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02.11.14

Latest News About Surveillance, Torture, and Assassination

Posted in News Roundup at 5:33 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: The steep decline to lawlessness and elimination of dissent

  • Take Action to Protect Your Privacy on The Internet

    The value of privacy is something that most people can appreciate but there are those that wish to systematically dismantle this basic human right. Today, however, in a battle to mirror and celebrate the fight against SOPA and its inspiration Aaron Swartz, the Internet will tell the NSA and their mass surveillance partners that erosion of freedoms will never be accepted.

  • The Day We Fight Back protests internet surveillance
  • The Day We Fight Against Surveillance and in Support of Privacy

    Over the last year the public across the globe was made aware of massive global surveillance conducted by the NSA and its partners or counterparts, but also by private tech companies. In response, and in celebration of the victory against SOPA, PIPA and ACTA two years ago and in memory of one of its key architects, Aaron Swartz, La Quadrature du Net joins this day of mobilisation The Day We Fight Back against mass surveillance, which will mark actions by civil rights groups from all over the world. This day is a perfect occasion for all citizens to get informed, and to act to defend our privacy against private and public surveillance. Below are actions carried out by La Quadrature and its supporters today.

  • [Video] Reclaim Our Privacy

    Thanks to the generosity of supporters who helped crowd-fund it, and of Benoît Musereau who volunteered to direct it, La Quadrature du Net publishes ”Reclaim Our Privacy”, a three-minute movie that explains the threat to, the importance of protecting, and the tools to reclaim our privacy online. If you want to contribute to the funding of this movie, it is still possible to do so here. Any funds received above the target amount will be shared between Benoît Musereau and La Quadrature du Net. The movie is released under CC BY-SA, so feel free to share or remix it!

  • Join our new campaign to fight mass surveillance
  • Orwell was hailed a hero for fighting in Spain. Today he’d be guilty of terrorism

    If George Orwell and Laurie Lee were to return from the Spanish civil war today, they would be arrested under section five of the Terrorism Act 2006. If convicted of fighting abroad with a “political, ideological, religious or racial motive” – a charge they would find hard to contest – they would face a maximum sentence of life in prison. That they were fighting to defend an elected government against a fascist rebellion would have no bearing on the case. They would go down as terrorists.

  • Number of data interception requests to GCHQ ‘possibly too large’, says official

    Interception communications commissioner Sir Anthony May says requests amount to 570,000 a year

  • Five surveillance myths stalling NSA reform, debunked

    The Day We Fight Back deserves truth amidst the administration’s half-truths and trolling. From thwarted attacks (zero) to President Obama’s new rules (not good enough), this is what you need to know to make real reform happen

  • What the NSA leaks proved about surveillance

    Analysis: U.S. knows about citizens’ phone calls and emails and spies on allied foreign governments and companies

  • Maryland lawmakers want to cripple the NSA’s headquarters

    Legislators in Maryland want to turn the lights out on the NSA — literally. A bill introduced last Thursday to its House of Delegates would bar state agencies, utilities, and pretty much anything that receives state funds from providing assistance to federal agencies that collect electronic data or metadata without a specific warrant to do so. Namely, the delegates are thinking of the National Security Agency, which is headquartered just outside their state’s capital.

    [...]

    The campaign to shut off the NSA’s water and electricity actually stems from the Tenth Amendment Center, which drafted model legislation on which Maryland’s proposal is based. In particular, the Tenth Amendment Center is also hoping to see the NSA’s water supply turned off in Utah, where the agency operates another large data center. Though it’s a roundabout way of dealing with the NSA and unlikely to be a widely supported measure, Smigiel thinks it’s fitting: “I think it was Mark Twain who said, ‘Whiskey is for drinking, water is for fighting over.’”

  • Snowden and the War On Whistleblowers: An Interview With Annie Machon

    Machon talked about the Courage Foundation last December at the 30th Chaos Communication Congress (30C3) in Hamburg, Germany; it is one of the most important annual meetings for hackers around the globe. There, Machon won the audience’s admiration with her talk on what she calls, “the war on whistleblowers.” She believes that these wars are mainly used as a pretext to erode civil liberties worldwide and intervene in other countries’ affairs.

  • 11 Disturbing Facts About the NSA That Will Piss You Off

    International payments, banking and credit card transactions are flagged and monitored by the NSA. It has specifically targeted big credit card companies like VISA.

  • Uh Oh, NSA: People Are Protesting Online and IRL Today

    Two weeks ago, we called your attention to the forthcoming “Day We Fight Back,” an Internet movement designed to fight back against the NSA’s data collection program. Guess what? The day is finally here. Watch out, government.

    Today, as planned, dozens of participating websites like Upworthy and Piwik are posting banners on their home pages, encouraging viewers to call up and email their local legislators and complain about the NSA.

  • NSA link sparks UN to act on Hammarskjöld probe

    Hammarskjöld died during the night of September 17th, 1961 in a plane crash in what is now Zambia, where he was headed to mediate in the ongoing conflict in neighbouring The Congo in his role as then UN Secretary General.

