Press "Enter" to skip to content

FOSS Force

Microsoft and Amdocs: The Linux Connection Is Just FUD

Trying to understand the recent patent licensing deal between Microsoft and Amdocs is like watching a poker tournament, where you never know whether players are bluffing or if they have pat hands. In this case, it appears that Microsoft is bluffing when it comes to Linux. An inspection of the facts, as they are known, indicates the “Linux licensing” element of the story is only more Microsoft FUD–with Amdocs being a willing participant.

This isn’t the story of an underdog being pressured by the Redmond giant into paying a bounty on some patents Microsoft claims are being infringed upon by Linux servers in Amdocs’s data centers. In fact, it appears as if Linux licensing isn’t really a part of this deal at all.

ZoneAlarm: Defining the Difference Between Freeware and Free Software

The other day, when my friend’s laptop spit-up a warning from ZoneAlarm that she was no longer protected, I stood over her shoulder and instructed her to update the firewall. The warning was basically a scare tactic, of course. Without the update she would still be protected, just as protected as she had been the day before. She just wouldn’t have any new whiz-bang features included in the update, nor would she be able to take advantage of any new security enhancements.

We ran the default install. This was Windows, so there had to be a reboot. After that, we opened the browser to find that the homepage had been reset to a ZoneAlarm themed Google search page. We had not opted-in to any such change; the ZoneAlarm folks had just taken it on themselves to hijack Firefox’s revenue, which I didn’t think cricket.

The ‘Walled Garden’ Approach Won’t Work For Microsoft

Welcome to MicroApple.

It’s beginning to look as if Microsoft intends to get traction for Surface and other tablets running Windows by building a walled garden, creating more of the vendor lock-in that’s made Redmond famous. In other words, don’t expect to see any Microsoft programs ported to Android or iOS any time soon. Although this exclusivity has worked to keep the company’s monopoly intact in the past, this time it’s headed for failure. Windows has finally run out of steam.

I’m talking about Microsoft’s revelation last week that it has no immediate plans to make the tablet version of MS Office available on any platform but Windows. According to CNET, Redmond’s spin is that this is being done with only the user in mind:

Is the End Of the Windows Era At Hand?

Sometime during the summer of 2006, the main computer at the shop where I worked suffered a motherboard meltdown. Since I’m not much of a hardware person, I took the box to my friends at Dragonware Computers. After diagnosing the problem, owner Michelle looked around the back room, came up with a used motherboard that would get the job done and installed it while I waited. Michelle always took care of me.

In those days the folks at Dragonware were very Windows centric folks. They hosted their own website on a white box running Windows, and they knew every trick in the book about configuring Microsoft products. It wasn’t surprising then that Michelle’s husband, Phillip, had a pre-release install of Windows Vista loaded on a box in the back room. It also was no surprise that he was in love with the soon to be released OS. Microsoft wrote the book on computing as far as he was concerned.

Red Hat & Ubuntu’s UEFI Solutions Not Good For FOSS

The FOSS community is understandably upset with both Red Hat and Ubuntu for their planned ways of implementing UEFI Secure Boot. Indeed, both companies plans are unacceptable for a variety of reasons. Free software isn’t free if it requires permission from an outside source before it can be loaded onto a new or used computer. This is true even if the permission comes from a well-meaning bureaucratic regulatory agency. It’s doubly true if that permission must come from a self-serving monopoly with an anti-FOSS history, like Microsoft.

In early June, Red Hat came under fire from the FOSS press for their way of getting around Secure Boot. Their solution, which will also be used by Fedora, involves joining Microsoft’s developer program in order to obtain a key to be used to load a “shim” bootloader which will then load GRUB. In a post on Red Hat’s web site explaining the move, Tim Burke, Vice President of Linux Engineering, seemed to be dismissing these critics in a terse two sentence paragraph near the end of the post:

Megauploads, WikiLeaks and Independence Day

Wednesday is the Fourth of July, the day when we in the U.S. celebrate whatever we perceive to be the vision of our founding families. This would seem to be a good time to wonder what the framers of our constitution would think about the way we’ve been applying, or not applying, due process to the Internet.

There are two cases in the news these days that are quite disturbing. For starters, there’s Megaupload.

Google’s Nexus Tablet; Maddog’s Blog; Patent News & More

Friday FOSS Week in Review

Lot’s of stories of interest in the FOSS world this week. Patent issues, of course, dominated the news. In addition, however, a travel site got outed for a OS bias and a hardware manufacturer discovered the hard way that ignoring open source can be costly.

We’ll start with the patent news…

The Patent Wars Continue

I don’t know what we’re going to do about the patent situation. The sensible thing would be to simply change the law and make software unpatentable, but there are plenty of reasons why that’s not likely to happen anytime soon. Banning patents wouldn’t only effect the trolls, those snakes that don’t make anything but monetize their patent portfolios through the courts. If it did, we could probably get it done tonight.

Windows vs. Android: Does Desktop Linux Win?

Every tech writer on the Internet seems to want to be the one to crack the code and figure out what Microsoft plans to do with Surface. I thought I was one of them until I spent three days trying to write this article. I’ve come to the conclusion that I don’t really care what Microsoft’s plans are or if they’ll pan-out for them. They bore me. They’re irrelevant now.

I suspect we’re getting ready to see if they’re nimble enough to completely reshape their business model, much like IBM had to do more than a decade ago. Who knows what they’re going to do, now that they obviously recognize the-proprietary-operating-system-as-a-billion-dollar-property model has reached its sunset years?

Occupy Diaspora

The first and last time I visited Diaspora was back in 2010, when the social destination was still in it’s Alpha release. Although it had a reputation, as alpha releases do, of being buggy, I was surprised at how well it worked. It was impressive, a lot like Facebook but also quite different in its design. The problem was, there was nobody there. It was like entering an eighteen story highrise apartment building in which all the tenents had been evicted, hollow and filled with virtual echoes. So I ran back to the noise of the crowd on the virtual party that is Facebook.

I stay on Facebook for the same reason everybody else stays on Facebook – because all my friends are there. We’re not talking about the folks I hang with in Winston-Salem, who I can see anytime I like over at Washington Perks or Krankies. Nah, we’re talking about people that go way back, people I knew back in the 1970s when we were trying to ignore the coming of disco and, worse, Kiss, and pretend that we could keep the spirit of the 60s alive, like forever man. We’re talking about brothers and sisters who were gone forever from my life, who I was sure I’d never see again and who were already planted in the ground or turned into ashes as far as I knew.

Ubuntu Works On Green Server, Bad Times At Nokia, Good News On the Patent Front

Friday FOSS Week in Review

Gawd, but it’s been a long time since our last FOSS Week In Review. Many might be wondering where we’ve been and what we’ve been doing. Well, it’s a long story. I intend to tell you about it in another article in the next week or so. In the meantime, here’s a few things that caught my eye this week…

Ubuntu working with HP on low power server

We learned this week that Canonical is one of the partners on Moonshot, HP’s efforts to develop a new breed of green, low powered servers. The Redstone Server debuted in November as the first Moonshot server, with the newest server chassis, Project Gemini, being announced on Tuesday. This server utilizes a new Intel Atom Centerton x86 processor. According to Sean Michael Kerner writing on ServerWatch, this new server is quite energy efficient:

Breaking News: