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11.17.11

Links 17/11/2011: AMD Catalyst 11.11, Memcached 1.4.10

Posted in News Roundup at 8:00 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Benefits of Migrating to Linux

    One of the biggest issues facing IT is finding ways to reduce cost and complexity, particularly in an increasingly competitive environment in which upper management demands justification for every expense. Gone are the days of the CFO signing big cheques for projects just “because the IT guys say we have to have it.” Harvard Research Group (HRG) conducted a survey of professionals involved in migrations to Linux, especially as the migrations relate to initiatives to reduce cost and complexity.

  • Server

    • IBM pushes BlueGene/Q to 100 petaflops

      In February 2009, IBM announced that Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, one of the US Department of Energy’s supercomputing centers, was shelling big bucks to build a 20 petaflops machine that is now known as BlueGene/Q.

    • Aruba Advances Instant Enterprise WLAN

      Big enterprises typically deploy Wireless LAN (WLAN) with Access Points (APs) managed by a central controller. But not everyone needs the power and complexity of a controller-based WLAN, which is why Aruba Networks (NASDAQ:ARUN) has its Aruba Instant portfolio of products.

      Aruba Instant is a controller-less architecture for WLAN, enabling enterprises both large and small to more rapidly deploy wireless networks. The system includes a virtual controller embedded into the access point, providing administrators with some of the same features that are available on physical hardware controllers.

  • Kernel Space

    • Download Linux Kernel 3.2 RC2 Now

      Linus Torvalds proudly announced last evening, November 15th, that Linux kernel 3.2 RC2 is now available for download and testing as a tar archive, from the kernel.org website.

    • AMD Cool ‘n’ Quiet, Turbo Core Impact On Linux

      For those wondering about the impact that AMD’s Cool ‘n’ Quiet and Turbo Core technologies have under Linux for the latest-generation Bulldozer processors, here are some tests illustrating the changes in performance, power consumption, and operating temperature.

    • AMD Cool ‘n’ Quiet, Turbo Core Impact On Linux
    • Graphics Stack

      • OpenCL ratchets up to version 1.2

        OpenCL, the open-source standard for programming heterogeneous computing systems – aka CPU/GPU mashups – has reached version 1.2 with the ratification and public release of its latest specification documentation.

      • AMD Catalyst 11.11 Brings Critical Linux Changes

        What’s good about Catalyst 11.11 over previous releases? Well, AMD has still discontinued their tradition of publishing release notes for the public for their Catalyst Linux driver build, but Phoronix has you covered. Some of what’s noteworthy about the Catalyst 11.11 binary blob for Linux is:

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments

    • Future of UI Design

      Let me start this off by sharing a cute “futuristic” video about possible future of the mobile technology. Please keep in mind that this was created by folks at Microsoft so you won’t actually see any innovative ideas or ground shattering paradigm shifts in there. Microsoft basically created a vision of future which is safe – one which it understands.

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC)

      • Amarok 2.5 Beta 1 Released, Integrates Amazon Music Store

        Amarok is one of the most popular music player for GNU/Linux based operating systems. Recently the player has gone through some UI changes and has upset some long-time users. A group of developers forked Amarok and created Clementine. But, Amarok is still kicking and alive.

      • Stop me please!

        In a couple of weeks, I will need to deliver yet another default wallpaper for KDE’s 4.8-49 desktop editions.
        So my brain wile starting to go in to “crazy” mode to try to find that specif edge, design pattern, blue, that will make me happy and hopefully our users happy as well… decided to have a look at what we have done over that 4.x series and, I saw a pattern alright.

  • Distributions

    • Roundup of Linux Distributions for the Schools

      An important field where GNU/Linux is gaining ground is that of schools, both primary and secondary.

      I think it’s important to teach children and young people that there is a whole world of open source software to explore, and that not everything that is connected to a computer means Windows and/or proprietary systems.

    • New Releases

      • PHP 5.4 Hits RC1
      • Memcached 1.4.10 improves performance

        Memcached logo In a release focused on improving thread scalability and performance, the developers of Memcached, the distributed memory object caching system, say that version 1.4.10 can now “feed data back faster than any network card can support”. The performance enhancements saw developers report batched multiple key fetches per second rising from 1.6 million keys/second to “around 3.7 million keys/sec” on a quad core system with between 3 and 6 worker threads; more than six worker threads reduced speed, while a system with more cores was able to reach six million keys/second.

    • PCLinuxOS/Mageia/Mandrake/Mandriva Family

      • Mandriva 2011 PowerPack: A quick image tour

        As I promised, I bought the PowerPack version of Mandriva to test it. I installed it to a virtual machine because my main goal is not to check for performance, but to see what Mandriva 2011 PowerPack offers that you do not get in Mandriva Desktop 2011.

    • Red Hat Family

      • Drupal and Red Hat webcast on open source

        Drupal creator Dries Buytaert, and Opensource.com, the community building initiative of Red Hat Inc. are presenting a webcast on Thursday, November 17, 2011 at 2330 hrs Indian time. The theme of the webcast would explore how Linux and Drupal have evolved to become open source communities by themselves and also compete in the enterprise world.

