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Links 2/9/2010: Red Hat at Year Highs, Fake 'Open Source' Called Out



GNOME bluefish

Contents





GNU/Linux



Free Software/Open Source



  • Choosing an Open Source Systems Management Solution


    The Little 4 may be smaller in terms of their bottom lines, but in terms of systems management capabilities, there's nothing little about the open source offerings from Zenoss, Hyperic, GroundWork Open Source, and The OpenNMS Group.


  • Events

    • Nomination period open for Nordic Free Software Award
      The Nordic Free Software Award given to people, projects or organisations in the Nordic countries that have made a prominent contribution to the advancement of Free Software. The award will be announced during FSCONS 2010 in Gothenburg.




  • Web Browsers



  • Databases

    • PostgreSQL 9.0's first release candidate arrives
      The first release candidate for version 9.0 of the PostgreSQL open source database has been released after four months in beta. The developers expect no changes in commands, interfaces or APIs between the release candidate and the final release, though there may be more release candidates before then, depending on bug reports. The most prominent feature in the new release is integrated replication using "Hot Standby" and "Streaming Replication" while other features include full support for 64-bit Windows, improved reporting queries, SQL standard per-column triggers, enhanced Perl and Python integrations and easier database permission management.




  • Oracle

    • The end of OpenSolaris?
      Sun aspired to be central to the next network-inspired boom, and it was understood that to do that, you had to be promiscuous, available, familiar, and easy-to-acquire. Hence open source, and hence OpenSolaris, and hence creating an OpenSolaris distribution (rather than just offer the source).


    • The State of Oracle/Sun Grid Engine
      Let’s take a look at the good news. According to DanT’s Grid Blog Oracle has plans for Grid Engine. As Dan mentions, Grid Engine does not compete with any Oracle product and like other resource managers has applications outside of HPC, which probably means Cloud based solutions.




  • Education





  • Semi-Open Source

    • Comment: The hype is over
      However, it didn't quite work out that way: Commercial open source software, it turns out, is just the same as any other commercial software; the only difference is that one gets to take a peek at the source code (and often only certain portions of the code, see The H Open feature "Open core, closed heart?") and can download a free trial version with varying degrees of functional restrictions from the internet.

      But what about vendor independence? There is only one company that can offer vendor support for SugarCRM. Lower costs? Commercial open source vendors need to cover their development costs just like every other software vendor. Low entry requirements? Not least because of the competition from the open source community, more and more proprietary applications now also offer free trial or community versions. And don't you dare mess with the code if you wish to have vendor support.

      The "commercial open source" model, it seems to me, has outlived itself. Sure enough, vendors such as Alfresco or SugarCRM have established themselves in the market – because their products stand up to those of their proprietary competitors. Not because their software is open source, however – this "only" gave them an added edge compared to other start-ups. However, this effect is now gone, and companies who develop open source software are no longer considered extraordinary.


    • Open source 4.0: excellent for dancing
      By commercializing open source projects indirectly, through complementary products and services, multiple vendors are able to seize a commercial advantage and run with it without endangering the core open source project. As long as they continue to collaborate on the non-differentiating code, the project should benefit from being stretched in multiple directions.

      There will inevitably be some vendors that want to have their cake and it eat – benefiting from the work of others without sharing – but that is an inherent risk with community-developed open source, and I would argue that most have learned that they stand to gain more from collaborating than they do from forking and that it is in their own commercial interests to contribute to the common good.




  • BSD

    • FreeBSD Will Continue Supporting ZFS
      Pawel Jakub Dawidek has announced he has prepared a port of the ZFS v28 file-system for FreeBSD, which is a newer revision of this advanced Sun/Oracle file-system than what is currently available in FreeBSD 8.1. This updated ZFS file-system brings a number of new features to FreeBSD-ZFS users including data de-duplication support, triple parity RAIDZ (RAIDZ3), ZFS DIFF, Zpool Split, snapshot holds, forced Zpool imports, and the ability to import a pool in a read-only mode.


