Add Duck Duck Go as a search engine in Gnome Shell

Take one of the xml for DuckDuckGo in the OpenSearch standard, here’s mine:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<OpenSearchDescription xmlns="http://a9.com/-/spec/opensearch/1.1/">
<ShortName>DuckDuckGo</ShortName>
<Description>Encrypted Duck Duck Go with encrypted Google Suggest</Description>
<InputEncoding>UTF-8</InputEncoding>
<Image height="16" width="16" type="image/x-icon">https://duckduckgo.com/favicon.ico</Image>
<Url type="text/html" method="get" template="https://duckduckgo.com/?q={searchTerms}"/>
<Url type="application/x-suggestions+json" template="https://encrypted.google.com/complete/search?output=firefox&q={searchTerms}"/>
<Url rel="suggestions" type="application/x-suggestions+xml" template="https://encrypted.google.com/complete/search?q={searchTerms}&client=ie8&mw={ie:maxWidth}&sh={ie:sectionHeight}&rh={ie:rowHeight}&inputencoding={inputEncoding}&outputencoding={outputEncoding}"/>
</OpenSearchDescription>

and save as /usr/share/gnome-shell/search_providers/duckduckgo.xml for instance on Debian Wheezy. Now, refresh Gnome Shell (by doing alt+f2, ‘r’) and whenever you search for someting in the Shell’s Activity overview, you have the possibility to search the Web with DuckDuckGo.

ACTA: this is the kind of nonsense we’re dealing with.

The ACTA has thrown a lot of nonsense at us, citizens, for the last four years now. Not only the policies the agreement wants to impose are absurd from economic, social and cultural standpoints (if you’re aiming at any kind of progress or well-being); but also the whole process that we’ve been trying to deal with is made of such non-sense that it’s hard to make the citizens’ voice heard (and even less to make the citizen’s voice count — you know: free speech and democracy).

Lately, the European Parliament legal service has refused to provide a public analysis on ACTA, although it was aksed to do so by the European Parliament (people we elected to represent us at the EU level). The reason?

“Important trading partners of the EU, such as the United States, Canada, Japan, Korea and Switzerland are contracting parties to the ACTA agreement. Disclosure of the parts of the legal opinion under consideration dealing with questions 1, 2 and 3 would seriously interfere with the complex ratification procedures of the ACTA agreement and the EU’s relations with the other contracting parties, as it might prejudice the ratification procedures by these countries.”

(source, the excellent Ante on FFII ACTA’s blog)

So, let’s sum up.

The legal service won’t publish their analysis because it might influence the ratification process of other parties to the agreement; that means other than the EU.

So the EU Parliament will vote on ratification on a treaty without public analysis, because such an analysis would have influenced the US. Brilliant, if not sad.

For a quick analysis on how ACTA endangers Free Software growth, please read ACTA: threats to Free Software. Your comments on that are strongly welcome.

Free Software legal news weekly. November 7-13, 2011

Software patents

Microsoft v. Barnes & Noble: Trivial patents lawsuit?

  • Groklaw – Barnes & Noble Exposes Microsoft’s “Trivial” Patents and Strategy Against Android ~pj Updated

    Barnes & Noble has done the world a tremendous favor, by pulling aside the curtain and revealing Microsoft’s patent campaign tactics against Android in lurid detail.

    It reveals the assertion of “trivial” and “invalid” patents against Barnes & Noble and some shocking details about an “oppressive” license agreement that would have controlled hardware and software design features that Microsoft presented, thus limiting to what degree Barnes & Noble could offer upgrades and improved features to its customers if it had signed it, features it says none of Microsoft’s patents cover. Microsoft worked so hard to keep it all secret, and I think you’ll see why. It’s ugly behind that curtain.

