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07.14.11

Links 14/7/2011: More Linux in Cars, Wine 1.3.24

Posted in News Roundup at 6:12 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • Teaching open source in South Africa: Part I

    Africa is the world’s second-least developed continent–after Antarctica. If you look at a world map of computer science and open source contributions, you will be struck by the blank canvas that is Africa. We are quite isolated over here and don’t really have the habit of open source participation. A few dedicated souls spend inordinate amounts of time in basements and campus computer labs adding their efforts to the open source community, but the distance that separates us from the developed world is one that is as much about technology and access to technology as it is about physical distance and finances.

  • Is Open Source Driven Forward By Pragmatists or Purists?
  • Waiting for Outlook and Blackboard. Let’s have lunch?

    Open Source is so utterly opposite of proprietary software that corporations have to go to great lengths to pretend that the buyer is getting any value at all. Typically, government and other high-profile contracts, usually a result of bribery AKA lobbying, are what seals the deal for these big companies. Yet, after 20+ years of iron-fisted control of software patents, government regulations, and suing the hades out of everyone it can, Microsoft couldn’t stop Open Source from stomping it to the ground. Android is about to become the most widely used Operating System in the world, and is already far ahead of Redmond based MSFT.

  • I was talking about something a little different

    SOS Open Source analyzed Zarafa, the open-source alternative to Microsoft Exchange, maintained by the homonymous company headquartered in the Netherlands (Delft) with offices in Germany and Brasil. The Zarafa Summer Camp 2011was the perfect venue to share our findings around Zarafa (presentation), if you missed our keynote read below to know more this open source messaging and collaboration platform.

  • Where Did All the Idealism Go?

    As a writer, I am more comfortable reporting the news than making the news. For that reason, I’m reluctant to encourage the discussion started by my article, “Tech Pundits Surrender: The Retreat from Free Software and Open Standards” about the use of proprietary software when it’s convenient. At the same time, I can’t help wondering when idealism became a dirty word in free and open source software (FOSS).

  • A Telecom Service Provider Handles Huge Volumes of Data Using FOSS

    Singh has had varied experiences having worked on Android application development, MySQL database, C++, and PHP / Apache / MySQL /PostgreSQL (LAMPP). He embraced PostgreSQL during his stint with Mavenir Systems, and was so impressed with it that he started using it extensively in other projects. The first project Singh used it on was for NextGen, a telecom services group.

  • 10 best (unknown) open source projects

    That’s right folks, another ten best! But this time I’ll wager you’re not familiar with any of them, or at best one or two. The free/open source software world is vast and full of excellent applications for all occasions. An interesting trend is the growth of large distributed projects such as OpenTox and AMEE. FOSS presents a natural platform for building large distributed projects because of the low barrier to entry– open code, open standards, and freely-available robust, high-quality high-performance software.

  • Mozilla

  • SaaS

    • Piston Cloud Computing Raises $4.5 Million For Open Source Cloud

      Piston Cloud Computing, Inc., a software company developing commercialized OpenStack software for businesses, has raised $4.5 million in funding. The round was led by Hummer Winblad and True Ventures, with Divergent Ventures and others participating. Lars Leckie from Hummer Winblad, and Puneet Agarwal from True Ventures will join Piston’s board of directors.

  • Databases

  • CMS

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • Introducing Jonathan Nadeau, FSF campaigns intern

      My name is Jonathan Nadeau and I’m a husband, a father of three, and a blind GNU/Linux user. I’m also the host of three podcasts about free software. I interview project leaders of free software and GNU/Linux distributions. This summer I’m interning with the FSF’s campaigns team.

      [...]

      Once I started using a free screen reader with a free operating system, I had freedom in my own computing, and realized the importance of free software for accessibility — it is important for people who depend on accessible software to understand the freedoms that come with using free software, and no longer be stuck in a world of relying on nonfree accessibility software.

  • Project Releases

    • CUBRID 8.4.0 GA is now available for download

      About two month ago we have released a beta version of the new CUBRID 8.4.0 which proved once again that it is a powerful database with great optimization for Web applications. It featured twice faster database engine and over 90% MySQL SQL syntax compatibility. We had greatly

    • Fresh PuTTY

      PuTTY developer Simon Tatham has announced the release of version 0.61 of his cross-platform, open source Telnet and SSH client. The latest version comes more than four years after PuTTY 0.60: Tatham says that the project has received “quite a lot of email asking if PuTTY was still under development, and occasionally asking if we were even still alive. Well, we are, and it has been! Sorry about the long wait.”