        The speakers at the event include Michael Tiemann, Vice President of Open Source Affairs at Red Hat, and Dries Buytaert, creator of Drupal and co-founder and Chief Technology Officer of Acquia. They will address the audience on their personal learnings and experiences and how they lead Open Source Affairs and Drupal, respectively.

      • Red Hat: 52-Week High Recently Eclipsed (RHT)

        Red Hat (NYSE:RHT) traded at a new 52-week high today of $53.42. Approximately 1.2 million shares have changed hands today, as compared to an average 30-day volume of 2.2 million shares.

      • Red Hat (RHT) Showing Bullish Technicals With Resistance At $54.99
      • Taking oVirt for a Spin

        The new open-source project is focused on delivering an openly developed and freely licensed virtualization system.

      • Fedora

    • Debian Family

      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Ubuntu, we all should thank you, however its time to move on..

            There are a lot of reasons why Ubuntu has become the byword for Linux over the last few years. It had a promise, a simple one really “Linux for Human beings” and as an Operating system Ubuntu has more than delivered on that promise.

          • 4 Simple Tools For Tweaking Ubuntu’s Look & Feel [Linux]

            Do you like Ubuntu, but wish it behaved differently? Don’t worry, there are a variety of ways to tweak Ubuntu to your liking.

            It’s been a key criticism since the launch of Unity, that Ubuntu is now impossible to configure. Ubuntu 11.10, the latest version of Ubuntu, is a mixed bag on this front. Some things, like automated backup, are easier to configure than ever before. Other things, like screensavers, are seemingly completely missing.

          • 5 Things I Would Like to See Improved in Ubuntu Software Center
          • Flavours and Variants

            • Linux Mint 12 Mini Review

              Once again Linux Mint developers released their release candidate for Lisa and, as is often the case, made it available with no expected date for the final release. Fine by me… Mint RCs are usually very good in quality, very mature and stable, so I rarely wait for the final version to get to grips with it. Those who read my Linux Mint 11 REVIEW probably remember that I was not particularly surprised with it. It felt like a conservative step forward that didn’t include that many surprises. In a sense, Katia was probably a safe bet to stay away from the brand new (and heavily unstable) Ubuntu’s Unity interface and also to ensure the move to GNOME3 happened at the right moment. In that sense, Mint 11 was a great release and one of the best implementations of GNOME 2.32, with a very personal caracter and carefully designed aesthetics. Linux Mint 12 is probably the opposite, for it represents the transition to GNOME3 and GNOME Shell, the developers first attempt to swim in these cold, unexplored waters. How does it do, you ask?

            • Mint 12: Just what the doctor ordered

              If you’ve been following Linux news lately, you know that on November 14, Mint 12 RC1 was released. This isn’t the final version (which is due at the end of November), but it’s unlikely that anything significant will change in the next couple of weeks. The most important aspect of Mint 12 is that it includes GNOME 3.2 as opposed to Unity Desktop, which is used by Ubuntu 11.10, the Linux distribution that Mint 12 is based on.

            • Lubuntu 11.10 review – a cure to Ubuntu’s Unity blues?

              Could Lubuntu 11.10 prove to be the perfect cure Ubuntu’s Unity backlash? Russell Barnes tests the latest LXDE spin to see how it has progressed in the last six months…

              Firstly, congratulations need to go to the Lubuntu project – it’s their first release as a fully subscribed member of the official Ubuntu family since Mark Shuttleworth welcomed the project to its ranks around the release of 11.04. It joins Xubuntu and Kubuntu among others, and slots rather neatly into the pack, each member bringing a slightly different slant to our beloved Linux desktop while staying true to the mainline software on offer from the core Ubuntu repositories.

            • Is Linux Mint the Most Popular Distro?

              It’s never been an easy thing to measure the popularity of a Linux distribution. Downloads alone are not an accurate measure, and distributions don’t always know how many people have actually downloaded their distro.

              Others, like Fedora, try to take stab at usage by counting how many servers contact the main repositories for updates.

            • Is Linux Mint the Most Popular Distro?
            • One Year with Bodhi Linux

              Today marks the one year point from our first Bodhi Linux “0.1.0″ release. I feel we have come a long way in such a short time and I am happy with everything the team has accomplished thus far. Would you believe that I first started Bodhi simply because I was tired of having to recompile E on each of my half dozen systems every week?

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Phones

      • Android

        • PandaBoard demo’d running Android 4.0

          PandaBoard.org’s community-driven PandaBoard is the first device to run Android 4.0, according to Texas Instruments (TI) and the Android Open-Source Project (AOSP). Based on TI’s dual-core, 1GHz OMAP4430 processor — similar to the OMAP4460 available in the soon-to-ship Samsung Galaxy Nexus — the PandaBoard has been demonstrated on YouTube running an experimental build of “Ice Cream Sandwich.”

