Links 16/01/2009: Russia’s GNU/Linux Distribution, Sun Chooses BSD Licence

Posted in IRC Logs at 9:58 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish


  • Russia to create “National OS” Based on GNU/Linux?

    Although the proposal is still in its early stages, the attractiveness of the proprosal to a government keen to assert its independence at all levels is obvious. It will be interesting to see how this develops.

  • Stop power leaks; smile at savings

    I also found that my backup Linux computer consumes 2 watts of power even when shut down. Most computers are shut down through a software command, rather than a physical switch. This puts the computer in a “soft off” state, with a low level of power still flowing to the motherboard. As a result, I’m paying $2.75 a year in power costs on my Linux box just to keep it plugged in. That won’t break the bank, but consider that there are a few hundred million machines in the United States running up the same tab.

  • In Over My Head: Blinux

    The experience has caused me to explore Linux for the Blind, or “Blinux.” This more than just screen readers and magnification. I took the time to play with the version of Orca bundled with CentOS 5 and it’s quite disappointing when compared to the expensive ZoomText my friend uses. Those who are completely blind have long had better resources, taking advantage of the superiority of Linux on the commandline.

  • Linux Elitism: Fact or Fiction?

    Most open source enthusiasts want more people to embrace Free and Open Source Software solutions, but just like how the style of products is important to Apple aficionados, familiarity with the terminal and an appreciation of the under-the-hood mechanics matter to the FOSS lovers. That said, FOSS has an added element absent from the corporate-backed technologies. Whereas fans of products made by rather large businesses need to appeal in aggregate (or focus groups) to get noticed in the product design process, FOSS is a free-for-all. Anyone is free to bring anything to the table. While a lot of folks may get corporate logo tattoos and/or pontificate about what such-and-such company did right or wrong, few of them will ever have any actual input. On the other hand, if Joe Sixpack wants to make his own Linux- or BSD-based operating system with his own logo and software, he’s free to do that. FOSS is based on empowerment and the appreciation of empowerment, and with empowerment comes responsibility.

  • Warrantless Intrusion: yet another reason for Using GNU/Linux (but it may not be enough)

    All manner of campaigns have been tried to persuade Windows users to make the switch to GNU/Linux and every year is heralded as the year of GNU/Linux on the desktop. Whether these things come to pass or not only time will tell, but the latest electronic assault on the integrity of computers which emanates from the British Government via a European directive might just tilt the balance in favour of free and open software. I suspect however that the hard-core Redmondnites will blunder on as usual making the internet a gold mine for any individual, corporation or government maliciously inclined to steal or plant information your computer. So, what exactly is warrantless intrusion?


    I’m not a technical expert but it seems to me that the only theoretical way to defeat the government’s insatiable lust for information, power and control is to create an open source ISP funded by its members like some kind of modern Friendly Society which would be founded on democratic principles and funded by the members. It seems impossible but the Wikipedia project ought not to exist either — but it does. The other long shot is to pray for the sudden emergence of a technological singularity which moves so impossibly fast that governments cannot keep pace with counter measures. Failing that we all become Luddites and forswear computers and the internet entirely. The withdrawal symptoms would be horrendous. So, the technical hand, having written, cannot unwrite a single word. There is no going back. Uninventing technology is the stuff of dystopian fantasies.

  • It’s time to start issuing PC licenses

    If you think I’m about to make fun of Windows users because one in three of them haven’t patched their PCs for a known security hole, which has been used by the Conficker worm to infect more than a million Windows PC in 24-hours, you’d be wrong. I’m also not going to make fun of Ubuntu Linux, because one Dell user couldn’t get Linux to connect to the Internet or run a word processor.

  • Linux Mint 6.0 Felicia – Minty and sweet

    Linux Mint 6.0 Felicia is a fabulous distro. It’s complete, well-polished, fast, simple, rich in features, and offering solid hardware support. It worked well with both my Nvidia and ATI cards and even loved my web camera. There were some small issues with a Wireless drivers and some mundane Windows media formats, but other than that, the performance was spotless.

    Compiz, MP3, Flash, even Skype worked out of the box. Reading and writing to NTFS drives was a breeze. The distro was beautiful and stable. The installation was simple. Superb.

    Felicia is a great choice for everyone, be they Windows users of all persuasions, new Linux users or even veterans. It has something for everyone. Combined with the healthy Ubuntu community that sort of shadows Linux Mint as a sort of an unofficial chaperon, a well written User Guide, and the now standard friendliness of Ubuntu-based distros, you’re in for a great, minty treat.

  • Jono Bacon

    • Special Source 5 Released

      On this special edition of the_source I interview Jono Bacon (Ubuntu Community Manager) about the demise of Lugradio, Ubuntu Intrepid Ibex and his musical pursuits.

    • Jono Bacon announces CC-licensed book project

      Bacon says that the book, which is called Art of Community, will cover a wide range community-related topics, including governance, promotion, and conflict resolution. It will also provide real-world anecdotes to provide greater insight into the subject area. He aims to have the book on shelves this Summer and will also make it broadly available on the Internet. He plans to document the process and provide ongoing updates at a new web site that he created for the project.

