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03.20.14

The NHS Stockholm Syndrome: Microsoft Receives More Public Money for Abandoning Windows XP Users

Posted in Europe, Free/Libre Software, Microsoft, Windows at 12:23 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Whitehall (UK) is giving taxpayers’ money to Microsoft, for software that is not even supported anymore; elsewhere in the world migrations to Free software (in the public sector) are happening

The British NHS is reportedly paying Microsoft for Windows XP rather than abandon it and move to GNU/Linux. This makes absolutely no sense.

“The Department of Health and Microsoft are thrashing out a one-year support deal for tens of thousands of NHS PCs running Windows XP,” says the British press. Likewise, based on some reports, banks which still use Windows XP pay Microsoft some more. As a refresher: “On April 8th 2014, Microsoft will no longer be providing those updates, leaving your and my ATM at the bank far more vulnerable than it was in the past. The software was originally installed in 2001.”

There is absolutely no excuse for this. In my daytime job we are moving people away from Windows and XP and into GNU/Linux. It is not too hard, it just takes adaptation and tolerance of change.

According to this new report [1], Vietnam has already begun a migration to Free software, but as we showed before, reasons for slowdown are more to do with malicious Microsoft intervention, not practical/technical barriers. There are similar stories from the United States this week [2,3], even from India [4] and Egypt [5]. Here in Europe it was reported this morning that “European Parliament covets restart Linux pilot” [6] and it is not an isolated report of Free software adoption in Europe [7,8]. Even here in the UK there are reports which suggest a move to Free software is inevitable [9,10,11], in collaboration with political allies. Next week we are going to give an update on Britain’s new ODF- and Free software-friendly policy, which is being ignored by Whitehall on the face of it (based on today’s news report).

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Vietnam fails to develop open source software for state agencies

    According to Vu Duy Loi, Director of the Communist Party Central Committee Office’s Informatics Center, in 2004-2005, the office joined forces with Netnam and CMC to utilize open source software for the computer network within the Party’s agencies.

    To date, this remains the largest system utilizing open source software in Vietnam.

    In 2006, the open source software on document management was developed and experimented successfully.

    However, the product has never been put into use because of many reasons, including the lack of the technical maintenance staff.

    “Five or ten years ago, utilizing open source software at state agencies was an impossible mission because there were not enough favorable conditions,” Loi said when explaining the failure of the project on cooperating with IT firms to develop open source software.

  2. US politics going open source on GitHub

    That’s only what you’d expect. The 28-year-old Cole spent years as a software developer before announcing this spring that he was running for Congress from his home district in New Jersey. When we spoke to him last week about his campaign, he downplayed his experience in the coding world, but today, that experience came shining through when Cole released his political platform on the popular software development site GitHub.

  3. Your U.S. government uses open source software, and loves it

    Writing the words “government” and “open source“ in the same sentence feels inherently wrong, almost as if lying. Recent talk of the NSA, Edward Snowden, and PRISM doesn’t make the government seem any more “open”. The government carries the stigma as being on of the least “open” things in the world. If you’re a fan of House of Cards on Netflix, you understand just how “not open” the government is perceived to be. Yet contrary to popular belief, the government is using open source as a tool to improve agencies on the back-end and save tax dollars.

  4. TN state departments asked to switch over to open source software

    With the Microsoft Corporation deciding to stop technical assistance for Windows XP operating system next month, the Tamil Nadu government has advised all its departments to install free open source software BOSS Linux.

    “Consider installing BOSS [Bharat Operating System Solutions] Linux as one of the mandatory operating system,” said an order issued by Information Technology Department. Listing various aspects in support of the software developed by the Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC), the order said BOSS Linux, by virtue of being open source software, can be modified to specific needs.

  5. Ministry of Communication adopts open source software strategy

    Developing the Open Source Software industry in Egypt will help in achieving an independent technology, providing space for new businesses and benefiting both public and private ICT consumers, Helmy said.

