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Links – Urgent, the US stands on the brink of martial law.

Posted in Site News at 9:07 pm by Guest Editorial Team

Reader’s Picks

  • Sicily considers promotion of free software that would save a school targeted by Italian austerity measures.

    A school in the city of Gela, on the south coast of Sicily, the Instituto Majorana, hopes that the bill will help to prevent its break-up. The school, with 633 pupils, is to be split in two, with a major part of the students to go a school with 433 students in the same area. … Italy recently decided to close all schools with fewer than 600 students [to cut costs]. … “The Majorana is doing a lot of work to spread free and open source software”, explains one of the teachers, Antonio Cantaro on the school site, while wondering if that is somehow connected to the decision to close the school.

    It’s a shame that schools are closed instead of cutting licensing costs.

  • Science

    • The Koha Saga: A gift that keeps giving

      Koha began back in 1999, when a local library in Horowhenua, on the north island of New Zealand, was faced with a Y2K problem with its existing library system. … Horowhenua Library Trust and Katipo Communications Ltd made a joint decision to release Koha as Free Open Source Software under the GPL in 1999 before we started the project. It was recommended to Horowhenua Library as a risk management strategy, to ensure that they could get support and development work done by suppliers other than Katipo, and because there wasn’t already an open source system available.

      See also Simon Phipps on the same subject. The trademark issue seems to have been solved well and the project is still a free software success story that every library should be interested in.

  • Defence/Police/Aggression

    • How to Get the Cops to Protect You

      Now is the time to get cops on board with the OWS movement — especially now … [that we know] municipal police are being pushed around by a shadowy private policing consultancy affiliated with DHS. If you study any closing society decent people get handed monstrous orders and are forced to comply, and right now municipal police are being forced to comply with brutal orders from this corporate police consultancy, by economic pressure. … What most citizens don’t fully understand is that hardball politics behind the scenes is not about confrontation — it is about waging favors. Most effective it is veiled confrontation (what can that group conceivably do to me if I make them angry?) combined with overt offers of favors (what can they get for me?) Occupy is in a very powerful position if they only begin to understand this.

    • UC Davis administrators, who pepper sprayed students, give themselves a 20% raise.
  • Censorship

  • Civil Rights

  • DRM

Links 30/11/2011: Lenovo and Android, CyanogenMod 7

Posted in News Roundup at 11:57 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



  • Server

  • Kernel Space

  • Applications

  • Distributions

    • New Releases

      • Clonezilla live clone system with multi-restore

        Version 1.2.11-23 of the Clonezilla live CD has been released with an updated software collection. Based on the unstable branch of Debian (known as “Sid”) from 28 November, this update to the open source clone system for hard disk partitioning and duplicating includes the 3.1.1-1 Linux kernel, version 0.2.38 of the Partclone partition image utility and Gdisk 0.8.1

    • Debian Family

      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Ubuntu team questions Distrowatch share slide figures

            Ubuntu developer Michael Hall has questioned the latest data from Distrowatch, which suggests that it is slipping in popularity when compared to rivals such as Linux Mint.

          • Flavours and Variants

            • Does Linux Mint 12 Measure Up?

              After a fairly routine release with Linux Mint 11, the team is back with a new look and a lot of changes in the offing. As with any release with a major overhaul, Linux Mint 12 has some hits and misses.

              We took an early look at Mint 12 after the team pushed out the first release candidate. As far as the look and feel goes, there’s not been a lot of changes with Mint 12 since the RC. But now that the release is final, let’s take a look at some of the changes and see whether you should be rushing to upgrade or install Mint 12.

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Phones

      • Android

        • In the Mobile OS War, Can Android Ice Cream Sandwich Save Google’s Lead?

          If your answer to which mobile device operating system has the most market share is “iOS,” this article will set you straight. Google, with its open source Android OS and multiple manufacturer strategy (which leverages HTC, Samsung, and Motorola to create Android phones), has managed to take the lead in terms of market share, capturing 45% of users in the US alone.

        • Android signage system includes 10.2-inch touchscreen

          I Display announced an interactive digital signage computer that runs Android 2.3. The I View Android is equipped with a 10.2-inch, 1024 x 600 resistive touchscreen that swivels on an optionally battery-powered base, a microSD slot, a USB 2.0 port, and Wi-Fi, says the company.

    • Sub-notebooks/Tablets

      • Lenovo unveils three new Android tablets–5, 7, and 10 inchers

        Lenovo is hoping to shake up the tablet market with three new devices scheduled to hit its home base of China as early as December.

