Last week's Edition contained an interview with
, the maintainer of the Calibre
electronic book manager, but
it did not look deeply at the application itself. Coincidentally, your
editor has been playing with Calibre with renewed interest recently. This
application has made considerable progress since your editor's last look at it
, so a look at
where it has gone is called for. Calibre is not perfect, but it is a
useful tool for a somewhat unwilling newcomer to electronic books.
Your editor is not one to resist progress; the transition from vinyl to
compact disks was handled with no reservations, despite the fact that there
is still something special about those old analog platters. How can one
resist a medium that is bulky and heavy, limited to 30 minutes of play
time, and which degrades with every playing? When CDs, in turn, started to
go away barely a tear was shed. There has been no pining for 8"
floppies, eight-track tapes - or for tape in general. Technology moves
forward, and things get better.
But books are special. They represent an old technology well optimized for
its intended task and are a thing of beauty. Your editor's love of books
has swallowed up vast amounts of time and crowded the house with dead
trees; Cicero's classic proverb ("a room without books is like a body
without a soul") is well respected here. That occasionally leads to
certain amounts of marital stress, but we digress. The point is that the
movement of the written word to an increasingly digital-only form is
something that has been resisted in these parts for some time.
But the writing is on the
wall cloud-based persistent
storage device: books as physical objects are on their way out. Once your
editor got past the denial phase, it became clear that there were even some
advantages to ebooks. They are often cheaper, which is nice. Certain
science fiction authors would appear to be paid by the kilogram; reading
them in electronic form yields the same entertainment value without the
kilograms. Electronic books are especially advantageous when traveling;
the weight involved in carrying sufficient reading material for a family
vacation was, once again, a source of a certain amount of familial
disagreement. Searchability can be a useful feature at times.
There is still nothing like a real book, but the electronic
version is not entirely without its charms.
One does not need to accumulate many ebooks before it becomes clear that
some sort of management scheme is required. Simply keeping books on a
reader device is not really an option; that device may well not be entirely
under the owner's control, its capacity is limited, it can be lost or
damaged, and it eventually will need to be replaced. Just dumping them on a
disk somewhere has problems of its own; some sort of management tool is
needed. For now, in the free software world, Calibre seems to be that tool.
As of this writing, the current version of Calibre is 0.8.16. Releases are
frequent - about one week apart - and each release adds bug fixes and new
features. The web site recommends installing binary releases directly from
there because distributors tend to fall behind that schedule; Rawhide did
not let your editor down, though. Interestingly, those looking for the
source on the Calibre web site can search for a long time; there are no
easily-found pointers to the SourceForge
directory where the source can be found. The program is written in
One thing first-time users won't necessarily notice is that Calibre phones
home when it starts. The ostensible purpose is to check for new releases,
but, in the process, it reports the current running version, the operating
system it is running under (Linux is reported as "oth") and a unique ID
generated when the program is installed - along with the IP address,
naturally. It is not a huge amount of information to report - users of
proprietary reader devices have much larger information disclosure issues
to be concerned about - but it's
still a bit of a privacy violation. Programs that communicate with the
mother ship in this way should really inform their users of the fact and
give them the opportunity to opt out.
The main Calibre window provides a list of books in the library, an
animated "cover browser," a list of metadata types, and a pane for
information about the selected book. By default, somebody just wanting to
look through the books in the library will find less than 1/4 of the
available space dedicated to that task. However, one cannot fault Calibre
for lacking configurability; there are few aspects of the interface that
cannot be tweaked at will. Unwanted stuff is easily gotten rid of.
There is a toolbar across the top with a large number of entries; they do
not all fit unless the window is made quite wide. Some of them can be a
bit confusing; should one import a book with "Add books" or "Get books"?
The icon labeled "N books" (for some value of N) is actually the way to
switch between libraries. "Save to disk" is a bit strange for books in the
library, which are already on disk; it seems to be a way to save a book in
a different format, though how that relates to the "convert books"
operation is not entirely clear. With a bit of time and experimentation,
though, it's not too hard to figure out how things work.
