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09.03.14

Linus Torvalds DebConf Talk

Posted in Kernel, Videos at 2:11 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Torvalds’ latest talk which got media attention earlier this month


07.07.14

Despite SCOTUS Ruling, Microsoft Still Extorts Companies and Product Buyers Using FAT Software Patents, Latest Victim is Canon

Posted in GNU/Linux, Kernel, Microsoft, Patents at 4:50 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The FAT police is at it again

Steve Ballmer FAT

Summary: Canon and Microsoft sign a patent deal which relates to patents on FAT file systems and impacts some of Canon’s products, potentially Linux products as well (Canon makes drivers for Linux but does not develop products with Android or GNU/Linux just yet)

While we are unaware of any Android- or Linux-based products from Canon, the company does deliver drivers for FOSS platforms, especially since under a decade ago (we covered this quite often at the time of a turnaround). Therefore it is regretful to learn about FAT patents, which were disgraced by entities and people including Torvalds (there is prior art and TomTom never pushed the case to the end), are used to tax Canon products or legitimise FAT patents.

Linux-centric sites hardly paid attention to it last week, but someone in IRC told us about it. Looking it up very quickly we found Microsoft’s booster Mary Jo Foley at ZDNet saying: “Today’s patent agreement isn’t the first forged by the two companies. Canon previously licensed Microsoft exFAT file system technology for an undisclosed amount.”

Sometimes companies pay for it via Microsoft partners such as Tuxera, but sometimes there are deals like this one. The OIN’s CEO told us over the telephone that Microsoft has been using FAT patents while calling them “Linux-related” or something along those line in the case of LG and maybe Samsung also (Samsung’s deal seems to have been broader than that the second time around).

Nikon's deal with Microsoft was quite different and the booster correctly pointed out: “Today’s agreement also is not part of Microsoft’s ongoing campaign to convince companies using Linux, Android and ChromeOS to license its patents. Nikon announced an Android-related patent licensing deal with Microsoft in February 2013.”

This is not entirely true because the deal practically serves to legitimise exFAT, which is a common attack vector on embedded Linux. The post from the booster (hogwash of sorts) attracts comments from Microsoft sceptics, who know a lot better what Microsoft has been up to. There are comments such as: “Do we need a repeat of FAT? If I see a product’s filesystem using exFAT I will return it.”

Another person says: “The fact the the US Supreme Court recently re-addressed software patents is a move in the positive direction, even though it was not a large move. While much damage has already been done since these huge giants like Microsoft and IBM already have an enormous software patent portfolio, at least there is hope in future software patent releases. Eventually, technology will advance forward and the current software patent portfolios will probably start to become stale, at which point I can see the general public begin to feel the advantages if we make the right decisions today moving forward. But, we must end the monopolies that this huge companies get with their enormous patent portfolios. The trend in software patents granted within the past 30 years or so is staggering, just do some searches on this subject as it is well worth the reads. My hope is that we don’t continue to make the same mistakes moving forward.”

Canon has many patents on physical and mechanical or optical things like lenses. Microsoft has mostly software patents, which may be utterly worthless in the eyes of SCOTUS, as opposed to the USPTO that granted them without scrutiny. The USPTO has just become even more zealous about patents and it approves almost every patent application, even though SCOTUS deems many of those patents too abstract to be patentable (patent lawyers don't quite agree).

Carl Erickson, the “co-founder and president of Atomic Object, a software design and development company founded in 2001,” (based on his introduction) says that “Investors in software startups need to understand that such companies are unlikely to have strong IP protection through patents. Instead, investors should look for evidence of engaged, delighted users, significant market share or the potential for rapid growth, exclusive relationships or special market channels. For a software startup and their investors, these will beat patent pending, any day.”

His whole analysis, however, sometimes (in the text) claims that patents too are needed, with phrases such as:

As I wrote in my last post, protecting your intellectual property isn’t just about patents. It’s important for companies to ensure they own the copyright on their software.