    The diplomat’s death has been the subject of numerous rumours and conspiracy theories over the past five decades centred around whether the crash was an accident, or if Hammarskjöld was killed.

    Evidence available has left investigators puzzled, with pilot error deemed unlikely after witnesses claimed to have seen the plane going down on fire.

  • Dutch ministers in hot water over ‘NSA’ phone grabs

    Two Dutch ministers faced a grilling in Parliament Tuesday after revealing the country’s intelligence services grabbed metadata from some 1.8 million intercepted telephone calls.

    Interior Minister Ronald Plasterk and Defence Minister Jeanine Hennis are fending off calls for their resignations after revealing last week that the Dutch secret services intercepted the data — an act previously attributed to the US National Security Agency (NSA).

  • EU privacy head on EU data protection reform, its implications, and NSA/GCHQ-gate

    As the European Union and the Commission drive efforts to conclude the most ambitious overhaul of the continent’s data protection legislation since 1995 in advance of European Parliament elections this spring, Business Cloud News sat down with European Data Protection Supervisor Peter Hustinx to discuss the law’s development, its implications for cloud service providers once in place, and the revelations surrounding the NSA and GCHQ’s widespread digital surveillance activities.

  • NSA Whistleblower: USA Freedom Act Will Not Go Far Enough To Protect Civil Liberties
  • Utah senators wary of giving NSA millions in tax relief

    A bill that would exempt the National Security Agency’s data center in Bluffdale from paying taxes on its massive electric consumption met some resistance from legislators Tuesday, but remained on track.

    The bill would codify a commitment made by former Gov. Jon Huntsman not to tax the utilities for the data center in an attempt to lure the massive NSA operation to Utah.

  • Global Surveillance: The Day We Fight Back

    Last week I wrote about an inquiry being conducted by the Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament into the laws that govern the UK’s intelligence agencies (now closed, I’m afraid.) That’s just one sign of the tectonic shift that has taken place in this area in the wake of Edward Snowden’s revelations about massive, global surveillance being carried out by the NSA and GCHQ.

  • Remembering Aaron Swartz: icon of the open web

    One year after the tragic death of the campaigning hacker, a global campaign against surveillance is building the Don’t Spy On Us campaign in his spirit

  • Edward Snowden revelations: GCHQ ‘using online viruses and honey traps to discredit targets’
  • Happiness Brussels Spies on the NSA

    Coming off the latest (not so surprising) revelations of the misuse of NSA data, Happiness Brussels has launched “Spy on the NSA,” a site which gives the the NSA a taste of its own medicine in support of www.thedaywefightback.org, “a massive digital protest against mass surveillance taking place across the internet today.” Among those participating today as well are Reddit, Amnesty International, Tumblr, Upworthy and Greenpeace.

  • A New iPhone App Catalogues and Maps U.S. Drone Killings

    On Monday, the new publication First Look reported that electronically obtained metadata controls who, how, and when U.S. drones kill abroad. Journalists Glenn Greenwald and Jeremy Scahill write that that kind of information doesn’t only determine who is killed: Metadata on phone SIM cards determines how victims of the strikes are found.

  • Rubio: Obama Administration Leaked Drone Info to Appear ‘Deliberative’

    The administration of President Barack Obama leaked sensitive information about the possibility of using a drone to kill an American who joined al-Qaida in order to position themselves as politically “deliberative,” Sen. Marco Rubio said Tuesday.

  • Tweaking the Constitution to Make Extrajudicial Killing Easier

    A thought experiment to get assassination advocates back on the right side of the law

  • Anti-drone activist Kareem Khan seized by armed men in Pakistan

    For British MPs, the issue has taken on fresh significance after it emerged that intelligence operatives at GCHQ have been providing targeting information to their US counterparts.

  • Is A Policy A Law? Is Murder Murder?

    Notice those words: “legally” and “policy.” No longer does U.S. media make a distinction between the two.

  • No Left Left in the United States

    Human rights need to have a home. Presently in both the United States and much of the world it has taken a back seat to right and left. In a world that cares about people, human rights shouldn’t take a back seat to any political party. Universal human rights should drive.

  • Dick Cheney’s dark legacy: It’s his world, we’re just living in it

    Torture, secrecy, military adventurism. Dick Cheney, more than anyone else, set the course for America after 9/11

  • Criminal Investigation into CIA Prisons Drags on in Krakow

    Poland’s criminal investigation into secret CIA prisons located on its territory has been in progress since 2008. Now run from the Prosecutor’s Office in Krakow, the process has recently been extended, once again, to February 2014.

    [...]

    “It is significant that the ECHR was the first court to conduct a public hearing on al-Nashiri’s claims of torture and secret detention. The Polish authorities have failed to conduct an effective investigation, and US courts have also failed to deliver justice to date”, added Singh, who also represented al-Nashiri in Strasbourg.

  • What Cold War CIA Interrogators Learned from the Nazis

    At a secret black site in the years after the end of WWII, CIA and US intelligence operatives tested LSD and other interrogation techniques on captured Soviet spies—all with the help of former Nazi doctors. An excerpt from Annie Jacobsen’s Operation Paperclip, published this week.

