Bonum Certa Men Certa

Links 28/04/2009: Sharing Banned in EU; Phorm Collusion

GNOME bluefish



  • Europe Funds Secure Operating System Research
    A Dutch university has landed a European Research Council grant to continue work on a Unix-type operating system that aims to be more reliable and secure than Linux or Microsoft Windows.

    The €2.5 million (US$3.3 million) grant will fund three researchers and two programmers, said Andrew S. Tanenbaum, a computer science professor at Vrije Universiteit in the Netherlands.

  • Google plugs PC power into cloud computing
    It's this attribute that appeals to programmer Mark Seaborn, a non-Google programmer who has successfully contributed to the project. He's been working on a Native Client version of a major supporting library used by GNU and Linux. "That could bring open-source software from GNU/Linux to a wider audience, because it could then run on Windows under NaCl without needing to be ported to Windows," Seaborn said.

  • Open Source in Cloud Computing Really "Under the Radar"
    According to Wolski, prospective cloud buyers were looking for self service and automation as well as protection from unexpected deployment and storage costs. Eucalyptus, built from commodity Linux components, currently has a services and consulting model but plans to offer premium enterprise products.

  • Linux Boxee users get Hulu relief
    The Linux version of Boxee’s eponymously-named multimedia platform has finally been updated to include several new features introduced into the OS X and Windows versions over the past few months. Key additions include an “App Box” and restored support for Hulu.

  • Kernel Space

    • HP Officejet Pro 8500 - Happy with Mac, Linux and Windows XP
      The software loaded easily on the Mac and I was able to get the Linux machines on speaking terms with the printer quickly. With a bit of trepidation, I approached the Windows XP machine. I looked at it, it looked at me. Neither of us was looking forward to an ordeal loading the HP software.

      Although I had loads of trouble with HP’s software for the other printers, Loading the Officejet Pro 8500 software took only about 20 minutes. Only one problem was experienced with the procedure. The registration software wouldn’t work with Firefox, my primary Browser on all of my systems. It insisted that I use Internet Explorer 7. Since that software isn’t available on all of the other systems in use here, it has not been loaded on any of the systems.

    • Kernel Log: What's coming in 2.6.30 - File systems: New and revamped file systems
      The patches adopted in Linux 2.6.30 introduce many significant changes affecting data security and Ext3 and Ext4 performance. Support for the EXOFS and NILFS2 file systems is new, as is the cache for the AFS and NFS network file systems. There are also a few fixes for the almost forgotten ReiserFS file system.

    • Intel Releases Set Of Linux GPU Tools
      Intel's Eric Anholt has announced the release of version 1.0.0 for the intel-gpu-tools package.

  • Applications

    • A Battle For Good Open-Source Game Graphics?
      A few early screenshots of Alien Arena 2009 can be found on their project web-site. So far it does look like the graphics have improved a fair amount compared to the 2008 release, but we shall see once it is released. Let's hope that more open-source game projects continue to refine their graphics capabilities.

  • KDE

  • Distributions

    • Weekly Distribution Roundup for April 20-26
      Not too many releases this week, but we do have the big Jaunty release that resulted in quite a few other releases.

    • Sugar on a Stick: Good for Kids' Minds (and School Budgets)
      That's not the case with the other sort of Sugar. Sugar, the kid-friendly open source desktop that was featured first on the OLPC XO laptop is now available (in a beta release) as a liveUSB image. The Sugar on a Stick environment is powered by Fedora 11 and features familiar Sugar desktop applications and functions, as well as new educational and collaborative tools, such as the InfoSlicer online content editor, remixer, and delivery application.

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Linux SBC has CAN do personality
      Italian embedded vendor QSD Sistemi is shipping a single-board computer (SBC) that runs uClinux on a Freescale Coldfire MCF5329 system-on-chip (SoC). The Q129 board ships with a choice of 5.7- or 7-inch touchscreen displays, and provides Ethernet, USB, serial, and CAN-bus connectivity, says the company.

    • Phones

      • 'Googlephone' Isn't a Model, It's a Class
        Last fall, T-Mobile became the first wireless provider to offer a handset based on Google's Android platform: the T-Mobile G1. And the world rejoiced. Now, some six months after that debut, Samsung has jumped in the game with its own Android offering.

