Links 12/8/2014: Chromebooks Surge, OpenGL in the Headlines

Posted in News Roundup at 8:57 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



  • Hidden Linux Benefits, Clear Linux Challenges

    I have tried and enjoyed a number of great Linux distributions over the years. Some were more popular than others. But the one thing they all have in common is each provides the end user with hidden benefits and unexpected disadvantages over proprietary desktop operating systems.

    In this article, I’ll explore what make the Linux desktop a superb fit for some users while providing thoughts on overcoming the challenges had by others.

  • Is Linux More Secure than Windows?

    When it comes to control systems, a common question has long been: Is Linux inherently more secure than Windows? Being a fan of Linux/Unix systems, I desperately want to answer “yes” to this question. During the 1980s and 1990s, so much of the work I was involved in ran under Unix. These days I run Linux on my home computer, and once a year I boot up a Windows XP virtual machine running under Virtual Box, to run my tax software. In the office, I rant about the lousy Windows operating system (OS) and ask why the world doesn’t switch to Linux. And as much as I hate to admit it, as a system integrator I am mostly locked into dealing with Microsoft’s flavor of the month operating system because of customer standards and the tools available.

    From the appearance of “Brain,” which is recognized as the first computer virus, in 1986, to Stuxnet to the Zotob worm (the virus that knocked 13 of DaimlerChrysler’s U.S. automobile manufacturing plants offline), one thing all these viruses have in common is that they were directed at Microsoft’s operating systems. However, according to Zone-H (an archive of defaced websites), in a statistics report for the period 2005-2007: “In the past the most attacked operating system was Windows, but many servers were migrated from Windows to Linux… Therefore the attacks migrated as well, as Linux is now the most attacked operating system with 1, 485,280 defacements against 815,119 in Windows systems (numbers calculated since 2000).”

  • TrackingPoint offers amazing AR15 rifles powered by Linux
  • The Linux Rifle, Benefits, and Netflix

    Our top story tonight on this Monday August 11, 2014 is Arstechnica.com’s hands-on review of a Linux-powered AR-15. Elsewhere, Matt Hartley discusses the pros and cons of running Linux; David Anderson attempts to answer the is Linux more secure than Windows question; and Bryan Lunduke posts his opinion of KDE Plasma. And that’s not all.

  • Desktop

    • Chromebook sales to nearly triple by 2017

      Google’s Chromebook might not be setting the consumer world on fire yet but its stocks are set to rise, with new research predicting sales of Chromebooks will reach 5.2 million units in 2014, a 79% increase from 2013,

      By 2017, sales of Chromebooks are set to nearly triple to reach 14.4 million units, with the main driver being the US education market, which currently accounts for nearly 85% of all sales.

    • Google Chromebooks eating into US education market, says Gartner
    • Acer’s New Chromebook Goes Where Windows PCs Won’t
    • School system CIOs are sold on Chromebooks

      David Andrade, the CIO of Bridgeport Public Schools in Connecticut, has deployed 11,000 Chromebooks over the past year and plans to add another 5,000 in the next 12 months. It’s a major deployment, but not unusual.

    • Acer’s Latest Chromebook Should Be Quite Powerful & Attractive

      The Chromebook 13 is Acer’s newest venture with Google for a Chrome OS laptop. Making this Chromebook attractive to us is its NVIDIA Tegra K1 SoC, which features four 2.1GHz processing cores plus its fifth companion core. I’ve been using the Tegra K1 extensively with the Jetson TK1 ARM development board and the performance is terrific out of the quad-core Cortex-A15 chip with Kepler-grade graphics.

