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07.21.11

Site Maturity

Posted in Site News at 7:37 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Enquiry about the #1 priority of Techrights now that the site has covered many of the important areas

AS we approach the 14,000 post milestone (our wiki’s front page now exceeds 3,000 non-cached requests per day) and look back for a bit, we realise the most of the critical patterns have been covered by now. Moreover, Novell is really quite dead in the news and Linux is basically winning the operating systems fight, even if it is being called “Android”. Our priority now, as the site is rather mature when it comes to scope it has covered, is to have software patents withdrawn from the United States, or at least prevent them from spreading to other counties. Are there any objections to this being a priority?

Windows Still Designed for Insecurity

Posted in Microsoft, Security, Windows at 7:25 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Injection

Summary: New reports about bad Windows security

ONE OF OUR readers said that “Vista/Windows 7 are remote rooted through bluetooth” according to a report which says that “Windows laptops are configured to … turn on Bluetooth when the computer’s wireless Internet component is active or searching for networks (which, for many machines, is all the time).” CNET is meanwhile naming Windows in relation to malware. It quotes/attributes this to Google:

The malware only affects computers running the Windows operating system, according to a post by Google engineer Matt Cutts. Systems can be tested by running a Web search for any word, he said.

At Google, not many people are using Windows and within a few years it is possible that almost nobody will use Windows. It sure seems like Android takes over not only phones (even at Apple’s expense) but also tablets. We provided new links earlier.

Microsoft Plays Dirty PR Games to Daemonise Sceptics of Convicted Criminals

Posted in Deception, GNU/Linux, Google, Kernel, Marketing, Microsoft, Novell at 7:15 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Splash

Summary: Response to Microsoft’s latest public perception manipulations; a note about Mono portfolio and its proprietary nature under Xamarin’s wing

THE “killing with kindness” trick is a very effective one and it’s one that Microsoft’s PR people have used for a long time in order to paint critics of a convicted monopoly abuser (which engages in bribery, extortion, defamation, etc.) as “intolerant”, essentially characterising the victim as the offending party. We saw some of these tricks being used by pro-Microsoft lobbyists as well, e.g. in order to describe companies that Microsoft is attacking as the “bad” companies.

A new Microsoft video for the Linux Foundation — like a cake for Firefox — is part of this tactic which we have covered here for years. This comes around the same time as other PR efforts which we have been seeing this week [1, 2, 3], culminating perhaps in the suggestion that Microsoft “contributes” to Linux. Well, as the Microsoft booster from IDG points out, the real story is that Microsoft is kept aside after Microsoft violated the GPL and then needed to comply. A lot of people forget the background of Microsoft’s Hyper-V driver, which involves a well bribed Novell, a GPL violation complaint, and then massive PR/spin campaign from Microsoft. We covered this at the time and we covered it very exhaustively. As Larry reminds people:

So don’t get me started on those who would be like Neville Chamberlain trying to achieve “peace in our time” with Microsoft when the results would more than likely be, well, catastrophic as they were in Europe in the late ’30s and ’40s.

A leopard (even a Snow Leopard, but we’re getting off-topic) can’t change its spots, and to hear folks even discuss bringing up the possibility of working with Microsoft arguably is akin to collaborating with the enemy.

Microsoft’s participation in contributions to the Linux kernel, as discussed here yesterday, is based on fixing virtualization code they contributed to the kernel when it appeared that they had taken GPLed code to include in their program. So their original contribution of the code to the Linux kernel a couple of years ago was to comply with the GPL; fixing it, too, was their responsibility as outlined by the license as well. Do they deserve any special consideration for doing what they’re supposed to do?

A lot of this debate started due to bad headlines from the Linux community, later resulting in an open question for a Linux audiocast whose answers got summarised here (more in part 2). To quote one example:

spangwich said, “Microsoft’s ideology is diametrically opposed to that embodied in the Free Software movement. One is about owning, controlling and profiteering from doing so, and the other is about sharing, collaborating and (using the word carefully) ‘democratising’.”

Consider those in the ‘community’ who sidle with Microsoft, the Microsoft MVP Miguel de Icaza for example. As Microsoft's booster Anderson points out, de Icaza’s projects (hinged on Mono) became proprietary software-selling products, not an open source set of projects. According to de Icaza’s own blog, they now target Macs (with Microsoft API). Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols has another rather deceiving headline which implies that MonoDroid and MonoTouch are open-source .NET when these are in fact proprietary products with patent risk.