  • Public Services/Government

    • Canary Islands – Open source software to forecast and manage forest fires

      Capaware is an open source 3D geographical multilayer framework which allows to obtain realistic images of land and to navigate a given area virtually. Based on the environmental conditions of the area (humidity, vegetation and wind, among others), Capaware “gives a real-time forecast which allows to know the evolution and intensity of a fire.” said José Pablo Suárez, Professor at the Department of Cartography and Engineering Graphic Design, University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria.

  • Licensing

    • Out Of Tune With Community

      Controversial in certain circles, the work of a loose grouping of people to create a set of standardised contributor agreements for open source projects at “Project Harmony” has reached its 1.0 milestone. At the website you’ll find a release version of the agreements.

      Contributor agreements are used to accumulate copyrights into the hands of a single organisation. They are especially associated with open source projects like MySQL which use a “dual license” or an “open core” business model, but are also used by projects like Apache to provide flexibility and by the FSF to allow them to prosecute companies who fail to abide by the license.

  • Openness/Sharing

  • Programming

  • Standards/Consortia

    • 6th ODF Plugfest

      The sixth ODF plugfest will take place in Berlin on July 14/15 2011, and will be hosted by the German Federal Ministry of the Interior and the Ministry of Economy & Technology.

    • ODF Symposium

      The conference is about the results of an R&D project “Developing a software quality assurance service package for applications of OpenDocument Format”. The project is supported by the Hungarian National Techology Program and its main objective is to establish sound quality assurance procedures for ODF applications.

Leftovers

  • Cablegate

    • Wired publishes the full Manning-Lamo chat logs

      Yesterday — more than a full year after it first released selected portions of purported chat logs between Bradley Manning and government informant Adrian Lamo (representing roughly 25% of the logs) — Wired finally published the full logs (with a few redactions). From the start, Wired had the full chat logs and was under no constraints from its source (Lamo) about what it could publish; it was free to publish all of it but chose on its own to withhold most of what it received.

      Last June — roughly a week after Wired’s publication of the handpicked portions — I reviewed the long and complex history between Lamo and Wired Editor Kevin Poulsen, documented the multiple, serious inconsistencies in Lamo’s public claims (including ones in a lengthy interview with me), and argued that Wired should “either publish all of the chat logs, or be far more diligent about withholding only those parts which truly pertain only to Manning’s private and personal matters and/or which would reveal national security secrets.” Six months later, in December, I documented that numerous media reports about Manning and WikiLeaks were based on Lamo’s claims about what Manning told him in these chats — claims that could not be verified or disputed because Wired continued to conceal the relevant parts of the chat logs — and again called for “as much pressure as possible be applied to Wired to release those chat logs or, at the very least, to release the portions about which Lamo is making public claims or, in the alternative, confirm that they do not exist.”

  • Finance

    • America for Sale: Does Goldman Sachs Own Your City…Yet?

      In Chicago, it’s the sale of parking meters to the sovereign wealth fund of Abu Dhabi. In Indiana, it’s the sale of the northern toll road to a Spanish and Australian joint venture. In Wisconsin it’s public health and food programs, in California it’s libraries. It’s water treatment plants, schools, toll roads, airports, and power plants. It’s Amtrak. There are revolving doors of corrupt politicians, big banks, and rating agencies. There are conflicts of interest. It’s bipartisan.

    • Want to Solve All Your Problems, Rupert Murdoch? Become a Banker.

      Rupert Murdoch’s got problems. His employees are being arrested, he’s losing his latest acquisition, and he’s just been called to testify before Parliament. But there’s an easy way for Mr. Murdoch to protect himself from these inquiries and save his company at the same time: Turn the News Corporation into a Wall Street bank. There won’t be any prosecutions, and the government will even sweeten the deal with billions of dollars in easy money. And if Murdoch follows the trail blazed by bankers like Jamie Dimon at JPMorgan Chase, soon they’ll be begging him to acquire more companies.

      Murdoch and Dimon. One runs an organization that, as we now know, broke the law so many times it could be called a criminal syndicate. And the other is Rupert Murdoch. Yet Murdoch’s fighting for his corporation’s future while Dimon’s name is being floated as a possible Treasury Secretary. Murdoch’s losing his chance to expand market share, while our government helped Dimon’s bank become more too-big-to-fail than ever by grabbing up Morgan Stanley.

