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11.18.11

Links 18/11/2011: Android/Google Support at Motorola

Posted in News Roundup at 8:00 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • How misinformation can still hurt FLOSS

    There seems to be a bit of confusion out there about what open source means in terms of security: specifically, there’s a pervasive notion that because software is open source, it’s inherently insecure.

    Seriously?

    Apparently these folks have completely forgotten about software like sendmail, Apache, MySQL, SSH, and oh, what’s that platform called… the one with the penguin… oh yeah: Linux. The applications and platforms are regarded in the industry has highly secure and generally free of malware in the wild.

    And yet, when Google Open Source Programs Manager Chris DiBona recently quoted an article that said that “critics have been pounding the table for years about open source being inherently insecure,” I decided to locate that article… I found myself running smack into what I believe is a serious error.

  • Open source biometrics technology for mobile devices, PCs and servers

    DigitalPersona has open sourced its new MINEX-certified FingerJetFX fingerprint feature extraction technology.

    FingerJetFX, Open Source Edition (OSE), is free, portable software that device manufacturers and application developers can use to convert bulky fingerprint images into small, mathematical representations called fingerprint “templates” for efficient storage or comparison.

  • FOSS over Miami

    Here’s a little Larry-the-Free-Software-Guy history for those of you who don’t already know it: I grew up in Miami and didn’t move to San Francisco until I was 29 (and that was the summer of 1987, so you can do the math). More specifically, I grew up in a strip of unincorporated Dade County sandwiched between North Miami and North Miami Beach. So you’ll understand why I have a tendency to pull for the Dolphins and the U on occasion, and I don’t think twice about driving 30 or so miles down Highway 1 into Monterey County to visit The Whole Enchilada because it has the only Key Lime Pie in this region close enough to be considered Miami-class. Listening to Jimmy Buffett puts me back among the palm trees, retroactively sweating in the 80 degree/90 percent humidity coziness for which South Florida is known worldwide.

  • Web Browsers

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • Nov. 21: Free Software’s Stallman

      Richard Stallman, the founder of the GNU Project and the Free Software Foundation, will present a visiting lecture from 7-9 p.m., Monday, Nov. 21, in Mitchell Hall at the University of Delaware.

  • Standards/Consortia

Leftovers

  • Wintel is Fragmented

    UPDATE A part of the changes to make “8″ will be a consolidation of re-re-reboots into one reboot per month where possible. The trolls here who claim re-re-reboots are no problem for competent users are again proven wrong. Even M$ admits re-re-reboots are a problem that needs fixing. Of course re-re-reboots don’t bother those of us who use GNU/Linux because we get to choose when and if we reboot. I have enjoyed that capability for a decade and love it.

  • The OS Wars: We Have A Winner

    You would not have shown your face at, say, ApacheCon, with a MacBook.

  • Google’s Brin and wife plop half-million into Wikipedia’s hat

    The Wikimedia Foundation, the non-profit publisher of Wikipedia and its affiliate sites, has received a $500,000 grant from the Brin Wojcicki Foundation, a philanthropic organization set up by Google cofounder Sergey Brin and his wife Anne Wojcicki, cofounder of “personal genetic information” website 23andMe.

  • Security/BIOS

    • Attacks on secure boot

      This is interesting. It’s obviously lacking in details yet, but it does highlight one weakness of secure boot. The security for secure boot is all rooted in the firmware – there’s no external measurement to validate that everything functioned as expected. That means that if you can cause any trusted component to execute arbitrary code then you’ve won. So, what reads arbitrary user data? The most obvious components are any driver that binds to user-controlled hardware, any filesystem driver that reads user-provided filesystems and any signed bootloader that reads user-configured data. A USB drive could potentially trigger a bug in the USB stack and run arbitrary code. A malformed FAT filesystem could potentially trigger a bug in the FAT driver and run arbitrary code. A malformed bootloader configuration file or kernel could potentially trigger a bug in the bootloader and run arbitrary code. It may even be possible to find bugs in the PE-COFF binary loader. And once you have the ability to run arbitrary code, you can replace all the EFI entry points and convince the OS that everything is fine anyway.

