Links 20/10/2012: Ubuntu Getting More Closed, OpenOffice.org Promoted in Apache

Posted in News Roundup at 7:39 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



Free Software/Open Source

  • Achieving Photorealism in Blender

    (Unfortunately the video I recorded on the day was too dark and difficult to hear, so I figured there was no point in uploading it. Sorry about that!)

  • The Apache Software Foundation Announces Apache OpenOffice™ as a Top-Level Project

    The Apache Software Foundation (ASF), the all-volunteer developers, stewards, and incubators of nearly 150 Open Source projects and initiatives, today announced that Apache Open Office has graduated from the Apache Incubator to become a Top-Level Project (TLP), signifying that the Project’s community and products have been well-governed under the ASF’s meritocratic process and principles.

  • OSI and OSHWA agree on logo usage

    The Open Source Hardware Association (OSHWA), which was officially launched in June, has signed an agreementPDF with the Open Source Initiative (OSI) to settle a dispute over its Open Source Hardware (OSHW) logo. Following concerns that the logo OSHWA was using to denote the open hardware nature of devices was too similar to the OSI’s trademark, both organisations worked out an agreement that clarifies the difference between the logos and the areas they are applied in.

  • Open Call for Packagers!

    In the past, we’ve had people pull code right out of our master branch. There were a few problems with this technique for deployment; pulling out of the active branch of development meant that a podmin had no idea as to how stable the latest code for a pod could be. Secondly, we think that setting up a pod should be easier, as people shouldn’t have to mess around with a terminal and lots of config files to enjoy the benefits of a decentralized social web.

  • Open Source Vendor Zarafa Solves Apple’s iOS Problems
  • Events

  • SaaS

  • Databases

    • 10gen: Growing the MongoDB world

      10gen, the company set up by the creators of the open source NoSQL database MongoDB, has been on a roll recently, creating business partnerships with numerous companies, making it a hot commercial proposition without creating any apparent friction with its open source community. So what has brought MongoDB to the fore?

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • Congrats Apache OpenOffice!

      Today the Apache Software Foundation announced that Apache OpenOffice ™ is a top level project, and I really wish to congratulate with the Apache OpenOffice Community to have achieved this important milestone.

    • LibreOffice 3.5.7 Released

      What’s a conference without a release announcement? The Document Foundation didn’t find out today because it announced the release of LibreOffice 3.5.7. 3.5.7 is “the seventh and possibly last version of the free office suite’s 3.5 family, which solves additional bugs and regressions, and offers stability improvements over LibreOffice 3.5.6.”

    • Mark Hurd: Oracle Accepts Cloud And Hadoop

      Oracle chief operating officer Mark Hurd says the company really is enthusiastic about open source, big Data and the cloud

    • Is Hadoop the Answer to Oracle Customers’ Big Data Problems?

      Oracle customers are facing a big data problem, and Hadoop is the answer – reluctant as Oracle is to admit it.

      Speaking at the Oracle product and strategy update in London yesterday, Oracle president Mark Hurd said that the company’s customers are growing their data up to 40% a year, putting tremendous pressure on IT budgets.

    • Apache Elevates Open Source OpenOffice – So What?

      There was a time when OpenOffice was where I spent a good chunk of my work day. Those days are now in the past, as I’ve moved on and so has every single major Linux distribution. We’ve all moved to a faster more agile open source office suite. We have moved to LibreOffice.

  • Education

    • Parents of non-traditional learners advocate for open education

      While Thomas Edison is often lauded as the most prolific American inventor, his mother, Nancy Edison, and how she fostered an open education and an open mind in her son is often overlooked. When a headmaster labelled Edison as being ‘addled,’ slow, and unteachable, his mother disagreed and decided to withdraw her son from school and teach him at home. She knew her son was a bright, curious, creative child who thought divergently yet was often disorganized, disruptive, and hyperactive; today he would most likely be diagnosed as having ADHD.

