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FOSS Force

Is Google Marketing Linux-BSD?

Is is just me, or does Google look more and more like Microsoft/Apple with each passing day?

When Google introduced Linux based Android a few years back, they bent over backwards to proclaim their commitment to openness, going so far as to proclaim openness as Android’s advantage over Apple’s iOS. Here was an operating system that device manufacturers could tweek and tailor to suit their own needs. Not only that, with the source code freely available, this would be an operating system that could be easily modified by the user. Nobody would have to jailbreak an Android device, because after you bought it, it would be yours. It would be free, as in speech, not as in beer.

Will Android Tablet Sales Soar?

When Android smartphones hit the shelves there were lots of favorable conditions to help them gain market share. For starters, there was demand. The whole “Crackberry” craze of the early 2000s had whetted the market, a demand that was only amplified when Apple then rewrote the smartphone book with the iPhone. The iPhone, however, was only available on AT&T’s network, which left the door wide open for exploitation by handset makers using Google’s Linux based mobile OS.

With people lining up around the block to purchase iPhones and sign up for lucrative two year data deals with AT&T, other carriers were hungry for a piece of the action. So they grabbed-up every Android implementation they could find and proudly offered them to their subscribers. They pushed the Android brand with advertising, convincing potential customers that Android phones weren’t merely “me too” devices, but were at least as good as Apple’s product, with the advantage of being less expensive.

Mum’s the Word at “Linux Today”

There seems to be trouble in the works over at Linux Today, and everybody’s keeping damn quiet about it.

The first hint that something was wrong came on Saturday when the site posted no new content. This seemed odd, but not too unusual since weekend postings are often slim on the site. But when usually busy Monday came and went with still no new posts, the “what’s-up-with-that” factor was raised. Things started to get back to normal on Tuesday, however, when new posts began showing-up on the site again, though the pickings were slim, only six posts on a day when normally there would be four times as many.

Friday Foss Week in Review: Vive le OpenOffice Libre!

There’s certainly not a lack of things to report on this week. As usual, some is good, some is not-so-good and some is enough to make you downright paranoid.

We’ll start with some good news:

LibreOffice Off and Running

Last week we got the news that many if not most of the development folks at OpenOffice.org have decided not to wait to see what Oracle will do, but have exercised their rights under to GPL to create LibreOffice. The new organization running the show is The Document Foundation.

Feds Want to Crack Your Blackberry

If you’re wondering why Research In Motion (RIM), maker of the Blackberry, was loathe to cooperate with the authorities in Dubai and India when they demanded access to encrypted Blackberry calls, it’s because they knew no matter how little they cracked that door, it would eventually open wide. Need proof? Take a look at Monday’s New York Times in which we learn that the Feds want new regulations to force companies like RIM to design back doors into their offerings to allow easy wiretap access by law enforcement. It’ll be hard for RIM to say “no” to the U.S. when they’ve already said “yes” to other countries.

“Essentially, officials want Congress to require all services that enable communications — including encrypted e-mail transmitters like BlackBerry, social networking Web sites like Facebook and software that allows direct ‘peer to peer’ messaging like Skype – to be technically capable of complying if served with a wiretap order. The mandate would include being able to intercept and unscramble encrypted messages.”

Is Red Hat Making the Right Move?

The news out of Raleigh is that Red Hat’s considering moving. It seems they’ve outgrown their location at N.C. State University where they’ve been since 1996 and, like Daniel Boone, they need a little elbow room. They’re considering finding a new location in the Raleigh area, presumably so they can remain near high tech Research Triangle Park, but they’re also reportedly looking at Atlanta, Boston and Austin, Texas.

As a North Carolinian, I would hate to see Red Hat leave our state, but a move to another area might be wise for the world’s largest Linux company. I’m just not sure the cities under consideration are where they need to go.

Friday FOSS Week in Review: With Six You Get Netware

I can’t keep up with the players. I’m going to have to buy a program. Everybody who’s not for sale is a potential buyer. And oh yeah, Maureen O’Gara’s still bashing the SCO bashers – go figure!

SUSE Sale Apparently Hits Snag

Last week at this time it was practically a done deal. VMware was buying the Linux side of Novell. Now, according to whom and what you read, the deal is either still on, it’s hit a “snag” or it’s history and Novell is courting other suitors.

Ellison & the GPL Part III

If you’ve downloaded and installed a copy of OpenOffice.org recently, you’ve probably noticed Oracle’s red lettered logo on the splash screen. This caught my attention the first time I saw it because I didn’t remember ever having seen Sun’s logo on the splash screen, so I fired up an ancient PC running Windows98 and opened OOo, version 1.x. I was right, Sun’s logo was nowhere to be seen.

As much as I don’t like to see Oracle’s branding on an important open source project like OpenOffice.org, this might be a good thing for the office productivity suite, which has become the de facto alternative to Microsoft’s Office franchise. It means that Ellison & Company evidently places value on the OpenOffice brand and values the company’s association with it.

Ellison & the GPL Part II

In yesterday’s post, I wrote about Larry Ellison and Oracle’s apparent lack of respect for the GPL. The FOSS community should find this especially disturbing due to the boatload of open source projects now controlled by Oracle after its acquisition of Sun. Not the least of these is MySQL, the workhorse database that practically runs the Internet, which is available under the GPL and various proprietary licenses. After Oracle unceremoniously dropped support for OpenSolaris, the open source version of Sun’s (now Oracle’s) UNIX OS, we can’t help but wonder if the GPL’d version of MySQL will be next.

Ellison is probably not very enthused about the open source aspects of MySQL. For one thing, he probably sees it as competing with Oracle RDBMS, which just happens to be Oracle’s cash cow. He could just quit supporting the GPL’d version by refusing to open source new code added to the proprietary versions but that would only invite a fork. As I mentioned yesterday, the open source implementation of MySQL is too important to fail, so we could expect IBM, Google and others to pick-up the ball in that case, and continue development of a MySQL fork.

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