Links 16/6/2012: Deploying Chromebooks, New Mandriva Foundation

Posted in News Roundup at 11:18 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



  • Desktop

    • Google Apps Consultant Cloud Sherpas Deploys Chromebooks

      Cloud Sherpas, a Google Apps and Salesforce.com consulting firm, has deployed roughly 50 Google Chromebooks internally and is rolling out the cloud-centric notebooks to some customers. Is this the start of a larger trend for Google’s cloud desktop and mobile strategy? Here’s the update and speculation from The VAR Guy.

    • Newegg: No, We’ll Totally Take Returns After You Install Linux

      Yesterday, we shared the story of Norma, whose new Thinkpad notebook computer from Newegg had a serious display glitch after only a few days of use. She sent the defective computer back, only to be told that they wouldn’t exchange it because she had installed Linux. “This voids Newegg warranty,” the RMA department told her in an e-mail. “Unit cannot be accepted or resold as received.” We reached out to Newegg for clarification, and they told us that this is not their policy, and they do accept computers back after the operating system has been upgraded or changed. Yay?

  • Server

    • Microsoft’s Azure platform falls short for Linux

      Recently it was announced that Microsoft is going to support Linux on its Azure cloud platform. At first glance, this sounds great, right? Microsoft supporting Linux with its own software. We’ve heard in recent times of Microsoft providing code to the Linux kernel, and this is what they have been preparing for: to support Linux on Azure. It hasn’t really been for the benefit of the open source community as some would like to think. In fact, there was some controversy regarding the code that Microsoft submitted to the Linux kernel, in that they were forced to do so after being caught using drivers that fall under the GPL (GNU General Public License). The code submitted for the kernel will ensure that Linux support is seamless on Azure.

      But, this offering by Microsoft for Linux support on Azure comes up short, as one of the largest players in the corporate GNU/Linux world has its distributions scratched from Microsoft’s list, and that is of Red Hat. If you look at the list of distributions that Microsoft is supporting, it includes…

  • Kernel Space

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments

    • Linus, GNOME 3, and Much Ado About Desktop Interfaces

      “The world of IT is a better place when developers respect users instead of trying to enslave them,” said blogger Robert Pogson. “We need new user interfaces for new gadgets with tiny screens and no keyboards and no mice, but there’s absolutely no reason to radically change a user interface that has been used satisfactorily for decades.”

    • GNOME Desktop

      • Is Gnome targeting to OEMs with Initial Setup?

        We are living in 2012 but so far Linux Desktop is nowhere. Even the “too big to fail” Canonical struggles to make partnerships with manufacturers and distribute Ubuntu in a broader market. Maybe Gnome could show the way?

  • Distributions

    • PCLinuxOS/Mageia/Mandrake/Mandriva Family

      • New Mandriva Foundation Nears Milestone

        Mandriva is in the process of building a foundation and creating a community to help develop future versions of their desktop Linux distribution. Today, Charles Schulz posted on the Mandriva blog to announce the first “milestone” of their journey.

    • Red Hat Family

      • Red Hat to Present Middleware Virtual Event and Press Conference on June 20
      • Technology Giants Back Red Hat Cloud Strategy

        Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) this week ushered in the era of the cloud OS. But IBM, HP, Intel and other technology giants are set to rally around Red Hat Enterprise Linux (particularly for cloud computing) within the next two weeks. The VAR Guy isn’t picking favorites, but…

        … here’s the blow by blow.

        During TechEd North America 2012 this week in Orlando, Fla., Microsoft Server and Tools Business President Satya Nadella welcomed 10,000 attendees “to the era of the cloud operating system (OS) for infrastructure.” No doubt, Microsoft wants Windows Azure and Windows Server 2012 to emerge as preferred cloud OSes. Plus Microsoft recently said Windows Azure will support Linux — most notably CentOS, Ubuntu and SUSE, with RHEL noticeably missing from the list.

      • Red Hat First Quarter Earnings Sneak Peek

        Past Earnings Performance: The company met estimates last quarter after beating the forecasts in the prior two. In the fourth quarter of the last fiscal year, the company reported net income of 20 cents per share versus a mean estimate of profit of 20 cents per share. In the third quarter of the last fiscal year, the company beat estimates by 2 cents.

    • Debian Family

      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Unity alternatives – the many desktops of Ubuntu

            Ubuntu’s Unity is far from the only desktop environment available for the distribution. For users who want to stay with Ubuntu 12.04 LTS but prefer another desktop environment, there are plenty of alternatives to try.Ubuntu’s Unity is far from the only desktop environment available for the distribution. For users who want to stay with Ubuntu 12.04 LTS but prefer another desktop environment, there are plenty of alternatives to try.

          • Canonical announces Ubuntu Apps Showdown

            Linux developers will soon have a chance to compete for prizes of laptops and smartphones, thanks to Canonical’s announcement today of the Ubuntu App Showdown contest.

