Posted in Site News at 3:29 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Novell cafe

Summary: Site milestone

This is post #7000. The many previous posts vary in terms of length and quality, but nevertheless it’s a milestone. Our longtime opponents will try to cherry-pick some of the weaker posts among this very large set and then use a tiny percentage of accidental errors (usually corrected) to dismiss the Web site as a whole. Why? Because they don’t like the message, that’s why. They prefer marketing and PR, not reality.

Thanks to all those who contribute to our posts and discussions. Post #10000 is not so far away.

Linus Torvalds’ Attitude Towards Free Software is Not News

Posted in Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, GPL, Kernel, Microsoft at 3:24 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Reading a newspaper

Summary: Setting the record straight on news that’s not news

SEVERAL years ago, Microsoft was accused of spreading the false rumour that Linux had been derived from Minix. It was a lie, and some people still think it is true.

Microsoft’s loadable module for Linux [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6] has demonstrated the strengths of the GPL, but Linus Torvalds continues to disrespect those who made the GPL possible. This is not news. FSF disdain from Torvalds has lasted an eternity, yet some people try to characterise his latest interview with Linux Magazine as some sort of change of heart; it’s not. As I pointed out 3 years ago, Torvalds even had a comment deleted for cursing Richard Stallman in Groklaw.

Regarding Microsoft’s loadable module, Free Software Magazine has just written an article explaining why Torvalds’ attitude is wrong.

Torvalds seemed to express indifference to the submission which he dismissed as only being about device drive code. If he looks at it at all it will be after it has been filtered through others, and even then only out of a sense of “morbid curiosity” apparently. The code is concerned with virtualizing GNU/Linux as a guest in Windows. That tells you a lot about Microsoft’s motives. If clients can’t run GNU/Linux on Hyper-V, Windows’ virtualization software, it makes it more likely that they would migrate to wholly free and open source systems running on wholly free and open systems.

Torvalds does the right thing by accepting Microsoft’s code (he hasn’t a choice), but the dismissal of the vigilant as irrational Microsoft Haters© is very unproductive but also very typical.

“Giving the Linus Torvalds Award to the Free Software Foundation is a bit like giving the Han Solo Award to the Rebel Alliance.”

Richard Stallman

Microsoft Wants to Give RAND Terms to Free Software

Posted in Antitrust, Europe, Interoperability, Microsoft, Office Suites, OpenDocument, OpenOffice, RAND, Standard at 2:54 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The Rand Tower, downtown Minneapolis
The Rand Tower, downtown Minneapolis

Summary: Microsoft’s promise of so-called ‘interoperability’ leaves much to be desired

Microsoft very well understands that RAND terms are incompatible with Free software, but in its latest overture with the European Commission Microsoft offers exactly that. Andy Updegrove looks at the general details and provides cursory background.

If you’ve been reading the reams of articles that have been written since then, you may have noticed that the vast majority of the virtual ink spent on the story has been directed at the terms relating to browser choice. Typically, and as an afterthought, most of these stories have added a brief mention that a settlement has also been provisionally reached relating to “another” dispute, this one relating to interoperability.

And indeed, when it comes to “interoperability” (not the same as open standards), Microsoft has the usual gotchas. As Glyn Moody notes:

Now, as I’ve noted several times before, such “reasonable and non-discriminatory” terms aren’t necessarily much use to free software, since they can be both and still incompatible with major licences like the GNU GPL.


This seems to mean that free software projects will be able to pay a relatively small upfront fee, with no per copy licensing – necessary to allow copies to be made and passed on without worrying about such fees.

Heise’s coverage of this references Moody.

Moody believes that, given the detail of these proposals, Microsoft already had these plans in place before they made the original proposal and that it was “being as awkward as possible”. Despite the commitment to ODF as a document format, there are still issues over interoperability with Microsoft applications and other applications which produce and consume ODF documents.

This is a subject that we wrote about in [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7]. Microsoft is harming rival office suites, aided by hypocrites.

Essentially, the news are about Microsoft discussing OpenOffice.org as a competitor. That’s interesting, usually Microsoft does not like to speak about competitors coming from the Free Software Community, except when it’s about patents on code it allegedly infringes.

Patents too are a last resort to Microsoft (against OpenOffice.org).

“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.”

Bill Gates [PDF]

Eye on Microsoft: Ransomware, Botnets, Critical Flaws, and Insecure Microsoft File Types

Posted in Microsoft, Office Suites, Open XML, OpenDocument, Security, Windows at 2:18 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Binary code

Smut page ransomware Trojan ransacks browsers

Russian cybercrooks have come up with a variant of ransomware scams, which works by displaying an invasive advert for online smut in users’ browsers that victims are extorted to pay to remove.

The Business of Botnets

Kaspersky Lab released some interesting statistics recently in a technical whitepaper. As part of its research into the cyber-underground, the company took a look at how botmasters are pricing the networks under their control.

Microsoft to fix critical hole in IE

In a rare move, Microsoft on Friday said it would be releasing security updates on Tuesday–outside of its monthly patch cycle–for a critical vulnerability in Internet Explorer and a moderate vulnerability in Visual Studio.

Microsoft to Issue Emergency Patches Next Week

The advance notification advisory that Microsoft released about these upcoming patches doesn’t say so explicitly, but a spokesperson for the company confirmed that the updates will address a critical security flaw in collection of code that Microsoft uses in a number of places in Windows. Having a vulnerability in this so-called “code library” is especially dangerous because Microsoft also provides this library to third-party software makers to help them build programs that can leverage certain built-in features of Windows.

Insecure by design: MS Office formats

You see, when you’re opening an Office document today, you’re not just opening static words, images, or numbers. You’re actually starting a program that uses Microsoft Office as its interpreter. And, no matter whether you’re using Word 2,0 formats or the 2008′s 7,000+ pages mis-mash of ‘standard’ ECMA-376 Office Open XML file formats, there is no built-in network security layer. Instead, there is a mis-mash of fixes for one problem or the other.

Also see: Emergency, Botnets, and No Remedy

IRC: #boycottnovell @ FreeNode: July 27th, 2009

Posted in IRC Logs at 1:58 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz


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