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Links 23/1/2013: Cinnarch 2013.01.23, BackBox 3.01

Posted in News Roundup at 11:25 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



  • Linux pros saw a giant salary leap in 2012: Dice

    Following up on its January 2012 study that found tech salaries had finally started to climb again, IT careers site Dice today published an annual update showing not just a continuing trend in that respect, but also a huge boost for those in the Linux field.

  • Will 2013 finally be the Year of Linux ?

    There has been some debate and consideration in recent years about when the Linux gaming platform will officially gain ground? Critics and market skeptics have wondered when it will really take off and it will be Linux’s turn to procure large portions of the market share. New games and gaming consoles geared toward this system have left many asserting that 2013 will finally be the “year of Linux.” But why?

  • OpenArtist Is a Linux Distro Prodigy

    Despite its youth, openArtist is the picture of a full-fledged Linux distro with a slew of specialty features for graphics production. Among its strong points is the universal approach it takes toward bundling software. If it’s useful to graphic artists, openArtist makes it accessible. Open source, freeware, public domain, abandonware, commercial, even — gasp — Windows programs are included.

  • Kernel Space

    • Linux Foundation Puts Out Linux 3.4 “LTSI” Kernel

      From the Linux Foundation’s Consumer Electronics Workgroup is a Linux 3.4 kernel that’s part of their Long-Term Support Initiative. The LTSI Linux 3.4 kernel will be maintained for two years while back-porting some of the features of newer Linux kernel releases.

    • Graphics Stack

      • Nouveau Can Beat NVIDIA With Cairo In Select Cases

        Chris Wilson has shared his testing experience of Cairo with NVIDIA ION hardware on the open-source Nouveau driver and the closed-source NVIDIA blob. In certain situations, the Cairo performance does better with Nouveau than the official NVIDIA Linux driver.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • The many Profiles of Enlightenment’s E17

      There are many desktop environments in active development, but none is as customizable as the E or Enlightenment Desktop Environment. But of all those desktop environments, its development (or public releases) has been comparatively slow.

      Enlightenment is one of those projects that caught my attention years ago, but which I decided, after playing with it for sometime, that it was not yet ready for prime time. I’ve been quietly tracking its development since.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • NetworkManager in GNOME beta supports AP operation

        In the latest GNOME 3.8 beta, NetworkManager makes the transition from version to a pre-release version of NetworkManager 0.9.8. In addition to setting up an ad-hoc Wi-Fi network, where the Wi-Fi hardware and drivers support it, it is now able to set up an access point. The next major release of the network configuration program, which is used in many other desktop environments, also supports 4G LTE network modes, bridge master devices and bridge ports. It is also able to automatically activate a VPN for certain network connections. The recently released Fedora 18 already uses a pre-release version of NetworkManager 0.9.8 which includes these features.

  • Distributions

    • Kali Linux – A Teaser into the Future.

      Originally, BackTrack Linux was developed for our personal use but over the past several years, it has grown in popularity far greater than we ever imagined. We still develop BackTrack for ourselves because we use it every day. However, with growth and a huge user base, we have an obligation to ourselves, our users, and the open source community to create the best distribution we possibly can.

      With this in mind, about a year ago a bunch of us at Offensive Security started thinking about the future of BackTrack and brainstormed about the features and functionality we’d like to see in the next and future revisions. One of our main topics of conversation was the option of swapping out our custom development environment for a fully fledged Debian-compliant packaging and repository system.

    • BackTrack rebuilt as Kali Linux

      Penetration testing platform BackTrack has been relaunched as Kali Linux after a major restructure.

      The creators of Backtrack told SC details of the new Debian platform are being kept under wraps, adding the system is a “fully fledged Debian-compliant packaging and repository system”.

