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Links 21/2/2012: HijackThis Becomes Open Source, LibrePlanet 2012 is Coming

Posted in News Roundup at 8:21 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



  • Thoughts on Hiring Linux Hackers (in 2012)

    I have interviewed hundreds of candidates and had the delight of hiring dozens of Linux and open source developers, engineers, and interns over the last 10 years — at IBM, Canonical, and now Gazzang. The most recent one signed his contract this morning, in fact! It’s quite a rush to bring new talent into a small team.

  • Some things you may have heard about Secure Boot which aren’t entirely true

    Talking about Secure Boot again, I’m afraid. One of the things that’s made discussion of this difficult is that, while the specification isn’t overly complicated, some of the outcomes aren’t obvious at all until you spend a long time thinking about it. So here’s some clarification on a few points.

  • Desktop

    • Top 5 Ubuntu pre-installed Laptop companies

      While Canonical has a well established business desktop scenario with Ubuntu, finding laptops with preinstalled laptops is sometimes a challenge. Laptops are usually available in two formats. First is the ODM (Original Design Manufacturers) who make the laptops. Second, is OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturers) who purchase from ODM but install their own brand of CPU, hard drive as well as the software. Some of these OEM

  • Kernel Space

    • Graphics Stack

      • OpenChrome VIA KMS Has A Goal For This Summer
      • Nouveau 2D Still Has Room For Improvement

        The Nouveau 2D driver performance used to be very good against the proprietary/binary NVIDIA Linux driver. After running the new Intel SNA benchmarks earlier this month, I ran some quick 2D benchmarks of the latest Nouveau driver and NVIDIA binary driver.

      • Merging feature work to Mesa master

        Over the last six months a lot of feature work has happened in Mesa, and the load has been carried by a lot of different people / organization. In the process, we discovered a number of development process issues that made things more difficult than they needed to be.

      • First Release Of The New Mode-Setting Driver

        David Airlie officially released the first version of the xf86-video-modesetting DDX driver this week. The xf86-video-modesetting driver is a generic KMS X.Org driver that will work with any kernel mode-setting DRM driver in Linux, but only provides shadow frame-buffer support.

      • There’s Hope For DMA-BUF With Non-GPL Drivers

        There’s some resurrected hope for the kernel symbols of the DMA-BUF buffer sharing mechanism to be not restricted to only GPL drivers, which started off as a request by NVIDIA. This could lead to better NVIDIA Optimus support under Linux, among other benefits.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments

  • Distributions

    • First look at Asturix 4 and On desktop

      About once a year I try a new Asturix release and every time it’s something very different from the previous trial. The developers appear to be casting around, experimenting with this or that, and it always makes for an interesting ride. This time around I found the distribution to be a mixed bag and not in the way I had expected. When I heard they’d put out a release based on Ubuntu with a new, custom desktop I expected a solid base with functioning applications under a buggy interface. For the most part my experience was the opposite. The On interface is pretty good, mixing the mobile-like interfaces we’re seeing cropping up everywhere with enough traditional pieces to make it usable on a full-sized desktop screen. The developers surpassed my expectation there and I found only a few issues with the new interface. On the other hand I found some bugs which shouldn’t have made it through QA testing. For instance, the update manager that pops up and the Software Centre don’t launch with administrator’s privileges and don’t prompt for it. On the live CD there is a log out button in the corner of the screen where I would expect it, but the log out button doesn’t appear post-install, requiring the user to hunt for the proper icon. When trying to launch the backup utility it appears the software wasn’t actually installed, there’s just a useless icon in its place.

    • PCLinuxOS/Mageia/Mandrake/Mandriva Family

    • Red Hat Family

    • Debian Family

      • Debian Project News – February 20th, 2012

        * Goodbye Lenny!
        * Debian GNU/Hurd on the rails
        * DPL and legal work
        * Multiarch-ready dpkg
        * GPL in Debian: a study
        * Interviews
        * Other news
        * Upcoming events
        * New Debian Contributors
        * Release-Critical bugs statistics for the upcoming release
        * Important Debian Security Advisories
        * New and noteworthy packages
        * Work-needing packages
        * Want to continue reading DPN?

