IRC Proceedings: November 1st, 2010

Posted in IRC Logs at 7:07 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz




#techrights log

#boycottnovell log

#boycottnovell-social log

Enter the IRC channels now

Links 1/11/2010: Linux 2.6.37 RC1, KDE’s KWin 4.6 and KWin Discussed

Posted in News Roundup at 6:34 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



  • Russia Plans Secure Operating System

    “Rather than opting for an existing Linux distribution instead, Russia will invest $4.9 million creating its own OS based on Linux for use across all government departments,” writes Geek.com’s Matthew Humphries.

  • Desktop

    • Facade

      There are plenty of folks selling PCs with another OS. Just use Google or go to LXer. The most popular brand of GNU/Linux for newbies is Ubuntu on desktops and notebooks and Android for smart-thingies. Ubuntu really makes an effort to produce a system easy for newbies. Once you are comfortable with GNU/Linux in Ubuntu, I would recommend Debian GNU/Linux because it gives much more control over the system. Android is a quite different GUI placed on top of GNU/Linux designed specifically for smart-thingies. It is probably the best OS for smart-thingies because of the huge number of applications you can get for it.

      Do not accept the facade of Wintel. There are other platforms out there and they will work for you. You will be able to save money and/or get better hardware too.

    • LOTD: GNU/Linux On The Desktop

      I believe that the year GNU/Linux became widely accepted on the desktop was 2009. The netbook settled that discussion as far as I can tell.

    • Acer Keeps Growing

      Acer sells lots of GNU/Linux PCs if you can figure out how to find them on their site. Acer.co.uk points to Ebuyer.com. Acer expects 25-35% of their growth for 2011 to come from the Founder deal.

  • Kernel Space

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC)

      • Performance Optimizations For KDE’s KWin 4.6

        While some developers and other KDE contributors are busy voicing their opinions over merging the KDE libraries into the upstream Qt, which would lead to either KDE 5.0 or KDE 6.0 depending upon how it’s implemented and if it’s actually carried out, KDE Software Compilation 4.6 is still on the way and should officially arrive by the end of January. Martin Graesslin, who works on much of the KWin compositing manager and previously said KDE SC 4.7 may support OpenGL 3.x for compositing, has written about some of the KWin changes for KDE 4.6.

      • Declarative Knowledge Base

        As I described in the latest entry, with the KDE Plasma Workspace 4.6 there will be a new feature that will be a key one for the future evolution of the Plasma platform: the ability to write plasmoids with just QML and Javascript.

      • KDE Developers Discuss Merging Libraries With Qt

        Well, here’s some interesting weekend news: there’s a polarized discussion taking place right now among core KDE developers about merging the KDE libraries into upstream Qt. Cornelius Schumacher, a long-time German KDE developer and currently the KDE e.V. president, has come out yesterday saying, “Let’s merge Qt and the KDE development platform. Let’s put all KDE libraries, support libraries, platform modules into Qt, remove the redundancies in Qt, and polish it into one nice consistent set of APIs, providing both, the wonderful KDE integration, consistency and convenience, as well as the simplicity and portability of the Qt platform.”

      • Optimization in KWin 4.6

        Improving the performance is of course an ongoing issue and there are still some areas where we can get some clever caching in place. For example blur might be a good candidate for improvements. But this is topic for a blog post “Optimization in KWin 4.7″.

      • The Chakra Project – Innovating on KDE and Arch Linux

        The Chakra project started out releasing a live CD based on Arch Linux with KDE 4 for the desktop, initially to make it easier and quicker to install an Arch system with their favorite environment, while also providing an unofficial Arch live CD to test drive the distribution. It is in their own words for anyone who likes the KISS principle of Arch and the elegance of KDE and the Plasma desktop. The project is providing images for both the i686 and x86_64 architectures.


        Chakra GNU/Linux is a very interesting and well thought out project. It responded well on the desktop and was noticeably faster than the Kubuntu install on another partition once booted. I don’t mean to put another distribution down, but the difference in speed was very obvious. On the other hand, it did not enable desktop effects in KDE due to a problem with the current 2.6.36 kernel and ATI drivers. Suspending, hibernating and resuming were enabled and worked from the start without me having to install laptop-mode-tools, but wireless started to stutter after resuming and never recovered. Being based on Arch Linux should mean that, although availability of applications and in particular non KDE applications is limited and the bundles system not yet fully developed, everything should be available from the Arch repositories and in theory should run in Chakra too. Full localization will require more work.
        It certainly is a beautiful looking distribution that is KDE-centric with some unique customizations, that also introduces innovative features like the click’n’run bundle installer and its own live scripts. Although these features are not fully developed yet they have a lot of potential and, given enough time, Chakra could really make its mark. After all, it all appeared to work perfectly. The only limitation seems to be the availability of bundles, which can be easily remedied if enough people contribute builds for their favorite programs.
        For support, there are user friendly links in Konqueror and in the main menu structure (under Chakra) to the web site, for bug submission, to the documentation and to the forum, and the extensive Arch Linux documentation and wiki should also apply.

