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03.06.13

Links 6/3/2013: HP Pavilion Has GNU/Linux, Apache OpenOffice.org Exceeds 40 Million Downloads

Posted in News Roundup at 9:23 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Running Modern Linux On The CompuLab Trim-Slice

    At the beginning of last year I tested the CompuLab Trim-Slice, which was a great ARM-based Linux desktop for the time. While the hardware now shows its signs of aging in the fast-paced ARM world, modern Linux distributions can still be loaded up on the platform.

    The Trim-Slice is built around the NVIDIA Tegra 2 SoC, which sports a dual-core ARM Cortex-A9 processor clocked at 1.0GHz. The device has a built-in drive and supports SHDC expansion, bears 1GB of RAM, and 802.11n WiFi. With the Tegra 3 quad-core hardware now being widespread that’s multiple times faster than the Tegra 2 and the Tegra 4 hardware being around the corner that’s much faster with its use of the ARM Cortex-A15, the Trim-Slice is no longer competitive from a hardware point of view.

  • Linux Top 3: Ubuntu Abandons Wayland, Linux 3.9 Progresses, Secure Boot Stays in Userland
  • Spec aims to advance interoperable car connectivity

    Following two years of collaborative development, the Car Connectivity Consortium (CCC) this week announced the availability of v1.0 of MirrorLink, which defines methods for implementing interoperable phone-centric car connectivity.

  • Desktop

    • Torvalds asks ‘Why do PC manufacturers even bother any more?’

      Linux Lord Linus Torvalds is thinking about making Google’s Chromebook Pixel his main computer – once he installs a proper Linux distribution on the machine, that is.

      Posting on Google+, Torvalds lauded Google’s newest creation, writing “… the screen really is that nice” [his emphasis] and that “I think I can lug around this 1.5kg monster despite feeling fairly strongly that a laptop should weigh 1kg or less.”

    • Google Chromebooks: 5 Partner Profit Opportunities

      Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) Chromebooks, those cloud-centric notebooks, often carry low price tags that won’t generate much partner profit — at least not at first glance. But if you take a closer look at the Google Apps ecosystem, you’ll see at least five ways that channel partners can generate recurring revenues from one-time Chromebook sales. Here they are.

    • HP Pavilion 20 Linux AIO launches in the UK, ships with Ubuntu for £349

      Ready to take the plunge on a new all-in-one, but not super pumped about tackling Windows 8? You’re probably not alone, and it looks like HP’s got a solution.

  • Server

    • Amazon Web Services Cuts Prices For Linux Users

      Amazon Web Services Monday reduced its prices on its lowest cost option, reserved instances, by “up to 27%.” That means a reserved instance virtual server may cost 65% less than the comparable on-demand instance running on the AWS EC2 infrastructure at $0.06 per hour.

  • Kernel Space

    • Linux Kernel 3.8.2 Is Now Available for Download

      Greg Kroah-Hartman announced a few minutes ago, March 4, the immediate availability for download of the second maintenance release for the stable Linux 3.8 kernel series.

      Linux kernel 3.8.2 comprises arch fixes (x86 mostly), filesystem improvements (EXT4, FUSE, NFS, OCFS2 and UBIFS), sound improvements, as well as many updated drivers. Please check the official raw changelog for the juicy details.

    • ELC 2013 keynote by Linaro CEO George Grey (video)

      George Grey, CEO of the Linaro organization, gave a keynote speech on benefits of collaboration in Linux development at last month’s Embedded Linux Conference in San Francisco.

      In his keynote, Grey expounded on the benefits of multiple companies collaborating to accelerate Linux development. Additionally, he explained the purpose and goals of Linaro and reported on the group’s recent accomplishments and current priorities. Watch the video below.

    • Linux Founder Linus Torvalds Blasts PC Industry, Praises Google’s Chromebook Pixel

      Linux founder Linus Torvalds recently picked up a Google Chromebook Pixel, and the hardware left such a positive impression that he posed the question “Why do PC manufacturers even bother any more?” on his Google Plus page.

      Google‘s design philosophy for the Pixel is decidedly unusual when stacked against the average portable PC. Chief among the differences is its 3:2 aspect ratio. Torvalds mentions that he “despises” widescreen displays and continues: “I don’t understand why people complain about ‘black bars’, when I can’t see why it would be any different to have ‘no pixels at all’, which is what the silly widescreen displays do.”

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • War is Peace

        Today I got many questions about KWin and Mir, how it affects us, what it means for our Wayland plans and so on. I did not want to write anything about it because I think there is nothing to write about, but before answering the same question again and again I think it’s better to put down a few lines here. Wiki will be updated once Wayland wiki is updated so that we have something to link to.

      • Whatever you want, whatever you like

        There are some news in the Plasma, Lancelot, Shelf, QML components, blah blah whoop whoop land. As some of the people have noticed from the previous screenshots, I’ve begun working on a QML port of Lancelot.

      • Export Photos from digiKam via DLNA
      • Akademy and Qt Contributors Summit Join Forces

        In July 2013, Akademy — the KDE community summit — will host the Qt Contributors Summit (QtCS) in Bilbao, Spain. QtCS is THE gathering of the Qt Project contributor community. It will take place July 15th and 16th in the middle of the KDE Akademy week (13-19 July). By co-hosting, KDE and the Qt Project will increase their existing collaboration even further. Holding their annual conferences at the same time and the same place will foster interaction, knowledge transfer and technical progress.

      • Two Major KDE Developers Weigh In On Mir, Wayland
    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • Behold: The Birth of “GNOME Software”

        Richard Hughes has been working on a new package manager for the GNOME desktop that he’s dubbed “GNOME Software.” With it, and the right plugins, a user might install software from just about any repository.

        It may not surprise folks that GNOME Software “currently uses” PackageKit. PackageKit has had the goal of providing one package manager for them all and, in their words, “to make the process suck less.”

      • My Impression of Gnome Situation

        To me it seems, and with the Gnome Shell release this has become even more pronounced, that the situation around Gnome is like the situation around political parties in Czech Republic. They mostly lost touch with reality and majority of people either lost their interest in them, became their haters or their (almost) unconditional adorers. Pointing out an issue equals hating now (and yes there are some exceptions). I have lost faith. Sadly. In both. Does it need to happen to Fedora as well? If we gnomeifficate anaconda, we might end-up like this as well. Users aren’t as dumb as we tend to make them. People don’t want grey lives with nothing to look forward to, with nothing to choose from. With computers treating them as monkeys. I don’t want an environment where I cannot choose between grey two-colour symbolic icons and colorful normal ones. Is reaching out specifically to women making them feel equal?