    • Acer’s new Chromebook 13 offers a high-resolution screen and all-day battery life

      Nvidia is touting the graphical performance of its K1 processor, which outperforms the Intel and Samsung-equipped Chromebooks in Nvidia’s multitasking and benchmark tests. The company points to the quad-core processor design (most Chromebooks have only dual-core processors) and more powerful graphics processing unit as differentiators in the Chromebook world. Demos of the 3D rendering capabilities were impressive in person, and Nvidia’s multitasking demo (which comprised of four open windows, streaming music, and running a script in a Google Sheet) did show the Chromebook 13 to be faster than an Intel-equipped model. Despite these impressive performance feats, Nvidia is confident that the Chromebook 13 will last longer away from a wall outlet than any other Chromebook on the market. It is also Google Hangouts Optimized, which allows for high definition Hangouts and multitasking at the same time.

    • New Acer Chromebook 13 looks to be the best yet

      Acer officially pulled the wraps off their latest Chromebook, which features none other than a Nvidia Tegra K1 processor, and boasts a battery life that blows away any other model on the current line-up of Chromebooks. There are three model options for the new Acer Chromebook 13, starting with the $279 model which has a 13.3 inch 1366 x 768 display.

    • The 5 easiest to use modern Linux distributions

      These are the 5 Linux distributions that I would recommend to new Linux users and to people who just want to use their computer as a computer and who aren’t that interested in getting too deep and dirty with their operating system.

      This list could easily have been the 10 easiest to use Linux distributions but 5 is a good number because it shows new users just where to begin yet still provides a limited amount of choice.

  • Server

    • Linux mainframe faces off against the server farm

      Should you deploy Linux on the mainframe?

      There are plenty of positives and negatives that make it clear that a Linux mainframe isn’t right for all IT shops. Two experts go head to head on how to decide what’s right for your data center: Linux workloads on a mainframe or running them in a distributed server environment.

  • Kernel Space

    • Graphics Stack

      • NVIDIA Already Publishes An OpenGL 4.5 Linux Driver

        While the OpenGL 4.5 specification is fresh off the press and we haven’t even seen the Khronos SIGGRAPH announcement yet, NVIDIA has already made public their OpenGL 4.5 beta drivers for Linux and Windows.

      • NVIDIA Performance Counters In Nouveau Hoped For With Linux 3.19

        Samuel Pitoiset continues making steady, great progress on his Google Summer of Code project as a student developer reverse-engineering and implementing NVIDIA hardware performance counters within the open-source Nouveau driver.

        For months now he’s had a solid understanding of how NVIDIA’s performance counters operate and has been working towards exposing them in a NVPerfKit-like open-source manner and exposing them to OpenGL developers. Samuel’s latest update revealed his MP counter work was up to a prototype stage while today he has a new blog post concerning the approaches to exposing the performance counters in Nouveau.

      • AMD Kaveri: Catalyst vs. RadeonSI Gallium3D On Linux

        With the recently released AMD A10-7800 Kaveri APU I carried out some new benchmarks comparing the open and closed-source Linux GPU driver performance for AMD with their Catalyst and RadeonSI Gallium3D solutions. When running the open-source Ubuntu driver tests, multiple versions of Mesa and the Linux kernel were used.

      • Intel Adds Support For ARB_copy_image

        While OpenGL 4.5 was announced today, Mesa developers are still battling for OpenGL 4.0 compliance but at least they are now able to scratch off another GL4 feature.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • KDE(PIM) Ain’t Dead.

        Certainly not for any sensible definition of a project “dying” that I can think of. Now when we go back and look at my previous posts on this subject it is all too easy to think “something is wrong with the way we are now”.

      • KDE Sprint 2014

        Currently a KDE Sprint is taking place – which means 43 people meet in Randa (Switzerland) and dedicate 7 days in a row solely to KDE. Some topics are KDE Frameworks 5, gluon and many multimedia related topics like Amarok, kdenlive and KMix. I am attending to work on three main matters.

      • Volume

        Volume controls. Based on PulseAudio. For Plasma 5.

      • Randa Meetings sprint: KDE Frameworks Cookbook progress

        I’m so happy with what we have so far! The texts are just great, and the code examples will be updated as they are updated in their repositories. So if people planning a booth at a Qt Contributor Conference, for instance, wanted to print up some copies of the book, it will be completely up-to-date. Our goal is committing every part of the book so that it can be auto-fetched for reading as an epub, pdf, text file or printed as a book.

