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01.13.12

Links 13/1/2012: CrossOver 11, Mageia 2 Alpha 3

Posted in News Roundup at 9:32 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • TLWIR 30: Linux++ – The GNU/Linux Desktop, Brother, and Ubuntu Increment by One
  • Desktop

    • Six Great Desktop Linux Features You May Take for Granted

      Maybe it’s just a sign that I’m getting old, but more and more often lately I’ve found myself thinking thoughts like, “Back in my day, Linux didn’t have X, Y and Z. We did without!” With these sentiments in mind, I decided to put together a list of a few major desktop Linux technologies that millions of users now take for granted, but which didn’t exist only a few years ago. Read on for a look.

      First, though, I should caution that this isn’t a paean to desktop Linux’s infallibility. There certainly remains a lot of room for improvement in the Linux experience, both on the desktop and beyond. But that said, it’s also worth recognizing the clear progress that has been made over the course of the last several years, bringing innovations that — if you’re like me — you may now simply take for granted.

  • Audiocasts/Shows

  • Kernel Space

    • Kernel Log: 15,000,000 lines, 3.0 promoted to long-term kernel

      With the merger of the first changes into Linux 3.3, the number of lines of kernel source code has passed through the 15 million mark. Maintenance of Linux 2.6.32 is set to end in one month’s time, while Linux 3.0 and real-time kernels based on it will be maintained for the next two years.

    • The Pull That Finally Fixes ASPM Power Regression
    • Finding the Fastest Filesystem, 2012 Edition
    • The logger meets linux-kernel

      Toward the end of December, LWN looked at the new push to move various subsystems specific to Android kernels into the mainline. There seems to be broad agreement that merging this code makes sense, but that agreement becomes rather less clear once the discussion moves to the merging of specific subsystems. Tim Bird’s request for comments on the Android “logger” mechanism shows that, even with a relatively simple piece of code, there is still a lot of room for disagreement and problems can turn out to be larger than expected.

    • Linux kernel exceeds 15 million lines of code
    • Big Switch Networks Open Sources OpenFlow Controller Software

      Network virtualization startup Big Switch Networks this week confirmed the release of an open-source controller based on OpenFlow, the increasingly popular switching and communications protocol that addresses packet routing on a software layer that’s separate from a network’s physical infrastructure.

    • Arch-ing ARM: Running Arch Linux On The NVIDIA Tegra 2

      The CompuLab Trim-Slice is quite an interesting dual-core ARM Tegra 2 device. This nettop/desktop-oriented system ships with Ubuntu 11.04 by default, but it is also well supported by Arch Linux. In this article are some tests of the dual-core ARM Cortex-A9 1.0GHz system running under Arch.

    • Graphics Stack

      • Announcing The DRM VGEM – Virtual GEM Provider

        Alpha quality patches were published today that introduce the “Virtual GEM Provider” for the Linux kernel DRM, which can improve the software-based acceleration experience for graphics.

        First some history… Back in September the Softpipe driver for Gallium3D became slightly more useful when GLX_EXT_texture_from_pixmap support came for software drivers, which is needed for some compositing window managers to function. In October that support then came to the LLVMpipe driver, which is the more useful software-based graphics driver since it takes advantage of LLVM for real-time shader generation and can take better advantage of modern CPUs to deliver slightly better performance.

      • Radeon Gallium3D With Mesa 8.0: Goes Up & Down
      • r600-r800 2D tiling
      • Mesa 8.0 LLVMpipe: Fine For Desktop, Not For Gaming

        Continuing in the coverage of the soon-to-be-out Mesa 8.0, here are some benchmarks of the CPU-based LLVMpipe software driver for Gallium3D.

        LLVMpipe is the CPU-based software rasterizer driver that is faster than the standard Gallium3D “Softpipe” since it leverages LLVM for taking advantage of more of the CPU — especially on modern hardware with SSE3/SSE4, multiple cores, etc. See LLVMpipe: OpenGL With Gallium3D on Your CPU and Gallium3D LLVMpipe On The Sandy Bridge Extreme for just a small portion of the Phoronix coverage of this unique software driver.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments

    • Review: Razor-Qt 0.4.0 (via Ubuntu Razor-Qt Remix)

      It seems like the recent discontent over GNOME 3 and Unity has caused a renaissance in DEs that act more traditionally. Xfce is gaining popularity as it basically replicates GNOME 2.X and can do even more now, while KDE is winning over users attracted to its shininess and power. LXDE is also gaining attention as a DE that pushes the limit of how stripped-down a DE can be before it is just a WM again, while Enlightenment seems to be gaining renewed interest thanks to Bodhi Linux. Linux Mint has modified GNOME 3 through MGSE, and now it is replacing GNOME 3/Shell with GNOME 3/Cinnamon. Yet only one of these alternatives (KDE) uses the Qt toolkit; save Enlightenment, which uses the E17 toolkit, all the others use GTK+. Until now.

    • PCLinuxOS/Mageia/Mandrake/Mandriva Family

      • January 2012 Issue Of The PCLinuxOS Magazine
      • Mageia 2 A3 Released, Joins systemd Bandwagon

        From the Mageia 2 Alpha 3 release notes, “Following the standardisation effort going on in other distributions, Mageia has decided to adopt systemd for booting. This would lead to a simpler boot process, and easier maintenance. More details can be found on the systemd website. The option of keeping the current init system will be offered for people who prefer to wait a little and switch with a next release.”

