Linus Torvalds picked up his share of the world’s largest technology award, the Millennium Prize, along with a check for €600,000 ($752,000) at a ceremony in Finland.
For the first time in the history of the award, the judging panel from the Technology Academy Finland couldn’t choose among the contenders and decided to split the $1.5m prize. Torvalds was recognized for his creation and subsequent development of Linux as an open standard and shared the prize with Japanese stem cell scientist Shinya Yamanaka.
The 343 changes made by Microsoft developer K. Y. Srinivasan put him at the top of a list, created by LWN.net, of developers who made the most changes in the current development cycle for Linux 3.0. Along with a number of other "change sets", Microsoft provided a total of 361 changes, putting it in seventh place on the list of companies and groups that contributed code to the Linux kernel. By comparison, independent developers provided 1,085 change sets to Linux 3.0, while Red Hat provided 1,000 and Intel 839.
In other news, Clippy is now a kernel module.
We’ve already done a full breakdown of Google’s clarification of their H.264 pullout today. But buried in their post is another interesting nugget worth highlighting by itself: WebM plugins are coming shortly for Safari and IE9.
This is both humorous and terrifying on a few levels. First and formost, the point of all of this H.264/WebM stuff is so that the web can shift to an HTML5 video standard going forward. Of course, since neither IE nor Safari will support Google’s, Mozilla’s, and Opera’s preferred codec for that standard, we’re right back to plugin land! Why don’t we just call WebM, Flash 2.0?
Well would you look at that. Earlier today, Apple CEO Steve Jobs went on a bit of a tirade against Google and Android in particular. And you know that couldn’t have made Android chief Andy Rubin too happy. But how was he going to respond? Well, he decided to awaken his dormant Twitter account and send his first tweet tonight. And sure enough, it’s clearly (but subtly) in response to Jobs.
Without further ado, here is Andy Rubin’s first tweet:
the definition of open: “mkdir android ; cd android ; repo init -u git://android.git.kernel.org/platform/manifest.git ; repo sync ; make”
Okay, let’s see. I’m running a few FreeBSD boxes, I guess those qualify as open.
%repo init -u git://android.git.kernel.org/platform/manifest.git;repo sync;make
repo: Command not found.
repo: Command not found.
make: no target to make.
Five minutes in Google tell me that “repo” is apparently a python script google wrote to maintain git stuff. That page offers a handy link to the script: http://source.android.com/download/using-repo.
Which gives me a page not found.
Okay then, let’s ignore twitter, ignore the google results, and see if that git URL also has a website. Weird that the official site is nowhere in the earlier google results, but it does indeed have a repo tool.
Okay, now it does get me the source. Cool.
As I’m typing this, it has downloaded a bit over 720 Mb of source, and it’s still going strong. I also note that all versions of Android, back to 1.0, are scrolling by in the list of things that appear to be fetched.
I’ll type ‘make’ when it’s done and update this post with the result, but I can already tell you that Andy’s definition of “open” means that about 0.0001% of the world population can actually use it.
Welcome to the new decade: Java is a restricted platform, Google is evil, Apple is a monopoly and Microsoft are the underdogs
Today, the jury in the District Court of Utah trial between SCO Group and Novell issued a verdict.
Novell is very pleased with the jury’s decision confirming Novell’s ownership of the Unix copyrights, which SCO had asserted to own in its attack on Linux. Novell remains committed to promoting Linux, including by defending Linux on the intellectual property front.
This decision is good news for Novell, for Linux, and for the open source community.
“This is a significant victory for Novell and, I think, a tremendous victory for the open-source community,” said Novell attorney Sterling Brennan. He added that while there are still a few issues to be decided in the case and SCO has a right to appeal, “This verdict largely brings an end to this.”
It turns out that the International Intellectual Property Alliance, an umbrella group for organisations including the MPAA and RIAA, has requested with the US Trade Representative to consider countries like Indonesia, Brazil and India for its “Special 301 watchlist” because they use open source software.
Still, in countries where the government has legislated the adoption of FOSS, the position makes some sense because it hurts businesses like Microsoft. But that’s not the end of it.
No, the really interesting thing that Guadamuz found was that governments don’t even need to pass legislation. Even a recommendation can be enough.
Example: last year the Indonesian government sent around a circular to all government departments and state-owned businesses, pushing them towards open source. This, says the IIPA, “encourages government agencies to use “FOSS” (Free Open Source Software) with a view toward implementation by the end of 2011, which the Circular states will result in the use of legitimate open source and FOSS software and a reduction in overall costs of software”.
Nothing wrong with that, right? After all, the British government has said it will boost the use of open source software.
But the IIPA suggested that Indonesia deserves Special 301 status because encouraging (not forcing) such takeup “weakens the software industry” and “fails to build respect for intellectual property rights”.