      • GNOME Classic Repeats History

        GNOME 3.8 is still a few weeks from release, but with the latest beta, users can view the new GNOME Classic for the first time. The replacement for the retiring fallback mode, GNOME Classic uses extensions to provide something of the GNOME 2 experience — but it is a strangely limited experience that fails to match Linux Mint’s Mate or Cinnamon, as though the GNOME project is reluctant to provide a “classic” experience at all.

        GNOME Classic is not included on the beta Live CD. You might find the beta in development directories for distributions such as Fedora or openSUSE, and the option of compiling from source is always available.

        However, the easiest way to view it is to download the latest version of Ubuntu 13.04, then use the command sudo add-apt-repository to add ppa:gnome3-team/gnome3 and ppa:gnome3-team/gnome3-staging as sources.

        Then running apt-get update followed by apt-get install gnome-shell gnome-shell extensions should add GNOME Classic to the selection of desktops when you log-in. Both these Launchpad sources are in rapid development, so you might have some unexpected problems (in my case, the keyboard stops working if the screen is locked).

      • A GNOME 3.8 Control Center like No “Other” ;)
      • GVFS 1.15.4 Fixes MTP and FUSE Issues

        A new development version of the GVFS software has been announced yesterday, March 4, bringing various fixes, some new features and the usual translation updates.

  • Distributions

    • Forking Arch

      Over the last couple of months there have been a number of discussions on the Arch boards about the forum policy of only providing support for Arch Linux, culminating in this long thread about Archbang users (login required) being denied support and having their threads summarily closed. As it emerged in the discussion, there seem to be two separate issues at play here; the question of Arch-derivatives using the Arch brand (logo, colours and even the forum style sheets), and how the wider community of GNU/Linux distributions are treated on our boards.

    • Precise Puppy Is a Fast, Furious Distro

      The latest version of Puppy Linux could easily win best of breed; it’s got all the convenience and user-friendliness you would expect from its bloodline, but this Precise Puppy also possesses whippet-like speed. That’s impressive when you consider that it boasts an expanded software repository. Like its predecessor, it’s also a very portable option.

    • New Releases

      • ALT 6.9.0-20130305
      • Skolelinux 6.0.7
      • SystemRescueCd 3.4.2
      • Proxmox version 2.3 available

        Proxmox Ve is an Open Source project developed and maintained by Proxmox Server Solutions GmbH in Austria under the auspices of the Internet foundation of Austria (IPA) and it’s released under the GNU General public license 3. It is a solution based on Debian 6 Squeeze at 64 bit, which duly “customized”, allows to create a virtualization environment of type “bare metal” based on OpenVZ and KVM technologies.

        Proxmox Virtual Environment, today announced the release of version 2.3. The version brings new compelling features like KVM live backup technology as well as the integration of the Ceph RBD (RADOS Block Device) as storage plugin.

    • Gentoo Family

      • Gentoo bugday is back

        For once you have tasted Gentoo you will compile the kernel with your eyes turned red monitor-squared, for there you have been and experiencing the raw power of Linux. There are some days I want to go back to the early ages of Linux, some days I want to use top notch packets and bleeding-edge software, but today I will debug — for this is Gentoo Bugday !

    • Red Hat Family

    • Debian Family

      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Online UDS Day One: Feedback Welcome!

            I just wanted to post a quick blog entry thanking everyone who joined the first day of our inaugural online Ubuntu Developer Summit today. Overall we didn’t see many glitches in our plan of how to run the event, and we also gathered some fantastic feedback for things we can improve and extend upon next time.

          • It all sounds good in theory…

            Not too long ago, Mark communicated the vision for Ubuntu and Unity for 2013 as “[...] Unity in 2013 will be all about mobile – bringing Ubuntu to phones and tablets [...]” and my team is responsible for taking Unity to these hardware platforms.

            What you should expect to see during this year is an overhaul of Unity in order to power a wide variety of display sizes (think phone to tablet to desktop to TV to…), input methods (touch screens & on screen keyboards, traditional keyboards & pointer devices, voice, and whatever else Tony Stark makes us think of [*]), CPUs & GPUs, external peripherals and everything else we expect from a modern OS.

            Looking closer at the problem ambitious goal, we had to take a few interesting decisions how we possibly would get to where we want to be.

          • Ubuntu Weekly Newsletter Issue 306
          • Upstream X/Wayland Developers Bash Canonical, Mir

            Canonical’s decision to develop Mir, their own display server not derived from X11 or Wayland, hit many as a big surprise today. Canonical previously committed to Wayland in a future Ubuntu release but now it turns out that for months they have secretly been rolling their own solution behind closed doors.

            It will be interesting to see how the Mir situation plays out on Ubuntu, but already Canonical has once again disgruntled upstream open-source developers. Aside from end-users being surprised by this decision to no longer pursue Wayland, the X.Org and Wayland developers themselves were taken for a ride.

            Kristian Høgsberg, the creator of Wayland/Weston, has posted to his Google+ page about the Canonical Mir announcement.

          • [Updated] Mir – An outpost envisioned as a new home
          • Unity Next to Replace Old Unity and Converge Desktop and Phone Ubuntu Platforms

            After Canonical announced they are building their own display manager to replace X and to squash the Ubuntu dreams of Wayland fans, they also announced Unity Next, a new session-level shell implementation build on Qt and QML.

            When Unity was first introduced back in 2010, people didn’t like it. It caused an uproar and a lot of users were not ready to adopt a new way of navigating the operating system.

          • “World’s First Ubuntu Tablet” Taking Pre-Orders
          • Ubuntu’s New Display Server ‘Mir’ Gets Demoed [Video]
          • # Revamped QML ‘Gwibber’ Shown Off
          • A Note To Canonical: “Don’t Piss On Wayland”

            In addition to X.Org and Wayland developers criticizing Canonical on Google+ about the Mir display server, there was a colorful discussion about this new open-source project on the Wayland IRC channel.

            Shared via this forum post is a copy of the #Wayland IRC channel that took place with exchanges was Chris Halse Rogers “RAOF”, he’s the only Canonical employee that participated in the discussion, who works on X for Wayland and is one of the Mir Canonical developers. Participating in the IRC exchange on the Wayland side were Kristian Høgsberg “krh”, David Airlie “airlied”, Daniel Stone “daniels”, and other Wayland stakeholders.

            Chris Halse Rogers, the Canonical employee, was quick to joke around that “It’s [Canonical's] turn to pull a systemd!” He admitted that he knew internally about Mir and that’s his reason for his “lack of work on the wayland system compositor branches.”

