12.31.14

Links 31/12/2014: GNU/Linux in Xiaomi Laptops, Chromebooks Runs GNU/Linux in Browser

Posted in News Roundup at 10:09 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Scarlett Johansson’s Lucy Prefers Debian with Xfce – Video

    Linux systems have been spotted in all sorts of interesting places, but they don’t usually make their ways into the movies. Well, from the looks of it, a Linux system has been used in Luc Besson’s Lucy.

  • 2015: If wishes were penguins, everyone would fly

    It’s the end of yet another year. I’m not going to go on record to say that 2015 will finally, finally, finally be the year of Linux! It may, but it may not. What I will go on the record for is to say what my personal Linux and open-source wishes for Linux are in the coming year. They aren’t many, and they aren’t tilting at any given windmill … they just are.

    I’ve already made my “predictions” for Linux in my post “2015 will be the year Linux takes over the enterprise (and other predictions)”. This time, however, I want to take a look at what might be necessary for some of those predictions to actually come true.

  • Desktop Linux and Open Source in 2014: Looking Back

    Clichéd though they may be, year-in-review pieces about desktop Linux—by which I mean Linux distributions designed for end users working on desktops, PCs and, perhaps, large-form mobile devices—are a tradition here at The VAR Guy (and, before that, at our late, great sister-site, WorksWithU, a blog dedicated to Ubuntu Linux). But at the end of 2014, there’s not much to say about desktop Linux other than that it’s now so mature, and open source momentum so focused on other niches, that the Linux desktop has seen little major action over the past 12 months.

  • Purism Librem 15

    While the Librem 15 doesn’t necessarily match my personal tastes for laptop hardware due to the overall size and the mouse in particular, the mission of the company definitely does. Up until this point there were few options for laptops that ran purely Free Software, much less any that had modern hardware and a modern look and feel. I believe Purism genuinely wants to create a quality laptop that will appeal both to the Free Software community as well as privacy advocates and the Librem 15 is a nice start. In this era of pervasive surveillance, rootkits bundled with corporate software, threats of hardware backdoors by nation states, and the overall increasing sophistication of attacks, I think Purism is on to something here. As more people value transparency as a means toward security, a computer that can provide the source code for every driver, application, and firmware it uses becomes more valuable.

  • Xiaomi Said to Launch a Linux Notebook

    Xiaomi is quickly becoming a major player in the tech gadget space. It’s already a huge smartphone maker in China, though has started to spread its wings into other arenas as well. Next up may be a new laptop, at least according to some specs that were recently provided by GizmoChina. As you’ll note from the image above, this looks like a MacBook Air – but don’t let that fool you just yet.

    GizmoChina says that the Xiaomi notebook, powered by Linux, may cost under $500, though the specs suggest it may cost a bit more than that. The site says Xiaomi’s notebook will pack an Intel Core i7 Haswell processor, a 15-inch 1920 x 1080-pixel display and a solid 16GB of RAM. There’s no news on what sort of storage this will pack, though if it’s as thin as the picture suggests, it may have a solid state hard drive as well.

  • Desktop

  • Server

    • Docker Reigned in 2014, But Competition is Coming

      Container technology was without a doubt one of the biggest stories of 2014, and if you mention the container arena to most people, Docker is what they think of. As impressive as Docker is, as recently as June of last year, OStatic highlighted some of its instabilities.

  • Kernel Space

    • The Lead Developers Of systemd

      Fedora contributor Tomasz Torcz has taken a fresh look at what individuals and companies are the largest contributors to systemd.

    • Who wrote systemd?

      When it comes to systemd middleware, Lennart Poettering often takes the blame and has sole authorship attributed. But there are many more developers (git shows 593 authors in total) – missing their portion of berating, thus unappreciated and unhappy. Over the Winter Holidays I’ve run LWN’s “who wrote” scripts to gather more insight into systemd’s developer base.

    • Systemd Development Skyrocketed This Year

      Rising above all of the systemd controversies and in-fighting this year, systemd developers remained committed and did a heck of a job at adding code to the project.

      As some complementary development statistics for systemd focused on 2014 to yesterday’s lead developers of systemd article, I ran GitStats this morning on the latest end-of-year systemd mainline Git repository. The numbers speak for themselves and systemd grew significantly this year.

    • Graphics Stack

    • Benchmarks

      • Nouveau vs. NVIDIA GeForce Linux Performance At The End Of 2014

        Testing for this article was done using the same Core i7 4790K Haswell system as used by the other recent Linux graphics tests. Ubuntu 14.10 x86_64 was running on the system with the Unity 7.3.1 desktop and X.Org Server 1.16.0. The open-source Nouveau driver consisted of the Linux 3.18.0 kernel, Mesa 10.5.0-devel, and xf86-video-nouveau DDX Git. The proprietary NVIDIA Linux driver used was the latest NVIDIA 346.22 beta driver release from earlier this month.