      • Here comes Mageia 2 Alpha3!
      • Mageia 2 Inches Along with Another Alpha

        Anne Nicolas announced the release of Mageia 2 Alpha 3 today. With plans of using the latest of major software packages, the alpha ships with some of the latest packages available. The release plans include KDE 4.8, GNOME 3.4, Linux 3.3, MariaDB 5.5, and systemd.

    • Gentoo Family

    • Red Hat Family

    • Debian Family

      • People Behind Debian: Steve McIntyre, debian-cd maintainer, former Debian Project Leader

        Steve McIntyre has been contributing to Debian since 1996, 2 years before I joined! But I quickly stumbled upon Steve: in 1999, he was struggling with getting his debian-cd script to produce 2 ISO images (it was the first time that Debian did no longer fit on a single CD), I helped him by rewriting debian-cd with a robust system to split packages on as many ISO images as required.

      • Derivatives

        • Simply SimplyMEPIS 11.0

          I had heard of this Linux distribution a long time ago. Different readers who commented on my blog mentioned it. But I continued postponing a review of it all for a long time. The last time the Mepis name was dropped was during my interview with Geek-in-Pink who mentioned this distribution as her favourite.
          The time has come.

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Ubuntu TV: the case for Unity
          • CES: hands on with Ubuntu TV

            Canonical is showing here at CES Ubuntu TV: a version of its Linux OS aimed at televisions (as the sharper among you may have spotted from the name). Ubuntu TV is still in beta – a spokesman told us it was really ‘more of an alpha’ – but it could be available on retail products within the next 12 months.

          • Canonical seeking testers for Unity 5.0

            The Unity development team at Canonical has published a development build aimed at testers of version 5.0 of its custom desktop interface for the Ubuntu Linux distribution. Users running the current Ubuntu 12.04 LTS “Precise Pangolin” alpha can install the preview release by manually adding the Unity PPA, which is hosted on the Unity Team’s Launchpad.net page.

          • Becoming an Ubuntu Contributing Developer
          • Running a File System Check
          • My BirthDay Wish List
          • HOWTO: Bodhi Linux on Genesi Smartbook
          • Ubuntu Unity 5.0 is out and ready for testing

            Are you a cutting edge Ubuntu user that’s been using Precise Pangolin since it was made available December 1? If you are, you’ll want to try out the just-released Unity 5.0. It’s an absolute test version, and you won’t want to install it on your production machine, but if you’re running 12.04 we’ll assume you’re already running a test box, so let’s dig into the process and changes.

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Raspberry Pi makes the sub-$100 PC a reality

      One of the biggest pieces of tech news last year was the development of a $25 PC by a charity in the UK known as the Raspberry Pi Foundation. Producing a fully-functional PC capable of running Linux, Quake III-quality games, and 1080p video is no small feat.

    • Texas Instruments demos OMAP 5 processors

      TI (Texas Instruments) used this week’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) to demonstrate its freshly minted OMAP 5 processor, which it claims will be the first ARM Cortex-A15 product on the market. Shown off on an Android 4.0 smartphone reference platform, the SoC (system on chip) will support both tablets and thin-and-light notebooks, the chipmaker promised.

    • Phones

      • Leaked screenshots reveal new details on Nokia N9 MeeGo update

        New details on the forthcoming MeeGo update for Nokia N9 users have just emerged this morning, courtesy of a batch of leaked screenshots and firmware information. Originally posted by a user on talk.maemo.org, the shots point to many upcoming functions with which Android and iOS users are already familiar, including copy-paste browser support and a notably iOS-like folder layout. Also included in the screenshots are support for video calls and tweaks to the OS’ camera and gallery apps, though details remain unclear. Equally unclear is the release date for PR1.2, though the screenshots cite a build date of January 30th, so it may very well be nearing.

      • Tizen OS alpha released, may debut on Samsung I9500 smartphone

        The Linux Foundation’s Tizen project has previewed an alpha version of its MeeGo and LiMo-based mobile operating system and SDK. The HTML5-oriented release — including components from the carrier-backed WAC interoperability standards and the Enlightenment Foundation Libraries — follows rumors of Intel-based Tizen tablets, plus a screenshot leak that suggests an appearance on an upcoming Samsung I9500 phone.

      • gStrings in Your Pocket

        What may sound like a perverse concept is actually one of the many ways smartphones can change your life. If you play a musical instrument but don’t happen to have perfect pitch (most of us, sadly), you can buy a tuner, pitch pipe, tuning fork or any number of other aids to keep yourself in tune. If you have a smartphone in your pocket, however, you also can simply download gStrings. Available in the Android Marketplace in either a free ad-supported version or an inexpensive ad-free version, gStrings will help you tune any number of instruments accurately.

      • Android

        • Android Fragmentation Debate Could be Red Herring

          As new Android flavors develop, particularly with the new version developed by Amazon for the Amazon Fire, the debate rages over whether fragmentation is actually a problem for developers or a red herring introduced as open source FUD.