  • Distributions

    • Red Hat Family

      • Fedora

        • Fedora 14 Release Party in Bucharest

          This is pretty much a tradition in our (Romanian) community: at the moment of a new Fedora release we are partying. This time we’ll meet (again) at Curtea Berarilor in the old city of Bucharest, Tuesday 2 November 2010, starting hour 19:00. You know you want to be there.

        • “Fedora Pumpkin”
        • I Voted

          I just voted for the release name of Fedora 15

          * Asturias
          * Blarney
          * Lovelock
          * Pushcart
          * Sturgis

        • Jumping the shark, no. 14.

          Once preupgrade downloaded everything it needed, it presented a dialog telling me I could reboot any time to finish the upgrade. After saving my work, I rebooted and the upgrade process started with no intervention needed. For 1549 packages, the final step of the process — upgrading the packages after rebooting — took approximately 75 minutes. A yum update process performs a lot of work beyond simply copying files onto the disk, to ensure your system’s integrity, so this extra time is to be expected. I like to wander off and work on something else while preupgrade runs, so the computer’s not wasting my time!

    • Debian Family

      • Mini DebConf Paris 2010

        So, I’m (almost) back from the first edition of MiniDebConf Paris, which was a success thanks to the great organizing skills in panic mode of Carl Chenet and Mehdi Dogguy. I think that everybody is already looking forward to the next edition.

      • Canonical/Ubuntu

        • Ubuntu 11.04 (Desktop) Will Get The Global Menu (AppMenu) By Default

          Even though Unity as been confirmed as default for Ubuntu 11.04 – desktop edition, there were still talks if the desktop version should also use the global menu (AppMenu).

        • AskUbuntu reaches 3000 questions – 7000 answers – 5000 users – 30000 votes
        • Desktop Unity: Your questions Answered

          Since the announcement last week that Ubuntu 11.04 will be shipping with a desktop-orientated version of the Unity interface as default the OMG! Inbox! has been inundated by anxious readers.

        • Ubuntu 10.10 upgrade woes

          Thank goodness today I discovered the Super Grub2 boot disk — what a life saver!

        • Using Unity – Day 5 How Does It Compare to Gnome Shell?

          Okay, so today is Sunday, so I am not spending a lot of time on the laptop. I decided to test Unity with the SaGeek 25 Part test to see how it fares.

        • Ubuntu 11.04 won’t be the same old Linux desktop

          Ubuntu’s new Unity Linux desktop interface is the change that everyone is talking about, but it was far from the only change that Canonical and Ubuntu’s developers are making to Ubuntu’s desktop. In fact, even without the change from straight GNOME to Unity, the developers are planning on major changes to the Ubuntu desktop.

          We knew some of these changes were coming. Mark Shuttleworth, Ubuntu’s founder, had already announced that Ubuntu would be moving from OpenOffice to LibreOffice for its default office suite. At this point, LibreOffice is 99.9% identical to OpenOffice. By the time Ubuntu 11.04 is released in April, LibreOffice is expected to have improved performance and increased interoperability with Microsoft Office 2007 and 2010 formats.

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Phones

      • Android

        • Android is Still HOT!

          Canalys reports Nokia has slipped to 33% global share of smart-phones but Android is now up to 25%. It looks like it’s not a matter of if but when Android will catch up with Nokia.

    • Sub-notebooks

      • Netbooks: XO, Intel, Asus EEE Usability Test

        The XO combined with Sugar is supposed to help collaborative efforts, as well as enable students to work on their own work. The visualization of the writing activity that I posted a week or so ago, shows how sugar can spark interactivity.

Free Software/Open Source

  • Links: Case Studies In Corporate Open Source

    At Microsoft’s Professional Developer Conference last week, executives repositioned Silverlight – Microsoft’s competitor to Adobe Flash – as a framework for mobile applications rather than for all rich media applications, and talked up the emerging HTML 5 standard as the best approach for closs-platform rich media applications.

    While not directly related to open source, this is a very interesting development from Microsoft (which was also covered at GigaOm). Microsoft are trying to lead the race to the bottom with HTML 5, presumably in the hope of killing Adobe, rather than cascading money faster and faster into Silverlight in an attempt to fight the old way using proprietary might as if it were possible to hire all the smart people into one team. They only place Silverlight is still strategic is on mobile, and honestly they probably realise HTML 5 is the future there too.


    As GNOME is one of the most successful communities of co-developing competitors in open source, this is a serious faux pas and I am very surprised Canonical have sailed into it – no matter how much “clarification” they give. Presumably we now know one of the key motivations for Project Harmony, which they are sponsoring.

  • Report: Open Source Developers a Bunch of Moochers?

    A new bit of analyst data crossed my radar this weekend, this time from the annual Evans Data survey of over 400 Linux developers, “OSS/Linux Development Survey 2010.” While I haven’t read the entire report, the one bit of information that Evans is pushing from the report is, naturally, the most controversial.

    It turns out, according to the report, that nearly two-thirds of open source developers do some of their non-work related open source project work on their employers’ time.