    • Exe GNU/Linux, New Distro with Trinity

      No three letters look any more strange to Linux users than exe, which is why a new distro named Exe GNU/Linux caught me by surprise in today’s Distrowatch Weekly. Ladislav Bodnar, our exalted Keeper of the Record, recently added Exe to the Distrowatch.com database and that was my cue to boot it up.

    • SolusOS Shows off GNOME Fork in New Alpha

      It’s hardly been a week since the developers at SolusOS announced their fork of GNOME Classic. Dubbed Consort, it set the Linux world abuzz last week. Today the team announced the first release with that new desktop: SolusOS 2 Alpha 7.

    • New Releases

    • Red Hat Family

      • Red Hat expands cloud management services

        Today, anyone can set up a cloud. Managing it, though, is another story. So it came as no surprise last year, when Linux-giant Red Hat announced updates to its open hybrid cloud solutions portfolio, following the acquisition of ManageIQ, a leading provider of enterprise cloud management and automation solutions.

      • Red Hat Strengthens Its Presence In Cloud With ManageIQ

        Cloud is the future and depending on who you are and how you use it, it can be good or bad for you. Talking strictly about enterprises cloud is the way to go. Red Hat, the most successful open source company continues to strengthen it’s cloud portfolio and signed an agreement to acquire ManageIQ last moth.

      • Fedora

        • Fedora Linux considering switching out MySQL for MariaDB
        • Blu Ray Ripping on Fedora 18

          After doing so searching on Blu Ray ripping on Linux I found that no one seemed to have a good how to for Blu Ray Ripping on Fedora 18. I also was not finding a method that worked consistently for free, or close to free. I found a great piece of software called MakeMKV. I was able to get Blu Ray ripping working fast and easy.

          MakeMKV is free to try for 30 days, after that the ask for 50$ for the purchase. I really think this is a good buy. It was one of the better programs I have found for Blu Ray ripping and they support Linux.

        • Fedora 18 revisited: Cinnamon, Xfce, LXDM, and a ‘wow’ for anaconda
        • Gnome 3.6 System Settings Changes for Fedora 18

          The system settings manager has received some attention for the release of Gnome 3.6. The settings manager itself has been improved with larger and more visible icons. Many of the settings modules have been upgraded as well. There are now several new options and preferences to choose from, so be sure to look around.

        • Fedora 18 Spherical Cow Gnome Review: Stable and efficient with professional looks but has Gnome 3 agonies!

          Fedora has always intrigued me to keep track of the latest happenings in the Linux world and especially what’s brewing at the RHEL stable! Also, if I think of a comparable distro to Ubuntu, Fedora is the only legitimate choice! Just like Ubuntu, Fedora also inspires innumerable spins (like Kororaa, Fuduntu, of which I am a big fan now!). So, when the release note of Fedora came on 15th Jan, I was quick to download all the four versions (Gnome, KDE, XFCE and LXDE). This is the first review of the series and I start with the Gnome spin.

        • Weekend Project: Setting up MythTV on Fedora 18
        • Anaconda “fun” moment
        • End Of MySQL Begins? Fedora Linux Switches To MariaDB

          There is serious time ahead for Oracle owned technologies such as MySQL, Java and many more. MySQL’s open source nature was questioned recently and now Fedora seems to be putting the first nail as the project is planning to switch to MariaDB. Jaroslav Reznik (Red Hat’s Fedora project manager) stated that “MariaDB, which was founded by some of the original MySQL developers, has a more open-source attitude and an active community. We have found them to be much easier to work with, especially in regards to security matters.”

    • Debian Family

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • Fifty shades of open source

    To many, open source is black and white — software is either open or not. Jack Wallen sees the new world order in shades of gray and begs the open source community to be more open in their attitude.

  • Monetizing open source platforms — something new?

    Sharing software code via free open source has been around since the 1980s and has enjoyed much success. Open source has been applied to content, websites, technological parts, and other materials. Can and should an open source platform be monetized?