      Now that’s juice. Murdoch’s been a power broker on three continents and his Fox empire has reshaped this country’s political landscape, but Dimon’s taken the power game to a whole ‘nother level.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

Novell Business is Lost Following the Staff Loss

Posted in Mail, Microsoft, Novell at 4:15 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Novell goes down the drain

Sink drain

Summary: GroupWise abandoned while staff associated with it abandons the company; not only Microsoft gains from it as GNU/Linux companies too capitalise on Novell’s erosion

A lot of Novell staff fled or got canned. Well, now the business is lost, as expected. Hardly any boycott is needed at this stage; Novell is in a free fall and Attachmate seems apathetic about it.

Ken Muir left some days ago (well, the announcement at least came then) and almost everyone else at A- B- and C-level management already left. Muir was a key GroupWise person.

“NSW Health to dump Novell GroupWise,” tells us a pro-FOSS journalists whose reporting we typically enjoy. Sadly, as he explains, it’s Microsoft which gains here and:

Who knows what treasures can be found buried there [GroupWise], amongst the musty trappings of the past covered in dust? What glories await? What ghosts of the past?

This can also be found here and the original report is here. Attachmate remains quiet on GroupWise, which competes against Microsoft.

In other news from Australia, Novell continues to market the ZENworks product line (proprietary) and a lot of the news was flooded by the marketing PR Novell had paid some firm to generate. There are new faces in Novell’s PR blog, Michele Hudnall and Kim Lorusso, both promoting proprietary software

The importance and relevance of all this is that Novell gets punished for a bad strategy and for Boycott Novell the plan was to have Novell’s GNU/Linux business shifted to companies that do not help Microsoft. The site hopes that it is benefiting companies that do not pay Microsoft for Linux and thus provides an incentive to antagonise the patent extortion. Watch what bankers say about Red Hat right now:

The firm notes Linux shipments are expected to outpace both Windows and UNIX in CY2011 and the acquisition of Novell by Attachmate in November 2010 could help Red Hat increase its market share.

That is a good thing because Red Hat does not pay anything to Microsoft.

Xamarin and Mono a Dead End

Posted in Mono, Novell, OpenSUSE at 3:45 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Path

Summary: No apparent activity from the company behind Mono (for almost a week now)

Xamarin has already lost staff and also implicitly acknowledged trademark issues (never mind the copyrights and patent issues). Our reader “xjasonx” has asked in IRC: “how long do you think that mono company will last w/o funding? I’m thinking to the end of the month max. According to their github, they’ve only got 2 projects and neither have gotten any commits in at least 5 days

“Might even already be dead,” he remarks, “and they haven’t been in the news in a while either [...] it’s pretty pathetic that they can’t get any funding [...] even twitter can get funding”

MinceR responded by saying that “twitter’s business model isn’t based on “we hope MS and attachmate don’t sue” (probably the former).

Speaking of ‘ownership’ issues, despite Novell being sold and SUSE allegedly becoming separate, the bottom of all pages in the OpenSUSE sites states: “© 2010 Novell, Inc. All rights reserved. Novell is a registered trademark and openSUSE and SUSE are trademarks of Novell, Inc. in the United States and other countries.”

2010? Novell? Either Way, Marcus Hüwe helps SUSE at Google’s expense and Jos has a success story to tell along with Novell’s publicists. This whole thing does not look entirely promising for the project, which is still dependent and orphaned at the same time (from Novell). Attachmate has been killing whatever was FOSS in Novell (i.e. not much), but some of the proprietary dies too. More on that in the next post.

Sale of Linspire to Xandros Gets the Unofficial OK After Years in Court, Xandros Sells Scalix

Posted in Linspire, Microsoft, Patents, Scalix, Xandros at 3:26 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Imitating Microsoft Windows and paying Microsoft for GNU/Linux a poor strategy

Green hill

Summary: The companies that want to be like Windows die together, along with the lawsuit surrounding their merger/acquisition (as well as the sale of Scalix!)

IT HAS BEEN almost years since we regularly mentioned the second and third GNU/Linux vendors that agreed to pay Microsoft for patents. One bought the other, but this was followed by a long and ugly dispute between employees/managers of Linspire. Ever since then the court proceedings received little attention and the companies got mentioned as an historical reference in articles such as this one which mentions Linspire. Xandros vanished after Presto, although it got mentioned a lot in relation to ASUS returning to Linux, e.g. here and dozens of other publications in many languages. For the curious, we still have our Linspire/Xandros pages, which go all the way back to the time Kevin Carmony sold out to Ballmer, right after he had insulted GNU/Linux and used the “piracy” word. Anyway, the good news is that Carmony lost the legal case (plus legal expenses) in his attempt to defeat his former boss. According to a new report:

San Diego entrepreneur Michael Robertson claims he has scored a win in a lawsuit against the former CEO and CFO of Linspire. According to legal documents released by Robertson, former CEO Kevin Carmony and former CFO Chad Olson are liable for fraud, conspiracy, breach of fiduciary duty, and other counts in a spat over disagreements after Linspire was sold to Xandros.

