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Links 25/12/2009: Foxconn Introduces GNU/Linux Distribution Called FoxOS

Xmas at Boycott Novell

GNOME bluefish



  • LCA 2010: Getting distros to play together, nicely
    This time, Debian developers Martin F. Krafft and Fabio Tranchitella are behind the summit which is one of the mini-conferences to be held on the first two days of the week-long LCA in Wellington from January 18 to 23.

    The summit has come about as a result of Krafft's efforts to resurrect the Debian miniconf which was last held at the 2008 LCA in Melbourne.

  • Year in Review: Software and desktops in 2009
    This was followed in November by the latest flavour of Linux, in the guise of a Karmic Koala, the interesting name for Ubuntu 9.10, which for a free OS proved to be really very good indeed, and certainly worth a look for any company thinking about divorcing Microsoft.

  • Operating Systems of 2009
    For those who, like me, like to play around with different operating systems, 2009 saw some interesting developments. The following four operating systems especially made an impression on me during the past year.


    Kubuntu is, despite being an ubuntu-derivative, a very decent operating system. And since the addition of KDE4, it actually looks nice too! It does not feel like a bloated system, it is fast and responsive, even if you don’t have 3d acceleration available.

  • Today Linux is no more an option, it is a necessity
    Dataquest: Has Linux truly made inroads into the enterprise segment or is it just a hype?

    Tirthankar Mitra: We have seen more adoption of Linux in the mainstream applications, by which I mean that there are various initiatives that customers have taken across verticals starting from banking, financial services, telecom, and government. Open source has made tremendous inroads into the enterprise space because of its very nature of business model.

  • Mandriva offers 10 second boot with InstantOn
    Mandriva’s solution is called InstantOn and it looks to be a cut down version of Linux. The boot time is gauged at just 10 seconds or less, however, that is for an SSD storage solution, so you are probably looking at 15-20 seconds on a normal hard drive. Still, that’s pretty fast when you consider some alternatives such as Vista, with Windows 7 fairing slightly better.

  • Desktop

    • Sony VAIO VGN-FW180-E/H
      Price: €£1,083FW_Gray_-_Front_lg Tech Specs: OS Ubuntu CPU Intel Centrino 2 2.4GHz RAM 4GB Dimensions 384 x 29-37 x 261mm Weight 3.1kg

  • Server

    • PlayStation 3 Made of Gold is €£199,995 ($318,852)
      Not feeling the newness of the new PS3 Slim with its lower price point? Do you desire to have the bigger, Linux-capable machine – even at a higher price?

    • Unity Technologies releases new version of Asset Server
      In addition, the new version is equipped with tools to simplify backup and restore of Asset Server databases and supports Debian-based Linux distributions. Unity Asset Server has a built in GUI for versioning assets and caches imported 3D models, removing the need to have the application in which the models are authored installed on all machines, the company said.

  • Google

    • Google Chrome OS goes native (code)
      Google's Chrome OS does not run local applications or store local data. Everything is handled inside the browser. But when the much-hyped operating system debuts on netbooks at the end of next year, you can bet it will execute native code on behalf of online Google applications such as Gmail or Docs and Spreadsheets.

    • The rise of Google Chrome
      Google launched the open-source browser in 2008, prompting many to ask why anyone needed another after Microsoft's Internet Explorer, Mozilla's Firefox, and Apple's Safari. But over the course of 2009, Google answered that question: with Chrome, the company wants not just to speed up the Web but to rebuild its foundations.

    • Google Doesn’t Practice What They Preach For Open Source
      Just this week Google’s V.P. of Product Management Jonathan Rosenberg published a memo declaring that Google is an open source company. An insightful article on the Silicon Alley Insider points out how all Google’s talk about opennes is really just “empty posturing”.

  • Kernel Space

    • Oh time suspend your flying 2
      Some days ago, I talk about the fact that some underlying technologies were changing too fast. I was mostly talking about HAL vs DeviceKit/libudev/... saga. Today I've discovered another one : PolicyKit vs polkit.

    • The Free Firewire Audio Drivers reach version 2.0
      The FFADO (Free FireWire Audio Drivers) project supports the connection of FireWire-based audio devices to Linux systems:
      The FFADO project aims to provide a generic, open-source solution for the support of FireWire based audio devices for the Linux platform. It is the successor of the FreeBoB project. FFADO is a volunteer-based community effort, trying to provide Linux with at least the same level of functionality that is present on the other operating systems.

    • Graphics Stack

      • Nouveau: A 2.6.33 Surprise
        Linus has released the 2.6.33-rc1 prepatch, closing the merge window for this development cycle. This kernel has a few features which will shake things up, with dynamic tracing being near the top as far as I am concerned. But, perhaps, the most interesting addition is one that almost nobody expected: a reverse-engineered driver for NVIDIA graphics chipsets called “Nouveau.”

      • geometry shading patches
        after our discussions i hacked a new version of geometry shading support in gallium.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments

    • GNOME 2.29.4 released
      And here comes 2.29.4, just in time for the holiday season. It's a few hours late, but there were several build issues this time. But if you take all the right tarballs, this should now be okay :-) And you'll enjoy some cool stuff, like an updated nautilus with its changed focus (see discussion on nautilus-list), or various modules like gnome-control-center with tons of bug fixes. You can also take a look at gnome-keyring which has changed quite a bit internally... There are definitely many changes in there, so it's a good time to do some deep testing!