      • Intel Haswell Linux OpenGL Driver Catching Up To The Intel Windows Driver

        Past Intel Windows vs. Linux graphics driver benchmarks have shown that for Haswell the OpenGL performance on Linux generally comes up short of the proprietary Windows driver. Fortunately, the Intel open-source Linux driver improved a lot this year and is now more competitive to the Windows driver.

        My latest end-of-year testing was comparing the Intel Linux graphics performance over the past year to Microsoft Windows with the latest proprietary driver (v10.18.10.3960).

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • Despite Rumors, Xfce Alive & Kicking

      Rumors: They exist, for better or worse, and there’s not much you can do about them. In addition, rumors are the starting blocks for the old Churchill adage that “a lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on.”

      Three times this month, Xfce came up in conversation — online, of course, and in the realm of social media and in forum discussions — and the context in which each conversation came up had the desktop on the brink of closure, with one unwitting person saying that Xfce was dead.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • Does Using GNOME On Wayland Save Power?

        One of the commonly asked questions is whether using Wayland will be more power efficient or save power compared to running the same software under an X.Org Server environment. Here’s a simple test of GNOME on Wayland in Fedora 21 while monitoring a laptop’s battery use.

        After yesterday’s Fedora 21 Gaming Benchmarks: X.Org vs. XWayland To End 2014 I ran a simple comparison just looking at the system power consumption while engaging with the GNOME 3.14.2 desktop environment under X.Org Server 1.16 and when running under Wayland.

      • GNOME 2014 Highlights

        Early in the spring Karen Sandler announced her departure* as the Executive Director of the foundation.

        The GNOME Asia Summit, an event with a strong community building focus, was this year hosted in Beijing, China. In the end of July the GNOME community gathered for GUADEC in the beautiful city of Strasbourg, France for a week of talks, discussions and hacking.

      • The GNOME Progress & Events That Defined 2014

        The GNOME project had a rather splendid year with significant progress made in porting GNOME’s components to Wayland, adding many features to the GTK+ tool-kit, enabling OpenGL support in GTK+, and improvements to the many GNOME applications.

  • Distributions

    • OpenELEC lightweight Linux adds Kodi 14 support

      Version 5.0 of the RPi-compatible, Kodi/XBMC-oriented OpenELEC Linux distro for media players upgrades to Kodi 14, adds i.MX6 support, and drops AppleTV.

    • OpenELEC 5.0 released
    • New Releases

      • Back-up Your Linux OS with Clonezilla Live

        Clonezilla Live, a Linux distribution based on DRBL, Partclone, and udpcast that allows users to do bare metal backup and recovery, is now at version 2.3.2-2. Users should be able to download it and test it.

      • Chapter 21. Release 14.12 (“Caterpillar”, 2014/12/30)

        In addition to numerous new and upgraded packages, this release has the following highlights:

        Systemd has been updated to version 217, which has numerous improvements.

        Nix has been updated to 1.8.

        NixOS is now based on Glibc 2.20.

        KDE has been updated to 4.14.

        The default Linux kernel has been updated to 3.14.

      • NixOS 14.12 Released To End Out 2014

        NixOS 14.12 stable is codenamed “Caterpillar” and includes Nix 1.8 for package management and a wide collection of package updates. The release announcement by Domen Kožar details, “11972 commits were pushed by 310 contributors since the last release (14.04).”

      • Linux Deepin 2014.2 Makes It Out Just In Time For The New Year

        Deepin Linux with its original desktop environment claims to have been downloaded tens of millions of times and in use in more than 40 countries around the globe. Deepin 2014.2 delivers new themes, drag-and-drop reordering support for the Dock icons, launcher improvements, improved multi-screen support, network improvements, system notification improvements, tablet support, and other updates focused around its HTML5-based desktop.

      • deepin 2014.2正式版发布——自由·独特·前卫
    • Screenshots

    • Red Hat Family

    • Debian Family

      • Debian Project News – December 29th, 2014

        Debian Project News – December 29th, 2014

      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Ubuntu Used to Analyse Data from Famous Comet-Hunting Rosetta Space Probe

            Rosetta is the space probe that was sent to meet the Churyumov–Gerasimenko comet and that carried the Philae lander, which eventually made a touchdown on the comet itself. It looks like the guys who are analyzing the data sent by the probe are also using Ubuntu.

          • Ubuntu operating system worth trying as it wins 3 consecutive awards from W3tech
          • Ubuntu Terminal Reboot Is Probably One of the Coolest Terminals You’ve Seen

            Developers have reinvented the terminal numerous times and there are a ton of various apps out there that do the same thing. Now, an “Ubuntu terminal reboot” has surfaced and it’s glorious.

