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02.29.12

IRC Proceedings: February 28th, 2012

Posted in IRC Logs at 4:25 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

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IRC Proceedings: February 27th, 2012

Posted in IRC Logs at 4:17 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

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02.28.12

Links 28/2/2012: Huawei joins Tizen, FSFE for Freeing Android

Posted in News Roundup at 5:08 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

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Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • VA looks for Microsoft alternatives

    With an eye on reducing ongoing software costs, the Veterans Affairs Department said it is exploring alternatives to Microsoft Corp.’s longstanding Office Suite productivity software that has dominated federal desktops for two decades.

    The VA currently owns and operates the 2003, 2007 and 2010 versions of Office, which include Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, and which are being used by more than 300,000 VA employees. Use of the integrated software suite has provided for interoperability between the VA’s many units.

  • The Apache Software Foundation Announces Apache ACE as a Top-Level Project
  • WURFL: a cautionary tale

    At the beginning of this year a DMCA takedown notice was used against the open source project OpenDDR. Glyn Moody looks at the background to this story and the issues that it raises.

  • Umit, Backed By Google, Prepares Open Monitor Tool

    Umit, an open source organization that’s loosely affiliated with Google, is preparing Open Monitor, a free and open source tool that will allow customers and service providers to monitor Internet connectivity conditions from any part of the world. If Open Minitor works as advertised, I wonder if there are potential integration opportunities with traditional RMM (remote monitoring and management) software that many MSPs already leverage.

  • Qualifying the open-source movement

    Open source began in the late 1970s and early 80s as a way of preserving the sharing ethos upon which early computer science was built. Since then it has grown well beyond its original scope, and now underscores the creation of many creative works.

    Patent law is also directed towards a similar end, but encourages individuals rather than groups. So does the success of open source suggest patent law, as we know it, is set to change?

  • Techtalk: NBN plan prices and open source software
  • Spotlight on Open Source Router Platforms – Thoughts?

    We talk about networking quite a bit on AnandTech, covering everything from the upper end of home routers to WiFi stacks in smartphones and extending all the way up to 10GbE in the enterprise. What we haven’t really talked much about is some of the open source networking software that’s out there to improve and manage your network.

  • Events

    • Open source ideals at HIMSS12

      A not-so-intimate group of healthcare IT professionals (a record-setting 37,032 attendees) gathered February 20 at the 2012 HIMSS conference in Las Vegas. They kicked off a week of talks, discussions and collaboration sessions addressing ways to tackle the challenges in the healthcare IT industry.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Add-ons behaving badly: the challenges of policing the Firefox ecosystem

        Firefox’s powerful add-on system is arguably one of the browser’s best features, but it is also occasionally a source of problems for Mozilla. Policing the add-on ecosystem to ensure that third-party code doesn’t degrade the quality of the Firefox user experience is a major challenge. It’s a problem across the ecosystem of web browsers, and some vendors, like Microsoft with its upcoming Metro version of Internet Explorer, don’t allow third-party plugins at all. In contrast, Firefox users have a sea of add-ons at their disposal, but there is danger lurking below the surface.

      • Mozilla Dropped Android From Boot-to-Gecko Project

        This week at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Mozilla announced that Telefonica and Deutsche Telekom plan to build phones based on B2G, a platform that will run all apps on the phone, including basic apps like a phone dialer and SMS client, from the Web. Telefonica said it expects to release a low-cost phone running the technology this year; DT didn’t disclose additional details.

        When Mozilla first announced the B2G project last July, it said it expected to use parts of Android to compile the platform. But it ultimately didn’t have to, said Jonathan Nightingale, senior director of Firefox engineering for Mozilla.

      • Mozilla bets big on open Web devices
      • Mozilla Putting all the Pieces Together to be a Smartphone Contender

        When we think of HTML5 as a mobile platform, devices are not what come to mind. The mobile Web, almost by definition, is an amorphous set of technologies, standards, designs, contents and ideas. The mobile Web is more of a Wild West these days then its desktop counterpart. Mozilla is attempting to give the mobile Web shape and definition and today announced a partnership that will bring the first HTML5-based mobile operating system to a device in 2012.