        • PandaBoard demo’d running Android 4.0
        • Turkish company builds 65-inch Android ‘tablet’ with Honeycomb, 1080p support (video)

          Want Honeycomb on your TV? You can take your chances with a Google TV-enabled set from Sony, or you can get the full Android experience by adding a connected tablet to your HD mix — if Istanbul-based Ardic gets its solution out the door, at least. The Turkish company’s prototype uses a 10-inch Android Honeycomb-based tablet to power a 65-inch LCD with 1080p support for basic gestures, like pinch and zoom. The display currently has two touch sensors, but a version with four sensors is on the way, which will bring multi-touch support. The tablet is powered by an NVIDIA Tegra 2 SoC, and includes 1GB of RAM, 16GB of flash memory, dual cameras, HDMI, USB, microSD and 3G and WiFi connectivity. A dock enables instant connectivity with the OEM TV, including HDMI for video and audio, and USB for touch input (a wireless version is in the works as well).

    • Sub-notebooks/Tablets

      • Review: Amazon’s Kindle Fire isn’t really a tablet

        Amazon’s Kindle Fire is the world’s smallest vending machine disguised as a tablet. In other words, according to this eWEEK review, it’s really a dedicated media device, not something you should expect to use for work.

      • Amazon Kindle Fire sales could top 5 million in two months: report

        Amazon Kindle Fire is poised to be a retail blockbuster, according to one analyst. What makes the Amazon Kindle Fire different from the steady success of the Nook Color?

      • A day with my XO

        I am writing from the Airport of La Rioja, with my blue XO, waiting for my delayed plane to Buenos Aires. I spent this morning with the Minister of Education, professor Walter Flores and his team, visiting two elementary public schools. Today the whole province is celebrating a significant event, every child and teacher is showing their work on their XO, more than 50,000 have been already distributed. Un día con mi XO, is the title of this very peculiar Journey. A very impressive experience indeed, a massive celebration, the first ever, I think, in the OLPC world. An incredible feat for this Argentine province, the first in Argentina to have saturated the whole educational system, in elementary and special schools with the XO laptops, private and public, and also the secondary and technological schools with the Intel netbooks. A detail, the XO were bought by the province and the netbooks by the nation. A perfect solution.

      • Using a Tablet as a Portable Management Console

        With the dozen or so tablet computers on the market, surely you have one by now. If not, you really must buy one. Tablets are not only lightweight, ultra-portable, and capable of performing any remote administrative tasks, but they also give you that freedom that you never had before. But, that freedom that you so desperately seek might also bring along a lengthier chain attached to it. How can you have both freedom and a chain attached? System administrators understand the concept like no other technology professional.

Free Software/Open Source

  • Adobe donates Flex to foundation in community-friendly exit strategy

    Adobe and the Open Spoon Foundation are preparing to open up development of the Flex SDK. They plan to donate the technology to “an established open source foundation” so that the Flex community and other stakeholders can participate in developing future versions of the SDK.

    Flex is a development framework for building conventional applications with Flash. It’s especially targeted at the enterprise space and has some specialized capabilities for creating data-driven software. The core components of Flex were released as open source under the Mozilla Public License in 2007.

  • Haiku – Open-source recreation of BeOS

    The above title is so full of puns. Firstly, there’s Haiku, which is a wicked form of Japanese poetry, consisting of 5-7-5 morae, somewhat similar to the traditional European eight or ten syllable limericks. Then, recreation could be either recreation, as in we’re going to Ibiza, or recreation as we’re reforging anew the Sword of Whatever. Got it?

  • Events

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Early Mockups Emerge for Firefox’s Upcoming New Tab Page

        Google’s New Tab Page, which got a revamp last month has a new competitor. Oh and it’s not Speed Dial 2 which we talked about earlier, it’s the upcoming New Tab Page for Firefox. For Firefox 11, Mozilla is planning to replace the time-honored blank page with a spiffy new New Tab page. Here are some early mockups of how the page might look when it’s done.

      • Mozilla Releases Firefox 8.0.1

        Mozilla is about to release an update for the latest stable version of Firefox. Firefox 8.0.1 will be released less than two weeks after the release of Firefox 8, the latest stable version of the popular Internet browser.

      • Mozilla censors itself as part of American Censorship Day

        Mozilla has joined with other leading Internet organisations such as AOL, eBay, Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Twitter, Yahoo, Zynga and public interest groups in opposing the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA). Also known as H.R.3261, SOPA was introduced in the US House of Representatives in October. The organisations have sent Congressional leaders a joint letterPDF expressing their concern with the legislative measures that are being introduced.

      • Introducing Mozilla Conductors
      • Firefox not to become fully multiprocess in the near future

        Mozilla has announced today that the Electrolysis project, which aims to make Firefox a multiprocess application, will be put in pause for the foreseeable future.

        The reason, the amount of changes required at the architectural level are so deep that it will require a large amount of resources to make this happen. At the same time, it is possible to get some important responsiveness improvements with much smaller investments.

      • Mozilla Builds a 1 Megawatt Data Center
      • How Mozilla Intents To Speed Up Firefox’s Update Process
      • Firefox 8 grabs 35% of traffic in just one week

        Mozilla’s latest version of it’s popular Firefox web browser saw rapid adoption following its release last week. Firefox 8, the fifth major release of the Mozilla browser so far this year, became available for download on November 9th. Within one day, the new iteration had already grown to account for 7% of all Firefox traffic across Chitika’s ad network, the company reported on Tuesday. By the end of the browser’s first week of availability, Firefox 8 claimed 35% of all Firefox traffic.