  • Distributions

    • ALT Linux 5 Ark desktop review
      ALT Linux is an APT-ified, RPM-based distribution developed and maintained by the ALT Linux Team (ALT is recursive for ALT Linux Team). It was originally based on Mandrake (now Mandriva) Linux. There are two main development branches, “ALT Linux 5.0 Ark, a suite designed for making integrated solutions, and ALT Linux 5.0 School, a suite that is targeted at secondary and high schools.” Within the ALT Linux 5.0 Ark branch, there is a desktop version, and a server version. This review is of ALT Linux 5.0 Ark desktop.

    • BrowserLinux: Simple OS for web browsing, not much else
      Google may think that the most important application for any operating system is a web browser. But while Google’s approach is to build an entire OS around the browser, others have taken a simpler approach. BrowserLinux, for instance, is basically a stripped down, Linux-based operating system designed to run just a few programs including a file manager, audio player, and Firefox 3.5.5.

    • New Releases

      • Sabayon Linux 5.1 x86 GAMING DVD Released
        This release comes straight from the North Pole, I’ve found it under my Christmas tree this morning and wanted to share with you.. Santa made it for all our users! A cute Sabayon Linux 5.1 x86 full of GAMES to not get bored during this holidays time.

      • Sabayon Linux 5.1 "Gaming" Edition arrives
        Just in time for Christmas, Sabayon Linux founder Fabio Erculiani has announced the availability of a "Gaming" Edition of version 5.1 of his popular Linux distribution. Sabayon, named after an egg-yolk based dessert, is derived from Gentoo Linux and is intended to provide a "complete out-of-the-box experience" while being both stable and versatile.

      • 21 Dec 09 VortexBox 1.0 released
        After several months of hard work we have released VortexBox 1.0. It has many of the features requested by the community including

      • Clonezilla 1.2.3-20

      • Salix 13.0.2 is ready!
        The Salix team is proud to announce the release of Salix 13.0.2. The most important change this release brings is the addition of a 64-bit port of Salix! As the 32-bit counterpart, Salix64 is fully backwards compatible with Slackware64 and provides a simple and fast way to install an XFCE based system that follows the one-app-per-task philosophy. The 64-bit repositories already include a considerable number of packages, making it the largest third party package repository for Slackware64 users available! The Salix team has also created and maintains a repository that includes dependency information for all Slackware packages, 32 and 64-bit.

      • Elive 1.9.54 development released
        The Elive Team is proud to announce the release of the development version 1.9.54

      • Tuquito 3.1

    • Red Hat Family

      • Everybody Loves Red Hat
        Powered by a 21% increase in subscription revenue, Red Hat's third-quarter sales soared to $194 million...

    • Debian Family

      • SimplyMEPIS 8.5 beta3 is Here for the Holidays
        MEPIS has announced that SimplyMEPIS 8.4.95, the third beta of MEPIS 8.5, is available from MEPIS and public mirrors. The ISO files for 32 and 64 bit processors are SimplyMEPIS-CD_8.4.95-b3_32.iso and SimplyMEPIS-CD_8.4.95-b3_64.iso respectively.

      • The Ubuntu Wallpaper Contest Continues - Lucid Lynx
        As many of you remember, last year for Karmic Koala there was a wallpaper contest. Users were able to submit wallpapers, and the ones that won were included in the default Ubuntu installation.

      • Ubuntu 10.04 Lucid Lynx And The Social Web
        A number of changes will (if all goes well) land themselves in Lucid. Not everything listed below is guaranteed to make it and some parts may morph or evolve between now and April 2010, but the gist of the plan is certainly able to be gleaned and shows that the relatively narrow, un-intrusive scope the project had in Karmic has been widen – and for the better!

      • The Evolution of
        If you’ve checked out Ubuntu’s website lately, you’ve probably noticed that it’s looking pretty slick, especially compared to a few years ago. Here’s a look at how has evolved over time, and why it matters.

        Well designed websites aren’t a forte of the open-source community. There are some exceptions, but many projects have home pages that, although functional, don’t look like they’ve had an aesthetic update since the Windows 95 era. GNU Mailman is an example. is another.

      • Development of Ubuntu 10.04 LTS to incorporate major changes.
        He goes on to talk more about the set of tools that the developers will be using to track their progress and the use of agile development methods to make that easier. The developers will also be posting their progress publicly so that the community can follow along. In essence, the final goal of this LTS release is to gain the confidence of IT departments who will be deploying Lucid Lynx and maintaining it for a period of years thereafter.

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Farnell - Most powerful self-contained embedded networking module
      The XPort Pro is Lantronix' most powerful, self-contained embedded networking module - it is now available from Farnell.

    • MontaVista Eyes Bigger Networking, Carrier Linux Wins
      Linux player MontaVista Software is now officially part of chip vendor Cavium Networks (NASDAQ: CAVM), concluding a rapid $50 million transaction that it hopes will see it better able to go after large networking and carrier customers.

    • Palm debuts GUI builder for WebOS
      Palm has released a beta version of a web-based GUI development platform called Palm Ares, said to streamline development for the Palm Pre's WebOS. Meanwhile, Palm announced lower than expected quarterly earnings, and said it's planning a marketing blitz to bolster sales of the Pre and Pixi smartphones, says Reuters.

    • VPN routing PC offers four PoE ports
      Korenix announced a VPN routing computer that comes with a Linux development platform. The JetBox 9533G is based on a 667MHz Intel IXP435 RISC processor, offers four PoE and four gigabit Ethernet ports plus a WAN connection, and has three USB ports.

    • Indian startup designs tablet PC running Android
      Notion Ink, a start up in Hyderabad, India, has developed a touchscreen tablet PC running the Android OS.

