The cost of monopoly in the cloud

Reading of the latest cyber attacks against South Korea and USA digital systems, I remembered a rather old post from Gen Kanai @Mozilla, the cost of a monoculture. It’s about monopoly, government decisions and security in the cloud.

[South Korea] is also a unique monoculture where 99.9% of all the computer users are on Microsoft Windows.

The post tells what is happening in the country since the South Korean government decided that the whole digital infrastructure of the nation would have to depend on non standard technology and ended up with only one IT supplier. That was a really bad choice that may have made the whole country vulnerable to become a base for large scale cyber attacks.

Whether or not South Korean computers will be destroyed today (it seems that they are), the point that should be clear is that the ‘cloud’ is not a virtual environment, but it’s part of everybody’s life. Government decisions on technical issues have tremendous impact and real open standards should be mandated. With so many more mobile phones than computers, the mobile cloud must have its own standards in order to avoid monopoly and the cost associated with it. If you’re interested in the discussion about mobile cloud come to the free BoF session at OSCON2009.

via Mozilla in Asia » Blog Archive » the cost of monoculture.

Liberating the cloud one block at the time

simpson-cloudThe issue is how to bring the values of free software community to the cloud. According to reports from Southern California Linux Expo (SCALE), Bradley Kuhn‘s speech has addressed the issue.’  I hope he will include it in the next episodes of the Software Freedom Law Show, the interesting podcasts he runs with SFLC counsel Karen Sandler.

The problems of the cloud range from data ownership and portability to service interoperability and ultimately to software freedom. There is no simple solution, but building blocks to build a liberated cloud are available. Bradley mentioned Laconi.cat in his speech, for its federate microblogging service. I add Funambol to the pile because I believe it brings freedom to the other (often forgotten) cloud: the cell phone networks. With Funambol you own your data and you can take them with you, when you change operator or when you change device.’  I like the MobileWe marketing pitch for Funambol: freedom is a ‘we’ issue, not just a ‘me’. You can’t be free if you’re allowed to do what you want only in a limited space, like you are now if you buy the Pear meCell from DudeMobile. It’s like saying that a lion in a zoo is free, because he can move around as he wants … within the boundaries of the cage. A society made of non-free ‘me’ makes a non-free society. WE have to be free for the MEs to be free, too.

Two days to comment on TLS-authz standard to IETF

Patent encumbered standards are the worst because they seem legit, but instead they can easily become incompatible with Free/Libre Open Source Software.’  Free Software Foundation campaign is alerting the community to act fast:

Last January, the Free Software Foundation issued an alert to efforts at the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) to sneak a patent-encumbered standard for “TLS authorization” through a back-door approval process that was referenced as “experimental” or “informational”. The many comments sent to IETF at that time alerted committee members to this attempt and successfully prevented the standard gaining approval.

Unfortunately, attempts to push through this standard have been renewed and become more of a threat. The proposal now at the IETF has a changed status from “experimental” to “proposed standard”. The FSF is again issuing an alert and request for comments to be sent urgently and prior to the February 11 deadline to ietf@ietf.org. Please include us in your message by a CC to campaigns@fsf.org.

Read more: Send comments opposing TLS-authz standard by February 11 – Free Software Foundation.

Another standards war starring Microsoft

Microsoft and Mozilla have engaged a fight over the future of’  JavaScript (better called ECMAScript): Microsoft prefers to abandon it and start anew with another language based on its .NET script, while Mozilla prefers to evolve JS to a new version, ECMAScript4.

Leaving the technical details aside, I think once again that Microsoft needs to develop a different culture in the organization.’  Chris Wilson could even be technically right, but the perception out there is that Microsoft is a big evil company that wants to control the web with its own proprietary formats.’  History and experience of many developers provides plenty of evidence, so any suggestion from Microsoft is not judged easily on its merits but on (mostly bad) feelings it provokes.

Please smart guys@Microsoft, do something to develop a culture of collaboration between peers and eradicate this MS centric view.

BetaNews | Microsoft, Mozilla Disagree Over JavaScript’s Future