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12.20.11

Links 20/12/2011: Red Hat Results, Mageia 2.0 Alpha 2, Firefox 9

Posted in News Roundup at 5:55 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • Five Last-Minute Gifts for Open Source Fans

    Are you at a loss for what to buy the open source aficionados on your holiday shopping list? It’s actually not as difficult as you may think. Peruse this Linux fan’s personal picks to find inspiration as quick as a wink.

  • Web Browsers

  • Databases

    • Grails 2.0 with more cloud support and NoSQL connectivity

      After nearly a year of development, the Grails team has released Grails version 2.0, their Groovy language based open source web framework. The new version sees improvements throughout the Grails framework including an improved user and developer experience, additional cloud support via Heroku and Cloud Foundry, integration with the SpringSource Tool Suite (STS) and support for a range of NoSQL databases.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • Open Letter to the Open Document Format Ecosystem

      In such a large ecosystem it is impossible to agree upon a single vision for all participants, Apache OpenOffice does not seek to define a single vision, nor does it seek to be the only player. Instead we seek to offer a neutral and powerful collaboration opportunity.

      The permissive Apache License 2.0 reduces restrictions on the use and distribution of our code and thus facilitates a diverse contributor and user base for the benefit of the whole Open Document Format ecosystem. Within an Apache project it is possible to rise above political, social and commercial differences in the pursuit of maximally effective implementations of freely available open standards and related software tools.

      Our license and open development model is widely recognised as one of the best ways to ensure open standards, such as ODF, gain traction and adoption. Apache OpenOffice offers much more potential for OpenOffice.org than “just” an end-user Microsoft Office replacement. We offer a vendor neutral space in which to collaborate whilst enabling third parties to pursue almost any for-profit or not-for-profit business model.

  • Business

    • Exploitation? Entrepreneurship, Capitalism, and Making Money on Free Software

      Recently, I was directed toward an excellent analysis of commons-based peer production as a phenomenon which separates “entrepreneurs” (who want to get things done and create value in the world) from “capitalists” (who want to get a return on an investment of property without contributing any labor). An observer — clearly outside of the community of free software developers — expressed dismay at the example of Mozilla Foundation, which makes money from the open source Mozilla project, but does not pay for most voluntarily contributed code improvements to the Mozilla software. Is he right? Is this exploitation of those contributors?

  • Project Releases

  • Public Services/Government

    • Open source exceeds Munich’s expectations

      The German city of Munich has been very precise at bumping off Windows PCs to give its Linux operating system Lebensraum .

      Munich’s LiMux project has been going great guns and today the city announced that it had migrated 9,000 systems away from the PC and onto Linux. It only wanted to migrate 8,500 of the 12,000-15,000 PC workstations used by city officials in Munich but it turned out a bit easier than expected.

  • Programming

    • Cracks in the Foundation

      PHP has been around for a long time, and it’s starting to show its age. From top to bottom, the language has creaky joints. I’ve decided to take a look at how things got to this point, and what can be (and is being) done about it. I start out pretty gloomy, but bear with me; I promise it gets better.

Leftovers

  • Saudi Prince Pumps $300 Million Into Twitter

    In an unexpected move, a member of the Saudi royal family has invested $300 million in social networking company Twitter. This morning, Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Bin Abdulaziz Alsaud, founder and CEO of Kingdom Holding Company and one of the wealthiest people on the planet, announced the investment, which was reported first by Bloomberg.

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

    • Spinning the Occupation

      As winter sets in and Occupy Wall Street (OWS) encampments contract, the three-month old movement continues to have a big impact on the campaign trail. President Obama as well as some GOP candidates have adopted OWS concerns and language, while big bank lobbyists and GOP spinmeisters work hard to hold the line, defending U.S. economic institutions and the American “free market” system against what they fear could be a broad-based populist uprising.

