Weekly news wrapup: SDMI paper scrapped, Agenda handheld delayed


Author: JT Smith

By Grant Gross

This week’s news seemed to be more about what didn’t happen than what did. Aborted events and delayed Open Source projects grabbed headlines, especially the decision by a Princeton professor and his team to cancel a presentation of their hack of the Secure Digital Music Initiative because of the threat of a lawsuit from the music industry.

Princeton computer science professor Edward Felten said the potential lawsuit wasn’t worth the hassle. He and his team cracked the watermarking code early in an SDMI cracking contest, then left the contest, and Recording Industry Association of America officials claimed the team had no right to release their findings. Others, said the RIAA’s threats were another “stain” on U.S. copyright law, and, of course, the Princeton team’s findings leaked out onto the Internet.

More delays

Those Open Source fans waiting for the Mozilla 1.0 browser may have to wait a little longer, as even a Mozilla news site is reporting that development has slowed to a “snail’s pace.”

Agenda Computing has delayed the release of the VR3, its Linux handheld, by about a month. Apparently, the company listened to the reviews saying the cute little machine still had some bugs that needed ironing out.

NewsForge reported months ago that Linux company Stormix was “reorganizing,” but now it’s official: The company announced this week it has shut down. The Stormix team ended its good-bye on this note: “Long live the Open Source Movement, Linux and Debian. We hope our paths will cross in the future.”

For more business news, check out NewsForge’s new feature, the Open Source stock report, in which news editor Dan Berkes keeps track of your favorite Open Source companies’ stocks. Come back every Friday evening to see how Open Source stocks did during the week.

Here comes the judge

The DeCSS code case — you know, the program that allows DVDs to run in Linux — heads back to court next week. ZDNet summarized the case pretty well: “A panel of appellate judges will decide whether to uphold a lower court ruling preventing online hacker magazine 2600 from linking to code that theoretically could be used to crack DVD security. But legal experts say the case could have wide-ranging ramifications for linking, publishing and copyright on the Internet.”

Amazon.com’s United Kingdom division may have avoided court hassles this week when it eventually pulled fake reviews from Bill Gates and Linus Torvalds praising each other’s products. Now, who would’ve been gullible enough to believe that Gates actually advised people to switch to Linux?

Linux computing, on the cheap

This isn’t breaking news, but some how-to stories are useful to more than a few coders. This week, SignalGround.com told readers how to build their own perfectly decent Linux box for less than $500. You see, Open Source operating systems really are built for the masses.

New in NewsForge

Original reporting from NewsForge this week:

  • News editor Tina Gasperson reports on the SurePlayer.org project, an Open Source MPEG player effort. Basically, you can play MPEGs without proprietary software, but Tina found that it doesn’t play well with a lot of browsers yet.

  • Freelancer chromatic reported on the efforts of a company called TransGaming Technologies to support the Direct3D gaming API on Linux. The potential to improve gaming in Linux is huge.

  • We also report on Microsoft’s new Passport service, an online wallet service that conflicts so badly with the UCITA law Microsoft has campaigned so hard for that Maryland residents living under that state’s UCITA may be prohibited from using Passport. Isn’t it ironic?

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