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Summertime Linux blues

Well folks, the August doldrums are well and truly upon us. With the Reg newsroom resembling the Black Hole of Calcutta, but with less atmosphere, we're thankful to LinuxWorld for topping up the news.

Novell boss Ron Hovsepian told the fanboys to accept its deal with Microsoft as part of the open source landscape.

It made him unpopular, but other vendors at the show signalled that for them Microsoft money talks too, even if it does beat the drum for vendor-led rather than community-led standards.

Novell also found time this week to team up with IBM to attack the application server market, and improve its SuSE data centre management tool.

Oracle also rocked up at the show to calm fears it was about to blunder into the market, jeopardising Red Hat's position.

Never fear, the mighty swinging coloured balls of Google are on the open sourcers' side.

Open source virtualisation outfit Xen had a public whinge about VMware hogging all the money. As one commenter quipped, "hate the game not the player", lads.

Predictably, the desktop debate reared its many ugly heads at LinuxWorld, reminding our US editor Ashlee Vance of "a dog humping a table leg", since "it's both fun and disturbing to watch, but ultimately there's very little payoff from the exercise". Hey, Mountain View is a quiet town y'all.

Anyway, thanks to its deal with Dell, Canonical's Ubuntu remains in the ascendent, and enterprise Linux desktops will be common soon...honest.

Rollins stone

Dell had a biggish week. It signed a deal with Red Hat to OEM JBoss application server, the first time it's had a tier 1 server vendor on side. It's timely, given IBM's application server push with Novell (see above).

The Texan firm also chucked a curveball at the virtualisation market with its plan to load hypervisors (probably from VMware or Xen) into flash memory to allow booting to a "virtual machine-ready" state. There's implications for virtualisation pricing. More here.

Dell's Linux desktop program made it across the pond, with the announcement of a brace of UK Inspirions pre-loaded with Ubuntu.

Now the dust has settled over Mickey Dell's reinstatement at the top spot, ousted CEO Kevin Rollins will collect $48.5m cash from options which had expired. Which is nice. They'd been frozen because of an accounts investigation.

Back in the days when Dell mostly built and sold PCs, the news that Packard Bell looks set to go to Lenovo rather than Acer would have caused ructions in the boardroom. This week the big nobs were instead more excited by their purchase of software developer Zing, which should help Dell make a Zune-style Wi-Fi MP3 player. Yikes.

When CEOs attack

Dell's Rollins decided to maintain a diplomatic silence after his departure. Not so Lee Strafford, former boss of BT-owned ISP PlusNet. You can read his musings to friends on the "liars" who used to work for him here.

He should get a job at Virgin Media. After announcing a Q2 customer exodus of 70,000 following its dispute with Sky, the cable monopoly could use someone a bit fightier to take on Murdoch.

Lording it over security

In the UK, the thundering powerhouse of democratic radicalism that is the House of Lords awoke from its summer slumber to deliver recommendations on internet security via the Science and Technology Committee. The Lords accuse industry and government of a "laissez faire attitude.

A Treasury report agreed, producing a dismal asessment of government password security. Among other things, peers want legal liability for security bugs. Oo-er.

Verisign suffered embarrassment when a laptop containing sensitive employee information went AWOL.

Cisco patched some holes in voice software (and its financials showed it still has more money than God), as did Symantec for Norton Anti-Virus, and Microsoft for, er, everthing.

IM software maker FaceTime had some explaining to do over how it exposed users' contacts.

Plus ça change.

Just as it was revealed the government's EDS-built probation database is spiralling out of control, another executive tentacle popped open the pork barrel on ID cards.

Patent imbeciles

Ofcom will legalise ultra wideband (wireless USB) devices as of Monday, 13 August.

Vonage's flavour of VoIP still seems to be struggling, although it reckons it can get round its patent defeat by Verizon.

Sharp said it will sue Samsung over patents around LCD displays.

Another twist in yet another patent dispute, as Qualcomm failed to overturn a US import ban on phones using its chips because they infringe Broadcom's patents.

In a double humiliation, Qualcomm also lost a suit over video patents. It kept its patents secret until the industry adopted a standard and then unleashed the legal hounds, the court found.

Tough business this mobile chip lark. Nokia thinks so anyway, and will outsource most of its R&D. It also announced plans to incorporate Microsoft's new PlayReady interoperable DRM on its S40 and S60 handsets.

Vista incapable

Microsoft's desperation to get the PC builders on side with Vista came back to bite it in the arse when a judge ruled that two disgruntled consumers should be allowed to sue Redmond. The "Vista Capable" marketing campaign failed to mention that a lot of machines would only be able to run the Basic Edition, not the fancypants Aero interface.

AMD: will dance for food

Looks like Redmond could be in need of rebuilding some public goodwill. We've got a great idea. Why not give the $1.5bn it'll get to keep after its legal SWAT team overturned the MP3 standards case it lost to Alcatel-Lucent to down and out AMD?

The chipmaker was forced to proffer the begging bowl to the same $1.5bn tune to shore up its debts.

Despite being in the unaccustomed role of a profitable company, Sun said there would be more job cuts to follow the 3,700 casualties it announced earlier in the year.

NZ thinks of the children

That's it for now. There'll be more next week (we hope). Til then, keep it 4real. ®

Build a business case: developing custom apps

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