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05.04.13

Links 5/5/2013: Chromebooks Growth, Further Catchup

Posted in News Roundup at 6:57 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • The Linux desktop is already the new normal

    We’re so busy seeking release from Windows that we overlooked all the ways Linux had already freed us

  • A Journey of Three Years.

    Linux interest, despite FUD, is on the rise. You can take a look at the numbers in Distrowatch. When I migrated to Linux in 2009, it took Ubuntu 2249 visits to be the first distro ranked. Today, the 3rd position has 189 visits more than that. Back in 2009, the last distro had 73 hits. Today, the 100th position is counted with three digits and has almost two times that number of visits.

  • Entire state moves to open source

    In a victory for the free software movement, the Spanish autonomous region of Extremadura has started to switch more than 40,000 government PCs to open source.

    All the computers will be migrated this year. Extremadura estimates that the move to open source will help save €30 million per year.

  • Microsoft Exchange rival Icewarp says selling Linux to Windows customers is easy

    ENTERPRISE MESSAGING VENDOR Icewarp claims that it is not hard to sell Linux to firms that have been using Microsoft’s software products once they become open to change.

    Icewarp, which produces a messaging and collaboration server that rivals Microsoft’s Exchange and Sharepoint servers offers its daemons on both Windows and Linux. However the firm told The INQUIRER that in certain regions firms are very keen

  • Font boost for Linux from Adobe and Google

    The FreeType font rendering engine has been enhanced with a new rasterizer for Compact Font Format (CFF) fonts, contributed to FreeType by Adobe and Google. The new rasterizer details were included in the latest changes file for the beta version 2.4.12 of FreeType. The new engine is said to be “vastly superior to the old CFF engine and will replace it in the next release”.

    Currently though, the new engine is disabled by default and has to be enabled at build time. The code itself is described as a “mature beta”. Google explains that CFF fonts place more of a burden for working out the display trade-offs on the rasterizer, more so than TrueType, and the new Adobe CFF engine for FreeType brings a higher quality engine to the open source font renderer, which is better able to make the appropriate trade-offs for a wider range of displays.

  • Open Ballot: Would you pay for Linux?

    Depending on how you pay for it, you’ll probably have to part with at least fifty quid for Windows 8, and double (or more) for OS X, and they come with almost no software compared to the average Linux distribution. Yet almost all Linux distributions are free as in zero-cost.

  • Desktop

    • Is the Linux desktop becoming extinct?

      After a decade of looking for the “year of the Linux desktop”, many Linux columnists have given up. Some say it isn’t coming, while others claim that Linux has simply failed on the desktop.

    • Dell’s Linux laptop has good hardware, decent toolkit

      Plenty of specialized companies out there sell PCs with Linux, but Dell is one of the very few mainstream contenders to have done so over the years. After some spotty initial offerings, it’s taken a different approach with its latest Linux PC. Rather than try to sell Linux hardware to the masses, which the company has said typically requires support, it’s focusing instead on developers, a savvy group that tends to need less help.

    • Low Cost Chromebooks Appeal to Linux Users Not Interested in Chrome OS

      Although many people think of them as older participants in the portable computing market, the fact is that Chromebooks based on Google’s Chrome OS first went on sale in June of 2011–not long ago. In a recent post on the state of Chromebooks, I noted that prices in the $200 range for Chromebooks like the Acer system shown here are attracting users, but also noted that market share numbers are not showing these system making a big splash.

    • Chromebook: To Hell With the Linux Desktop–Pre-Installation is Key.

      When you get right down to it, nobody cares about Operating Systems. Nobody wants to install an Operating System, with minor exceptions including your average ‘Gear Head’ (me) who likes to get grease under his finger nails and tinker with all manner of different technologies. I am in the minority.

      So, when you walk by that Chromebook at Best Buy, realize that it’s in the brick and mortar setting because it comes pre-installed. That is a must for any operating system to become wildly popular. You can’t succeed otherwise. It doesn’t matter which GUI you like. Not pre-installed? You are losing in the bigger game played by Microsoft and Apple.

  • Audiocasts/Shows

  • Kernel Space

    • XFS In Linux 3.10 To Put On Extra Protection

      The XFS file-system with the forthcoming Linux 3.10 kernel will have an experimental feature for CRC protection of meta-data.

      The XFS file-system pull request for the Linux 3.10 merge window was submitted on Thursday to the kernel mailing list.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • Metaphors behind icons – which are really useful?

      Every function should have at least four good alternatives. This is where you come into play. Please help us to improve the study with your ideas for alternative metaphors. These can be quite diverse and from different contexts. So every input is appreciated.

      Once we have found sufficient metaphors for each of these functions we need to create icons to these metaphors that fit in one icon set. And at this point we need your assistance again since we are not designers but usability experts. Icons should be redesigned to not have any biases because of the color, style, etc. It does not need to have a really fancy design with 3D effects or the like. But the layout must not influence users decision which one to choose in the upcoming test.

    • Compositing and “lightweight” desktops

      In the general discussion about “lightweight” desktop environments I have read a few times that one should disable Compositing in KWin. That’s done in Kubuntu’s low-fat settings package and also something Jos talked about in the context of Klyde.

      I have never seen an explanation on why Compositing should matter at all. It mostly boils down to “OpenGL is evil” and “I don’t want 3D”. So let’s leave the “educated guesses” behind us and have a proper look to the question whether Compositing matters for “lightweight”. (Remember: lightweight is a buzz-word without any meaning.)

    • Light weight KlyDE gives Xfce, Gnome some heavy weight competition

      KDE community offers one of the the most advanced desktop environments around, Plasma Desktop. But it is not limited to the desktops, KDE has developed technologies for every class of devices, whether it’s PCs, netbooks or tablets. The community develops software packages which are cross platform and are used on different platforms – some of the most notable KDE applications include Calligra suite, DigiKam, K3b and much more.