  • CIA’s Drones, Barely Secret, Receive Rare Public Nod

    The worst kept secret in Washington national security circles is no more. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper publicly acknowledged for the first time at a Senate hearing Tuesday that the Central Intelligence Agency has a drone program.

    The CIA’s drone program, which operates in Pakistan and Yemen, has been the subject of news reports for years. But U.S. officials have continued to steer clear of publicly acknowledging the program, glossing over CIA’s role, because it has remained officially covert. That covert status allows the CIA to operate in countries where local governments don’t support the strikes.

  • Ex-CIA Director Woolsey Makes Ass of Self

    That has got to be one of the silliest statements of the new year. If Woolsey honestly believes the U.S. government is anti-Semitic, that it is driven by anti-Jewish sentiments, he needs to explain why the U.S. has generously made Israel, the spiritual and geographical homeland of the Jewish people, a virtual client-state, having given/lent/made available billions upon billions of dollars over the years.

DARPA Fuels Debate Over Whether Freedom and Militarism Can Co-exist

Posted in Free/Libre Software at 10:12 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Freedom

Summary: DARPA says it breeds Free/Open Source software, but its goals serve to contradict altruism

DARPA is funding many projects, even in academia, having acquired its budget from taxpayers through war/black budget. DARPA basically returns to the public money that it took away, but it makes the returns selective and conditional, benefiting those who help the military industrial complex. DARPA has fuelled a debate that’s seen in some parts of the Web because some suggst a GPL clause that would limit distribution or use based on the purpose (e.g. surveillance and assassination). That would conflict with the spirit of the GPL, where free means freedom (the BSD camp would permit similar uses, including making the code proprietary). DARPA recently made some headlines [1-7] because it published a catalogue of Free/Open Source projects. The value of this remains to be debated.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. DARPA Publishes Open Source Catalog Containing Code and Publications from I2O Research

    Following requests from the R&D community, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has now published an open source catalog containing all the code and publications related to its research. The endeavor, the government agency states, is to provide government investments with a flexible technology base.

  2. DARPA Opens Software, Data To Public

    DARPA’s Open Catalog aims to encourage the research and software development community to build on the agency’s large volume of data.

  3. DARPA seeks the Holy Grail of search engines
  4. DARPA government research agency publishes catalog of open source projects

    Some have described the culture of the agency as one that celebrates ‘mad scientists’ going around building and creating technologies to bring the future about. With an annual budget of $2.8 billion, DARPA drives a good portion of the advanced research that happens at universities and corporations in the US.

  5. DARPA shows off clearinghouse site for open-source code and information
  6. Eureka! DARPA Posts Its Vast Collections of Open Source Tools
  7. DARPA publishes all its open source code in one place

    “Making our open source catalog available increases the number of experts who can help quickly develop relevant software for the government,” Chris White, the DARPA program manager behind the effort, said in a statement. “Our hope is that the computer science community will test and evaluate elements of our software and afterward adopt them as either standalone offerings or as components of their products.”

Linux News Roundup (Kernel)

Posted in GNU/Linux, Kernel at 8:40 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Some of the latest bits of news about Linux, the Linux Foundation, and core parts of the kernel

Core

  • Patching a running kernel: legal issues unknown

    Following the news that SUSE engineers are working on a kernel module called kGraft that can patch a running kernel, iTWire contacted the company to find out if Oracle’s ownership of Ksplice – a mechanism for doing the same job – would pose any legal issues.

    Ksplice was developed by Ksplice Inc under an open source licence until July 2011 when it was bought by Oracle and taken proprietary.

  • Another Init System: Sinit – The Suckless Init System

    While in-fighting continues within the Debian camp over what should be the default init system in Debian, a developer has shown off his own tiny “sinit” init system project.

    The “Suckless Init System” is a real init system and is derived from M. Farkas-Dyck’s Strake init code. This “suckless” init system is designed to be a simple system and was made to scratch the itch of a developer wanting to remove BusyBox from his toy Linux distribution, Morpheus.

Linux Foundation

  • Linux Foundation Branches Out: 10 Efforts Beyond Linux

    By definition, the Linux Foundation has Linux as its core mission, helping to bring the community of Linux developers and vendors together and fostering the right environment for collaboration. When the Linux Foundation started—it was created in 2007 as a result of the merger between the Free Standards Group (FSG) and Open Source Development Labs (OSDL)—Linux was the only thing that the group did. But in 2014, that’s no longer the case.

Releases

  • Linux 3.14-rc2

    With the rest being filesystems (vfs, nfs, ocfs, btrfs and some kernfs fixes), some mm noise, and tooling (perf). Shortlog appended, which doesn’t always happen for rc2.

  • Linux Kernel 3.13.2 Is Now Available for Download

    Greg Kroah-Hartman has announced a few minutes ago, February 6, that the second maintenance release of the stable Linux kernel 3.13 is now available for download.

