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Links 28/1/2011: Debian GNU/kFreeBSD Update, Red Hat Upgraded

Posted in News Roundup at 6:13 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



Free Software/Open Source

  • Learning from the open source movement

    The open source movement has developed a new philosophy about intellectual property, maintaining that knowledge should be free – that although it is important to prevent plagiarism or passing off an inferior product as a trusted brand, to curtail the free exchange of knowledge and ideas is a disservice to society. In pharmaceuticals, this is literally a matter of life and death – or blindness. South Africa’s health minister once called the high prices of lifesaving medicines ‘a crime against humanity’. But this is increasingly an issue for our own NHS. One current struggle involves big business trying to prevent the licensing of Avastin – already being used with great success by doctors treating the main cause of blindness in the UK – at £50 per dose – and instead force them to use the ‘very similar’ but differently licensed drug Lucentis, at £750 a dose. Obviously, this sort of thing is unacceptable – but the importance of the open source movement is that it does not simply reject such approaches to intellectual property, but has built viable alternatives – real business models that outperform proprietary interests but still freely share the knowledge they embody. Viable business models that can deliver free services – something that ought to get the attention of social enterprisers engaged in health and social care. It is also relevant to social franchising.

  • opensource.com on Flickr
  • Web Browsers

    • Browser Wars 2.0: Us vs. Them

      Don’t you just miss the previous version of browser wars? Netscape vs Internet Explorer. Scrappy young start up vs. Mr. Softy. Then Firefox vs IE. Scrappy young startup vs. Mr. Softy, round two. Then Chrome jumped into the mix and gave consumers another horse to bet on.

      But what I didn’t see coming — and I presume many others didn’t either – was that the dynamics of the browser war would change from “Them vs Them” to today’s “Us vs. Them.” How did we, the online advertising community, suddenly find ourselves in the crosshairs of the browsers?

    • Mozilla

      • Firefox 4 is so close I can taste it

        Today we’ve shipped Firefox 4 Beta 10. If you haven’t tried a Firefox 4 beta yet, you should definitely give this one a spin. It’s pretty amazing.

      • Firefox 5 announced for Q2 2011

        However, the next version of Firefox is unlikely to require almost a year to be completed. Mozilla’s CTO, Brendan Eich, recently said that Firefox 4 will be released within four month after the final release of Firefox 4. This seems to be a result of discussions at Mozilla to accelerate the release schedule, which is one of the reasons why Google is gaining market share. Faster release cycles support the perception of a fresher browser, whether it delivers lots of new features or not. If you look at it, Firefox 3.6 looks pretty antiquated today.

      • Mozilla’s ‘Home Dash’ is a Dashboard for Your Personal Web

        If you’d like to take it for a spin, head over to the Firefox add-ons site and install Home Dash (you’ll need to be using a Firefox 4 beta release for Home Dash to work). For some tips and help with Home Dash, see Mozilla’s follow-up post.

  • Oracle

    • LibreOffice 3.3: Hands-On With the Free Office Suite

      Two downloads are necessary: the installer for LibreOffice itself, and a “help pack” executable, which contains US English helpfiles. If the latter isn’t installed, clicking the Help menu takes you to the documentation section of the LibreOffice Web site.

    • What’s Next for LibreOffice?

      LibreOffice 3.3 wasn’t even released yet when plans for upcoming versions were being hammered out. A release plan is now in place as well as a development philosophy.

    • OpenOffice.org 3.3

      Editors’ rating:

      7.9 out of 10

      User rating:

      10 out of 10

  • BSD


    • GCC 4.6 Still Has Too Many Serious Regressions

      There’s a new status report from Red Hat’s Jakub Jelinek as to the state of GCC 4.6. While a GCC 4.6 release candidate is nearing, as Jakub says in today’s update, “significant effort has been made recently to fix lots of regressions, yet there are still way too many serious regressions.”