      • The Linux Desktop-a-week Review: KDE Plasma

        Some of it was… bigger things, such as the toolbars in KDE’s office suite, Calligra. Specifically, Calligra Words. The toolbars, by default, are on the right hand side. No biggy, they’re movable (and collapsible) after all. But they’re also really…wide, with lots of empty space.

  • Distributions

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source


  • Security

    • Security updates for Monday
    • Mobile chips face lockdown to prevent hacks

      Chip makers are adding more security layers to protect mobile device users from malicious attacks and code injection

    • How to Hack Nearly Any Wireless Device

      Nearly a century ago, the advent of commercial radio broadcasts gave birth to the first generation of hackers.


      Silvio Cesare, whose day job is at information-security firm Qualys, showed that anyone with a laptop, a device such as a USB TV tuner and software such as GNU Radio can “capture” transmissions between a wireless key fob that disables a home alarm system as the homeowner arrives.

  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression

    • Iraq and the War Cabal in Washington

      With a series of air strikes beginning Friday and continuing through the weekend, the United States has gone to war again in Iraq. This new imperialist military adventure has been launched in defiance of overwhelming popular opposition and without a shred of legal or constitutional authority.

      The decision to launch a new war was made by a handful of strategists of US imperialist policy within the military/intelligence apparatus, in league with the corporate and financial elite. It was made behind the backs of the American people, who have absolutely no say in the policies, including going to war, that impact their lives.

    • Oil and Erbil
    • Yemen wedding party goof up: US had nothing much to lose; just $80,000 and a few rifles

      Yemen, Aug 11: The wedding party goof up by USA drones in Yemen last year continues to chart the top headlines of news channels even now, especially when the secrets of the airstrike are out. It was a goof-up for sure and that was re-instated when the US government did not retract on its statement that they hit the right convoy and killed the right person, including a terrorist Shawqi al-Badani. If the wedding attire of the members of the ill-fated convoy is not wnough, US top officials should have seen the Yemeni tribes (to which the dead belonged to) ravage the local municipalty office.

    • Back in Iraq, Jack!

      President Obama may want us to sympathize with patriotic torturers, he may turn on whistleblowers like a flesh-eating zombie, he may have lost all ability to think an authentic thought, but I will say this for him: He knows how to mark the 50th anniversary of the Gulf of Tonkin fraud like a champion.

      It’s back in Iraq, Jack! Yackety yack! Obama says the United States has fired missiles and dropped food in Iraq — enough food to feed 8,000, enough missiles to kill an unknown number (presumably 7,500 or fewer keeps this a “humanitarian” effort). The White House told reporters on a phone call following the President’s Thursday night speech that it is expediting weapons to Iraq, producing Hellfire missiles and ammunition around the clock, and shipping those off to a nation where Obama swears there is no military solution and only reconciliation can help. Hellfire missiles are famous for helping people reconcile.

    • Boys to men– ‘New York Times’ tally of Gaza dead says 15- to 17-year-old’s aren’t children

      On August 5, The New York Times published a highly problematic article “Civilian or Not? New Fight in Tallying the Dead from Gaza Conflict”, that presented information supporting dubious Israeli government claims that 900 Palestinians killed by Israel in Gaza, or around half of all Palestinian killed in Gaza in Israel’s current offensive, were “terrorists.” This assertion flies in the face of consensus reporting over the last month indicating much higher Palestinian civilian casualty figures.

    • Obama’s Pentagon Covered Up War Crimes in Afghanistan, Says Amnesty International

      The human-rights group reports the U.S. military systematically ignored evidence of torture and unlawful killings in Afghanistan as recently as last year.

