EditorsAbout the SiteComes vs. MicrosoftUsing This Web SiteSite ArchivesCredibility IndexOOXMLOpenDocumentPatentsNovellNews DigestSite NewsRSS

08.23.13

Keeping Free Software Free (Libre)

Posted in GNOME, Google at 11:22 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Smartphone

Summary: The real danger that the leading Linux-based operating system (Android) will cease to be free/libre

Autonomy of a nation depends on various factors which need to be pursued and assured. If your country is under the surveillance of another, then it is being controlled — determination-wise — by another. If the surveillance is bi-directional, as in the case of Russia and the United States for example, then neither country is in charge of another. Here in the UK we have at least two NSA bases (the ones we know about), whereas Britain has no army or surveillance bases in the US. It helps show who is in control. Today I travelled to Yorkshire, where protesters habitually go to an NSA base where they denounce US imperialism.

This rule extends to software. If the programmer can watch the user but the user cannot see the programmer or even the program’s code, then the user is essentially occupied. He or she has no control and the possibility of self determination is lowered. Espionage makes it possible for the software owner to weaken the user. Think how Google would cope if its infrastructure was Windows-based. It is not just a matter of immediate monetary cost. The hidden costs are rarely taken into account, but they matter.

Earlier this month Google and Qualcomm found themselves in hot water following a public resignation over the closing of Android. Google has since then retracted an apparent decision to go along with Qualcomm, but there is still no assurance that source code will be free in the future. This is a serious cause for concern.

Back in the days it seemed inevitable that one Linux-based platform or another would dominate the mobile world [1] and even expand to desktops [2]. It was hard to tell which one because several multi-vendor alliances were created, decoupled, merged, etc. Some platforms, like WebOS for instance, were proprietary (except the kernel, Linux). Some had GNU, some did not [3,4]. Some were Web-oriented, whereas others encouraged development of native applications. Google clearly won this race and is, for now, the market leader. Almost a dozen other Linux-based platforms are still contenders and all of them are now Free software (or claim to be, even if source code is not yet publicly available).

Earlier this week there was a discussion on the Web about whether or not Android qualifies as a “Linux distro” (can’t add “GNU” in this case). Some said that proprietary programs on Android disqualify it. Whatever the case is, Android itself — the platform — is Free software in a very weird, Google-like sense. Like other FOSS projects from Google, development is done privately and code released periodically. If new versions of Android can be ‘leaked’, then we know development is not quite so open to the community (non-OHA parties).

The final point to be made here is that in order to empower users and developers now that Android is a universal platform (or rapidly getting there) we should keep pressure on Google to keep Android free/libre. The wider the usage of Android, the smaller the proportion of users who care about freedom will get. Then, Google will be able to reason about de-emphasising FOSS and community participation in the same way canonical did. Currently, the only reason Android is somewhat respectful of some technology rights like privacy is that its free nature permits derivatives like Replicant to compete on key terms and compel OHA partners to catch up. If Android was ever to shut out ‘foreign’ developers, then we would expect Android to become more user-hostile and therein lies a principal argument for software freedom. If malicious features can be removed, one developer or another will make sure they do get removed. This limits what companies like Google can get away with.

Free software is not about price or even about enabling every single user to modify his or her software. Software freedom helps us assure that competition acts as a regulator against malicious features. The less free/libre the software is, the more menacing the software will become over time. Just watch what Vista did with DRM and Vista 8 does with restricted boot and other malicious ‘features’ which treat the user like an enemy.

From the news:

  1. Open Source Mobile OS: The Four Contenders

    Google and Apple currently enjoy a virtual duopoly in the worldwide smartphone market, with Android and iOS commanding 79 percent and 14.2 percent of sales respectively, according to Gartner.

    Their nearest challenger is Windows Phone with 3.3 percent and BlackBerry is back further still, but such dominance has not been enough to dissuade four new mobile operating systems from believing they can upset the market leaders.

  2. HDMI-stick mini-PC runs Android on quad-core ARM SoC

    China-based Ugoos announced a quad-core, HDMI-stick style mini-PC available for a special price of $65 (normally $100). The Ugoos UM2 runs Android 4.2 on a quad-core Rockchip RK3188 ARM Cortex-A9 SoC, offers an HDMI port, WiFi, and Bluetooth 4.0, and provides dual USB 2.0 host ports for external peripheral connection.

