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07.05.12

Links 5/7/2012: Android 4.1 Reviewed, RHEL 7 Preview

Posted in News Roundup at 7:11 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • Is a community approach to IT security ever safe?

    Back in February of this year we heard about security firm AlienVault’s creation of the OSSIM standard open source SIEM (Security Information and Event Management) information base.

    Described (arguably) somewhat hopefully by its makers as a new “de facto” standard mechanism for sharing cyber threat intelligence, the AlienVault Open Threat Exchange (OTX) system is free to all users of OSSIM (and the firm’s own customers) as it aggregates, validates and publishes threat data.

  • Countly’s Gorkem Cetin argues open source is best when it comes to app analytics
  • Open Source Content Management Systems Offer Wider Range of Functionality for Horton Group Clients
  • SAP Open Source initiative progressing well
  • Open Source’s Promise

    While many banks still ponder the benefits of using open source technology for their coding needs, nascent BankSimple has gone full steam ahead.

  • EURid debuts YADIFA name server

    An open source DNS name server that supports DNSSEC and is designed to be authoritative has been released by EURid, the European Registry of Internet Domain Names. YADIFA is intended to be a lightweight alternative to more established projects; the developers say it was “built from scratch to face today’s DNS challenges, with no compromise on security, speed and stability”.

  • Free Open Source Radio Automation Software

    It’s called Airtime 2.1 and it’s open source, free to download, but only runs on Ubuntu Linux and Debian Squeeze. But, once installed you can interact with it through any web browser.

  • HP Cloud Strategy to Focus on Open Source

    HP’s Converged Cloud model will depend on interoperability with hardware from other vendors.

  • Sometimes Open Source Software Just Wins

    When I first came across open source software I was amazed. I could hardly believe that good quality software could be made available for a minimal cost. Sure there could be issues with support and maintenance from time to time, but the flexibility and pure value for money equation was hard to beat.

  • UK teachers are free to choose open source curriculum

    The UK Department of Education has confirmed that information and communications technology (ICT) lessons that teach children how to use Microsoft Word and PowerPoint will soon be more open.

    Starting September 2012, computer teachers will be given “the freedom and flexibility to design an ICT curriculum that is best for their pupils,” says Michael Gove, Department of Education secretary. This means teachers can change the curriculum to teach open source if they prefer.

  • Collide: A Dead Google Project Now Open-Source

    Google’s canning their engineering efforts in Atlanta, Georgia this month. Their engineering staff is moving on, but as one last effort, they were allowed to open-source portions of their last project: Collide.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Mucker Lab and Mozilla Team-up on Open-Source Startup Accelerator Program

        Mucker Lab, one of the newest startup/accelerator programs based in Los Angeles announced yesterday they will be partnering with Mozilla’s WebFWD to create a joint acceleration program aimed at at open-source ventures. The companies hope to help the Los Angeles area open-source community turn projects and ideas into viable businesses through the resources of both Mucker Lab and Mozilla.

      • Firefox OS: One more for the road

        Choice, as they say, is a good thing. Or you can never have too choices. In the mobile device operating system space, there are plenty to choose from, with Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android leading the pack.

        Not to be left out, the Mozilla Foundation, publishers of the popular, open source Firefox Web browser, plans to add one more mobile OS to the mix.

  • SaaS

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • LibreOffice For Android Starts Taking Shape

      The Document Foundation is planning to release LibreOffice, the free software office suite, for Android devices. A good amount of work has been done on the app and here we bring the latest screenshots of how this app will look like.

  • Project Releases

    • Tomahawk cruises to version 0.5

      The developers of the open source Tomahawk media player have announced the release of Tomahawk 0.5 and a new version of the accompanying Toma.hk online service. Tomahawk is an open source music player that includes sharing functionality and is designed to be source-independent. New features in Tomahawk 0.5 include a new grid view for albums, and redesigned artist and track pages. The new version can also bi-directional sync playlists with Spotify and Last.fm. New media key controls have been added for Windows and Linux.

