for CentOS-6.0 i386 and x86_64

        We are pleased to announce the immediate availability of CentOS-6.0 for i386 and x86_64 Architectures.

      • At Long Last, CentOS 6.0 ISOs Finally Surface
      • CentOS 6.0 Released, It’s Based on RHEL 6.0

        The CentOS development team, through Karanbir Singh, proudly announced last evening, July 10th, the immediate availability for download of the CentOS 6.0 operating system.

        The new CentOS 6.0 operating system is based on the Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6.0 distribution, and it brings all the features that are present in the RHEL distro, with which is 100% binary compatible.

      • A Changing Web Culture Fits With Red Hat

        Jim Whitehurst sees user collaboration as the wave of the future, not only for technology companies but for the business world at large.

        His company’s business model is built on it: He’s chief executive and president of Red Hat Inc., the only publicly traded open-source software company. With open-source software, users in addition to vendors make changes and share them. Red Hat provides technology consulting and sells services and updates for its core product, the Linux operating system.

      • Scientific Linux 5.6 Live released

        Just over two weeks after the official release of Scientific Linux 5.6, the Scientific Linux (SL) developers have announced the arrival of the LiveCD and LiveDVD variants of version 5.6 of their Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) clone. The LiveCD/DVD versions allow users to run the distribution directly from a CD or DVD drive without having to install it. Alternatively, it can also be installed to the local hard disk or users can run the LiveCD image from a USB flash drive.

      • Fedora

        • Podcast: Igor Pires Soares – Fedora Project
        • Well balanced Red Hat sits easily in the region

          AUSTRALIA continued to be an important engineering base for Linux provider Red Hat despite the strong dollar.

          Global chief executive Jim Whitehurst said it was committed to its Brisbane engineering hub that serves a global market and employs about 150 people.

          Australia is the second-largest market for Red Hat after Japan in Asia-Pacific, considered the company’s fastest-growing region.

          In recent months, security software firm Symantec was forced to close its enterprise research unit, citing the currency factor, but Mr Whitehurst said Red Hat was not in the same boat.

        • Fedora 15 Configuration Series: A Review Of Ailurus

          Ailurus is a great little program to add on to a fresh installation of Fedora 15. I would compare it to something along the lines of Ubuntu Tweak, in which the user is presented with a set of clean up tasks, system information, a package manager, and even a good solid set of repositories to choose from. I only wish I had found it a little earlier than I did as it would have made adding the initial repositories a breeze when I first installed Fedora 15.

    • Debian Family

      • Linux Mint 11 KDE to Based on Debian, Maybe

        Linux Mint 11 GNOME was released nearly two months ago. Some of us have been waiting for the KDE version to test (and possibly use) and wonder where it is. Today a blog post by Clem gives a clue.

      • Derivatives

        • SimplyMEPIS 11.0 review – Spartan, but ok

          Compared to MEPIS 8.0, the 11th release by number is somewhat better, but I can’t say how much of that is technology and how much actual progress in the mindset and the execution. In its current form, MEPIS deserves around 7/10, maybe 8/10, but not more. Its huge potential is still waiting to be unleashed, but it won’t happen in this release.

        • Everything’s Fine…Shall I Try an Update?

          While several of my colleagues and students are having a great time fighting viruses and malware or trying to get their mainstream, highly-reputed systems to work again, both my mutant penta-boot netbook and my grotesque hepta-boot desktop have been working fine. Thus, more out of boredom than for any other reason, I decided to check for and install their corresponding updates. Since it had been a few months since my last update, I thought things could get complicated and thus I could join my colleagues’ frustration…let’s see:

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Growing Pains

            Ubuntu over the years has grown to be easier and easier, so easy that I would probably put anyone on it now days. Unfortunately for me as Ubuntu has grown easier I have grown softer. And I never realized how much Ubuntu had moved away from the standard Linux installation because the changes were implemented so slowly. A new installer here, some new GUI configuration tools there. Gradually I was point and clicking more than I was using CLI.

          • Moving away from Ubuntu

            I decided to abandon Ubuntu on my home desktop after the upgrade to 11.04 Natty Narwhal. I knew there were some things that I couldn’t like, but I didn’t know it would cripple the very base of the operating system. These are the things that went bad:

            * The upgrade finished with obscure errors.
            * can’t log in graphically without safe mode.
            * system console (CTRL+ALT+F1 etc.) appears as a white background and unreadable characters.
            * packages have been left in an unclean state.

          • Ubuntu 11.10: Screenshot preview

            Ubuntu 11.10 Alpha 2 was recently released for the brave and adventuresome to test. I did not do much of a testing, but ran the system in a virtual environment to see what it looks like. Aside from the kernel, there is really no major change, as far as I could tell, from the last stable release, which is Ubuntu 11.04. (See Ubuntu 11.04 review.)

          • UbuntuDeveloperWeek

            Welcome to the Ubuntu Developer Week! We will have one week of action-packed sessions from July 11th 2011 to July 15th 2011!

          • Canonical Copyright Assignment

            Ted Gould’s debate with Bradley Kuhn and others about the Canonical Copyright Assignment Agreement (CAA) is quite illustrative and one of Ted’s remarks provides a good launching pad for me to express why I find the CAA so objectionable.