  • element22 Launches φmod Open Source Conceptual Data Model Project
  • 9 Things That Are Never Admitted About Open Source

    You might think that a group of intelligent people like the members of the free and open source software (FOSS) community would be free of hidden taboos. You might expect that such a group of intellectuals would find no thought forbidden or uncomfortable—but if you did, you would be wrong.

    Like any sub-culture, FOSS is held together by shared beliefs. Such beliefs help to create a shared identity, which means that questioning them also means questioning that identity.

  • Open Source Camera On Its Way

    Because when we talk about software, we don’t talk about something made of physical objects, we talk about basically ideas and concepts, that never get out of the digital realm (or don’t usually get out). Making hardware is not easy — there are so many external factors over which you have no control – and usually it requires decent financial investment. So it’s a really big thing when someone actually makes open source hardware.

  • Open Source Skills Continue to Have Clout in the Job Market

    Career site Dice.com is out with results from its 2013-2012 Salary Survey, which confirms that times are getting much better for people seeking technology-focused jobs. And, in particular, the results reflect a trend that we saw gaining pace last year, which is that skills with open source platforms and tools can greatly increase your likelihood of getting hired and commanding a top salary. Here is more on what Dice found.

  • 2013-2012 Dice Salary Survey
  • Events

    • PowerLinux Users Group: Founding Meeting

      Every renaissance starts with one thing that you can point your finger at and say “that’s where it all began.” Sometimes you realize that moment while you are right in the middle of it, but most times you can’t define it until well after it happens.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Mozilla Unveils Firefox OS Developer Phones

        Mozilla today unveiled two new developer preview phones that feature the browser maker’s Firefox OS.

        The phones – dubbed Keon and Peak – are being developed via Spanish phone maker GeeksPhone in partnership with Telefonica.

        “This week we are announcing our new Firefox OS developer preview phones because we believe that developers will help bring the power of the web to mobile,” Mozilla said in a blog post.

      • Mozilla unveils open source Firefox smartphone
      • Mozilla Unveils First Two Firefox OS Phones

        After news of its development throughout all of last year, Mozilla’s Firefox OS platform for smartphones has made an official debut on two phones that will ship to developers working on apps. The phones will ship to developers in February, but won’t become available to everybody until later this year. As we’ve reported, Mozilla is primarily targeting emerging markets with the phones, but there have been signs that they may be marketed throughout Europe and in the U.S. Here are more details.

        You can find Mozilla Hacks’ post on the new phones here. According to the post, the phones have the following specs and names:

  • Business

    • Small Business Trends: Linux & Open Source in 2013

      A lot of small businesses are reluctant to try Linux because they think it means moving away from Microsoft Windows, and you can’t blame them. Change is disruptive, and while a lot of software applications are cross-platform, most aren’t, so leaving Windows often means leaving favorite software behind.

  • Funding

  • Public Services/Government

  • Openness/Sharing

    • Open Source Design Tools for Human Rights Activists

      The world’s premier human rights organizations often have entire communications teams with dedicated graphic designers to celebrate their work. But not every organization can afford to have a designer. Even those organizations that do have design gurus may decide, for strategic reasons, to keep tight control over their workflow so that they are not bombarded with too many requests. Not to worry! There are several open source design tools that allow anyone to create killer flyers, posters, icons, or campaign — the only limit is your imagination. More importantly, learning basic design allows you to approach your human rights work more creatively and reach audiences with more diverse forms of storytelling.

    • Open Hardware

      • Interview with Jenn Karson, co-founder of Vermont Makers

        I am the founder of two small studios, Sesamedia and Studio Ju Ju. I’m also a co-founder of Vermont Makers. I was introduced to open source technologies and Arduino (and SparkFun) in 2007 when I was working toward an MFA in Design and Technology at the San Francisco Art Institute. I mainly use the Arduino to build interactive sound installations and sound art pieces, and I also help creative and community initiatives use open-source software like Joomla! and WordPress.

