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03.31.12

Links 31/3/2012: Wine 1.5.1, Valve for Linux

Posted in News Roundup at 11:08 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Audiocasts/Shows

  • Kernel Space

    • Qualcomm Clarifies Killing Proprietary Drivers

      Qualcomm has clarified their views today regarding the presentation of two of their Atheros developers proposing that all proprietary drivers be killed for good across all platforms and replaced with open-source drivers.

    • Btrfs In Linux 3.4 Kernel Has Big Changes

      As the latest work queued up for merging in the Linux 3.4 kernel is the Btrfs file-system pull, which Chris Mason describes as “pretty big, picking up patches that have been under development for some time.”

    • Intel DN2800MT CedarView Atom mini-ITX board power draw testing with Linux and Windows 7

      This board is certainly capable of single digit power draw, at least with certain specific setups. With Linux, running the latest kernel (at least 3.3.0) is recommended to achieve lower power consumption. MeeGo with it’s included proprietary xorg driver for CedarView Atoms shows that Linux can achieve similarly low power draw as Windows 7 with an optimized graphics driver. What remains to be seen is if the Linux kernel developers will have access to enough information about the PowerVR SGX 545 GPU core to enable them to incorporate all power saving features of this GPU into the Linux kernel DRM driver.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC)

      • Using KDE-Telepathy

        A few months ago I took a look at KDE-Telepathy from within Fedora Rawhide. I said I would check it out after upgrading to Fedora 16 and then I got busy getting ready for the arrival of my daughter. (my first kid) So I just kept using Kopete for my multi-protocol IM needs. It’s the only way I keep up with anyone on Gchat or Facebook chat because I refuse to have to keep any specific tab open on my web browser for chatting. Also, it tends to be more annoying to chat – instead of chatting in a small window that I can put off to the corner of whatever virtual desktop or activity I’m in, I’d need my entire web browser.

        But recently I came across this blog post in planet KDE that talks about what’s coming in KDE-Telepathy 0.4. I really like logging for my chats because it can be very useful to go back and look for a reference or a URL that someone mentions. So, even though there isn’t an easy way to view the logs right now, the fact that the logs are being saved was enough to allow me to over to KDE-Telepathy. I’m also really excited for the Gchat-like interface coming in 0.4. It’s mentioned in that previous link as well as here.

    • GNOME Desktop

  • Distributions

    • Linux Tycoon: Design and Manage Your Own Distribution

      There’s a new simulation game in town and this one is aimed straight for the Linux user. With Linux Tycoon, you can design, build, and manage your very own Linux distribution and compete with other distros for users. “Basically take all the fun parts of building your own Linux Distro… and take out all the work. Bam! Instant entertainment!”

    • ShilaOS Screenshots
    • Red Hat Family

    • Debian Family

      • The Debian Project joins the OSI

        The Debian Project is pleased to announce that it is joining the Open Source Initiative (“OSI”) as an affiliate. The OSI was founded in 1998 by Eric S. Raymond and Bruce Perens, with the aim of explaining, advocating, and protecting the term “open source”. Debian shares the OSI’s desire to encourage Free Software. Debian’s Social Contract commits it to producing a system which is 100% free.

      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Linux Format now available on Ubuntu’s Software Centre

            A quick update: we’ve uploaded digital versions of the latest issue and our previous issue to Ubuntu’s Software Centre, and we’ll try to do the same for future issues as well.

          • Linux Format 157 On Sale Today – Linux Wins!
          • Best & Worst Case Power Usage On Ubuntu 12.04

            Depending upon your hardware, the power consumption when running Ubuntu 12.04 LTS can either be at its best or worst. Here’s a look at the two power consumption extremes of the Precise Pangolin.

          • Unity

            I’ve been an Xfce user since 2004, this post from last year documents my UI adventures. It’s been my Desktop Environment of choice for my whole professional career as a systems administrator and I’m very set in my ways configuration-wise at work. These days I help out with the Xubuntu team on marketing, website, release notes and testing. I really love Xfce and I’ll continue to use it and contribute to Xubuntu (we had our beta2 today too, and formal release of our new branding!).

          • Full Circle #59 is here for the taking!
          • Development Update
          • Ubuntu 12.04 LTS Precise Pangolin Beta 2 Released | What’s New

            Almost there! Day by day we are getting closer to the final stable release of Ubuntu 12.04 Precise Pangolin the long term support release. Today the second beta release is available to download for the testing purposes. So, let’s check the recent changes to Ubuntu Precise Pangolin highlights.

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Ninja Blocks available for pre-order, Kickstarter orders shipping now

      The Ninja Block not only runs on open software, but it itself is open hardware, with designs available under Creative Commons. It also includes a 3D printed case. Prices start at $155 AUD ($160 USD, £100 GBP) for the basic device, with external sensors costing more. You can pre-order from the Ninja Blocks website.

