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11.07.11

PlateSpin Looks Dead

Posted in Novell, Virtualisation at 3:55 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Novell error message

Summary: The clock is ticking on users of PlateSpin, which Novell acquired only to put to waste

OVER THE years we’ve expressed concerns about PlateSpin, whose founders and head left Novell shortly after Novell had acquired their company. There was no mention of this product from Attachmate and “the product hasn’t been updated in a while,” says this new article. To quote in context:

Novell PlateSpin Orchestrate is another multi-hypervisor management tool, and it’s been around for a long time. The product supports VMware, Xen and Hyper-V, and it can carry out various administration tasks — such as creating, starting, stopping and deleting virtual machines. Since Attachmate’s acquisition of Novell, however, PlateSpin Orchestrate’s maintenance and development status remains unclear, and the product hasn’t been updated in a while.

Here is another one who fled Novell:

Chui has more than 15 years of marketing experience in the technology space, including the leadership of an award-winning marketing team at PlateSpin, which was later acquired by Novell.

He has just moved.

Is it safe for the long run to use something from the PlateSpin brand (Novell did some rebranding for marketing reasons)? We think not and there is precedence in the news that involves Novell:

The clients were computer illiterate for the most part, and had tried to install some third-party software on their Novell server by themselves. However, the software wouldn’t run properly after being installed (most likely a permission issue), and the client called our shop to ask for help.

How likely is it that Novell customers that depend on PlateSpin will soon stay unsupported and helpless? Remember under what circumstances Novell was bought. It seemed like a liquidation move. From last week’s news we are reminded that:

Closed on Oct. 14, the fund is the fourth raised by Golden Gate, which has purchased a wide range of companies over the last 12 months, including California Pizza Kitchen and two software makers, Novell and Lawson Software.

It made no sense for Attachmate to buy Novell unless it was trying to serve some external agenda, as we explained a long time ago. Attachmate could not even afford to buy Novell, it needed financial support from the outside and it found it.

Attachmate Actually Has a Product, Buries Some of Novell’s

Posted in Mono, Novell at 3:41 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Reflection Suite reflects on Attachmate commitment only to itself

NOW that Mono is being dropped from Ubuntu (after Attachmate too dumped it) we are somewhat gratified to see the boycott of Novell succeeding.

Attachmate itself is not totally without products. It just doesn’t have many of them and those which it has make headlines for all the wrong reasons:

The case centres around Defence’s use of five pieces of Attachmate software in the “Extra!” product family of emulation software. Attachmate sold Defence 8000 licences for a package of software, including Extra! Personal Client 6.5, Extra! for Windows 5.20 and Extra! TCP Bundle Version, as well as Reflection for HP version 4.2, enterprise Access Object Software and KEA! 420.

In the licensing agreement, Defence agreed to use each copy on one computer at a time, transfer software between computers no more than once every 30 days and to not copy the software.

Attachmate had independent auditors from KPMG prepare a report in November 2009, which revealed that Defence was using tens of thousands of copies of the software that it had no licences for.

Now, watch this new press release from Attachmate. This is very rare as the company seems to be low profile of of very low impact. It does not spend time promoting Novell products, which says a lot really. “I Remember IRMA: Reflections on Terminal Emulation Through the Ages,” writes David Strom, who explains that:

The memories were trigged by a press release from Attachmate, which is now probably the largest software vendor of things that you don’t really care to try or buy, including probably the leading commercial vendor of Reflection, a terminal emulator. For those of you that are still reading, this is a product that allows you to connect to a command-line console (such as Terminal in Mac OS or Windows HyperTerminal).

This was hardly mentioned in the press, except for few examples. Attachmate does almost nothing for Novell’s portfolio.

Novell Gives up on Partner Satisfaction

Posted in Novell at 3:26 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: More sighs that Attachmate’s stewardship of Novell products is poor

IN ESSENCE, Novell ceased to exist once it was sold, but the brand remains and some of the same old products live (or die) under a different wing, Attachmate or others. There is a critical piece from the British press which says that Novell calls its surveys “pointless” and just drops them, perhaps because it was going to get some poor scores in these. To quote:

vell has axed its requirement for partners to carry out customer satisfaction surveys as part of a wider drive to simplify its engagement with partners.

