Microsoft: Patent to restrict the use of software

theodp writes “On Tuesday, Microsoft was granted US Patent No. 7,536,726 (it was filed in 2005) for intentionally crippling the functionality of an operating system by ‘making selected portions and functionality of the operating system unavailable to the user or by limiting the user’s ability to add software applications or device drivers to the computer’ until an ‘agreed upon sum of money’ is paid to ‘unlock or otherwise make available the restricted functionality.’ According to Microsoft, this solves a ‘problem inherent in open architecture systems,’ i.e., ‘they are generally licensed with complete use rights and/or functionality that may be beyond the need or desire of the system purchaser.’ An additional problem with open architecture systems, Microsoft explains, is that ‘virtually anyone can write an application that can be executed on the system.’ Nice to see the USPTO rewarding Microsoft’s eight problem-solving inventors, including Linux killer (and antelope killer) Joachim Kempin, who’s been credited with getting Microsoft hauled into federal court on antitrust charges.” Sounds like the mechanism by which Microsoft sells one version of Vista to all users, and lets users upgrade to higher-tier flavors of the OS after cash changes hands.

Key concepts to take out of this:

  1. limiting the user’s ability to add software applications or device drivers to the computer
    • Don’t you own your own computer? Aren’t you permitted to add whatever you feel like? Who has the right to revoke this right on your behalf?
  2. functionality that may be beyond the need or desire [of the end user]
    • What I want, or what are need, are none of your business unless I ask for it.
  3. virtually anyone can write an application that can be executed on the system.
    • Why is that so bad?
  4. Move to free software!
    • It feels good.

Hushmail passing emails to US Government

Hushmail, a Canadian company providing email security using PGP, has released to the US government unencrypted email communications. This respresents a violation of users’ trust in the company. I had an account with them, I will delete all my mail, and close that account. I will only trust my own computer for safe email sending/receiving. No longer will I trust the ‘security’ and ‘privacy’ of a third-party.

The DEA agents received three CDs which contained decrypted emails for the targets of the investigation that had been decrypted as part of a mutual legal assistance treaty between the United States and Canada.
The news will be embarrassing to the company, which has made much of its ability to ensure that emails are not read by the authorities.

File Shredder

shredderTypically, when you ‘delete’ a file, you are only detaching the link from your filesystem to the actually binary data on the physical platters of your hard drive. The data aren’t really gone. The filesystem declares this space as ‘free’ or ‘available’, and so only goes away when that space is overwritten by new data.

If you’ve ever desire to truly delete a file, then download file shredder. It allows you you select and right click any file, and it automatically overrights them with random data, stuffs it full of zeros, and then deletes it. This prevents anyone from ever recovering that file with forensic software. Larger files take longer to shred, but are usually shredded in under 1 minute. If I coulf find the author’s email, I’d ask him/her to add a right-click to “shred all files in the recycle bin.”

Microsoft: Fined €9 million

Microsoft fined US$11.9 million.

The fine, imposed by the German competition authority, the BundesKartellamt, came about after the body determined that Microsoft had illegally fixed prices with retailers for the Office Home and Student 2007 software suite.

The product in question was heavily advertised in the autumn of 2008 in stationary retail outlets,” said the BundesKartellamt in a statement.

Amongst others, a nationwide active retailer advertised the product with financial support from Microsoft. Even before the launch of the advertising campaign in mid-October 2008, employees of Microsoft and the retailer in question had agreed on at least two occasions on the resale price of the software package “Office Home & Student 2007”.

While it isn’t illegal for some contact to take place between the producer and retailer it is against German law for the seller to agree on future actions by the retailer.

Microsoft has accepted the fine and will pay it shortly.

http://www.itnews.com.au/News/NewsStory.aspx?story=100673

Happy for Microsoft

Have you ever seen Microsoft churning out so many fixes and new versions of classic products such as Office, Windows, and Internet Exploder? No! Because of the fact that they are finally facing serious competition in the marketplace after decades of monopoly abuse, they are finally buckling their shoes and putting out some impressive software. Continue reading

Ubuntu saves Millions for French Police

French Police save Millions switching to Ubuntu

The French national police force, the Gendarmerie Nationale, has spoken about their migration away from the Windows platform to Linux. Estimated to have already saved the force 50 Million Euros, the migration is due to be completed on all 90,000 workstations by 2015. Of the move, Lt. Col. Guimard had this comment: “Moving from Microsoft XP to Vista would not have brought us many advantages and Microsoft said it would require training of users. Moving from XP to Ubuntu, however, proved very easy. The two biggest differences are the icons and the games. Games are not our priority.”

Setting up IMAP with KMail in Linux to get e-mail from QUT

These instructions are for QUT students. I do not know if they will work for QUT staff. Use at your own risk.

You need ‘vpnc’ program (install it with your pkg mgr). Then download off-campus.conf file and save it to /etc/vpnc/ directory. You could name it default.conf if it will be your only vpnc connection. The contents should begin with at least:

IPSec gateway sas.qut.edu.au
IPSec ID qut
IPSec secret qutaccess

As root run vpnc off-campus of just vpnc if you renamed it to default.conf. Enter username/password when prompted.

In Kmail, you setup IMAP connection using SSL, username/password and port 993 to host mail.qut.edu.au. SMTP uses NO ecryption, but authentication method is LOGIN (not PLAIN) and port 25 on host mail.qut.edu.au.

