Microsoft Proxy Attack on GNU/Linux Continues With TurboHercules

Posted in Antitrust, Europe, GNU/Linux, IBM, Microsoft, Servers, Windows at 9:07 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz


Summary: Microsoft partners continue to attack GNU/Linux (on IBM mainframes) for its dominance that poses a threat to Windows Server

LAST WEEK we showed that Microsoft was coordinating a proxy attack on IBM’s mainframes, which run GNU/Linux (mostly SUSE but also Red Hat). The campaign is ironically called “OpenMainframe.org” as though Windows is open and non-profit. This proxy attack is not something new and we have already gathered evidence about it in posts such as:

Microsoft is just SCOing IBM like it's SCOing Google and even admits doing this.

According to the following new press release from France, some rather obscure company called TurboHercules pulls an antitrust motion against IBM. Watch TurboHercules’ connections:

IBM said TurboHercules was a member of organisations funded by rivals such as Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O) “to attack the mainframe”, which is IBM’s main business.

TurboHercules, a privately-held company set up in 2009, is a member of a non-profit trade group called the Computer and Communications Industry Association (CCIA), which counts Microsoft and Oracle Corp (ORCL.O) as members, but not IBM.

But wait. Microsoft paid millions of dollars to CCIA. We explained this before (see the posts above). Here it is again:

“Having yet another complaint in Europe — by an open-source company, no less — points to a systemic pattern of behavior by IBM directed at anyone who threatens its mainframe monopoly,” said Erika Mann, CCIA’s executive vice president and head of its European office in Brussels.

Who paid your agency, Erika? Remember that company from Redmond?

Either way, a lot of press coverage omitted these crucial details [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8], which are so simple to conveniently ignore. Mainframes continue to replace Wintel servers (Windows on x86) in some places, so Microsoft needs to do to IBM what it openly admitted doing to Google. It requires tremendous discipline to be unable to see it.

“On the same day that CA blasted SCO, Open Source evangelist Eric Raymond revealed a leaked email from SCO’s strategic consultant Mike Anderer to their management. The email details how, surprise surprise, Microsoft has arranged virtually all of SCO’s financing, hiding behind intermediaries like Baystar Capital.”

Bruce Perens

Links 23/3/2010: MySQL Does Fine, Many GNU/Linux Releases

Posted in News Roundup at 8:23 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



  • 50 Places Linux is Running That You Might Not Expect

    It was not long ago when Microsoft Windows had a tight stranglehold on the operating system market. Walk into a Circuit City or Staples, it seemed, and virtually any computer you took home would be running the most current flavor of Windows. Ditto for computers ordered direct from a manufacturer. In the last decade, though, the operating system market has begun to change. Slightly more than 5% of all computers now run Mac, according to NetMarketShare.com. Linux is hovering just beneath 1% of the overall market share in operating systems. And although that might sound like a small number, Linux is far more than just a fringe OS. In fact, it’s running in quite a few more places than you probably suspect. Below are fifty places Linux is running today in place of Windows or Mac. For easy reading, they are divided amongst government, home, business, and educational usage.

  • Kernel Space

    • Compressed File Systems on Linux

      Perhaps the title should have been; ‘the lack of a suitable compressed file system on linux’. A compressed file system in this case refers to a setup where the files are saved on the disk in a predefined compressed format (such as gzip or bzip2). When you read from those files they will be automatically decompressed by the file system. Similarly when you attempt to create a new file or modify an old file, it should be automatically compressed before saving. Such a file system is sure to be very slow for random access but for sequential access it wouldn’t matter so much. It might even be faster than an uncompressed file system because hard drives continues to be the real bottleneck in most computers today.

    • Graphics Stack

      • Testing AMD’s New FirePro Linux Driver With The FirePro V8750

        Earlier this month AMD rolled out a new workstation graphics card driver, which is effectively the same Catalyst driver used by the consumer-oriented Radeon graphics cards but with greater testing and certification for the ATI workstation offerings. The press release announcing this new driver was titled “Application Performance Increases By Up To 20 Percent with Latest ATI FirePro Graphics Driver,” so we decided to see if this proprietary driver really lives up to its claims under Linux.

      • X.Org Server 1.8 Release Candidate 2

        X Server 1.8 may be the first X.Org release in recent times where it’s released on time or at least close to being on schedule. Back in October, X Server 1.8 was given a release date of the 31st of March. This is just a little over a week away, but it looks like this next major update to the X Server that brings udev input handling, DRI2 updates, xorg.conf.d support, and other changes.

      • Mesa 7.8 Release Imminent: RC2 Pushed
  • Applications

    • Interaction With Proprietary

      • iPhone/iPod Linux Library Hits Version 1.0

        While Apple provides support for the iPod and iPhones on Mac OS X (of course) and even Windows, complete with iTunes support, they provide no such love for those wishing to use their gadgets on Linux. This has led the Linux community to reverse-engineering Apple’s USB protocol for the iPod/iPhone devices, developing different hacks, and in some cases even needing to “jail break” the product in order to use it fully under Linux. There’s a few different projects around that seek to implement iPhone/iPod support on Linux, but one of them that takes an entirely free software approach and does not depend upon any DRM or proprietary libraries is libimobiledevice. This week the libimobiledeviceproject is celebrating their version 1.0 release after being in development for nearly three years.

      • ANGLE wined3d in reverse

        Were happy to announce a new open source project called Almost Native Graphics Layer Engine, or ANGLE for short. The goal of ANGLE is to layer WebGLs subset of the OpenGL ES 2.0 API over DirectX 9.0c API calls. Were open-sourcing ANGLE under the BSD license as an early work-in-progress, but when complete, it will enable browsers like Google Chrome to run WebGL content on Windows computers without having to rely on OpenGL drivers.

    • Instructionals

    • Games

      • Indie Gamers See The Linux Market

        It hasn’t been that long ago that we brought you news of 2d boy World of Goo and the Frictional Games trilogy Penumbra. Since then, things have been pretty quiet on the Linux Game Front…at least to my ear, but then again, I’m not much of a gamer.

        Sure, I’ve played all the repository shooters…bloody chunks flying and monsters galore. I have a short attention span…mostly because I suck at shooter games. I just don’t play them often.

      • Welcome to Xonotic!

        We would like to formally announce the arrival of Xonotic – A free (GPL), fast-paced first-person shooter that works on Microsoft Windows, Mac OSX and Linux. Xonotic is a direct successor of the Nexuiz Project.

  • Desktop Environments

    • K Desktop Environment (KDE SC)

      • KDE in the Google Summer of Code 2010

        This summer the KDE project will once again participate in Google Summer of Code! Summer of Code will allow KDE to grow and bring in new developers to the community.

      • The Tokamak4 Files: Solid

        This is the first article in a series of articles that wrap up achievements, work in progress and some background of what happened during Tokamak4, the Oxygen, KWin and Plasma sprint. Tokamak4 took place from 19th to 26th February 2010 in Nürnberg, Germany in the openSUSE premises and was kindly made possible by Novell and KDE e.V. During the sprint, 26 hackers gathered to work on various aspects of the KDE user experience. The combined sprint of the workspace and window manager teams and the Oxygen artwork team made cross-collaboration possible across these KDE software components.

        In this article, we actually start off with a side-track of Tokamak4 which was hardware integration. It turned out that many people working on this were actually participating in Tokamak4, so the team took the opportunity to sit together and hack some on different aspects of hardware integration in KDE SC and specifically Plasma.

      • KDE Partying Around the World for New Release

        KDE’s Plasma Team took the opportunity of their Tokamak 4 get-together to also celebrate the release of KDE SC 4.4. The team went out for dinner and then headed straight into a Karaoke bar, where various performers brought real culture to this part of Frankonia. One highlight was Chani performing the German 80s anthem “99 Luftballons” and making everybody in the audience be in awe of her mad language skills. Previously, Sebas had taken the stage to present a KDE version of The Man in Black (Johnny Cash) performing Ring of Fire. After a good couple of hours of Karaoke, the team decided to move on and conquer a 70s-style bar in the heart of Nuremberg to lift the glasses on a great KDE SC 4.4 and a successful Tokamak 4.

      • semi-random thoughts for the day

        We also need to learn how to define ourselves by our successes and see our failures as interesting, expected and required by-products of the road to those successes. There are people in the community who look at our success in countries around the world and discount it all as being “not relevant” because it isn’t in the country they live in, and therefore conclude Free software has failed generally. Similarly when we talk about using KDE (or other F/OSS) software in production usage, instead of defining our successes and positioning ourselves in line with them we too often discount all possible usage of that software because of failures that affect only a portion of the market. This leads to us eliminating ourselves from entire market segments that we are perfect for just because we aren’t (yet? :) universally perfect.