          • QA Community Coordinator Required

            I am looking to hire a new member for my team (the Community Team) here at Canonical. I am looking for a bright, motivated, and experienced person to build, maintain and develop a cohesive, productive and effective Ubuntu QA community.

            This role will be full-time working at Canonical, you will be working from home with regular travel to various events (such as UDS and team sprints), and you will be working in a fast-paced, productive, and energetic environment. This is a really exciting role that is designed to bring huge value to the Ubuntu community in the area of quality by refining, optimizing, and growing our QA community participation.

          • Ubuntu 11.10 Oneiric Ocelot Alpha 2 Released, Overview and Screenshots
          • Ubuntu Weekly Newsletter Issue 223
          • Using Ubuntu on the Desktop
          • Scrollbar Updates in Ubuntu, and Why They Matter

            If you’ve used Ubuntu’s Unity interface, which (for better or worse, depending on whom you ask) became the default with the appearance of Ubuntu 11.04 last April, you probably noticed that the scroll bars in most windows looked different. Departing from the decades-old paradigm that most computer users have known for decades, Ubuntu now compacts scrollbars into a smaller unit intended to be more functional.

          • Flavours and Variants

            • Bodhi Linux… Ubuntu might have a competitor

              Bodhi Linux is yet another attempt to convince users that you don’t have to pay 54£ (Windows 7 Home Premium) in order to use your computer for basic tasks like writing emails and browsing the Internet. Based on the ever-so-popular Ubuntu Linux, Bodhi pushes the boundaries a bit further in ease of use, resources required and “ohhhh prettyyy” factor.

              On thing I would like to mention about Bodhi, before starting the actual review, is their website: http://www.bodhilinux.com/. It’s not often that a Linux distro (especially an “indie” one like this one) has such a well rounded and useful website. Their QuickStart section is more than useful if you’ve never used Linux before. Check it out here: http://www.bodhilinux.com/quickstart/quickstartEN/.


              I’m quite impressed by this distro, it’s pretty, it’s fast, it’s light, I… I just can’t find a fault…

            • Trying Kubuntu 11.04

              At the end of the week, I find myself in agreement with the people who told me that Kubuntu, in avoiding the innovation of Ubuntu, had created a solid desktop experience.

            • Linux Mint 10 screen capture tour

              Linux Mint 10 (Julia) was released Nov 12, 2010 which feels like eons ago in Linux land. But hey I wanna play around with it before I jump to Linux Mint 11.

              Overall feel is good, installation was uneventful. The interface is pretty clean and well structured. This is what I like best with Mint. Anyway, this is old news but would like to keep a log of how the installation screen looks like. Below are the screen captures.

            • Is Linux Mint a Better Choice than Ubuntu?

              For many advanced Linux enthusiasts reading this, I doubt that any recent changes to the Ubuntu desktop swayed you very much. Most of you already have had plenty of time to select alternative distros — from Fedora to Arch Linux — should you decide you want to.

              Each distribution has its own set of advantages and differences. But for those people who cannot bear to part with some features that are considered to be unique to Ubuntu, Linux Mint might be a viable option to look into.

  • Devices/Embedded

    • WebOS products do not run that other OS

      I was looking for information on what products HP is releasing with WebOS and found this at the foot of a page about printers:
      “WebOS products do not run Windows”. In a world where many OEMs “Recommend” that other OS, that is really strange wording. It could be a way to assert branding:

      * WebOS is not that other OS

      What a warped world we live in that things like that have to be communicated…

    • Phones

Free Software/Open Source

  • Open Source as a differentiator?

    What is an “open source company”? What is the real differentiation element introduced by Open Source? These and more questions were introduced by a great post by Matthew Aslett (if you don’t follow him, go and follow now. I’ll wait. Yes, do it. You will thank me later.), called “The decline of open source as an identifying differentiator“. It is an excellent analysis of how companies mostly stopped using the term “open source” in their marketing materials, and has a follow up (here) that provides a summary of the main responses by other analysts and observers.

  • FOSS and the Freeloader Factor
  • In Giving Back, Brazil Sets a Good Open Source Example

    Recently, we’ve covered the many debates going on surrounding whether organizations that use open source software are properly giving back to the development communities that they benefit from. According to some observers, the disparity between using and contributing doesn’t matter, while others feel strongly that organizations that use open source software should help develop it or invest in development. On this topic, Simon Phipps has an interesting post up on the Brazilian government’s decision to invest in OpenOffice and LibreOffice, based on its usage.

  • Why a Devout Capitalist Loves Free Software

    When I first began using Linux as my primary operating system, I did so to try to solve some problems I was having with Microsoft Windows. My computer had begun to feel like it was not under my control. Updates were being downloaded and installed during inopportune times and they were requiring me to completely shut down my computer nearly every time, or nagging me to do it anyway. I was running anti-virus software that was buggy and bloated and slowing down my computer. In order to maintain all of the recent security updates, I had to literally hand over the contents of my hard drive to Microsoft on a regular basis to prove that I had not hacked Windows (Windows Genuine Advantage). My music, videos and even the font files on my computer were told what they could do by Microsoft’s DRM efforts. Being a lover of liberty and a bit of a security freak, I was rubbed the wrong way with many of the issues that Microsoft had taught me I just had to live with.

