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Slashback: NIC, Dastar, Defects 217

Slashback tonight with a round of corrections and updates to recent (and not recent) Slashdot postings. Read on to find out more on the fate of Larry Ellison's thin-client Linux machine, OpenTV vs. GNU, getting satisfaction instead of defective hard drives, and more. Enjoy!

Was it ahead of its time or vice versa? BreadMan writes "After limping along for years, the New Internet Computer (NIC) company finally went under. Founded by Larry Ellison, NIC sold a diskless workstation running Linux targeted at home users that wanted internet access. From the spec sheet it looks like this would be fun as a hacking platform if you can get one on the cheap."

Way to GNU! xarium writes "Seems that in response to pressure from the FSF OpenTV has released the source code to all of its compilers. You can download the full package here (~18meg)."

Because a hard drive should not be a rhythm section. Dynamoo writes "As previously noted in Slashdot, Fujitsu MPG3xx series hard drives have been failing in huge numbers. The U.S. law firm, Shepherd Finkelman Miller & Shah is currently conducting a class action against Fujitsu and HP for knowingly distributing faulty drives. According the this article in The Register, Gateway has now been lined up as a defendant.

The fault appears to impact MPG3102AT, MPG3204AT, MPG3307AT and MPG3409AT units manufactured in early 2001. If you have one of these, then it has probably failed already, if not you should replace it asap. If you're a customer of HP/Compaq you can visit the HP Hard Disk Drive Replacement Program site.
We had about 40 of these things fitted to Compaq DeskPro EXDs, and I can assure you the failure rate is pushing 100%."

In the public domain, no one knows you're a dog. smiff writes "United Press International reports on Dastar v. Twentieth Century Fox. Reversing lower court rulings, the Supreme Court unanimously ruled that Dastar did not violate the origin-of-work provision of the Lanham act. Dastar had taken public domain video, made some modifications, and sold it as its own product. Twentieth Century Fox sued claiming they should have been given credit for the video. According to Antonin Scalia, Dastar would have violated the Lanham Act if it had simply repacked the material and sold it as its own. But since Dastar made some minor changes, the Lanham Act doesn't apply.

While Dastar has been cleared under the Lanham Act, the Supreme Court sent the case back for a rehearing. The Fox video entered the public domain in 1977, but the book it was based on is still protected by copyright."

... or get off the pot. Brazilian Joe writes "The LinuxTag folks, as you may know, are responsible for a restraining order against SCO's claims in Germany. As a result, SCO has shut down its Germany web site. Story here."

This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Slashback: NIC, Dastar, Defects

Comments Filter:
  • by .!.+(0.o)+.!. ( 671291 ) on Wednesday June 04, 2003 @07:04PM (#6119957)
    ... thankfully, I have an IBM Death^H^H^H^H^HDeskStar :-/ purchased 8/02 dead 10/02
  • by MadAnthony02 ( 626886 ) on Wednesday June 04, 2003 @07:08PM (#6119977) Homepage

    Wonder how this will turn out. My guess is the law firm will get some money, HP and Fujitsu will lose some money, but consumers will get almost nothing.

    There have been a number of class action laws-uits I've noticed of late where the members of the class get little or nothing. Cases in point

    -Best Buy gets sued by people who didn't understand the terms of it's extended warrenty. Best Buy settles, gives coupons for more crap at best buy to the members of the class.

    -Salton (maker of the george forman grill) gets sued for price fixing. Settles. Money gets paid to health charities, consumers who theoretically lost money due to overcharges get nothing

    There are a ton of similar cases.

    • by Moses Lawn ( 201138 ) on Wednesday June 04, 2003 @07:48PM (#6120160)
      Sometimes these things do pan out for us the consumers. When Iomega got class-actioned back in 1995 or '96 for supposedly selling faulty Zip drives, I got either a pack of Zip disks or a whole new drive (it was a while back, my memory is leaky) out of it. The kicker is, I never even signed up for membership in the class, because my unit was working just fine (still would be, probably, if I had it hooked up to anything). I was happily impressed.

      Usually, though, you're right; the consumers get cheaped off with a $5.00 check or a coupon for more defective crap. I suppose the idea is to spank the offending company hard enough that they'll think twice about cutting corners the next time. I wonder if that tactic ever works?
      • That's funny, I got jack. The offer I remember was a $10-off coupon if I decided to buy yet another zip drive. There was certainly never any offer to simply replace the defective drive, or I would have done so!
        • Yeah, I was pretty surprised, myself. I don't know what the hell happened. I just got a package one day. My last name starts with "C", so maybe they only had so many to go around and went through the list in alphabetical order.

          Jack is about what I would have expected, though.
    • Most class action lawsuits are settled in this manner. It beats a kick in the head, but is still pretty insulting. The law firm's part of the settlement is paid in cash. The legal system is pretty broken, I realize the motives of the businessmen who write about it almost weekly on the WSJ's editorial page, are less than pure, but they make a pretty good point, the system is broken and should be fixed. The last big settlement that I can remember that paid cash or other items of value to the defrauded was
    • There have been a number of class action laws-uits I've noticed of late where the members of the class get little or nothing.

