Date: Tue, 1 Mar 2005 19:54:43 -0500 (EST)
From:"Linux Pipeline Newsletter" <>
Subject: [LXP] Linux Pipeline - 03-01-2005 - No Rest At This OASIS Linux Pipeline Newsletter | No Rest At This OASIS | 03.01.2005
Linux Pipeline Newsletter
Tuesday, March 1, 2005

In This Issue:
  • Editor's Note: No Rest At This OASIS
  • Top Linux News
        - Firefox Rolls First Bug-Fix Release
        - Linux Distributor Mandrakesoft Acquires Conectiva
        - New Brower Stats Show Fresh Firefox Gains
        - More News...
  • Editor's Picks
        - Getting FUD Up? Get The Facts
        - Sneak Preview: StarOffice 8 Gets Its Close-Up
        - Rob Enderle: Man With A Death Wish
        - More Picks...
  • Voting Booth: Is Laptop Linux Ready For Prime Time?
  • Get More Out Of Linux Pipeline
  • Manage Your Newsletter Subscription

    ------- Advertisement -------------------
    Join InformationWeek for a FREE, on-demand TechWebCast on
    Lower Your Costs and Reduce Your Application Hosting and
    Management Headaches. Lower your costs, and easily keep-
    up with the latest fixes, patches, and regulatory updates by
    hosting your ERP applications.
    Register and view today:


    Editor's Note: No Rest At This OASIS

    Linux Pipeline columnist and hate mail connoisseur Rob Enderle probably added a few new gems to his collection two weeks ago, when he described the rush to adopt Firefox as lemming-like behavior. Pity the poor creatures for making such ideal rhetorical fodder: This week, there's another group I intend to berate for its lemming-like mentality.

    OASIS is one of the world's most prominent IT standards bodies; it's a major source of e-business and Web services standards with a high-profile membership roster. Yet OASIS is also responsible for a boneheaded decision to allow the standards it ratifies to include patented technologies, if the patents' owners agree to license their intellectual property under "reasonable and non-discriminatory" terms.

    What's known as RAND licensing is fine for commercial software developers; it allows them to pay the same royalties as their competitors and to manage their royalty costs in a predictable way. Without the RAND licensing model, many commercial products wouldn't exist, and those that do would find it impossible to create reliable financial forecasts or pricing.

    Yet a patent licensed under RAND terms is just as deadly to an open-source project as any other patent license involving royalty payments. The GPL and its kin--examples of the most common open-source licensing model--by definition violate the financial and legal restrictions any royalty-bearing patent imposes. Microsoft is attempting to use this fact to undermine a European Union anti-trust ruling, and it's a sure bet that other companies with axes to grind would love to follow suit.

    A number of bigwigs in the open-source community, including Lawrence Rosen, Bruce Perens, and Richard Stallman, released an open letter last week urging developers to boycott future OASIS standards that don't play well with free software projects and asking members to shun working groups dedicated to such standards. The open-source community fought and won a similar battle in the W3C to approve only royalty-free patents, and the letter's authors want OASIS to take the same approach.

    OASIS was, of course, unhappy with the letter. In an interview published on various CNET news sites, Patrick Gannon, the group's CEO, stated that of the 20 current OASIS standards using RAND licensing, none of them actually demanded royalties. This amounts to defending a bad policy by pointing out that no one has exploited it yet--and if Gannon wants to bet how long this outbreak of saintly behavior lasts, he's welcome to give me a call.

    Gannon and his colleagues may wonder why a bunch of open-source bigwigs are flogging them for a patent policy that represents standard procedure for many standards groups. The IEEE, ISO, and IETF, among others, allow patents using RAND licensing, and no one is calling the Geek Police on any of them.

    OASIS is on the spot mostly because it picked a bad time to promote a policy that's good mostly for sucking up to members with fat wallets and thick patent portfolios. Rosen and company are also feeling strong now that they have the W3C to advertise as an example of common sense and fairness. In addition, after watching Microsoft's antics in Europe, open-source supporters are rightfully wary of a patent policy that relies upon the kindness of large corporations whose shareholders deal in cold cash, not warm fuzzies.