Copyright protects a particular expression, patents protect an idea. The nature of software is such that an idea can be implemented in many different ways, in many different languages, and therefore patent protection on an idea is potentially legitimate and important. So when should you worry about a software patent?

If you’re confused by software patents, you’re not alone. While our legal and business structures will eventually adapt, technology, as usual, is moving faster, and the results aren’t always good or predictable. A recent Supreme Court decision didn’t radically alter the status quo, but reinforced a trend away from some of the sillier past decisions.

Software patents should be dragged to courts and defeated there. There is a valuable precedent now. All these FAT patent deals (Microsoft has been signing them for years) may be as valuable as estate on the Mars.

03.29.14

Linux News: Tux3, Clang-Built Linux, Collaboration Summit Updates, and Assurances From NVIDIA

Posted in GNU/Linux, Kernel at 4:03 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Kernel

  • Tux3 Will Likely Soon Be Added To The Linux Kernel

    The Tux3 author intends to publish his Tux3 patches to the kernel mailing list in the next week or two with the intent of mainlining the file-system into the Linux kernel. There’s still some features to add and bugs to work through, but Phillips is now at a stage where he’s comfortable in seeing all of the code mainlined into the Linux kernel. He also hopes that by being in the mainline kernel will be an up-tick of interest and development support for the file-system. Samsung, among others, have been interested in potentially using Tux3 as an embedded Linux file-system. In fact, he said Samsung may be more interested in using Tux3 than their F2FS Flash-Friendly File-System project and he has been communicating with Samsung’s F2FS developers.

  • Developers Keep Striving To Build The Linux Kernel With LLVM Clang

    With another Linux Foundation Summit means another time to hear an update about LLVMLinux, the Linux Foundation backed project to build the mainline Linux kernel with LLVM’s Clang C/C++ compiler in place of GCC.

Collaboration Summit

Graphics Stack

03.25.14

My Disagreement With the FSF Over UEFI ‘Secure Boot’

Posted in FSF, Kernel at 8:57 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

UEFI logo with monopoly

Summary: The FSF gives an award for work on embracing ‘secure boot’, whereas the better option — in my own personal opinion — is to altogether boycott UEFI, for a variety of separate reasons

IT IS NOT often that I get to say this, but I disagree with the FSF’s decision to grant Matthew Garrett an award for work on UEFI. Not only has he acted as a Microsoft apologist (like Miguel de Icaza, who had also received an FSF award) but he also smeared Linux developers whom he did not agree with. Not only has he made Microsoft’s case (and Intel’s patents) stronger but he also made regulatory actions against UEFI 'secure boot' more complicated.

A world with UEFI ‘secure boot’ is a world less secure. We need to shun, boycott and altogether avoid UEFI, not find ways to embrace it. People who help popularise or lead us to acceptance of ‘secure boot’ are doing a disservice — not a service — to the principle of people controlling their own computing. That last point is what distinguishes my personal position from the FSF’s (collectively).

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Matthew Garrett, GNOME Foundation’s Outreach Program for Women are Free Software Award winners
  2. Matthew Garett, Outreach Program for Women awarded Free Software Awards 2014

03.13.14

Kernel News: Linux 3.14 RC6, MOOC, ARM Support in Xen and More

Posted in Kernel at 3:08 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Kernel Level

Education

Xen/ARM

Graphics Stack

Benchmarks

02.21.14

Good Advocacy by the Linux Foundation Stresses the Jobs Effect, But Should Mention GNU Also

Posted in BSD, GNU/Linux, Kernel at 6:50 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Skills involving BSD, GNU, and other toolsets deserve coverage (at least by name) in the context of Free/Open Source software

THERE was recently a lot of coverage about jobs in Free/Open Source software (FOSS) and days or weeks later the Linux Foundation weighed in with its press release [1] about a study it had funded to frame this as a “Linux” boom. The Linux Foundation is run and managed by branding experts like Zemlin (they don't always do branding right) and marketing people, so this should not be shocking. The only problem is, they rewrite history to make it look as though only Linux counts (the big lie which gives the Linux Foundation power at the expense of camps like GNU/FSF). I am not an opponent of the Linux Foundation; I am a big fan of Linux, but I also care about accuracy and truth in reporting — something which the marketing community is unable, by definition, to care about.