      I run KDE Plasma Workspaces on all my devices – Plasma Desktop on my PCs, Plasma Netbook on my, as obvious, netbooks and laptops and Plasma Active on my Nexus 7. The reason I chose Plasma over others is the features and functionality it offers which are missing from every other desktop environments.

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • KDE, A Community Made of Momentum – Aaron Seigo

        We just launched KDE Sutra, a KDE magazine by Muktware, to celebrate our 3rd anniversary. Aaron Seigo, the Plasma project leader, has written the introductory column for the magazine launch. Here I present to you Aaron Seigo! — Swapnil Bhartiya (editor KDE Sutra).

        KDE is a community with over fifteen years of history during which time it has consistently produced one of the premiere Free software desktops. It is one thing to make a new software project sound and look exciting; it is another to maintain interest and excitement across fifteen years. It is one thing to gather a group of developers to scratch a collective itch; it is another to evolve that into a thriving community encompassing thousands of participants and dozens of companies with a healthy and vibrant culture while managing generational turnover.

        Yet all of those efforts pale in comparison to keeping the technology itself relevant for that long. Who uses computers, how they use them, what computers look like and their capabilities shift from year to year, let alone decade to decade.

      • new release

        Hi everybody, after over a year of silence, I have something new to announce: I will make a new release available of the KDE SC on Windows tomorrow. There have been several problems in the past year that spoiled new release attempts, beginning with a build server leaving together with Nokia and ending with our web server which hosts the original binary releases. But these problems have been solved and so there we are. I hope this will make it also more obvious that KDE on Windows isn’t dead yet ;-) .

      • Tokamak 6: A Plasma Workspaces 2 Milestone

        Members from the Plasma team assemble a couple times each year to get some face time with each other. This is good both for team building and for making large strides forward in the technology we maintain and work on. When we get together on our own, rather than as part of a bigger event, we call the events “Tokamaks”. We held the sixth such meeting last week in Nürnberg, Germany where we were hosted by SUSE with additional support coming from KDE e.V.

      • Fast, Mobile, Accessible-Akademy 2013 Sessions
      • Krita Support Services Now Available

        KO GmbH announces extensive support services for Krita, the award-winning graphics application. Krita is an advanced paint application with a complete set of professional paint tools that can handle extremely large images effortlessly. It is particularly well-suited for special effects work in the movie industry.

      • Plasma Pow-wow Produces Detailed Plans for Workspace Convergence
    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • Starting Development Of GNOME Shell, Mutter 3.10

        With the first GNOME 3.10 development release due this week, the first GNOME 3.10 development snapshots (v3.9.1) of the GNOME Shell desktop and Mutter compositing window manager were checked in.

        GNOME 3.10 is tentatively set to be released on 25 September while this is the first development release due this week (GNOME 3.9.1). With just a little more than one month since the GNOME 3.8.0 release, there isn’t too much to look at for the 3.9.1 packages.

      • Multi-part items in Smoothie
      • Review: GNOME 3 Application Development: Beginner’s Guide

        The folk at Packt Publishing sent me an e-copy of GNOME 3 Application Development Beginners Guide a month or so ago.

        I’ve been putting off this review because I don’t think this is an very good book and it’s hard to write bad reviews.

  • Distributions

    • The great package format debate: why there’s no need for distributions to use the same package format
    • Poll: Which distros would you save?

      One of the comments that is quite often made on Reddit and in other Linux forums is that there are a lot of distributions that are just re-spins of Ubuntu, Fedora, openSUSE etc.

      Diversity is great and it is good that people put the effort in to creating a distribution.

    • Pardus 2013 Review – The mighty have fallen

      A Turkish distro that’s been on hiatus for a couple of years, is this latest version a long awaited sequel, or a disappointing reboot?

    • Distro Super Test – Raspberry Pi Edition

      We pit six Raspberry Pi operating systems against one another to find out which one is the king of the tiny computer distros

    • May 2013 Issue of Linux Journal: Raspberry Pi
    • Arch Linux on Raspberry Pi Running XFCE [Version 2]
    • Gparted 0.16.1 Fixes Another Critical Bug, Users Advised to Update ASAP

      GParted, a partitioning utility for creating, reorganizing, and deleting disk partitions with the help of tools that allow managing filesystems, is now at version 0.16.1.

    • SythOS – An experimental collaborative OS

      A rather long time ago (around a year and a half), I wrote a post about a system I was making which was supposed to be a cloud-based OS, named CosmOS. I didn’t really develop it that much, as I had a rather vague sense of what I wanted to do with it, and I immediately had problems with implementing the most basic concepts. Most of the idea was actually quite boring, and had already been developed by others. But since I had gone through all the trouble of making a tool for creating it (relinux), I decided to try it anyways, and just radically changed the whole design. And I did. I also found that I couldn’t have used the same name, as CosmOS was already the name of at least two different OS’s, and it was also the name of a directory of linux OSs (among other unrelated usages), so I kind of got that I had to change the name.

    • New Releases

      • Router Linux OpenWRT 12.09 released

        The OpenWRT team has released version 12.09 (code name: Attitude Adjustment) of the Linux distribution for routers. As was the case in the beta version, Attitude Adjustment no longer supports Linux kernel 2.4. This affects older router models with just 16MB memory and slow CPUs (200MHz), such as Linksys WRT54G models. Attitude Adjustment does now run on Ramips routers and the mini-computer Raspberry Pi (bcm2708), however.

      • Clonezilla 2.1.1-23
      • Red Flag 8.0
      • SparkyLinux 2.1.1 MATE Edition is out

        It’s available new iso images of SparkyLinux 2.1.1 “Eris” MATE Edition.

        On the beginning of April, the MATE team published new version of MATE environment 1.6.
        SparkyLinux 2.1 MATE Edition features MATE 1.4. It can be a little difficult to make clear upgrade of MATE, so I decided to make new iso images, which provide full system updates.

