Links 22/6/2012: Fedora 18 Plans, Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6.3

Posted in News Roundup at 1:41 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

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Free Software/Open Source


  • Censorship

    • India unblocks The Pirate Bay and other sharing sites
    • Defamation and the Internet – Contact your MP Now!

      After many years of campaigning, Parliament is finally debating a new Defamation Bill. Defamation (covering libel and slander) is about protecting a person’s reputation, and balancing that right against the general freedom of expression. Over the last few years English libel law has become infamous around the world for its chilling effect on free speech, ease of use to silence criticism (informal, political and academic) and its disproportionate costs.

      The new Bill attempts to tackle some of these issues. But while it is a step in the right direction, it mainly codifies the existing law rather than significantly improving it. There are still some major problems with the current text and while it is being debated in the House of Commons we have a chance to try to fix it before it becomes law. To do this, we need you to write to your MP, highlighting the major problems. If nothing else, please ask them to read through the memorandum the Party submitted to the Public Bill Committee, the key points of which are outlined below.

Nokia the Latest Example of Dead Microsoft ‘Partners’, More Lined Up

Posted in Microsoft at 10:19 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: At times of dubious collaborations with a corporate serial killer, a reminder of how it always ends

CLASS ACTION lawsuit over Microsoft entryism at Nokia becomes more likely and Glyn Moody, for example, cites the following this week:

Nokia’s CEO Stephen Elop has had a hard time getting his company to jump off the ‘burning platform’ onto the Windows Phone ship, and in their haste to do something quick they made a crucial compromise.

The first Nokia handsets running Windows Phone would remain stuck on version 7 with no upgrade path to WP8, a fact, according to our sources, that the Finnish handset maker was made aware of when it signed on last year.

And in doing so, the company left itself exposed to the ‘Osborne-effect’ but this time at Redmond’s making.

Nokia’s days are numbered and this should be remembered as another deadly destruction by the cons from Rdemond. Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols accuses Microsoft of “poisoning” yet more of its so-called ‘partners’:

First, Microsoft announces a vaporware tablet, Surface. On paper Surface is much better than anything its partners were building. Now, Microsoft has announced Windows Phone 8, a smartphone operating system that instantly makes every existing Windows Phone obsolete.

On behalf of ASUS, Dell, HP, Lenovo, and Nokia, thanks for nothing Microsoft!

In the days since Microsoft announced its hybrid tablet/laptop I’ve talked to most of the major PC original equipment manufacturers (OEMs). None of them would go on the record with me on their reaction to the Surface. What I can tell you though is that every last one of them is as angry at Microsoft as a Boston Red Sox fan is at the New York Yankees after being swept at home.

Meanwhile, says one of our Finnish readers: “The old tactic of comparing competitors current offerings to vaporware is being carried over to new markets” (citing this nonsense from CNET). To quote:

CNET’s Marguerite Reardon helps one reader decide if he should wait for new Windows Phone 8 smartphones or buy the Google Android smartphone du jour.

This is a classic Microsoft tactic. In Microsoft’s own words: “In the face of strong competition, Evangelism’s focus may shift immediately to the next version of the same technology, however. Indeed, Phase 1 (Evangelism Starts) for version x+1 may start as soon as this Final Release of version X.” (source: Microsoft [PDF])

All we are seeing is Nokia being decimated down to nothing while its Linux-based platforms (and thus its Linux developers/jobs) get axed. Make that a warning to future Microsoft partners. It’s all promises, except the knife that lands on the back; the latter is a sure thing, the question is when. Microsoft was founded by — and continues to attract — sociopaths.

Abolishing Software Patents

Posted in EFF, Oracle, Patents at 10:05 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Hand idea

Summary: A recommendation to the EFF and to Oracle

A FEW DAYS ago we wrote about an initiative from the EFF which strives to cause change (revision) in patent policies. Timothy B. Lee urges the EFF to call for “elimination of software patents”, making it a lot more explicit (not without resistance from Luddites):

Opinion: EFF should call for the elimination of software patents

The Electronic Frontier Foundation announced a new initiative on Tuesday to seek reform of the United States patent system. Under the banner of Defend Innovation, the civil liberties organization suggested seven ways Congress could make the patent system less harmful to progress in software.