          • $100 Bay Trail PC-on-a-stick can run Ubuntu (and Windows)

            The MeegoPad T01 is a tiny PC-on-a-stick with an Intel Atom Bay Trail processor, 2GB of RAM, and Windows 8.1 software. It sells for around $100 and up.

            Just plug the stick into the HDMI port of a display, connect a power source, and you’ve got a desktop computer (with the processing power of a cheap Windows tablet).

            But what if you’d rather run Ubuntu? Yep. You can do that.

          • Upstart MJ Technology To Launch ‘Ubuntu Edge’-Like Tablet Early 2015

            Last year, Canonical tried to crowdfund its own smartphone that would run the company’s “Ubuntu Touch” operating system. The smartphone was called “Ubuntu Edge” and would come with a unique design, 4 GB of RAM, a quad-core processor, sapphire screen and 128 GB of storage.

            The campaign ultimately failed, reaching less than half of its ambitious goal of $32 million. Since then, we haven’t actually seen a commercially available device running Ubuntu Touch.

            A new start-up called MJ Technology promises to build a tablet that will look like the Ubuntu Edge smartphone Canonical wanted to build, and it will run Ubuntu.

          • Shuttleworth Explains Why Open Source is More Secure than Closed Source [VIDEO]

            In 2014, open source technology came under a heavy barrage of criticism as a result of high-profile security vulnerabilities. Mark Shuttleworth, the founder of Ubuntu Linux and its lead commercial sponsor Ubuntu, has a very different view and remains a stalwart defender of the open source model for software development and security.

            In a video interview with Datamation, Shuttleworth details his view on open-source security as Ubuntu Linux celebrates its 10th anniversary.

            In 2014, the Heartbleed vulnerability in the open source OpenSSL cryptographic library had wide ranging impact. OpenSSL is widely deployed on servers, VPNs and even mobile devices and it took some time for vendors and users to get systems and devices patched.

            “We have a big responsibility to proactively make sure that the system is as robust in the face of inevitable flaws as it can be,” Shuttleworth said.

          • 12 Months, 12 Highlights: This was Ubuntu in 2014
          • Windows Phone Replaced with Ubuntu 14.04 LTS on Lumia 1020

            Windows phone (Lumia 1020) is probably the last place where you would expect to see Ubuntu, but a user has posted images with Ubuntu running on this device and they seem to be legit.

            The first thing that users might think is that someone ported Ubuntu Touch for the Lumia 1020 device and that would not be an impossible task. It would be difficult but not impossible. It would also be a difficult to install a custom ROM, but that’s also not impossible. The interesting thing is that the images show an Ubuntu system running and not the Touch version.

          • Flavours and Variants

            • Pear OS Is Making a Comeback – Rumor

              Pear OS was a Linux distribution based on Ubuntu that imitated the Mac OS X desktop environment with great accuracy. It disappeared rather mysteriously roughly a year ago, and no one has heard anything of it ever since. Now, an image has been ported on a remote and obscure part of the Internet that shows that Pear OS might be making a comeback.

            • Pear Returning, In the Movies, and More Highlights

              Today in Linux news Softpedia.com is reporting that Pear OS is making signs of a comeback. In other news, Debian is spotted in a new movie and Phil Shapiro shares a cheap laptop story. We have 2014 highlights on Ubuntu, GNOME, and FOSS in general as well as Jack Wallen’s wishes for the new year.

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Micro-UAV controller features open, modifiable design

      The AeroCore 2 is an update to the original AeroCore controller introduced last Spring. Like most hacker-oriented UAV autopilots, both AeroCore models run Nuttx RTOS for real-time control tasks, along with Linux for higher level functions.

    • Raspberry Pi: Raspbian and NOOBS releases

      What better way to spend the holidays, and prepare for the New Year, than with a new release of Raspbian (Debian GNU/Linux specifically for the Raspberry Pi), and a new NOOBS package?

      For those who don’t have a Raspberry Pi (or more than one) already, or might have just gotten one for Christmas, the foundation has posted a Got a new Pi article. I also wrote a number of Hands-On with Raspberry Pi posts last Christmas, which include a lot more detail and lots of screen shots.

      The new Raspbian release (2014-12-24) and a new NOOBS package (1.3.11) are available for download in the usual ZIP format on the Raspberry Pi downloads page. The NOOBS image also includes Pidora, Arch Linux, openELEC, RaspBMC and RiscOS.

    • Ringing in 2015 with 40 Linux-friendly hacker SBCs

      2014 brought us plenty of new open-spec, community-backed SBCs — from $35 bargains, to octa-core powerhouses — and all with Linux or Android support.

    • Phones

    • Sub-notebooks/Tablets

      • UK retailers in TABLET PRICE SLASH BONANZA

        You can buy tablets for under £30, but for just over that (including shipping) you can get a 7” Quad Core device, and Amazon is now chock-a-block with cheap tablets. Even retail outlets, with brand name tablets, will do you a massive discount.