      • The newsletter for the Debian community
      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • What does Ubuntu want to be when it grows up?

            Once upon a time I knew exactly what Ubuntu was. Built on top of Debian Linux, it was the most popular Linux desktop around. Today, Ubuntu is in the clouds, on servers, tablets and smartphones, and, oh yes, it’s still on the desktop. By spreading its energy in so many directions it’s hard to see what Canonical, Ubuntu’s parent company, really wants from Ubuntu. So what exactly is Ubuntu today? Well, here’s my overview of Ubuntu 2012.

          • Ubuntu Command Center: Gnome Control Center

            Ubuntu 12.04 is all about pixel perfecting everything and focusing on the quality of the overall release. This is important since it is a LTS release which would be used by companies and users all over the world for a long time. From the view point of a user and sys-admins, it is important to have all the customizable options in one place. Gnome Control Center is meant for just that. There have been quite some updates on the gnome control center which are worth mentioning.

          • Ubuntu One Available on Vodafone AppSelect

            Ubuntu One team announced today, February 20th, that the Vodafone company has recently added the Ubuntu One Files app on their Vodafone AppSelect app store for the Android platform.

            Vodafone offers the Ubuntu One Files app in the following countries: United Kingdom, Germany, Italy, Ireland, Russia, Portugal, and Greece.

          • ARM On Ubuntu 12.04 LTS Battling Intel x86?

            In recent weeks I have shown how Ubuntu 12.04 is ARM-ing up for better performance on the ARMv7 architecture by enabling hard-float builds and how the TI OMAP4 support has come together resulting in significant performance gains. Nevertheless, how is modern ARM hardware now comparing to the low-end Intel x86 competition? In this article are some results from Ubuntu 12.04 comparing the ARM performance to some Intel Core, Pentium, and Atom hardware.

          • Ubuntu 12.04 LTS Will Try For Intel RC6 By Default
          • Flavours and Variants

            • Linux Mint 12: Why it’s the best desktop OS

              Over the years, I’ve tried every shade of desktop — from the ridiculously complex to the overly simple, from the barely usable to the extremely useful. Recently, the push seems towards touchscreen technology, with little success. Nevertheless, some operating systems — such as Ubuntu Unity, GNOME 3 and Windows 8 — are persisting with touchscreen-friendly features. The problem is these desktops aren’t particularly user friendly.

              Then along comes Linux Mint 12. In terms of user friendliness, it offers something special. Here are the reasons why I think it’s the best desktop operating system available.

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Phones

      • Intel Ships A MeeGo Update For Cedar Trail

        Cedar Trail represents the latest-generation 32nm Intel Atom processors. Unfortunately its graphics though aren’t developed in-house, but at least that’s changing to avoid such situations in the future.

      • Android

        • ZTE bringing two scoops of Ice Cream Sandwich to Mobile World Congress

          Chinese smartphone manufacturer ZTE today announced that it will be brining a pair of new Android smartphones to Mobile World Congress next week, both of them running Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich.

          The ZTE PF200 sports a 4.3-inch display at qHD (540×960) resolution, with an 8-megapixel rear camera and a front-facing camera for video calling. It’ll have LTE, UMTS and GSM radios, as well as NFC, and DLNA and MHL high-def outputs.

        • Huawei Honor (U8860) Review
        • Sony Xperia U shows up next to big brother Xperia S

          Exciting news if you’re a fan of Sony’s Xperia designs, but not the huge displays that seem to permeate the mobile world these days: the Sony Xperia U (also known as the Kumquat/st25i) has been spotted in its first set of leaked photos. It’s getting comfy with Sony’s new international flagship, the Xperia S, in a series of shots found by Android HD Blog (Italian). Both phones share a lot of design DNA, but it looks like the Xperia U is much smaller, with a screen somewhere in the ballpark of 3.2 inches. Like the S, the Xperia U is still running Gingerbread.

