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07.17.12

Links 17/7/2012: Linux 3.5 RC7, Fedora 18 Plans Laid Out

Posted in News Roundup at 6:19 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • The Linux Setup – Tom Chandler, Writer

    I’m an Ubuntu guy, though the advent of Unity has pushed me to try the other Ubuntu flavors like Xubuntu and Lubuntu (both of which are running on my netbook and laptop). Xfce might just become my standard desktop; I launch everything using Synapse anyway, and Unity’s universal menus and lack of document identification don’t work for me.

  • 2 new mini Linux boxes

    After the success of Raspberry Pi, it seems mini PCs that run Linux has become a technology trend. Recently, 2 new mini Linux-enabled PCs have joined the party.

  • Desktop

    • My new test box – and how it wasn’t

      Let me tell you a secret: Although I often claim I have no friends, I do! A few, but still, they are present and accounted for. One of these friends happened to give me his T61 for extensive, long-term operating system testing, which you’ve been enjoyed recently, with all the latest-gen SSD benchmarking and quadruple boot setup and whatnot. And now, that same friend has loaned me another one of his machines, for an indefinite period of abuse. This means more fun.

      [...]

      The laptop is going back to its owner. I’m sorry to say, but with its crappy graphics and Wireless, it’s simply unusable. I could blame Linux of course, but then, that same Linux works fine everywhere else. Moreover, my other machines with N-capable cards are running just fine, since they happen to have other devices. And let’s not even mention the graphics card. You know what I think about non-Nvidia cards, or non-Nvidia drivers. You’ve seen what happens with Nouveau.

    • Why the Linux desktop doesn’t shine in business: A perspective

      I’ve been keeping track lately of what it is I do most during a full day of remote support. The three top things I deal with are:

    • Perfect Storm Brewing: The Linux Desktop – Part One

      From time to time I get the question of “Why has Linux failed on the Desktop?” Recently Linus was also asked this question, and he considered it a personal failure, since his first desire was to have Linux as a desktop machine. He attributed this to the fact that end user customers just do not like installing operating systems on their machines that they purchased.

    • Project Sputnik Versus Microsoft

      Dell is toying with the idea of loading up Ubuntu onto an XPS 13 laptop to create a developer environment in which people can create Web and mobile apps. It’s called Project Sputnik. Should Microsoft be worried? My thinking is no.

    • Dell ‘Project Sputnik’ Ubuntu laptop programme enters beta phase
  • Kernel Space

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • An old KDE user finds his way back…

        I left KDE back in the early KDE4 days. It wasn’t a matter of the fact I didn’t like the changes made, it was a matter of the plasma desktop simply being too unstable (for me) to get anything done.

        I had always been a KDE user since first using Linux. When I first installed Red Hat 7.1, the friend who gave me the disk gave me this simple instruction “When it asks you GNOME or KDE, choose KDE.” – and I was off.

        Oddly enough, I’ve made my way back to Fedora after leaving Fedora at FC2 for better KDE support, or I should say a more ‘upstream’ KDE (I grew to not like the Bluecurve thing that attempted to make KDE and GNOME look alike). I initially went to Mandrake (for maybe a week), tried out a little distro called Yoper (is it still around?), and finally settled in with Slackware for a while (and learned a *lot* in the process). After that I flopped around mostly between Kubuntu and Debian (usually Sid) with KDE.

      • [GSoC] Amarok gets more social
    • GNOME Desktop

      • Gnome Web 353 and beyond!

        Gnome Web (Epiphany) is a misjudged and underestimated project when web-browsers are the most popular and significant software in any OS. The reasons? The two powerful open source alternatives, Chromium and Firefox, but also the bad quality and poor in features Web.

  • Distributions

    • Mint and openSUSE: My take on four Linux release candidates

      I spent the weekend looking at the release candidates for four — or two, depending on how you count them — upcoming Linux distributions. Perhaps it is a good commentary on the state of Linux distributions that the most important thing to say about all four is that they just work.

      From installation to hardware detection and driver support, and the full range of packages and applications included, everything just works with no huge drama.

    • First Impressions of Netrunner 4.2

      The Netrunner distribution is one I’ve been asked to review recently. It’s a project based on Kubuntu and the latest release of Netrunner, version 4.2, is based on Kubuntu 12.04, making it a long term support release. According the to the project’s website, Netrunner aims to be a complete desktop OS that will feel comfortable to new users while remaining flexible. The latest release is offered in both 32-bit and 64-bit builds and the ISO download is approximately 1.6GB in size.

    • 4 less-known Linux distros for beginners

      If you are a long time user of Windows or Mac and want to try Linux, there is a high chance that your first distro will be either Ubuntu, Linux Mint or Fedora since these distros are very popular. However, there are some other distros that are more suitable for beginners in my opinion. All of these distros work out of the box, come with a very friendly, easy-to-use desktop and are super easy to install and very well-supported.