  • ACTA

Latest Examples of Patents Culture Takeover

Posted in Patents at 11:49 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

A brave new world for parasites and trolls

Gnome

Summary: A set of news items about patents along with some commentary

THE patent maze expands to more and more walks of life, even to the point where the money system is affected (“Battle plans: patents in the financial services industry”).

Companies increasingly depend for their survival not on their products but on patents. TiVo is one example where, according to this:

…companies agreed to pay TiVo $500 million in May to settle the litigation.

This is what influences the value of TiVo, as opposed to its implementation, performance, service, etc. How sad this must be for software developers. Check out this new announcement that says: “the new Fix-It Utilities 12 introduces unique patent-pending PC Analyzer technology to identify why your PC is slow.” So there are patents to be granted around Windows malware and cra*ware now?

“They are trying to impose their patent monopolies on poor people in order to crush them and utilise the law to justify it.”Here is another example of patents on the money system. It is made possible by software patenting and to quote: “Company officials could not be reached to comment about the software initiative or to provide details about which mobile phones could accept the software after its patent approval.”

Using a tilted panel, debates on issues like business increasingly make the above a norm. To quote: “Graeser Associates International, Inc. (GAI), an international intellectual property firm specializing in the preparation, filing and prosecution of medical device, biotechnology, pharmaceutical, bioinformatics and medical software patents, is leading a series of free panel discussions on international business in the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) countries.”

They are trying to impose their patent monopolies on poor people in order to crush them and utilise the law to justify it. They also harm real professionals, not paper-pushers who steal their jobs.

“Intellectual property is the next software.”

Nathan Myhrvold, Microsoft patent troll

OSChoice Addresses Microsoft Bundling Against Choice

Posted in Site News at 11:38 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Languages

Summary: Call for action against unfair competition at the OEM channel

ONE impediment to GNU/Linux is the practice of Microsoft bundling inside OEMs’ territories. Users never get to even choose their software, only their hardware. This is not fair competition — an issue close to our hearts here at Techrights.

Iophk points out that “It is bundling, but there was a work-around that MS had to replace the illegal per-processor licensing.” We covered this some years ago when we showed court evidence about it. [...]”

“Anyway,” he adds, “the OSChoice idea would have to overcome that barrier, among others.”

Here is a new article about OSChouice.eu. To quote:

It is worth to note that a judge in Florence Court, Italy, ruled in favour of a user that had long been demanding the refund of the unused Windows licence from HP. Similar sentences have been pronounced in France against Asus and Acer[3], as well as elsewhere around the world. I am unsure whether those verdicts would still hold today, since Microsoft has since updated its End User License Agreement (EULA). Indeed, the EULA for Microsoft Windows 7 states that, if in disagreement with the licensing terms, one should “contact the manufacturer or installer to determine its return policy [and] comply with that policy, which might limit your rights or require you to return the entire system on which the software is installed”[1]. It should also be underlined that the real price the consumer pays for an OEM Windows license is unknown, as the bills of PC purchases do not show the cost of the different components. Such licensing terms are a disrespectful violation of consumers’ rights, and result in the de facto impossibility of buying many computer models without purchasing a Windows licence.

The retailers’ offer of laptops without Windows pre-installed is extremely limited and often restricted to the very low (old and cheap) or very high (and expensive) segments of the market. Of the 571 laptops available on the web site of the Italian store eprice.it, as of August 1st 2011, only 13 machines are shipped with non Windows operating systems – namely GNU/Linux, Free Dos or none. In other words, only 2.3% of laptops available on the retail website come without Windows pre-installed.

Some may argue that the 2.3% offer of mainstream stores is more or less in line with the 2.8% market share of operating systems other than Windows and Mac OS[*]. I reject this critique because the low level of adoption may very well be a consequence — not the cause — of not offering a choice for operating systems.

Furthermore, Microsoft recently announced that the upcoming Windows 8 will require manufacturers to support secure boot in order to participate in its certification programme[2]. This could potentially make things really hard for Linux enthusiasts that purchase a computer with Microsoft Windows and then install their favourite distribution on top of it, as the computer might be locked by the vendor to only run the operating system it was sold with.