Hardware

  • Intel Atom Bay Trail NUC Kit On Linux

    With the early Atom “Bay Trail” hardware being disastrous for Linux, when Intel recently announced their Bay Trail based NUC Kit we were anxious and decided to give this unit a go. The Intel NUC Kit DN2820FYK packs an Intel Celeron N2820 Bay Trail CPU and motherboard supporting up to 8GB of DDR3L system memory and 2.5-inch HDD/SSD in a 116 x 112 x 51 mm form-factor. In this article is a rundown of the Phoronix experience so far for this Atom NUC Kit and how well it’s running with Ubuntu Linux.

SDN

Graphics

New Articles About GNU/Linux Success on Desktops

Posted in GNU/Linux at 8:33 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: This month’s articles about success stories and debates regarding GNU/Linux on the desktop

GNU/Linux Distributions

  • A Bunch Of Reasons Why I Use The GNU/Linux Operating System

    GNU/Linux largely uses open standards so whatever applications and computers you have can all talk to each other and speak the same languages. That allows you to turn a lab or a school into a super-computer as needed. That allows you to set up as many databases, search engines, web-servers, clients thick (resourceful) and thin (using resources of a server), as you need, want or can afford. Basically, you don’t need a brand new PC to get great performance if you can connect to another powerful computer running the software you need. GNU/Linux lets you do that transparently.

  • Top 10 Uses For Linux (Even If Your Main PC Runs Windows)

    Even if you’re a Windows (or Mac) user, knowing how to use Linux is a valuable skill and it can run a bunch of awesome things in your home — even if it isn’t your main desktop OS. Here are 10 ways you can use Linux even if you’re not ready to go full Ubuntu.

  • Growing the Linux Community

    Engaging in arguments about the superiority of one computing environment over another with individuals who are every bit as convinced of their view as your are of yours is a fruitless endeavor. I used to have lengthy discussions on the relative merits of Linux over Windows or Mac OS X, or BSD, or BeOS, or any combination thereof, none of which turned out to be a productive use of my time, or anyone else’s time involved. I like to think that I’ve grown out of the need to defend my choice of computing platform, and instead focus on what I can do. It is always best to let your work speak for itself.

Chrom*/OS

  • Best Desktop-Ready Chrome Applications that Work Great on Linux

    A few years ago, Google completely took the web by surprise by launching its own browser. The crowd, which was busy transitioning from the outmoded Internet Explorer to the trendy Firefox, initially took little notice of the search giant’s endeavor. However, due to its availability across all platforms, and also its blazing fast speed, Google Chrome became a darling of the web user within a few months. This, in turn, pushed Google to bring more features to Chrome thereby sending the partially open-source browser into a spiral of success.

  • ASUS Chromebox, HP Chromebox and Google Chromebox for meetings

    First, ASUS announced the ASUS Chromebox, then HP followed with the HP Chromebox, and not to be left out, Google followed with the announcement of the Chromebox for meetings.

  • Google aims Chromebox at video conferencing

    A few days after Asus announced the first Chromebox mini-PC to be introduced the original Samsung Chromebox, HP unveiled its own Chromebox model, which similarly runs on Google’s Linux-based Chrome OS. Meanwhile, Google announced “Chromebox for Meetings,” an enterprise video-conferencing system that initially will be built on the Asus Chromebox, but later this year be available with the HP Chromebox and an upcoming Dell Chromebox (see farther below).

  • HP to join Chromebox fray with mini-PC available in four color choices

    That processor will also mean the HP Chromebox will cost more its Asus competitor, which will start at just $179 (though probably with a less-powerful Celeron CPU). We’ll find out this spring, when HP’s model becomes available. With that company onboard, the Chromebox platform looks a lot more viable than just a week ago, when the only Chromebox you could buy was a refurbished Samsung model.

  • Chrome apps will run without Chrome process in the background

    Have you noticed that a Chrome process always runs in the background when there are Chrome apps active, even if you do not have Chrome browser opened? Even though Chrome apps run like native apps they need the whole Chrome process to run in the background. Google is trying to change this and is working to make Chrome web apps API needs minimal.

Terminology Debate

  • Let’s talk Linux, but in a language we can all understand

    Jack Wallen believes that a language barrier is preventing Linux from being adopted, en mass, on the desktop. Do you think a simplified, standardized language for Linux is the solution?

  • Is the language of Linux too confusing for new users?

    On the other hand, there’s such a thing as dumbing something down too far. One of the big attractions of Linux is the power and control that comes with it. Many of the people who opt for Linux are eager to learn what is necessary for them to truly take control of their computers.

  • Gender doesn’t matter in Linux and Open Source

    I’ve been in technology for more than twenty years. Along the way I’ve worked for and with many different women that have served in different roles. Some wrote or managed editorial content, while others were focused on the business side as marketing managers or vice presidents, and still others managed the back end and programming parts of the company.

    They all had one thing in common though: THEY. JUST. DID. IT.