  6. European Parliament covets restart Linux pilot

    The European Parliament wants its IT department to rehabilitate its Linux desktop pilot. On Tuesday, the EP’s committee on budgetary control accepted a request by MEPs Bart Staes and Amelia Andersdotter to dust off the Linux desktop, which had been shelved in 2012. In their amendment, the MEPs write they regret that the Linux distribution was never promoted among those in the parliament “who would have had an interest in such a project”.

  7. Open source introduces Polish schools to ICT

    Schools across Poland are being approached to use open source to introduce students to ICT and software development, and to build on the success of a three-year pilot involving over 300 school children and 60 teachers. The Polish free software advocacy group FWIOO (Fundacja Wolnego i Otwartego Oprogramowania) is contacting new schools, to interest them in the “Ubuntu School Remix”, a tailored version of the Ubuntu Linux distribution and other tangible results of the pilot, such as teaching scenario’s and practical teaching aids.

  8. South Tyrol to increase use of free software

    The government of the South Tyrol province in Italy will increasingly turn to ICT solutions based on free and open source, Governer Arno Kompatscher announced on Tuesday. The province will use this type of software “where possible”, and expects the move to save about a million euro per year.

  9. Israel and UK deepen digital, open source relationship

    Israel and the UK recently furthered their digital relationship, with officials from the two countries last week signing a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on digital government.

  10. UK and Israel partner on digital government development

    The UK and Israel have signed an agreement that will see the two countries work together on development of digital services within government.

    The memorandum of understanding was signed by UK government chief technology officer, Liam Maxwell, and Harel Locker, director-general of the Israeli Prime Minister’s office, and underlines a commitment to exchange ideas on the use of open standards and open source technologies.

  11. UK, Israel sign agreement on open standards, open source

    UK and Israel have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) which will see greater collaboration to improve digital public services in the two countries.

Microsoft Censorship Worse Than China’s and Microsoft’s Online Services Exceptionally Privacy-Infringing

Posted in Microsoft at 12:07 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

So who’s “Scroogled” now? Worse than China…

China

Summary: Microsoft manages to be even more user-hostile than the Chinese counterparts and Microsoft staff is abusing access to people’s data

Microsoft has a so-called ‘decision engine’ it calls Bing, which was widely accused (with evidence) of censoring GNU/Linux and FOSS when it was first announced (the brand, not the service). Microsoft does not claim to be delivering results based on objective analysis; Microsoft is making editorial decisions, which is a recipe for trouble. Microsoft also scrapes Google search results, censors.blocks links, and does other very unethical — if not illegal — things. But a tyrant would like that. Since whatever people search for is passed to Microsoft’s friends at the NSA, it should be so shocking that all this stuff is allowed to happen, sometimes even encouraged.

Now, according to new reports, Microsoft’s decisions in China are more strict and severe than China’s. To quote one article: “Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT)’s Bing search engine is under attack, once again, over the Chinese censorship issue. Chinese web monitoring firm GreatFire has raised objections over the way Bing shows search results in China. GreatFire found that Microsoft’s search engine censors heavily in the world’s most populous country, even more than Chinese company Baidu Inc (ADR) (NASDAQ:BIDU).”

What are the chances that Microsoft also relays search phrases to the Chinese government, not just the NSA? Almost a decade ago Microsoft came under fire for profiling users of its services in China. This has real potential for huge abuse.

Citing this other new article (“Ex-Microsoft employee charged with passing blogger trade secrets”) we now know that data protection at Microsoft is a total joke. The reader who sent it to us quotes this part: “The code was later confirmed to be authentic, prompting corporate investigators to dredge the Hotmail account the blogger used to contact the Microsoft worker.”

“This is big,” explains the reader, because Microsoft “can and does read Hotmail / Live accounts for whatever reasons. Only fools run an account with them.”

In section 3.5 of the waiver from Microsoft it says that “Microsoft reserves the right to review content”.

So here we have yet more reasons to never ever host anything on Microsoft’s platforms, or even use its services which are spying on users, deceiving users, and informing on the users, as we have learned from Snowden’s leaks.

Microsoft is in no position to chastise Google.

