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Empire Watch: Human Rights Violations, Bogus Figures, and a ‘Silent Coup’

Posted in Action at 5:58 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: This week’s news about torture, assassination, and endless wars of conquest

  • Amanda Knox and the Wages of American Imperialism

    By the fall of 2007, Italy was in a significant state of conflict with the US over the Bush administration’s policy of extraordinary rendition. Of specific note were Italian kidnapping charges against nearly two dozen CIA agents for the kidnapping of Muslim cleric Abu Omar, resulting in 23 convictions. The New York Times reported, “Judge Oscar Magi handed an eight-year sentence to Robert Seldon Lady, a former C.I.A. base chief in Milan, and five-year sentences to the 22 other Americans, including an Air Force colonel and 21 C.I.A. operatives.”


    It’s not clear if Amanda Knox will foot the bill for the 23 convicted CIA agents, but what is clear is that Italy and many other countries view America’s policy of rendition as indeed extraordinary, and they have a point to make.

  • Lithuanian Court’s ruling on CIA rendition case, a breakthrough for justice

    A decision by a court in Lithuania ruling that a Saudi Arabian national has a right to an investigation into his alleged torture in a secret CIA detention centre in the country is a breakthrough for justice, said Amnesty International.

  • Lithuanian prosecutor’s refusal to reopen CIA prison investigation found ungrounded

    Vilnius Regional Court has ruled prosecutors unfoundedly refused to launch a pre-trial investigation into claims a Saudi Arabian citizen was kept in a secret CIA detention center in Lithuania in 2004-2006.

  • Lithuanian prosecutor accused in Guantanamo Bay case
  • CIA Director Grilled On Domestic Surveillance, Torture At Senate Hearing

    Three senators pummeled CIA Director John Brennan at a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing Wednesday, peppering him with tough questions on torture and domestic surveillance that he has refused to answer in public.

    Brennan defended the CIA against accusations that it is double-dealing with the Intelligence committee about a report on agency torture, and he also received surprisingly pointed questions about whether the CIA spies on Americans. Such public hearings offer senators critical of the intelligence agencies the chance to telegraph their private concerns about classified programs — and these questions could suggest there is something the public isn’t being told about what the CIA does at home.

  • The Pentagon’s route out of Afghanistan passes through a former CIA black site

    The Mihail Kogalniceanu Air Base in Romania is a short drive from the Black Sea and the port city of Constanta, a sprawling metropolis with beach resorts, museums, and nightclubs. It’s also about to become the main transit point for the tens of thousands of U.S. troops flowing out of Afghanistan. It won’t be the first time Washington has used the base for a sensitive mission, however: If human rights groups are correct, the facility also used to house one of the CIA’s notorious “black site” detention facilities.

  • Chuck Hagel: ‘Polish-US relationship can withstand CIA prison allegations’

    US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel has said in Warsaw that the US-Polish partnership can “withstand testing and questioning” over allegations of a secret CIA prison in Poland.

  • Polish ex-intelligence official says time for truth on CIA jail

    Poland’s official stance of denying it hosted a secret CIA jail is harming its reputation and it needs to be frank about what really happened, a senior intelligence official at the time the alleged prison was operating told Reuters.

  • Investigators ask for CIA prison probe deadline extension

    Prosecutors leading Poland’s investigation into an alleged CIA prison where terrorist suspects were held and tortured have asked for another extension to the probe.

  • Arabian Gulf energy still vital to the US, says former CIA director

    David Petraeus, the chairman of the KKR Global Institute and former commander of the US Central Command, said that while the energy boom had extended to Canada and Mexico, the Arabian Gulf’s oil and gas still fuelled the US’s trade partners and would for the foreseeable future.

    He was speaking at a lecture on the forthcoming North American decades at the Emirates Centre for Strategic Studies and Research last night.

    “According to projections, the US is set to become a leading oil producer by 2020,” he said. “Crude oil production is expected to reach 9.5 million barrels a day by only 2016, and this situation is dramatically changed since 2008-2009, when many experts said oil production had peaked and wasn’t ready to climb. They couldn’t have been more wrong.”

  • A Manufactured Nuclear Crisis

    The subtitle of Gareth Porter’s new book, “The Untold Story of the Iran Nuclear Scare,” is well-chosen. Large parts of “A Manufactured Crisis” are indeed untold till now. They amount to what the author terms an “alternative narrative”.

  • C.I.A. Drone Bases

    The Central Intelligence Agency should not be launching deadly military strikes. We would be better off if the C.I.A. returned to being an agency that collected and analyzed intelligence and stopped being a secretive paramilitary organization.

