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Links 27/1/2012: GlusterFS Becomes Truly Open Source, Tablets Become Linuxed

Posted in News Roundup at 8:44 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



  • Desktop

    • ZaReason Alto 3880 Review: Fastest $1000 14″ Laptop

      At first glance, the Alto 3880 will not strike envy into the hearts of any. Like any standard PC laptop, it’s dressed in glossy, molded plastic pieces. The design decisions here are almost certainly OEM driven as the laptop takes a 3-tone neutral color scheme that presents itself in a bit of an awkward way. The lid emulates a brushed metal look with an attractive ZaReason screen-print right in the center. This is the first of a couple nice touches on ZaReason’s behalf. If this unit is closed on your coffee table, your guests will probably ask you, “What’s a ZaReason?”. In this respect, I think it’s quite effective. The brushed metal look for laptop lids is a little dated now, so this will not trend well in the vanity department.

  • Kernel Space

    • The quiet colossus

      A day in the life of the Linux kernel starts just a few microseconds after midnight. The kernel, a thin layer of software that provides a consistent interface between the hardware of a computer and the systems library, is hard at work at stock exchanges in the US, where it has almost completely supplanted other alternatives. Because the kernel’s licence encourages copying and modifying, the financial industry has done just that, tweaking it to perform at the utmost speed without breaking. Linux handles billions of transactions every second, passing information between processes, and managing multitasking environments for the world’s financial markets. Linux is the most portable piece of software in the world. Despite being over six million lines of code, it has been ported to more hardware platforms than anything else. Its size belies its organisation, though. The functions that any kernel must provide – switching between processes, memory management, access to hardware resources and networking – are clearly separated out, with only the really low-level hardware-dependent functions differing by platform.

    • Graphics Stack

      • Unity Desktop, Nux Get Upstream OpenGL ES 2.0

        The OpenGL ES 2.0 work is part of this Launchpad Blueprint. For a while now the Linaro and Ubuntu developers have been after upstream OpenGL ES 2.0 support for their Unity (non-2D) desktop, and it looks like the goal will be realized in time for the Ubuntu 12.04 “Precise Pangolin” LTS release in April and the Linaro releases shortly thereafter.

      • Announcing The Lima Open-Source GPU Driver

        There’s still one week until the work will be officially announced, but the open-source “Lima” open-source graphics driver project has surfaced.

        The Lima driver? This is going to be the open-source driver built for ARM’s Mali graphics processors. Lima is what the project’s being called for the story Phoronix exclusively broke last week, An Open-Source, Reverse-Engineered Mali GPU Driver.

      • Interlaced Support For Intel’s Linux Graphics Driver
  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments

  • Distributions

    • The Best Linux Distributions For Every User

      On this page, we feature 20 of the best Linux distributions, with a short but extremely detailed description, a link (so you know where to download it from) and our review of the distribution. The distributions are categorised according to their purpose. We hope that our Best Linux Distributions will help you decide which flavour of Linux you’d like to run on your computer.

    • Red Hat Family

      • GlusterFS advisory board established

        A few months after its acquisition of Gluster, Red Hat has established the GlusterFS Advisory Board to oversee and promote the technical development of GlusterFS, the filesystem that is the basis of Red Hat’s Storage Software Appliance. The board includes Anand Babu, a co-founder of GlusterFS, and open source experts from Red Hat, Facebook, Citrix and Eucalyptus. The nine board members do not represent their employers, instead serving on the board as individuals.

      • Red Hat RHEVS Virtualization
      • Red Hat Taking Gluster from Open Core to Open Source

        Red Hat (NYSE:RHT) wants to return the Gluster filesystem to its open source roots. Red Hat acquired Gluster for $136 million in October 2011 and is now moving to help further accelerate its innovation.

      • Fedora

        • The Grand /usr-fication of Linux

          The Fedora Project is currently mounting a concerted effort to merge Linux filesystem directories into a more organized structure, an effort known as /usr merge.

        • Fedora 17 Moves Forward With Unified File-System

          Fedora 17 is moving forward with plans whereby the entire base operating system will live within /usr by condensing several common directories that have been long-standing to Linux distributions.

          Directories such as /bin, /sbin, /lib, and /lib64 are now being moved to their respective locations within the /usr directory as trying to unify the Fedora file-system. However, as to not break compatibility, symlinks will be in place for redirecting from the old locations. Solaris was actually the first operating system to begin migrating everything into /usr, with the transition having been completed last year with the release of Solaris 11.

    • Debian Family

      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Ubuntu’s HUD: Why It’s A Great Idea
          • Ubuntu 12.04 to replace traditional menus with new HUD
          • HUD = How Ubuntu Disappoints?
          • A first look at Ubuntu Linux’s Head-Up Display (Gallery)
          • Ubuntu Unleashed 2012 Edition
          • Canonical previews voice driven Heads-Up Display for Ubuntu
          • How Ubuntu 12.04 Is Trying To Drop Power Usage

            After illustrating Linux power regressions and other problems for months, with Ubuntu 12.04 LTS developers at Canonical are finally taking a serious look at Linux power management and how it can be bettered.

            Going back to the last Ubuntu Developer Summit they began working out ways to improve the energy efficiency of Ubuntu Linux. They’re work isn’t really about contributing upstream improvements and optimizations to better the Linux power management situation, but determining what options can be safely enabled or better tuned to drop the Ubuntu power usage for primarily mobile systems. (Separately, they’re finally getting back to looking at the regressing boot performance state.)

          • 10 of the Best Unity Lenses & Scopes for Ubuntu

            It’s somewhat apt that Ubuntu’s ‘Lenses’ feature has brought Unity into clearer focus for many of its initial critics.

            The search-orientated display windows – called ‘Lenses’ – make finding specific files, apps or information easy to do thanks to their tuned ‘search backends’ – called Scopes’.

          • Yup, Ubuntu again. Number 11.10.

            Notice how the eleven comes before the ten. This does signify that eleven is, indeed, louder than ten. Everyone loves hating Unity. It’s new. It’s different. It’s pretty. It’s everything that Linux typically isn’t. People also love hating Ubuntu in general. While people struggle to make their Linux desktops look and feel more like OSX every day and there are over 9000 different OSX-like docks out there, people apparently really hate having something that looks and acts like an OSX desktop. It’s very odd.

            I decided to try Ubuntu 11.10 and make my own judgement. I have to admit that I was loathe to do so, but felt it only fair. So, I downloaded Ubuntu 11.10 Desktop 64. I burned it to a disc. I put in my DVD drive. I rebooted, hit f8, chose the DVD drive, and off I went. Soon, I was at a menu telling me to choose “Try” or “Install”. I was feeling risky so I chose to install.

          • Flavours and Variants

            • Video Review: Xubuntu 11.10 – Elegant, Simple XFCE

              Short video on Ubuntu‘s little brother/sister Xubuntu 11.10 with it’s XFCE Desktop Manager. Fast and Simple is what I feel Xubuntu 11.10 is. Fast to load and simple to use. Runs well on a VM if thats all you have. Enjoy and download it free today!

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • Open source: the default choice

    When it comes to open source software, the question that needs to be asked today is not which businesses are using open source – but rather which businesses are not.

    So says Obsidian Systems‘ Muggie van Staden, a 17-year veteran of the open source world, who says that for many businesses today, open source software is the default choice for backend systems.

  • Events

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Firefox 12 will feature long-awaited New Tab Page and Home Tab

        After a long gestation period, it now appears that Firefox 12 — which moves to the Aurora channel at the end of the month — will feature the long-awaited New Tab Page and Home Tab. The new tab page is very like Chrome’s feature of the same name. The home tab builds off the new tab page popularized by Chrome and Opera, but then throws in ton of Firefox-unique functionality.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • Merged executive committee proposed for the JCP

      The Java Community Process (JCP) standardisation body is taking the next step in its reorganisation. The recently proposed JSR 355 (JCP Executive Committee Merge) would combine the currently separate executive committees for Java SE/Java EE (Java Standard Edition/Java Enterprise Edition) and Java ME (Java Micro Edition) development. The reasoning behind this is that “Since Java is One Platform, it ought to be overseen by a single Executive Committee”.

    • Oracle proposal would create single committee to oversee Java specs
  • Project Releases

  • Openness/Sharing

  • Standards/Consortia


  • Finance

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • ACTA

        • Ryan Heath twitter propaganda or counter-noise

          I guess this is how Parliament would like it to be but they know it’s not. The European Commission is no Government, they are not elected but appointed, and speak with a single voice. Article 17 EU Treaty explains it all.

          I think it is a real pity that the Concours was abolished and replaced by logic riddle testing from the United States. You would expect a person working for the Commission to be better informed about the institutions he speaks for.

Microsoft Looks for New Ways to Tax All GNU/Linux Servers, Red Hat Included

Posted in Dell, Mail, Microsoft, OpenSUSE, SLES/SLED at 12:33 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Microsoft on track to global Linux tax?


Summary: Microsoft’s Linux internment and Microsoft Linux (SUSE) in the news; a little bit about GroupWise too

MICROSOFT has been creating its own internment pen for GNU/Linux users and it is looking to hire a mole to handle operations and lure some innocent sheep in.

As Microsoft boosters put it, Microsoft has Red Hat customers in sight. Microsoft already taxes Red Hat Linux (servers) at Amazon and now on its own turf it is trying to take this extortion further. Aiding Microsoft’s efforts we have had SUSE for a while, but fortunately Dell is moving away from that (although not to the right system, feeding Oracle instead). From a new page:

How Dell Migrated from SUSE Linux to Oracle Linux

Switching the underlying operating system on a single server is not trivial. Neither is dealing with the related conversion and compatibility issues. Imagine what’s involved in switching the operating system on thousands of servers spread globally across an enterprise, like Dell just did.

The good news here is that Dell itself won’t pay Microsoft tax (for its own systems), but at the same time Dell is actively promoting Microsoft-taxed Linux for OEMs solution, which troubles us a bit. It’s a signed deal which has the VAR Guy arguing about SUSE Studio:

Dell Servers Embrace SUSE Linux, But SUSE Studio Is Real Story


No doubt, Dell has relationships with multiple Linux distributions — including SUSE, Red Hat Enterprise Linux and Canonical Ubuntu. But SUSE apparently is the “first Linux vendor” in the Dell OEM Technology Partner program.

Sort of makes you wonder: Is something deeper brewing between Dell and SUSE? Hmmm…

This is just another reason to actually avoid Dell, but Joe Brockmeier, the former Novell employee, is promoting this. VAR Guy, who has also been close to Novell over the years, goes ahead and promotes GroupWise, which sane Web sites say nobody cares about anymore (and they are right). To quote:

No One Cares That Novell Has A New Version of GroupWise

Today Novell released its 2012 version of its email software GroupWise, and the announcement was greeted by most with a big yawn. GroupWise? Seems so last century. (Actually, the last updates to the software were for version 8 back in 2008-2010.) According to one analyst, “GroupWise has 10,000 customers and is used by 47 of the 50 US state governments.” It has been a distant third to Exchange and Lotus Notes for a while, and many GroupWise customers have switched over to Google Apps in the past several years.

GroupWise is proprietary and it distracts from Free/Open Source options that work equally well or better. GroupWise — like SUSE — is a solution in search of a problem, much like OpenSUSE when it looks for other people’s work again (trying to ape Linux Mint in this case). SUSE over the past 5+ years has been just a product for Microsoft to tax GNU/Linux through. It lacks technical merit/advantage and the latest release of OpenSUSE — as put in this new review — “was released too early. Period.” Boycott Novell and boycott SUSE.

Intel, a Promoter of Software Patents, Buys Software Patents

Posted in Hardware, Patents at 12:05 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Another drop in the bucket for patents hoarder Intel

Water drop

Summary: Intel, which has been promoting software patents, buys some from RealNetworks

CHIPMAKING monopolist Intel, a corrupt company that lobbies for software patents [1, 2], is reportedly buying some software patents [1, 2] from a familiar company. The general observation is that Intel is unlikely to use those patents against Linux or Free software in general, so it’s better off in Intel’s hands than in the hands of some patent trolls or Linux foes like Apple and Microsoft.

Android Gains Upper Hand in Battle to Defend Android, Microsoft Lobbyists Still Spin the Subject

Posted in Apple, Microsoft, Oracle, Patents at 11:56 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The plot to kill Android


Summary: Android-hostile patent wars are fought well by Google and its partners, which have Microsoft-funded lobbyists try to portray them as aggressors (for reactive moves)

Google’s fight to keep Android free faces barriers from CPTN members (Novell’s patents) and their proxy trolls, amongst others. According to this latest update from Groklaw‘s Professor Webbink, Google is getting its way against Oracle:

The court has sided with Google on two of the three remaining claims construction issues. In an order (704 [PDF; Text]) issued yesterday the court interpreted two terms to have the meaning ascribed by Google and overruled the definition advanced by Oracle. The court has elected to leave the third term for consideration at trial, if necessary.

With respect to the ’476 patent, the court found the term “computer-readable medium” to include transmission media as suggested by Google. Oracle had wanted to limit the definition to storage media. By seeking a broadened definition one presumes that Google is aiming to increase the likelihood that the claims will be found invalid. In finding in favor of Google the court pointed to the explicit definition of the term “computer-readable medium” as set forth in the patent’s specification, a definition Oracle wanted to ignore.

Oracle is said to be retreating from the patent angle because it is failing. It had been baffling that Oracle chose to sue Android/Google until we saw in a credible source what Larry Ellison's best friend planned to do. Steve Jobs vowed to even spend tens of billions of dollars just suing Android (if necessary) and so far Apple is said to have spent $0.1 billion or more:

The never-ending war on Android has cost Apple more than $100 million, according to latest estimates. While a huge chunk of that money was spent (read wasted) in claims against HTC.

Motorola, which Apple attacked, is fighting back against Apple (probably as means of deterrence) and Charles Arthur is still flirting with a Microsoft lobbyist over at Tweeter and beyond. The lobbyist (Microsoft-funded lobbyist Florian Müller) is using him to incite against Google and Android. No disclosures in those posts about Florian’s paymasters. The Guardian, now funded by Bill Gates, helps the lobbying efforts of Microsoft. How sad. Here is one better report on the subject:

Motorola Mobility, which is seeking regulatory approval to be bought by Google Inc, has filed a new lawsuit against Apple Inc accusing the iPhone maker of infringing its technology patents.

While Bloomberg keeps the usual corporate bias (still promoting intellectual monopolies in new ways) there are more reasonable sites like a Red Hat site, OpenSource.com, which has just published this new article about patent trolls. To quote part of the article:

When well-known, richly compensated patent lawyers switch from representing world-class tech companies to servicing “non-practicing entities,” something’s up. Could the sordidness of a business based on bringing patent lawsuits be outweighed by large amounts of cash? At least for some, apparently yes.

This week Ashby Jones wrote for the Wall Street Journal about two specific patent lawyers, John Desmarais and Matt Powers, as representative of a larger shift in the practice. Each of them was once an attorney for large companies, protecting those companies’ patent interests in court. Desmarais’ software-related clients included IBM and Verizon; Powers has represented Cisco, Oracle, Microsoft, and Apple. But today they have joined the ranks of “patent trolls,” the colloquial term for “non-practicing entities” (NPE), which exist only to pursue the monetary benefits of aggressive patent-infringement lawsuits.

Ideally, patents protect and motivate innovation as well as benefit future innovators. They can be an important business justification in fields where R&D is expensive, like pharmaceuticals. They put the details of an innovation into public view, inspiring improvements and making a record of its existence, both for historic record and the benefit of future inventors. Thus, companies once used patents to protect what they had put significant resources into creating. Likewise, patent lawyers would work for those companies to defend their patents. Now there are those who are interested only in the financial gain and not in protecting innovation–like Desmarais and Powers.