          • Canonical Organises Contest For Ubuntu Apps

            Canonical has finally taken the much needed step in order to create developer interest in the platform. The sponsor of Ubuntu, one of the popular operating systems, is organising a contest titled ‘the Ubuntu App Showdown’ to create an app from scratch for Ubuntu in three weeks, and delivered in the Ubuntu Software Centre.

          • Flavours and Variants

            • Linux Mint Heads Into the Hardware Biz

              The folks behind the ever more popular Linux distribution Linux Mint have announced that they’ve joined forces with an Israeli computer hardware provider, CompuLab, to sell Mint-branded computers with the operating system pre-installed and completely ready to go. “We’re passionate about what we do and for our very first Mint device, we wanted something unique, something special and extraordinary,” says the Linux Mint Blog. “The mintBox is Mint in a box. It’s tiny, it’s silent, it’s extremely versatile and it comes packed with connectivity.” Indeed, it does come with impressive connectivity options, and the two versions that are available (seen here) even look like Wi-Fi routers.

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Phones

      • Enyo 2.0 beta 5 brings panels, bootplates, and more

        While we’re still waiting for Enyo 2.0 to come with the rest of the Open webOS kit, we’ll take an update to the beta framework when we can get one. In fact, this week we’re getting one with a bump to Beta 5. Included in this release are sliding and stacking panels, a ‘Bootplate’ starter template, an improved API viewer, and an expanded and reorganized developer documentation set.

      • Android

        • Orange San Diego review: Intel does phones, finally
        • First Batch of Via Technologies’ $49 Android PC Sells Out – Company.

          Via Technologies, a designer of low-power and low-cost computing platforms, started to accept pre-orders onto its Android PC (APC) platform for $49 on Sunday and managed to sell the first batch of mainboards within several hours. Apparently, the demand towards the Google Android 2.3-based APC 8750 was somewhat higher than the company expected and many users complained about that fact.

        • Google TV Gets New Legs with LG ARM TV

          Google’s struggling Google TV platform took a big step last October with the Android 3.0-powered version 2.0. It got another push with a June 6 “2.1.1″ update that enables the viewing of movies rented through Google Play and extends YouTube movie viewing options.

        • How to Get iOS 6’s Best New Features in Android Right Now

          How to Get iOS 6’s Best New Features in Android Right Now iOS 6 is a big update for Apple fans, featuring several exciting updates—but those of us with Android devices don’t have to sit back and wait Google to deliver those same features to us; we can get the best of them right now. Here’s how.

Free Software/Open Source

  • Open Cloud Roundup: Open Source Dominates Private, Hybrid Enterprise Clouds

    The open source cloud made waves in the news this week with the results of a RightScale study that claims widespread adoption among enterprises of open source cloud computing services. VMWare and IBM showed their agreement by announcing plans to expand their open source cloud investments. These positive stories offset the shocker that NASA has abandoned OpenStack entirely for Amazon Web Services.

  • Project Releases

  • Public Services/Government

    • DreamWorks Using Red Hat Servers

      GNU/Linux may not have any pro-grade film editing software for the consumer market, but the film studios use Linux in every aspect of film production. Now Red Hat has added another feater in its hat as DreamWorks Animation SKG is using Red Hat Enterprise MRG as the grid infrastructure of DreamWorks Animation’s 30,000+ core render farm. The mega studio is also using Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization as the platform to run mission-critical services on Red Hat Enterprise Linux.

    • Helsinki council presses IT department to continue using open source

      Helsinki’s city council wants its IT department to continue to use open source software alternatives to help rid the city of IT vendor lock-in. Yesterday evening fifty of the city’s 85 council members supported a resolution instructing the IT department to keep supporting an open source office suite.

    • Polish State Fire Services excludes open source in procurement

      Poland’s State Fire Services is excluding providers of open source solutions from responding to a call for tender. Asked to comment on the explicit ban, the Fire Services explains that the organisation is locked-in by proprietary office tools, ‘which likely make it impossible for open source to offer full compatibility’.


  • Online Retailer Kogen Taxing IE7 Use

    In a blog post, company founder Ruslan Kogan said it was too hard and costly to make his website properly display on IE7, and suggested a list of newer browsers, which should be used instead. In an interesting move he chose to suggest Firefox, Opera, Safari and Chrome, but not the later Microsoft browser.

  • Australian retailer charges customers IE 7 “Tax”

    If you’re shopping for electronics online at Australian retailer Kogan, an Oz equivalent of the U.S.’ Best Buy with the horribly out of date Microsoft Internet Explorer (IE) 7 browser brace yourself for a nasty surprise. Kogan will charge you an extra 6.8% sales “tax” on your purchase.

