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08.08.11

Links 8/8/2011: Many New Games, Reviews

Posted in News Roundup at 11:35 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Opinion: Is economic collapse good for Linux?

    Thus, though we may face economic hardships not seen since the Great Depression of the 1930s, we can at least look forward to a Linux Renaissance.

  • Asus Support – Excellent and Linux Friendly

    I’d heard stories from fellow Linux users about companies not honoring hardware warranties, unless Windows was reinstalled on the system. It’s wrong, but it does happen. I called up the Asus support line and after jumping through a countless number of automated menus I arrived at someone who could help me. After being walked through a few id-10-t checks the person on the phone agreed with me that the unit needed to be sent to a repair center. It didn’t matter that the system was running Linux, it was a clear hardware issue.

  • Linux, Linux, everywhere!

    Not long ago, I started to realize that Linux is already creeping up on me from all sides. People who have never heard of Linux were raving about it. They were showing me their latest gadgets and telling me how cool they were. After several months of random people going on about their gadgets I did realize that Linux is everywhere and it came upon us from an unusual source. If you haven’t figured it out yet, I am talking about Android which is based on the Linux kernel. A lot of people purchasing their latest phones do not know what Linux is or that Android is based on the Linux kernel. However, they are definitely happy with their latest hardware and the many features Android has. Moreover, Android phones are selling in large quantities and are surpassing Blackberry and iPhone sales. This is amazing and the trend seems to be continuing with excellent and solid phones such as the Samsung Galaxy S2. The Galaxy S2 is a gorgeous phone and it is even better than the iPhone 4. Apple will definitely have to come up with many cool new features for the iPhone 5 to be able to compete with the Android Smartphones.

  • Evolution of the Operating System

    UPDATE SJVN has an article out with a similar theme.

    “In the long run, the question isn’t going to be “Which desktop operating system is going to be the winner?” No, it’s going to be, “Which mobile operating system will be the winner.””

    I don’t quite agree with that. I see a very diverse ecosystem in the future with many systems working together. There will be a need for “desktop” systems for a long while:

    * huge screens just are not mobile…
    * there are heavy tasks that just work better with storage and computing power close together…
    * thin clients can work with large displays and still be cool, quiet and unobtrusive…
    * desktop systems and notebooks can shrink quite a bit if we get rid of huge hard drives, power supplies, and CD drives. I expect a lot of the mobile tech will invade the desktop/notebook space…

    see Is XP finally dying or is it the PCs it’s been running on?

  • Linux Australia sorts out finances, keeps membership free

    Australia’s peak body for Linux and open source software, Linux Australia, will change its constitution and financial year arrangement this month and has committed to offering free memberships for anyone interested in the organisation’s programs and events.

    Linux Australia is an incorporated organisation in the state of NSW and operates as a non-profit, not a charity.

  • Windows is Dying… and so are Macintosh and Linux

    Writing in ZDnet.com, Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols has an interesting article. Well, it was interesting to me, and I suspect anyone else interested in the future of computing will enjoy reading it also. Vaughan-Nichols points out that the number of Windows XP computers has now slipped to slightly under 50% of all installed personal computers. Windows Vista remains steady at 10% and Windows 7 has edged up slightly to about 28% of the market. The small remaining percentages comprise Macintosh OS X plus a tiny handful of people who use Linux.

  • Indemnification assurance for community edition open source

    Bristol-based LinuxIT is launching an indemnification programme to underwrite community-based open source software. The company claims to be able to provide organisations with a “guarantee and assurance at zero risk”, no less.

    This arguably somewhat questionable claim is achieved by LinuxIT’s process of “verifying open source software” by running it through an accreditation process.

    The programme which is backed by an as yet unnamed “leading” global insurance-based financial services provider and a LinuxIT Service Level Agreement (SLA), which the company says enables LinuxIT to fix or replace software that does not work as expected. Cover to the value of £5m is provided.

  • Desktop

    • GNU/Linux on the Server Side Helps ‘Desktop Linux’

      The myths about “desktop Linux” are mostly associated and tied to “easy of use”. Many people, mostly ones with next to zero experience when it comes to GNU/Linux, have blindly decided that the slow growth of GNOME and KDE is due to an inherent problem other than marketing. But perceptions are changing when people discover that they are surrounded by GNU/Linux, even if their own client machine does not run a Free/libre operating system.

    • Linux Netbook Review: ZaReason Teo Pro Netbook

      The Teo Pro is yet another netbook running Ubuntu Linux and equipped with the venerable Atom N450. In fact, spec wise the Teo Pro is almost identical to the Terra HD except that the Teo Pro has a 10.1 inch 1024×600 LCD and one less USB port. Everything else in the loaner they sent me is equivalent to the Terra HD. As shipped, my loaner had a Atom N450, Intel NM10 Chipset, Intel GMA 3150 graphics, Intel HD Audio, 2 USB 2.0 ports, 1.3 Megapixel Webcam, 10/100 Ethernet, 2 GB of ram and a 40 GB SSD. The default configuration opts for a 320 GB 5400 RPM hard disk and 1 GB Ram. The SSD makes this netbook a little faster than my normal netbook since it has a set of spinning platters.

    • KVM Virtualization: Ready for the Desktop?

      There are almost more virtualization tools out there today than even Wikipedia can count. KVM, however, stands out among them as perhaps the only free, non-commercial and open source hypervisor designed for enterprise-grade performance. And it’s come far in its (comparatively) short life — so far, in fact, that it may be time to consider it as a virtualization solution for the desktop as well as the server.

      KVM, which stands for Kernel-based Virtual Machine and has nothing to do with KVM switches, is a somewhat younger project than most of its major competitors including VMware’s hypervisors, VirtualBox and Xen. It’s also different from many other virtualization tools because it focuses on deep integration with the kernel itself, theoretically providing performance advantages over hypervisors that exist mainly in userspace.

    • 5 great uses for your old Windows computer

      Linux tester. Many Linux users start with an older machine to avoid the shame of buyer’s remorse (or, well, installer’s remorse, anyway). Linux isn’t a resource hog, so even decrepit old machines can usually handle it with grace and style. If you’re curious, it’s incredibly simple to install Ubuntu, and much easier than you would think to actually make a complete transition from Windows.