      • How Electric Vehicles Could Gain From Open Sourcing

        Can carmakers learn from the open source industry? Yes, if they build a strong business model around it and throw away discarded business practices.

  • Programming


USPTO ‘Debate’ Already Rigged by Patent Lawyers

Posted in Patents at 4:41 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Software patents protest in India

Summary: Software patents are assumed to be OK and software developers of this world do not participate in debates about it, perhaps because of the way these debates are designed

The problem caused by patent trolls probably receives more coverage than software patents, which are the trolls’ weapon of choice. A trolls tracker spots a trend:

US federal courts are divided into 94 districts. When patent-holders file a lawsuit against a product that’s sold nationwide, they have pretty wide leeway as to where to file their case. That’s allowed for quite a bit of “venue shopping” in patent cases, and several years ago the remote and rural Eastern District of Texas started to become surprisingly popular.

Over time, East Texas became known as a place very friendly to patent plaintiffs and unfriendly to patent defendants, particularly out-of-state or foreign tech companies. Judges there were reluctant to let cases be transferred out of their district, and some patent-holding companies began setting up Texas LLCs in order to better argue that Texas was the right venue for them.

The trends as seen by so-called ‘IP’ lawyers are different. These lawyers would rather focus on legitimising software patents, which help them make money irrespective of the holder (troll or not). One law firm writes:

In a recent blog entry, Director David Kappos of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) gave something of a three-month status update after the implementation of several mechanisms of the AIA, including third party prior art submission. As of December 17, 2012, the USPTO has received 270 prior art submissions, which Director Kappos calls “in line with expectations.” Notably, the leading art group for such submissions was Technology Center 3700, which, according to Kappos, “includes many software-related inventions such as those found in electronic gaming devices and medical equipment.”

The debates on software patents in the USPTO are regularly infiltrated by lawyers. We gave many examples in 2012. While programmers are busy writing code lawyers are busy ensuring they keep their middleman role. Law sites prepare to stack the consultation. Here is another example. Where are the software engineers in all this? Here is another example:

Suffice it to say, the patent attorneys disagreed with Mulligan, though they did so earnestly, out of a genuine belief that one can separate out patents covering trivial or commonplace activities from other software patents in a coherent, justiciable way. What I found most striking is that none of the patent attorneys present defended the status quo. Rather, they agreed that the scope of software patents should be radically narrowed. That seems like a good baseline for discussion.

So the author demonises abolition (of software patents) proponents and then takes the side of lawyers by legitimising software patents, the “baseline” as he calls it. It’s as if the only position that’s permissible is that some software patents are “good” and others are “bad”.

Over in Europe we have a similar issue because of the example USPTO sets. The corporate press in the US plays along with the lie that more patents mean more innovation. The source of the claim is one that profits from patents:

The U.S. Patent Office and Trademark Office awards hundreds of thousands of patents each year. This week, IFI Claims Patent Services, a producer of patent databases, released its top 50 ranking of companies awarded the most U.S. patents in 2012.

The Irish press too glamourises software patents this month:

http://www.iriHe joined Microsoft in 1999 as a software developer in Seattle and registered more than 20 patents for inventions in computer security.

In his last role at Microsoft, leading the PM team for the forthcoming Windows 8 Store, he felt the entrepreneurial urge, and left to start app development firm…

Rex Djere has this suggestion for the USPTO:

TLWIR 53: Transforming the Broken U.S. Patent System with Free Software-Style Reforms

In The Linux Week In Review 52, I talked about the need for a Linux Reference System, a GNU/Linux computer guaranteed to work with the latest free software and drivers. In TLWIR 53, I will present some ideas on how to fix the broken U.S. patent system.

Innovation comes from freedom, not restrictions such as patents. It’s common sense for developers. For others it is an unspeakable truth. They want us to believe — by repeating their propaganda line — that more restrictions make greater innovation.