      “This book is much more than merely a textbook on building a compelling community. I believe that we learn how to build strong community through the exchange of stories and experiences,” he wrote in a blog entry. “The Art Of Community is a compendium of stories, anecdotes and experiences inside and outside the Open Source world.”

  • Australia

    • LCA 2009: Making Linux more secure

      Russell Coker is not a man who sleeps with his computers. But he does come pretty close – two servers are positioned in a little cabinet in his bedroom, one being his server and the other his Security Enhanced Linux “play machine.”

    • Linux.Conf.Au – Getting Ready

      January is here and it’s that time of year for penguin-lovers everywhere to make their annual migration south to Australia to flock together. Linux.conf.au is one of the world’s most popular technical Linux conferences, and for it’s 10th anniversary is being held at the University of Tasmania in Hobart. The conference runs for a week, with two days of mini-confs followed by the main conference programme and culminating in an Open Day on Saturday.

  • Vs. Windows

    • A Sound of Thunder

      Coming at the time of an economy in recession it looks like Microsoft might actually be scared that customers might not spend money on a Windows upgrade. There’s no way to go back in time and prevent the damage to Microsoft’s credibility done by the Windows Vista release, we’ll just have to wait and see what the future actually holds for Windows 7. In the mean time, try and ignore the marketing thunder and check out a version of Linux. You might just find it gets you off the Windows upgrade treadmill for good!

    • Proprietary Barriers to Education

      But that’s a rant for another day. Today’s topic is about foolish schools that let themselves get locked into restrictive, proprietary technologies that cost a mint, and then they cry about not having enough budget to retain good IT staff, and students and teachers who are wise enough to eschew Microsoft’s junkware face an uphill battle.


      Is it really that hard to make smarter IT infrastructure decisions? When did higher education decide that its fundamental mission was something other that widest possible access to learning? Or that understaffing crucial functions was a good thing to do? My tax dollars at work. I feel so proud!

  • Migration

    • Migrating from Windows to Linux v1.79

      There are many articles written about the reasons why users may wish to convert to Linux. Frequently cited reasons include the favorable licensing terms, the freely distributable software (with source code), support from the Linux community, improved security, open file formats, the fact that Linux can run on a wide variety of platforms, etc. However, unless a desktop user is provided with real alternatives to the existing software he or she currently uses, migration to a different operating system is going to be very difficult.

    • New Website Ushers The HeliOS Project Into 2009

      The HeliOS Project begins the 2009 year with a hardware drive. They hope to get enough hardware to carry them through the first half of the year. KUT, the National Public Radio affiliate in Austin is running PSA’s and calendar entries for the event for the next 30 days. It is through people like the one’s at KUT that this effort can meet the challenges of the coming year. The first week of January brought the group 19 requests for computers. Hopefully, this hardware drive will gain them the materials they need to meet the challenges that are sure to come.

  • Desktop Environments

    • GNOME 2.24.3 released

      This is the third update to GNOME 2.24. It contains many fixes for important bugs that directly affect our users, documentation updates and also a large number of updated translations. Many thanks to all the contributors who worked hard on delivering those changes in time. We hope it will help people feel better in their daily use of computers!

  • Applications

    • Holiday Cheer, Holiday Uncheer – Part 2

      Continuing my holiday machine maintenance saga I move on to some notable trials and tribulations with Ubuntu, but not before I report on a little more holiday cheer.

    • Tribler: BitTorrent and Beyond

      P2P (peer-to-peer) is the nature of the Net. You can fight that, or you can embrace it. Here in the US, the mainstream entertainment business has mostly been fighting it. Hollywood and its phone and cable company allies have long regarded P2P, and BitTorrent in particular, as a copyright piracy system and a bandwidth hog. In the European Union, however, P2P is more than accepted: it’s supported by the Union itself.


      “Everything we’re doing is based on open source”, says Johan Pouwelse, PhD, scientific director of P2P-Next and Assistant Professor of Computer Science at Delft. The good doctor also runs P2P-Next’s first trial application: Tribler (pronounced “tribe-ler”), a BitTorrent-based client with no servers and a “zero-cost” business model. Tribler provides an all-in-one way to find, consume and share media.

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Lightweight Linux-ready RDBMS rev’d

      Enea announced the availability of a new version of its lightweight, Linux-ready Polyhedra SQL RDBMS (relational database management system). Polyhedra 8.1 adds MIPS support for Linux, as well as improvements to “active query” and “historian” features aimed at process control and industrial automation applications.

    • Review: Phoenix Technologies HyperSpace instant-on desktop

      For some time now we have been talking about Splashtop, the Linux-based instant-on desktop that we’ve seen on Asus notebooks and motherboards, as well as the Lenovo IdeaPad S10e and the VooDoo Envy 133. Splashtop solves the problem of having a bloated OS (like Vista) on a computer with limited power, but it currently has to come from the factory on a notebook, netbook, or motherboard.

    • Android

      • Geo-location SDK ports to Android

        Skyhook Wireless has ported its SDK (software development kit) for “hybrid” geo-positioning to the Google-sponsored, Linux-based Android mobile-device stack. The company claims its “XPS” kit can provide “iPhone-quality” fixes within a second or two — much faster than Android’s firmware running on the TMobile/HTC G1.