    • Sub-notebooks

Free Software/Open Source

  • Doing the Impossible
    There is no “magic” to commons-based peer production. Most of the techniques that have brought free culture products ranging from software to art to electronic hardware have been in play for hundreds or thousands of years. But they do run counter to the patterns of commercial proprietary industry. Due to the massive improvements in communications and authoring technology, we have reached a point where we can be more productive in our “leisure” than we are in our “work”. And any labor of love is almost always going to be superior to labor alone.


    Yet, the commons-based organization of the community, as exemplified by Wikipedia, shows up their productivity. GNU and Linux easily exceed their quality standards. Free arts may well exceed their artistic scope. In a few short years, the commons-based enterprise has out-produced centuries of corporate and government production.

  • Puppet: configuration management made easy
    When James Turnbull had his first look at the Puppet configuration management system two years ago, he had no inkling of the extent to which he would get involved in the project.

  • Funding

    • How many billions is open-source software worth?
      In other words, using OSS isn't about being anti-Microsoft or believing in some sort of open-source ethical rightfulness, using OSS is simply a smart business move. Indeed, at $387-billion in value, OSS is twice as valuable as Microsoft's current net worth of $183.5-billion. Not bad for 'free software' is it?

    • Gnash Developers and Linux Fund Raise Funds for OpenStreetMap Bounty
      In addition to direct donations to this cause, community members can help support all of the Linux Fund sponsored projects by applying for a Linux Fund Visa credit card. As a card holder each purchase you make will contribute to funding development of open source software.

  • Government

    • West Africa to invest in FOSS Study
      FOSSFA and OSIWA, in their Free and Open Source Software for West Africa and Beyond (FOSSWAY) project are set to invest in FOSS research in West Africa. In the recently published Call for Tender both organisations are awarding a research contract up to the tune of 65 000 US dollars for a Study to be carried out in five West African Countries.

    • The Trials and Tribulations Of Taking Open Source Public
      Companies, agencies, and organizations are interested in -- and exploring -- their open source options. The timing is falling into place, and there's now, obviously, a demand -- and a great opportunity -- for those offering open source support services.

  • Licensing

    • Sorry, not right. An answer to Raymond’s post on the GPL
      In general, of all the aspects of OSS that are interesting (and there are many), I find the GPL family of licenses as the brightest examples of law engineering, and I believe that a substantial reason for the successes of OSS are dependent on it. Of course, there are other economical aspects that are relevant, and I agree with the fact that OSS is in general more efficient (as I wrote here, here and here). I disagree with both the premise and the conclusions, however, as I believe that the set of barriers created by the GPL are vital to create a sustainable market here and now, and not in an hypotetical future.

    • How not to play with "Open" license.
      The iMagic OS weird EULA "You may not (and shall not allow any member of Your Household or any other third party to): (i) copy, reproduce, distribute, relicense, sublicense, rent, lease or otherwise make available the Software or any portion or element thereof except as and to the extent expressly authorized herein by Licensor; (ii) translate, adapt, enhance, create derivative works of or otherwise modify the Software or any portion or element thereof; (iii) decompile, disassemble or reverse engineer (except as and to the extent permitted by applicable local law), or extract ideas, algorithms, procedures, workflows or hierarchies from, the Software or any portion or element thereof; (iv) use the Software or any portion or element thereof to provide facility management, service bureau or similar services to third parties; or (v) remove, modify or obscure any identification or proprietary or restrictive rights markings or notices from the Software or any component thereof. You shall keep a current record of the location of each copy of the Software You make."

  • Open (But No Source Code)

    • BioIT in Boston: What is Open?
      My talk is “Open Semantic Data in Science”. I’ll probably write 3-4 blog posts on the various aspects of this, and at present I’m thinking of:

      * What is Open? (this post) * What is semantic? And what do we require for it? * What is data? * What are we able to offer (with some modest emphasis on our own endeavours).

    • Why online transparency matters
      Identifying corruption, says Swartz, requires more than a mere re-arrangement of data rows; data is just a veil – and usually useless at that -to more sinister activities – lunches with lobbyists and voting under emergency provisions – which almost never show up in official voting records that are being digitized and scrapped by Sunlight and its grantees (this is what Swartz means by “reality doesn't live in databases”).

  • Programming

    • As Oracle Becomes Java's Steward, It's Also a Big Player in Mobile Tech
      JavaME is on almost every phone, Sun has traditionally gotten revenues from support contracts for it, and there is much work going on on JavaFX mobile applications. In acquiring Sun, Oracle will also acquire quite a lot of Java momentum on mobile platforms--a space where it has had nearly no presence in the past.