Looking at the sort of headlines generated by the Linux Foundation’s latest marketing drive (e.g. 2-8]), it’s all about “Linux” but not about the rest of the stack (FOSS). The Linux Foundation is not the only entity which does this by the way. But what they call “Linux skills” often means command-line skills and basically familiarity with GNU utilities, not Linux (the kernel does not have many utilities of interest). Some tools, like OpenSSH, are from BSD. If we mislead the public by collectively referring to all those small programs as “Linux”, then we not only do a disservice to other projects but we also reinforce the philosophy of Linux, which does not stress or insist so much on freedom.

To give example of better actions from the Linux Foundation (as of late), it shared a story about a Pennsylvania high school adopting GNU/Linux and it generated some good headlines [9]. Its marketing staff issued a somewhat provocative, stereotypes-reinforcing (connoting Linux with scarce social/love life) Valentine’s post [10], not to mention today’s Facebook promotion [11] (people have openly complained about the Linux Foundation’s support for surveillance like Facebook for years). On the other hand, the Linux Foundation sets up new conferences that are named only after the kernel [12] (even when the conferences cover things beyond it [13]), which is another matter worth mentioning.

Ultimately, it would be fair to stress, not only the Linux Foundation calls/labels “Linux” a much broader system, exploiting a common misunderstanding/misconception. The Linux Professional Institute (LPI) too is doing that [14]. It often teaches GNU, but students are led to believe that it’s all “Linux”. We can do better than that.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. 2014 Linux Jobs Report: Demand for Linux Expertise Drives Hiring Priorities
  2. Hiring managers desperately hunt for Linux talent: Report

    With hiring managers beefing up their plans to bring aboard talent with Linux skills over the next six months, a bright future awaits those professionals who know Linux.

    Tech recruitment firm Dice and The Linux Foundation have released the 2014 edition of the Linux Jobs Report. The two found that the growing demand for Linux talent is “driving salaries for Linux above industry norms.”

  3. gNewSense Reviewed, Thanking Packagers, and Linux Jobs
  4. Linux skills helping professional move forward – 2014 Linux Jobs Report
  5. Keep Learning Linux—It’s The Future
  6. Linux professionals are in high demand in technology job market

    Today in Open Source: Download the free 2014 Linux Jobs Report.

  7. Demand for Linux Professionals is Growing
  8. Demand for Linux skills rises
  9. Pennsylvania high school adopts Linux, rolls out laptops to students

    Penn Manor High School in Lancaster, Pennsylvania will embrace the open source Linux platform, installing it on more than 1,700 laptops. Every student at Penn Manor HS received an Acer TravelMate laptop powered by the Ubuntu 13.10 OS – and the student body was encouraged to explore the OS and push its limits.

  10. What Does Your Linux Candy Heart Say?

    How does the penguin community celebrate February 14 every year? Is it with a box of chocolates? Maybe if it’s sitting next to our keyboards alongside multiple coffee mugs. What about little Necco Sweethearts? Those “luv you” messages seem a little too general to fully express the amorous thoughts of those with Linux already seeded deep in their hearts.

  11. Leaked: Linux’s Look Back Facebook Video

    After trying to conceal its Facebook posts from the world for nearly a decade, Linux’s Look Back Facebook video leaked today.

  12. Linux Foundation Announces Schedule for Annual Collaboration Summit
  13. Dive into the world of Linux and free software at SCALE 12x this weekend in Los Angeles
  14. Linux certifications closer to Kosovo

    The Linux Professional Institute (LPI), the world’s premier Linux certification organisation, announced that Master Affiliate for the Western Balkans Region LPI-Greece recently appointed CACTTUS as LPI Sub-Affiliate for Kosovo, a company which has a strong experience in the market of Kosovo in technology and trainings.

