Summary: Tim, Roy, and Rusty meet to speak about new subjects, as well as debate general important issues like patent systems and privacy
We start today’s show by discussing Linux/dual-boot systems being hampered by Microsoft’s plans. We talk about other GNU/Linux matters and then play “Lagrimas e vodka” by Sylvia Patricia. Red Hat’s results are then discussed with some enthusiasm and Tim mentions that Statusnet reached version 1.0beta4. “Pajama Party” by Swimming With Dolphins is then played and we mention the patent ‘reform’ among other issues relating to patents, even the Samsung/Android situation. “Go’n Be Gone” by LidoLido is played and then we cover Google antitrust (Google under the US government’s eye) as well as the failure of Windows Phone 7 in competing against Android (sign of things to come for Windows 8). Google+ opens to the public, so Rusty and Tim have a good debate about it, followed by almost no coverage (due to lack of time) of Yahoo and search snatch, as well as US-oriented statistics that deceive the public and make it seem like Microsoft has made real progress. We are hoping to have another episode this week.
Summary: UEFI is Microsoft’s latest excuse for leaving GNU/Linux out in the cold
MICROSOFT loves blocking or suppressing GNU/Linux installations, typically using a process it keeps describing as a feature. Microsoft has been sabotaging the MBR using the excuses that it is hardto support it (funny how one or two GRUB developers can handle it just fine). There is antitrust evidence about it going decades back and there there is the war on fastbootingsystems and battles against Linux using VM restrictions (fighting Linux with a Windows EULA). We have covered many such examples, even those that extend to ACPI.
Computer scientists warn that proposed changes in firmware specifications may make it impossible to run “unauthorised” operating systems such as Linux and FreeBSD on PCs.
Proposed changes to the Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI) firmware specifications would mean PCs would only boot from a digitally signed image derived from a keychain rooted in keys built into the PC. Microsoft is pushing to make this mandatory in a move that could not be overridden by users and would effectively exclude alternative operating systems, according to Professor Ross Anderson of Cambridge University and other observers.
“Microsoft could lock out Linux with Tivoization” was Homer’s (Slated.org) explanation. He pointed out that “The upshot is that in order to run Linux on machines with UEFI secure boot enabled, the new bootloader, kernel and all other binaries must be signed by a key that is accepted and distributed by the OEM. In practice this means Linux will only run on machines that are either preinstalled with Linux by the OEM, or on machines where UEFI secure boot is not enabled. Given Microsoft’s demands, the latter seems unlikely, and the former would essentially spell an end to Linux (or any other OS) users having any sort of autonomy WRT which distro they use, on the extremely rare occasion Microsoft’s subjugated “partners” even bothered to preinstall Linux at all. On most machines, Linux would simply be locked out entirely.
“If this does pan out the way I’m sure Microsoft would like it to, our only hope is for antitrust regulators step in and force OEMs to allow consumers to opt-out of UEFI secure boot, to enable them to install whatever they want on their own damned property.
“This is by far the biggest threat to consumers’ freedom and choice we’ve yet seen on PCs. It literally turns the keys to the entire PC industry over to Microsoft.
“I wonder how much Linus “likes Tivoization” now?”
Is Microsoft finally resigned to the fact that Windows can never again be the dominant operating system on our planet? Or is the behemoth planning to make one final attempt to control what you use?
Sean Michael Kerner has good coverage, whereas Sam Dean apologises somewhat or gives the benefit of the doubt to Microsoft by writing: “It’s highly doubtful this will end up being a concern when the final version of Windows 8 comes to fruition. Microsoft has become increasingly aware that IT administrators are interested in heterogenous environments where many people want to use multiple operating systems. We’ve also noted that Windows 8 is taking some of its cues from Linux. It’s not in Microsoft’s best interest to box out alternative operating systems.”
According to other articles, this debacle “was discovered by Linux developer Matthew Garrett, who’s been doing a lot of work with EFI booting in general for his day job. Recent UEFI specifications have allowed for “secure boot” that requires an OS to have a signed key in system firmware to work.”
Mr. Corbet summarises Garrett’s article as follows:
Matthew Garrett has posted an article about the UEFI “secure boot” feature and its potential impact on Linux.
Katherine Noyes, a great GNU/Linux advocate, challenges this move by Microsoft and Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols says that “Microsoft tries to block Linux off Windows 8 PCs” (he does not give Microsoft the benefit of the doubt).