    • UEFI Debugging Tools

      One of the many things I work on is UEFI support. It’s an interesting thing to work on, in part because there’s a lot of new development and it’s at a fairly low level, which is just the sort of thing I like.

      Often during UEFI development, we’ll see a bug and need to diagnose whether it’s a problem with the hardware, the firmware, the bootloader, the OS kernel, or even a userland program. One case of this is when console graphics don’t work right.

    • GPT disks in a BIOS world

      Starting with Fedora 16 we’re installing using GPT disklabels by default, even on BIOS-based systems. This is worth noting because most BIOSes have absolutely no idea what GPT is, which you’d think would create some problems. And, unsurprisingly, it does. Shock. But let’s have an overview.

  • Finance

    • State orders Goldman Sachs to repay investors for misleading sales tactics

      Florida’s securities regulators announced a settlement agreement with Goldman, Sach & Co. that has required the investment firm to back back an estimate $20 million in so-called “auction rate securities” because the company claimed they were liquid and secure when they were not.

    • Middle-class areas shrink as America divides into ‘two-tiered society’ of rich and poor

      The portion of American families living in middle-income neighborhoods has declined significantly since 1970, according to a new study, as rising income inequality left a growing share of families in neighborhoods that are mostly low-income or mostly affluent.

    • Our friends from Goldman Sachs…

      Serious and competent, they weigh up the pros and cons and study all of the documents before giving an opinion. They have a fondness for economics, but these luminaries who enter into the temple only after a long and meticulous recruitment process prefer to remain discreet.

      Collectively they form an entity that is part pressure group, part fraternal association for the collection of information, and part mutual aid network. They are the craftsmen, masters and grandmasters whose mission is “to spread the truth acquired in the lodge to the rest of the world.”

      According to its detractors, the European network of influence woven by American bank Goldman Sachs (GS) functions like a freemasonry. To diverse degrees, the new European Central Bank President, Mario Draghi, the newly designated Prime Minister of Italy, Mario Monti, and the freshly appointed Greek Prime Minister Lucas Papademos are totemic figures in this carefully constructed web.

  • Privacy

    • Wintel is Fragmented

      When I wrote about Google making it possible to opt-out of their Wi-Fi access point mapping program, I made a mistake. I thought Google was still using its StreetView cars to pick up Wi-Fi locations. Nope, Eitan Bencuya, a Google spokesperson, tells me that Google no longer uses StreetView cars to collect location information. So, how does Google collect Wi-Fi location data? They use you.

  • Civil Rights

    • Going Incognito

      The Internet can be a dangerous place. Once it was the scam artists and the damage they wrought that users had to watch. These days it seems it’s more governments trying to oppress citizens and so-called respectable companies looking to track and sell your movements that strike fear in the hearts of Penguistas. Perhaps it’s time to go Incognito.

  • Internet/Net Neutrality

    • EU Adopts Resolution Against US Domain Seizures

      The European Parliament has adopted a resolution which criticizes domain name seizures of “infringing” websites by US authorities. According to the resolution these measures need to be countered as they endanger “the integrity of the global internet and freedom of communication.” With this stance the European Parliament joins an ever-growing list of opposition to the Stop Online Piracy Act .

IRC Proceedings: November 18th, 2011

Posted in IRC Logs at 7:43 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

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#techrights log

#boycottnovell log

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#boycottnovell-social log

#techbytes log

Enter the IRC channels now

IRC Proceedings: November 17th, 2011

Posted in News Roundup at 12:41 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME Gedit

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#techrights log

#boycottnovell log

GNOME Gedit

GNOME Gedit

#boycottnovell-social log

#techbytes log

Enter the IRC channels now

MOSAID, Microsoft, and Antitrust

Posted in Microsoft at 11:44 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Mosaid homepage
Screenshot of the homepage of the patent troll Microsoft is feeding

Summary: MOSAID, which we wrote about many times before, is now a subject of more calls for antitrust/regulatory action

FOR over a month or two Techrights has foreseen Microsoft using MOSAID as a patent troll and proxy against Linux not just because of anti-Red Hat lawsuits but also because of the Nokia (versus Android) plot. We have begun building a wiki page about MOSAID and we shall keep it updated as long as Microsoft and its mole at Nokia try using this troll as a proxy. According to this article, MOSAID is coming under fire for being part of anti-competitive abuses:

