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Links 3/1/2013: Ubuntu Phone OS Unveiled, Linux 3.8-rc2, KDE 4.9.5 Released

Posted in News Roundup at 9:26 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



Free Software/Open Source

  • The year of open source in libraries

    If not the year, it was still an impressive year for open source in libraries. It was 2004 when I first learned about the Koha open source integrated library system and started researching what it would mean to our library to make the switch to open source. Back then, when I asked people if they knew what open source was or if they had heard of Koha, I heard “no” a lot more than I do now. Now, people call me up and ask me to come to their libraries to speak about open source and help them find the right products for their library. Now, I hardly ever hear, “We can’t pick open source because it’s too immature.” Instead people contact me to ask what they have to do to get their hands on the latest and greatest release of Koha. It’s because of these changes that I’m seeing in the library professionals I meet that I proclaim 2012 the year of open source in libraries!

  • Happy New Year & Browser and OS stats for 2012

    I’d like to wish everyone a happy new year on behalf of the entire LQ team. 2012 has been another great year for LQ and we have quite a few exciting developments in store for 2013, including a major code update that we originally had planned for late 2012.

    Unfortunately, 2012 has been another quiet year from a blogging perspective, but I do regularly post to the LQ twitter account. Posting more lengthy commentary here is something I’ll try to be more cognizant of this year.


    Operating Systems
    Windows 53.56%
    Linux 35.54%

  • The Web browser wars continue, and #1 is… well, that depends on whom you ask
  • TECH TALK: Open source is legal software alternative

    Despite the increasing affordability of computers, the software that actually runs those devices can still be fairly expensive. Fairly common programs such as Microsoft Office can run hundreds of dollars, and higher-end products like Adobe Photoshop can easily cost more than $500.

  • January 2013 Project of the Month: DosBox
  • Open Source in 2013
  • NeuroDNet – an open source platform for constructing and analyzing neurodegenerative disease networks

    Genetic networks control cellular functions. Aberrations in normal cellular function arecaused by mutations in genes that disrupt the fine tuning of genetic networks and causedisease or disorder.

    However, the large number of signalling molecules, genes and proteinsthat constitute such networks, and the consequent complexity of interactions, has restrainedprogress in research elucidating disease mechanisms. Hence, carrying out a systematicanalysis of how diseases alter the character of these networks is important.

  • Events

  • SaaS/Big Data

  • Education

  • Business

  • BSD

    • FreeBSD/armv6: what’s new and exciting?

      First of all we tried switching default cache type from write-through to write-back type. It should have increased performance but instead opened a can of worms. Memory corruption debugging led to L2 cache driver on Pandaboard, EHCI driver code and subsequently to busdma code. Whole process took quite a few days full of hair-pulling and nagging various people and ended up in committing USB fixes and Ian Lepore’s busdma patches. PL310 (L2 cache controller) driver is being tested at this very moment. Original issue (WB caches) still stands and postponed till next year.

    • FreeBSD Moves Along On ARM Support
    • NetBSD 6.0.1 Released, Brings Bug-Fixes

      For those of you currently on NetBSD 6.0 or are using NetBSD 5.x as your operating system but have been wanting a reason to upgrade, the first NetBSD 6.0.x point release has surfaced.

    • FreeBSD Jumps Quickly On LLVM/Clang 3.2

      While just released on Friday, FreeBSD has already pulled LLVM/Clang 3.2 into its “head” repository and will be pushing it into the FreeBSD 9/Stable series in the weeks ahead.


  • Project Releases

    • Cassandra 1.2 arrives as foretold

      Cassandra, the distributed, column-oriented NoSQL database, has been updated to version 1.2, says the Apache Software Foundation. Version 1.2 of Cassandra sees the official release of CQL3, which was introduced in beta in April 2012′s Cassandra 1.1 release. CQL is the modelling and query language for Cassandra that borrows, syntactically, from SQL to offer a more familiar database environment for developers. CQL3 allows for multi-column primary keys and many other changes, which are now established.

    • Apache Puts Out Cassandra 1.2 NoSQL Database

      The Apache Software Foundation has announced the release of Cassandra. Version 1.2 of the Cassandra big data “NoSQL” distributed database introduces several new features to the open-source project.

  • Public Services/Government

    • Majority in Bern council tells Swiss city to switch to open source

      A clear majority in the council of the Swiss city of Bern has voted for a switch to free and open source IT solutions. It instructs the city’s IT department to make future IT purchases platform and vendor neutral and to prefer using open source solutions. This way, the council wants to rid the city of IT vendor lock-in.

      The new IT strategy on Thursday evening got 36 votes in favour and 20 against, reports one of the city council members, Matthias Stürmer. He described the new approach as “ground breaking”. One year ago, the city council adopted a motion for Bern to develop an open source strategy. The council now takes a further step, asking for an IT strategy that increases the use of open source and that aims to achieve long-term cost savings.