    • Happy Birthday to Slackware Linux

      Today, Slackware celebrate it’s 19th birthday and i think it would be a perfect timing if we could have Slackware 14 on this wonderful moment, but unfortunately it’s not possible. Even though -Current is now stabilizing, there are still some things to do before we can have Slackware 14 ready for public.

    • 31 Flavors of Linux

      What do Bill Reynolds, Fabio Erculiani, and Clement Lefebvre have in common? They spearheaded new distributions that have become staples in Linux desktop computing. Beginning new projects is particularly difficult and not all who try succeed. So, that’s why Todd Robinson might sound a little nuts with his newest experiment. He’s going to attempt to create and release a complete Linux operating system each and every day for a whole month.

    • Todd Robinson and the 31 flavors project

      There is a joke that there are more Linux distros than the total amount of Linux users. When this saying is obviously exaggerating, it is true that we have a lot of Linux distros already out there. But there will be more. At least there will be 31 more Linux distros after August this year.

    • Open Ballot: What’s your ideal distribution look like?

      Package managers, desktops, installers, multimedia codecs, proprietary driver support, start up and shutdown, and release models. All these things, and many more, separate the different distributions from one another. In this week’s open ballot, we want to know if you were king for a day, what combination of components would you pluck out of which distributions to recombine into your perfect operating system?

    • New Releases

      • Pear Linux 5 – Sunsprite released
      • Arch 2012.07.15
      • Uploaded early alpha of SimplyMEPIS 12: version 11.9.60 Will hit public download sites within 48 hours. Subscribers can get it now.
      • Sophos UTM 9
      • Finnix 105 has been released
      • VectorLinux 7.0 SOHO Edition

        The final release of VectorLinux 7.0 SOHO is now available. This release is built on the 7.0 GOLD release featuring the recently released KDE4.8.3 desktop experience. VectorLinux is the fastest Linux desktop in it’s class bar none. We have spared no expense to bring the KDE4 desktop to the Linux community in a unique fashion that is best tried to see KDE4 at its most awesome potential. With the custom artwork, visual tweaks and a little Vector magic, behold SOHO as you have never seen it before.

      • First 64-bit edition of VectorLinux 7.0 now available

        Nearly eight months after the 32-bit edition arrived, a 64-bit edition of version 7.0 of the Slackware-based operating system has been announced by the VectorLinux developers. Like the project’s Standard edition, the 64-bit release of VectorLinux 7.0 – referred to as “VLocity Linux 64-7.0″ – includes support for DVD playback, audio and video codecs, and plugins for multimedia and Java support out of the box.

      • Linux Deepin 12.06 Final Release Out !

        Linux Deepin is one of the most active Linux distributions in China. The developers of LD endeavour to provide its users with an operating system of high stability and efficiency, in order to fulfil our goal to “Keep newbies free from pain and save time for the experts”. With the efforts from both the community and the company that work behind the project, LD is becoming easier to use every day. We would like to say thanks to all of you who join us and support us. Please follow our blog ( http://planet.linuxdeepin.com ). Linux Deepin is released twice a year. Last major release was Linux Deepin 11.12.

    • Red Hat Family

    • Debian Family

      • DebConf 12: Linux Gaming, Mobile, 64-bit ARMv8 Planning

        The DebConf 12 developer summit ended on Saturday in Managua. Here is a recap of the prominent Debian Linux and open-source discussions that took place in Nicaragua’s capitol for the past week.

      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Valve ports Steam and L4D2 to Ubuntu

            Valve has a working version of Steam and Left for Dead 2 on Ubuntu. The software company revealed this on a new blog about its efforts to bring its popular online game distribution platform to Linux.

            This official announcement confirms months of speculation about Valve’s Linux development plans. In fact, Phoronix first broke the news in 2010, but it seems that it’s only recently that there was enough reason to believe that Valve was serious.

          • Second-Class Citizens?

            Jonathan Riddell, who has been working on the Kubuntu for the last 7 years as its sole paid developer, announced back in February that Canonical would no longer provide financial support for Kubuntu after the release of Kubuntu 12.04.

            And article on OMGUbuntu! explains further that the decision boils down to business. Riddell in the Kubuntu article above did say, “it has not taken over the world commercially and shows no immediate signs of doing so…”

            While this shake up does not spell the end of Kubuntu it does shift the way it is supported. Canonical will, from Kubuntu 12.10 onwards, provide backing for the KDE flavour in the same way as it does Xubuntu, Edbuntu, and Lubuntu – with infrastructure and resources rather than money.

          • How to Undo Unity

            Like Ubuntu’s Unity interface? Great. If not, you can easily change it to look and act like Ubuntu used to. This tutorial shows how.

            I won’t debate whether Unity is an improvement. This article is simply a “How To” for those who want to alter it.

            We’ll start by customizing Unity. We’ll add and delete icons from the applications Launcher on the left-hand side of the screen, then we’ll add icons and folders to the desktop. I’ll introduce some Unity tweaking tools.