The vendor, which split into three business units (Novell, NetIQ and SUSE) following the completion of its acquisition by Attachmate in April, will make a number of tweaks to its partner programme on 1 November 2011 and 1 April 2012.

It is also being reported that SUSE will slash some resellers:

SUSE to slash directly managed resellers

Linux outfit SUSE is cutting the number of resellers it manages directly by more than two-thirds as it looks to pool its efforts behind its top partners.

The vendor, now an autonomous business unit of Attachmate Group, currently manages 62 UK and Ireland partners.

NetIQ goes channel-only:

Security and systems management vendor NetIQ is moving to a channel-only model in the UK following parent Attachmate’s acquisition of Novell.

Attachmate split Novell into three business units after completing its acquisition of the software vendor in April: Novell, SUSE and NetIQ – which inherited all Novell’s identity and access management and datacentre products.

David Janson, UK and Ireland director at NetIQ, argued the reorganisation would finally enable his firm to compete on an equal footing with systems management juggernauts BMC, IBM, CA and HP.

Some of these moves may seem almost suicidal, but as we showed before, Attachmate has been mostly passive when it comes to Novell products.

Attachmate/Novell: Videos, GroupWise, and Abandonment

Posted in Mail, Novell, Videos at 3:16 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Attachment for GroupWise

Summary: An accumulation of news about Novell, focusing on particular themes

New Novell Videos

GroupWise still has some new videos posted about it, e.g. [1, 2, 3] to name the latest. While it is true that a new version is coming, not many changes will be introduced. GroupWise is a dying product with a shrinking userbase.

“Novell Productions” might be a trademark violation in another, separate new video on YouTube, but the Novell brand is a dying brand anyway. It’s coming to be known as Attachmate — whatever does not get liquidated or shut down. There are other new Novell videos, but some are in Polish or are short clips from/about India. It has been a long time since we last saw Teaming mentioned, but here it is again (“Netflex Success Story for Novell Teaming + Conferencing”).

Goodbye Groupwise?

There was a heap of material in the news again about LA’s planned move to Google (from Novell) To quote one example:

The amended contract requires Google to pay for the police and related agencies to stay on Novell GroupWise till November 2012. Google was already footing the Groupwise bill through June 20, 2011. The cost to Google could be several million dollars. But the blow to Google’s reputation as a provider of safe and secure email and collaboration could be far higher.

Over a year ago we showed how both Novell and Microsoft spread FUD to derail this move. It was all over the news in the middle/end of last month:

The letter, dated Aug. 17, 2011, but confidential until now, essentially says Google is responsible for paying for the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD)’s Novell GroupWise deployment through November 2012.

More information can be found in [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9].

Goodbye Novell

In the new we still find former Novell staff that finds a new home by moving to other companies. We also find former Novell staff in Allegiance now. To quote:

The company has named Jason Taylor, formerly with Omniture and Novell, as executive vice president of engineering.

Here is another news story about Novell getting the boot:

The project started four years ago when the University realised it was going to have to replace its aging mish-mash of legacy systems based around conventional PCs and obsolete technology such as Novell’s Netware.

Guess who is moving to Microsoft? Former customers of Novell:

“In moving from Novell to Microsoft for our back end, we had a blank slate,” says Johnson. The organization decided to move from systems-based downloads for applications to user-based downloads. In other words, end users can choose from a library of pre-approved software that they download themselves.

With Attachmate in charge, it is almost guaranteed that Novell’s old business will evaporate one client at a time.

SUSE Gets Lost in the ‘Cloud’

Posted in GNU/Linux, SLES/SLED at 2:48 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

SUSE Genuine Advantage

Summary: Some bits and pieces about SUSE, which is Microsoft’s “approved” and recommended distribution of GNU/Linux (complete with Microsoft tax)

SUSE is not about Free/open source software. Increasingly, SUSE is about Fog Computing (more suitable description for ‘cloud’) and many recent articles support this vision of the distribution, including one that says:

SuSE has released an early development snapshot of its OpenStack-powered cloud infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) solution.

SuSE Cloud is a new appliance configured to run Diablo, the latest version of the open source cloud organisation’s operating system (OS).