  • Applications

    • ISC Begins BIND 10 Development
      Even with full details on BIND 10 missing, ISC sketched out some cornerstones of its design. One among them is that BIND 10 will support DNSSEC. Many security experts called for higher security measures as a critical Internet infrastructure for DNS after they publicized holes in the protocol.

    • Firefox 3.5 to feature new window restore feature
      The latest nightlies of upcoming Firefox 3.5 Beta 4 now feature a new option in the History menu to restore recently closed windows and not only individual tabs as in previous versions.

    • Blender 2.49 RC1 released
      The developers have announced the first release candidate for Blender version 2.49. Blender is a free, cross-platform, open source, 3D content creation suite that allows users to model, shade, animate and render 3D objects.

  • Standards/Consortia

    • When Would You Use OOXML and When ODF? -- What is OOXML For?
      Can anyone tell me what OOXML is for, other than for opening legacy Microsoft documents? What else is it for? When would you choose OOXML and when would you choose ODF, if you were, let's say, a government or a government agency?


      Rick Jelliffe recently said that OOXML "is fundamentally intended to document a format for a pre-existing technology and feature set of recent proprietary systems."

      Gulp. How is that a proper purpose for an "open" standard?

      Well, leave that aside for the moment. Let's assume that you are a government or an agency and you really want to make sure all citizens can access documents and interface with them, including GNU/Linux users and Microsoft users? Then when would you use one or the other?


  • Censorship/Web Abuse

    • The Closing of the European Internet
      Indeed, both the music and book publishing businesses are pushing for P2P sites to be included in the DNS block list to prevent anyone in Germany accessing them.

    • German book publishers want Rapidshare on country-wide net censorship list
      Here we go again: German book publishers are tying to force local ISPs to block Rapidshare and similar websites through a controversial new Internet censorship bill. The bill, which received the backing of the German government two days ago, is meant to crack down on child porn with a centralized DNS block list that would include 1500 or so illegal child porn websites.

    • Plan to monitor all internet use
      Communications firms are being asked to record all internet contacts between people as part of a modernisation in UK police surveillance tactics.

    • Home Office 'colluded with Phorm'
      The Home Office has been accused of colluding with online ad firm Phorm on "informal guidance" to the public on whether the company's service is legal.

      E-mails between the ministry and Phorm show the department asking if the firm would be "comforted" by its position.

      The messages show Phorm making changes to the guidance sought by the ministry.

  • Copyrights

    • Copyright lobby targets "Pirate Bay for textbooks"
      Finnish book rental service Bookabooka is being threatened by national copyright lobby organization TTVK for running a service the lobby group calls "Pirate Bay for textbooks".

    • Pirate Bay: industry lawyers' websites attacked
      Lawyers who helped prosecute The Pirate Bay have become the latest targets in an internet backlash over the decision to jail the site's founders.

    • Swedish ISPs Obstruct New Anti-Piracy Legislation
      While all eyes were on the Pirate Bay trial, Swedish parliament passed the IPRED law, making it easier for copyright holders to go after illicit file-sharers . The law has only been in effect for one month and anti-piracy outfits are already facing problems using it, as ISPs take measures to protect their customers.

    • DVD Copying Case Focuses on ‘Fair Use’
      The MPAA said there was no fair use defense to copying personal CDs. The MPAA presented that argument as it demanded a federal judge to continue barring sales of a DVD copying software that RealNetworks briefly put on the market last year. The MPAA also said RealDVD was based on the work of Ukrainian hackers.

    • Real DVD Copying Case Gets Off To An Inauspicious Start

    • Judge Rejects Internet Archive Motion to Intervene in Google Settlement
      A federal judge overseeing the approval process for the Google Book Search settlement has rejected an attempt by the Internet Archive (IA) to intervene in the action. In a short ruling released today, Judge Dennis Chin wrote that he construed the IA’s letter to the court, filed last week, as “a motion to intervene,” and denied it. “The proposed interveners are, however, free to file objections to the proposed settlement.” Objections and comments must be filed by May 5.

    • The More Things Change... The More They Stay The Same, Music Piracy Edition
      Via Boing Boing comes this link to a NY Times article from 1897 (yes, you read that right, not 1987) about the struggle of the music industry against "pirates" (you can see the original via the NY Times site here).

Digital Tipping Point: Clip of the Day

Natasha Humphries on globalization and job security with Free Open Source Software 11 (2004)

Ogg Theora

Digital Tipping Point is a Free software-like project where the raw videos are code. You can assist by participating.


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