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Ground control to Major Bill

August 25, 2007 Leave a comment

If you’re a Vista user, the next two words are for you: “Uh oh.”

If you can get your Vis-duh back up and running — the big “if” in the next couple of days — chances are Microsoft will think you’re a criminal, or at least that’s what your pop-up screen will tell you.

Windows Genuine Advantage has gone down, suffering a worldwide outage causing problems galore, according to this article in Ars Technica. Not only is it down, but if you try to reinstall Vista or WGA, apparently you get a pop up saying that you’re a crook. Don’t believe me? Go to Microsoft’s Windows Vista Validation Issues forum.

Probably the best thread of the bunch starts off with “Everybody just calm down,” and you can see how, in the ethereal environment of the World Wide Web, Vista users are grabbing the pitchforks and torches and going after a guy named JohninTN, whose answer to this, um, problem is for those who spent their hard-earned money on the latest Windows operating system to “go out in the sun” and get away from their computer for awhile.

Whoops. Wrong answer.

Let’s assume for a moment that this is not the official Microsoft position on this, but some techs, according to the Ars Technica story, are telling people that WGA may not be working until Tuesday (Aug. 28).

Maybe going outside is the right answer after all.

Then, after enjoying the day, return to your desk, and if you’re able to use the Internet on your Vista box, you might want to go visit the Ubuntu web site and download the Live CD (or, in the alternative, ask them to send you one. They’ll do it, too).

P.S.: As a footnote, this has happened before . . . .

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

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Categories: Microsoft, Ubuntu, Vis-duh, Vista

The envelope, please . . .

July 24, 2007 16 comments

The overtime that some computer publications and industry pundits have been clocking to propagate FUD around GNU/Linux has grown geometrically over the last several weeks.

While this disinformation deserves our eternal vigilance, our constant attention and our continuing “correction,” its purveyors also deserve recognition — outing, if you will — with a dubious award of their own.

With this in mind, below are the initial nominees for The Elmers, named after the patriarch of the FUD family. [Yes, I know Warner Bros. spelled it with two d's, but for the sake of argument . . . ]

The nominees for the 2007 Elmers are:

Steve Ballmer: As the Joe McCarthy of our time, Darth Ballmer tries to force everyone to think and act alike in the digital realm, in the image and likeness of the Microsoft way. Arguably, calling Ballmer a digital Taliban is not too far afield. CNN.com nailed it when it posted an article that said that the current battle between the forces of FOSS good and dark side of monopoly evil “pits Microsoft and its dogged CEO, Steve Ballmer, against the ‘free world’ – people who believe software is pure knowledge.” [And for some shameless self promotion, we have some shirts that are guaranteed to be the toast of LinuxWorld next month: "Sue me first, Steve" T-shirts.]

Brad Smith: If Steve Ballmer plays the architect of digital McCarthyism, then Brad Smith is his Roy Cohn. Just as McCarthy and Cohn supposedly 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” — a list that never materialized — Ballmer and Smith say that the GNU/Linux operating system violates 235 Microsoft patents — patents that are never named. Am I the only one that sees a pattern here?

Kevin Carmony: The Lindows — sorry, Linspire — CEO has been giving the GNU/Linux blogging world a lot of fodder with his revisionist zeitgeist: Sell out your distro for 30 pieces of silver just to get four items — True Type Fonts, Windows Media Player, DVD Playback and patent (ahem) “coverage” — and then have the audacity to think that people would actually believe you when you say that Microsoft’s assistance could make a better distro. Right, Kevin, and look at that flock of pigs settling on those branches. If Orwell were alive today writing “2084,” he might include “War is Peace. Freedom is Slavery. Microsoft improves GNU/Linux.”

Alexander Wolfe: Poor Alexander Wolfe — a “Chips, Vista and Advanced Techology” blogger (whatever that means) for Information Week. Wolfe bemoans the fact that he, and everyone else, are enslaved by the freedom to choose what to run on your computer, from more than 300 active distros in the GNU/Linux galaxy. This guy probably avoids Baskin-Robbins because — jeez! — 31 whole flavors of ice cream to choose from? Way too many. And then he drags out the tired “distro-as-religion” argument that went out with Y2K. [Wolfe thinks having over 300 distros from which to pick and choose is a "forking mess," but maybe Wolfe is just a "forking wanker."]

Savio Rodrigues: Info World’s Savio Rodrigues throws up (and I do mean “throw up”) the “what if” of Microsoft buying Red Hat. “Just imagine a Microsoft that could offer customers a choice of Windows/.NET, Linux/JEE or, and here’s the magic, BOTH, The fact is most customers have heterogeneous environments, and those that don’t today, will likely in the future.” Now, let’s break that down for a second: Why would Red Hat want to lower itself to join Microsoft when it is already a player in the corporate IT world? How about a Red Hat that offers Windows/.NET instead of the other way around (although “why would they want to?” is a bigger question)? How stoned is Savio, and who’s his dealer? As a caveat, he says in a postscript: “PS: I truly doubt this deal will ever happen, but it’s interesting to think about the possibilities.” Yeah, and it’s interesting to think about the possibilities of my winning the Olympic gold medal in the 100 right before bearing triplets at the finish line; a possibility that’s still not quite as ridiculous as the one Rodrigues raises.