It is a tad disturbing that sympathisers and collaborators of a company with criminal past (and present) are described as “peaceful”, whereas those who want justice are made to be seen as “radical”.

Tell Google Not to Buy Software Patents

Posted in GNU/Linux, Google, Patents at 6:32 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

End Software Patents

Summary: Amid reports about InterDigital negotiations, Techrights urges people around the world to stop Google from playing along with software patents

HTC has already been extorted by Microsoft and now it is Apple which wants to extort HTC because Android is winning (see earlier links digests). As noted yesterday, Google promises to help HTC, but according to this, Google is looking into joining the patents cartel after losing the Nortel bid (Google does not deny this after an approach from the media). “Nowhere was that more evident than in the bidding for Nortel’s 6,000 patents and patent applications,” says CNET, “which cover wireless, data networking, optical, and voice technologies, among others. The bidding drew fierce competition, which drove up the price, and ultimately ended with the $4.5 billion winning bid by a consortium that included Apple, EMC, Ericsson, Microsoft, Research In Motion, and Sony.”

“The only reasonable solution is to educate the public about the harms of software patents and put an end to those.”We need to tell Google to fight against software patents, not acquire them. Who is doing the thinking at Google these days, the lawyers or the engineers? The real solution is to eliminate software patents, preventing incidents such as this: “Patent concerns are apparently pushing Chinese phone vendors away from Google’s Android operating system and toward Windows Phone 7. Huawei and ZTE plan to adopt Microsoft’s smartphone operating system when the forthcoming “Mango” upgrade is released, according to a DigiTimes report.” It seems more like an anecdote and not part of a general trend. But either way, how would having software patents help Google in this case? It would not. The only reasonable solution is to educate the public about the harms of software patents and put an end to those. Tell senior/high-profile Android staff like Tim Bray [tbray@textuality.com] and Chris DiBona [cdibona@google.com] to stop playing with patents and instead playing against them (I have mailed them myself). These people are engineers and managers, not lawyers. Google would only increase the value of software patents by buying some, so now is the time to pressure Google to reconsider its strategy.

Links 21/7/2011: Linux is Gradually Beating Apple in Europe

Posted in News Roundup at 5:51 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Developer gets Chromium OS up and running on a MacBook Air

    A UK-based developer who finally scraped together enough money for a MacBook Air managed to hack Google’s Chromium OS onto it a short time later, according to a blog post published on Tuesday. Chromium’s startup time is slower than OS X and the need for BIOS emulation bogs the entire thing down, but the author managed to force the OS and the hardware to put aside most of their differences. For science.

  • Server

  • Kernel Space

    • Linus is on Google+ will Linux users follow?

      Where Linus goes, I (for better or for worse) will now follow. If he’s on Google +, the so am I. For journalist that cover Linux, I suppose they’ll all come to the same conclusion too. But what about users?

      Following the LKML can be a tedious and painful process. If Linus is not giving out vital human-readable kernel information over Google + won’t that be interesting to potentially millions of people? (or at least tens of thousands?)

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments

    • Good Bye, Kubuntu! Hello, Linux Mint XFCE!!!

      If you look at systems, you see that I have GNOME (Debian) and KDE (Mageia). Would it be nice to have something else installed? Yes, and this something else is XFCE.

    • Black day for green jobs: Feds prepare to cut environmental agency

      The federal government will slash funding to the environmental agency that evaluates potentially harmful policies and projects before they get the green light.

      And if the trend in declining funds and employees continues, Canada could experience a series of environmental disasters, as government loses access to valuable information about proposed resource projects — whether it’s shale gas extraction, offshore drilling or big hydroelectric projects, critics say.

  • Distributions

    • New Releases

    • PCLinuxOS/Mageia/Mandrake/Mandriva Family

      • Mageia: the return of the Girl Next Door

        Like many acolytes in the Temple of the Mighty Penguin, I had my first successful Linux experience with Ubuntu. (It was 7.04. I still have the disk.) I was generally satisfied with Ubuntu, but had some trouble with WiFi, looked for alternatives, enjoyed the exploratory nature of distrohopping, and sometime in 2009 I made my way over to Arch Linux. I liked Arch Linux. I liked commencing a hardworking, creative day with startx. I liked trying to keep up with the new stuff that populated the repos daily, almost hourly. But one day, I ran the pacman -Syu command, which is something like the conary updateall command I waxed hysterical about in a previous post. After that, my Work Computer didn’t work.

    • Debian Family

      • Derivatives

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Latest Roku boxes shrink, get their game on

      Roku announced three new versions of its Linux-based, Netflix-ready streaming IP media player, all running on less than two Watts and adding support for casual gaming. The Roku 2 HD ($60) supports 720p playback; the Roku 2 XD($80) moves up to 1080p; and the Roku 2 XS ($100) adds USB and Ethernet ports, as well as a motion-control remote and Angry Birds.

    • Roku officially unveils new game-enabled video players
    • Linux-Based Wireless Device Server

      Lantronix, a leading global provider of smart connectivity solutions that enable cloud-based access to virtually any device, anywhere, anytime, today announced the commercial availability of its next generation Linux-based wireless device server, PremierWave EN™. Also available with this release of PremierWave EN is an embedded Linux development offering from Timesys Corp., provider of the industry’s most-easy-to-use and affordable embedded Linux development products and professional services.

    • Phones

      • Android

        • Dual-core Droid 3 slider is Motorola’s best yet, review says

          Motorola’s Droid 3 is a nice addition to the Android smartphone family Verizon Wireless began selling in October 2009, according to this eWEEK review. With a new keyboard, an eight megapixel camera, and Android 2.3 (“Gingerbread”), this device is “the best of the Droids yet.”

        • Apple suffers stunning iPhone market share slide

          Android drowns out iPhone sales in Europe

        • Apple gets a kicking in Europe

          It seems that the heathens in Europe are abandoning the fruity cargo-cult Apple almost as fast as the Anglican church is losing its members.

          According to Computerworld, Jobs’ Mob has lost more than a third of its UK iPhone market share since June 2010.

          Apparently Apple’s moderate majority have had a gutsful of the Walled Garden of Delights and are converting to Android.

          Apple fanboys are insisting that the reason for the conversions is because the world is waiting for the new iPhone 4, which are slightly cheaper.

          The figures come from Kantar and are mostly being seen as a sign that Symbian is dying more than anything else. For example in the UK Symbian’s share fell from 32.7 percent to 10.7 percent. However what is strange is that while RIM in most countries in the UK its share rose from 19.4 percent to 22.3 percent.

        • Android Phones Help Poor Farmers in Uganda

          About 400 so-called “community knowledge workers” in Uganda are using Android phones loaded with an open-source data-collection application that feeds data into Salesforce. The phones are powered by batteries that can be recharged in a variety of ways, including solar and bicycle.

    • Sub-notebooks/Tablets

      • Lenovo’s Honeycomb tablets feature Netflix

        Lenovo announced two Android 3.1 tablets: a consumer-oriented IdeaPad Tablet K1 claimed to be the first tablet to offer Netflix, and a business-focused ThinkPad Tablet. Each tablet follows the Honeycomb script by offering an Nvidia Tegra 2 processor, a 10.1-inch WXGA display, and dual cameras, but the ThinkPad also features pen support and a standard-size USB port and SD reader.

Free Software/Open Source

  • Top general says Defense Department IT in ‘Stone Age’

    Cartwright, who was speaking at the FOSE information technology conference here, said the DOD is sending increasing amounts of data, such as video, to soldiers on the battlefield, and it’s beginning to build an architecture “that starts to take us where we need to be.” But Cartwright quickly tempered that.

    “Quite frankly, my feeling is — at least being a never-satisfied person — the department is pretty much in the Stone Age as far as IT is concerned,” Cartwright said.

    Cartwright cited problems with proprietary systems that aren’t connected to anything else and are unable to quickly adapt to changing needs. “We have huge numbers of data links that move data between proprietary platforms — one point to another point,” he said.

    The most striking example of an IT failure came during the second Gulf War, where the Marines and the Army were dispatched in southern Iraq.

  • New hardware-based open source tool to measure broadband performance

    BISMark, a project led by Georgia Tech and the University of Napoli, measures Internet performance via router

    Researchers have released a new open source tool that could be downloaded by anyone to measure their broadband speed and identify speed issues if any.

  • Mozilla

  • SaaS

    • OpenStack Turns 1

      It was 1 year ago today that openstack was officially announced.

      I remember the day well, because it was the first time I’ve spoken with Chris Kemp, NASA’s chief technology officer for IT. NASA was one of the key founding members of OpenStack alongside Rackspace.

      It is NASA’s Nebula engine that started off as the core compute cloud technology, while Rackspace’s tech is on the storage side.

  • CMS

  • BSD

    • What to expect in OpenBSD 5.0 onwards

      That does not mean that there is nothing to be excited about this time around, only that the OpenBSD approach is about guided and well planned evolution rather than revolutionary changes where large chunks of code are thrown away and replaced with new, untested code with bugs to be explored and exploited until a future dot-something-else release is finally considered stable.

      [...]

      In about six months’ time, you will see blog posts and other news items announcing the change to OpenBSD 5.1-beta, and we will be gearing up for yet another OpenBSD release. In any case, the best way to support the project (that produces, among other widely used software, OpenSSH, more likely than not by a wide margin, your remote login system) in addition to contributing code, testing and direct donations is to go to the OpenBSD Orders page and order one or more items.

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • Free software isn’t a single school of thought

      However, even a brief investigation shows that the term “free software” covers a wide variety of positions. To start with, there are degrees of support for the general beliefs. Some free software supporters never use proprietary software. Others will use proprietary software, but only if no practical free software alternative exists. A few will even use proprietary software if it is the best-quality alternative.

      Then there are the points of emphasis. While most free software advocates focus — naturally enough — on software, there are those like Peter Brown, the former executive director of the Free Software Foundation, who consider free software something that should be part of the general progressive philosophy, like recycling or environmentalism. You can also find people still who use the term “open source” as it was originally intended as a less intimidating term and who champion free software values. Increasingly, too, I’m encountering people who view free and open source software alike as part of a general movement towards free culture and technology that includes other interests such as the Open Access and Maker movements.

  • Licensing

    • Project Harmony: Red Hat and Others are Early Critics

      Recently, one of the biggest topics in the open source arena has been whether businesses and organizations are giving back to the projects and communities that they benefit from. In this post, we discussed how many organizations that now use open source aren’t giving back at all. While this debate is ongoing, though, there is a coordinated effort to establish rules and guidelines for making contributions to open source. It’s called Project Harmony, is heavily backed by Canonical, and is stirring up quite a bit of controversy.

  • Openness/Sharing

    • Backblaze open sources 135TB storage architecture
    • Open Hardware

      • Robots for Humanity, Powered by Open Source

        A new collaborative robotics project is ripping the idea of autonomous assistance for the disabled out from the land of science-fiction and planting it firmly in the real world – and all using the power of Open Source.

        ‘Robots for Humanity’ is the result of a team up between Willow Garage, developers of personal robotics hardware and software, ‘Healthcare Robotics Lab’ at Georgia Tech and disabled user Henry Evans and his wife Jane.

Leftovers

  • Security

  • Cablegate

    • WikiLeaks show US calling shots in Haiti

      A month before a newly elected Haitian President René Préval was to assume office in 2006, frustrated U.S. officials found themselves in a diplomatic tussle with Haiti’s interim government over returning criminals to the country.

      Nine months earlier, the U.S. had unofficially halted deportations amid concerns that deportees were behind a wave of kidnappings and violence. With presidential elections over, and the security situation somewhat improved, U.S. officials wanted the program resumed.

    • Harvard internet hero arrested on hacking charges

      A respected Harvard researcher has been arrested in Boston on charges related to computer hacking, based on allegations that he downloaded articles that he was entitled to get for free.

      A US federal indictment was unsealed on Tuesday on charges that Aaron Swartz broke into the computer networks at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to gain access to JSTOR, a non-profit online service for distributing scholarly articles, and downloaded 4.8 million articles and other documents – nearly the entire library.

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

  • Civil Rights

  • Copyrights

    • Movie industry buries report proving pirates are great consumers

      The movie and music industry seem hell bent on portraying pirates as criminals and parasites who cost both industries billions of dollars in lost sales. In order to prove this fact a number of studies are commissioned to help demonstrate the effect a pirate has on sales of entertainment.

      The problem with this approach is that it has been found to be biased towards portraying pirates as the movie industry wants them to be seen, rather than presenting the facts. A great example of this has been discovered by the German-language politics and media website Telepolis.

    • Frustrated judge pushes Google digital book deal

      A Manhattan federal judge set a Sept. 15 deadline for Google, authors and publishers to come up with a legal plan to create the world’s largest digital library, expressing frustration that the six-year-old dispute has not been resolved.

      At a hearing on Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Denny Chin said if the dispute is not “resolved or close to resolved in principle” by mid-September, he will set a “relatively tight schedule” for the parties to prepare for a possible trial.

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