      Of *late*??? I am unaware of any time where this was not the case.

      Best Buy gets sued by people who didn't understand the terms of it's extended warrenty. Best Buy settles, gives coupons for more crap at best buy to the members of the class.

      I love that one. Anyone dumb enough to get the extended warranty probably isn't going to be smart enough to read the contract that comes with

      • There's a contract that comes with my Happy Meal?

        I looked up the Happy Meal EULA on google and found: By opening this Happy Meal (tm), Grimace can come over and sleep with your sister whenever he wants.

        Geez, Grimace. She's only 8.

    • Countercite, I think... 1995 3.6L Ford Windstar owners got their money back if they had to replace a blown headgasket between 60K (the old warranty) and 100K (the settlement) miles. I assume this was a result of the class-action suit. (I just know I got my $1400 refunded out of the deal. No interest, but we never expected to see *any* of that money again.)
    • One of the main strengths, if the only one other than bad publicity, behind a class-action is ability to get punitive damages not for the plaintiffs to run of buy Ferraris but to actully punish the company.

      $50 per person doesn't sound like much, but take that times a hundred-thousand people and it will make an obvious mark on the books. Affecting the bottom line is pretty much the only way a consumer has a voice when dealing with a large and wealthy company. Even a little drop from the last quarter could
    • Just because the consumers aren't getting anything from the suit, doesn't mean they're not getting anything. I have an HP and I know that I had to replace the hard drive 3 times, and at least one of those was probably a Fujitsu, but HP took care of it everytime, so they're really the ones taking the financial burden, so if they get some money from Fujitsu from it, I wouldn't be the least bit offended. Hopefully all the customers got the replacement drive like I did, and I don't think it'd be a bad thing tha
  • by CoolQ ( 31072 ) <[gro.bulcmoc] [ta] [snitneuq]> on Wednesday June 04, 2003 @07:09PM (#6119980) Homepage
    I just took a look at www.sco.de [www.sco.de], and it loads just fine for me. I don't read German, but it seems to be in German. Is this a diversionary tactic by SCO?
    --Quentin
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 04, 2003 @07:09PM (#6119983)
    Well, SCO is still not out of cash... aparantly. So, for them to stop, they need to run out first. Since they have to pay for bandwidth... I guess using a little wouldn't hurt.

    So, got bandwidth? Mad at SCO? Want to learn more about their products and/or hear them talk? Last time they pulled the file when slashdot wanted to know how to administrate their Linux server. This time...

    Download a 36.6mb ZIP from the SCO Authorized Eduaction Partner program from here [sco.com]

    (for all you non-English speakers)
    a 12.9mb Italian OpenLinux manual pdf from here [sco.com]

    a 10mb Unixware administration pdf from here [sco.com]

    a 7.9mb mp3 of a Caldera confrence call (May 2002) from here [sco.com]

    a 4.2mb mp3 of a SCO confrence call from here [sco.com]

    a 4.5mb vector image of the Caldera logo from here [sco.com]

    OR

    a 6.8mb SCO education Linux courseware pdf from here [www.sco.de]

    ***If you want to get these interesting files easier, you can also launch an unspecified number of wget processes. You can even -O /dev/null them if you don't want to use disk space, but still want to download them...

    36.6mb: (removing the space in 'zip')
    wget sco.com/images/pdf/education/SCO_AEP_posterfiles.z ip

    12.9mb:
    wget sco.com/images/pdf/edesktop/edesktop_24_it.pdf

    10mb:
    wget sco.com/images/pdf/aep/UW7NET~1.PDF

    7.9mb:
    wget sco.com/images/pdf/06032002.mp3

    4.2mb:
    wget sco.com/images/pdf/q2.mp3

    5.4mb:
    wget http://www.sco.de/images/pdf/12-11-01.mp3

    9mb:
    wget sco.com/images/pdf/aep/OS5NET~1.PDF

    4mb:
    wget sco.de/images/pdf/unixware/946000000b.pdf

    And, if you need their entire website for offline viewing... not wanting to waste bandwidth downloading things multiple times:
    wget -r -l0 http://www.sco.com/
  • Unix Trademark & SCO (Score:5, Interesting)

    by El ( 94934 ) on Wednesday June 04, 2003 @07:14PM (#6120005)
    I think it would be more effective to try to get the UnixGroup to file a restraining order banning SCO from the use of the "Unix" trademark. That would _really_ hit SCO where it hurts... imagine having to rewrite all of their code and promotional material to elimate the word "Unix"!
    • They more than likely have signed a contract to use the trademark, and you need a good reason to break a contract.

      Good reason as in the other side violated the agreement, not as in "we think they're a bunch of bastards now."
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Remember when the Unix groupd sued unix.com? They're jackasses too. And more lawsuits is never the right answer unless the question is "If I had two lawsuits and now I have three lawuits, how could you descriptively, but not too specifically state what I have now?"
    • imagine having to rewrite all of their code and promotional material to elimate the word "Unix"!