          Just this week at the Consumer Electronics Show, Eric Schmidt, Google Executive Chairman tried to tamp down any concerns about fragmentation saying that it was about freedom for developers and handset manufacturers to compete on what he calls differentiation.

        • Parrot unveils new auto systems, updates quadricopter with Android support

          Parrot announced three new versions of its Android-based Asteroid in-vehicle infotainment (IVI) platform: a 3.2-inch Asteroid CK Bluetooth hands-free system, a five-inch Asteroid Nav navigation system, and the Asteroid 2DIN multimedia car radio. Parrot also announced a revised 2.0 version of its Linux-based Parrot AR Drone “quadricopter” flying drone that can now be flown with an Android phone.

        • Polaroid unveils Android-based camera with 16 megapixels and 3x zoom

          Polaroid announced an Android-based, 16-megapixel camera with a 3.2-inch touchscreen, Android Market access, and Wi-Fi for quick uploads to social networks. The Polaroid SC1630 Smart Camera offers 3x optical zoom, 5x digital zoom, geo-tagging, and automatic face and smile detection — but response time isn’t exactly “instant,” according to one preview.

        • Original ASUS Transformer to Receive ICS Update Soon?

          Android 4.0 a.k.a Ice Cream Sandwich is nowadays what every Android fanboy dreams about. We are all looking forward to more ICS powered devices like Galaxy Nexus and Transformer Prime. However, we shouldn’t forget devices that were launched last year and are expected to receive the ICS update!

        • Fun with selective memory: “Dell Streak? What Dell Streak?”

          Oh. It was Dell. Oddly, the Dell CCO seems reluctant to mention the Streak, instead talking up future products with “We have been taking our time.” (Time to recover from the Streak, you mean.) Sadly, WebProNews doesn’t catch the omission either, and dully remarks that it’s “surprising that Dell has not entered into the tablet business”. (Entered it without crashing and burning, you mean.)

          WebProNews gives its source as Reuters, whose article does mention the Streak – though so quickly you’ll miss it if you pause to spoon more corn flakes. After that gloss, Reuters simply goes along with the ruse that the Streak never happened. “Dell Inc intends to launch its first consumer tablet computer in late 2012″, proclaims the article. First?

Free Software/Open Source

  • Open source or proprietary software, which way to go?

    In the past week, the Kenyan media has been awash with reports that cyber cafes are ditching proprietary software for the perceived cheaper and user-friendly open source software.

  • Events

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

  • CMS

    • Missing the Point of WordPress Entirely

      A post by Kevinjohn Gallagher on “no longer recommending WordPress” to his clients has gotten a bit of traction lately. While there’s legitimate criticism to be leveled at WordPress, Gallagher’s isn’t (for the most part) it. If you’re approaching WordPress with the expectation that it’s the be-all and end-all of content management systems (CMSes) you’re going to be sorely disappointed. And frankly, I hope WordPress never tries to fit the ridiculous list of requirements that Gallagher tries to saddle it with.

  • Education

    • SBDC offers free open-source software classes

      The Maricopa Community Colleges Small Business Development Center is launching a series of classes to teach entrepreneurs how to use free open-source software to manage their business operations.

      The program is being funded by a $60,000 grant from Hewlett-Packard Development Co. LP.

    • MLK and Open Source: 2 Degrees of Separation

      On Tuesday evening, my teen daughter and I had some quality bonding time over milkshakes and the first season of Star Trek, which was timely considering the conversation I’d have the next day with a couple of NASA employees.

      In my Wednesday phone interview for an article I was writing about the new NASA open source outreach efforts, I asked William Eshagh, a technologist working on Open Government and the Nebula Cloud Computing Platform out of the NASA Ames Research Center, about the efforts NASA makes to help increase diversity in the STEM fields.

  • Business

  • BSD

    • FreeBSD 9.0-RELEASE Announcement

      The FreeBSD Release Engineering Team is pleased to announce the availability of FreeBSD 9.0-RELEASE. This is the first release from the stable/9 branch, which improves on stable/8 and adds many new features. Some of the highlights:

  • Public Services/Government

  • Openness/Sharing

    • ‘Open-source’ robotic surgery platform going to top medical research labs
    • Open Source Surgery, a Robot called Raven takes Flight

      A multidisciplinary team of engineers from the University of Washington and the University of California, Santa Cruz have developed a surgical robot, called Raven 2, for use as an open source surgical robotics research platform. Seven units of the Raven 2 will be made available to researchers at Harvard , Johns Hopkins, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, University of California, Berkeley, and the University of California, Los Angeles, while the remaining two systems will remain at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and the University of Washington.

    • Scary science, national security, and open-source research

      I’ve been following the story about the scientists who have been working to figure out how H5N1 bird flu might become transmissible from human to human, the controversial research they used to study that question, and the federal recommendations that are now threatening to keep that research under wraps. This is a pretty complicated issue, and I want to take a minute to help you all better understand what’s going on, and what it means. It’s a story that encompasses not just public health and science ethics, but also some of the debates surrounding free information and the risk/benefit ratio of open-source everything.

    • Open Hardware

      • Weekend Project: Learning Ins and Outs of Arduino

        Arduino is an open embedded hardware and software platform designed for rapid creativity. It’s both a great introduction to embedded programming and a fast track to building all kinds of cool devices like animatronics, robots, fabulous blinky things, animated clothing, games, your own little fabs… you can build what you imagine. Follow along as we learn both embedded programming and basic electronics.