    • Phones

    • Sub-notebooks/Tablets

      • Report: Google May Have Ambitious Android Tablet Plans

        According to a report in The Wall Street Journal citing “people familiar with the matter,” Google intends to go head-to-head with Apple’s iPad by selling co-branded Android tablets. Google, of course, has its hands tied with regard to its lofty goals to become a big player on the hardware scene, as it waits for its $12.5 billion acquisition of Motorola Mobility to be approved. Is Google biting off more than it can chew with its smartphone and tablet plans?

Free Software/Open Source

  • Apache Lifts Rave Mashup Engine to Top-Level Project

    The Apache Software Foundation (ASF) announced that Apache Rave, the organization’s open-source mashup platform, has graduated from the incubator to become a top-level project.

    The Apache Software Foundation (ASF) announced that Apache Rave, the organization’s open-source mashup engine, has graduated from the Apache Incubator to become a top-level project (TLP).

  • Archiving Images with an Open Source Scanning Robot
  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Firefox 11 review: Firefox has jumped the shark

        Ever wonder where the phrase “jump the shark” came from? It’s dates back to the once wildly popular TV show Happy Days. It’s widely accepted that the show lost its way, and its audience, in an episode where the lovable hero “Fonzie” jumps a shark on water skis in a pathetic attempt to keep the audience’s attention. I wonder how if Firefox jumped the shark when its parent company Mozilla decided to put Firefox on a hyper-accelerated release schedule last summer. Today, five releases later, Firefox keeps falling farther behind Google’s Chrome in popularity, it’s not very stable, and it can’t keep up with Chrome in speed.

      • Reasons Why Firefox Could Become a Top Browser Again
  • Public Services/Government

    • United States and India launch open government platform on Web

      The United States and India jointly launched a new Web portal to distribute an open source software applications to help governments manage and release their data to the public, according to an announcement on March 30.

      The “Open Government Platform” website will make available code, tools and processes to government agencies and to developers, analysts, media, academia and the public to make government data more transparent and useful, officials said in the news releases.

  • Openness/Sharing

Microsoft is Fighting Against Standards in Documents, Web

Posted in Europe, Google, Microsoft, Open XML, Standard at 7:48 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

OOXML patent issue prompt

Summary: An update on what Microsoft is doing in the UK and what it is trying to do to HTTP

IN ORDER to delay the inevitable, Microsoft has been fighting against industry standards.

Here in the UK, Microsoft corrupted the BSI (resulting in a lawsuit) and according to this new report, Microsoft is now trying to override government policies:

Microsoft has been trying to persuade the British government to break its promise to back a single document format, Computer Weekly has learned.

If Microsoft’s lobbying succeeds it will require the Cabinet Office to erase yet another crucial element of its flagship ICT Strategy, giving the software giant trump cards over the standard that set the terms of competition for its competitors.

Microsoft advised the UK Cabinet Office to appoint two official document standards, one of which should be its own Microsoft Office Open XML format. The other, Microsoft said in private lobbying, should be the one government officials have favoured and has been widely assumed to be the one sure thing in the coalition government’s technology policy: the Open Document Format.

The government’s ICT strategy made a single, open document format the primary objective of its open standards policy when it was published last year.

“The first wave of compulsory open standards will determine, through open consultation, the relevant open standard for all government documents,” it said.

Though Cabinet Office since retracted its open standards policy after lobbying from Microsoft on another issue, putting it out to public consultation, it has given no sign that its promised official document standard may also be up for grabs.

This is yet another example of Microsoft’s OOXML abuses in the public sector. On the Web too, based on reports like this one, Microsoft is trying to deviate from the standard and the summary at Slashdot says:

MrSeb writes “HTTP, the protocol that underpins almost every inch of the world wide web, is about to make the jump from version 1.1 to 2.0 after some 13 years of stagnation. For a long time it looked like Google’s experimental SPDY protocol would be the only viable option for the Internet Engineering Task Force to ratify as HTTP 2.0, but now out of left field comes a competing proposal from Microsoft. Lumbered with the truly awful name of HTTP Speed+Mobility, or HTTP S+M for short, Microsoft’s vision of HTTP 2.0 is mostly very similar to SPDY, but with additional features that cater toward apps and mobile devices. ‘The HTTP Speed+Mobility proposal starts from both the Google SPDY protocol and the work the industry has done around WebSockets,’ says Jean Paoli from the Microsoft Interoperability team. Basically, the S+M proposal looks like it’s less brute-force than SPDY: Where server push, encryption, and compression are all built into SPDY, Microsoft, citing low-powered devices and metered connections, wants them to be optional extensions. Judging by the speed at which the internet (and the internet of things) is developing, I think MS’s extensible, flexible solution has its merits.”

Microsoft is using Google’s behaviour as an excuse for its own. Nobody benefits from this. Knowing Microsoft’s history, its control of so-called ‘standards’ leads to disasters. The same cannot be said about Google.

Microsoft’s 352 Patent is a Needle in the Haystack

Posted in Patents, Tivoization at 7:23 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Linus Torvalds

Summary: Despite elimination of file system patents, the road remains long in the struggle for software freedom

THE FFII’S mailing lists started debating the news about Microsoft’s FAT patents. “You know the malaria thing,” said their president, quoting Richard Stallman as saying that “fighting patents one by one will never eliminate the danger of software patents, any more than swatting mosquitos will eliminate malaria.”