    • Phones

      • Software development predictions for 2010
        Palm and Android join forces Although Chrome looks to be a home run for Google, the future for Android isn't quite so clear. Handset manufacturers promise lots more models in 2010, but so far, I haven't seen customers fall in love with Android phones the way they do their iPhones.

      • Nokia

        • Image Gallery: A look at the Nokia N900 Maemo 5 device after two months of use
          The Nokia N900 is now available from various US retailers and after two full months of using a loaner device I just purchased my own. This latest Linux-based device has a new version of the Maemo OS and integrates a cellular radio. You will find some aspects of S60 in the N900, along with a rather unique user interface and extremely powerful Mozilla-based web browser. Apps are still early in development, but with the browser you can do most everything you need to do with dedicated apps.

        • Nokia Brings Forward N900 Contract Release Date
          No waiting lists - all orders for Nokia N900 Deals are said to be shipping immediately.

        • Nokia N900 Contract Release Date moved forward
          Apparently there are no waiting lists either, all orders for the Nokia N900 deals are being shipped immediately. Reports earlier in December indicated and frustrated Nokia fans as they claimed that the Nokia N900 wouldn’t be available until January 2010.

      • Android

        • Forrester: Google Android Smartphones to Take 10% of Market in 2010
          3. Mobile devices based on the Google Android operating systems will take 10% of the mobile device market in 2010. According to Forrester that uptake will be due to "heavy industry support" from Qualcomm (QCOM), Verizon (VZ), Motorola (MOT) and Google (GOOG), as well as the growing embrace of the open OS by developers.

        • Moto XT701 - aka 'Sholes' - Surfaces in China
          Android 2.0 is listed as the operating system for the device. It will feature an 8 megapixel camera. Sholes reportedly will operate on China Unicom's network.

    • Sub-notebooks

      • Foxconn Linux netbook hits the FCC
        Foxconn is a Taiwanese OEM that makes computers that are rebranded and sold under different company monikers. So I don’t expect to see the Foxconn SZ901P hit US shelves anytime soon, at least not under that name. But the FCC has published documents related to a netbook under that name.

        The one interesting thing about the Foxconn netbook is that it supports Windows XP as well as a custom Linux distribution called FoxOS, which includes a dock-style program launcher.

      • Foxconn netbook runs on Linux

      • Does ARM Chip for OLPC 3.0 mean no Windows?
        The OLPC organization experienced huge rifts over the use of Windows in its devices and Nicholas Negroponte caused Microsoft a fair amount of grief over premature announcements of Windows ports for its Sugar OS and the OLPC XO 1.0. Microsoft, however, has been fairly clear (with a little bit of waffle-room) that they won’t be porting Windows to ARM processors, meaning that XO 3.0, if it ever materializes, will need to be exclusively Linux-based.

Free Software/Open Source

  • Project Canvas set to get go ahead
    Project Canvas, an open source platform that provides a range of services through a broadband connection, is set to get the green light next week, which means that the BBC will be able to push ahead with its plans.

  • Predict the Possibility of Earthquakes Anywhere With OpenHazards
    The OpenHazards Web site is filled with safety and preparation tips, as well as blog posts written by experts in earthquake hazard awareness and public education. While some of the content is geared toward geologists and geophysicists, much of it clearly written and non-technical. To learn more about ways open source software is being implemented the study of earthquakes, read about other of hazardous temblors.

  • Will we see an open-source IPO in 2010?
    Once that embrace translates into $100 million in revenue, we'll see Wall Street embrace open source again, too.

  • First big business, now big data
    To properly assess the state of open-source software in 2009, one would have to gather millions of code commits and project releases. Open source isn't a buzzword or even a type of software; it has become a new way of doing business in software.

    In September, the Linux Foundation released the findings of its “Who Writes Linux” survey. The results found that Linux is seeing contributions from hundreds of thousands of different users, and that pool of contributors is still growing at an encouraging rate, building on over 10 years of consistent evolution and expansion.

  • VLMC: Free Video Editing Software from VLC Coming Soon [Leaked Pics]
    The official announcement of VLMC will take place at the VideoLAN dev’days 2009 in December. Once the pre-release of VLMC is out, there will be full instructions on how to install it, and we will have all the details. Until then, you can fetch the current working tree using Git:

    git clone git://

  • Lists

    • Software development's winners and losers, 2009 edition
      Winner: Open source software No one thought an open source company would ever be worth $1 billion, but now that Sun owns MySQL, it is about to sell itself to Oracle for $7 billion and change. Sure, the server hardware business is nice and Java is a wonderful brand, but everyone assumes that the meat of the deal lies in control of the MySQL copyrights. That's why the Europeans are so concerned. MySQL's success with marketing itself by giving away copies is one of the big reasons that open source is now the dominant business model for many companies. Even the most proprietary companies have found ways to emulate most of the openness by creating licenses like "shared source" and "developer's editions."

    • Ten people who have influenced technology over the past decade
      Mark Shuttleworth: Founder of Canonical LTD, Shuttleworth has taken on Microsoft's domination of the operating system market through the development of Ubuntu Linux. Committed to free and open source software, with Ubuntu he has shown that Open Source is especially beneficial to schools and colleges across the world and in developed and developing countries.

    • Famous South Africans in IT
      Mark Shuttleworth

      Perhaps the best known of South Africa's IT entrepreneurs, Mark Shuttleworth is the founder of Canonical, the company behind the Ubuntu operating system and Thawte, a provider of digital certificates. Shuttleworth founded Thawte in 1995 and sold the company to VeriSign in December 1999 for R3.5 billion. With that money Shuttleworth founded HBD Venture Capital, a business incubator and venture capital provider, as well as The Shuttleworth Foundation.