  • Barnes & Noble’s 29-page slide deck calls B.S. on Microsoft’s Android patent campaign – GeekWire

    A 29-page slide deck — made public this week in Microsoft’s patent lawsuit against Barnes & Noble — outlines, in great detail, the bookseller’s objections to the software company’s campaign to collect patent licensing fees from Android device …

Patents in the multimedia realm have always been an issue; recently with the battle for HTML5 video codecs between H264, backed by Apple and Microsoft, against Theora and WebM backed by Google, Opera, Mozilla and others. A lot of media and PR from proprietary companies tried to discredit Free Software technologies by means of patent infringement threats. This article about the Xiph.org foundation shows what legal strategy can be pursued; and how much this draws back innovation.

  • Xiph.org’s “Monty” on codecs and patents [LWN.net]

    One way to combat that is to document why the patents don’t apply. Basically, Xiph did enough research to show why the Qualcomm patents don’t apply to Opus and it is planning to release that information. It is a dangerous strategy at some level because it gives away some of the defense strategy, he said, but Xiph has to try something. By publishing the results of the research, Xiph will be “giving away detailed knowledge of the patents” and may be called to testify if those patents ever do get litigated, but it should counter the belief that the Qualcomm patents cover Opus.

    […] regardless of how Qualcomm responds, Xiph has something concrete (i.e. the research) for the money that it has spent, which is not really the case when taking the declaratory judgement route.

    New codecs:
    […] Finishing the Opus rollout and “responding to patent claims” have been higher on the list, but they will get to it eventually.

Software and copyrightability

  • Android’s Bionic Problem Is Not “Bogus”: Why Judge Alsup Got It Right And Linus Torvalds Got It Wrong

    In September, federal judge William Alsup denied Google’s request for a ruling that the Java application programming interfaces (“APIs”) were, categorically, not protected under copyright law[...] Judge Alsup ruled that each of the disputed files must be analyzed individually to determine whether it is protected by copyright. He also ruled that even if the individual files are ultimately determined not to be copyrightable, the selection and arrangement of those unprotected elements may nevertheless show creativity that is entitled to copyright protection. [...]

    That analysis leads me to the conclusion that Google’s approach doesn’t work. But if it does work, if the guardians of the Linux kernel and the GPL believe that it is acceptable to use an automated process to “clean” GPL’d headers or code so that you can re-distribute them under a non-copyleft license

  • Groklaw – Oracle v. Google – How to Proceed on the Copyright Issue II

    Oracle is not claiming that the code that implements the APIs infringes. See 9/15/11 Tr. at 51 (“We are not claiming that this code is not an—that this code is not an independent implementation.”). Instead, it appears to be claiming that Google’s code is an infringing derivative work of Oracle’s specifications because the Android source code implements the APIs described by those specifications.

IT news of legal interest

A newcomer in the very competitive “App Store” landscape.

  • NASA Plans Cloud Marketplace For Scientists – Government – Cloud/SaaS – Informationweek

    “Cloud services suite to expand with platform as a service, data as a service, and a new cloud computing storefront likened to Apple’s AppStore and Google’s Android Market.

    “NASA, already among the government leaders in cloud computing, plans to offer a cloud storefront where scientists will be able to determine their computing needs and access cloud services from a central location. […]

    “The storefront or marketplace won’t just serve as a single point of access to NASA’s cloud services. Scientists will also be able to enter details on their computing needs, and NASA will offer service suggestions based on those needs. For example, a prospective user might be able to detail the type of application they are using, storage requirements, and other variables, and the marketplace, in return, will make a suggestion about what service to use.”

  • Free Software legal news weekly. November 1-6, 2011

    Undeniably the most surprising news this week is Microsoft’s contribution (licensed as GPLv3) to Samba, free software for workgroups and a direct competitor to Microsoft Windows Server (Active Directory, print services, network storage, etc.). Note that this is not part of Microsoft’s agreement resulting from the EU case.

    • Microsoft contributes open-source code to Samba | ZDNet

      “As Chris Hertel of the Samba Team wrote, “A few years back, a patch submission from coders at Microsoft would have been amazing to the point of unthinkable, but the battles are mostly over and times have changed. We still disagree on some things such as the role of software patents in preventing the creation of innovative software; but Microsoft is now at the forefront of efforts to build a stronger community and improve interoperability in the SMB world.”