The Attachmate division also said its IaaS was hypervisor agnostic and OS neutral, so customers and partners can build, deploy and manage both private and public cloud infrastructure quickly and easily when it made available sometime next year.

As IDG put it, “earlier this week Attachmate’s Suse announced plans to make software for OpenStack private clouds. Suse Cloud, which won’t be available for at least nine months, will be based on the latest version of OpenStack, called Diablo.”

Zonker's spin of this has made the news in some other sites that repeated similar points and volunteer work is still sought by the company which is partly funded by Microsoft to help put a Microsoft tax on Linux. All this promotion and calls for participation even with parties are merely a vacuum. On the “open” side, OpenSUSE has not actually done much and Studio has been fairly quiet too, with only few bleeps on the radar ahead of a new release of OpenSUSE (to almost align with Fedora’s release).

Although it comes with KDE by default (ish), other flavours exist, but there is nothing in OpenSUSE which users cannot get elsewhere. With near final builds in the making we kindly remind people that those installing it or preparing applications for the release (bar packaging perils) are either employees or people whom these employees exploit for the betterment of “Microsoft Linux”.

Last week I updated the libvirt package for openSUSE12.1 RC1 / Factory to version 0.9.6. The package was also submitted for SLE11 SP2 Beta8.

One noteworthy change is this: “openSuse 12.1 will be running Linux kernel 3.1 and it is expected that openSuse 12.1 will be the first to ship Google’s new programming language Go. openSuse 12.1 has overhauled the boot procedure introducing systemd and Grub2.”

The OBS source repo has been relocated:

The OBS git repos have been moved to github.com…

Michal Hrušecký writes about help it, but as member of staff one is inclined to offer unpaid volunteers like those who bring OBS to Fedora:

Both Fedora and openSUSE use quite different packaging tools, and since I was more comfortable with openSUSE Build Service, I’ve opened a small project (home:ketheriel:fedora), added a Fedora 15 repository and kicked off. While the package built pretty much according to what I expected, OBS doesn’t run Fedora rpmlint by default on the end of the packaging process, and I’m not really sure even if that’s possible without tinkering with it for bit.
My first option was to install a Fedora 16 BETA system and check it out from the real thing (I got seduced by Verne’s wallpaper, which fits so well in GNOME3).

There are those who write HOWTOs specific to OpenSUSE and those to whom SUSE vanity is a form of advertisement [1, 2], just like a release party, of which there are a few around the company’s headquarters (thus involvement from paid employees). Some people prepare posters and the project is always looking for money from Google, even this year:

After Google Summer Of Code 2011, openSUSE plans to participate in Google Code-in. It is an excellent opportunity for openSUSE to meet young talents and introduce them to the ways of open source.

SUSE the company cannot rely on volunteers alone, so it hired yet another person to rally the troops:

SUSE, an operating unit of the Attachmate Group, has appointed Hamish Miles as regional sales director for Australia and New Zealand.

The old management of SUSE is out. Not all of it, but a lot of it. Today’s SUSE is not the same SUSE people in Germany came to know and love. In fact, SUSE is hardly about FOSS anymore. It’s about pushing Microsoft tax with Microsoft’s support.

Patents Roundup: Microsoft’s New Patent Deal, Apple Lawsuits, Lodsys, US Backlash Against Software Patents, and More

Posted in Apple, Microsoft, Oracle, Patents at 2:36 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Flipping pages

Summary: A collection of news of interest about patents, especially software patents

ON WE go with our coverage of software patenting matters, starting with the observation that this one patent — just like many of its kind which paint software patents as “medical” — simply puts lives at risk, for reasons that we explained before. As one Twitter user put it:

A US patent on using a computer with SMP in a dialysis machine?

Trying to attach computer restrictions with a patent monopoly is not helping; it’s making things worse by limiting the work of many who are eager to help. It is only good for the party claiming the monopoly, for obvious reasons. See what happened to Kodak with its patents; it became parasitical:

A sale represents a sharp tactical shift. Kodak picked up just $27 million in patent-licensing fees in the first half of 2011 after amassing nearly $2 billion in the previous three years.

We wrote about Kodak many timers before. It is a valuable example of companies that become unable to make products and therefore turn to a “patent strategy” as they call it (litigation and taxation).