To exit vpnc type vpnc-disconnect as root.

I hope this helps someone.

References
http://www.its.qut.edu.au/offcampusaccess/sas/linux.jsp

New openSUSE 11.1 Released Today

The openSUSE Project is proud to announce the release of openSUSE 11.1. The openSUSE 11.1 release includes more than 230 new features, improvements to YaST, major updates to GNOME, KDE, OpenOffice.org, and more freedom with a brand new license, Liberation fonts, and openJDK. This is also the first release built entirely in the openSUSE Build Service.

Digg this story! http://digg.com/linux_unix/openSUSE_11_1_Released

openSUSE Installer

All of the Sneak Peeks for this release are available at on openSUSE News. You can also find a bevy of screenshots, and a list of features found in openSUSE 11.1. You can also find a lengthy list of packages and version numbers on DistroWatch.

Let’s take a look at some of the specific additions in openSUSE 11.1!

On the Desktop

Desktop users will find a lot to like in this release. Users can choose from the leading edge of GNOME and KDE development with GNOME 2.24.1 and KDE 4.1.3. We’ve also included KDE 3.5.10 for users who prefer the classic KDE experience.

What’s new in GNOME 2.24.1?

GNOME has gotten a good set of improvements since the 11.0 release. GNOME 2.24.1 features tabbed browsing and a new compact view in Nautilus, improvements for Gmail users in Evolution, along with mail templates, a new version of Ekiga, and additional improvements in F-Spot.

This release also includes a brand-new release of the ever-popular Banshee. Banshee 1.4 sports support for Internet radio, compilation albums, a Now Playing window for video and audio, support for syncing to Android phones, and many other features that make Banshee an excellent multimedia player for the Linux desktop.

GNOME Desktop

GNOME Desktop Apps

What’s new in KDE 4.1.3?

KDE 4 has a huge number of improvements since openSUSE 11.0. In this release you’ll find the KDE-PIM suite back in KDE 4, new games, the KSCD CD player, KSystemLog to keep track of system changes, improvements to Dolphin, Konqueror, and Marble integration with OpenStreetMap. KDE has now standardized on PackageKit for its backend, which means both desktops are using the same update stack.

KWin effects: cube

KDE cover flow

The openSUSE KDE team has also backported some key features from KDE 4.2, including compositing features for KWin to provide more desktop effects, and auto-hiding of the panel, and power management thanks to PowerDevil.

Classic KDE

If you’re not quite ready to make the transition to KDE 4, relax. openSUSE 11.1 includes KDE 3.5.10 for the “classic” KDE experience. Simply install openSUSE 11.1 from the DVD media and choose KDE 3.5.10 from the selection of other window managers in the desktop selection screen.

OpenOffice.org

This release includes OpenOffice.org 3.0, which features many improvements over the 2.4 release found in openSUSE 11.0. OpenOffice.org 3.0 Novell edition provides better Excel interoperability, performance enhancements, 3D slide transitions, and other features not found in upstream OpenOffice.org.

This release also includes support for ODF 1.2, import filters for OOXML, Gstreamer and Mono integration, and a lot more. For developers, this is the first release that includes the split build, making it easier to work on components of OpenOffice.org and get involved in its development.

Under the Hood

openSUSE 11.1 also includes several changes “under the hood,” including a new kernel release, updated Glibc, new version of PackageKit, Smolt integration, and many other updated applications and utilities:

  • Linux 2.6.27.7
  • Glibc 2.9
  • Python 2.6
  • Perl 5.10
  • Mono 2.0

YaST Improvements

The YaST team has been busy with this release, working on a number of improvements including new and re-written modules. openSUSE 11.1 includes a new printer module, redesigned partitioner module, and a security module that allows you to check the overall security of your system.

Media and Download

openSUSE is now available for immediate download. openSUSE 11.1 comes with many choices of installation media.

  • openSUSE 11.1 DVD 32-bit
  • openSUSE 11.1 DVD 64-bit
  • openSUSE 11.1 DVD PowerPC
  • openSUSE 11.1 GNOME 32-bit Live CD
  • openSUSE 11.1 KDE 4 32-bit Live CD
  • openSUSE 11.1 GNOME 64-bit Live CD
  • openSUSE 11.1 KDE 4 64-bit Live CD

You can also purchase a retail box with openSUSE 11.1 that includes 90-day installation support, physical media, and a printed Getting Started guide.

Communicate

We want to hear from you! The openSUSE Project has many channels of communication:

To keep up to date with openSUSE, be sure to keep an eye on openSUSE News and watch Planet SUSE for blog posts from the openSUSE community.

Want to help the openSUSE Project? To get involved with openSUSE see the How to Participate page on the openSUSE wiki. We can use lots of different skills to help the project, so feel free to jump in!

Thanks!

openSUSE 11.1 represents the combined effort of thousands of developers who participate in openSUSE and upstream projects shipped in openSUSE. The contributors, inside and outside the openSUSE Project, should be proud of this release, and they deserve a major “thank you” for all of the hard work and care that have gone into 11.1. We hope that openSUSE 11.1 is the best openSUSE release yet, and that it will help to encourage the use of Linux everywhere! We hope that you have a lot of fun while you use openSUSE 11.1, and we look forward to working with you on 11.2!