      • The Year Of The Small Cheap Tablet In UK

        The more competitive the market for personal computing, the more innovative will be OEMs and retailers. I expect many more will ship GNU/Linux just to be different or to offer something new. 2015 could be the last year retail shelves exclude GNU/Linux anywhere. The monopoly is truly dead.

Free Software/Open Source

  • Apache Markes Year’s End By Graduating Two Big Data Projects

    As this year draws to a close, it’s worth taking note of two important projects from the Apache Software Foundation (ASF) that have graduated to top-tier project status, ensuring them development resources and more. Apache MetaModel went from the Apache Incubator to become a Top Level Project. It provides a model for interacting with data based on metadata, and developers can use it to go beyond just physical data layers to work with most any forms of data.

    Meanwhile, we’ve also covered the news of Apache Drill graduating to Top Level Project status. Drill is billed as the world’s first schema-free SQL query engine that delivers real-time insights by removing the constraint of building and maintaining schemas before data can be analyzed.

  • 2014’s Five Biggest Stories Affecting FOSS
  • Funding

    • Anonabox Gets Kicked from Kickstarter, Shows Up on Indiegogo with Updated Specs

      The online community tore the project apart and discovered that the makers of Anonabox were disingenuous when they were saying that it was something original, custom built. As it turned out, it was actually a repurposed Chinese device with a slightly better memory. Also, the operating system used was OpenWRT, which is basically Linux distro for routers and other such devices. Most, if not all of the information provided on Kickstarter was a lie. Eventually, the Kickstarter project was suspended and no one got hurt, financially.

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

  • Public Services/Government

    • Deputy CTO UK: ODF is a ‘big change’

      The UK government’s 400 IT departments are preparing their organisations for the use of the Open Document Format (ODF) as the default for its editable documents. The process should avoid making civil servants and other end-users bear the brunt of the switch, says Magnus Falk, deputy chief technology officer (CTO) of the UK government. “To unlock our digital documents, we’re leading a digital transformation.”

    • Spanish region Galicia publishes training materials for Linux and LibreOffice

      Amtega, Galicia’s agency for technological modernisation, has published its training materials for Linux and LibreOffice under an open license. They can be used by training centres, organisations and individuals to prepare for the office productivity CODIX certification provided by the CeMIT network.

    • 5100+ signatures for open formats in the French educational system

      More than 5100 people have signed the call to promote open formats and interoperability in the French educational system, a campaign initiated in November by April, France’s free software advocacy group. Their call for interoperability in the education system (Appel pour l’intéropérabilité dans l’Education Nationale) is supported by 100 teachers, as well as employees and school trade unions.

  • Openness/Sharing

    • Open Data

      • Open data partnership between city and county of Durham, NC

        Open data has found the most innovation at the local government level. While not taking away from te efforts of data.gov and the state initiatives, local data has more impact on the day to day lives of civil society. A wealth of city and county public data exists, but accessing it can sometimes be time consuming. Now, thanks to a new local government partnership, open data in Durham is just months away from becoming a reality.

    • Open Hardware

      • Turn on your computer from anywhere with an Arduino Server

        Unless you live off-the-grid and have abundant free electricity, leaving your rig on while you go away on trips is hardly economic. So if you’re like [Josh Forwood] and you happen to use a remote desktop client all the time while on the road, you might be interested in this little hack he threw together. It’s a remote Power-On-PC from anywhere device.

        It’s actually incredibly simple. Just one Arduino. He’s piggybacking off of the excellent Teleduino software by [Nathan] who actually gave him a hand manipulating it for his purpose. The Arduino runs as a low-power server which allows [Josh] to access it via a secure website login. From there, he can send a WOL packet to his various computers to wake them up.

  • Programming

    • PHP Install Statistics

      …over 78% of all PHP installs have at least one known security vulnerability.

    • Performance Analysis With Performance Co-Pilot, iPython and Pandas

      One of many reasons to love Performance Co-Pilot, is the fact that it is a fully fledged framework to do performance analysis. It makes it extremely simple to extend and to build anything on top of it. In this post we shall explore how simple it is to analyze your performance data using iPython and pandas.

    • New Language from MIT Streamlines Building SQL-Backed Web Applications

      There are countless developers and administrators who are creating and deploying online applications backed by SQL databases.

      The problem is that creating and deploying them is not the easiest nut to crack due to the complexity of marrying HTML, JavaScript and other tools and components.

      That’s exactly the problem that Adam Chlipala, an Assistant Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at MIT, is trying to solve with Ur/Web, a domain-specific functional programming language for modern Web applications. The language encapsulates many key components needed for robust applications into just one language, and can help ensure the security of the applications.