          • Canonical announces Mir display server to replace X Windows

            Canonical has announced plans to develop new, open source Linux display-server software called Mir, in a move that it says will help further its goal of offering a unified Ubuntu user experience across PCs, smartphones, tablets, and smart TVs.

            Traditionally, desktop Linux distributions have rendered their GUIs using software derived from the X Window System – X, for short – a venerable graphics layer that was developed for Unix by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the 1980s.

          • Building & Running The Ubuntu Mir Display Server
          • Ubuntu likely to struggle on the smartphone, says SugarCRM CEO

            The Ubuntu Touch operating system, which is scheduled for October release on a range of smartphones and tablets, will struggle to find a niche in a crowded mobile marketplace.

          • Ubuntu phone coming with new ecosystem

            The Ubuntu phone represents a new ecosystem for mobile devices, but the company behind it says that it won’t be primarily focused on Africa when it launches.

            Canonical, founded by billionaire Mark Shuttleworth, plans to launch the device to the developed markets of the US and Europe first.

          • Ubuntu tablet pre-order raises eyebrows for several reasons

            The news yesterday that an Australian company called Intermatrix has begun offering pre-orders of the first dedicated Ubuntu tablet has already made waves in gadget circles – but many raised questions about the device’s legitimacy.

          • Is Wayland incapable of delivering what Mir can?

            In November 2010 Canonical committed to using Wayland in the post x11 world. Mark Shuttleworth had said, “There are issues with Wayland, but they seem to be solvable, we’d rather be part of solving them than chasing a better alternative. So Wayland it is.”

            Despite that public support for Wayland Canonical secretly started developing a display manager without communicating it to Wayland developers. It was a U-turn from that commitment as the company is now ‘chasing an alternative’. Canonical has announced that they are working on Mir, it’s own display manager which competes with Wayland instead of contributing to it and making it better.

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Pros and cons of using Android as an embedded OS
    • Phones

      • The 8 mobile OS upstarts that want to topple iOS and Android

        Ubuntu, Firefox, Tizen, Sailfish, WebOS, Nokia Series 40, BlackBerry, and Windows Phone want a piece of the pie, but it won’t be a cakewalk

      • Ballnux

        • Samsung Galaxy S IV Antutu benchmark results leaked, confirm many specifications
        • Samsung plans to turn smartphones into data safes

          Like the home of the US government’s gold reserves, Samsung’s KNOX project is all about keeping intruders out. Samsung’s version, however, will not protect precious metals, but business data in mobile device storage. KNOX, which was unveiled today, is based on SE Android, the Android version of SELinux that was originally developed by the US National Security Agency (NSA).

        • Samsung Galaxy S IV: Screenshots leak, confirm Smart Scroll and Smart Pause (UPDATE)

          These screenshots mainly confirm that Samsung’s next generation Galaxy S will indeed have the much hyped Smart Scroll and Smart Pause features. The screenshots also confirm that the Galaxy S IV will feature a Full HD 1080p panel. It also looks like that Samsung is keeping some UI elements from the Galaxy S III but we are looking forward to see Samsung’s upcoming Nature UX 2.0.

        • Samsung to unveil 5.9-inch smartphone

          Samsung Electronics said Wednesday that it plans to introduce a 5.9-inch handset in the latter half of the year to solidify its leading position in the rapidly-growing “phablet” market.

          ”Samsung is working on introducing a new phablet using a 5.9-inch organic light-emitting diode (OLED) screen,’’ an official told The Korea Times on condition of anonymity.

      • Android

        • Android 4.2.2 finally coming to Verizon’s Galaxy Nexus

          Owners of Verizon’s 4G LTE version of the Samsung Galaxy Nexus handset may soon receive an update to the latest version of Android, weeks after other Galaxy Nexus devices received it and fully six months after the Verizon model got its last official update.

          Twitter user @WinDroidGuy was the first to spot the update package on Monday, which so far is only available as a downloadable Zip file that must be flashed to the device by hand.

        • CyanogenMod 10.1 M2 released, HTC One X added

          The next development version of the CyanogenMod’s Jelly Bean spin has been released, and supports many new phones along with the Nexus family

    • Sub-notebooks/Tablets

      • Intermatrix U7 Ubuntu Tablet

        An Ubuntu-powered tablet is not something that folks would camp out for, but this does not mean we should not pay closer attention to such a tablet. The Intermatrix U7 is an Ubuntu tablet which has been touted to be the “first of its kind in the world”, hailing from Australian manufacturer Intermatrix. Just what kind of hardware does the Intermatrix U7 pack underneath the hood? For starters, it is said to come with a quad-core 1.5GHz Cortex A9 CPU, coupled with a quad-core Vivante GC1000+ GPU, and accompanied by 1GB RAM, 16GB of internal memory, a 7″ IPS capacitive touchscreen display as well as cameras in front and at the back.

Free Software/Open Source

  • Why your company should contribute to open source

    After almost three decades of development, open source software has firmly crossed over into mainstream use. Companies understand the unique value derived from software developed through open communities and are welcoming its use in mission critical settings throughout the enterprise.

    Companies that adopt open source are in a prime position to contribute back to the open source communities on which they depend. For example, most of the Linux kernel is developed and maintained by employees from companies like IBM and RedHat. However, corporate culture in many companies (and particularly in small businesses) tends to lean strictly toward consumption of open source and away from contribution. For example, in a recent survey of the Liferay community we discovered almost 75% of companies that responded do not reward or encourage open source contribution.

  • Zpanel- A good opensource alternative to Cpanel
  • How to Install ZpanelX Web Hosting Control Panel on Ubuntu Server 12.04
  • Google launches Zopfli, a better zip compressor for static content

    What is known as ZIP to most of us, is actually the DEFLATE algorithm, and Google has made it slightly better.

    The search giant announced Zopli today, which is a new compression algorithm that is compatible with existing DEFLATE decoders, and produces slightly smaller files at the cost of increased CPU load during compression.

  • Twitter open sources Java streaming library Hosebird

    Twitter has open sourced a Java library for its Streaming API. The Hosebird Client (hbc) supports OAuth and automatic reconnections with appropriate wait periods and Twitter says it has been “battle-tested in production” by its internal teams.

  • Web Browsers

    • Fear of a WebKit Planet

      I must confess, I was neither surprised nor disturbed by last month’s announcement that the Opera web browser was switching to the WebKit rendering engine. But perhaps I’m in the minority among geeks on this topic.