    Whether that figure is accurate or not, I expect we’ll see a whole new line of FUD coming soon from those software companies which are less-than-enthused about open source software: open source projects steals your employees’ time and reduces their efficiency.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Featured Superhero: Mitchell Baker, Chairwoman of Mozilla Foundation

        I’m pleased to introduce Mitchell Baker, the next of our exceptional CC Superheroes to tell you in her own words why she supports Creative Commons and why you should too. As the leader of the Mozilla Project, she is responsible for organizing and motivating a massive, worldwide collective of employees and volunteers who are breathing new life into the Internet with the Firefox Web browser and other Mozilla products. Here is her story. Join Mitchell in supporting Creative Commons with a donation today.

  • Oracle

    • Oracle doesn’t understand ‘community’

      Asked about the friction that has lead to the forming of the Document Foundation and the community’s very public split from Oracle, Meeks told us: “The Oracle people have decided that all of the non-Oracle people on the Community Council, which is there to govern the community, should be recused – as in, kicked off the council – because they have a ‘conflict of interest’ with the OpenOffice.org community that they’re supposed to be governing.”

    • 33 Lead Developers Leave OpenOffice in Favor of LibreOffice

      As announced in this letter, 33 lead developers of the OpenOffice project have decided to leave OpenOffice and instead support LibreOffice and the Document Foundation in the future.

      As, was previously reported on this site, Oracle is not willing not make the necessary changes to not only make this project benefit its own corporate goals, but also the community and the vast amount of contributions made by individuals and other entities that have been essential for the success of OpenOffice.

    • Community Rights and Community Wrongs

      Yes, today’s restrictive licenses embody powerful rights, but those rights are no stronger than the ability of their owners to assert them. Placing all one’s defensive reliance on a single legal tool can make no more sense than relying on a single weapons system. Why? Because it’s all too easy to be outflanked by an enemy with a more diverse armament. And ever since Oracle’s acquisition of Sun, the traditional defenses of open source developers have been about as effective as France’s post-World War I Maginot Line.

    • Google’s ‘copied Java code’ disowned by Apache

      When Oracle sued Google over Android, many assumed the database giant would target code Google lifted from the Apache Foundation’s open source Java incarnation, Project Harmony. But Oracle just pinpointed six pages of Google code, claiming they were “directly copied” from copyrighted Oracle material, and according to Apache, this code is not part of Harmony.

    • Criminal Justice Blog Battles Copyright Troll

      A criminal justice blog that provides resources for difficult-to-prosecute murder cases is fighting bogus infringement claims from copyright troll Righthaven LLC and asked a Las Vegas judge Friday to dismiss Righthaven’s baseless attempt to seize his domain name.

      “Righthaven’s efforts to restrict what information is available to help police, prosecutors, and grieving families catch murderers is not only unlawful and an affront to the First Amendment, it’s just shameful,” said Thomas DiBiase, the former prosecutor and web publisher who was wrongly targeted in this case.

      The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), Colleen Bal and Bart Volkmer from the law firm of Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, and attorney Chad Bowers are representing DiBiase, an attorney who consults with law enforcement across the country on “no body” cases — where the victim is missing and presumed dead, but no body has been found. DiBiase runs a website at www.nobodycases.com to gather information on these complex investigations in order to help other prosecutors as well as family and friends of “no body” murder victims.

  • CMS

    • Source wars: Blackboard sets its sights on being more “free” than Moodle

      Recently Blackboard, the learning management system (LMS) company, announced its plans to seek new business using one of the open source way’s most attractive tools to educators: offering their services for free (as-in-no-cost).

      Meanwhile, Moodle, the free and open source software LMS, is working to maximize community resources and sharing in its next release (see the Moodle 2.0 release preview).

      With this path, Blackboard looks to be going after the low-hanging fruit that was formerly a major argument for Moodle adoption.


      To apply an idea from Chris Anderson, author of Free, Blackboard might beat Moodle’s “free” by becoming even more free. Blackboard is taking aim to undercut Moodle. For years Moodle has leveraged its zero cost to attract organizations with the wherewithal to install and manage the software. With this move, however, Blackboard eliminates barriers that previously prevented individual teachers from adopting an LMS.

    • LAMP stack Halloween cake

      Barry Jaspan and his wife Heather spent 20 hours creating this incredible cake for Acquia’s Halloween party. Creative duo! Not only did it look great, it was yummy. Trick or treat!

  • Project Releases

    • Midori 0.2.9 released with private browsing, Google reader fix & more

      A new version of lightweight webkit-based web-browser Midori has been released, adding support for private browsing, privacy improvements and fixes galore.

      Writing in the announcement post, Midori developer Christian Dywan says that a prime focus of Midori 0.2.9 was on privacy – with features such as improving cookie preferences, optimising HTML5 databases and the ability to clear form history all added.

  • Government

    • Cause and Effect

      Some folks budget $1000 per year per PC with that other OS when $200 year would be enough with GNU/Linux. Some people just don’t get Free Software. It will work for them. Special applications that only run on that other OS? The Scottish police force is big enough (12000 PCs) to write their own applications for less money than they pay in licensing fees if they used FLOSS.

