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March 12, 2007

Birmingham City Council mulls Linux rollout

Link: Birmingham City Council mulls Linux rollout

Filed under: Technology, Open Source, Linux, Hardware by Brian Turner

Birmingham City Council is considering an extension to the open source software deployment it started in autumn 2006.

The council installed just 200 Linux desktops in 2006 in a pilot scheme, at a cost of over £500,000 of open source public funding, leading to criticisms that the project fell short of expectations.

This lead to the project being mothballed, and some machines in the city’s library cluster were migrated to Windows XP instead.

The council has now said that open source is still an important part of its strategy and it is considering further deployments, although they will not all take place this year.

The council is currently rolling out a revised model, and will continue rollout as appropriate.

Birmingham City Council is one of the founding partners of the National Open Centre, an organisation that was launched in 2006 to help set national policy on use of open source software.

The other founding partners are the National Computing Centre and the council-led Digital Birmingham initiative. Open source project partners include OpenAdvantage, which works with the University of Central England, and Midland Open Source Technologies.

March 7, 2007

Microsoft submits HD Photo to standards body

Link: Microsoft submits HD Photo to standards body

Filed under: Internet, Microsoft, Webmaster, Open Source, Software by Jan Harris
Microsoft Windows

Microsoft is planning to submit its HD Photo image format to a standards body in the hope that it will become a neutral industry standard rather than a purely Microsoft technology.

The company hopes to establish HD Photo as a higher-quality replacement for the widely used JPEG standard.

Microsoft will announce details of the move on 8 March at the Photo Marketing Association trade show in Las Vegas.

Although the standardisation of HD Photo would mean Microsoft loosing control of HD Photo, it would also give the company an influential position in the digital photography market.

Microsoft’s standardisation plan is inline with earlier changes to its HD Photo policy.

In November 2006, Microsoft liberalised the licensing policy for the software and changed its name from Windows Media Photo to the more generic HD Photo.

The company also said that HD Photo technology is covered by the Open Specification Promise - under which Microsoft promises not to assert its patent rights. This makes HD Photo more attractive to open-source programmers.

March 1, 2007

Consumers ask for Linux On Dell PCs

Link: Consumers ask for Linux On Dell PCs

Filed under: Microsoft, Technology, Open Source, Linux, Software, Hardware by Jan Harris
Computers & Internet

Around 83,000 users of Dell’s new forum, Dell IdeaStorm, have asked the company to sell PC’s with Linux pre-installed.

The company launched the Dell IdeaStorm website to generate new ideas and discover what sort of systems its customers want. The most popular idea by far has been the suggestion that Linux should be provided on all Dell PCs.

Users wanted the top-three free Linuxes - Ubuntu, Fedora, and openSUSE - offered as selections for the Dell desktop.

The second most popular suggestion was to have OpenOffice pre-installed instead of Microsoft Works or a trial version of Microsoft Office.

Dell has posted a statement on the site, saying it has taken notice of the suggestions made on the IdeaStorm, but the company has fallen short of offering pre-installed Linux.

It has come part way to meeting the requests and plans to certify some of its corporate machines with Novell’s Suse Linux software. Certification should mean that Suse would function smoothly on all Dell PCs.

However, Dell also stated that PC’s supplied with Linux would likely cost as much as $83 more than Windows PC, because of the loss of revenue due to not being able to install a raft of software that Dell receives income from.

February 22, 2007

PC World seeks to sell Green PC

Link: PC World seeks to sell Green PC

Filed under: Microsoft, Technology, Open Source, Companies, Software, Hardware by Jan Harris
Computers & Internet

PC World, the UK retailer, is developing what it claims will be the world’s most energy-efficient and environmentally friendly PC.

The PC will be partly built of recycled components and components will be selected for their efficiency and low energy consumption. However, the plan has come under criticism for its use of Microsoft’s Vista as the PC’s operating systems.

Vista has been criticised by technologists and environmental campaigners because it requires more expensive and powerful hardware to run optimally. There are concerns that the number of PC’s being thrown away could rise substantially as users upgrade their hardware to meet the spec required by the new operating system.

A spokesman for the Green Party has called on retailers to offer more PCs without Windows pre-installed, while, Tony Roberts, chief executive of Computer Aid International, said in 2006 that up to 10 million PCs could be discarded over a two-year period, as consumers upgraded their hardware to be compatible with Vista.