  • Healthcare

  • Business

    • Up to Date on Open Source Analytics

      I’ve been updating the computational analytics platform on my Wintel notebook the last few days. I’d fallen behind several versions on each of the main tools and decided to get them all back in synch at once. The good news for hackers like me is that there are so many freely-available, open source analytics products to choose from. The bad news is that it takes a focused effort to stay up to date on the latest largesse.

  • Funding

  • BSD


    • New Features Coming Up For The GCC 4.8 Compiler
    • Initial ARMv8 Support For 32-bit GCC Port

      Developers from ARM Holdings have published their initial ARMv8 patch for the GNU Compiler Collection for the 32-bit “AArch32″ compiler port.

      ARM developers had already been working on their 64-bit ARM / AArch64 compiler port, which was officially approved just days ago. The latest ARM open-source compiler patch is ARMv8 in the AArch32 port with basic functionality.

  • Project Releases

    • VLC Media Player 2.0.4 supports Opus decoding

      Version 2.0.4 of the VLC Media Player has been released by the VideoLAN project. While the minor version number change may not reflect it, the new release is described as a major update by its developers as it fixes numerous regressions and introduces support for the IETF’s Opus lossy audio compression format. It also brings several other improvements and platform-specific changes.

  • Public Services/Government

  • Programming

    • The Growth of Google Summer of Code

      I recently sat down with Chris DiBona to talk about the 15th anniversary of Slashdot. In addition to discussing the joys of heading an email campaign against spamming politicians, and the perils of throwing a co-worker’s phone into a bucket, even if you think that bucket is empty, we talked about the growth of Google Summer of Code. Below you’ll find his story of how a conversation about trying to get kids to be more active with computers in the summer has led to the release of 55 million lines of code.

    • Subversive brings Subversion to Eclipse


  • The Pioneers of UNIX

    Steve Jobs? Steve Jobs didn’t do jack. If you want to know who is responsible for the modern world you have to look at the people working at Bell Labs in the 1970s and 1980s. The people who created UNIX. It was from that invention that we have the modern world. UNIX led to Linux which led to Android. UNIX led to the BSD family of operating systems which led to Apple OSX. UNIX led to the C programming language in which most system-level software today is written. Ever wonder why URLs use forward slashes? It’s because UNIX was instrumental in the creation of the Internet.

  • Security

  • Finance

    • Why I Left Goldman Sachs, Chapter Three: “My Alleged Competition”

      On Monday morning, Grand Central Publishing will release Why I Left Goldman Sachs: A Wall Street Story, a memoir penned by former Goldman employee Greg Smith, based on his op-ed for the New York Times entitled, “Why I Am Leaving Goldman Sachs.” When Smith’s piece came out last March, few if any senior executives inside the bank were pleased, in part because it came as a total shock. No one at Goldman had known Smith was planning to have his resignation letter printed in the paper. No one had known he had issues with the firm’s supposedly new and singular focus on making money at all costs. No one, at least at the top, even knew who Greg was. Obviously all this left the bank at a competitive disadvantage in terms of fighting back and for the time being, Smith appeared to be handing Goldman its ass. Getting cocky, even. Perhaps thinking to himself, “When all of this is over, I could be named the new CEO of Goldman Sachs.” As anyone who has ever won a bronze medal in ping-pong at the Maccabiah Games will tell you, however, winners are determined by best of threes. And that anyone going to to the table with Goldman Sachs should be prepared for things to get ugly.

    • Big Oil and the U.S. Chamber Fight to Keep Foreign Bribery Flourishing

      In a new lawsuit against the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), big energy extractors are pushing for carte blanche in their interactions with foreign governments, making it harder to track whether their deals are padding the coffers of dictators, warlords, or crony capitalists. The United States Chamber of Commerce, American Petroleum Institute, the Independent Petroleum Association of America, and the National Foreign Trade Council filed a lawsuit on October 10, 2012 against a new SEC rule, which requires U.S. oil, mining and gas companies to formally disclose payments made to foreign governments as part of their annual SEC reporting.

