Category Archives: Proprietary software

When software patents works against you

AP reports about “Court: Microsoft violated patent; can’t sell Word

A federal appeals court on Tuesday upheld a $290 million judgment against Microsoft Corp. and issued an injunction that will prevent the sale of its popular Word software.The court injunction is set to go into effect Jan. 11. Microsoft has said such a bar would prohibit the sale of all currently available versions of Microsoft Word and Microsoft Office.

Is it time to have a second thought about Red Hat statement of position on software patents ?


Filed under Proprietary software

Oracle removes gnome packages from its database requirements

As a sysadmin I try to make sure my servers will have the minimal installation needed in order for them to work. In most cases this policy works fine, but some applications depend on too much unneeded software like GUI or sound packages.

Two years ago I wrote about “Why does Oracle’s applications needs xscreensaver in order to run ?“. It seems that finally things have changed.

In it’s latest version of the 10g r2 release notes (B15666-14), Oracle dropped the control-center and gnome-libs packages from the software requirements. This change is only relevant for RHEL5, as the list for RHEL4 (x86_64) haven’t changed except from dropping xscreensaver and adding some other packages.

Notice that for RHEL5, 3 packages were added in order to let the installer display it’s graphical interface:

  • libXp-1.0.0 (i386)
  • libXt-1.0.2 (i386)
  • libXtst-1.0.1 (i386)

I’m glad to see Oracle update it’s software requirements as a lot of people in the databases world are afraid to make changes which are against the official documentation, regardless of how wrong it might be.

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Filed under Proprietary software, Red Hat Enterprise Linux, System Administration

vendor lock-in in Windows Live?

My university is forcing it’s students to have an account with Windows Live email service in order to get the university announcements/updates. Today I noticed a very strange behavior, in certain situations the website doesn’t let you configure email forward to another account outside of the Microsoft network. The following error message is shown:

You can forward your mail to one other e-mail address that ends in,,, or is part of Windows Live Custom Domains.

I’m using Iceweasel 3.0.11 from Debian, and I complained about missing that feature, other people seemed to have the feature. After a few checks it’s seems to be the way the browser identify itself. When I changed my identification to IE7/Vista (using user agent switcher plugin), the problem was solved.

I’m trying to understand the logic – If i use IE or Firefox, I can do a forward to another account, but otherwise I’m locked in to the Microsoft network. It can’t be a technical issue, as in both cases the interface is the same (no special browser features needed).


Filed under Debian GNU/Linux, Mozilla, Proprietary software

Microsoft to ignore web standards in Outlook 2010

It seems that Microsoft decision to continue working with the word engine to process/design emails in outlook 2010 is making waves through a twitter campaign, which gained almost 20,000 twits.

Behind the campaign stands the Email Standards Project, which trys to improve the support on web startands in email clients.

The Email Standards Project is about working with email client developers and the design community to improve web standards support and accessibility in email. The project was formed out of frustration with the inconsistent rendering of HTML emails in major email clients.

From the free software point of view, I’m happy to see a community of people gathering around to try and make the sure better for the users instead of the developers. This campaign also shows how to use twitter and a cool website to create some pressur on a verdor.

Good luck, and don’t forget you can always use Mozilla Thunderbird (:


Filed under Proprietary software

“Get” icon on a new laptop

I recently saw a new bought Toshiba laptop. While the laptop had Vista installed, and also the Microsoft Office 2007 trail eddition, it had an icon named “Get”.

I guess they didn’t just install due to some limitaion from Microsoft (I’m just speculating), but still – putting such an icon isn’t common (at least with the laptops I’m seeing).

I hope more and more hardware manufactuers will install free software by defualt.


Filed under Free software applications,, Proprietary software

Microsoft adapts slowly to the netbook wave

Quoting Microsoft Reports Second-Quarter Results :

Client revenue declined 8% as a result of PC market weakness and a continued shift to lower priced netbooks.

Sounds like Microsoft unwillingness to sell XP instead of Vista has a very big effect on it. The adaptaion to the new situation might come after the release on Windows 7. Let’s just wait and see…

Also read Ballmer: Linux Bigger Competitor than Apple, and the follow ups made about the slide presented there.


Filed under Proprietary software

When Microsoft Office Compatibility Pack fails – use

When my girlfriend told me her reason for installing 3, I was happy about three issues:

  1. She started using free software willingly and knowingly (as opposed to back end software she isn’t aware of like Apache for websites).
  2. She did that because the commercial software didn’t work for here.
  3. The free software did a job she needed to.

And after that description you probably ask yourself what was the task? It was quite simple – open a Microsoft 2007 Word document in Hebrew with Microsoft Office 2000.

At first, she tried to use the “Microsoft Office Compatibility Pack for Word, Excel, and PowerPoint 2007 File Formats“. While that Compatibility pack enabled her to open the document, the text wasn’t readable (probably becuase it was in Hebrew). She decided to download version 3, which can open this file format, and after a quick installation it opened the document just fine.

So, thank you very much developers (:

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Filed under Free software applications,, Proprietary software, Proud to use free software

A virtual world

I have a friend which works as a DBA. She decided she wants to test some of application at home. She tells me she is run here windows application though wine which run on linux under a virtual machine on top of windows.

And me answer is WTF? How do you have time for all these technologies when I don’t even have time to use one of them.

Anyway, I was proud to hear she just utilize everything she can to get stuff working (:

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Filed under Free software applications, Proprietary software, Proud to use free software

Can everything except windows can be free software?

I got my hands on a laptop with Windows XP installed, and can do whatever I want with it, except deleting the windows. I decided not to have a dual boot on it, but to try and make it free software only (well, except the windows itself).

The main uses for the computer are surfing the web (browser only, not email), editting documents, watching videoes and being able to burn files.

The results for now:

  • Mozilla Firefox (browser) – set to be the default browser, and I also removed Internet Explorer (well, windows only removes the links to the software and not the software itself).
  • (productivity suite) – set the be the default application to the doc, xls and ppt files. Can also read OOXML format.
  • ClamWin (anti virus)
  • InfraRecoder (CD/DVS recorder)
  • VLC (video player)- set to be the default video player (including Microsoft’s file formats).
  • Sumatra PDF (PDF reader).

See “open source as alternative” if you want to find an alternative for a specific closed software.


Filed under Free software applications, Proprietary software, Proud to use free software

Oracle and ncompress

I’ve been approached by someone installing Oracle Enterprise Manager with a problem of the installation fails due to not finding the compress binary. It seems that some of the Oracle products relay on the ncompress package for compressing.

While compress might be the UNIX standard for compressing, I’m curious why didn’t they changed the product to use gzip. Or at least to check whether ncompress is available and than use it. But failing because of that seems to much to me.

This isn’t the first time I’ve challenged Oracle’s dependencies, which I think sometimes aren’t minimal as they should be or complaint with common distribution standards.

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Filed under Proprietary software