  • Audiocasts/Shows

  • Kernel Space

    • A Look at the Filesystem Hierarchy Standard 3.0

      It was big news when the 3.0 kernel was released at the end of July, but as luck would have it, another fundamental piece of your average distribution is about to bump its own version number up to 3.0 as well: the filesystem hierarchy standard (FHS). If you’re not sure exactly what that means or why you should care, don’t worry. It’s the distros that implement the FHS — when it goes well, all you know is that your system runs smoothly. But that doesn’t mean there’s nothing important hidden away in this new release.

    • Linux Creator Linus Torvalds and Other Hackers Don Penguin Suits, Tuxedos at Formal Celebration of the 20th Anniversary of Linux
    • The First Shot Towards GStreamer 1.0

      Back in June I mentioned the plans for GStreamer 1.0 and that work is now beginning to materialize. GStreamer 0.11 has just been officially released as the first development snapshot for what will turn into the notable GStreamer 1.0 release.

    • Intel Sandy Bridge Speeds Up On Linux 3.1 Kernel

      Last week the DRM pull went in for the Linux 3.1 kernel. For the Intel DRM graphics driver in the Linux kernel there is frame-buffer compression clean-ups, high color support, ring frequency scaling, shared LLC support, and hang-check module disabling. Compared to the Linux 3.0 kernel, the driver improvements significantly boost the open-source graphics performance for Intel Sandy Bridge hardware.

    • Graphics Stack

      • Multiple X Servers For One Graphics Card, Again

        One of the long sought after features of X.Org and the Linux graphics stack has been the ability to run multiple X Servers from a single graphics card. While this wouldn’t be used by many, there are still many interested in seeing this feature request become a reality.

      • A Handful Of Patches Arrive For Wayland
      • NVIDIA 280 Linux Driver Series Becomes Official
      • A Modular Rendering System For ioquake3 Engine

        The ioquake3 game engine, the open-source project built around id Software’s Quake 3 engine release and is used by a number of multi-platform games, has its rendering system now modularized.

        The ioquake3 project has long had asspirations to move to a modular rendering system (see this Wiki page from last uear) in order to modernize this Quake 3 engine adaptation while maintaining compatibility with original Quake 3 content. In particular, developers are interested in modernizing the graphics and content capabilities.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments

    • OpenBox 3.5.0 Window Manager Released

      OpenBox, the window manager originally derived from Blackbox and is used by the LXDE desktop environment and other niche configurations, has just reached its version 3.5 milestone release.

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC)

      • new Plasma Active repos
      • Shadow and no Oxygen
      • Amarok 2.4.3 “Berlin”

        As you may remember, the last beta release was 2.4.2 beta 1. After that, we did roll a 2.4.2 (final) tarball, but because of some issues which were fixed right after the tag we decided to make another tarball and call it 2.4.3.

      • Kde 4.7 Released And In The Wild

        If you are a 4.6 user who has just upgraded, don’t expect to be aware of major changes the first time you reboot. Some of the core applications have been updated, but most of the work has gone into improving the underlying frameworks. The applications themselves have been shifted to a greater reliance on Akonadi, the PIM storage framework and NEPOMUK, the semantic information database.

        Kontact is the KDE PIM suite that includes email, contacts and appointments. Again, don’t expect to see many apparent differences when using the applications as most of the changes take the form of a switch to Anakondi for data storage. The mail component, Kmail is an example of this as it has been rechristened Kmail 2, although it looks almost identical to the previous version.

      • Modular KDE 4.7.0 arrives for Slackware

        The 4.7.0 release comes in the form of many more tarballs than usual. I needed to find time to re-write the KDE.SlackBuild we use to compile all of the KDE-related packages, and the holiday period was the first time I found some time to think and work on the script. I took the modular X.Org script and modeled the new KDE.SlackBuild after that. The advantage with the new script is that new source tarballs can easily be incorporated into the build framework now, and the new package that would be created from that source takes only a few extra lines of configuration to be added. Unfortunately, writing and testing took a while, and you had to wait for a complete set of packages a little longer.

      • Continuous Integration for KWin
      • New Pup is Born, Dolphin 2.0

        Dolphin, that underappreciated file manager shipped with KDE, has had a hard time. Many users didn’t want it in the first place. Many were upset that it replaced Konqueror as the default file manager. Some have real complaints and will never be happy with it. But those who use Dolphin might be happy with some of the newest changes coming in KDE 4.8.

        Peter Penz today blogged about his latest work on Dolphin and the major improvement he discussed was the “view-engine” for the view mode. Dolphin currently uses Qt’s Interview Framework which might be slow, unstable, and a pain for developers to work with. For these reasons Penz said he will be switching to Itemviews-NG which is said to make things “simpler, faster, and easier to use.”

      • Phonon VLC 0.4.1 – The Rise of Legacy Media

        This thrilling new release of the VLC backend for Phonon features vastly improved subtitle loading, support for it, s3m and xm, as well as greater stability in case of a broken libvlc installation.

      • Try KDE 4.7.0 now
      • Improvements in KOrganizer 4.7
      • KDE 4.7 – You didn’t think you would get off that easily, would you?
      • wetabirific

        Last week, I received a WeTab, hansomely provided into my care by the folks at OpenSLX so that I can track Plasma Active development on that device. Getting it set up was quite straight forward, particularly as the one I received already had firmware that supported booting from external media. Perfect. After a few small glitches related to the release of Plasma Workspaces 4.7, which caused some of the repositories to move around for us, I got the thing up and running. There are still some rough edges, and I’m hoping Sebastian and I can huddle together during the upcoming Berlin Desktop Summit to file some of them off as he probably currently has more experience with the WeTab and Plasma Active than anyone else.

        One result of having the WeTab in my hands is that I’ve been able to start collecting a list of tasks that need attention between now and the 1.0 release of Contour. It’s also giving me great hands-on opportunities with Plasma Active on a device of this form factor.

    • GNOME Desktop

      • GNOME Visual Identity manual
      • Can GNOME 3 Become the Next Big Open Source UI Contender?

        To my surprise, GNOME Shell in its latest iteration actually worked relatively well. Not only was it stable — more stable, in fact, than the normal Ubuntu 11.04 interface, which has been crashing my Intel Sandy Bridge graphics driver periodically for reasons I’m still trying to track down — but it was also actually usable, a far cry from the last (beta) version of the interface I’d tested.