          • Ubuntu For Beginners: A Series Of Ubuntu Articles

            These articles are first and foremost meant for beginners in Ubuntu world and open source in general. That doesn’t mean that others, who are already very well involved in both the worlds, are forbidden to read. All of you are very welcome with your suggestions/ideas what could be better.

          • Flavours and Variants

            • Thinking About Fuduntu

              Funduntu 2012.3 is somewhat unique among Linux distributions. While you find many Debian and Ubuntu spins and forks you do not find as many Red Hat spins and forks that are user friendly, and more, optimized for laptops and netbooks.

              It seems not only optimized for netbooks and laptops, it is also very “Google friendly” having the Chromium browser, the Gmail application on the dock, and only having Google Docs for a word processor. I get this as Fuduntu is a distribution aimed at being light weight, and I credit the developers for having updated versions of Firefox, Thunderbird, and LibreOffice in the repository.

            • Linux Mint 13 XFCE Screenshots
  • Devices/Embedded

    • Overclocked Raspberry Pi running Raspbian OS is lightning quick

      The goal of the Raspberry Pi Foundation in releasing limited quantities of the Raspberry Pi was to accelerate the development of software for the machine before targeting schools. It seems to be working, and anyone lucky enough to have received their Raspberry Pi will soon be enjoying a much faster operating system.

    • Small low cost linux pc’s, an overview from 07-2012

      You might have heard of the Raspberry Pi, or the Cotton Candy, or the Snowball. Those are, besides nice pi, candy and snow, also small Linux pc’s. Most of them have an ARM chip, a small amount of memory and run some for of Linux.

      This page will provide an overview of what is on the market, specs, an image, and links to the boards. It is probably not complete, and if I forgot one, please leave a comment. I think I’ll be doing another overview at the end of the year.

    • Raspberry Pi Sales Restrictions Are Lifted

      As we’ve noted recently, when it comes to the top open source stories of 2012, it’s clear that one of the biggest is the proliferation of tiny, inexpensive Linux-based computers at some of the smallest form factors ever seen. And, the diminutive, credit card-sized Raspberry Pi (shown at left), priced at $25 and $35, is one of the most widely followed of these miniature systems. Now, the folks behind Raspberry Pi have announced that strict sales restrictions on the devices have been lifted.

    • Raspberry Pi: Making DIY computing cool again

      When it comes to the types of products and stories I cover, I’m rarely the most popular guy in the office. When Apple released all its new MacBooks several weeks ago, we had marketing folks streaming into the lab to get a glimpse. The CEO reportedly came by to try out the Windows 8 touchscreen PC we had set up. And it probably goes without saying that the phone, tablet, and camera guys around here get a lot more love than I do. Sadly, video cards, solid-state drives, motherboards, CPUs, and the like are all seen as too geeky, too user-unfriendly for the masses of my colleagues, so they usually leave me alone until some rare news happening forces them to remember I exist for a few hours.

    • Raspberry Pi waiting list scrapped: Let the bulk buying begin
    • The Value of Pi

      The sudden popularity of mini-board systems like Raspberry Pi have brought back the pioneering spirit of Linux’ early days. But will it bring a much-needed resurgence in programming and development?

      I have yet to get a Raspberry Pi unit for myself, nor do I think I will get one anytime soon. For one, I already have a nice mobile Linux laptop, currently running Ubuntu 12.04, so my Linux needs are quite well handled by that.

    • Raspberry Pi rivalled by rival quad-core Linux board

      The success of the Raspberry Pi has inspired a Korean firm to publish details of a new and more powerful version of the same ARM-based Linux computer-on-a-board concept, the ODROID-X.

      Marketed as a US $129 ($162) development board, the higher price of Hardkernel’s ODROID-X offers a taste of what the Raspberry Pi itself might one day turn into.

      At its heart is Samsung’s powerful Exynos4412 Cortex-A9 Quad Core running at1.4Ghz (also used in the Samsung SIII smartphone), enough grunt to run Ubuntu 12.04 as well as Android 4.04 on the 1GB of onboard RAM.

    • Phones

      • Android

        • Android 4.1 Jelly Bean: Complete List of All New Features

          Google officially unveiled its next-generation Android mobile OS, v4.1 Jelly Bean, in June at its annual I/O developer conference. The brand new software is currently only officially available for two devices, the Samsung Galaxy Nexus smartphone and Google’s brand new Nexus 7 tablet—check out a Nexus 7 hands-on here—but Jelly Bean should make its way to the bulk of new Android devices in the coming months, starting with the Samsung Galaxy S III and Motorola XOOM tablet.

    • Sub-notebooks/Tablets

      • Tablet price battle apparent in US market

        Tablet prices are dropping in the US with Samsung’s 7-inch Galaxy Tab now priced at US$219 from US$399 in various stores such as Wal-Mart and Best Buy along with white-brand tablets that are on sale for as low as US$59.

Free Software/Open Source

  • Open source offense could be our best defense against cyberattacks

    A core dilemma for IT today is how to properly protect the organizations’ information systems and assets given security tools often seem like a black hole sucking down both time and money. But a strong defense doesn’t have to be expensive, and a good place to start is assessing what information is publicly available and figuring out how to safeguard it from attack.