    • GNU Status Reports: January 2011

      Table of Contents

      * GNU Status Reports: January 2011
      * Binutils (http://www.gnu.org/software/binutils)
      * Coreutils (http://www.gnu.org/software/coreutils)
      * Electric (http://www.gnu.org/software/electric)
      * Freefont (http://www.gnu.org/software/freefont)
      * Gawk (http://www.gnu.org/software/gawk)
      * GCC (http://www.gnu.org/software/gcc)
      * GNUCOMM (http://www.gnu.org/software/gnucomm)
      * GNUtrition (http://www.gnu.org/software/gnutrition)
      * Grep (http://www.gnu.org/software/grep)
      * GSASL (http://www.gnu.org/software/gsasl)
      * GSEGrafix (http://www.gnu.org/software/gsegrafix)
      * GSL (http://www.gnu.org/software/gsl)
      * GSRC (http://www.gnu.org/software/gsrc)
      * Guile (http://www.gnu.org/software/guile)
      * Hello (http://www.gnu.org/software/hello)
      * Hurd (http://www.gnu.org/software/hurd)
      * Texinfo (http://www.gnu.org/software/texinfo)
      * XBoard (http://www.gnu.org/software/xboard)

  • Government

    • CH: Public spending cuts for cantons using or migrating to free software

      Eva Herzog, Consultant Director of State Finance of the Basel Canton, summed up her Canton’s free software strategy adopted in early 2010, stating, inter alia, that in the future all software developments for the cantons should be made available as open source. She also presented a project where a hundred of workstations will be migrated to GNU/Linux and other free software over a period of two years while being integrated to the current system.

    • Why AGIMO’s open source policy will change nothing

      I couldn’t help but laugh out loud at the irony of it all this afternoon when I read Gary Gray’s pompous pronouncement that from now on, Federal Government agencies must consider the adoption of open source software in any technology purchase that they make.

      Does anyone, I thought to myself, take this kind of thing seriously?

      On the face of it, the policy sounds sensible enough, representing what many have long considered to be a rational idea; that is, if a government department or agency needs to procure software, it should look around to see whether there are free and flexible alternatives available first, before it jumps into bed with a proprietary software vendor like Microsoft or Oracle — with all the cost and, often, technical rigidity that implies.

      The faster moving private sector has recognised this principle for decades now. Long before vendors like Red Hat came along to provide supported versions of Linux, system administrators around the world were covertly running their print and file servers on early versions of Slackware and Debian — and in many cases, their managers didn’t even know.

  • Openness/Sharing

    • Al Jazeera Releases Egypt Coverage Under Creative Commons (UPDATED)

      Qatar-based news service Al Jazeera has a long relationship with Creative Commons licensing. Now, for its coverage of the Egyptian uprising, it has released photographs via Flickr and video on a CC license.

      Available photographs and video are available for free use so long as the user gives attribution and does not alter the products. For the record, all the photographs and video in this post are from Al Jazeera.


  • A List of all the things I love about Microsoft Windows
  • Security

    • Sourceforge.net attack
    • FBI Executes 40 Search Warrants for DDoS Attacks, UK Arrests 5

      Paris police also announced on Thursday that a French teenager suspected of involvement in the DDoS attacks in the United States was taken into custody for a few hours last December.

      Meanwhile, in the UK, Scotland Yard arrested five young men, aged 15, 16, 19, 20 and 26. They are also suspected of having carried out DDoS attacks and are said to face a maximum of ten years in prison and a fine of up to 5,000 pounds.

  • Defence/Police/Aggression

    • Watching Egypt disappear from the Internet

      My colleague at CPJ, Mohamed Abdel Dayem, was the first to mail me. “Just a second ago,”, he wrote, “about 10 contacts of mine all disappeared off instant messaging in unison. That cannot be a coincidence.”

      That was yesterday, January 27th, at 5:34pm New York time. A stream of similar emails followed. Everyone I knew had lost contact with Egypt. On the wider Internet, the Twitter streams and Facebook updates from Egyptian journalists, bloggers, and others, which had been overwhelming us since the protests on the 25th, had all suddenly gone quiet.