And in other news, Scalix gets out of Xandros just years after Xandros bought it. Not a good sign for Xandros, eh?

Sebring Software Inc. (symbol: SMXI) acquired the Scalix Email and Calendaring Platform from Xandros Inc., a New York-based firm, for $12 million.

To complete the acquisition, Sebring will pay Xandros $5.75 million in cash over six months, plus 6.25 million shares of Sebring’s common stock, being valued at $1 per share, a release says.

There is more information about it in [1, 2].

Google- -

Posted in Google at 3:02 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Google+ and Facebook need to be avoided for being proprietary software traps with understated dangers

GOOGLE PLUS has been spamming people in order to gain subscribers. Moreover, it has lied to the public in order to create an illusion of scarcity (invites) and in many ways it remains similar to Facebook. Both are proprietary and running on a LAMP stack. Suffice to say, the main advantage we see in having Google+ is that it increases competition and reminds people that just flipping over a boolean flag to indicate one of hundreds of millions is a ‘friend’ only applies to one of several (potentially many) databases.

Techrights does not typically deal with social science and the attention whores that flock to Facebook despite its many abuses.

We have been more interested in Facebbook’s bad business practices, which include AstroTurfing, lock-in, patent aggression, privacy violations, censorship, and much more.

Not so long ago we wrote about Facebook’s insult to Free software. We are seeing it again:

After just a few days of operation, Facebook has already slammed the door for Open-Xchange’s OX.IO export tool. According to Facebook, the app violates its terms of service — but the company says “we are not violating anything.”

So here’s the scoop: Last week, Open-Xchange (a company that provides an Exchange-compatible email and collaboration suite) launched OX.IO. The new service is supposed to help users consolidate contact data, and worked with Facebook, but also works with GMail, GMX.de, LinkedIn, Yahoo!, SugarCRM, and a few others.

Recall what Facebook did to products associated with KDE. The way it just blocked software for competitive reasons provides insight into the danger of relying on third-part platforms, including Google. It wasn’t long ago that Google withdrew APIs it implicitly promised to support.

As we wrote several months ago, the only ‘social network’ Techrights is willing to endorse is Identi.ca (accounts named here).

Microsoft Did Sponsor the World’s Biggest Patent Troll (More Lawsuits Come), Paul/Troll Allen Loses Case

Posted in Microsoft, Patents at 2:58 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Nathan Myhrvold

Summary: How bigwigs from Microsoft continue to turn into patent trolls and attack the industry (including Linux), sometimes in vain

ONE of our readers found and sent over evidence suggesting that Bill Gates’ buddy (whom Gates financed) is suing some more companies, leaving no doubt about his status as the world's biggest patent troll, not just Microsoft’s former CTO. It is operations like his which help show how brutal and corrupt the patent system has become. He lobbies politicians, however, to keep it as broken as it is and thereby enrich himself and Bill. It is possible that even Torvalds’ patents are now being used by this patent troll and Groklaw adds: “Maybe it’s time for Silicon Valley to figure out that patents are the problem.” The same reader also found this pointer about “The National Association of Patent Practitioners (NAPP),” which is a euphemism for patent trolls. We have more of these stories in yesterday's daily links.

While on the subject of patent trolls from Microsoft (with Microsoft financial ties), how about Interval from Microsoft’s co-founder? It seems like it’s going down for Paul Allen:

Allen v. World – RECONSIDERATION DENIED! Interval Down in Flames

[...]

When you see a judge being that critical of a party and using words later in the order like “quibbles,” it is a sign the judge is losing patience.

So this action is now officially (even after reconsideration) stayed pending the outcome of the reexaminations.

The patent trolls still cost a lot in terms of legal fees, even if they lose, and the Against Monopoly people urge to put an end to this, including business method patents, which as we showed recently have some of the biggest lobbyists (bankers, not just patent trolls funded by Microsoft) doing whatever it takes to make matters worse. We wrote about this recently.