If this wasn’t so sad, it would be funny. After Microsoft recently declared victory over Linux, it turns out that Microsoft appears is still trying to arrange it so that Linux won’t even boot on the next generation of PCs that come with Windows 8. Yeah, Linux isn’t on your enemy list anymore right Microsoft? Sure.
Matthew Garrett, a Red Hat engineer, gets the credit for spotting Microsoft’s latest anti-Linux move. In a blog posting, Garrett explains that Windows 8 logo guidelines require that systems have Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI) secure boot enabled. This, in turn, would block Linux, or any other operating system, from booting on it.
There’s nothing in UEFI that’s wrong. Indeed there’s a lot of good in UEFI. It’s a 21st century replacement for your PC’s basic input/output system (BIOS). Its job is to initialize your hardware and then hand over control over to the operating system.
Microsoft cheered Windows users earlier this month when it demonstrated the upcoming Windows 8 operating system booting in eight seconds. Part of the technology behind the fast boots, however, could enable Microsoft and its PC vendor partners to block users from loading Linux on a Windows 8 PC, according to a Matthew Garrett, a mobile Linux developer at Red Hat, writing in a Sept. 20 blog post.
We also covered this issue in tonight’s episode of TechBytes (to be published shortly). “Microsoft must clarify the Windows 8 boot spec and how it impacts Linux” says this last article we that we wanted to mention:
This is not a small issue. If Microsoft does attempt to make it impossible for the average consumer to install and run Linux aside of Windows 8, it will lose whatever inroads that it has made with developers in the past few years. Even more, it’s restrictive and could open the company to even more anti-trust scrutiny.
Perhaps there is no issue. It could be that Microsoft has foreseen this issue and has a workaround (at worst). But we don’t know, because Microsoft won’t tell us. They will, but the company will have suffered from its reticence to not pipe up with the truth.
The bottom line is, Microsoft is already under a lot of pressure and it’s unlikely to get away with this trick ‘by surprise’. Same ol’ Microsoft is up to no good. █
Why don’t people learn a lesson about depending on Microsoft? Groklaw‘s Pamela Jones has this new reminder of Novell’s past pain from Microsoft:
The Novell v. Microsoft antitrust trial over WordPerfect and Quattro Pro has been scheduled for October 17. Novell won the right to this trial on appeal, if you recall, after Judge J. Frederick Motz ruled [PDF] on summary judgment in favor of Microsoft in the lower court in Baltimore, Maryland. You can listen to the oral argument [mp3; Ogg] before the appellate panel, if you’d like to review the issues. Microsoft asked for a rehearing [PDF], but it was denied [PDF], and the mandate issued [PDF] on June 9th.
It is astounding that after all those abuses from Microsoft SUSE was still willing to become a buddy of Microsoft. Why do some people still use SUSE and Mono? How much abuse from Microsoft will it take before people get a better clue? █
The sorry tale of Microsoft UK’s Den of Inequity continues, with reports suggesting a top female exec in line for the role of general manager was brushed aside for no reason and given £1 million to keep quiet and push off.
The alleged hush money saw Natalie Ayres, a working mother, leaving the company with a pat on the back and a knowing nod from Microsoft UK. Meanwhile, Microsoft UK was holding extravagant parties for its employees with free vodka on tap and an alleged sex culture that we are calling The Last Days of Redmond.
How convenient. Just pay a £1,000,000 settlement gift, eh? That’s Microsoft. Always settling when it is guilty, for fear of what discovery might entail. We even saw that in Comes vs Microsoft, but we got hold of evidence before it got taken down (as part of Microsoft’s settlement, which came only weeks after the trial began).
As we pointed out some days ago, British journalist Mark Ballard got hold of some rather secret documents relating to the European Commission's deal with Microsoft and then produced a fact-checked article that had impact which can still be seen. As The H puts it: “According to a report in Computer Weekly based on documents seen by the magazine, the European Commission has purchased large volumes of Microsoft software on six occasions since 1993 without a single public tendering process, thereby excluding potential competitors. The most recent agreement with Microsoft, covering software licences for over 36,000 PCs and supporting infrastructure at 42 European institutions, was valued at €50 million. The software included desktop operating systems, SQL Server Enterprise, email, project management and collaboration tools.”
Microsoft is still all about secrecy, hush-hush, and back room deals. These are the hallmarks of corrupt companies.