There is a basic reader application built into Calibre; it works well
enough, though, likely as not, few users actually read their books in this
application. Some of its more obnoxious behaviors (the 1/2 second animated
page flip, for example) can be disabled. One thing that cannot be turned
off, though, is the obnoxious "tooltips" that show up on everything. Your
editor has noticed a trend toward these annoyances in a number of
applications; when one can't see the interface through the tips, something
is wrong. As can be seen in the associated screenshot, the "next page"
tooltip obscures the text of the book itself.
Calibre's management of devices seems to work well; when a recognized
device is plugged in, a separate pane showing the contents of that device
is created. Books can be copied between the library and the device at
will; if needed, Calibre will convert the book to a different format on the
way. Your editor's Kindle device Just Works with Calibre; all that was
needed was to plug it in. Android devices also work nicely. The Calibre
site recommends installing WordPlayer on Android, but interoperation with the
open-source FBReader application works well. Aldiko can also be used,
though it is necessary to manually import the book files into the
application after Calibre has placed them on the device.
Naturally, when working with a Kindle, one quickly runs into DRM issues;
Calibre will put up a dialog saying that it cannot work with a locked file
and wish you luck. As it happens, there is a plugin out there that can
decrypt books from a Kindle and store them in a more accessible format.
The Calibre project itself won't go near such plugins, but they are not
hard to find. Whether one sees unlocking an ebook as an exercise of
fair-use rights on a text that one has purchased or as an act of piracy
will depend on one's viewpoint and, perhaps, local law. Your editor can
only say that, if he were able to store his purchased ebooks in a format
that does not require a functioning Kindle or Amazon's continuing
cooperation, he would be much more inclined to buy more such books in the
(The Kindle, incidentally, will eventually be replaced with a more open
device; selecting that device is likely to be the topic of a future
The "Get books" option pops up a dialog that, seemingly, will search every
bookstore on the planet for a given string. Results are listed with their
price, format, and DRM status. The process tends to be slow - not
surprising, given how many
sites must be queried; one will want to trim down the number of sites to
speed things up and eliminate results in undesired languages.
The Calibre developers have clearly been
busy setting up affiliate arrangements with as many of those bookstores as
The proceeds support ongoing development of the code, which
seems like a good cause, certainly.
Another interesting feature is the ability to download articles from
various news sources, format them appropriately, and send them to the
device. In the case of the Kindle, that sending happens immediately over
the Kindle's cellular connection; there is no need to plug the device into
the computer first. Over 1,000 different news sources are supported at
this point. If Calibre is left running, downloads can be scheduled to run
at regular intervals. The value of this feature arguably drops as
always-connected devices take over, but it's easy to see how it could be
indispensable for those who do a fair amount of offline reading.
Wishlist and conclusion
There is a fairly well developed search feature clearly designed with the
idea that there will be thousands of books in the library. Searches can
key on almost any metadata, but there does not seem to be any way to search
for books based on their contents. If you cannot remember which book
introduced the concept of "thalience," Calibre, it seems, will not be able
to help you find it. Indexing a large library to the point where it can be
efficiently searched is not a small task, of course, but there are times
when it would be nice.
Closer integration between Calibre and the reader devices would be useful.
For example, all readers have a concept of bookmarks, or, at least, the
current position within a given book. Imagine having a copy of one's
current book on a phone handset; it would always be at hand when one finds
oneself with an unexpected half hour to kill somewhere. Later, when
curling up by the fire with the spouse, the dog, a glass of wine, and the
real reader, said reader would already know the new position to start
from. No such luck with the reader, alas; even the spouse and the dog
can't always be counted upon. Calibre can't fix the latter, but it could
convey that kind of information between reader devices.
Even nicer, someday, might be to run an application like Calibre directly
on the reader devices, backed up by a library found in
personally-controlled storage on
the net somewhere. Google's Books offering is aiming at that sort of
functionality, without the "personally-controlled" part, but books are too
important to leave in some company's hands. Until such a time arrives,
we'll be left managing our books on a local system and copying them to
devices as needed. Calibre seems
to be the best option there is for that management; it is a capable tool
that does almost everything a reader could want. It definitely helps to
make the transition away from real books a bit less painful.