  • Licensing

    • Self-Assessment Checklist: A Measuring Stick for Open Compliance Efforts

      If you’re serious about improving your company’s business practices, you probably want answers to some simple questions: “What’s important?” “What should I focus on and where do I start?” “What are best-in-class companies doing that I ought to be doing, too, and what can I learn from them?”

      That’s what the free Self-Assessment Checklist from The Linux Foundation’s Open Compliance Program is all about. We’ve compiled an extensive list of open source compliance practices found in industry-leading compliance programs. And to be clear, compliance is essential if companies are to gain the maximum benefit from use of free and open source software while respecting license obligations.

  • Openness/Sharing

    • Crowdsourcing search relevancy

      As a 20-person startup, we asked ourselves how blekko could assemble this essential data. Hire contractors? Use Mechanical Turk? Elance?

      But – of course! – we know a much better way…. A way you can get orders of magnitude greater participation, while at the same time being very open about the process.

    • International Commons Conference Kicks Off

      The International Commons Conference starts in Berlin today — with the aim of “Constructing a Commons-Based Policy Platform”.

      Essentially the aim is to bring together representatives from all the open, free and “commons” movements to discuss what they share in common — in the hope that a more unified approach will emerge, and the necessary networks will be created to enable the larger movement become more politically effective.

    • Spec Work and Contests Part Two

      Don’t let our Free / Libre software culture inadvertently shout out the wrong message to the precise people we should be addressing. Don’t let people that know nothing and care less about the subject erroneously mix up and confuse the terms.

    • Open innovation and open source innovation: what do they share and where do they differ?

      STEFAN: You are right about this. Big companies engage with open innovation because the combination of their internal resources and the external resources provides more innovation opportunities that they can feed their corporate engines with. They want to increase revenues and profits, and they definitely put this focus first rather than “just” trying to do good things.

  • Standards/Consortia


  • Dr. Double Down

    Halloween, computer science professor Hanna Wallach—a.k.a. El Estómago—decided to honor this year’s unhealthiest sandwich by making her own Double Down suit. Wallach, who tried the Double Down at 12:01am on April 12 and says she would be a competitive eater if she weren’t a professor, constructed the suit in under four hours. To test the suit’s efficacy, Wallach and her colleagues Tim Vieira (vegan) and Jason Naradowsky (dieting) paid a visit to the Colonel’s temple in Hadley, MA for a Double Down showdown. Employees were so impressed that they rewarded Wallach with a free Double Down.

  • LLVMpipe Scaling With Intel’s Core i7 Gulftown

    From the BIOS of the Intel X58 motherboard we used for testing, the number of enabled cores can be configured (from one through six) and Hyper Threading is easily controlled. This makes for very easy testing to see how well LLVMpipe is able to scale on the Core i7 970 and the performance of Intel’s Hyper Threading on their modern CPUs.

  • No wonder CompSci grads are unemployed

    As far as I can tell, only Queen Mary College has undergrads bright enough not to be scared of C++, and even then less than half take the option. Kings College students/victims told me that they do operating system internals in Java, and no they weren’t joking. That pitiful process is actually better than the average CS undergrad, who seems to regard the insides of operating systems with the same superstitious fear experienced by greens over nuclear energy.

  • Bell Systems Technical Journals Published

    A small example of this exists in the name UNIX itself. Most people today write “UNIX” as “Unix”, but in these original typeset and scanned PDFs, you can see that the developers consistently spelled it “UNIX”, with all capital letters.

  • Science

    • The galaxy (probably) abounds in Earth-like planets

      What percentage of Sun-like stars have earth-like planets orbiting them? As many as one-fourth, according to a new survey performed by astronomers at the University of California. This result contradicts previous theories of planet formation, but is a tantalizing prediction that finding extraterrestrial life, or at least Earth’s twin, is not impossible.

  • Security

    • Keep Your Eyes on this Adobe Zero Day
    • 88 High-Risk Defects Found in Android Kernel
    • surrenders
    • Android faces critical security study
    • The Message of Firesheep: “Baaaad Websites, Implement Sitewide HTTPS Now!”

      The Firesheep Firefox extension has been scaring users across the Internet since its introduction at the Toorcon security conference this past weekend by security researchers Eric Butler and Ian Gallagher. Firesheep demonstrates a security flaw that the computer security community has been concerned about for years — that any network eavesdropper can take over another user’s session (say, a login to a webmail or social networking account) just by sniffing packets and copying the victim’s cookie. In other words, if the websites you visit are not taking steps to encrypt your communications, or you’re not taking advantage of the encryption they offer, it’s now an obvious and trivial fact that anyone else on that same network can use features from your accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Yelp, Flickr, and a number of other popular web sites. Since Firesheep is extensible, people will probably teach it to “support” more web sites in short order.

  • Defence/Police/Aggression

    • For the First Time, the TSA Meets Resistance

      In part because of the back-scatter imager’s invasiveness (a TSA employee in Miami was arrested recently after he physically assaulted a colleague who had mocked his modestly sized penis, which was fully apparent in a captured back-scatter image), the TSA is allowing passengers to opt-out of the back-scatter and choose instead a pat-down. I’ve complained about TSA pat-downs in the past, because they, too, were more security theater than anything else. They are, as I would learn, becoming more serious, as well.