    • GNOME Desktop

      • Testing the Gnome 2.30 Release Candidate

        If Gnome developers are to be believed, the desktop of the future arrived last week when the release candidate for Gnome 2.30–which could become Gnome 3.0–was made available. My CPU needed a workout, so I recently compiled the new desktop and gave it a run. Here’s a look at the desktop environment that–like it or not–may soon be coming to a computer near you.

      • Mailing lists are parties. Or they should be.

        Bottom line: Software can’t save a mailing list full of people who actively dislike each other. Maybe I’m crazy, though, but it seems like software that helped mailing lists function more like parties could really help mailing lists cope better with anti-social people.

      • GNOME Shell 2.29.1 released

        GNOME Shell provides core user interface functions for the GNOME 3 desktop, like switching to windows and launching applications. GNOME Shell takes advantage of the capabilities of modern graphics hardware and introduces innovative user interface concepts to provide a visually attractive and easy to use experience.

  • Distributions

    • New Releases

      • Trisquel 3.5 Awen release announcement

        Trisquel GNU/Linux 3.5, codename Awen is ready. Click on the player below to see the video announcement (HD version) we made for the LibrePlanet 2010 conference. More info after the jump.

      • Tiny Core Linux 2.10 released

        Tiny Core lead developer Robert Shingledecker has announced the availability of version 2.10 of Tiny Core Linux. Tiny Core is a minimal Linux distribution that is based on the Linux kernel and is only 10.6 MB in size. In addition to the usual bug fixes, the latest update includes several changes and updates.

      • Changes to PC/OS 10.1.1

        The interface changes. We were planning to release these with PC/OS 11, but since we have to do an update to PC/OS 10.1 we figured what the hey. There isnt much change to the panels, just the theme. We now use the PC/OS Daylight theme, derived from Light X as the standard theme.

        Up…date Manager is now included with PC/OS 10.1.1. This just delivers critical system updates and will not allow you to update to a later Ubuntu system. But for critical updates its a must have.

      • MoLinux 2.0 (Zero)
      • Clonezilla Live 1.2.4-28
      • Absolute 13.1.0 released

        Should be 14.0 due to new kernel, new Xorg, new GCC, new GTK… but we follow Slackware versioning for compatability. Kernel is 2.6.33, Xorg is 1.7.5.

      • SystemRescueCd 1.5.0
      • Parted Magic 4.9
      • Owl Current-20100323
    • Red Hat Family

      • IBM Implements Red Hat Technology in Development and Test Cloud Solution

        Red Hat, Inc., a provider of open source solutions, announced that IBM has selected Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization as a platform in its new cloud computing service for development and test.

      • Will Red Hat Stay Red Hot?

        Shares of Red Hat (RHT) have been red hot this past year.

      • Earnings Preview: Red Hat

        Shares of Red Hat, Inc. (NYSE:RHT) are trading higher by +0.17% ahead of its quarterly earnings release. Red Hat, world’s leading open source technology solutions provider is expected to release its quarterly results on March 24th.

      • Red Hat Extends SOA Platform Offering For Expanded Enterprise and Cloud Adoption

        Red Hat (NYSE: RHT), the world’s leading provider of open source solutions, today announced the launch of JBoss Enterprise SOA Platform 5.0. with enhanced functionality to update its JBoss Enterprise Middleware portfolio. JBoss Enterprise SOA Platform 5.0 is a comprehensive platform designed to integrate applications, services, transactions and business process components into an architecture for automating business and IT processes.

      • Red Hat ramps up SOA in the cloud with JBoss 5.0

        JBoss Enterprise SOA Platform 5.0 is the latest major upgrade to Red Hat’s middleware platform. Along with the improvements to web services integration, Red Hat said the product includes an updated enterprise services bus with enhanced protocol listeners, management consoles and a new rules engine that can be managed by JBoss Enterprise BRMS (Business Rules Management System). The enhanced platform enables enterprises to deploy new applications and services more rapidly.

      • Red Hat Delivers New JBoss Tools, SOA Platform at EclipseCon

        Red Hat announces new Java development tools as well as a new version of its service-oriented architecture (SOA) platform at EclipseCon 2010.

        Red Hat has announced new Java development tools as well as a new version of its service-oriented architecture platform.

      • Tokyo Stock Exchange Executes Millisecond Trading with New System Based on Red Hat Enterprise Linux

        Red Hat, Inc. (NYSE: RHT), the world’s leading provider of open source solutions, today announced that Red Hat Enterprise Linux was selected by Tokyo Stock Exchange (TSE) as the standard operating platform for its next-generation “arrowhead” trading system. Developed by TSE and Red Hat strategic partner FUJITSU LIMITED (Fujitsu), the “arrowhead” platform was designed to accelerate TSE’s order response and information distribution speeds to bring a new level of execution to the Tokyo stock market.

    • Debian Family

      • Loving Squeeze

        Squeeze works well enough as it is for production use here. Where are they hiding those bugs?

      • Ubuntu

        • Ubuntu, Buttons, and Democracy

          When Ubuntu drinks, the free and open source software (FOSS) community gets a hangover. The distribution is so influential that its every development sends echoes rippling through the greater community. How else to explain how a simple change in desktop themes should spark not only debates about usability, but about how decisions are made in FOSS?

        • Lucid vision

          Still, the Lucid beta is pretty enough as it is out of the box. With its speed and performance improvements, users can look forward to an exciting, and even ground-breaking release when the final version becomes available next month.

        • Ubuntu One Music Store Now Available For All
        • Hands-on: Ubuntu One music store will rock in Lucid Lynx

          After downloading a few tracks myself, my overall impression is positive. Canonical has largely succeeded in making the music store feel like a convenient and well-integrated part of the Ubuntu user experience. Although it’s impressive, the software is still in the beta stage of development and isn’t entirely stable yet. It functions properly, but I experienced several crashes during my tests, primarily during the checkout stage of the purchasing process. There are also some minor bugs in the HTML user interface, like links that accidentally cause it to load the regular 7digital Web site instead of the one that is customized for Rhythmbox.

  • Devices/Embedded

    • ARM Helps Bridge the Gap between Consumer Products and Automotive Infotainment

      ARM and its extensive Partner ecosystem can now leverage its considerable knowledge and experience working with a wide range of these elements, together with many years of Linux-based open source collaborations, to deliver innovation and diversity to enhance the end-user automotive experience.

    • Cool: Or Hot? Linux really making your coffee, live a linux coffee machine

      Too bad it’s only for professional use the HGZ Linux based coffee machine. I’d love to have on of these. A Dream come true. The Linux coffee maker.

    • 3D-ready IPTV SoC sports three app processors

      ViXS says each of the XCode 4210′s application processors runs its own RTOS (real time operating system) simultaneously. However, the MIPS core runs Linux 2.6.28, with support for the Linux DVB driver subsystem.

    • HD video chip gains Linux development framework support

      Timesys announced that its LinuxLink development framework for custom embedded Linux devices supports the Texas Instruments (TI) TMS320DM365 DaVinci video processor. The LinuxLink for DM365 service offers Linux development tools and a pre-integrated build environment for the ARM-based chip, says Timesys.

    • Wind River extends support for MIPS64 SoCs

      Wind River and Cavium launched their original partnership to support the Octeon processors back in 2007. In September of last year, after Wind River was acquired by Intel, the company signaled that it would continue to work with Cavium when it announced that Wind River Linux 3.0 for MIPS complied with the Carrier Grade Linux (CGL) 4.0 networking equipment specification, thereby extending CGL 4.0 support for Cavium’s Octeon processors. The support was also extended to MIPS64-based multi-core processors from RMI Corp., which has been acquired by NetLogic Microsystems.

    • Android

      • Push-to-talk phone runs Android

        Motorola announced what it says is the first push-to-talk phone to run Android. The rugged Motorola i1 runs on Sprint’s iDEN-ready Nextel Direct Connect service, and offers a 3.1-inch, 480 x 320 touchscreen, up to 32GB of flash, WiFi, a five-megapixel camera, plus the Opera Mini 5 browser running on Android 1.5.

      • Fast-boot tech claims to load Android or Linux in one second

        Tokyo-based Ubiquitous Corp. announced the availability of an ARM-focused technology claimed to load Android or Linux in one second. QuickBoot Release 1.0 preferentially restores memory areas necessary for booting from nonvolatile storage to RAM, says the company.