  • The responsibility in open source

    I’ve written before about the genuine renaissance open source software represents and the vast implications that openness provides. I’ve admitted that computer science, based on its relative unwillingness to share great ideas, has lagged behind other hard sciences in its understanding of how and where value is created.

    I’ve also written about the principles of open source software and how the mere gifting of source code, while important, does not actually generate the majority of value for the community. Instead, the real value comes from adhering to the principles of open source–transparency, participation and collaboration–and I’ve tried to evangelize this is the real method upon which commercial open source companies help create success.

  • FOSS vs Proprietary – Who cares about ‘The War’

    Free software and open standards have always been a point of debate for the confusing line between hardcore tech world and the whole other world of users. However, very recently, tech pundits have beaten a retreat on the issue, claiming that free software and open standards do not really matter much. This can only be understood better if one understands the factors that have always been taken in to account in the face off between free and proprietary software or open and close standard hardware.

  • XBRL Group Offers Cash Prize for Open-source Tools

    A U.S. nonprofit consortium is hoping the prospect of a US$20,000 cash prize will help spur the creation of open-source software tools companies can use to work with the XBRL (Extensible Business Reporting Language) standard for financial reporting.

  • Mozilla

  • Databases

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • VirtualBox 4.1 Beta 2 gains PCI passthrough support

      The VirtualBox development team has released a second beta of version 4.1.0 of its open source desktop virtualisation application for x86 hardware. The latest development preview brings a number of changes over the previous beta, including fixes to the experimental WDDM (Windows Display Driver Model) graphics driver support for Windows guests that was added in Beta 1.

  • CMS

    • Twitter Selects Acquia and Drupal to Power Developer Community Website

      Acquia, the leading provider of commercial solutions for Drupal, announced today that Twitter selected a Drupal-based community solution for its new Twitter developer website at dev.twitter.com. The site, which was developed with support and guidance from Acquia, launched today.

    • Twitter using Drupal

      Starting today, Twitter’s developer community lives and breathes on Drupal! Check it out at http://dev.twitter.com.

      This is a big deal for Drupal — it’s not every day that one of the hottest technology start-ups switches one of its sites to Drupal. At Acquia, we have been working with Twitter on this site but couldn’t talk about it for the longest time. I’m glad we finally can because it’s a great use case for Drupal.

      Twitter has 750,000 developers who have created nearly a million apps, making 13 billion API calls per day. Those are some astonishing figures! A population that big requires a lot, as we in the Drupal community know.

    • Ten Content Management Systems for Photo Galleries

      When it comes to sharing your images on your website in the form of a web gallery, the CMS options for managing the same are many. Whether you wish to create an online portfolio, or simply want to share some photos, choosing the ideal CMS for your web gallery goes a long way in effectively managing the gallery! In this article, we bring to you some of the best known CMS options for web gallery management.

  • Project Releases

  • Public Services/Government

    • Publication: Guide to Open Source Software

      The Guide to Open Source Software for Australian Government Agencies, Version 2.0 has now been revised and finalised following the public feedback.

    • Open Source In the Bavarian Government of Munich, Germany: Interview

      Anton Borisov interviews Oliver Altehage, Change Manager for LiMux-Project to understand the options and deployment of GNU/Linux and open source in the Bavarian Government of Munich, Germany.

      Anton: Oliver, the City of Munich is famous for its open-source initiative, when Microsoft products must be substituted to Linux and open-sourced applications. Could you please shed some light on this idea, because I know it has original roots in 2000′s.
      Oliver: That is true. First idea was created in 2001, first concept appeared in 2002. Decision for migration of the city parliament was taken in 2004, and migration itself was started in November 2006.

  • Licensing

    • The trouble with Harmony: Part 2

      In opting to follow the maximalist model of contributor agreements, Harmony inherits, and thereby legitimizes, all of that model’s problems. There is growing awareness that the maximalist approach can impair the effectiveness of the open source community development model, creating unnecessary barriers to contribution. Rather than attempting to address those problems, Harmony merely hides them in attractive packaging.

  • Programming

  • Standards/Consortia

    • From C++ to HTML5: Opera ports game with web standards

      Even before the introduction of the WebGL standard for rendering 3D graphics in a browser, it was already clear that a browser can be a suitable platform for graphically complex games. To demonstrate the browser’s potential capability in this arena, Mozilla has released the Flight of the Navigator demo and the Opera developers are working on a technology preview of what they think can be achieved. The question though is what is practically possible now if, say, an entire game were to be implemented using currently available web standards. Now, an Opera developer can answer that question.

  • Leftovers

    • Unix still data center darling, says survey

      Unix systems may not be all the rage that they were two decades ago, but in nearly eight out of 10 data centers based on them, their use is either holding steady or increasing.

      That’s the assessment of a recent survey of the HP, IBM, and Oracle Unix customer bases by Gabriel Consulting Group, which has just finished up its fifth annual slicing and dicing of Unix customer sentiments.