  • Internet Archive Sues to Stop New Washington State Law

    The Internet Archive has filed a federal challenge to a new Washington State law that intends to make online service providers criminally liable for providing access to third parties’ offensive materials.

    The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is representing the Internet Archive in order to block the enforcement of SB 6251, a law aimed at combatting advertisements for underage sex workers but with vague and overbroad language that is squarely in conflict with federal law. Procedurally, the Internet Archive lawsuit was filed as an intervention into a similar suit, Backpage.com v. McKenna, filed last week.

  • Hardware

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

    • Coal Wins Again: Global Energy Use by Source, from the 2012 BP Statistical Review

      The 2012 BP Statistical Review, covering 2011 world energy data, has been released. With global oil production roughly flat for a seventh year, coal once again gained global share of total primary energy consumption. World consumption of coal rose 5.4% in 2011, as oil consumption eked out a very small, 0.7% gain. As for other sources, nuclear use fell notably by -4.3%. And world natural gas consumption was restrained to a 2.2% advance, owing to a large retreat in European demand. Finally, while starting from a small position, both hydropower and renewables (biofuels, solar, wind) once again made very strong gains.

  • Censorship

    • Newspaper Puts Reporter On Leave For Posting Link To Article About His Employer On Facebook

      We’ve mocked various newspapers for their ridiculous “social media policies” in the past — which often try to limit how reporters engage with the community. The whole notion seems backwards. But now one newspaper — the Colorado Gazette — has taken things to ridiculous extremes: putting reporter Barrett Tryon on administrative leave for posting a link to a news story about his own newspaper on Facebook. Apparently, the Colorado Gazette’s parent company, Freedom Communications, was purchased by a company called 2100 Trust. Soon after that happened, the LA Times reported that the company expected to spin off some of the smaller newspapers, including the Gazette. Given all of this, Tryon posted the following to his Facebook page:

  • Privacy

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • If You’ve Ever Sold a Used iPod, You May Have Violated Copyright Law

        The Supreme Court will soon hear a case that will affect whether you can sell your iPad — or almost anything else — without needing to get permission from a dozen “copyright holders.” Here are some things you might have recently done that will be rendered illegal if the Supreme Court upholds the lower court decision:

        1. Sold your first-generation iPad on Craigslist to a willing buyer, even if you bought the iPad lawfully at the Apple Store.

      • ACTA

        • ACTA: Last Crucial Step Before Final Vote

          On June 21st, the “International Trade” (INTA) committee of the EU Parliament will vote on whether to adopt its report on ACTA, which will mark the last procedural step before the Parliament’s final vote. Despite the fact that four committees recently voted against ACTA, heavy pressure from the pro-ACTA lobbies and the EU Commission might weigh on the INTA report. Citizens must mobilize to ensure that INTA Members recommend ACTA’s rejection, as this result will be decisive for the upcoming final vote of the EU Parliament, scheduled for the beginning of July (vote in plenary 3, 4 or 5th of July1).

Groklaw Article Advocates Not Getting Rid of All Software Patents

Posted in Patents at 11:03 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Groklaw and SCO ship
Image credited to Groklaw.net

Summary: Guest post in Groklaw takes a soft stance on the subject of software patents

LAST year and the year before that there was an argument in the comments about whether or not Groklaw — now led by Professor Webbink — is actually against software patents. Based on everything Pamela Jones has written, it seems unequivocal, but in some circumstances it seems like the site is compromising the strong stance, which the FSF for example is advocating.

In a guest post from Professor Risch (titled “Curing the Problem of Software Patents”) he starts by earning credibility by saying: “I would like to thank the Groklaw community for having me, and in advance for your comments. I’ve read posts here on and off over the years, and the recent discussion about Prometheus and Oracle v. Google piqued my interest. Before I get into the meat of things, note that I have a lot of experience in software, as I discuss below. So, if you disagree with me (as I suspect many of you will), please don’t assume that it is because I don’t understand software – I do.”

“I think that there are a lot of bad software patents out there, and we should get rid of those.”
      –Professor Michael Risch
But then he says: “Many people who have read my work probably assume that I am pro-software patents. I’m not really; I am just not anti-software patent. I’m agnostic. I think that there are a lot of bad software patents out there, and we should get rid of those. However, I don’t think that the solution is to get rid of all software patents. I think that such patents can be inventive and productive like any other, and I also think that defining when a patent becomes software (as opposed to hardware) is too difficult an inquiry.”

In order to be effective we need to be consistent in our opposition to software patents. Techrights has been only critical of the stance of the OIN, Peer to Patent, and few other ‘FOSS-flavoured’ groups that distract from a real solution, which is abolition.

