Links 19/6/2012: Mandriva Linux 2012 Tech Preview, Linus’ Remarks, Dell Helps Ubuntu, Wine 1.4.1 Released

Posted in News Roundup at 8:37 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



Free Software/Open Source

  • Weekend Project: Open Source Crowd Mapping with Ushahidi
  • Open Source Initiative Gets More Members

    The Open Source Initiative (OSI) Board has announced that five significant organizations have been granted Affiliate Membership of the organization, including the first User Group.

  • 5 new affiliates for the OSI

    The ranks of the Open Source Initiative’s affiliate scheme have expanded with five new “significant” organisations joining. The new members are AFUL (Association Francophone des Utilisateurs de Logiciels Libres), a user association for French speaking free software users; The Document Foundation, legal and logistical home of LibreOffice; The OuterCurve Foundation, the Microsoft and AOL sponsored enterprise open source group; OW2, the open source community for enterprise infrastructure software; and The Wikimedia Foundation, the organisation behind Wikipedia and many other collaboratively created reference projects.

  • OSI Welcomes New Affiliates, Opens For Affiliate Applications
  • SourceForge back-end code to be donated to Apache
  • Web Browsers

  • Education

    • Open source creates a more compassionate global education

      Rock legend Roger Waters, of Pink Floyd fame has asked many interesting questions (in song). This one (posted on his website) might be one you don’t expect: “Will the technologies of communication in our culture, serve to enlighten us and help us to understand one another better, or will they deceive us and keep us apart?”

      Will educators, parents, and children view free and open source as a way to create a kinder, sharing, and cooperative relationships with one another in the United States and around the world?

    • A quest for change in education

      For the last few years, I have been increasingly interested in the area of Open Education Resources (OERs). MIT’s Open Course Ware was one of the pioneers of OER and the manner in which it was used across the world was truly fascinating. Khan Academy took the concept of OERs and made it wildly popular – the 3000 videos on its web site have been viewed more than 133 million times!

      Why this interests me is because I believe (as do many others) that education is one of the most critical inputs for India’s development. Well, more than an input, I’d say this is the critical factor that decides whether our country descends into chaos in the next few decades or emerges out of poverty and takes a place of pride on the world state as one of the developed nations. Think of it as that moment when an aeroplane gathers speed on the runway and generates enough thrust to break free from the gravitational pull of the earth and soar into the sky. If we educate our youth and make them skilled and able citizens of India, we will soar into the skies. If we don’t, we will land with a thud. As simple (and scary) as that.


    • Richard Stallman talking in the UK

      For those of you in the UK who wish to catch Richard Stallman – father of the Free Software movement and president and founder of the Free Software Foundation – he is giving three talks in Britain in the coming days.

  • Project Releases

  • Programming


  • Hardware

  • Security

    • Open Source PHP and Ruby on Rails Updated for Security
    • “Zero-day” exploit sales should be key point in cybersecurity debate

      Last week, Forbes’ Andy Greenberg investigated a dangerous but largely underreported problem in Internet security: the sale of zero-day exploits to customers not intending to fix the flaws. Zero-day exploits are hacking techniques that take advantage of software vulnerabilities that haven’t been disclosed to the developer or the public. Some companies have built successful businesses by discovering security flaws in software such as operating systems and popular browsers like Google Chrome and Microsoft Internet Explorer, and then selling zero-day exploits to high-paying customers—which are often governments.

    • Protecting Yourself in a Cyberwar World

      Which leads me to the second response: users are going to have to take even more responsibility for their own security. It’s not just “install antivirus and update regularly” anymore. You need to avoid the products which are most vulnerable — whether because they’re buggy, or just because they’re widely used and therefore often attacked. And, as I will elaborate in future posts, you need layered security — secure OS, secure browser and email, intrusion detection, and safe working habits. (Stop using your PC as “administrator,” and stop clicking on links in email!) This is where the real safety lies, because right now the industry has little incentive to make you safer, and — as EFF noted — the government has an incentive to make you less safe.