  • 5 Questions with David A. Wheeler

    Meet David A. Wheeler. He’s a Research Staff Member for the Institute for Defense Analyses (IDA) and a well-known speaker, author, and expert on open source software and security. He helped develop the Department of Defense’s open source software policy and FAQ and has written other guidance materials to help people understand how to use and collaboratively develop open source software in government. He has a Ph.D. in Information Technology, an M.S. in Computer Science, and a B.S. in Electronics Engineering. We hope you enjoy getting to know David.

  • Google Open Sources Turing Machine Doodle

    This past week, Google open sourced the code for the animated Turing Machine logic puzzle it posted to its homepage in celebration of the computing pioneer’s centenary. Turning would have been 100 on June 23rd, and one of his most famous creations was Turning Machine, which exhibited some of the fundamental concepts that underpin today’s computers.

  • Break free with Miro!

    Miro is a free and open source music player, video player, media converter, internet tv application, podcast organizer, downloader and generally a feature-rich multimedia playing, organizing and synchronizing application.

  • Events

    • Berlin in August: Free Software at Campus Party

      From August 21. to 26. there is Campus Party in Berlin. I was asked beforeif I can make suggestions for good speakers from the Free Software community.That is what I did. So beside the already announced keynote speakers like Jon “maddog” Hall, MarkSurman (Mozilla Foundation), and Rainey Reitman (EFF) to following talks will take place in the Free Software track…

  • Web Browsers

    • Chrome

    • Mozilla

      • Firefox 16 with new Address Bar Word Highlighting

        Sometimes it is the little things that are worth talking about. When you enter a phrase or word in Firefox’s address bar, you receive a listing with suggestions in a menu that opens up automatically. Depending on your configuration of the feature, you may see history items or bookmarks listed in the window. We have previously detailed how you can modify the Firefox address bar so that nothing, only bookmarks or history items, or both are displayed in it. Privacy is one reason why you may want to modify the settings but there are others, for instance to load bookmarks faster in the browser by only displaying bookmarks in the results.

      • The Grounding of Mozilla’s Thunderbird

        “Thunderbird does everything I want it to do right now,” said Google+ blogger Kevin O’Brien. “I grant that someone out there probably wants it to become a feed reader, a floor polish, and a dessert topping, but I’m fine with it just the way it is. If they just keep up the security patches (which they say they will do), I am fine with it.”

      • Ubuntu and Thunderbird: What the Future Might Hold

        For years, Ubuntu’s default email client was Evolution. Then, last year, Canonical switched to Mozilla Thunderbird. But now recent doubts over the future of Thunderbird — most of them pretty speculative — have spawned worries that Thunderbird might, in its turn, disappear from Ubuntu. Will it? And more importantly, would it really matter to many people? Here are some thoughts.

  • SaaS

  • Databases

    • 5 Interesting Things You Can Do With PostgreSQL

      One could write thousands of pages about all the features PostgreSQL offers. Instead, let’s take a look at five features that are particularly interesting and find out where PostgreSQL sits in relation to other open source and proprietary database systems. PostgreSQL has a lot more to offer than might be immediately obvious.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

  • BSD

    • BSD For Human Beings?

      As the founder of PC-BSD, what can you tell us about your decision to start this project? How did you get involved with BSD systems, and what drove you into creating one?

  • Project Releases

    • Firebug 1.10 released with new cookie manager

      Version 1.10.0 of the Firebug web development tool has been released with several new features, such as a cookie manager and support for syntax highlighting. The major update to the open source web debugger is now compatible with the current stable Firefox 13 release as well as the Beta (14), Aurora (15) and Nightly (16) branches. It no longer requires the browser to be restarted upon installation; however, users upgrading from version1.9 will need to restart.

    • GParted update brings refresh of live CD partitioning tools

      Following the recent release of GParted 0.13.0, there has been a new release of the project’s own GParted Live distribution, as well as one from the Parted Magic developer. GParted Live 0.13.0-1 includes several important, and in one case long-awaited, bug fixes and Parted Magic 2012_07_13 has been updated with new packages and an improved icon theme.

    • Parted Magic 2012_07_13 Incorporates GParted 0.13.0
  • Public Services/Government

    • Italian Local Government Warms to Open Source

      There is a natural tendency to concentrate on what is happening locally, and so most of the stories here on Open Enterprise are about what’s happening in the UK, or developments that affect it directly. But it’s important to remember that open source is a global development, and that things are bubbling away everywhere, all the time.

  • Openness/Sharing

  • Programming

    • What Exactly Is GitHub Anyway?

      Andreessen Horowitz announced a whopping $100 million investment in GitHub this week. You can read commentary and speculation all over the web about what GitHub will do with the money, whether this was a good investment for Andreessen Horowitz and whether taking such a large investment is a good thing for GitHub.