      • Movit Android mystery solved: It was running Cupcake

        The Android-based Movit tablet caused a lot of buzz earlier this month when it was displayed at CES. Featuring a nice sized touchscreen (either 4.3″ for the Mini model or 7″ for the Maxx model) with a touch-based keyboard, the question on everyone’s minds was whether this prototype was running the Cupcake development branch of Android or whether the Giinii developers had backported the Cupcake keyboard into a more stable Android release.

      • Debian on Android installer released.

        I have created and installer and bootloader (download below) for getting Debian running on your Android (G1 at the moment) device, the whole install process will take you about 10 mins, and leaves you with access to the full plethora of programs available in Debian and let’s you continue using your phone as it was intended to be: as an Android device with all the capabilities thereof.

    • Palm

      • Palm request for app store advice opens floodgate

        Andrew Shebanow didn’t imagine that asking for feedback about how Palm Inc.’s app store should work would open up a flood of input. He also didn’t expect the move would change his job description. But now both have happened.

        On Jan. 8, Shebanow, who is working on a third-party application distribution system for Palm’s new operating system, posted an item on his blog looking for input from developers on how that system should work. He threw out a few questions, such as: How should application updating and installation work? Should Palm offer payment processing or leave it to third parties? Should application trials be available? How should Palm handle featured applications?

        By Wednesday, he had removed the post, replacing it with one saying that its popularity had caught him and Palm by surprise. “My boss has asked me to hide the post while management decides what they want me to do about it,” he wrote.

      • StyleTap Considering Creating a Palm OS Emulator for webOS

        One of the more controversial features of Palm’s new webOS is something it doesn’t offer: a way to run Palm OS applications. However, StyleTap may change this, if it finds that making a Palm OS emulator for webOS to be doable.


  • Mozilla Tweets Away With Snowl

    Thanks to social networks and tools like Twitter and RSS, online communications today are made up of much more than just simply Web pages. Yet while these technologies have increased the volume of messages on the Internet, they’re not all easily accessed through one of the most-used Internet applications — the Web browser.

  • Sun

    • [advocacy-discuss] Proposal for OSUG in Kabul, Afghanistan

      I’d like to propose an OSUG for Kabul, Afghanistan. It could be called “Kabul OpenSolaris User Group” or “Afghanistan OpenSolaris User Group”. We don’t want to lay claim to the whole country, but I’m pretty sure there’s no-one apart from us who does UNIX here.

      The initial participants of the OSUG are Abdullah Ghaznawi, Said Adil Hashemi and myself, Said Hakim Hamdani. We all work at the same place (http://www.medical-kabul.com/) and since I brought OpenSolaris with me to Afghanistan, I was able to get both of them interested enough that they are going to make their systems dual-boot with OpenSolaris and WinXP


      We are located in Kabul, Afghanistan and as far as I know we’re the only Solaris users around. The computing infrastructure in Afghanistan is still pretty much in its infancy and I am doing what I can to get people to try out UNIX (best of Solaris of course) and use it for their daily computing tasks. There’s some Linux around here, but I’m not too fond of that and having seen a single (!) copy of Solaris 10 in the software market the other day, I sat down with Abdullah and Adil and we decided to try and get people more interested in OpenSolaris.

    • Announcing Open Source Web Server

      I’m happy to announce that our Web Server product (about which I’ve been writing here for a few years now) is now open sourced and available as part of the OpenSolaris Web Stack community!


      The code is placed under BSD license, this should allow for good cross pollination with other web tier projects.

  • ‘Cloud’

    • 5 Cost-Efficient, Flexible Open Source Resources for Cloud Computing

      Just as open source itself has gathered more interest during the economic downturn because of the cost savings it can offer businesses, cloud computing is getting more attention because it can allow businesses to take advantage of IT infrastructure on a pay-as-you-go model. Increasingly, there is an intersection between these two trends: the open source cloud. Ignacio Martin Llorente has a very good roundup of the tools available at this intersection–open source cloud resources that can let businesses customize their own infrastructures. Here are some of his good citations, and several of our own.

    • Open source developers moving to the cloud

      The data comes from a survey of 360 developers conducted in November 2008 by Evans Data. The biggest winner in terms of what cloud service developers plan to use is Google’s App Engine at 28 percent of respondents. Amazon came in second at 15 percent.

      Not surprisingly developers 52 percent of developer claimed to be using a virutalized Linux environment and over half are using the MySQL database.

      It all seem fairly obvious to me.


  • Intel’s Net Profit Drops 90 Percent

    Intel’s fourth-quarter profit plunged 90 percent from a year earlier, as the chip maker battled a worsening economy and recorded a steep loss from investments.

  • Police in India sweep for unsecured Wi-Fi networks

    The Mumbai, India, police have launched their previously announced plan to secure Wi-Fi networks. A team of police is using a battery of devices to systematically identify and eliminate unsecured Wi-Fi networks in the wake of last year’s attacks, where terrorists used the Internet and other communications networks.

  • UK.gov ‘to create anti-net piracy agency’

    Following its failure to foster voluntary solution between ISPs and rights holders, the government will create a new agency and regulations to clamp down on copyright infringement via peer-to-peer networks, it’s reported today.

