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It emerged during the past month, to the dismay of everyone interested in open file formats and free software, that the JPEG image compression scheme may be subject to patent royalties. As reported by The Register, Forgent Networks have recently come into possession of a patent which they claim covers the transmission of JPEG images, and have even managed to claim royalties from two companies. If this patent proves to be enforceable, the ISO have said that they will withdraw JPEG as a standard (the licencing terms being enforced by Forgent are not compatible with ISO regulations for standards). Hopefully the patent will not stand up. To make sure of this, the JPEG committee is seeking examples of prior art which would render the patent null and void. If the worst comes to the worst, it appears that the patent will expire in 2004 in any case.
The Software Patent Working Group of the FFII, has pointed out that there are also European Patents in existence which could be used to put a lean on JPEG compression. A small step can be taken against EU software patents by signing the Petition for a Software Patent Free Europe.
A webpage bringing together many links on this story is the new Burn All .JPEGs! website. Forgent's website also has a list of recent appearances of the company in the news, which has a couple of links to stories regarding the JPEG patent.
Bruce Perens generated some publicity this month by threatening to violate the DMCA live on stage at the O'Reilly Open Source Convention. The plan was to demonstrate how to remove the region-code control built into a DVD player. However as reported by Dan Gilmore and by Slashdot, Bruce backed down from openly breaking the law following a request from his employers, HP.
There are several good links regarding this story on the O'Reilly Open Source Convention Conference Coverage page.
A bill proposed by US Senator Biden would make certain kinds of Digital Rights Management circumvention a felony (capital crime). ZDNet coverage states that the bill was originally intended to combat large-scale piracy (e.g., fake Windows holograms), but was quietly rewritten to include DRM. (Courtesy Slashdot)
It was reported in various locations (in The Register, on Slashdot and in ZDNet), that a recent EU report has called for wider open-source adoption, in order to have greater exchange of software between different administrative branches, and also between countries. The Slashdot story has links to the original EU report in various formats.
On a not unrelated theme, Sam Williams at O'Reilly.net has taken a look at the impact of open source software in government--both inside and outside the U.S.
Wired reports that the US Ambassador to Peru has come out against Peruvian Congressman Villanueva's bill advocating usage of open-source software in gonvernment computers. Also, Bill Gates personally delivered Peru's president Alejandro Tolero a donation estimated at $550,000 for the national school system. Not surprisingly, the money is to go to the same schools Villanueva's bill targets. Villanueva said he believes Microsoft isn't worried so much about losing the small Peruvian market as the cascading effect that might happen if other Latin American countries follow suit. Similar bills are pending in Argentina, Mexico and Brazil, and Spain's Extremadura region has already adoped Linux as the official operating system of its public schools and offices.
Pakistan is getting into the Open Source game too. 50,000 Pentium IIs running GNU/Linux are being installed in schools and colleges all over Pakistan, at a cost of less than US$100 each. "Proprietary software for these PCs would cost a small fortune. Surely more than what the computers cost!"
The Register have an excellent report (originally from NewsForge) by Grant Gross on a public workshop on digital rights management. It would appear that "fair use" advocates got less than a warm reception from Hollywood and Dept. of Commerce representatives.
Marcelo Tosatti, maintainer of the stable kernel branch in an interview with ZDNet.
From LWN, come links to reports in CNET and in ZDNet of the Netherlands' NAH6 plans to release a Secure Notebook incorporating a program that encrypts files transparently. The user runs applications on Windows, which is installed in a VMWare virtual machine. VMWare is run on Debian GNU/Linux, which keeps files encrypted in case the laptop is stolen or mislaid.
A few links from Linux Journal which might be of interest:
Some interesting links from The Register over the past month:
DesktopLinux.com are publishing the winning essays from their wIndependence Day contest.
Privacy International have an FAQ and other information on proposals to introduce ID cards to the UK. Probably of quite wide interest.
A couple of links from Slashdot which might interest you:
The binary nature of freedom, at Advogato (with talkbacks at NewsForge).
NewsForge have a report on the various instant messaging options available to Linux users.
Howard Wen at O'Reilly takes a look at Sony's upcoming Linux distribution kit for the PlayStation 2.
Some interesting links from Linux Today
NewsForge article on the game theory of open code.
Timo Hannay of Nature compares [O'Reilly] the scientific method to the mechanics of open source development.
Listings courtesy Linux Journal. See LJ's Events page for the latest goings-on.
USENIX Securty Symposium (USENIX)||August 5-9, 2002|
San Francisco, CA
LinuxWorld Conference & Expo (IDG)||August 12-15, 2002|
San Francisco, CA
LinuxWorld Conference & Expo Australia (IDG)||August 14 - 16, 2002|
Communications Design Conference (CMP)||September 23-26, 2002|
San Jose, California
IBM eServer pSeries (RS/6000) and Linux Technical University||October 14-18, 2002|
Software Development Conference & Expo, East (CMP)||November 18-22, 2002|
Linux Journal has changed its author contract to clarify that any author may include his/her articles as freely-redistributable documentation in a free software project or free documentation project after the article has been published. Authors have always had this right since the founding of LJ, but some did not realize they had it. Motivations for doing so are to make the information available to all users of a program, in a convenient location, and so that the project can use the article as primary documentation if desired, updating it as the program evolves.