      But what the heck is GitHub and why are developers so excited about it? You may have heard that GitHub is a code sharing and publishing service, or that it’s a social networking site for programmers. Both statements are true, but neither explain exactly why GitHub is special.

Leftovers

  • Security

    • Apple losing battle with hacker

      While the fruity cargo cult Apple advertises that its systems are totally secure, it is fighting a losing a battle with a Russian hacker who appears to be having a laugh.
      Alexey Borodin published a video on YouTube showing users how they could avoid paying for in-app purchases without even having to gain root access to the system.
      The method is actually simple. All you need to do is install two security certificates and change the DNS settings on their device.
      Borodin claimed that more than 30,000 illegal in-app purchases have taken place since he told the world+dog about the hack.
      The Russian seems to have a beef with the business model which offers you free software but insists you pay out for new features.

      Read more: http://news.techeye.net/security/apple-losing-battle-with-hacker#ixzz20t3bbriH

  • Finance

    • Goldman Sachs and the $580 Million Black Hole

      THE business deal from hell began to crumble even before the Champagne corks were popped.

      The deal, the $580 million sale of a highflying technology company, Dragon Systems, had just been approved by its board and congratulations were being exchanged. But even then, at that moment of celebration, there was a sense that something was amiss.

      The chief executive of Dragon had received a congratulatory bottle from the investment bankers representing the acquiring company, a Belgian competitor called Lernout & Hauspie. But he hadn’t heard from Dragon’s own bankers at Goldman Sachs.

      “I still have not received anything from Goldman,” the executive wrote in an e-mail to the other bank. “Do they know something I should know?”

    • Former Goldman Sachs director convicted

      Former Goldman Sachs board member Rajat Gupta lived the American Dream before being led astray by a wealthy friend who was a master at insider trading.

      That was the view of two jurors who on Friday voted with 10 others to convict Gupta of three counts of securities fraud and one count of conspiracy for sharing corporate secrets with hedge fund manager Raj Rajaratnam.

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

    • Tar Heel Lawmakers Put Global Warming on Hold! (or, a Rising Tide Lifts No Votes)

      In a backward leap of anti-Copernican proportions, North Carolina’s state legislature recently passed what may be the nation’s first state-wide global warming denial legislation.

      The legislature on July 2 effectively nullified the state’s own science panel’s report predicting a 20 to 55-inch rise in sea level. The statehouse also commanded scientists to wait until July 1, 2016, to make their next report (and only after it is approved/scrubbed by the powers that be).

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • Censored by Copyright

        This week, I made a parody music video criticising Lord Finesse for being a copyright draconian. Guess what. He had my video pulled down, claiming it infringed his copyright. Which proves my point more than anything I could have said myself. Techdirt has written an article on the issue here.

        Anyway, in response to that, I got my Michael Moore on and have made this video. Ridiculously, I have had to avoid showing you any segment of the censored video, or of the song which I am discussing, for fear that Finesse will try to have THIS video removed too. With that in mind, please mirror and share as much as possible in case this one gets hit with a take-down as well.

TechBytes Episode 69: Richard Stallman on Restricted Boot (UEFI), Coreboot, GRUB, and Boot Freedom

Posted in TechBytes at 8:22 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Techbytes 2012

Direct download as Ogg (0:13:28, 5.5 MB)

Summary: The first part of our interview with Richard Stallman covers Restricted Boot and related issues

I first interviewed Richard Stallman about 5 years ago. Yesterday I spoke to him about the subject of much debate in the Free software world right now. Here is a transcript of our conversation.

Dr. Roy Schestowitz: I want to know how big a threat you think the so-called “secure” boot is considered to be to the Free software movement.

Richard StallmanDr. Richard Stallman: It’s a disaster. Well, except that it’s not secure boot that’s a disaster, it’s restricted boot. Those are not the same. When it’s front of the control of the user, secure boot is a security feature. It allows the user to control what programs can run on a machine and thus prevent — you might say — unexpected malware from running. We have to distinguish the unexpected malware such as viruses from the expected malware such as Windows or Mac OS or Flash Player and so on, which are also malware; they have features that hurt the user but users know what they are installing. In any case, what secure boot does is that it causes the machine to only work with (?) programs that are signed with a certain key, your keys. And as long as the user controls which keys they are, then it’s a security feature. However, it can be chained into a set of digital handcuffs when the user doesn’t control the keys. And this [is] happening.

“We have to distinguish the unexpected malware such as viruses from the expected malware such as Windows or Mac OS…”Microsoft demands that ARM computers sold for Windows 8 be set up so that the user cannot change the keys; in other words, turn it into restricted boot. Now, this is not a security feature. This is abuse of the users. I think it ought to be illegal.

