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Hardware

Review: Laptop Mini Roundup

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Hardware

montanalinux.org: The family and I are visiting the in-laws in Great Falls over the holiday weekend. As luck would have it, my father-in-law has two recently purchased laptops... and he also had a Dell Mini 9 he was working on for a friend... and he was kind enough to let me play with them.

Linux line

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Linux
Hardware

ZaReason's New Linux Netbook

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Hardware

linuxplanet.com: Cathy and Earl Malmrose founded ZaReason several years ago. ZaReason is a Linux OEM that has long intrigued me for a number of reasons: they encourage customers to open their boxes and tinker, they specialize in OEM Linux boxes, and they demonstrate that there is still room for independent shops in the rough-and-tumble world of computer retailing.

The best netbook ever?

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Hardware

education.zdnet.com: Netbooks, in a variety of applications, are certainly among my favorites. After all, they’re cheap, they do most of what we need them to do, they fit well in backpacks, they’re cheap, and, oh yeah, they’re cheap.

Dell Prepares Ubuntu Encore

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Hardware
Ubuntu

workswithu.com: Dell’s Ubuntu Linux strategy has hit a couple of bumps in recent weeks. But The VAR Guy has done some digging and learned that Dell and Canonical are working on a few surprises that could bolster Ubuntu’s presence in PC markets around the globe.

NetWalker, Sharp's Latest Ubuntu Netbook... Hands-On

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Hardware
Ubuntu

Here's the latest Ubuntu powered ultra compact netbook with a 5” WSVGA (1024x600) touchscreen, the NetWalker aka PC-Z1-W. This little baby is powereb by a i.MX515 Freescale CPU @ 800MHz, with 512MB of RAM, 4GB of internal memory,

Rugged fleet computer runs Linux

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Linux
Hardware

linuxfordevices.com: Octagon Systems announced a ruggedized Linux-ready mobile computer for police, taxi, medical, trucking, transit system, and mesh security network applications.

long-awaited Linux based media player device ready to ship

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Hardware

linuxtech.net: The Popcorn Hour C-200, the latest 'Networked Media Tank' device from Syabas (the makers of the popular A-100 and A-110) is finally ready.

An Open Letter to Michael Dell: Why I have no choice but return my Ubuntu Inspiron Mini 10

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Hardware
Ubuntu

freesoftwaremagazine.com: I bought an Inspiron Mini 10. I have no choice but return it. And now I can’t stop wondering: how could Michael Dell get it just so wrong?

Order a High Powered Linux Workstation on the Cheap

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Hardware

blog.eracc.com: I just finished reading Paul Ferrill’s article at Linux Planet titled Build a High Powered Linux Workstation on the Cheap. Most people do not get “shivery” over putting together “sexy” hardware like we hardware geeks do. This is where the system builders such as ZaReason, System 76 and Penguin Computing enter the picture.

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A victory for free software over the "Microsoft tax"

This is a guest post by Marco Ciurcina, a lawyer who worked on this case.

The Italian Supreme Court (Corte di Cassazione) issued a judgment1 that bans the "Microsoft tax," a commercial practice that discourages users from converting their PCs to GNU/Linux or other free operating systems by forcing them to pay for a Windows license with their PCs. PC producers in Italy now cannot refuse to refund the price of the license to purchasers that will not run Windows.

The ruling definitively concludes the case filed in 2005 against a hardware producer by Marco Pieraccioli,2 with the support of the Consumer Association ADUC,3 and affirms Marco Pieraccioli's right to a refund for the price of the Microsoft Windows license for the computer he purchased.

The primary reason to insist on using free software4 is because nonfree software deprives the user of freedom, including the freedom to participate in its development. The "Microsoft tax" has no effect on that issue.

The "free" in "free software" refers to freedom. It does not mean "gratis," and copies of free software do not have to be distributed without charge. Selling a copy of one free program or many of them is legitimate.5

However, most GNU/Linux distributions are offered to the public gratis, while Windows is not. Therefore, switching to GNU/Linux offers an opportunity for the secondary benefit of saving money -- a benefit that many Italians would value. The "Microsoft tax" has the effect of abolishing that secondary benefit. Now the secondary benefit must be available.