    A proposal for a body called the Rights Agency will be at the centre of anti-internet piracy measures, according to the Financial Times, which cited sources who had read a draft of Lord Carter’s report on Digital Britain. The Rights Agency will be introduced alongside a new code of practice for ISPs and rights holders, to be overseen by Ofcom, according to the leaked draft. The final report is due out by the end of this month.

Digital Tipping Point: Clip of the Day

Digital Tipping Point: Dirk-Willem van Gulik, road builder for the Information Super-highway 03 (2004)

Ogg Theora

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

Video of Public Talk on Intellectual Monopolies vs. Technological Revolution

Posted in Asia, Europe, Google, Intellectual Monopoly, Patents, Vista at 6:31 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

ONE OF OUR readers has advised watching the following long talk.

There is a lot more about Intellectual Monopolies in the news today. To give just a sample:

Despite the fact that South Africa is at the forefront of open source usage, it seems to be taking a very bad turn as far as open knowledge is concerned:

The Intellectual Property from Publicly Financed Research Bill was signed into law yesterday.

This stems from a mistaken belief that:

the best way to get research re-used for the benefit of the economy is to lock it down, and award a monopoly to one person, rather than opening it to everyone.

Shefali Sharma wrote a EED report in which she highlights the role of Trade Agreements for the subversion of democratic decision making over IPR laws.

Gerry Gavigan contributed in the name of the Open Source Consortium to the consultation for an improved European Interoperability Framework:

We were particularly pleased to see the issue of software patents addressed in a manner that prevents them being used to hinder competition rather than the original purpose of patent law, to promote innovation.

theodp writes “With its example of how ‘ John Doe ‘ could be saved in a database as ‘John Doe’ (i.e., without leading or trailing blanks), purported patent reformer IBM dazzled the USPTO enough to earn Big Blue a patent last Tuesday for Automatically removing leading and trailing space characters from data being entered into a database system . The three IBM ‘inventors’ are also seeking a related patent for Retrieving data from a database system without leading and trailing space characters. Hey, if the patent system ain’t broke, don’t fix it!”

Any more news on Intellectual Monopolies would be welcome.

Interlude: Microsoft Spins Out of Control

Posted in Finance, Microsoft, Security, Steve Ballmer at 5:51 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Steve Ballmer rides SUSE

SOME rather disturbing news is making its way into the news just days ahead of Microsoft's announcement of layoffs (and possibly bad accompanying results). This is probably no coincidence and the company, which kept it under the wraps for quite some time, must have had this aligned to impress investors and divert attention away from next week’s bad news.

In a previous post which was titled "An Open, Gentler Microsoft: The Best Illusion Only Novell Can Buy" we covered many calls for Steve Ballmer to leave the company or be fired and this new gallery from Gizmodo speaks volumes about how people feel regarding his leadership.

Now comes another post calling for Microsoft to replace Ballmer as CEO.

“I have avoided MSFT for some time as too expensive. If you do the math, owner’s earnings have been 2-4% even though revenues have grown since 1997 and the stock was very flat. However, since 2006, they have been buying back stock and Net Income has risen so that 2009 is forecasted to be ~$2.20. With the stock under $20shr I began looking about for information and found that Ray Ozzie wants to remake MSFT into a start-up mode.

Just who is Ray Ozzie and what is the deal?

Amid the massive hijack of Windows PCs (it’s now up to 9 million, making it 6+ million in one day) and latest strike from the European Commission (for violations) comes yet another blow.

Seattle online advertising company Marchex is among those criticized in a 52-page complaint [PDF] today brought by the Center for Digital Democracy and U.S. Public Interest Research Group that says mobile marketers are using “unfair and deceptive practices.” The complaint, filed with the Federal Trade Commission, also cites Microsoft’s acquisition of mobile advertising startup Screen Tonic, noting how it attempted to target teenage girls with a mobile marketing campaign that captured their emails. And it points out how Kirkland-based HipCricket’s mobile marketing techniques target Hispanics.

People whose country has just fallen a victim to EDGI (or “Unlimited Potential” [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11]) ought to consider filing complaints (Quebec filed for a lawsuit) or even protesting. This is the type of high-level corruption we have been warning about [1, 2, 3, 4].

“DRM is the future.”

Steve Ballmer, Microsoft CEO

Microsoft and Obama Join Hands and Attack Web Standards, Exclude GNU/Linux Users

Posted in Microsoft, Patents, Protocol at 4:52 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Obama votes for Microsoft XAML

OBAMA IS DOING IT AGAIN (using Silverlight). He did this before [1, 2] and he did not learn any lessons from the big backlash. Microsoft was accused by Adobe for paying to achieve this, but then again, we also know that Obama and Microsoft are not all that distant, so incentives may not be needed. In fact, Microsoft’s money is already polluting this game [1, 2].

Microsoft uses the choice to brag about some sort of presidential endorsement and here is some early coverage.

Microsoft announced today that the presidential inauguration team has chosen Microsoft’s Silverlight browser extension application to play host for streamed online content of inaugural events.

This presidential inauguration is partly funded by Microsoft, too [1, 2]. The more things “Change”, the more they stay the same.

Lincoln_address 1958

Will Internet Explorer be Dropped from Vista 7?

