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09.12.11

Attachmate’s Obscurity and Novell’s Continued Demise

Posted in Novell at 6:47 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“Yes we’re talking about knifing the baby.”Microsoft

Baby hands

Summary: A look at some recent news about the company we have been boycotting for almost half a decade

THE COMPANY which bought Novell, Attachmate, is rather obscure and the way it bought Novell was mysterious given the sizes of the companies and the source of financing.

We recently started tracking Attachmate and there is very little about it in the news. This new page includes Mark Benoit from Attachmate Corporation, but there have been no items of news about Attachmate in over a week, except when it was mentioned in relation to a biased Novell survey:

It seems like you can’t go a week without reading a story in the news about some type of data security breach. Brennan O’ Hara, solution manager for Seattle-based Attachmate division, NetIQ (News – Alert) recently released a survey of over 200 IT “decision makers,” who commented that “although all this money and technology is being thrown at the problem, if you have a terabyte’s worth of data to dig through and you are under-staffed as an organization, under-resourced as an IT organization, it’s going to be very difficult for you to properly spend the time to navigate through all that data.” However, enterprise password management software can help in these types of situations.

This was just a self-serving/promotional survey which we wrote about at the time. Those who base articles on it must apply better critical analysis.

In other news, “Novell Ireland Software loss of $11.4m” says a headline from the Irish Times. So it is not working too well for Novell, is it?

NOVELL IRELAND Software Ltd, head of Novell operations in Europe and the Middle East, recorded a pretax loss of $11.4 million (€8 million) in the year to the end of October 2010, according to accounts filed recently.

The Dublin company employed an average of 146 people during the year, compared with 150 the previous year.

Novell is a dying entity living in its past glory and legacy products. WordPerfect, for example, is mentioned in this article from Utah:

WESTERLUND: As far as entrepreneurism goes, a lot of the major industries that are here were started that way. When you look at Novell and WordPerfect (WP), you look at Nu Skin and a lot of these companies, a lot of the major corporations that we have in this area are seeds from one of those two arenas. And that’s fostered an idea that you can go out and do those things.

The other thing that helps support that is infrastructure. When a company grows up and they’re really big, like Novell or WordPerfect, you have all these support industries that come along with it, whether it’s as simple as printing or hotels. These support industries are now in a mature enough state that they can support other companies.

There is another news article from Utah which mentions WP:

This is the birthplace of multi-level marketing companies galore with international giants NuSkin and Tahitian Noni nested in Provo. If any of your secretaries or accountants ever used word-processing software in the ’90s, chances are it was WordPerfect, created in Provo, as was the company that bought it out, Novell, an early world leader in networking.

It remains to be seen if the WP case against Microsoft will be carried forward by Attachmate. Lexology still has some new pages about the SCO case [1, 2], which is hopefully over for good.

People are constantly leaving Novell and finding new jobs elsewhere as Novell has been on the decline for over a decade. Here is one new case of departure from Novell:

The school changed its email provider last semester, from the Novell Groupwise system to the Google Mail system. Ordoyne said the move was primarily made to cut back on server costs.

A project maintained by a Novell developer, Pinta, has formally died as we explained some days ago and ITWeb is still promoting a Novell Vibe, which is a dead product that Novell buried quite a while back.

In the past week’s news we have found former Novelles such as this man, another former one joining Quintana as president as covered here, and another former Noveller as covered there. Novell once employed a lot of people, including Google’s departing CEO. But now Novell is nothing, it’s an embarrassment at best.

OpenSUSE is Still Marginal

Posted in GNU/Linux, OpenSUSE at 6:27 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Business buttons

Summary: OpenSUSE still under the microscope following SUSE’s Microsoft patent deal

WE ARE still keeping abreast of the OpenSUSE project as it helps shape what becomes “Microsoft Linux” (SUSE) — the distribution which is funded by Microsoft to bring revenue to Microsoft when some companies deploy GNU/Linux.