      • Wait Two Years and See How Android Is Doing on Tablets

        The funny thing is, these sentiments echo the reactions that Android itself got shortly after its release. As recently as March of 2009, everyone was questioning why there weren’t more smartphones running Android, including us. And what happened just before March of 2009? Mobile World Congress did. This is the conference where everyone decides what is going to succeed and fail each year on the mobile front, but in 2009, people who saw few Android phones and pronounced Android dead were dead wrong. Android is now flourishing.

      • Lenovo spins two Android tablets, one five-inch smartphone

        Lenovo announced three dual-core Android gadgets destined for China: a five-inch LePad S2005 I smartphone, a seven-inch LePad S2007 tablet, and a 10.1-inch LePad S2010 tablet. In the U.S., meanwhile, AT&T announced the 4G LTE-ready LG Nitro HD smartphone, featuring a dual-core 1.5GHz processor and a 4.5-inch display with Galaxy Nexus-like 1280 x 720 resolution.

      • CyanogenMod 7 Hacked Onto The Kindle Fire, Let The Modding Madness Begin!

        The $199 Kindle Fire just took one step closer to instant fame. XDA-Dev member, JackpotClavin, managed to flash CM7 onto the Fire using ClockworkMod. The result is a Fire running a custom build of Android and a whole lot of excited fanboys.

Free Software/Open Source

  • New Open Source Search Engine YaCy Gives Users More Online Control

    A new open source search engine has been launched to take on Google, Bing and Yahoo.

    The YaCy, backed by free software activists, comes with desktop software and allows users to index search results on their own. The search engine developers believe it makes the platform much more accurate and more difficult to censor.

  • FBSOTD: Benefits of ‘Open Source’ software

    In Tuesday’s Facebook story of the day FOX 31 fans wanted to know how they can benefit from open source projects.

    ‘Open Source’ software is a code open to computer programmers who each have the option to make adjustments.

    Computer technicians say sometimes the software can be better than original programs, because they have a whole community contributing information.

  • New Open Source Search Not a Google Killer

    Even a company with Microsoft’s financial muscle has failed to make a major dent in Google’s position as the world’s search engine of choice. But a group of European online activists are apparently trying to create a D.I.Y. alternative. Or at least that was what was being reported.

  • Web Search By The People, For The People: YaCy 1.0

    The YaCy project is releasing version 1.0 of its peer-to-peer Free Software search engine. The software takes a radically new approach to search. YaCy does not use a central server. Instead, its search results come from a network of currently over 600 independent peers. In such a distributed network, no single entity decides what gets listed, or in which order results appear.

  • Events

    • Google I/O 2012 developer conference extended

      Google has announced that its 2012 Google I/O developer conference has been extended from two to three days, and will now take place from 27 to 29 June 2012 at the Moscone Center West in San Francisco. In a Google Code blog post, Product Marketing Manager and Developer Monica Tran says that the company “recently received an unexpected opportunity” to add another day to the event and choose to do so based on feedback from attendees of last year’s conference.

  • CMS

  • Funding

  • Project Releases

  • Openness/Sharing

    • Why We Chose ‘Open Science’

      The Allen Institute for Brain Science in Seattle grew out of a simple question I posed in 2002 to a constellation of top people in the field: What’s the most useful thing we could do to propel neuroscience forward? The consensus became our inaugural project—a comprehensive, molecular-level, three-dimensional map of the mouse brain to show precisely where every gene is active, or “expressed.” It was the first step on a long road to understand how genes function in the human brain, knowledge that will point to ways to better diagnose and treat brain ailments.

  • Programming

    • NetBeans 7.1 nears as release candidate arrives

      Oracle’s NetBeans developers have published the first release candidate of version 7.1 of their IDE. NetBeans 7.1 is due for final release on 14 December and introduces support for JavaFX 2.0, the UI toolkit that Oracle is planning to release as open source and incorporate in a later release of Java.

    • What’s Exciting About LLVM 3.0 & The New Clang

      LLVM 3.0 with the adjoining Clang update is the first major update to the Low-Level Virtual Machine since the LLVM 2.9 release last April. LLVM 3.0 was scheduled for a November release (but it was delayed slightly) and marks the point of deprecating LLVM-GCC in favor of DragonEgg, which allows for LLVM optimizers to be used with the mainline GCC compiler front-end via a unique plug-in. Other interesting changes for LLVM 3.0 are listed below.