02.11.14

Linux News Roundup (Kernel)

Posted in GNU/Linux, Kernel at 8:40 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Some of the latest bits of news about Linux, the Linux Foundation, and core parts of the kernel

Core

  • Patching a running kernel: legal issues unknown

    Following the news that SUSE engineers are working on a kernel module called kGraft that can patch a running kernel, iTWire contacted the company to find out if Oracle’s ownership of Ksplice – a mechanism for doing the same job – would pose any legal issues.

    Ksplice was developed by Ksplice Inc under an open source licence until July 2011 when it was bought by Oracle and taken proprietary.

  • Another Init System: Sinit – The Suckless Init System

    While in-fighting continues within the Debian camp over what should be the default init system in Debian, a developer has shown off his own tiny “sinit” init system project.

    The “Suckless Init System” is a real init system and is derived from M. Farkas-Dyck’s Strake init code. This “suckless” init system is designed to be a simple system and was made to scratch the itch of a developer wanting to remove BusyBox from his toy Linux distribution, Morpheus.

Linux Foundation

  • Linux Foundation Branches Out: 10 Efforts Beyond Linux

    By definition, the Linux Foundation has Linux as its core mission, helping to bring the community of Linux developers and vendors together and fostering the right environment for collaboration. When the Linux Foundation started—it was created in 2007 as a result of the merger between the Free Standards Group (FSG) and Open Source Development Labs (OSDL)—Linux was the only thing that the group did. But in 2014, that’s no longer the case.

Releases

  • Linux 3.14-rc2

    With the rest being filesystems (vfs, nfs, ocfs, btrfs and some kernfs fixes), some mm noise, and tooling (perf). Shortlog appended, which doesn’t always happen for rc2.

  • Linux Kernel 3.13.2 Is Now Available for Download

    Greg Kroah-Hartman has announced a few minutes ago, February 6, that the second maintenance release of the stable Linux kernel 3.13 is now available for download.

Hardware

  • Intel Atom Bay Trail NUC Kit On Linux

    With the early Atom “Bay Trail” hardware being disastrous for Linux, when Intel recently announced their Bay Trail based NUC Kit we were anxious and decided to give this unit a go. The Intel NUC Kit DN2820FYK packs an Intel Celeron N2820 Bay Trail CPU and motherboard supporting up to 8GB of DDR3L system memory and 2.5-inch HDD/SSD in a 116 x 112 x 51 mm form-factor. In this article is a rundown of the Phoronix experience so far for this Atom NUC Kit and how well it’s running with Ubuntu Linux.

SDN

Graphics

02.07.14

Linux (Kernel) News From the Past Week

Posted in GNU/Linux, Kernel at 10:34 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: News about Linux, accumulated and sorted over the past days for easier digestion

Linux 3.14

  • An Overview Of The Linux 3.14 Kernel Features

    With yesterday’s release of the Linux 3.14-rc1, here’s a look at the top features that were merged for introduction in the Linux 3.14 kernel.

    The mentioned features are what I’ve found most interesting about this next major kernel release to date based upon the dozens of articles I’ve already authored on Phoronix about Linux 3.14, my testing already of 3.14 development code on multiple systems, analytics via Anzwix, etc.

  • Linux 3.14 To Make AMD R600/700 OpenGL GS Possible

    In a fixes pull request sent in by Red Hat’s David Airlie last night, a handful of DRM driver bugs were corrected. Additionally, there’s an update to the command submission (CS) parser for the R600 and R700 generation GPUs (the Radeon HD 2000 through HD 4000 series hardware) to support setting up the OpenGL Geometry Shader rings. The Evergreen GPUs and newer already has this GS support within their CS parser.

  • Linux Top 3: Linux 3.14 is Not a Piece of Pi

    “I realize that as a number, 3.14 looks familiar to people, and I had naming requests related to that. But that’s simply not how the nonsense kernel names work,” Torvalds wrote. “You can console yourself with the fact that the name doesn’t actually show up anywhere, and nobody really cares. So any pi-related name you make up will be *quite* as relevant as the one in the main Makefile, so don’t get depressed.”