    • look what’s still made in the USA! (SPOILER: tear gas fired on egyptians demanding democracy) #Jan25 #Egypt
    • Who’s doing Mubarak’s bidding in Washington?

      As protests rage on in Egypt, the close relationship between the U.S. government and the regime of Hosni Mubarak has already garnered a lot of attention. But it’s also worth taking a moment to examine the lobbying muscle that Egypt employs to secure its interests in Washington, including a mammoth $1.3 billion annual military aid package.

    • Amidst chaos and riots, Egypt turns off the Internet

      In response to increasing civil unrest, the Egyptian government appears to have disabled almost all Internet connectivity with the rest of the world. The Internet’s global routing table, which is used by Internet routers to determine where to send traffic, has had virtually every Egypt-bound route withdrawn, giving the Internet traffic no path either into or out of the country.

    • When Egypt turned off the internet

      Almost simultaneously, the handful of companies that pipe the internet into and out of Egypt went dark as protesters were gearing up for a fresh round of demonstrations calling for the end of president Hosni Mubarak’s nearly 30-year rule, experts said.

      Egypt has apparently done what many technologists thought was unthinkable for any country with a major internet economy: It unplugged itself entirely from the internet to try and silence dissent.

    • Protesters across Egypt defy curfew

      A nighttime curfew has begun in the Egyptian cities of Cairo, Alexandria and Suez, after a day where thousands of protesters took the streets, demanding an end to Husni Mubarak’s 30-year presidency.

      The curfew was implemented on Friday on the orders of the president, along with an order that the military take charge of security, amid violent clashes occurred between police and protesters.

    • Vodafone confirms role in Egypt’s cellular, Internet blackout

      An executive at London-based Vodafone Group PLC explained Friday morning that it did indeed have a role in the phone and Internet blackout affecting Egypt since Thursday night, confirming speculation that the firm had cooperated with the regime to close off protesters’ communications.

      Vodafone Group CEO Vittorio Colao said that because the order by Egyptian authorities appeared to be in line with the nation’s laws, the company was “obligated” to comply.

      Egypt, which has been under a declared state of “emergency” for decades, long ago passed a series of security provisions that were later mirrored in post-9/11 powers assumed by leaders in the US. Egypt’s provisions, however, went much further.

    • Watching a new beginning in Egypt

      For much of Friday afternoon, this city teetered between hope and fear. We knew the army would come – the question was when. About 7:30 p.m., six armored personnel carriers with mounted machine guns arrived at the main square. Then something extraordinary happened: The soldiers were surrounded by hundreds of people – and after several minutes, welcomed. As I write this, ordinary citizens are walking up to the two vehicles stationed at Ramleh Square, and photographing each other flashing victory signs. The mood, tense for so much of the day, is turning festive.

  • Cablegate

    • An Inside Look at Difficult Negotiations with Julian Assange

      The publication of the US diplomatic cables was a journalistic sensation for WikiLeaks and its media partners, including SPIEGEL. In an excerpt from a new book, Holger Stark and Marcel Rosenbach recount the tense negotiations with Julian Assange in the run-up to the publication of the diplomatic cables.

      The joint publication of classified United States embassy cables in November 2010 in a number of major newspapers and magazines rocked the diplomatic world. In newly published books, editors at SPIEGEL and the New York Times have documented relationships between the founder of WikiLeaks and the publications that were at time tumultuous during preparations for the documents’ release.


      ¶1. KEY POINTS

      – (C) Egypt’s bloggers are playing an increasingly important
      role in broadening the scope of acceptable political and
      social discourse, and self-expression.

      – (C) Bloggers’ discussions of sensitive issues, such as
      sexual harassment, sectarian tension and the military,
      represent a significant change from five years ago, and have
      influenced society and the media.

      – (C) The role of bloggers as a cohesive activist movement
      has largely disappeared, due to a more restrictive political
      climate, GOE counter-measures, and tensions among bloggers.

