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07.01.12

The FSF Moves From Petition to Recommendations Regarding UEFI Fight

Posted in FSF, GNU/Linux, HP, Microsoft at 11:26 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Richard Stallman

Summary: The largest freedom-in-software advocacy group offers advice regarding UEFI while large computer makers like HP move towards snubbing the Microsoft plot

AT THE END of the week the Free Software Foundation took an important step forward in its fight against UEFI.

Quoting the FSF Web site:

In the paper, the FSF outlines the difficulties Secure Boot poses for the free software movement and free software adoption, warns against the threat of Restricted Boot, and gives recommendations for how free software developers and users can best address the issues.

Red Hat is meanwhile finding new ways to embrace UEFI:

Gummiboot, which is German for rubber dinghy, was released on the same day as version 2 of the GRUB boot loader. Unlike GRUB, however, it only works with EFI systems. Poettering has proposed the project as the boot loader that Linux distributions should use where UEFI Secure Booting support requires a signed boot loader; this support being planned by both Red Hat and Canonical but neither are currently planning to use gummiboot.

There is more coverage in, e.g.:

  • Gummiboot: New EFI Boot Loader Created

    Red Hat developers Kay Sievers and Harald Hoyer have create a new EFI bootloader called, Gummiboot, which ‘just works.’

    Lennart Poettering, best known for PulseAudio cross-platform sound server and systemd, posted on Google +, “It’s tiny (< 64K), can show a menu, discovers all kernel configurations automatically (no wacky autogeneration of boot loader scripts), and can chain-load another boot loader if necessary.”

  • Secure Boot: Red Hat and Canonical present their alternatives

Related to this we have the release of the boot loader Microsoft has shrewdly marginalised:

The mistake Red Hat and Canonical have made is assume that hardware makers will just swallow UEFI because Microsoft tells them to. Based on new articles such as this one, Microsoft’s devilish plot is not taking off:

Microsoft Offends OEMs With Surface, HP Refusing To Build Windows ARM Devices

If this rumor is true – and it certainly sounds true – then HP and other OEMs are about to pull the plug on their own Windows on ARM RT (WART) devices thanks to Microsoft essentially beating them to market with potentially superior hardware.

Here is the source and some damage control from Microsoft, delivered by the longtime Microsoft booster, who gets “Reporter” status at CNET, not just ZDNet. She writes about the half (or less) that’s full, ignoring the rest (i.e. biased ‘journalism’):

Reports circulating on June 29 about Hewlett-Packard’s plans regarding Windows on ARM — or lack of such plans — got me thinking about which PC makers have committed to producing ARM-based Windows hardware.

Bloomberg helps confirm that Vista 8 is being shunned by HP and the OEMs bigwig at Microsoft steps down. How timely.

European Council Slows Down Software Patents

Posted in America, Europe, Patents at 11:17 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Urban house

Summary: The unitary patent — that which can potentially take the USPTO more global — is impeded by the European Council

SOFTWARE patents in Europe are for multinationals [PNG], not European industries. Despite that, the EPO helps the US and Japan in software patents agenda (global patent system in sight) and the unitary patent is one manifestation of this. Some German sites wrote about the subject and the site solely dedicated to the subject said that the European Council did well by blocking the foreign agenda:

On Friday June 29th 2012, the European Council has reached an agreement between heads of State and government over a unitary patent and a flanking unified patent court. But, under the pressure of British government, such a deal was done at the expense of removing any overview from the Court of Justice of the European Union over patent law, through the deletion of provisions in the regulation on the unitary patent. But the Union law does not allow for such a move. Therefore the agreement reached by the European Council is doomed to be nullified.

Meanwhile, criticism of patents grows. One large site states:

Patents weren’t designed to stifle innovation and take a massive toll on holders

A recent study by a pair of law professors at Boston University School of Law sheds light on the financial impact of patent litigation, and the results may surprise you. For example, would you have guessed that “non-practicing entities” (NPEs), which are individuals and companies that own patents but only use them for litigation (or “patent trolls,” as the study’s authors refers to them), were able to accrue $29 billion (BILLION!) in 2011 by suing hardware and software companies, many of them classified as small and medium-sized businesses? In other words, patent trolls are targeting the little guys and lining their pockets with an obscene amount of dollars that could otherwise be used on research and development in the field of technology. The actual cost is even higher.

On the academic side, Bessen and his colleagues delivered another supportive piece that puts to shame the US patent system. Contrariwise, some companies continue leaning on patent laurels:

Qualcomm’s formal reorganization is in large part designed to protect its patent portfolio as it anticipates using more open source software in the development of its technologies. The move is a smart one even if the company has not carved out an impenetrable zone of patent suit protection, said attorney Kevin C. Taylor. “I think the structure will go far to protecting its IP assets.”

This often leads to the selling of patents to hostile large entities which then declare monopoly rights on broad sections of the industry. We saw that in Novell and Nortel.

Apple Bans Android/Linux Imports, Linux Foes Pretend to be FOSS Players

Posted in Apple, Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, SCO at 11:05 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Signs

Summary: CPTN and SCO continue to openwash themselves while evidence piles up to show that they dislike FOSS

THE US-centric ITC deals a blow to Motorola, which fought back and recently used its patents to knock down Apple's litigation. Motorola is clearly the one company with the most vested interest in defending Android from litigation, owing to Google ownership.