Following an IE warning from the German government, Opera saw German downloads of its desktop browser more than double. And in Australia, where a similar warning was issued, its downloads leaped 37 per cent.
Meanwhile, Mozilla saw a “statistically significant rise” in the number of downloads originating from both Germany and France, the third nation to warn against the use of IE.
So why did they do it? Only Apple knows for sure, but there are compelling arguments for open sourcing Grand Central Dispatch, even for a commercial enterprise. First, Apple will of course reap the rewards of any development that takes place, just as they have with WebKit. Second, it is unlikely that Grand Central would be used by any direct competitor to Apple, like Microsoft. Grand Central is more likely to be added to other UNIX and Linux systems, none of which really pose a threat to Apple’s consumer-based business.
This leads to what is perhaps a more important consideration for Apple, that allowing Grand Central to be ported to other UNIX/Linux systems will encourage its use. Until today, it would have been very unlikely that any new UNIX tools would be developed on Mac OS X using Grand Central, simply because they would only run on the Mac. With the possibility that Grand Central will become available on other UNIX systems, the likelihood that Grand Central will be incorporated into command line tools is greatly increased.
Of course, this is also very interesting for scientific developers. It may be possible to parallelize code in the not too distant future using Grand Central Dispatch, and run that code not only on Macs, but also on clusters and supercomputers.
There could be one last reason why Apple has taken this step: they want to use Grand Central to push the adoption of other technologies, in particular, blocks. Blocks are an extension to C which form the basis of Grand Central Dispatch. Having your operating system based on a non-standard language is not a good position to be in, and Apple would surely like to see blocks incorporated into the C language. By offering Grand Central to the broader programming community, they may be hoping it will catch on, and make the argument for incorporating blocks in the C standard that much stronger.
One of the major new technologies in Snow Leopard is now open source:
The libdispatch project consists of the user space implementation of the Grand Central Dispatch API as seen in Mac OS X version 10.6 Snow Leopard. The Mac OS X kernel support for GCD may be found in the xnu project. While kernel support provides many performance optimizations on Mac OS X, it is not strictly required for portability to other platforms. However, in order to implement the full API for Grand Central Dispatch, C compiler support for blocks is required. The blocks runtime is available as part of the LLVM project.
This project is intended to be a resource for developers interested in learning more about libdispatch on Mac OS X. Contributions to this project will be continually evaluated for possible inclusion in future releases of Mac OS X. The sources are available under the terms of the Apache License, Version 2.0 in the hope that they might serve as a launching point for porting GCD to other platforms.
The European Commission’s decision to investigate Oracle’s purchase of Sun Microsystems under competition rules could lead to a major rift with US authorities, a competition law expert has warned.
The Commission said that its primary concern was the database market, which it said was already highly concentrated, with 85% of the market controlled by the three leading sellers of software Oracle, IBM and Microsoft. Though not one of the top three sellers, Sun’s MySQL is the leading open source piece of database software.
“An interesting aspect is that the Commission does not seem to be concerned about Oracle gaining control over the programming language Java, and its licensing terms, as this came up as a issue in the US investigation and delayed clearance being given,” he said.
“The Commission has an obligation to ensure that customers would not face reduced choice or higher prices as a result of this takeover,” said EU Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes. “Databases are a key element of company IT systems. In the current economic context, all companies are looking for cost-effective IT solutions, and systems based on open-source software are increasingly emerging as viable alternatives to proprietary solutions. The Commission has to ensure that such alternatives would continue to be available.”
Microsoft Corp. Chief Executive Officer Steven Ballmer said the world’s largest software company would move some employees offshore if Congress enacts President Barack Obama’s plans to impose higher taxes on U.S. companies’ foreign profits.
“It makes U.S. jobs more expensive,” Ballmer said in an interview. “We’re better off taking lots of people and moving them out of the U.S. as opposed to keeping them inside the U.S.”
Okay…. let’s see if I get this straight. If I buy a Microsoft product here in the Netherlands, I’m making your US workers more expensive for you, right?
That means I’ve been helping Microsoft keep their US employees as cheap as possible for quite some time now!
We aren’t here to make money, we’re here for a mission: to distribute wonderful video around the world in a system that’s more open and decentralized than ever before. To do that, we need you to help us care for a little tiny piece of Miro.
We have thousands of lines of code that are waiting for you to adopt them. Not only will you get an adorable line of code with a cute name and face, we’ll also put your name in the source code and in the about box on every copy of Miro
I just adopted this little gem:
I hope they won’t port it to Python any day soon, though…
Microsoft must really love open source and want to see it succeed. Recently, Microsoft’s open-source team lead, Sam Ramji, urged open-source vendors not to compete with Microsoft on price, but instead focus on “value.”