  • SaaS

  • Semi-Open Source

  • Funding

    • VC funding for Hadoop and NoSQL tops $350m

      451 Research has today published a report looking at the funding being invested in Apache Hadoop- and NoSQL database-related vendors. The full report is available to clients, but below is a snapshot of the report, along with a graphic representation of the recent up-tick in funding.

      According to our figures, between the beginning of 2008 and the end of 2010 $95.8m had been invested in the various Apache Hadoop- and NoSQL-related vendors. That figure now stands at more than $350.8m, up 266%.

    • Index Provides Hortonworks With “Substantial” B Round
    • Vyatta Secures $12 Million in Funding Led by HighBAR Partners

      Vyatta, the leader in software-based networking for physical, virtual and cloud infrastructures, announced today it has completed a funding round of $12 million led by HighBAR Partners. Also participating in this round of funding are existing investors JPMorgan, Arrowpath Venture Partners and Citrix Systems.

      HighBAR Partners specializes in infrastructure software and solutions companies, and Vyatta will leverage HighBAR’s broad network and operational experience to accelerate customer adoption and acquisition worldwide.

    • Network Infrastructure Startup Vyatta Raises $12M

      Network infrastructure startup Vyatta has raised $12 million in new funding led by HighBAR Partners with JPMorgan, Arrowpath Venture Partners and Citrix Systems participating. This brings Vyatta’s total funding to more than $45 million.

      Founded in 2005, Vyatta allows enterprises to segment and secure virtualized environments. The company offers an enterprise-focused network routing, security, and traffic management software that enables network administrators to leverage the performance of Intel/AMD hardware, as well as run in VMWare, Xen, and Hyper-V virtual environments.

  • Project Releases

  • Public Services/Government

    • Indian Government To Popularise Use Of Open Source

      India may not be a huge contributor to the development of Open Source and Linux, despite being and IT force, it is definitely becoming a big user of Open Source. Emerging economies like Brazil already champion the adoption of Open Source and India is not far behind.

      The Indian government recently prepared a draft for the “Policy on Device Drivers for Procurement of Hardware for e-Governance”. The goal of the policy was to ensure that computers must be capable of running on all general purpose operating systems including GNU/Linux and not just Microsoft Windows.

    • : System to display zoning permits online available as open source

      Software that combines geographic information systems (GIS) with zoning regulations and other country wide sources of information on land use, and offered online as an interactive map, was made available as open source software by the Dutch ministry of the Interior last week. The tool, titled Geozet, is hosted on the OSOR Forge since 1 November.

    • Open source serves as linchpin to modernization: Justice

      The use of open-source software is making a difference on the ground in combat zones, and it’s proving increasingly necessary to keep up with rapidly evolving technology and requirements, Maj. Gen. Nick Justice, commanding general of the Army Research, Development and Engineering Command said Nov. 16.

      Using open source, the Army can integrate technologies tailored to mission requirements on essentially an as-needed basis, and at a lower cost than traditional approaches, Justice said at the Red Hat Government Symposium in Washington.

  • Standards/Consortia

Leftovers

  • Steve Jobs wanted an Iphone only network

    THE LATE FOUNDER of Apple, Steve Jobs had aspirations to build Apple’s own wireless network using unallocated bands of radio spectrum, for Iphones only.

    According to Network World, Jobs was going to use unlicensed parts of the spectrum for WiFi rather than work with existing mobile operators.

  • Defence/Police/Aggression

    • How the Plummeting Price of Cocaine Fueled the Nationwide Drop in Violent Crime

      Starting in the mid-1990s, major American cities began a radical transformation. Years of high violent crime rates, thefts, robberies, and inner-city decay suddenly started to turn around. Crime rates didn’t just hold steady, they began falling faster than they went up. This trend appeared in practically every post-industrial American city, simultaneously.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

    • Selling the Oil Illusion, American Style

      US production of crude oil peaked in 1970 at 9.637 mbpd (million barrels per day) and has been in a downtrend for 40 years. Recently, however, there’s been a tremendous amount of excitement at the prospect of a “new era” in domestic oil production. The narratives currently being offered come in the following three forms: 1) the US has more oil than Saudi Arabia; 2) the US need only to remove regulatory barriers to significantly increase production; and 3) the US can once again become self-sufficient in oil production, dropping all imported oil to zero.

    • Oil Soars and Natural Gas Withers: But the Energy Singularity is Not Forthcoming

      If you firmly believe higher oil prices will drive energy transition, and the adoption of alternative sources, then do (by all means) feel excited today. The price of West Texas Intermediate crude oil, which has sold for as much as a 25% discount to Brent oil over the past 9 months, has been slowly filling that gap recently. And, with the announcement today that a major pipeline would further relieve the surplus of WTI at Cushing (taking it away to the Gulf Coast), the discount has closed further. As of this morning, WTI soared to $102.00 as Brent has fallen closer to $110.00. Accordingly, the full impact of the higher global price of oil is now about to be visited upon North America. Is that bad news, or good news?

  • Finance

    • Occupy Wall Street: Crafting A Constitutional Amendment To Stop The 1%

      I’m very sympathetic to the cause of reducing the power of big business corporations to control our government, our economy, our consumer culture, our society, and our lives. We can’t have democracy without a major shift of power into the hands of the people.