    • ZFS Support Will Continue In FreeBSD




  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • GNU Spotlight with Karl Berry (August 2010)
      This month we welcome Jose Marchesi as maintainer of the new package recutils, Mike Gran as maintainer of the new package guile-ncurses, and long-time maintainers Bruno Haible, Jim Meyering, and Simon Josefsson adding the new package vc-changelog to their duties.


    • Software Freedom Day to be marked in Melbourne
      Software Freedom Day, a day observed worldwide to spread the message of free and open source software, will be marked in Melbourne on September 18 from 10am to 4pm at the State Library of Victoria.




  • Government

    • Can councils rise to the Open Source challenge? Should they?
      There was an interesting little piece in the Guardian few days ago suggesting that local authorities could save €£51 million by moving some council employees to Open Office* and ODF**, and away from Microsoft Office and their document format, with the total savings rocketing to €£200 million if every council employee in the country moved over.

      This sensible proposal came from Cllr Liam Maxwell who’s reponsible for IT in the Royal Borough of Windsor & Maidenhead, and I’m sure Cllr Maxwell would be the first to acknowledge it’s not a new suggestion. The office suite – as a commodity piece of software – has long been seen as one of the easiest ways to get open source onto people’s desktops and save money in the process.

      I’m certain Cllr Maxwell also appreciates that there are issues, some of which are mentioned in the Guardian, but they’re not made very clear and it’s worth expanding on them.




  • Licensing

    • Could this Lawsuit Undermine the GNU GPL?
      As Welte says, this really is outrageous: it's GPL'd code, and the embedded system manufacturer is somehow trying to claim that it has the right to stop someone else from using and modifying that code on those devices - as if the hardware made any difference. But the whole point of the GPL is that others must be able to take software distributed under it and use it as they wish.

      I suspect that with some careful explanation from Welte (and others), the company will see that it doesn't have a case, and the court action will be quietly dropped. On the other hand, if the case were to go forward and resulted in a win for the company concerned, it would represent a major problem for the GPL. Stay tuned...


    • More GPL enforcement work again.. and a very surreal but important case
      Right now I'm facing what I'd consider the most outrageous case that I've been involved so far: A manufacturer of Linux-based embedded devices (no, I will not name the company) really has the guts to go in front of court and sue another company for modifying the firmware on those devices. More specifically, the only modifications to program code are on the GPL licensed parts of the software. None of the proprietary userspace programs are touched! None of the proprietary programs are ever distributed either.




  • Openness/Sharing

    • The Sharing Economy
      Sharing. It’s one of the first things most children are urged to do.

      Few children, though, have the presence-of-mind to ask their parents when they last shared their weed-eater, their water blaster or even their car.

      The fact that virtually every garage has one of each of the above suggests the concept of sharing has some way to go in the adult world.

      Yet if dwindling resources and growing population is the biggest issue of our times, this will need to change. Everyone with one item of everything is not a sustainable thought.


    • The Case For Open-Source Design: Can Design By Committee Work?
      The following is an investigation into the difficulties of extending the open-source collaboration model from coding to its next logical step: interface design. While we’ll dive deep into the practical difference between these two professional fields, the article might also serve as a note of caution to think before rushing to declare the rise of “open-source architecture,” “open-source university,” “open-source democracy” and so on.


    • Open Data

      • The ABCD of Open Scholarship
        We had a wonderful meeting yesterday with Dave Flanders (JISC) David Shotton’s (Oxford) group (#jiscopencite) and our #jiscopenbib (Cambridge/OKF) – more details later. We really believe these projects can make a major change to Open Scholarship. We came up – almost by chance with the ABCD of Open Scholarship:

        * Open Access * Open Bibliography * Open Citations * Open Data




    • Open Hardware

      • Arduino Projects: Getting Started
        Anyone who has ever hacked around in their PC will have been hit with an urge to take their tinkering to the next level and create a custom-built device, but few actually try - believing such things to be far too complicated. At least, until the Arduino appeared on the scene.

        Originally developed in Italy in 2005 as a tool for students building interactive design projects, the Arduino is a microcontroller-based prototyping board - but one that pretty much removes the barriers to entry that previous electronic prototyping systems had.