      Through the Foundation Shuttleworth has funded projects in education, free software and telecommunications. Shuttleworth also founded Canonical and the Ubuntu Linux operating system which is open source software. Until December 17 Shuttleworth was CEO of Canonical when he announced he was standing down as the CEO to focus on the more technical aspects of the operating system. The first version of Ubuntu was released in October 2004.

      Theo de Raadt

      Theo de Raadt is the founder and leader of the OpenBSD project, a security-focused free software operating system. Born in Pretoria, De Raadt moved to Canada when he was almost ten. In 1993 De Raadt was a co-founder of NetBSD, based on the original Berkley University BSD Unix operating system. A dispute in 1994 led to De Raadt being asked to resign as a core NetBSD member.

    • The 10 Coolest Open-Source Products Of 2009
      2. Ubuntu When Canonical started out in 2004, Linux was seen by many in the IT Industry as a powerful yet complex technology that was best wielded by seasoned professionals. A lot has changed since then, and Canonical's Ubuntu Linux is a big reason why.

      In October, Canonical released Ubuntu 9.10, code-named "Karmic Koala," which enables companies to build their own cloud computing environments on their own servers and hardware. As it has done with desktop and server Linux, Canonical aims to take a pioneering role in cloud computing, and this release is the first step in that direction. "Ubuntu is a solid product that has continued to make leaps and bounds," says Frank Basanta, director of technology for Systems Solutions, a New York-based integrator. In Ubuntu 9.10, the addition of virtualization and cloud computing features is helping Canonical to become a serious player in this space.

    • 10 Greatest Open Source Software Of 2009
      My Favorite Software Of 2009:

      VirtualBox - It is a life saver for sys admin and perfect free software loaded with tons of features. It offers great performance and stability, and supports a wide-variety of guest operating systems.

      This is my personal FOSS desktop software list and it is not absolutely definitive, so if you've got your own software, share in the comments below.

    • Top 10 Internet Moments of 2009
      Obama White House Goes 2.0

      Obama put open technology to work during his White House run, notably relying on social networks that gave users more control over the campaign message. On the day they settled in at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., Obama's open government team began deploying open-source Drupal systems on all of its sites and opening them up to user comments, polling and feedback.

    • The ’00 7: The decade’s most important tech advances
      3. Open source

      Ten years ago, the phrase “open source” tended to conjure images of a computing counterculture, people who operated outside the regular business model. Consider Linux, the open-source Unix-like operating system that was viewed as being only for hard-headed coders. (Even if they were actually following the true computing spirit of open information, that was the impression in a lot of quarters.) Today, open source practically is the mainstream. Sun Microsystems went open source a few years ago, Microsoft has opened up some code and both military and civilian agencies are promoting the use of open-source solutions. Open-source software in common use these days includes the Firefox browser, the Open Office suite and Google’s Chrome browser. And, of course, Linux is everywhere, especially on the back ends of Web-facing systems.

    • Your 2009 code word was Ubuntu
      If there was one word that could get Open Source readers more passionate than Microsoft in 2009, it was Ubuntu.

  • Audio

  • Events

    • O'Reilly seeks proposals for July open source conference
      Now in its 12th year, OSCON continues to be an important Linux gathering, combining desktop, enterprise, and embedded topics. Not surprisingly, consider the conference is hosted by technology book publisher O'Reilly, OSCON also offers a healthy dose of programming and scripting tutorials.

    • OSCON 2010 Call for Papers
      The organisers of the next O'Reilly Open Source Convention, also known as OSCON, have announced that the OSCON 2010 Call for Papers deadline will be the 1st of February, 2010.

    • OSCON 2010 Announces Call for Proposals

    • Portland mayor makes his pitch to the software community
      Already, though, Adams said the the city is making progress on software. He cited the city's support of the Open Source Bridge conference in June, OSCON's pending return to Portland, and a council resolution to adopt open source technology when possible.

  • Mozilla

    • Firefox 'Fennec' due in days
      Mozilla's long-awaited 'Fennec' mobile Firefox build is due in Release Candidate form any day now - for Maemo devices, anyway.

  • CMS

    • Joomla – Best Open Source Content Management System You Can Get
      Joomla is an open-source content management system (CMS) used to make a websites. Open-source means all underlying code is offered for free use and modification. So, there may be many applications running in a Joomla-built website, but they are usually free software available to use or modify.

  • Funding

    • SFLC Annual Appeal
      I know that the annual campaign missives have been arriving in shoals the last few weeks; my list of organizations to support has been growing longer, precisely because so many of us are having to do more with less, and need the help. With your support, the SFLC can continue its long-term mission of providing legal services to the hundreds of thousands of dedicated people who produce wonderful technology just because they want to share.


    • Up against odds
      Mani has not given up his love for art. Now that he is computer savvy, he prefers free software GNU Image Manipulation Program (GNU), to pen and paper. So far he has created 45 images digitally and has raised Rs 10,000 by selling them. Something he could not have done if he had to purchase a program like Adobe.

      He is now helping other children in his community do the same. “I want to study science,” he said. “I spend the money earned on my school fees because I want to get into college. Since I want to give back to the institution that helped me, I donate the balance to AC3, in case any maintenance or repairs are required. I also know the software well enough to teach computer skills to local children.”

  • Releases

    • Songbird 1.4.2 Released, Brings New Look, CD Ripping, and Device Support
      While Windows users will be very happy to see this feature-filled update, Mac and Linux users will still find Songbird more pleasant to use, especially if migrating from iTunes—1.4.2 finally allows you to write metadata to WMA and AAC files, meaning all those songs bought or imported in iTunes can have their information edited.