February 13, 2007

IBM to offer Open Client for Apple & Linux

Link: IBM to offer Open Client for Apple & Linux

Filed under: Microsoft, Technology, Open Source, Programming, Linux, IBM, Software by Jan Harris
Computers & Internet

International Business Machines Corp. (IBM) is planning to offer an open desktop software system for businesses which will significantly reduce the cost of managing Apple or Linux computers relative to Windows.

IBM’s “Open Client Offering” features software which the company developed in-house and also with partners Novell Inc. and Red Hat Inc.

The new software allows big businesses to offer employees a choice of running Windows, Linux or Apple Macintosh software on desktop PCs, using the same underlying software code. A piece of IBM software called Expeditor enables the different systems to be managed as if they were on a unified underlying system.

Companies using the Open Client software will not have to pay Microsoft for licenses for operations that no longer rely on Windows-based software. Open Client will run on the Windows, Macintosh or Linux operating systems.

IBM will offer its own Open Document Format applications for word processing, spreadsheets or presentations. It will also provide Lotus collaboration, instant messaging, blog tools, and the Firefox Web browser - the main rival to Microsoft’s Internet Explorer.

IBM believes that the software could reduce the cost of managing applications, maintenance and customer support costs on company networks which need to run not just Windows but other software.

IBM plans to use its “Open Client” software initially on 5% of the desktop computers in its own organization, which employs around 320,000 staff worldwide.

February 2, 2007

Vista to support OpenDocument Conversion

Link: Vista to support OpenDocument Conversion

Filed under: Technology, Open Source, Software by Jan Harris
Microsoft Windows

SourceForge, Microsoft’s development and download repository of Open Source code and applications, is releasing a translator that will convert file formats between Microsoft Office and rival standard OpenDocument, or ODF.

In a project started in 2006, SourceForge has developed code which allows a user to open and save word processor documents in two different formats - Microsoft’s Office Open XML (OOXML) format, and ODF which is supported by IBM, Sun Microsystems and Novell. OOXML is the default document format in Microsoft’s Office 2007 suite.

The plug-in will work with Microsoft’s Word application, in the Office 2007, Office 2003 and Office XP editions. The translator allows a user to open and save documents in the ODF format from Word.

The software will be available to download for free from SourceForge under the open-source BSD license. It will also be available on Microsoft’s own website.

SourceForge is now starting work on code to translate file formats between Microsoft’s Excel spreadsheet and PowerPoint presentation software and the corresponding ODF files. These plug-ins, which will also be open-source, are expected to be available by the end of 2007.

January 26, 2007

IBM Privacy Tool Now Open-source

Link: IBM Privacy Tool Now Open-source

Filed under: Internet, Security, Open Source, Software by Jan Harris

IBM has donated its “Identity Mixer” software to the Higgins open-source project in a move that could help make Internet business transactions safer for all.

The software allows an individual to provide encrypted digital credentials issued by trusted organisations such as banks when making an online transaction, instead of giving credit card or other details in plain text.

The system effectively creates a pseudonym which an individual gives to an online store when they wish to make a purchase, thereby maintaining the security of their personal details. The store is never in possession of a buyer’s real credit card details.

The store then has to pass the credentials on to the credit card issuer for verification in order for the credit card issuer to authorise payment to the retailer.

The encrypted credentials would only work on one occasion - each transaction would require a new credential.

The technology could help to restore trust in Internet shopping and banking, which has been eroded by security threats and breaches.

The Higgins open-source project, which is backed by IBM and Novell, aims to give people more control of their personal data when doing business online. It also aims to make the multiple authentication systems on the Net work together, so that it is easier for individuals to manage Internet logins and passwords. The project is still under development.

January 16, 2007

Sun Microsystmes Releases Open Source Fortress

Link: Sun Microsystmes Releases Open Source Fortress

Filed under: Technology, Open Source, Sun, IBM, Software by Jan Harris

Sun Microsystems has released an open-source software prototype called Fortress “interpreter”.

The software is a programming tool to execute Fortress programs line by line.

Fortress is the planned replacement for Fortran, a programming language launched in the 1960s by IBM. Fortran is still used for high-performance computing tasks such as forecasting the weather.