  • Leaked official document records 330 drone strikes in Pakistan
  • US agencies might lose drone bases in Afghanistan
  • Block, First and Hawkeness: Stop training drone pilots in Wisconsin

    Dozens of Wisconsin residents phoned or visited the district offices of our senators and representatives to call for an end to drone warfare. The visits and calls were timed for Jan. 15-21 when our nation commemorated its prophet of peace and nonviolence, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

  • “Dirty Wars” Filmmaker Jeremy Scahill on the “Drone President” & Obama’s Whitewashing of NSA Spying

    In his State of the Union address, President Obama called on the United States to “move off a permanent war footing,” citing his recent limits on the use of drones, his withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq and Afghanistan, and his effort to close the military prison at Guantánamo Bay. Obama also vowed to reform National Security Agency surveillance programs to ensure that “the privacy of ordinary people is not being violated.” Jeremy Scahill, whose Oscar-nominated film “Dirty Wars” tackles the U.S. drone war and targeted killings abroad, says Obama has been a “drone president” whose operations have killed large numbers of civilians. On NSA reform, Scahill says “the parameters of the debate in Washington are: Should we figure out a way to streamline this and sell it to the American people, or should we do more surveillance?”

  • “A Silent Coup”: Jeremy Scahill & Bob Herbert on Corporate, Military Interests Shaping Obama’s SOTU

    On issues from domestic inequality to foreign policy, President Obama delivered the fifth State of the Union with a vow to take action on his own should Congress stonewall progress on his agenda. But will Obama’s policies go far enough? We host a roundtable with three guests: Jeremy Scahill, producer and writer of the Oscar-nominated documentary “Dirty Wars: The World is a Battlefield;” and senior investigative reporter at First Look Media, which will launch in the coming months; Bob Herbert, Distinguished Senior Fellow with Demos; and Lorella Praeli, Director of Advocacy and Policy at the United We Dream Coalition.

  • Arizona lawmaker pushing NSA data mining restrictions may also go after drones

    An Arizona lawmaker who wants to prohibit police departments, prosecutors and state courts from helping the National Security Agency with its data mining and surveillance plans on adding anti-drone language to the measure.

  • ‘Drone warfare helps sell wars to a domestic audience’

    Development of modern drone technologies will never eliminate civilian collateral damage in conflict deployment, Michael Raddie, antiwar activist told RT, arguing that investing in drones makes warfare more acceptable for general public.

  • Leaked Pakistani document contradicts US accounts of drone strikes

    It is the fullest official record of the covert campaign yet to emerge, providing the dates, precise times and exact locations of drone strikes, as well as casualty estimates. The document abruptly stops routinely recording civilian casualties after the start of 2009, but overall casualty estimates continue to be comparable to independent estimates such as those compiled by the Bureau.

  • Are GCHQ workers in danger of becoming accessories to murder?

    I am not a lawyer but I am certain that the defence secretary, Philip Hammond, needs to take very seriously a legal opinion which was handed to Parliament this week.

    It comes from Jemima Stratford QC. She has given a judgment on whether GCHQ can pass information onto the US, which is later used to facilitate drone strikes.

  • 8 Films That Reveal the Shifting American Bias Towards the Middle East

    It’s been over 10 years since the United States entered Iraq. Though the war in Iraq has officially been over since 2011, our involvement in the Middle East is stronger than ever. And from 9/11 until now, popular opinion in favor of or against the war in Afghanistan has ebbed and flowed.

  • CIA and Saudis cooperate on Chinese missile purchase

    Undoubtedly, the role of the Saudi Arabia and its influence on the Middle East has long been under the discussion. Now with Iran and the West trying to reach an agreement on the nuclear matter, the monarchy is trying to amend the situation to their favor, with the Washington’s support, according to recent reports.

  • Heads of Killing, Lying, and Spying Under Fire

    Before the hearing began, activists from CODEPINK stood up holding signs reading ‘Stop – Killing, Lying, Spying’ and called for the firing of James Clapper, Director of Central Intelligence, John Brennan, Director of the CIA, and James Comey, Director of the FBI.

NSA Watch: New Faces, Same Policy, Obama Defends Clapper

Posted in Law at 5:55 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Today’s news about privacy and the NSA in particular

  • Support the Making of the Animated Movie “Reclaim Our Privacy!”

    La Quadrature du Net launches a crowd-funding campaign to support the making of the upcoming animation movie about privacy, mass surveillance, and the urgency to rethink our relationship with technology. Help us finance this project!