While I’m sure Ramji meant well, I’m equally certain that Microsoft would like nothing more than to not be reminded of how expensive its products can be compared with open-source solutions.
If anyone knows the importance of pitching the market on low-cost, high-value software, it’s Microsoft. And if anyone knows how to stick its finger in the eye of more expensive rivals, it’s Microsoft, too, which has recently been blaring a “We’re cheaper! Buy from us!!” message to combat Apple’s in-roads against its Windows dominance.
Now Microsoft is being out-Microsoft’d by open source and doesn’t much like the feeling. I weep for it.
An NPD Retail Tracking Service report states the Windows installation rate on netbooks has grown from 10 per cent in the first half of 2008 to 96 per cent in February 2009.
With netbooks touted by analysts and open-source enthusiasts as the way for Linux to beat Windows, Microsoft’s Windows flacks have seized on the study.
Windows communications manager Brandon LeBlanc has crowed that far from the netbook being an opportunity for Linux, the exact opposite is true. “A number of analysts and researchers following the space see ample evidence indicating customers really DO want netbook PCs to work like their larger brethren – and that the way the vast majority of consumers make that happen is by buying a netbook PC with Windows.”
Rubbing in the salt, LeBlanc added: “Not only are people overwhelmingly buying Windows, but those that try Linux are often returning it,” he said.
Why, you might ask? LeBlanc: “Because users simply expect the Windows experience. When they realize their Linux-based netbook PC doesn’t deliver that same quality of experience, they get frustrated and take it back.”
True, that. And it also shows why Apple hasn’t built a netbook (yet?). They know people would expect the same experience as the bigger Apple computers give them, and they’ll only enter the market when they think they can pull this off.
Novell had this to report this week, in its most recent quarterly SEC report, on its Linux business:
During the first quarter of fiscal 2009, we did not sign any large deals, many of which have been historically fulfilled by SUSE Linux Enterprise Server (“SLES”) certificates delivered through Microsoft.
Repeat: “We did not sign any large deals. . . ” (Emphasis added.)
So Novell, one of the biggest Linux distributors in the world, and Microsoft, one of the biggest companies in world history, couldn’t find a single large customer on Planet Earth to buy into Novell’s Suse Linux Enterprise Server software.
No surprise. If you do things with Microsoft, you’re a Microsoft partner, not a Microsoft alternative. Lots of Linux customers went to Linux specifically to avoid Microsoft lock-in, they want away from Microsoft.
Here is a follow-up to the “teacher doesn’t know linux is free” story from earlier this week.
Hackers from the LinuxOnAnything.nl Web site successfully installed Linux on a potato. It’s the first time the operating system has been successfully installed on a root vegetable.
“A potato doesn’t have a CPU, memory or storage space, so it was quite a challenge,” said Johan Piest of the Linux on Anything (LOA) group. “Obviously we couldn’t use a large distribution like Fedora or Ubuntu, so we went with Damn Small Linux.”
I’m pleased to announce that the Linux 2.6 kernel has been ported to Apple’s iPhone platform, with support for the first and second generation iPhones as well as the first generation iPod touch. This is a rough first draft of the port, and many drivers are still missing, but it’s enough that a real alternative operating system is running on the iPhone.
The Android Market business and program policies also include an item that says users can return any application for a full refund within 24 hours of the time of purchase. In the absence of a trial version of applications, this offer will let users return an application that might not deliver exactly what they expected.
Apple, are you listening?
Apple’s current practice of rejecting certain applications at the final hurdle – submission to the App Store – is disastrous for investor confidence. Developers are investing time and resources in the App Store marketplace and, if developers aren’t confident, they won’t invest in it. If developers – and serious developers at that – don’t invest, what’s the point?
You have to wonder if Apple wants the App Store to be a museum of poorly-designed nibware written by dilettante Mac OS X/iPhone OS switcher-developers and hobbyist students. That’s what will happen if companies who intend to invest serious resources in bringing an original idea to the App Store are denied a reasonable level of confidence in their expectation of profit.
That said, Apple is now selecting for anti-competitive reasons. It came to light today that an app that will deliver a capability I really, really want was rejected by Apple because it replaces a feature in Apple’s own software. The app is called Podcaster and it would allow one to update podcasts directly on the device over wifi. I sync my iPhone to my Mac Pro – should I have to go home to put a new episode on my iPhone? I’d buy that app in a heartbeat.
Do you want a store in which every app in the “Productivity” category is a to-do list manager? That’s exactly what you’re going to get because, without some a priori assurance that your idea will be accepted, the only way to know what Apple likes and dislikes is to look at what’s already on the store. Clearly Apple can’t get themselves enough of those ticky boxes, so why not do “your take” on a list of text cells and checkmarks? Much safer bet than inventing something new.