Education

  • Schools Allowing Drug-Dealers To Operate In The Parking Lots

    No, not literally, but figuratively, the generosity of many IT-companies to “help” schools afford IT is more about enslaving students to use and be locked-in to those companies’ products rather than choosing what works best for the students and teachers. I am surprised that M$ is not on the list…

  • Linux should be a part of School Education

    In most countries these days, kids start learning computers at a very early age in school and even in still developing countries, computer education is a top priority. Computers are as important part of our daily lives as food and clothes are. Computer Education is considered a very vital part of our kids education today but are we doing it right?

Hardware

  • Dell XPS 12 Convertible: oh, if only it had worked

    My intentions were different: as I had a play with it in the showroom, I was salivating as I thought of how Linux would fly on such hardware. I planned to replace Windows with Debian GNU/Linux and use the laptop for my work; my existing laptop, an IBM Thinkpad, is entering its 10th year of service and its age is showing.

  • Linux on the NUC: Using Ubuntu, Mint, Fedora, and the SteamOS beta

    The other side of that coin is that barebones PCs can be good for people who aren’t planning on paying for an OS. You can use your favorite Linux distribution on a barebones PC without paying the added cost for some Windows license you have no intention of using.

Recent News About GNU/Linux on Servers

Posted in GNU/Linux, Servers at 8:20 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: A showcase of GNU/Linux on servers, based on very recent news

GNU/Linux Rankings

  • Hosting Providers Know A Real OS When They See One

    A real OS doesn’t limit what you can do with your hardware and it doesn’t charge you extra for doing what you want. GNU/Linux is a real OS. Just ask the hosting providers. On Netcraft’s list of 47, 1 uses F5-BIG-IP, 5 use *BSD, 5 have an unknown OS and only 4 use that other OS with the EULA from Hell. All the rest, 32, use GNU/Linux as they should.

  • How to keep your Linux-heavy data center up and running

    Linux is an excellent tool for creating the IT environment you want. Its flexibility and open-source architecture mean you can use it to support nearly any need, running mission-critical systems effectively while keeping costs low. This flexibility, however, means that if something does go wrong, it’s up to you to ensure your business operations can continue without disruption. And while many disaster recovery solutions focus on recovering data in case of an outage, leaving it at that is leaving the job half done. Having the information itself will be useless if the applications that are running it don’t function, and you are unable to meet SLAs.

Rackspace

ARM

  • IT Vendors Announce Open Standards for ARM-Based Enterprise Servers

    The channel has moved another step closer to having ARM-based server rooms a major presence in the enterprise. On Jan. 28, ARM—together with a slew of collaborators including Canonical, Citrix (CTXS), Linaro, Microsoft (MSFT), Red Hat (RHT), SUSE, Dell and Hewlett-Packard (HPQ)—announced the new Server Base System Architecture (SBSA) specification for deploying servers based on the ARMv8-A 64-bit processor.

  • ARM is not about the status quo : Open source breeds new architectures

    “The rise of open source has opened doors for new architectures; the ARM partnership entering the market has already changed people’s perception of what’s possible; you’ll see that it’s going to drive a faster pace of innovation. Think of what happened in the phone ecosystem. It changed so much over the last five years in terms of what’s possible, and that’s been largely because there’s been a huge number of choices and innovation in terms of supply chain, in terms of new IP that’s being integrated. I expect to see the same thing happen in the data center space because now you have all these choices and people are innovating at different paces but it’s still overall accelerating the pace of innovation in the market,” said Mandyam.

IBM

  • Cloud Migration Service Shifts From IBM i To Linux

    Even though we don’t talk about it much, there are companies throwing in the towel and looking for IT solutions that do not include IBM i, Power Systems, or IBM. One of the companies with a track record of working in the IBM i migration business is Infinite Corporation, which last week introduced a new cloud-based migration plan called Infinite i. It will compete head-to-head with IBM i-based clouds.

  • Hardening the Linux desktop

Dell

AMD

Linode

  • Linode’s Command Line Interface Tool Helps Automate Cloud Servers

    According to the company, which concentrates its efforts on Linux-based virtual servers, “We’re pleased to announce the official release of Linode CLI – a simple, yet powerful and easy-to-use tool to manage and provision Linode cloud services from the command line. The Linode CLI gives users the same functionality they’re accustomed to, but with the convenience of the command line. The Linode CLI can create, reboot, rename, and resize Linode servers, manage domains and DNS records, NodeBalancers and more. Users can even access their account balance and network transfer. The Linode CLI makes it easy to script and automate tasks with its built-in JSON output mode.”

Arduino

  • Galileo: The Slowest Fast Computer Around?

    Trying to marry Linux and Arduino together isn’t giving me a good feeling and I’ll tell you why.

  • The other end of the telescope: Intel’s Galileo developer board

    Yet it’s no less an Arduino board than the de facto standard Arduino board, the ATmega328-based Uno R3. Perhaps more so, in fact, since it has on-board features that the Uno lacks and requires add-ons to accommodate: Ethernet connectivity, a mini PCI Express connector and a Micro SD slot, for instance.

  • Like Arduino? Miniaturize your project with TinyCircuits

    “The traditional view of open source is about software. Open source hardware has been around for about 7 to 10 years. Making hardware open and building a community around it is a huge advantage in hardware like in software,” Burns said. “The community behind it keeps it alive, keeps it useful.”