  • Censorship

  • Privacy

  • Copyrights

Windows Franchise Collapses, Microsoft Unable to Hide It

Posted in Microsoft, Vista 8, Windows at 5:27 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Hard winter for the monopolist

Snow on car

Summary: At Microsoft, revenue is down 33% for the client operating system and no encouraging change over the horizon

Some wonder where Microsoft is heading, but financial reality bites hard and the company is unable to keep hiding the losses as a 24% slump gets reported company-wide.

Prices are being raised, but inflation too leaves Windows devalued and unwanted:

Even if they counted the deferred revenue for filling the supply-chain with “8″ they would still be off 10% so they are doing worse than the unit shipments of PCs, expected because their share is falling. Retailers are really hoping they can sell “8″… There was no back-to-school bump. The whole operation was off 8%.

Apologists of course would scream, “but Windows 8!!” Well, no… it won’t do the trick. It gets negative reviews already and it’s not even out yet, so the
AstroTurf is clearly not working.

Now is the time for UEFI to kick in and for Microsoft boosters like Kurt Mackie to promote it. They need to discourage Android or GNU/Linux installs. Microsoft is lying about its tablets in a desperate attempt to get pre-orders, but buyers don’t want it; neither home users nor corporations. As Murdoch’s press put it:

Microsoft Corp. has made big changes to its familiar Windows operating system to stay relevant amid booming sales of mobile devices such as Apple Inc.’s iPad. But some corporate customers worry Microsoft has made its workplace workhorse too unfamiliar.

They basically end their inertia with application incompatibility and unfamiliar GUIs. It is easy to see why developers — not just users — drift away from Windows:

Being more like Apple isn’t always a good thing. That’s apparent in the growing developer resistance to the new “Windows Store” in Microsoft’s upcoming Windows 8 operating system.

Increasingly, developers and users move to Linux. Game makers bring Steam to GNU/Linux, Android has become the best selling operating system, and the list goes on. This week marks the huge public decline of Windows.

Apple Loses in the UK, Must Publicly Admit It Lied

Posted in Apple, Europe, GNU/Linux, Google, Patents at 5:00 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Apple headphones

Summary: Apple does not find favourable rulings outside the United States and moreover it must apologise at its own expense for libel against Android devices

THE USPTO has been getting docile support from Obama and from the US Congress because the Establishment is there to defend the interests of plutocrats, pushing their competition out of the market, especially foreign competition. Here is fear of doing something which may upset those plutocrats:

Three out of four panelists at an Oct. 16 Congressional briefing agreed that the smartphone patent wars show that “the patent system is broken,” but none was optimistic that Congress can or will do anything to fix it.

For a Congress that entertained patent system constituencies’ battles for many years before passing the America Invents Act, there was little appetite, it seemed, for continuing the fight–especially considering the AIA has not even been fully implemented–on the highly controversial question of whether software patents should be banned.

So, despite sweeping public consent for an overhaul, nothing is being done, still. The problem is political in nature, in the sense that “institutional corruption,” as Professor Lessig calls it, prevents progress. Large corporations always get their way. In the courtroom, however, it’s not always so, especially for US corporations in other countries (that too is political). There are exceptions of course, even from hypocrites like Bezos who pushed for software patents in Europe and now wants change. To quote the original report about his latest realisation:

Government action could be needed to bring an end to a litany of patent lawsuits in the consumer technology market, such as those between Apple and Samsung, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos has told Metro.

Another exception to the rule (US companies winning cases in the US) is Apple, but as more evidence comes to the surface we often find that politics, nationalism and trial misconduct cannot outweigh the truth. “UK Appellate Court Confirms Pan-European Win for Samsung on iPad Community Design Charges,” say the lawyers as Apple loses in the UK again [1, 2, 3]. Apple wants secrecy around its claims because these are so darn ridiculous. “In post-trial battles with Samsung, Apple fights to keep documents sealed,” says Ars Technica. Here is a noteworthy quote:

Apple has lost is appeal in a UK court against Samsung’s Galaxy Tab. The court of appeals has upheld its previous judgment that Samsung did not infringe on any Apple design. The judge had said that ‘Samsung products were not as cool as Apple’.