      Yes! Imagine the inconvenience of actually learning awk!
  • by ikewillis ( 586793 ) on Wednesday June 04, 2003 @07:14PM (#6120006) Homepage
    Larry Ellison has been preaching for nearly a decade that the PC is on the verge of death, and that it would soon be replaced by a number of small devices tailor made for certain tasks.

    The NIC was part of this push... why use an expensive, power hungry computer system to accomplish what can be done with a much simpler system tailor made to the task?

    Unfortunately, the flaw of this ideology is that resource consolidation that is provided by a computer is perhaps one of its biggest advantages. Not only does it let you browse the web, it lets you watch movies, listen to music, watch TV, play games, etc.

    I don't see the PC losing out to single purpose devices any time in the near future.
  • NIC (Score:5, Informative)

    by dJCL ( 183345 ) on Wednesday June 04, 2003 @07:15PM (#6120010) Homepage
    I got a NIC of one of my friends, he used to work with NetZero and they provided internet for the systems. It is a great little box for almost anything, and you can drop in a laptop hard drive in seconds. It is a good box for messing with, boots anything from the win2k install disks to knoppix perfectly, there is no unusual hardware in these things.

    If you need a little terminal, get one, just add peripherals and network. I have 2 NCD Xterms on my netowork and an old 386 that has a boot rom(no moving parts in the system, quite silent) so adding another item to the boot on the network was nothing(PXE netowrk boot built into the unit) and it "just works". I have way too much running here as it is, so this unit does nothing other then random computations... I'm thinking of dropping a custom Mosix setup onto my systems in the near future(ah using my slow laptop, just run the program and it should deal with resources... I'll have fun setting that up)

    These things(my version - older) have a 233Mhz processor, 64Megs ram, 4meg flashdisk, 10/100 network, 56k softmodem(drivers work), sound, usb and joystick, cdrom drive. Works great.

    Anyway, enjoy!

    • It wasn't meant to do everything you do with your pc. But it did just enough for most people.

      The problem was a poor h/w design from the get-go and rush to manufacture that poor design. Couple that with shit production forecasts, you've got the makings of a major problem.

      What most people don't know is that the h/w was upgraded to the Via Epia 733Mhz mobo and was smooth as silk. And the box was quiet because we didn't need fans anymore. We never got a chance to release it to the public. Hell, we
  • by Faust7 ( 314817 ) on Wednesday June 04, 2003 @07:17PM (#6120030) Homepage
    MPG3xx series hard drives have been failing in huge numbers.

    "Pulling a..."

    Nope, just doesn't have quite the same ring to it as "Pulling a Deskstar."
  • by gwernol ( 167574 ) on Wednesday June 04, 2003 @07:17PM (#6120032)
    Hmmm... "We had about 40 of these things fitted to Compaq DeskPro EXDs, and I can assure you the failure rate is pushing 100%." While it may be true that the failure rate for these drives is very high, your annecdotal evidence doesn't tell you this. I don't know how many of these drives have been sold, but assuming it is in the 10,000+ range, then your sample size is way too low. So low that you can't draw any conclusions about the overall failure rate.

    Nitpicking? Perhaps, but statistics are an important tool in lots of walks of life from politics to things that really matter like baseball. If the geeks can't use them correctly, what hope have we for the broader population?
    • Not so Dubious (Score:5, Informative)

      by chriso11 ( 254041 ) on Wednesday June 04, 2003 @07:48PM (#6120163) Journal
      Actually, it given a normal distribution, 34 samples will give you a better than 95% certainty on the mean and standard deviation. So 40 units is sufficent for this purpose.
    • by McSpew ( 316871 ) on Wednesday June 04, 2003 @07:52PM (#6120180)

      Statistics be damned.

      Several years ago, I noticed hard drives failing in Compaq Deskpro 2000 machines at my employer on a regular basis. The hard drives were all Quantum Bigfoot drives. Nearly every single drive failed before the PCs themselves were four years old. Compaq gradually got more and more difficult to deal with until the PCs were out of warranty and we were stuck with dead drives. I was even quoted in a GripeLine column in InfoWorld about my experience (although the columnist redacted the specific drive brand and model information I emailed him).

      While my observations were not statistically valid, I nevertheless knew a machine I had running based on one of those drives needed desperately to be replaced before the drive failed and took our vital services with it. I had just finished transferring the last services from the PC to real servers on my network, shut the PC down and moved it to my lab when I discovered I couldn't get the PC to reboot ever again. Chalk up another dead Bigfoot, and I took it out of service not a moment too soon.

      The Quantum Bigfoot drive problems I encountered made any IBM Deskstar fiasco look like peanuts in comparison.

      • I've seen many, many 2 and 2.5 Gb Bigfoots fail. First the OS would start getting weird errors, later all data on the disk would be corrupted.

        I have to say that Quantum always replaced them, no questions asked. And every Quantum harddrive of any other type that I've used has been good.