  • Ukrainian police use cellphones to track protesters, court order shows

    Demonstrators protesting Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych suspected their cellphone location data was being tracked since at least last week, when people in the vicinity of a clash between riot police and protesters received a chilling text message. It read: “Dear subscriber, you are registered as a participant in a mass disturbance.”

  • Kerry meets Merkel amid anger at NSA eavesdropping
  • Kerry seeks to calm German anger at NSA reports

    U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Friday that relations with Germany have gone through a “rough patch” recently because of revelations about NSA spying, but insisted that the two countries can put the episode behind them.

  • Jairam Ramesh among leaders angered by NSA surveillance

    Leaders from several countries, including Union Minister Jairam Ramesh, have reacted angrily to revelations that the US spied on their governments at the 2009 Copenhagen climate summit, according to a media report.

  • DW’s Webtalk on the NSA and Syria

    Leaders from several countries, including Union Minister Jairam Ramesh, have reacted angrily to revelations that the US spied on their governments at the 2009 Copenhagen climate summit, according to a media report.

  • Germany says US not co-operating enough on NSA scandal

    German interior minister Thomas de Maiziere at the Munich Security Conference Friday said the US is not doing enough to restore trust after the NSA scandal: “The information we are being provided with is not satisfactory and the political damage [of the NSA's work] is greater than the security benefit.”

  • Kerry admits ‘rough period’ in US-German ties over NSA

    US Secretary of State John Kerry acknowledged Friday that relations with Germany had gone through a “rough period” of late over NSA snooping but that shared security priorities would keep the countries close.

  • Why the NSA gets higher marks for privacy than business

    Those of you following the steady stream of news stories on the National Security Agency’s insatiable appetite for information already know that the spy agency has figured out how to snatch data from mobile apps. Since 2007, The NSA and its partner Britain’s Government Communication Headquarters (GCHQ) have siphoned from apps address books, buddy lists, phone logs and geographic data.

  • NSA pursues quantum technology

    NSA also wishes to develop the technology so that it is capable of breaking modern Internet security.

  • Deutsche Telekom: NSA/GCHQ revelations an opportunity

    German operator group Deutsche Telekom has hailed last year’s revelations that the US spy agency NSA and the UK’s GCHQ had been monitoring ordinary citizens’ browsing and messaging habits as an “opportunity” for operators to provide data privacy and data security services.

  • Why NSA Snooping is About a Lot More Than Just Our Privacy

    Alessandro Acquisti in his TED talk tells us why privacy matters in a world in which it is vanishing. “Privacy is not about having something negative to hide,” he says.

    Indeed, the privacy of all Americans is a matter of principle, enshrined in the Constitution. It used to be we had control of what we wanted people to know about us, good and bad. But not anymore.

    As troubling as this assault on privacy is, the Edward Snowden revelations about the National Security Agency’s surveillance show that something even more dangerous is afoot. And it’s about what the NSA can do with this information they are collecting on us.

  • Snowden revelations of NSA spying on Copenhagen climate talks spark anger

    Documents leaked by Edward Snowden show NSA kept US negotiators abreast of their rivals’ positions at 2009 summitfree

  • NSA’s spying on climate talks spark anger

    Developing countries have reacted angrily to revelations that the United States spied on other governments at the Copenhagen climate summit in 2009.

  • Obama to Nominate Navy Admiral as NSA Director
  • Navy cybersecurity chief to lead NSA
  • Obama to name Navy Vice-Adm Michael Rogers to lead NSA
  • Vice-admiral Michael Rogers to take command of embattled NSA

    Vice-admiral Michael Rogers, the commander of the US navy’s tenth fleet and its Fleet Cyber Command, will take over from NSA Director Keith Alexander, who reluctantly became a global figure in the wake of the Snowden revelations.

  • Obama Says James Clapper ‘Should Have Been More Careful’ In How He Lied To Congress

    any of us are still quite disappointed that James Clapper has kept his job as Director of National Intelligence after flat out lying to Congress over whether or not the NSA spied on Americans. There have been increasing calls from within Congress to have Clapper investigated and possibly prosecuted for the felony of lying to Congress, but there appears to be no movement there at all. Not only does the Obama administration seem to want to protect one of their own, but it’s also made it clear that something like that would make it look like Ed Snowden “won” and they can’t allow that sort of thing.

  • Obama Stands by Intelligence Chief
  • French Surveillance Programs Eerily Echo The NSA’s, Right Down To Codifying Unconstitutional Collections

    As the NSA leaks have expanded to detail spying activities in other countries, those governments affected have had a variety of reactions. In some cases, legitimately questionable tactics were exposed (potential economic espionage in Brazil, tapping German chancellor Angela Merkel’s phone) and the responses were genuinely outraged. In other cases, the outrage was temporary and somewhat muted, suggesting these countries were allowing the NSA to take the heat for their own questionable surveillance programs aimed at their citizens.