Speaking of Microsoft secrets, the company is now spinning its losses online by only mentioning losses from 2008/2009 onwards. Microsoft has lost around $10 billion in its online services since 2007 and going further back it would be a lot more than that. The company has billions in debt and is not in a truly healthy state. Bribing people to stay silent can be expensive. █
A reader sent us a link to this news about a Microsoft executive who “departs after tweet about Nokia phone”. To quote:
A Microsoft manager has left the company after tweeting a less-than-raving review of a forthcoming Nokia handset running the Windows Phone OS.
Joe Marini, until recently a principal program manager for web activities on Redmond’s smartphone operating system, is thought to have run afoul of Microsoft’s strict social media policy when he posted details about a new Nokia handset running a build of the Phone 7 operating system on Twitter.
Where will this person go? We’ve just learned about a Microsoft-subservient person becoming the CTO of Nokia, which is planning to have its patents used against Linux/Android after putting MeeGo aside (the news pundits tie the patent strategy to the CTO). Outrageous. And in related news, as pointed out by the Editorial Team yesterday, a ‘former’ Microsoft executive is meanwhile becoming somewhat of a lobbyist for patents. “Presumably the BSA and other groups focused on “promoting responsible business practices including respect for intellectual property” have lost all of their credibility or the company needs a new fake independent FUD and threat source,” wrote our team. The BSA with its connections to the firm of Bill Gates’ dad is truly a dubious one, as we showed years ago (there is staff interception there). None other than Microsoft’s booster Bishop wrote about this lobbyist, calling it a “new IP rights advocacy group” (seriously, laughter aside).
Microsoft corporate affairs executive Pamela Passman is leaving the company to form and lead a new advocacy group, with Microsoft’s support and involvement but operating independently.
Passman, a Microsoft vice president and deputy general counsel, will be the CEO of the group, dubbed the Center for Responsible Enterprise and Trade (CREATe). It will “focus on promoting responsible business practices including respect for intellectual property,” wrote Microsoft general counsel Brad Smith in a memo today to the company’s legal and corporate affairs department.
What a joke. Yet more lobbying, which is supposed to look independent and peripheral to Microsoft. █
Once Windows installation is done, I booted my Linux Mint (Debian) 201109 Live USB stick. I know that Mint (and Ubuntu) always include gparted on their live media, so I can use that to reallocate the disk partition(s). I’m sure that there are plenty of other disk management tools that can be used for this, depending on what distribution you prefer. In this case all I had to do was delete the D: partition and recreate it as an Extended Partition, then make the necessary logical partitions within that for the various Linux distributions I plan to install. That whole process took less than 5 minutes. Then I went ahead and installed the new Linux Mint 201109 Gnome distribution. That was an absolutely routine installation, it took about 15 minutes and at the end it booted up to the installed Linux system with no problems of any kind. Everything works, including wired and wireless networking, Bluetooth, dual monitors (with an external monitor on the VGA port), sound, touchpad, everything. It took about another 5 minutes to install the latest updates, and the system was ready to use. I tried the obvious Fn-key functions, such as volume up/down/mute and brightness up/down and they work just fine. I even used the Fn-sleep keys to suspend the system, and that worked; press the power button and it is ready to use again in about two seconds. I added the CPU Frequency Monitor to the panel, and verified that frequency stepping was working automatically.
Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols points out in a recent article that the resounding butt-kicking that Android and Chrome are laying on the digital world these days doesn’t bode well for the Linux desktop. Vaughan-Nichols links to a blog post by Jason Perlow that says that, essentially, we are entering the post-PC era in which, while the x86 may be dead, personal computing across different-sized hardware will continue.
I can see this and generally have no qualms with that, however I think this sales pitch for a brave new world of tablets and smartphones goes overboard. Arguably, what Perlow describes doesn’t sound like post-PC, but rather PC-plus-(fill in your additional hardware here).
Linux’s success in the non-desktop realm is hardly an accident and I am neither belittling it nor taking this for granted. On the contrary: Linux’s superiority in servers, supercomputers and mobile provide resounding proof that it is a successful operating system, to the point where “the year of the desktop” has now become laughable since it is no longer the standard by which Linux’s success should be gauged (if that was ever the case in the first place).
Over at his blog, Sebastian Trüg is raising money for Nepomuk. Short version of this story–please give what you can to an important KDE project and a valuable KDE contributor. Background and details below.
