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FOSS Force

Linux Won the Desktop Wars a Long Time Ago

Linux has won the desktop wars and Tux now represents the dominant desktop operating system. We’ve been in this position for a while now. The reason many of us haven’t recognized it is because this win doesn’t look anything like we thought it would. When wishes come true, they’re rarely what we envisioned.

To make my point, I’ll take us back to 2006.

Just like now, in 2006 the FOSS press was busy at work asking, “Will this be the year for Linux on the desktop?” Let’s start by looking at what we meant by “desktop” in those days, because what we really meant was the personal computer.

Java: Where Oracle, Twitter and Black Hats Meet

Back on January 24th, Oracle was sitting on their hands after issuing incomplete patches to not handle security issues in Java, issues bad enough to evoke dire warnings from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. I opined on that day that Ellison’s hired help needed to get off their duffs and come up with a good fix quick, even if Java has turned-out to be a puppy Larry Ellison no longer wants to keep. Evidently, somebody in Deadwood City felt the same way, as Oracle pushed a patch this past Friday addressing 50 security holes in the beleaguered programming language.

Wait a minutes, did I just write that the patch addressed 50 security holes? I’ve got a five pound block of Swiss cheese in the fridge that has fewer holes than that. I think if I was Larry Ellison I would be ashamed to admit I’d allowed that many security vulnerabilities to accrue unfixed while any project was under my care. I think I’d fix ten a day or something in five separate patches and try to make it look like I had my security eagles working overtime finding new holes ahead of the bad guys.

CBS To CNET: ‘Free Beer, Not Free Speech’

No one who understands the attitude of broadcasters in general or the history of the corporate culture at CBS in particular should have been in the least surprised by the brouhaha over this year’s Consumer Electronic Show’s (CES) “Best of Show” award.

In case you just got here, let me explain.

CNET, one of the tech sites that everybody reads, was bought by CBS in 2008. Most of us, including me, figured this wouldn’t mean anything editorially at the site, that CBS would concentrate on its core business of television and leave CNET to do what it already knows how to do–which is publish a tech oriented web site. This is pretty much what’s happened until now.

QtWeb: Not Quite Ready For Full Time Browsing

I thought my motherboard was dying.

I have an old Lenovo built, IBM branded desktop with 512 megs of memory and a 3 GHz processor. It runs Windows XP Pro, because the bank requires I run a piece of crap software that only speaks Windows. I’ve learned to live with it.

It’s got a Pentium 4, which had heat dissipation problems, which is why I figure the folks at Lenovo installed a gee-whiz thermostat controlled fan that’ll rev-up way high when needed. Normally that hasn’t been necessary, except when I get carried away watching high def movies or spend too much time strolling down memory lane on YouTube.

Linux Achieves Bodhi Enlightenment

Until recently, most desktop Linux distros were about the same on the surface. What differentiated them were things like configurability. Some distros, those preferred by Linux purists or designed primarily to be used as servers, required users to open a terminal and change settings with a text editor. Others sought to be newbie friendly, and had devised schemes so that most systems settings could be done point and click, just like with that evil operating system from Redmond.

On the surface, though, whether newbie friendly or designed for geeks, the user was mainly offered an out-of-the-box desktop, usually KDE or GNOME, that was maybe dressed-up a bit with the distro’s logo but otherwise seemingly added almost as an afterthought.

Will Oracle Wake Up & Smell the Java?

Does Oracle not know their own code?

I’m talking about Java. You know, the write-once-run-anywhere platform that seems to be severely broken from a security viewpoint, rendering it more than useless when used inside a browser.

Oracle, the company that’s owned Java since purchasing Sun Microsystems in 2010, seems to be clueless. Back in October the company pushed out a patch to fix some security holes that were already being exploited. There were complaints at the time that they were being secretive, saying little to nothing publicly about the problem, acting as if they were sweeping dust under a rug. Indeed, two months earlier, in August, the founder and CEO of the Polish security firm Security Explorations, Adam Gowdiak, told PCWorld that Oracle had known about the security problem for months:

Dotcom’s New Mega: Not Ready For Primetime

It’s funny how things work out. Entrepreneur Kim Schmitz changed his name to “Dotcom” in respect for the technology that made him filthy rich. However, his newest website doesn’t end in dotcom. He doesn’t dare use that top level domain because that would be an open invitation to the U.S. authorities to mess with him. I think Mr. Dotcom would like to be through dealing with the American government if he can. So he’s using .nz, the top level domain code for New Zealand where he resides.

Actually, his new site is a double dot–, or Mega. Originally, he planned to use the too trippy url, using the domain country code for Gabon, a plan that was derailed because the government of Gabon didn’t want to be party to “violating copyrights.” Mr. Dotcom might be excused for suspecting the United States for being an outside instigator in this matter.

Linux & Windows 8: So Far the Penguin Is Ahead

There’s no real way to compare how the various desktop Linux distros are doing against Windows 8, Microsoft’s newly crowned flagship product, since Linux isn’t offered preinstalled in any meaningful way by the major OEMs. What we do know is that the new Windows would seem to be failing to excite buyers; folks haven’t been rushing to the big box stores to purchase new desktops or laptops running the new operating system.

This seems odd, since Microsoft was claiming unbelievably fantastic figures for their new touch based OS before the arrival of the holiday shopping season, as Sarfaraz A. Khan explained a few weeks ago on Seeking Alpha:

A Kodak Moment As Ericsson Feeds A Troll

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While there’s been a feeding frenzy at Kodak, with a group of tech’s heavy hitters grabbing patents at fire sale prices, Ericsson has been busy making a deal with a troll to do their dirty work for them.

In the later case, the troll is Unwired Planet, a company that at one time, as Openwave Systems, was a major player in the mobile software world, credited with pioneering the Mobile Internet and being the original developer of HDML, a precursor to WML. Nowdays it appears as if the company has morphed into troll territory, having shed itself of most, if not all, of its software offerings to concentrate on licensing and enforcement of its portfolio of patents.

Java Still Isn’t Safe – Possible New Vulnerability

I was just guessing on Monday when I said that the Java security patch pushed by Oracle on Sunday was “too little too late.” This appears to have been a lucky good guess on my part, as word is out now that the Java browser plugin still isn’t safe.

At least that’s what Brian Krebs is reporting on his blog Krebs On Security. Evidently there’s a black hat on a hacker forum who’s offering-up info to two buyers on a new vulnerability in the latest and greatest version of Java (that would be version 7, update 11) for the sum of $5,000 each.

Oracle’s Quick Java Patch–Too Little Too Late?

On Sunday, Oracle pushed an “unscheduled” patch to fix a security hole in Java that had prompted the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to take the unprecedented step of advising all Internet users to disable browser-side Java. The hole was already being exploited in the wild when white hats brought it to the public’s attention last week, mainly being used to install “ransomware.”

Despite Oracle’s assurances that it’s safe for surfers to go back in the water, security experts remain uncertain about the safety of Java. On Information Week, writer Mathew J. Schwartz quotes at least one security expert who gives the security patch a thumbs up:

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