  • SaaS

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • The significance of a Foundation

      t was quite a month for the Document Foundation; the press rightly picked our three main announcements: the 3.5 release, the foundation’s incorporation and our partnership with Intel. I would like to go back to the foundation matter and show why the two other announcements are made more significant by the fact that we are now officially established and incorporated as a legal entity.

  • Project Releases

  • Public Services/Government

    • What skills will the new government CIO leadership team need?

      But Mark Taylor, CEO of small open source company Sirius, who was appointed by the Cabinet Office to lead its New Suppliers to Government working group says the next CIO leadership must do more to open up the marketplace and work with other areas of government such as the procurement team to bring about change.

      “Some two years into the government’s term and so far not an enormous amount of progress has been made in terms of improving the number of SMEs doing business with government,” he says.

      The government still has little concept of how to deal with SMEs, he says. His company was recently contacted by a public sector organisation requiring a Linux refresh, which asked it to complete a 200-plus page booklet – a prohibitive procedure for time and cash poor small businesses.

  • Licensing

  • Openness/Sharing

    • Open Data

      • A single European open data licence?

        You’ll know that open data is a cause close to my heart, and I welcome your initiative. You’ll be aware that back in December I put forward an ambitious legal proposal to unlock the goldmine and open up Europe’s public sector, through a system that would be cheaper, easier to use and wider in scope than current rules. In legal terms, these take the form of amendments to the Public Sector Information (PSI) Directive: that means they are proposed by the Commission, but then must be agreed by both the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers before becoming law – and indeed those bodies have already held initial discussions on this topic.

    • Open Access/Content

      • Textbooks can be free

        The open-source method of learning would allow instructors to create and share information for all students to utilize. This type of education system is open to the whole world, which would share information on an immense level. While open-source books are the ideal solution to the high costs of textbooks, eTexts are a step in the right direction. In the meantime, students should use eTexts and push for an open-source learning model instead of pricey textbooks.

  • Programming

    • Google Summer of Code 2012: mentoring application deadline announced

      Open source projects and organisations have until Friday, 9 March at 23:00 GMT to apply to mentor students as part of this year’s Google Summer of Code (GSoC) event. Projects interested in applying can register (sign in required) for the eighth annual event now; application requirements can be found on the FAQ page and a Mentor Manual is provided.

Leftovers

  • Finance

    • Why Greece Matters to the Occupy movement, and the Occupy SF Greece Rally
    • The WikiLeaks GiFiles: Stratfor Plotted with Goldman Sachs to Set Up Investment Fund

      Stratfor, the intelligence firm at the centre of the latest WikiLeaks/Anonymous tie-up, attempted to set up an investment fund with a Goldman Sachs director to trade on the intelligence collected by Stratfor.

      In 2009, the then managing director of the investment bank, Shea Morenz, planned to utilise the intelligence from the insider network “to start up a captive strategic investment fund”.

      “What StratCap will do is use our Stratfor’s intelligence and analysis to trade in a range of geopolitical instruments, particularly government bonds, currencies and the like,” reads an email by Stratfor’s CEO George Friedman.

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

    • Walker Using Out-of-State Tea Party Group to Indirectly Challenge Recall

      After news outlets reported Monday that Governor Scott Walker would not be challenging recall signatures, the governor quietly submitted a request asking that the state elections board accept challenges from an effort involving a Texas organization with a history of voter suppression.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • An Open Letter to Chris Dodd

        Mr. Dodd, I hear you’ve just given a speech in which you said “Hollywood is pro-technology and pro-Internet.” It seems you’re looking for interlocutors among the coalition that defeated SOPA and PIPA, and are looking for some politically feasible compromise that will do something against the problem of Internet piracy as you believe you understand it.

        There isn’t any one person who can answer your concerns. But I can speak for one element of the coalition that blocked those two bills; the technologists. I’m not talking about Google or the technology companies, mind you – I’m talking about the actual engineers who built the Internet and keep it running, who write the software you rely on every day of your life in the 21st century.

      • ACTA

Links 28/2/2012: More Than 850,000 Androids Activated Daily

Posted in News Roundup at 4:17 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • The Linux Setup – Terrence O’Brien, Engadget

    I suspected Terrence O’Brien was a Linux user when I started noticing he seemed to be behind just about all of Engadget’s Linux coverage. It turns out I was right about Terrence. Not only that, he gets a lot of work done through his Ubuntu setup. Also, his dream setup is pretty great. I think I’m stealing it for my dream.

  • Yep, There’s A Linux Appliance For That

    Purpose-built Linux distros are appearing faster than zombies in a first-person shooter. Need a drop-in replacement for Microsoft’s Primary Domain Controller? Try the Domain Controller Appliance. Working with the public schools? Now you can install Moodle for e-learning and course management in minutes thanks to the Moodle Appliance. Customer wants a Wiki? Download the TWiki enterprise wiki platform and you’re good to go.

    These systems exist today because someone has taken the trouble to do the work of assembling, installing and integrating the application stack, testing and debugging them and bundling them as ready-to-deploy VMs for VMware, Xen and other hypervisors, as ISOs for bare metal, or directly to Amazon’s Elastic Compute Cloud for access through a browser.

  • Desktop

  • Kernel Space

    • Intel Sandy Bridge RC6 Is Good To Go

      It looks like the debacle concerning RC6 power-savings support for Intel Sandy Bridge hardware is finally behind us. Intel thinks everything is worked out and ready to be enabled upstream (again) with the next Linux 3.4 kernel cycle and Canonical has enabled RC6 by default in Ubuntu 12.04 LTS. Here are some tests showing the performance benefits and power-saving abilities of using the RC6 hardware feature on Sandy Bridge processors.

    • New Wake Locks Patches Published For Linux Kernel

      While this weekend saw the release of the Linux 3.3-rc5 kernel, which Linus Torvalds self-admitted was pretty boring, also hitting the mailing list this past week were new kernel patches to implement auto-sleep and “wake locks” support.

    • Is Linus’ Law real?

      Now I’m about as big of a fan of open source as they come, but I’m not sure if this is the proper course for cause and effect. I’ve done a lot of thinking about Linus’ Law in the past few months as part of the Red Hat Product Security Team. What the Coverity report shows is that open source has fewer of the kind of defects Coverity can detect. That’s really it.

    • The Death of Ubuntu One Notes on the Web
  • Applications

  • Distributions

    • A look at SalineOS 1.6

      After a week with SalineOS I would say my experience thus far has been fairly good. The project’s documentation is helpful, the installer is quite novice friendly and I encountered no problems getting set up. The distribution is light on resources, but comes with a full range of software (and Debian’s large repositories). Being based on Debian Squeeze, some of the available software is a bit old (Iceweasel is still on version 3.5), but I didn’t find I was missing functionality due to the age of the software. SalineOS provides a quick and easy way to get up and running with a Debian-based system. I like that we’re given the choice of staying with Debian’s free software policy or installing non-free extras. There were aspects of the system I’d like to see changed or fixed. For instance, having my keyboard layout change to a French setting was an unwelcome bug. The update button in the system tray works well enough, but given SalineOS’ friendly approach to most things, I think it makes sense to put a graphical update tool in its place. Also a matter of taste, I think it would make sense to name items in the application menu by their purpose rather than by the application’s name. “LibreOffice” is easy enough to figure out, but new users might be curious as to what “Iceweasel”, “Icedove” and “Catfish” do, especially since Iceweasel and Icedove are names not typically seen outside of the Debian community.

      Admittedly, these are pretty minor complaints and I think if these are the worst issues I ran into when using SalineOS that shows just how well the small project is doing. It’s a light, fast distro with a good collection of software and the project makes it easy to get a Debian-based desktop installed quickly. If you don’t mind using venerable packaging tools like Synaptic and apt-get then I recommend giving SalineOS a try.