  • Security

    • Netfilter developers working on NAT for ip6tables

      Patrick McHardy has announced the release of patches for the ip6tables IPv6 packet filter under Linux on the netfilter project’s developer mailing list. The patches allow the software to replace the address information in IPv6 data packets with different information as an implementation of Network Address Translation (NAT). McHardy says that the netfilter NAT patch modifies the source code, which previously only worked with IPv4, to suit IPV6, making targets such as SNAT/DNAT or MASQUERADE, REDIRECT and NETMAP available to the IPv6 packet filter. The developers have also converted the FTP and SIP NAT helper modules to support IPv6.

  • Finance

  • Censorship

    • EU Court of Justice: Censorship in Name of Copyright Violates Fundamental Rights

      The European Court of Justice just rendered a historic decision in the Scarlet Extended case, which is crucial for the future of rights and freedoms on the Internet. The Court ruled that forcing Internet service providers to monitor and censor their users’ communications violated EU law, and in particular the right to freedom of communication. At a time of all-out offensive in the war against culture sharing online, this decision suggests that censorship measures requested by the entertainment industry are disproportionate means to enforce an outdated copyright regime. Policy-makers across Europe must take this decision into account by refusing new repressive schemes, such as the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), and engage in a much needed reform of copyright.

Links 30/11/2011: Kororaa 16 Beta, Firefox 11 Mentioned

Posted in News Roundup at 9:57 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



  • Desktop

  • Kernel Space

    • First-Ever Automotive Linux Summit: Two Communities Become One

      Nearly 125 years ago, German inventor Karl Benz introduced his Patentmotorwagen Number 1, the world’s first automobile designed to be propelled by a motor. Twenty years ago, Finnish computer science student Linus Torvalds posted on the Internet…Ok, ok, you know the rest.

      But fast forward to November 28, 2011, in a conference center overlooking picturesque Yokohama Bay (in Yokohama/Japan and not on Oahu/Hawaii for the surfers among you), and we begin to see these two worlds collide in collaboration for the future of computing. The Linux Foundation yesterday hosted the first-ever Automotive Linux Summit, a conference designed to bring together experts from the automotive industry and Linux and open source software community.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments

  • Distributions

    • Argentinean Tango with Gecko: Ututo XS

      I have already written couple of times about distributions from this country: country of tango, football, beef and Linux. Results of my trips were different.

      First time I tried Dragora Linux, and could not move further than to the initial screen: this Linux distribution does not have Live version.

    • A sneak Peak into the new Pinguy Mini OS 11.04.1

      Pinguy has launched a mini Avatar of its popular Pinguy OS 11.04.1 and has christened it Pinguy OS Mini 11.04.1. It has been completely designed on the basis of the main OS and comes with all the fixes and tweaks found in its parent. However what makes it different is the nature of applications. You do not have all those pre installed apps you would find in the Main OS, on the Pinguy OS Mini 11.04.1. Let us take a closer look.

    • New Releases

    • PCLinuxOS/Mageia/Mandrake/Mandriva Family

      • Mageia 2 On Its Way

        The Thanksgiving holiday week didn’t seem to slow the Linux news any. Linux Mint is still in the headlines for stealing some of Ubuntu’s thunder, openSUSE is getting rave reviews for its 12.1 release, news emerges from the Vector camp, and Mageia released an early developmental build of its upcoming version 2.

    • Red Hat Family

      • Fedora

        • Kororaa 16 Beta Released

          Chris Smart recently announced that Kororaa 16 Beta has been released. Kororaa is a Fedora-based distribution aimed at making everyday desktop computing a bit easier straight out of the box. Version 15 was released in September followed by an update in October.

    • Debian Family

      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Ubuntu will now track Mozilla updates

            The Ubuntu developers are now tracking Mozilla’s rapid release cycle, releasing the updated version 8.0 of Mozilla’s Firefox and Thunderbird. Previously, Ubuntu distributions would have stuck with the major version they were released with, say 3.0, and only updated to the minor versions as they arrived, 3.0.1, 3.0.2 and so on. But Mozilla’s switch to a rapid release schedule for Firefox and Thunderbird, which sees a new major version every six weeks, has placed Canonical and other distribution makers with a decision: whether to stick with their old policy and support a version of a browser that would no longer be supported upstream within months, or follow the rapid-release cycle, even if it means updating major versions.