  • Public Services/Government

    • Alfresco to open up Bristol City Council

      Open source vendor Alfresco has implemented its services at Bristol City Council (BCC) as part of the council’s revamp of its document management systems and continued efforts to reduce spending.

  • Open Hardware

Leftovers

  • Microsoft’s Downfall: Inside the Executive E-mails and Cannibalistic Culture That Felled a Tech Giant

    Analyzing one of American corporate history’s greatest mysteries—the lost decade of Microsoft—two-time George Polk Award winner (and V.F.’s newest contributing editor) Kurt Eichenwald traces the “astonishingly foolish management decisions” at the company that “could serve as a business-school case study on the pitfalls of success.” Relying on dozens of interviews and internal corporate records—including e-mails between executives at the company’s highest ranks—Eichenwald offers an unprecedented view of life inside Microsoft during the reign of its current chief executive, Steve Ballmer, in the August issue. Today, a single Apple product—the iPhone—generates more revenue than all of Microsoft’s wares combined.

  • Security

    • Double security for Flash under Linux

      Chrome version 20 represents a major step forward for the security of the Google browser, at least for Linux users, for whom this has often been a somewhat neglected area. It introduces a new sandbox concept which precisely regulates and filters the system calls a process is able to make.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

    • New Film Hammers Democrat Andrew Cuomo’s Plan to Frack New York

      Gasland director Josh Fox released a short film last month targeting the Democratic governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo, for his plan to open economically distressed parts of the state to hydraulic fracturing or “fracking.” The 18-minute film skewers Cuomo for his plans and exposes oil and gas industry internal documents which detail that some of corporations also have concerns about well safety and water contamination.

  • Finance

    • Regulators release ‘living wills’ for big banks

      Banking regulators released public portions of “living wills” submitted by nine of the world’s largest banks, which details how they could be dissolved if trouble strikes.

      The documents, required as part of the Dodd-Frank financial reform law, mark an effort to ensure that huge financial institutions, if struggling to stay afloat, can be safely wound down without posing a threat to the overall financial system.

      The Federal Reserve and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) posted the public portions of the plans online, saying they had not been reviewed or edited by the regulators.

  • Censorship

    • UK Pensioner Could Face Arrest For Atheist Poster

      Along with ridiculous libel cases, the UK is also infamous for laws that are designed to stop people hurting the feelings of others. Maybe that’s a laudable aim, but the end-result is that they can cast a chill over freedom of speech

  • Civil Rights

    • Evidence of a US judicial vendetta against WikiLeaks activists mounts

      The US Department of Justice (DoJ) tried to hack by legal means into my social media accounts without my knowledge. But they were exposed by Twitter’s legal team who manged to unseal the DoJ’s secret document and give me a chance to defend in court my personal information from being used in a dragnet for the first serious attacks on WikiLeaks’ supporters and volunteers. I still am not sure why they chose to take the risk of going after a member of Iceland’s parliament, because it has caused distress among fellow parliamentarians from around the world. As a result of the speaker of the Icelandic parliament raising the issue at the International Parliamentarian Union (IPU), I was asked to appear for the human rights committee at the IPU to explain the details of my case. A resolution on my case was put forward and adopted unanimously by the IPU’s governing council, in October 2011.

  • Copyrights

    • ACTA

      • The European Parliament Rejects ACTA: The Impossible Becomes Possible

        On October 23, 2007, the U.S., E.U., Canada, and a handful of other countries announced plans to the negotiate the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement. The behind-the-scenes discussions had apparently been ongoing for several years, leading some countries to believe that a full agreement could be concluded within a year to coincide with the end of the Bush administration. Few paid much attention as the agreement itself was shrouded in secrecy. ACTA details slowly began to emerge, however, including revelations that lobby groups had been granted preferential access, the location of various meetings, and troubling details about the agreement itself.

      • European Parliament Rejection Puts ACTA Future In Doubt

        Today’s overwhelming defeat of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) by the European Parliament could have a resounding effect on the treaty’s prospects for survival, according to sources. Meanwhile, public interest groups are celebrating and copyright holders fuming.