As Hardware Prices Fall, Windows Becomes Far Too Expensive to Compete With Linux

Posted in GNU/Linux, Windows at 10:55 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

All about the money

Summary: The cost of Vista 8 sheds a good clue and indirectly implies that Microsoft won’t count on competing with Android (bar patent assaults)

THE JOKE which is Vista 8 (just another twist on predecessors, plus UEFI attack on GNU/Linux [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7]) continues to annoy or amuse bloggers because it is too expensive to appeal to manufacturers. Quoting a blogger from Ghana:

At this price, we should expect to see Windows RT (sounds like retweet to me, really) tablets are going to be at par with the iPad rather than Android devices. With expected prices to range between $500-$900 for a device, it’s going to be interesting to see how Microsoft plans to take on both Android powered tablets and Apple’s iPad.

My Android tablet cost just 150 British pounds. At the aforementioned (current/prospective) fares for Windows, there is no way Microsoft can compete. A recent report we included in our daily links said that the cost of tablets is poised to drop some more.

There is a sense of achievement here because while Linux changes and evolves (new Linux-based platforms emerge) it is taking over everything with a CPU, little by little. Now we just need to observe attempts to derail this sort of trajectory. Patents are a cost-based or ban-based attack. They’re all that Apple and Microsoft have got left against Linux and thus we must concentrate on the subject.

Apple Presses Hard for Android Bans While Android Leapfrogs Apple in Tablets, Not Just Phones

Posted in Apple, GNU/Linux, Google, Microsoft, Oracle, Patents at 10:45 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Apple cult

Summary: Apple makes frantic litigious moves against yet more Android-based products and the reason seems clear

REPORTS suggest that HTC cannot use Google’s patents to protect itself against Apple.

While the idea of patent passage seems unhelpful (invaliding the said necessity of patents), what the ITC in this case fails to assess or consider is that Apple — together with Microsoft — is feeding patent trolls via proxies — an offence which in itself deserves closer scrutiny. To quote a report about the US-biased ITC (it mostly blocks Asian companies, naturally):

The International Trade Commission has rejected HTC’s attempts to use five patents on loan from Google against Apple in smartphone-related complaint. ITC Administrative Law Judge Thomas Pender agreed with Apple’s arguments that only Google, and not HTC, has the proper legal standing to assert those patents.

How about those judges take a closer look at Apple’s own antics? Apple’s inexcusable behaviour when it comes to patents led us to a call for boycott.

In this siege from Apple HTC needs to find a response and it is expanding its patent portfolio as part of the defensive strategy:

HTC has faced some serious setbacks in its patent battle with Apple. But that won’t stop the company from getting back up and continuing the fight.

Apple’s abusive patent moves are further discussed in light of the infamous “647 patent”:

In the mobile patent wars, the giant of the ecosystem has one big bludgeon it is using to bully everyone else into subservience. It is a patent known as ’647, and it is Apple’s biggest weapon in fighting off the Android hordes, including Motorola, HTC and Samsung. But what exactly is the ’647 patent, and how is Apple using it in court?

When Apple reacts in this fashion it’s clear that it’s losing to Android. According to some of the latest reports, not only has Apple fallen behind Android in the smartphones market; among businesses, Apple fell behind Android in the tablets market too. Here is a news item:

Apple’s attempt at a Galaxy S III ban is not quite working out so far; the elephant in the room is Google also because it is fighting against Apple at the same time:

Google Inc.’s bid to block imports of Microsoft Corp. (MSFT)’s Xbox gaming system and Apple Inc. (AAPL)’s iPhone based on patents owned by its Motorola Mobility unit may hurt competition, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission said.

Weighing in on cases before another U.S. agency, the International Trade Commission, the FTC said in filings yesterday that companies should be limited in their ability to win orders blocking imports of competitors’ products over the use of patents built into industrywide standards.

Motorola Mobility is citing its standard-essential patents to persuade the ITC to stop imports of Apple and Microsoft devices made in Asia. The ITC is gathering comments on whether such an import ban would be in the public interest. Final decisions in the cases are scheduled for August.

Microsoft and Apple like to pretend to be victims, but it is them which started it all. Another CPTN member, Oracle, lost its best known (in my assessment) Linux developer and he is quick to deny that the company’s attack on Android had something to do with it:

Got an email from Chris Mason today clarifying the situation. Turns out my speculation is off the mark. Here’s what Chris wrote to me:

Oracle has strongly supported my GPL projects over the years, and I was
in no way implying that Oracle does not believe in open source.

Oracle always encouraged and rewarded my contributions to open source

Regardless, Oracle and Apple both deserve no business for their patent attacks on Android. It’s a matter of practicality and people can vote with their wallet. Those who buy Apple don’t seem to mind the wallet because as one contributor showed us some hours ago, Apple charges 54% more to replace Retina MacBook Pro’s battery. He quoted: “Apple’s price for replacing the Retina MacBook Pro’s battery is $199″ (then adding, “[d]isposable computers are not very green“). Greenpeace often slams Apple and Microsoft for harming the environment more than other companies.

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