      The anxiety about the possibility of a “WebKit monoculture” is based on past events that many of us remember all too well. Someday, starry-eyed young web developers may ask us, “You fought in the Web Standards Wars?” (Yes, I was once a Zeldi Knight, the same as your father.) In the end, we won.

  • SaaS/Big Data

    • IBM takes cloud software, services to OpenStack
    • Finally, “The Cloud” Means Something

      Few jargonistic terms have annoyed me as much as, “The Cloud.” When the term was first coined, its meaning was ambiguous at best. For some companies, it meant shared web hosting (but with a cooler sounding name). For others it was simply, “let us host your servers in our datacenter, which we now refer to as a cloud.”

      Then, finally, the concept started to solidify into offering specific services or entire software applications as a commodity removed from the server infrastructure. Honestly, I think that was the intent from the beginning, but it took several years before anyone really implemented anything useful in, “the cloud.”

    • OpenStack Ceilometer Bringing Metering to Open Source Grizzly Cloud
  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

  • Education

    • Getting started with Koha, an open source library system

      When I think back, I can’t remember my first involvement in the Koha community. I remember talking to Chris Cormack on Instant Messenger nearly everyday before ever really communicating with the community has a whole. I remember trying to find a job working with Koha when it was time for me to move on from my first job, but I still don’t remember really being involved in the community. I read a great post by Siobhan Mckeown about participating in the WordPress community and I highly recommend reading it, but I thought maybe I should do a Koha variation for those who want to get involved.

  • BSD

  • Project Releases

  • Openness/Sharing

    • Open Access/Content

      • A neuro-hacker tells us why opening up scientific research is critical

        You see, Pete is not only motivated by what open source and open thinking can do to change our world, he is moved by it. He tell us that his passions change every few years, but always revolve around open source.

        Right now, he’s working on an open source project called: Smarter Safer Better, a study and research (what he calls, neuro-hacking) on trust. Read more about his work on the subject: What They Don’t Teach You in “Thinking Like the Enemy” Classes and Mind Control.

      • Who Turned over the Google Group Conversations Involving Aaron Swartz?

        In addition to Norton’s revelation that the prosecution seemed surprised when she first mentioned the Guerilla Manifesto, that seems to be another significant revelation implicitly included in her article. She’s not the source of whatever Googlegroup conversations the government got. At least according to the government, someone else turned this material over willingly.

      • Using Aaron Swartz

        Hacker Aaron Swartz is dead. It is reported that he hung himself.

        I’m having some real trouble with the way this story is being spread. Very early on, accusatory fingers got pointed in two directions:

        (1) Swartz allegedly “wrestled with depression”, a vague suggestion that he was killed by some impersonal (but psychologically devastating) illness.

        (2) Swartz was driven to suicide by a mean, self-promoting prosecutor and her accomplices in the administration of MIT.

        In either event we’re encouraged to regard his death as a kind of martyrdom for some vaguely specified “information wants to be free” agenda. (This may or may not be how he himself thought of dying; it doesn’t matter to my point.)

        I hate this popular telling of the story because is it completely ignores the middle aged male svengalis who brought the pretty 13 year old boy to the dance of tech industry celebrity, only to turn their back on him, defame him, and even drive him out of a job as soon as the blush was off the rose.

        Going down his Wikipedia page and adding some notes of my own:

        At the very crest of the dot-com boom there is Philip Greenspun, emerging millionaire. The company he founded was building “community backed” web sites for clients, just before the big crash. That company, ArsDigita, spun off a publicity generating competition with cash money prizes encouraging teenagers to crank out their own “community backed” web sites.

  • Programming

    • Projects plugin debuts in new Eclipse Orion 2.0

      The developers of Eclipse Orion have announced that version 2.0 of the web-technology-based editor and development platform has been released. Eclipse Orion 2.0 focused on making the editor technology easier to consume by other projects; library dependencies have been removed, the process for embedding the Orion editor has been simplified, and the Orion Shell has been enhanced.

    • Epic codefest: 7 programming languages in 7 days
  • Standards/Consortia

Leftovers

  • Security

  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression

    • War on Terror, Women, and Children
    • Drones: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know But Were Always Afraid to Ask

      If you’ve checked out the news these past few (or many) months, you’ve probably noticed some news about drones. Drones used by the CIA to vaporize suspected terrorists. Drones used by the United States military. Drones that deliver food. Drones used by cops. Drones possibly violating the US Constitution. Drones protecting wildlife. Drones in pop culture. Maybe this has left you with some burning questions about these increasingly prominent flying robots. Here’s an easy-to-read, nonwonky guide to them—we’ll call it Drones for Dummies.

    • Transparency Report: Shedding more light on National Security Letters
    • After Revealing Atrocities of Asymmetrical Warfare, Manning Will Face Asymmetrical Trial

      I was in a military courtroom at Fort Meade in Maryland on Thursday as Pfc. Bradley Manning admitted giving classified government documents to WikiLeaks. The hundreds of thousands of leaked documents exposed U.S. war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as government misconduct. A statement that Manning made to the court was a powerful and moving treatise on the importance of placing conscience above personal safety, the necessity of sacrificing careers and liberty for the public good, and the moral imperative of carrying out acts of defiance. Manning will surely pay with many years—perhaps his entire life—in prison. But we too will pay. The war against Bradley Manning is a war against us all.

    • A ‘dark night for British justice’ as Parliament passes secret court plans

      Seven Lib Dem rebelled to support public interest test amendment

      Ex-foreign secretary Jack Straw also backed the legislation

      Chakrabarti: ‘History teaches that politicians abandon ancient legal principles at their peril’

    • RSA 2013: Hacking Team Defends Its Surveillance Software

      Hacking Team’s software was allegedly used by repressive regimes to track down citizens for torture. We ask their lawyer Eric Rabe to explain

    • Department of Justice says White House can use ‘lethal force’ on American citizens on US soil

      The US government has the right to use military force on American citizens, even at home – but only in “extraordinary circumstances,” the attorney general has stated in a letter to Senator Rand Paul.

      Paul had threatened to filibuster the nomination of John Brennan, US President Barack Obama’s pick for CIA director, “until [Obama] answers the question of whether or not the President can kill American citizens through the drone strike program on US soil.”https://twitter.com/mollycrabapple/status/309174502129029120

    • Revealed: Pentagon’s link to Iraqi torture centres

      General David Petraeus and ‘dirty wars’ veteran behind commando units implicated in detainee abuse

  • Cablegate

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

    • Critical Part of Keystone Report Done by Firms with Deep Oil Industry Ties

      The State Department’s recent conclusion that the Keystone XL pipeline “is unlikely to have a substantial impact” on the rate of Canada’s oil sands development was based on analysis provided by two consulting firms with ties to oil and pipeline companies that could benefit from the proposed project.