    • PCLinuxOS/Mageia/Mandrake/Mandriva Family

      • Mageia 3 Delayed Again a Bit

        Fedo..uh, I mean, Mageia chairman, Anne Nicholas, today announced the final release date for Mageia 3 – again. Nicholas said they didn’t want to say they’d release when ready for fear they’d sound a lot like Debian. Yet Mageia 3′s release schedule is starting to look a whole lot like Fedora 18′s.

    • Gentoo Family

      • Gentoo Team Isolates Udev from Systemd (eudev)
      • Calculate Linux 13.4 released

        As ever, you are welcome to choose between Calculate Linux Desktop featuring either KDE (CLD), GNOME (CLDG) or XFCE (CLDX), Calculate Directory Server (CDS) for server solutions, Calculate Media Center (CMC) should you need any and, last but not least, scratch versions for those preferring minimal installations: Calculate Linux Scratch (CLS) and Calculate Scratch Server (CSS).

    • Slackware Family

    • Red Hat Family

    • Debian Family

      • Debian developers set to party

        Twenty cities around the globe, ranging from Bangalore in India to New York in the USA, will be hosting parties this weekend. More are expected to announce they are joining in as the week progresses.

      • Debian 7.0 Wheezy: Hands on with a pre-release build

        The next release of Debian GNU/Linux, 7.0 or “Wheezy”, is less than a week away now — so I decided to take one last look at a pre-release build.

        My intention was to see how it looks and works in general, how it gets on with installation on various systems of mine, and whether and how it is working with GPT partitioning, UEFI BIOS, and Secure Boot.

        For this test, I downloaded the netinst image of the daily build on Saturday, 27 April. There are a lot of ISO images to choose from when downloading Debian; I generally take the net installer image because it is the smallest download and it gives me the most flexibility when installing.

      • Derivatives

        • Lightweight Debian: LXDE Desktop From Scratch

          In my neck of the woods the Internet doesn’t get any faster, and my six year old dual-core AMD computer still holds up nicely. I don’t like Gnome 3 and I don’t care about Ubuntu’s run everywhere there is lots of memory vision. Linux is all about choice, and I do have plenty of them.

          In this article I’ll take a look at Debian. Debian is one of the oldest distributions still in active development. It is a popular distribution for personal use among software developers, it is also the most popular Linux web server platform. Debian has a great community and the amount of software packaged far exceeds any other Linux disto out there.

        • First alpha release of Debian Edu / Skolelinux based on Debian Wheezy

          The Debian Edu / Skolelinux project is still going strong and made its first Wheezy based release today. This is the release announcement:

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Ubuntu Weekly Newsletter Issue 314
          • 13 Reasons to Deploy With Ubuntu Server

            Sometimes people ask me why they should use Ubuntu Server. It’s an understandable question, after all, Ubuntu gets a bunch of attention on the desktop (and more recently mobile), but people tend to forget that Ubuntu is an excellent server distribution, quietly humming along helping to run some of the world’s coolest companies at scale.

          • 13 Reasons to Deploy With Ubuntu Server (Part 3)
          • Ubuntu 13.04 Review – Spot the difference

            It’s that time again for a new Ubuntu – should you be raring to go with it, or is it a case of more of the same?

          • Weather & Clock app visual exploration
          • 10 Necessary Applications For Ubuntu 13.04 Raring Ringtail

            Ubuntu 13.04 Raring Ringtail was released a few days ago. It comes with many pre-installed applications for several purposes. However, these applications won’t be enough for some users to be able to effectively use Ubuntu 13.04 Raring Ringtail. So, here’s a list of recommended applications for Ubuntu 13.04.

          • Unity Desktop Smart Scopes Delayed Temporarily

            The Ubuntu Team originally approved some final modifications for the 13.04 release. After getting us all excited about the massive number of new Smart Scopes, the original approval was then retracted. Either way, I felt the need to inform everyone about the upcoming changes. Though unfortunately we must wait for 6 months for the Ubuntu 13.10 release.

          • Ubuntu 13.04 Raring Ringtail – Remarkably unremarkable

            Or maybe it should read the other way around, unremarkably remarkable. Which one is it? Well, I don’t know, take a look and judge for yourself. Now, the mandatory two paragraphs of introduction. For me, Ubuntu 12.10 Quantal Quetzal was a fairly big flop. And it was nothing short of a disaster on my high-endish machine, where the Nvidia graphics stack was bonkered.

          • Install Tomorrow’s Technologies in Today’s Ubuntu 13.04

            Ubuntu 13.04 (Raring Ringtail) is now out, but it has been release without an important update for Unity, which didn’t made the cut before the launch day.

            The biggest feature of Ubuntu 13.04 (Raring Ringtail) should have been the Smart Scopes, a collection of scopes for Unity (like the existing Music, Video, and so on). The developers have decided that this feature is not ready, and Ubuntu 13.04 has been skipped.

          • Shuttleworth: Ubuntu Cloud & Mobile Equally Important; Android Alternative Needed

            What’s more important: Ubuntu’s success in cloud computing or on mobile devices? The answer is both, according to Canonical CEO Mark Shuttleworth. During a quick conversation with The VAR Guy at the recent OpenStack Summit, Shuttleworth said Ubuntu — a popular Linux distribution for PCs — must succeed both in the cloud and mobile worlds because they are the two biggest IT waves empowering customers today. Plus, he added, the world wants a Google Android alternative.

          • People behind ubuntu quality: Carla

            Carla hails from Italy and enjoys being the guinea pig for new ideas and kickstarting new projects and efforts on the team. She’s been a wonderful contributor to our ubuntu autopilot tests project, happily helping lead the charge towards automating our favorite desktop applications.

          • Ubuntu 13.10 Release Schedule

            Now that we know the codename of the next major release of the Ubuntu operating system, and that the development cycle will start tomorrow, May 2, we are happy to announce that the release schedule has also been published, as a draft, on the Ubuntu Wiki.