Leftovers

  • Why You Need Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)

    Infrastructure as a Service is that part of cloud computing that allows you to lease and manage computing infrastructure for your business needs. Computing infrastructure includes virtual machines (VMs), operating systems, middleware, runtime components, network, storage, data and applications. Cloud computing vendors provide the necessary underlying physical hardware (servers, network, storage) that they own and manage transparently in the background. The two worlds have little crossover. The cloud vendor and customer have a non-intrusive relationship with one another just as you currently do with your web hosting provider. They’re there when you need help but their direct involvement in your business is zero.

  • ISC Seeks Wider Input for BIND 10

    The Internet Systems Consortium is looking for a few more good programmers to bring the next generation of its open source BIND DNS server software to fruition.

  • Finance

    • Goldman Sachs Loses Another Demographic

      I went and found the prospectus and it’s fascinating for someone, like me, whose understanding of Islamic finance basically comes from Wikipedia. Now, even I know that the basic idea of a sukuk is to replicate a fixed income, or let’s say not-quite-common-equity-anyway, financial instrument without the use of “interest,” because interest is forbidden under Shari’a law. This, actually, is a topic close to my heart, because it turns out that in regular old American law sometimes “interest” is also forbidden, and by “forbidden” I mean “taxed,” which means that people who do what I used to do have certain incentives to turn things that look like taxable interest into things that look like non-taxable equity returns and vice versa. One thing you learn in that line of work is that it’s in large part the business of defeating substance with form: you pay for the use of money over time, but fall into some category of “paying for money over time” that isn’t what that is normally called, viz. “interest.” There are ways to do that in American tax law (one is called “option premium,” true story), and there are apparently ways to do it under Islamic law (one is called “murabaha,” which is what GS is aiming at here, and it’s basically the equivalent of “getting paid a fee for brokering a commodity transaction with forward settlement”).

      It’s unclear if Goldman achieved that here. People have said that the Goldman sukuk does and does not* comply with Islamic law, and I am the last person in the world to weigh in on that, so whatevs. Apparently there’s at least controversy. And here’s the thing: when you are in a line of work that exists to privilege form over substance, you really really have to get the form right. Implying that you’ve gotten signoff from people who you haven’t gotten signoff from is … unhelpful.

  • Internet/Net Neutrality

    • Internet Opens Up to All Names

      Every since the very beginning of the Internet, new top level domains (TLD) have been added incrementally. Currently the number of TLDs stands at 22, but thanks to a process that begins today that number could be over 1,000 by this time next year.

    • Senator Leahy Hopes To Rush Through PIPA By Promising To Study DNS Blocking… Later?!?
    • Refusing REFUSED

      The U.S. Congress’ road to Stopping Online Piracy (SOPA) and PROTECT IP (PIPA) has had some twists and turns due to technical constraints imposed by the basic design of the Internet’s Domain Name System (DNS). PIPA’s (and SOPA’s) provisions regarding advertising and payment networks appear to be well grounded in the law enforcement tradition called following the money, but other provisions having to do with regulating American Internet Service Providers (ISPs) so as to block DNS resolution for pirate or infringing web sites have been shown to be ineffectual, impractical, and sometimes unintelligible.

      For example an early draft of this legislative package called for DNS redirection of malicious domain names in conflict with the end-to-end DNS Security system (DNSSEC). Any such redirection would be trivially detected as a man in the middle attack by secure clients and would thus be indistinguishable from the kind of malevolent attacks that DNSSEC is designed to prevent. After the impossibility of redirection was shown supporters of PIPA and SOPA admitted that redirection (for example, showing an “FBI Warning” page when an American consumer tried to access a web site dedicated to piracy or infringement) was not actually necessary. Their next idea was no better: to return a false No Such Domain (NXDOMAIN) signal. When the DNS technical community pointed out that NXDOMAIN had the same end-to-end security as a normal DNS answer and that false NXDOMAIN would be detected and rejected by secure clients the supporters SOPA and PIPA changed their proposal once again.

    • CreativeAmerica Denies Copying; Inadvertently Shows Why SOPA/PIPA Are Dangerous

      Either Hoffman didn’t understand what happened or he’s being purposely misleading (neither of which makes CreativeAmerica look very competent). No one is complaining about them sending out an email urging supporters to contact Senators. What they’re complaining about is that the text is almost identical, and uses the same three bullet points that folks at Public Knowledge admit they “over-edited” internally, including a long discussion that turned what had formerly been a paragraph into three separate bullet points.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • The Public Access Recast: new broad IPR exemption to transparency

      In other words, they created a broader IPR exemption to transparency to make it more difficult to obtain information and found that IPR as an argument could be easier applied to deny access to documents. I wonder why Parliament under its rapporteur MEP Michael Cashman did not attempt to revert it.

    • Copyrights

      • SOPA: A Bad Cop’s Best Friend

        In ever-increasing numbers, law enforcement is finding itself on the receiving end of the camera. Every low-end cellphone comes equipped with a still camera at the very least, and most have the ability to capture video. With a large percentage of the population equipped to document their interactions with law enforcement, hundreds of taped encounters have surfaced, most of them capturing policemen behaving badly.

