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March 4th, 2016

India Nixes Software Patents, Linux Foundation Embraces Diversity & More…

FOSS Week in Review

India again shows sanity by doing away with “software only” patents, and the Linux Foundation continues to move towards diversity.

The old and the new both made big news on the FOSS front this week. Representing the old was what appears to be the ending of the SCO vs IBM case after something like 13 years, which means that Caldera/SCO now gets to go to its final resting place. For the new was the release of the Raspberry Pi 3, which comes wielding a 64-bit ARM processor with built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.

But that wasn’t the only news of interest to the FOSS world this week…

Barely a month after putting an end to a Facebook supported scheme, “Free Basics,” in favor of supporting Net Neutrality, India has declared software to be not patentable. According to the Software Freedom Law Centre in India, the patent office will now use a three part test to determine patentability:

1. Openly construe the claim and identify the actual contribution;

2. If the contribution lies only in mathematical method, business method or algorithm, deny the claim;

3. If the contribution lies in the field of computer programme, check whether it is claimed in conjunction with a novel hardware and proceed to other steps to determine patentability with respect to the invention.. The computer programme in itself is never patentable. If the contribution lies solely in the computer programme, deny the claim. If the contribution lies in both the computer programme as well as hardware, proceed to other steps of patentability.

It’s the third part of the test which effectively bans “software only” patents, according the Software Freedom folks: “Such a test will ensure that applications for patents in the field of software will be rejected and only genuine applications claiming a novel hardware component along with software will be eligible for patent protection.”

Women Who Code logoOn Tuesday, the Linux Foundation announced that it has partnered with Women Who Code “to increase diversity in the technology industry and support women who want to attend Linux Foundation events.” The agreement includes both free and discounted entry to Linux Foundation events, and also included a donation by the foundation to Women Who Code “to support its greater efforts to support women in technology.” In addition, the foundation will begin offering “diversity scholarships,” onsite childcare, mothers’ rooms, and will enforce a a code of conduct for attendees.

Although this is certainly a much needed move in the right direction, it’s certain to meet with some backlash from the Neanderthal contingent of the FOSS community. It also should only be seen as a first baby step. As Christopher Tozzi pointed out on The Var Guy on Tuesday, it “seems unlikely that a lack of childcare support at open source events is the main reason why some women do not currently participate in open source.”

Quote of the Week: On Wednesday, in a ZDNet article on Oracle’s cloud efforts, Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols, after noting Larry Ellison both referred to the company he founded and the word “choice” in the same sentence, added as an aside:

“Oracle? Choice?

“Ok. Whatever.”

Another day, another distro: Manjaro Deepin 16.03, which as you might guess is Manjaro sporting the Deepin desktop, was released on Wednesday. Read all about it on the Manjaro website, or download and try for yourself. … Solus 1.1 “Shannon” was released on Tuesday “with subtle refinements and improvements to Budgie [the Solus desktop], large core and graphics stack improvements, and furthers us on our journey to create something that you can just use, something that just works.” … Most of the baby *buntus are currently releasing beta versions based on Ubuntu’s beta of 16.04. Check your flavor’s website for more details.

Quick takes: Debian has announced that the release of version 9.0 (Stretch) will be delayed while the devs wait for the release of the Linux 4.10 kernel, which will mean a longer support period. … Most 32-bit users of Google Chrome will need to remove the Google repository from their software managers, as the 32-bit version of the browser is no longer supported by Goog. Those with 64-bit processors who are running the 32-bit version will need to upgrade.

Parting shot: Again, I’ll leave you with my hand out asking for money. Since last Friday, our fundraising efforts have improved somewhat, but we’re still $1,300 away from meeting our goal of $3,700, with only six days left in the campaign. As I’ve been saying for weeks now, it’s essential that we meet this goal if we’re to continue offering you the level of coverage you’ve come to expect from us. If you’re not sure exactly what it is we do, we posted an article today in which we brag on ourselves a bit, just as a reminder. Read the article, and if you decide that we’re a valuable resource, make a contribution. Thanks.

That’s it for this week. Until next time, 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. Follow her on Twitter: @BrideOfLinux

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3 comments to India Nixes Software Patents, Linux Foundation Embraces Diversity & More…

  • Hans Bezemer

    Embraces diversity? I don’t think so. It’s just a bag of money to compensate for the fact they blocked non-coder, SJW and most notoriously “the woman who drove the Gnome foundation into the ground” Sandler from the board. BTW, it’s not backlash, the prpoer word is criticism. Or can’t feminists handle that, is that it?

  • Embrace diversity? Ok i am all for it but why do women need help to compete if they are competent enough to code? Myself i am a tradesmen,
    a welder by trade and it is all men in our shop not because we are
    sexist but because the work is difficult and physically demanding not
    that i haven’t seen any women around they just don’t seem to last. And
    we even have a women’s washroom that has four stalls to our 2 stall
    men’s washroom and it hardly ever gets used. What a joke. Oh and
    another thing Neanderthal is originally spelled Neandertal so get
    your facts and your perspective right.

  • CFWhitman

    The Google Chrome Debian/Ubuntu repository is currently broken because it still expects there to be a 32 bit folder, and it’s not there. Note that I don’t mean, “It’s broken because the 32 bit version is gone;” I mean that it’s broken because it insists on looking for a now non-existent list of 32 bit packages even on 64 bit machines, and it errors out and causes problems in the update process. The problems are more an annoyance than anything else, but they are a pretty big annoyance. Of course you can remove or comment out the Google Chrome repository, but then you won’t get the next 64 bit update.