It’s a matter of control by the vendor of course, not control by the user himself

Exactly, and that’s why it’s wrong. That’s why non-free software is wrong. The users deserve to have control of their computers/

I think that not only Windows is going to be an issue in fact, if you consider the fact that even a modified kernel is going to be in a position where it’s perhaps not seen as verified for execution. Right, I’m saying, it might not only be a malicious feature in case of something like Windows running on it, it’s also for — let’s say — a user of the offered operating system but it’s free if the user wants to modify the operating system, for example…

The thing is, if the user doesn’t control the keys, then it’s a kind of shackle, and that would be true no matter what system it is. After all, why is GNU/Linux better than Windows? Not just ’cause it has a different name. The reason it’s better is because it’s freedom-respecting Free software that the users control. But if the machine has restricted boot and the users can’t control the system, then it would be just as bad as Windows. So, if the machine will only run a particular version of GNU/Linux, that is a restriction feature. And I haven’t heard anyone doing that yet with GNU/Linux, but that’s what Red Hat and Ubuntu are proposing to do things — somewhat like that — for future PCs that are shipped for Windows. But it’s not exactly that. And my reason is, the users will be able to change the keys. They will be able to boot their own modified version of the system of Fedora or Ubuntu if they want. So, what Fedora and Ubuntu were proposing doesn’t go all the way there. They’re proposing to do things to make it more convenient for users to install the standard version of those systems. But if things go as it has been announced, users will still be able to change the keys and boot their own versions. So, if all the restricted boot — but it will be something that goes sort of half-way there — it’s somewhat distasteful.

“The thing is, if the user doesn’t control the keys, then it’s a kind of shackle, and that would be true no matter what system it is.”On the other hand, with Android, which is another mostly Free operating system which contains Linux but doesn’t contain GNU, it’s quite common for the product to have something equivalent to restricted boot, and people have to struggle to figure out how they can install a modified and more free version of Android. So, the presence of the kernel Linux in a system doesn’t guarantee it’s going to be better. And I’ve heard someone say — oh, it hasn’t been checked — that a particular or kind of Android device is actually using an Intel chip with restricted boot.

One of the concerns that I think is worth raising is the fact that, as far as I know, with many of the embedded devices, especially those based on ARM, I believe it’s not even possible to get into boot menu to disable so-called “secure”…

That’s where Microsoft is really going all out, because Microsoft has ordered essentially — demanded — that those shipping ARM devices for Windows 8 make it restricted boot with no way to get around it.

Yeah, which also means of course waste of… all sorts of impacts on the environment. Any time that hardware become obsolete with the operating system itself is not being used of course…

“So it’s a very damaging thing that Microsoft is doing and so we need to look for every possible way to stop them or tweak what they’re doing.”Well, it’s worse than that. It means basically that those devices, you have to throw them out if you want to escape to the free world. And this — in the past — we were able to install, to liberate a computer by installing Free software on it instead of its user-restricting operation system, and this of course was tremendously helpful to the spread of GNU/Linux because it meant that users could move to freedom. It would be much harder if they had to buy another computer to do so. So it’s a very damaging thing that Microsoft is doing and so we need to look for every possible way to stop them or tweak what they’re doing.

Well, I wanted to ask you, one of our readers — his name is Will — is asking me if you have seen any new good hardware that can take coreboot.

I’m sorry, what?

One of my readers — a guy called Will — he has asked me if you have seen any new good hardware that can take coreboot.

“So, what we really need to do is make coreboot libre, just as we make Linux libre (which doesn’t have the blobs)…”I don’t know. Basically, I don’t keep track of hardware models. I only remember their names anymore, except for the one I use, which is, the Lemote Yeelong and it doesn’t run coreboot but it will run timar [?] in GRUB, it has a Free BIOS. When it comes it has a Free BIOS, which is why I chose it. But in terms of running coreboot, well, the machine which you run coreboot on are Intel-type machines. Now, there are a couple of… there is a problem, and that is, a lot of the Intel — and also AMD — CPUs require a microcode blob, and coreboot has these microcode blobs, which is the same kind of problem as firmware blobs in Linux. So, what we really need to do is make coreboot libre, just as we make Linux libre (which doesn’t have the blobs), keep (?) the coreboot libre (which doesn’t have the blobs) and then we need to see which processors actually run adequately without any microcode blob. And we’re looking for somebody who wants to lead this project ’cause it takes work. Now, leading this project doesn’t mean that you personally get all these kinds of hardware; oh, no, it would be asking the whole community to test things, but somebody has got to ask the community to do it, spread the word, receive the responses, put them together, and publish the list. Would (?) he like to do that? If he is really interested in having the answer to this question, maybe he’d like to help get the answer, and that would help the whole community.


More from Stallman is to be published in coming days.

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Gartner Attacks Free Software and Transparency in Government

Posted in Europe, Microsoft, Open XML at 5:38 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Government corruption often leads back to the Gartner Group

Politics

Summary: “Last week, the city denied the request, saying that the calculations are part of the trade secrets from Gartner,” says a report

THE popularity of Free/open source software in Europe is undeniable, based on new figures. It is a quiet transition.

The Gartner Group, however, has been fighting against it, as we showed over the years.

“It is corrupt on every level and this behaviour oughtn’t be tolerated.”Gartner uses excuses for censorship of opinions; it wants journalists to not mention the name “Gartner” unless it can control what the publicity is saying, and so on. It is corrupt on every level and this behaviour oughtn’t be tolerated.