      But would an amendment to remove all rights of corporations from the US Constitution accomplish that? Would there be unintended consequences?

      There are two problems with a constitutional amendment that abolishes corporate personhood. One, it does too much, and two, it does too little.

  • Censorship

    • Speaking up for media freedom

      Media freedom and freedom of expression have been big topics in 2011 – just look at what the heroes of North Africa and the Mediterranean have been prepared to do to win or defend these rights. Travelling back from the European Parliament in Strasbourg this morning, it occurred to me that I haven’t written about these issues on my blog. Let me correct that today – because media freedom is high on the EU agenda. We support this in law, through debate and through research. We support it online and offline. So I want you to know we will not waver in that support, and in fact I’ve just finished another important discussion about it.

  • Privacy

  • Internet/Net Neutrality

    • UBB ruling will put government in crosshairs

      The CRTC is set to announce the results of its usage-based internet billing proceeding Tuesday afternoon. Far from being one of the regulator’s many dull procedural announcements, this one is surely the most anticipated, at least in recent memory. I’ll have an analysis on Wednesday (my posts generally go live at midnight, Eastern time) and probably some knee-jerk reactions on Twitter beforehand, if you want to check those out. In the meantime’s here a primer of what the ruling will involve and why it’s so important.

    • Stop US online Censorship before ACTA brings it to Europe!

      The European Parliament today massively adopted its resolution on Net neutrality, calling on the EU Commission to protect the open Internet, which is put at risk by an increasing number of restrictions imposed by telecoms operators. This overall positive resolution urges EU Commissioner Neelie Kroes to depart from her failed wait-and-see approach by rapidly assessing the need for further regulation to keep the Internet open and free. This votes represent a political commitment by the European Parliament to protecting the Internet from any form of restriction or censorship.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • Does copyright protect something useful?

        Nick Bilton poses an interesting question in the New York Times on whether you can copy physical objects without violating copyright link here. His answer is yes and he found intellectual property lawyers who supported that view. He gives several examples, based on 3-D printers actually producing copies of a cup and other useful physical objects, either from the object or from photographs of the object. He asserts that copyright does not cover things that are useful.

      • ACTA

        • Stop US online Censorship before ACTA brings it to Europe!

          Paris, November 16th, 2011 – In a letter sent to the United States House of Representatives, La Quadrature du Net joins leading civil society organisations from across the world to denounce the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) bill. SOPA aims to create global censorship of the Internet in the name of an obsolete copyright regime. If this dangerous piece of legislation were to pass in the US, it would become the global norm in the war on culture sharing, with the Anti-counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) as a vehicle. As the European Union starts debating the ratification of ACTA, citizens must mobilize to defend their freedoms by calling for the rejection of such ruthless online repression.

Quitting the Pretence – Part of Microsoft is Just a Patent Troll

Posted in Finance, Microsoft, Patents at 12:16 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Who is Microsoft joking anyway?

Kid clowns

Summary: People who bet their money on Microsoft want to see the company split and the company’s growing business seems to be extorting the competition in dubious ways

HAD Microsoft quit the mobile efforts (which would make total economic sense), then in that particular area it would have qualified as a patent troll, based on the definition.

Microsoft is still a fairly large company (yet small compared to HP or IBM). It operates in many areas and profits only in few, notably Office and Windows (to a decreasing extent). Monopoly tends to do that. Monopoly abuse tends to shield it.

So, Microsoft might be splitting itself into a patent troll (euphemism “licensing”) and other parts, at least if shareholders get their way. There are several articles right now about the shareholders’ meeting. A toned-down article from Microsoft’s ‘news’ site says that “Microsoft Corp shareholders filed out of the software giant’s annual meeting grumbling that they did not get to ask more questions in their once-a-year opportunity to quiz Chairman Bill Gates and CEO Steve Ballmer.

“The gathering broke up with only a smattering of applause from 450 or so in attendance, while a handful of shareholders angrily shouted for more time to ask questions, after a strictly enforced 15 minutes.

“”Why can’t they answer questions for another hour?” said Bill Parker, a shareholder from Cashmere, Washington, a two-hour drive over the Cascade mountains.”

“Microsoft might be splitting itself into a patent troll (euphemism “licensing”) and other parts, at least if shareholders get their way.”When one is reluctant to be grilled, he or she typically has something to hide (or spin).

As one person in USENET put it: “Only because Microsoft have been buying back their shares keeping the price artificially high. No wonder shareholders are revolting.” We wrote about those buybacks before.

Over at OpenBytes, Tim points out that:

Microsoft is in my view, merely flinging mud at the wall in the hope something will stick, the only place where “success” seems to come easily is with their patent aggression (which now may be set to change after we finally get an idea of Microsoft claims). Apple has a logo “Theres an app for that”, maybe the only logo Microsoft will have in the future will be “Theres a patent for that” as it moves further away from trying to compete with its own products and merely uses its patent portfolio to make a buck.

The basic point is, Microsoft is unable to come up with new products. It relies on old cash cows that it broke the law to put in their current state. Right now it tries to make up a new cash cow through racketeering. Maybe if it spins that off as a separate company (like Nokia/MOSAID) it will manage to dodge regulators. The company is clearly flirting with serious antitrust violations.