      • Firefighters For SOPA (Again): The Congressional Fire Services Institute Rehashes Cliches And Debunked Anecdotes

        Another pro-SOPA/PROTECT-IP op-ed detailing the horrors wrought by “rogue sites” has appeared at The Hill. This time, it’s William Jenaway of the Congressional Fire Services Institute decrying the ready availability of counterfeits goods and the risk to “public safety” these items pose.

        It opens with the usual “the internet is wonderful but mostly it’s a den of thieves” rhetorical device before wading into the shallowest waters of the overused “appeal to patriotism” argument, stating that “Foreign-owned, rogue websites are increasingly selling counterfeit products to U.S. consumers,” reminding us yet again that xenophobia and lousy legislation still go hand-in-hand far too frequently.

      • Apparently, Someone Forgot To Tell Reality That The Entertainment Industry Was Dying

        We hear it all the time: the entertainment industry legacy players insist that the world is ending, jobs are going away, and that they need new laws like SOPA and PIPA or it’s all over. That’s why SOPA & PIPA are being positioned as jobs bills. Especially popular are the major labels and the big Hollywood studios insisting that they’re really doing this not to save their own companies from having to adapt, but to protect the poor, poor indie creator, who is totally being destroyed by those evil online pirates. We hear time and time again about how it’s really the “indie” folks who are being decimated.

      • Jazz Pioneer ‘Jelly Roll’ Morton’s Music Finally Free For Re-use In Europe — A Hundred Years Too Late

        A recent Techdirt post reminded us that thanks to its crazy copyright laws, the US won’t be seeing anything new in the public domain for many years. But even in those “fortunate” countries that get to use cultural works a mere 70 years after the creator’s death, the situation is still pretty absurd.

      • How Much Do Music and Movie Piracy Really Hurt the U.S. Economy?

        Supporters of stronger intellectual property enforcement — such as those behind the proposed new Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and Protect IP Act (PIPA) bills in Congress — argue that online piracy is a huge problem, one which costs the U.S. economy between $200 and $250 billion per year, and is responsible for the loss of 750,000 American jobs.

Apple Cult Defends Android-Hostile Cult Leader, Engages in Extortion of Android and Shops, Gets Sued for It

Posted in Apple, GNU/Linux, Google at 8:17 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: The branding cult known as “Apple” is facing new legal challenges having lost touch with reality and lost a leadership position, too

A

pple is trying to claim ownership of the appearance of a person, based on this recent article. The hype-selling company also attacks Linux over the false allegation that Android is a copy (even though it predates the iPhone). SJVN insists that Apple does not have a good case against Android:

While Apple has been attacking Android smartphone and tablet vendors in the courts around the world, I don’t see any reason to think, as Whitmore does, that Apple will be able to slam dung their way to victory. Indeed, Apple’s number one smartphone rival, Samsung, expects record profits despite Apple’s lawsuit attacks from Germany to Australia and back again.

We urged people to boycott Apple for this. There are other reasons to boycott this delusional cult, which engages in extortion just like Microsoft and at least gets sued for it:

SPANISH TABLET maker Català Energy and New Technologies (NT-K) has filed a lawsuit against Apple for alleged extortion.

More about Apple’s extortion here:

Tablet maker Nuevas Tecnologías y Energías Catalá, the company behind one of Apple’s rare court defeats, is now taking the fruity tech titan to court for extortion.

Apple alleged that the teeny-tiny company’s tablet, sold in Spain under the NT-K brand, was a forged iPad, and on that basis convinced custom officials to impound shipments of the rival gear coming into Spain. Those shipments ended up sitting in a warehouse for a year, costing NT-K dearly, and now it wants to see Apple hauled up for extortion as well as recovering some damages.

Incidentally, there is a new article about Apple’s bad reception in Beijing:

Apple Beijing store egged in botched iPhone 4S launch

Apple closed its flagship store in Beijing after frustrated fanbois rioted and pelted the windows with eggs when they were told the shop didn’t have the iPhone 4S.

A crowd of 500 people waited outside the Sanlitun Apple store in Beijing yesterday morning for the Chinese launch of the iPhone 4S, and the mood turned ugly when they were told by staff that the shiny shop didn’t have the new mobe and wouldn’t be opening that day.

Many had waited overnight in temperatures that dropped to -9°C. The frustrated Apple fans started hassling security guards and throwing eggs at the windows of the store in the high-end mall before they were cleared off by the police.

According to Reg Hardware Awards 2011 (just released), Apple iPhone 4S is “the most disliked offering in the Mobile category” whereas the winner (“Smartphone of the Year”) if the Linux-based Samsung Galaxy S II. Apple just cannot keep up, can it? It’s no excuse for frivolous litigation.

Legislators Can’t See the Elephant in the Room

Posted in Patents at 7:51 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Elephant

Summary: Officials are concerned about a patent of Facebook for all the wrong reasons, failing to see that software patents as a whole are a problem

ACCORDING to yet another new Facebook patent, this brainchild/alter-ego of Microsoft is tracking users in nefarious ways. We wrote about the subject in Spanish.

Legislators question Facebook over tracking patent

[...]

Indeed, many of these patents are little more than a strategy of blocking other firms from using the tech – or an attempt to force other companies to pay licensing fees.