          • Ten New Kernel Vulnerabilities Affect Ubuntu 12.10
          • Ubuntu 13.04: The Linux desktop for everyone (gallery)

            Ubuntu 13.04: The Linux desktop for everyone (gallery)

          • Flavours and Variants

  • Devices/Embedded

    • A Drooling Attack Over the BeagleBone Black

      “I think we can all appreciate what products like the BeagleBone and Raspberry Pi can do for today’s youth,” said blogger Robin Lim. “Understanding how something works is important. These single board computers can even be the basis for some really creative school and commercial grade projects, which go beyond plugging them to a keyboard and monitor.”

    • Man wants Raspberry Pi as drone detector

      A US engineer is trying to sell the idea of an open source drone detection system built out of shedloads of Raspberry Pi kits.

      The Drone Shield, which is designed by John Franklin, will cost around $60 to $70 to set up. It will combine a, a signal processor, a microphone, and analysis software to scan for specific audio signatures and compare them against what known drones sound like.

    • Raspberry Pi Case by SB Components Review

      When the Raspberry Pi first came out, the board-only design got a lot of people desiring a case to go with it. Since then, a few companies and Kickstarters have popped up to supply cases to those that want them. With many different designs on the market, it’s hard to know what to go for, and mainly comes down to how you plan to use the case. SB Components have created a simple case that is suitable for many uses, at a price that reflects the Raspberry Pi itself.

    • The Little Black Box Open Source XBMC Media Centre Unveiled (video)

      A new open source XBMC Media Centre player has been unveiled this week in the form of the new The Little Black Box, which has been designed to specifically run XBMC.

    • ARM Mini-ITX SBC gets serious about serial
    • NFC-ready cashless payment device moves up to Linux

      USA Technologies (USAT) announced a cashless payment device equipped with near field communications (NFC), a magnetic card reader, and support for a variety of contactless payment standards, including Mifare. The ePort G10 runs embedded Linux on an ARM9 processor, and offers an LCD screen plus serial, USB, and Ethernet connectivity.

    • Phones

      • Rare National Smartphone Market Data via Mary Meeker – Analyzed further and reported also Per Capita + Bonus! Estimate of regional smartphone new sales market sizes for 2013

        Note, as the market is expected to be very near exactly 1 Billion new smartphones sold this year, you can take those numbers and convert multiply the percentages by 10 to get the number sold. So for China, 27% means 270 million smartphones this year as the Chinese market size, and for North America 13% means 130 million smartphones sold etc. Yes, China alone this year will see approximately twice as many new smartphones sold as in all of North America. And Asia accounts for almost exactly half of all new smartphones sold this year, led by China, but including the rich parts of Asia like Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong etc, and then the Emerging World parts of the ‘Rest of Asia’ ie India, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Indonesia, Philippines etc etc etc. Half of all smartphones sold this year will go to Asia.

        [...]

        (This are based on 2012 numbers, expecting the ratio to be very similar this year, with the exception of if there is a major economic collapse that suddenly kills sales).

      • Android

Free Software/Open Source

  • Mapping the Apache Software Foundation
  • Open source potential in capital markets

    We’ve built a full market risk analytics platform for capital markets—with all the bells and whistles you’d expect, such as a declarative calculation engine, a flashy HTML5 GUI, and a comprehensive analytics library—and we’ve released it under the Apache 2.0 License. And, our key customers and users at the moment are some of the world’s most secretive technologists: hedge fund managers. To an outsider, this may look like a curious combination.

  • A change in the open source software market

    Last week North Bridge Venture Partners and Black Duck Software released the 7th Annual Future of Open Source survey. Previous years’ surveys have generated interest industry-wide, with implications that cross industries and ecosystems.

  • Why Open Source Software is Like Burning Man
  • Events

    • Linux Fest Northwest reprise

      Whew. That drive from Felton-to-Bellingham-and-back gets longer and longer. But it goes without saying, of course that it’s well worth it. The 14th annual Linux Fest Northwest was a success and while they take a break before getting ready for next year’s event — April 26-27, 2014, at Bellingham Technical College — I’m going to make my reservation at the Hampton Inn right now so I don’t forget.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Firefox prefetching: what you need to know

        The basic idea behind prefetching is to speed things up for the user. An algorithm is involved that guesses which resources are likely to be accessed by the user in the recent future.Think of Facebook’s login page for instance. The most reasonable assumption is that the user will enter the username and password, and then click on the login link. If you prefetch some of the information you may speed things up for the user in the progress if a prefetched resource is indeed accessed.

      • Fake Firefox Spyware Riles Mozilla

        Samples of FinSpy, part of the FinFisher surveillance software suite sold by Gamma International UK Ltd to government organizations, have been found disguised as Mozilla’s Firefox browser, according to a report published Tuesday.

        The report, written by academic research group Citizen Lab, documents the spread of offensive computer network intrusion capabilites — hacking tools — marketed by Western companies.

      • Sued Opera designer fingers Mozilla’s ‘Search Tabs’ as root of $3.4M claim

        The former Opera Software designer accused of leaking trade secrets to Mozilla denied the charges yesterday, but confirmed that the lawsuit takes aim at a search revamp he worked on while a consultant for the maker of Firefox.

      • Firefox OS developer phones ship… sell out

        Spanish online phone seller and Telefonica partner Geeksphone announced the availability of the first two developer phones running Mozilla’s Linux-based Firefox OS distribution. The $194 Peak smartphone offers a dual-core, 1.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 processor and a 4.3-inch IPS display, with 8- and 2-megapixel cameras, while the $119 Keon has a 1GHz Snapdragon S1, a 3.5-inch HVGA display, and a 3-megapixel camera.

  • SaaS/Big Data

    • There is no reason at all to use MySQL: MariaDB, MySQL founder Michael Widenius

      Swapnil: MySQL became the default database of a majority of projects and companies around the globe, what made MySQL so popular – what characteristics did it have? Was it it’s open source nature, technological superiority or marketing by Sun?
      Monty: MySQL was widely popular long before MySQL was bought by Sun. (This was one of the main reasons why Sun wanted to buy MySQL).