        QuickBoot, which is available in a Linux SDK (see below), is aimed at TVs, STBs, automotive infotainment systems, smartbooks, and smartphones, says Ubiquitous. QuickBoot 1.0 supports ARM9, ARM11, and Cortex-A series processors, says the company, which develops “compact, efficient and high-speed network and database software” for embedded devices.

      • Nexus One on Android 2.1

        But right now, the N1/Android 2.1 combo is in a really sweet spot.

      • Life at Google

        At 7:45 AM on Monday the 15th, I and a bunch of really nervous-looking new employees stood together in a lobby at the Googleplex, waiting to be led in. Here are some random first-week notes while my eyes are still fresh.

        This might turn into a series, because I recognize that my current employer is sort of a technology tourist attraction and people might want to read about it. On the other hand, it has a culture of very cautious communication, so I’ll have to be careful.

      • Dell Aero – Android Never Looked So Good

        This phone is announced along side the first pair of GSM webOS smartphones, Palm Pre and Palm Pixi, to make it to the United States. It also marks the second Android phone to come to AT&T since the Motorola Backflip. We can only hope that the Dell Aero does not follow in the Backflip’s disastrous footsteps. No release date known yet.

      • Dell Aero claimed to be world’s lightest Android phone

        With the addition of the three new phones, AT&T is the only U.S. carrier to offer devices representing all major OSes, says the company. Two weeks ago, AT&T added Motorola’s Backflip to its lineup in a so-far exclusive arrangement, thereby making the carrier’s Android debut. In October, the company began selling the GarminAsus Nuvifone G60, which runs a custom Linux OS.

      • Sprint to announce ‘groundbreaking new device’ (HTC Supersonic?) tomorrow
      • MoSync Comes Closer to “One Tool for All Mobile Platforms” by Adding Android Support

        Swedish software company MoSync AB today announced support for Android devices in its cross-platform mobile development SDK.

      • Moto, Sprint to Offer Push-To-Talk Android i1

        Motorola (NYSE: MOT) and Sprint (NYSE: S) today released details of a new push-to-talk, Android-powered smartphone, the Motorola i1, combining the popular ruggedized form of the iDen device family with the features typically found in smartphones.

        The curtain was raised on the i1 at CTIA 2010, being held this week in Las Vegas, and is expected to be available this summer. While pricing details were not disclosed, the two companies had plenty to share in terms of features and specifications.

Free Software/Open Source

  • OggCamp 10
  • Open Source from a European Perspective

    Miguel: We are in Grenoble in the Alps, 3 hours from Paris and also pretty close to Switzerland and Italy. The Bonita Open Source project was created in 2001 at INRIA labs. Then, in 2003 Bull was interested in building a middleware stack based on Open Source and Bonita became one of the key pieces of this stack. Bull supported Bonita development between 2003 and 2008 and by the end of 2008 we had released version 4. We got quite good momentum from a community point of view, with thousands of downloads. And we started to sign some big customers, mostly in Europe.

  • O’Reilly at OSBC: The future’s in the data

    Tim asked a question to the audience: “Could anyone in the Open Source community build the infrastructure to deliver Google Voice Search?” The response: a stony silence. The implication? Vendor lock-in is lo longer about proprietary source code. It’s about massive, hard-to-replicate data sets — making Google a potential Microsoft of the next decade. The corollary? The future will be about who has the most data, and who is able to extract meaning from it and deliver it in real time.

  • Working with Open Source Software Vendors

    IBM executive Bob Sutor had a message for attendees at the Open Source Business Conference (OSBC) in San Francisco last week: “Ask the hard questions.”

    Sutor, despite himself being an open source software enthusiast (his full title is vice president of Open Source and Linux in IBM’s Software group) said, compared to traditional software vendors, too many companies give open source a pass when it comes to due diligence and scrutiny. And while he said open source has matured quite a bit to where it’s now a proven enterprise asset, that doesn’t mean it should get a rubber-stamp approval.

  • Athena Offers Free, Open Source Network Tool

    Athena Security’s Firewall Browser offers network admins a number of options for troubleshooting on firewalls. According to the company in its press release on The Open Press, Firewall Browser was developed in the spirit of other free and open source network tools like Nessus or Snort, based on the value that functionally-rich non-commercial alternatives should exist for practitioners.

  • Open source and the Morevna project

    Konstatin Dmitriev’s Morevna Project is to 2-D animation what the Blender Foundation’s Open movie projects have been for 3-D. The goal is to produce a production-quality, full-length animated feature, using only open source software, and license the source content and final product under free, re-use-friendly terms. Along the way, the work provides stress-testing, feedback, and development help to the open source software used, while raising awareness of the quality of the code.

  • BIND 10: The First Year
  • Ada Lovelace Day – My Heroines

    “Ada Lovelace Day is an international day of blogging (videologging, podcasting, comic drawing etc.!) to draw attention to the achievements of women in technology and science.Women’s contributions often go unacknowledged, their innovations seldom mentioned, their faces rarely recognised. We want you to tell the world about these unsung heroines, whatever they do. It doesn’t matter how new or old your blog is, what gender you are, what language you blog in, or what you normally blog about – everyone is invited. Just sign the pledge and publish your blog post any time on Wednesday 24th March 2010.”

    I have many heroes that inspired me to go ahead. Valorie Aurora, Telsa Gwynne, Pia Waugh, Akkanna Peck, Carla Schroeder, so many… but today I would like to talk about two women, who were the most inspiring for me from the beginning. One is a historical figure, other you may not know.

  • SaaS

    • Lock-in, One Way or Another

      Fortunately we know FLOSS thrives on servers and will continue to do so in the cloud or on a thick client or terminal server. My servers dance and provide a much better environment for users than that other OS.

      The question remains whether the big guys can lock us in on the cloud so that the monopoly moves from the thick client to the cloud and nothing really changes regarding the cash-flow of the big guys.

    • NorthScale launches data infrastructure tools; announces Zynga as first customer

      A new company is launching today to helped popular web applications handle their growing data management needs. NorthScale built its tools around the open source memcached technology, and it has already enlisted some high-profile venture firms and customers.

    • Open Source and the PaaS Paradox

      People with an open source background prefer this solution because they instinctively distrust the idea of proprietary platforms controlled by a single vendor. The open source movement has demonstrated the ability of software to move ahead at a rapid pace of innovation when many top developers all have a stake in moving the code forward.

  • Oracle

    • OpenOffice.org Italian Association Thanks Tax Payers!

      The Italian revenue agency has just released the list of ONLUS and volunteer organizations that are eligible for tax payers’ donations (5 per mille), and PLIO, the Italian OpenOffice.org association born in 2007 ,is among them!

    • Oracle/Sun Enforces Pay-For-Security-Updates Plan

      An anonymous reader writes “Recently, the Oracle/Sun conglomerate has denied public download access to all service packs for Solaris unless you have a support contract. Now, paying a premium for gold-class service is nothing new in the industry, but withholding critical security updates smacks of extortion. While this pay-for-play model may be de rigueur for enterprise database systems, it is certainly not the norm for OS manufactures. What may be more interesting is how Oracle/Sun is able to sidestep GNU licensing requirements since several of the Solaris cluster packs contain patches to GNU utilities and applications.”

    • Free software’s second era: The rise and fall of MySQL
    • Where did all of the MySQL Developers Go?

      The vast majority are still at Oracle, some have left, but plenty are still there. This got me thinking about “who wrote what”. Innodb is a sizable piece of code and it continues to be at Oracle. Without Innodb, you don’t really have a database that is 24/7. Innodb has been there for years.

    • Russia approves Oracle, Sun merger with conditions

      Russia’s anti-monopoly regulator (FAS) said on Friday it had approved a $7 billion takeover of Sun Microsystems JAVA.O by Oracle (ORCL.O) on condition that Oracle continues to develop Sun’s MySQL database.

    • MySQL’s new best friend forever? Oracle

      MySQL still has one major ally, however, and it’s the one that most people thought was its biggest enemy:


    • Time flies (one year of MariaDB)

      It is now one year since a few colleagues and I left Sun to start our own company, Monty Program Ab (after which more have joined). A lot has changed during the year. For instance we ended up producing a full fork of MySQL rather than focusing on the Maria engine as I planned a year ago.

      This February we released the first stable version of MariaDB, version 5.1.42, which is our enhanced and backwards compatible MySQL branch/fork. You can download it from the askmonty.org website. Please test it out and comment upon it here or on Launchpad, the code host for the MariaDB project.

    • Kiss your MySQL website goodbye

      The fact is that if you run a business website, you need to perform proper backups, and not just the stuff that gets put on a tape and thrown in a closet each evening.

      I am writing this article specifically for those beginning Linux web administrators who need to know how to properly backup their website. Just because you’re new to Linux and web serving does not mean it is difficult or that you should try to avoid performing proper website backups.

  • Business

  • Releases

    • Google releases web security scanner

      Google has released an open source scanner that allows web application developers to test their applications for security holes. The application, called Skipfish, offers a similar functionality to that of tools such as Nmap or Nessus, but it’s said to be much faster. Using fully automated heuristics, it detects code that is vulnerable to cross-site scripting attacks (XSS), SQL and XML injection attacks and many other attack types. The tool’s comprehensive post-processing of the individual test results is designed to help with the interpretation of the final report.

  • Government

    • Pirate Party UK launches manifesto

      That shouldn’t affect too many people, though, if there are any photographers still left with a business. The Party believes that “in this fast moving world [sic] 10 years of copyright protection is long enough”. The creator would need to re-apply after five years, however, or the work would fall into the public domain.

      “An exception will be made for software, where a 5 year term will apply to closed source software, and a 10 year term to open source, in recognition of the extra rights given to the public by open source licences.”

    • Gordon Brown: superfast broadband vital to prevent ‘digital divide’

      The speech is a clear sign of the parties’ maneouvring ahead of the election, expected to be called on 6 April to be held on 6 May. In the past month the Tories and Labour have been jockeying for position over their commitment to creating more accessible online government services, broadband and also public access to non-personal government data, with the Tories saying they would introduce a “right to public data” bill to let people request and receive public datasets, publishing details of government contracts worth more than £25,000 online, encouraging use of free open-source software in government development, and encouraging telecoms companies to offer superfast broadband.

    • What Was Gordon Brown Thinking this Morning?

      Not only do we have the key words “open” and “open source” in there, but the UK government is talking about “the will and willingness of the centre to give up control” (and if you believe that last part, then I have a bridge I’d like to sell you.) And yet there is something deeply disturbing about this speech that makes me wonder what on earth Gordon Brown was thinking when he uttered it.

    • Gordon Brown proposes personalised MyGov web services

      Instead of civil servants or politicians being the sole authors of government information, he claimed that open source information will allow citizens to shape information for their own needs.

    • Gordon Brown slammed for supporting Oracle, Microsoft

      Open source technology was cited as the ethos on which Digital Britain will be built. The PM used the shared services centre in the Department for Work and Pensions (the Dole), which already supports 140,000 staff in three departments and plans to take on four more in the next year, as an example of what he wanted.

      Needless to say the Open Source companies are thrilled. Steve Shine, executive vice president of worldwide operations, Ingres, the world’s largest open source database provider released a statement saying that this was just the beginning.

    • Tech Companies Play the Franco-Israeli Nexus

      Until now, businesses and government agencies in Israel have been heavy users of Microsoft software, but the open source movement is gaining traction thanks in part to the help and encouragement of the French tech community, says Stolar. “We hope HaCantina will create the necessary ground for collaboration and development and new innovation,” he says. HaCantina doesn’t yet have a physical home, but Kesos and Stolar hope to find a location soon.

  • Licensing

    • A small and unscientific exploration of OSS license use

      I was intrigued by an excellent (as usual) post by Matthew Aslett of 451 group, titled “On the fall and rise of the GNU GPL“, where Matthew muses on the impact of cloud computing and other factors in the decreasing role of the GPLv2 versus other type of licenses. Simon Phipps twitted “you only consider number of projects and not volume of deployed code.

  • Openness

  • Programming

    • EclipseRT Community Continues to Grow with New Projects and Contributors

      Our goal is to create the EclipseRT community for runtime technology similar to what Eclipse has done for developer tools. The foundation of EclipseRT is based on the OSGi standard, supporting a wide spectrum of contributing organizations/individuals. EclipseRT delivers the ability for organizations and developers to build customizable runtime solutions from existing open source technologies.

    • Sonatype Introduces Maven Studio for Eclipse

      Sonatype, caretaker of the Maven project and leading provider of enterprise software development infrastructure, today announced Sonatype Maven Studio for Eclipse. The Studio is the only Eclipse Integrated Development Environment specifically optimized for Maven, the de facto standard for Java project and build management used by more than 3 million Java developers worldwide.

  • Applications

    • Linux Arpeggiators

      There are a host of smaller tools (QJackCtl is indispensable and worth special mention) that help round out a project studio, but the biggest shift in thinking was from running one program, to connecting multiple ones together via Jack.

      It’s funny because in that sense even GUI-heavy big applications mirror the “do one thing and do it well” Unix philosophy.


  • Briton sacked for eating colleague’s snacks

    A British worker on night shift was arrested and later sacked after he helped himself to a few biscuits from a colleague’s desk, a media report said on Tuesday.


    Pamela Harrison said that taking biscuits from her desk on December 9 had invaded her privacy, adding: “I’m disappointed that someone who is working as a work colleague finds the need to prowl around people’s personal space and take items which, though of low value, can make someone feel insecure.”

    After the hearing, Campbell said he couldn’t believe that he was being prosecuted.

  • How I blew up the duck house: Heather Brooke on lighting the fuse on the biggest political scandal of our time

    She was a young American journalist living in East London – and she was fed up the secrecy of officialdom. Then Heather Brooke decided to ask for MPs’ expenses receipts. In her new book she tells how she changed Parliament forever…

  • A judge may google to confirm intuition: court

    A federal appeals court said it can be acceptable for a judge to conduct an Internet search to confirm an intuition about a matter of common knowledge.

  • Science

    • Areva plans new reactors that make nuclear waste disappear

      A new type of nuclear reactor that could permanently “destroy” atomic waste is being developed by French scientists, according to the chief executive of Areva, the world’s largest nuclear energy company.

      Anne Lauvergeon told The Times that the French group was developing a technology to burn up actinides — highly radioactive uranium isotopes that are the waste products of nuclear fission inside a reactor. The technology could be critical in winning greater global public support for nuclear energy and cutting emissions of carbon dioxide.

  • China

    • China denounces Google ‘US ties’

      China’s state media has attacked Google for having what it said were “intricate ties” with the US government.

      Google provides US intelligence agencies with a record of its search engine results, the state-run news agency Xinhua said.

    • Academic Paper in China Sets Off Alarms in U.S.

      It came as a surprise this month to Wang Jianwei, a graduate engineering student in Liaoning, China, that he had been described as a potential cyberwarrior before the United States Congress.

  • Security

    • 58% of software vulnerable to Google-style security breaches

      Research just released claims to show that 58% of business software is vulnerable to the same security breaches as a seen on Google, the US Department of Defense, and other sites.

    • IRS security faults leave taxpayer information at risk

      In this the heavy tax season where billions of dollars and tons of personal information is relayed to and from the government, it’s more disconcerting to hear that the Internal Revenue Service is still struggling to keep private information secure.

    • House moves to limit use of full-body scanners

      Rep. Phil Hart, R-Athol, has some serious concerns about the use of whole-body imaging machines, which are becoming more common in airports and government building. Thursday, lawmakers approved Hart’sbill to restrict use of the machines in Idaho.

    • Westminster Lifestyle Survey

      But the overall impression one gets reading this survey is that it is all about building a profile for each person in the area, so that they can be targeted and sold-to at every opportunity. The state wants to know what we eat, drink, smoke and feel because it already knows where we go, how much we spend and what our interests are.

  • Environment

    • I’m not the messiah, says food activist – but his many worshippers do not believe him

      Patel’s career – spent at Oxford, LSE, the World Bank and with thinktank Food First – has been spent trying to understand the inequalities and problems caused by free market economics, particularly as it relates to the developing world.

    • World water day 2010

      Activists around the world marked World Water Day 2010 by highlighting the growing presence of industrial hazardous chemicals in the world’s water supplies.

    • Alaska’s Climate Change Double Agent

      Murkowski, who once seemed to represent a pro-environment voice among Republicans, is now among the most effective forces obstructing legislation to help the environment.

    • Secrets of the Tea Party

      As chairman of FreedomWorks, the group credited with mobilizing the Tea Party movement, Armey is the movement’s de facto leader. Yet Armey’s years spent lobbying for a group recognized by the State Department as being a terrorist organization—should give Tea Partiers pause.