New OpenSUSE is Released, But It’s Nothing Like It Used to Be

Posted in Novell, OpenSUSE at 12:05 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Under water

Sea turtle

Summary: OpenSUSE fails to get much press coverage while the same goes for Novell under Attachmate

YESTERDAY I was having an argument with someone in the comments — someone who was not a troll but a Novell backer. The crux of the argument was, are Novell and SUSE getting more obscure over the years based on press coverage and activity? Judging by metrics that are numeric (e.g. number of news reports about Novell/Attachmate), there is certainly a decline. The same goes for SUSE, whose community seems to be shrinking based on the level of activity in their sites. A lot of SUSE staff left as well, unlike the many Novell employees who were simply laid off. This included the whole Mono team.

Mono applications continue to come from existing or former Novell staff, as this item of news helps show, but much of Mono is now in Xamarin, which does not get press coverage either (not since it launched). After Ubuntu dumped Mono from the default installation there is going to be an ever-shrinking installedbase for Mono. Also, SUSE has announced no major deals in a long time, so we know that the Microsoft cash infusion has not quite worked out.

So, there is a new release of ‘Open’ SUSE (developed by staff which is partly paid by Microsoft) and this got some coverage from fairly mediocre blogs and hardly any news sites. Andreas Jaeger, a SUSE employee, explained what was changing and SJVN, a longtime SUSE fan, wrote about it along with his colleague. There is more PR from paid staff and the OpenSUSE site, but it’s nothing like it used to be years ago when we covered OpenSUSE and releases were more frequent. This represents stagnation. When coverage comes mostly from the project’s site itself and maybe some Linux sites and staff/member blogs, then OpenSUSE is a niche. With the exception of low-profile news blogs, we have found almost no news about the release. Well, we wrote about this earlier in the week and last week. There is one sort of derivative called Balsam (a form of Ballnux), but it’s just a payware equivalent.

If we were missing some mainstream coverage about this release, be sure to point this out, but thus far (less than a day after the release) it is mostly SUSE blogs and OpenSUSE announcements that inform people about this release. The new HOWTOs even refer to old versions and Linux blogs sometimes say nothing about the new release, unless they are affiliated with Novell/SUSE. To quote that last example: “openSUSE 12.1 is officially released today. This is a major milestone both for its users and developers, mainly because of new GNOME 3.2, systemd integration, and many other exciting features.”

Those features are hardly OpenSUSE-specific. We have not really found reviews of this release yet, but here is a new video and one newly-uploaded oldie from Novell. The company along with the distribution it bought is just forever declining. For SUSE to have as much impact as Mint, well… it will need to escape the Attachmate/Microsoft shackles.

Microsoft Spin Kicks in to Daemonise Google Because Android Grows

Posted in GNU/Linux, Google, Microsoft, Patents at 11:48 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Murdered doll

Summary: Microsoft is trying to kill Google in nefarious ways and this has ramifications for Linux, even for open standards and free codecs

THE increasing dominance of Android is one that we write about in our daily links. There is generally not much we can add to the news and not much to contradict, either. But Android is also under attack from angles that Google’s Chris DiBona is addressing now (the “malware” FUD) and then there is the patent FUD. It’s something that we specialise in.

As usual, with support from Microsoft lobbyist Florian Müller, the Microsoft booster Matt Rosoff tries to incite against Google over a remark about patent lawyers. Check out this terrible headline. The article contains talking points of the Microsoft lobbyists, trying to portray Google as the patent aggressor. For instance:

His point echoes Google’s stand on the patent wars happening in the mobile space, but Google plays the patent game as well for key inventions like its search algorithms.

This is spin because Google never used patents offensively and it openly speaks out against patents. Microsoft has hired some lobbyists to try portraying Google as a hypocrite and a bully for merely defending itself from the likes of Microsoft.

On the MPEG front, Google has been developing a replacement codec (developed by acquisition) and LWN does not neglect to credit the Ogg people as well. In essence, both strands of codec development strive to set our multimedia free — free in the sense that we need not get the permission of a patent troll called Larry Horn (head of the Apple- and Microsoft-backed MPEG-LA) to play back our video and audio that we ourselves create. Microsoft lobbyists like Florian Müller are pushing for MPEG-LA’s agenda and against free codecs. As for
Monty from Xiph.org, he is named one of the most influential people in the 2005 European debate about software patents. The article opens as follows:

While the talks at the 2011 GStreamer conference mostly focused on the multimedia framework itself—not surprising—there were also some that looked at the wider multimedia ecosystem. One of those was Christopher “Monty” Montgomery’s presentation about Xiph.org, and its work to promote free and open source multimedia. Xiph is known for its work on the Ogg container format (and the Vorbis and Theora codecs), but the organization has worked on much more than just those. In addition, Montgomery outlined a new strategy that Xiph is trying out to combat one of the biggest problems in the free multimedia world: codec patents.

It is truly a problem because multimedia exists everywhere, from phones to TVs. Europe does not suffer from this to the same extent that the US and Japan suffer from it. But upon export it can complicate things. According to this new report, UK judges (who are also lawyers) are making the system here in Europe worse:

UK Judges Think US Makes It Too Hard To Get Patents, Lower Patentability Bar To Show How It’s Done

[...]