      You have to protect yourself…because no one else will protect you.

    • Hacked companies fight back with controversial steps

      Frustrated by their inability to stop sophisticated hacking attacks or use the law to punish their assailants, an increasing number of U.S. companies are taking retaliatory action.

      Known in the cyber security industry as “active defense” or “strike-back” technology, the reprisals range from modest steps to distract and delay a hacker to more controversial measures. Security experts say they even know of some cases where companies have taken action that could violate laws in the United States or other countries, such as hiring contractors to hack the assailant’s own systems.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

    • World Solar Power Goes Parabolic

      From a very small base, and from a tiny position in world energy supply, the buildout of global solar power is starting to go parabolic. Last year, according to the just released BP Statistical Review (you must access the Excel workbook for solar data), global solar generation nearly doubled to reach 55.7 TWh (terrawatt hours). | see: Global Solar Consumption in TWh (terrawatt hours) 2001-2011.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • New Zealand’s High Court Steps Into Extradition Fight Over Kim Dotcom

        As the Justice Department continues to pretend there’s nothing strange at all about its highly questionable tactics in shutting down Megaupload and having its executives arrested, the courts are still struggling with the details. A few weeks back, we noted that a judge in New Zealand rejected the US’s demand that New Zealand merely rubberstamp an extradition order to the US, despite there being numerous questions over the case itself and whether or not extradition is appropriate. As part of that, the judge also ordered the US Attorneys to hand over the evidence they’re using to make the case against Dotcom and his colleagues, such that they can properly respond to the evidence. The US, as you might expect has gone absolutely ballistic about this, insisting that such an effort is impossible — and that “it would take at least two months” to get the evidence together.

      • Copyright must foster innovation, not just protect a right

        It has never been clear to me how the growing criticism of copyright and patent law is faring. Not well, I would judge by the lack of coverage in widely read journals. At the same time, we are seeing more like this enteraining op-ed piece, titled “Fair Use, Art, Swiss Cheese and Me” in such widely read journals as the New York Times.

      • Google Threatens To Sue Huge YouTube MP3 Conversion Site

        According to a letter seen by TorrentFreak, Google are threatening action against one of the web’s largest YouTube conversion sites. The site, which according to Google’s own stats is pulling in 1.3 million visitors every day, extracts MP3 audio from YouTube videos and makes it available for users to download. Google’s lawyers say this must stop, and have given the site seven days to comply.

Aalto Talk With Linus Torvalds (Full-length)

Posted in Kernel, Videos at 2:48 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: The latest talk from Linux founder Linus Torvalds (apart from the now-famous NVIDIA remark)

Direct URL

Entryism at Nokia: Microsoft Takes Over From the Inside With More Moles, Linux-based Platforms Axed

Posted in GNU/Linux, Microsoft at 2:36 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Torvalds on Nokia
Source: MemeGenerator

Summary: A sad look at the end of Nokia and a naming of which Microsoft moles played a role in it

THE news from Nokia is as grim/dramatic as always (it has a “junk” status now, based on multiple sources). It turns out that as time runs out for Nokia it leans on Microsoft (which already failed to bear fruit) while “Nokia’s Linux-based Meltemi platform melts” (more here).

“The moles seem to have taken over Nokia like they took over Yahoo! Nokia was hijacked, not bought.”Who is calling the shots anyway? A Techrights member from Finland views the meltdown and says that Nokia will “Keep cutting until there’s nothing left.”

He asks: “Are the executives being replaced by more Microsoft moles or are they normal people?”

Here is a new quote: “Susan Sheehan, an American and former Microsoft executive, was named senior vice president of communications.”

He also quoted: “Weber, who like Elop is a Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) veteran” (article headline is “Nokia’s Elop Taps Microsoft Colleague Weber to Run Sales”).

The moles seem to have taken over Nokia like they took over Yahoo! Nokia was hijacked, not bought.