  • Programming

    • September Project of the Month: GPL Ghostscript
      The end of the year is right around the corner (already!) but we’re not quite done showcasing projects that have been with us for 10 years or more. September’s Project of the Month is GPL Ghostscript, a complete set of page description language interpreters including PDF, PostScript, PCL5, PCLXL, and XPS.




  • Standards/Consortia





Leftovers

  • Bill would let repeat offenders hide record
    Six state senators want to give a break to ex-convicts who might be haunted by their criminal records when they attempt to land jobs.

    Senate Bill 291 would remove court and police records from public view by allowing nonviolent criminals with multiple convictions to apply to seal records documenting their offenses after five years of clean conduct.


  • Northern Ky. teacher wins $11 million judgment against gossip Web site
    A gossip Web site has been hit with an $11 million judgment for libel and slander after posting false accusations that a Northern Kentucky teacher who works on the side as a Cincinnati Bengals cheerleader was exposed to two venereal diseases.


  • Perhaps Avoiding Links Is Really A Way To Get People Not To Read The Details Of The Studies You're Misrepresenting
    Earlier this year, as part of a discussion about Nick Carr's most recent book we pointed to some reports that noted Carr appeared to misrepresent the scientific research to support his point. It appears that others are finding more examples of this as well. There was a little web-hubbub that I ignored earlier this year when Carr declared that links in documents were bad, and he was shifting all his links to the end. This was apparently based on some research, Carr claimed, that showed links in text are really distracting. Personally, I found that premise to be laughable, as I think after my second week online I stopped being distracted by links and quickly learned to use them effectively.

    Still, without having a chance to dig into the research, I didn't have much to say on the subject. However, Scott Rosenberg is digging in and finding that, once again, it appears that Carr is conveniently misrepresenting the studies he relies on to support his anti-link thesis. T


  • The new banana republic


    All governments need to be watched. You never know when one of them will slip in a nasty tax on the quiet or pass a seemingly simple notification that can be the undoing of entire communities or of the environment. That is the nature of the beast. But how vigilant can people be with a government that will try to alter the entire complexion of a critical law-in-the-making by sneakily replacing a clear-cut ‘or’ with a lethal ‘and’—under the very noses of the MPs opposed to legislation?


  • Why our jobs are getting worse
    And all this was enabled by technology. The modern supermarket – with its electronic scanning and inventory controls and price reductions decided by a software program run out of head office – is probably more hi-tech than any web-design firm. The result is that the man or woman in charge of your typical supermarket (or other chain shop) now has little to do with the selling or arrangement of goods: nowadays they concentrate on driving their staff to meet the targets set by head office. Their job is not so much retail-management as rowing cox.


  • Science

    • Ancient brewers tapped antibiotic secrets
      of ancient Nubians shows that they were regularly consuming tetracycline, most likely in their beer. The finding is the strongest evidence yet that the art of making antibiotics, which officially dates to the discovery of penicillin in 1928, was common practice nearly 2,000 years ago.

      The research, led by Emory anthropologist George Armelagos and medicinal chemist Mark Nelson of Paratek Pharmaceuticals, Inc., is published in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology.




  • Security/Aggression

    • Special constable jailed for Wigan ex-soldier attack


      A Greater Manchester Police special constable convicted of assaulting an off-duty soldier and lying about the attack has been jailed for three years.

      Peter Lightfoot, 40, was filmed hitting Mark Aspinall while attempting to arrest him after he had been thrown out of a Wigan club last July.


    • After Katrina, New Orleans Cops Were Told They Could Shoot Looters
      In the chaotic days after Hurricane Katrina, an order circulated among New Orleans police authorizing officers to shoot looters, according to present and former members of the department.


    • Vladimir Putin says 'unsanctioned' protesters can expect police brutality


      Vladimir Putin today angrily dismissed protests against his regime as "provocations" and said anyone who took part in unsanctioned street rallies against the Kremlin should expect a "whack on the bonce".