      Unix systems have successfully colonized their neighborhoods in the data centers of the world, and are resisting the onslaught of Windows and Linux on those systems’ relatively inexpensive x64 iron. The Unix colonists are also resisting all of the marketing muscle and money that is dedicated to evicting them.

    • Health/Nutrition

      • For-Profit Health Insurance: Where the Real Death Panels Lie

        On behalf of Grigor and Hilda Sarkisyan, I would like to invite Republican Rep. Phil Gingrey of Georgia to attend the 21st birthday celebration of the Sarkisyans’ only daughter, Nataline, this coming Saturday, July 9, in Calabasas, California.

        Gingrey could consider it a legitimate, reimbursable fact-finding mission. He clearly needs to have more facts about the U.S. health care system before he starts talking about death panels again.

        Gingrey seems determined to keep alive the lie that the Affordable Care Act (a.k.a., Obamacare) will create government-run death panels in the Medicare program.

    • Finance

      • Goldman Shareholders Re-Elect Directors, Approve ‘Say-on-Pay’

        Goldman Sachs Group Inc., the fifth- biggest U.S. bank by assets, said shareholders re-elected the company’s directors and approved a compensation plan for top executives.

        Directors were re-elected with 90 percent of the vote and the pay awards for named executive officers were approved by 73 percent in a so-called say on pay vote, General Counsel Greg Palm said today at the New York-based bank’s shareholder meeting in Jersey City, New Jersey. None of the proposals submitted by shareholders was approved, Palm said.

      • Goldman Traders Tried to Manipulate Derivatives Market in ’07, Report Says

        Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS) mortgage traders tried to manipulate prices of derivatives linked to subprime home loans in May 2007 for their own benefit, according to a U.S. Senate report.

        Company documents show traders led by Michael J. Swenson sought to encourage a “short squeeze” by putting artificially low prices on derivatives that would gain in value as mortgage securities fell, according to the report yesterday by the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. The idea, abandoned after market conditions worsened, was to drive holders of such credit-default swaps to sell and help Goldman Sachs traders buy at reduced prices, according to the report.

    • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

      • Rupert Murdoch’s Big Newspaper Scandal

        Media mogul Rupert Murdoch moved quickly to shut down one of his oldest media holdings — a 168 year-old, best-selling weekly British tabloid newspaper called News of the World — amid charges that the paper’s journalists hacked into the telephones of Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans, murder victims and their families, and bribed police in exchange for information and tips. News of the World was Britain’s best-sellling Sunday newspaper. Its last issue will be this Sunday, and will not carry any commercial advertisements.

      • How Intrepid Netroots Activists Toppled Glenn Beck

        The campaign was a true netroots effort. An online petition sent to Beck’s advertisers was signed by 285,000 people, and the number of advertisers who responded by dropping their ads from Beck’s show exceeded 300.

        Just two months into the boycott, Color of Change announced that it was costing Fox News $600,000 per week. Fox remained in denial, and two months later, Fox’s Rupert Murdoch, recently involved in his own scandal for breaking into the cell phones of crime victims and dead service members, supported Beck by saying he was right when he made the offensive comments.

    Reader’s Picks

    The Evolution of the Net and Literature

    Posted in Site News at 2:20 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

    Saint Mark

    Summary: An opinion and personal perspective on how the information people access is changing over time, and ever more rapidly with the emergence of the Internet

    THIS post is not about the general evolution of the Internet or of publishing. It is based on a very personal perspective and it should be limited to anecdote, not historical evidence. To put it less vaguely, this is an attempt to explain how the passage of ideas — including those which one might put in a patent application — can (if not does) change over time.

    Back in the days, people used the printing industry to spread their ideas, which needed to be clustered together into packages that make acquisition and transportation worth the cost. Books were very comprehensive pieces of work and some were a compilation of works, a medley of sorts. Books could also be shared between people, so for each manufactured book there was a travel time lasting decades if not centuries, each occupying days of one’s time (or several people’s time) at the expense of years of one’s work (assuming the book is well written and properly researched for).

    “We no longer depend on travel to conferences, or at least not insist on those.”Academic journals are an interesting beast and nowadays they get grouped into sets which are sometimes sold under something like the LNCS banner (Lecture Notes in Computer Science). We no longer depend on travel to conferences, or at least not insist on those. We can find a lot of videos on the Web and download particular papers of interest (in abundance) off the Web, rather than ordering them by snail mail, then waiting for a long time for them to arrive (lag), alternatively having a subset of these stockpiled in libraries, which still require travelling to and they make copying of material (for reference at home) cumbersome, especially if one needs to chase all the bibliography. This world of journals and conference papers is still somewhat riddled by legacy conventions that make everything slow, extremely time-consuming, yet narrow in terms of scope (page limits constrain writers to publish just a tiny subset of their results, usually just the best ones). These papers, along with books that are often derived from these (by reuse), are still some of the best literature we have out there because these are written by experts in their fields — not journalists who try to help sell ads (akin to fiction writers and novels) — and they are peer-reviewed, then selected also in part based on reputation. Newspapers offer no references and sometimes also omit names of those involved in putting together a story. The model is trust there is lacking.

    Nowadays, blogs are popular and increasingly — although there are exceptions — people find that they prefer microblogging for publishing (and for digestion) because it’s faster. It is also more diverse (more narratives per time unit) and quality control relies less on grammatical and structural assessment (which depends on repeated proofreading). Along with that there is a growth in social networks and sites where comments are massively shortened or even redacted. We live in a world of “bites” rather than “stories” and a lot of people start to get their information through platforms such as Facebook. It is far from ideal as it breeds trust in all sorts of junk ‘information’ (superstition, racism, etc.) and leaves the accurate reporting only to those who are patient enough (vanishingly small number).

    “Along with that there is a growth in social networks and sites where comments are massively shortened or even redacted.”Speaking for myself, my history on the Web did in some way follow the trends above. Although I built my first Web site when I was 15, I started to get heavily involved in USENET around 2004 which is also the year I started publishing papers and giving lectures (I was 22 at the time) and even though I continued to publish in academic circles in years to come I found myself drifting towards blogging where the audience was large, the composition process was a lot more rapid, and most importantly there was constant feedback from both supporters and sceptics. In 2006 I started getting more involved when I joined Digg and became ranked 17th in the site (at the same year as joining) and later in the year I even got a job in the area (Netscape.com). Separately, I got involved in blogging outside my own site (schestowitz.com had published about 1,000 blog posts by that point) and notably I was involved in “Boycott Novell”. This really took off in 2008 and in 2010 Tim and I started forming an audiocast around our existing readers base (in 2011 we also experimented a little with video, which is very fast to produce). The increased interest in Identil.ca (and later on Twitter) was complementary to this because the main function of these sites is linkage to one’s items of interest, sometimes with an additional remark (140-character limit is… well, limiting). So here we are in an information cycle where messages are increasingly abbreviated (I have not bothered submitting papers to journals or conferences since 2006 when it was needed for me to get my Ph.D.) and attention moves away from long articles that can take writers days to prepare (this is how real reporting should be done). As for books, nowadays they are not sold but are rather than that “licensed” for digital use by one single person. Disgusting from the point of view of sharing information, but possibly acceptable from a business person’s point of view (and we all have DRM to thank for that).

    What do our readers foresee as the future of information? We assume all information will eventually converge in digital form, even scanned and OCR’d in some cases, but what medium will dominate? Might professors start blogging more often than not? Will Open Access become the norm? Will Open Data become a pre-requisite for publication where results are reproducible and open to audit? Cablegate was a sort of example of Open Data/Open Access and it was fantastic for honest reporting.

    At Techrights we continue to value spin-free writing that ignores the PR and really gets to the bottom of issues.

    IDG Uses Fake ‘Panel’ to Create Linux-hostile Bias

    Posted in Deception, FUD, GNU/Linux, Google, Microsoft, Oracle, Patents at 1:40 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz


    Summary: The anatomy of biased-by-design article or a deconstruction of IDG’s hostility towards Linux

    IT IS NO secret that we distrust IDG, which recently ran a 30-day troll-athlon against Ubuntu. It’s just one recent example among many and it is hard to decide whether to ignore them or rebut them because regardless, Google, for instance, syndicates that as ‘news’, failing to distinguish between news and blogs (opinion). The same problem exists in ZDNet and to a lesser degree in CNET.

    I was recently invited for an interview over at www.muktware.com, which is a new site bold enough to challenge the corporate press. This interview might be published here at a later date. The site also asked me for comments on a one-sided IDG piece which spreads FUD against Android, using software patents of course (Microsoft loves those as a form of FUD these days). Separately, wrote that site, the court suggests that Oracle won’t be getting its way in the case against Google. While Groklaw continues showing this with its sound analysis, the pro-Microsoft press conveniently ignores. It pays attention only to gloom-and-doom predictions, which pro-Microsoft lobbyists are constantly amplifying. To quote:

    Software patent troll Microsoft’s PR machine is pumping as much mis-information as it can, oracling Oracle’s victory in Android court case. The reality is, Oracle is facing one after other set-backs in the case. After USPTO’s rejection of a majority of Oracle’s patents, the court refused to buy Iain Cockburn’s report and asked both parties (Google and Oracle) to name two experts to verify damanges.

    My comments regarding the FUD from IDG’s Nancy are posted below in full (sorry if they are crude, short, and full of typos, I am still catching up after spending all day yesterday in London).

    The author of the article is a Microsoft proponent, but I would not use personal angle to counter the hypothesis of the article, which is good for Microsoft. The story about Oracle’s demands has been exaggerated. Just because Oracle, the plaintiff, asks for X,
    does not mean that Oracle will get X, even if it wins. Based on what we know, one by one Oracle’s (formerly Sun’s) patents fall into the can following re-examination. At Sun, proponent staff admitted they played a bit of a game trying to see who manages to get the most ridiculous patent application past the USPTO (i,.e. accepted as a monopoly). Nancy writes, “If Oracle wins the lawsuit that it brought against the software giant, the consequences for Google and the entire Android market could be dire, analysts say.” But which analysts did she ask? Has she asked those who are unfitting to her headline? Has she contacted Mark Webbink or Pamela Jones from Groklaw? The first person she mentions is a patent lawyer. Patent lawyers would love to see patents upheld and commissions paid to them. This is a case of self-fulfilling prophecies. The analyst with Deutsche Bank mentions Oracle’s desires, which are merely desires. SCO too had desires and all it got was bankruptcy

    “Oracle declined comment on whether it is asking handset makers to license its technology and did not comment further for this story. Google did not reply to requests for comment.”