There is clearly a need for a fix in this system. The public demands it, but Obama disregards the petition and there are renewed attempts to get a reform passed. To quote one article on this subject:

d to pull the direct democracy lever at the White House but struck out earlier this week. Now they are reassembling for another push.

Software patents rankle many in the development community who believe they enrich lawyers at the expense of innovation. In September, the critics decided to test-drive the Obama administration’s new “We the People” initiative which provides an official response to petitions that garner enough signatures.

[...]

The petitioners may have their work cut out for them the second around. Due to the popularity of the petition program, the White House in October raised the number of signatures required for a response from 5,000 to 25,000. So far the software opponents have about 700 signatures with 27 days left to obtain the rest.

The petition is just one arena where the ever-contentious patent debate is taking place. Another one to watch is the Supreme Court which in December will again consider the scope of patentable subject matter in a medical case called Prometheus Laboratories. The Court ruled on the same issue in 2010 in a case called Bilski but its decision has been widely panned for failing to clarify what can and can’t be patented.

Among those in support of this broken status quo are patent lawyers who are looking to gain at the expense of the producing industry, including sites like this one and longtime software patent boosters who get quoted as saying:

Lawyer: Software Can Be Patented Even Without Code

There is an interesting post on software patents by Gene Quinn, a patent attorney and editor of the IPWatchdog blog. Quinn’s advice is that there’s always something that can be patented in software.

Does any software developer exist who can defend this? This merely represent the passage of work from programmers to lawyers who put down vague verbal descriptions in some pages rather than write any technical details. Some companies happily call their patents “software patents” because the United States harbours this type of thing. To quote:

Virtual Tour Software Patent Granted for VR2020.com

Some Virtual Tour companies pride themselves on their ability to provide virtual tours created from third party software but, we’ve taken our originality and technology in empowering our clients and have had a patent granted for our own unique software.

This is not a new ‘invention’. A lot of it is usually mere geometry, so they are stacking up monopolies on mathematics, making it an explanation of nature which is now someone’s monopoly.

Microsoft and Openwave

In other news, Openwave surges following not the release of some products (Openwave does not quite do that) but rather the signing of a patent deal with Microsoft. To quote Forbes:

Openwave Systems shares are trading sharply higher in late trading Thursday after disclosing that Microsoft has agreed to license the company’s patent portfolio. Openwave says that Microsoft “becomes the first company to license Openwave’s portfolio of approximately 200 patents, including several foundational patents covering smart device and cloud technologies, among others.”

This quite often sends the trolls well armed for a lawsuit against Microsoft foes, too (Android for example). As Dana Blankenhorn puts it:

Fact is, Apple and Microsoft (as well as others) don’t believe you can build an open source codec or an open source smart phone. The basics of these technologies can’t be innovated around, they say, and they are all ring-fenced with patent claims. Open source stay out.

This attitude is winning in courts, and it represents the chief challenge to open source going forward. Because in supporting open source in these growth areas, developers will increasingly find themselves accused of taking the side of China against Europe and America. China builds nearly all our hardware, and thus it’s assumed that unless western companies can control software, distribution, and markets that our economies will become supine before our economic enemies.

My view is that this is a naïve attitude, and it’s one I’ve been taking on for almost a decade. I first wrote about it in The Secret of Slater’s Mill in 2003 and it’s a lesson that bears repeating.

Jobs/Ellison vs. Android

Over at Rupert Murdoch’s journal it is being reported that Samsung — not Apple — is being approached by the EU Commission:

The European Commission has requested information on patents from tech giants Apple Inc. and Samsung Electronics Co. which could lead to the opening of legal proceedings in a highly contentious area of patent law.

“The Commission has sent requests for information to Apple and Samsung concerning the enforcement of standards-essential patents in the mobile telephony sector,” the European Union’s antitrust body said Friday.

“Such requests for information are standard procedure in antitrust investigations to allow the Commission to establish the relevant facts in a case.”

The EU Commission will hopefully make use of Steve Jobs’ promises to kill Android, which show Apple’s side to be more idealogical than rational. It is about destroying a viable competitor.

Here is a recent article about Steve Jobs’ “plan to kill Android”. this is partly aided by Larry Ellison’s litigation warpath, which has been unfruitful since 2010 and will carry on next year.