    • Ecojustice research offers troubling glimpse of harm oilsands pollution causes

      That’s the question Ecojustice hoped to help answer when we undertook our latest research. What we uncovered was unsettling, to say the least. Our research showed that toxic emissions from oilsands facilities in Northern Alberta are polluting the nearby Athabasca River, contaminating a waterway that’s home to more than half of the province’s fish species.

      The Athabasca River is Alberta’s longest and only major free-flowing river, and it holds ecological, cultural and commercial significance for the people that live along its shores. It is also a vital life source for many wildlife species.

  • Finance

    • The FBI is now profiling Bitcoin users, stereotyping them as criminals
    • Jacob Hacker & Paul Pierson on Engineered Inequality

      Bill Moyers explores how America’s vast inequality didn’t just happen, it’s been politically engineered.

    • The Target Value For Bitcoin Is Not Some $50 Or $100. It Is $100,000 To $1,000,000.

      Bitcoin’s value is at an all-time high again. Following the hype peak and crash in 2011, many seemed to have thought it was just another dotcom fluke. But bitcoin was much more than that, and it has returned with a vengeance – its market cap is now twice what it was in the 2011 peak, and it is nowhere near its potential, which is four orders of magnitude above today’s value.

    • Goldman Sachs Already Finding A Work Around For Volcker Rule
    • Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner? Fix the Debt

      As sequester cuts start to bite a little harder, the Fix the Debt gang is pushing for a “grand bargain,” deep cuts to earned benefit programs like Social Security and Medicare in exchange for some vague promises about “tax reform.”

      They may have a powerful ally in the White House. Rather than barnstorming the country demanding that Congress cancel the sequester (Representative John Conyers, Jr. wrote the one sentence bill to do this) and address our jobs deficit (now topping 9 million), President Obama seems ready to make a deal on the deficit, which is already in a steep decline.

    • Why the free market fundamentalists think 2013 will be the best year ever

      The same idea has been developed systematically in a number of bestsellers, from Matt Ridley’s Rational Optimist to Steven Pinker’s The Better Angels of Our Nature. There is also a more down-to-earth version that one often hears in the media, especially those of non-European countries: crisis, what crisis? Look at the so-called Bric countries of Brazil, Russia, India and China, or at Poland, South Korea, Singapore, Peru, even many sub-Saharan African states – they are all progressing. The losers are western Europe and, up to a point, the US, so we are not dealing with a global crisis, but simply with the shift of progress away from the west. Is a potent symbol of this shift not the fact that, recently, many people from Portugal, a country in deep crisis, are returning to Mozambique and Angola, ex-colonies of Portugal, but this time as economic immigrants, not as colonisers?

    • BitCoin: The Currency Of The Future?

      This week, BitCoin (BTC), the virtual cryptocurrency that is not supported by any national bank or government, reached an all-time trading record, selling at $33.22 for a single BTC.

      Kim Dotcom’s cloud hosting website Mega has recently started accepting BitCoins as a form of payment, following the example set by WordPress, Reddit and countless other online businesses. But how do you begin working with BitCoins?

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

    • Chavez

      The BBC just said that Venezuela is a dictatorship, and the election will be close between left and right. They missed the irony. The incongruity and imbalance of the Chavez demonisation is ridiculous. Sky News did a five minute piece in which the evidence of him being evil and demented was that he called George Bush a devil and declared the age of imperialism over; he did however reduce poverty and improve housing, they added. I am not sure they left their audience with the same certainty as their presenters that he was a bad thing.

    • Venezuela orders U.S. Embassy attache to leave country

      …accusing him of “proposing destabilizing plans”

    • MI6’s links with media during the Cold War are exposed by BBC

      Documents purporting to show extensive links between MI6 and the British media during the Cold War have been authenticated, a BBC documentary is to claim.
      The documents, which were passed to a state-controlled newspaper in the Soviet Union and published towards the end of the 1960s, listed Fleet Street publications and the journalist or editor that MI6 had as its contact.

  • Censorship

    • Google Downranks The Pirate Bay In The UK, Because Surely, That Will Make People Buy Again

      We just recently wrote about the RIAA bitching about how Google wasn’t living up to its promise to “downrank” so-called “pirate” sites. The issue was that the RIAA could still find sites that it didn’t like ranked relatively highly in the index. Well, the folks at TorrentFreak have noticed that, at least in the UK, if you do a search for “pirate bay,” you no longer get the actual TPB website as one of the top 100 results. Of course, you do get a variety of proxies, instead, and perhaps that makes sense, given the decision last year by a court that ISPs must block access to TPB. Perhaps Google is just reflecting, accurately, that clicking directly to TPB will fail.

  • Privacy

  • Civil Rights

  • DRM

    • White House Supports Phone and Tablet ‘Unlocking’
    • White House calls for cell phone unlocking ban to be overturned

      The legality of unlocking one’s cell phone to run on any network has flipped back and forth in the past several years. It was deemed illegal under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act—then it was made legal by the Library of Congress in an exception to the DMCA passed in 2006. The Library chose not to renew the exemption in 2012, however, and it expired in January of this year. That inspired a petition to the White House, which a few weeks ago passed the 100,000 signature mark. The White House then promised to respond.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • Group remixes a copyrighted song to spread open technology

        David Mason (@dcm) and Heather LaGarde (@heatherlagarde) were interested in expressing open source in other ways and wanted to help spread mobile and open technologies across developing worlds at IntraHealth. They combined these two goals by remixing a song.

      • Taking copyright fight to ISPs too punitive, say critics
      • The Pirate Bay Reveals North Korea Relocation Plan Was A Prank

        The Pirate Bay (TPB) has revealed that the claim that it had been offered “virtual asylum” in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea by its leader, Kim Jong-un, was a hoax.

        The world’s most popular peer-to-peer sharing resource revealed that the announcement, carried by a number of websites, was false, and made fun of the gullible readers who would think it would partner “with the most hated dictatorship in the world”.

      • Group remixes a copyrighted song to spread open technology
      • Yes, The US Industrial Revolution Was Built On Piracy And Fraud

        Missed this when it first came out, but Bloomberg ran a fantastic report at the beginning of February, highlighting how piracy and fraud were key components to helping America catapult into the industrial revolution. In fact, there are reasonable arguments to be made that if the US was not a “pirate” nation, it would not have had the kind of success that it has had as the industrial world leader. We’ve discussed some of this in the past, and have highlighted how Eric Schiff’s research showed how other countries (the Netherlands and Switzerland) industrialized by explicitly rejecting patents. The US didn’t go that far, but it did involve quite frequent copying of the efforts of others and then improving on them, without fear of repercussions.

