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LG News

Google Talk

Jimmy O'Regan (The LG Answer Gang)
Answered By Jason Creighton, Rick Moen

Google have released a new chat program. It's Windows-only, but Google being the cool people they are, they've gone with open standards (Jabber) and provide instructions for Gaim (http://www.google.com/support/talk/bin/answer.py?answer=3D24073) and Psi (http://www.google.com/support/talk/bin/answer.py?answer=3D24074).

Userfriendly has a cartoon to tie in with this:

[Jason] This hit Slashdot, so everyone's probably seen it already, but Google's use of Jabber is apparently not quite as open as one might hope:
[Rick] Well, opening up gateway services carefully and slowly, to control spam and other service abuse, is only reasonable:


We look forward to federating with any service provider who shares our belief in enabling user choice and open communications. We do believe, however, that it is important to balance openness with ensuring that we maintain a safe and reliable service that protects user privacy and blocks spam and other abuses. We are using the federation opportunity with EarthLink and Sipphone to develop a set of guidelines by which all members of the federated network can work together to ensure that we protect our users while maximizing the reach of the network. [...]



Seems reasonable to me. On a related note, I bought Linux Format today and was amused to see this:

"The award of 15 [Summer of Code] bounties to the Gaim project led to speculation that Google has its sights set on integrating instant messaging into its search portal."

Sun retiring the SISSL

Jimmy O'Regan (The LG Answer Gang)


Specifically, this means that OpenOffice.org is now LGPL only. They are also asking OSI to not recommend its use.

Massachusetts switch to OpenOffice formats

Mike Orr (LG Contributing Editor)

(Warning: 3rd link crashes Firefox)

Massachussetts decrees all state documents must be in PDF or OpenOffice formats starting in 2007.

[Jimmy] Microsoft are (surprise, surprise) upset with this decision. Alan Yates wrote a series of "concerns" about the decision.
Tim Bray (creator of XML) took the time to reply to some of these concerns, though this, perhaps, sums it up best:


Recently we spent a few days on a farm on Saskatchewan, during which I had occasion to help clean the floor of the barn, one of whose inhabitants was a Hereford bull named "El Presidente", being boarded for a friend. So, when I assert that these talking points are, by and large, Dung of Male Bovine (DoMB for short), I do so in an educated voice.


One of the most commonly questioned "concerns" is that of the difficulty of changing formats:


Yates raises the spectre of "enormous costs" facing Massachusetts in a file format switch.
This is rich.
Yates' hyperbolic sense of moment is unevenly apportioned. He omits the enormous cost of a possible Microsoft upgrade to Office 12 one day, should Microsoft be so lucky.


The KOffice team were also keen to correct Yates' assertion that "[the] four products that support the OpenDocument format ... are slight variations of the same StarOffice code base": http://dot.kde.org/1127515635

RMS on the GPL v.3

Jimmy O'Regan (The LG Answer Gang)

In an interview at OnLAMP.com, Richard M. Stallman discusses (among other things) version 3 of the GPL.

Though details of GPL 3 are sketchy, it has seemed certain that it will contain a 'web service' clause: licences such as the Affero GPL and the APSL have clauses that require the distribution of source code for modified versions of software covered by those licences if the software is used in public servers.

These clauses are considered non-free by Debian, because this affects the use of the software. RMS's comments show that he has considered this.


Running a program in a public server is not distribution; it is public use. We're looking at an approach where programs used in this way will have to include a command for the user to download the source for the version that is running.

But this will not apply to all GPL-covered programs, only to programs that already contain such a command. Thus, this change would have no effect on existing software, but developers could activate it in the future.


Peru passes law favouring free software

Jimmy O'Regan (The LG Answer Gang)

Peru has passed a law that requires the use of free software in government departments.


Article 1 - Objective of the law

Employ exclusively free software in all the systems and computing equipment of every State agency.

Article 2 - Scope of application

The Executive, Legislative and Judicial branches, as well as the autonomous regional or local decentralized organisms and the corporations where the State holds the majority of the shares will use free software in their systems and computer equipment.


(Google translation of an article, Text of the bill from opensource.org)


Mike Orr (LG Contributing Editor)


A review of Rockbox, an open-source firmware for Archos digital music players. They are also porting it to some iRiver models, although this isn't finished. The article also discusses GP2X, a handheld video-game console with open specifications. It runs Linux, although it's unclear whether the distribution will be DRM protected.

Linux Trademark in Australia

Jimmy O'Regan (The LG Answer Gang)

There was a lot of fuss in Australia when several companies who are in some way using "Linux" were contacted by Jeremy Malcolm, a lawyer acting on behalf of Linux Australia Inc., demanding that these companies agree to a trademark licence and pay a fee of between A$200 and 5000.