Comments (28 posted)
For handling network management tasks, at least on the desktop, most
distributions (and thus Linux users) rely on NetworkManager. But, there is
an alternative, called ConnMan, that was
originally created as part of Intel's Moblin effort. ConnMan has found its way into
Moblin's successor, MeeGo, which is no surprise, but it is also suited to
smaller embedded Linux systems as well. ConnMan's creator,
Marcel Holtmann, gave a talk at LinuxCon to describe ConnMan, along with
some of the challenges faced in creating a compact network management tool
that is targeted at mobile devices.
Holtmann started out by describing the "wishlist" for mobile devices that
he came up with when he started working on ConnMan three years ago.
Mobile phones were the first use-case he considered because they are
complex devices with limited battery life. Also, "if you solve the
phone case, you solve the tablet and netbook problem as well", he
said. In addition, the needs of televisions are a subset of those needed
for mobile phones.
But, other use-cases are different. Cars have different requirements, as
do robots, sensors, and medical devices. The only use-case that was left
out was the data center because it is "simple and pretty much
static", he said.
So, after considering those use-cases, Holtmann came up with a wishlist
that consisted of a handful of
high-level constraints. It should be a simple and small solution,
"but at the same time, really powerful". It should be
automated so that it didn't have to ask the user what to do "over and
over again if we knew what to do". It should have minimal
dependencies so that it could run on memory-constrained devices. It should
also support customization so that vendors could create their own UI on top
of the core. ConnMan sprang out of that wishlist.
There were also a common set of problems that a network management
application needs to deal with including IP address assignment, which is
"quite complicated actually", especially when considering
IPv6, he said. Dealing with network proxy support is another problem area
because the "settings are really hard to explain", so there is
a need to handle it automatically. DNS handling can be problematic as well.
There are interaction problems too. "Are we on the internet?"
is a surprisingly hard question to answer as the system could be connected
to a hotspot that requires a login for example. There is a need to make
applications aware of internet connectivity—gain or loss—as
well. In addition, time synchronization is important, but even more
important sometimes is determining the correct timezone. All of this stuff
needs to be sorted out before telling applications that the internet is
available, Holtmann said.
Beyond that, there are some additional features required for mobile devices
today, including a flight (airplane) mode, tethering, and statistics
gathering. The latter is particularly important for devices where
different kinds of connections have different costs.
Holtmann said that he looked at how other network management applications
are designed and saw a fundamental problem. Instead of keeping the policy
and configuration in the low-level connection manager, those parts live in the UI,
he said. He thinks this is the "wrong approach" and that
policy and configuration should live in the connection manager so that
experts can deal with the hard problems, rather than making users figure
them out. In addition, it allows UI developers to change the interface
easily, because they don't have to change the policy/configuration handling
as part of that.
There are three principles that governed the design of ConnMan from a user
interaction perspective. The first is to ask users "only questions
they can answer". If there are questions that a user will have
trouble answering, the program should try to figure them out for itself.
For example, users don't know or care about the various kinds of wireless
keys required, so don't ask a bunch of technical questions about WEP
vs. WPA vs. pre-shared keys, just ask for the password for the wireless
network. The underlying connection manager should recognize what type is
required by the wireless network automatically.
The second is to only show current and valid information to the user so
that they aren't overwhelmed with useless information. Don't tell them
that the Ethernet cable is not plugged in, he said, "they are sitting
in front of it". Hide WiFi networks that have too weak of a signal
rather than showing a bunch of "<unknown>" access points. The emphasis
should be on previous connections that the user has made, because the
chances that "the user wants to use it again are really high".
Lastly, interact with the user only when it's needed. Part of the solution
is to remember things from previous connections and configurations, but
there is more. If ConnMan doesn't make connections quickly enough, users
will start to think something is wrong and start "messing with
things". Also, use error notifications to tell the user something
useful, not just propagating the error message from the underlying code.