  • After NSA Backdoors, Security Experts Leave RSA for a Conference They Can Trust

    We thought we won the Crypto Wars, the fight to make strong encryption accessible to all, in the 1990s.1 We were wrong. Last month, Reuters broke news about a deal struck between the popular computer security firm RSA and the National Security Agency. RSA reportedly accepted $10 million from NSA to make Dual_EC_DRBG—an intentionally weakened random number generator—the default in its widely used BSAFE encryption toolkit.

  • Terror suspect challenges NSA surveillance programme

    In the motion filed in federal court in Denver on Wednesday with help from the American Civil Liberties Union, Jamshid Muhtorov also requested that prosecutors disclose more about how surveillance law was used in his case. Muhtorov denies the terror charges he faces.

  • NSA: no terrorists caught, yet entangled in everything

    There is so much missing or purposefully obfuscated in the debate about NSA/Five Eyes spying, US Government illegality, CIA collusion with al-Qaeda, Guantanamo, 9/11, torture, drones, Afghanistan, Iraq and everything that millions of people have been outraged about for over a decade, but the most striking is that almost no one is proposing closing these organizations down and few are talking about prosecuting those responsible.

  • NSA: new privacy officer helps boost agency’s reputation

    The NSA has finally found an officer for its civil liberties and privacy office. A new member of the NSA team will have to provide expert advice as well as develop measures for strengthening the NSA’s privacy protection. The appointed officer seems to be a good choice for the NSA whose reputation has been tarnished, but at the same time this raises some experts’ doubts.

  • Canadian spies scooped up airport Wi-Fi in NSA trial: Reports

    Documents from Edward Snowden reveal that Canada’s foreign signals intelligence agency picked up metadata on airport travellers from free Wi-Fi available at a major Canadian airport.

  • CSEC Snowden docs: MPs grill defence minister on spying revelation
  • Canadian Gov’t Responds To Spying Revelations By Saying It’s All A Lie And Calling Glenn Greenwald A ‘Porn Spy’
  • UK public has shrugged off NSA leaks, says David Cameron

    Prime Minister David Cameron said Thursday he believes the British public has largely shrugged off the espionage disclosures of former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, telling lawmakers that people seem to be satisfied that U.K. spies are doing their jobs.

  • Chris Erway: NSA surveillance threatens Rhode Island

    When the National Security Agency’s surveillance program PRISM was disclosed in early June, the immediate question wasn’t if the program would harm the U.S. tech industry but how badly. Six months and many more disclosures later, it’s clear NSA surveillance is an economic millstone that threatens to drag down the U.S. tech industry.

  • NSA Knows: Secret digital back doors

    Two decades ago, the National Security Agency (NSA) sought legislation requiring a “back door” in all public encryption technologies, enabling the agency to monitor electronic communications even when the parties sought to shield them from prying eyes. That push failed. The NSA then embarked on an effort to accomplish essentially the same goal in secret.

  • If CIA, MI6, NSA and GCHQ disappeared we would be safer – David Shayler

    The US relationship with the Saudis appears to be changing and even though several decades ago Saudi agreed to sell the US oil at $10 a barrel in perpetuity, the love affair appears to be over. According to former MI5 officer and whistleblower David Shayler there may be plans to change the official story of 9/11 and the US start pointing the finger at Saudi Arabia. Mr. Shayler believes the way to stop all of the illegality being committed by agencies such as CIA, NSA, MI6 and GCHQ is to simply stop funding them.

Links 31/01/2014: Ubuntu News

Posted in GNU/Linux, Ubuntu at 2:35 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: News for the day and the week, covering various aspects of Ubuntu and Canonical

  • New Kernel Vulnerability Affects Ubuntu 13.10

    On January 30, Canonical announced in a security notice that a new Linux kernel update was available for its Ubuntu 13.10 (Saucy Salamander) operating system, fixing a security issue found recently in the Linux kernel packages.

  • On Planet Ubuntu

    I think the gist of Stuart’s view is that the personal stories on Planet Ubuntu is a wonderful part of being in a community. Ubuntu is not just about Ubuntu, it is about the stories and the lives of the people who contribute to our community. I agree with Stuart here too.

  • Ubuntu’s Juju Wins the Best Cloud Automation Solution Award
  • 7 Things We Expect from Ubuntu in 2014

    2013 was a milestone year for Canonical. Not only did Ubuntu expand its wings to other arenas like tablets and smartphones, it also propelled itself into the world of gaming. With major milestones like Steam, Ubuntu Edge, and Ubuntu Touch under its belt, Ubuntu has its eyes set on convergence in 2014. That said, you won’t get to see a convergent desktop this year. 2014 is just a setting stage for Shuttleworth’s ambitious plans to spread the reach of Ubuntu to every device.