Fortress was originally developed from a project funded by the US Defense Department, but it has mainstream computing applications such as extracting work from new processing engines appearing in multicore processors.

Multicore is expected to become more widely used in ordinary desktop systems meaning that programmers will have to use a language such as Fortress in order to gain most advantage from the hardware.

Mainstream x86 chips from Intel and Advanced Micro Devices currently have two or four processing cores, while Sun Niagara chips have eight cores and will move to sixteen soon. It is difficult to break down software into independent chunks that run in parallel across all the cores or across multiple processors.

Fortress is designed to allow programmers to write programs in a way that functions better on multicore.

Fortress also tries to store data intelligently, locating it near the processor that needs it. This is expected to help with large compute clusters that gang together independent servers on a high-speed network.

In addition to the interpreter, Sun hopes to develop a compiler, which translates the software in advance into a form a computer can understand from the code a person wrote. Compiled software is generally faster than interpreted software.

Sun is also planning to develop an optimizing compiler which will enhance performance by adjusting the compiled version of software as it runs.

December 20, 2006

Debian developers delay over funding

Link: Debian developers delay over funding

Filed under: Technology, Open Source, Programming, Linux, Software by Brian Turner
Computers & Internet

The latest Debian release has reportedly been delayed because volunteer developers are being snubbed over funding.

Debian versions 4 - named Etch - was due to be launched on December 4th. Although already delayed, the Debian files are apparently ready for release - but with no set launch date.

According to Debian release manager, Andreas Barth, a recent experimental funding move has rankled volunteer coders.

Under the funding experiment, called Dunc Tank, key coders would be paid for their time, while other vounteers would receive nothing.

Seventeen coders, led by Joerg Jaspert, previously issued a statement of dissatisfaction, indicating that a the funding had introduced a two-tier system.

This had led to a demoralisation of Debian developers, with the result that many have either already, or are in the process, of moving to other projects.

While Debian has a long history of delayed releases, the loss of key developers raises questions about Debian’s future as a Linux distro.

December 5, 2006

Open XML support grates on Linux critics

Link: Open XML support grates on Linux critics

Filed under: Microsoft, Open Source, Programming, Linux, Software by Brian Turner
Computers & Internet

Linux users have voiced concerns about Novell’s planned support for Open XML in Open Office.

Since Novell signed an agreement with Microsoft, there has been a general perception that Novell have sold out.

The main accusation from vocal critics is that the agreement simply turns Novell - and their Linux Suse products - into a way in which to funnel open source users into Microsoft’s proprietary systems.

The recent announcement by Novell that they will be releasing a new edition of Open Office - and provide support for Microsoft’s Open XML - has helped amplify these criticisms. This is especially as Microsoft apparently have no plans to support ODF and OOXML in Microsoft Office - even though both are used in Open Office.

However, despite this, other Linux users simply ask what’s so wrong with supporting OpenXML. After all, isn’t cross-platform compatibility to be embraced?

Overall, it shows the high degree of distrust of Microsoft Corp, but it remains to be seen what the advantages of the Novell-Microsoft relationship are by its fruits, rather than disadvantages through speculation.

November 12, 2006

Linux saved from US anti-trust laws

Link: Linux saved from US anti-trust laws

Filed under: Open Source, Linux, Legal, Software by Brian Turner
Computers & Internet

A legal battle in the US has concluded that Open Source software does not violate anti-trust laws.

It centers on a case brought by a Daniel Wallace against IBM, and Linux developers Novell, and Red Hat.

He claimed that the provision of free open source software by these companies undermined the ability for proprietary software developers to enter niche markets.

The claim had already been rejected by a lower court, and upon appeal was quickly rejected.

The court papers of the judgement point out that even where there are direct challenges to proprietary software by open source releases, proprietary software is often able to claim major market share.

November 3, 2006

Microsoft joins forces with Novell

Link: Microsoft joins forces with Novell

Filed under: Microsoft, Open Source, Linux, Software by Brian Turner

Microsoft and Novell have joined together in a strategic alliance.

Both companies aim to promote interoperability between Microsoft’s Windows applications and Novell’s Suse Linux.

Novell is currently developing Xen as a method of running multiple operating systems on the same machine, whereas Microsoft were previously working on their own project, named Veridian.

The move will see both companies and projects coming together.