    • Red Hat Family

    • Debian Family

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • Book review: Open Advice

    The recently released Open Advice has much to offer those who are new to free software and its communities, but there is plenty of interest to veterans as well. It is a collection of essays from an auspicious number of contributors (42) to free and open source software (FOSS) that centers around the idea of “what we wish we had known when we started”. As might be guessed, the book encompasses more than that—it ranges all over the FOSS map—including recollections, war stories, philosophical musings, academic research, and good advice.

  • Resin Open Source Web Server Powers 4.7 Million Sites

    “Resin’s incredible growth is driven by fast performance speed, built-in server monitoring capabilities and extreme reliability,” said Caucho Technology.

    Founded in 1998, Caucho Technology released version 1.0 of resin in 1999. Companies including the Toronto Stock Exchange, Salesforce and CNET have deployed on Resin, the Java Application Server designed for high-traffic sites that require speed and scalability.

  • Open source empowers me

    Open source made new things possible for more people. One commenter said, “Open soruce technologies give me freedom…I was the prisoner of proprietary technologies for many years…open source gives me [options] a free choice.”

    Another commenter pointed out that open source empowers them to help others. They said, “I have also used open source to provide computer systems to people that would otherwise not be able to afford a new one with a proprietary system…”

  • Web Browsers

  • Openness/Sharing

    • Open Data

      • Open Data Handbook version 1.0

        The Handbook discusses the ‘why, what and how’ of open data – why to go open, what open is, how to make data open and how to do useful things with it.

        Read on to find out more about what’s in the Handbook, who it’s for, and how you can get involved – for example by adding to and improving the Handbook, or by translating it into more languages.

  • Programming

Leftovers

  • Security

    • ASLR to be mandatory for binary Firefox extensions

      A patch that was recently introduced to the Firefox repository is designed to make the browser more secure by forcing certain binary extensions to use ASLR (Address Space Layout Randomisation) under Windows. The Mozilla developers say that the change, which will prevent XPCOM (Cross Platform Component Object Module) component DLLs without ASLR from loading, should be included in Firefox 13 “if no unexpected problems arise”

  • Censorship

    • Key Techdirt SOPA/PIPA Post Censored By Bogus DMCA Takedown Notice

      If you’re scratching your head, you’re not the only one. There’s clearly nothing infringing in our post. I just wasted too much time going through all 300+ comments on that post and I don’t see anything that includes any porn or even links to any porn as far as I can tell. Instead, it seems that Armovore and Paper Street Cash sent a clearly bogus DMCA takedown notice, which served the purpose of censoring our key blog post in the SOPA fight. And they did it on January 20th… the day that SOPA was officially shelved.

      There are some other oddities in that list as well, including TorrentFreak’s article about how ICE took down 84,000 websites illegally by seizing the mooo.com domain and saying that all 84,000 of those sites were involved in child porn.

      In other words, two separate articles that have been key to the discussion concerning abuses of copyright law… both taken out of Google’s index due to a bogus DMCA takedown. Hmm….

      While many of the other links do appear to go to sites that may offer up infringing content, just looking at the URLs alone make you wonder what most of them have to do with Paper Street Cash or TeamSkeet. Some of the links talk about top Christian albums. One is to some Dave Matthews songs. Another is to Wiz Khalifa music. There’s another one that appears to be a link to downloads of the TV show Prison Break. Obviously those things may be infringing, but the notice itself only talks about TeamSkeet, and if Armovore doesn’t represent those other artists, it may have broken the law in pretending to.

  • Copyrights

    • ACTA

      • The ACTA Guide, Part One: The Talks To-Date

        The 7th round of Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement negotiations begins tomorrow in Guadalajara, Mexico. The negotiation round will be the longest to-date, with three and a half days planned to address civil enforcement, border measures, the Internet provisions, and (one hour for) transparency. Over the next five days, I plan to post a five-part ACTA Guide that will include sourcing for much of the discussion on ACTA, links to all the leaked documents, information on the transparency issue, and a look at who has been speaking out.

