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By Michael Conry
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It looks like the flawed system of software patenting that has become entrenched in the United States is on its way to Europe, amidst clarion calls of "harmonise!" and "encourage innovation!". Not everybody is so keen. Richard Stallman and Nick Hill have written a brief but thorough critique of the plans, published in The Guardian. Ultimately, each side claims that the introduction of software patents will have opposite effects. Will they encourage innovation or stifle it? Will software development thrive in a more certain environment, or become bogged down in a morass of litigation? Ultimately you have to look at the evidence and make your own mind up. It is this columnist's opinion, however, that if you look at people like Richard Stallman, and then look at the people supporting increased patents and asks "who seems to support genuine innovation?" you will get some way towards the answer.
Arlene McCarthy, a British MEP who has played an important role in the development of software patenting plans, certainly knows where she stands. She also knows what those of us who advocate free software should do...
It is time some of the "computer rights campaigners" got real... We have an obligation to legislate not just for one section of the software industry who seeks to impose its business model on the rest of industry, which moreover is not "free", but is actually a different form of monopoly by imposing a copyright licence system on users.To be honest, this smacks of the "TINA" doctrine (There Is No Alternative) promulgated by Margaret Thatcher & Co. during the 1980's. McCarthy does not even appear to appreciate the irony that the pro-patent lobby seeks to impose a business model on the rest of industry: a business model based on government-backed artificial monopolies. The Register has criticised those that rail against people like Arlene McCarthy as being ineffective, and ultimately self indulgent. Although the criticisms have some validity, they are ultimately cheap and convenient rather than insightful, and are not necessarily a true measure of the reality of opposition. Perhaps a truer indication of the reality being faced in Europe, and maybe especially in the UK, is the British Government's handling of the public consultation with regard to ID cards. In an effort to maintain a result which could be used to provide positive spin and reduce debate, thousands of submissions made by members of the public via the STAND.org.uk website have been amalgamated into a single vote. Clearly the UK Government is not keen to have the terms of engagement defined by the public, no matter how flattering we are. The interests that are defining the terms of engagement are perhaps illustrated by proposals to include biometric data on European passports.
Nonetheless, there is still work that can be done. Even though The European Parliament's Committee for Legal Affairs and the Internal Market (JURI) has voted on a final list of proposed amendments to the planned software patent directive, the proposals still have to pass the European Parliament. Following attempts to rush the directive through the Parliament stage it has been rescheduled to its original date, September 1st 2003. This allows some time for concerned parties to lobby their MEPs, though with upcoming holidays, there is not as much time as one might think.
that the US Supreme Court has refused to hear a reverse-engineering case,
thus allowing a lower court ruling to stand. The lower court ruling was
against a company that had imitated a product's look and feel (as opposed
to recreating similar code) in violation of the product's EULA. The case
is significant because it's outside the UCITA states (Virginia and
Maryland, which expressly make EULAs enforceable), where EULAs are of
questionable legal value. But now more valuable, apparently. The court
also apparently accepted the plaintiff's contention that the defendant
"must have" examined more than just the user interface, with no direct
evidence. This case goes back several years, with previous suits between
(Analysis by Mike 'Iron' Orr)
There is little point in going through the details of the SCO case once again. Instead, you can peruse the sco.iwethey.org collection of documents relating to lawsuit. If you want further reading, Eric Raymond has released an updated version of his SCO vs. IBM position paper which reflects some of the changes in the case over the past weeks. Hopefully the doubt surrounding this whole affair will be dispelled soon. As Richard Stallman has commented, the media bears some blame for the depth of the FUD generated by this case.
Some links of interest from the O'Reilly stable:
Some interesting links from NewsForge:
Some interesting links from Linux Today:
SSC, publisher of Linux Journal, recently announced the launch of a new on-line publication, WorldWatch. It offers readers a comprehensive daily digest of articles from publications around the world about topics concerning Linux and open-source software.
Modern SCO Executive, apologies to Gilbert and Sullivan. Everybody join in for the chorus.
Slashdot discussion on the release of Linux 2.4.21
Some Linux Journal links:
Interesting Linux Weekly News look at Open-Source content management systems. Many of the talkbacks have good information too.
Mike Crawford has written a fine selection of articles on the general topic of quality in Free Software. Titles include Why We Should All Test the New Linux Kernel , Using Test Suites to Validate the Linux Kernel and more.
Listings courtesy Linux Journal. See LJ's Events page for the latest goings-on.