Leftovers

  • Fury as AirAsia families shown live footage of floating bodies being recovered from missing plane

    Media stations have been criticised for showing split-screen footage of distraught families as they were watched live footage of bodies from missing AirAsia flight QZ8501 being recovered from the water.

    TV One, an Indonesian news channel, screened images from rescue crews as they encountered the debris and bodies found earlier today in the Java Sea, off the coast on Borneo, on a split screen interposed with live reaction from the families of passengers.

  • London New Year’s Eve fireworks made ticket-only for first time

    Metropolitan police urge everyone not among 100,000 who paid for reservation to stay at home and watch on TV

  • Security

    • Is SSH Insecure?

      Fact is, we don’t yet know enough details about all possible attack surfaces against SSH available to the agencies and we badly need more information to know what infrastructure components remain save and reliable for our day to day work. However we do have an idea about the weak spots that should be avoided.

    • More Data on Attributing the Sony Attack

      This is nonsense. North Korea has had extensive offensive cyber capabilities for years. And it has extensive support from China.

      Even so, lots of security experts don’t believe that it’s North Korea.

    • Lizard Squad in the FBI blizzard

      This crew is taking credit for the Sony and Xbox hack and the Feds are already taking the low-hanging fruit. It is not really a surprise that these hacks are so prolific most hacker crews want to get their name out there but to do so means, well that it is out there.

      Colour me surprised that a member of the Lizard Squad hacking group, whos handle alias is “ryanc” aka Ryan caught the attention of the FBI aka Federal Bureau of Investigation after speaking with the media about the Christmas-day attacks on Xbox Live and the PlayStation Network (PSN).

    • New evidence Sony hack was ‘inside’ job, not North Korea

      US cybersecurity experts say they have solid evidence that a former employee helped hack Sony Pictures Entertainment’s computer system — and that it was not masterminded by North Korean cyberterrorists.

      One leading cybersecurity firm, Norse Corp., said Monday it has narrowed its list of suspects to a group of six people — including at least one Sony veteran with the necessary technical background to carry out the attack, according to reports.

      The investigation of the Sony hacking by the private companies stands in stark contrast to the finding of the FBI, which said Dec. 19 its probe traced the hacking — which ended up foiling the planned wide release of the Hollywood studio’s “The Interview” — to North Korea.

      Kurt Stammberger, senior vice president at Norse, said he used Sony’s leaked human-resources documents and cross-referenced the data with communications on hacker chat rooms and its own network of Web sensors to determine it was not North Korea behind the hack.

    • Who Was Behind the Cyberattack on Sony?

      The cyberattack on Sony Pictures unleashed a torrent of alarmist media reports, evoking the image of North Korean perfidy. Within a month, the FBI issued a statement declaring the North Korean government “responsible for these actions.” Amid the media frenzy, several senators and congresspersons called for tough action. Arizona Senator John McCain blustered, “It’s a new form of warfare that we’re involved in, and we need to react and react vigorously.” President Barack Obama announced his administration planned to review the possibility of placing North Korea on the list of states sponsoring terrorism, a move that would further tighten the already harsh sanctions on North Korea. “They caused a lot of damage, and we will respond,” Obama warned darkly. “We will respond proportionally, and we’ll respond in a place and time and manner that we choose.”

    • Top 10 Security Incidents and Vulnerabilities of 2014

      This past year has been one of the busiest ones on record for IT security professionals, with a seemingly endless stream of high-profile exploits and software vulnerabilities. At the end of 2013, Target revealed what turned out to be the first of many retail breaches over the next 12 months. Retailers large and small were in the news over the course of 2014, with breaches at Home Depot, Staples, Dairy Queen and even the nonprofit Goodwill Industries. Retailers weren’t the only ones under attack in 2014, however; the open-source software development movement was under scrutiny due to several high-profile security incidents. The OpenSSL Heartbleed vulnerability that was first disclosed in April had a wide-reaching impact and consequences that took months to unravel. Heartbleed also ushered in a new era of naming and branding vulnerabilities that extended throughout 2014. The Shellshock bug in the open-source BASH shell was another high-impact vulnerability disclosed in 2014 that left IT professionals scrambling. Not all high-impact flaws were the cause of panic though. The open-source Xen hypervisor that powers much of the world’s public cloud infrastructure was patched before any public exploits emerged. In this slide show, eWEEK takes a look back at the top 10 security incidents and vulnerabilities of 2014.

    • Low-risk ‘worm’ removed at hacked South Korea nuclear operator

      South Korean authorities have found evidence that a low-risk computer “worm” had been removed from devices connected to some nuclear plant control systems, but no harmful virus was found in reactor controls threatened by a hacker.

      Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power Co Ltd said it would beef up cyber security by hiring more IT security experts and forming an oversight committee, as it came in for fresh criticism from lawmakers following recent hacks against its headquarters.

