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Friday FOSS Week in Review: Apple Bigger than Microsoft

It’s been a relatively slow week in the FOSS world. The good news is we’ve got our monitor trouble solved for now, in a way. The ancient monitor we installed runs great in Windows, but isn’t configured properly to work in our Linux install. Anybody want to tell us how to configure our install of Linux from the command line to get our monitor working properly in X? There’s something definitely wrong about a FOSS site writer working in Windows…

And now the news…


Apple Bigger than Microsoft

Back in 1997 Apple was on death’s door. Microsoft came to the rescue and bailed them out, mainly to keep a competitor in the fray to keep anti-trust problems away. Guess what, due to the iPod, iPhone, iTunes and, probably, Vista, Apple has now passed Microsoft in market cap. Apple’s market capitalization is now $222 billion next to MS’s $219 billion. They still have a way to go, though, to catch Exxon Mobil Corp’s market cap of $279 billion. Steve Ballmer, speaking from New Delhi, said it’s no big deal.

WebM May Have Patent Issues

Remember how happy we were last week when Google announced the open source WebM? Well, our elation may have been a bit premature. This week, all of the tech sites have been abuzz with the news that WebM may have a few problems on it’s road to openness. No surprise, the problems have to do with patents. It should also come as no surprise that Apple might be in the middle of any WebM patent battle. H-264 developer Jason Garrett-Glaser said:

“Though I am not a lawyer, I simply cannot believe that they will be able to get away with this, especially in today’s overly litigious day and age. Even VC-1 [used in HD DVD] differed more from H.264 than VP8 does, and even VC-1 didn’t manage to escape the clutches of software patents. Until we get some hard evidence that VP8 is safe, I would be extremely cautious. Since Google is not indemnifying users of VP8 from patent lawsuits, this is even more of a potential problem.”

VP8 is the video codec used within the WebM framework. As a friend of mine said, “When will it end?”

Szulik Leaving Red Hat

The Triangle Business Journal reported on Wednesday that according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, onetime CEO and current chairman of the board of Red Hat will be stepping down:

“In a May 20 letter to Red Hat (NYSE: RHT) board of directors, Szulik says he will not stand for re-election to his board seat when his term expires on Aug. 12. Szulik joined Red Hat as president in 1998 after serving as president and chief operating officer at Relativity Technologies, another Raleigh-based software company. He helped navigate Red Hat, a Linux software company, through its initial public stock offering in 1999 and was named CEO later that year.”

Szulik resigned his position as CEO in late 2007, replaced by current CEO Jim Whitehurst. He said he’s leaving to spend more time with his family.

Facebook Users Plan Revolt

As of this writing, over 23,000 Facebook users have pledged to cease using Zuckerberg’s little site on May 31, Quit Facebook Day. Even though FB yesterday changed their privacy interface, making it easier to opt-out of the site’s questionable privacy policies, many users remain upset that their privacy isn’t protected by default.

Mike Elgan at Datamation thinks the social network has hurt themselves badly. Of the implementation of new privacy controls, he thinks this comes…

“Too late. Facebook already damaged its own reputation by mismanaging changes in privacy controls. That harmed reputation will continue to haunt Facebook for years.

“The reason: Trust is now the most important service an online company can offer.”

I doubt Quit Facebook Day will have any noticeable immediate effect. After all, 23,000 is nothing compared to the site’s hundreds of millions of users. But I do think this might be the beginning of a movement Zuckerberg will be unable to stop. I’m willing to predict in two years time, Facebook will be a ghost town.

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That’s it for this week. Have a wonderful weekend! I’ll see you Monday. Until then, may the FOSS be with you:-)

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Christine Hall has been a journalist since 1971. In 2001, she began writing a weekly consumer computer column and started covering Linux and FOSS in 2002 after making the switch to GNU/Linux.

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