      At BWI, I told the officer who directed me to the back-scatter that I preferred a pat-down. I did this in order to see how effective the manual search would be. When I made this request, a number of TSA officers, to my surprise, began laughing. I asked why. One of them — the one who would eventually conduct my pat-down — said that the rules were changing shortly, and that I would soon understand why the back-scatter was preferable to the manual search. I asked him if the new guidelines included a cavity search. “No way. You think Congress would allow that?”

    • MI6 chief red-faced over daughter’s FaceBook page

      Spy chief Sir John Sawers, head of MI6, is having touble keeping things secret.

      Not only did his missus, Lady Sawers, post details of their domestic arrangements on FaceBook in June last year, including a picture of Sir John wearing in skimpy Speedos, but now his daughter is at it, using the anti-social vanity site to post a picture of herself posing by the Christmas tree with one of Sadaam Hussein’s golden Kalashnikovs.

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

    • The Petroleum Broadcast System Owes Us an Apology

      Last night, my dog Pluto and I watched the Public Broadcast System’s (PBS) “Frontline” investigation of BP, “The Spill.”

      PBS has uncovered a real shocker: BP neglected safety!

      Well, no shit, Sherlock!

      Pluto rolled over on the rug and looked at me as if to say, “Don’t we already know this?”

      Then PBS told us – get ready – that BP has neglected warnings about oil safety for years!

      That’s true. But so has PBS. The Petroleum Broadcast System has turned a blind eye to BP perfidy for decades.

      If the broadcast had come six months before the Gulf blowout, after the 2005 BP refinery explosion in Texas or after the 2006 Alaska pipeline disaster or after the years of government fines that flashed DANGER-DANGER, I would say, “Damn, that ‘Frontline’ sure is courageous.” But six months after the blowout, PBS has shown us it only has the courage to shoot the wounded.

  • Censorship/Privacy/Civil Rights

    • One month without Facebook

      So essentially I’m continuing my Facebook hiatus for an indefinite amount of time. I just wonder how to inform my Facebook friends that are expecting my back anytime soon … and I do hope they’ll at some point realize that some of their friends are not on Facebook by choice, but still deserve to be invited to parties and such.

    • [Old:] How Mark Zuckerberg Hacked Into Rival ConnectU In 2004

      Nevertheless, during 2004, Mark Zuckerberg still appeared to be obsessed with ConnectU. Specifically, he appears to have hacked into ConnectU’s site and made changes to multiple user profiles, including Cameron Winklevoss’s.

    • [Old:] In 2004, Mark Zuckerberg Broke Into A Facebook User’s Private Email Account

      As we’ve reported in detail in a separate story, the launch of TheFacebook.com was not without controversy. Just six days after the site launched, three Harvard seniors, Cameron Winklevoss, Tyler Winklevoss, and Divya Narendra, accused Mark of intentionally misleading them into believing he would help them build a social network called HarvardConnection.com, while he was instead using their ideas to build a competing product.

    • [Old:] At Last — The Full Story Of How Facebook Was Founded

      Back then, Mark was known at Harvard as the sophomore who had built Facemash, a “Hot Or Not” clone for Harvard. Facemash had already made Mark a bit of a celebrity on campus, for two reasons.

      The first is that Mark got in trouble for creating it. The way the site worked was that it pulled photos of Harvard students off of Harvard’s Web sites. It rearranged these photos so that when people visited Facemash.com they would see pictures of two Harvard students and be asked to vote on which was more attractive. The site also maintained a list of Harvard students, ranked by attractiveness.

      On Harvard’s politically correct campus, this upset people, and Mark was soon hauled in front of Harvard’s disciplinary board for students.

    • DHS Singles Out EFF’s FOIA Requests for Unprecedented Extra Layer of Review

      The Identity Project notes on its blog today that the Department of Homeland Security singled out EFF, along with other activist groups and media representatives such as the ACLU, EPIC, Human Rights Watch, AP, etc, for an extra layer of review on its FOIA requests. Records posted online by the DHS in response to one of the Identity Project’s FOIA requests show that the agency passed certain requests through extra levels of screening. According to a policy memo from DHS’s Chief FOIA Officer and Chief Privacy Officer, Mary Ellen Callahan, DHS components were required to report “significant FOIA activities” in weekly reports to the Privacy Office, which the Privacy Office then integrated into its weekly report to the White House Liason. Included among these designated “significant FOIA activities” were requests from any members of “an activist group, watchdog organization, special interest group, etc. “ and “requested documents [that] will garner media attention or [are] receiving media attention.”

    • You Can’t Tell Your USB from a Hole in the Wall

      Aram Bartholl is mortaring USB drives into walls, curbs, and buildings around New York. These dead drops, as he terms them, are peer-to-peer file transfer points with true anonymity. Bartholl has a residency with EYEBEAM, a truly fascinating incubator of and studio for new ideas in technology and art.