It was difficult to keep to the principles, Holtmann said, but that was the
In keeping with the last principle, ConnMan has done some things
differently to try to reduce the time it takes to establish a
As Holtmann mentioned earlier, connection establishment for IP is rather
complicated with multiple pieces required to get to a point where
applications can start using the internet. First there is the low-level
IPv4 and IPv6 address and proxy configuration (which includes DHCP, web
proxy auto-discovery (WPAD), and IPv6 auto-configuration). After that,
it may need to do a WISPr (wireless internet service provider roaming)
hotspot login, followed by time synchronization.
That all takes a fair amount of time largely because of various
inefficiencies in the current implementations. For one thing, IPv4 and
IPv6 discovery and configuration should be done in parallel, rather than
serially. Arbitrary timeouts should also be eliminated.
One of the biggest problem areas was DHCP. In current Linux systems, there
are multiple levels of D-Bus messages and callout scripts to handle DHCP.
There are at least three script/program executions and 2 D-Bus
with arbitrary waits between them, to handle getting an address via
DHCP. "Time is just wasted",
But DHCP only requires 4 UDP messages
of 300-600 bytes each, which "can be done a lot faster than you
think", he said. ConnMan implemented its own DHCP library that
significantly reduced the amount of time it took to get an IP address,
while also reducing memory consumption. The time reduction results in
"approximately 1-2 seconds that can be given back to users",
while the runtime memory savings is very important for some embedded devices.
The feature list for ConnMan is quite large already, and Holtmann went
through a laundry list of them. Obviously, support for WiFi, Bluetooth,
Ethernet, and WiMAX are "have to have" features, he said, but
ConnMan provides quite a bit more than just the connectivity options.
There are various low-level features that were mentioned earlier like DHCP
(both client and server), WPAD and WISPr, and support for timezone
switching. In addition, support for iptables, 6to4 tunnels, DNS
resolver and proxy/cache, an HTTP client, tethering support, and more are
available. There is also a "personal firewall" feature that is
"under discussion right now", he said.
Beyond that, there are two different APIs available for different kinds of
applications to use. The Service API is for configuration and is used by
the ConnMan UI. It unifies the configuration for all of the different connection
options (WiFi, Bluetooth, etc.) as well as providing a single
The Session API is meant for applications to use to
monitor the internet connection. Each application can have one or more
sessions that correspond to different connections they are making. The API
provides IP address change notifications, so that the application can
transparently reconnect. It also allows applications to give priority
information regarding how quickly its data needs to be handled (for "realtime" audio
vs. background network syncing for example). It was designed with
handset and in-vehicle-infotainment (IVI) needs in mind, Holtmann said.
Hotspot login "drove me crazy for a really long time", he
said, but ConnMan now has WISPr 1.0 support that works correctly, unlike
many other implementations (including the iPhone). It doesn't use a browser but does require an
HTTP client. With ConnMan, a device can roam between different
WISPr-supporting hotspots using a password agent to provide the proper
ConnMan also supports WISPr 2.0, but none of the hotspot providers do, so
he has been unable to test it. This will support "real" WiFi offloading,
and it doesn't require a username/password because the SIM card credentials
are used to authenticate.
Proxy support is another problem area that has been solved in ConnMan,
Holtmann said. A user's device may need a proxy to reach the internet when
they are at work and either need a different proxy or none at all when at
home. Changing proxies is difficult to do under Linux, he said. Proxy
solution was needed.
PAC files can be large (he mentioned Intel's being 4M) and must be
downloaded each time a connection is made on networks that use it. To
avoid each application requiring its own PAC support, ConnMan centralizes
that information, but calls out over D-Bus to the pacrunner daemon
to get the required configuration. The implementation is "a little
bit nasty, but it works pretty well" in practice, he said, and it
alleviates users from having to fiddle with proxy configuration.
Full Network Time Protocol (NTP) support is really only needed for
data centers, so ConnMan uses Simple NTP (SNTP) instead. That reduced the
footprint and external dependencies required while still providing
reasonable time synchronization.
ConnMan had full support for tethering via USB, WiFi, and Bluetooth before
either Android or iOS, Holtmann said. It integrates with wpa_supplicant,
BlueZ, and the USB gadget subsystem. In addition,
there is internal iptables handling
as well as DHCP and DNS proxy handling support for ConnMan tethering.