  • Distributions

    • FOSS, Linux, Distros and Life

      Distros. Fool me once, shame on you. My dear wife and I have come to the realization that distros are willing to throw their users to the curb for any or no reason. Those of you who drive the distro development need to pay more attention to your users. In fact, that is the only thing you should be looking at. I or we shall use what works. Make it hard to set up or hard to install missing whatevers and we will just download and try the other guy’s distro. If we have a distro we like and the community within that distro is rude or unfriendly, well I guess we know where we do not belong. Some of the communities that are distro-specific have become exclusionary to the extreme. They will not play with others. I live in a town of 12,000 or so people. We have 13 different churches, all Christian, and 14 AA groups. So maybe I am wrong, being divisive may be the way of the future? Group hug?

    • New Releases

      • SystemRescueCD & Parted Magic update to Linux 3.0

        The developers of the SystemRescueCd and the Parted Magic multi-platform partitioning tool have released new versions of their Linux distributions. Both of the updates are based on the latest 3.0 release of the Linux kernel and offer a number of changes and package updates, such as Firefox 5 and version 0.9.0 of the GNOME Partition Editor (GParted).

        Version 6.4 of Parted Magic has some “major improvements” on systems with Radeon and Mobile4 graphics cards. Other changes include updating Clonezilla to version 1.2.9-19. The developers also note that SMP support was removed from the i486 kernel, and an option to use the NV driver has been added to the failsafe menu due to issues with the Nouveau X.org driver.

    • PCLinuxOS/Mageia/Mandrake/Mandriva Family

      • Japanese in PCLinuxOS? Of course!

        After having installed PCLinuxOS 2011.6, I must say that I am very pleased with it. Differently from Mandriva 2010.2, I can see videos and listen to MP3 files out of the box and I don’t need to fiddle with the system to mount the partitions where my other Linux distributions are. It seems that everything works as expected. Great!

        But I still had one concern. Although I’m not a power user, for my work, I require a feature that is not very common: a Japanese input method editor. That’s one major area (of the many) where Windows 7 fails miserably; you are expected to pay more to obtain a Japanese-capable system, which is a rip off because regular XP did include a Japanese IME. Oh, well, we are familiar with the “Less-is-more” philosophy underlying Windows…Too bad it doesn’t apply to your pocket ;-)

      • Mageia 1

        It’s unfortunate that as venerable a distro as Mandriva ran into some corporate trouble. However, I’ve always been the type that believes you should make lemonade out of lemons and so apparently are the Mageia developers. They have taken a bad situation and turned it into something very positive indeed! Mageia is off to a very good start and I look forward to seeing more releases of this fine distro.

        I particularly like how community-oriented Mageia is; the Mageia developers have made it very easy for users to participate and help develop this distro. That’s a great approach and I think it will reap a lot of dividends for Mageia as the years go by and this distro matures.

      • Time for some news

        As most of you who are following either my twitter or facebook has already noticed, I am working at Intel now, within the Intel Linux Graphics group.

    • Red Hat Family

      • Review: CentOS 6.0

        So what’s the deal? CentOS is outwardly identical to Scientific Linux except for four things: branding, lack of boot splash, lack of multimedia codecs included out-of-the-box, and lack of compositing/desktop effects out-of-the-box.

      • Red Hat completes 10 years of Linux Kernel Leadership

        This milestone presents a good opportunity to reflect on what has been an exciting and vibrant period of time

        The recent numbering change in the Linux kernel brings to a close a 10 year history of the prior kernel series. This milestone presents a good opportunity to reflect on what has been an exciting and vibrant period of time – over 10 million lines of code have been added to the Linux kernel. This is a great testament to the power of community. Over time, the contribution levels among companies has fluctuated, however, Red Hat has consistently been among the top employer contributors. The fine folks at LWN in cooperation with several developers have long maintained statistics and reported results.

      • Red Hat Extends Open Source Summer Teaching Program to the Academic Year

        Red Hat, Inc. (NYSE: RHT), the world’s leading provider of open source solutions, today announced the expansion of its Professors’ Open Source Summer Experience (POSSE) 2011 that took place in late July in Raleigh, NC. Now in it third year, POSSE is a higher education faculty program that immerses professors in the culture, tools and practices of open source communities. Due to the overwhelming success of this year’s summer weekend workshop, several POSSE activities are scheduled throughout the 2011-2012 North American school year.

      • Fedora

        • Governance and scarcity.

          Recall the friction a year or two ago regarding how to advertise different spins of Fedora on the website, and whether or not the layout would recommend a default spin, or promote one spin as a first-among-equals. Real estate on the front page of fedoraproject.org is a scarce resource, which leads to lots of people debating the most efficient way to allocate it.

    • Debian Family

      • Debconf

        I’m very excited about the recent progress on expo.debian.net (a mentors.debian.net replacement), which could help streamline our sponsorship process.

      • Recent improvements with Debian GNU/kFreeBSD

        Debian GNU/kFreeBSD was first released with Squeeze in last february. The “technology preview” label indicated, among other things, that it had a number of limitations when compared with what users would expect: missing features, incomplete functionality, etc.

      • Derivatives

        • Aptosid 2011-02: is it any good?

          Aptosid is Debian-based Linux distribution aiming desktops of users wishing to live on cutting edge of technology. It is based on Debian Sid, which is unstable branch. Sid is kind of sandbox where developers can test their ideas before they are moved to Testing and eventually to Stable releases. It means that while Debian as whole is considered by many as rock-solid system, Sid should never be considered as such. And this is a platform for Aptosid.

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Ubuntu Software Centre’s New Look

            Few people would argue that the Ubuntu Software Cenre in its current forms needs a makeover. Thankfully it is getting one, although whether or not it will be ready in time for Oneiric’s release in October is a whole different debate.

          • Interview with Em
          • Many Ubuntu Users Still Hate The Unity Desktop

            Two weeks ago on Phoronix it was asked what do you dislike or hate about Ubuntu? This was following a discussion on the Ubuntu development list about Ubuntu developer applicants being asked about what they like the least about Ubuntu. The overwhelming response among Phoronix readers was clear: they still really hate the Unity desktop.