      In the weeks before April 15, 2009, local newspapers began reporting that groups calling themselves TEA, or Taxed Enough Already, were planning rallies to protest wasteful government spending. By the time Tax Day rolled around, over 300 protests were under way in all 50 states. More than 100,000 people took to the streets, gathered in parks and city centers with signs, slogans and costumes evoking America’s revolutionary past.

    • Bill would define tire burning as renewable energy

      With just five words quietly slipped into legislation, Illinois lawmakers are moving to include tire burning in the state’s definition of renewable energy, a change that would benefit a south suburban incinerator with a long history of pollution problems.

  • Finance

    • No comment needed
    • Headline stock news delayed to the benefit of big traders

      In another of those court decisions that infuriate critics of intellectual property, Judge Denise Cote, of the United States District Court in New York, ruled in favor of Barclays, Bank of America, and Morgan Stanley. The banks claimed that the website, theflyonthewall.com, violated their copyright when it published headline news like changes in stock ratings link here. The site must now wait until 10 a.m. to publish news about research that was issued before the 9:30 a.m. opening bell or if issued during the day, by a full two hours.

    • Dodd Move Blocks Progressive Reforms

      With over 400 amendments readied for the committee debate on Senator Chris Dodd’s financial reform package, Banking Chairman Dodd decided to ditch the democratic process and vote his own version of the bill out of committee. This moves the real debate to the Senate floor and worsens progressive’s chance of improving the bill.

    • Lehman Scandal: Where’s the Follow Up?

      In the banking world, there are generally four types of risk; liquidity risk, credit risk, operational risk and reputational risk. Of these, only reputational risk failures threaten the entire value of the business and its goodwill. If our questions remain unanswered, the entire financial system will remain dangerously exposed.

  • Censorship/Privacy/Civil Rights

    • Attorney-General Michael Atkinson quits front bench

      TROUBLE-plagued Attorney-General Michael Atkinson has fallen on his sword to make way for fresh blood in a new Labor ministry.


      He has been dogged by a string of controversies – think internet censorship, stashed cash, Ashbourne-Clarke and the senior magistrate defamation case.

      He also has attracted national criticism over his refusal to allow an R18+ rating for video games.

      His humiliating backflip over internet censorship laws on the night of Februrary 2 came after a furious reaction on AdelaideNow to The Advertiser’s exclusive report on the new law.

    • Anonymous Comments: Are They Good or Evil?

      In a nutshell, Howard said that anonymous comments were an abomination (I’m paraphrasing somewhat) and were in fact unethical, since commenters on a news site had a “fundamental right” to know the identity of the other people commenting. I tried to make a number of points, including the fact that anonymity is a red herring, and that the more important thing in encouraging a strong and healthy community conversation is standards of behaviour, regardless of anonymity. I also tried to make the point that anonymity has its benefits, and that many people — some of whom might have valuable contributions to make — would never comment if they had to use real names (Howard made the point that allowing anonymity excludes other people).

    • Egypt regulator enforces Internet voice call ban

      Egypt has begun enforcing a ban on international calls made through mobile internet connections, the head of the telcoms regulator told Reuters on Tuesday, potentially boosting voice revenues at landline monopoly Telecom Egypt.

    • DOJ Might Be Facebook-Stalking You

      With the help of the University of California Berkeley’s Samuelson Clinic, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for documents from the government about how they monitor and use social networking sites like Facebook, MySpace, Twitter and LinkedIn to gather information for investigations. The EFF struck gold with this request, as both the IRS and the Department of Justice released training presentations on social networking sites. While this may seem benign, the training material from the DOJ suggests that feds go undercover on sites such as Facebook to gather information on crime.

  • Intellectual Monopolies/Copyrights

    • BBC Link Policy: We Want To Send A Lot Of Traffic To Other Sites

      It then goes into a list of specific policies, which pretty much all focus on adding lots of external links to stories. Of course, given how UK newspapers are suddenly working hard to block links from others, you have to wonder if those same papers are going to start blocking the BBC as well…

    • Cablevision Buying Blogs… Will It Lock Them Up Behind A Paywall Too?

      True to form, Cablevision decided the best thing to do with Newsday was to spend $4 million redesigning and putting up a paywall that drove away some writers and convinced 35 people to sign up in its first three months. Yes, 35. Of course, Cablevision insisted that the goal was really about reducing churn by offering the newspaper website to Cablevision cable TV and broadband subscribers, but it still seems like a pretty big failure all around.

    • Frost & Sullivan Analyst Apparently Has Never Heard Of Network TV: Says Video Can’t Be Free To Consumers

      Basically, there’s proof that free-to-the-consumer video has worked in the past, and can work again.

    • Beware of Default Judgments: Captcha Gotcha Spammers Under Digital Millenium Copyright Act

      Craiglist was told by the spammer that he’d sold about $40,000 worth of the autoposter software. Craigslist pursued both Digital Millennium Copyright Act, 17 U.S.C. §§ 1201 (“DMCA”) and the TOU (Contract) claims.

      The spammer did not hire a lawyer to defend the lawsuit and failed to respond to pleadings and court notices.

      Craiglist obtained default judgments pursuant to Rule 55 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure under both the DMCA for statutory damages of $470,000 and under the TOU (Contract) for $840,000. The court found the liquidated damages clause of $200 per unauthorized post to be enforceable. The court accepted Craigslist’s lowest estimate of unauthorized posts. The spammer, Igor Gasov was held personally liable.

    • Viacom’s Real Intent? To Pretend The DMCA Requires Filtering

      So please pay careful attention to the actual arguments being made here. No one is saying that copyright infringement should be allowed on YouTube. The only question is whether or not it should be YouTube’s responsibility to proactively monitor that content and stop it from being uploaded. The law is pretty clear that this is not required — and, as Google’s filing makes clear, even if it were required, given Viacom’s own actions, this would be impossible.

    • Hollywood Continues To Make Up Facts; AP Continues To Parrot Them

      With these big professional reporters, you might think they would try to fact check a claim like “90% of all “pirated” DVDs come from camcorded movies.” They might have trouble doing that, because the actual research suggests something quite different. A study that we wrote about a few years ago found otherwise. Specifically, it found that “77% appear to have been leaked originally by industry insiders.”

      But, of course, we need to save the AP, because they do real fact checking, right?

    • Don’t Call Them “Pirates”

      I agree. Copyright infringers should not be called pirates. A pirate is a robber, plunderor, predator. The term much better describes the patent and copyright lobbies, which use state monopoly grants to plunder and rob the masses.

    • Can The Government Use The Term ‘Music Piracy’ In A Criminal Copyright Trial?

      Via Michael Scott, we learn that there was recently a debate over whether or not the government could use the phrase “music piracy” to describe the actions of an individual who had been charged with criminal copyright infringement.

    • A Supersized Custody Battle Over Marvel Superheroes

      WHEN the Walt Disney Company agreed in August to pay $4 billion to acquire Marvel Entertainment, the comic book publisher and movie studio, it snared a company with a library that includes some of the world’s best-known superheroes, including Spider-Man, the X-Men, the Incredible Hulk and the Fantastic Four.

    • ACTA/Digital Economy Bill

      • ACTA Set To Cover Not Just Copyrights & Trademarks, But Seven Areas Of IP

        1. Copyright and Related Rights
        2. Trademarks
        3. Geographical Indications
        4. Industrial Designs
        5. Patents
        6. Layout-Designs (Topographies) of Integrated Circuits
        7. Protection of Undisclosed Information

      • ACTA to cover seven catagories of intellectual property

        The ten defined terms include:

        * days
        * intellectual property (See below)
        * Council (ACTA Oversight Council)
        * measure
        * person (natural or juridical)
        * right owner (includes federation or assicaitons that have legal standing or authoirty to assert rights)
        * territory
        * TRIPS Agreement
        * WTO
        * WTO Agreement

      • I Feel Like I’m Taking Crazy Pills: EU’s Latest ACTA Proposal Outlaws the Internet

        Sometimes a story is so insane that you can’t help but wonder if someone has slipped you some crazy pills. See, for example, the Google prosecution in Italy. I honestly thought that story could not be topped. But lo and behold, it appears that the EU has proposed to add third-party CRIMINAL liability to the Anti-Counterfeit Trade Agreement (ACTA). This essentially outlaws the entire Internet. Insanity.

