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Submission + - Is a Threat? Microsoft Thinks So (

Glyn Moody writes: Most people regard as a distant runner-up to Microsoft Office, and certainly not a serious rival. Microsoft seems to feel otherwise judging by a new job ad on its site for a "Linux and Open Office Compete Lead". According to this, competing with *both* GNU/Linux and is "one of the biggest issues that is top of mind" for no less a person than Steve Ballmer. Interestingly, a key part of this position is "engaging with Open Source communities and organizations" — which suggests that Microsoft's new-found eagerness to "engage" with open source has nothing to do with a real desire to reach a pacific accommodation with free software, but is simply a way for it to fight against it from close up, and armed with inside knowledge.

Submission + - Happy Birthday, Linus (

Glyn Moody writes: Today is the birthday of Linus. Just under 19 years ago, on the first day the shops in Helsinki were open after the holidays, Linus rushed out and spent all his Christmas and birthday money on his first PC: a DX33 80386, with 4 Megs of RAM, no co-processor, and a 40 Megabyte hard disc. Today, the kernel he wrote on that system powers 90% of the fastest supercomputers, and is starting to find its way into more and more smartphones — not to mention everything in between. What would the world look like had he spent his money on something else?

Submission + - Android's Success a Threat to Free Software? (

Glyn Moody writes: Two years after its launch, Google's Linux-based Android platform is finally making its presence felt in the world of smartphones. Around 20,000 apps have been written for it: although well behind the iPhone's tally, that's significantly more than just a few months ago. But there's a problem: few of these Android apps are free software. Instead, we seem to be witnessing the birth of a new hybrid stack: open source underneath, and proprietary on top. If, as many believe, mobile phones will become the main computing platform for most of the world, that could be a big problem for the health of the free software ecosystem. So what, if anything, should the community be doing about it?

Submission + - Open Hardware Licensing (

Glyn Moody writes: At a recent Open Hardware Camp in London, it became clear that one of the main obstacles to applying open source principles to hardware was licensing. For example, should competing big companies be allowed to use their economies of scale to make and sell cheaper products based on open hardware designs developed by small start-ups without payment? There's also the problem that hacking designs for physical objects like open source cars may have safety implications, which raises questions about liability. So what's the best way to address these issues?

Submission + - Would You Accept Google's Free Netbook? ( 2

Glyn Moody writes: The response to Google's Chromium OS has been rather lukewarm. But supposing it's just part of something much bigger: a netbook computer from Google that would cost absolutely nothing. Because all the apps and data are stored in the cloud, storage requirements would be minimal; screens are getting cheaper, and the emphasis on lean code means that a low-cost processor could be used. Those relatively small hardware costs could then be covered by advertising *in the apps* — after all, they are just Web pages. Interestingly, Google has not only rolled out advertising to more of its services recently, it has also started running AdSense ads in the desktop application Google Earth. Would you accept a free Google netbook — or is the price you would pay in terms of the company knowing even more about what you do on an hour-by-hour basis just too high?

Submission + - Free Software for All Russian Schools in Jeopardy (

Glyn Moody writes: Last year, Slashdot reported on a Russian plan to install free software in all its schools. Seems things aren't going so well. Funds for the project have been cut back, some of the free software discs already sent out were faulty and — inevitably — Microsoft has agreed a "special price" for Windows XP used in Russian schools.

Submission + - The Next Bill Gates, or the Next Tim Berners-Lee? (

Glyn Moody writes: A competition is running in the UK to find "the next Bill Gates". But does the world really need another Bill Gates — someone obsessed with piling up tens of billions of dollars, and determined to win at all costs? Wouldn't it be better to find "the next Tim Berners-Lee" — someone who not only invents a world-changing technology, but gives it away for free for all to build on? What kind of future do we really want: one based on taking, or one based on giving?

Submission + - EU Wants to Re-define “Closed” as &ldq (

Glyn Moody writes: A leaked version [.pdf] of Version 2 of the European Interoperability Framework (EIF) replaces a requirement in Version 1 for carefully-defined open standards by one for a more general "openness": "the willingness of persons, organisations or other members of a community of interest to share knowledge and to stimulate debate within that community of interest." It also defines an "openness continuum" that includes "non-documented, proprietary specifications, proprietary software and the reluctance or resistance to reuse solutions, i.e. the "not invented here" syndrome". Looks like "closed" is the new "open" in the EU.

Submission + - Russia's New Holiday: Programmer's Day ( 1

Glyn Moody writes: "Russia's President Medvedev has decreed a new holiday for his country: Programmer's Day. Appropriately enough, it will be celebrated on the 256th day of the year: September 13th (September 12th for a leap year). Do programmers deserve their own holiday ahead of other professions? Should the rest of the world follow suit?"

Submission + - Game Over for Sony and Open Source? (

Glyn Moody writes: "Sony has never been much of a friend to hackers, and its famous rootkit showed what it thought of users. But by omitting the option to install GNU/Linux on its new PS3, it has removed the final reason for the open source world to care about Sony. Unless, of course, you find Google's new distribution alliance with Sony to pre-install Chrome on its PCs exciting in some way."
GNU is Not Unix

Submission + - RMS: 1, Symbolics: 0? (

Glyn Moody writes: "It was an obscure battle between Richard Stallman and a company called Symbolics over even more obscure Lisp machines that led directly to the creation of the GNU project — and hence free software. Symbolics has another claim to fame: it was the first doman name registered. And now, after all these years, that name is finally changing hands. So, does that mean that RMS has definitively won his fight?"

Submission + - Why Hackers Will Save the World (

Glyn Moody writes: "Those coding free software are not just changing the world of computing: the ideas and techniques behind their work have inspired a host of other movements, including open content, open access, open data, open science and many more. This keynote talk [Ogg video] from the recent Gran Canaria Desktop Summit looks at the larger lesson about sharing these projects can teach a planet faced by dwindling natural resources and rising global demand."

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Work is the crab grass in the lawn of life. -- Schulz