Techrights has been very consistent with its view that software patents deserve no room in industry or society. See for example older posts such as:

  1. Patent Defence Cartels Versus Abolishing Software Patents
  2. President Obama Ignores the US Population’s Plea to Abolish Software Patents (Updated)
  3. Larry Page Should Start by Abolishing Software Patents
  4. Dear Google: Please Abolish Software Patents, Don’t ‘Donate’ Patent ‘Protection’
  5. Why Europe Must Prepare to Abolish and Block All Software Patents

Speaking as a software engineer, they make my life worse, not better, and people who buy software also suffer. The “patent lords” are monopolists, trolls, and their lawyers. Oracle is an example of one major giant challenging and rattling a platform I develop for (Android); having suffered a loss in the case against Google it will get not even a dime. All the money just went to lawyers. To quote a new article:

In a hearing in the US District Court today, it was determined that Google will pay a net total of nothing for Oracle’s patent claims against them. In fact, Google is given 14 days to file an application for Oracle to pay legal fees to Google(in a similar manner to how things are done for frivolous lawsuits). However, it is not quite peaches and roses for Google, as Oracle is planning on appealing the decision in the case.

If Oracle wants to earn back respect from its seemingly-diminishing Linux staff it will just simply give up on this pointless and baseless case. It helps illustrate the harms of software patents.

Ubuntu and UEFI

Posted in GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Ubuntu at 9:49 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Note: I am updating this post before publication because new information has just arrived.

Summary: Canonical finally has an official statement on the UEFI situation Microsoft is selfishly creating

CANONICAL has not yet made its position or solution to Microsoft’s anti-competitive booting scheme publicly known (at the time of writing, although Canonical has an official statement as of minutes ago). But based on those who have researched the subject, as well as a discussion we had with Jono Bacon yesterday, the bad example of Red Hat [1, 2, 3, 4] might be followed by Ubuntu. And to quote some new articles:

  • Shuttleworth on Ubuntu Linux, Fedora, and the UEFI problem

    That better solution, Canonical commercial engineering director Victor Tuson Palau suggested last year, would include: “systems manufacturers including a mechanism for configuring your own list of approved software. This will allow you to run Windows 8 and Linux at the same time in your PC with Secure Boot “ON”. This should also include you being able to try new software from a USB stick or DVD.”

    Palau added, “With the ability for users to configure Secure Boot, it will become harder for non-techie users to install, or even try, any other operating system besides the one that was loaded on the PC when you bought it. For this reason, we recommend that PCs include a User Interface to easily enable or disable Secure Boot.”

  • Ubuntu’s UEFI Secure Boot Requirements For ODMs

    Canonical has not made any statements about the secure boot. I do trust they are working on the solution. Michael Hall said during a discussion on Google+ that they will find a solution once Windows 8 devices start hitting the market.

    I am interested in their solution because I am a long time Ubuntu user so I do want to know whether I will be able to run Ubuntu on the hardware that I will be buying soon.

Our readers can ask them, e.g. in Ubuntu Forums, to do the right thing and resist UEFI, not accept it. It is sad to discover that on the surface Canonical just became a bit of an apologist to a convinced monopolist. Please note that this rant was composed a very short while before Canonical finally explained its position. They say they’re “committed to ensuring that Ubuntu will work smoothly with Secure Boot enabled hardware. In addition to investigating Microsoft’s recommendation to participate in its WinQual program, Canonical has generated an Ubuntu key, and we are in active discussions with partners to implement simple ways for enterprises and consumers to use this key. These conversations have not concluded, and as a result we cannot detail the plans of our OEM partners yet.”

It’s a travesty when they let this poison spread. It’s a major step back for computing and it leaves independent distributions in a bad position.

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