    Nancy could not get those involved to comment. Instead, she relies on mere spectators

    “That licensing cost would make using Android comparable to the cost of licensing Windows Phone 7, Goldberg said.”

    Has Goldberg actually tried the platform? It’s not competitive, some would call it a joke. It did not even support cut and paste until recently. The number of sales of this platform (licences really) is just a few millions. Google activates that many in about a week. While making gloomy predications for Android and hailing Windows as the Only Other Choice {tm}, Nancy quotes just a couple of people, one of whom clearly has a patent agenda. There seems to be a missing side — one that has not been includes in the panel, so to speak. That same one-sided piece also closes with such a conclusion/quote which leads mysticism that cannot alleviate FUD

    She quotes: “So the perception would be that Google lost. Oracle will probably insist on [confidentiality] to be able to keep this posture, whether it’s justified or not.”


    The real dilemma here. Is not whether it’s secret or not. It’s whether Google will win the case or not. They present a false choice. And then at the end, this writer who covered Microsoft for years gives the impression that she only covers phones.

    “Nancy Gohring covers mobile phones and cloud computing for The IDG News”

    She ought to tell readers what company she covered for a long time beforehand. Based in Seattle (near Microsoft), I also notice that her latest two tweets are messages to pro-Microsoft lobbyist, Mr Müller, who enjoys attacking all of Microsoft’s competition, esp. Android as of late.

    If she is getting her information from lobbyists, then no wonder the reporting is so poor.

    This whole article (link omitted on purpose, although one can find it based on quoted text) is not unusual, it’s characteristics of IDG’s spin zone. We need to continue pressuring IDG, which we previously called the Fox News of IT. IDG’s business model is attracting advertisers and clients for ‘reports’ (Linux does neither); it is not in the business of actually reporting accurately and the objective of articles (‘content’) is merely to attract crowds into the ads and make clients of IDC happy(ier).

    As Microsoft is Losing, Expect a Lot More Patent-Flavoured FUD Against Linux

    Posted in GNU/Linux, Google, Microsoft, Patents at 1:15 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

    Microsoft’s (and Apple’s) patent attack on Google/Android is not working

    Summary: A look at the patent attacks from Microsoft and why they have not been as effective as Microsoft and its lobbyists wish us to believe (for FUD factor)

    In a decent blog post from Christine Hall she explains that Microsoft has become a patent threat not just to Android. It had already signed deals like the one with Novell in order to create what Christine (of FOSS Force) calls the “Microsoft Tax on Linux Devices”. To quote:

    The desktop and laptop might be safe, for the time being, but now the evil empire has dug its talons into the mobile world. It’s becoming nigh near impossible to purchase a device running Android or Chrome OS without a hidden Microsoft tax, and the makers of smartphones and tablets probably won’t be offering devices with no operating system installed in the near future, for those of us who’d prefer to install our own OS and skip having any of our money shipped to MS.

    The new Microsoft tax is in the form of patent licenses that OEMs are being blackmailed into paying by the Microsoft folks. Yep, MS is finally making good on its promises to enforce the patents it claims are being violated by Linux by going after the makers of devices running Android (and now, evidently, Chrome OS). Does Microsoft actually hold valid patents being infringed by Android? Who knows? That would be for the courts to decide and, so far, nothing’s gone to court. OEMs are just ponying up and buying MS licenses on the strength of Microsoft threats. So much so that Redmond is evidently making more money on Android than on Windows Phone 7.

    Here in this site we have been keeping an up-to-date list of companies that pay Ballmer for the ‘right’ to sell products with Linux. We urge people to avoid those companies and send out the message that taking this shameful route is unwise for business. Companies tend to consider what’s good for business, not what’s good for ethics, although poor ethics sometimes — provided public awareness — affect business.

    Microsoft is clearly failing to sell its products, so when it cannot ram them down people’s throats (as it does by bribing colleges and offering kickbacks to OEMs) it will try to make money from the competition’s sales. If someone still believes that Microsoft is doing alright against Linux, share this this new article from a ‘news’ site paid by Microsoft. It quotes Microsoft’s CEO Steve Ballmer as saying that “In a year, we’ve gone from very small to [...] very small.”


    “Google’s Android operating system remains No. 1 in the U.S.,” notes the Microsoft-sympathetic reporter, “while Windows Phone lost ground, according to the latest comScore report. The Windows Phone 7 launch last fall has not stopped Android’s rise. Microsoft had almost 8 percent of the U.S. market in the past three months, down 1 percent…”

    Mr. Pogson notes that among the big players that sell Android devices Microsoft has gotten just about nobody to pay for unnamed patents, except HTC. To quote:

    The Open Handset Alliance has 20 members who make handsets: Acer, Alcatel, ASUS, CCI, Dell, FoxConn, Garmen, Haier, HTC, Huawei, Kyocera, Lenovo, LG, Motorola, NEC, Samsung, Sharp, Sony Ericsson, Toshiba and ZTE.