Although it was widely reported that this was somehow an attempt by Linus Torvalds to cash in on the success of Linux, in this post to the Linux kernel mailing list, and after a brief explanation of trademarks, Linux said this:


Finally, just to make it clear: not only do I not get a cent of the trademark money, but even LMI (who actually administers the mark) has so far historically always lost money on it. That's not a way to sustain a trademark, so they're trying to at least become self-sufficient, but so far I can tell that lawyers fees to give that protection that commercial companies want have been higher than the license fees. Even pro bono lawyers chanrge (sic) for the time of their costs and paralegals etc.


(LMI is Linux Mark Institute (http://linuxmark.org): "LMI is not designed to generate profits for anyone, which is why Linus Torvalds has given LMI primary sub-license rights for the mark.")

In the end, however, the trademark was ruled invalid in Australia:


In a letter dated 31 August addressed to Perth-based lawyer Jeremy Malcolm, who represents Torvalds, Intellectual Property Australia official Andrew Paul Lowe said: "For your client's trademark to be registerable under the Trade Marks Act, it must have sufficient 'inherent adaptation to distinguish in the marketplace'.

"In other words, it cannot be a term that other traders with similar goods and services would need to use in the ordinary course of trade."



Open Source DRM

Jimmy O'Regan (The LG Answer Gang)

Sun Microsystems announced that they will be making Project DReaM ("DRM/everywhere available") available under the terms of the CDDL (the licence used for Open Solaris) as part of their Open Media Commons initiative (http://www.openmediacommons.org), aiming to provide an open standard for DRM.

Sun's Jonathan Schwartz spoke about the project:


The issue at hand is fair compensation without loss of fair use. The Open Media Commons is committed to creating an open network growth engine, all the while continuing to protect intellectual property in a manner that respects customer privacy, honors honest uses of media, and encourages participation and innovation.



According to Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Project_DReaM), Project DReaM consists of three parts:


  • DRM-OPERA: An interoperable DRM architecture that is not dependent upon a specific hardware set or operating system.
  • Java Stream Assembly: Java-based server software that allows for distribution of video over a network.
  • Sun Streaming Server (SSS): Serves standards-compliant video and audio media over an IP-based network. Generally, SSS serves MPEG-4 video media. It also supports Apple Computer's QuickTime.


DRM Watch has more information about DRM-OPERA:


DRM-OPERA's roots lie in Project OPERA, which came out of the Eurescom R&D initiative sponsored by the European Union and the European telecommunications industry. Sun's R&D lab contributed heavily to Project OPERA, which produced an architecture for interoperable DRM in 2003.

OPERA achieves interoperability among DRM systems -- interoperability between Microsoft and RealNetworks DRMs has already been demonstrated -- essentially by reducing DRM licenses down to a lowest common denominator of authenticating users only (as described above) and providing "play once" as an atomic licensing term that all DRM systems can understand and support. Each of the DRM systems involved in a specific instance of interoperability can manage more complex licensing terms internally and communicate them through the OPERA architecture via "play once" licenses.



It's important that they're making this effort, but the proof points will occur when the rights holders and device makers get on board.

State of the Onion 9

Jimmy O'Regan (The LG Answer Gang)


Larry Wall talks about the current state of affairs in the Perl world, using spies as his analogy:


Anyway, now that I've been wading through the Bond corpus again, I've noticed something I've never noticed before about the show. It's just not terribly realistic. I mean, come on, who would ever name an organization "SPECTRE?" Good names are important, especially for bad guys. A name like SPECTRE is just too obvious. SPECTRE. Boo! Whooo!! Run away.

You know, if I were going to name an evil programming language, I certainly wouldn't name it after a snake. Python! Run away, run away.


Everyone my age and older knows that Five-Year Plans are bad for people, unless of course you're someone like Josef Stalin, in which case they're just bad for other people. All good Americans know that good plans come in four-year increments, because they mostly involve planning to get reelected.

I probably shouldn't point this out, but we've been planning Perl 6 for five years now.

Comrades, here in the People's Republic, the last five years have seen great progress in the science of computer programming. In the next five years, we will not starve nearly so many programmers, except for those we are starving on purpose, and those who will starve accidentally.


Microsoft and JBoss agree to increase interoperability

Jimmy O'Regan (The LG Answer Gang)



Specifically, the companies expect their collaboration to achieve interoperability in several domains:

  • Microsoft's Active Directory--so the companies' software has integrated sign-on and federated identity management mechanisms.
  • Web services standards, which govern how applications employ services available on a group of often loosely connected servers.
  • Management with Microsoft Operations Manager.
  • SQL Server, Microsoft's database software, with JBoss' Hibernate and Enterprise JavaBeans software.


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Published in Issue 119 of Linux Gazette, October 2005

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