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Archive for May, 2007

An unusual endorsement

May 29, 2007 Leave a comment

While looking for something else today, I came across this:

V2 of gates

And after a good laugh, I thought I’d share it.

Of course, I’m not sure this is the best endorsement that Ubuntu can muster, but as humor, it’s pretty funny (and sorry the right part is cut off, but you get the message . . .). Now if we can only get Steve Jobs . . . (okay, so who’s good at GIMP?).

The source of this item, as far as I can tell, is a French blogger, who posted it sometime in November of last year. Read French? Then go to le blog and give it a read.

[FSF Associate Member](Larry Cafiero, editor/publisher of Open Source Reporter, is an associate member of the Free Software Foundation.)
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Protect your freedom!

Categories: Microsoft, Ubuntu

Miscellaneous ramblings

May 26, 2007 Leave a comment

Shameless self promotion: Okay, so Open Source Reporter has a store at Cafe Press and I made up some “Sue me first, Steve!” FOSS-wear at various prices — mostly T-shirts, but also some other items (no, I opted out from the thong underwear, unless the demand for “Sue me first, Steve!” underwear picks up . . . ). So help me out so I can print the magazine by buying something and send Darth Ballmer and Microsoft a message in the process.

Distro du jour: With two Indigo iMacs, the trusty Power Macintosh G3 minitower (with the Sonnet G4 upgrade) seems to be somewhat expendable these days. So . . . it now has Yellow Dog, but it doesn’t have to. I’m thinking about trying one more time to get Debian up and running on it (after all, I did take the time to burn 15 CD-ROMs — sheesh). But I keep hoping Fluxbuntu will have its PowerPC version up and running — a visit to their site had some PowerPC screen shots that were pretty impressive. All of which is to say, “watch this space.”

Here comes the Sun: Sun Microsystems brought its world tour to UC Santa Cruz this week, and on the whole it was pretty impressive. During the presentation about Sun’s open source offerings (the Java part was pretty interesting), they said that they were releasing one of their items under GPL v.2. I asked about whether they had planned to adopt v.3, but I ended up getting a very roundabout answer from the presenter — a member of the audience straightened both of us out, though.

[FSF Associate Member](Larry Cafiero, editor/publisher of Open Source Reporter, is an associate member of the Free Software Foundation.)

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Protect your freedom!

Sue me first, Steve

May 24, 2007 Leave a comment

Sue me first, Microsoft — that’s Christian Einfeldt’s message on Digital Tipping Point for those of you (okay, those of us) who are tired of Microsoft’s rattling the patent sabers against FOSS. Or to put it another way, according to Christian, “Hey, Microsoft, put up or shut up!”

The list of folks lining up for litigation is pretty interesting, but my favorite is Number 130. Eric Raymond (yes, that Eric Raymond) says, “Yes, Microsoft, the guy who’s been harshing your mellow since I wrote ‘The Cathedral and the Bazaar’ in 1997. Linux user since 1993, so I’ve been violating your nonexistent patents for fourteen years. Sue me first. Please, oh please! Because I don’t think I’ve kicked your sorry asses enough yet, and I’d love another round with you chumps.”

Go Eric!

I got into the top thousand at 998, 23 names after Don Parris of LXer.com Linux News, trying to keep up with the other journalists in GNU/Linux land.

Even if you don’t sign up — and whether you do is up to you — the list is worth a read.

[FSF Associate Member](Larry Cafiero, editor/publisher of Open Source Reporter, is an associate member of the Free Software Foundation.)

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Stop me if this sounds familiar . . . .

May 16, 2007 5 comments

So, stop me if you’ve heard this one already:

In the 1950s — February 9, 1950 to be exact — Sen. Joe McCarthy of Wisconsin made a speech in Wheeling, W. Va., in which he said he had a list of 205 names of State Department employees “that were made known to the Secretary of State as being members of the Communist Party.”

Fast forward 57 years and we have “Tail Gunner Steve” Ballmer with Microsoft General Counsel Brad Smith, playing McCarthy’s Roy Cohn legal sidekick in this modern drama, saying that the GNU/Linux operating system violates 235 Microsoft patents. Which are they? Microsoft won’t say.

McCarthy never named the names.

See a pattern here?

Sander Marechal writes an article on Linux News asking in an open letter to Novell to release the violating patents. While Microsoft may not be telling the public, they would be telling their GNU/Linux partner Novell. So Novell has the opportunity to come clean.

Anyone holding their breath? Well, don’t.

Here’s why: Tectonic, a South African open source news site, says in an article that Novell is distancing itself from Microsoft. From the article: “We disagree with the recent statements made by Microsoft on the topic of Linux and patents. Importantly, our agreement with Microsoft is in no way an acknowledgment that Linux infringes upon any Microsoft intellectual property.”

Linus Torvalds has weighed in at Information Week, saying that Microsoft has gotten it wrong — they violate more GNU/Linux patents than the other way around. Linux News backs it up by bringing up an article by Hans Kwint they published in 2005 outlining the patents that Microsoft might have violated.

So maybe the Washington Post is right when it says that this is all a smoke screen for the failures of Vista.

[FSF Associate Member](Larry Cafiero, editor/publisher of Open Source Reporter, is an associate member of the Free Software Foundation.)

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Eliminate DRM!
Protect your freedom!

Microsoft takes on the free world . . . and loses

May 14, 2007 3 comments

Direct from the “give me a freakin’ break” department . . .