Clip of the Day

[Ubuntu Ad] Got tired of that?

Credit: TinyOgg

TechBytes Episode 1: Apple, Microsoft, Bundling, and Fedora 14 (With Special Guest Brandon Lozza)

Posted in TechBytes at 10:55 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz


Direct download as Ogg (1:31:18, 30 MB) | Direct download as MP3 (41 MB)

Summary: Brandon Lozza joins Tim and Roy for the first episode of TechBytes, which covers Fedora and many other subjects

TIM and I open the first show with a few words about Apple’s lawsuit against Motorola (over Android) because reports suggest that Apple — not Motorola — started it with provocation, just like in Nokia’s case. We then speak about what those cases of patent aggression (also from Microsoft) mean to ordinary gadget buyers who are hardly aware of such issues. Tim and I also discuss the choices which are made available to people and what limits the range of one’s choice.

Brandon LozzaA second segment of our show is dedicated to the Fedora project. Brandon Lozza, a Fedora Ambassador, spoke to us about the Tuesday release of Fedora 14 and we also chatted about Canonical’s Unity, which offers interface substitution for GNOME Shell (developed largely with support from Red Hat). Brandon has a Web site and an Identi.ca account where you can follow him.

A future show with Wayne Borean is expected but not yet scheduled. Wayne is quite an expert in copyrights (as a recording professional) and active participant in the debate about copyright law in Canada. He can also speak to us about Microsoft and Windows, which he has been tracking for decades and regularly writes about in his Web site.

RSS 64x64You can follow TechBytes through Identi.ca and subscribe to the show via RSS feeds.

Thanks to all those who gave feedback on the pilot, which got over a thousand downloads (so far). If you enjoy the show, please consider recommending it to others.

As embedded (HTML5):


Ogg Theora
(There is also an MP3 version)

Update: David from GNU Octave wrote to point out that my assessment of the project may not have been fair. “Heard the first (well 1st, not 0th) episode,” David politely wrote, “and I have to object to the notion that Octave is a stale project. We have a lot contributors. Plotting is still not on par with matlab, which I agree is holding things back. We have few people improving the plotting, but it is slow.” Admittedly, the last time I compiled Octave was about 5 years ago on SUSE and it was a bit of a struggle.

Good News, Bad News From OpenLogic

Posted in Apple, FUD, GNU/Linux, Google, Microsoft, Mono, Novell at 9:48 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Bad moon rising

Summary: News items that advertise OpenLogic’s products continue to create an elevated FOSS licence scare

THIS post is an assessment of OpenLogic’s business model and strategy, which usually starts with marketing that’s disguised as a ‘study’. OpenLogic ‘studies’ are to Microsoft FUD what Novell’s Moonlight is to Silverlight. They may try to provide help to Free software users/developers (arguably good intentions), but what they actually do is provide the likes of Microsoft with ammunition (FUD) against Free software. OpenLogic — like Novell — also sells services or products around that FUD, so it’s not so well intentioned, it is also selfish.

To quote the new article (there are quite a few typos in there):

According to a study from OpenLogic, a software services vendor, licensing for open source are used widely in app store apps for mobiles.

OpenLogic is (or was) headed by a former Microsoft employee. We have already been sceptical about it, especially after OpenLogic signed a census agreement/partnership with Microsoft. Watch how the blog post ends, offering ‘medicine’ for the problem they present: “A product that assists in ensuring compliance for open source is OpenLogic’s OLEX App Store edition.” Then they refer to a ‘plug’ as a form of seemingly-independent authority: “This new solution aids a company to manage its open source policies and use, reports developer.com”

There are other companies that use the same business model. To use an analogy that’s a template, company X presents problem Y, for which it offers its solution, Z, which was recommended by some third party which is not X. This is done in the area of medicine quite extensively and we explained this a year ago.

Apple and Microsoft Both Attack Linux Similarly, But the Latter Suffers From Innovator’s Dilemma

Posted in Apple, Microsoft, Patents at 7:22 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

George VI and Queen Elizabeth

Summary: New observations about the decline of Microsoft (which suffers from several long-living issues) and its Apple-like response, which is disregard for some free/open standards and litigation that is based on software patents

Wayne Borean has just published a couple of blog posts which he titled/preceded with “Microsoft Death Watch”. For quite some time he has been talking about the possibility that Microsoft won’t survive for a long time to come and we are now seeing such claims (or at least similar ones) qualifying to enter the mainstream/corporate press (shortly after Microsoft’s latest results which obfuscate issues). Borean’s first post claims that “The Mainstream Media Notices the Problem”:

Last year when I predicted that Microsoft had five years until they’d have to apply for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Protection, there was a lot of laughter. I was told that I was crazy – a point that I won’t argue. Being crazy means that you see things in a different light.

And then we have Information Week running an article titled Microsoft Looking Like An End-Stage Company. In it Information Week calls out many of the same points I’ve been making. They also suggest that Steve Ballmer, the President and CEO needs to go. Soon.

Then we have CNN with an article titled Microsoft is a dying consumer brand. One of the people they quote is Ray Ozzie, who has just left Microsoft, and posted a comment in his blog.