Apple In the mean time is trying to ban yet more Android devices and as put by Sam Tuke (FSFE), “US patent protectionism is on a course for splendid isolation from international markets. Steady profits will continue to flow east regardless.”

Here is a fine example of how patents harm the public very directly; this link, “Samsung Galaxy Nexus banned in US”, was sent to me even by a friend who is not into technology (he is an avid Galaxy user and so is his girlfriend). The public is generally affected everywhere it is located and the news made it into the corporate press, too. “The story is also on slashdot,” wrote a reader of ours. “Here is comment from slashdot,” he added:

I work for Google and I’ve seen how my colleagues have consistently worked long hours to innovate and create new features. The Galaxy Nexus is an amazing phone. It’s thin, and light, and doesn’t even have any hardware buttons on the front at all – yet Apple still are not happy. If you can’t see why you’re blind.

Apples goal is not to get competitors to “design around” their patents. This has happened several times already, the Samsung Galaxy 3 has even been called out by tech review sites for having a “lawyer approved design” (it’s not rectangular, it does not have slide to unlock, etc). Apple keep coming, with newer and even more stupid patents, because their goal is not individuality, it is the utter destruction of all competitors. Steve Jobs himself said that in words so clear nobody can re-interpret them.

What’s more, it’s very hard to make an Android phone that doesn’t share design elements with the iPhone these days, because Apple has copied Android many times in the past few years, for example, its notifications tray is identical to the design that first shipped in Android 1.0, and inferior to the one shipping in Jellybean. Android 1.0 also shipped with a universal search box and pluggable API for it, it shipped with suspend

CNET covered the story and noteworthy is the following part:

Apple has posted the $2.6m bond requested by the courts when they won an injunction against Samsung to halt Galaxy Tab 10.1 sales in the US. What does this mean? It means the injunction has now officially started, and if Samsung doesn’t immediately sales, they could be sanctioned for contempt.

Android has had CPTN members (Novell’s patents in the hands of Oracle, Apple, and Microsoft) go after it, but as we showed here before, they also use proxies like Nokia and MOSAID to fuel up the litigation frenzy. Red Hat apparently paid MOSAID, so just like SCO after it was openly paid by Microsoft, MOSAID can now go and assault other parties with identical claims, unless Red Hat signed a GPL-compatible deal (they won’t tell, which is a bad sign). In a post titled “Solaris, SCO, Linux, Open Source and Red Hat Summit” it gets pointed out that Oracle and SCO are still getting a seat in FOSS conferences, despite their bad behaviour:

Apparently it is still a (small) concern. I did the best I could to explain that SCO is now a zombie (they still exist, but does anyone take them seriously?) and of course every major enteprise Linux vendor provide indemnification. But still, simple truth is it was a concern and a question that led to some conversation.

Sometimes Microsoft buys such a seat too, despite attacking FOSS. They wish to remove the sting from FOSS by attacking it while pretending to be an ally. It is quite priceless when Apple fans point to Apple’s “open source” PR-esque page.

Microsoft Skype Takes Over Machines Without Users’ Knowledge

Posted in Microsoft at 10:47 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Conversations recorded by those in power

Summary: Another timely reminder of the ‘aggressive’ nature of Microsoft’s Skype

IT is a little frustrating to see how various GNU/Linux bloggers are helping Skype, despite the newly-acquired NSA access to it, as we explained last year and this year. Microsoft is pushing automatic updates with a new EULA (waiver). In fact, there is malicious staff associated with this action:

Apparently by mistake, Microsoft’s Windows Server Update Services (WSUS) last night deployed a Skype update to Windows clients that had never had the telephony and messaging software installed. This resulted in Skype being installed on these computers.

Pushing binary blobs into people’s machines is not a service. It is actually a potential hazard, even if it comes from Google. When proprietary software gets proprietary modification it is impossible to know just what is happening underneath. A lot of time it is code which harms the user. A lot of the time software stays proprietary precisely because it harms the user; if made free, the malicious features would be stripped by users and their development-savvy peers.

Gartner Group Boosts Vista 8 on Devices

Posted in Microsoft, Vista 8, Windows at 10:37 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Silver does it again

Steel

Summary: Familiar Microsoft boosters choose to forget Android and other platforms which dominate at Microsoft’s expense

Microsoft’s business partners at Gartner have some new output [via] that was composed by Microsoft's ally Michael Silver. As IDG puts it, Gartner is pretending that desktops — not Microsoft — are going away and that with Vista 8 Microsoft is not positioned to be well behind, like it is now, when it comes to mobile devices.

This may be considered an example where negative headlines act as bait for pro-Microsoft messages. IDG/IDC has also been instrumental in this.

IRC Proceedings: June 22nd-June 30th, 2012

Posted in IRC Logs at 6:02 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

IRC Proceedings: June 22nd, 2012

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IRC Proceedings: June 23rd, 2012

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IRC Proceedings: June 24th, 2012

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IRC Proceedings: June 29th, 2012

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IRC Proceedings: June 15th-June 21st, 2012

Posted in IRC Logs at 4:58 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

IRC Proceedings: June 15th, 2012

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IRC Proceedings: June 17th, 2012

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IRC Proceedings: June 18th, 2012

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IRC Proceedings: June 8th-June 14th, 2012

Posted in IRC Logs at 4:16 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

IRC Proceedings: June 8th, 2012

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