  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression

    • Obama’s Lists: A Dubious History of Targeted Killings in Afghanistan

      Combat operations in Afghanistan may be coming to an end, but a look at secret NATO documents reveals that the US and the UK were far less scrupulous in choosing targets for killing than previously believed. Drug dealers were also on the lists.

    • Afghanistan’s New Millionaires

      “Do you want to listen to Taliban cassette?” Matiullah Matie asks as he steers his white Toyota Corolla along a narrow road surrounded by cornfields and mud huts. He keeps the tapes in the car for long drives, Matie explains, just in case he picks up a hitchhiker who looks like a Talib. “They think I am such a pious mujahid man,” the round, bearded businessman laughs. “They don’t know I am screwing them all.”

    • Boy, 2, Accidentally Shoots and Kills Mom at Idaho Walmart
  • Transparency Reporting

    • WikiLeaks Says Iceland’s Gov’t Unlikely to Push Information Freedom Reform

      WikiLeaks spokesperson said that Iceland’s initiative to become the Switzerland of Bits is unlikely to move an inch further under the country’s current conservative government.

    • Intelligence, defense whistleblowers remain mired in broken system

      When Ilana Greenstein blew the whistle on mismanagement at the CIA, she tried to follow all the proper procedures.

      First, she told her supervisors that she believed the agency had bungled its spying operations in Baghdad. Then, she wrote a letter to the director of the agency.

      But the reaction from the intelligence agency she trusted was to suspend her clearance and order her to turn over her personal computers. The CIA then tried to get the Justice Department to open a criminal investigation of her.

      Meanwhile, the agency’s inspector general, which is supposed to investigate whistleblower retaliation, never responded to her complaint about the treatment.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

    • The 11 Dumbest Things Conservative Media Said About Climate Change in 2014

      This year saw landmark reports on climate change, detailing the ever-increasing scientific certainty that human activities are driving catastrophic climate change and that action needs to be taken to prevent the worst effects. Yet despite the fact that more Americans than ever support action on climate change, conservative media went to ridiculous lengths to cast doubt on the scientific consensus behind global warming, citing everything from free market economics to witchcraft, touting conspiracy theories and predictions of an “ice age,” and even fulfilling Godwin’s law.

  • Finance

    • Despite a Tumultuous 2014, Bitcoin Still Has Value

      Bitcoin had a difficult year in which its value declined by two-thirds, but there is still much reason for optimism in 2015.

    • Why China is about to give Silicon Valley serious competition

      Here’s a news story you probably didn’t see: “Creative enterprises hub to be established in Qianhai.” You didn’t see it because it ran in the Shenzhen Standard, an English-language newspaper in China’s Guangdong province, slightly north of Hong Kong. The local government is investing $750 million to build a giant hub for design and other creative enterprises.

  • Censorship

    • India blocks 32 websites, including GitHub, Internet Archive, Pastebin, Vimeo

      Internet users in India are starting to lose to access websites including GitHub, Internet Archive, Pastebin, and Vimeo under an order from India’s DoT (Department of Telecom).

      It appears an order to block the sites issued on December 17 is taking effect — albeit unevenly.

      Today, Centre for Internet and Society (Bangalore, India) Policy Director Pranesh Prakash posted a copy of the notice listing the 32 blocked URLs.

    • Indian Government Orders 32 Web Sites Blocked, Including GitHub, Archive.Org, Pastebin, DailyMotion And Vimeo

      It’s not clear why these sites have been blocked in this way, but Prakash, who is Policy Director at the Centre for Internet and Society in Bangalore, India, believes it may be because of a court order in a copyright case. He also points out that this is not the first time this has happened. However, the key nature of many of the sites affected, and the fact that entire sites, rather than just some of their pages, were blocked, is bound to lead to calls for this blunt instrument to be refined before it is used again.

    • Government blocks over 60 websites including github & sourceforge on anti-terror advisory

      Over 60 websites and links, including popular online tools like Github and Sourceforge used by thousands of programmers have been blocked in India, triggering angry protests by Internet users.

  • Privacy

    • arc4random vs timing attacks

      Here at 31C3, Sebastian Schinzel just gave a presentation based on Revisiting SSL/TLS Implementations: New Bleichenbacher Side Channels and Attacks. The particular attack that caught my eye was the failure to generate a fake PMS before checking for bad padding, not after. Doing it afterwards exposes a timing difference of up to a few microseconds which can be measured over the network.

    • How The NSA Works Hard To Break Encryption Any Way It Can

      And, sure, it is a “threat” to the way in which the NSA snoops on everything, but for the vast majority of users, it’s a way to protect their privacy from snooping eyes. The report does reveal that certain encryption standards appear to still cause problems for the NSA, including PGP (which you already use for email, right?), OTR (used in some secure chat systems) and VoIP cryptography system ZRTP. Phil Zimmermann, who helped develop both PGP and ZRTP should be pretty damn proud of his achievements here.