    • From GNOME Linux Desktop to OpenStack Cloud [VIDEO]

      The open source OpenStack cloud platform is being built by a diverse and large group of vendors and developers. Among those vendors is Linux leader Red Hat, a company that is no stranger to being part of a multi-stakeholder open source effort, like the GNOME Linux desktop, for example.

      Helping to lead Red Hat’s OpenStack efforts is Senior Principal Software Engineer, Mark McLoughlin. McLoughlin isn’t just a leader at Red Hat, he was also the leading contributor by code commits to the recent OpenStack Grizzly release. In an exclusive video interview with Datamation (see below), McLoughlin explains how his years of experience in the GNOME desktop community prepared him and Red Hat to help OpenStack to succeed.

  • Databases

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • UNCONFIRMED Bugs

      Between January 15th & April 27th 3,002 bugs were reported – I’m serious, no lie, over 3,000 bugs reported! Thanks (partly sarcastic?) to our fantastic users for reporting problems when you find them. This period covers 103 days (so about 29 bugs per day reported). Just maintaining our unconfirmed count would have been a tremendous success…..but, WE DID BETTER!

  • Education

  • Business

  • BSD

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • GnuCash 2.4.13 released

      The GnuCash development team proudly announces GnuCash 2.4.13, another bug fix release in a series of stable of the GnuCash Free Accounting Software. With this release series, GnuCash can use an SQL database using SQLite3, MySQL or PostgreSQL. It runs on GNU/Linux, *BSD, Solaris, Microsoft Windows and Mac OSX.

    • Why Do It? The Motivations Behind Free Software

      I have been developing free software for a long time, originally as an independent freeware author in Windows (oh the stories I could tell you there) and more recently in Linux. Why do it? And what are the values and principles that are most functional when working for free? I thought I would take some time out to share the strategies I have developed over the years that make this work.

    • Stallman speaks in Copenhagen

      This week the founder of the GNU project and the Free Software Foundation, Richard Stallman (RMS) gave two presentations at the Technical University of Denmark. The events were organized by KLID.

      On Wednesday the topic was Copyright vs. Community. Discussing the history of copyright, how it is being extended and (mis)used, and how Richard Stallman proposes to reform copyright.

  • Project Releases

    • Open Build Service version 2.4 released

      After one whole year of hard work, toil, tears and sweat from all our awesome contributors the latest release of the Open Build Service(OBS) is ready for you. Version 2.4 adds support for yet another package format, secure boot signing and appstream app stores. It also brings a constraint system to better match build hardware to build jobs and includes a lot of speed improvements. OBS 2.4 is the latest, greatest and rock solid release that is already used by our reference server since January. We strongly recommended to update to this version.

  • Public Services/Government

    • UK government: ‘Open source drives commoditisation of IT’

      Using open source software solutions helps public administrations to regain their power as customers, says Tariq Rashid of the IT Reform group at the UK Cabinet. It helps them to move from expensive unique IT to the commodity competing end of the market.

    • Open Source by default?

      “Over the last ten years, Open Source has become unremarkable. I think that’s a great achievement. We no longer argue about whether it’s secure or not, or whether it’s safe to use. We focus now on how best to use Open Source to get the best value for every tax dollar,” said Gunnar Hellekson, Chief Technology Strategist for Red Hat’s US Public Sector Group.

Leftovers

  • Digg working on a Google Reader replacement

    75% of the 8600 respondents share news via email, compared to 55% who share stories via Facebook or Twitter.

  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression

    • Why We Must Protect Next Year’s Boston Marathon from Ourselves

      I in no way doubt that next year will be a celebration of the city’s stouthearted fortitude. I have no doubt that people will arrive in droves to witness “the spirit of freedom prevail.” But I do think we need to separate the bravery of those who will gather in 2014, and what the security imperatives will undoubtedly be. We need to critically examine what’s proposed and, if necessary, raise our voices in protest.

      [...]

      building movements now against the militarization of the police force.

    • 2 women hurt during L.A. manhunt to receive $4.2M
    • Cutting the Military Budget Is a Problem…for the Left?

      The point is that shifting spending from the military to other types of government spending would be more broadly beneficial to the economy. It’s hard to imagine many people on the left who wouldn’t support this. So why is it portrayed as a “quandary”?

    • McCormick Con Exposed the Truth about Iraq

      But McCormick was just small beer. He was the unauthorised con. The authorised con involved more money by a factor of twenty million; it was a multi trillion dollar con involving entirely fake and planted evidence as a justification for a war in which millions were killed or maimed, the infrastructure of a modern country bombed back to the Middle Ages, and vast personal fortunes made in the arms, mercenary, military support, banking and oil industries.

  • Cablegate

    • Prenda Law: EFF has “the same goals” as “terrorist group Wikileaks”

      Prenda Law’s litigation campaign against people allegedly sharing obscure pornographic films on BitTorrent hasn’t been going well. A growing number of judges has taken notice of accusations that Prenda stole the identity of a Minnesota man named Alan Cooper and named him CEO of the litigious shell company AF Holdings. Prenda’s lawyers have invoked the Fifth Amendment to avoid answering potentially incriminating questions about how Cooper’s signature wound up on AF Holdings legal documents.

  • Finance

    • The Rich Have Gained $5.6 Trillion in the ‘Recovery,’ While the Rest of Us Have Lost $669 Billion

      Oh, are we getting ripped off. And now we’ve got the data to prove it. From 2009 to 2011, the richest 8 million families (the top 7%) on average saw their wealth rise from $1.7 million to $2.5 million each. Meanwhile the rest of us — the bottom 93% (that’s 111 million families) — suffered on average a decline of $6,000 each.

    • Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley Set Foreclosure Accord Payments

      The two New York-based banks will pay $247 million to almost 224,000 borrowers, the Fed said today in a statement. The checks — meant to compensate borrowers who may have been mistreated in foreclosures during 2009 and 2010 that relied on improper documentation or faulty procedures — range from $300 to $125,000, depending on the how much harm may have been done.