    • AI: US military ignored evidence of war crimes in Afghanistan

      [JURIST] The US military systematically covered up or disregarded “abundant and compelling evidence” of war crimes in Afghanistan, Amnesty International (AI) [advocay website] reported [PDF] Monday. The report, entitled “Afghanistan: Left in the dark: Failures of accountability for civilian casualties caused by international military operations in Afghanistan,” examines the record of accountability for civilian deaths caused by international military operations in the five-year period from 2009 to 2013. The report focuses, in particular, on the poor performance of the US government in investigating possible war crimes and in prosecuting those suspected of criminal responsibility for such crimes.

    • Amnesty International Report Details Crimes by US/NATO Forces in Afghanistan

      Thousands of Afghan civilians have been killed by United States and NATO military forces since 2001, but, according to Amnesty International, there have been only six cases in which the US military has “criminally prosecuted” officers for “unlawfully killing civilians.”

    • Amnesty slams US’ ‘poor record’ of probing civilian killings in Afghanistan

      Amnesty International has accused the US military of a lack of accountability for Afghan civilian deaths. A newly released report finds that thousands of civilians have been left without justice. DW examines the issue.

    • AI: US military justice system in ‘urgent need of reform’

      The US military fails to hold its soldiers accountable for unlawful killings and other abuses in Afghanistan, an Amnesty International report finds. The rights group’s Horia Mosadiq discusses the issue with DW.


      In a DW interview, Horia Mosadiq, Amnesty International’s Afghanistan Researcher, explains why she believes the US military justice system – which mainly relies on soldiers or commanders to report possible human rights violations – is flawed.

    • US sending arms to Kurds in Iraq

      The Obama administration has begun directly providing weapons to Kurdish forces who have started to make gains against Islamic militants in northern Iraq, senior U.S. officials said Monday, but the aid has so far been limited to automatic rifles and ammunition.

      Previously, the U.S. sold arms in Iraq only to the government in Baghdad, some of which would be transferred to the Kurdish forces in the north. The Kurdish peshmerga fighters had been losing ground to Islamic State militants in recent weeks, however.

    • Swedish dad takes gamer kids to warzone

      “We were sitting at the dinner table last autumn, and my kids started telling me about this game they wanted to play, the latest Call of Duty game, and told me about the guns and missions,” Helgegren told The Local on Friday.

    • First Take: When foreign friends become foes

      The U.S. government lends its support and trust to the political leader of a strategic ally only to see that friend turn foe.

    • US directly arming Kurds

      The U.S. government began directly arming Kurdish forces in Iraq who are battling the militant group Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), sometimes called ISIL, according to The Associated Press.

    • Beware the World’s Leading War-Monger and Terrorist Organization

      The countries of Europe that are still part of the anachronistic, Cold War-era North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) should listen to the growing voices of anger and alarm among their citizens who recognize that the United States, far from providing them with security, is stirring up conflict all around the globe (not to mention spying on, and probably extorting, their compromised leaders). Particularly in Ukraine, along Russia’s southern border, and in Palestine, these actions pose threats that could ultimately drag Europe into violent conflagrations that have not been seen since the end of World War II, nearly 70 years ago.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

  • Finance

    • NCAA Found To Violate Antitrust Laws In Preventing Schools From Sharing Licensing Revenue With Student Athletes

      It’s long been recognized that the NCAA sports setup is a bit of a scam, in which “student” athletes make various colleges a ridiculous amount of money — none of which actually makes it to the athletes themselves. In many cases, these are barely actually “students” at all. And while some of the athletes may later cash in by going pro, many do not. A few years ago, we wrote about a class action lawsuit brought by basketball player Ed O’Bannon over the fact that his likeness was appearing in an EA video game, and that the NCAA had basically violated antitrust laws in effectively forcing him (and all NCAA athletes) to sign away all such rights for no compensation. The case has gone back and forth over the years, but on Friday Judge Claudia Wilken sided strongly with the players, finding the NCAA had clearly violated antitrust laws.

  • Privacy

  • Civil Rights

    • European Court Finds CIA Interrogation Techniques “Amounted to Torture”

      While in Poland, the ECHR concludes, the CIA’s treatment of Zubayah “amounted to torture.” In other words, the precise techniques analyzed and approved by John Yoo and Jay Bybee and used by the CIA in Poland on Zubaydah, amounted to torture.