        Background: Third party civil liability for copyright infringement is an emerging, but still controversial, doctrine as applied to the Internet. A site may be liable if it has incited and/or facilitated the violation of copyright, see Grokster. The limits of this doctrine are still being tested: it is not clear what level of hosting or facilitating actually triggers liability. For an example of this endemic uncertainty, the § 512 of the DMCA creates a safe harbor for ISPs, provided that the ISP expeditiously removes infringing content after the ISP is put on notice. However, it is unclear what material is so obviously infringing that its very presence should put the ISP on notice (this is the controversial “red flag” test).

      • The broad threats of ACTA


        ACTA aims to create a new model of global governance that bypasses the normal procedures of multilateral international institutions, the European Parliament and national legislatures.


        ACTA is a vast protectionist initiative to defend a few economic interests of the richest countries and to limit access to knowledge and other socially essential goods like medicines in the developing nations. Poorer countries will be forced to agree to ACTA’s unfair provisions as a condition for free trade agreements and other bilateral accords.


        ACTA willfully confuses fake, fraudulant drugs with legal, generic drugs under the same suspicion and same possible confiscation. Draconian border measures and criminal enforcement imposed on third countries will create barriers to trade in essential, life-saving medication and other goods.

      • The EU ACTA Consultation: European Commission vs. European Parliament

        The European Commission hosted a fascinating consultation on ACTA today. Luc Devigne, the lead European negotiator, opened with a brief presentation and proceeded to field questions for over an hour. The full consultation video is available online. The discussion touched on many issues including Devigne arguing that the WTO consistently blocked any attempt to address IP enforcement issues and stating that the treaty is limited to enforcement and not new substantive provisions (this assumes that anti-circumvention rules are a matter of enforcement, not substance).

      • 10,000 people call for proper debate on the Digital Economy Bill

        So far, over 10,000 people have written to their MPs demanding that the government does its job and holds a proper debate on the Digital Economy Bill. If you haven’t done so already, send a letter to your MP now, and ask your friends to do the same. It’s a simple, quick and easy process. You can either email the standard letter provided on that site, or write your own.

Digital Tipping Point: Clip of the Day

Ricardo Mireles, Free Open Source Software advocate in Los Angeles 01 (2004)

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

IRC: #boycottnovell @ FreeNode: March 23rd, 2010

Posted in IRC Logs at 8:17 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz


Read the log

Enter the IRC channel now

To use your own IRC client, join channel #boycottnovell in FreeNode.

Who does that server really serve? (by Richard Stallman)

Posted in FSF, Servers at 2:46 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz


On the Internet, proprietary software isn’t the only way to lose your freedom. Software as a Service is another way to let someone else have power over your computing.

Background: How Proprietary Software Takes Away Your Freedom

Digital technology can give you freedom; it can also take your freedom away. The first threat to our control over our computing came from proprietary software: software that the users cannot control because the owner (a company such as Apple or Microsoft) controls it. The owner often takes advantage of this unjust power by inserting malicious features such as spyware, back doors, and Digital Restrictions Management (DRM) (referred to as “Digital Rights Management” in their propaganda).

Our solution to this problem is developing free software and rejecting proprietary software. Free software means that you, as a user, have four essential freedoms: (0) to run the program as you wish, (1) to study and change the source code so it does what you wish, (2) to redistribute exact copies, and (3) to redistribute copies of your modified versions. (See the free software definition.)

With free software, we, the users, take back control of our computing. Proprietary software still exists, but we can exclude it from our lives and many of us have done so. However, we now face a new threat to our control over our computing: Software as a Service. For our freedom’s sake, we have to reject that too.

How Software as a Service Takes Away Your Freedom

Software as a Service (SaaS) means that someone sets up a network server that does certain computing tasks—running spreadsheets, word processing, translating text into another language, etc.—then invites users to do their computing on that server. Users must send their data to the server, which returns the results.

“With SaaS, the users do not have even the executable file: it is on the server, where the users can’t see or touch it.”These servers wrest control from the users even more inexorably than proprietary software. With proprietary software, users typically get an executable file but not the source code. That makes it hard for programmers to study the code that is running, so it’s hard to determine what the program really does, and hard to change it.

With SaaS, the users do not have even the executable file: it is on the server, where the users can’t see or touch it. Thus it is impossible for them to ascertain what it really does, and impossible to change it.

Furthermore, SaaS automatically leads to harmful consequences equivalent to the malicious features of certain proprietary software. For instance, some proprietary programs are “spyware”: the program sends data about users’ computing activities to the program’s owner. Microsoft Windows sends information about users’ activities to Microsoft. Windows Media Player and RealPlayer report what user watches or listens to.

“Microsoft Windows sends information about users’ activities to Microsoft.”Unlike proprietary software, SaaS does not require covert code to obtain the user’s data. By the very nature of SaaS, users must send their data to the server.

SaaS gives the same results as spyware because it requires users to send their data to the server. The server operator gets all the data with no special effort, by the nature of SaaS.

Some proprietary programs can mistreat users under remote command. For instance, Windows has a back door with which Microsoft can forcibly change any software on the machine. The Amazon Kindle e-book reader (whose name suggests it’s intended to burn people’s books) has an Orwellian back door that Amazon used in 2009 to remotely delete many Kindle copies of Orwell’s books 1984 and Animal Farm which people had purchased from Amazon.

SaaS inherently gives the server operator the power to change the software in use, or the users’ data being operated on. Once again, no special code is needed to do this.

Thus, SaaS is equivalent to total spyware and a gaping wide back door, and gives the server operator unjust power over the user. We can’t accept that.

Untangling the SaaS Issue from the Proprietary Software Issue

SaaS and proprietary software lead to similar harmful results, but the causal mechanisms are different. With proprietary software, the cause is that you have and use a copy which is difficult or illegal to change. With SaaS, the cause is that you use a copy you don’t have.

“SaaS is equivalent to total spyware and a gaping wide back door, and gives the server operator unjust power over the user.”These two issues are often confused, and not only by accident. Web developers use the vague term “web application” to lump the server software together with programs run on your machine in your browser. Some web pages install nontrivial or even large JavaScript programs temporarily into your browser without informing you. When these JavaScript programs are nonfree, they are as bad as any other nonfree software. Here, however, we are concerned with the problem of the server software itself.

Many free software supporters assume that the problem of SaaS will be solved by developing free software for servers. For the server operator’s sake, the programs on the server had better be free; if they are proprietary, their owners have power over the server. That’s unfair to the operator, and doesn’t help you at all. But if the programs on the server are free, that doesn’t protect you as the server’s user from the effects of SaaS. They give freedom to the operator, but not to you.

Releasing the server software source code does benefit the community: suitably skilled users can set up similar servers, perhaps changing the software. But none of these servers would give you control over computing you do on it, unless it’s your server. The rest would all be SaaS. SaaS always subjects you to the power of the server operator, and the only remedy is, don’t use SaaS! Don’t use someone else’s server to do your own computing on data provided by you.

Distinguishing SaaS from Other Network Services

Does condemning SaaS mean rejecting all network server? Not at all. Most servers do not raise this issue, because the job you do with them isn’t your own computing except in a trivial sense.

The original purpose of web servers wasn’t to do computing for you, it was to publish information for you to access. Even today this is what most web sites do, and it doesn’t pose the SaaS problem, because accessing someone’s published information isn’t a matter of doing your own computing. Neither is publishing your own materials via a blog site or a micro-blogging service such as Twitter. The same goes for communication not meant to be private, such as chat groups. Social networking can extend into SaaS; however, at root it is just a method of communication and publication, not SaaS. If you use the service for minor editing of what you’re going to communicate, that is not a significant issue.

“Fortunately, development hosting sites such as Savannah and Sourceforge don’t pose the SaaS problem, because what groups do there is mainly publication and public communication, rather than their own private computing.”Services such as search engines collect data from around the web and let you examine it. Looking through their collection of data isn’t your own computing in the usual sense, so these services are not SaaS.

E-commerce is not SaaS, because the computing isn’t solely yours; rather, it is done jointly for you and another party. So there’s no particular reason why you alone should expect to control that computing. The real issue in E-commerce is whether you trust the other party with your money and personal information.

Using a joint project’s servers isn’t SaaS because the computing you do in this way isn’t yours personally. For instance, if you edit pages on Wikipedia, you are not doing your own computing; rather, you are collaborating in Wikipedia’s computing.

Wikipedia controls its own servers, but groups can face the problem of SaaS if they do their group activities on someone else’s server. Fortunately, development hosting sites such as Savannah and Sourceforge don’t pose the SaaS problem, because what groups do there is mainly publication and public communication, rather than their own private computing.