Paying someone for a monopoly on tracking. Ain’t the patent system just lovely? While Fish & Richardson are growing and Bloomberg (business press) plays up the “IP” system to the tune of granting of a monopoly on networking or other software (Openwave “plans to focus on selling its patents”) as seen in press releases, we cannot help asking: why don’t officials go to the root of the problem and also revise this whole crazy system known to some as “IP” — the idea that people can “own” ideas? The problem is the funding source of most politicians, who in turn do not represent the public; they serve corporations.

Microsoft Fanatics Were Wrong, Linux Indeed Attacked by UEFI (Updatedx2)

Posted in Microsoft at 7:41 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Ed Bott

Summary: More information about UEFI leaves no doubt about Microsoft’s intentions to sabotage and cheat

IN OUR previous posts about UEFI (aka “secure” boot) [1, 2, 3] we showed that Microsoft was still a corrupt company looking to break the rules to make money. Aaron Williamson from the SFLC writes the article “Microsoft confirms UEFI fears, locks down ARM devices”:

At the beginning of December, we warned the Copyright Office that operating system vendors would use UEFI secure boot anticompetitively, by colluding with hardware partners to exclude alternative operating systems. As Glyn Moody points out, Microsoft has wasted no time in revising its Windows Hardware Certification Requirements to effectively ban most alternative operating systems on ARM-based devices that ship with Windows 8.

The Certification Requirements define (on page 116) a “custom” secure boot mode, in which a physically present user can add signatures for alternative operating systems to the system’s signature database, allowing the system to boot those operating systems. But for ARM devices, Custom Mode is prohibited: “On an ARM system, it is forbidden to enable Custom Mode. Only Standard Mode may be enable.” [sic] Nor will users have the choice to simply disable secure boot, as they will on non-ARM systems: “Disabling Secure [Boot] MUST NOT be possible on ARM systems.” [sic] Between these two requirements, any ARM device that ships with Windows 8 will never run another operating system, unless it is signed with a preloaded key or a security exploit is found that enables users to circumvent secure boot.

Glyn Moody adds:

In December 2011, Microsoft published a document entitled “Windows Hardware Certification Requirements” for client and server systems. As the introduction explains:

This release to web (RTW) document contains the Windows Hardware Certification requirements for Windows 8 Certified Systems. These requirements are Microsoft’s guidelines for designing systems which successfully meet Windows performance, quality, and feature criteria, to assure the optimum Windows 8 computing experience. Successfully following this guidance will allow a partner to receive certification for their system.

On page 116 of this document, there are some details about the circumstances under which Secure Boot can be disabled:

MANDATORY: Enable/Disable Secure Boot. On non-ARM systems, it is required to implement the ability to disable Secure Boot via firmware setup. A physically present user must be allowed to disable Secure Boot via firmware setup without possession of Pkpriv. Programmatic disabling of Secure Boot either during Boot Services or after exiting EFI Boot Services MUST NOT be possible. Disabling Secure MUST NOT be possible on ARM systems.

This confirms that it is indeed possible to disable Secure Boot – but only on non-ARM systems (i.e. traditional PCs.) In other words, it would appear that Microsoft is still locking out GNU/Linux from installation on ARM-based Windows 8 machines.

So this leaves me confused. The document was published some time after Microsoft’s post where it states “Microsoft does not mandate or control the settings on PC firmware that control or enable secured boot from any operating system other than Windows”, and yet it seems to contradict it. So what’s going here? Was Microsoft’s blog statement only about non-ARM systems, as the new documentation suggests? And if so, why the discrimination? And finally, is ARM really happy to see Microsoft apparently locking out GNU/Linux from its systems in this way? Let’s hope Microsoft can clarify this situation as it did on the previous occasion.

This leaves no room for excuses. Microsoft’s bribed systematic liars/spinners, such as Ed Bott, were just trying to keep regulators away. It’s time to nail down Microsoft for interfering with fair competition in more than a single way. Just because Microsoft is imploding or collapsing does not entitle it/give it a right to sabotage competitors. This harms everyone.

Update: SJVN weighs in shortly afterwards:

Microsoft and its vendor friends said that there’s no Windows 8 plot to lock other operating systems from Windows 8 devices, but now we know Microsoft was not telling the whole truth.

Journalist Glyn Moody dug around Microsoft’s Windows Hardware Certification Requirements for Windows 8 client and server systems and found on page 116 that will Windows 8 Secure Boot can be disabled: on Intel systems, “Disabling Secure [Boot] must not be possible on ARM systems.”

Update #2: Microsoft now receives the Slashdot treatment. As one person put it: “Oh boy, the lawyers must be rubbing their hands over this. The flaw in Microsoft’s aim of course is that next to no one wants a Microsoft mobile gadget.”

Microsoft Uses Proxies to Control and Tax Linux

Posted in GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Patents at 7:32 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Accounting

Summary: Novell, Tuxera, and other firms with Microsoft connections do their usual things

David Chernicoff claims “datacenter win” for Microsoft Linux because Dell has once again disappointed us, having previously "joined" the Microsoft/Novell deal. Reports about this are numerous and the Microsoft tax on GNU/Linux is celebrated by this press release. Remember that SUSE is now pretty much sponsored by Microsoft to help Microsoft put a tax on GNU/Linux server deployments. To quote one article (by Vangie Beal):

SUSE Linux Enterprise offers users a broad application portfolio as well as optimization with the VMware cloud infrastructure suite.