        • Huawei Ascend D1 Q press photos leak

          We’ve known that Huawei had something special planned for Mobile World Congress, and this would appear to be it. The first entry in Huawei’s Diamond line is the Ascend D1 Q, and TechOrz.com got their hands on some leaked press shots prior to Huawei’s conference. The renders show a typical high-end Android phone that’s clearly of the large screen variety – probably with a 4.3-inch or larger display. The device’s red-on-black color scheme is reminiscent of the HTC Rezound, though the shape looks more like a Galaxy-class smartphone.

    • Sub-notebooks/Tablets

      • Is Tablet-Creep in Operating Systems a Bad Thing and Must we Accept it?

        Like it or not, it would appear that the tablet-ification of our desktop operating systems is inevitable. Setting aside the new Metro interface that will take the main focus of Windows 8, Apple are slowly creeping more tablet features into OS X and even Canonical are getting in on the act with their Unity interface for Ubuntu and their removal of drop-down menus. So is tablet-creep a bad thing, and need we accept it?

      • on the economics of Spark

        A question about Spark that we’re hearing fairly often is how the economics behind it will work. This question has come in a few different forms such as requests to explain the price point we settled on or how much of the proceeds will go where. I thought since it has come up a few times instead of answering it in blog comments repeatedly I’d answer it here in a proper blog entry.

        The economics around Spark have, as you might expect, been a focus point for us from the very start of project planning. To state the obvious: if the economics weren’t workable then the project wouldn’t be viable. So that was where we started.

      • Auraslate Is An Open Source Android Tablet For Hackers

        If you’re sick of firmware lockdowns and failed reflashings on your other Android tablets, the Auraslate may be for you. It’s basically an Ice Cream Sandwich-compatible tablet built from the ground up for hax0rz and programmers alike.

      • HP releases source code for its internal TouchPad Android kernel to CyanogenMod
      • HP releases Android on TouchPad code to happy hackers

Free Software/Open Source


  • Security

    • Security biz scoffs at Apple’s anti-Trojan Gatekeeper

      Security watchers are expressing reservations about whitelisting security that Apple plans to integrate with OS X Mountain Lion this summer.

      The security feature, dubbed Gatekeeper, restricts the installation of downloaded applications based on their source. Users can choose to accept apps from anywhere (as now) but by default Gatekeeper only lets users install programs downloaded from the Mac App Store or those digitally signed by a registered developer. More cautious users can decide to accept only applications downloaded from the Mac App Store.

  • Finance

    • Why Toxic Debt Looks a Lot Less Toxic

      Some of the same investors who made big profits betting against mortgage bonds before the 2007 housing bust have started snapping up the toxic assets. Hedge fund manager Kyle Bass, who made $500 million when subprime debt cratered, is raising a fund to buy them. He’s joining John Paulson, who made $15 billion in 2007 thanks to the housing bust. Goldman Sachs Group has bought the bonds this year. Remarkably, so has American International Group —the insurer that had to be rescued by the U.S. government in 2008 after its wagers on risky mortgages went bad.

    • Emerging Asia Demand for Gold
    • Vulture Capitalism Gets a Makeover

      The candidacy of Mitt Romney for President of the United States has drawn scrutiny to the practices of the “private equity” industry. Tired of being bashed as greedy “vulture capitalists,” the industry has launched an effort to polish its image.

      The Private Equity Growth Capital Council (PEGCC), a trade group representing many of the most powerful firms in the venture capital and private equity industry, recently announced its intention to begin a new media initiative called “Private Equity At Work” to correct what it views as “a real lack of understanding about private equity.”

      Private equity firms use the funds of their investors to buy up struggling companies. These companies are then retooled to enhance their perceived potential for profitability and are subsequently resold for a profit. Critics argue that private equity firms often force their corporate clients to cut jobs, increase their debt load or shut down solely to benefit the private equity firm’s bottom line.