    • Breaking: VistA Open Source PMS
      Dr. Matthew King, Edgeware Technologies and Mr. Djien So have collaborated over the last 3 years to develop a VistA compatible, high quality, multi-featured Practice Management System. The PMS will be released with the Affero v3 GPL open source license.

    • Tickets Version 2.11 - A Free/Open Source Computer Aided Dispatch Program
      The Open ISES (Information Systems for Emergency Services) Project is proud to announce the latest release of flagship software product, Tickets Version 2.11. Tickets is a web-based computer aided dispatch (CAD) program that leverages the power of Google maps to bring a high end open source CAD product to the emergency services community. Tickets can perform a number of functions including phone number look-up, driving directions, schedule events, and more.

    • Lamson project takes pain out of email
      This is where the Lamson project comes in. It's written by Zed Shaw, author of the Mongrel server made famous by Ruby on Rails. Lamson's design is model view controller (MVC) based, making it very similar to the newer web frameworks popular with developers these days, such as Ruby on Rails and Django.

    • EtherPad source code is free, now what?
      Google's newly-acquired startup AppJet released the source code to its popular EtherPad web editor recently, making good on a promise to EtherPad's users who were previously faced with a service shutdown following the acquisition. The source is under the Apache 2.0 license, which is GPL-compatible, making the code potentially useful to a wide array of free software projects. The release has the community debating the impact on similar and related software, and revisiting the contentious question of how free software in general can and should transition to the web-hosted environment.

    • GIMP 2.6.8 released!
      The developers fixed many bugs in version 2.6.8 which is a new release in the stable branch of GIMP.

    • IHTSDO Workbench code made open source
      The International Health Terminology Standards Development Organisation is to making source code for the IHTSDO Workbench, including tools to develop, maintain, and facilitate the use of SNOMED CT, freely available.

    • Cygwin 1.7 Released, Two Years In Development
      Besides my sabbatical announcement for the Phoronix Test Suite's benefit, there is some other Windows-Linux news this afternoon. The developers behind the Unix/Linux-like environment for Microsoft Windows have announced the release of version 1.7.

    • Cygwin 1.7.1 released
      After more than 18 months of development, the Cygwin developers have announced the availability of version 1.7.1 of their Linux-like environment and command-line interface for Windows. The major update includes a number of behavioral changes and new functionality compared to the last 1.5 release from June of 2008.

    • MusE 1.0 Released
      sequencer with recording and editing capabilities written originally by Werner Schweer now developed and maintained by the MusE development team. MusE aims to be a complete multitrack virtual studio for Linux, it is published under the GNU General Public License. MusE has among other things support for:

    • GnuPG 2.0.14 released
      The GNU Privacy Guard (GnuPG) is GNU's tool for secure communication and data storage. It can be used to encrypt data, create digital signatures, help authenticating using Secure Shell and to provide a framework for public key cryptography.

  • Licensing

    • Coming up with a Copyright Assignment Strategy
      The problem is this. Copyright in code belongs to the person who wrote that code. This creates a difficulty when code is contributed by multiple programmers to a free software project. If the original coders retain the copyright for their contribution, the program becomes a kind of patchwork quilt of rights.

      That's exactly the situation for Linux, currently made available under the GNU GPLv2, and why it is extremely unlikely that it will ever be re-licensed under GNU GPLv3: there are simply too many people involved – some of whom may be hard to find or even dead – to hope that everyone's agreement can be obtained to relicense the code.

  • Openness

  • Applications

    • Unveils 1.0 Format for USB App Developers
      For John so loved us all that he gave his PortableApps Format 1.0 release to the world. Having put the finishing touches on a few remaining items that allow for many more programs to share in the portable glory. The 1.0 release is effectively an invitation for developers to tinker with creating portable applications with a friendly wrapper and installer.

    • Software Appliances: Lean, Mean Deployment Machines
      To maximize their financial return and eliminate these installation and maintenance challenges, many ISVs are building appliances -- versions of their product, packaged with a just enough operating system (JeOS) required to perform the desired tasks.

  • Standards/Consortia

    • 10 points on the mandatory use of open standards in Hungary
      Hungarian Parliament has made the use of open standards mandatory by law in the intercommunication between public administration offices, public utility companies, citizens and voluntarily joining private companies, conducted via the central governmental system.


  • New life for dead software
    If you yearn for the operating systems or arcade games of the past, and are willing to make the effort to bring them back to life, free and open source software is definitely the way to go. Green screens and might-have beens, operating systems and games, BeOS, Amiga OS or DOS can be relived and replayed through a host of emulators, simulators or rewrites in varying stages of completion.

  • Debate Rages On in Microsoft Vs. Google Web War
    Folks responded with good points to my post from yesterday, "Why Microsoft is So Far Behind Google on the Web," a riff on how Microsoft lets Google buy what it wants -- AdMob, YouTube, DoubleClick -- without challenging or responding to its nemesis.

    The comments that praise Microsoft for its frugality regarding Internet businesses have the tenor of "well, Google buys companies that don't make any money." Spoken like people who don't believe that every Web service can be infused with online ads.

  • Twitter buys location tracker start-up Mixer Labs
    The micro-blogging website Twitter is buying the location tracking start-up Mixer Labs for an undisclosed sum.

    Mixer Labs, founded by two former Google employees, makes an application for Twitter called GeoAPI.

  • Robot Fish
    A robotic fish developed by scientists from Essex University is put through its paces in a special tank at the London Aquarium. It works via sensors and has autonomous navigational control.

  • [IMAGE] How Google would have looked 50 years ago.