But this approach is contrary to the intent of the patent system. Worse is when, as the WSJ highlights, some companies sell their patents to an NPE to prevent them from being in the awkward position of suing customers or partners. This practice puts the patent’s advantages in the hands of a non-creator, who almost certainly does not hope to inspire, much less be responsible for, future innovation. Instead of benefiting innovators and the public, going on the patent offense benefits only the bank accounts of the trolls.

Recently, Red Hat was attacked by a patent troll that was passed 2,000 or so patents with help from Microsoft. Here at Techrights we’ll keep a close eye on that. We have also queried Red Hat’s legal team and expect a response soon.

Links 27/1/2012: GNOME 3.3.4 Development Release, GhostBSD 2.5 With Graphical Installer

Posted in News Roundup at 10:40 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



Free Software/Open Source

  • What is Zorp?

    Briefly Zorp is an open source proxy firewall with deep protocol analysis. It sounds very sophisticated at first, however, the explanation below will make it easy to understand.

  • Events

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Thunderbird 9.0 Officially Lands in Ubuntu 11.10

        After the official upgrade to Firefox 9 in Ubuntu 11.10 at the beginning of the month, Canonical announced on January 24th that the Mozilla Thunderbird 9.0 email client is now available on the official software repositories of the Oneiric Ocelot operating system.

  • BSD

    • GhostBSD 2.5 – Now with an Easy Graphic Installer

      GhostBSD 2.5 was released a few days ago and the headline on ghostbsd.com reads “Now with an Easy and Secure Graphic Installer.” GhostBSD is obviously a free BSD (and not coincidently, a FreeBSD derivative), but it aims to be a user-friendly free BSD and to improve the GNOME experience on FreeBSD.

  • Project Releases

  • Public Services/Government

    • Europe Sees Another Mass Migration of Government IT to FOSS, This Time in Spain

      At a time when Europe is facing a hard time in a financial crisis and Apple is worth more than Greece, price cuts of any form are always welcome. Perhaps for this reason, a slew of European countries have moved to FOSS technologies for use in their internal operations. France, Germany and many prominent European economies have started using FOSS technologies, and have benefited hugely in saved IT costs. This time, Spain’s autonomous region Extremadura wants to move to open-source solutions in place of their current proprietary desktop software.

  • Licensing

    • Sorting Out the Sharing License Shambles

      At the heart of the various movements based around sharing — free software, open content, open access etc. — lie specially drawn-up licenses that grant permissions beyond the minimal ones of copyright. This approach has worked well — too well, in fact, since it has led to a proliferation of many different licenses: the Open Source Initiative recognizes over 60 of them for open source. That’s a problem because slight incompatibilities between them often make it impossible to create combined works drawing on elements released under different licenses.

  • Openness/Sharing

  • Programming

    • Avoiding The Vendor Perl Fad Diet

      It looks like Red Hat is distributing Perl without the core library ExtUtils::MakeMaker. If you’re not familiar with the details of the Perl 5 build chain, all you need to know is this: without MakeMaker, you’re not installing anything from the CPAN.

      Ostensibly Red Hat and other OS distribution vendors split up Perl 5 into separate packages to save room on installation media. Core Perl 5 is large and includes many, many things that not everyone uses all the time… but the obvious reaction to defining a core subset of Perl 5 that a vendor can call “perl” is another of those recurring discussions which never quite goes anywhere.

    • Binpress Integrates with Github, Adds a Commercial Layer Over Open-Source


  • Health/Nutrition

    • The High Cost of Allowing Health Insurers To Continue Keeping Us In The Dark

      In his State of the Union address, President Obama said very little about health care reform, but what he did say was a reminder of how tight a grip the insurance industry has on the U.S. health care system — and will continue to have if the Affordable Care Act is not implemented as Congress intended. And it is largely up to the President to make sure that it is.

  • Censorship

  • Civil Rights

  • DRM

    • EFF petitioning to extend legal protection for jailbreaking phones and tablets

      The Electronic Frontier Foundation is petitioning to renew a US Copyright Office ruling that makes smartphone jailbreaking explicitly legal. In 2010, the Office added an exemption to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act allowing users to modify phone firmware to run software that’s not approved by the manufacturer. Since exemptions only last three years, however, the ruling must be renewed over the coming months; the EFF is also adding protection for tablets to the new exemption. The Copyright Office is currently taking public comments on the proposed rules.