The final feature that Holtmann described is the statistics gathering for
ConnMan. Different connection types have different limits, especially when
roaming, so it is important for users to know what they have used. Also,
some connection types should only be allowed for certain applications, he
said. IVI systems may have a SIM, but the car manufacturer may only want
that used for certain critical functions (navigation, system updates,
etc.). There is Session API support for per-application statistics, but
there is still more work to do on that.
In answer to audience
questions, Holtmann noted that MeeGo is the driving force behind ConnMan,
but that others use it too, including the GENIVI Alliance for IVI
applications as well
as manufacturers of other small embedded Linux devices. ChromeOS uses a
ConnMan that was forked over a year ago—which is a bit surprising:
"do they want the new features or not?". For those who
want to try it on the desktop, he said that Ubuntu is the
only regular distribution that currently has ConnMan packages.
In summary, ConnMan is "fast and simple" and does what users
expect it to do, Holtmann said. The Session API is unique to ConnMan as
far as he knows, and will be very useful to applications. There will be more advanced
features coming in the future, he said. Overall, Holtmann made a pretty
compelling argument for looking at ConnMan as an alternative to
NetworkManager (though he largely avoided talking about the latter),
especially for the mobile device use-cases that it targets.
[ I would like to thank the Linux Foundation for travel assistance to
attend LinuxCon. ]
Comments (17 posted)
It will come as no surprise to regular LWN readers that the patent situation
for mobile Linux (and mobile devices in general) is an enormous mess. Open
Invention Network CEO Keith Bergelt spoke at LinuxCon to outline how he
sees the current landscape and to impart some thoughts on where he sees
things going from here. In addition, he described several ways that the
community can get involved to help beat back the patent threat, which is
most prominent in the mobile space, but certainly not limited to that
Bergelt said that his talk would center around Android, because it is the
"focus of a lot of ire from Microsoft", but that the same
threats exist against any mobile Linux system that becomes popular. The
"threat landscape" is very dynamic, he said, because it is constantly
changing as various players acquire more patents. Google's move to acquire
Motorola Mobility is a "very significant" move that could
also change things.
Clearly, Linux is on the rise in the mobile space. Right now it is Android
that is leading the way, but he is "hopeful there will be
more", citing webOS, LiMo, and MeeGo as possibilities. It is
"really a two-horse race" at the moment, between iOS and
Android, but others may come along. That would be good because it would
offer more freedom of choice, he said.
The rise of Android has been "unprecedented". If you were
looking forward from 18 months ago, you couldn't imagine that something
would displace iOS on mobile devices, but that's what Android has done.
Android now has an "irreversible position in the mobile
space", he said.
He put up a famous (or infamous) graphic that circulated earlier this year
(at right) which showed all of the different patent lawsuits currently
pending against Android devices. While many may have seen that graphic elsewhere,
Bergelt said, he credits Microsoft for it. We should credit who
created the graphic "rather than who is pushing it", he said.
When something is successful, it attracts attention, and that is what is
happening with Android right now, and graphics like this one are evidence
Are the current lawsuits a Linux concern or just an Android concern, he
asked. It would be easy to see them as only a problem for Android itself,
because, other than the kernel, Android shares little with a traditional
Linux platform. But you rarely will see an actual Linux lawsuit, Bergelt
said, because it has been developed for 20 years in the open. Instead,
opponents have "patents on adjacent technologies" that are
used to go after Linux-based systems.
Until MeeGo or webOS mature and get significant market share, "mobile
Linux is Android". Whether one thinks that Android is the
"perfect implementation" of Linux or not, the community needs
to "be in support of the mobile Linux that's out there", he
said. When other mobile Linux systems mature, "we should support
them equally as well".
It is important to "ensure that Android is not pulled off the
shelves", Bergelt said. Microsoft and Apple would like to see
Android pulled and are using their patent portfolios to "slow or stall the
commercial success of Linux". Until other mobile platforms emerge,
threats against Android equate to threats against Linux. Android's
viability is needed to prove that there is a market for Linux-based
platforms, he said.
