Linux Blog Safari: Gutsy Gibbon, the Greenphone, GPLv3, Microsoft

It’s been a contentious few weeks on the Linux blogs, what with the big Microsoft news on Monday as well as a few key product happenings and subsequent evaluation.

The release of Canonical’s Ubuntu 7.10 Gutsy Gibbon on Oct. 18 has been a particularly hot topic. Included in the release, which replaces Feisty Fawn, are streamlined Firefox add-on support, 3-D desktop visual effects, a new security layer, and a tailored kernel feature optimized for virtual appliances.

Discussions on Slashdot focused on power consumption and comparisons between the widely extolled Gutsy Gibbon and Vista (generating no fewer than 799 comments), while other reports centered on a problem encountered by some when using Gutsy Gibbon on a laptop. Specifically, some users have found that running Gutsy Gibbon on a laptop can cause the premature death of the laptop’s hard disk. One solution is a command-line tool to disable advanced power management, writes Ravi on “All About Linux.”

Ravi also describes how to install multimedia codecs in Gutsy Gibbon.

A Death Is Announced

Trolltech announced this week that it will discontinue development on its sold-out Greenphone platform, which had been billed as the first phone with a user-modifiable environment.

“I thought Apple’s iPhone was insane at (US)$500, and this thing was $200 more than that? No wonder it was a failure. The $300 Neo 1973 replacement is still a bit steep for me, but at least it’s in the ballpark,” wrote Vellmont on Slashdot.

“It’s a bummer,” wrote smilindog2000. “Sleek advanced hardware, totally open for us to explore while trying to change the world, gets my blood going.”

Analysis of GPLv3 (the GNU General Public License version 3) continues apace, including reports of a Q&A held via IRC (Internet Relay Chat) Thursday night by Brett Smith, the licensing compliance engineer at the Free Software Foundation’s Free Software Licensing and Compliance Lab. Topics addressed included sections 7 and 11, along with compatibility issues between versions 2 and 3, according to Slashdot.

A Kinder, Gentler Microsoft?

Last, but certainly not least, is the virtual explosion of discussion and commentary that followed Monday’s announced agreement between Microsoft and the European Union regarding the 2004 ruling against Gates et al. by European antitrust regulators.

“The commission may have obtained access to the protocol documentation from a copyright and/or trade secret standpoint, but the same cannot be said on the patent front,” writes Mark Webbink, former Red Hat general counsel, on his “Walking with Elephants” blog. “Noticeably missing from the Commission statement is any affirmation that open source software developed to implement the protocols will be free from patent concerns.”

The Open Source Initiative (OSI) has now approved two of Microsoft’s licenses — the Microsoft Reciprocal License and the Microsoft Public License — and the debate is raging about the wisdom of that move in the open source community.

“Microsoft is not widely trusted in the open source world, and their motives have been called into question during the approval discussions,” admits the OSI’s Russ Nelson on his blog.

Enemy and Salvation

“How can they be attacking open source projects on one hand, and seeking not only to use open source methods, but use of the OSI-approved open source trademark? Nobody knows for sure except for Microsoft,” he said. “But if you are confident that open source is the best way to develop software [as we at the Open Source Initiative are], then you can see why Microsoft would both attack open source and seek to use it at the same time. It is both their salvation and their enemy.”

Even without major news like this, an old rivalry makes Linux bloggers “love to tease Microsoft,” Raven Zachary, senior analyst and open source practice head with the 451 Group, told LinuxInsider.

A ‘Hate-Hate’ Relationship

The dichotomy of Steve Ballmer “talking about open source as a cancer, and guys from Microsoft’s Open Source Software Lab, who are seriously interested in advancing the technology,” makes watching Microsoft a popular pastime with Linux fans, Zachary said.

“Those Open Source Lab guys always have to be in reactionary mode, because their boss has a love-hate — or mostly hate-hate — relationship with open source,” he concluded. “They have one of the toughest jobs in the industry.”

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