    • Credit Suisse Sues Ex-Vice President Who Left for Goldman

      Credit Suisse Group AG (CSGN) sued its former vice president of emerging markets, Agostina Pechi, claiming she stole the bank’s trade secrets in a bid to win clients for her new employer, Goldman Sachs Group Inc (GS).

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

    • Don’t Quote Me by Name, But My Friends the Koch Brothers Respect the Hell Out of Press Freedom

      interesting piece (4/21/13) about the libertarian-right Koch brothers’ interest in buying the Tribune Company. Why would profit-seeking businessmen want to buy money-losing newspapers? Chozick reports that “the papers could serve as a broader platform for the Kochs’ laissez-faire ideas.”

    • FAIR TV: Syria Sarin Skepticism, Tom Friedman’s Sick Madness, Darkening the Tsarnaevs

      The Week magazine turned the Caucasian Tsarnaev brothers into non-whites.

    • The Sick Madness of Tom Friedman’s Culture

      It is worth asking questions about how different communities or societies react to violence. After the 9/11 attacks, the United States bombed and occupied Afghanistan, based on the argument that the government of that country had tolerated the presence of Al-Qaeda and thus must bear the retribution. As a result, many thousands of people who had nothing to do with terrorism were killed.

      Or on to the invasion of Iraq, which was sold as part of a “Global War on Terror” following the 9/11 attacks as well, even though there was never a connection between Iraq and the terrorist attacks. So why did the United States invade Iraq? Tom Friedman explained it to Charlie Rose on May 30, 2003.

      To Friedman, there was a “terrorist bubble” in that part of the world, and “we needed to go over there and take out a very big stick…and there was only one way to do it.”

    • Texas Fertilizer Plant Disaster: Little Coverage, Much of It Wrong

      The West Fertilizer Co. explosion last week in West, Texas, took the lives of at least 14 and left scores injured and homeless. But the story was largely obscured by blanket coverage of the Boston Marathon bombing. More than that, says legendary EPA whistleblower Hugh Kaufman, a guest on this week’s CounterSpin, what coverage there was often obscured the real story. Here’s a transcript of Kaufman’s appearance:

  • Censorship

  • Privacy

    • Facebook’s Instagram to switch on face tagging
    • Open Letter to ISPs: do not become an arm of state surveillance

      Joint letter sent to BT, Sky, Virgin and TalkTalk by ORG, Privacy International and Big Brother Watch, asking ISPs to stand up for their customers.

    • Open letter to ISPs

      Three privacy groups have written to ISPs to demand that they stand up for their customers and warn them about the Snoopers’ Charter.

    • The CIA and the cloud

      “The Company” is a term that insiders have long used to refer to the CIA…

    • Why I Don’t Give A Rip About CISPA (and why you shouldn’t either)

      A recent, practical example: The Boston bombers

      This story recently came up that Russian intelligence warned the FBI about the Boston bombers. And yet, if you read the text, there’s disagreeing comments from government employees at all levels: “Yes they did.” “No they didn’t.” “I saw that but I thought it was that other guy’s job.” Even more mind–blowing, is the headline Boston Bombing Suspect’s Name Was in US Terrorism Databases!

      What if CISPA had been in place? It probably wouldn’t have helped much. Another stack of papers would have gotten shuffled around without getting read. Maybe it would have put the right dot on the right map. If it had, doubtless three other things that demanded attention would have been ignored instead.

      Call it “Penguin Pete’s Law of Surveillance”: It doesn’t matter how much data you collect. What matters is having the eyeballs to read that data.

  • Civil Rights

    • Have You Ever Tried to Force-Feed a Captured Human?

      U.S. Naval medics are forcing tubes down the noses of detainees at Guantánamo Bay in order to feed them against their will. The U.N. has said this violates international law. When does “suicide prevention” become torture?

    • British Embassy Promotes Despotism in Bahrain

      Apparently the Embassy commissioned these essays from Bahrainians to mark the occasion. Extraordinarily, they have published two essays from pro-despotism propagandists. If they had published two balancing essays from the majority community, I would have viewed the inclusion of the fascist views as wrongheaded but defensible. As it is, this is an appalling disgrace to the foreign office.

      Here are some genuine press stories the Embassy might have noted, but didn’t:

      Bahrain doctors jailed for treating injured protesters

      Teenager Killed in Bahrain on Protest Anniversary

      Bahrain Protest Crushed By Security Forces

  • DRM

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Doctors Call Out Novartis For Insane Pricing On Cancer Drug

      Novartis has been in the news lately for the lawsuit filed against it by the US government for kickbacks it allegedly gave to doctors for prescribing certain drugs. As we noted about that case, it should be no surprise that this sort of activity happens, given that the incentive structure we’ve created with patents is so extreme. Here’s one example of at least some principled doctors striking back against Novatis. Over 120 cancer researchers and doctors have published a paper calling out Novartis specifically for its pricing on the cancer drug Gleevec (marketed as Glivec outside the US). The doctors point out that it can cost over $100,000 per year for Gleevec currently. And, Novartis has been continually jacking up the price. There had been concern when the drug was first introduced a decade ago, that it was priced way too high at $30,000, leading the company’s then CEO, Daniel Vasella, to acknowledge the complaints, but to argue that it was “a fair price.” Well, now the company is pricing the drug at more than three times what it thought was a fair price, and it should be no surprise that people think this is outrageous profiteering by abusing a government granted monopoly to charge way more than any fair market price would allow.

Microsoft ‘Open’ Technologies Designed to Isolate Microsoft From FOSS Community, Claims OSI President; Microsoft’s Patent Extortion and Sabotage of FOSS Continue

Posted in Free/Libre Software, Microsoft, OSI, Patents at 4:33 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Microsoft’s sting is deceivingly called “Microsoft Open Technologies”

Sting

Summary: Microsoft continues to blackmail, damage, demonise etc. — thus isolating FOSS (Free Open Source Software) projects and marginalising the development community/ies — while claiming to have embraced “openness”

The OSI’s president would not characterise Microsoft as Satan, he is just realistic about the company’s real intent. His predecessor was the same as the OSI was barely ever infiltrated by Microsoft moles, thankfully enough (I can think only of two exceptions, Denise and Matt). The OSI is about to get a new board and hopefully enough Microsoft’s entryism attempts will be kept at bay (OSI was infiltrated by Microsoft only in the licence sense). Microsoft successfully infiltrated other FOSS authorities which it rendered defunct upon joining. Yes, we have examples, but these are not worth revisiting right now.