  3. MeeGo Startup Jolla Closes Pre-Sales Campaign For Its First Phone, Booking Orders Of Up To 50,000 Units

    Jolla, the Finnish startup comprised of ex-Nokians that’s building its own MeeGo-based smartphone platform and phone hardware has closed out a pre-sales campaign for the device it showed off in May. Thing is, it’s not saying how many phones are in this first pre-order batch — so it’s not really saying very much about the level of demand it’s seeing (or not seeing).

  4. Tizen, your next HTML5 mobile operating system

    The open source Tizen operating system could be your next mobile device experience.

Share this post: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Reddit
  • co.mments
  • DZone
  • email
  • Google Bookmarks
  • LinkedIn
  • NewsVine
  • Print
  • Technorati
  • TwitThis
  • Facebook

If you liked this post, consider subscribing to the RSS feed or join us now at the IRC channels.

Pages that cross-reference this one

What Else is New


  1. Links 23/4/2018: Second RC of Linux 4.17 and First RC of Mesa 18.1

    Links for the day



  2. The Good Work of the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) and the Latest Attempts to Undermine It

    A week's roundup of news about PTAB, which is eliminating many bad (wrongly-granted) patents and is therefore becoming "enemy number one" to those who got accustomed to blackmailing real (productive) firms with their questionable patents



  3. District Courts' Patent Cases, Including the Eastern District of Texas (EDTX/TXED), in a Nutshell

    A roundup of patent cases in 'low courts' of the United States, where patents are being reasoned about or objected to while patent law firms make a lot of money



  4. The Federal Circuit's (CAFC) Decisions Are Being Twisted by Patent Propaganda Sites Which Merely Cherry-Pick Cases With Outcomes That Suit Them

    The Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) continues to reject the vast majority of software patents, citing Section 101 in many such cases, but the likes of Managing IP, Patently-O, IAM and Watchtroll only selectively cover such cases (instead they’re ‘pulling a Berkheimer’ or some similar name-dropping)



  5. Patents Roundup: Metaswitch, GENBAND, Susman, Cisco, Konami, High 5 Games, HTC, and Nintendo

    A look at existing legal actions, the application of 35 U.S.C. § 101, and questionable patents that are being pursued on software (algorithms or "software infrastructure")



  6. In Maxon v Funai the High 'Patent Court' (CAFC) Reaffirms Disdain for Software Patents, Which Are Nowadays Harder to Get and Then Defend

    With the wealth of decisions from the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) wherein software patents get discarded (Funai being the latest example), the public needs to ask itself whether patent law firms are honest when they make claims about resurgence of software patents by 'pulling a Berkheimer' or coming up with terms like “Berkheimer Effect”



  7. Today's European Patent Office Works for Patent Extremists and for Team UPC Rather Than for Europe or for Innovation

    The International Association for the Protection of Intellectual Property (AIPPI) and other patent maximalists who have nothing to do with Europe, helped by a malicious and rather clueless politician called Benoît Battistelli, are turning the EPO into a patent-printing machine rather than an examination office as envisioned by the EPC (founders) and member states



  8. The EPO is Dying and Those Who Have Killed It Are Becoming Very Rich in the Process

    Following the footsteps of Ron Hovsepian at Novell, Battistelli at the EPO (along with Team Battistelli) may mean the end of the EPO as we know it (or the end altogether); one manager and a cabal of confidants make themselves obscenely rich by basically sacrificing the very organisation they were entrusted to serve



  9. Short: Just Keep Repeating the Lie (“Quality”) Until People Might Believe It

    Battistelli’s patent-printing bureau (EPO without quality control) keeps lying about the quality of patents by repeating the word “quality” a lot of times, including no less than twice in the summary alone



  10. Shelston IP Keeps Pressuring IP Australia to Allow Software Patents and Harm Software Development

    Shelston IP wants exactly the opposite of what's good for Australia; it just wants what's good for itself, yet it habitually pretends to speak for a productive industry (nothing could be further from the truth)



  11. Is Andy Ramer's Departure the End of Cantor Fitzgerald's Patent Trolls-Feeding Operations and Ambitions?

    The managing director of the 'IP' group at Cantor Fitzgerald is leaving, but it does not yet mean that patent trolls will be starved/deprived access to patents



  12. EPO Hoards Billions of Euros (Taken From the Public), Decreases Quality to Get More Money, Reduces Payments to Staff

    The EPO continues to collect money from everyone, distributes bogus/dubious patents that usher patent trolls into Europe (to cost European businesses billions in the long run), and staff of the EPO faces more cuts while EPO management swims in cash and perks



  13. Short: Calling Battistelli's Town (Where He Works) “Force for Innovation” to Justify the Funneling of EPO Funds to It