I’m proud to announce the release of version 2.0. This brings the past three years of new feature additions, with significant enhancements to almost every portion of the system. The changes and new features are summarized here. This is by far the most widely deployed release we’ve put out, thanks to the efforts of thousands of members of the community. We also have hundreds of customer systems that have been running 2.0 in production for months and years in some cases. More than 108,000 unique IPs have downloaded snapshots in 2011 from snapshots.pfsense.org alone, not counting downloads from the mirrors.
Love it or hate it, Red Hat commands a significant share of the world’s enterprise Linux revenues. This week on the Linux Planet, updated versions of Red Hat’s enterprise clones were released, even as Red Hat moved forward with its own plans.
“The first stable release of Kororaa 15 (codename “Squirt”) has been released and is available for download, in 32 and 64 bit with KDE 4.6 and GNOME 3.” This is second release of the Fedora-based distribution since development resumed in late 2010. Kororaa, once based on Gentoo, aims to provide a “complete, easy to use system for general computing.” It tweaks Fedora “to make the system ‘just work’ out of the box.”
Chris Smart proudly announced last evening, September 20th, the immediate availability for download and upgrade of the highly-anticipated Kororaa Linux 15 operating system.
Dubbed Squirt, the new Kororaa 15 OS is now based on the Fedora 15 release, it features both KDE SC 4.6 and GNOME 3 desktop environments, and it is available for download (see download links at the end of the article) for both 32-bit and 64-bit architectures.
While Windows works just fine, it does take up a lot of resources. And that can make an old machine run slowly. Consider replacing Windows with a Linux operating system such as Ubuntu. That often will pep up that slow machine.
And, unlike with Windows, the operating system is free. You can read about it and download it at www.ubuntu.com/.
There’s another reason to try this. You may find you prefer Ubuntu for all your machines.
Use the old machine to get familiar with how it works first and then, if you like what you see, move away from Windows entirely.
That basically ended my time with Linux Mint GNOME. I really like the concept of update packs and the thorough testing of them, because it brings much-needed stability to what is otherwise a good rolling-release model. My small gripes about Compiz not working initially, inconsistent GTK+ theming, and Mozilla Firefox not getting the latest updates remain, but they’re relatively minor. Of course, it’s great that this is otherwise functionally and visually identical to the Ubuntu-based Linux Mint GNOME, yet it manages to be so much more lightweight and snappy. (Seriously, this was worlds more responsive than Linux Mint 11 “Katya” GNOME.) The gripes I mentioned might mean that a user considering this should make sure they have a technically-inclined friend to help them out in times of need, but otherwise, I can basically give it my highest recommendation, and I could see myself installing this on my computer and using this regularly. In fact, it is one of the contenders for replacing Linux Mint 9 LTS “Isadora” once its support runs out. It may partially be due to my fondness for Linux Mint in general, but I really like this a lot.
You can get it here.
Control4 announced a seven-inch tablet, meant for portable control of its Linux-based Control4 home automation, surveillance, and music-server system. In addition to the Control4 7″ Portable Touch Screen, the company also announced a “Control4 MyHome — Android” app.
On Sept. 22, Pantech will start selling an Android 2.3 smartphone on Verizon Wireless’ 4G LTE network for just $100, following rebate and two-year contract. The Pantech Breakout is equipped with a 1GHz processor, an 8GB microSD card, a 4.1-inch, 800 x 480 touchscreen, as well as Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 3.0, says Verizon.
HTC announced an mid-range Android smartphone for Verizon Wireless that appears to be marketed at women. The “Rhyme” is equipped with a 1GHz processor, 768MB of RAM, 4GB of flash, five-megapixel and VGA cameras, plus accessories including a free docking station, headphones, and a “Charm” device that flashes a light to indicate an incoming call.
A new Android handset from LG has shown up in Korea, with the images and specs shared in a leak by SlashGear. The dual-core, 1.2GHz smartphone uses Android 2.3 and gets a four-inch 800×480 touchscreen much like the Optimus Black. The model number, LG-SU880, is also revealed by the spec sheet.
We’ve seen the 1.5GHz dual-core HTC Ruby in the wild a few times already, and now the first press shot of this impressive handset has come to light. Tipped for release on T-Mobile as the HTC Amaze 4G — it will apparently also see an international launch under another name (possibly just Amaze, a la Sensation/Sensation 4G) — Ruby was originally thought to be a codename for Sprint’s HTC Arrive (7 Pro) Windows Phone, but subsequent photographs revealed it to be a high-end Android device.