Microsoft Florian, a lobbyist funded by Microsoft, seeks to portray Android/Motorola as an aggressor because Microsoft sued Motorola and Motorola may also be Google/Android. The problem we have here is that Florian carries Microsoft’s talking points and as some articles show, journalists are foolishly quoting this Microsoft lobbyist who tries to daemonise the competition in all sorts of ways. Some journalists already know that these people are paid by Microsoft to do this. If they don’t know, they should be told. It is IDG that quotes him in an article about trolls (which neglects to mention the impact of Microsoft/Apple abuse and instead portrays these as victims), so the spin lives on. It is a good investment for Microsoft.

Groklaw keeps abreast of the Ellison aggression against Android, this time addressing the Lindhold decision:

If Google’s attempt to shield the Lindholm email had any remaining life in it before the trial court, you could almost hear the last breath going out of it this week. Consequently, Google gave notice (590 [PDF; Text]) that it intends to appeal Judge Alsup’s ruling that the email does not constitute a privileged document and asked that, while the appeal is pending, the email remain designated as an ATTORNEYS EYES ONLY document. But Judge Alsup has once again said no on the issue of confidentiality. (596 [PDF; Text]) The point that will undoubtedly remain in contention on appeal derives from this passage in Judge Alsup’s order:

It is just another SCO-like case. Ellison is Jobs’ friend (he calls him “best friend” and “idol”), so we expect this lawsuit to be some sort of favour. If it’s destructive to Java, Ellison might not care. It is claimed by Pamela Jones that the SCO lawsuit is not quite buried, either. SCO unearths something old and rusty under another name: There are some glaring questions worth raising:

Didn’t UnXis also get the SCO Group name? In the SCO bankruptcy filings since the sale, the entity formerly known as The SCO Group calls itself TSG. But UnXis *didn’t* get the litigation against IBM. It’s listed on the Excluded Assets. So who exactly is this asking to reopen the IBM litigation now? The filings say it’s “The SCO GROUP, INC., by and through the Chapter 11 Trustee in Bankruptcy, Edward N. Cahn.” Maybe the lawyers forgot themselves that they need to change the name. They can do that later, I suppose, but it’s odd to anyone like me, who actually keeps track of the details.

Update: As mentioned above, I’ve pulled the PDF of the memorandum, because “SCO Group” failed to properly redact the filing. I wonder how many times SCO can do this before someone notices it’s not the first time? It also quotes from the section of the March 5, 2007 oral argument on the two IBM summary judgment motions, where the public had been asked to leave due to confidential documents being discussed, without redacting that part. Note my curled lip.

Lodsys Pains

Another case Groklaw keeps abreast of is the cluster of Lodsys lawsuits, which use patents from Microsoft’s former CTO and also target Android developers. One firm stands tall:

Lodsys, the controversial “patent troll” that has sued everyone from the New York Times (NYSE: NYT) to Angry Birds, recently set its sights on a small web-software firm in France. Unable to afford a legal battle, the two-man company has come up with another tactic to push back against Lodsys’ legal threats.

GroupCamp is a Paris-based firm that provides web-based software to small business clients. In September, the company received a notorious “Lodsys letter” informing the owners they were infringing four patents. Such letters have been sent to dozens or hundreds of companies. The letters typically boast about “inventor” Dan Abelow‘s Ivy League education (he took business classes) and ask the recipient to purchase a license for the patents. You can see a sample Lodsys letter embedded below (apologies for the blurry text).

There are other actions that are a reaction to Lodsys lawsuits and even this event:

After receiving on the 29th of September 2011 a pre-litigation letter and licensing agreement from Lodsys, a non-praticing entity, we at GroupCamp have launched this dedicated website to foster cooperation between entrepreneurs and developers who have received the same letter from Lodsys. All available experience and knowledge will be made available on the website.

It’s also available in French. In summary, there are several threats to Free software and these mostly emanate as patents. We generally know which players to keep track of, so we will.

IRC Proceedings: November 6th, 2011

Posted in IRC Logs at 1:58 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

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IRC Proceedings: November 5th, 2011

Posted in IRC Logs at 1:46 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

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