  • Ubuntu 13.04 Is No Longer Supported, Upgrade to Ubuntu 13.10 Now

    As we reported at the beginning of the month, the Ubuntu 13.04 (Raring Ringtail) Linux operating system was supposed to reach end of life (EOL) today, January 27, 2014.

  • Unity To Have Anti-Aliased Corners, Full GTK3 Theming

    Unity 7 in Ubuntu 14.04 LTS will be picking up some new features even though Canonical’s major focus is on Unity 8 that will come past this next Long-Term Support release.

  • Latest Unity7 Update in Ubuntu 14.04 Features Anti-aliased Windows & Full GTK3+ Theming Support.

    Currently the default Ubuntu desktop is shipped with Unity7, even though Canonical developers are working on upcoming major iteration Unity8 (a.k.a Unity Next) which is based on Mir display server targeting convergence, there is clear announcement that Ubuntu 14.04 Trusty Tahr LTS will be shipped with Unity7 & not Unity8. Recently, unity7 stacks were upgraded in Ubuntu 14.04 LTS with including features of full GTK3+ theming support & windows with anti-aliased corners.

  • Sable Complete All-in-one Ubuntu Linux Pre-installed PC Released By System76.

    System76, the computer manufacturer well-known and highly appreciated for their support of opensource software has released new Sable Complete All-in-one PC with Ubuntu Linux pre-installed. The U.S based company, in last few months has already released several models of Laptops & Desktop-PCs based on latest fourth generation ‘Haswell’ Intel core processors & with other hardware which is capable of offering best possible support to Ubuntu.

  • Yet Another Ubuntu Powered Supercomputer: System76′s Sable Complete All-In-One Computer

    Hello Linux Geeksters. As you may know, System76 is computer manufacturer, creating Ubuntu computers, laptops and servers. They choose wise the hardware components, in order to have full support on the Ubuntu Linux systems. In November 2013, the System76 Sable Touch, All-in-One Touchscreen computer has been announced.

  • 3 Reasons Why Ubuntu Smartphone Will Succeed


Google and the Desktops (or Laptops)

Posted in GNU/Linux, Google at 4:12 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: How Google’s operating system for desktops and laptops is shaping up, and what can be said about it from a freedom advocate’s perspective

GOOGLE’S Chrome OS, which is becoming one of the world’s most widespread GNU/Linux distributions for the desktop, is receiving more coverage these days [1] (it’s mostly positive and optimistic). Capitalising on the success of Android and increasingly converging with it [2] for development [3] and apps, Chrome OS seems to have a future of relatively high presence if not worldwide domination (Chrome OS is for desktops and laptops, not mobile devices, which is where Android now dominates). Chrome OS very much revolves around the Web browser, which is not surprising given Google’s core business.

Recently, in order to improve perceptions of Chrome security, Google offered cash prizes [4] and tackled allegations of eavesdropping (by accident [5-8]). There are some attempts, including poor ones [9], to discredit Chrome using “security”, especially now that a new release comes out [10-12], eliminating Flash in the process (at least for GNU/Linux and its Free version of Chrome, called Chromium [13]).

Chrome OS and Chrome are proprietary, but they have Free/open source surrogates, Chromium OS and Chromium. They are privacy-infringing, but they are generally more benign than the proprietary software which still dominates in desktops and laptops.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. What Chrome OS Needs to Expand Adoption

    Back in 2012, I did a comparison between Chrome OS and Ubuntu. I examined the areas where each operating system differed and I also touched on a few of their similarities. In this piece, I’ll take it a step further and examine how Chrome OS is close to filling the OS gap, yet might need some improvements in key areas before the masses begin dumping Windows to migrate to it.

  2. Chrome apps come to Android
  3. Google Delivers Developer Tools for Apps for Android and iOS

    It was back in September of last year that the Google Chrome team delivered an extensive post up heralding “packaged apps” that work with Chrome, which the team obviously felt could become a game-changer for Google’s browser. “These apps are more powerful than before, and can help you get work done, play games in full-screen and create cool content all from the web,” wrote the Chrome team. Many of us have tried some of these apps and experienced how they make the browser feel almost like an operating system underlying applications.

  4. Pwnium hackathon: Google offers nearly $3 million in rewards
  5. Chrome Eavesdropping, Balkanized Internet & More…

    It’s convoluted and unlikely, perhaps, but there’s a way that websites can trick the Chrome browser into leaving the mic open, allowing who knows whom to eavesdrop.