          • Getting to know Ubuntu Software Center

            For all of Ubuntu’s ease of use (and, yes, I do find it easy to use), installing software can be a pain. There are so many ways to do the deed: manually installing software, using apt-get, compiling, using .deb packages. And, of course, my (least) favourite: Synaptic Package Manager).

          • Ubuntu Weekly Newsletter Issue 226
          • Canonical Sees Seven Opportunities for Ubuntu Partners

            Seeking to promote Ubuntu to resellers and distributors, Canonical is making a surprise appearance this week at CompTIA Breakaway in Washington, D.C. Here, Canonical is outlining seven potential profit opportunities for partners that back Ubuntu, a Linux distribution that has mobile, desktop, server and cloud computing capabilities. Equally important, Canonical is promoting Landscape — a remote management tool — for VARs and MSPs.

          • New game titles in the Ubuntu Software Center

            We’ve recently added a few titles to the Ubuntu Software Center and have been hard at work on getting more diverse applications landed there. BEEP! by Big Fat Alien and Heileen from Hanako Games have recently landed in the Software Center.

          • Ubuntu IVI Remix receives GENIVI Alliance Compliance Approval
          • Unity Facebook App Adds Muti-photo Uploads and Easier Installation
          • What’s Not To Like About Ubuntu?

            Phoronix recently ran a survey, asking users to tell them what they dislike (or hate) about Ubuntu. The results are interesting, but seem to me to be completely predictable to everyone except Canonical themselves. What do users hate the most? Unity, of course. A couple of others hit some of my pet peeves as well – such as the “Not Invented Here” syndrome, which causes Ubuntu to put massive amounts of effort into re-inventing things (often inferior), and their general slowness in updating packages. That slowness extends beyond the inherent delay because they try to make major package updates in conjunction with their own 6-month release cycle, to situations where they really fall significantly behind an upstream package release even after they have made their own 6-month release.

          • The Road to Alpha 3

            All the changes in this week’s desktop team report have landed for the Alpha 3 release of Oneiric that will be out sometime today.

          • Ubuntu 11.10 Alpha 3 – behind the scenes with Oneiric Ocelot

            Ubuntu 11.10 Alpha 3 (otherwise known as Oneiric Ocelot) is available today. The sub-cycle between Alpha 2 and 3 has been quite intensive with a number of things taking place, says Dave Walker, Ubuntu Server’s technical lead…

          • Canonical Expands Partnerships with Game Developers
          • Flavours and Variants

            • Arios and gNatty – two interesting remaster of Ubuntu

              Maybe you are disappointed by Unity and looking for something new? But you would not like to go away from the known Ubuntu environment?

              Of course, Ubuntu like any Linux distribution, you can customize the look and the behaviour in the way you want. Depending on the knowledge you have, it will be more or less successfully. Or if you do not have time to adjust, try some of the already finished remaster . You may find some that you will like.
              Arios and gNatty are two remaster of Ubuntu using Ubuntu 11.04 as a basis for the operating system.
              Arios is configured to be an usable distribution, while gNatty it’s just an interesting concept that still needs a lot of work.

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Sub-notebooks/Tablets

      • Why the Tablet Craze?

        I made a post last year titled “The Year of the Tablet Computer”. It is now over half way through 2011 and it seems the touch screen craze is far from over. Apple has released the second iteration of their iPad, we are up to our ears in Android tablets from various hardware makers and a Meego tablet or two might still exist before the year is up. I’ve played with the iPad a bit, I’ve used more than a few different Android tablets (I even own one for purposes of developing Bodhi for ARM) and I must say I’m confused what all the hype is about.

      • Tablet for toddlers runs Android 2.3

        A start-up called Vinci is taking pre-orders at Amazon.com for a seven-inch Android 2.3 tablet designed as an educational tool for toddlers. The safety-compliant Vinci Tab is equipped with a 1GHz ARM Cortex-A8 processor, 4GB or 8GB of flash, a seven-inch, 800 x 480 touchscreen, a three-megapixel camera, a wrap-around handle, and a variety of early-learning apps.

Free Software/Open Source

  • Open Source Helps eBay Process $2000 Per Second

    The online auction house eBay continuously executes $2,000 worth of transactions a second and, to do so, requires a highly reliable transaction processing environment. EBay recently revealed that a key element of its transaction software is the WSO2 open source enterprise service bus (ESB).

  • Netatalk returns to open source

    NetAFP, the Netatalk developers, have announced that they are to resume open development of Netatalk and have updated the project’s git repository with the latest source. In early July, NetAFP, the Netatalk developers, announced they were only making the source code for Netatalk 2.2.0 available to paying customers. The timing of the move was well chosen as, within weeks of that, Apple released its latest version of Mac OS X, Lion, which uses AFP (Apple Filing Protocol) 3.3. The latest version of AFP mandates support for Replay Cache functionality and this feature is also required by Lion’s Time Machine.

  • Free Software for Little People: Interview

    Right, so I said I would follow up on the last post on this topic by asking a few questions to the comic’s creators, and I have! I dropped them an e-mail, Effy even tranSL:ated the first message for me, sent a few questions and these are their answers. I hope you find it interesting, I’m sure the team behind the comic will be pleased to hear any thoughts or further questions you have in the comments below.

    The interview was collaborately answered by: Iris Fernandez and Franco Iacomella (scrip authors); Emmanuel Cerino and Ivan Zigaran (artists).

  • Events

    • OSCON 2011: Open Source has moved from “disruption to default”

      Portland Oregon is (apparently) famous for rain, rose gardens and (now) OSCON, the open source conference now in its 13th year.

      Staged under the banner of O’Reilly technical publishing, this event’s ex-post “content” is now all online, so rather than preview the event, I am going to point to a couple of links now fully live.

    • Back from OSCon
  • Web Browsers

  • SaaS

    • The Subverted GPL

      Just look at how the GPL has been subverted by the client-server model. You are never technically in possession of the software – only the output – so it is apparently exempt from any distribution clauses your license may have. BSD, GPL, doesn’t matter – you can’t get the code. The only one that apparently solves this issue is the AGPL and nobody ever seems to use it. The valued ‘freedoms’ are almost entirely gone with the client-server approach. Want the code to the modifications I have made on this site? Tough. As an end user you still have no rights to the code nor the modifications made. Yet there seems to be little to no attention made to this fact despite the large focus on ‘freedom’. Surely putting two computers in a box with a VNC setup is enough to defeat the GPL entirely given these circumstances? It’s certainly massively against the spirit of the thing but is this ever even discussed? Or is it just GPL, praise, praise, when the actual license is irrelevant?