Posted in Antitrust, Europe, Microsoft at 3:55 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Vista 7
Windows Vista, sans the browser, ActiveX

EARLIER TODAY WE wrote about anti-competitive aspects of Microsoft's Vista 7. Microsoft deliberately used Internet Explorer to make (parts of) the World Wide Web Windows-only. Korea and ActiveX are an excellent example and Silverlight is another. Because of this, Google has just decided to turn its back on Web standards (yes, again) and support ActiveX in Chrome, at least in Korea.

ActiveX control is widely used by Internet Explorer to load applications or components in Windows. It’s a useful piece of control, but is not without issues. In fact, ActiveX is known for security problems.

Despite security short-comings, ActiveX had been welcomed into the community and flourished. Surprisingly, more so in banks where security is a top priority. Believe it or not, ActiveX is so widely used that the South Korean government decides to make it compulsory for all banks to have it.

Other major browsers have resisted supporting ActiveX. Until now. Google Chrome has now decided to support ActiveX, but only in South Korea.

For those in Google who argue that it’s all Microsoft’s fault, well… some of Google’s own sites, including Google Mail (chat) and Google Maps/Earth require ActiveX and are therefore Windows-only. In order words, Google is helping Microsoft’s fight against commodity (Web standard) and it’s doing it selfishly for self gain. Opera, on the other hand, insists very strongly on Web standards and Mozilla goes as far as supporting Ogg out of the box.

In summary, shame on Google.

This is not the major news though. The following press release reveals that the European Commission objects to Internet Explorer in Windows. Well, what took them so long?

“Yesterday Microsoft received a Statement of Objections from the Directorate General for Competition of the European Commission. The Statement of Objections expresses the Commission’s preliminary view that the inclusion of Internet Explorer in Windows since 1996 has violated European competition law. According to the Statement of Objections, other browsers are foreclosed from competing because Windows includes Internet Explorer. The Statement of Objections states that the remedies put in place by the U.S. courts in 2002 following antitrust proceedings in Washington, D.C. do not make the inclusion of Internet Explorer in Windows lawful under European Union law.

This is already covered — albeit rather superficially — in:

This could get interesting, but it’s far too late to address this. Microsoft deliberately made a mockery of Web standards and harmed the Web, which it viewed as a non-differentiator that enabled Freedom. It needed some ‘proprietarising’.

“In one piece of mail people were suggesting that Office had to work equally well with all browsers and that we shouldn’t force Office users to use our browser. This Is wrong and I wanted to correct this. [...] Another suggestion In this mail was that we can’t make our own unilateral extensions to HTML I was going to say this was wrong and correct this also.”

Bill Gates [PDF]

Has Microsoft Just ‘Pulled an EDGI’ on 72,000 Schools?

Posted in Asia, Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Windows at 3:34 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“They’ll get sort of addicted, and then we’ll somehow figure out how to collect sometime in the next decade.”

Bill Gates

WE COVERED EDGI in a very timely fashion because the press release we append to the bottom has just been made public. It’s all about getting teachers and children “addicted” to Windows — to borrow Bill Gates’ words — and ensure that governments do not explore or adopt GNU/Linux. Previous coverage of this we already have in:

The news coverage has all the characteristics of EDGI, including MOUs and “Unlimited Potential”, which is essentially the public face of this Free software-hostile programme called EDGI. There is also lots of this in India at the moment, e.g.:

1. Rs 500 cr for computers in schools

The state government is inclined to go for free open source software (FOSS) for schools. “As of now, the government has decided to go for FOSS, which is available at almost no cost, but Microsoft too has offered to provide their operating system free of cost. It’s up to the Education department to decide on it,” Kumar added.

2. Microsoft to invest in Gujarat’s education sector

Global software giant Microsoft will invest in training teachers in Gujarat and enhance the use of IT in the education sector.

Microsoft India Pvt Ltd signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Gujarat government at the Vibrant Gujarat Global Investors’ Summit this week.

Microsoft will surely try to portray these acts of dumping and anti-competitive violations as an act of charity, donations, or benevolence. Given what we’ve shown recently, it’s all about selfishness and about “Under NO Circumstances Lose Against Linux,” to quote Microsoft’s very top seniors.

Microsoft Helps Schools Embrace 21st-Century Opportunities and Challenges

Friday, 16 January 2009

Microsoft extends reach of Partners in Learning Innovative Schools program to more than 72,000 schools across 100 nations.

LONDON — Microsoft Corp. today announced landmark expansions to its 10-year, nearly $500-million Partners in Learning program, including a massive increase in the scale of its Innovative Schools program, which enables schools worldwide to harness the power of technology to gear up for the educational challenges and opportunities of the 21st century.

Microsoft kicked off the expanded Innovative Schools program in London today with a workshop for senior European education officials, the first in a series of workshops for global education leaders it will hold across Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Middle East.

The Innovative Schools program will apply and refine lessons learned from the two-year, 12-school Innovative Schools Pilot Program launched last year by Microsoft to study efforts to use technology to help drive change across diverse educational settings. The pilot study spans urban, suburban and rural schools — economically challenged and wealthy alike — ranging in size from 70 to 1,500 students across 12 nations. Microsoft announced the release today of a report and two white papers detailing the latest findings from the pilot project and outlining essential action steps schools can take to ensure that students receive the education they need to succeed in the 21st-century knowledge economy.

