Following Up for the Week Ending 9/12/2010

feeds | grep links > More Open Cloud Computing, More API’s for Mozilla JetPack, Diaspora to Release Next Month, and More

Following Up for the Week Ending 5/16/2010

feeds | grep links > Massive Gopher Torrent, Streaming DRM’s Ills, More Fennec on Android, and Suit Over Linux on PS3

  • All of gopher space as a single download
    Cory at Boing Boing has this bit of digital archiving. I was a bit surprised at the size of the data, given that gopher, a predecessor of the web, is only text. Still, making it available as a torrent makes a great deal of sense to help ensure this snapshot is preserved.
  • What’s wrong with streaming DRM
    Nina Paley follows up on her decision not to pursue Netflix streaming of “Sita” because of the non-optional DRM. Mostly she takes apart the received wisdom that streaming content cannot be saved on a receiving system, anyway, so DRM doesn’t change the analysis. She explains how this is dangerous and leads to a sort of technical illiteracy that allows DRM to burrow deeper into the systems we use.
  • More details on Fennec pre-alpha for Android
    Ryan Paul at Ars Technica has some more detail on the new build of Fennec now available for Android. In addition to his first hand observations in terms of its speed and usability, he digs a bit into the under the cover details. The build is a thin Java wrapper that uses JNI to thunk to native code. The Gecko rendering engine is used for much of the chrome as well as the web pages themselves. That may mean that the Android specific code is fairly small, easing my initial concerns about cost of maintaining the port.
  • Class action suit file against Sony for removing Linux from PS3
    According to the Thinq article to which Slashdot links, the claim is deceptive and unfair trade practices. There may also be another lawsuit coming on this same issue. Sony is trying to use its EULA as a defense so the suit could test the validity of clickwrap licenses, at least in the California district where it is being pursued.

PS3 Hacker Delivers on Promise to Preserve Linux

Ben Kuchera at Ars has the follow up to GeoHotz’s promise to deliver a custom firmware that keeps the option to boot Linux on the PS3. I wrote about this in the wake of Sony’s decision to drop Linux support in a pending firmware update for the non-slim/original model PS3s.

“This can be installed without having to open up your PS3, just by restoring a custom generated PUP file, but only from 3.15 or previous,” he writes. “It’s possible this CFW will also work on the slim to actually *enable* OtherOS; I’ll know when my infectus gets here.”

Kuchera notes that if the slim can indeed boot other OSes after applying this firmware, Sony may use it as fodder for further restrictions. Worse, if this hack involved circumventing crypto at all, Sony could try making some legal trouble under the DMCA.

Regardless, this is good news for owners of these consoles and more so for the researchers and distributed computer enthusiasts who relied on the Linux support.

Hacker Vows to Keep Linux on the PS3, Researchers May Suffer from the Loss

Ben Kuchera has a follow up to yesterday’s story about Sony removing the option to boot Linux on the original hardware version of the PS3 in a forthcoming firmware update. Just as I predicted, the community of folks who make after market software and hardware modifications, modders, have responded.

The hacker who finally defeated the anti-modding measures in the console, George “GeoHot” Hotz, has vowed to release custom firmware that keeps the Linux option available. Hotz also agrees with my own skepticism over Sony’s stated reason of security for taking away the alternate boot feature.

Wired’s Gadget Lab has another angle on this story I hadn’t considered. Because of the ability to boot Linux, PS3’s as a class of computer make a substantial contribution to many distributed computing projects, like Stanford’s Folding@Home project. These kinds of distributed super computers make use of idle computers, whether they are desktops or gaming consoles, to chunk up the work of cracking computationally intensive problems, like figuring out the complex topology of how proteins fold during their synthesis. Folding@Home in particular has the potential to aid considerable with any number of aspects of biotechnology, like drug discovery.

For owners who have decided to use their PS3’s to contribute to these distributed projects, Sony has basically asked them to choose between supporting some worthwhile research projects or retaining their ability to play online and watch Blu-ray discs.