Quinn Emanuel, another fabulous law firm, has joined the team representing Barnes & Noble before the ITC. And Google is in the mix too, filing an objection to Microsoft’s request for a shortened time for Google to respond to its motion. This is getting good. Barnes & Noble has filed a truly hilarious compilation of prior art, in a supplemental notice of prior art, which shows me that it’s still not too late to keep finding more, if you happen to know of any. And it has asked for a letter rogatory to go after evidence regarding MOSAID, a Canadian firm, and its deal with Microsoft and Nokia via documents and a deposition of the CEO. MOSAID doesn’t wish to voluntarily turn over anything.

MOSAID is one heck of a rancid thing and so is Microsoft, which pulls MOSAID’s strings to distort competition. We are now seeing just how ridiculous the USPTO is and the extent to which Microsoft exploits this malfunction based on Microsoft boosters who write: [via]

It almost seems that way based on a newly surfaced patent application from the Redmond company. The filing describes a computer system that would monitor behavior in the workplace with the goal of getting workers to stop each other people off during meetings, and convincing bosses to stop bugging their direct reports on their lunch breaks, among many other bad workplace habits — but at no small cost to workplace privacy.

Microsoft: is it a patent troll or a company that produces things? The truth may be somewhere in between.

5 Years After Microsoft Deal OpenSUSE Releases Hardly Celebrated

Posted in Novell, OpenSUSE at 11:11 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Christmas

Summary: Another quick look at coverage of OpenSUSE 12.1

OPENSUSE 12.1 has been out for a couple of days and it still does not receive coverage from the corporate press. There is review of the distribution by Swapnil Bhartiya at Muktware and few more reviews in Linux sites. There are benchmarks from Michael Larabel over at Phoronix (including boot performance) and some blog posts that qualify as news even though they are informal. A lot of the coverage comes from existing or former Novell staff (OpenSUSE community manager in this case) or Linux advocates such as Scott Merrill at TechCrunch, Sean at Server Watch, and staff at OS News.

SoftPedia just posts some screenshots and the OpenSUSE site moves on to other topics such as WebYaST. To quote:

So the benefit is to login on a target linux machine from a computer which

* has not to be a unix machine and
* is without any VPN configuration stuff.

In summary, OpenSUSE enjoys none of the mainstream coverage it used to get. The OpenSUSE Boosters may not like to hear it, but it’s true.

Apple- and Microsoft-backed Front Group Lobbies for Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA)

Posted in Apple, Microsoft at 11:04 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Business Software Alliance thinks of the children (who are “pirates”)!!!

Kids playing

Summary: SOPA threatens the internet as we know it and the BSA is among those pushing for it (at the behest of the usual suspects)

A DEAR reader and occasional contributor told us that the Business Software Alliance (BSA) is doing its work again, acting as a front for Microsoft et al.

Brian Proffitt wrote something related to this when he said that “[a]s the U.S. House Judiciary Committee prepares for its hearing the morning on the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), hundreds of web sites and activists are trying to bring attention to the bill with American Censorship Day.

“Protestors of SOPA have a long uphill battle, if the testimony in today’s committee meeting is any indication. The witness list for the hearing on SOPA, scheduled for this morning at 10 a.m. EST, seems decidedly comprised of witnesses in favor of the new bill. Of the witnesses, only Katherine Oyama, Policy Counsel from Google seems likely to testify against the bill.”

With that in mind, our reader and contributor notes that she found connection between Microsoft, BSA & SOPA. She explained this as follows: “I’m often late in reading news/information that everyone else in the world has already seen, but I just found this article about Microsoft’s support for SOPA, and Apple’s support. Thought I’d send it to you.”

Here’s the link that she sent and here’s a short excerpt: “…So we have Microsoft supporting the intellectual ancestor of SOPA, but that’s certainly not enough to say that the company supports SOPA outright.

“We can, however, show that it does. And somewhat disingenuously, if I may. You see, Microsoft is a major player in the Business Software Alliance, along with Apple and 27 other companies. And the BSA supports SOPA. This is from a recent BSA bulletin: ‘The Business Software Alliance today commended House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) for introducing the “Stop Online Piracy Act” (H.R. 3261) to curb the growing rash of software piracy and other forms of intellectual property theft that are being perpetrated by illicit websites.’”

