Ebrary obstructs Linux users from downloading their e-books

At my library, since a long time ago, we subscribe to the e-book collection Ebrary, now owned by ProQuest, and we pay a yearly subscription fee. Not until October 27 2011 [PDF] Ebrary began to offer offline reading by letting users download e-books for 14 days encrypted by Adobe DRM. Because of the Adobe DRM users need to install Adobe Digital Editions(ADE), the only e-book reader software on computers supporting this DRM. ADE though has no version for Linux, not unusual for chastened Linux users. But there is a way to run ADE on Linux by emulating it with Wine. It’s works for me on Linux Ubuntu, but that is no guarantee it will work for you.

Still, the problem is that Ebrary has closed the option to download their books if you’re a Linux user. Strange decision from Ebrary when they don’t need to take  responsibility for ADE on Linux. Or as a Linux user expresses it with ADE on Adobe Forums:

“This isn’t a question about supporting the software in Linux. It’s a question about downloading the setup file while using Linux. It’s up to me to make it work on my system which doesn’t fully fit the software requirements. I don’t need Adobe pointing out what OS I’m using and how their software is not supported in this case”.

The message you get on the Ebrary web site when trying to download is: “Feature not available on Linux”.

I had a discussion with the Ebrary Support and they told me they are checking this up with the engeneering team.

Linux workarounds
Waiting for Ebrary to consider changing their policy; are there any workarounds? Yes, for example you can try fooling Ebrary that you’re not a Linux user by Browser masquerading. Not an unusual method for this minority group of Linux users without no global minority rights.

Begin to write about: in your address bar of Firefox and you will reveal information of your browser and OS version. Look at my screenshot for my swedish version of Firefox:

The information in the last sentence is used to block Linux users. So, lets get rid of these info. Write about:config in your address bar of Firefox. Click accept on following message of promising to be careful.

Move your arrow to for example the first option in the list of preference names and press the right mouse button to get the context menu and select “New” (swe. ny) and then “String” (swe. sträng). Enter the preference name  general.useragent.override  and press button ok. Then in next line write any other information you prefer that doesn’t reveal you are a user of Linux at least and press button ok.

Go back writing About: in the address bar and look if the information changed.  You can also go to HTTP Header viewer by Eric Giguere to see what user agent info you reveal.

Then go and check if the option to download the Ebrary e-book is not obstructed anymore.

Revert to default
Don’t forget to revert to default! Otherwise your web browser in many cases will treat badly configured web sites in strange ways and you will get crazy of what is happening on different webspages you visit. You do it by right-clicking on general.useragent.override and choose “Reset” (swe. Återställ).

You can read more about Maquerading your browser in this article by Eric Giguere.

UPDATE : I just had a telephone conference (29 June 15:00 Swedish time), initiated by John Tsihlis at Proquest, with folks from Proquest/Ebrary and they are planning to change this policy for Linux users. I will get back on this after my 7 weeks of vacation and paternity leave.

SECOND UPDATE: It works to download for Linux users since late 2012. Great job done by Ebrary! My complaints helped at last.

Laptop with Linux Ubuntu for 198 USD (1.300 SEK)

This autumn Acer India launched a laptop with Linux for just about 19.999 Indian Rupies (3.300 swedish crowns). Now Wal-Mart is selling a laptop from Everex with Linux UBuntu as OS and upstart Via as processor. The desktop environment will not be KDE or Gnome but suprisingly Enlightenment, because it requires minimal hardware resources for its interface. The cost will be 198 USD = 1.300 SEK.

No to pre-loaded windows in France

Channel Register reports a french man was delivered an Acer laptop with pre-loaded windows and refused to pay for that OS. Now he won the lawsuit in French court. Yesterday I was checking upp Dell.se to look for pre-loaded Linux (Ubuntu) as they offer it in US for their customers. No Linux and I had to choose either Windows XP or Windows vista. When will their be a lawsuit for this in Sweden?

Is Linux Unix?

“The differences between Unix and Linux is bigger than the similarities”

Writes Stefan Andersson from Redbridge in an article debate in swedish mag Computer Sweden from 13 December issue 126 2006.

“The Linux kernel is owned by a foundation, while the licenses of unix was soU and bought as any other product”.

“If a customer wanted to shift system 10 years ago it was an enormous project demanding new hardware, new operating system and new programs. The changed supplier could claimthat all software, for example clients, should be removed”.

“Today if the customer uses linux that shift is done easily because it’s possible to reuse hardware and most of all programs are binary compatible”.

“Customers have access to the open source and have been able to educate their own employees and develop the operating system”.

And remember “GNU’s not unix!” If you want to now more about the history of Unix and Linux I recommend the following two books: Rebel Code by Glyn Moody and The Unix philosophyMike Gancarz.

Skanska have plans for Linux on clients

According to Computer Sweden 6 december 2006 Skanska is planning to use Linux on desktops at 700 construction site. Construction workers will have individual e-mail accounts and possibilty to surf the Internet. Then it also will be possible to do time reports in the enterprise system. The project manager thinks the education of the construction workers will not be that expensive. Instead Skanska will save a lot of money on not buying windows licenses. My question is: will they use Linux Ubuntu?