“SUSE Linux Enterprise Server is optimized for the VMware vCloud architecture. An integrated partnership with Dell ensures customers receive streamlined support as they manage workloads across public and private cloud infrastructure,” said SUSE in its news announcement.

Now, Dell customers can efficiently run a wide range of ISV applications, on demand with maximum performance, while receiving streamlined support from Dell and SUSE across the Dell public and private cloud offerings.

There is another vector of Microsoft tax on Linux, especially in the devices space (Microsoft uses SUSE on the server space and Android tax for mobile). It’s called Tuxera and it carries on promoting its Microsoft tax on Linux with another new press release that says:

A typical NAS system runs off-the-shelf Linux software stack with standard open source file systems. As the well-recognized open source file system leader, Tuxera has partnered with NAS chipset manufacturers to integrate and optimize its proprietary and enhanced commercial file system technology into the devices. Tuxera’s comprehensive NAS offering for OEMs includes high-performance, chipset-optimized Tuxera XFS for the main storage and Tuxera NTFS and HFS+ file systems for external, portable storages.

We are still working to see if there is a GPL violation there. Speaking of the GPL, Microsoft’s ‘spinoff’ Black Duck is still at it, telling us all about GPL usage. Do we really want Microsoft folks to control think tanks about Microsoft’s opposition? As if controlling both sides of Office’s rival (by sponsoring Apache and SUSE) is not bad enough for FOSS?

“Do we really want Microsoft folks to control think tanks about Microsoft’s opposition?”It turns out that this year too the "Open Source Think Tank" will be organised by a company with Microsoft roots, Black Duck. And OpenLogic, another company with Microsoft roots, insists on being an authority in what FOSS to use. This is particularly dangerous given that Microsoft is openwashing OOXML (new example here) and other proprietary, patents-ridden junk that Microsoft bribes for and bullies people for. Do not let Microsoft control FOSS. It wants to, and it’s not stupid for trying. It’s some of us who are stupid for allowing entryism under the pretence of “tolerance” (towards a racketeer and repeatedly-convicted monopoly abuser).

Microsoft to Start 2012 With More Layoffs

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

Still axing

Cross section

Summary: Microsoft is reportedly preparing to lay off many more people (enough to require public disclosure) as sales decline

Mr. Cringely predicts that Steve Ballmer will be ousted (or leave) this year. His prediction begins to seem quite reasonable given that more layoffs are reportedly coming. Layoffs at Microsoft have been going on quietly, but Microsoft need only report this to shareholders when it happens in large numbers (while offshoring and avoiding tax as a matter of routine, without disclosing that). We have a wiki page about Microsoft layoffs and this time too Microsoft boosters tried to downplay this news by writing stuff like “we’ve also heard rumblings of layoffs coming, but these rumors come up frequently and often are not borne out.”

Here is the original report and another Microsoft booster who writes:

Another year and another shake-up is coming to Microsoft. A restructuring of the team responsible for how Redmond is perceived and sells itself will be announced in the next 30 days, Bloomberg reports.

The same source tells us about product delays/postponement which probably turns out to be a cancellation (the monopolist “cans TV plans following poor reception”). Pro-Microsoft sources tend to misreport the news (in Microsoft’s favour), but one Microsoft-hostile source says:

The Redmond company, which harbours ambitions of becoming a content service provider much like Apple and Netflix, has been trying to set up its own video streaming service for well over a year. Now Reuters is reporting that the firm has shelved those plans following a less than enthusiastic response from the big media content studios.

TVs will most likely continue to run Linux and Android. Even Canonical is trying to enter this market now (as revealed in CES). Microsoft’s long list of dead products will keep growing (we no longer expand it or research the subject) and the executive retreat will most likely continue (these wiki pages are out of date since we stopped tracking the subject).

Microsoft shrinks as desktops/laptops decline and even Microsoft finally admits this (having denied it before). To quote:

Senior Microsoft executives are warning that PC sales in the last quarter will be lower than expected, saying the effects of the floods in Thailand are having a lingering impact.

CFO Tami Reller told a JPMorgan Chase & Co. conference that the flooding was causing the PC industry more serious problems than had been expected. Analysts are predicting flat sales or a slight decline Reller said, but she warned that the figures could be significantly lower for some time to come, which will mean reduced Windows licensing and application revenues.

Microsoft is whining about natural disasters as an excuse that exempts Microsoft itself from blame. Hilarious.

With IBM Executive Running the USPTO, IBM Tops Patent Monopolists List

Posted in IBM, Patents at 11:59 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

IBM logo on media

Summary: IBM claims a “record” on the privatisation — with government endorsement — of ideas

A few days ago we wrote about USPTO statistics. New numbers were suggesting that the patent levers are rising (more monopolies) as quality control is brought down and the press caught up with the patents professor following an official statement from sources including the USPTO, which is run by a former IBM guy. To quote the British technology press:

The annual rankings of patents awarded by the US Patent and Trademark Office used to come out of that government agency, but in 2007 it stopped because, as the public affairs officer told me at the time, people were too focused on patent counts and not on patent quality. Since then, IFI Claims Patent Services has diced and sliced the data in the USPTO databases and published the annual US patent count rankings, as a means of advertising for more complex patent services it offers for a fee.

IBM is a proponent of software patents and therefore not our friend. IBM used this to brag about its patents, claiming quite falsely that these are a measure of innovation. They are acting like it’s a contest and claim a record repeatedly, with some of the press playing along to that tune:

Weeks after the latest Blue Gene supercomputer shipped out from Rochester, IBM has topped the U.S. patent list for the 19th year in a row.

Big Blue tallied a whopping 6,180 patents issued in 2011. About 500 of those patents originated in Rochester.

I confronted an IBM manager over this. He insisted, as usual, that IBM acts responsively with patents. Now, to be fair, OIN relies a great deal on IBM and this new pile of patents reportedly helps Google defend Android (not in the ideal way [1, 2]). Does this quality as good news then?

Patents were a hot-button issue in 2011, so there’s no wonder so many companies were filling their portfolios with new intellectual property throughout the year.

Ideally, those patents oughtn’t be granted because they are a ‘theft’ of knowledge that otherwise can belong to society, not privatised quite so organically and arbitrarily. Isn’t it funny that the biggest client of the USPTO became its manager? The government should remove the power it gave to the USPTO if it wants to really encourage innovation.

Microsoft Extortion Up Another Notch With LG

Posted in Microsoft at 11:43 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

LG

Summary: Microsoft is once again claiming to have extorted the competition, making money from products that it does not make and never contributed to

AS patent battles rage on (because some companies are unable to compete without suing) we find that Microsoft and Apple are prominent behind the attack on Linux/Android. Even when the lawsuits are not direct there are some clear links to be seen which tie the duopoly to Android smears in particular.

While Apple fan sites keep worshipping more ridiculous patents from Apple we keep finding more “patently absurd” Microsoft patents whose aim is just to increase the patent count and thus establish weapons of extortion (quantity over quality, overwhelming the defendant/victim with cruft). Barnes and Noble has been fighting back against those extortions and Microsoft chickens out for reasons that Groklaw explains in one of its most recent posts about Android:

Barnes & Noble has responded to Microsoft’s Motion for Leave to Reply to a Barnes & Noble document titled “Barnes & Noble’s Statement of Additional Material Facts”. It was under seal, as was Microsoft’s motion, but Barnes & Noble’s Opposition [PDF] isn’t, so finally we get to find out a few more clues on what is going on.

Also, the parties have stipulated [PDF] to Microsoft dropping from the ITC investigation some of its patent infringement claims, which they say Microsoft is doing “to simplify” the investigation, “streamline the hearing”, and conserve resources “in consideration of the amount of time allotted for the hearing”. And maybe because they were stupid patents to begin with.

Like *that* could ever be acknowledged by Microsoft in the open air. Quite the contrary. They state that this stipulation “is also not an admission as to the merits of any claim”. It just *looks* like that is what it is.

Actually, it’s more likely strategic. I was reading up on patent misuse last night, and the Federal Circuit has narrowed what kinds of horrible behavior can be called patent misuse, and one requirement now is that the misuse must be associated with a particular patent. Part of the stipulation says that Barnes & Noble isn’t to use the fact that Microsoft dropped these claims “as evidence in support of their affirmative defense of patent misuse” before the ITC, but they can otherwise use them. So that’s what that convoluted language is probably about.

A company that has already sold out to Microsoft over Linux is now selling Android out (Android was a matter of time) and the elaborate Slashdot discussion says a little more (it is a secret deal, as usual).

A Microsoft booster echoes the Microsoft propaganda in this post which we criticised earlier (this booster hangs out in our IRC channels) and to quote one article:

LG has become the latest in a long line of Android handset vendors to sign a patent licensing agreement with Microsoft. The agreement allows the South Korean conglomerate to use Microsoft patented technology in phones, tablets, and other consumer electronics running both Android and Chrome OS.

Microsoft tried to trap GNU/Linux there too (Chrome OS) as according to the British press:

Chrome is included in the deal but LG doesn’t have any products using the Google operating system to date. This could signal that the firm is planning on making a Chromebook or similar device.

Here is a report from another British site:

Microsoft has been seeking royalty payments from handset manufacturers for its patents used in the Google operating system. LG is the 11th Android phone manufacturer to do such a deal.

Groklaw explains that Oracle too is still trying to tax Android and some sources say that the case might be dragged on until 2013 (another SCO).

How many times will Oracle get to submit a proper damages report before the court says enough is enough? Apparently, more than two. The court, having now substantially rejected Oracle’s (Prof. Cockburn’s) second attempt, is asking both parties whether Oracle should be permitted a third attempt. Let’s guess how both the parties will respond.

But a third (or fourth or fifth) response by Oracle may be a two-edged sword. Each successive response is almost certain to have an impact on the trial date and will also extend the time available to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to continue invalidating the asserted patents. Oracle could end up doing a revised damages report only to find there has been no damage. Maybe Google should tell the court to allow Oracle all the attempts it needs to accomplish what the court asked Oracle (and Prof. Cockburn) to do last July.

Delays again, eh? That serves Larry Ellison’s best friend very well. He may be dead, but his "thermonuclear" war on Android carries on.

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