Microsoft looks like a classic case of The Innovator’s Dilemma. When was the last time that Microsoft introduced a successful new project? I can tell you exactly. It was August 24th, 2001. The launch of Windows XP, which merged the 9x and NT versions of Windows, is the last successful new product, and it wasn’t even new. It was a merger of two pre-existing products.


My original prediction was based on Microsoft taking no action to avoid bankruptcy. Obviously Microsoft would take action, but I didn’t have any idea as to what sort of action they would attempt to take. Oh, we know that Microsoft has been selling off and closing divisions, my thanks to Dr. Roy for hosting a listing.

The problem is that selling and closing divisions doesn’t address the main problem, a lack of productive innovation. If you can’t or won’t bring new products to market, you might as well just close the company.

The follow-up titled “Microsoft Death Watch – Libre Office Drives Another Nail Into The Coffin” speaks about the main cash cow and the threat posed from an increasing number of directions (not just Free software):

Any change in sales of Microsoft Office will have a huge effect on Microsoft’s profitability, and the corporation’s ability to develop new products. Remember my prediction that Microsoft would be in Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Protection within five years? A large part of that prediction was based on the growth in market share of IWork, OpenOfficeOrg, and Google Docs, and the economic pressures on end users of the recession.

What does a company with a thousand seats (installations) of Microsoft Office do when money runs low, and it’s not possible to renew the licenses? At this point OpenOfficeOrg looks like a great deal. Sure, it’s not completely compatible with Microsoft Office, but the cost factor can’t be ignored.

Alastair Otter asks similar question with his headline, “Beginning of the end for Microsoft?”

There are a couple of moments in Microsoft’s long history that will be remembered as when the company changed forever. One of those is, naturally, when Bill Gates handed over the reins. The other will be the day that Ray Ozzie, Microsoft’s chief software architect, leaves the building.

Ozzie’s departure was very major news [1, 2]. Well, even a Microsoft booster who has been loyal to the company for a long time is willing to acknowledge this:

It’s easy to lampoon Ray Ozzie’s farewell memo to Microsoft – Dan Lyons summarised it as “We suck. I quit. Goodbye.”

Expect Ray Ozzie’s function to be replaced by the likes of Horacio Gutierrez, who is intimidating, extorting and sometimes suing companies that ‘dare’ not to use/distribute Windows and Office. Gutierrez was recently promoted, which ought to give a clue. It is no secret anymore that Microsoft is using patents as a “Plan B”, so to speak. Groklaw responds to Ray Ozzie’s unfounded claim that Microsoft “continued to grow and mature in the area of responsible competition, and the breadth and depth of our cultural shift toward genuine openness, interoperability and privacy which are now such key cornerstones of everything we do.”

“Run that by me one more time,” wrote Pamela Jones in response to this. “Genuine openness, you say? Interoperability? Is ODF allowed to be fully interoperable now? No? How can that be, if Microsoft if now genuinely open and interoperable? Yes. I jest. And with Ozzie ejecting, I’d say the future of any genuine openness is not something to expect any time soon from a company that didn’t even know how to respect a man like Ozzie.”

“…Microsoft is reportedly now using patents to block Taiwanese manufacturers from using Android in netbooks unless they pay Microsoft, which raises the price of using Android.”
      –Pamela Jones, Groklaw
Jones also referred to Microsoft’s patent extortion [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7] of companies that may sell Android or ChromeOS in/from Asia. “If I might point it out,” wrote Jones in response to a post from Dana Blankenhorn, “what bundling did for Microsoft was get it into antitrust lawsuits, which I expect will happen again with its anticompetive patent strategy, which is how this article describes its purpose, without apparently realizing that it’s digging a hole for Microsoft while meaning to halfway admire the strategy. I’ll bet we’ll see this article in a lawsuit someday, actually. There is a point where patent law and antitrust law meet in a High-Noon kind of way.”

She wrote separately: ” Some of us don’t admire Microsoft’s business practices. For just one recent example, Microsoft is reportedly now using patents to block Taiwanese manufacturers from using Android in netbooks unless they pay Microsoft, which raises the price of using Android. I read that and it makes me want to avoid anything Microsoft offers ever. And it makes me want to try Android on a netbook, because in my logical mind, if this is all Microsoft can do to compete, it must be offering second-rate goods, I conclude. That’s how I react, and I doubt I am alone.”

“The resonable man adapts himself to the world; the unresonable on persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.”George Bernard Shaw

Motorola Lawsuit Against Apple Was “Preemptively Launched”

Posted in Apple, GNU/Linux, Google at 4:27 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Steve Wozniak

Summary: Apple was the one going after Motorola (with Android lawsuit) and Apple’s co-founder Wozniak says negative things about Android

APPLE HAS A history of threatening to sue and also suing platforms/operating systems which are based on Linux. Earlier this year we were told that Nokia sued Apple only because it knew Apple was about to (as Apple eventually did).