One subscriber asked: “It is the same patent that was recognized by German Court?”

“Yes,” replied another person, “it is 352 patent.”

We wrote about the ruling in Germany before.

Shane McGlaun notes that:

I’m betting this is really good news for smartphone makers. Open-source poster boy Linus Torvalds stepped up and helped stop a Microsoft patent from being used to choke licensing fees out of other companies. The patent Microsoft owns is being used to force Google Android and Linux handset users to pay licensing fees.

This is indeed, based on what the OIN's CEO told me, what Microsoft often uses to tax Linux and Android. Torvalds’ fight against the FAT patent (he thinks the patent fight is a sign of Microsoft's business dying) is definitely big news and one that other pro-Linux sites are addressing:

There is a Microsoft patent #352 which deals with “storing filenames with lots of characters in old filesystems such as the Windows FAT (File Allocation Table) filesystem that are designed to use very short filenames. Mobile phone makers use this type of technology so that their devices interoperate with other operating systems, including Windows,” reports Wired. You can read more about the patent here.

This whole development helps show that Torvalds takes a stand against patents, even though he tolerates and even “likes’ Tivoization. We ought to remember that TiVo is bad not just for this practice but also for patent aggression. As one Microsoft booster puts it:

TiVo today accused Motorola and Time Warner Cable, a Motorola Customer, of violating patents covering the company’s digital video recorder technology.

Let’s hope that Torvalds will decide to do about Tivoization what he already does about software patents. Both are detrimental to users of software, which is just about everyone in the twenty-first century.

Oracle Does Not Want to Settle

Posted in Apple, Oracle at 7:03 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“I’m willing to go thermonuclear war on this”Steve Jobs

“Steve Jobs is my best friend, and I love him dearly”Larry Ellison


Jobs image licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License (version 1.2 or any later versions); Ellison patch By Thomas Hawk

Summary: Several new articles of interest about the lawsuit over Android

THE case of Oracle versus Google proceeds without settling. As one article from ZDNet puts it:

Oracle reportedly refused the offer on the basis that it was too low. The company had previously been claiming infringement across seven different patents, but was told by Judge William Alsup to slim down the claims.

If a settlement cannot be reached, the trial is scheduled to begin on 16 April.

Oracle declined to provide comment in response to a ZDNet UK request. Google had not responded at the time of writing.

Pogson says that Oracle’s position is worse than he thought, having followed this legal battle through well-researched articles from Groklaw. The H concurs with ZDNet:

After Magistrate Judge Paul S. Grewal had ordered Oracle and Google to hold another round of talks before the start of their trial, Google has now offered settlement terms that were promptly rejected by Oracle. The company is suing Google for allegedly violating some of its Java-related patents and copyrights on the Java API in the Dalvik virtual machine that is part of Android.

Google had offered Oracle 0.5% of Android revenues until the end of 2012 – at which point Oracle’s patent RE38104 expires – and going forward 0.015% of revenues until April of 2018 (based on patent 6,061,520). This deal would have been subject to the fact that Oracle could actually prove violations of these two patents. Oracle, however, turned the offer down as too low.

The latest from Groklaw says this:

The parties have responded to the Court’s request for supplemental briefs on certain copyright issues. The Google brief addresses the issue of whether Apache Harmony, and its incorporated APIs, are subject to a field-of-use restriction imposed by Sun. (831 [PDF; Text]) Oracle’s brief addresses the applicability of Baker v. Selden. (833 [PDF; Text])

Google asserts that Sun’s field-of-use restriction only arose if you licensed the Java technology development kit (TDK) to assure compatibility between your version of Java and the standard version produced by Sun, and if you took that license and assured compatibility, you were then licensed to use Sun’s Java trademark to reference your compatible version. The Apache Foundation was never willing to license the TDK under those conditions, never did so, and refrained from calling or referencing Harmony as Java. As a consequence, Harmony has never been subject to the TDK field-of-use restrictions, and Sun never attempted to enforce those restrictions against Apache. Assuming the API implementations used by Google are those found in Apache, and given that Google does not refer to Android as Java or Java-compatible, this would appear to be a compelling argument.

Oracle, a GNU/Linux user, has oddly enough been trashing its reputation with this case. Who benefits? Apple.

Apple Tablets Don’t Work, Linux/Android Tablets Take Over

Posted in Apple, GNU/Linux, Google at 6:52 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Tablets share

Summary: A glimpse at Apple defects and market trends

APPLE’S battery problems are not a problem in Apple’s eyes. The company says its products (integration of other people’s products and hard labour) are just defective by design and this new graph shows how hypePad is gradually falling. Linux is taking over this market segment. No wonder Apple resorts just to whining and suing, perhaps even by proxy (e.g. Ellison-led Oracle). It is worth noting that IDC ignores present reality and pretends we need to wait until 2016. The industry of disinofmation is very hard at work.

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