          • Ubuntu: Wake up and smell the Unity against you

            In the past few months, Ubuntu seems to have experienced a serious drop in popularity. It can be said that Linux distributions rise and fall when something new becomes the latest and greatest, but this turnaround seems sudden and could possibly be due to some recent design changes on Canonical’s part.

          • Canonical questions Distrowatch share slide figures

            Hall explained in a blog post that the figures on Distrowatch, while handy, aren’t an accurate guide to the actual number of users a particular build has. For example, he points out, Red Hat is 42nd on the list, but has a much larger installed base than that ranking would indicate. The figures are useful for gauging interest, but nothing more, Hall suggests.

          • Ubuntu May Be Coming to a TV Near You

            According to Canonical founder Mark Shuttleworth, there are a few developers who want to develop such a platform and have met in a chat to nail down some of the priorities of a Ubuntu-TV project.

          • The “Ubuntu Pig Thesis”, Revised

            Yes, it’s me again. That guy who just won’t stop looking into the future and trying to determine when Ubuntu will cross the chasm. Admittedly, in August 2010 it was looking bleak.

            At that time our favourite, freedom-respecting, complete operating system with “community-awesomeness” was in clear and present danger of losing mind-share. And, like sharks drawn to blood in the water, the mainstream tech press (the Ubuntu “Non-Consumer” Journalist Community) began their feeding frenzy. Meanwhile we forged on with making Ubuntu even better, growing our local communities and spreading the word wider and farther than ever.

          • Reports of Ubuntu’s death are greatly exaggerated
          • Flavours and Variants

            • Linux Mint 12 debuts ‘Lisa’ as belle of the ball

              The Ubuntu variant famed for delivering a minty fresh taste to Linux has officially arrived at version 12. Code-named “Lisa,” the distribution introduces a new desktop that’s based on GNOME 3.2, yet offers extensive user customization courtesy of Mint Gnome Shell Extensions (MGSE). Open source fans will find the default search engine is now DuckDuckGo, which touts crowd-sourcing and a no-tracking privacy policy. Those concerned with aesthetics will certainly appreciate two new themes, Mint-Z and Mint-Z-Dark, and the distro also delivers upgrades to Firefox,

            • The End of the Distro Wars

              “Popularity” is a term that smacks of our days in high school, when we thought we should care about social standing and where we fit in that ranking. Now apparently, we seem to be locked into this notion of figuring out which distro is most popular, too.

              This is a silly question, for multiple reasons.

              First, the real data is hard to get. There is no common download tracker for distros. If you think DistroWatch is it, think again. DistroWatch doesn’t count downloads or boxes: it counts page hits for each distro’s page on that site. “Only one hit per IP address per day is counted,” the site explains.

            • Lubuntu 11.10 review: Lightweight Linux

              Canonical’s decision to go with Unity for the default Ubuntu Linux desktop interface was hardly met with universal acclaim. Likewise, GNOME 3 has been the target of criticism by some due to its interface changes. So where is one to go for an operating system with a classic desktop UI that just works out of the box?

              Luckily the key strength of free software is, as you would expect, the freedom to innovate and tweak until you come up with something that suits your needs. Of course sometimes this can tend to be a illusory — it can be hard to gather a strong community to support Feline Fanciers Linux (sadly) — but it’s not as though upsets are impossible when someone takes on the big guns of the Linux world.

            • Linux Mint 12: A much-needed, much-improved Linux desktop

              Outside of the desktop, the distribution is fairly straight-forward, and well done. There is one other feature that should be noted. When you fire up Firefox you will notice a different default search engine. Linux Mint has partnered with the Duck Duck Go search engine (which is built entirely on open source software – although currently the source for Duck Duck Go is closed). Now this might not be a big deal to some, but it should be known that Duck Duck Go does contribute to the open source community. What is also of note is that Duck Duck Go does not track search results and does not personalize searches based on your history. So if you’re looking for a more pure search engine, the new Linux Mint default might suit you.

            • Are DuckDuckGo’s Bing Ties a Problem for Linux Mint?

              The DuckDuckGo search engine is one of those new features thanks to a partnership between the projects whereby DuckDuckGo and Mint share the revenue generated by sponsored links within the search results seen by Linux Mint users.

              DuckDuckGo offers a number of advantages for privacy-focused users, as I noted yesterday; it’s also built in part on open source software, and it contributes to the open source community.

              In the past few days, however, there have been a few suggestions made that the search engine filters out free and open source software such as Linux and LibreOffice, largely because it draws in part from results from Microsoft Bing.