      – (C) However, individual bloggers have continued to work to
      expose problems such as police brutality and corporate

      ¶2. (C) Comment: The government generally allows bloggers
      wide latitude in posting material critical of the GOE.
      Exceptions to this policy are bloggers who directly insult
      President Mubarak or Islam, and the government has arrested
      and jailed bloggers who have crossed these red-lines. The
      GOE has also arrested activists, such as XXXXXXXXXXXX and
      XXXXXXXXXXXX, who have used blogging to organize and support
      protests (refs A and C). Activists are increasingly writing
      blogs to advance their political aims. Contacts accurately
      point out that bloggers have ceased to function as a cohesive
      activist movement. It is noteworthy that bloggers did not
      play a significant role in the most recent example of mass
      cyber-activism — the April 6, 2008 strike orchestrated
      through Facebook (ref G).

  • Finance

  • Censorship

    • How Egypt did (and how your government could) shut down the Internet

      How hard is it, exactly, to kill the Internet? Egypt seems to have been able to do it. But Egypt’s situation isn’t exactly the same as that in the Western world. And even though Egypt only has four big ISPs, the fact that everything went down after midnight local time suggests that it took considerable effort to accomplish the ‘Net shut-off. After all, it seems unlikely that President Hosni Mubarak ordered the Internet to be shut down as he went to bed; such a decision must have been made earlier in the day, and then taken hours to execute.

      Also, the fact that such a drastic measure was deemed necessary may indicate that more targeted measures, such as blocking Twitter, didn’t get the job done. This nuclear option—see below—was intended to make online coordination of anti-government action impossible; at the same time, the mushroom cloud may give protesters hope that their efforts are not in vain. As one blogger writes: “It’s as if the regime has done the information aggregation for you and packaged it into a nice fat public signal.”

  • Internet/Net Neutrality

    • Bell Canada is Terribad Part Three

      So the history of this issue is that I had DSL and a Cell phone with Hell Canada. The DSL is from a year ago. They are only contacting me about it now. Meanwhile, if you want to switch services from Hell Canada to Rogers or Telus, they will give you mad discounts. Yet if they steal from you and rip you off, they won’t help you.

  • DRM

    • Sony Wins TRO, Impoundment

      Sony’s motion for a temporary restraining order, asking for an injunction and impoundment, has been granted [PDF]. The Hon. Susan Illston says she thinks Sony has demonstrated that it is likely to prevail on its DMCA claim. She has also ruled that Sony has met its burden to show that the Court has specific jurisdiction over George Hotz in California, because “he purposefully directed his activities at the forum state.”

      A TRO is designed to prevent injury until a full hearing can take place, and a date for that isn’t set yet. So that will be the next step. Meanwhile, there’s a list of things that Hotz and anyone working with him can’t do and must do. Like clean up the Internet by taking back whatever he put up there about how to circumvent. Sigh. And hand over any computers or equipment that has any infringing stuff on it, and not erase anything. The judge says Hotz’s lawyers are free to file a motion challenging jurisdiction “on a fuller factual record,” if they want to, and they’ve said they want to. But I doubt it will influence anything, judging by this order.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Sugar beet growers in limbo with Roundup Ready beets

      Russ Mauch is concerned because sugar beet growers don’t know if they will be able to plant Roundup Ready beats this spring.

      Mauch, a Barney farmer and president of the American Sugar Beet Growers Association president, says sugar beet growers are in limbo when it concerns Roundup Ready.

      At issue is a lawsuit filed by several environmental groups concerned about Roundup Ready sugar beets.

      The legal journey for Roundup Ready sugar beets began in January 2008. On Aug. 13, 2010 California Judge Jeffrey White vacated the deregulation of sugar beets, Mauch said. The crop is now regulated and can’t be grown until the USDA prescribes conditions for planting and cultivating the crop.

      In separate litigation, Judge White issued an injunction in November against 256 acres of sugar beet stecklings or seedlings. The stecklings had been authorized by permits under the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. The stecklings were part of a research and breeding project for basic seed and hybridproduction for 2012 and beyond. According to the injunction, the stecklings were to be destroyed by Dec. 7.

Clip of the Day

Raw Video: Man Shot in Egypt Protest

Credit: TinyOgg

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