A Rare Moment of Sobriety: Paul Thurrott Decides to be Objective

Posted in Microsoft, Vista 8, Windows at 8:08 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Microsoft’s Windows booster, Mr. Thurrott, is admitting that Windows is a “messy product”

Paul Thurrott is one of the best known boosters of Microsoft. He has been the company’s best known Windows supporter (probably bar none) since decades ago. He rarely complains about Windows and he habitually throws FUD at Linux in exchange for payments. This is not being objective; it’s being self-serving.

Since Vista 8 is such a horrible disaster (some boosters like Thurrott still actively deny this) there is now a point of break-down of sorts. As Ryan, a former Microsoft MVP, put it in our IRC channels the other day: “Even Paul Thurrott is now admitting there are problems.”

To quote Thurrott’s analysis, titled “What the Heck is Happening to Windows?”

When critics described Windows 8.1 as a step backwards, I disagreed: Responding to customer complaints is never wrong, I argued, and the new version of the OS made it more acceptable on the many different types of PCs and devices on which Windows now runs. With Update 1, however, I’m beginning to question the validity of this new direction, and am now wondering whether Microsoft has simply fallen into an all-too-familiar trap of trying to please everyone, and creating a product that is ultimately not ideal for anyone.

If you look back over the decades at the many high-level complaints that have been leveled at Windows, one in particular sticks out: Unlike Mac OS, in particular, Windows has always attempted to satisfy every possible customer need, and as such it often provides multiple ways to accomplish the same thing. The result is a messy product, if you will, one that lacks the singular vision that is typically associated with the Mac and Apple’s other products.

As one person put it in Diaspora: “I saw this posted at Hacker News, and figured, “Oh, another Apple / Google / Linux fanboy kicking Microsoft while it’s down”.

“No. This is Paul Thurrott. He’s a long time Microsoft booster, some have said shill. And he’s clearly got some major questions over the future of the OS if not the company.”

Recent News From the World of Ubuntu

Posted in News Roundup, Ubuntu at 7:52 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Ubuntu 12.04.4, Mobile, Tips, File Manager, CLA, and Decoupling

12.04.4

  • Ubuntu 12.04.4 LTS (Precise Pangolin) Officially Released by Canonical

    Canonical has just announced that Ubuntu 12.04.4 LTS (Precise Pangolin) has been officially released for its Desktop, Server, Cloud, and Core products.

  • Ubuntu 12.04.4 LTS Performance Benchmarks

    The benchmarks in this article are some straightforward tests done on the same HP EliteBook (Intel Core i5 2520M, 4GB RAM, Intel 160GB SSD, HD Graphics 3000) when comparing clean installs of Ubuntu 12.04.2, 12.04.3, and 12.04.4. Unfortunately the mirrors of the original Ubuntu 12.04 LTS release and the first point release have vanished, so the testing was limited to these three past point releases for the Linux distribution that originally shipped in 2012 and will be maintained through 2017.

Mobile

  • After Tizen, Vodafone puts a foot in the Ubuntu camp

    Ubuntu Touch devices might be some time away yet, but its parent company Canonical is gradually building carrier support with Vodafone becoming its latest addition supporter.

  • Vodafone signs as Ubuntu backer

    Vodafone Group became the latest member of the Ubuntu Carrier Advisor Group, although there has been no further detail on when smartphones powered by the platform will reach the market.

    According to a statement from Ubuntu: “Vodafone Group will join national and multi-national carriers in decisions that influence the development of Ubuntu for smartphones.

  • Vodafone is the latest carrier to support Ubuntu
  • Vodafone backs Ubuntu – but no sign of smartphone yet

    Canonical’s carrier advisory group allows operators to have a say in Ubuntu’s development on mobile.

  • Expect something Ubuntu flavoured at Mobile World Congress

    Mark Shuttleworth’s Canonical has confirmed that they will be at the annual Mobile World Congress (MWC) event in Barcelona at the end of next month to show off the Ubuntu OS in all its glory. Last year Canonical used MWC as a springboard to launch Ubuntu for tablets and smartphones so they’re no stranger to announcing big things at the event.

Tips

File Manager

  • Ubuntu’s convergence plan starts with File Manager

    For the past year, Ubuntu and Canonical’s founder, Mark Shuttleworth has been talking about full convergence i.e., the same OS and its applications can be run on desktops, servers and mobile devices. Canonical plans to start the converge from its Ubuntu 14.10 release cycle. However, no activity has been seen on the development front, until now.

  • Ubuntu Could Get a New File Manager as Development Model Shifts
  • Ubuntu Developers Planning To Develop Their Own File-Manager For Ubuntu 14.10

    Ubuntu is planning to develop its own file manager which will be introduced with their QT5 powered Unity8 desktop environment from Ubuntu 14.10 onwards. Ubuntu is currently using Nautilus File manager (also known as ‘Files’), developed by GNOME developers.Ubuntu users & developers are growing increasingly unhappy with the direction at which Nautilus file manager is leading. There are many necessary features which are missing in latest Nautilus, forcing users to replace Nautilus with their favourite file manager like feature-rich nautilus fork, Nemo or the popular Thunar – which is inarguably one of the best file managers.