Apple’s Strategy Against Linux and Android is Failing

Posted in Apple, GNU/Linux, Google, Patents at 3:52 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Great background

Summary: More setbacks in Apple litigation and a deposition of Apple’s CEO is expected

Apple’s obsession with patents is proving to be counter-productive. Wired has published this article which tells the story of SparkFun:

Design Like No One Is Patenting — How SparkFun Stays Ahead of the Pack

Electronics supplier SparkFun designs dozens of products a year and they haven’t patented a single one. It’s worked out pretty well so far.

Also, in a new interview Wired told Google’s Larry Page (CEO): “Steve Jobs felt competitive enough to claim that he was willing to “go to thermonuclear war” on Android.”

Page replied cleverly: “How well is that working?”

Apple has lost its mind. At Groklaw, which used to sympathise with Apple, Jones wrote: “The color version reads: “The applicant claims the colours black and silver as elements of Mark A in the series.” Great. Rounded corners. Now colors.” Patently Apple, an Apple boosting site has this report.

Recently, a Dutch court ruled against Apple, which is getting desperate for embargoes because Android devices sell like there is no limit (at the expense of Windows laptops and desktops, not just Apple-branded phones and tablets).

The US media, the corporate press in this case, says: “The outcome of these cases won’t be clear for several years, but so far neither company seems to be halting R&D or sales of the phones in question.”

Actually, Apple is reported to have halved orders, so sales are affected in some ways. Samsung won’t help Apple anymore. There is more about these disputes in the Page interview. Groklaw writes:

Apple and Samsung are having an intriguing debate before the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals. What does a patent holder have to prove in order to get an injunction? That is the question Apple raises. If there are, as claimed, approximately 200,000 patents that could be asserted against smartphones, which ones matter in the injunction analysis? Just a small handfull? Do you have to prove that the patent covers a feature that you can demonstrate consumers want, that it’s a feature that *drives* sales, in order to warrant an injunction?

Apple a couple of months back filed its petition for rehearing en banc of an October 2012 order by the Federal Court of Appeals in Apple v. Samsung II that held that in order to obtain injunctive relief in a case where an accused product contains many features, a “patentee must . . . show that the infringing feature drives consumer demand for the accused product”. Apple argues that this so-called “causal nexus” requirement violates equity.

As I read their motion, they are saying that the Federal Circuit’s order narrows drastically the ability of patent holders to obtain injunctions, and that there is a conflict with other rulings by this court and the US Supreme Court.

Apple is still trying to ban Android devices, but it’s a hard sell to the courts:

Apple Inc faces long odds in its attempt to overturn a U.S. appeals court ruling that threatens to undermine its smartphone patent war against Samsung Electronics Co Ltd.

Apple is said to be working against workers’ rights not just in China but also in the US. Judge Koh wants Apple’s CEO to be deposed for this:

US District Judge Lucy Koh has ordered Apple CEO Tim Cook to give a deposition about Apple’s role in a series of deals between top tech companies to not recruit each other’s employees. At a hearing this week, Koh said Cook, Google chairman Eric Schmidt, and Intel CEO Paul Otellini must be deposed to provide testimony about the deals, which the companies had agreed to dissolve after a US Department of Justice probe into the practices in 2010. The testimony is related to a civil lawsuit filed by five former employees of the companies, who claim that they and others lost out on better salaries due to the policies.

Apple’s bad practices go beyond that through. It colludes with Microsoft too. As Jones put it, “I told you patent litigation can be anticompetitive. Here’s a current example, according to the FTC. I continue to hope the FTC and other regulatory bodies will inquire into the Apple-Microsoft-Nokia-MOSAID et al patent attacks on Android as another.” The context was a “Federal Trade Commission staff report [pdf] [which] found that drug companies made 40 potential pay-for-delay deals in FY 2012 (1 October 2011 through 30 September 2012).” (source)

The Register on Vista 8

Posted in Microsoft, Vista, Vista 8, Windows at 3:19 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Articles of interest about a fatal incarnation of Vista, which simply cannot keep up with Android and other Linux-based operating systems