      “[Jeremy Allison] continued, “Now if they’d only stop threatening OSS over patents, and just tried to make money with it the same way everyone else does by building it into products (they’re nearly there I think), I think we could finally bury the hatchet :-) .””

    • An update on UEFI secure boot

      “The worst-case scenario — a flood of “restricted boot” systems hitting the market that are incapable of booting Linux or anything other than signed Windows 8 — does seem unlikely. But we’re a long way from Garrett’s proposal as well. Users interested in complete control of their systems will need to keep an eye on this process, and make sure that OEMs are aware that having the ability to disable secure boot is not enough. In order to truly control your system, you must have a way to install your own trusted keys as well.”

    Anti-trust and patents

    • EU Commission probes Samsung, Apple over patents | Reuters

      The first part of the article recaps the EU Commission’s declaration, in some context.

      “EU regulators are investigating whether Samsung Electronics Co Ltd and Apple Inc may have breached EU antitrust laws with patent infringement claims in their global legal battle over the lucrative smartphone and tablet market.

      “The two technology companies are embroiled in more than 20 legal disputes in 10 countries.”

    Procurement

    • Cabinet Office (UK) – Open Source Procurement Toolkit

      “The Government ICT Strategy states that “Where appropriate, Government will procure open source solutions.”

      “To support this, Action 3 of the Strategy says that “To create a level playing field for the use of innovative ICT solutions, the Government will publish a toolkit for procurers on best practice for evaluating the use of open source solutions.”

      “The purpose of this toolkit is to ensure that there is a level playing field for open source and proprietary software and that some of the myths associated with open source are dispelled. It is intended for those who need to consider, evaluate or procure open source solutions as well as anyone just wanting to know more about open source.”

    Patents: UK & US

    • UK Patent Case Lowers Bar on Utility (Industrial Application) – Patent Law Blog

      “This decision focuses on EPC and UK version of the utility doctrine — the requirement that a patentable invention be “susceptible of industrial application”. In a unanimous decision, the court determined that US utility doctrine creates an unduly high bar of patentability. Thus, rather than requiring proof of specific, credible, and substantial utility at the time of filing, the UK court agreed that HGS’s genetic sequence coding for Neutrokine-α was patentable even though there was no known use of the protein at the time the patent application was filing.”

    • Promoting Innovation and Competitive Markets through Quality Patents | The White House

      “We understand that the concern about software patents stems, in part, from concerns that overly broad patents on software-based inventions may stifle the very innovative and creative open source software development community. As an Administration, we recognize the tremendous value of open source innovation and rely on it to accomplish key missions.”

    • Groklaw – Changing the Software Patent Landscape in the U.S. – What won’t work

      “Why not start a petition aimed at Congress, […] and why not aim for enough signatures to really get their attention. Say, a million. That would be a critical mass they would ignore at their peril. Apart from Congress, the single best hope for narrowing the scope of or eliminating software patents in the U.S. will have to come through the court system, ala Bilski. But it will take just the right case at just the right time, and it will require a tremendous amount of fortitude on the part of the Supreme Court justices who could face wiping away billions of dollars of book value from corporate balance sheets in one fell swoop. If you want to understand a bit more about the arguments that can be made along these lines, read the amicus brief filed by Red Hat in the case.

      “And let’s not let the Administration off the hook altogether. The Justice Department is responsible for enforcing U.S. antitrust (competition) law

    Court cases: Spain

    • Spanish Firm Wins Tablet Case Against Apple

      “A small Spanish company has won a legal case against Apple Inc. and will now be able to sell a tablet computer that the U.S. technology giant had claimed infringes on the iPad patent.

      “The case, which represents a rare defeat in Apple’s globe-spanning campaign to protect its leadership in the lucrative tablet market from alleged iPad copycats, was launched a year ago when Apple obtained an injunction from a local court to ban imports of the NT-K tablet computer into Spain. […]

      “But in a recent ruling, a Spanish court removed the injunction, arguing that there are no legal grounds to stop the sale of the NT-K, according to court documents.

      “Nuevas Tecnologias said it plans to file a lawsuit asking for compensation from Apple for the losses incurred. Apple didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.”