We wrote about this subject very extensively in the past. The regulators need to take action to make it possible to trivially buy PCs without Windows. At present, there is no fair competition because people who do not want Windows are often forced to pay for it. We will revisit this subject later because the wheels are moving [1, 2].

More Trouble for FOSS and the Presence of Former Microsoft Managers (‘Inside’ FOSS Communities)

Posted in Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, GPL, Microsoft at 11:29 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Black Duck

Summary: Another roundup of dubious incursions inside the FOSS community/ies

Friends of Microsoft, such as the 'Microsoft press', are still trashing Free/open source licences and firms that are headed by former Microsoft managers are making new announcements about ‘fogification’ (cloud) of software and the relevance of licences. We are talking about OpenLogic, which just like Black Duck is a proprietary software company whose products are pimped under “open source” banner in the news. The main business model is getting rich by trashing FOSS licences or creating a scare around FOSS. Here is the press release [1, 2] which openwashes this product. Microsoft is trying to buy itself a voice inside the “Open Source” community also by pushing press releases that are said to be giving us a survey. So, Microsoft is now conducting Open Source surveys too? On whose behalf? This is the recipe for controlling one’s opposition. Mind the latest extortion from Acacia, which is also manned by former Microsoft staff (see our wiki page about Acacia).

It was only days ago that we warned about GPL FUD coming from Microsoft circles. Watch out and stay alert. Black Duck is placeboware — something to check a box with and spend money on for alleged fear of “non compliance” (excepting code search for other FUD like common security issues). As Microsoft MVP Miguel de Icaza put it a few weeks ago:

Koders is part of Black Duck, and searching for the term renders a bunch of matches. Not a single one of the results displayed actually contain a single use of the kSecReturnData constant. And not a single one of the snippets actually show the kSecReturnData constant. It is as useful as configuring your browser to use StumbleUpon as your search engine

We urge people to be suspicious of firms that were created by former Microsoft marketing managers. They know how to make money by deceiving people. It’s what they are professionally trained to do with a straight face.

Patents on Software, Life, or Both

Posted in Site News at 10:58 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Super frog

Summary: The patent debate in the United States and a mention of NZ and Europe as well

THE US patent system penalises programmers for programming. Soon enough, based on this new analysis from Timothy B. Lee, it might also penalise doctors for saving lives by legalising yet more medical patents.

Also see this article which says: “Computer, drug and biotechnology companies have a message for the U.S. Supreme Court as it prepares for arguments this week on patents for diagnostic medical tests: Be careful.”

America (US), wake up. The freedoms, the human rights, and the democracy are rapidly going away.

Maria Korolov, who “belong[s] to a business group… that recently expressed interest in setting up a virtual space for its members” says that all the pieces are in places but like others in this field she expresses concerns about the patents situation:

In fact, SpotOn3D’s plugin would work, if the other pieces were there. This particular organization doesn’t have a position one way or another about software patents, so the controversy would be a moot point. They’d even be willing to pay extra for the license.

We wrote about the sad state of patents in virtual worlds on numerous occasions before. Some companies claim to have invented the digital equivalent of life (e.g. Second Life). Patents on life and software at the same time. A lot of it boils down to software and business methods. Kill those patents and much of the problem quickly goes away.

Over in Europe the situation is still debated (more on that in a separate post) and over in NZ where the situation is eerily similar to Europe we learn that:

Patents – the legislation that would remove software patents is gathering dust and, as was clear at the InternetNZ election debate, there is cross-party support to pass the Patents Bill. Time to get this through the house toute de suite. An ICT minister wouldn’t want to see the government accused of holding back legislation to facilitate the passing of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement.

This ‘trade agreements’ are like a form of imperialism, so seeing them abolished would be fine. Those are profitable for large corporations that operate internationally, but they harm human rights.

IRC Proceedings: December 19th, 2011

Posted in IRC Logs at 4:02 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

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