O'Reilly Open Source Convention
|July 7-11, 2003
12th USENIX Security Symposium
|August 4-8, 2003
|August 11-15, 2003
Linux Clusters Institute Workshops
|August 18-22, 2003
Yorktown Heights, NY
|September 3-4, 2003
Birmingham, United Kingdom
Brought to you by Linux Journal and Geek Cruises!
|September 13-20, 2003
Alaska's Inside Passage
Software Development Conference & Expo
|September 15-19, 2003
|September 16-18, 2003
New York, NY
|September 16-18, 2003
IDUG 2003 - Europe
|October 7-10, 2003
Linux Clusters Institute Workshops
|October 13-18, 2003
LISA (17th USENIX Systems Administration Conference)
|October 26-30, 2003
San Diego, CA
|November 6-7, 2003
|November 17-21, 2003
Las Vegas, NV
Linux Clusters Institute Workshops
|December 8-12, 2003
SGI has announced the first of its customers receiving the new Intel Itanium 2 'Madison' processor in recent sales of the SGI Altix 3000 system. The Altix system combines SGI's fourth generation NUMAflex shared memory architecture with Intel Itanium 2 processors and the 64-bit Linux operating system for a uniquely balanced system. Each supercluster node runs a single Linux operating system image with up to 64 Itanium 2 processors and 512GB of memory. With the new processor immediately available on Altix systems. Among the first SGI customers to deploy Altix 3000 systems based on the new processors are:
SGI has been doing very well in terms of performance benchmarks with systems based on the new Itanium 2 processor. The entry-level server starts at $70,176 (U.S. list) at four processors with up to 32GB of memory and scales to 12 processors and 96GB of memory.
Will Debian survive Linux's popularity? Discussed on Slashdot.
Quantian Scientific Computing Environment. Dirk Eddelb&yyml;ttel announced Quantian, a remastered version of Knoppix. Quantian differs from Knoppix by adding a set of programs of interest to applied or theoretical workers in quantitative or data-driven fields. It still retains all of Knoppix' impressive features in terms of automatic configuration of virtually all available hardware features. If there is sufficient interest, this project may become a Debian subproject. (Courtesy Debian Weekly News)
Slashdot report on the new bootable arcade emulator (MAME) with hardware detection from Knoppix.
SuSE has announced the availability of SuSE Linux Desktop, which it claims is the first Linux desktop for large IT infrastructures.
Eset Software, a provider of Internet software security solutions, announced today the debut of NOD32 Antivirus for Linux Mail Servers, extending NOD32 antivirus detection software to the Linux email server environment. The MTA (Mail Transport Agent)-independent solution runs on most Linux distributions including RedHat, Mandrake, SuSE, Debian, and others; it also supports Sendmail, Qmail, Postfix, and Exim, among other email server software.
VariCAD has announced the recent release of its mechanical CAD system - VariCAD 188.8.131.52. The compact CAD package includes many tools for 3D modeling and 2D drafting, libraries of mechanical parts, surface development (unbending), calculations of standard mechanical components, tools for working with bills of materials (BOM) and title blocks. It is a compact system featuring all necessary tools that the mechanical engineering designers need to make their work comfortable and effective. The system is distributed "fully-loaded", with all features included. Free 30-day trial version is available for download from http://www.varicad.com
JMC SOFTWARE has announced that it has been appointed Irish distributer for FreeBSD as well as the Linux distributions from Red Hat, SuSE and Mandrake. These are available throughout Ireland at www.thelinuxmall.com or tel 01 6291282.
Big Medium is claimed to be an easy-to-use tool for Linux and other UNIX systems that allows non-technical staff to edit and maintain websites while providing a wide range of features. The software is a suite of Perl scripts designed for web servers running the UNIX operating system, including Linux, Mac OSX, Solaris and FreeBSD. Big Medium is licensed for $129, and a free online demo is available.
Zend Technologies, the designers of the PHP scripting engine, has announced the release of the Zend Performance Suite (ZPS) 3.5. Zend Performance Suite enables both enterprises and service providers to overcome scalability issues and to deliver high performance Web sites, increasing server throughput by up to 30 times - without upgrading their hardware.
Zend has also announced that it will team with Sun Microsystems to initiate specification for PHP and web scripting access to Java technology.
Excel Software has begun shipping QuickUML 1.1 for Windows and Linux. QuickUML is an object-oriented design tool that provides tight integration and synchronization of a core set of UML models. QuickUML Linux 1.1 adds improved font handling, an enhanced Contents view for class and object models, and a toolbar to access code manager commands. QuickUML Linux has the same features as the Windows edition and also uses QuickHelp to provide context sensitive application help.
Excel Software has also announced the availability of QuickHelp for Linux. QuickHelp is a development tool for creating and deploying application help to Mac OS 9, Mac OS X, Windows 95 through XP and virtually all Linux distributions.