  • Databases

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • LibreOffice Developer Glimpse Proves Balance

      Florian Effenberger recently posted statistics of the number of developers contributing to the LibreOffice project. Several months ago, Cedric Bosdonnat offered data on the number of contribution and contributors from the various sources. While Effenberger’s post provides much less detail, it still provides a glimpse into the composition of the growing community.

  • CMS

    • New features for the Mollom module for Drupal

      We have just released new versions of the Mollom module for Drupal 6 and Drupal 7.

    • State of Drupal 2011 survey

      The last time I organized a State of Drupal survey was in 2008. The results of the 2008 survey were instrumental in shaping Drupal 7 as well as directing the work of the Drupal Association on drupal.org.

      Now three years later, I created a new survey. The results of this survey will guide thousands of people in the Drupal community over the next two years.

  • BSD

    • FreeBSD 9.0 Goes Into Beta

      It seems that finally hitting the FTP mirrors are the ISO images for the first FreeBSD 9.0 beta. This is the first dramatic update to the FreeBSD operating system in nearly two years since the FreeBSD 8.0 release. FreeBSD 9.0 is officially expected to be released in September.

    • PC-BSD Goes Into 9.0 Beta With New Features

      Following the news yesterday that FreeBSD 9.0 Beta 1 is now available, the PC-BSD crew has spun their first 9.0 beta release. Beyond incorporating the updates from FreeBSD 9.0, the PC-BSD 9.0 release is set to carry other desktop-friendly advancements on top.

      Among the PC-BSD 9.0 Beta 1 features are support for multiple window managers, support for meta-pkgs, an improved PBI system, a new AppCafe, an updated installer, network setup GUI improvements, a new system-update utility, a new backup utility, and a new PC-BSD control panel.

    • Memory File System in FreeBSD
  • Public Services/Government

    • EU-law on re-use of public sector data may include source code

      Public administrations in the EU facing resistance to their publishing of software as open source, are likePublic administrations in the EU facing resistance to their publishing of software as open source, are likely supported by a European Law, the ‘Directive on the re-use of public sector information’. The PSI-directive, part of member states’ national laws since 2005, obliges public administrations to avoid discrimination between market players, when making information available for re-use. Making source code available as open source is one way to avoid favouritism. ly supported by a European Law, the ‘Directive on the re-use of public sector information’. The PSI-directive, part of member states’ national laws since 2005, obliges public administrations to avoid discrimination between market players, when making information available for re-use. Making source code available as open source is one way to avoid favouritism.

  • Openness/Sharing

    • Open Data

      • Space Exploration Gets Open Sourced

        Last week, O’Reilly’s OSCON 2011 dished out a couple of courses of open source for space exploration, with NASA discussing its General Mission Analysis Tool (GMAT) and Ariel Waldman plugging the concept of “Hacking Space Exploration.” NASA is also bragging about the launch of its open government blog at open.nasa.gov.

  • Programming

Leftovers

  • Health/Nutrition

  • Privacy

    • In Defense of Internet Anonymity — Again

      A second flashpoint is the anti-pseudonym policy of the new social networking site Google+. Part of the problem is that Google appears to have been caught by surprise on the issue, and has applied its terms of service inconsistently, banning some users of pseudonyms from all Google services, and restricting others to read only access. There are even rumors that Google is preventing its employees from speaking on the matter, and that a massive internal debate is happening inside Google.

      But equally important is the fact that Google+ is applying the policy so strictly that even long established pseudonyms are rejected, as well as any names that are judged by Google employees to be false. Even the common practice among Chinese and other nationals of assuming an unofficial English name seems to have been rejected by Google in some instances.

Microsoft Caught Paying Burson-Marsteller to Smear Google

Posted in FUD, Google, Microsoft at 9:46 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: AstroTurfing is alive and well at Microsoft, reveal reports from Germany

IT IS UNDENIABLE that Facebook engaged in AstroTurfing using a firm that we mentioned here before, Burson-Marsteller [1, 2]. We also wrote about this AstroTurfing firm in prior years. “Burson-Marsteller in Germany anti-Google smear campaign sponsored by Microsoft,” alerted us a reader some minutes ago, citing the following new reports (in German):

Gastbeitrag: Der Mensch denkt, Google lenkt
Mangelnde Transparenz: Der Lobbyismus der Internetgiganten
Anti-Google-PR in der Frankfurter Rundschau

AstroTurfing and cartels are Microsoft’s means of competing. Where on Earth are the antitrust regulators? They should not be going after Google, they should chase down the fiend who manipulates regulators and engages in extreme anticompetitive tactics that possibly constitute a violation of the law in several countries.

IRC Proceedings: August 7th, 2011

Posted in IRC Logs at 5:14 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME Gedit

GNOME Gedit

GNOME Gedit

#techrights log

#boycottnovell log

#boycottnovell-social log

Enter the IRC channels now

IRC Proceedings: August 6th, 2011

Posted in IRC Logs at 5:13 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME Gedit

GNOME Gedit

GNOME Gedit

#techrights log

#boycottnovell log

#boycottnovell-social log

Enter the IRC channels now

IRC Proceedings: August 5th, 2011

Posted in IRC Logs at 5:09 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME Gedit

GNOME Gedit

GNOME Gedit

#techrights log

#boycottnovell log

#boycottnovell-social log

Enter the IRC channels now

Google Validates Techrights’ Assertion That Microsoft and Apple Are Part of a Cartel Against Linux

Posted in Apple, GNU/Linux, Google, Microsoft, Patents at 4:45 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Patent stooges

Summary: When Microsoft and Apple “get into bed together you have to start wondering what’s going on,” claims a Senior Vice President from Google, furthermore stressing that there is a “hostile, organized campaign” against the Linux-powered Android

THE patent attacks on Google are more or less coordinated as those who sue over Android are aware of other lawsuits and also speak about them. Microsoft, for example, implicitly congratulated Apple on its lawsuits against Android. These two companies also pool money together in order to form patent cartels (e.g. Nortel, CPTN) at the cost of billions. The US DOJ is investigating the Nortel sale based on numerous sources including Microsoft boosters who say:

The $4.5 billion Nortel patent sale to Microsoft, Research in Motion and Apple is reportedly the focus of a deeper investigation by U.S. antitrust regulators. The Wall Street Journal reports that the Justice Department is trying to determine whether the purchase would unfairly hurt smartphone makers that use Google’s Android operating system.