        I start today with a lengthy backgrounder for those new to ACTA or looking to catch up on recent developments. There are several ways to get up-to-speed. The recent Google-sponsored debate was very informative, particularly on the transparency issue. There has been some helpful mainstream media coverage from the Washington Post (Copyright Overreach Takes a World Tour, Q & A on ACTA) and the Irish Times (Secret agreement may have poisonous effect on the net). The Command Line ran a podcast on the topic last week and I’ve posted interviews on ACTA I did with Search Engine and CBC’s As It Happens. Last last year I also created a timeline that tracks the evolution of ACTA and I gave a talk on ACTA last November that highlights the major developments in about 20 minutes (embedded below).

      • ACTA Week in the EU Parliament. MEPs Must Act!

        Despite an attempt from the Commission to buy time and defuse the political debate, important meetings will take place this week in the European Parliament to decide on the future of ACTA. Citizens must call on their representatives to work without delay towards the rejection of this illegitimate agreement.

02.27.12

IRC Proceedings: February 26th, 2012

Posted in IRC Logs at 10:35 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

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Apple’s Lawsuits Against Free Software Show Hypocrisy

Posted in Apple, GNU/Linux, Google, Patents at 10:25 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“We’ve always been shameless about stealing great ideas.”

Steve Jobs

Summary: More evidence that Apple’s work on the hypePhone (iPhone) is a case of ripoff, by Apple’s own double standards

IN THE EYES of the Free software movement, sharing enhances the pace of innovation and contributes to cultural wealth. Ideas are everywhere and we should stop being overly possessive when it comes to the infinitely shareable. It is therefore natural to discourage artificial limitations and this new article speaks about two of them: patents and copyrights (even though Open Source does rely on copyrights):

The concept of protecting ideas and innovation by legal means dates back to antiquity. But many of our existing laws are under strain, their suitability and ultimate purpose called into question.

Here, Anton Hughes discusses collaboration and considers the role of the open-source movement in a world still governed largely by copyright and patents.

Open source began in the late 1970s and early 80s as a way of preserving the sharing ethos upon which early computer science was built. Since then it has grown well beyond its original scope, and now underscores the creation of many creative works.

It is an inaccurate statement. Open Source began much later and even the GNU project is under 30 years old. Despite the article’s inaccuracies, it does get across the main message about sharing. “Everything is a Remix” recently made the case against patents and it mocked Apple for its lawsuits against Android. “If Android is a ‘stolen product,’ then so was the iPhone,” says this new headline. To quote:

In a sense, the answer is almost certainly “yes.” It’s hard to imagine how Google could have prevented some iPhone innovations from seeping into Android design. The iPhone was the talk of Silicon Valley in 2007 and 2008. It would have been practically impossible for the Android development team to avoid learning about iPhone features. Once Google’s engineers were exposed to the concepts Apple pioneered, they couldn’t help but be influenced by them.

But if Google is guilty of using Apple’s ideas, Apple is equally guilty. Many researchers and companies invented technologies that predate the iPhone but made it possible. As Microsoft’s Buxton points out, Wayne Westerman (the multitouch researcher who sold his startup and became an Apple employee in 2005) cited the work of numerous early multitouch researchers in his 1999 PhD thesis. The iPhone incorporated key innovations pioneered by Bob Boie, IBM, Jazzmutant, Jeff Han, and others.

Apple’s products are themselves claimed to be patent infringing, but the reality of patents as a whole does not bother Apple. The company is built upon fantasy and delusion.

Europe’s Unitary Patent Siege

Posted in Europe, Patents at 10:16 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Sunrise

Summary: Patent news from Europe, courtesy of FFII for the most part

THE European authorities have turned rather FOSS-hostile as we showed over the past year or two. The people at the top put unhelpful policies in place (compared to their predecessors) and many in FOSS circles are in denial over it. This new workshop is no exception. “In particular,” says the page, “the workshop will help to identify advantages and disadvantages of patent pools in relation to ICT standardisation and to subsequently identify how patent pools could best function in order to avoid antitrust concerns.”