It’s bad enough that naturally-occurring genomic sequences are being patented at all – sequences that certainly weren’t invented by anyone. But allowing those patents without even requiring “proof of specific, credible, and substantial utility at the time of filing” is just insane: it will open the floodgates for even more speculative filings on DNA sequences in the hope that someone, someday will come up with a use for them. Except that if they did, they’d presumably be hit with a patent infringement suit. So how does that promote innovation?

Those patent lawyers (and judges) are really quite the epidemic in the software world and the president of the FFII warns of:

European Commission “Patents in standards” conference fueled by large companies for swpats and undefined RAND ur1.ca/5ucd5

Yes, as usual. Microsoft tends to back those. It also sends its paid lobbyists there. Apple is rarely listed as we repeatedly stress. In fact, the push for software patenting cannot quite be attributed to Apple, just Microsoft and selected allies like SAP and Nokia in Europe. It does not mean that Apple is innocent though. As the Independent (British paper) puts it:

Apple has also distinguished itself this year by tying up hundreds of vague software ideas in patents and suing anyone it thinks infringes them, which is one of several reasons why all the big technology companies are locked in furious patent court battles with each other.

The competition from Linux is now forcing Apple to lower its prices, at least according to speculative assessments:

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that Apple — until now the runaway market share champ in this nascent niche — is finally facing legitimate competition at ridiculously attractive price points.

It is being reported that tablets running Android, especially ones from Samsung and Amazon, are selling or going to sell very well. It is likely that Apple just recognises what’s coming and prepares to price “Apple”-branded products based on value and not brand value. Apple increasingly colludes with Microsoft against Android and we see this in the CPTN and Nortel arrangements.

Cost of Patent Trolls Studied as Acceptance of USPTO Falls, Developers Complain Even in Press Releases

Posted in Patents at 11:30 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Bessen

Summary: More academic insight and more anecdotal evidence of the backlash against the existing patent laws and practices

The silly, meaningless measures that we see of innovation as function of patents continue to come from press outlets like the The New York Times, which in turn cites a “report by Thomson Reuters, published on Tuesday [and] tries to draw a more accurate link between corporate patent filings and real innovation. It does so by measuring not only the number of patents a company files, but also the influence, global reach and success of its patents.”

Innovation should not be quantified in these terms. Profit and patents are something better used as indicators of monopoly power, which is what patents are all about at the end of the day. To measure innovation properly, other yardsticks are definitely needed. Watch how Doom 3 source code fails to arrive due to patents. It was in the news yesterday and it’s a fine example of where patents do a lot of harm when geometric knowledge can be shared. There is a better — and for a change academic — work that helps shed light on the effects of patents. It was covered by CNN yet again (as before) and this time it focused on patent trolls. Bessen and his wonderful group published another paper which got the attention of those who keep abreast of the patents debate. Here is the original (Boston University) where the abstract states: “In the past, non-practicing entities (NPEs) — firms that license patents without producing goods — have facilitated technology markets and increased rents for small inventors. Is this also true for today’s NPEs? Or are they “patent trolls” who opportunistically litigate over software patents with unpredictable boundaries? Using stock market event studies around patent lawsuit filings, we find that NPE lawsuits are associated with half a trillion dollars of lost wealth to defendants from 1990 through 2010, mostly from technology companies. Moreover, very little of this loss represents a transfer to small inventors. Instead, it implies reduced innovation incentives.”

IDG covered this too. Notice the opening paragraphs:

For those of us who follow the tech industry closely, patents are a touchy subject lately thanks to all the litigation going on over software patents.

This is particularly true in the mobile arena, where companies including Apple and Microsoft have been especially enthusiastic in their use of patents as leverage over their competitors.

They do this because they are losing to Android/Linux.

Here is another IDG article, this one bearing the headline “Patent Trolls Cost Businesses $80 Billion Per Year, Study Finds”. To quote: ““Non-practicing entities” (NPEs) is the polite name given to patent trolls by Boston University School of Law researchers James Bessen, Jennifer Ford, and Michael Meurer, whose paper, “The Private and Social Costs of Patent Trolls” (PDF), will soon be published in the journal Regulation.

“Whereas such firms once helped enable technology markets and boost the profits small inventors could earn from their inventions, that’s no longer the case, the authors argue. Rather, today’s NPEs assert patents “on an unprecedented scale,” they write, involving thousands of defendants every year in hundreds of lawsuits.

“The researchers studied the effect of patent lawsuits on defendants’ wealth by examining the stock price of those companies around the time the lawsuits in question were filed. After factoring out market trends and random factors, they found that between 1990 and 2010, NPE lawsuits are associated with half a trillion dollars in lost wealth to defendants.”

Here is an example of a legal case that has been concluded after no less than 2 years (i.e. very expensive process):

A Portland, Ore.-based company that sued two multiple listing service software vendors for patent infringement has lost a two-year court battle, with a U.S. District Court Judge dismissing its claim against one of the vendors and invalidating the patent in question.