The consortium of businesses out-bid Google for the patent portfolio auctioned off by the bankrupt Nortel Networks last month. The extensive patent portfolio — 6,000 in total — touches nearly every aspect of telecommunications and additional markets as well, including Internet search and social networking.

There are some other notable pieces on the subject and Microsoft boosters try to either predict doom for Android or daemonise Google for buying IBM patents as recently found out and explained by one blogger:

Yesterday I noticed a very large number of new patents listed in the USPTO assignment records for Google from IBM, and made note of them in a post, Google Acquires Over 1,000 IBM Patents in July.

I didn’t expect or anticipate the interest that my post would stir up, though I probably should have, given what seems to be an increased amount of litigation directed at Google involving patent infringement claims, with Apple taking on HTC and Google, Oracle and Google disputing use of Java in Android, Purple Leaf taking exception to Checkout, and other suits.

Given the interest in the IBM patents in a number of places on the web and some conversations I had, I thought it might be a good idea to provide the list of patents that Google acquired earlier this month. Google acquired a number of additional patents from IBM earlier this year and last year as well. I included those in my February post, Google Patents, Updated and Google Self Driving Cars Get Jumpstart from IBM Patents.

Groklaw, which is very IBM-friendly, has a lot to say not only about the patent sale (remember what Professor Webbink does for a living) but also about the Oracle vs. Google case [1, 2, 3] which it helps suppress. It does seem likely that Oracle will be disappointed at the end.

Google calls patents the same as Richard Stallman calls them, based on the headline “Google On The Nortel Loss, Patents As Government-Granted Monopolies, And Plates Of Spaghetti” (source)

There is a lot of coverage linking back to Bloomberg. “Bloomberg reports that Google General Counsel Kent Walker likened patent purchases, and their resulting use, as a battlefield and added that it was hard to find a way through the “mess” of litigation,” says one news site.

“Google calls patents the same as Richard Stallman calls them…”Google claims that “It’s hard to find what’s the best path – there’s so much litigation [...] We’re exploring a variety of different things.”

The seminal report is here and there are second-hand accounts too, coming from many directions [1, 2, 3, 4]:

“I have worked in the tech sector for over two decades. Microsoft and Apple have always been at each other’s throats, so when they get into bed together you have to start wondering what’s going on,” writes David Drummond, SVP and chief legal officer.

Drummond said that Android was becoming more and more popular and winning more and more users, however he added that its successes were being tarnished.

That latest claim is mentioned in this audiocast

“Google Responds To Microsoft’s “Gotcha”: They’re Diverting Attention With A Trick That Failed,” says the Washington Post headline. To quote:

Yesterday, Google wrote a post calling out Microsoft, Apple, Oracle, and others for using “bogus” patents to try to kill Android. Some of the patents Google’s Chief Legal Officer David Drummond mentioned included the ones Microsoft acquired from Novell (not to be confused with Nortel, which happened later). When Microsoft saw this, two senior officials took to Twitter to effectively pants Google. You see, Microsoft had tried to get Google to partner with them to buy the Novell patents — Google turned them down. And Microsoft had the email to prove it.

This diversion/controversy is hinged upon Google’s post which validates an interesting take from Muktware:

Microsoft seems to be the favorite disciple of the Indian Guru. I have been covering Microsoft since the days it made bogus claims that Linux infringes on it patents and then the way they got their OOXML approved as an ISO standard by by hook or by crook. Ever since I take everything that this monopoly say with a grain of salt.

Yesterday when Google blogged about how Apple and Microsoft are piling up software patents to intensify attack on Android, I was certain of any confusion statement from Microsoft’s. It happened, we covered it here. We were expecting a response from Google and it came.

Daring Fireball: an Apple fan’s assessment of the situation
What’s more exciting to see is that Apple fanboys cum blogger are all excited about Microsoft’s ambiguous statement. Daring Fireball’s John Gruber writes, “So if Google had acquired the rights to these patents, that would have been OK. But when others acquired them, it’s a ‘hostile, organized campaign’.”

What more evidence does he need than the fact that Apple has sued almost every Android player in the market over patent issues because the company doesn’t know what the healthy competition is. And Microsoft, like an extortion gang, is going after Android players demanding $15 per unit which is far more than the licence of Microsoft’s own WP 7. Still Mr Gruber doesn’t see any hostility here?

He goes on to say, “It’s OK for Google to undermine Microsoft’s for-pay OS licensing business by giving Android away for free, but it’s not OK for Microsoft to undermine Google’s attempts to give away for free an OS that violates patents belonging to Microsoft?”

Dr. Glyn Moody makes another call to abolish software patents:

As long-suffering readers will know, I’ve been warning about the growing problem of patent thickets in the field of software for some time now. Until relatively recently, I and a few others have been voices crying in the wilderness: the general consensus has been that patents are good, and more patents are better. But in the last few weeks, the first hopeful signs have appeared that at least some people are beginning to realise that software patents not only do not promote innovation, they actually throttle it.

Here is the part where Moody mentions Google while also taking note of these comments:

Finally, a very interesting interview with Google’s Senior Vice President & General Counsel appeared yesterday, in which he said:

“Patents are government-granted monopolies,” Walker then says quite matter-of-factly. “We have them to reward innovation, but that’s not happening here,” he says.

So, as you might expect, I’m pleased that people are finally waking up to the seriousness of the situation. More and more are beginning to talk about abolishing software patents altogether – something I have been advocating for years now. But I don’t think that goes far enough: we need to abolish all patents, for everything.

From Google’s point of view, there is a cartel in action:

Google chief legal officer David Drummond has claimed that Apple, Microsoft, Oracle, and other companies have waged a “hostile, organized campaign” against Google’s Android operating system using “bogus patents”.