    How the EPO‘s management ‘explained’ (or sought to rationalise) to staff its opaque decision to send a multi-million, one-day ceremony to Battistelli’s own theatre only weeks before he leaves



  14. Short: EPO Bribes the Media and Then Brags About the Paid-for Outcome to Staff

    The EPO‘s systematic corruption of the media at the expense of EPO stakeholders — not to mention hiring of lawyers to bully media which exposes EPO corruption — in the EPO’s own words (amended by us)



  15. Short: EPO's “Working Party for Quality” is to Quality What the “Democratic People's Republic of Korea” is to Democracy

    To maintain the perception (illusion) that the EPO still cares about patent quality — and in order to disseminate this lie to EPO staff — a puff piece with the above heading/photograph was distributed to thousands of examiners in glossy paper form



  16. Short: This Spring's Message From the EPO's President (Corrected)

    A corrected preface from the Liar in Chief, the EPO's notoriously crooked and dishonest President



  17. Short: Highly Misleading and Unscientific Graphics From the EPO for an Illusion of Growth

    A look at the brainwash that EPO management is distributing to staff and what's wrong with it



  18. Short: EPO Explains to Examiners Why They Should and Apparently Can Grant Software Patents (in Spite of EPC)

    Whether it calls it "CII" or "ICT" or "Industry 4.0" or "4IR", the EPO's management continues to grant software patents and attempts to justify this to itself (and to staff)



  19. Links 21/4/2018: Linux 4.9.95, FFmpeg 4.0, OpenBSD Foundation 2018 Fundraising Campaign

    Links for the day



  20. As USPTO Director, Andrei Iancu Gives Three Months for Public Comments on 35 U.S.C. § 101 (Software Patenting Impacted)

    Weeks after starting his job as head of the US patent office, to our regret but not to our surprise, Iancu asks whether to limit examiners' ability to reject abstract patent applications citing 35 U.S.C. § 101 (relates to Alice and Mayo)



  21. In Keith Raniere v Microsoft Both Sides Are Evil But for Different Reasons

    Billing for patent lawyers reveals an abusive strategy from Microsoft, which responded to abusive patent litigation (something which Microsoft too has done for well over a decade)



  22. Links 20/4/2018: Atom 1.26, MySQL 8.0

    Links for the day



  23. Links 19/4/2018: Mesa 17.3.9 and 18.0.1, Trisquel 8.0 LTS Flidas, Elections for openSUSE Board

    Links for the day



  24. The Patent Microcosm, Patent Trolls and Their Pressure Groups Incite a USPTO Director Against the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) and Section 101/Alice

    As one might expect, the patent extremists continue their witch-hunt and constant manipulation of USPTO officials, whom they hope to compel to become patent extremists themselves (otherwise those officials are defamed, typically until they're fired or decide to resign)



  25. Microsoft's Lobbying for FRAND Pays Off as Microsoft-Connected Patent Troll Conversant (Formerly MOSAID) Goes After Android OEMs in Europe

    The FRAND (or SEP) lobby seems to have caused a lot of monopolistic patent lawsuits; this mostly affects Linux-powered platforms such as Android, Tizen and webOS and there are new legal actions from Microsoft-connected patent trolls



  26. To Understand Why People Say That Lawyers are Liars Look No Further Than Misleading Promotion of Software Patents

    Some of the latest misleading claims from the patent microcosm, which is only interested in lots and lots of patents (its bread and butter is monopolies after all) irrespective of their merit, quality, and desirability



  27. When News About the EPO is Dominated by Sponsored 'Reports' and Press Releases Because Publishers Are Afraid of (or Bribed by) the EPO

    The lack of curiosity and genuine journalism in Europe may mean that serious abuses (if not corruption) will go unreported



  28. The Boards of Appeal at the European Patent Organisation (EPO) Complain That They Are Understaffed, Not Just Lacking the Independence They Depend on

    The Boards of Appeal have released a report and once again they openly complain that they're unable to do their job properly, i.e. patent quality cannot be assured



  29. Links 18/4/2018: New Fedora 27 ISOs, Nextcloud Wins German Government Contract

    Links for the day



  30. Guest Post: Responding to Your Recent Posting “The European Patent Office Will Never Hold Its Destroyers Accountable”

    In France, where Battistelli does not enjoy diplomatic immunity, he can be held accountable like his "padrone" recently was


CoPilotCo

RSS 64x64RSS Feed: subscribe to the RSS feed for regular updates

Home iconSite Wiki: You can improve this site by helping the extension of the site's content

Home iconSite Home: Background about the site and some key features in the front page

Chat iconIRC Channel: Come and chat with us in real time

CoPilotCo

Recent Posts