FOSS News – February 2015

Mark Webbink Named New Chairman of SFLC Board

The Software Freedom Law Center announced in early February that Mark Webbink has been elected the new Chairman of SFLC’s Board of Directors, after having served on the Board of Directors since 2007. He replaces SFLC’s founder, Professor Eben Moglen of Columbia Law School, as Chairman. Professor Moglen remains a member the Software Freedom Law Center’s Board of Directors, and continues to serve in his roles as President and Executive Director of SFLC.

Prior to his work with the Software Freedom Law Center, Mark Webbink served at Red Hat, the premiere Linux and open source vendor, as its first general counsel beginning in 2000. In 2004, he became Red Hat’s deputy general counsel for intellectual property, a position he served in until his retirement in August 2007. During his tenure with Red Hat, Webbink wrote and spoke extensively on the subjects of open source software, software patents, and patent reform Webbink has written and spoken extensively on the subjects of open source software, software patents, and patent reform, including testimony before the U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on Courts, the Internet, and Intellectual Property, the Federal Trade Commission and Department of Justice, and the National Academy of Sciences. Webbink has had articles published by the Queensland University of Technology, the Duke Law and Technology Review, Internet Law & Business, and New South Wales Society for Computers and the Law. He has lectured at the Computer Law Institute of the Practicing Law Institute, Georgetown’s Advanced Computer and Internet Law Institute, the Association of Corporate Counsel, the Licensing Executives Society, and numerous law schools, including the University of California; Berkeley, Harvard University, Columbia University, University of Michigan, Queensland University of Technology, and University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill. Webbink has also served as a Senior Lecturing Fellow at Duke University School of Law and an Adjunct Professor at North Carolina Central University School of Law. Webbink is a Senior Lecturing Fellow with the Duke University School of Law and Executive Director of the Center for Patent Innovations, Executive Director of the Center for Patent Innovations at New York Law School and consults with open source companies on their business strategies. He holds a B.A. from Purdue University as well as a Master of Public Administration and a J.D. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
New FOSS-Based Mobile Operating Systems Handsets Go on Sale to the Public Samsung’s First Tizen Powered Handset Goes on Sale in India

Tizen, a Linux-based operating system jointly developed by Samsung, Intel and the Linux Foundation, has finally hit the market as the default operating system for a consumer handset. The, operating system which is the newest progeny of a diverse and storied lineage has been released in other form factors, such as wearable devices and cameras, but its release as handset operating system has been repeatedly delayed.

While Tizen was initially scheduled to debut in 2012, the repeated delays sees Tizen entering a very different market place than initially expected. While Tizen was originally expected to debut on premium or “flagship” level hardware, the newly available Samsung Z1 is significantly more modest approach. The Z1 sells for the equivalent of 92 USD in India and its specifications are in line with that “budget” price point targeted by other phone such as those offered under the Android One program (105 USD).

800×480 4.0″ LCD (233 ppi)

OSTizen 2.3

CPU1.2GHz dual-core Spreadtrum SC7727S (Cortex-A7)


GPUMail 400

Storage4GB internal, MicroSD card slot

Networking802.11b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.1, GPS, FM Radio

PortsMicro USB 2.0, headphones

Camera3.15MP rear camera, 0.3MP front camera

Size120.4mm x 63.2mm x 9.7mm


BatteryRemovable 1500 mAh

Sim CardDual SIM slots

Arstechnica published a lengthy review based on its experiences using Tizen on the Z1. Arstechnica’s ultimate conclusion on the OS was that although K1 offers a functional smart phone at an affordable price “Tizen doesn’t offer any innovative ideas. It’s just Android with worse design, no direction, no hardware support, and no apps.”

A recent [blog post][] from Samsung indicates that the chief value of Tizen from the company’s perspective is its ability to run on relatively few system resources. As Samsung puts it:

The benefits of Tizen are very simple: Tizen is “lighter” than other operating systems. In other words, Tizen requires less processing power and memory, thereby ensuring faster device speeds while consuming less energy. As a result, consumers will benefit from a smoother user experience through the likes of shorter boot time, faster web browsing and seamless multitasking, all the while enjoying longer battery life.