  • Security

    • Simple Data Security Solutions
      When I travel, my sensitive files are encrypted inside a TrueCrypt container. TrueCrypt is widely respected, widely used (at least by techies), free, open source, and available for Windows, Mac, and Linux. But it does take a little work to use it. For non-techies, the process of creating secure containers, then mounting them and dismounting them may be too much.

    • Russian hackers rob US banks
      IN THE SEASON of good will, the FBI has been saying that some Russian hackers have been robbing US banks.

    • Christmas hackers take down retailers
      HACKERS TARGETED the domain name service (DNS) providers for Amazon, Wal-Mart, and Expedia yesterday and bought them all to a grinding halt.

      Several of the retailers websites were taken offline, which effectively prevented anyone from finding any last minute ties and socks, er, presents there.

    • DDoS attack scrooges Amazon and others
      Service to Amazon, Wal-Mart and several other shopping sites was briefly blocked on Wednesday evening when their DNS provider was hit by a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack.

    • Inmate gets 18 months for thin client prison hack
      A former prison inmate has been ordered to serve 18 months for hacking the facility's computer network, stealing personal details of more than 1,100 of its employees and making them available to other inmates.

  • Environment

  • Finance

    • Study: Politically-Connected Banks Were More Likely To Get Bailed Out
      In a finding that is sure to confirm the musings of conspiracy theorists -- or may just prove the obvious to cynics -- a new study details how the financial institutions with the strongest political connections ended up getting the biggest bailouts.

    • Former Goldman Sachs junk bond dealer earns $2.5bn in bet on US banks
      A New Jersey hedge fund manager stands to enjoy a $2.5bn (€£1.5bn) payday after placing an astute bet at the height of the global financial crisis that America's top banks would live to fight another day.

      David Tepper, a former Goldman Sachs junk bond trader, has steered his hedge fund, Appaloosa Management, to a $7bn profit so far this year by taking a sanguine view that banks such as Citigroup and Bank of America would weather the financial storm without being nationalised by the US government.

    • Community lenders hit the funding jackpot
      Taken together, Goldman Sachs and the federal government have earmarked more than $300 million to invest in these local financiers in 2010. Compared to Wall Street's bailout billions, that's pennies on the dollar, but for CDFIs it's a jackpot. Next year's funding pool is almost three times bigger than any they've ever had before.

    • Teamsters Request SEC Review YRC Credit-Default Swaps
      International Brotherhood of Teamsters President James Hoffa is asking the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo to review “questionable promotion” of credit- default swaps tied to trucking company YRC Worldwide Inc.

      Hoffa sent letters to the regulators and members of Congress, the Teamsters said today in a statement distributed by PR Newswire. YRC, the biggest U.S. trucking company by sales, is seeking a debt-for-equity exchange to avert bankruptcy.

    • The Goldman Sachs Coffee Conspiracy [Conspiracy]
      Workers at Goldman Sachs' buildings across New York and New Jersey are grumbling about a conspiracy.

      A conspiracy by the company to squeeze profit even from its own staff

    • CEO Of Goldman Sachs-Owned Molycorp Is Psyched About Treasury's Protectionist Attitude Towards China And Gold Mining
      In announcing its intention to block the deal, the Treasury cited national security issues.

      Well this is music to the ears of Molycorp -- a company engaged in the mining of rare earth metals -- which has received subsidies from the government, as well as a major investment from Goldman Sachs (GS).

    • Holiday Cards from "Goldman Sachs" Circulating on Wall Street
      One fake Goldman greeting card, supposedly penned by Blankfein, reads: "He knows if you’ve been bad or good . . ." but "We get paid in either case." The front depicts Blankfein as Dr. Evil from the Austin Powers movies, wearing a red-and-white Santa Claus hat, gently stroking a white cat and flanked by two women.

    • Treasury Cover-Up of Goldman's Role in AIG Crisis?
      Goldman acted as middle-man on $14 billion of that amount, after it took the risk of mortgage assets originated by other banks and insured all of it with AIG. Goldman may wish to claim it "was only following orders," but since Goldman also originated many of the mortgage assets ultimately protected by AIG, it should have been well aware of the risk posed to itself and to AIG. The risk was then Goldman's. If AIG failed, Goldman Sachs would have had to make good on those trades. Goldman stuffed so much risk into A.I.G. that Goldman nearly killed its own "hedge."

    • Goldman Sachs Imploded The Housing Market

    • High Frequency Trading: The Best Of Technological And Financial Innovation... Or The Next Bubble?
      That should be a warning sign. It's typical, but you can see it in plenty of previous Wall Street meltdowns as well. After someone figures out a "system" for making lots of money (say, mortgage-backed securities a few years back), everyone starts piling in. Then, the "innovation" occurs. Now, much of it is well-meaning, and even useful. With mortgage-backed securities, things like credit default swaps actually were a very useful insurance tool originally. But at some point, they basically flipped from insurance to gambling. People weren't using them to back up an investment, but as the investment itself -- so you'd actually have what was, in effect, thousands of people all buying an insurance policy that one house wouldn't burn down. If that house burned down... the insurance company (hi, AIG) defaulted, and everything comes crashing down.

  • PR/AstroTurf

    • Patton Boggs Runs Pro-War Front Group for Hamed Wardak and NCL Holdings
      The Campaign for a U.S. - Afghanistan Partnership is being expose as an insidious pro-war front group. Aram Roston reports in the The Nation magazine that "As President Obama prepares a massive military buildup in Afghanistan, a House subcommittee has launched an investigation into whether Defense Department contractors are paying off the Taliban to protect American supply lines. ... One of the contractors under investigation is NCL Holdings, a US firm headed by Hamed Wardak, the Afghan-American son of Afghanistan's defense minister, General Abdul Rahim Wardak.