Currently, Microsoft tries a man in the middle approach and Phipps knows what Microsoft is really up to. He writes:

Microsoft Open Technologies is plenty busy. But Microsoft still hasn’t explained why a separate entity was needed

Phipps is more blunt in his blog. He calls this scam “Microsoft Firewall” and says:

On its first anniversary, I remain convinced that the motivation for Microsoft’s wholly-owned open source & open standards subsidiary is primarily to isolate Microsoft from the open source community.

Well, what Microsoft calls “openness” is actually extortion, blackmail and sabotage; taxing GNU/Linux and controlling it. This is all just a branding and marketing exercise for Microsoft. Fernando Cassia shows that the Microsoft-funded SUSE, as expected, is sidling yet closer to Microsoft right now, handing yet more control over GNU/Linux to the sociopath:

Since we shared the stage at OSBC last year, our joint efforts have also delivered the SUSE Manager Management Pack for System Center, which facilitates Linux server patching through Microsoft’s management tools, as well as support for SUSE Linux Enterprise Servers and openSUSE images on Windows Azure Virtual Machines.

Obsidian makes a mistake too.

Microsoft is not being nice to Linux. Putting aside extortion with patents, which is a RICO Act violation, there is technical sabotage. With Vista 8 it is suppressing Linux boots (through UEFI restricted boot) and it has real impact on Free software adoption. As Mr. Varghese puts it, there are untold complications:

Linux does not have this capability. Those Linux distributions that have developed a means of booting on secure boot-enabled systems need to disable hibernation in the kernel. Or they can do as Canonical, the maker of Ubuntu, has done and remove the hibernation option from the user interface.

Thanks to SUSE folks who helped take restricted boot mainstream (kernel-embedded), we are all bound to suffer for years to come. Hardware is being made Linux-hostile with the flawed assumption that Linux will cope.

‘Open’ is how Microsoft paints itself whilst doing the very opposite; the company tries to immune itself from criticism using newspeak.

Microsoft’s Skype as a Universally-accessible Backdoor, Patent Infringement

Posted in Microsoft, Security at 4:19 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Edinburgh terrace

Summary: New Skype antifeature enables remote control of computers and Skype attracts patent lawsuits, too

The Microsoft-controlled Skype is not the same software it used to be. The architecture has been revised. Microsoft Skype is legalised malware and it abducts the computers of people, Microsoft Windows not being a prerequisite, gaining access to the connected camera, microphone, files, etc.

Based on this article, it is getting yet uglier:

After six malicious takeovers of his Skype account, a frustrated security researcher has posted his attempts to get Skype’s help. Here’s how to protect yourself.

The update says “Skype has not responded to request for comment, yet email and comments relate more instances of account hijacking with the same technique.”

And later on comes a face-saving response which does not actually address the subject. Microsoft does nothing to alleviate the fears.

Speaking of Skype, VirnetX, which we covered here many times before (the context being patent litigation against Microsoft) is suing Microsoft over it, citing patent violations. To quote the Indian press:

According to research firm ISI Group, most of VirnetX’s revenue has come from a 200 million dollars patent-infrigement-related settlement reached with Microsoft in 2010.

It is unlikely that Skype will be sued out of existence, but either way, whatever weakens it will do society good. The FSF has done a lot of activism against Skype for a reason. It’s high priority on the kill list.

Software Patents Are Core Issue, But New Obsession Names Just Patent Trolls as the Issue

Posted in Patents at 3:50 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

It’s about scope, not scale

Equilibrium

Summary: New examples from Internet news sites which show how the debate on software patent is being warped to focus on small players (trolls) and not large ones whose parasitical existence resembles that of trolls

THE DEBATE regarding patent reform is being derailed somewhat. It got reshaped by stakeholders with lobbyists. We addressed the subject several times recently, in posts such as:

  1. Regulators Target Patent Trolls But Lose Sight of Patent Cartels
  2. Patent Trolls Increasingly Recognised as an Issue, Taking Attention Away From Software Patents as Key Issue
  3. Patent Trolls and ‘Royalties’: Distracting From the Real Issue Which is Software Patents
  4. The Notion of “Software Patent Trolls”

An unnamed author in Rupert Murdochs’ press ran a poll on patentability of software. Well, two thirds say “no” to software patents, but the total number of votes is low and thus it is easy to rig (real public opinion may be more hostile towards software patents). Is this a fair introduction?

The first patent for software in the U.S. was awarded in 1968. The question of whether patents should be granted for software has been debated ever since. In recent years, with the numbers of software patents and lawsuits involving those patents both growing rapidly, the debate has intensified.

Fair enough. It is worth adding that much of the world deviates from the US on this and suffers far less litigation such as troll atacks. Here is yet another article which focuses on trolls rather than software patents. It says:

Most of us are familiar with the famous Norwegian fairy tale, “Three Billy Goats Gruff.” where three hungry goats must cross a bridge to find more grass to eat. The problem is, underneath that bridge is a ferocious troll who wants to eat each one as it passes by.

This is not the main issue though; scope is the root of this issue. The Microsoft-run Nokia is still fighting to ban Android in Europe using patents which are probably invalid. Remember that Nokia is not a patent troll but a zombie patent portfolio currently exploited by Microsoft.

Nokia will have to start legal processes in each country as there is no such thing as a worldwide enforceable [patent] injunction.

See the article “Nokia could get the HTC One banned in Europe” and this one too. There is no injunction but a lot of intimidation, typical Microsoft FUD. Nokia is being used like a patent troll in this case, it is not just being used to arm patent trolls. So why talk about patent trolls as the principal or only issue? Perhaps because the government is still run by and funded by large corporations. It’s them who call the shots.