The previous decision had come in July. Colin Birss (sitting as a Judge of the High Court, UK) had said that Galaxy Tab does not infringe upon the design of Apple’s iPad. The judge said that Galaxy Tab is not identical to the iPad even if there are some similarities but that doesn’t account to design infringement. The judge actually criticized Samsung’s design by stating that they “do not have the same understated and extreme simplicity which is possessed by the Apple design.”

In other words, Android has more features. The MSBBC covered this as well. Apple will need to apologise to the public, to apologise to Samsung, and adding insult to injury, Apple will need to pay for it. It’s like a public walk of shame after military surrender. Jobs’ troops will hang their big heads in shame.

Twin Peaks Spreads FUD Against the GPL

Posted in GPL, Patents, Red Hat at 4:32 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Petronas twin tower

Summary: The company which bullies Red Hat using software patents makes itself an enemy of GNU, too

The case of Twin Peaks was covered in several legal sites before. Groklaw says that GPL has become central in this case, and one might say in a very familiar way. To quote Webbink, writing about his former employer: “In the following paragraph (33) Twin Peaks accepts the Court’s observation about open source software, but Twin Peaks then denies any of the remaining allegations of paragraph 33 of the counterclaims. Effectively, Twin Peaks thus denies that in Jacobsen the Federal Circuit held open source licenses enforceable under copyright law. Really?

“In paragraph 38 et. seq. Twin Peaks denies sufficient information to admit that the GPLv2 places restrictions on distribution. Twin Peaks denies sufficient information to admit the very provisions of the GPLv2 that Red Hat cites. In paragraph 45 Twin Peaks denies that the program in question (util-linux and the “mount” program) are licensed under GPLv2.

“The bottom line is that Twin Peaks is going to attempt what others have attempted, i.e., to prove the GPL is either inapplicable or unenforceable. The problem Twin Peaks will face is the fact that not one, but two, separate Courts of Appeal, one of which is the Federal Circuit, have already addressed this issue as well as the issue of injunctive relief.”

Cases that challenge the GPL are important for all sorts of reasons (we covered them before). They strike at the core of copyleft. So far, the GPL has always won.

Moves to Block Patent Trolls Would Benefit From End to Software Patents

Posted in Patents at 4:25 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Microsoft, for example, uses Nokia to feed patent trolls with Android-hostile software patents


Summary: An international crackdown on patent trolling overlooks the correlations which can address the problem more easily

A little while back we saw an effort by a couple of American politicians to stop patent trolls [1, 2], but trolls remain a big challenge because they too find loopholes, such as splitting loads and summoning proxies. Intellectual Ventures uses over one thousand such proxies and one legal site says:

This holding clarifies that two subsidiaries wholly owned by the same parent do not count as “commonly owned” for terminal disclaimer purposes. The decision underscores the importance of looking to the assignment history of the asserted patents and the relationships among the assignees in a patent family that are subject to terminal disclaimers when preparing a patent litigation defense.

In some cases, trolls are controlled or used by practising companies, e.g. MOSAID as utilised by Microsoft. Australia seems so concerned about the trolls epidemic that new laws are being considered these days.

“Most of the time — some estimated empirically — patent trolls file lawsuits with software patents.”In other news, the EFF welcomes a move that can help stop a troll’s favourite weapon: software patents. It writes about the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, noting that: “In a welcome move, the full Federal Circuit has agreed to revisit a troubling ruling in a case called CLS Bank v. Alice Corp. This case, along with the Ultramercial case, presents an important opportunity for the courts to insert some long-overdue sanity into the debate over what can and cannot be patented. In light of the Supreme Court’s ruling earlier this year in Mayo, we think the Federal Circuit has little choice but to throw out the dangerous patents in both CLS Bank and Ultramercial and make clear once and for all that ideas that are otherwise abstract cannot be patented simply because they are executed on the Internet or in a computer system.”

One way to impede patent trolling is to end software patents. Patent trolls are rare in Europe for a reason. Most of the time — some estimated empirically — patent trolls file lawsuits with software patents.

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