    There's one more, very important reason to make an example of OASIS. The current draft of a proposed European Union e-government framework requires technology based on open standards--and royalty-generating patents don't make the cut. It's a reasonable position for the EU, given the public uproar that helped to kill a proposal to legitimize software patents that would have turned Europe's IT industry into the world's largest profit-free zone. But this sort of anti-patent stand is still controversial, thanks mostly to furious lobbying by the Business Software Alliance--a group apparently dedicated to reading Bill Gates' mind so he doesn't have to strain himself barking orders over the phone.

    The BSA is also, in this case, doing a fine lemming imitation: Its European offensive in favor of RAND-laced standards relies heavily on the argument that if most other standards bodies adopt a stupid idea, it suddenly isn't stupid any more. So far, the W3C is the only standards group to buck this trend, and the last thing the BSA or its backers want to see is either the EU or OASIS taking the same anti-patent stand.

    As I've said before, software patents represent a massive legal and financial threat to the open-source development model and the firms that rely upon it. The companies that support software patents need, more than anything else, to maintain the illusion that patents are a legitimate, necessary, and appropriate tool for protecting intellectual property. By defending a lousy policy with facile excuses, OASIS is helping to perpetuate the illusion, and it deserves every bit of the heat it's taking for its trouble.

    Matthew McKenzie
    Editor, Linux Pipeline

    Keep Getting This Newsletter
    Don't let future editions of Linux Pipeline Newsletter go missing. Take a moment to add the newsletter's address to your anti-spam whitelist:

    If you're not sure how to do that, ask your administrator or ISP. Or check your anti-spam utility's documentation. Thanks.

    Top Linux News

    Firefox Rolls First Bug-Fix Release
    More than 25 million downloads later, the open-source browser pulls over for a tune-up: version 1.0.1, including non-critical security fixes and dozens of minor performance tweaks.

    Linux Distributor Mandrakesoft Acquires Conectiva
    Mandrakesoft has agreed to acquire Conectiva in an all-stock deal valued at $2.3 million.

    New Brower Stats Show Fresh Firefox Gains
    Mozilla's Firefox keeps chipping away at Microsoft's near-monopoly of the Web browser market, thanks more to user buzz than marketing muscle.

    IBM Bets PHP Is Open Source's Next Big Thing
    Big Blue will bundle its open-source Cloudscape database with Zend Technologies' scripting language, looking to promote the duo for use on interactive Web development jobs

    Report: Servers Dishing Out Solid Revenue Growth
    An IDC report shows strong server sales growth during the fourth quarter of 2004, including the second straight quarter of $1 billion-plus Linux server revenue.

    IBM Exec To Partners: Get Rich With Linux
    Linux will be the key technology behind new business opportunities for IBM's partners--that's the message Big Blue's ISV corps got this week, at a kickoff event for the company's PartnerWorld conference.

    Prior Mozilla, Firefox Releases Open To Attack
    Two of the Mozilla Foundation's open-source products contain serious but tough to exploit security flaws, say security experts; current versions of the products already include a fix.

    IBM Ups Open-Source Endowment With New Releases
    Announcing 30 new contributions to the SourceForge project site, IBM heads into this week's EclipseCon event on an impressive open-source roll.

    Thunderbird, Mozilla Updates Next In Line
    The Mozilla Foundation outlines a short-term product roadmap, naming the Mozilla suite and Thunderbird email client as its next update candidates.

    BEA Embraces WebLogic-Eclipse Integration
    BEA extends its new relationship with the Eclipse Foundation, detailing plans to support the group's open-source Java development framework within its flagship WebLogic software stack.

    Novell Earns More From Windows Than Linux -- This Time
    Linux revenue is slow to meet Novell's expectations, NetWare customers do more fence-sitting than purchasing, and Microsoft ends up as the company's biggest money-maker, thanks to a legal settlement.

    Editor's Picks

    Getting FUD Up? Get The Facts
    For every geek who thinks open-source is the cat's pajamas, there are probably five corporate bureaucrats who eat Microsoft FUD for breakfast. Those are tough odds, especially when these people are often armed with the same fraudulent facts and sock-puppet research Microsoft promulgates in its "Get the Facts" campaign.

    Sneak Preview: StarOffice 8 Gets Its Close-Up
    The next version of Sun's open-source office suite has the chance to convert quite a few Microsoft Office users--if it's able to convert their Office documents, as well.