  • by AmoebafromSweden ( 112178 ) on Wednesday June 04, 2003 @07:20PM (#6120042) Homepage
    Q:We are constantly losing PCs and PC parts to thieves. The NIC is physically smaller. Do they make a more attractive target for thieves?

    A:You shouldn't be losing any. The NIC will not function as a standalone computer so if a machine is stolen, the thief will soon discover that there is no market for the machine.

    Uhhhm, no market? Well to me it feels like they are dooming their own device right there and then from the start...

    • Heh... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by phillymjs ( 234426 ) <slashdot AT stango DOT org> on Wednesday June 04, 2003 @07:37PM (#6120116) Homepage Journal
      Yeah, that is some pretty poor wording. Maybe something like: "the thief will soon discover that the machine has no black market resale value."

      Of course, they also contradict themselves by saying "you won't lose any, because it can't work by itself"-- think about this. If some crackheads break into your offices, they're gonna grab as many of these things as they can carry. I doubt one of them will go, "Hey, wait, these are NETWORK computers!" And once the crackheads find out the things don't work, they'll end up in a dumpster, a rvier, or some muddy vacant lot.

      Of course, who's to say these things didn't come with window stickers that say "Computers will not work if removed from premises."? :-)

      Bottom line, if a computer gets stolen, whether it works or not once it's off your premises, it's probably gone forever. The only plus side is that since it's a network computer, your valuable data won't be taken out the door unless the crackheads make off with your server as well.

      ~Philly
      • Crackheads don't go home and try to boot computers, they sell them as quickly as possible. You can talk any crackhead down to the price of a rock ($10) in 30 seconds. Given that there's a great market on the street for things that look like shiny new computers priced at $10, I'd say there is a market.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 04, 2003 @07:20PM (#6120050)
    The link [opentv.com] provided to the OpenTV SDK sources has a big block of text that basically proves they still don't get it.

    To the extent that you, or your licensees under the GPL, make any modifications to, or derive (through reverse engineering or otherwise) other software products and/or functionality from, the OpenTV Distributed GNU Utilities ("Modifications and/or Derivatives"), neither OpenTV nor the GPL licenses you, implicitly or otherwise, under any OpenTV patents that cover the Modifications and/or Derivatives, whether alone or in combination with the OpenTV Distributed GNU Utilities.

    They are still claiming that they are not willing to license the patents to you for purposes of making derivatives. This directly contradicts the GPL [gnu.org]that they link to.

    For example, if a patent license would not permit royalty-free redistribution of the Program by all those who receive copies directly or indirectly through you, then the only way you could satisfy both it and this License would be to refrain entirely from distribution of the Program.

    By agreeing to use the GPL they also must agree to license any OpenTV patents (royalty-free) that might be part of the OpenTV SDK.
    • Actually it's even more important than that, because they are not willing to give a royalty free liscense to the derivitive work of a GPL program that they are modifying and distributing they have no liscense to the origional GPL code. Essentially if they take patent action their settlement means nothing and they will be back in court. That would be an interesting court case, which wins, their patent protection or the copyright protection of the origional author(s)? Most probably anyone who violated their p
    • I'm think you're wrong. The GPL says all patents covering the distributed code must be "licensed for everyones free use".

      Now what happens if you extend the OpenTV code (covered by "free-for-all" patents i, j and k) to do something covered by OpenTV patents X and Y? Do you get a free license for X and Y as well? I think not. I suspect it is this case the (rather involved) legal statement is covering:

      neither OpenTV nor the GPL licenses you [...] under any OpenTV patents that cover the Modifications and/o
  • by phr2 ( 545169 ) on Wednesday June 04, 2003 @07:21PM (#6120051)
    I haven't downloaded that 18 MB zip file but the blurb on the download html page makes it sound like the zip contains binaries only. There is an accompanying offer to distribute source code on physical media for the cost of copying, saying you need to send contact and billing info to somewhere, and that the offer is valid for 3 years, language taken direct from the GPL. Basically they are being in-your-face about doing the absolute minimum that they can to conform to the letter of the GPL.

    Given that OpenTV was previously in breach of the GPL and therefore had had its rights terminated, that they're now distributing the GPL'd stuff indicates that they came to an agreement with the FSF and the the FSF restored their rights. Personally I think FSF should have leaned on them a little harder and insisted on online source distribution before agreeing to restore rights, but that's just me. I do hope someone gets the source distribution and puts it up for download somewhere.
  • by s20451 ( 410424 ) on Wednesday June 04, 2003 @07:23PM (#6120060) Journal
    SCO got sued for posting its corporate opinion of a technology matter, got sued by the people who they pissed off, and then got its web site shut down by the courts.

    If it were anything other than SCO and Linux, this site would be condemning the decision and lamenting the loss of free speech rights.