Microsoft will also protect Novell against potential patent infringements previously claimed by Microsoft.

While the move by both companies to see a working partnership between proprietary and open source development between Microsoft and Novell can only be good for users, there remains a possible ulterior motive in the partnership.

By working with Novell, Microsoft almost certainly undermines Red Hat - currently the dominant linux distro, especially in the server market.

However, it remains to be seen what actual results come from this partnership in the long-term.

November 2, 2006

Retraction & apology

Link: Retraction & apology

Filed under: Open Source, Linux by Brian Turner

Earlier this week Platinax News reported that Ubuntu, Trustix, and Suse made it difficult for subscribers to their email lists to opt out.

Key issues raised were that there was no clear unsubscribe option, and the unsubscription process was user-unfriendly. This could lead to disgruntled subscribers perceiving themselves to be be subject to unwanted emails.

However, it’s fair to say the item was clumsy in its language, and might have created the perception that it was reporting Ubuntu, Trustix, and Suse as responsible for spam.

For this reason, the item has now been retracted.

Platinax would like to apologise to those involved in the projects at Ubuntu and Trustix for any discomfort caused by the item.

Platinax would especially like to apologise to Novell and users of Suse, for incorrectly reporting that there was no obvious email opt out, when this was plainly incorrect.

Platinax News is intended to cover issues that may be of interest to small businesses in the UK, and the issue of usability to be covered in the original item was believed to be a newsworthy item.

However, Platinax wholly accepts that the manner in which this item was originally covered was not acceptable, and failed to cover the story in the best manner.

While Platinax does strive to reasonable standards in its reporting, and has done so for over two years, it’s fair to say the original item was something of a cock-up.

I hope readers continue to enjoy the site, and that Platinax can continue to bring an “open source” mentality to helping UK business online.

In the meantime, a more considered approach will be taken on how items are reported in future.

- Brian Turner, site admin & director of Platinax Internet Ltd.

October 6, 2006

Swear words in program code revealed

Link: Swear words in program code revealed

Filed under: Open Source, Programming, Software by Brian Turner
Computers & Internet

A study using Google Code Search has shown how many times programmers insert expletives into the code of key open source software platforms.

A search was conducted in Python, Perl, PHP, C++, C and C# for common expletives. These are not in the code itself, but instead in comments made around the code for reference purposes.

The results showed that although there were more swear words inserted into the code of the C programming language, when compared to the number of files available per programming language, PHP was found to be top with a 0.6% ratio.

This means that in every PHP program, 0.6% of the source code is likely to be expletives.

The study also found that expletives were much less common in open licenced software, as opposed to licence restricted programming platforms.

The use of the expletives should be of no threat or concern to users of these software platforms.

However, it does make for an interesting Friday afternoon oddity story. :)

February 7, 2006

Linux competes to keep with graphics developments

Link: Linux competes to keep with graphics developments

Filed under: Microsoft, Technology, Open Source, Linux, Apple, Software by Brian Turner

Novell is trying to keep pace with new graphics developments on Windows and Apple, with the release of its Xgl graphics software.

Novell operates Suse, one of many “flavours” of the open source Linux operating system.

Linux is traditionally seen as less graphics-friendly, and it used to be the case that users would have to perform basic coding tasks to operate software - something that has previously kept Linux as the choice for “geeks” rather than general consumers.

However, more recent packaging of Graphical User Interfaces (GUI’s) - in imitation of Windows - to Linux flavours have helped bring it wider appeal, and the Novell Xgl software that extends the abilities of graphics processing is bound to help with that.

It may not be enough for major consumer markets, though - Apple’s already rich GUI has already seen innovations in its OS X operating system. Windows Vista, Microsoft’s follow-up to Windows XP, is also using a superior graphics engine, known as Windows Presentation Foundation (aka, Avalon).

While it would be easy to see Linux as still lagging behind on graphics development, it shows that Linux can still keep in the race, which is especially important for an operating system seeing a larger and larger market share - especially in developing countries.

April 6, 2005

Windows vs Linux

Link: Windows vs Linux

Filed under: Business, Internet, Microsoft, Technology, Webhosting, Open Source, Linux by brian_turner

Microsoft today launched a report claiming that Windows offered a more stable platform than Linux.