    • Afghan Lobby Scam
      As President Obama prepares a massive military buildup in Afghanistan, a House subcommittee has launched an investigation into whether Defense Department contractors are paying off the Taliban to protect American supply lines. The investigation was triggered by a Nation cover story [see Roston, "How the US Funds the Taliban," November 30].


      In interviews with The Nation, Afghan government officials, security contractors and trucking company executives outlined a giant protection racket, funded by US taxpayers, which raises millions for the Taliban. With no US military forces protecting their supply lines, contractors had to protect routes by other means: payoffs. As one trucking company official told The Nation, "If you tell me not to pay these insurgents in this area, the chances of my trucks getting attacked increase exponentially."

  • Censorship/Civil Rights

    • The Need for H.R. 4364
      Yesterday, Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN), introduced H.R. 4364, the Citizen Participation Act of 2009. The Citizen Participation Act encourages civic engagement and protects against meritless lawsuits brought against those who petition the government or speak out on a public issue. The bill allows someone who is brought to court on a meritless lawsuit arising from his exercise of First Amendment rights to have the lawsuit dismissed, and to recover attorney's fees.

      With so much happening these days: Afghanistan, Guantanamo, Health Care, Jobs, the Climate, and other big happenings in the First Amendment world, including libel tourism and reporter's shield legislation, you might wonder why so much ado about some meritless lawsuits.

  • Internet/Web Abuse/DRM

    • Comcast Settles Class Action P2P Throttling Case
      Technology and policy site Ars Technica is reporting that Comcast has settled a class action law suit filed by users of its broadband internet service who allege that the Phialdelphia-based cable, telephone, and internet service provider was capping their download speeds. The caps were levied primarily at users of the popular BitTorrent protocol, a peer-to-peer file sharing system that allows users to download large amounts of data in a relatively short time span by breaking the files up into small pieces and downloading only a few pieces from each user on a large network of people who already have the file.

    • Connected Nation, Created By Telco Lobbyists, Gets Millions In Gov't Funding To Hide Broadband Data From The Gov't
      So it should come as no surprise that (right before the holidays) it's been announced that a big chunk of broadband stimulus money is going to Connected Nation (including, of course, in Minnesota). It's a really sweet boondoggle. The operation was set up by telco industry lobbyists, with the claim that it will accurately map broadband penetration (an important factor in figuring out a broadband plan).

    • Chile Rejects Attempt To Force ISPs To Filter And Block Copyrighted Works
      What's interesting here (beyond a victory for user rights) is that a big part of the argument pushed by the entertainment industry representatives, was that this law was necessary to remain in compliance with trade agreements (there they are again) with the US. However, it appears that Chilean politicians recognized this was a load of bunk.

    • DRM, DMCA and OST (Other Scary Things)
      It's obvious to most Linux users that Digital Rights Management (DRM) is a really bad idea. It's not just because DRM-encoded media usually won't play with our operating system, but rather because we understand the value of openness. The really sad part is that DRM, at least on some level, is attempting to do a good thing.

  • Intellectual Monopolies/Copyrights

    • IsoHunt Loses Big; Court Says: You Induce, You Lose
      The court relies on the fact that IsoHunt owner Gary Fung made many statements that could be read as inducing infringement, but most of the statements appear to have been taken out of context. In fact, it looks like the court interpreted any time Fung mentioned "stealing" to mean support for copyright infringement, even if the words he stated were actually suggesting something different.

    • Hey Whatever Happened To Those Andrew Cuomo-Backed, RIAA Agreements With ISPs To Kick People Off The Internet?
      It's now been over a year since the infamous announcement, leaked to the Wall Street Journal, that the RIAA was going to effectively drop its strategy of suing individuals in favor of agreements, worked out between the RIAA and ISPs with NY AG Andrew Cuomo adding pressure, to kick people off the internet on a "three strikes" regime. The whole thing sounded pretty ridiculous at the time. Cuomo had absolutely no legal standing to pressure ISPs into such a deal, since the ISPs had every legal right to say no. And, since the "leak" many ISPs have insisted, quite vocally, that they have never made any such agreement with the RIAA and that they would never kick their customers offline in such a manner.

    • Copyright claim based on taping fashion show
      A women's clothing company is suing Canadian Broadcasting Company after a reporter for the television station snuck into a New York fashion show without an invitation and taped the event.

    • Ursula K. Le Guin Resigns From Authors Guild, Because It Didn't Keep Up Its Silly Fight With Google
      Ursula K. Le Guin is a very famous author who many people insist is one of the best -- though, I have to admit never having read her stuff. Yet, she is one of those who is rather aggressive in policing the copyrights on her work, and who does not tend to side with those who believe in concepts like "fair use." Most certainly, she is not a fan of open culture. A few years ago, she got into a bit of a scrap with Cory Doctorow, because he dared to publish a single paragraph of hers in a blogpost as part of a larger (positive!) commentary.

    • Will new North Face trademark lawsuit come back to bite it in the butt?
      North Face has sued a company called “South Butt,” whose slogan “Never Stop Relaxing” is a deliberate poke at the fashionable outdoors clothing company's "never stop exploring." South Butt's logo comes close to being a mirror image of North Face’s logo.

    • Dr. Ficsor is wrong about many things - why should we believe him?
      Doctor Ficsor's views have been well documented for over a decade? Where? The man is virtually unknown according to Google. Most of the results it tosses up for his name link to my virtually unknown blog! My god man - didn't your teachers tell you to strive for accuracy if you want to be believed? Both you and Doctor Ficsor are fond of making statements, without providing proof. Document, document, document!