  6. Speech recognition hack turns Google Chrome into advanced bugging device
  7. Google dismisses eavesdropping threat in Chrome feature
  8. Security Alert: Google Chrome

    Right now I’m glad I never used Chrome.

  9. Spammers buy Chrome extensions and turn them into adware

    Changes in Google Chrome extension ownership can expose thousands of users to aggressive advertising and possibly other threats, two extension developers have recently discovered.

  10. Chrome 33 Beta: Custom Elements, Web Speech Synthesis
  11. New Google Chrome 32 Release Fixes Mouse Pointer and Quicktime Issues
  12. Chrome 33 Beta: Custom Elements, Web Speech, and more

    Today’s Chrome Beta channel release kicks off the new year with a slew of new features for developers ranging from Custom Elements, to web speech synthesis and improved WebFont downloading. Unless otherwise noted, changes apply to desktop versions of Chrome and Chrome for Android.

  13. Use Chromium on Linux? Adobe Flash Will Stop Working From April

    Google are to drop support for the ‘Netscape Plugin API’ (NPAPI) – used by Adobe Flash – on Linux builds of Chrome/ium far sooner than was originally planned.

    The ageing plugin architecture, which allows for unrestricted access to a computer, is considered inefficient and insecure, with Google calling it ‘the leading cause of hangs, crashes, and security incidents’.

Latest SUSE: More Microsoft-Serving, More Microsoft-Controlled

Posted in OpenSUSE at 3:27 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: The lesser-explored side of SUSE, which is being hosted by freedom-hostile companies including Microsoft

OpenSUSE 12.2 is officially dead now [1] and blogs begin to advertise a new release of the Microsoft-friendly (and funded) distribution, perhaps unknowingly helping Microsoft. One such site says that the new release is now offered in Microsoft-owned servers, demonstrating patent and control issues, not to mention privacy issues. Other reports mention SLE* (SUSE) [2] on Amazon, the CIA’s privacy-infringing special partner. This is the very opposite of what the GNU/Linux world should strive for. At the same time, Microsoft is “openwashing” its datacentre [3] and so does the Microsoft-owned (partially) Facebook [4,5], which is a censorship/surveillance company (users are the products, not the customers, and the business model is brainwashing them, also with pseudo “search” like Microsoft’s). Amazon has already shown us how “open” it is when it started paying Microsoft for GNU/Linux, deleted files (remotely) from people’s devices, and kicked out Wikileaks from its hosting plan at its most critical time (censorship).

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. openSUSE 12.2 Is Officially Dead

    The openSUSE Project has just announced that openSUSE 12.2 has reached end of life (EOL) and it will no longer be supported.

  2. SUSE Linux Enterprise Server now available on AWS GovCloud
  3. Microsoft open sources datacentre architecture, will other major providers follow suit?

    “These servers are optimized for Windows Server software and built to handle the enormous availability, scalability and efficiency requirements of Windows Azure, our global cloud platform. They offer dramatic improvements over traditional enterprise server designs: up to 40 percent server cost savings, 15 percent power efficiency gains and 50 percent reduction in deployment and service times,” Laing said.

  4. Open Compute Project Takes on Converged Infrastructure, Saves Facebook $1 Billion

    The Open Compute Project officially got started in 2011 as a way to open up Facebook’s server designs and help the broader IT community — it’s an effort that is paying off for Facebook and many others too.

  5. Facebook Saved Over A Billion Dollars By Building Open Sourced Servers

    Facebook is reaping the benefits of designing its own energy efficient servers. Today at the Open Compute Summit, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said that “In the last three years alone, Facebook has saved more than a billion dollars in building out our infrastructure using Open Compute designs.”

Journalists Report Issues With UEFI, Cannot Install GNU/Linux

Posted in Antitrust, Hardware, Microsoft at 3:06 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz


Summary: Calls for boycott against UEFI receive supportive proof from journalists who are unable to install GNU/Linux because of Microsoft/Intel locks

WE HAVE already published many articles about UEFI because it is clearly a Linux-hostile plot to remove users’ control over their PCs. It’s about limiting the ability to boot operating systems, usually by giving authorisation powers to some third party like Microsoft. Novell (ex-)employees in particular — suffice to say because of their Microsoft ties — have been friendly towards this agenda and they laid inside Linux some of the endorsing code which weakens antitrust action.