Following some recent protests from the FSFE, calls for transparency in Helsinki became louder and louder, so consequently, the EU Web site covered it as follows: “Advocates of free and open source software in Helsinki are pressing the city’s IT department to make public the cost calculations they used to argue that a switch to a vendor-independent office suite is too expensive. A member of the city council is considering a demand that the IT department divulges the details.

“I am disappointed on this decision by the IT department to keep the cost details under wraps”, comments Green League city council member Johanna Sumuvuori. The council member has been advocating the use of open source by the city administration since October 2010. Following her council resolution the city started a ten-month pilot with using Open Office in February 2011.”

“Microsoft has been using OOXML to impede the use of OpenOffice.org.”Here is the interesting part: “The Finnish chapter of the Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE) in April used the Freedom of Information act to request that the calculations be made public. Last week, the city denied the request, saying that the calculations are part of the trade secrets from Gartner, an IT consultancy.”

There are already complaints about this, but Gartner always gets away with such misbehaviour. Considering the fact that some Finnish cities manage to move to FOSS (according to this new report), it seems like the reason for secrecy may be misconduct. To give as an example those who do it right:

The IT department of the Finnish city of Tampere will try out OpenOffice, a free and open source office suite. The free suite of office productivity tools will be installed alongside the proprietary office suite currently used by the city staff. The IT department warns against high expectations.

Microsoft has been using OOXML to impede the use of OpenOffice.org. Gartner helped OOXML. Bill Gates and Microsoft also funnel money into Gartner, which in turn does a lot to derail Free/open source software adoption. We shall see how well this deployment in Finland goes. In any event, transparent is a must; there is public money at stake. If Gartner requires secrecy, it must never be hired. I discussed such issue with Richard Stallman yesterday. I will soon public the audio and transcript (the latter process takes a lot of time).

Microsoft is Sexist

Posted in Microsoft at 5:22 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Microsoft writes code (for proprietary software) which is offensive, treating women like sexual objects

Microsoft’s plague of sexism is nothing new to us as it was covered here before [1, 2, 3, 4], but this new example is more blatant than previous ones. It doesn’t leave much room for interpretation. “Who said Microsoft developers don’t have a sense of humor,” writes Muktware, “[e]ven if that humor is sexist. Our own Matthew Garrett, UEFI secure boot fame, has posted a blog about the magic constant Microsoft used in its HyperV code.”

Here is the original (we would rather not quote the offensive bits): “So, full marks, Microsoft. You’ve managed to make the [Linux] kernel more offensive to half the population and you’ve made it awkward for us to rectify it.” It took a while to remove curse words from the source code and now Microsoft pollutes it, and not just in the comments.

Microsoft — not FOSS — is hostile to women. Remember that. Free software opponents love to pretend that Free software proponents are sexist; it’s usually spin and utter nonsense. Computer Science in general can be hostile to women, not FOSS. At Microsoft, where secrecy is prevalent,incidents or sexism less frequently become public knowledge.

Windows on Phones is Hopeless

Posted in Microsoft, Windows at 5:10 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Communication

Summary: Lack of inertia and technical flaws prevent Microsoft from ever adapting to a newly-discovered/realised and ever-increasing (in terms of usage) form factor

THE mobile failures of Microsoft are numerous and there has been no exception. Microsoft lost a lot of money in this area. According to this one educated developer, targeting Windows phones would be foolish. To quote: “While it’s possible to download applications from the Windows Phone Marketplace in Slovenia and many other countries, it’s impossible for developers to publish them with their own account. You simply cannot register a developer account. We are not even talking about the possibility of accepting payments, it’s impossible to publish free applications as well. Why they would insist on such a limitation is truly baffling.

“So Microsoft Slovenia is kind enough to publish all the apps from Slovenian developers under their account. While that was better than nothing, it also meant that we didn’t have the access to publishing our own app or statistics about how the app was doing. Everything could only be done through email with the Microsoft Slovenia employees. What that also meant is that any phone which we wanted to use for development purposes had to be physically taken to Ljubljana, to the local Microsoft HQ to be unlocked. Doable, but highly annoying and time-consuming.

“Imagine badgering employees at another company to hurry up with the upload by email each time you need to publish a bug fix, let alone optimise the description of the app.”

“Microsoft lost a lot of money in this area.”Microsoft can never catch up with Android, not even with Nokia having been abducted. There is no inertia for Windows on mobile and with growing losses it is harder for Microsoft to justify further investments.

While predators who devour FOSS are growing (Black Duck, for example, was founded by a Microsoft guy) Microsoft itself is poised to announce losses, as we showed before.

Nokia too is rapidly shrinking with this latest shutdown of offices in China. To quote: “Nokia is shuffling its operations in China as it hopes to better address the largest smartphone market in the world.

“Nokia CEO Stephen Elop talked about the opportunities in China back in April, when the company had signed a new deal with China Telecom. At the time, he had vowed to expand to more carriers and it looked to expand its footprint in the region.”