      And as to Doctor Ficsor's connections to the 'copyright lobby groups', I refer you to my earlier post where I came to the same conclusion. Doctor Ficsor's arguments are so similar to the arguments made by the US Ambassador to Canada in a recent speech. Which happen to be the same arguments made by the Motion Picture Association of America and the Recording Industry Association of America. Which may not be surprising, as the Obama regime is infamous for hiring RIAA lawyers for sensitive positions in the administration.

    • Doctor Ficsor is wrong again
      Oh dear - here we go again. Doctor Ficsor, you are quickly gaining a reputation for inaccuracy. I was originally going to refute you point by point, but that would have resulted in another long document, and as you stated, this is Christmas. I have children and a wife (never mind two adorable dogs) who would like to see me away from the computer for a while, so I will make this short.

      Point Number One: You have stated that the United States is compliant with the treaty in regards to ‘Technological Protection Measures (TPM)’. According to the wording that you, yourself have provided they are not. Their implementation, known as the ‘Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998’ is defective in many areas. I’ll pick one to demonstrate, specifically the Kindle, an E-Reader marketed by Amazon. The Kindle uses ‘Digital Rights Management (DRM)’ (a more accurate name would be Digital Restrictions Management), another name for a TPM, to prevent copying of the E-Books on the Kindle. According to your reading of the treaty, any legislation is supposed to outlaw ‘circumvention devices’ for any TPM.

    • Vintage Kids’ Books: Look Quick
      I have to act fast, I think. Your Wonderful Beneficial Federal Government has all but banned children’s books printed prior to 1985, under the assumption that they might have been printed with ink containing traces of lead. So countless copies have already been burned as hazardous waste, and it’s more or less illegal to sell them. Never mind than an almost unthinkable portion of world culture will pretty much vanish over the next few years due to CPSIA. The most popular books will be reprinted with modern inks; most will not, and will eventually be forgotten.

    • Indian Copyright Amendments Procure Cabinet Approval
      The government issued a press release announcing that the much awaited and controversial copyright amendment bill has now cleared "cabinet", a group of senior ministers that represent the highest decision making body of the government. Unfortunately, since the winter session of Parliament is over and done with, the Bill is only likely to be introduced in the budget session of Parliament in February 2010.

    • Elementary My Dear Watson....It's Called The Public Domain... Or Is It?
      Not surprisingly, the estate who owns the copyrights tries to present the situation as saying that all uses require a license. But, then again, it's not like they're going to tell you what's in the public domain when it's in their best interest to claim that nothing is. Either way, it appears that the initial claim concerning the public domain isn't quite the case -- and I would bet that the studio that made this latest movie paid for a license to avoid a legal fight. Why they should have to -- especially given the fact that when the content was written there was no way for it still to be protected today under copyright law -- is a separate (but rather important) question.

    • Google & Media: Biting the Hand that Feeds You
      Rupert Murdoch's protestations aside, there is no doubt that Google is driving vast amounts of traffic to websites run by traditional media companies. In recent years, most of's growth came from search optimization and direct traffic. Up until only three years ago, the number one referring domain at BusinessWeek was always a portal until Google's popularity replaced Yahoo Finance and MSN Money as the top referrer. Search--largely Google--now accounts for some 45% of the traffic at, up from less than 20% in 2006. That simple little box is driving vast amounts of advertising inventory (and therefore revenue) to the site. It's a similar story everywhere else.

      In the war between the traditional media brands and Google, the old cliche about biting the hand that feeds you is certainly in play. Some of the complaints from media can be attributed to sour grapes. Many incumbents resent that most efforts to find information on the Web no longer starts with a brand. It starts with Google which is largely brand agnostic. So, in effect, Google has become this massive transaction machine, and as everyone knows, transactions are the antithesis of relationships. If a brand wants a relationship with its audience, Google is getting in the way. It's how Google was able to siphon nearly $22 billion last year in advertising from traditional media. And it's the most obvious proof that media brands have diminished in value. People are more routinely turning to Google to get information, rather than a brand known for its expertise in a given area. They'll google (yes, I'm using Google as a verb) leadership before going to The Wall Street Journal, Fortune, BusinessWeek, or Harvard Business Review. They'll google President Clinton before going to The New York Times, Time, or Newsweek. Why? Because they trust Google to serve up unbiased results; because they want to see what is generally available out there and not tied to a brand, and because most brands no longer wield the power and influence they did years ago.

      Instead of complaining about this and threatening to block Google from crawling a site, media companies would do well to step back and more fully understand what they really need to do: rebuild the relationships they have with their readers, viewers, users. To offset the massive transaction machine that Google is, media brands need to focus on restoring relationships with users. That's why "user engagement" is not an idle phrase to throw around but is essential to making a brand successful online. Original content isn't enough. Gee-whiz tech tricks aren't enough. Neither is a fancy design or a search trap gimmick. You need an audience that is deeply and meaningfully engaged in the content of a site, so engaged in fact that many of those users become collaborators, and that requires tremendous amounts of work and editorial involvement with the audience.

    • Former Musician Now Lawyer Comes To Terms With What's Happening To His Music Online
      G Thompson sends in this absolutely wonderful read by law professor Ben Challis, a former punk musician, explaining the mental back-and-forth he went through after discovering that some of his band's old music is available online -- specifically discovering that some sites are selling unauthorized copies of it. He reacts naturally at first -- which is to get upset -- but then as he thinks about it some more, he begins to recognize that this isn't all that productive. Eventually he seems to come all the way around to realizing that this actually is really good market research for him.

Digital Tipping Point: Clip of the Day

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