Secondary market for patents
The stakes are so high that the secondary market for patents is
"overheated", Bergelt said. The "per patent price has
risen to astronomical levels", which is well beyond any reasonable
level for acquiring purely defensive patents. It is not about acquiring
patents for licensing revenue either: "You are not going to get your
money back from licensing them; that's ridiculous", he said.
Companies are recognizing that this "land grab for patents"
provides an opportunity to get more for their patents than they would be
able to otherwise, which is putting more patents on the market.
The Nortel patents (which recently sold for $4.5 billion to a consortium
including Apple and Microsoft) are particularly worrisome, Bergelt said,
because they cover mobile communications and network management. The US
Department of Justice (DoJ) is looking into that transaction, and members
of the community can help inform the agency that there are concerns about
those patents being used in anti-competitive ways. A resolution like what
occurred with the Novell patents, where OIN can license them indefinitely,
would be good. That particular outcome deprived Microsoft of the ability
to own the Novell patents because of its history of anti-competitive
behavior, he said.
Bergelt said that he has some empathy for Microsoft, because the company's
history is weighing it down. "If the only thing you've known is
being a monopolist, that's how you are going to work", he said. But
the DoJ needs accurate information about previous and current behaviors
of the purchasers of the Nortel patents. He encouraged those in the
audience who knew of such behaviors to report them to the agency so that it
could have a "balanced view" of the situation. The DoJ
employees are "bright and accomplished", but that patent-based
anti-competitive behavior is not something they normally consider, he said.
Companies that are pursuing the strategy of using patents to slow or stall
competitors aren't trying to educate anyone, they are, instead,
"interested in threatening people". But, "illegal
behavior is illegal behavior, and that's what they're practicing",
he said. Microsoft and Apple would much rather have it be a duopoly,
rather than dealing with the "disruptive situation" that Linux
brings. Neither of those two companies "have the ability to compete
with Linux in the long term", Bergelt said.
The idea is to "tax" Linux heavily with licensing fees. Microsoft has
pursued a "totem-building strategy", where it gets companies
to license its "Linux patents", often by throwing those patent licenses
into other, unrelated deals. This "creates a presumption"
that the licenses have value. There is also a more targeted component
where the company uses the other licensees—who may be price-insensitive and thus
willing to sign suboptimal agreements—as a weapon against
smaller, more price-sensitive companies. Microsoft will also use its
patents on a particular technology as the centerpiece and throw in other
patent licenses as part of any deal. The FAT filesystem patents, which
expire soon, have been used that way. More recently, "active sync" is
being used as a centerpiece, and the company claims ten patents on that
But Microsoft cannot use the Novell patents in this way, and that's what
Bergelt would like to see happen with the Nortel patents as well. Right now, the
licensing fee that is being charged is $15 per mobile device, but Microsoft
would like to get that up to $30-40 by adding on other patents. Apple's
"touch" patents—which were mostly acquired, not developed by
Apple—are being used in this way as well. This can change the
decisions that vendors and mobile carriers make because at some point it
becomes uneconomical to pay higher per unit royalties, he said.
There is also the problem of "opportunistic patent
aggressors", which are typically "non-practicing entities" (NPEs),
also known as "patent trolls". These organizations are focused on
generating a return. He pointed to Intellectual Ventures (IV) as the
"largest patent troll in the world". IV has used investment
from universities and foundations—fooled by misleading
information into investing in the
company—to amass an enormous patent portfolio of 34,000 worldwide
patents in 9,000 patent families, he said. IV is
"not an innovation company", but is, instead, a "business
designed to use patents to drive return".
The market for patents has led companies like InterDigital to put
themselves on sale, Bergelt said. That company has 2500+ patents that
"almost exclusively relate to mobile communication", and have
generated billions of dollars in traditional licensing revenue. Their
patents still have life left, but the overheated market provides a way to
"cash out" their portfolio.
In addition, financial services firms are pouring "billions"
into patent companies, and they are looking for a return on those
investments, he said.