    • Torture report still incomplete

      California’s U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein is right to pressure the Obama administration over its heavy-handed redactions of a report examining “enhanced interrogation” techniques used by the CIA after 9/11.

    • The C.I.A. and Torture

      Worse, the C.I.A. has delayed release of the report with unreasonable redactions of important and relevant parts that could provide critical details on illegal torture techniques and agency mismanagement of an ill-conceived interrogation program.

    • How we lost our way
    • Holiday From Hell? Atlantic City Vacationers Describe Being Roughed Up by Harrah’s Security

      They are calling it the vacation from hell — a trip to Atlantic City that was supposed to include pool-side fun, boardwalk entertainment, and maybe some poker winnings, instead the Binns family from Florida said they were left battered and bruised at the hands of Harrah’s Resort hotel security officers.

    • Los Angeles woman punched by CHP officer speaks (w/video)

      The woman whose videotaped beating by a California Highway Patrol officer sparked outrage says she believes the officer was trying to kill her.

    • How a Squad of Ex-Cops Fights Police Abuses

      Allen E. Smith and I are sitting in his black Chevy Avalanche with tinted windows, staring out at a small deli in northwest Fort Lauderdale. It was 1976, Smith tells me. He was 28, an officer in the Fort Lauderdale Police Department working a detail that involved watching certain vulnerable stores for robberies. Sure enough, one night while he was crouching under a tree across the way, a robber overpowered the elderly clerk. Smith caught him coming out the door. The guy had a gun in his waistband. Smith had a shotgun. He pumped it and said, “Freeze!” The guy made like he was reaching for his gun. “So I shot him.”

    • Missouri crowd after shooting: ‘Kill the police’

      The fatal shooting of a black teenager by police sent hundreds of angry residents out of their apartments Saturday in a St. Louis suburb, igniting shouts of “kill the police” during a confrontation that lasted several hours.

      A St. Louis County chapter of the NAACP called for the FBI to look into the killing of 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, a predominantly black suburb a few miles north of downtown St. Louis.

    • Multiple investigations underway in Ferguson shooting

      Tensions are high in Ferguson, Missouri and a large police presence is on hand after a teenager was shot to death by a police officer.

    • NYPD Puts Terrorism On The Run By Ordering Twitter To Turn Over Parody Account User Data ‘Linked’ To Brooklyn Bridge Flag-Switching

      Apparently, the NYPD can’t take a joke.

    • DOJ: Due to 9/11 Moms and Kids are National Security Threat

      Migrant mothers and their young children detained at the border are being denied an opportunity to be released on bond, because of 9/11.

      Department of Justice prosectors are citing a 2003 ruling from former Attorney General John Ashcroft to deny bond to undocumented immigrant mothers and children — many of whom have valid asylum claims — held at a remote detention facility in Artesia, New Mexico that advocates say is ill-equipped to care for children.

    • Thousands of US Citizens Demand Dismissal of CIA Chief Brennan

      More than 42,000 people signed a petition of the progressive group CREDO addressed to President Barack Obama, asking the Department of Justice to press charges against people involved in spying on Congress.

      The CIA’s admission that a bunch of officials spied on Senate staffers is a prove that the White House has lost control over intelligence agencies, said the critics as quoted by The Hill on-line newspaper.

    • “We Tortured Some Folks”

      President can’t use the lame excuse that fear drove some people to violate the law and torture “folks.” The Geneva Convention Against Torture, to which the Untied States is a signatory, is absolutely clear on this matter. Article Two, Section One reads: “No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat of war, internal political instability of any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification for torture.” It seems crystal clear, and one might think a Harvard Law School graduate would get that right. Those who accept the President’s argument that fear made people torture others, should then be expected to understand the fear that drove North Vietnamese to torture American pilots – including Senator John McCain – as a result of years of trauma from relentless and criminal U.S. bombing over years that killed hundreds of thousands of people, and left millions refugees.