            • Linux Mint 12 (Lisa) Review – with Screenshot Tour
            • Mint solves Ubuntu Unity challenge

              Ubuntu always strives to make Linux easy. From its very first release in October 2004 Ubuntu was engineered to remove complexity while retaining the power of Linux.

              I’ve been a fan since day one and, with very few exceptions, it has been a rewarding and painless experience. At least until now.

              The problem now is Unity, Ubuntu’s new default desktop interfacet. Unity is ugly, clumsy and horrible to use. The alternative, Gnome3, is not that appealing either. Gnome3 is better looking than Unity but it is also a radical departure from Gnome2 which requires a lot of getting used to.

            • Screenshot Tour: Linux Mint 12 GNOME
  • Devices/Embedded

    • Phones

      • Android

        • Ice Cream Sandwich

          No new version of the Android mobile operating system has been quite so eagerly awaited as v4.0 or Ice Cream Sandwich as it’s more colourfully known. The reason is not hard to explain: Android has streaked ahead of iOS in the bums-on-seats stakes but there is still the feeling that the user interface lacks the polish and grace of Apple’s mobile platform.

        • CyanogenMod 9 (Ice Cream Sandwich) for Nexus S

          Over the past week, ROM Manager extraordinaire Koush has been frantically working on making a working build of CyanogenMod 9 (Ice Cream Sandwich) for the Samsung Nexus S. The custom ROM, which is built purely from the Android Open Source Project (AOSP), has now reached “alpha 11.” All major features are present and no significant bugs remain. It’s too early to say that the build is ready for prime time or mission-critical work — the final release of CM9 is due in the new year — but it’s certainly stable enough for daily use. If you want to see CyanogenMod 9 in action, we’ve embedded our hands-on video at the end of this story.

        • GO Ubuntu Unity (donate)
    • Sub-notebooks/Tablets

Free Software/Open Source

  • Will sprint for freedom: Report from the NYC CiviCRM code sprint

    Late last month, I attended a two-day code sprint in New York for CiviCRM, the free software constituent relationship management system. I want to say a few words about it because I thought it was a great experience, and a good model for other free software projects to follow (many already do!).

    CiviCRM is a “graduate” of the FSF’s High Priority Projects list. A system for nonprofits to organize their fundraising and communicate with supporters had been on the list for quite a while, because this was an area where many people told us they were still forced to use proprietary software.

  • YaCy takes on Google with open source search engine

    A project calling itself YaCy – pronounced “ya see” – aims to break Google’s headlock on the search market by giving away an open source search engine that can be used both online and within an intranet.

    The YaCy engine is based on peer-to-peer connections rather than search queries being run thorough a central server. Users download the software and act as peers for search, ensuring that no content can be censored and no search results can be recorded and analyzed on central servers.

  • Open-source skills best hope for landing a good job

    In the midst of a weakening global economy and rampant uncertainty as to when the recession will lift from North America and Western Europe, one thing is certain: open-source technology skills may be the best hope for landing a good job. As reported by The Wall Street Journal, open source claims five of the top 10 keywords in Indeed.com’s job listings, with Hadoop, Puppet, Android, and jQuery making the list, along with HTML5, a proxy for various open-source projects like ext-JS, SproutCore, etc.

  • OSE developing blueprint for building industrial machines in post-apocalypse era

    Open Source Ecology is creating what it calls the Global Village Construction Set (GVCS) — a technology for ecology — that can help humans quickly build machines and a mini civilization in the event of a catastrophic event. Maybe overkill, but it’s nice to have a blueprint for survival — and an open source one at that.

  • 25 Ways Open Source is Catching On Beyond Software

    At a conference earlier this month, WordPress founder Matt Mullenweg told attendees, “not just software, but everything should be open source.”

    Apparently, he’s not the only person who thinks this, because open source philosophy is spreading far beyond the software industry.

    This month, we’re taking a look at 25 projects that are taking open source in new—and sometimes unexpected—directions. While not all of these projects involve open source licenses, they do all embrace the ideals of the open source movement. That is, the source materials are freely available for anyone who wants to re-use and/or modify them.

  • The Flowering of Open Innovation

    While the foundation provides an improved legal structure through better licensing and provenance tracking, it also acts as a neutral space for ownership and collaboration. For all corporate participants to feel they aren’t giving away their innovation investments to partners and competitors or the public at large, a central neutral owner for the IP becomes essential to growth. Foundations serve as that neutral holder of IP.