No doubt there are others out there who deserve a nomination. Feel free to add to the list.

[Additional nominations can be found here.]

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

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No points for originality

June 27, 2007 Leave a comment

You’ll just have to judge for yourself on this one, an item which comes courtesy of Linux Lookup.

Did Microsoft — not exactly known for its innovation and originality, but known throughout professional circles for copying and usurping the work of others — copy the Ubunutu logo for its Microsoft Alumni Network (Note: graphic reduced to fit on this blog page)?

ubumslogo

[Of course, according to someone who posted on the forum at Linux Lookup, apparently both are guilty of copying another logo, namely the Scripps Healthcare logo:

logoscripps

So, knowing our friends in Redmond, maybe the attorneys should sort this one out, no?]

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

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Categories: Microsoft, Ubuntu

Now call it ‘Lindows’

June 14, 2007 1 comment

It goes to show you why I’m not a gambling man. In my last item, I said that Mandriva would be the next distro domino to fall — or at least be a target for the Death Star in Redmond — but either they said non to any offer, or they haven’t taken the bait just yet.

But scratch off another one: Linspire made its way to the dark side today by selling out FOSS in making a deal with Microsoft.

Microsoft — which once described GNU/Linux as a cancer — can’t seem to help itself from partnering with distro makers and Linux software sellers, adding Linspire to the list. Ironically, Microsoft and Linspire have a, um, “history,” as Microsoft’s lawyers went head-to-head with Linspire in the past; apparently that’s all history.

Like Xandros, Linspire is a featherweight in decline who drank the Kool-Aid for a variety of reasons outlined in a letter from the Linspire CEO on this very topic.

Talk about FUD: Linspire CEO Kevin Carmony says that Microsoft will “deliver a ‘better’ Linux.” Ask yourself this: When was the last time that Microsoft delivered a better anything when it comes to software? Stuck for an answer? That’s because it never has.

To show you how “1984” this is, I bet Kevin Carmony really believes all the nonsense he (or one of his PR hacks) wrote, as tragic as this might be. Try not to laugh too hard when reading it, too, and realize that the Apple vs. Microsoft comparison doesn’t fly here.

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

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Everything except the ‘why?’

June 9, 2007 5 comments

A lot has been written, spoken and debated about the current, um, “motives” that the death star in Redmond has aimed at the FOSS community, and a lot of speculation has arisen as to which distro could be the next Judas, selling out FOSS for well over 30 pieces of silver.

[Note: The religious reference above does not imply that I think the next FOSS domino to fall will be Christian Ubuntu. On the contrary -- if I were a gambling man, I'd put my money on Mandriva. No doubt that Darth Ballmer and the rest of the corporate leeches oozing their way out of that campus off the 405 east of Seattle would love to get a FOSS foothold in Europe, either real or imagined. So my guess is that the hook is baited and they're hoping to reel in Mandriva -- but don't do it, folks!]

What’s lacking from the discussion, however, at any significant length is “why?”

Speculation runs amok, ranging from a boundless greed and loathing in the corporate culture at Microsoft (from the top down) to scaring FOSS developers and users into submission by the threat of a legal sword of Damocles hanging collectively over their heads. But this is all theory and speculation — great fodder for discussion, but nothing concrete.

[Bear in mind, incidentally, that of this writing -- as if someone is holding his or her breath -- Microsoft has yet to release the 235 alleged patent violations. As I wrote in an earlier blog, Sen. Joe McCarthy did the same thing in the 1950s, with a list of Communists in the State Department, none of which was ever named. ]

So without any firm evidence — just a hunch based on what Stephen Colbert calls “truthiness” — my guess is that Microsoft’s “because” in this whole FOSS harrassment “why” is based on a legal end run that they might try in the courts to reel in FOSS.

Noting the continuous failure of SCO’s case against IBM/Novell/Whomever (a case that was over long ago, but SCO hasn’t realized it yet), Microsoft’s legal tack could be away from suing other companies and convince a court that the distros they’ve lined up and paid for handsomely translate into an admission, in the court’s eyes, that GNU/Linux arguably does violate Microsoft’s alleged patents, and the more agreements with GNU/Linux entities they collect serves to bolster their case. As noted on one blog, a writer wrote, “See, your Honor? These Linux companies knew they were using our patents! Why, they even signed an agreement with us saying so!”

The statement above, of course, is nonsense. But the courts and legislatures are filled with nonsensical arguments and nonsensical bills that have found their way into rulings and into law. The clear and present danger here is that, the climate of the courts being what it is, there is a remote possibility that Microsoft’s strategy — if this is indeed what they’re trying to do — could have, what they call in legal circles, some merit.

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

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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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Categories: Microsoft, Ubuntu

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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