Not Just GNU/Linux: News About Other Free Operating Systems

Posted in News Roundup at 11:40 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Genode OS

  • Genode OS Draws Up Plans For 2014

    The Genode Operating System Framework has been one of the more interesting and successful open-source OS research projects of recent times. Genode OS is becoming increasingly usable to enthusiasts and is also proving to be an interesting environment for developers. A lot of headway was made for Genode OS in 2013, but there’s already a list of TODO items for the community-based operating system in 2014.

MINIX

  • MINIX 3 Successfully Ported To ARM

    MINIX 3.2.1 can successfully power-up on the BeagleBoard-xM with a working frame-buffer and is “off to discover the world.” While there is a frame-buffer, networking support doesn’t yet work on MINIX. MINIX 3.2.1 has been advertised as a great fit for ARM since its small, BSD licensed, and reliable.

Plan 9

ReactOS

OpenBSD

PC-BSD

FreeBSD

  • FreeBSD Open-Source OS Comes to the PC-BSD Desktop

    Linux isn’t the only open-source operating system, and it isn’t the only one with both server and desktop components either. The FreeBSD Project is one of the earliest open-source operating system projects, with roots connecting it to the original open-source BSD Unix work performed at the University of California at Berkeley. On Jan. 20, FreeBSD 10 debuted, providing server users with multiple performance and virtualization improvements. While FreeBSD itself could potentially be used as a desktop system, the PC-BSD open-source project is the home base for FreeBSD as a desktop operating system.

BSD (General)

  • Call for papers

    EuroBSDcon is the European technical conference for users and developers of BSD-based systems. The conference will take place September 25 to 28 at InterExpo Congress Center in Sofia (see http://iec.bg/en/). Tutorials will be held on Thursday and Friday, while the shorter talks and papers program is on Saturday and Sunday.

  • OpenSSH 6.5 released

    This is a feature-focused release. New features: * ssh(1), sshd(8): Add support for key exchange using elliptic-curve Diffie Hellman in Daniel Bernstein’s Curve25519. This key exchange method is the default when both the client and server support it.

  • OpenSSH 6.5 Rolls In New Features
  • FreeNAS

Sharing and Freedom: the Philosophy Spreads Beyond Software

Posted in News Roundup at 11:34 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Open Source City

  • How to be an Open Source City

    An open source city, according to Jason Hibbets, project manager in Corporate Marketing at Red Hat, in his book ‘Foundation for an open source city’, is a blend of open culture, open government policies and economic development. It is an ecosystem made up of: a culture of citizen participation, effective open government policies and open data initiatives, open source user groups and conferences, and a hub for innovation and open source businesses.

  • Is Your City Open Source?

    Jason Hibbets is working to convince local governments to adapt open source ideas in their day to day operations. His book, “The Foundation for an Open Source City,” attempts to be a step by step guide for implementing open source ideas into government policies and solutions, based on his own experiences. He uses Raleigh, North Carolina, where he resides, as his example. He calls it the worlds first open source city. In a way, the small southern capital is his laboratory.

  • How to get started in civic hacking

Optics

Automobiles

Libraries

  • America is About to Lose One of Its Best Public Resource: Public Libraries
  • Library Users Are a Social Group

    Pew Research Center released a new study on Thursday showing that library users are more social than people who do not go to libraries. The report questioned 6,000 Americans, ages 16 and up, and found that more than two-thirds of Americans are actively using libraries. Along with actively using the library, users typically are more social than those who do not use the library. Library users also tend to be more active.

Sharing

Maps

Open Data

Open Hardware

3D

  • Why The Blueprint of the 21st Century Should Be Open Source

    Today, we have 3D modeling software that can pack an exponential cache of information, render designs visible with incredible fidelity, and make those designs easier to adapt. BIM technology (building information modeling) has entered the workplace, too, improving coordination and productivity of all trades involved in project construction, effectively revolutionizing the manufacturing sector. This is technology that, like CAD, has undeniably been pushed forward via the open development and integration of components.

  • 3D printed hand brings the crowd to their feet

    Earlier this year, I shared my story about open source designs and my 3D printed prosthetic hand to a room of 4,600+ at Intel’s Annual International Sales Conference in Las Vegas. I joined Jon Schull on stage, the founder of e-NABLE, an online group dedicated to open source 3D printable assistive devices.