  • Licensing

    • Unlicensed FOSS: Major Mistake for Developers

      One disturbing trend is the posting of FOSS modules without licenses. Simon Phipps focused on this problem in his recent blog, particularly on the problems raised by the terms of service at Github. James Governor, the founder of analyst Red Monk, is quoted by Simon as stating: “”younger devs today are about POSS – Post open source software. f*** the license and governance, just commit to github” http://www.infoworld.com/d/open-source-software/github-needs-take-open-source-seriously-208046. Ironically, this approach will undercut the major desire of most FOSS developers: the broad use of their code. The lack of a license ensures that the software will be removed from any product meant to be used by corporations. Corporations are very sensitive about ensuring that all software that they use or which is incorporated in their products is properly licensed. I have worked on hundreds of FOSS analysis and the response to software without a clear license is almost always “rip it out”.

  • Programming


  • The men who would save Mali’s manuscripts

    Islamist militants in Timbuktu destroyed graves and shrines associated with Sufism this year. Ancient manuscripts are not directly threatened, but some fear they are next.

  • Why Chief Theresa Spence’s hunger strike is ethical

    Q: There has been much coverage of the hunger strike by Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence. I’m not interested in the politics — instead, I want to address the ethics of a hunger strike. Look at what it really is: a person slowly commits suicide to pressure others into giving what he or she wants. The most unethical part is that thousands of Canadians are encouraging Spence in her suicide by supporting her. It’s one thing for a child who didn’t get a toy to swear never to eat again, but we should expect more from a community leader.

  • iPhone ‘Do Not Disturb’ bug to self-destruct on Monday

    Users of Apple’s iPhone will have to wait until Monday for its latest bug to fix itself.

  • MorphOS Still Being Toyed With For PowerPC

    MorphOS, the Amiga-compatible PowerPC operating system, is still being experimented with on PowerPC hardware. The latest effort out of the MorphOS camp is to make the operating system work on the IBM PowerPC G5.

  • Fox asks appeals court to stop Dish’s ad-skipping DVR, right now

    Fox Broadcasting, having lost a key court ruling last month, is more eager than ever to kick Dish Network’s new ad-skipping Hopper DVR off the market.
    Last month, a federal judge found that Dish’s DVRs probably don’t break copyright law, ruling that the Hoppers can stay on the market and operate normally while Fox proceeds with its lawsuit. Fox is arguing that it can’t wait, and it says that Dish’s product has the potential to do serious damage to various aspects of the ad-supported TV business. As promised, it appealed the lower court decision and has now filed its opening brief at the US Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit (PDF via Deadline.com).

  • Fujitsu Comes Up Empty in Koh’s Courtroom

    “They were very hardworking,” he said. “They dug down surprisingly deeply. They spent a lot of time going through documentary evidence.”

  • EU’s tougher Google deal derails FTC agreement

    European regulators appear headed toward a dramatically different conclusion to their antitrust probe of Google than their American counterparts — a binding agreement that could cost the search company dearly if violated.

  • Security

  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression

  • Cablegate

    • Zanu PF leaders defy party WikiLeaks warning

      Zanu PF has warned its bigwigs to watch their mouths when meeting with American envoys amid revelations that party “stalwarts” last week clandestinely met United States ambassador Bruce Wharton.

    • A Tale of Two Diplomatic Asylums: Julian Assange and Chen Guangcheng
    • WikiLeaks:1988 Indian Payoff To LTTE Revealed – 520 Million Indian Rupees To Tigers

      “Major Sri Lankan Papers April 15 have head lined a report (First published in the April 3 London Observer) which quotes both Indian High Commissioner J.N. Dixit and an LTTE spokesman in Madras that Indian Prime Minister Gandhi agreed in late July to pay the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam a monthly stipend to compensate for lost Tax revenues following the signing of the Indo-Sri Lanka accord.” the US Embassy Colombo informed Washington.

    • What Is an Assange?

      This week, I was proud to join the board and help launch the Freedom of the Press Foundation, a new organization which plans on crowd-funding for a variety of independent journalism outlets whose prime mission is to seek transparency and accountability in government. You can read about the first group of four organizations — which includes the National Security Archive, MuckRock News, and The UpTake and WikiLeaks — here.

      Recently, I sat down with George Washington Law School professor and constitutional scholar Jonathan Turley and my close friend Kevin McCabe to discuss WikiLeaks’ impact on transparency, the government’s response, and the comparison to the Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg (also a co-founder of the Freedom of the Press Foundation). (And see a previous conversation with Jonathan Turley here.)

      WikiLeaks was extralegally cut off from funding after two Congressmen successfully pressured Visa, Mastercard and PayPal into refusing to do business with the journalism organization in late 2010. We hope that the Freedom of the Press Foundation will become a bulwark against these types of unofficial censorship tactics in the future.

    • US spies on Assange in UK Ecuador Embassy
  • Finance

    • Eight Corporate Subsidies in the Fiscal Cliff Bill, From Goldman Sachs to Disney to NASCAR

      Throughout the months of November and December, a steady stream of corporate CEOs flowed in and out of the White House to discuss the impending fiscal cliff. Many of them, such as Lloyd Blankfein of Goldman Sachs, would then publicly come out and talk about how modest increases of tax rates on the wealthy were reasonable in order to deal with the deficit problem. What wasn’t mentioned is what these leaders wanted, which is what’s known as “tax extenders”, or roughly $205B of tax breaks for corporations. With such a banal name, and boring and difficult to read line items in the bill, few political operatives have bothered to pay attention to this part of the bill. But it is critical to understanding what is going on.