    • When The FISA Court Rejects A Surveillance Request, The FBI Just Issues A National Security Letter Instead

      We’ve talked quite a bit about National Security Letters (NSLs) and how the FBI/DOJ regularly abused them to get just about any information the government wanted with no oversight. As a form of an administrative subpoena — with a built in gag-order — NSLs are a great tool for the government to abuse the 4th Amendment. Recipients can’t talk about them, and no court has to review/approve them. Yet they certainly look scary to most recipients who don’t dare fight an NSL. That’s part of the reason why at least one court found them unconstitutional.

      At the same time, we’ve also been talking plenty about Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act, which allows the DOJ/FBI (often working for the NSA) to go to the FISA Court and get rubberstamped court orders demanding certain “business records.” As Ed Snowden revealed, these records requests can be as broad as basically “all details on all calls.” But, since the FISA Court reviewed it, people insist it’s legal. And, of course, the FISA Court has the reputation as a rubberstamp for a reason — it almost never turns down a request.

    • E-mail is too important to die, workers say

      THERE is no shortage of tech companies trying to replace e-mail in the workplace by offering new collaboration tools.

      Workers, though, just want their e-mail.

      In a new survey, 61% of US adult workers who use the internet ranked e-mail as “very important” for doing their jobs, according to Pew Research Center.

    • NSA: Tell no-one [31c3] by James Bamford
  • Civil Rights

    • Russians Are Organizing Against Putin Using FireChat Messaging App

      Anti-government protesters in Russia followed along on Twitter as opposition leader Alexey Navalny live-tweeted his house-arrest violation today. But the real action was on FireChat, where Navalny and his supporters organized protests and exchanged unfiltered communication.

    • CPS Threatens Dad: Let Your Kids Play Outside and We’ll Take Them Away

      I received an update from the Maryland mom of two who was contacted by Montgomery Country Child Welfare Service in November after she let her kids, ages 6 and 10, play at the park two blocks from home by themselves. She was cited for allowing a child under age 8 “to be locked or confined in a dwelling, building, enclosure, or motor vehicle while the person charged is absent.”

      The CPS worker decided “confined in a dwelling” was the same thing as “outside in a park.”

  • Internet/Net Neutrality

    • Yet Another Horrible Comcast Customer Service Experience Goes Viral

      Comcast’s customer service troubles are well documented, with bad customer service experiences going viral every few months, requiring Comcast CEO Brian Roberts to trot out of his corner office to promise to do better. Just a few months ago, Comcast also excitedly hired a new “Senior VP of Customer Experience,” named Neil Smit Charlie Herrin. I hope Herrin wasn’t taking an extended vacation for the holidays, because just in time for New Year’s, yet another horrific customer experience situation has gone viral via Reddit.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • Correcting copywrongs [31c3]
      • How Copyright Makes Culture Disappear

        A few years ago, we wrote about some research by Paul Heald that did an astounding job visually demonstrating how much copyright law today harms the dissemination of content.

      • Is piracy really just an access and convenience problem?

        I agree partly with what Fung said in his column. He’s absolutely right about convenience and access being big problems for consumers.

        [...]

        I’ll give you a good example of this. For the longest time the popular hard rock band AC/DC refused to put its music up on iTunes and other digital outlets. The band members and their management retained a 1980s mind-set and wanted people to go to Walmart to buy CDs. Talk about being trapped in the past!

Freedom in your computer and in the net – New Talk by Richard Stallman

Posted in FSF, Videos at 9:50 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Via Chaos Computer Club e.V: For freedom in your own computer, the software must be free. For freedom on the internet, we must organize against surveillance, censorship, SaaSS and the war against sharing


EPO Staff Protests to Continue in the New Year, Techrights to Release New Material

Posted in Europe, Patents at 12:26 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Techrights to help SUEPO overthrow Battistelli’s tyranny as one of its key goals in 2015

ENTERING OUR ninth year (the first was 2006), we are delighted to see increasing financial support from our followers and/or contributors. In previous years we vowed to fight against software patents. These were the top threat to freedom of software. Based on what makes the most positive and effective change we shall concentrate more on the EPO in pursuit of worldwide patent reform. Starting tomorrow (January first) we shall starting posting more frequently and deliver updates on a broader range of topics.

It is expected, based on this new article, that some of our supporters too will be more active. There will be more protests. To quote the report: “An “incremental” five-week strike at the European Patent Office (EPO) will end today (December 19) but certain workers have hinted at more action next year.

“Staff have been striking on various days over the last five weeks and every day this week.

“During the five weeks, demonstrations were also held in support of two suspended committee members and a board of appeals member.