If they altogether ban software patents, then workshops like this might become obsolete. But patent lawyers in Europe keep working hard to spread patents in Europe. Here is the latest they have to say about the Unitary Patent:

Wednesday afternoons and unitary patent reform are beginning to be an all too common event for the patent lawyers amongst us, and especially for Baroness Wilcox (Minister of State, Department of Business, Innovation & Skills). Yesterday afternoon she was before the House of Lords EU Sub-Committee E on Justice and Institutions on the on-going saga of the proposed unitary patent reform. The latest of the hearings followed the earlier and somewhat fraught session before the House of Commons European Scrutiny Committee a couple of weeks ago (see previous reports here and here), which itself followed the expert witness session held in January (see reports here and here).

As the FFII’s president puts it, the “Patent mafia is composing the Committee for the Rules of Procedure for the Unitary patent court” — something which is shown here. More promotion of more patents in Europe:

All of this naturally means that, while politicians negotiate on the substantive provisions and court locations, there is a degree of waiting around for those us inhabiting the less rarefied air of European patent politics. Readers may think they can now sink comfortably into their office chairs, switch off and await further news. “Maybe”, says the AmeriKat, “But not for long …”

Separately, says the FFII’s president in a tweet, “Mrs Kroes voted for FRAND and EU patent court, that’s not really defending software freedom” (we showed a lot of evidence of this).

The FFII also reminds us of the blackmail in Spain when it mentions the pressure on Italy (which along with Spain opposes the Unitary Patent). “Yes,” the FFII says, the Unitary Patent “is a real issue. Also the attempts of Italy to blackmail the EU to accept Milan lays no good foundation for a Court.” Here are some questions on the subject and a mention from Spiegal regarding the “European RAND attack on the web innovation model”. The European Union needs to ban RAND, FRAND, and software patents in general, including euphemisms related to these; otherwise it plays into the hands of multinationals, not Europeans.

Microsoft Refuses to Explain Avoidance of Tax After Putting Staff in Government

Posted in Finance, Microsoft at 10:04 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Wineberry

Summary: The United States is still being paid almost nothing by Microsoft, which used government connections to avoid tax

THE FOLLOWING new post brings back memories of an old campaign which we have written about for years — one that a former Microsoft employee ran in an attempt to do justice and force Microsoft to pay billions. Here is the latest:

Following up on our post asking Microsoft to disclose its Washington State royalty tax payments from 1998 – 2010 to back up its claims of innocence, I’ve written an open letter to Senior Vice President and General Counsel Brad Smith. If Microsoft thinks this blog is spreading misinformation about its Nevada tax dodging, it just needs to disclose the amount of royalty tax it paid in the years 1998 – 2010.

Here is Microsoft’s non-response: “In response to our letter to Brad Smith, Microsoft PR sent me an email in which they refuse to release the royalty tax data that could vouge for their contention that they did not use their Nevada office to avoid paying more than $1.33 billion in taxes, interest and penalties between 1998 – 2010.”

Finally, here is a reminder of political corruption (crony capitalism) that enabled it:

As the Washington State legislature worked to close a record $2.8 billion deficit in April 2010, chair of the finance committee Rep. Ross Hunter slipped language into the final budget bill that granted amnesty to Microsoft on more than $1.25 billion in unpaid taxes, interest and penalties, savings the company had amassed by recording its licensing revenue in a small Nevada office since 1997. Hunter’s bill also changed how the state’s royalty tax is calculated, saving the company $91 million more annually. Prior to his public service in the legislature, Hunter spent 17 years as a Microsoft executive.

To balance the budget (and pay for Microsoft’s tax breaks), the Legislature cut $120 million from K-12 education and $73 million from university budgets. After signing the bill, Governor Gregoire praised Microsoft for contributing $25 million over five years to a scholarship program that largely funds graduates in technical programs that the company can hire.

This is an example of “legalised crime” — something that would be a crime had the criminal not held positions in government.

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