The word on many SUSE people’s lips is still OSC, the OpenSUSE Conference. There is keysigning and cheese being planned by those who drive the project. There is almost nothing else going on (slow news week), except the OBS downtime, some new OBS packages, and perhaps the HOWTOs, yast2 vulnerabilities, and other Novell security problems. It has become rather apparent that for OpenSUSE to become mainstream again it will need to earn some respect from users it lost after Novell (and then SUSE) had signed Microsoft patent deals.

The Business Deception of Exclusive Monopolies and Shared Monopolies

Posted in GNU/Linux, Google, Microsoft at 6:18 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Night work

Summary: Rebuttal to the argument of uniformity though reduction of competition and cooperation

THERE is a danger inherent in monopoly for many different reasons that necessitated special laws and regulations. Monopolies limit choice, impede competition, reduce quality of service because they can afford to, and typically slow down progress because they lack incentive to improve. In duopoly, there is agreement between two parties to do this together and slice the market, dividing it among themselves. For 3 or more parties, cartels can exist to assure price-fixing and other abusive practices that hurt the market and enrich members of the cartel. All of these forms of industry organisation come about naturally with expansion or a government franchise. It is often being said that it’s acceptable and even beneficial to have monopolies or shared monopolies in particular areas of industry such as energy, water, telephone etc. due to shared infrastructure. Microsoft has been trying to make up excuses along those lines, dishonestly arguing that a Windows plus Office monopoly is a Good Thing in the sense that it standardises desktop computing. This is a false argument because standard APIs and consistent structures across applications can be coordinated such that everything works in cohesion and harmony. Sharing binary data is not the same as sharing water that goes through the same water conduit.

Suffice to say, Linux has been under attack recently — an attack which has cartels behind it. This is not an attack on Linux per se. Linux is among the leading projects that demonstrate healthy collaboration and low cost to customers; Android is an example of that. Now that Android is taking over a lucrative market, its foes come to grips with the fact that it won’t just go away on its own. They therefore try to portray Android as a violation of the law, as if it is illegal to compete. By joining financial resources for extortion through litigation, Linux foes hope to repel and expel their most potent competitor. Had it been MeeGo in this position, they would have tried that too. Apple even threatened Palm a couple of years ago, just as it had introduced WebOS. What gives?

“To call something which is free a “monopoly” is almost like alleging that breathing is free and thus oxygen is monopolistic.”A new pattern of FUD emerges, claiming that Android is a monopoly even though it is free (just as Google search is free and nobody is forced to use it). To call something which is free a “monopoly” is almost like alleging that breathing is free and thus oxygen is monopolistic. If the code is a public asset, then the harm is very much limited.

So how “open” or free (gratis and freedom) is Android really? It is not as bad as Microsoft and Apple would love people to think. Those companies clearly want to crush Android using software patents and incitations of all sorts. Some time in the past we found the allegation that Open Source is “a cartel”. Quite a way to spin collaboration, eh? Trying to criminalise it even.

Well, the bottom line is, what we see here are monopolies or former monopolies showing their hypocrisy, describing what liberates us from monopolies as a monopoly. We oughn’t fall for this spin doctoring.

Current Patent ‘Reform’ Criticised in the Press, Software Patents Need to Go

Posted in America, GNU/Linux, Google, Law, Patents at 6:02 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Bumps on the road towards freedom

Danger sign

Summary: An overview of coverage about patents and where we are heading without the required reform

SOFTWARE freedom is being jeopardised by the rising influence of patent cartels. One must not take for granted or for certain the triumph of Android, which enjoys an economic advantage. Hardware makers tend to favour Android because it is a free platform which also offers many features. Android can compete with Blackberry, Symbian, and iPhone/iOS not just because of cost but also the growing impact and inertia. Its vast repository of applications, for example, would not have been possible without the cost advantage; it is a chicken-and-egg scenario.