    • Could the ‘Torture Report’ help spare the Guantanamo defendants?
    • Impending ‘torture’ report fires up Obama, McCain, Feinstein and other politicos: Spy Games Update
    • Will We Ever Know the Truth About Torture?
    • Intelligence Community Warns That Releasing CIA Torture Report Details Might ‘Inflame Anti-US Passions’ In Middle East

      Of course, the response to McLaughlin ought to be “It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that if you release a report like this, it might embarrass folks like John McLaughlin for his role in the torture program. It’s blindingly obvious.” And, really, if McLaughlin is so concerned about how folks might react to this program, perhaps he should have, you know, stopped it.

    • Pulitzer Prize-Winning Journalists Show Solidarity with James Risen in Fight Against Justice Department
    • Pulitzer Winners Call for End of DOJ Pursuit of Journalist’s Testimony, Not That the Feds Will Care

      Given the way the Obama administration has treated journalists, they might be better off getting celebrities to speak out. Nevertheless, the Freedom of the Press Foundation has gotten 14 Pulitzer Prize-winning journalists to speak out against the administration’s terrible treatment of New York Times reporter and author James Risen. The Department of Justice has been trying to force Risen to give the name of a leaker who provided information to him that detailed the government’s effort to sabotage Iran’s nuclear program for a book. The government believes the source to be Jeffrey Sterling, a former CIA official, and he’s one of the guys the administration has targeted under the Espionage Act.

    • Pulitzer Prize Winners Ask Obama Administration Not to Jail Reporter
    • Pulitzer Prize winners back James Risen

      Fourteen Pulitzer Prize winners released statements on Monday in support of New York Times reporter James Risen, who is refusing to testify in the prosecution of a CIA officer accused of leaking classified information about U.S. efforts to undermine Iran’s nuclear program.

    • More Than a Dozen Pulitzer Winners Call on the Justice Dept to End its Pursuit of James Risen

      Today, fourteen Pulitzer Prize winners have issued statements in support of journalist James Risen and in protest of the Justice Department’s attempt to force Risen to testify against his sources. Risen has vowed to go to jail rather than give up his source, but the Justice Department has steadfastly refused to drop its pursuit. On Thursday, many of the major US press freedom organizations will hold a press conference in Washington DC and deliver a petition with over 100,000 signatures to the Justice Department, calling on them to do the same.

    • Maine’s Colby College to honor James Risen

      A New York Times reporter who could go to jail for not revealing the source of classified information is being honored by a Maine college for courageous journalism.

    • U.S. government adding biometric files to terrorism database

      The U.S. government, with help from the CIA, is currently looking to obtain biometric data of some 1.1 million known or suspected terrorists, according to secret U.S. government documents obtained by online magazine The Intercept.

    • Awkward: This Democratic Judicial Candidate’s Husband Is a White Supremacist

      On his blog, he writes how he wants to establish whites-only towns, employing individuals from other cultures and races as spies in an agenda to shape America in his image.

  • Internet/Net Neutrality

    • Why Is The FCC Only Holding Net Neutrality Meetings In DC?

      On Friday, the FCC announced plans to host a bunch of “open internet roundtable discussions” as it continues to explore the rules that it will put in place. That’s a good idea… until you realize that all of the meetings will be held in Washington DC. And, of course, by doing that, it more or less guarantees that the space will be filled by lobbyists and friends, rather than the actual public. EFF is asking the FCC to get out of Washington DC and to talk to real people, rather than just telco insiders — pointing out that it’s done so before and can easily do so again.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • Understanding copyright and its use today

        The Digital Millennium Copyright Act is regularly used to remove copyright infringing content from the Internet. In some cases the take-down is legitimate, but in other cases the DMCA is misused and things that are legitimately protected by “fair use” are taken down. Content creators can fight a take down, but doing so is usually a laborious process. Conversely, some content creators and consumers attempt to redefine or expand “fair use” to include any use they wish so they can use source materials without getting permission or complying with the law. But were things always the way they are now?

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