As the president of the FFII puts it in relation to another case:

ProSoftnet, creator of IBackup.com and IDrive.com, is now defending itself against patent trolls

There is actually a press release about it, which is a testament to the sad state this whole system is in. To quote:

Cloud Storage Pioneer Pro Softnet Faces Most Disruptive Patent Attack to Date

Pro Softnet, an independently owned and operated online backup and cloud storage company that provides service to over 800,000 subscribers through its popular IBackup and IDrive products, is now in the midst of defending itself against the largest patent attack it has yet faced brought on by a non-practicing entity, or NPE. With several new and exciting services in the cloud sharing space scheduled for release in the first quarter of 2012 – the pending lawsuit has the potential to interrupt growth for this pioneering company.

WIPO propaganda is trying to justify its existence, quite frankly as usual, while many genuine companies with real products (and no patent lawyers) are suffering. This leaves development and innovation crashing down and deterring participation. More and more people are starting to really get it. The patent system is on shaky grounds. It does not serve innovators.

Amazon Regrets Software Patenting

Posted in Patents at 11:12 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Rich men’s club not all fine and dandy with software patents

Golf

Summary: The man behind Amazon expresses his apparent dislike and seemingly strong antagonism towards software patents

IN PAST writings about Amazon we emphasised the fact that the company had become part of the software patents epidemic not just in the United States but in Canada and Europe as well. Companies of that scale tend to favour patents in general because patents are a form of protectionism to those already in a position of power.

Interestingly enough, based on this new post that cites an article, Amazon might have just done something right by issuing an unofficial statement against software patents. To quote the company’s chief:

The Wired story included several other interesting details. Bezos isn’t a fan of patents, for instance, despite the fact he has personally applied for patents in the past and Amazon is famous for its 1-Click shopping patent.

“For many years, I have thought that software patents should either be eliminated or dramatically shortened,” Bezos said. “It’s impossible to measure the toll they’ve had on the software industry, but on balance, it has been negative.”

If he had to give up the 1-Click patent to make this happen, Bezos said he would.

This is certainly a step forward. Amazon has already agreed to pay Microsoft for unnamed software patents relating to GNU/Linux servers and Kindle (now based on Android), so will we ever see Amazon withdrawing from all that nonsense? Based on this new summary from the OSI, there is new activity relating to investigation of Microsoft’s patent extortion. Swapnil Bhartiya explains why Microsoft’s claims over Android are “bogus” and this would also apply to Android-based tablets from Amazon. The article says that “it turns out that Microsoft was playing bluff with Android players. Their game was to threaten to sue and most companies would rather throw a bone at the dog than to enrage in a dirty dog fight. Microsoft continued to show the bones it was collecting. Since the deals were confidential now one ever got to know how ‘concrete’ are Microsoft’s patent claims.”

Well, now we know that Microsoft was bluffing, thanks mostly to B&N. MOSAID, Nokia, Microsoft, other patent trolls and Nortel-like purchases should be brought forth as more evidence that Microsoft is distorting the market using extortion tactics. Pamela Jones’ good analysis [1, 2] receievd a lot of links and it provides a good summary of the case against Microsoft’s tactics. This is an antitrust matter which we’ll deal with later on.

EDGI Versus Google

Posted in Antitrust, GNU/Linux, Google, Microsoft at 8:58 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

EDGI slide

Summary: The “Compete” euphemism is back and it is being sneakily used to deprive Google of the right to actually compete

TECHRIGHTS is proud to be the exclusive host of a lot of verified EDGI evidence. Based on court exhibits that we put out there for sites like Slashdot to make widely known, one term Microsoft uses to describe such anti-GNU/Linux initiatives is "Compete". It’s a funny term to be using as it’s a euphemism for anti-competitive tactics, wherein the company with a monopoly essentially bribes companies (or governments) to lure them away from the competition. Based on this new report, Microsoft now uses the same tactics to defend the Office monopoly:

Microsoft is so riled up over Google Apps that it has a team called Google Compete offering major inducements to convince customers to stay with Office, according to defectors and the search company itself.

At this week’s Google Atmosphere conference, several defectors who had adopted Google cloud apps said that they were approached by members of the Google Compete team, who had sought to persuade them to stay with Microsoft. If argument failed to convince them, then the team was willing to offer other inducements.

Google should complain about this because for a Redmond-based company with a monopoly in the office suites market there are special rules that Microsoft clearly does not obey. Under the banner “Compete”, Microsoft is being anti-competitive, derailing all efforts to actually compete.

Techrights in the Post-Microsoft/Novell World

Posted in Microsoft, Novell at 8:42 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

TECHRIGHTS pieces - small

Summary: Subjects we will focus on and invitation for suggestions

The deal that Novell signed on November 2nd (2006) is about to expire in 6 weeks or so. SUSE has renewed this deal but under different circumstances and clauses. It was less to do with patent assurances and more to do with injecting money into the only GNU/Linux distribution Microsoft makes money from (the other 3 have perished). Our plan is to continue to focus on patent aggression from Microsoft (e.g. against Android) and also from Apple, which started attacking Android/Linux with patents last year. Additionally, we are going to look at anti-competitive practices that merit government intervention. If there are any more area that we need to cover, please suggest so in the comments.

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