    I have noticed the distressing fact that people are only willing to apply the protection of free speech to the speech that they agree with.
    • by danb35 ( 112739 ) on Wednesday June 04, 2003 @07:45PM (#6120148) Homepage
      SCO got sued for posting its corporate opinion of a technology matter, got sued by the people who they pissed off, and then got its web site shut down by the courts.
      1. They chose to shut it down (if it's down at all--doesn't look like it to me), not the courts. The German court only prohibited them from continuing to make the same claims without any support for them.
      2. SCO got "sued" for itself threatening to sue hundreds of companies using Linux, when no possible legal theory would support such an action (even supposing that everything they've claimed is true), and there's nothing to suggest that any of what they've claimed is true. The German action says, in effect, "put up or shut up", and they chose not to put up.
      3. What SCO posted was not "its corporate opinion of a technology matter"; it was a warning of a legal nature. More specifically, it was an allegation that their competitor was operating illegally.
    • by renard ( 94190 ) on Wednesday June 04, 2003 @07:55PM (#6120198)
      If it were anything other than SCO and Linux, this site would be condemning the decision and lamenting the loss of free speech rights.

      There are a number of exceptions to the First Amendment liberties (and their international equivalents). For instance, "fighting words", slander, libel, "yelling fire in a crowded theater," (some types of) pornography, and so forth.

      Thus if SCO wishes to cast FUD upon the Linux community, without providing any concrete evidence in support of their accusations, thereby harming the commercial prospects of their competitors, then I think it is perfectly appropriate for them to be enjoined against such behavior by the courts.

      It's a simple request, really: Either substantiate the accusation or withdraw it. The same could be required of a newspaper, tabloid, or political candidate that wished to claim, i.e., that some competing political candidate had been a member of a white supremacist movement in his youth.

      -renard

    • This isn't hypocrisy. They were restricted from making unfounded claims. In the United States this is called libel, and there are indeed laws against it. Parody and other forms of creative expression are excluded, but harming businesses by making claims and refusing to found them is not legal. It isn't speech people disagree with - how can anyone agree with it when it's false or at least any supporting evidence is being withheld? If I post bill boards claiming Windows XP and Bill Gates are responsible f
    • by zakezuke ( 229119 ) on Wednesday June 04, 2003 @08:31PM (#6120351)
      I don't see it as hypocrisy at all.

      Free speech never has included the blatant harassment of people or corporations, nor does it give person a license to slander or commit liable.

      I could say, "Linux sucks". This is free speech. While I don't believe it does suck, it's far too subjective to be considered correct or incorrect. A statement like that does no harm in it self, and doesn't require quantifiable evidence.

      I can also say, "Bill Gates is a foofoo head". This is protected under free speech. The statement does no harm in it self, there is no need to defend it by actually defining what a foofoo head is. foofoo - noun. see bill gates the foofoo head.

      I can say, "SCO sucks because I have to license every trivial aspect of the OS including TCP/IP". This would be a true statement, while SCO might be offended at the fact I stated that it sucks, this is not the norm. With Solaris, BSD, and Linux out there, it does indeed suck the fact that you have to pay license fees for the SCO product in anyway.

      But SCO can not order companies to stop using Linux based under the assumption they own some piece of IP in it without establishing first their ownership. If they owned the property, then they could. But as it was shown in a German court they can't prove that, then they can not. This amounts to no less then extortion and deformation of character, both of which free speech does not protect. No more then I can say, "You stupid motherfucker" unless I happened to be speaking to Edipus.

      There is a big difference between opinion and fact. SCO presented information as a fact, and demanded something in return.

      It's not like the website was shut down without cause, but the issue was brought to court because of the issues of criminal extortion and deformation of Linux as a legitimate product. If they left it as an opinion, it might be protected under free speech. And you just can't do that. You can't make statements that damage people that simply are not true.

      • No more then I can say, "You stupid motherfucker" unless I happened to be speaking to Edipus.

        This would be true only if "motherfucker" were commonly understood to mean that you did, in fact, have carnal relations with your mother--which, of course, it isn't. Similarly, if I were to say "zakezuke is an asshole", you wouldn't be able to sue me for libel on the basis that you are not, in fact, an anus (nor on any other basis, as that would also be a protected expression of opinion). Both terms (as well as

        • Why can no one understand simple attempts at humor.

          Scene 1: Man walks up to you, says you are a stupid motherfucker, and you punch him in the nose. This can be defended by the person commiting the assult because of the use of fighting words. In this context motherfucker is percieved as a derogority insult designed to harass someone.

          Scene 2: Man walks up to Edipus and says he's a stupid motherfucker. Edipus realizes that he can't punch the guy in the nose cause it's a true statement, so scratches his
  • Running Linux (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
    If you're using one of the computers mentioned, and are running Linux, then you won't be able to run the software download they require to be eligable. Thus, here is the message returned by the software on one of the affected machines:

    Please contact HP at the following:
    United States: 1-800-575-3756
  • by Telecommando ( 513768 ) on Wednesday June 04, 2003 @07:29PM (#6120089)
    From the NIC Hardware FAQ page:

    "...there is no market for the machine."