  • Ubuntu Developers to Drop Nautilus Soon and Replace It with Their Own File Manager – Update

    “With the planned switch to unity8 in 14.10 it is most likely that we will also start using the converged QML apps that are developed today. With all the complaints and unhappiness about Nautilus upstream ripping out things like dual pane and other beloved and helpful features I expect we can do better,” said Ubuntu developer, Oliver Grawert.

  • Ubuntu Planning To Develop Its Own File Manager

    The latest piece of the desktop Linux stack that Ubuntu developers are planning to replace with their own home grown solution is a file manager.

CLA

  • Not all CLAs are equal

    Contributor License Agreements (“CLAs”) are a mechanism for an upstream software developer to insist that contributors grant the upstream developer some additional set of rights. These range in extent – some CLAs require that the contributor reassign their copyright over the contribution to the upstream developer, some merely provide the upstream developer with a grant of rights that aren’t explicit in the software license (such as an explicit patent grant for a contribution licensed under a BSD-style license).

Decoupling

  • Vacant Developer Membership Board seats: Second call for nominations
  • Canonical Seeks Even More Independence for Ubuntu Linux

    Canonical’s Ubuntu Linux already does many things differently from other leading open source operating systems. And it may soon diverge in yet another respect, with Ubuntu developers in the midst of discussions over replacing Nautilus—the file browser that has long been a core part of many Linux distributions—with something home-grown.

  • An Exciting Future

    We are growing a world-class community and app developer eco-system, fuelled by Open Source and open collaboration. We are putting the core pieces in place and I am delighted to be working with such a wonderful team:

What Debian Does is a Very Big Deal

Posted in Debian, GNU/Linux at 6:54 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: A little roundup of Debian news and why whatever Debian is doing (e.g. regarding init systems) is important

Debian, which SteamOS is based on, may already be the world’s most widely used GNU/Linux distribution (Red Hat leads only in revenue, not necessarily code or deployments), so now that Red Hat’s Systemd 197 is released (full announcement here) there is an important crossroad where init systems fight for domination. Systemd is not for everyone and dependence on Red Hat might not be ideal because of security risks in Linux [1, 2, 3, 4] among other factors. It’s up to Debian developers now; they can judge it from a technical point of view.

Debian was the distribution promoted in the “Goodbye Microsoft” Web site (which would also be a PRISM break) several years ago and it continues to be somewhat of a major choice there [1-6]. Based on [7-12], the init system for the next Debian continues to be a subject of great controversy. This is going to have an impact on Debian derivatives such as SolidXK [13] and maybe even Ubuntu [14] (although it has its own init system), not to mention the freedom-oriented gNewSense (gNewSense 3.1 has just been released [15-17]), Live CD pioneer Knoppix [18,19], and Kali [20], to name just a few that made the headlines very recently.

Whatever Debian chooses to do is a very big deal because no Linux-related project is as big as Debian (in terms of number of developers and general impact).

Now that Valve extends its offer from Debian developers [21,22] to Ubuntu developers [23,24] it should be noted that whatever Debian does is going to affect Ubuntu as well.

An “unCivil War” [25] is not needed right now. It would be best to merely follow the rivalry of init systems, not create hostilities as some journalists are currently doing.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Debian 7: X.arrrrrgh
  2. Debian 7: Menu Cleanup
  3. Debian 7: Applications

    Having got Debian 7.3.0 installed, I had to install all the application programs that I used on my previous computer. Over the years, I had installed a lot of applications; many of them turned out to be not so useful, or were obsoleted by other applications, or (in the case of anti-virus software) I want to start over with. So I began by making a list of those applications that I really used. Then I started to install them, from scratch, on Debian 7.

  4. Debian 7: rsync

    I have a new computer with a clean Debian 7 installed. I have an old computer with many years’ worth of files in several partitions. How do I copy them over? I could restore my backup media to the new PC, but that’s a lot of fiddly manual work, and not all my files are backed up that way (anything I can download again from the Internet gets rarely backed up). Besides, the latest version of everything is the version actually on my desktop.

  5. Debian 7: MATE

    In our last episode, I had decided that I was going to do a clean install of Debian 7 on the new computer. What I really want is to install the MATE desktop (pronounced Ma-Tay). I’ve liked MATE a lot since using it with Linux Mint — but Debian doesn’t (yet) make a MATE install disk. For Debian 7, the choices are Gnome 3, KDE 4, LXDE, or XFCE. I did not want to install all the baggage of Gnome or KDE. And I’m already using LXDE, which is clean and fast. So that’s what I installed as my starting point.

  6. Debian 7: In Search of the Lost Driver

    Partway through the install process, I was informed that I needed to install a “non-free” driver, “rtl_nic/rtl8168d-1.fw”. “Non-free” software is software that can’t be distributed under the GPL; for various reasons, Debian does not include such software on the install disk. Often these are manufacturer-specific hardware drivers. The installer helpfully offered to accept that file from either a CD or a USB memory stick.