  • Censorship

    • Twitter Suspends Four Accounts Critical of Sarkozy: Is This What He Meant By ‘Civilizing’ The Net?

      We don’t know at this stage exactly who asked for these four accounts to be removed, only that according to Twitter’s rules it must have been done “by Sarkozy, or someone acting on his authority”. We asked Twitter about this and it refused to provide specifics on why the accounts were closed or the timing, other than to say that just because the accounts were suspended in the same general time frame, it wasn’t necessarily for the same reason.

      Be that as it may, the near-simultaneous closure of four accounts all critical of a powerful national politician inevitably reminds us that for many countries, “civilizing” the Internet often comes down to censoring it. It’s worrying to see France apparently starting to go down that route — and for Twitter to be helping it.

    • MegaBust’s MegaQuestions Cloud the Net’s Future

      On Saturday, January 14th the White House issued a policy statement in response to an online petition against pending anti-piracy legislation signed by more than 100,000 individuals. While supporting efforts to curb infringement of U.S. intellectual property by foreign websites, it outlined that to be acceptable to the Obama Administration any such legislation must guard against online censorship, be narrowly targeted at websites currently beyond the reach of U.S. law, have strong due process protections, be targeted at criminal activity, and not inhibit innovation. The statement was interpreted as indicating that current versions of the Protect IP Act (PIPA) and the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) were not acceptable to the President — although no explicit veto threat was made.

    • Wikileaks Denied A Speaking Opportunity At UN Conference About Wikileaks?

      UNESCO, the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization, is hosting a conference about The Media World after Wikileaks and News of the World. Sounds like it could be an interesting event, but one organization not happy about it… is Wikileaks. Seeing as it was a conference that touched on Wikileaks’ interests directly, Wikileaks asked to take part, and was instead denied a chance to speak at the event. When asked about this, UNESCO actually claimed that choosing to not allow Wikileaks attendees was an exercise in “freedom of expression,” which seems like a poor choice of words.

    • No Indian government shall ever censor social media, says minister

      India made headlines last week when Minister of State for Communications & IT, Sachin Pilot, said that online companies like Facebook and Google must comply with the country’s laws. His statement came one day after Google and Facebook revealed that they had in fact already removed content at an Indian court’s request.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Trademarks

      • Linsanity… At The Trademark Office

        Perhaps you’ve been following the “Linsanity” story over the last week or so. Even if you’re not a sports fan, it’s a pretty incredible story. The short summary for the six or seven of you who are sharing a rock to live under is that Jeremy Lin, who excelled at basketball as a high schooler in Palo Alto, was all but written off as having a real future in basketball. No college would give him a scholarship, and many thought that he should sign with a lower ranked college where he could play for fun, but not have any future. Even Stanford, which has a great basketball program and is literally across the street from where Lin played in high school, had little interest in getting Lin to play for them. He ended up going to Harvard (who did want him, but doesn’t do academic scholarships and isn’t known for its basketball program) and then wasn’t drafted by any NBA team. He did eventually sign with the Golden State Warriors (making him the first Taiwanese American NBA player) who played him sparingly last year and then cut him. He was with the Rockets in the pre-season, but they cut him before the season started. Then he signed on with the Knicks who had sent him down to the D-League and were rumored to be getting ready to cut him… before “Linsanity” began about 10 days ago.

      • 97 Las Vegas Karaoke Locations Sued By ‘Righthaven Of Trademarks’ Demanding $500 Million

        Steve Green, who was the absolute best reporter covering the Righthaven saga, recently wrote about the fact that 97 Las Vegas karaoke providers were recently sued by a company called Slep-Tone Entertainment Corp., which apparently mainly does business as “Sound Choice,” selling various karaoke content — music and videos. Green notes that someone familiar with Slep-Tone has called it the “Righthaven of trademark

    • Copyrights

      • UMG Artist Tyga’s Album Gets Pulled For Unauthorized MLK Speech?