Challenging Patent Law and Companies That Are Not Obeying Common Law

Posted in Microsoft, Site News at 4:26 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Lady justice

Summary: A word about the focus in Techrights and why it makes sense at this stage and era of patent wars, UEFI, bundling, etc.

A site like Techrights occasionally needs to revisit and explain its goals. A lot of people correctly point out that we’re targeting particular issues more than others. It is a conscious decision.

Microsoft’s history when it comes to antitrust action has been thoroughly documented. It can be researched with the help of many documents or pages including federal Web sites, journals, newspapers, legal filings, blogs, news sites, and hardcover books. No single site or piece of literature can really claim credit for having done a grand exposé of the company’s actions, but the efforts of many help piece together a cohesive story of systematically-abusive people, some of whom have grown beyond Microsoft and are now a threat to health, nutrition, education, etc.

Techrights has limited its scope of coverage to more properly address systemic issues which enable Microsoft (among others) to extort, to cheat, and generally to distort the market to the point where honest people simply cannot compete. There are many good people out there who lost income or lost their jobs because of Microsoft’s abuses against the Web (as Web developers), abuses against other companies (diving them out of business by cheating), its shoddy software (e.g. security issues, bugs) and expensive licences that drain companies’ budgets and render people redundant.

“If Microsoft does not obey the law, then it is a special problem.”While it is true that there are many malicious companies out there except Microsoft, this simply does not excuse Microsoft or in any way justifies its bad behaviour. United we need to stand, insisting as ever before that the rule of law is respected also by the super-rich and never subverted to accommodate or legalise their criminal activities.

The many writings about Microsoft are fueled not by hatred but by aspiration to have a civil society that fosters honest developers and thus maximises benefit to technology users. Stallman has pointed out in this site that Apple became a greater threat than Microsoft, which I still doubt is true, depending on what it is a threat to. Therefore, despite the fact that I de-emphasised Microsoft in 2010-11 when I started working two jobs simultaneously and hence lacked time, Microsoft will remain a point of focus. Novell is pretty much gone, but the patent extortion carries on and we must fight against software patents to shield dominance of Linux-based platforms, especially in portable devices.

With the exception of daily links and IRC logs, further posts will focus more on facilitators of software patents and those who exploit them. Brands will change, platforms will rise and fall over the years, but one thing which remains quite persistent in relative terms is the rule of law and those applying it, or not applying it. If Microsoft does not obey the law, then it is a special problem.

How to Resolve the Troll Problem

Posted in Site News at 3:57 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Man in mirror

Summary: Our experiences dealing with abusive behaviour and how it was most effectively dealt with it

Every once in a while someone who is tied to Microsoft, someone whom Techrights criticized, or just someone who strongly disagrees with some view will choose to provoke in some platform like Twitter, for Techrights requires commenters to subscribe, which already weeds out a lot of unnecessary provocation. Disagreement is fine, but sometimes a person can get carried away and flood the comments sections, or even set up a whole Web site whose sole purpose is to oppose Techrights, usually in an ad hominem type of way. This happened a number of times over the years and we always abstained from giving such sites any attention. If the criticism is polite and well founded, it makes sense to respond. But when it is obsession- and grudge-driven it is better to ignore. No time should be wasted dealing with those for whom this waste of time or distraction is an implicit goal.

“Let it be stressed that since the site started in 2006 we have never deleted any comments.”IRC is a bit different because it is a real-time medium where trolls can deliberately disrupt communication which is legitimate. Vandalism, obscenities and other nasties that violate the most basic rules are not a thing of the past, but now that we have many operators in the channels it has gotten harder to derail them.

The Internet is not void of spam or trolls and it never will be. The question is, how does one position oneself against them? The wiki used to be a productivity sink due to a lot of spam, so anonymous edits and new accounts are barred for now (if allowed, they immediately invite spam every hour or so, which takes hours to undo by reverting, as was the case several times before while editors were away).

Let it be stressed that since the site started in 2006 we have never deleted any comments. Suppression of free speech, even if it is speech by an anonymous corporate agent, is not something we do. We still have in tact comments that were left by Novell and Microsoft agents before their affiliation was unmasked and they fled. Yes, these are a nuisance, but preserving the full picture helps one understand and internalize the real phenomenon which is AstroTurfing.

USPTO Drives Linux Phones Out of the United States, US Citizens Speak Out Against Software Patents, Politicians Concerned

Posted in America, GNU/Linux, Patents at 9:47 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Innovation and jobs move away from software patents haven

Obama

Summary: Official confirmation that the US market is avoided due to patent mess it has become notorious for; lawmakers take action against patent trolls, but not against the root cause, software parents, which US citizens certainly oppose; patent law changes/amendments are said to be under way

MEEGO, a versatile Linux-based operating system, survives through Jolla, which plans to take on Android. But “Due to crazy US #patent system innovative startups will not enter the US market. Proof: #jolla case. Keep enjoying your iphone 5…”

Yes, here is an article about it:

At TechCrunch, Jolla’s CEO Marc Dillon explains why his company will focus on China, Finland, and the rest of Europe first, ignoring the US.

US citizens should work hard to abolish software patents. They’re losing a lot from these ridiculous monopolies and software patents are mostly void in the rest of the world, so US residents would be in good company by ending software patents. Ars Technica provides yet another new story about patent trolls being addressed by some politicians:

This morning, Representatives Peter DeFazio (D-OR) and Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) introduced the SHIELD Act, which would create a “loser pays” system for some types of patent litigants. The bill is meant to stymie companies that do nothing more than file patent lawsuits.

Ars spoke with DeFazio at CES 2013 in January, when this bill was still in the formative stages, to get some background about how the bill developed, and the problems the Oregon representative hopes it will solve.

DeFazio has been in Congress since 1987, and represents Oregon’s 4th District, which covers a wide swath of Western Oregon. It includes Eugene, the state’s second largest city and home to the University of Oregon.

President Obama recently got involved in this debate; changes are afoot:

Companies interested in protecting their inventions should be aware of major changes that are coming to U.S. patent law. The Leahy-Smith America Invents Act, signed into law by President Obama in September 2011, represents the biggest changes to U.S. patent law in more than 50 years. Although it was enacted in 2011, its most sweeping changes come into force beginning in March 2013.