      • ACTA Killed In European Parliament

        Today at 12:56, the European Parliament decided whether ACTA would be ultimately rejected or whether it would drag on into uncertainty. In a crushing 478-to-39 vote, the Parliament decided to reject ACTA once and for all. This means that the deceptive treaty is now dead globally.

      • ACTA: Total Victory for Citizens and Democracy!

        The European Parliament rejected ACTA1 by a huge majority, killing it for good. This is a major victory for the multitude of connected citizens and organizations who worked hard for years, but also a great hope on a global scale for a better democracy. On the ruins of ACTA, we must now build a positive copyright reform2, taking into account our rights instead of attacking them. The ACTA victory must resonate as a wake up call for lawmakers: Fundamental freedoms as well as the free and open Internet must prevail over private interests.

      • ACTA Defeated In EU Parliament: Happy Fourth Of July

        Happy Independence Day. The day when Europeans stood up for their own freedom from the US corporate interests. The day when ACTA — the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement — proposed by the US corporations was defeated on the European soil.

        ATCA was the ‘international’ edition of SOPA/PIPA which was defeated within the US by huge protest from public and organizations like Google and Wikipedia.

        SOPA/PIPA’s cousin ACTA has been rejected by the European Parliament, by an almost unanimous margin of 478 votes against to 39 in favor. 165 members abstained from the vote. In a nutshell, “with 682 MEPs ACTA was supported by 5.7%, rejected by 70% of MEPs,” posts Jan Wilderboer on Google+.

Microsoft-Led Nokia is Confirmed to be Already Extorting Android/Linux

Posted in GNU/Linux at 11:33 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Plan P[atents]

Stephen Elop
Photo by Luca Sartoni

Summary: Apple continues its embargo assault on Android while the Elop-occupied Nokia pressures companies to pay Android ‘protection money’

THE FIRST thing we wrote when Microsoft and Nokia signed a deal is that patents would be the major issue, not necessarily by proxy. The duopoly is trying to make Android “illegal” (banned or taxed) and everything we have seen so far confirms this.

Apple is banning Android devices using poor judgment from Mr. Koh, but Apple is not succeeding against everything it tries to ban:

HTC Corp. (2498) can continue to bring its newest smartphones into the U.S. while a trade agency investigates whether the phones violate an order that the Taiwanese company stop infringing an Apple Inc. (AAPL) patent.

The U.S. International Trade Commission yesterday instituted an investigation into Apple’s claim that HTC continues to infringe a patent in violation of an order issued in December. The agency denied an emergency request to have the HTC phones, including the One X and EVO 4G LTE, detained at the U.S. border. Notice was posted on the agency’s electronic docket.

HTC was the first victim of Apple (that was more than 2 years ago). Some former Microsoft staff remarks on this ruling:

HTC has won a U.K. High Court case after a judge said that the Taiwanese smartphone maker has not infringed four of Apple’s European-held patents.

However, Judge Christopher Floyd said that three of the four patents were invalid, according to Bloomberg.

HTC’s upper hand is celebrated by Pamela Jones at Groklaw:

So maybe in time, reason will prevail. But probably not initiated by Apple, as I’ll show what they’ve been up to after the dismissal, according to Judge Posner, who was not amused. Or maybe he was. I am.

Google is trying to dodge bans by modifying its products:

Google Pushes Galaxy Nexus Update To Circumvent Ban

Google has stopped selling Galaxy Nexus device from Google Play Store as Apple deposits around $96 million bond demanded by the court in a controversial decision. The reason of why the sale of the devices has been halted is unknown, as Google has not released any statement. What it does mean is US citizens can no longer buy the device from Google Play Store.

However, Google and Samsung are working on circumventing the ban. Google will be pushing an OTA update which will limit the search functionality to web and remove the ability to search local content, emails, apps etc. Voice search will also meet similar fate. It is ironic that Google is a pioneer in search technologies and just because the company stayed away from patenting every stupid process, and Apple did, it is suffering.