    • It Ain’t Over Till It’s Over: Wall Street Gears Up for Austerity Battles of 2013

      For better or worse, a bill passed Congress in the wee hours of 2013 averting the much-hyped “fiscal cliff” for now and raising taxes on couples making over $450,000 and extending a lifeline of unemployment benefits to 2 million Americans.

      But the vote is not so much an ending as a beginning to the austerity battles of 2013.

      As the economy continues to stagger, the search for a “grand bargain” on taxes and critical social programs is likely to roll from fiscal cliff to debt ceiling negotiations into the annual budget battles. While some feel that a “grand bargain” is less likely than “death by 1,000 cuts,” the ongoing debate will continue to pose serious risks for average Americans who will need to stay engaged.

    • Google India fined $13.8M for false accounting

      Search giant’s Indian arm accused of misleading tax authorities by underdeclaring revenue from AdWords and evading taxes through international transactions, but Google India denies the claim.

    • Paulson Named in ACA’s Revised Goldman Sachs CDO Suit

      Paulson & Co., the New York hedge fund, was named as a defendant in a proposed revised lawsuit by ACA Financial Guaranty Corp. (MANF) against Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS) over a collateralized debt obligation called Abacus.

      Paulson and Goldman Sachs conspired to induce ACA to provide financial guaranty insurance for the Abacus deal, which was “doomed to fail,” the firm said in papers filed yesterday in New York State Supreme Court in Manhattan. ACA, which sued Goldman Sachs in 2011, is seeking court permission to file a revised complaint adding Paulson as a defendant.

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

  • Censorship

    • Online gift shop blocked by mobile networks

      This is an online shop – meaning the block was affecting their ability to sell their products. The block was spotted and reported to Virgin Mobile in early December. The problem has not yet been fixed. So the block was in effect over Christmas, and will have affected the site’s ability to reach their market in one of the more important retail periods of the year.

    • State of Freedom of Speech in Tunisia in 2012
  • Privacy

    • Facebook rejects German demand to allow fake names
    • Microsoft Scrutinized by EU Privacy Watchdogs for Policy Changes

      Microsoft Corp. (MSFT)’s policy changes for its Internet products including Hotmail and Bing are being formally examined by European data protection regulators for potential privacy issues.
      Updates to Microsoft’s services agreement, which took effect Oct. 19, are being formally reviewed, EU privacy regulators wrote to Microsoft Chief Executive Officer Steve Ballmer and the head of Microsoft Luxembourg. Luxembourg’s and France’s data protection commissions are leading the examination, according to the Dec. 17 letter, obtained by Bloomberg News.

    • EU Investigates Microsoft for Policy Changes in Hotmail, Bing

      Microsoft made the policy changes on October 19

      Microsoft just can’t catch a break from the European Commission.

      The EU now plans to investigate the tech giant’s recent policy changes and how they may affect the privacy of its users. The policy changes were in regards to Microsoft’s Internet services like Bing and Hotmail.

  • Civil Rights

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • After ACTA: Trans-Atlantic Partnership Agreement

      Not content with dedicated treaties developed under the aegis of WIPO, the copyright industries saw such general trade agreements as yet opportunity to impose their maximalist agendas. This led to chapters dealing with intellectual monopolies like copyright and patents not only being added to such agreements, but becoming the tail that wagged the dog. That can be seen from the fact that ACTA was killed in the European Parliament last year precisely because the chapter dealing with copyright and patents was regarded as so flawed that it vitiated the entire treaty, which had to be rejected despite other sections that were viewed very favourably by many MEPs.

      Moreover, in the current negotiations for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement, which is a kind of ACTA for the Pacific rim, it is once more the disproportionate demands of the copyright and patent world that threaten to scupper the entire treaty as countries rebel at the onerous terms the US is trying to impose.

      That means the otherwise welcome trade agreement between EU and US is bound to have a similar chapter that attempts to push through many or most of the bad ideas that infected ACTA. There’s already a precedent for this in CETA, the Canada-European Union Trade Agreement that I wrote about back in October last year. As I noted, the criminal sanctions there were directly modelled on ACTA’s.

    • Copyrights

      • London ‘crime unit’ to target downloaders as part of UK copyright and patent initiatives

        Vince Cable, the United Kingdom’s Business Secretary, announced a set of new intellectual property initiatives yesterday aimed at improving the way IP is approved and protected in the UK. Speaking at The Big Innovation Centre in London, Cable outlined several different measures, including a sped-up patent processing service that can deliver patents in just three months — it currently can take years — as well as informational campaigns aimed at younger individuals that are more likely to engage in pirating copyrighted material. Cable also said that a special crime unit, aimed specifically at illegal downloaders, would be created in partnership with the City of London police.

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