    Rob Enderle: Man With A Death Wish
    Analyst Rob Enderle has been writing a lot of columns recently dissing Linux and open source, but that's not the message I take away from those columns. The message I take away is that you can't solve security problems by installing a product.

    The Spyzilla Project? (Or, A Modest Proposal...)
    Microsoft almost pulled a fast one on me today. As usual, those sly foxes love to play the fools, only to turn the tables when you least expect it. I eventually saw through their brilliant subterfuge, but it was a near thing.

    Survey: Does Your Salary Stack Up?
    How do your job satisfaction and salary compare to those of your peers? Find out by participating in the InformationWeek 2005 National IT Salary survey. The study, now in its eighth year, tracks more than 20 IT job functions. It's fast, it's easy, it's completely confidential--and it's just one click away.

    An Update A Day Keeps Hackers Away
    Checking regularly for updates isn't just a good idea. It's the only reliable way to keep your Linux distro stable and secure. Here's how to stay up to date and out of trouble.

    IBM Rivals Warming To Eclipse
    With new members, new projects, and a growing developer base, the Eclipse Foundation's Java development platform shows that it no longer lives under Big Blue's long shadow.

    Firefox, Microsoft, And More: Mozilla Chair Mitch Kapor
    The chair of the Mozilla Foundation and desktop software pioneer sounds off: What's wrong with Firefox, what's right about Microsoft, and why open-source projects need to make more room for usability experts.

    Xen Gets Real--With A Little Help From Big Friends
    Open-source startup XenSource is making a splash with its virtual server software, but new technology in the works at AMD and Intel could ultimately decide whether it sinks or swims on proprietary platforms.

    Unlocking The Global Grid
    The open-source Globus Toolkit was supposed to drive interest in the global grid; instead it drove grid projects into the ground. But a new version, based on Web services standards and built to deliver much better performance, could make up for lost time.

    Voting Booth: Is Laptop Linux Ready For Prime Time?

    Cast Your Vote Now!
    A few months ago, I asked Linux Pipeline readers to share their experiences with Linux-based laptop computers. The verdict was mixed: Many of you had great things to say about your Linux laptops, but some of you were far from happy.

    This time, we'd like to hear from anyone with an opinion, whether you're a laptop Linux user, know someone who is, or simply stay current on the latest Linux hardware trends: Is Linux on the laptop ready for mainstream, everyday business use? Let us know, cast your vote!

    Get More Out Of Linux Pipeline

    Try Linux Pipeline's RSS Feed
    Linux Pipeline's content is available via RSS feed: Get RSS link. The feed is also auto-discoverable to many RSS readers from the Linux Pipeline home page. Note: RSS feeds are not viewable in most Web browsers. You need an RSS reader, Web-based service, or plug-in to view RSS. Find out which RSS readers the Pipeline editors recommend.

    Check Out Our Linux Product Finder
    Don't reinvent the wheel. Find the right off-the-shelf product to do the job. How do you find the right one? Two words ... Product Finder:
       - Desktop Applications
       - Application Servers
       - Commercial Linux Distributions
       - Network Management
       - Web Servers

    Discover All The Pipelines
    Linux Pipeline is part of a large series of specialized IT sites from the TechWeb Network. Find out more about the Pipelines on the TechWeb Network Pipeline Publications page. Every Pipeline site has its own newsletter. Give them a try!

    Recommend This Newsletter To A Friend
    Do you have a friend or colleague who might enjoy this newsletter? Please forward it to him or her and point out the subscription page.

    ------- Advertisement -------------------
    Join InformationWeek for a FREE, on-demand TechWebCast on
    Lower Your Costs and Reduce Your Application Hosting and
    Management Headaches. Lower your costs, and easily keep-
    up with the latest fixes, patches, and regulatory updates by
    hosting your ERP applications.
    Register and view today:


    Manage Your Newsletter Subscription

    We take your privacy very seriously. Please review our Privacy Policy.

    Linux Pipeline Newsletter
    A free service of Linux Pipeline and the TechWeb Network.
    Copyright (c) 2004-2005 CMP Media LLC
    600 Community Drive
    Manhasset, NY 11030