“In short,” explains our reader and contributor, “Microsoft is using a front group to throw its support behind SOPA, while publicly saying and doing nothing, thus avoiding our rancor and displeasure. Well, no, that won’t do at all.”

It is worth throwing in this other bit of news:

House Judiciary Committee SOPA Hearings Stacked 5 To 1 In Favor Of Censoring The Internet

[...]

Apparently the folks behind SOPA are really scared to hear from the opposition. We all expected that the Judiciary Committee hearings wouldn’t be a fair fight. In Congress, they rarely are fair fights. But most people expected the typical “three in favor, one against” weighted hearings. That’s already childish, but it seems that the Judiciary Committee has decided to take the ridiculousness to new heights. We’d already mentioned last week that the Committee had rejected the request of NetCoalition to take part in the hearings. At the time, we’d heard that the hearings were going to be stacked four-to-one in favor of SOPA. However, the latest report coming out of the Committee is that they’re so afraid to actually hear about the real opposition that they’ve lined up five pro-SOPA speakers and only one “against.”

Since it has made the news quite a lot recently (especially the latest links roundup), it is worth noting which corporations (aka campaign funders) are behind it.

Microsoft ‘Secure Boot’ Cracked

Posted in GNU/Linux, Microsoft at 10:43 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Alone

Summary: The mechanism which secures Microsoft from Linux growth is not delivering whatever ‘features’ Microsoft alleged that it would

MICROSOFT has been marketing as “security” a mechanism that complicates or blocks GNU/Linux [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7] . Well, via Slashdot we found this report which defeats Microsoft’s excuse:

At the upcoming MalCon security conference in Mumbai, Austrian independent developer and security analyst Peter Kleissner is scheduled to release the first known “bootkit” for Windows 8—an exploit that is able to load from a hard drive’s master boot record and reside in memory all the way through the startup of the operating system, providing root access to the system. The exploit allegedly defeats the security features of Windows 8′s new Boot Loader. However, Kleissner said in a message exchange with Ars Technica that the exploit did not currently target the Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI), but instead went after legacy BIOS. Kleissner said he has shared his research and paper and the paper he plans to present, “The Art of Bootkit Development,” with Microsoft.

So, what’s the point of it then? People have predicted this all along.

Defeats for Microsoft on the Web

Posted in Site News at 10:37 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

This is the beginning of the end

Film

Summary: Microsoft is killing its Big Data project and perhaps also killing Commerce Server

BY ITS OWN admission, Microsoft loses billions of dollars per year on the Web. Had it been a separate company, it would have declared bankruptcy long ago.

According to unofficial Microsoft PR sources, Microsoft may be planning to axe another product. To quote:

It’s been a while since I blogged about another of my (not so) crazy Microsoft rumors. Here’s the latest, plus the ground rules for those weighing how believable this information may or may not be.

As part of my job as a full-time Microsoft watcher, I get a lot of tips about Microsoft from customers, competitors, partners and even some Softies themselves. However, ever since I worked for PCWeek as a reporter close to 20 years ago, I had it drilled into my head that until I could get three independent sources to corroborate a tip — none of whom was repeating something s/he heard in an echo chamber — I couldn’t run it as a story.

Maybe she could not run it as a story because Microsoft retaliates against people who write negative stories about Microsoft, at least based on what she once told me. The story she was so reluctant to tell is that Microsoft’s server efforts are feeble enough to merit another shutdown (we covered some more before) and Wired has this new article about Microsoft killing its Big Data project:

Microsoft is not only putting its weight behind Hadoop, the open source platform for crunching large amounts of data across thousands of servers. It’s abandoning the proprietary platform it built to do much the same thing.

Last last week, a blog post from Redmond announced that the company would stop development on LINQ to HPC, aka Dryad, a distributed number-crunching platform developed in Microsoft’s Research Lab. Instead, the company will focus on its effort to port Hadoop to its Windows Server operating system and Windows Azure, its online service for building and deploying applications.

To put it in simple terms, Microsoft failed to develop its own software, so it took some from somewhere else. Very typical.

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