    Several manufacturers using Android have entered licensing agreements with M$: Wistron, HTC, General Dynamics Itronix, Velocity Micro, and Onkyo. M$ is reported to be demanding $15 a copy for Android/Linux from Samsung and Barnes and Noble has gone to court over the issue. It is interesting that M$ has apparently secured royalty payments around $5 per copy while demanding $15. Thus it seems that some are paying M$ to go away. Others will fight.

    Microsoft is mostly going after those without incentive to fight back. It uses software patents against them, rather than offer them something like Windows. That alone speaks volumes. Pogson ends by adding:

    Making software is not a creative act and software patents are not stimulating innovation, it would seem. Software is a data structure and an algorithm, nothing more nor less. Once the information in the specification of those two elements is defined, the software follows and it can be created by almost any programmer skilled in the art. Thus, it fails non-obviousness. The information in the specification of the data structure and algorithm is not patentable, being merely an idea without physical embodiment. Putting software in a computer may give it physical embodiment but it is still obvious how it works when one looks at the source code.

    Here is another noteworthy new article:

    And don’t cry for Microsoft. While its new mobile OS rise has yet to be a rise at all, the company is making money on–get this–Android patent enforcement. That is, by dint of its thousands of software patents, Microsoft has succeeded in getting the likes of HTC to pay license fees, and now it’s going after Samsung. Cue the jokes about blue screens of death in outer space.

    In a research note, Wells Fargo estimated Windows Phone 7 revenue of $500 million in 2011; and more than $1 billion for Android licenses in 2012 if it charged $10 per license.

    Microsoft continues destroying the software industry, substituting it with lawyers and ruthless businessmen. It is not just bad for developers, it is bad for everyone (who sees product prices elevated due to bureaucracy fees/costs). The word “innovation” lost its meaning (we covered this recently and even years ago) and now it is used to justify decreased competition, retarded products (which have features removed due to patents), and increased collusion (which is a form of crime that regulators rarely address because it is done by corporations to people rather than the other way around).

    Why We Need to Pressure Google Into Putting an End to Software Patents

    Posted in Apple, GNU/Linux, Google, Microsoft, Patents at 12:52 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

    End Software Patents

    Summary: Yet another call for Google to fight against the Great Patents Cartel rather than find ways of joining this exclusionary club

    IN A NEW article by Dr. Glyn Moody exists a rather eloquent explanation of why Google should quit trying to play with patents and instead just put an end to software patents, despite the advice it receives from its self-serving patent lawyers. Moody explains that “Android is under serious threat”. But as he immediately points out, “Techdirt’s handy diagram illustrates, practically everyone in the smartphone space is suing everyone else. But the big difference is how the others are addressing this.

    “Some are cutting deals among themselves, such as the recent, if still rather mysterious, one between Nokia and Apple. Others, with less in the way to offer in exchange, are simply coughing up licensing fees. Worryingly, that includes an increasing number of Android manufacturers.”

    The summary of this which appears in Slashdot says:

    “When challenged directly by Oracle over Android intellectual property, Google has proven itself a feisty opponent. So why is it sitting back and letting Microsoft shake down OEMs over its claims to own patents that Android infringes? A disheartened Tom Henderson thinks it’s because Microsoft has been smart to go after the vendors rather than poke at Google directly. Still, he wonders when Google will get into the fight.”

    Can we be persuasive enough, even to the point where the PR factor will compel Google to join campaigns such as “End Software Patents”?

    The problem is not just Microsoft but also Apple, which now files a second trade complaint against HTC after starting the patent assault on Android/Linux last year (see our Apple vs HTC resource)). To quote one particular report on the subject:

    Apple has ratcheted up its attack on Taiwanese smartphone manufacturer HTC, filing a second patent-infringement complaint that, if successful, could bar HTC products from being imported into the US.

    The complaint was filed with US International Trade Commission (USITC) on Friday, Bloomberg reports, and was revealed in a brief notice on the USITC website.

    I some cases, Apple and Google are both targeted at the same time by patent trolls. To use a similar new scenario (more in Bloomberg about software patents used in reverse), sometimes Microsoft and Google share this pain too. What’s more interesting though is the increased collusion among Apple and Microsoft, which sometimes even congratulate one another on patent strategy, having cross-licensed for a long time, then taken Novell’s patents, and most recently taken Nortel’s patent although that is currently being challenged by federal investigation, as we noted twice before (in the US and also Canada).

    “Outgunned Google accuses rivals of ganging up,” says the headline from The Independent (British newspaper), noting that:

    The answer, as every patent litigator in the US knows, is Google. It is the only one not in the consortium buying a portfolio of thousands of technology patents from the bankrupt Canadian firm Nortel Networks.