Apple is an example of a patent aggressor. It goes a long way back. There is this rather distasteful Web site called PatentlyApple; it is like an Apple shrine to Apple's patents, as we noted before. It uses language like “defend” when referring to Apple suing (one very common spin/euphemism is to call offence a defence). It says that “Apple Files Lawsuit against Motorola to Defend Multi-Touch” and verifies what we suspected all along — that Motorola’s lawsuit against Apple, launched just days after Microsoft had sued Motorola, was in fact preemptive. Apple must have signaled to Motorola that it was about to sue.

The inevitable: When Motorola preemptively launched their declaration judgment action against Apple earlier this month, we knew that Apple was likely to launch multiple patent infringement lawsuits against Motorola once their licensing negotiations failed to produce an agreement.

“Apple seeks monopoly through court action against Motorola,” Dana Blankenhorn argues:

Late Friday Apple filed a pair of lawsuits against Motorola, claiming its Android phones violate six important patents, demanding the products be pulled from the shelves, their profits be given to Apple, and that treble damages and attorney fees be awarded.

If the courts agree such a result would destroy Motorola.

This followed by two weeks Motorola’s filing of countersuits against Apple, demanding its patents be invalidated.

All of which means that the very concept of competition within the smart phone marketplace is now before the courts.

Not all the patents being asserted are software patents. One of Apple’s cases relates directly to its multi-touch hardware, and how it tracks movements.

Jon maddog Hall has this new response to Apple. As a famous UNIX guy he has no sympathy for Apple:

Recently I was reading an article that was quoting Steve Jobs about how the Android phones from different manufacturers were all slightly different. He was pointing out that HTC and Motorola were putting on slightly different human interfaces and that this was crazy compared to his iPhone where all the phones were exactly the same.

I started wondering what world Mr. Jobs lives in. Is it a world where every car is the same? Every house is the same? Do people shop around for different makes and models of things out of some type of twisted self-hate, or is it that people like to have choice in the way things look and work?

Apple’s co-founder Wozniak, who has already said negative things about software freedom and defended a patent troll, now contributes to Android FUD in the same way that Ed Bought [sic] did — by trying it only to slam it (it is less obvious or certain in the case of Wozniak). It strikes us as familiar because Ed Bought only ever experiments with GNU/Linux when he tries to make it fail and then announces it in a ZDNet FUD piece (he makes a living from selling Windows books). A very popular way of slamming GNU/Linux is to say that you use it when the short-term use (maybe in a virtual machine) is clearly intended to make it look bad and provide ‘ammunition’ against it. Similar strategies are being used against Android right now. We’ve recently seen done to Android what was done a lot to GNU/Linux and it’s a sign of Android’s maturity really. It would not be targeted like this unless it was a major threat. The mobbyists are also attacking Android.

Miguel de Icaza Was Wrong About Silverlight and .NET

Posted in GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Mono, Novell, Patents at 3:46 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz


Summary: Poor guidance on the direction of GNU/Linux and what it ought to teach

“We could refresh the look and feel of the entire desktop with Moonlight,” Miguel de Icaza once said. Last year he was still drooling over Silverlight, which we now know to be virtually dead for most purposes. For someone who is a Microsoft MVP and not just a Novell VP, being deceived by Microsoft would be understandable. The problem is, de Icaza has been urging other developers (e.g. in GNOME) to embrace Microsoft’s way of doing things (including Silverlight) and this is not helping GNU/Linux. Using Moonlight for the desktop would be insane as even Microsoft gave up on the idea of Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF). Why should GNU/Linux be called to rescue Microsoft’s dying and patents-riddled proprietary experiment? It makes no sense.

When it comes to .NET — just like when it comes to Silverlight — we have already shown that there are serious growing pains; if those pains are not Java (although it is a major component), languages and frameworks like Ruby, Python, and PHP (on GNU/Linux) are definitely a pain to .NET and Azure is not going to change any of that, not if people like Ozzie jump ship [1, 2] and use GNU/Linux as their blogging platform (with WordPress, PHP, MySQL, and so on).

In some ways, .NET already gets neglected by developers, at least parts of .NET which strive to gain Free/open source software developers. Mono has suffered a major slow-down and Schementi, whom we wrote about in posts such as [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6], will soon be working more closely with the Mono guy (we are aware of other people who move from Microsoft employment to Mono) because de Icaza et al. are supposed to carry on Microsoft’s own projects:

In future, the development of IronPython will be coordinated by Mono’s chief programmer, Miguel de Icaza, and by Michael Foord, Jeff Hardy and Schementi. Schementi and de Icaza will also coordinate the continued development of IronRuby. All developers had already previously been involved in the projects. What’s different for the community is that it can now make changes to the implementations without Microsoft’s influence. Microsoft programmers will at most be involved in the projects on an unofficial basis.

How about the headline “Microsoft is Turning Control of Iron Languages to Miguel de Icaza and Jimmy Schementi” (no pretense anymore)? Why help the company which is suing Linux-selling companies?

In summary, Silverlight is collapsing and .NET too has problems. Despite all of this, one Microsoft MVP and Novell VP insists on bringing these to GNU/Linux. Why take advice from this man? The Free desktop has better visions to aim for.

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