“We don’t have Nokia returning to profitability devices in the foreseeable future, not this year and not next,” Peterc is quoted as saying in another article and having fed patent trolls along with Microsoft it prepares to sell more patents. A Microsoft booster asks if Windows is killing Nokia as if the question is not rhetorical and MeeGo in the mean time is hardly ever mentioned anywhere.

Some people suggest that Apple should buy Nokia’s patents (Apple has much litigation against Android) and a journalist, Mr. Cassia, passes me the message which says: “well it´s never late to start a #ElopIsDestroyingNokia TT right?”

“And some people still treat Microsoft like it’s some kind of benign scapegoat and not a destructive — oftentime criminal — corporation.”“The speculations of buyout are ill-founded,” writes a contributor of ours regarding articles such as this. “Microsoft has nothing further to gain by an outright purchase, effectively they already own Nokia but without the financial and regulatory concerns.”

Nokia was on the side of Linux until 2011. So Microsoft hijacked it from Linux using moles, then destroyed the company without ever having to even buy it; it then passed Nokia’s patents to enemies of Linux. And some people still treat Microsoft like it’s some kind of benign scapegoat and not a destructive — oftentime criminal — corporation.

Red Hat Fails to Convince That UEFI is Tolerable, Uses ‘Security’ as Talking Point

Posted in GNU/Linux, Kernel, Microsoft, Red Hat at 2:18 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Red Hat chooses Microsoft talking points

Torvalds on security
Source: MemeGenerator

Summary: Blog postings and articles about UEFI do not concur with Red Hat’s submissive (to Microsoft) position on the matter

WITH UEFI [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7]., Microsoft has begun another divide and conquer quest, starting with Fedora. Red Hat sided with Microsoft, leaving many others out in the dry. In some sense it’s reminiscent of what Novell did, but it’s nowhere as severe.

Carla Schroder has been among those who criticised Red Hat for it, questioning security (Torvalds does not think it will improve security either), and she continues to do so at Linux.com. She writes:

Microsoft requires UEFI “secure” boot for Windows 8 certified hardware. More security is good, right? Even if it locks out Linux?

Microsoft is requiring Windows 8-certified hardware to ship with UEFI Secure Boot enabled. This prevents installing any other operating systems, or running any live Linux media. There are ways to get around Secure Boot– but why should we, once again, have to jump through Microsoft hoops just to use our own hardware the way we want to?

How does one improve security (for Linux) by making Linux dependent on permission from the abusive Microsoft? Red Hat staff tries to explain, ignoring the main point which is Microsoft’s behaviour (anti-social tendencies).

Sam Varghese, who previously sided with the likes of Carla and us, has another go at the subject, tackling Red Hat’s spin by citing Samba:

Three Samba geeks did what Red Hat is scared to do

Nearly five years ago, three senior developers from the Samba project showed the rest of the FOSS community what could be achieved by resistance which was based on integrity.


But what of Red Hat? It is the biggest GNU/Linux company, bar none. Yet all it can do is bend over and play ball with a convicted monopolist. And it also justifies that action by trotting out one of its best and brightest, Matthew Garrett, to justify the whole thing.

As I’ve written before, this whole secure boot business is just the latest ruse by Redmond to try and lock GNU/Linux out of the market. It is the last throw of the dice by a company that has failed miserably to gain traction in the music, mobile, tablet and search markets. It can hear the fat lady approaching.

The company’s CEO, one Steve Ballmer, has bet the organisation’s future on one technology – Windows 8. If it turns out to be anything other than super-successful, there will be some vacant land available for occupation in Redmond in a few years’ time.

And in this clime, all those huge companies which earn their profits from Linux, have nothing to say. IBM, Intel, HP, Facebook, Google, Oracle, Red Hat, Novell, Canonical, Samsung, HTC, and LG collectively have – as ‘Allo ‘Allo actor, the late Carmen Silvera, often described her stage husband, Rene, as having – “the courage of a chicken. A little chicken.” Secure boot? A double-helping for me, please, sir.