If Google is able to go ahead with its plans to buy Motorola Mobility, it will mean big changes in store for the Android world. Whether those changes are hurtful or helpful to the OS as a whole is up to Google. Will the Android creator take its OS in a more proprietary direction? Or will Google’s acquisition actually make for a stronger, more diverse ecosystem?
Asus has begun shipping its Eee Pad Slider Android 3.2 tablet in the U.S. for $479 with 16GB storage and $579 with 32GB. The Slider is equipped with a 1GHz Nvidia Tegra 2 processor, 1GB RAM, 16GB flash, a 10.1-inch, 1280 x 800 display, dual cameras, and all the other standard Honeycomb features, but adds a slide-out QWERTY keyboard.
This week we interviewed Ken Elkabany, CEO of another company with a business model on top of scientific open source software: PiCloud. PiCloud allows running any Python code on an auto-scaling, high-performance cluster in a server-less cloud. That includes SciPy code. We hope this kind of interview inspires scientist and developers to turn into FLOSS entrepreneurs. Enjoy the interview and leave your comments!
With the release of OpenIndiana version oi_151a, the developers of the Solaris 11 compatible operating system have followed up their first release with one that replaces Oracle’s OS/Net operating-system and network component with the Illumos kernel. This new edition of OpenIndiana also includes emulation and virtualisation support through the inclusion of the open source QEMU emulator and the KVM kernel-based virtual machine.
As smartphones and tablets become increasingly popular with consumers, they’re also becoming a common work tool for employees. A recent study by Dimensional Research found that 87 percent of enterprises allow employees to use personal devices for work. In addition, 80 percent of those companies allow employees to use personal smartphones for work.
It’s been 3 months since my last blog post, and I have so much to say. I have been working harder than ever before on OpenShot, and regret that I have not had more time for writing blog entries. I have new details on our next release, version 1.4, a request for translations, a GKT3 update, details on a new Daily PPA, enhancements to www.openshot.org website, an announcement about a new OpenShot video editing library, and more! Let’s just call this… an information explosion for OpenShot fans. =)
Two weeks ago, in the wake of tropical storm Irene’s devastating flooding in Vermont’s Mad River Valley, local residents organized a MRV Flood Relief initiative. What began as a self-organized volunteer effort to match needs and help offered in our communities, using telephone, handwritten posters, and a Mad-River-Valley-Hurricane-Irene Facebook page created by the Chamber of Commerce, quickly grew into a coordinated project based in downtown Waitsfield’s Masonic Lodge. Now, two weeks later, in an effort to more effectively provide daily coordination for ongoing flood relief efforts in 10 central Vermont towns, Mad River Valley flood relief headquarters has launched a new open source web site.
There are many unfortunate outcomes to Peak Oil. One of the more serious is the world’s transition back to coal. Expensive BTU from crude oil has influenced the energy adoption pathway of the Developing World for ten years now, pushing the five billion people in the Non-OECD towards coal. My work has documented this shift for some time. But, I have paid less attention here at Gregor.us to the effect this paradigmatic change will have on our climate.
In February of this year John Williams, head of research at the San Francisco Federal Reserve, gave a speech at Stanford in which he asserted the US economy had finally recovered, with 2011 real GDP expected to expand by 4.00% and then by 4.5% in 2012. (see: The Fed’s John Williams: recovery has achieved “liftoff”, Reuters 4 February 2011). Unfortunately, at the very same moment Mr. Williams was speaking in Palo Alto, data on California food stamp participation and employment was sending out a warning that America’s largest state was going back into recession.
Today ORG and a number of other groups had a constructive meeting with Ed Vaizey to discuss approaches to copyright and enforcement. The meeting was organized by Dominque Lazinksi of the Tax Payers Alliance after a Twitter storm following ORG and other group’s exclusion from the website blocking meetings.
The draft as it stands is not, in ORG’s view, sufficiently precise and reasoned to be backed by us. While it gives plenty of indications of the approach Nominet might take, we feel the final document needs to be very precise, as well as robust and well-argued in order to convey truly useful advice to Nominet’s Board.
It was very heartening to see the Lib Dems reject the Digital Economy Act as a broken and anti-liberal measure at their Conference yesterday. The main speakers included Julian Huppert, Neil McGovern and Bridget Fox, all making powerful points in favour of a more balanced approach to copyright enforcement.