The International Standardisation Organisation (ISO) is refusing to discuss a leaked paper that suggests it has already rejected appeals against the ratification of Microsoft’s Office Open XML (OOXML) document format as an international standard.
Anyone still taking ISO seriously needs to have their head examined… pity.
One of the biggest revelations at WWDC was quietly unveiled in a session on Friday morning entitled “Building Native Look-and-Feel Web Applications Using SproutCore.” While Apple maintained high security during the entire NDA-sealed WWDC session, the secret of SproutCore is out because it is an open source project and people can’t stop talking about it.
A bit more here.
Speaking at the Handsets World conference in Berlin on Tuesday, Dr Ari Jaaksi told delegates that the open-source community needed to be ‘educated’ in the way the mobile industry currently works, because the industry has not yet moved beyond old business models.
Jaaksi, Nokia’s vice president of software and head of the Finnish handset manufacturer’s open-source operations, said: “We want to educate open-source developers. There are certain business rules [developers] need to obey, such as DRM, IPR [intellectual property rights], SIM locks and subsidised business models.”
Jaaksi admitted that concepts like these “go against the open-source philosophy”, but said they were necessary components of the current mobile industry. “Why do we need closed vehicles? We do,” he said. “Some of these things harm the industry but they’re here [as things stand]. These are touchy, emotional issues but this dialogue is very much needed. As an industry, we plan to use open-source technologies but we are not yet ready to play by the rules; but this needs to work the other way round too.”
So your answer to the question “Why do we need closed vehicles?” is “We do”? And you want to use Open Source but you’re not ready to follow the rules Open Source asks you to follow? You want to ditch the core what makes Open Source work and have us work for you in a way that allows you to use vendor lock-in to garantuee profits?
Excuse me for not being convinced by that brilliant dissertation. You’ll find that a lot of Open Source developers would rather think you just declared war on them.
The Dutch Council of State will let loose the software it uses to convert proprietary document formats created in MS Office into Open Source documents which follow the Open Document Format (ODF) protocol.
The software, which has been developed by Council employee Marcel Pennock and uses existing plug-ins, offers an icon which centrally converts documents to either ODF of PDF in the background.
For all the high-tech tactics colleges have employed to slow or block students’ illegal file sharing activity, few have actually turned to methods used in the classroom to get the message across. A university in Missouri thinks it’s found the right solution, combining an age-old teacher’s tool with a dash of discipline.
Last academic year, Missouri University of Science and Technology, in Rolla, received some 200 Digital Millennium Copyright Act “takedown” notices from the recording industry, notifying the institution that users of its network had made copyrighted works available for download. This academic year — at a time when colleges across the country have been experiencing sudden spikes in copyright complaints — the university received eight. Karl F. Lutzen, a systems security analyst at the university, chalks it up to Missouri S&T’s unusual method of regulating students’ network usage: In order to download (or upload) files on any peer-to-peer network whatsoever, all on-campus users have to pass an online quiz on copyright infringement.
But not just once. Passing the test — with a perfect score — enables peer-to-peer access for six hours on the user’s on-campus registered machines, presumably enough time to download that (legal) song, TV show or e-book. The next time, the student, staff or faculty member has to go to the intranet Web page and take the randomized test again
Test software: Hello Mr. Manson, 1) Is murder legal?
Charles Manson: no
Test software: 2) Is murder bad?
Charles Manson: yes
Test software: 3) Would you feel bad if you murdered someone?
Charles Manson: yes
Test software: 4) Do you presently feel like murdering?
Charles Manson: no
Test software: 5) murder, Murder, MURDER!!!
Charles Manson: no, No, NO!!!
Test software: Congratulations, you have scored 100%. You now have 6 hours of access to the cutlery drawer.
On a side note, take a look at the website the university created, which states:
If you have downloaded copyright-protected files without paying for them then you have violated an author’s property rights.
which is of course utter and total bullshit. Here, let me list a few sites where you can download copyright-protected files without paying for them, and without violation the author’s rights:
More are listed here, but I think I’ve already listed at least half of all the software used on internet servers today.
If your university pulls crap like this, you’re not getting your money’s worth of education, I suggest you go find another place to learn.
There were 30 in the bed and the little one said, “Roll over, roll over.”
So they all rolled over and 23 fell out.
There were 7 in the bed and the little one said, “Roll over, roll over.”
So they all rolled over and 4 fell out.
There were 3 in the bed and the little one said, “Roll over, roll over.”
So they all rolled over and 2 fell out…
There was 1 in the bed and the little one said, “Norway votes Yes!”