Nothing that Red Hat has said so far is compelling enough to justify the agreement with Microsoft, but it’s probably too late to retract. Red Hat is not a bad company, but like all companies, its consideration are different from the public’s; keeping its feet to fire is means of ensuring that public interests are more often served. UEFI is a private interest, it’s a matter of exclusivity.

Billions for Indoctrinating Children

Posted in Bill Gates at 2:02 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Footage from the Gates deposition (quotes for humour’s purpose only)

Summary: Bill Gates is trying to put “pedometers” on the arms of all children, monitoring and controlling their minds

TOBY reminds us that “Bill Gates Pays Media to Portray Him As a Saint” — an issue we have not touched in a while due to lack of time. He adds this newer link on “Neuromarketing: Bill Gates designs new bracelet for students to monitor, and measure ‘engagement physiologically’.”

And we should accept this why exactly? The Gates Foundation does a lot of bad things, but media spin that it is buying helps conceal the facts (at the expense of a million dollars per day allocated just to media manipulation). All we are left with is a tax-funded system which is subverted by plutocrats for control of children. As this one report puts it:

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which has poured more than $4 billion into efforts to transform public education in the U.S., is pushing to develop an “engagement pedometer.” Biometric devices wrapped around the wrists of students would identify which classroom moments excite and interest them — and which fall flat.

Controlling children is not charity. In fact, the failure of the corporate press to chastise Gates for this is indicative of cowardice.

Bizarre and Dangerous Patents

Posted in Patents at 1:57 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Patent Office - Herbert C. Hoover Building

Summary: Some new patent stories that show how harmful patents have become

THE patent system is not changing fast enough, at least not for the better. There is now a patent on how to cut meat, as explained here:

I first saw this story when it appeared on Matt Yglesias Moneybox blog on May 22. It has since been taken down, but you can Google the subject (“Oklahoma State University tries to patent a steak”) and see that similar stories have been picked up by a lot of echoes.

Originally Matt Yglesias was joining the rest of us who cite ridiculous examples of patents and copyrights. In this one, he found that Oklahoma State University had applied for a patent on a cut of steak, or more exactly, how it is butchered.

There are also infamous patents on how to make a sandwich. Way to go, USPTO.

Here is another new article — one highlighting the impact of patents on the autistic (mentioned here before):

Few apps available for the iPad sell for $300—and even fewer are considered a bargain at the price. But “Speak for Yourself” turned consumer-grade tablets into sophisticated Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) devices for those struggling to speak due to issues like autism; standalone hardware offering the same capabilities goes for up to $15,000.

And guess what? Patents on software killed this competition — that which is intended to aid customers by lowering prices.

The same type of patent madness is killing some Android apps and Google’s accumulation of patents (feeding propaganda from Microsoft and its boosters at Ars Technica) cannot quite help.

Those of us who eat (that’s everyone) or develop and use apps (I do both) are affected by this whole patent madness because prices are being elevated and innovation is being forcibly removed from the market. How can anyone argue in favour of patents as the basis for innovation?

BSA Meets GNU/Linux in Europe, Confiscates PCs

Posted in Europe, Microsoft at 1:46 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

BSA as a pirate

Summary: Microsoft’s enforcement and lobbying front group causes a mess and leaves a trail of destruction inside innocent businesses

OVER in the Czech Republic there is this story which “would really interest broader software freedom community,” said Martin from the IRC channels, adding that the “summary would be: racketeering business via BSA (Business Software Alliance)” (he points the finger at the “Microsoft mafia”).

The BSA does its thing as always, with the English translation suggesting that the BSA really just went after Microsoft software, expressing disappointment that its victim ran GNU/Linux on PCs. The loss incurred was noticeable:

Police tell anyone what the company actually right, and went on the note rather intimidating. After the fifth checked the computer started talking bloated that time before all the computers confiscated, drove away and did not return them until the investigation is not completed the whole. That the company has “a fortune”, it’s different now.

So even those whom the BSA (Microsoft) has no case against can suffer. It makes one doubt the legitimacy of the BSA, deriving its power from lobbying that passes new laws (we showed how it’s done in Cablegate cables).

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