        After several delays YMCM artist Tyga is set to finally release his album, Careless World, on Feb. 21st. Well he was supposed to – apparently retailers like Best Buy have thrown a wrench into the plan by yanking the album and returning it to the label. It also appears to have been removed from Itunes Pre-Order. According to reports the title track “Careless World” contains portions of a Martin Luther King speech and it’s use on the project is unauthorized. Kings estate has apparently sent notices to retailers asking them to halt the sale of the album and return the copies to Universal Music Group.

      • When We Copy, We Justify It; When Others Copy, We Vilify Them
      • MPAA: Ripping DVDs Shouldn’t Be Allowed Because It Takes Away Our Ability To Charge You Multiple Times For The Same Content

        It’s that time again when the Librarian of Congress is considering special exemptions to the DMCA’s anti-cicrumvention provisions. One of the key proposals, which we discussed earlier, was Public Knowledge’s request to allow people to rip DVDs for personal use — just as we are all currently able to rip CDs for personal use (such as for moving music to a portable device). The MPAA (along with the RIAA and others) have responded to the exemption requests (pdf) with all sorts of crazy claims, but let’s focus in on the DVD ripping question, because it’s there that the insanity of Hollywood logic becomes clear.

      • Hadopi Sends Info On Those Accused (Not Convicted) Of Repeat Infringement On To Prosecutors

        You may remember last fall’s numbers concerning how many first, second and third strikes Hadopi, the French agency in charge of kicking people off the internet for possible copyright infringement, was sending out. Now come reports that France is finally moving beyond just the strikes, and has passed along info on those accused (not convicted) of infringement to “prosecutors” for the next stage, which could result in them losing internet access.

      • MPAA Hires Four Ex-Federal Government Employees, Including One From ICE & Another From The White House

        Two of these aren’t huge surprises. The Pastarnack hire hit the news a few months ago, when people noticed that she jumped from being a point person on PIPA to working directly for the MPAA. Swartsel’s name may also be familiar. We tangled with her last summer, when she bizarrely took to the MPAA’s blog to attack reporter Janko Roettger for accurately predicting that bad economic news might lead people to seek out unauthorized sources of movies, rather than paying through the nose for authorized versions. Now, the MPAA’s former boss had said the exact same thing, but according to Swartsel it’s somehow “intellectually dishonest” to point out what might happen. Swartsel also was the one who flat out mocked the concerns of tech entrepreneurs concerning SOPA and PIPA. Turns out she did all this as a “consultant” to the MPAA — and they thought she did such a bang up job that they’ve hired her full time as “director of global policy.”

      • ACTA

        • IFPI accuses: “protests silence democratic process”

          A lobbying letter, attributed to the IFPI, the international arm of of the recorded music industry, and circulated by a coalition of rights-holders, attempts to wear the mantle of the moral high-ground in Europe’s political battle over ACTA. This wolf in sheep’s clothing also appears to have access to documents which have been denied to civil society.

        • EU Member Bulgaria Halts ACTA, Minister Of Economy Offers Resignation
        • “Green Week”: Ask MEPs to Reject ACTA Back in Their Home Districts!

          This week, Members of the EU Parliament will be back in their home districts to meet with their constituency. This is an important opportunity for EU citizens to get in touch with their elected representatives, and make sure that they understand how dangerous and illegitimate ACTA is. Next week in Brussels, many decisive meetings will take place in the committees of the EU Parliament regarding ACTA.

        • Shining Light On ACTA’s Lack Of Transparency
        • ACTA is a Bad Way to Develop Internet Policy

          ACTA (“Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement”) is a proposed new international law establishing international enforcement standards against counterfeit goods and pirated intellectual property items. ACTA was negotiated as a “trade agreement” which means that it was negotiated in private without open involvement of all the stakeholders. There has been no formal opportunity for input from people other than those who were lucky enough to be invited into the private discussions.

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