  • by gwernol ( 167574 ) on Wednesday June 04, 2003 @07:33PM (#6120101)
    News.com.com.com has an article [com.com] up dissecting the contract between Novell and SCO that assigned some right over UNIX to SCO. It seems to be a pretty "murky" agreement as one of the lawyers describes it, but it does show that Novell retains the rights to all the UNIX patents and copyrights.
    • does show that Novell retains the rights to all the UNIX patents and copyrights

      Ahh, but the point of the article is that the contract is much more complicated than this. People will read your post and think "see, there, SCO does not own the IP, there is no case." But the article goes to great lengths to show that SCO may have the right to ENFORCE the copyright even if they don't have the copyright itself. This admittedly seems odd, but I don't see why it wouldn't be possible, in which case SCO would be
  • by tftp ( 111690 ) on Wednesday June 04, 2003 @07:35PM (#6120109) Homepage
    It works for me as an MP3/Ogg player. Boots over the network (thanks to JWZ's HOWTO), runs Blackbox and XMMS. No CD, no HDD, not even Flash. Even the audio files are NFS mounted.

    But as a computer it is fairly bad. The video is the worst offender - it uses shared RAM, and there are streaks all over the screen if some serious computations are performed (I tried to run distributed.net on it and gave up.)

    The box is also abysmally slow, so much that it is basically unusable. As a browser... sure, it might just work - but who needs just a browser?

    In any case, the box works for me as a player just fine, and I am glad that I have it. But it is also good that I found the right use for the thing... otherwise it would have been a total write-off. Don't buy one unless you know how you can use it.

    • by hendridm ( 302246 ) *

      > As a browser... sure, it might just work - but who needs just a browser?

      Agreed. For $300, I'd rather put it towards a low end dell. I've seen Dell's Dimension 2350 as low as $314 on the bargain sites (after rebates and coupons) with free shipping that more than double its features [thenicstore.com]. Even HP/Compaq has a a 2GHz system for $349 AR (shipping not free, though). These are fully functional computers, people.

  • by benjamindees ( 441808 ) on Wednesday June 04, 2003 @07:44PM (#6120146) Homepage
    the New Internet Computer (NIC) company finally went under.

    I said this two weeks ago and all I got was modded down [slashdot.org] :(

  • by Anonymous Coward
    ROFL! This is the biggest laugh I've had all week. See SCO's list of business partners. [sco.com] Suing your business partners and customers... RIP SCO.
  • On hacking NICs (Score:5, Interesting)

    by freeweed ( 309734 ) on Wednesday June 04, 2003 @08:06PM (#6120252)
    From the spec sheet it looks like this would be fun as a hacking platform

    It was more fun to hack the platform itself. For those not in the know, the NIC basically ran a highly customized Linux distro (seemed to have parts of RedHat, Debian, and others from what I could tell), all wrapped with a minimal window manager (enlightenment iirc), and Netscape as your entire front end. The whole thing booted off CD-ROM, and came with a 4mb flash drive to store configuration changes, bookmarks, etc. A nice handy web/email/irc box for grandma, or public access kiosks, or what have you. Oh, and before anyone asks, a stock Knoppix distro refused to run on it - at least when I tried it.

    Now, the interesting part were some of the apps you could launch from it - telnet, and several other xterm-wrapped applications. Pretty powerful machine, all things considered - but there is NO command shell option. So of course, let's get one:

    As I said, the distro it comes with is highly custom, a LOT of standard binaries aren't even on the CD, and it's been stripped to the essentials. But of course, we have our good friend Bash, just not direcly reachable. Easiest way I found was to escape out of a telnet session. Now, when you run its telnet client, you have a pop-up window asking you the hostname and port. This gets passed direcly to the telnet binary and ran. The designers actually went to the trouble to block the space bar being hit within this window (tricky devils! I'm sure some of you see where I'm going here), so we'll just use some copy & paste to have -e passed along with the hostname. This gives us an escape character within the telnet application itself, which (ta-da!) gives us a nice shell.

    The fun part was trying to get some power. You're running as a pretty unprivledged user here, but hey! No shadowing of passwords! In any event, I got lazy and Googled a bit. No word of a lie, the root password on every last NIC that I've touched is (hard-coded on the CD, of course) "4getit". Clever, no?

    Moral of the story: good thing these boxes never took off as public terminals. Takes about 30 seconds from boot to get root, and yes, the 4mb flash drive is just large enough for fun things like NetCat :)
    • all wrapped with a minimal window manager (enlightenment iirc)

      I was going to point out that that was probably the first time anybody had ever used 'minimal window manager' and 'enlightenment' in the same sentence. I was wrong, AltaVista (since Google doesn't support the 'near' keyword) says [altavista.com] it's the second. Of course, the first time was the sentence "blackbox is a minimal window manager where enlightenment is a full featured window manager"...

    • "Oh, and before anyone asks, a stock Knoppix distro refused to run on it - at least when I tried it."

      But you have to upgrade the RAM, which means moving the cdrom drive, which means (at least it did for me) cutting through metal so you can move the cdrom 90 degrees around. After that, though, knoppix ran fine.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 04, 2003 @08:16PM (#6120286)
    SCO admits that linux kernel implementations are different from their Unix implementations, on their own website. [sco.com] One of the most interesting questions on their FAQ is this:

    What is the difference between the Open UNIX 8 and Linux kernels?