    • Hay-what?
      So, in essence, the outside public - including Iranians - are asked to believe that a) Haystack software exists b) Haystack software works c) Haystack software rocks d) the Iranian government doesn't yet have a copy of it, nor do they know that Haystack rocks & works. (And who could fault them for not reading Newsweek? I certainly can't). For someone with my Eastern European sensibilities, that's a lot of stuff to believe in. Even Santa - we call him Ded Moroz - appears more plausible in comparison.


    • Andy Coulson discussed phone hacking at News of the World, report claims


      The prime minister's media adviser, Andy Coulson, freely discussed the use of unlawful news-gathering techniques while editor of the News of the World and "actively encouraged" a named reporter to engage in the illegal interception of voicemail messages, according to allegations published by the New York Times.


    • Blair Almost Ordered London Plane Shot Down On 9/11
      Those who were in London on 11 September 2001 may recall the wild speculation flying around about potential attacks on our own city. Several hijacked planes were heading for London, the whole of Canary Wharf was being evacuated...anything might happen. Fortunately, we were hit by nothing more than rumour. But a new revelation from Tony Blair's memoirs reveals how close we came to accidental tragedy.




  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

    • 'Phantom' oil slick was a smear against Climate Camp
      What's ironic about all this is that the big news on the Guardian's website isn't an investigation into whether or not the police deliberately misled the public by duping lazy newspapers into regurgitating a fake smear story. Rather, some journalists think that it's the Climate Camp who are the ones supposedly controlling the media.






  • Finance

    • Goldman feels heat in suit vs. Dollar Thrifty
      The investment bank, which is still trying to burnish its reputation after settling fraud charges brought this year by the Securities and Exchange Commission, stands accused in a lawsuit of using information it gleaned from one client to win business from another.



    • Ex-Lehman CEO says regulators refused to save firm
      The former chief of Lehman Brothers told a panel investigating the financial crisis that the Wall Street firm could have been rescued, but regulators' refused to help - even though they later bailed out other big banks.

      Richard S. Fuld Jr. told the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission at a hearing that Lehman did everything it could to limit its risks and save itself in the fall of 2008.


    • No holiday for labor unions
      Labor Day this year comes draped in mourning. More than half of all workers have experienced a spell of unemployment, taken a cut in pay or hours, been forced to go part-time or seen other such problems during and after the Great Recession.




  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

    • The Billionaires Bankrolling the Tea Party
      Another weekend, another grass-roots demonstration starring Real Americans who are mad as hell and want to take back their country from you-know-who. Last Sunday the site was Lower Manhattan, where they jeered the "ground zero mosque." This weekend, the scene shifted to Washington, where the avatars of oppressed white Tea Party America, Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin, were slated to "reclaim the civil rights movement" (Beck's words) on the same spot where the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. had his dream exactly 47 years earlier.




  • Censorship/Privacy/Civil Rights

    • William Gibson jacks into Google's cool menace
      I don't like William Gibson's Op-Ed piece on Google in today's New York Times merely because, barely a week after I went all Jeremy Bentham Panopticonic on the cat bin lady, he writes that "Jeremy Bentham's Panopticon prison design is a perennial metaphor in discussions of digital surveillance and data mining, but it doesn't really suit an entity like Google." Even though it's kind of a put-down (perennial!), still, great minds think almost alike, right?


    • India lifts threat of block on BlackBerrys
      Stepping back from the brink of a crackdown, India's ministry of home affairs said RIM had made "certain proposals for lawful access by law enforcement agencies and these would be operationalised immediately". It did not offer any detail on these concessions and RIM, which is based in Toronto, declined to comment.


    • Sneaky Senate Trying To Slip Internet Kill Switch Past Us
      Sensing Senators don’t have the stomach to try and pass a stand-alone bill in broad daylight that would give the President the power to shut down the Internet in a national emergency, the Senate is considering attaching the Internet Kill Switch bill as a rider to other legislation that would have bi-partisan support.




  • Internet/Net Neutrality/DRM

    • AT&T: Net rules must allow 'paid prioritization'
      AT&T said Tuesday that any Net neutrality plan restricting its ability to engage in "paid prioritization" of network traffic would be harmful and contrary to the fundamental principles of the Internet.