Most importantly, however, we finally have confirmation that Nokia is not just scaring Android behind the scenes; now it’s public:

Thanks to the flawed patent system, you can’t innovate without stepping on someone’s patents. Nexus 7, the most awaited device has barely been launched and Nokia claims that it infringes upon its ‘standard essential patents’.

Here is the cited source:

THE GOOGLE NEXUS 7 is already in hot water, as Nokia claims that the tablet infringes some of its patents.

[...]

A Nokia spokesperson told The INQUIRER, “Nokia has more than 40 licensees, mainly for its standards essential patent portfolio, including most of the mobile device manufacturers. Neither Google nor Asus is licensed under our patent portfolio.

“Companies who are not yet licensed under our standard essential patents should simply approach us and sign up for a license.”

However, unlike Apple, it’s doubtful that Nokia will seek injunctions against the Google Nexus 7. Instead, Nokia is more likely to request that Google or Asus obtain the proper licenses.

This is significant. So Nokia is indeed already fighting Android, along with Apple, Microsoft, and Oracle (CPTN members/conspiracy). No wonder Google filed an antitrust complaint; several giants collude against the fastest-growing operating system, which is based on Linux and is Open Source.

Nokia was advised to embrace Android but instead it took “Microsoft’s Trojan horse”, to quote former Nokia executive Tomi Ahonen. Here it is:

Nokia Consultant Says Stephen Elop, Windows Phone A Monumental Mistake

[...]

But maybe it’s not too late for Nokia to swim ashore, dry off, and go the Android route. As reported by CNET, the Finnish company already has a so-called Plan B in place. And if what former Nokia executive Tomi Ahonen says is true, that Elop “secretly serves as Microsoft’s Trojan horse tasked with devaluing the once great cell phone giant so that Redmond could buy it for peanuts and become a handset maker,” then Nokia must act fast.

Should Microsoft’s clandestine Surface tablet initiative be any indication of the company’s plans for its handset future, Nokia had better be all in or all out.

If they still value the freedom to control their own destiny, they’ll choose the latter.

No crime is without victims. Microsoft is doing it again.

‘We recommend that we *informally* plant the bug of FUD in their ears. “Have you heard about problems with DR DOS?”‘

Microsoft (internal correspondence)

Nokia firing people
Picture by Or Cohen

Canonical and Red Hat Receive Negative Publicity Over Submissive UEFI Choices

Posted in Red Hat, Ubuntu at 11:20 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Fishy business

Thought

Summary: Following the FSF’s paper, criticism of Canonical and Red Hat becomes more commonplace

TECHRIGHTS spent a lot of time covering UEFI because it relates closely to technology rights, or lack thereof. Microsoft essentially gives the finger to Linux users, as one publication put it. The spin from Microsoft boosters [1, 2] sought to portray it as Linux-friendly even though it clearly is the opposite. This led to a blow against the GPLv3-licensed GRUB 2, which Canonical’s reaction in no way a solution but a compromise.

Here is a a good article about what Microsoft has done. It’s from a site about encryption:

A second Linux Distro has joined the Microsoft Secure Booth party. You see Microsoft has come up with what they are calling the UEFI Secure Boot. 61285 Secure boot is somewhat controversial in that once set up it will only allow signed versions of an OS to be installed. This means that if a computer is shipped from an OEM with Windows 8 and UEFI Secure Boot on you could not install a generic version of Linux or indeed any other OS including Windows 7 etc. This would effectively lock someone into using Windows 8 only on these devices. This block would include even downgrading your new system to Windows 7.

Now Microsoft is claiming that there might be a way to turn this off for x86 systems (ARM based systems will be locked to Windows RT), but it has prompted both Red Hat and Canonical to find a way to work within the UEFI Secure boot structure just in case. To do this they are getting a digital signature (from Verisign apparently) which will allow them to work with the UEFI Secure boot.