  • The silent drum-beat
  • What’s a Free Software Non-Profit For?

    Much was written last week that speculated about the role of foundations and the always-changing ways that developers write Free Software. I must respectfully point out that I believe this discussion doesn’t address the key purpose of doing Free Software work as part of a non-profit organization.

  • Events

    • Free Software – Defending Your Freedom
    • Invitation for Participation in SCALE: The Next Generation

      The Southern California Linux Expo is proud to announce a conference for the next generation of free and open source (FOSS) community enthusiasts. SCALE: The Next Generation will be held Saturday, January 21, 2012, at the Hilton Los Angeles Airport hotel. We invite the youth of the FOSS community to share their enthusiasm and excitement about FOSS projects with the other young people. Talk submissions are reviewed by a committee of youths, parents, and volunteers planning the conference and evaluated solely on their merits. We request that submission dates be strictly honored in order to provide the committee enough time to choose the best set of proposals.

  • Web Browsers

    • Chrome

    • Mozilla

      • Firefox 11 Gets Vibrator API

        Mozilla developers have landed some interesting new mobile features for the upcoming Firefox 11 for Android release. The new features will enable the browser to take full advantage of underlying hardware features, including the ability to vibrate, use a camera, check battery status and send an SMS.

  • Databases

    • Salesforce Heroku Offers Standalone Cloud-Based PostgreSQL Database

      The platform-as-a-service provider, owned by Salesforce.com (NYSE: CRM), announced the new offering – a standalone cloud-based PostgreSQL database – last week. The company has offered its cloud-based database services to customers of the Heroku platform since 2007, but this new release extends it to customers who only want the database.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • Oracle Sun ZFS Storage Appliance Buyer’s Guide

      Oracle CEO Larry Ellison likes to think inside the box these days. Following on from the success of the company’s Exadata and Exalogic releases, he rolled out several more Oracle/Sun big box solutions–Exalytics for analytics/Business Intelligence (BI), the Oracle Big Data Appliance and a new line of Sun ZFS Storage Appliances.

  • CMS

    • Survey Says: WordPress Leads Open Source CMS Market

      According to water & stone, the “big three” open source CMSes from 2010 continue to dominate in 2011. WordPress, Drupal, and Joomla all topped the company’s survey of open source CMSes, with WordPress “clearly outpacing” Drupal and Joomla.

      The survey started with 35 systems, which were narrowed down to 20 after getting the survey responses. The report primarily looked at rate of adoption and brand strength. All we really care about is rate of adoption, so let’s look at that.

  • Funding

    • Cisco, Google Ventures and VMware Back Puppet Labs with $8.5 Million

      Puppet Labs announced today that it is receiving $8.5 million in Series C financing from Google Ventures, Cisco and VMware. The new round of financing brings Puppet Labs up to $15.75 million, which begs the question – what does the IT automation company need with that kind of dosh?


    • GNU Typist 2.9.1 released

      Changes in 2.9.1:
      - Native Language Support added on Windows
      - fixed support for UTF-8 on Windows
      - re-added vim syntax highlighting and updated manual
      - updated Polish translation, thanks to Jakub Bogusz
      - several fixes to the build system

  • Public Services/Government

    • Government to publish new public datasets

      The government is to release a new tranche of public datasets, including information on healthcare, travel and the weather, chancellor George Osborne is to announce in his Growth Review tomorrow.

  • Programming


  • Security

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Trademarks

      • The Koha Saga: A gift that keeps giving

        The world of libraries is not one we normally associate with passion and high drama. And yet that is precisely what the long-running saga of Koha, the open source library management system, has been filled with.

    • Copyrights

      • SOPA Gets Taiwanese News Animation Treatment

        Want to know when a bit of news has really hit the mainstream? It’s when the Taiwanese company Next Media Animation does a computer generated animation of the story. These videos have become a media sensation. Guess what they just took on? Yup, the battle over SOPA, which they animate by showing Hollywood lobbyists seeking to attack the internet, and showing not only how tech companies teamed up to fight this, but that internet users are pushing back. Amusingly, they make use of the imagery from the UC Davis pepper spray incident to show how Hollywood and the government can “knock out” sites under SOPA.