      Telecommunications providers need the ability to set different prices for different forms of Internet service, AT&T said, adding that it already has "hundreds" of customers who have paid extra for higher-priority services.


    • AT&T calls net neutrality advocate a conspiracy theorist
      In a letter to the Federal Communication Commission (FCC), AT&T tried to rubbish points made by the group, calling them "not exactly true". The argument revolves around the notion of "paid prioritisation" of Internet connectivity, something that net neutrality activists are fiercely against.

      AT&T claims that the Free Press, in supporting Diffserv, is in direct contradiction to its support of equal packet rights. Diffserv is one of a number of mechanisms proposed to provide differing quality of service (QoS), though typically it is run on customers' routers.

      The telecom behemoth argues that paid prioritisation will not create an Internet 'rich club', saying that small to medium businesses voluntarily take AT&T up on the offer. However the fact that a few firms purchase managed connectivity from AT&T doesn't really change the fact that applying such policies at the network core is something that will concern the majority of users. Judging by the lengths to which AT&T goes to promote it, those fears won't be allayed any time soon.




  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Mixing it up without IP
      Intellectual property exists to promote progress. Its purpose is not to ensure that no one’s ideas are stolen or that creative people can earn a living, unless those things are needed to promote progress in a field. The granting of temporary monopolies in the form of patents and copyrights is the price we pay for progress, not a goal in itself.

      It might be completely true that bartenders are shamelessly stealing from each other, and that’s certainly something we should condemn, but we probably shouldn’t get the law involved unless we can show that this theft is causing mixology to stagnate. Along with fashion, cooking, and even magic, we’re in an industry that’s arguably better off with weak IP. This decade’s boom in craft cocktails is a sign that we’re doing OK without stricter protections, and I’d be worried that additional threats of lawsuits would have a chilling effect on the sharing of new techniques and recipes.


    • Copyrights

      • Indian gov't issues music royalty directive
        A long-standing issue over revenue terms between private FM radio stations and music labels here saw the Copyright Board issuing a directive Wednesday laying out a revenue-sharing model instead of the earlier fixed-cost structure.

        The Copyright Board, part of the Ministry of Human Resources Development, has been mediating a bitter dispute over the last couple of years between FM stations and music labels over establishing a revenue model between both parties. Private stations launched here over five years ago after the government auctioned licenses inviting private players in radio broadcasting.


      • Consumer survey on copyright access barriers
        Access to Knowledge: Reports of Campaigns and Research 2008-2010The biggest barriers that consumers face in accessing copyrighti works are those created by copyright law. Even so, consumers around the world will choose original copyright works over pirated copies, provided that they are available at an affordable price.



      • ZeroPaid Interviews Russell McOrmond 2 – Canadian Bill C-32 (Part 2 of 3)
        A law closer to the language of the WIPO treaties wouldn’t protect this practice. In the short term even the USA DMCA doesn’t protect this practise. Bill C-32 would legally protect this practise, given circumventing access control technical measures and even providing tools to change the locks on what we own are being made illegal.


      • Foreworld as Foretaste
        That is, piracy isn't a real problem if you *out-innovate* the pirates, making your paid-for offering better than their free one. Indeed, if you do, pirated copies become like tasters, encouraging people to upgrade and pay for the full, latest version. Similarly, by the sound of it, part of the strength of this project will be the interweaving of other elements into the text - again, something that pirates can't offer.


      • Compartilhamento legal! – Brazil is putting an end to the ‘war on copying,’ at R$ 3,00 per month
        An overlapping constellation of civil society and art actors focussed their submission on a single issue: file-sharing. Under the slogan “Compartilhamento legal! R$3,00 de todos para tudo,” this network is proposing to legalize non-commercial file-sharing in exchange for a levy on broadband Internet access. The idea is nearly as old as peer-to-peer file-sharing itself. It has been tested in technology and in law making a few times. Here and now in Brazil, it feels like it might actually become a reality.










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