Fortune magazine — a publication that I don’t usually read — wrote that (and I’m paraphrasing here) “Microsoft claims that free software like Linux, which runs a big chunk of corporate America, violates 235 of its patents. It wants royalties from distributors and users. Users like you, maybe.” (the CNN story about it is here)

On the face of it, that’s merely laughable. What makes this a world class, wet-your-pants screaming laugher is that Microsoft has the unmitigated audacity to actually imply, as outlined in the third paragraph of the CNN article, that “one reason free software is of such high quality is that it violates more than 200 of Microsoft’s patents.”

So let me see if I understand this: Free software is of such high quality because it violates Microsoft’s patents? Microsoft? The same Microsoft that historically and currently foists on an unsuspecting public a buggy and insecure operating system augmented by subpar programs? That Microsoft?

Sheesh.

But it gets better: Darth Ballmer took time from his pod on the Death Star to tell CNN that the FOSS advocates “have to play by the same rules as the rest of the business.” Watch out, Darth: Your hypocrisy is showing. That sounds like it comes directly from the “do as I say, not as I do” department.

This software saber-rattling may be coming from Redmond because they are out of viable options, so says Danijel Orsolic in a very interesting column he writes on the subject on Libervis.com.

The Free/Libre Open Source Software movement is not going anywhere, no matter how many lawyers Microsoft wants to hire.

[FSF Associate Member](Larry Cafiero, editor/publisher of Open Source Reporter, is an associate member of the Free Software Foundation.)

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A day in the life

May 13, 2007 Leave a comment

Invariably, someone will ask me, “How’s your day going?” Most of the time, it’s a family member, but whomever is asking, the answer is usually “great” because, for the most part, it usually is. But what I do during the course of the day, in my capacity as editor/publisher of Open Source Reporter can be revealing.

Or not.

For those of you keeping score at home (and I don’t know why you would, to quote a San Francisco Giants announcer), this is what I do:

  • Turn on Computers 1 through 3 (eMac running OS X version 10.4; Indigo iMac running Xubuntu 6.10 and PowerMac G3 minitower with Sonnet G4 upgrade running Yellow Dog 3.0).
  • From behind the iMac, visit — usually in this order — Linux News, Distrowatch, Free Software Foundation, Open Source Reporter, Mad Penguin, and News Forge, before visiting the forums at Ubuntu (for any developments on Xubuntu), Linux Questions to get most of my questions answered (mostly on GNU/Linux) and gNewSense (which is a distro I don’t yet have because I don’t have the hardware for it, but I like the concept of a completely “free-as-in-freedom” distro).
  • Repeat the previous step throughout the day and contribute where I can and pass on the information I find out on OSR.
  • On another note . . .

    While visiting the Fluxbuntu Web site, I noticed that they had a screenshot for an Old World G3 PowerBook Wallstreet, just like the one I just sold (argh!). So I asked when the PowerPC version of this distro would be ready and I was told that it will be ready within a couple of weeks. I also learned that when you’re in an IRC chat, you don’t have to ask “Can I ask a question” (Duh! Sorry guys, that was me).

    [FSF Associate Member](Larry Cafiero, editor/publisher of Open Source Reporter, is an associate member of the Free Software Foundation.)

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    Florida: Still on the cutting edge of stupid

    May 9, 2007 Leave a comment

    Permit me a chance to stray from Free/Libre Open Source Software topics for a second to touch on something that came across the proverbial radar thanks to Slashdot.

    Ken Fisher wrote an article in Ars Technica outlining that “there are a few things lawmakers have decided really ought to be handled with the ‘care and oversight’ that only the government can provide: e.g., tax collection, radioactive materials, biohazards, guns, and CD . . . Compact Discs.”

    Yep, Compact Discs. You never know what dangers lurk on those shiny silver coasters.

    It seems that “pawn shop” laws are springing up across the United States will, according to Fisher, “make selling your used CDs at the local record shop something akin to getting arrested. No, you won’t spend any time in jail, but you’ll certainly feel like a criminal once the local record shop makes copies of all of your identifying information and even collects your fingerprints.”

    Fisher continues: “Such is the state of affairs in Florida, which now has the dubious distinction of being so anal about the sale of used music CDs that record shops there are starting to get out of the business of dealing with used content because they don’t want to pay a $10,000 bond for the ‘right’ to treat their customers like criminals.”

    Now, Florida and I have a, um, “history” since I grew up there before escaping about 20 years ago to the left side of the United States, not to mention cutting my political teeth in the Florida Young Democrats (an old YD acquaintance is now the speaker of the Florida House, interestingly). All of which is to say that I know first hand the less-than-cutting-edge nature of legislation common to the Sunshine State (to say nothing of the volumes of data on the inability of the Secretary of State there to hold elections, but that’s another topic).

    So why does legislation like this happen?

    Simple: This kind of legislation kills aftermarket sales for CDs, so there is no recourse for those who buy CDs and later on want to, or must, part with them. This clearly has the RIAA’s fingerprints all over it: They may bet profit from the first sale, but they get zero profit from aftermarket sales. If they can’t get the profit from each and every sale, then they feel that nobody should.

    So says one comment on Slashdot: “And the reason why we’re just going to bend over and take it is the same reason why we’re grabbing ankles for the DMCA: The politicians that make the laws were bought and paid for a long time ago and they aren’t available for purchase in the aftermarket.”

    So the solution? Stop stupid legislation and vote stupid legislators out of office, even in Florida (if that’s possible).

    [FSF Associate Member](Larry Cafiero, editor/publisher of Open Source Reporter, is an associate member of the Free Software Foundation.)

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