Based on this new report from one who knows his way around GNU/Linux, UEFI is a pain in the neck. To quote his article’s summary: “Opinions vary on whether the UEFI standards are helping or hurting the migration to Linux. Enterprise users can select a Linux distro certified to work with UEFI standards, but not all Linux distros have keys that allow it to install. Despite the intent of the UEFI standards, the process so far is not universally successful. It should “just work,” said the Linux Foundation’s Greg Kroah-Hartman.”

Well, not quite. Novell’s Kroah-Hartman played a key role in pushing Microsoft-serving code into Linux and this includes UEFI restricted boot. UEFI should never have been embraced by Linux; it should be shunned because it’s a patent trap that serves a rapidly-shrinking criminal entity known as Intel as well as its partner Microsoft (they are jointly known as “Wintel”). Intel cannot keep up with mobile revolution according to the latest news [1], so it must be fighting to keep the old abusive duopoly/oligopoly going. To quote more from the above article: “I have extensive practice with installing various Linux distros on older and new computers. I am handy at setting up disk partitions and dual booting to maintain a working Microsoft Windows OS alongside numerous Linux distros. I also have routinely installed Linux on older and new computers by removing the Windows OS and replacing the entire drive with one or more Linux distros.

“However, it was not until I attempted to do a Linux installation on a new Gateway Series DX desktop with Windows 8 installed that I stared that UEFI monster down. At first I nearly ran back to the big box store to return the shiny new Windows box. I was not able to get the BIOS settings for the UEFI and Secure Boot permissions to even see USB and DVD live sessions for Ubuntu, Linux Mint, Korora 19 or Puppy Linux. That made routine installation of Linux impossible.

“The current use of UEFI and Secure Boot technologies might all too conveniently lock down the hard drive to lock out the installation of other operating systems — like Linux. Successfully installing Linux on UEFI/Secure Boot hardware controls depends on which computer brand or model you buy. Some of the newest BIOS versions effectively lock down any other OS access.”

Advice to the author: join the effort to enforce antitrust action. The European authorities have already received a formal complaint from lawyers. In the mean time, boycott hardware that comes with UEFI. Voting with one’s wallet is casting a strong vote.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Intel could abandon smartphone market: Report

    Intel’s deal with Chinese manufacturer Lenovo to supply chips for its smartphones has now ended. The processor giant, however, is reportedly working on other partnerships to replace the deal. Asus also released the Intel-powered Asus Zenfone series at CES. The new line of smartphones—featuring 4-inch, 5-inch and 6-inch models—will be released in March, mainly aimed at the China and Southeast Asia markets.

Kernel News: 3.13 Update, 3.12.9 and 3.10.28 Released

Posted in News Roundup at 12:38 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Kernel Core

Graphics Stack

  • Nouveau Gallium3D Now Supports OpenGL 3.2, 3.3

    With a fresh round of Mesa Git commits on Monday morning the support landed for OpenGL 3.2 and OpenGL 3.3 within Nouveau’s NV50 and NVC0 Gallium3D drivers.

  • SWC: A Wayland Compositor Framework

    Announced today to Wayland developers was SWC, a new Wayland compositor framework designed to be taken advantage of by window managers targeting Wayland.

  • AMD Kaveri OpenCL Compared To Radeon & GeForce GPUs On Linux
  • Open-Source NVIDIA Driver Is Still Sour For Some GPUs

    Nouveau, the reverse-engineered open-source NVIDIA Linux graphics driver that’s been in development now for the better part of a decade, is working brilliantly for some NVIDIA GeForce graphics cards while for other NVIDIA GPUs the experience is a sloppy mess. Using the Linux 3.13 kernel and Mesa 10.1-devel Gallium3D driver code installed on top of Ubuntu 13.10, here’s what the experience is like when trying a number of GeForce graphics cards with this latest open-source driver code.

  • AMD Radeon Gallium3D Catches Up To Catalyst For Some Linux Games
  • SimpleDRM Driver Gets A Major Rewrite

    SimpleDRM is aiming to be a rather generic and simple DRM driver for the mainline Linux kernel. SimpleDRM doesn’t do hardware acceleration but can replace multiple existing frame-buffer drivers like efifb, vesafb, simplefb, and other code. This basic DRM driver can then work with the xf86-video-modesetting X.Org driver but there isn’t yet any support for using this DRM driver on Wayland-based systems.


  • LLVM Clang vs. GCC Compilers For AMD’s Steamroller

    Besides the interesting but disappointing AMD Kaveri Gallium3D vs. Catalyst Linux driver benchmarks published this morning, here’s some more AMD A10-7850K “Kaveri” benchmarks for your Sunday viewing pleasure.