    • Tales From Ubisoft DRM: Latest DRM Goes From Horrible To Slightly Less Horrible

      We all know Ubisoft. That company that seems to think that piracy is such a huge problem on the PC and that DRM is the only way to stop it — even when fans complain about how horrible the DRM is. So it is really no surprise to find out that Ubisoft is still at it. It still thinks that annoying legitimate customers is going to prevent piracy of its games. This latest story of Ubisoft DRM woe comes from Guru3d.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • Dude! Where’s My Data?

        In light of the recent TERMINATION of operation of MegaUpload by Agent Smith and his colleagues, one has to wonder what happens to all the legitimate data that was stored on those servers? Are you one of the unlucky ones who is quite possibly having your private data scoured by the IT department gnomes at BIG BROTHER Central? Disturbing thought, huh?

      • SOPA and PIPA: What Bills Like These Mean to Open Source Software
      • Public Interest Groups Speak Out About Next Week’s Secret Meeting In Hollywood To Negotiate TPP (Think International SOPA)
      • Court Finds Copyright Trolling Lawyer Evan Stone In Contempt; Orders Him To Pay Attorneys’ Fees

        Remember Evan Stone? He’s one of a “new breed” of copyright trolling lawyers, who has been trying to sue large groups of John Does based on IP addresses, claiming they infringed on a client’s work. Of course, the end game of these lawsuits is not to actually take these people to court, but to find out who they are, send them a nastygram… with an offer to “settle,” and then get as many people to settle as possible. It’s basically a way to use the court system to force lots of people to give you money. Thankfully, the courts have been cracking down on many of the more egregious players in these games. Evan Stone was one of the earlier players in this space in the US, but one who made a pretty big mistake last year while representing porn producer Mick Haig. One of his cases came before a judge who recognized how sketchy these lawsuits were, and told Stone that he couldn’t subpoena for the Does’ identities just yet, and in the meantime, he asked Public Citizen and EFF to represent the interests of the still anonymous users. Amazingly, Stone sent the subpoenas anyway. The appointed lawyers discovered this when they heard from one of the Does in question. When they confronted Stone about it, he dropped the case in the most petulant manner possible (basically whining about the judge appointing these meddlesome lawyers who kept him from getting his way).

      • ACTA

        • ACTA: Note from Marietje Schaake, Member of the European Parliament

          As a Member of the European Parliament (EP), I am concerned about the ACTA treaty in the international trade committee (INTA). Please find some information about the procedure of the ACTA treaty in the EU, especially the EP, below. You can reach me on Twitter via @marietjed66, where I will also post a message about this post.

        • ACTA ‘Is More Dangerous Than SOPA’

          While panelists talked about what they saw as the relatively secrecy under which ACTA was authored, ACTA is by no means a new initiative. Posts about the act started emerging online as early as 2008 (the initiation began with the U.S. and Japan in 2006). Canada’s Foreign Affairs and International Trade site offers a comprehensive look at the act, and even tackles the claim that ACTA was built and ratified in secret:

          “This process has not been kept from the public. On October 23, 2007, the partners involved in ACTA at that time publicly announced that they had initiated preliminary discussions on ACTA. Several countries involved in ACTA have conducted public consultations on the key proposed elements of the ACTA.”

          One thing is clear: The temperature is finally rising for ACTA, and at least one Congressman now publicly sees it as a greater threat than SOPA. You can see the entire panel in the exclusive video above.
          What do you think? Is ACTA bigger, badder and more worrisome than SOPA and PIPA, or is Issa simply trying to steer votes to his own legislation?

        • Stop ACTA in Europe

          We’ve been hearing a lot lately about SOPA and PIPA in the United States. In the meantime, ACTA has been creeping along under the radar.

        • Polish Politicians Don Guy Fawkes/Anonymous Masks To Protest ACTA Signing

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