  • Kernel prepatch 3.14-rc1
  • Download Linux Kernel 3.14 Release Candidate 1

    Linux kernel 3.14 RC1 includes updated drivers, architecture updates (ARM mostly, x86, PowerPC, s390, mips, and ia64), core kernel improvements, networking, mm, tooling, etc.

  • Linux 3.14-rc1 announced; Torvalds says codename has nothing to do with ‘Pi
  • Btrfs Gets Big Changes, Features In Linux 3.14 Kernel

    While the EXT4 changes and XFS alterations for the Linux 3.14 kernel weren’t too exciting, the Btrfs file-system update was submitted today for Linux 3.14 and it’s definitely exciting.

  • Linux 3.14 Supports MIPS’ Latest CPU Core

    These latest MIPS designs, which were announced back in 2012, are described as “the interAptiv is a power-efficient multi-core microprocessor for use in system-on-chip (SoC) applications. The interAptiv combines a multi-threading pipeline with a coherence manager to deliver improved computational throughput and power efficiency. The interAptiv can contain one to four MIPS32R3 interAptiv cores, system level coherence manager with L2 cache, optional coherent I/O port, and optional floating point unit.”

Linux 3.13

  • Intel Haswell Memory Scaling With Ubuntu 14.04 + Linux 3.13

    After the recent tests of AMD’s Kaveri APU with DDR3-800MHz to DDR3-2133MHz Linux memory testing and following up with AMD Kaveri DDR3-2400MHz testing on Ubuntu Linux, many Phoronix readers followed up with a request of new memory testing done on the Intel side. In this article are benchmarks of a Core i5 Haswell CPU looking at the CPU and graphics performance impact with memory frequency scaling on Ubuntu 14.04 with the Linux 3.13 kernel.

  • Linux Kernel 3.13 Gets Its First Update

    The first update for the stable Linux kernel 3.13 has been announced by Greg Kroah-Hartman just a few minutes ago, starting the maintenance cycle for this new branch.

LLVM/Clang

Graphics Stack

Benchmarks

  • Manjaro vs. Ubuntu vs. Fedora vs. OpenSUSE Benchmarks

    The latest Linux distribution benchmarks to share at Phoronix are a comparison of Manjaro Linux 0.8.8, Ubuntu 13.10, Ubuntu 14.04 LTS in its current development state, openSUSE 13.1, and Fedora 20. All tests were done from an Intel Core i5 4670 Haswell system to look at the current state of various Linux distributions when it comes to various areas of open-source performance.

  • Intel Linux 3.3 To Linux 3.13 Kernel Benchmarks

    The latest kernel benchmarking that happened at Phoronix was testing every major Linux kernel release from Linux 3.3 through the latest stable Linux 3.13 release from an Intel Sandy Bridge system to see how the kernel performance has evolved during the hardware’s lifetime for key subsystems.

Misc.

  • Who writes Linux? Corporations, more than ever
  • Tux3 Still Has Some Bugs Before Being Mainlined

    Daniel Phillips, a lead Tux3 developer, wrote to the kernel mailing list on Monday and acknowledged that it’s been a long time coming for Tux3… We covered Tux3 back in 2008 as the Tux2 successor that was never merged due to licensing issues and then it had been quite some time without any news on Tux3, until it was resurrected in early 2013.

  • Linus Torvalds and other developers are leaving Bitcoins on the table

    I reached out to Tip4Commit to find out just how many people were not collecting tips. One of its creators, Arsen Gasparyan, got back to me with some data. He shared with me that, as of last week, Tip4Commit supported 337 GitHub projects, for which 9,076 tips have been earned (a tip is earned when a pull request for a commit on a supported project is accepted), totaling about 3.34 Ƀ (worth about $2,650 at today’s Bitcoin exchange rate of $793.20). However, only 1.956 Ƀ has been received by 67 users, meaning 1.384 Ƀ, a little under $1,100 or about 40% of the value of all tips, has gone unclaimed.

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