The FSF has already criticised Canonical, as we pointed out before. “Both the Linux Foundation and the Free Software Foundation voiced their own perspectives last fall when the issue first came up, but over the weekend the Free Software Foundation felt the need to speak out again in response to the approaches being taken by these two popular distributions,” notes the article. “In a nutshell, the advocacy group isn’t thrilled with what either distro has proposed, but it prefers the Fedora approach over Canonical’s solution. It also has a number of suggestions of its own.”

Pogson covered this too, as did some news sites and Groklaw. Here is a snippet from Pamela Jones’ words:

With regard to Fedora’s approach, Sullivan writes that while it’s a thoughful effort that results in GPL compatibility, trusting Microsoft is not an option: “Encouraging free software distributors and users to trust Microsoft or any other proprietary software company as a precondition to exercising their freedoms is simply not an acceptable solution.”

FSF has a number of suggestions going forward, including helping users to learn how to do what they can do to protect themselves, and it is also working with companies like Lemote, Freedom Included, ZaReason, ThinkPenguin, Los Alamos Computers, Garlach44, and InaTux to make computers available that are preinstalled with fully free GNU/Linux distributions.

The bottom line is, UEFI is an attack on computing freedom and it’s therefore unsurprising that it is not compatible with GRUB’s licence. The FSF writes the GPL to help defend against the empire of proprietary software companies. Playing nice with those companies is giving up, it’s defeatism.

“He [Bill Gates] is divisive. He is manipulative. He is a user. He has taken much from me and the industry.”

Gary Kildall

Pinta Considered Dead, Mono Goes to Microsoft

Posted in Microsoft, Mono at 11:04 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Mono developers worship Microsoft

Microsoft worship

Summary: An update on the decaying world of Mono

ECT has been featuring a relatively new Mono-based application, whose development process has been rather stale for a while. To quote the overview:

Pinta, a raster image editor, is the app equivalent of a diamond in the rough. Years of testing and reviewing open source and commercial software taught me never to assume that a relatively new application is not worthy of attention. That lesson proved true with this youngster of an app. Development ceased on the near-infant version of this open source graphics editing app. Pinta’s creator, Jonathan Pobst, envisioned his Linux graphics application as a simple yet useful tool for drawing and editing images.

So basically it’s just about as dead as Moonlight, which also depends on Mono. Fernando Cassia brought to our attention an article on which he remarked, “this is sickening, don’ t you think?”

Well, watch the picture in this article (copied above) to judge for oneself:

The “GNOME and Mono Festival of Love 2012″ has now ended in Boston, which was taking place at one of Microsoft’s research and development centers.

Last month I wrote about Microsoft hosting the GNOME & Mono Festival of Love, a week-long hack-fest described by Microsoft Cambridge as an “event to work on Open Source .NET integration with the GNOME platform and improve .NET powered Open Source applications.”

Details on the event can be found at the GNOME.org Wiki while below are some information regarding some of the accomplishments the GNOME and Mono developers made last week at Microsoft. Unfortunately the conference participants didn’t create a concise overview summarizing the week’s work, so that’s what this Phoronix article is for, based upon information gathered from Twitter, Google+ and other sources.

Mono/Xamarin is no longer shy to show a lot of love for Microsoft, the company which is attacking GNU/Linux.

“I saw that internally inside Microsoft many times when I was told to stay away from supporting Mono in public. They reserve the right to sue”

Robert Scoble, former Microsoft evangelist

Features of Vista 8 Focused on Errors, Antifeatures

Posted in Microsoft, Vista 8, Windows at 10:54 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Drive school

Summary: Except UEFI restrictions (an antifeature) and lame UI, Vista 8 will boast new failure screens; the “wow” starts now

The controversial incarnation of Windows, Vista 8, is getting really good. Yes, note the sarcasm, the BSODs are nicer, according to this:

With Windows 8 Microsoft has re-engineered BSOD for the era of Twitter and texting – unhappy smilies and chirpy one-liners.

Too bad that in live demos it just freezes, Microsoft executives need to hot-swap tablets on stage. Vista 8 is going to help Linux (e.g. in Android form) grow. It lost any edge it may have had.