    So off to Google, where a search for “rtl_nic/rtl8168d-1.fw” pointed me to…a Debian package, “firmware-realtek”. Actually I got links to two packages: one for Debian 6 “Squeeze”, and the other for Debian 7 “Wheezy”. I chose the latter and downloaded the package (.deb) file.

  7. Voting Proposed For Debian Jessie’s Init System
  8. Debian init system vote has become a farce

    The Debian GNU/Linux Project’s bid to reach agreement on which init system it would have as default for its next release appears to have gone completely off the rails.

  9. Bid to bring Debian init debate to a head fails

    A move by Debian technical committee head Bdale Garbee to bring the debate on the default init system to a head by calling for a vote appears to have failed.

  10. Debian technical committee votes for systemd over Upstart

    Debian technical committee was discussing the default init system for Debian and it bioled down to basically systemd, which is developed by the larger free software community (lead by Lennart Poettering), and Upstart which was developed by Canonical employees.

  11. Debian Init System Discussion Is Still Unsettled

    The Debian init system debate by Debian technical committee members that is largely a fight between systemd and Upstart remains unresolved.

    A few days ago there was a call for voting on the init system by the Debian technical committee members but that vote has now ended and it basically comes down to more discussion and clarifying the voting process is also needed.

  12. Call for votes on default Linux init system for jessie

    I propose we take the simplest possible “next step”. Let’s vote just on the question of what the default init system for Linux architectures should be in jessie. Once we have an answer to this question, it seems to me that we would be “over the hump” and more likely to be able to re-focus our attention on all the secondary questions, like what our transition plan should be, whether we should try to dictate a default for non-Linux architectures, how and to what extent alternate init systems should be supported, and so forth. Most importantly, we could start *collaborating* again… which is something I fervently wish for!

  13. Upstart SolidXK Distro Seeks First Business Customers

    SolydXK started last March as the unofficial Linux Mint Debian Edition with KDE. Though there had been speculation that an official KDE version of the popular desktop distribution would surface, ZDNet wrote recently, SolydXK co-founders Arjen Balfoort and Amadeu Ferreira took it upon themselves, with the support of other Mint community members, to actually build it.

  14. Ubuntu 14.04 vs. Debian 7.3 vs. Debian Jessie Preview

    For those curious about performance differences between the current Debian 7.3 “Wheezy” stable release and the upcoming but currently unstable Debian 8.0 “Jessie”, here are some performance benchmarks comparing Debian’s stable and testing releases on the same hardware. Making things more interesting, Ubuntu 14.04 LTS in its current development form was also tossed into the mix.

  15. gNewSense 3.1 released

    Current users of gNewSense 3.0 don’t have to reinstall. They get all updates automatically.

  16. gNewSense GNU/Linux – News: gNewSense 3.1 released
  17. gNewSense 3.1 Available For Free Software Purists
  18. Knoppix Review, Shotwell’s Future, and 5 Insults

    A perusal through today’s newsfeeds netted several interesting topics. Jamie Watson published a Knoppix 7.2.0 review. Bryan Lunduke reported that the Elementary OS team has taken over maintenance of Shotwell. And a ZDNet blogger has listed his five reasons for using Windows 8 instead of Linux, but they are all really just jabs at Linux. All this and more in tonight’s How the Linux Turns.

  19. Hands-on with Knoppix Linux 7.2.0: A well-established and very stable Linux distribution

    If my memory is correct, the first generally available release of Knoppix (on a Live CD) was made sometime in late 2000. I don’t think it is exaggerating to say that Knoppix set the standard for Live Linux distributions when it was released, or that the Linux world as a whole learned a lot about how Live distributions should be done, and how powerful, versatile and useful they could be.

  20. Kali Linux 1.0.6, hands-on

    Exploring this Debian GNU/Linux derivative that is tightly focused on security analysis and penetration testing – and it comes with a mind-boggling array of utilities for that purpose.

  21. Valve showers Debian Linux devs with FREE Steam games
  22. Linux Top 3: Valve Gives Back, FreeBSD Updates and openSUSE 12.2 EOL

    For a variety of reasons, Valve Software decided to base its SteamOS gaming console operating system on Debian GNU/Linux. While it’s likely that Valve’s SteamOS will result in code contributions and enhancement that can benefit the upstream Debian project, Valve also want to give back in other ways.

  23. Expansion of Valve free games offer to Ubuntu developers

    As I’m sure most will be aware, for the last couple of weeks, Valve have
    offered access to all Valve produced games free of charge to Debian
    Developers [0].

    As of today, they have kindly extended this to all registered Ubuntu
    Developers [1].

  24. Valve offers free games to Ubuntu developers

    Valve Software recently announced that they would offer free Valve games to all Debian developers, which was considered a way of saying thank you to the base that is used to create Steam OS.

  25. Systemd Init System In Debian Jessie – Democratic Decision or unCivil War?

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