It looked like the end of the road for Linux Weekly News earlier this month, when they announced that the August 1st edition would be the last ever. The basic cause for this decision was lack of money, and the absence of any plan which could generate money. Following the announcement, many disappointed readers put their money on the table and contributed to LWN's donation scheme. This quickly raised $12000, leading to a rethink of LWN's future. A final decision on the magazine's fate has not been made.
Following last month's launch [NewsForge] by Wal-Mart of PC's with Lindows pre-installed, comes a new announcement of the availability of Mandrake-equipped versions. The Wal-Mart catalogue contains full details and prices of both the Lindows and Mandrake PC product lines.
NewsForge have reported on this story, as has The Register. Hopefully the Mandrake version of this product will prove more satisfactory than the earlier Lindows offering, which received a very lukewarm review from NewsForge.
Congratulations to the folk behind the Ogg Vorbis project, who have released a version 1.0. As linked from LWN, there are currently various news items related to the 1.0 release on Ogg Vorbis News. This story was also reported by The Register and by CNET,
Ogg Vorbis and Xiph.org have also been in the news this month due to the links being forged between the open source format and the new Helix software of RealNetworks. This development should see some parts of RealNetworks' software being released under "a community and open source licence". Inclusion of the Ogg Vorbis codec into RealNetworks products should follow.
Bruce Perens has written an in-depth account of the issues surrounding the RealNetworks-Xiph link-up, and has criticised many features of the deal, such as the fact that Real's codecs will remain proprietary, and the use of community licencing (rather than opensource) for parts of their software. Rob Lanphier of RealNetworks has replied to Bruce on Slashdot, and asked for good will to be shown to the company's open source contribution. The Register has also reported on Real's open source experiment, as has CNET. The Helix Community website should report future developments in the open source development of the RealNetworks Helix project, and also contains copies of the licences the software will be released under (comments are invited).
Version 1.2 of the GNU Scientific Library is now available. The GNU Scientific Library is a collection of routines for numerical computing in C. This release is backwards compatible with previous 1.x releases. The project home page is at http://www.gnu.org/software/gsl/. Information for developers is at http://sources.redhat.com/gsl/.
Big news in the Debian world this month, Debian GNU/Linux 3.0 (Woody) has been released! Debian GNU/Linux now supports a total of eleven processor architectures, includes KDE and GNOME desktop environments, features cryptographic software, is compatible with the FHS v2.2 and supports software developed for the LSB. This was also reported by The Register. As reported by Debian Weekly News, the new testing distribution will be called "sarge".
A new revision of Potato, 2.2r7, was also released. Main changes were security updates, and a couple of corrections.
Debian Weekly News reported that the patent claims being made against the jpeg image compression scheme could require the movement of libjpeg62 and everything compiled against it into non-free.
LinuxPlanet have a recent review of Gentoo Linux 1.2.
Redflag Software Technologies Co., Ltd and Opera Software have made a strategic announcement, and are looking forward to working together on embedded browser solutions for the Chinese market. RedFlag will seek to join as an Opera reseller, with joint development and market efforts to tailor Opera for the Chinese embedded market.
With Opera included, RedFlag will be able to offer original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and hardware manufacturers Web-enabled solutions customised to fit with Red Flag's current product line.
SuSE Linux has announced the availability of the SuSE Linux eMail Server 3.1 with expanded system functionalities. SuSE's e-mail solution which assists in managing appointments, tasks, and resources, is aimed specifically at small and medium-scale enterprises as well as workgroups and public administrations.
SuSE Linux has also announced its participation in TSANet - the "Technical Support Alliance Network". TSANet is a global support platform that hosts more than 150 hardware and software providers. Within the scope of TSANet, various manufacturers cooperate in providing solutions for problems their enterprise customers encounter in connection with their applications.
For detailed information on the support offer of SuSE, please check http://support.suse.de/en/
Opera Software has announced the release of Opera 6.02 for Linux. The new version includes important fixes to the document and user interface, with special emphasis on the display of Asian characters, making this a useful upgrade for Linux users all over the world. Opera 6 opened up Asian markets to Opera, because of its added ability to display non- Western characters, and the Linux version has proved to be especially popular in this region.
Opera 6.02 for Linux is available for free in a ad-supported version at www.opera.com. Users can purchase a banner-free version for USD 39. Discounts apply.
Opera Software ASA has also announced that SuSE will distribute the popular Opera for Linux Web browser in their Linux distribution. The deal is Opera's first major Linux distribution agreement. Opera is available in SuSE Linux 8.0.
The Random Factory, have a range of scientific software for Linux, covering subjects such as astronomy, chemistry, and biotechnology. Also available are Linux workstations, preloaded with a choice of Random Factory products.
Magic Software Enterprises, a provider of application development technology and business solutions announced today the introduction of Magic eDeveloper into the Chinese market. Magic Software support Linux on some of their product lines.
VariCAD has announced the release of a new VariCAD 126.96.36.199 Update for both Windows and Linux operating systems. This mechanical 3D/2D CAD package offers tools for 3D modelling, 2D drafting, libraries of mechanical components, calculations, BOM's, and many others. It is priced $399. Free trial versions for Windows 98/NT/200/XP and Linux (RedHat, Mandrake, SuSE) are available for downloading at http://www.varicad.com
Linux Game Publishing is looking for beta testers for Mindrover 1.07b. You can register your interest at betas website. Successful applicants will be notified by e-mail.