The FTC has been notified by Linux and Android players, spoiled by misplaced focused and with further idiocy from Google which just strengthens software patents. B&N says the patent system is “broken” (more on that another day), whereas Google continues to liaise with the USPTO and dodge criticism of software patents.

Here is one wiser suggestion from a US Senator who at least identify the root issue correctly:

A U.S. senator has announced plans to introduce legislation that would expand patent law to create a method to challenge software patents, much like the one currently available to review covered business method patents.

It is a move welcomed by some members of the technology community, including Google, Inc, who believe there should be more rigorous review of what software is eligible for patents.

Senator Charles Schumer, a New York Democrat, plans to introduce the bill on Monday, his spokesman Max Young said on Wednesday.

Contrariwise, some continue to bicker about trolls. Here is a new example:

In the decade since it was founded in Dallas, IP Nav has established itself as a global leader in the increasingly lucrative business of “patent assertion,” offering clients the ability to “maximize the value of their IP assets.” Put more bluntly, it’s a patent troll, shaking down companies by threatening them with lawsuits over patents that they or their clients are squatting on. They are a big problem in the tech world, and IP Nav is a big part of it. Rackspace, the San Antonio-based cloud computing firm, recently called the company “one of the most notorious patent trolls in America.”

Ask what type of patents they use. Therein lies the real issue. It is worth noting that the world’s largest patent troll (which spawned from Microsoft) is lobbying with a new ‘study’ that Mike Masnick covers as follows:

Giant Patent Troll Intellectual Ventures Does ‘Study’ To Show How Much Everyone Loves Patents

Apparently Intellectual Ventures’ attempts to improve its dismal reputation as the worlds largest, most obnoxious patent troll don’t seem to involve finding a legitimate business to be in, or actually doing something to help the world, but rather to ask some execs some loaded questions to produce a study pretending that execs really love patents and think they’re great for innovation. The thing is, the study also shows that the execs they asked are somewhat clueless about patents or how they’re being abused today.

Masnick concludes by saying: “See, next time why not ask them something a bit more accurate, like how they feel about “companies who go out and buy weak, broad patents on obvious things, and then use them to demand cash from companies actually competing in the market?” Or, rather than call them “patent licensing companies” call them by what everyone knows them as: patent trolls.”

This strategy is not unique to patent trolls. Some dying companies, Nokia for instance, do something similar. The important thing is to discuss the patents and not those who use them. The patents are the root cause. Their issuer is the key culprit and it is often controlled by large corporations such as IBM.

The European Patent Office is Breaking the Law Regarding Software Patents, German Parliament Finally Complains

Posted in Europe, Patents at 3:28 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Benoît Battistelli not above the law

Benoît BattistelliSummary: The EPO’s sheer disregard for laws relating to patent scope gets the attention of very influential politicians in Europe, who explicitly ask the EPO to stop what it is doing

The situation with regards to software patents in the EU has been outrageous, with a German court legitimising controversial Linux-hostile software patents nearly half a decade ago and a British court doing something similar in a case involving Symbian (later fully acquired by Nokia). There are some news articles in French and in German which allude to a pushback from those above the courts. The patents boosters say that EPO “nominates a software #patent (an otherwise excluded matter) for its #EIA13 prizes show” and the response to it from more crass and rude bloggers (like IAM) is rather distasteful, characterising politicians that uphold the existing law as pirates (see “IP owners should be mindful of the lasting influence of Pirate politics in Germany“). Watchtroll, another exceptionally vocal patents maximalist, uses so-called software people to promote software patents, making fellow patent lawyers actually believe that programmers want such patents. This is unthinkable, but the lawyers’ microcosm is an echo chamber of disinformation and it shows. Glyn Moody called the latest government intervention “some good news for change” but said that there are “dangers looming” based on his analysis which says about software patents:

European Patent Convention forbids them, and the European Parliament explicitly rejected them again in 2005. Fans of intellectual monopolies just keep coming back with new ways of getting around those bans, which means that the battle to stop them crippling the European software industry has to be fought again and again.

An interesting example of the growing confidence of the pro-software patent lobby is that the European Patent Office has even included a software patent in this year’s nominees for the European Inventor Award…

Here is a good take on the news:

The German Parliament has held a first reading of [corrected] a joint motion against the growing trend of patent offices to grant patents on software programs. The resolution on “Secure Competition and Innovation in the software development,” obliges the German government to take steps to ensure that software is protected by copyright only and no additional patent protection is granted.

The FSFE’s message (citing/quoting Karsten Gerloff) is almost identical:

The German Parliament, the Bundestag, has voted on a joint motion against software patents. The resolution urges the German government to take steps to limit the granting of patents on computer programs.

In the resolution, the Parliament says that patents on software restrict developers from exercising their copyright privileges, including the right to distribute their programs as Free Software. They promote the creation of monopolies in the software market, and hurt innovation and job creation. [Correction 2013-04-24: Parliament did not yet adopt the motion, but rather decided to pass it to the parliament committees for further consideration.]

“Software patents are harmful in every way, and are useless at promoting innovation”, says Karsten Gerloff, President of the Free Software Foundation Europe. “We urge the German government to act on this resolution as soon as possible, and relieve software developers from the needless patent-related costs and risks under which they are currently suffering.”

As we noted here before, there are two main loopholes for software patents in Europe, except trying to make them look like patents on physical devices (the characterisation/deception loophole). One trick is FRAND, a thicket-like trick, and another is the unitary patent, an assimilation instrument. Andy Updegrove addressed the issue of FRAND in the US the other day, alluding to Microsoft’s patent war on Android.

“The European Patent Office is an executive organisation, it deals especially with patent applicants, as such, its view of the world may be biased. As an executive organisation, its interpretative powers are very limited. The European Patent Convention excludes computer programs, it is outside the EPO’s power to change this.”

Ante Wessels

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