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FOSS Force

Symbian Out, Linux In at Nokia

Linux continues to gain ground on mobile devices, and it’s not all Android.

On Thursday, Finnish phone maker Nokia announced it’s dropping Symbian and replacing it with the Linux OS MeeGo on their top-of-the-line handsets. The N8 is slated to be the last of Nokia’s N-series phones running Symbian. “Going forward, N-series devices will be based on MeeGo,” Nokia spokesman Doug Dawson told Reuters.

For the time being, Nokia intends to keep Symbian alive on its cheaper sets, but the handwriting’s on the wall, Symbian is rapidly approaching its end of life, which will doubtlessly come as a shock to those who’ve become fans of the OS over the years. Symbian has a long, rich history as an OS for hand-held devices, and can be said to be the first smartphone OS.

Android’s Nuclear Football

The day after I pat Google on the back for doing something right, they go screw it up. What’s got me and others scratching our heads is there doesn’t seem to be a reason for it.

I’m talking about the so-called “kill switch” built into Android that lets Googlefolk remove installed applications from Android phones. We’ve known about its existence since the beginning of Android, it’s mentioned in the terms and conditions at the Google app store and the mainstream press took note as early as October of 2008. But, to me at least, it’s been something akin to the U.S. intercontinental nuclear arsenal. I don’t like it’s existence, but I figure that sane people are in charge and it’ll never get used.

GPL: The Google Public License

Until a few years ago, hardly a day went by without an article being featured on Linux Today about how “the year of Linux” had arrived. Every Linux user with a blog was willing to bet, year after year, that this was finally going to be “the year of Linux.” This was going to be the year when the public got wise, quit paying the Microsoft tax and moved over to the obviously superior Linux.

And year after year, it didn’t happen.

Mandriva Finds Angels

According to an exclusive article posted yesterday on the French language web site LeMagIT, it appears that Mandriva has found investors to stave off financial failure at the French Linux company. Mandriva announced on May 11 they were disparately seeking buyers. If buyers were not found, they said, the company would be forced to shut their doors.

The article on LeMagIT was later covered in English by Caitlyn Martin at the O’Reilly web site. According to Martin, the French article quotes Mandriva Director General Arnaud Laprévote:

OEM Branded Linux

Last week on Computerworld, Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols posted a blog about HP’s forays into the Linux world. Specifically, he wrote about HP’s recent acquisition of both Palm, which gave them the Linux based mobile platform WebOS, and Phoenix Technologies’ HyperSpace, one of those instant-on Linuxes that resides in the BIOS of a laptop to allow users to check email and surf while waiting for the system’s main OS, presumably Windows, to boot.

Vaughan-Nichols thinks HP is planing on developing both platforms, and using them extensively in their products. WebOS, he thinks, will be what HP will build their tablets around, now that they’ve wisely dropped Windows 7 as their tablet OS. He also thinks WebOS will show up in a variety of other HP offerings, in everything from smartphones to Internet connected printers.

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…

World to Zuckerberg: Opt-in Not Opt-out

I have a friend who thinks Facebook’s child star Mark Zuckerberg knows exactly what he’s doing. He despises Mr. Zuckerberg and thinks the best use for him would be as a plug to stop-up the hole on the floor of the Gulf of Mexico that’s spewing oil at the rate of ten gallons every two seconds or so. Maybe he’s right about the latter, at least he’d be useful. I’m not so sure about the former though, as I really suspect Zuckerberg just doesn’t get it. I think he really doesn’t understand what all the fuss is about and why almost all Facebook users don’t want their personal information handed over to the top thousand highest bidders.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t believe Facebook’s Shirley Temple twin is innocent. Indeed, playing fast and loose with our private information isn’t the first time he’s betrayed those who’ve trusted him. Heck, the way I understand it, there wouldn’t even be a Facebook if he hadn’t cheated and stolen to get it. But I don’t think he thinks he did anything wrong there either. He was just being smart. Just like his idol Bill Gates was being smart when he stole his GUI from Apple. Kind of like in that movie Catch Me If You Can.

Windows HP Tablet Loss

When HP unceremoniously dropped plans to release the Slate tablet computer running Windows 7, we learned much about the changing relationship between Microsoft and the major computer makers. That the product was dropped after being unveiled by Microsoft chief Steve Ballmer at January’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas was even more telling.

The project might have been doomed from the start. Despite the fact that the bar for tablets had yet to be raised by the iPad, reporters at CES weren’t very impressed by what they saw. Nick Mediati’s remarks on InfoWorld were typical:

Is This Any Way to Run a Web Site?

By now, both of the regular visitors to this site have doubtlessly discovered we didn’t publish a blog on Friday or yesterday, though neither of them have contacted me about it. Those who know me might be inclined to think the missing blogs are due to my laziness. How I wish that was so. How I wish I’d just said to myself, “To heck with the blog, I’m going to have a mint julep.” Instead, I’ve been done-in by Murphy’s Law.

My first clue that Murphy was going to strike came late Thursday afternoon, just as I was getting ready to close down the office for the evening. I was intending to go home, have a quick dinner and bang out “Friday FOSS Week in Review” and get it scheduled to publish here on Friday morning. As Google was having their big developers’ fest out west, and everybody in tech was continuing to sue everybody else in tech, this was going to be an easy column to write. But just as I was getting ready to turn off the office computer and take the trip home, I received an email with no message, just the subject line: “PLEASE REMOVE ME FROM YOUR MAILING LIST.”

Google Offers New Open Source Video Standard

Yesterday was a great day for open source at the Moscone Center in San Francisco.

At the I/O developers’ conference, host Google finally announced they are open sourcing the VP8 video codec they acquired with their purchase of On2 Technologies back in February. Google is packaging VP8 as part of a format they’re calling WebM, which will include Ogg Vorbis for audio playback. WebM is being released royalty free under a BSD-style license.

Linux & Microsoft’s Patents

Unless Linux developers begin purposely infringing on major Microsoft patents, Redmond will not go after Linux regarding the famous 235 patents they claim the penguin already violates. They’ve waited too long; that can no longer happen. To go after Tux now would be something akin to suicide and might possibly relegate the software giant to being simply another consumer software company. Ballmer knows this; Red Hat probably knows it; the rest of us suspect it.

The reason for this centers around the enterprise. No matter how pervasive Windows may be in the consumer market, they can’t live on the money they make from supplying binary for home computers, especially given the fact that most consumers receive all their Microsoft products preinstalled when they purchase their boxes. The Microsoft tax on consumer products is hardly enough to keep the world’s largest software maker afloat, and it’s a tax they can’t raise much without creating a revolt by both consumers and OEMs that would move personal computing to Apple and Linux.

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