Links – Oppose ProtectIP, pollution and anti-trust

Posted in Site News at 7:28 pm by Guest Editorial Team

Reader’s Picks

IRC Proceedings: November 29th, 2011

Posted in IRC Logs at 7:28 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz



#techrights log

#boycottnovell log



#boycottnovell-social log

#techbytes log

Enter the IRC channels now

Microsoft Search Front Ends

Posted in Microsoft, Search at 3:50 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: DuckDuckGo and Yahoo! as search engines lead to Microsoft and provide watered down results for FOSS subjects

THERE is reason to be concerned about Microsoft turning Yahoo! Into a purple (ish) Microsoft front end.

There is a reason to be suspicious of DuckDuckGo as well. A closer look helps us understand that when Microsoft killed Yahoo! it basically eliminated another competitor — a malicious move which hurts the industry as a whole (destroying jobs, hurting customers, and so on). “DuckDuckGo needs to wash its hands of Bing,” wrote one of our readers earlier this evening. A recent article outlining how DuckDuckGo (DDG) gives Microsoft-generated (read: censored) results much of the time gave more room for discomfort and we are now seeing Microsoft play more anticompetitive games in search. Some months ago I was shown by a friend how his Windows/IE combination could not retain the choice of Google as a default search engine. He just couldn’t get it to work, so instead he was channelled into Microsoft and its front ends every time he started the Web browser. Design flaw? Surely not, it was clearly deliberate. According to another new testimonial, this is a widespread problem. To quote: “I recently had to install windows on a computer. This involved all the updates and bells and whistles. One of those is what some love to call internet exploder :) When starting up internet explorer for the first time it asks you to go through some hoops to set up some settings. If you were to just accept the default settings then you would be using all microsoft search engines. Naturally I did not want to use bling so I decided to choose a custom setting. I wanted Google to be my default search provider.

“I was a bit miffed that there was not a choice for Google right there. Instead I had to wait until all the settings were configured and microsoft opens up a page for me to choose the search provider I wanted. It would have been much easier if I could choose it right there. I could live with it though so I finished all the setting up of internet explorer and waited for it to open up the page so I could choose the Google search provider.

“Lo and behold the page opened up and right there in front of my eyes were a stack of icons of different search providers. The second one, with the Google colors and the Google ‘g’ and the name of Google.com seemed to me to be a good bet that this was the Google search provider I was wanting. I looked at all the other search providers and there was no other Google search provider listed. So it must be that one right? Wrong! Here is the page pointed to by the microsoft internet explorer setup program.”

Somebody ought to investigate this. Microsoft used tricks like these before and was forced off them. While the Microsoft boosters spin hard to pretend Microsoft honours competition, the company is just the same psychopath is has always been. Apathy towards Microsoft is a recipe for trouble, not peaceful coexistence.

SUSE Got Worse Over Time

Posted in Novell, OpenSUSE, SLES/SLED at 3:39 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

From leader to loser in 5 years?

Teddy bear

Summary: Why SUSE should be avoided, not just for helping Microsoft but also for technical reasons

FIVE years ago SUSE could almost be viewed as a victim of Novell’s decisions. But a few months ago SUSE sold out not via Novell and this is when we called for a boycott of SUSE and not Novell (which no longer existed per se).

Now that the Weekly News posts seem quite vacant (compared to years ago) we are left just seeing some OpenSUSE posts like impressions and various reviews. The score for OpenSUSE is not so high, so it is clearly not a leader. It arguably was the leader before Microsoft turned it into a ‘Microsoft Linux’. As one review summarised it: “I would say that it’s still a good distribution, but it’s not quite as awesome as version 11.4, so I would recommend it, but not as much as version 11.4.”

So it is arguably getting worse. People who speak about DistroWatch rankings for OpenSUSE conceal the fact that the recent release provides a temporary boost.

‘Pulling an ACTA’ to Legalise Software Patents in Europe

Posted in Europe, Patents at 3:29 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz


Summary: Secretly and without honour for the rule of law, politicians and lawyers (sometimes the same thing) are bringing software patents into Europe, via the back door

NOW that Linux/Android devices come under embargo attacks by the ‘patents army’ in Germany, we must take the patent question very seriously. In Germany we are told that the Green Party (not the Pirate Party which takes funds from software patents supporters) is taking action against software patents.

Germany has a lot of impact over the EPO and via Glyn Moody we discover that “Coming To Plates In Europe [are] Patented Vegetables, Produced By Conventional Breeding” — the same thing that Germans protested against in the streets some years ago. “The European Patent Organization (EPO) is a strange entity. Despite its name,” explains Masnick, “it has nothing to do with the European Union. Instead, it was set up on the basis of the 1973 European Patent Convention to grant patents under that Convention.