So much for “Plan A”.

Kodak’s Pile of Patents May Become a Menace to Society

Posted in Patents at 4:54 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Camera

Summary: It seems possible that Kodak’s patent portfolio will be sold to a yet-unknown buyer that can silently tax society with them

THE state of Kodak is rather critical, so its patents seem increasingly likely to be dispersed and scooped up by monopolists and/or trolls. To quote: “A U.S. judge, Allan Gropper, has ruled that Kodak may sell its patents through the bankruptcy process.

“We already saw what happened to Nortel and Novell.”“An order will be approved that will give the print and photography corporation the opportunity to sell any of over 1,100 patents Kodak currently owns, according to a hearing on Monday.

“As part of a last-minute attempt to downsize the company, restructure and focus on printing services rather than the photography market — potentially saving the beleaguered former photography giant — the NY-based corporation wishes to gain additional revenue by trading patents that relate specifically to digital imagery. These patents focus on processes including shrinking, manipulating, editing and sharing.”

We have started a wiki page about Kodak because we expect it to become a serious issue in years to come due to its patents. We already saw what happened to Nortel and Novell.

Microsoft Front Group Goes Lobbying on Patent Ruling, Software Patents Being Pushed Abroad

Posted in America, Microsoft, Patents at 4:44 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Capitol.

Summary: Lobbyists and US diplomats push the agenda of Microsoft by expanding the reach of software patents while fighting a ban on Xbox 360

THE BSA, a Microsoft front group, was recently seen lobbying regarding patents in the US, but this time we see it jumping to Microsoft’s defence a lot more directly in light of a legal fight Microsoft started against Motorola. As Motorola gets its way against Apple and Microsoft (cases dropped) we learn that the BSA lobbies again. To quote: “The Business Software Alliance (BSA) this week urged the US International Trade Commission not to issue market exclusion orders against certain gaming consoles, smartphones, tablet computers, and related technologies that use internationally recognized technology standards which Motorola says infringe on its patents, because it would have a chilling effect on competition and harm consumers, a press release by the Alliance stated.

“BSA submitted public-interest comments for the ITC to consider in investigations it is conducting into complaints Motorola has lodged against Microsoft and Apple (investigation numbers 337-TA-752 and 337-TA-745, respectively).”

It’s about the ITC and XBox 360.

“Based on Cablegate, those treaties are nothing more than imperialism and a form of corruption.”Others joined the BSA in their action regarding the US ITC. There are other fights at the ITC, which helps embargo products on behalf of US interests (it’s imperialist by design). Meanwhile we learn that more pressure is also put on New Zealand to legalise software patents there. To quote: “New Zealand’s lack of opposition to the “investor-state dispute provisions” in the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) is evident from a leaked draft negotiation text, says TPPA critic Jane Kelsey. However Kelsey acknowledges that New Zealand has not irrevocably signed up to provisions that would allow foreign investors to sue our government.

“She explains that the punctuation of the leaked document reveals much about the negotiation positions of TPPA parties.”

Based on Cablegate, those treaties are nothing more than imperialism and a form of corruption. How long will we see lobbyists batting like this not just in companies’ home countries but also abroad? Those treaties are against the interests of actual people; no sane person would tolerate them, but superorganisms such as corporations would.

UEFI Problems Addressed by Linux Developers, Not Distributions

Posted in GNU/Linux, Kernel, Microsoft at 4:26 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Growing in the market by addressing the roots of the problem

Growth

Summary: Linux (kernel) developers turn their attention to UEFI imposition by convicted monopoly abuser Microsoft

THE controversy around UEFI is being further addressed, this time by Linux developers. SJVN writes: “We all know that Windows 8 PCs will come locked up tight Microsoft’s UEFI (Unified Extensible Firmware Interface) secure boot on. This will prevent you from easily installing Linux or any other operating system, such as Windows 7 or XP, on a Windows 8 system. What we don’t know is exactly how original equipment manufacturers (OEM)s will be implementing UEFI, never mind secure boot, on these new machines. To address this problem, James Bottomley, chair of the Linux Foundation’s Technical Advisory Board, has released a version of the Intel Tianocore UEFI boot image and some code that Linux programmers can use to get around Windows 8′s Secure Boot restrictions.

“Intel Tianocore is an open-source image of Intel’s UEFI. Until recently this image didn’t have the Authenticode that Microsoft uses for Secure Boot (PDF Link) but now Tinocore includes this functionality as well.

“Bottomley’s work is important because, as Bottomley says, it will “widen the pool of people who are playing with UEFI Secure boot. The Linux Foundation Technical Advisory Board have been looking into this because it turns out to be rather difficult to lay your hands on real UEFI Secure Boot enabled hardware.””

If workarounds are found that neither involve antitrust complaint nor an attack on bootloader freedom, Red Hat and Canonical might end up looking rather silly. Later today I will release my conversation with Richard Stallman on this subject.

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