Multiplayer games are a group activity carried out on someone else’s server, which makes them SaaS. But where the data involved is just the state of play and the score, the worst wrong the operator might commit is favoritism. You might well ignore that risk, since it seems unlikely and very little is at stake. On the other hand, when the game becomes more than just a game, the issue changes.

Which online services are SaaS? Google Docs is a clear example. Its basic activity is editing, and Google encourages people to use it for their own editing; this is SaaS. It offers the added feature of collaborative editing. but adding participants doesn’t alter the fact that editing on the server is SaaS. (In addition, Google Docs is unacceptable because it installs a large nonfree JavaScript program into the users’ browsers.) If using a service for communication or collaboration requires doing substantial parts of your own computing with it too, that computing is SaaS even if the communication is not.

Some sites offer multiple services, and if one is not SaaS, another may be SaaS. For instance, the main service of Facebook is social networking, and that is not SaaS; however, it supports third-party applications, some of which may be SaaS. Flickr’s main service is distributing photos, which is not SaaS, but it also has features for editing photos, which is SaaS.

Some sites whose main service is publication and communication extend it with “contact management”: keeping track of people you have relationships with. Sending mail to those people for you is not SaaS, but keeping track of your dealings with them, if
substantial, is SaaS.

If a service is not SaaS, that does not mean it is ok. There are other bad things a service can do. For instance, Facebook distributes video in Flash, which pressures users to run nonfree software, and it gives users a misleading impression of privacy. Those are important issues too, but this article’s concern is the issue of SaaS.

“That’s what the buzzword “cloud computing” is for. This term is so nebulous that it could refer to almost any use of the Internet.”The IT industry discourages users from considering these distinctions. That’s what the buzzword “cloud computing” is for. This term is so nebulous that it could refer to almost any use of the Internet. It includes SaaS and it includes nearly everything else. The term only lends itself to uselessly broad statements.

The real meaning of “cloud computing” is to suggest a devil-may-care approach towards your computing. It says, “Don’t ask questions, just trust every business without hesitation. Don’t worry about who controls your computing or who holds your data. Don’t check for a hook hidden inside our service before you swallow it.” In other words, “Think like a sucker.” I prefer to avoid the term.

Dealing with the SaaS Problem

Only a small fraction of all web sites do SaaS; most don’t raise the issue. But what should we do about the ones that raise it?

For the simple case, where you are doing your own computing on data in your own hands, the solution is simple: use your own copy of a free software application. Do your text editing with your copy of a free text editor such as GNU Emacs or a free word processor. Do your photo editing with your copy of free software such as GIMP.

But what about collaborating with other individuals? It may be hard to do this at present without using a server. If you use one, don’t trust a server run by a company. A mere contract as a customer is no protection unless you could detect a breach and could really sue, and the company probably writes its contracts to permit a broad range of abuses. Police can subpoena your data from the company with less basis than required to subpoena them from you, supposing the company doesn’t volunteer them like the US phone companies that illegally wiretapped their customers for Bush. If you must use a server, use a server whose operators give you a basis for trust beyond a mere commercial relationship.

However, on a longer time scale, we can create alternatives to using servers. For instance, we can create a distributed program through which collaborators can share data encrypted. The free software community should develop distributed peer-to-peer
replacements for important “web applications”. It may be wise to release them under the GNU Affero GPL, since they are likely candidates for being converted into server-based programs by someone else. The GNU project is looking for volunteers to work on such replacements. We also invite other free software projects to consider this issue in their design.

In the meantime, if a company invites you to use its server to do your own computing tasks, don’t yield; don’t use SaaS. Don’t buy or install “thin clients”, which are simply computers so weak they make you do the real work on someone else’s server. Use a real computer and keep your data there. Do your work with your own copy of a free program, for your freedom’s sake.

Copyright © 2010 Richard Stallman
Verbatim copying and distribution of this entire article is permitted in any medium, provided this notice is preserved.

Bruce Perens Sheds Light on How Microsoft Controls the Government, Using Lobbyists

Posted in Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Law, Microsoft, Novell, OSI at 8:55 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“Open source is an intellectual-property destroyer [...] and I don’t think we’ve done enough education of policymakers to understand the threat.”

Jim Allchin, President of Platforms & Services Division at Microsoft

Richard Stallman and the GPLv3

Bruce Perens at the launch event of GPLv3

Summary: Bruce Perens explains what he has seen Microsoft doing inside governments in order to marginalise Free software, mostly through hired guns like CompTIA and ACT

MICROSOFT IS A political problem, not just a technical problem. In previous posts we showed how Microsoft controls the United States government (along with other proprietary software companies), but it’s not just a problem in the United States.

For those who are not familiar with Bruce Perens, here are some of our posts that mention him:

Perens has just published this post about government legislation where he writes:

Equal Representation, and Visibility of Lobbying

It’s been obvious, whenever I talk with government, that there’s a well-staffed Microsoft lobbying organization nearby, as well as intermediaries who act for them like CompTIA. Against them, there’s been a low or no-budget representation for Open Source, sometimes just me all alone. And of course the proprietary software companies can afford more advertising and they create lavish events to promote themselves.

To level out this situation, and many others, we need required public reporting of all lobbying, including the parties present, the time and duration of the meeting, and the topics discussed. The general public should be able to see that information on the internet with no more than a day’s delay, if they are to have a chance to offset the effect of the deep-pockets lobbyists.

In addition, there needs to be legislation protecting and promoting the access of the less-grandly-funded to those in government who have or will receive other lobbies, so that there can be balance of representation.

The only group he mentions by name is CompTIA, whose corruption of the political system and standards body we have documented in many past posts. Bruce Perens has already responded to ACT, which is another Microsoft front group (Perens knows that). Both groups happen to have lobbied intensively against ODF and for OOXML. Given Microsoft’s history of corruption when it comes to document formats, nobody should be surprised that Microsoft uses outside lobbying groups. From Italy we hear that this corruption never ends. Posted some days ago:

Microsoft, where did you get those data about OpenDocument?


I already explained in another article that open file formats are essential to save money in Public Administrations and make them more efficient and that the right choice for office document is the OpenDocument Format (ODF).

Since I regularly follow these themes, in September 2009 I received this request from outside Italy:

I have read in a report that: “According to Microsoft Italian regional authorities have examined ODF, but proposal for adopting ODF as the mandatory standard have been rejected” (translated by the sender of the message). This fact probably comes from this Microsoft paper. And we are trying to fact check it… can you help?

Back then I knew, just as I know today, that there is no law or regulation in Italy, not even at the city level, that mandates ODF as the only accepted format for office documents, regardless of the context. What I did come across in the last year, instead, were cases where nobody seemed to know about ODF or law proposals that, albeit unvoluntarily, may make the situation even worse. However, I did not remember ever reading about proposals of that kind.

Over in the UK, the story is similar but Microsoft’s lobbying groups are slightly different. Tim Anderson, a British Microsoft booster, gives lip service to a company which says that the UK government only gives lip service to F/OSS. Anderson writes about the claims from Ingres:

Ingres has a direct commercial interest in this, of course, so such statements are not surprising. Shine has a point though. It takes more than a few speeches to change the software culture of the myriad departments and other state-run entities that between them compose government IT.

Anderson is being an apologist here. It’s not just about Ingres getting a contract; it’s about a nation sticking to standards and to code that it actually owns and is allowed to modify and redistribute. It’s about the United Kingdom not being a hostage of some convicted monopoly abuser from the United States. There is no need for Microsoft apologists here, as they seem not to comprehend the very fundamental issues. The same goes for accomplices like BECTA, who take a similar approach of lip service. They try to silence opposition this way.

“It is crooked politicians like Luc Pierre Devigne and Pedro Velasco-Martins who allow this to happen.”Earlier today we posted videos from yesterday's event about ACTA, which Richard Stallman calls “Anti-Citizen Tyranny Agreement”. It shows how few super-wealthy corporations (mostly from the United States, but there is one Vivendi employee praising ACTA from the audience) take control of the law and actually run the governments against the people. It is crooked politicians like Luc Pierre Devigne and Pedro Velasco-Martins who allow this to happen. Given increased transparency, we can more effectively expose the conspirators involved in these unconstitutional steps that countries are taking to pass control to other counties (specifically to corporations in other countries). Here in the UK we have Mandelson with his Digital Economy Bill (DEB).