“I have worked in the tech sector for over two decades. Microsoft and Apple have always been at each other’s throats, so when they get into bed together you have to start wondering what’s going on,” Drummond said on Wednesday in a blog post.

CNET did cover this because when the cartel strikes, ignoring it would lead to allegation of bias. As more and more reports give room for Google’s plea, more members of the public will perhaps be incited against patents.

Pamela Jones is meanwhile back to blogging and she says that Microsoft breaks antitrust rules:

The trouble with FUD is at first it sounds correct, or at least plausible. So when Google complained about the Apple-Microsoft partnership and the deliberate patent policy against Google, Microsoft’s first response sounded like a killer blow. It said it had asked Google to join them. But… let’s take a little bit closer look, because in doing so, it let slip a fact that we did not know until now — that Google tried to get the 800 or so Novell patents that CPTN, an entity Microsoft set up with Oracle, Apple and EMC, eventually won.

That revelation tells us the most fundamental fact about patent law in the US today — namely that even if you have as much money as Google, you can’t freely innovate and provide fabulous products because the patent thicket is so dense already and the Proprietary Patent Club is joining hands to keep any newcomer out of the competition. And that’s exactly why articles about Google “whining” or viewing this as just a verbal war are missing the point Google was making, namely pointing out that it can be *illegal* to use patents for an anticompetitive purpose. There’s a line, and Google is indicating that it thinks that line has been crossed.

As we saw in the Novell patent scenario, the Department of Justice agreed that the deal was not acceptable, intervening to protect the Open Source community, so it understood the danger and altered what Microsoft in particular was allowed to do with the patents it arranged to buy.

So Google isn’t dreaming. This is antitrust reality and that may be why Microsoft took Google’s initial complaint seriously enough to respond.

This isn’t about patents. It’s about antitrust.

Microsoft’s booster Josh Lowensohn plays ball for Microsoft using CNET as the platform, leading to the illusion of balance (Microsoft is the aggressor really, not a victim)

Another audiocast from CNET touches the subject, but it is too conformist. As it is sponsored by Apple and Microsoft as key advertisers, it is also filled with conflicts of interest. In any event, Google wastes more money on this whole patent bureaucracy while HTC too finds itself needing to put up a fight against Apple, having surrendered to Microsoft. Here is an interesting take on it:

HTC Develops Workaround To Bypass Apple Patent Attacks

[...]

If the workaround are suitable HTC may share them with other partners of the Open Handset Alliance to help boost the deployment of Android.

MPEG-LA and Microsoft booster have posted a silly headline echoing MPEG-LA’s allegations against Google. One of them is in our IRC channel supporting the cartel known as MPEG-LA while the other previously spammed us with MPEG-LA promotion. Google would hate to depend on MPEG-LA as Ubuntu is already extorted by MEPG-LA (the main proponents of MPEG-LA are Microsoft, Apple, and Nokia). One reader wrote to us to say: “The [Ubuntu Forums] thread doesn’t really go anywhere but it does raise the interesting issue of whether any technology is safely imported into and used in the US these days.”

It is worth noting that Rick F., the Patent Troll Tracker, has just had his blog abducted by some cricket spammer. We really need more reporters to expose the shady workings of trolls like MPEG-LA (headed by a patent troll who hides behind a separate entity), which sometimes work at the behest of a "criminal enterprise” using them as a proxy. Thankfully, people are starting to realise how this whole industry of patents really works. It’s repellent.

Myhrvold’s “Criminal Enterprise”, Detkin’s Criticism of Extortionists and Terrorists (Which He Himself Became)

Posted in Patents at 4:03 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Peter Detkin

Summary: Leading patent trolls come under massive pressure and the political system too, having permitted such trolls to survive and thrive

IN OUR previous coverage about the masochist (Microsoft’s patent troll) we highlighted the fact that his racketeering operation is finally coming under fire from the mass media. “Podcast exposes Myhrvold’s criminal enterprise,” summarises it Homer, stressing that: “This is the full one-hour podcast of the investigative report conducted by Laura Sydell and Alex Blumberg into the patent terrorist known as Nathan Myhrvold, as transcribed on NPR and This American Life. Consider it essential listening for anyone wishing to understand the patent threat in the US, and in particular the seedy, underground world of patent extortionists like Nathan Myhrvold. It goes into a lot more depth than the articles.”

“I was rather surprised to discover that the term “patent troll” was actually coined by one of Intel’s lawyers, Peter Detkin, who also referred to such people as extortionists and terrorists. Ironically, he’s since sold his soul to the devil, and become one of those patent terrorists, as a “managing partner” for Intellectual Ventures … the heart of Myhrvold’s criminal empire,” concludes Homer.

Well, based upon another NPR report, the money given to them by Bill Gates has not been enough for self censorship. Many sites have linked to NPR and put more pressure to pull the plug on those blackmail operations. Even Dilbert is having fun with the subject right now. Techdirt has many posts on the subject, such as this one, this one, and one titled “When Patents Attack: How Patents Are Destroying Innovation In Silicon Valley”. That third one can be found here and it says:

This week’s episode of This American Life is absolutely worth listening to. The TAL team has been doing more and more amazing investigative reporting work in the past year or so, and this week’s episode is called, “When Patents Attack!” which was apparently a last minute change from the much more bland and misleading “Invention Peddlers.” The episode was done by Planet Money’s Alex Blumberg and NPR’s Laura Sydell and there’s a written version of the story on the Planet Money blog, which covers most, but not all, of what’s on the audio version (and, yes, it’s nice that the story refers to Techdirt as an “influential blog,” though it looks like they may have only done that in order to have someone they could “quote” calling Intellectual Ventures a “patent troll”).

This debate has grown rather heated recently, with this and this type of opinion pieces calling for a political reform. Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry puts that in highly syndicated sites and so has Klint Finley, who set up a poll for readers to participate.

Timothy B. Lee, a longtime critic of the patent system as a whole and individually Nathan the patent troll, has unleashed a string of three posts onto Forbes, wherein he too calls for political reform (through SCOTUS):

Last weekend I was thrilled to hear one of my favorite radio programs, This American Life, take up the issue of software patents. Computer programmers have been sounding the alarm about this problem for two decades, and it’s great to see mainstream media outlets finally start to give the issue the kind of attention it deserves. TAL devoted a full hour to the subject, focusing on Intellectual Ventures (which I’ve written about at length) and did an absolutely spectacular job.