Because it is lightweight, Tizen is optimal for use across a wide spectrum of smart connected devices in the IoT space. While devices with high demand for computing power, such as smartphones and TVs, are part of the IoT, so are devices that require relatively less computing power, such as wearables, vacuum cleaners and washing machines, which need an operating system like Tizen that is lightweight enough to run the devices without burning through processing power, memory and overall device performance.

While the future of Tizen at Samsung or elsewhere is still quite uncertain it seems most likely that Tizen’s application will be in powering the coming generation of smart appliances and accessories. First Ubuntu for Phone Handset Goes on Sale

Canonical, the company behind the popular Ubuntu Linux distribution has also released its first commercial handset running its newly developed Ubuntu Phone operating system. Ubuntu partnered with Spanish manufacturer BQ to sell a special Ubuntu edition of BQ’s typically Android 4.4 powered Aquaris E4.5. This special edition which runs the new operating system is being sold through a series of limited flash sales announced via Twitter, Facebook, and Google Plus.

The Aquaris E4.5 Ubuntu Edition sells for 192 USD and the limited supply is available exclusively in Europe.

Aquaris E4.5 Ubuntu Edition Specifications

Screen540 x 960 4.5″ IPS

CPUQuad Core Cortex A7 up to 1.3 GHz MediaTek

GPUMali 400 up to 500 MHz


Storage8 GB internal, MicroSD card slot

NetworkingWi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n Bluetooth 4.0, GPS, FM Radio

PortsMicro-USB, Headphones

Camera8MP rear camera (Dual-flash and autofocus), 5Mpx front camera

Size137 x 67 x 9 mm


Battery2150 mAh

Sim CardDual SIM slots

Although the Aquaris E4.5 hardware is rather mundane, a version of the Meizu MX4 running Ubuntu Phone is also expected to introduce and higher-end ubuntu phone alternative within the coming weeks. The first round flash sale for the Aquaris E4.5 Ubuntu Edition on February 11th received 12,000 orders per minute: Enough to crash BQ’s servers.

Initial reviews indicate that features, design and usability of the admittedly immature Ubuntu Phone operating system. Early feedback indicated a positive response to the operating system’s edge-interactions based user experience and the “Scopes” feature. Scopes, according to Canonical, are … a reinvention of the mobile UI, presenting a new way to rapidly and visually access the most important digital life services –- music, social, web, local services, photos etc — directly on the home screen. The richness and unfragmented experience delivered by Ubuntu Scopes are a world away from burying content and services inside multiple apps in an icon grid –- reversing the industry’s hackneyed status quo.

Ubuntu Phone still lacks many of the features and broad support that the major mobile operating systems enjoy but it seems that its emphasis on user experience and low-barriers to entry may give it some advantage in gaining a small foothold in this competitive market. Samsung Faces Criticism Over Smart TV Privacy

A pair of issues surrounding Samsung smart TVs flared up in the news in February. The first issues was the discovery that a Samsung Privacy Policy for its Smart TV services included the following language:

Samsung may collect and your device may capture voice commands and associated texts so that we can provide you with Voice Recognition features and evaluate and improve the features. Please be aware that if your spoken words include personal or other sensitive information, that information will be among the data captured and transmitted to a third party through your use of Voice Recognition.

Some commentators went so far to compare this policy with the infamous telescreen from George Orwell’s 1984. Samsung has since revised this section of its privacy but some question whether Samsung has made a change to its data collection or merely restated the same policy using less objectionable language. The incident has raised discussions about important issues for connected devices such as data security, third-party data sharing and most importantly maintaining the trust of users.

Unfortunately for Samsung, complaints about second aspect of its Smart TVs have also been in the February’s news headlines. Specifically, customers allege that Samsung Smart TVs have been displaying unwanted pop-ads and, in some cases, displaying advertisements which interrupt playback of users’ locally stored video content such as movies and TV. It is unclear whether these ads were displayed as a result of faulty software or were simply a poor design decision. The Verge expressed what is likely on the minds of many consumers at the moment:

The internet has given consumers more control than ever before over what TV they watch and when, and adding this connectivity to the biggest screen in the house certainly makes sense on paper. However, companies like Samsung and LG have proven time and time again that smart TVs aren’t about giving more control to consumers — they’re about taking it away; with obtrusive privacy policies, clunky software, and adverts, adverts, adverts. So much for the future: perhaps it’s time to bring back the dumb TV.

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