“This illustrates the sort of loophole that exists in the system, allowing big corporations to just harass their competitors without being sued back or even deterred by other patent arsenals.”Realising that they react too late to the growing importance of Android, the oligarchy of Nokia, Apple and Microsoft now holds onto software patents. They are trying to diminish Android’s cost advantage and also make it more expensive than already-pricey proprietary platforms (often tied to particular hardware/phones). Apple has been suing with goal of embargo, Microsoft has been suing mostly with goals of taxation and extortion/intimidation, and Nokia has just had a Microsoft mole installed. This mole has just passed thousands of patents to a patent troll, MOSAID, to attack Android while he spreads yet more FUD about Android. Nokia would like it to look like it is the troll — not Nokia — which is behind the patent attacks. This illustrates the sort of loophole that exists in the system, allowing big corporations to just harass their competitors without being sued back or even deterred by other patent arsenals.

The patent reform which the press speaks about these days is somewhat of a sham because it does not resolve the problems mentioned by those who have been calling for a patent reform. It is not entirely clear why the real problems are getting swept under the rug, unless of course one departs from the supposition that those in charge do not serve public interests. Here is a new AFP article which says about the exiting reform that is misses the point for the following reason (among others):

Endpoint Technologies Associates’ Kay said consideration should be given to doing away with software patents altogether.

“People patent any old thing and they repatent things that are already patented,” he said. “Really we should be going 180 degrees in the other direction and saying ‘How about no patents for software?’”

James Temple, a Chronicle columnist, also expressed scepticism along similar lines. “The real solution is raising the bar on what gets patented in the first place,” he wrote. “Technology industry patents are riddled with “fuzzy boundaries” – broadly-worded business methods and software solutions continually arrived at independently. If anyone can think it up, it ain’t that novel in the first place.”

“Protectionism and monopoly are not good for the public, but it is exceptionally beneficial to some people with a lot of money and power.”James Love, who has been busy in recent days looking at Cablegate cables just as we did, claims that “In #TPPA negotiation, White House wants negotiating text secret from public, but available to governments and big firms” (underlining the problem with the existing process).

According to other sources, patent firm “Jurasoft gives 20.000 EUR to German Pirate Party, while filing for software patents in DE: http://t.co/2Q5CYDY http://t.co/KVUcQCy” (as noted by Benjamin Henrion). Will this influence The party’s policies? It is not unusual for us to see groups that proclaim to represent public interest while in fact doing the opposite.

We remain hopeful that in this anti-competitive mess which puts Linux in danger there will be enough involvement from the public — not large corporations — which will result in elimination of software patents. Protectionism and monopoly are not good for the public, but it is exceptionally beneficial to some people with a lot of money and power. Their lucrative patent market is the embodiment of their entitlement. By crushing it, the public can take more power back from those who influence politics in private.

The Rise and Fall of Rise and Fall

Posted in GNU/Linux at 5:43 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Peril

Summary: Why the enthusiastic predictions of something’s “fall” are often nothing more than an attempt at self-fulfilling prophecies

“I like X, but…”

Sounds familiar? This is a typical trolling tactic, pretending to like something before actually bashing it. Claiming the rise of something is order to declare it dead is a similar tactic. Poisonous people from The Guardian try this against Wikileaks and Microsoft trolls have been using this tactic for ages, especially through sensationalist blogs, e.g. in ZDNet. More recently we have been seeing claims of desktops “dying” or something along those lines. Well, they are not really dying, especially if one counts laptops as though they fall under the same category. But what we are generally seeing is a saturation and expansion of technology, which along with the growth of the Internet (higher bandwidth and low cost) is moving further away from the desk and the Ethernet port.

“But what we are generally seeing is a saturation and expansion of technology, which along with the growth of the Internet (higher bandwidth and low cost) is moving further away from the desk and the Ethernet port.”Thankfully, Linux-based platforms were fast to capitalise on the growth of this emerging market, elevating Linux from underdog to market leader. Basically we won but a lot of people just haven’t noticed it, to borrow a phrase recently heard from Samba developer Jeremy Allison.

Right now we see Linux on the rise. It has been on the rise for two decades and prior to its existence GNU was rising and one can only hope that Android will become more GNU-friendly. Those who try to predict a future fall of Android are probably correct as nothing lasts forever. But in the short term, Android is going to grow despite the FUD. It has already endured years of such FUD. The next few posts will discuss this in light of the latest news (written on the train, so expect typos). Based on confidential mail received today, we expect to see major action very soon.

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