The issue of software freedom is, not surprisingly, not mentioned in the mainstream coverage of Volkswagen's recent use of proprietary software to circumvent important regulations that exist for the public good. Given that Volkswagen is an upstream contributor to Linux, it's highly likely that Volkswagen vehicles have Linux in them.
Thus, we have a wonderful example of how much we sacrifice at the altar of “Linux adoption”. While I'm glad for some Free Software to appear in products rather than none, I also believe that, too often, our community happily accepts the idea that we should gratefully laud a company includes a bit of Free Software in their product, and gives a little code back, even if most of what they do is proprietary software.
Over the last few weeks a discussion has flourished over the FCC’s Notification of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM) on modular transmitters and electronic labels for wireless devices. Some folks have felt that the phrasing has been too Chicken-Little-like and that the FCC’s proposal doesn’t affect the ability to install free, libre or open source operating system. The FCC in fact says their proposal has no effect on open source operating systems or open source in general. The FCC is undoubtedly wrong.
About 75 million Web sites depend on WordPress. If you are one of its many users who recently upgraded to Version 4.3, you may have noticed something new. Recently, a coop worker-member, Pea, informed me that this version includes a new tab with a reference to the GNU General Public License. With some quizzical interest, I ran the upgrade on a WordPress instance I maintain.
I eagerly waited for the upgrade to finish. When it loaded, what I saw was typical for a WordPress upgrade, a description of the version's new features. Then I saw a tab prominently named "Freedom." I clicked on it, and boom: right there were the four freedoms of free software, starting with Freedom 0. Take a look for yourself.
In some more relaxing news, Jonathan Riddell, leader of the Kubuntu Linux distribution, has had the great pleasure of announcing his own IP (Intellectual Property) policy, mocking Canonical's.
Original: Jonathan Riddell™ IP Policy
Digital Rights Management (DRM), the backbone of copyright protection for every form of digital property from games and software to ebooks and music is finally coming to blows with its natural enemy: the open-source software movement.
The fight is rooted in the longstanding belief of organizations such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and the Free Software Foundation (FSF) that DRM and open source are "fundamentally incompatible" and comes to the fore on an unlikely front: Wi-Fi routers.
Last month we looked at the argument that the open source business model is flawed because selling maintenance and support subscriptions doesn't provide companies with enough revenue to differentiate their products from the underlying open source software or to compete with the sales and marketing efforts of proprietary software companies. The argument was advanced by Peter Levine, a venture capitalist at Andreessen Horowitz.
My work at OIN involves a lot of research. I read academic papers on litigation trends and try to stay on top of who’s getting sued this week. It also involves a lot of behind the scenes emailing. I have lots of informal conversations with people about how you run a free and open source software project. Sometimes, they don’t realize that lots of other companies are succeeding with FOSS business models and shared community resources. Once they see that it can be done, they often feel more confident.
Many cheap WiFi routers are sold with the vendor firmware, but the most popular ones likely also support OpenWRT, which some users may prefer as it is much more customizable. However, this may soon become more difficult according to a talk at the upcoming “Wireless Battle of the Mesh” which will take place on August 3-8 in Maribor, Slovenia.
One of the more recent discoveries resulting from the breach two weeks ago of malware-as-a-service provider Hacking Team is sure to interest Android enthusiasts. To wit, it's the source code to a fully featured malware suite that had the ability to infect devices even when they were running newer versions of the Google-developed mobile operating system.
The leak of the code base for RCSAndroid—short for Remote Control System Android—is a mixed blessing. On the one hand, it provides the blueprints to a sophisticated, real-world surveillance program that can help Google and others better defend the Android platform against malware attacks. On the other, it provides even unskilled hackers with all the raw materials they need to deploy what's arguably one of the world's more advanced Android surveillance suites.
A respected security researcher has denied any involvement with Hacking Team after open-source code he wrote was found in smartphone spyware sold by the surveillance-ware maker.