Another one from Lee says more on the same subject and additionally he makes the same point we have been making for years and pressured Google on. He asks Google to publicly oppose software patents:

Google, whose Android operating system is currently on the business end of dozens of patent lawsuits, has a combative post accusing its competitors of ganging up on it with “bogus patents.”

We are going to write on this subject separately. Google is following the wrong route at this moment — that which helps Google but not the public from which it craves support. We will address that point in the next post.

Some of the attacks on Google also come from Microsoft’s patent troll, Nathan, whose proxies include Lodsys. While we wrote about it many times before (whereas pro-Microsoft lobbyists kept rather quiet about this), it is only now that Charles Arthur pushes it into The Guardian, asking: “Why won’t Intellectual Ventures answer questions about its relationship with Lodsys?”

Is ex-Microsoftie Nathan Myrhvold’s company getting shell companies like Lodsys to demand payment for software patents? And is there any evidence those patents help innovation in software?

Microsoft boosters at GeekWire and Xconomy defend the Washington-based patent troll that helps Microsoft. No surprise there.

Well, as covered here before, products that people love and care about are being hit by Nathan’s satellite proxies, so the public opinion will inevitably change. Gizmodo shows where the trolls are located (sometimes at the same address as other shells, of which Nathan is said to have over 1,300 right now, in order to hide his tracks).

The backlash is everywhere and the FSF thanks NPR for the piece exposing the bad guys:

‘This American Life’ did some great reporting about software patents. Ask them to help solve these problems and offer the show in patent-free formats.

This American Life is a radio show that airs weekly on public stations throughout the United States. Their most recent episode, “When Patents Attack!”, covers a story that’s familiar to many of us. In an hour-long show, they explain what patent trolls do, illustrate how patent litigation and threats hamper software development, and investigate the inner workings of one particularly notorious troll company, Intellectual Ventures.

We already have a detailed wiki page about IV and about other patent trolls from Microsoft (Paul Allen’s patent troll is still suing), but some of them use proxies like Lodsys while Groklaw makes an attempt to keep track [1, 2, 3, 4].

The Economist, fuelled by the wide exposure of disturbing news, starts criticising patents:

AMERICA is still in denial, but among economists and wonks I think the hard truth is settling in: we’re not as rich as we thought we were and our prospects for future high growth rates aren’t looking so great. America’s last best hope for breaking free from what Tyler Cowen has called “the great stagnation” is the discovery of new “disruptive” technologies that would transform the possibilities of economic production in the way the fossil-fuel-powered engine did. As it stands, growth, such as it is, depends largely on many thousands of small innovations increasing efficiency incrementally along many thousands of margins. Innovation and invention is the key to continuing gains in prosperity.

Zero-sum “win the future” rhetoric notwithstanding, it doesn’t much matter whether the advances in new technology occur in China, India or America. Nevertheless, it remains that America is the world’s leader in technical invention, and continues to attract many of the world’s most inventive minds. That’s why it is so important that America remain especially conducive to innovation. And that’s why America’s intellectual-property system is a travesty which threatens the wealth and welfare of the whole world. It may seem a recondite subject, but the stakes couldn’t be higher.

Mainstream and corporate media backlash against patents is already here. Will this catalyse change? Will software patents be eradicated or just patent trolls? Given that IV staff like Peter Detkin criticised people like himself, they too know that their activities are very much unjust.

US Moves Towards Limiting Software Patenting, Germany Remains Confused About EU Patent Laws

Posted in Europe, Patents at 3:35 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Confusion

Summary: In Re Bilski continues to serve as a basis for invalidating some software patents, whereas in Germany, lack of clarify remains, despite the Federal Court getting involved

SOME weeks ago we saw new evidence that In Re Bilski still helped eliminate at least some software patents. This was not exactly unprecedented, but the cumulative evidence was new. Now there is this:

Lots of folks were upset with how the Supreme Court ruled so narrowly in the Bilski case and how they refused to make a clear statement on the patentability of software. It did seem clear that some judges didn’t believe that software should be patentable, and we were just discussing how the Supreme Court might still invalidate software patents, if given a good case on the subject. In the meantime, though, as a small silver lining, it does appear that the Bilski ruling has resulted in at least some software patents tossed.

This might be a step in the right direction, but it is far from enough. Meanwhile, in Europe for example, some software patents mistakenly get approved (Microsoft's FAT in Germany for instance), which requires clarifications that arrive from the Federal Court. The patent lawyers rave about being able to patent software, linking to conclusions from biased interpretations like this one:

By this decision, the German two-stage approach to examination patent-eligibility of software-related inventions can be considered as established. Even though it resembles the corresponding EPO approach, it is not identical with it, since above step 2 (solving a technical problem by technical means, § 1 III, IV PatG) represents an additional step as compared to the EPO approach. Step 2 is, like step 1, an a-priori step not considering prior art. It thus represents a kind of coarse screening (“Grobsichtung”) to enable that only such claims are examined as to their novelty/inventiveness (above step 3) that go beyond trivial technical features.

This difference between the German and the EPO approaches might be best illustrated by the fact that a pure business method implemented on a conventional computer or computer network would in Germany be excluded as a “computer program as such” without even considering prior art, while the EPO would rejected this method for lack of inventive step since its differences over prior art only involve non-technical features.

In Germany, applicants of software-implemented methods will now be on the safe side as regards technicality issues, if the invention is claimed within an embedded system framework, i.e. as a method controlling a technical apparatus or collecting, evaluating and processing (technical) data by means of a technical apparatus.

The recent development of case law in Germany is to be considered positive for applicants of software inventions, as it overcomes the earlier investigation of the individual case and thus creates legal certainty due to an easier-to-understand and thus easier-to-adopt examination systematics.

This is what they would hope. The source has a financial agenda. The H says that “Siemens had asked the German Patent Office for patent protection (DE 101 15 895 C1) for a method of displaying a recognition feature for previously visited web sites. For deep links leading to other web sites to be depicted, users would first have to be registered on the online information site visited. The patent application refers to a client program that accesses cookies set by the server.” Can the EU authorities step up and remind Germany that patents “as such” are verboten?

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