Today’s announcements build on Microsoft’s long-standing track record, as part of the Partners in Learning program, of working closely with international educational leaders to advance information and communication technology (ICT)-enabled school change that supports the emerging needs of 21st-century learning.

“Our three-year partnership with Microsoft provided us with new opportunities to have a positive impact on schools in the U.K. and abroad,” said Tim Tarrant, head of ICT at the U.K.’s Training and Development Agency (TDA). “Microsoft’s support for our jointly funded projects has been a tremendous asset, as has the ICT expertise it has contributed. Work between the TDA and Microsoft on Partners in Learning will continue as part of the memo of understanding signed with the Department for Children, Schools and Families in October 2008.”

The Innovative Schools program is a key component of the Partners in Learning program. With this investment, Microsoft is making a long-term commitment to working with governments, education officials, development organizations, teachers, students and parents globally to increase schools’ access to technology and improve its use in the classroom to empower teachers, enrich instruction and enhance learning outcomes for students. Partners in Learning is an integral part of the Microsoft Unlimited Potential program, the company’s commitment to bringing the benefits of technology to people around the world.

Since its inception in 2003, Partners in Learning has positively impacted the lives of more than 121 million students and more than 5.5 million educators, and these numbers continue to grow. In March 2008, the company announced $235 million of additional support to the initiative to bring its total investment over 10 years to nearly $500 million.

“With Partners in Learning, we’re taking a realistic approach to education transformation that encompasses all of the key stakeholders and moves beyond abstract theory by putting innovative ideas into practice,” said Ralph Young, vice president of Worldwide Public Sector at Microsoft. “Through the Innovative Schools program, we’re implementing technology and tools in live education settings to identify what works and what doesn’t in an effort to help enhance learning outcomes around the world.”

Also today, Microsoft announced a partnership between the Microsoft Schools Technology Center Brussels and the Lumiar Institute, a groundbreaking educational nonprofit started by Brazilian industrialist and best-selling management thinker Ricardo Semler, and participant in the Innovative Schools Pilot Program. Lumiar seeks to apply Semler’s groundbreaking approach to management to the field of education to reinvent schooling. Under the research collaborative, Microsoft and Lumiar will work closely with educators, school leaders, government officials and private partners to identify the key skills and competencies students need in the 21st century and how schools can be transformed to support them.

“We’re delighted to be joining forces with Microsoft on this important pioneering initiative,” said Semler, president of Semco SA and author of the international business bestsellers “Maverick” and “The Seven-Day Weekend.” “Aligning education with the needs of the emerging global knowledge economy is one of the most pressing challenges facing the world today. Microsoft brings invaluable vision, expertise, passion and entrepreneurial flair to the table in helping advance this objective.”

The Innovative Schools program will bring participating schools together through a global digital forum, enabling them to discuss innovation models, disseminate best practices, exchange smart ideas with their peers worldwide, support one other and access professional development resources. The digital network will be part of the next version of Microsoft’s Innovative Teachers Network, which today connects more than 1.6 million teachers worldwide. It will be supplemented by a roster of global symposia and workshops that will spotlight individual school initiatives and tackle specific reform issues affecting individual schools.

In addition to the expansion of the program to 72,000 schools, Microsoft will select a group of 345 “developer schools” to work closely with the company, which includes 45 “mentor schools” that will help guide clusters of other innovative schools in their regions.

The Innovative Schools program seeks to foster improved global understanding of how schools can help students acquire the skills required for success in the global knowledge economy. To this end, Microsoft works with schools to examine how they can marshal technology to meet the educational imperatives of the 21st century and how technological innovation can underpin a comprehensive “whole school” approach to reform, spanning instruction, assessment, curricula, teacher training, school leadership and learning-space design.

“Participating schools benefit from Microsoft’s long-term commitment to education and exposure to insights captured from thousands of learning environments worldwide,” Young said. “It’s tremendous to see the bold, fresh thinking by local schools and, in turn, offer them the help and support of Microsoft and our partner network to design and deploy great technology that creates opportunities for their students, educators and communities.”

By design, the 12 schools taking part in the Innovative Schools Pilot Program constitute a representative cross-section of the diversity found in schools worldwide, which helps identify the universal challenges schools face plus those specific to particular countries. The ultimate goal is to generate viable, benchmarked and proven learning models for 21st-century education that can be cost-effectively replicated across entire school systems and easily adapted to local conditions, to underpin wide-scale education transformation.

The report being issued today will distill key insights gleaned from the first year of the Innovative Schools Pilot Program, including the following:
• The importance of strong school leadership and a collaborative professional teacher community as part of a common commitment to goal-setting and innovation
• The value of technology in support of innovative teaching practices, which involve students in higher-level thinking and regulating of their own learning

The separate white papers walk schools through the 6i process, a road map for envisioning, implementing and managing ICT-driven change, and the School Innovation Framework, which gives school leaders a guide to effecting educational change based on proven approaches, respectively.

In addition, this week Microsoft is hosting a two-day Innovative Schools Conference on Jan. 14–15 in London that will enable schools participating in the Innovative Schools Pilot Program to compare notes, evaluate their progress and hear from leading thinkers. The event will also feature an opportunity to view the state-of-the-art New Line Learning Academy in Maidstone, Kent, an example of the cutting-edge use of technology to enable new, more interactive and personalized forms of pedagogy. Microsoft served as a technology advisor to the academy under Partners in Learning.