Fighting the Unitary Patent Like We Fought ACTA in Europe

Posted in Europe at 10:42 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Gull

Summary: Time remains for expression of dissent and protest against a loophole to software patents in Europe

ACTA has been smashed in the EU probably for the same reasons SOPA was smashed in the US. People rose up and politicians were too shy to vote against the will of an informed public. If we wish to smash prospects of software patents in Europe we will need to inform the public and by extension politicians too. The unitary patent is the latest manifestation of a threat to EU patent law and according to this informative site dedicated to the subject, a vote on the unitary patent has been postponed. Quoting the report:

Monday July 2nd, 2012, the European Parliament has postponed the plenary vote of the regulation on the unitary patent, that was foreseen for Wednesday. This postponement comes from the European Council decision to delete articles 6-8 from the regulation, preventing any control from the CJEU. The text is now back in Legal Affairs Committee (JURI) of the European Parliament. Members of JURI should take this opportunity to fix the core of the text, to remove legal uncertainties which are still included, and doing so, to guarantee the integration of the European patent system within th EU legal and institutional framework.

European bloggers ought to speak more about this subject. They need to raise awareness of the threat of the unitary patent. It’s expansionist by design. It’s bad for Europe.

OpenLogic Helps Microsoft Again

Posted in Free/Libre Software, Microsoft at 10:30 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Boxing GNU/Linux, adding tax

Cardboard

Summary: OpenLogic adds a support tax to a GNU/Linux distribution which is already taxed by Microsoft (on a subscription basis)

THE company run by a former Microsoft manager is propping up a Red Hat clone on Microsoft’s own turf, which is risky to the freedom of GNU/Linux. To quote a Microsoft-friendly publication:

OpenLogic, provider of open source scanners, open source governance solutions and community-backed open source support for the data center and the cloud, announced today that it will provide CentOS Linux through the new Microsoft Windows Azure Image Gallery.

It is not the provider of “open source scanners”, those are proprietary scanners. They are openwashing themselves and helping Microsoft derail Red Hat while granting Microsoft more control.

Microsoft and Gates: Avoiding Tax, Buying Consent

Posted in Bill Gates, Finance, Microsoft at 10:20 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Bookkeeping irregularities

Reading

Summary: How the criminal avoidance of tax (legalised by moles and bought politicians) is being sold to the public, even by bought media outlets

TECHRIGHTS maintains pages with resources and information about Microsoft’s tax dodge (Bill Gates does the same) and dubious financial situation.

A reader drew our attention to this report about Microsoft’s offices being raided by tax inspectors in France. To quote:

French tax inspectors search Microsoft offices in dawn raid

[...]

French tax authorities have visited the headquarters of Microsoft France to conduct an inspection, a spokesman for the company confirmed Wednesday.

The visit, last Thursday, was a routine check, according to a statement on the company’s website.

This is not the first time that Microsoft is being raided like this (it happened in Hungary), but Microsoft’s tax cheats have mostly been legalised, sometimes by former Microsoft employees who grabbed government positions (e.g. in the US). The tax cheats of large corporations are not the only problem; using loopholes like “foundations”, rich people like Bill Gates avoid paying even the little tax they are required to pay. Those people also buy the press, e.g. PBS, to look the other way. PBS has just been glorifying Bill Gates again, through the Charlie Rose show (we’ll cover that later). Will responds with:

Ugh, Bill Gates is able to buy more favorable media coverage for himself from a cash starved PBS. As if ownership of NBC and other media does not give the richest man on Earth a big enough voice, he’s covering himself with the public’s good will towards PBS. The New York School system is a prior victim of the Gates and Broad Foundation highly controversial charter school program. Instead of knocking off small, oil rich countries, let’s give public education and public media proper funding.

It is worth noting that the Gates Foundation‘s malicious agenda has just been advertised on TV (Charlie Rose) because Rose is indirectly paid by Gates. The media is rigged. By following this media people will never get informed of the real issues.

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