Fighting the good fight
"Things are going to get worse before they get better",
Bergelt said, which echoes numerous observers of the patent mess. He sees
a need for "more people to work together" to try to,
eventually, fix the problem. There are so many patents that shouldn't have
been issued, "free radicals" he called them, that it will take
a long time to undo that. Part of the problem is that "code is not
searchable in a way that's useful" to determine "prior art", so
patent examiners don't have an easy way to disallow patents based on
earlier implementations of the idea.
There are several defensive patent pools that have spent "billions to
acquire patents". These include RPX, which has 100 members, and AlliedSecurityTrust (AST),
which has 22 members, as well as OIN itself. OIN is a "very peculiar
company" in that has six members but is "tasked with
protecting the community". OIN and its members know that the
community is "where new innovation is coming from", Bergelt
said, and those innovations can be used to build billion dollar companies.
There is work to be done on mobilizing the open source software community
to help fight these patents, he said. There is a "tremendous amount
of prior art" that has not been identified, so OIN and others have
been working on "structures" where developers can document
their ideas in ways that can be used by the patent office. One of those is
the "defensive publication", which is like a "patent without
claims". OIN has spent "tens of thousands of dollars"
to try to educate developers on how to defensively publish their ideas.
In addition, there are opportunities for the community to identify existing
prior art that can limit the claims or possibly invalidate patents that
are in the examination process.
Unlike a technology platform that can be "overtaken by
events", open source is a social phenomenon that is unstoppable,
Bergelt said; we are not going back to the siloed world. Collaboration
"low in the stack", while competing high in the stack, where
companies may have intellectual property interests, is the way new systems
will be developed.
Bergelt also gave an overview of the work that the Linux Defenders project is doing with
help from the community. It
is highlighting patent applications that shouldn't go forward by pointing
out prior art. That means that the community "saves us the problem
of having another free radical". After patents are issued, the
to Patent initiative allows the community to potentially invalidate or
limit the scope of bad patents. But in order for those projects to work,
more community involvement is needed, he said.
The "stakes have been raised", Bergelt said, and the computing
landscape is being reshaped by smartphones. New technologies are going to
allow these devices to go way beyond where they are today, he said, and
that's why he's excited to see things like MeeGo and webOS. Microsoft is
now recognizing that personal computing is undergoing a major shift, and
it (and others) are fighting the competition in the mobile space with any
weapons they can find.
Community engagement is needed in several areas, but identifying and
codifying prior art is the biggest piece. We will see lots of
bidding for the InterDigital portfolio over the next several months, there
will be more IP speculators and trolls trying to cash in, and
anti-competitive actions from larger companies will take place.
We should support Android and the platforms that come after it and remember
that our opponents
"are going to fight like hell",
After Bergelt finished, the Linux Foundation's legal counsel, Karen
Copenhaver, amplified one part of Bergelt's message. The DoJ, she said, is
waiting to let things play out with the Nortel patents to see if there is a
big lawsuit or International Trade Commission (ITC) action using those
patents. But the impact of the patents happens "long before
that" in meetings between the patent consortium and vendors. So it
is imperative that we provide the DoJ information on how these patents
affect Linux well before any litigation occurs, she said. Both Copenhaver and
Bergelt were clearly reaching out to vendors and others who have been
threatened with patent actions by Microsoft, Apple, or other members of
the patent-purchasing consortium.
[ I would like to thank the Linux Foundation for travel assistance to
attend LinuxCon. ]
Comments (9 posted)
The US Labor Day holiday is September 5. In celebration, we will attempt
to labor a bit less than usual, with the result that the Weekly Edition
that would normally come out on September 8 will be published on the
Comments (1 posted)
Page editor: Jonathan Corbet
Inside this week's LWN.net Weekly Edition
- Security: Apache range request DoS; New vulnerabilities in apache, pidgin, vpnc, xen, ...
- Kernel: The x32 system call ABI; No-I/O dirty throttling; Broadcom's wireless drivers, one year later.
- Distributions: Misadventures in GUI package-building; Mandriva, Red Hat, Gentoo, ...
- Development: Ebook editing with Sigil; bzr, sparse/LLVM, Opa, ...
- Announcements: 20th anniversary of the first Linux post, SCO loses again, SCALE cfp, ...