“Technology allows us to rethink how we educate children by opening up possibilities that simply didn’t exist before,” said Chris Gerry, executive principal of New Line Learning, UK. “But to truly realize its potential, technology needs to be accompanied by a comprehensive vision for change. In working with Microsoft, we’ve been impressed with how the company understands the big picture and that technology by itself is not a panacea. It has brought to bear a refreshingly holistic approach to educational transformation, and we’ve valued its strategic counsel every step of the way.”

More Information

Additional background on the events occurring this week, including case studies, fact sheets, executive biographies and other materials supporting Microsoft’s goal of enabling access to high-quality educational experiences, is available at http://www.microsoft.com/emea/presscentre/EducationVPR/default.mspx.

About Unlimited Potential

Microsoft, through its Unlimited Potential vision, is committed to making technology more affordable, relevant and accessible for the 5 billion people around the world who do not yet enjoy its benefits. The company aims to do so by helping to transform education and foster a culture of innovation, and through these means enable better jobs and opportunities. By working with governments, intergovernmental organizations, nongovernmental organizations and industry partners, Microsoft hopes to reach its first major milestone — to reach the next 1 billion people who are not yet realizing the benefits of technology — by 2015.

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.

Note to editors: If you are interested in viewing additional information on Microsoft, please visit the Microsoft Web page at http://www.microsoft.com/presspass on Microsoft’s corporate information pages. Web links, telephone numbers and titles were correct at time of publication, but may since have changed. For additional assistance, journalists and analysts may contact Microsoft’s Rapid Response Team or other appropriate contacts listed at http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/contactpr.mspx.

Quote of the Day: Vista 7 Actually Worse than Vista

Posted in Microsoft, Quote, Vista, Vista 7, Windows at 2:30 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“I am currently testing the Beta of Win7 in a closed VM environment. I am considering deleting it. It’s actually worse than Vista. Multiple program crashes, refusal to install any software, naff looks and many other complaints.”


Vista 7 starts now

EDGI Finale: Microsoft’s “Linux Compete Squad”

Posted in America, Antitrust, Asia, Deception, FUD, GNU/Linux, Microsoft at 2:02 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

EDGI slide

THIS IS likely to be the last post in this series which explores Microsoft’s initiative against GNU/Linux in government and education. Previous parts include:

Today we cover Comes vs Microsoft Exhibit px08592 (September 2002) [PDF]. It is included as text in the Appendix, but here are key observations.

Studies of GNU/Linux penetration in different countries are presented, based on some surveys. There are charts to show this, but the B&W (greyscale) scans make them impossible to read.

Then there are many talking points against Linux and other competitors. This includes FUD like:

Measurement (Linux + StarOffice) Result
Deployment Success 2/3 IT Pros Could Not Complete Installation
Deployment Time Avg. 57% More Time to Deploy than Windows
Document Compatibility 35.3% of Office Docs Opened in StarOffice Had Errors
Top 11 Office Tasks StarOffice Tasks Took 2.7 Times Longer

eTesting Labs, AIR

- Myth: Linux costs 2X-3X less than Windows

- Reality: Windows costs ~30% less per year

This firm, eTesting Labs, seems to be doing work for Microsoft.

We will soon show more exhibits where Microsoft negotiates with Gartner and/or IDC for the sponsored, slanted TCO study referred to in this exhibit. It was secretly linked to a desktop Windows price break deal. This would not be the last such case because in another court case Gartner is shown negotiating Vista coverage with Microsoft. IDC does the same sorts of things and it’s a typical routine which involves Microsoft.

IDG and Gartner are quoted in page 9 of this exhibit:

“Sun has not yet provided a compelling vision for how StarOffice will integrate into the Enterprise” – Giga

“Some of the concerns with Linux – such as staffing costs, a lack of in-house Linux expertise, and the difficulty of managing this operating system – will continue to be significant barriers to desktop adoption.”

“For widespread desktop use, Linux faces hurdles. A new, albeit intuitive, user interface many be among the least of these …. Distribution, support, availability of peripherals and application readiness is a greater challenge. As with all uses of Linux, business customers need to look at vendor direction and support issues when considering Linux.” – Gartner

“[Linux] backers have faliled to produce the vital elements of a viable desktop operating environment: a good user interface and a suite of applications that users want and that create files compatible with the applications of most other users to whom they are connected” – IDC

Sooner or later we shall shed some more light on IDC and Gartner, both of which are corruptible and influenced by Microsoft. They occasionally attack Free software, unsurprisingly.

Additional market data was put into this presentation and “The Linux Desktop Playbook” has a reference to EDGI, which starts on page 10.

Pages 12-13 contain concrete field examples, EDGI “wins” with amounts of money committed/spent in Mexico, Malaysia, Egypt, and Tunisia; Jordan pending at the time.

India is obliquely referred to on page 14. “BRIC” stands for “Brazil-Russia-India-China”.

From the “Linux Desktop Playbook”:

Its important to engage with the proper BDMs on a business level discussion and not get caught up with technical folks in a religious discussion.