The ruling applies to more than just Windows. The Court states a general principle that applies to any device with software preinstalled: "...who buys a computer on which a given operational software (operating system) was preinstalled by the manufacturer has the right, if he does not agree to the conditions of the license of the software made available to him at first start of the computer, to retain the computer returning only the software covered by the license he did not accept, with refund of the part of the price that specifically relates to it."6

According to the Supreme Court, any commercial practice that prevents the user from getting a refund "..would clash in different ways with the rules that protect the freedom of choice of the consumer, and the freedom of competition among firms..."7

On the one hand, therefore, the judgment follows the path of the French Courts' case law, that on several occasions stated that the joint sale of hardware and software, without providing for the buyer the possibility to obtain refund of preinstalled software, violates the right of the consumer.8

On the other hand, the Italian Supreme Court states that the act of hindering the refund violates the freedom of competition among firms. This statement of principle is interesting considering that, to date, the antitrust authorities have done little against business practices that "force" the joint sale of hardware and proprietary software. Now they may consider taking stronger action.

The focus of the Court's reasoning is that the sale of a PC with software preinstalled is not like the sale of a car with its components (the 4 wheels, the engine, etc.) that therefore are sold jointly. Buying a computer with preinstalled software, the user is required to conclude two different contracts: the first, when he buys the computer; the second, when he turns on the computer for the first time and he is required to accept or not the license terms of the preinstalled software.9 Therefore, if the user does not accept the software license, he has the right to keep the computer and install free software without having to pay the "Microsoft tax."

Notes:

1 Judgement n. 19161/2014 published 11/9/2014
http://www.italgiure.giustizia.it/xway/application/nif/clean/hc.dll?verbo=attach&db=snciv&id=./20140912/snciv@s30@a2014@n19161@tS.clean.pdf.
2 I had the honor to assist before the Supreme Court Marco Pieraccioli who already had favorable decisions both at first instance (judgment no. 5384/2007 of the Giudice di Pace di Firenze) and in second degree (judgment no. 2526/2010 of the Tribunale di Firenze).
3 See http://aduc.it/.
4 See https://www.gnu.org/philosophy/free-sw.
5 See https://gnu.org/philosophy/selling.
6 See p. 22 of the judgment.
7 See p. 21 of the judgment.
8 See http://non.aux.racketiciels.info/.
9 The judgment at p. 21 states: "Having been assessed that there are not technological obstacles, the 'packaging' at the source of hardware and operating system Microsoft Windows (as it would for any other operating system for a fee) would actually respond, in substance, to a trade policy aimed at the forceful spread of the latter in the hardware retail (at least in that, a large majority, headed by the most established OEM brands); among other things, with cascade effects in order to the imposition on the market of additional software applications whose dissemination among final customers finds strong stimulus and influence - if not genuine compulsion - in more or less intense constraints of compatibility and interoperability (that this time we could define 'technological with commercial effect') with that operating system, that has at least tendency to be monopolistic".

© Marco Ciurcina, 2014 – Some rights reserved This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License or any later version. Read more


This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 3.0 license (or later version)

Cumulus Linux 2.5 adds mainstream L2 features to bare-metal switching

As Cumulus Networks attempts to expand beyond the early adopters of its Cumulus Linux bare-metal switch operating system, it is adding Layer 2 networking features aimed at making it easier for enterprises to make the transition from legacy environments to the IP fabrics that most cloud computing customers operate. Read more

SimplyTapp launches open source tokenization project

“We don’t want to put any hindrance in the way of a bank launching cloud-based payments because they have to buy or rely on another ecosystem player for new technology and so we thought it was a perfect use case for an open source project. Open source allows a perfect line of audit where you can actually see the source code, modify the source code and make updates to the source code for your environment before you’re running it. Read more

Google’s Nest buys Linux automation firm, adds five partners

Google’s Nest Labs acquired Revolv, a maker of Linux-based home automation devices, and announced five new Nest-compatible devices. including the Pebble. After Google acquired Nest Labs in January $3.2 billion, placing a stake in the fast-growing home automation business, Nest acquired home surveillance camera maker Dropcam in June for $555 million. Now Nest announced it has acquired another major home automation company in its purchase of Revolv. The acquisition, which was announced with no dollar amount, came shortly after the Boulder, Colo. based company announced compatibility with the Nest Learning Thermostat and Nest Protect CO/smoke detector. Read more