    Both operating system kernels have the Linux system call interface. We have added the Linux kernel functions into the Open UNIX 8 kernel. The implementation of the system calls inside the UNIX kernel is different from the Linux kernel implementation. In some cases, the UNIX implementation provides better scalability, reliability, and performance than the Linux kernel.
  • by isn't my name ( 514234 ) <slash@@@threenorth...com> on Wednesday June 04, 2003 @08:18PM (#6120299)
    Putin has been involved in a SCO Summit in Russia and France!! See the article [scoop.co.nz]. You have to search, but buried down in the third question to Putin, you see these words:

    after the SCO summit and the series of major international meetings in St. Petersburg and Evian

    What do you want to bet that the German court's attempt to shut down the SCO website was just a smokescreen to hide the fact that they are involved as well.

    I bet you that Evian water is designed to sap and impurify all of our precious bodily fluids [filmsite.org]!!!
  • by allrong ( 445675 ) on Wednesday June 04, 2003 @08:19PM (#6120301) Homepage

    Oracle8 - A Beginner's Guide by Abbey and Corey (1997) contains the following about NICs:

    "This is HOT stuff. Ever since Larry Ellison, Oracle's CEO, stated talking about the NC computer [tautology!], the world is trembling."

    OT, but still amusing:

    "Oracle's recent agreement with Netscape positions it uniquely to dominate the World Wide Web. The real power of the Web is yet to be harnessed. Today most people are not very impressed with a majority of Web sites they visit. They are nothing more than static applications -- in other words, they are glorified billboards. When your Web site is able to harness the power of a database, watch out. Imagine a Web site that knew who you were and could tailor itself to your needs and wants. That would be a very powerful tool, indeed. Once again, Oracle Corporation sees the future and is positioning itself to get there first."

    And finally, we have a section title that's about as far from the truth as you can get:

    SQL*Plus--The User-friendly Interface
  • by SkewlD00d ( 314017 ) on Wednesday June 04, 2003 @08:42PM (#6120392)
    Btw, i have yet to have any of my 5 ibm hds fail due to mfgr defects. 1 ultrastar, 4 de(ath|sk)stars. But i did manage to kill one accidentially after the PoS Psu sorted and killed the on-board ctrlr of a 20 GB drive. After getting some really good "this will most definitely void your warranty, but...." advice from HGST tech support, I managed to get a similar drive off ebay for $50. LMAO, the replacement parts joints want $200 for it, and the DriveSaver types want $1000-5000 depending. (Damn, I should go into biz then, charge $300 each, GDR - Ghetto Data Recovery, "we do everything but open the drive") HGST/Fujistu/IBM said the only thing that mattered is that the MLC codes should match (on the label). There are 3-5 MLC's per model, equally distributed. I changed the ctrlr from the live to dead, and "It's alive!!!!" No data loss! :) Needless to say I imeddiately dd'ed that sucker. It still works, but I dont trust this drive anylonger for anything of value.
    • The problem is controller failure is probably about 1% of disk failures. The much more common problems are motor failure and bearing failure, for these you have to physically remove the platters and place them in a drive with working mechanicals, not a simple task! The best way to avoid using drivesavers is regular backups, our biggest problems was convincing the marketing types to make sure they ran a backup if they never left the pc in the office overnight, two $5K charges to the departments budget in one
    • Wow! I've had DeathStars die left and right. As a matter of fact, I just got my 20gb back, and it came 2 months late (carrier's fault), with [i kid you not] MAPQUEST directions to my house taped to it. Anyhow, I had a 80gb die 3 days after I got it (never even restarted the PC). I lost a IBM 20gb 2 weeks after installing it as my second drive, I lost a 40gb when the power went out - it was unplugged when the power came on, it wasn't a surge, and I lost the second one when someone bumped the PC.

      Good l
  • by BlaisePascal ( 50039 ) on Wednesday June 04, 2003 @08:50PM (#6120427)
    My reading of the Dastar decision was not that Dastar evaded the Latham act by making modifications to the original work, but rather that the point-of-origin provisions of the Latham act cannot apply to origin of creation for patentable or copyrightable ideas and expressions.

    Dastar was accused of "reverse-passing-off", or selling a product made by someone else as their own, as if a Coke distributor filled Coke bottles with Pepsi and sold it as Coke. Under traditional interpretation of the Latham act (which was accepted by the Court) this is as prohibited as "passing-off", or selling their product with someone elses trade-mark on it. Both are misrepresenting the "point of origin" of the product.

    The court ruled that the "point of origin" provisions of the Latham Act could not be construed to apply to the authorship of a copyrightable work.

    Scalia pointed out the double-edged result of a contrary result: If Dastar had simply repackaged and resold Fox's tape series without modification, Fox could have sued them for "passing off", but if they relabelled it and didn't credit Fox, Fox did sue for "reverse-pasing-off".

    Passing off someone else's copyrightable work as your own is "plagiarism", and covered by copyright. Scalia also asserted that allowing the Latham act to protect against plagiarism would, in effect, allow the Latham Act to effect a perpetual copyright, which is forbidden to it.