Leila Deen and Lord Mandelson
“Business secretary Peter Mandelson is slimed by an environmental protestor outside the Royal Society on Carlton House Terrace, Pall Mall after allegations of ‘favours for friends’ over the Heathrow third runway decision” [Courtesy of “Plane Stupid”, via Wikimedia]

Amazon Discriminates Against GNU/Linux And Enables Microsoft Racketeering

Posted in GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Patents at 7:51 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz


Summary: Amazon implicitly parrots Microsoft rhetoric and discriminates against desktop GNU/Linux, which it does not support

LAST MONTH we saw Amazon selling out to Microsoft [1, 2, 3]. Amazon decided to allow Microsoft’s racketeering to receive legitimacy, after Amazon had accepted many Microsoft executives into its staff. Amazon was clearly transformed from the inside over time and although Kindle has run Linux for several years, we now find that it is supporting just two proprietary software platforms and ignoring Linux (on the desktop), which Amazon exploited to build the Kindle and its servers infrastructure. This is the attitude of a company that does not care about Free software in general and GNU/Linux in particular. It’s just a selfish user and this is not the only reason why we encourage readers to boycott Amazon, as some readers already do.

What Amazon is doing these days allows Microsoft racketeering [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7] to carry on, along with the company's own patent troll, whose latest actions Glyn Moody has just explained. He calls him “King of the Trolls” and in our previous posts about this patent troll we showed just why (here is an index).

If you haven’t heard of Intellectual Ventures, you will do. Set up by ex-Microsoftie Nathan Myhrvold, with investments from Microsoft among others, it is basically a patenting machine – filing and buying them in huge quantities. Note that it doesn’t actually *use* these patents – except to threaten people with. In other words, Intellectual Ventures is a patent troll – or, rather the King of the Patent Trolls.


They don’t *invent* anything in the proper, deep sense of the word: they merely file and buy patents – with no intent of ever making stuff or solving real-life problems. It’s purely a cynical exploitation of the broken US patent system that grants very broad patents on often obvious ideas, which are then used to *impede* other companies’ activities.


This is the killer: Intellectual Venture’s business model is fear. “If IV breathes in your direction, take a license” – never mind whether their patent claims are valid, just roll over, because nobody messes with the King of the Patent Trolls.

Companies like Amazon and Microsoft have adopted software patents despite the fact that their existence — that of Amazon’s in particular — owes itself to the rejection of software patents by Berners-Lee. Moody writes:

Here’s a fine piece of hagiography, with a really excellent conclusion that touches on those diabolical software patents:

The founders of Google and Microsoft have made their fortunes out of the world wide web, as have numerous other dot-com entrepreneurs. Sir Tim, though, has never cashed in on his brilliant idea. He doesn’t have a yacht or a mansion or a private jet. But neither does he have any regrets about his lack of wealth.

Patent laws are not taking account of the culture that developed around technology. Thanks to the Internet, it is a culture of sharing and collaboration, not monopolisation and exclusion. Here is a funny new case about patents:

Tool Maker Loses Lawsuit For Not Violating Another Company’s Patents

Patent system supporters regularly point (slightly misleadingly) to the claim that the patent system gives patent holders the right to exclude others from using their inventions. And, thus, most lawsuits we see around patents revolve around cases involving a company manufacturing a product that includes a patented invention. But what about a lawsuit for a company that deliberately chose not to license or use a patented technology, because it was too expensive?

Welcome to today’s world.

Patents hamper society’s progress. But some rich companies with a lot of lobbyists love them. That is the subject of the next post.

Mono, the Monopolist’s Sidekick

Posted in GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Mono, Novell, OpenSUSE at 7:20 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Quixo panza
Don Quixote and his sidekick Sancho Panza. By Gustave Dore.
(January 6, 1832 – January 23, 1883)

Summary: Microsoft’s companions help the company either influence other companies or take over their agenda, Mono being the tool by which .NET gets injected into rivals

THE previous post argued that Novell’s Microsoft MVP (who does nothing but Microsoft boosting in his blog this week) could fulfill his lifelong dream of becoming an employee of Microsoft because Novell might be bought by Microsoft. Analysts say so too. Having already changed the direction of Novell to one that is centered around Mono (to promote Windows, Xbox, .NET, Visual Studio, and so forth), Novell becomes a more convenient target for Microsoft to acquire. We have warned about it for several years and it is no longer far fetched.

“…Novell becomes a more convenient target for Microsoft to acquire.”When a company adopts something like Mono, it is rather telling. One proponent of Mono is Mainsoft and this week we find Mainsoft helping Microsoft by augmenting its software or ecosystem. Another example is the Mono boosters from Microsoft itself (former Microsoft employees) who seem to be all over the place. Not even one of them seems to oppose .NET, not after leaving the company that treats .NET like it's a "religion" (there are several examples which we prefer not to name as that would make it personal or confrontational).

Meanwhile, Novell forgets about OpenSUSE. Some of the people who contribute a lot to Linux were let go and laid off (naming them would seem abrasive) while Novell increased focus on Microsoft-assistive software instead. In fact, Novell’s neglect of OpenSUSE is so apparent because the SUSE Planet is currently down and now we find out the reason:

Planet SUSE aggregates blog posts from the SUSE Linux universum, including openSUSE and SUSE Linux Enterprise. It aggregates not only English blog posts but also as separate feeds German, Spanish, Polish, and Portuguese posts.

Planet SUSE has been unavailable for the last days due to some problems while renewing the domain. We have therefore setup an alternative DNS entry for the server under the openSUSE domain, you can reach the planet now as
planet.openSUSE.org. The alternative name will stay, so feel free to change your bookmarks permantelty to it.

If you’d like to see a blog shown on Planet SUSE, please tell the admins James Ogley and Pascal Bleser.

A special thanks to our Planet heros – James, Pascal, Darix and Justin,


Last year we showed that Novell’s neglect of OpenSUSE was so serious that the project was looking for sponsorship. If it were Mono, this would never happen.

With Novell up for Sale, Novell Products Become Too Risky to Buy

Posted in Microsoft, Novell at 6:36 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Novell logo bitten

Summary: As BrainShare kicks off it becomes apparent that Novell does not reject a takeover and Microsoft could be among the bidders

THE news continues to come regarding Novell's willingness to sell the company given the right offer/price. Brian from the Linux Foundation has this to say:

Why Novell waited until Saturday to announce the news is anyone’s guess, but since I can be classified as anyone, let me take a shot: rejecting what on the surface seemed a pretty solid bid as far away from stock market times as possible will will help alleviate any potential blow NOVL’s stock price this morning when the NASDAQ opens. Though, in early market trading this morning, NOVL was up, so perhaps that blow isn’t coming.


As for Novell, time will tell if someone comes up with another bid. And will that bid be a better one, or was Elliott’s first run the best offer?

Over at Linux Magazine we find this new article which ponders a Microsoft takeover of Novell. Since Novell has products that compete against Microsoft’s, there would be antitrust barriers, but if Novell was sold in pieces, it might actually work. Earlier this year we wrote about Novell transforming itself from a 4-unit company into a dual-unit company, possibly in preparation for a sale of one part. That was the argument we had made at the time, before more evidence came. To quote parts of the latest article:

What If… Microsoft Bought Novell?


What If… SUSE is to Windows as MySQL is to Oracle?

Much like MySQL, Linux is growing and isn’t going to simply fade away. While Oracle would probably like everyone to just purchase a large Oracle license it’s clear that’s not going to happen for a large percentage of potential customers, so they should probably just take whatever profits they can from MySQL licenses. Sell Oracle where you can. Sell MySQL where you can’t.

Microsoft could use this strategy with SUSE. Concede some areas where Microsoft struggles to Linux, force SUSE out of others, tighten the integration between the OSes and reconcile the issues of a competitive product mix with your sales team.

Messy. Complicated. Still, it’s possible and Microsoft could use a new revenue stream. But very few in the Linux community would believe MSFT was giving SUSE a fair shake.

What If… Microsoft Declares Total (Patent) War?

Possibly the most popular of the potential What If…? outcomes, Microsoft could use the ownership of Novell to push patent-laden code into SUSE (and potentially upstream into the Kernel) creating a cascade of licensing litigation/strong-arming and, possibly, the crippling of the GPL.

This is really just a variation on what many think Microsoft is already doing (See Microsoft Patches Linux; Linus Responds and Trimming the FAT: Linux and Patents). The difference in this scenario, of course, is that their ownership of SUSE could speed the process along.

Whoever buys Novell (and it’s likely that it will be sold somehow and sometime this year), the company’s output is a toxic asset to anyone who buys it. To buy products from Novell is to acquire technology whose short-term future is unknown. It’s just another reason among many more to avoid Novell products.

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