    The winning consortium comprised the three big operating systems firms plus Sony and Ericsson, handset makers, and EMC, a data storage firm. It called itself Rockstar Bidco, though it might as well have called itself Everyone But Google Inc.

    Android may be winning more ground than any other type of smartphone in the battle for consumer loyalty, but on a parallel legal battleground, Google just found itself surrounded by heavy artillery. The outcome of the auction represents the largest competitive threat to Android since its 2008 launch and threatens to derail its sensational growth.

    This is the sort of thing that would happen to desktop GNU/Linux too as it grows bigger (Google has just released statistics showing a growth of 15% year-to-year). Not only “commercial” distributors like Canonical are affected. Based on this new move from Debian, such a decentralised project too is concerned and as the British press puts it, “[t]he Debian Project, which is best known for the Debian Linux distribution, has served up the Community Distribution Patent Policy FAQ, a document that tries to explain patents and patent liabilities in plain English for developers working on FOSS projects. The information was prepared by lawyers at the Software Freedom Law Center and it applies to US patent law.”

    Of course, many Debian developers are based outside the US, so these ludicrous laws do not apply to them, except when they distribute their software in the US (which is a large market overall). We really need to eradicate this problem at the root and without support from a billionaire company like Google it would be hard to abolish software patents. Intel and IBM are a lost cause in this regard because, although they support Linux for parts of the business, they actively lobby for software patents and they haven’t as much to lose from them as Google has. Google’s door is therefore the right one to knock on. But it’s important to be diplomatic and polite about it.

    The Ethics of Pro-Microsoft Mentality and Politicians

    Posted in GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Windows at 12:19 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

    Nichi Vendola
    Image by Foto Giovanni

    Summary: Nichi Vendola faces a new PR disaster, so the ethics of Microsoft boosters like himself are pondered

    IS THERE a correlation between proprietary software agenda and sociopathy? Or putting it less negatively, can Free software be shown to have a correlation with those favouring social solidarity? The answers would rely on generalisation and there are always exceptions. The notorious traps of induction and deduction can lead proponents of each side to being chastised. Those who say that all GNU/Linux users are freeloaders (price) or are communists (opposing uneven distribution of wealth) are rightly receiving flak. It could be argued that Microsoft — and to a lesser extent Apple — is “communism” for taking away choice. Well, many Windows users are always after ‘free stuff’, which is sometimes used illegally (should one call them “pirates”?). Based on the donation- or contribution-based indie games model for spreading games we actually find that GNU/Linux are willing to pay the most and support the developers best. The distribution model is one thing, standards compliance is another, and then of course there are also business practices (e.g. bribes, collusion, SLAPP). Perhaps the most important point to make here is that generalisations often fail and they are highly dependent on perspective. The same insults Microsoft uses against GNU/Linux equally well apply to Microsoft, if not more so. So when Microsoft, for example, accuses Free software of using zero-cost distribution to compete, bear in mind the very recent news about Microsoft paying a college a quarter of a million dollars to impose more Microsoft on students. This is negative pricing, and in turn students are kept captive. It’s vicious and definitely unfair (maybe illegal, but the laws are very loosely enforced against large corporations).

    To use an anecdote of Microsoft apologists (e.g. in education), recall the tales of Vendola [EN | ES] and mind this news from Italy:

    At the end of 2010 Nichi Vendola, leader of the Left, Ecology and Freedom party and governor of the Italian Region of Puglia became a hot topic among the Italian Free Software Community for presenting, almost in the same day, a regional law for promotion of Free Software AND a partnership between Puglia and Microsoft, a company not exactly known for loving Free Software.

    Very soon both news, though interesting for what they revealed of Vendola’s way to handle communication, were forgotten, for obvious reasons: Italians have plenty of much more urgent and understandable problems to worry about while Vendola is, I presume, much more concerned with what to do at the next political elections (he’s a likely candidate for the Prime Minister post) than with regional regulation of software.

    This morning, however, the topic came back because Vendola announced in a press conference that that law proposal was approved one month ago by the Regional Council.

    It’s interesting to see how this announcement was presented. To begin with, several “official” media outlets, for example Il Paese Nuovo and BariLive, copied word by word all or part of the official press release from Region Puglia without saying at all it was a copied press release or linking to the online source.

    This probably brings us back to the question about the things we can learn about Microsoft apologists, based on anecdotes. In the example above we see yet more of that pattern of shameless copying without attribution — the same sort of pattern we see a lot of at Microsoft (we gave many examples over the years) and a lot of Windows users. In GNU/Linux, copying is usually done legally and even encouraged. The smear which is hard to just get over is that, according to Microsoft, Linux is a cancer that disrespects so-called ‘intellectual’ ‘property’. The reality is exactly the opposite if tackled from another angle. In GNU/Linux we share knowledge, respecting this so-called ‘property’ of society and sharing intellect among ourselves for the benefit of education. Microsoft, on the other, impedes sharing of knowledge, choosing collusion and litigation instead. What does that really tell us about Microsoft? We’ll address Microsoft’s thuggish behaviour in the next few posts. We really need to reverse Microsoft’s propaganda and have people see that it ought to be used against Microsoft (and Apple), not for it.

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