The release of Vista 8 has been such a disaster because the software is widely loathed. It’s a technical failure, not a marketing failure (over a billion dollars were spent on marketing). Some Windows shops now make money from the service of downgrading back to Vista 7 or XP. This is Vista all over again. I tried both, so I would know. It doesn’t shock me that the man behind Vista 8 already got sacked. Rather than give Vista 8 away Microsoft is raising the price now:

Say what you will about Windows 8; at least the upgrade from Windows 7 is cheap. Or it is for now. After January 31 will be a different story.

Ever since Windows 8′s October 26, 2012 launch, Microsoft has been offering retail Windows 8 Pro upgrade DVDs for $69.99. Online upgrades have been even cheaper, at $39.99. And customers who bought new PCs or laptops with Windows 7 preloaded got the best deal of all: If they registered with Microsoft, the online Windows 8 upgrade cost them just $14.99.

By raising the price Microsoft can discourage usage of this total disaster. Vista 8 RT is also a disaster. The Register writes

Microsoft’s ARM blunder: 7 reasons why Windows RT was DOA

Industry doomsayers were circling Windows 8 like buzzards before it even launched, but they picked the wrong carcass. Microsoft’s real 2012 roadkill was Win8′s ARM-powered cousin, Windows RT.

The chattering class’s comparisons of Windows 8 and Windows Vista are premature – it will take several more quarters before we can gauge how Redmond’s latest OS will play out in the marketplace. But with the holiday season behind us, it’s now plain that Window RT is a flop.

A Microsoft booster in the same publication writes that Microsoft is concerned about jailbreaking of this OS.The daily news in this site are getting more political because Linux already sells and spreads more quickly than Windows, thanks to Android and advanced in hardware. Now we must worry about freedom and rights. This includes jailbreaking.

Microsoft Thug Joachim Kempin Passes Blame to Steve Ballmer in Order to Sell New Book

Posted in Antitrust, Microsoft at 3:07 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Microsoft aggressor speaks out

Anger arguing

Summary: A rewrite of history by Mr. Kempin attempts to belittle his role in anticompetitive behaviour which the government deemed illegal

The ongoing OEM abuses by Microsoft are well documented, but history has this funny tendency to get rewritten by the rich and powerful. Microsoft is now said to be looking at buying Dell, which Microsoft threatened to “whack” over its Linux dealings. And as Pogson puts it:

This is another example of M$ nailing its coffin shut from the inside. If it did buy a piece of Dell would Dell be beholden sufficiently to continue to be a “partner”? Perhaps for a while but Michael Dell is OK with GNU/Linux and Android/Linux and taking Dell private is mostly his way to get out from under a bunch of dead wood on the Board of Dell. If M$ made a sweet deal with Dell, I would bet other OEMs would hedge their bets by investing heavily in */Linux and M$ would be shooting itself in the foot.

Nokia has been used by Microsoft as a hardware provider without success. This is alienating partners, that’s all it does.

Anyway, Microsoft's abuses of Dell and the acts of Joachim Kempin are documented in posts such as this (see references therein). Watch his latest attempt at reputation laundering:

Steve Ballmer, CEO of Microsoft, uses bullying tactics to eject anyone he deems to be a threat, says a book by a former senior Microsoft executive, which calls for him to step aside.

Joachim Kempin, who worked at Microsoft between 1983 and 2002, made the allegations in his new book, Resolve and Fortitude: Microsoft’s secret power broker’ breaks his silence, which is published today.

Although Kempin respects Ballmer, there are limits to his abilities and a management change is necessary if Microsoft is to continue to remain competitive in the technology industry, he told Reuters.

Why is Kempin receiving free publicity? Have his claims been checked for scrutiny at all? Kempin shares blame with another thug, Bill Gates, who is probably most ruthless in the company.

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