  • Measuring Open Source Hardware 3D-Printed Material Strength

    The word “open” is certainly a buzzword in 3D printing, but what does that really mean? While many are tossing around this phrase, few actually practice an open business and product philosophy. Open source hardware (or Libre hardware), notably led by the RepRap project, is experiencing rapid, cross-industry adoption. This philosophy empowers engineers, makers, builders, and creators with unprecedented freedom to change, update, and modify their products over time.

Misc.

  • Call to all open source communities: Emphasize inclusion

    As a woman in open source, I have found that the values of community, open development, and flat organizational structure appeal equally to both men and women. The ability of local organizers to freely define what type of culture they are building allows them to adapt in order to appeal to the surrounding culture, while striving to improve access.

  • Crowdsourcing the OpenStack Summit agenda
  • Beginners in Open Source Week
  • Get more eyeballs: 5 steps to using design in your open source project

    At the Open Technology Institute (OTI), we’ve been working on opening our user feedback process as a way to improve our internal processes and collaboration, engage our user community more, promote non-developer contributions, and think more broadly about how open source process plays a role in the Commotion Wireless project, a free and open-source communication tool that uses mobile phones, computers, and other wireless devices to create decentralized mesh networks.

Software Licensing News: GPL, Copyleft, and Beyond

Posted in News Roundup at 11:16 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

  • Top 10 legal issues for free software of 2013

    Last year, I provided a look at the top legal issues from the year before. Continuing with this tradition, here is my take on the top ten legal developments in FOSS during 2013.

  • Choose The Best Licence For Your Open Source Project

    The licences page breaks down a number of popular options, including MIT, Apache and GPL. Each is explained in the form of Required / Permitted / Forbidden, so it’s clear what others can and can’t do with your work.

  • Science and Liberation: Science as Human Curiosity, as Authority and as Business

    Creative Commons and the GPL are legal tools to facilitate sharing, and in their domains they are analogous to peer review and publication in scientific journals for scientists. However, like the conflict between free and proprietary software, there is a conflict between open access and proprietary access to scientific publications, a conflict Aaron Swartz became aware of as an activist.

  • Copyright statements proliferate inside open source code

    Earlier today I was looking at a source file for the OpenStack Ceilometer docs and noticed that there’s a copyright statement at the top. Now, in no way do I want to pick on Nicholas. There are hundreds of such copyright statements in the OpenStack docs and code, and this is just the example I happened to be looking at.

  • Open Compute pushes GPL-like license for ‘open source hardware’
  • Should I use a permissive license? Copyleft? Or something in the middle?

    The open source license you choose for your project, or for the projects you choose to contribute to, can have significant effects on how what you contribute is used. One question that has garnered quite a bit of interest recently is the fall in popularity of copyleft licenses in favor of permissive licenses. An article last year looked at the issue of large number of projects on GitHub that have no explicit license and posited the question about whether we live in a ‘post open source software’ world, where seemingly open source software has no license. After some time, GitHub agreed that licensing is important and worked to improve the situation with a license chooser.

  • Which License Should You Use for Your Software?

    When I first started writing my little software programs, I borrowed some code from my chum Mike Field (a.k.a. The Mighty Hamster) who is based in New Zealand. At that time, I noticed that in the comments to his code, Mike had the line “// License: GPLv3″ (this refers to the GNU General Public License).

  • Apple Veteran Named PayPal’s First Head of Open Source Software

    Cooper has seen the benefits of open source collaboration first hand — and has learned the hard way what happens when developers don’t share code when they should. At Apple, she managed a team that developed a video chat program based on Apple’s QuickTime video format, and the code behind Quicktime wasn’t even shared with everyone inside the company. “There were some people in my group that helped write Quicktime, but because of an internal licensing struggle at the time, the QuickTime team shut them out of their own code tree,” she says. “It was really inefficient, and it really pissed me off.”

Links 20/3/2014: Instructionals

Posted in News Roundup at 11:07 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Links 20/3/2014: Games

Posted in News Roundup at 10:59 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Links 20/3/2014: Applications

Posted in News Roundup at 10:58 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

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