As described by Ina Fried at CNet:

Microsoft commissioned Veritest to create a scenario in which Linux and Windows administrators had to undertake a variety of tasks, such as provisioning servers and replicating data while responding to various failures and outages.

The Windows administrators completed 21 percent more of the proactive tasks, according to the study

However, the findings are controversial because the research was paid for by Microsoft, rather than an impartial third-party.

Also, the report fails to address whether the conditions of outages and failures would affect each operating system equally.

This is important, because anecdotal evidence suggests that Microsoft Windows provides a less stable environment to work with for online development.

Also, Windows machines are more likely to suffer security breaches, not least because of the much larger number of incompletely patched systems.

Also there are are a larger number of exploits against Windows machines, with nearly 250 trojans, viruses and worms already released against Windows this year to mid-March, and none reported for Unix operating systems.

Research by the Yankee Group, released earlier this month, found a faster recovery time for Windows servers after a security breach - at 13 hours recovery as opposed to 17.5 for Linux.

However, the study does not compare actual downtime of Windows and Linux machines in a live environment, which would be a more reliable basis for making comparisons.

Nevertheless, a report by the Register found that although a large number of smaller firms are turning to Linux and open source solutions for their businesses, the better development of Windows applications - not least graphics packages - was seen as a winning feature for Windows desktop machines.

Microsoft also today announced the delay of a planned version of Windows, intended to work with high performance server clusters, and emulate existing high performance computing requirements that Linux already handles. The launch of Windows Server 2003 Compute Cluster Edition is now expected in the second half of this year.

March 20, 2005

Giants stand behind open source

Link: Giants stand behind open source

Filed under: Webmaster, Google, Open Source, Programming, Linux, IBM by brian_turner

IBM and Novell are pushing on the development of SUSE linux applications to run on IBM’s eServer platforms.

The companies are seeking closer working ties, in terms of “consulting support and technical expertise” to help them develop applications for SUSE Linux on IBM platforms.

The move is part of a wider push by IBM to move Linux into the forefront of business technology, and has already spent years developing Linux for wider mainstream use.

Linux is an open source operating systemm developed from Unix, and comes in a number of “flavours”, with SUSE Linux being a particular flavour developed by Novell.

Also this week, Google announced the opening of Google Code, which seeks to use programming languages such as C++ visual basic, and Python, for development of internet applications that could benefit the company.

This follows the earlier unveiling by Yahoo! of the Yahoo! Developer Network, which is intended to focus on development of products that utlise Yahoo! Search technology.

February 25, 2005

IBM powers PHP

Link: IBM powers PHP

Filed under: Webmaster, Open Source, Programming by brian_turner

In a move expected to accelerate the development of PHP, IBM will now be putting its corporate wight behind the open source programming language.

In an statement expected later today, IBM will announce that they’ve teamed up with Zend Technologies to create a bundle called ZendCore, which will support IBM’s Cloudscape database as wel as Zend’s PHP development tools.

PHP - originally short for “Personal Home Page” - has become a favourate web development language because its varying degrees of simplicity mean that even the least-technically savvy people can use PHP features for developing websites - as described in An Introduction to building pages with php include statements.

February 18, 2005

IBM pushes Linux with $100 million

Link: IBM pushes Linux with $100 million

Filed under: Technology, Open Source, Linux by brian_turner

IBM has earmarked $100 million to fund a variety of technical, research and marketing initiatives to boost Linux use.

The initiative’s are especially intended to help increase use of its open source Workplace software.

In 2001 IBM invested $300m into a 3-year Linux program, which included producing Linux versions of most of its available software.

January 26, 2005

Sun Solaris goes open source

Link: Sun Solaris goes open source

Filed under: Technology, Open Source, Sun by brian_turner

Sun Microsystems, a niche competitor to Microsoft in software applications for desktop computers and servers, as well as the developer of Java, has announced that the latest version of its Solaris operating system will be released as open source.

The code is due in the second quarter and will be releasewd under the Common Development and Distribution License. The project is part of Sun’s new Open Solaris movement.

However, reservations have been made. As reported in Analysts: Sun’s Open Solaris Plans Face Problems, thereare concerns that proprietary rights could be developed from use of the code. On top of that, until the results of the legal claim by the SCO Group that they effectively own Unix, it remains difficult to see how Sun could declare something as open source if they do not actually have distribution rights over the software.

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