    Fox lost the original copyright when it didn't renew it; they make no claims otherwise. Therefore, the Court rules, Fox has no claim against plagierism.

    All Supreme Court cases, if the lower court is overturned, are remanded to the lower court "for further proceedings consistant with this opinion". This is boilerplate. The Supreme Court doesn't make the final decision on the case, they just answer narrowly tailored questions of law -- upon which the case usually hangs.

    The kicker with this case is that it is unknown if the copyright on the original book is still valid. The copyright was renewed as a "work for hire", but the original author took tax advantages for the book as if he hadn't been hired to write it. Dastar may still be on the hook for these videos.
    • Plagiarism is more general than just what is covered by copyright.

      It is plagiarism to present someone elses work as your own, even if that work is in the public domain.

      Plagiarism isn't illegal, it is unethical in some cases, such as journalism and academia, but that doesn't make it illegal.
  • by bstadil ( 7110 ) on Wednesday June 04, 2003 @08:54PM (#6120438) Homepage
    Portions of the actual purchase agreement between Novell and SCO is available here [techfocus.org].

    Even thought the IBM is about contractual considerations this is good new for Linux, as it looks like SCO indeed do not own the IP.

    For the ones that watches PBS and Chalie Rose, Note that he has David Boies as guest tonight plus Andy Groove by the way.

    Hopefully Charlie will ask Boies about IP terrorism, at least I send him an email asking him to.

  • Bye bye NIC (Score:2, Informative)

    by tuxlove ( 316502 )
    A friend of mine was one of the first 7 (or so) employees at NIC. Beautiful office in Ghirardelli Square in SF. I'd never get any work done there.

    In any case, some months ago he quit because Larry basically gave up on NIC and put it in the hands of investors or someone like that. The employees were given the shaft, and the company was (even more) mismanaged from that point on. He quit as a protest.

    Seems like it could have been a great company with a great product if it had been given just a little more
    • Who was your friend? (Score:3, Informative)

      by toyrs ( 679041 )
      Aside from finally making it to FC.com, I'm going to miss working at NIC. Remove the political BS that went on, the core tech group was very capable. And for that matter, for many years, coding was done at Oracle, not Ghiradelli. So the beautiful office wasn't the problem....you get the point. =] Send my regards to your friend tux...tell him that aj says hi.
  • by Beatnick ( 560520 ) on Wednesday June 04, 2003 @09:49PM (#6120682)

    In the article found at news.com [com.com], McBride is quoted.

    "It doesn't make sense. How would you transfer the product but not have

    the copyright attached? That would be like transferring a book but only
    getting the cover," McBride said.
    Sounds as if SCO got the corporate equivalent of a EULA. :)
  • Back when IBM came out with the original PC and PC-XT, they owned the business computer market. People bought IBM just for the name, and the knowledge that they always gave good support, and you KNEW that an IBM PC was going to be IBM compatible.

    When the '286 came out, IBM came out with the AT. It was less compatible with the XT than most other clones, but it had a worse problem. The hard drives often died after a few months.

    Problem is, the AT came with a 60 or 90 day warrenty.... Just short enough

  • by hayden ( 9724 ) on Wednesday June 04, 2003 @10:05PM (#6120759)
    Article is here [com.com] (shamelessly stolen from somebody elses post. You know who you are, pat yourself on the back).

    The most interesting line from it:

    "It doesn't make sense. How would you transfer the product but not have the copyright attached? That would be like transferring a book but only getting the cover," McBride said.
    Maybe the same way you buy software and not be allowed to sell it again?
  • Aside from the fact that OpenTV is trying to resolve a legal issue, is there anything interesting in the code? I mean, is it just gcc and some *NIX utilities ported to their hardware, or is there actually something new and different about it? Aside from this legal stuff, I've never heard anything about OpenTV. "Interactive TV" has been a buzzword for years...

    ...way, way, back in the mid 80s when scrambled UHF was still a hot thing (oh the joys of being a 12-year old boy catching glimpses of boobies thr

    • Yes, OpenTV powers many of the set top boxes for cable TV systems and satellite DBS.
      My DishNetwork receiver has OpenTV on it, and I can't find a use for any of the services they offer, epecially at the additional charges associated with some of the stuff.

      1. Instant weather: Uh... I have The Weather Channel, plus the internet
      2. Games. The games you can play on a set-top box with an infrared remote made for a TV set are LAME. They charge like $5/month for the games service. A ripoff.
      3. Customer support. You
  • NIC (Score:2, Interesting)

    I'm not surprised that NIC died, since "network computers" never made a whole lot of sense to me anyway. For some years now, PCs have been cheap enough that most people who want or need one can afford one. Sure, a lot of people use their computers mostly for e-mail and browsing the web, but what do you do if you only have one of these pared down machines and you want to, for example, edit a photograph? It's like having a moped (scooter, motorino, whatever): it's only really useful if you already have a

What this country needs is a good five dollar plasma weapon.

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