Android/Linux FUD is Calming Down, Microsoft Sympathisers Fantasise About Patents as Cash Cow

Posted in Apple, GNU/Linux, Google, Microsoft, Patents at 2:30 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Free

Summary: An analysis by reference, occurring shortly after the major news regarding Nortel’s patents and Oracle’s latest setback

ANOTHER day goes by and the level of patent FUD has decreased somewhat, which is good news. Tom Krazit wrote this article which we missed some days ago. He suggests for Google “Plan B—It’s perhaps a bit of a stretch to call this a “plan,” but Google is essentially throwing open its arms to the intellectual property community, willing to listen to just about anyone with mobile patents for sale or rent. It’s going to have to get patent coverage somehow, and it doesn’t seem to care if that’s through one-off deals with small companies, large acquisitions, or even patent licensing deals with its foes. It’s also hoping that federal regulators change the terms of the deal while they review it, similar to how a patent sale involving Novell was altered by the Department of Justice following complaints, and has a pipe dream that Congress may stop playing chicken with the debt ceiling and embrace real patent reform.

“Those who really pay for Nortel’s patent is all of us.”“This is a crucial summer for Android. It rose to prominence as the anti-iPhone, but has managed to unite Apple, Microsoft, and Research in Motion in a consortium of competitors who are trying to hit Google in its most vulnerable spot.”

It’s not a great piece at all, but it does get across the point about anti-competitive aspects.

Those who really pay for Nortel’s patent is all of us. It’s just a major tax on everything, as explained here:

The real losers here were us consumers who will pay more for things produced under the patents. We will also see less inter-company competition and less innovation. This further cements the already long standing position of the incumbents, which will also restrict innovation.

Still think patents promote innovation?

Compare that to shamelss Microsoft boosters like Ina Fried who say things like “Microsoft Could Make More From Android Licensing Than From Software” (other Microsoft boosters go with the same talking point these days). To quote an accurate observation: “This past week, Microsoft announced four deals with smaller Android device makers Onkyo, Wistron, Velocity Micro and General Dynamics Itronix.

“There are some differences between the current approach with Android and the one Microsoft took vis-à-vis Linux. With Linux, Microsoft generally avoided going the litigation route.”
      –Ina Fried
“There are some differences between the current approach with Android and the one Microsoft took vis-à-vis Linux. With Linux, Microsoft generally avoided going the litigation route. It wasn’t until years after it started licensing Linux that it filed its first suit involving Linux-related claims — a suit against GPS maker TomTom that was quickly settled.”

Yes, this is quite true, but Fried played along with Microsoft for several years in CNET, giving a platform to Microsoft’s patent racketeers and justifying these abusive actions. Fried should be utterly ashamed of it.

Companies like Novell were giving up without a fight or in Novell’s particular case actually approaching Microsoft for a deal. So in some sense, Fried’s quoted observation is correct. Based on reports we accumulated, Melco — not HTC — was probably the first company to cave at gunpoint. It is hard to tell for sure, however, due to NDAs.

Microsoft is not the only company in a position of offence against Android and we recognise that Oracle too needs to be watched. Based on more information from Groklaw, Google is doing quite alright trashing Oracle’s patents and Pogson adds:

If Google’s motion to include the new defences is accepted, Oracle’s case grows some huge holes a jury will be hard pressed to ignore. If Google’s motion is denied, Google will have excellent grounds to appeal a negative decision. There is no indication here that Google will take the easy way out and settle. There is indication that software patents will have another nail in their coffin. Google has the resources to find prior art and are experts at search.

The ’702 patent is about virtual machines, something IBM has been working with since the 1960s to divide up the resources of the System 360 mainframe. I remember that machine with its walk-in compartments and blinking incandescent lights. This all predated UCSD p system and Java by many years. IBM currently uses that history to sell its virtual solutions to customers. I am sure the judge will enjoy the reading. I am sure a fair judge will want the whole story to be told in court.

Here is one new report on the subject (from a trusted source). It says that the USPTO “has provisionally rejected, partially or in full, five of the seven Java patents over whose alleged infringement Oracle has taken Google to court. However, Oracle has refused to accept this rejection. In a response to the USPTO, the software vendor explains why it thinks that the reference to “prior art” does not apply.”

Apple and Oracle are connected through their CEOs, Ellison and Jobs. We wrote a lot about this.

“One Finger OK, But Only Steve Jobs Can Use Two,” reads this headline

Roughly speaking, Apple seems to be claiming that if you use more than one finger to do something on a touchscreen, you’re infringing on their intellectual property.

Apple will probably try to use such patents against Android tablets. For shame.

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