Change you can hardly see even with a microscope. Change like that we are accustomed to seeing whenever a so-called ‘reform’ in the USPTO is announced. Let’s hope this time it will be different. They speak about trolls, but not quite about the broader problem, which is patents on algorithms and vague concepts.

Ars Technica, which employs a trolls expert, has another good report about trolls:

When a couple (we’ll call them the Smiths) received a letter from their ISP—one saying they were being threatened with a copyright lawsuit—they were scared. The middle-aged immigrant couple moved to the United States from Eastern Europe more than a decade ago. Both have advanced degrees, but they knew very little about the US legal system. They denied (and still do deny) the plaintiff’s accusation that they downloaded a pornographic film on BitTorrent, but the Smiths were still worried about the consequences of being sued.

“We never were involved in the legal process,” Mr. Smith told us in a phone interview. “I didn’t know the difference between criminal cases and civil cases. I was totally ignorant.”

The Smiths’ predicament has become increasingly common. So-called “copyright trolls”—often law firms representing third-tier pornography producers—have threatened tens of thousands of users with lawsuits for allegedly sharing copyrighted pornography on peer-to-peer networks. A key part of the troll business model is that the cost and embarrassment of a public lawsuit involving pornography can be enough to intimidate even some innocent users into paying the trolls’ ransom.

And now, patent progress is also suggested by the post titled “patent trolls stifle innovation”. It says:

Over the last several months, we have been vocal in our calls for software patent reform to put an end to the threat of lawsuits on behalf of patent assertion entities (PAEs), more commonly known as patent trolls. Why? Because at Rackspace it has become our most pressing legal issue. Since 2010, our spending to combat patent trolls has increased by 500 percent.

Patent trolling has become big business. It hurts the economy – a Boston University study conducted last year found that patent trolls cost the U.S. economy about $29 billion in 2011, up from $7 billion in 2005.

No one is immune – this is an issue that affects businesses of all sizes, but small business owners and software developers are hit the hardest. At Rackspace, we are especially concerned with the impact patent trolls suits can have on open source software projects, which are important innovation centers. To us, open source gives our country the ability to increase our share of global technology innovation.

Another noteworthy new article says that software patents are evil:

Software Patents Are Evil

I was planning to write about software patent trolls and was entering “software patents” in my search engine when it offered the suggestion “are evil” to complete the phrase. I’ll buy that. So to encourage more traffic here, that is the title of this post. Yes. I have been blogging for quite some time.

How about this new piece about software patents?

On Tuesday Feb 12th, the US Patent Office is holding a roundtable in Silicon Valley to discuss issues surrounding the patenting of software, and I have an opportunity to get a seat at the table.
I’ll attend if I get some opinions from other entrepreneurs on the topic.
Do you have an stance on patenting software that you want to be heard? If so, leave it in the comments below and I’ll represent the opinions I get below in person.

“Patents are for people who don’t want to do the real work and use the legal system to tax those that do,” Michael Robertson wrote in Twitter.

A pro-FRAND blog talks about Apple and the recent case which involves Sony, showing perhaps like other sites that are run by lawyers that the USPTO has nothing to do with innovation but with everything against it. Its site harbours opinions/papers from patent lawyers (www.uspto.gov/patents/init_events/software_ak_cc_sw.pdf), but rarely from those who practice a real field. The issue is, the former class, the group of lawyers, is still one that controls the government. It’s hard to defeat these special interests, but we certainly must try. It’s a global issue with universal effects.

Microsoft Stole A Billion Dollars From Denmark

Posted in Europe, Google, Microsoft at 9:23 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Coat of arms of Denmark

Summary: Microsoft is robbing Europe, depriving the population of tax money that needs to be paid while diverting public attention to petty issues

More and more people wake up to the fact that law is written by corporations, for corporations. This is why Google and Microsoft both enjoy the loophole of tax havens. Their managers get loaded at the expense of everyone else. It is class looting disguised as helping so-called job creators. Protests erupt throughout Europe because more people find out how the current political and economic systems work. These are interchangeable. There is an attempt to suppress popular actions like ‘UK Uncut’, which pose a threat to those who control our politicians.

The war on masculinity (promoting the image of feminine men, consumerism, etc.) and incitations between cultures — playing communities off against one another — weaken opposition to ruling power and help stir things up among lower classes (identity wars and ethnic wars). We need to set aside popular culture distractions and prepare to deal with the big issues.

According to this new report, Microsoft has just stolen a billion dollars from the small population of Denmark:

SOFTWARE DEVELOPER Microsoft reportedly is being asked to pay $1bn in back taxes to the Danish government.
Microsoft purchased Danish software outfit Navision in 2002 for $1.88bn. Danish Radio station DR claims that Denmark’s tax authorities are now in talks with Microsoft over unpaid taxes. According to the radio station, the Danish tax authorities want Microsoft to pay $1bn in backdated taxes from the transaction.

DR reports that Microsoft sold the rights to Navision’s business planning software under market value to a subsidiary in Ireland, which now operates as Dynamics NAV. The radio station further reports that the Danish tax authorities are claiming $1bn in back taxes and interest from sales made by Dynamics NAV.

Ireland is assisting an evasion here. Denmark should fight over it. We wrote about Microsoft’s tax evasion through Ireland several times before, but Microsoft is not alone though. Google does this too. Hypocritical battles between big brands are not to be overlooked (these are distracting, like Apple/Mac vs. “PC”, or patent war lines that evade the core issue, software patents). Microsoft tries to accuse Google of financial/privacy/other problems that Microsoft itself is guilty of. There is no sign of retracting the hypocritical smears:

Reports that the software giant’s persistent assault on Google is winding down aren’t correct. “Scroogled will go on as long as Google keeps Scroogling people,” Microsoft says.

If Google is screwing people in some way, so does Microsoft. The key point to make here, let us mind privacy and not get too distracted by brands. Microsoft is unique in the sense that it attacks Linux a lot and also breaks the law, as the European politicians helped establish today. But the tax loopholes/havens must be shut down. The sooner, the better.