  • Linux 3.8 To Linux 3.14 Intel DRM Graphics Benchmarks

    The latest benchmarks to share with you all are some tests done of all major Linux kernel releases from Linux 3.8 through Linux 3.13 and including the latest drm-next code that will land in the Linux 3.14 kernel. Here’s a look at whether Intel Haswell HD Graphics users can expect any more performance improvements out of Linux 3.14 on the graphics front.

  • Benchmarking CompuLab’s Small, Low-Power Linux PCs
  • 24-Way AMD Radeon vs. NVIDIA GeForce Linux Graphics Card Comparison

    After this weekend carrying out a 25-way open-source Linux graphics driver comparison featuring AMD Radeon, Intel HD Graphics, and NVIDIA GeForce hardware, the tables have now turned to look at nearly the same assortment of hardware but when using the high-performance, proprietary Linux graphics drivers. We’ve also upped the demanding OpenGL benchmarks used — including the Source Engine — as we see how the AMD and NVIDIA binary graphics drivers are doing to start 2014.

  • 25-Way Open-Source Linux Graphics Card Comparison

    As alluded to in days earlier after finding major open-source Radeon driver improvements — including the newer RadeonSI Gallium3D driver — I’ve been conducting a fresh graphics card comparison spanning many graphics processors and looking at the latest open-source driver performance on the Intel, NVIDIA, and Radeon fronts under Ubuntu Linux. In this article is a 25-way Intel Haswell HD Graphics vs. AMD Radeon vs. NVIDIA GeForce graphics comparison from Ubuntu 13.10 with the upgraded Linux 3.13 kernel and Mesa 10.1 development driver code to provide a very bleeding edge look at what the open-source drivers have to offer the Linux desktop users.

  • SanDisk 64GB Serial ATA 3.0 SSD On Ubuntu Linux
  • Samsung 840 EVO 120GB SSD On Ubuntu Linux

    All drives were tested from an Intel Core i7 Haswell system while running Ubuntu 13.10 x86_64 with the Linux 3.13 kernel. The tested assortment of drives used (based upon their availability within our labs) included:

  • Freescale’s i.MX6 SoC Smacks The Old Intel Atom Z530

    For the past few weeks I’ve had the pleasure of playing with CompuLab’s Utilite Computer. The Utilite is a miniature ARM desktop computer powered by Freescale’s i.MX6 SoC and is running Ubuntu 12.04 LTS. This is a speedy little Linux system that for some workloads can blow past Intel’s original Atom Z530 “Poulsbo” SoC system.

Free/Open Source Software Events: February and Beyond

Posted in Free/Libre Software at 12:20 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Conferences and other upcoming events that revolve around Free/Open Source software

  • Must see places in Brussels while at FOSDEM

    From museums to monuments, from parks to shopping boutiques, Brussels is a charming city of contrasts. The place offers enormous amount of diversity when it comes to things to do and places to see. No wonder that Brussels, the capital city of Belgium is quite popular with travellers. While the list of places to see in Brussels is quite exhaustive, we bring you some must see places in Brussels. After all, a tourist has to start somewhere… right…

  • Beware of pickpockets while in Brussels
  • CFPs Due! ApacheCon, CloudStack, LF Collaboration Summit, Android Builders Summit & ELC
  • OpenDaylight Summit Keynote Spotlight: Christos Kolias
  • SysAdmin Class Teaches Ins and Outs of a Good Local Security Policy

    Sarah Kiden had never used Linux before she landed a job four years ago as a Web and E-learning Administrator at Uganda Christian University in Kampala. There she is in charge of maintaining the university’s information systems on servers that largely run Linux.

  • How to get your conference talk submission accepted

    Michael Davies, a part of the Linux.conf.au (LCA) conference talk review committee, spent a session at this year’s conference talking about how they review talk submissions and choose which ones to accept for this large Australian open source conference. While he spoke specifically about LCA, his tips are largely applicable to those interested in submitting a talk proposal to any conference.

  • Free beer, pizza and Linux at Investec on 20th Feb

    Pizza and coding go together like pap en sous, and served with a side order of booze only makes the partnership sweeter. Which is why one of the highlights of the Joburg developers calendar is the quarterly Free Beer Sessions organised by programming powerhouse Obsidian.

    Partly this is because the beer and the pizza, like the software discussed at such sessions, is free. Also because there’s always a panel of interesting speakers who’ve got unique insights and experience in the world of Free and Open Source Software to chat to and learn from.

  • Women in Open Source Week

    Opensource.com will highlight the efforts of women in open source from January 27 through February 7. We will be focusing some of our content specifically on women working in free and open source software fields and collaborating on projects ranging from open knowledge to open hardware.

  • Linux Plumbers Conference call for refereed-track presentations

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