We saw lots of this in the OOXML fiasco. Microsoft did not want to talk about technical things, so it sent non-technical people.

Then they use IDC and Gartner as ammunition, along with EDGI:

A Linux costs less Just because the software license cost is free, doesn’t mean the cost of using Linux Is less than Windows When you consider both direct costs (additional deployment, management, support costs) and indirect costs (end user down time, loss of productivity, etc ) Linux costs more than Windows!

- Show customers existing TCO and business value data for Windows XP. There is a lot of data showing good ROI when moving from Win98 to Win XP. A Gartner audited TCO study completed in the City of Vassa, Finland (home country of Linux Torvalds) showed that moving to Windows XP/Office XP would save 31% per PC, per years compared to Red Hat and Open Office. If the customer still pushes back on costs, move to next step

-TCO challenge. The Windows Client PMG is offering to the field to fund 20 Gartner audited Linux desktop TCO studies in FY03 (5 per region. We will send in someone from MSC to perform a detailed cost analysis of Linux vs Windows XP using a Gartner approved TCO methodology. Since we will use the customer’s own data — there can be no arguing the results. Gartner will audit each study to approve the specific results from each company. If the customer still pushes back . .

- EDGI. This program is for Education and Government customers who face significant budget constraints. It is designed to allow relief to the customers when purchasing Windows. More details coming

This ‘bought’ study from Garner was conducted in the home of “Linux Torvalds”, according to Microsoft.

Another common fallacy/FUD then appears, regarding access to source code:

-Linux touts open source as a key advantage. The reality is that most customers would never work directly with the source code and compile the system themselves – that would be like taking on the role of system integrator or OS vendor themselves.

That’s a lie because one needs only to rely on other programmers or even forking with shared resources. Microsoft mentioned visibility of its code in special circumstance, but that totally misses the point.

Slide 11 mentions CompHot and EDGI again. According to Microsoft , CompHot is the emergency address to fight “Linux infestations”.

- Linux desktop virtual team
- CompHot escalations weekly review
  - EDGI request escalations
- Linux compete squad – billv
- International desktop OS tracker

“Linux compete squad,” it says…

Who is alias “billv”?

Here are details of what Microsoft did, as per slide 12. They target Linux migrations on just about anything, even points of sale and embedded.

Linux Desktop Field Escalations

36 Escalations, 18 Active, 14 De-escalated, 1 Loss, 3 Wins

- Linux and StarOffice – 5 Active, 1 Deescalated
   - Active Telstra, Bank of Ireland, First Community Bank, Indiana Web Academy, Standard Bank (South Africa)
- Linux OS – 3 Active, 2 De-escalated
   - Active. ABM Amro (Workstation), ETC (Columbian Telco) and SBC Communications
- Linux POS – 5 Active, 2 De-escalated
   - ChevronTexaco, Arrefour, Hollywood Video, CSK Auto, Waitrose Supermarkets
- Linux Embedded – 3 Active, 8 De-escalated, 1 Loss, 1 Win
   - Active: Accent/FireKing – security for Taco Bell and others – close to winning. Safeway – smart clients in shopping carts
   - Loss. VOPAK – Linux embedded on PC option – up to biz units to select
   - Win Royal Carribean Cruise Lines – IBM Linux on client and server
- EDGI – 1 Active, 2 Wins
   - Active. Jordan. Wins. Egypt, Tunisia
   - Mexico and Malaysia EDGI deals were not escalated via CompHot
- StarOffice on Windows – 1 Active
   - Dept of Homeland Security – 170,000 seats, McNealy involved
- OS/2 Migration to Linux – 1 De-escalated

So EDGI was used against Jordan, Egypt, Tunisia, Mexico and Malaysia.

The next slide gives a detailed breakdown:

Reactive EDGI Results To Date

- Mexico- $2.5MM ¢committed, adding $25MM to MS
   - Govt-financed PC purchase for home teacher use with Windows XP Home
   - 250K PCs from Acer, iBM, and HP
   - Govt was considering Linux and Win98 due to cost
   - EDGI distributed $10/PC to be used for teacher training
   - Additional purchase of $60/PC for Office, Encarta, and Encarta interactive
- Malaysia – $500K committed, waiting for govt decision
   - EDGI used as delivery mechanism for previous exec commitments
   - Funds used for rural schools, teacher training, non-bootable software
- Egypt – $355K committed, addl $500K to MS, $1 2M to MS over 2yrs
   - EDGI used as delivery mechanism for previous exec committees
   - Govt purchased 6250 PCs at full price, 4166 PCs w/ 100% Windows rebate
- Tunisia – $600K committed, addl $600K to MS
   - Wave 2 of govt-financed purchases of 15K home PCs. Wave 1 was Windows-only, but wave 2 offer includes Linux PCs for $60 per PC less to the end user
   - EDGI contributed $40/PC -$15 end user rebate. $20 sys builder joint mktg, and $5 end user mktg
- Jordan – Pending
   - Ministry of education purchase of 8K PCs, considering Linux
   - We are still working through operational logistics

According to this, they even use government funds to stick Windows into the homes of teachers. Later on we hear about students who complain about their non-Windows laptops. It’s inbred. Student are pushed into it whilst teachers impose it.

Appendix: Comes vs. Microsoft – exhibit px08592, as text

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