Microsoft MVP Miguel de Icaza Finally Quits GNU/Linux; Even He Does Not Want Vista 8, Samsung Dumps Vista 8 Tablets

Posted in GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Mono at 8:55 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Miguel de Icaza with his Microsoft buddies

Miguel de Icaza and other Microsoft MVPs

Summary: GNU/Linux gets rid of a turncoat and Samsung shows that Vista 8 is losing to Android in tablets

As part-time Microsoft booster (and at some capacity a Microsoft employee), Miguel de Icaza has been spreading some GNU/Linux FUD. He ridiculed the platform some months ago (reaching CNN for instance) and now he does more of that. Sites which characterise him as a FOSS proponent use that to make GNU/Linux look bad, but the matter of fact is, the FOSS community disowns and distances itself from this man, who started the GNOME project after he had tried to work for Microsoft. Just watch the comments in Phoronix for example. Almost every single one is against de Icaza, and that’s coming from a rather Mono-sympathetic site. Some comments have very strong language, so no link is needed. Mr. Pogson puts it more politely when he says “Good Riddance To Miguel de Icaza” and he tackles the FUD de Icaza was spreading:

Not only is he whining about non-existent FUD, he hits the fragmentation grenade too. My machines suspend and awaken reliably, and I have a bunch of a wide variety. Wireless is solid in my home and I can see all the neighbours doing their thing, too. Video and sound work too. I use Debian GNU/Linux with XFCE4. It’s solid even with the latest stable kernel.

The real news is, de Icaza, who has used Mac OS X for a while, is now planning to use more of it. Why not Windows? Probably because it is a train wreck now. A side-by-side Vista versus Vista 8 comparison shows the latter doing far, far worse than the former. As SJVN put it:

Windows fans will whine, but Net Applications’ desktop operating systems numbers don’t lie. Windows 8′s pathetic user adoption numbers can’t even keep up with Vista’s lousy numbers.

Now, watch how even Microsoft’s partner, Samsung, dumps Vista 8:

Samsung has confirmed to German tech news site Heise that it no longer plans to offer its Windows RT tablet, the ATIV Tab, in Germany and some “other European countries.” The decision was reportedly made after the Korean conglomerate surveyed retailers and found there was little demand for Samsung Windows RT products. Today’s news echoes Samsung’s decision to not offer the Ativ Tab in the US.

Vista 8 has been a massive failure. Not even a Microsoft MVP like Miguel de Icaza is willing to embrace it. Samsung is bailing out, too.

Microsoft Fine is Fine, But What Else Will be Done? (Updated: FSFE Says EU Fine Not Enough as Punishment for Microsoft’s Abuses)

Posted in Antitrust, Microsoft at 8:36 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: A $730,000,000 fine for Microsoft’s Web browser abuses and refusal to obey the law (or comply with penalties)

AS EXPECTED, a fine for Microsoft to pay for its abuses was to be announced today, as even the state media (in the United States) stated today:

On Wednesday, the European Union is expected to impose a large fine on Microsoft for failing to give users of the company’s Windows software a choice of Internet browsers. It would be the first time that European regulators had punished a company for neglecting to comply with the terms of an antitrust settlement, and it could signal a tougher approach to enforcing deals in other antitrust cases, including one involving Google.

Microsoft and officials at the European Commission reached an antitrust settlement in 2009 that called on the company to give Windows users in Europe a choice of Web browsers instead of pushing them to Microsoft’s Internet Explorer. But Microsoft failed to offer users such a choice for more than a year — apparently without anyone at the company or the commission noticing.

The fine is now known, and it’s less than a billion dollars, far less than Microsoft has gained owing to this illegally-obtained monopoly:

Europe hits Microsoft with $730M fine over browser choice ‘error’

Microsoft was naughty and got caught, and now it has to pay handsomely. Here’s the rundown on what happened, why it mattered, and why it may not happen again in quite the same way.

Be prepared for Microsoft apologists and PR folks to vilify the European authorities over it. As a little bit of background, consider reading:

  1. Huge Fines for Microsoft Browser Offences
  2. Cablegate: European Commission Worried About Microsoft’s Browser Ballot Screen Being Inappropriate
  3. Microsoft’s Browser Ballot is Broken Again and Internet Explorer 8 is Critically Flawed
  4. Microsoft’s Ballot Screen is a Farce, Decoy
  5. A Ballot Screen is Not Justice, Internet Explorer Still Compromises Users’ PCs
  6. Microsoft Not Only Broke the Law in Europe, So Browser Ballot Should Become International
  7. Browser Ballot Critique
  8. Microsoft’s Fake “Choice” Campaign is Back
  9. Microsoft Claimed to be Cheating in Web Browsers Ballot
  10. Microsoft Loses Impact in the Web Despite Unfair Ballot Placements
  11. Given Choice, Customers Reject Microsoft
  12. Microsoft is Still Cheating in Browser Ballot — Claim
  13. Microsoft Does Not Obey the Law

As justice is too slow, the fine is too little and it’s too late. Just watch this decades-old antitrust case still going on, as Groklaw noted the other day:

A date for oral argument in the WordPerfect antitrust battle, Novell v Microsoft, has been set. It’s May 6, at 9 AM in Courtroom II at the Byron White US Courthouse in Denver, Colorado.

Yes, long after WordPerfect had been made virtually dead judges failed to rule indefinitely and no justice was ever restored. Microsoft has made many billions using the office suite monopoly it illegally obtained. And Novell has been robbed naked by Microsoft since then, rendering one side in this legal battle a lot less potent.

The moral of the story is, if you are a big corporation like Microsoft or Goldman Sachs, the cost of committing crimes is just a minor cost of doing business and it pays off in the long run. Crime is like an investment and nobody ever goes to jail if you are “too big (or groomed) to fail”. The following caricature (no attribution known) expresses this well.

Monopoly

Update: Linking to reports like this one about the fine, the FSFE’s president says:

Microsoft just can’t avoid getting into trouble with competition watchdogs.

Today, the European Commission slapped the company with a fine of EUR 561 million (ca. USD 731 million) for breaching a 2009 settlement over the bundling of Internet Explorer with Windows. Under this agreement, Microsoft promised to display a “browser choice” screen on Windows installs in Europe, inviting users to choose other browsers besides the company’s own program.

[...]

Faced with a blatant breach of the agreed settlement, the Commission had no choice but to act decisively. The alternative of doing nothing, or imposing a minimal token fine, would have made European competition regulators look like paper tigers.

As Microsoft has now, again, learned to its cost, the EC demands to be taken seriously on such things.

Yet while large in absolute terms, the fine amounts to 1% of the company’s revenue in 2012. There is a danger that companies of this size see regulatory interference as a mere cost of doing business, rather than as an impulse to mend their ways. To achieve this, more forceful measures may be necessary, such as excluding offenders from public procurement for a limited amount of time.

A punishment “such as excluding offenders from public procurement for a limited amount of time” may be an interesting option, but still, it is too soft on people who knowingly abuse the law. Why not suggest jail terms? Is it too radical a suggestion to put white-collar criminals in prison in the age of rampant financial abuses and illicit wars? Have we lost a sense of moral by putting only poor people in jail (class incarceration)?

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