“But things are getting worse as British patent lawyers quietly try to overhaul the patent the system in Europe, tilting it further in their advantage.”“As an independent body whose only reason for existing is to oversee the issue of patents, it has a natural tendency to widen their reach. One of the most hotly-contested areas where that is happening is software patents, which are not granted in Europe “as such” (you can imagine what fun the lawyers have with those two words).”

But things are getting worse as British patent lawyers quietly try to overhaul the patent the system in Europe, tilting it further in their advantage. The only article we have found about it says:

An Anglo-German tug of war is developing over the site of a new European patents court that could generate hundreds of millions of pounds of business for UK lawyers and scientists.

The Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys (Cipa) has written to the prime minister and will on Tuesday lobby the government’s intellectual property office for the European patents court to be established in London.

Germany has proposed that Munich, where the EU’s patent office is already located, should become home to the court that will adjudicate in disputes over ownership of industrial designs and inventions.

Glyn Moody, who recently mentioned Lehne (politicians who at the same time serves a lawyers’ firm, mushrooming a conflict of interest), also wrote about the latest patent scandal:

It’s those last points that are particularly worrying. The European Patent Office has nothing to do with the European Union, and is essentially a completely independent body. Worse, it’s entire raison d’être is to issue patents, and so it is only natural that it will want to issue more of them, and in more fields. Its rulings have already pushed software patents closer to acceptance, and there can be little doubt that the unitary patent will make software patents the norm throughout Europe.

This is a disaster waiting to happen, and already we are seeing the political machine swing into action to make sure that it does happen. That such an important change in the European patent system should be decided by a few people behind closed doors is an utter outrage, and symptomatic of the deeply dysfunctional approach that is routinely adopted.

The only way we can hope to change this culture is by protesting about it whenever we encounter it until the politicians realise that even if we can’t see what they are doing in secret, we do at least know they have something to hide.

This oughn’t escape the attention of the European Commission as not only does the above illustrate democracy fracturing (a form of corruption) but it is also the invitation of more patent wars of greater magnitude. Given that the EU can see the negative effects of patent wars, it musn’t stay idle. To quote: “A funny thing has happened to patent law in the 21st century. Instead of protecting intellectual property rights, patents have been hijacked by rich companies to take control of a market — and the problem is particularly acute in the mobile space.
“Reuters reported last week that the EU is beginning to think companies are using patents unfairly to harass market rivals.”

There is more on that in a new article which says:

In recent times, an increasingly competitive and litigious smartphone industry has spawned a patent arms race, and the need for participants to bulk up their proprietary patent portfolios.

Specifically, an eruption of patent lawsuits has occurred between almost every major developer of smartphone hardware and software in the industry. In many respects, companies are buying insurance against future legal action, injunctions, etc.

Early in 2011, a consortium led by Apple and Microsoft paid an astounding $4.5 billion for more than 6,000 patents owned by the now defunct Nortel Networks.

For anyone without a calculator handy, that equates to roughly $750,000 per Nortel patent. To put the intensity of competition for Nortel’s patents into context, Google opened the bidding at just $900 million (Nortel’s creditors will be happy), and was ultimately shut out completely.

Not to be without a dance partner, Google recently purchased Motorola and its 17,000 patents for $12.5 billion in cash, as well as a thousand or so patents from IBM for an undisclosed sum. This may work to put a lid on the patent race/bidding frenzy in the near term, because Google was really the one driving it.

Mark Shuttleworth said that “The Whole Patent System Is A Sham” (going by the headline from Muktware). To quote: “Mark Shuttleworth, the charismatic founder of Ubuntu, slammed the patent system as broken. He also said that Microsoft’s biggest mistake was to think that they could use patents against competition and wasted most of a decade.”

Ubuntu is based in the UK, so the patent question matters a lot and the EU needs to turn away software patents. Over in the US, we still see new examples of patents on compression, games, and just about everything someone can explain in words. Regarding compression, Canonical already pays a patent tax on it. To quote that latter example: “Full Tilt Poker’s unique “Rush Poker” innovation, which allows a pool of players to play quickly and to continuously be rushed to a new table upon folding their cards at their previous table, is a concept that is neither exclusive nor patentable, according to Per Hildebrand, chairman and vice president of sales at InstaDeal Poker Network.”

Of course this is not novel, but when systems permit any digitised equivalent of real-life processes to become a patent, there’s chaos. This chaos is profitable for lawyers and it hurts small companies the most.

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