“In a document, sent out by the EPO’s staff union SUEPO reviewing the action, it says that today “more than ever” the reputation of the EPO and its staff are in danger.

““Staff members have a duty to defend this EPO for which they work for and believe in. This [striking] was not the final act of this ‘B’ movie. 2015 will undoubtedly be an even more challenging year. SUEPO is prepared for it,” the union said.

“The EPO did not immediately respond to a request for comment.”

Here in Techrights we are going to expose more corruption inside the EPO and especially divulge information about Željko Topić. We shall do really exciting, high-impact stuff in the next year and years beyond it. There is a lot more in Topić's past and we just need to do further fact-checking (the guy is an aggressive bully who silences critics). We hope to continue seeing big staff protests. Just before Christmas we saw a third of EPO walking out after other big protests across different parts of Europe — protests that will likely oust the current management. Battistelli et al. are dead men walking. They already know it as they are growing desperate and now using the patent lawyers’ Web sites for placements/puff pieces, as part of their despicable attempt to rewrite history and lie about how ‘their’ EPO functions. Let’s make the EPO work for Europeans, not foreign corporations and their figureheads. Let’s emphasise the importance of scientists, not opportunistic lawyers and their affluent clients.

12.30.14

Our Richard Stallman Interviews in 2012-2014

Posted in Interview at 8:39 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Index of our interviews series with Richard Stallman, founder of GNU and the Free Software Foundation

Dr. Richard Stallman from the Free Software Foundation has been a special guest on our weekly shows over the years. The new year is a suitable (reasonably quiet) time to tidy up a bit, so below is a summary of episodes in which he appeared.

2014, Oxford

2014, Lincoln

2013 (audio only)

Binary ‘Security’ Vastly Inferior to Free Software Patching

Posted in Free/Libre Software, Security at 12:29 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: The PHP-based WordPress is reported as the cause for ISC’s woes, but it was not kept up to date (a very simple and risk-free task) and the victims are actually Microsoft Windows PCs

I could personally relate to this report about a high-profile WordPress site getting cracked as it very closely relates to my job. What’s interesting about it is that the victim (or the target) is really Windows, not GNU/Linux.

“So, it looks like the chances are that ISC’s problem is limited to Windows PC malware and it hasn’t effected BIND or ISC’s DNS site,” wrote Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols. Microsoft Windows is targeted via the browser. It’s just so easy.

“Bind is outdated anyway,” told us a reader. “Better replacements have been available for a long time.”

According to the first report, “ISC was hacked by way of a WordPress flaw, but there is now an automatic way to secure WordPress sites and (eventually) eliminate the risk of nonpatched systems.” This might not help protect from out-of-date or vulnerable extensions to WordPress. It’s not an easy task. I have worked with WordPress for over 10 years and with Drupal for close to 5 years (including involvement in the development community), so I can confess that some flaws are inevitable. When it comes to Free software, however, the patching process is vastly superior to that of proprietary software, where many of the flaws are never patched or are silently patched without even informing users.

The whole notion of protecting from bugs at a binary level is ludicrous. Someone who is a programmer from Microsoft spoke to me for hours some days ago and told me that Windows system updates can take a vast amount of time because of lack of modularity. Large blobs that have unknown changes in them are not the way to patch flaws, let alone inform those affected of what is being patched and why.

It is with that in mind that we also approach the binary-level checks for ‘security’ by UEFI ‘secure’ boot. It’s complete nonsense. It doesn’t work and it does not improve security, it just restricts the function of general-purpose computing. Bottomley from Novell continues to support this nonsense based on a Phoronix report that says:

James Bottomley has updated the open-source UEFI Secure Boot Tools for Linux distributions to build against the UEFI 2.4 specification.

UEFI 2.4 has been out for the past year and a half while finally now the UEFI Secure Boot Tools have been updated against the latest spec.

UEFI ‘secure’ boot is how Microsoft and Intel (Wintel) have complicated Free software use, as we’re reminded by a new article where Jamie is nagging about UEFI ‘secure’ boot when installing a new good flavour of GNU/Linux:

“Any computer that comes with UEFI should now be avoided.”“[I]f you are installing PCLinuxOS to a UEFI-firmware system,” he writes, “the best thing to do (and the most common and sensible by far, I’m sure) is to simply leave it in Legacy/MBR boot enabled, don’t try to switch back to UEFI boot.”

Any computer that comes with UEFI should now be avoided. It is possible to avoid such computers and voting with one’s wallet can be very effective.

Black Duck Debunked Again, Data Asserted Invalid

Posted in Free/Libre Software, FUD, GPL at 12:23 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Black Duck’s GPL-hostile numbers are hinged on a biased collection of data, claims controversial columnist Byfield

JUST before Christmas we wrote this critique of Redmonk because it was using data from its former paymasters at Black Duck. The data was used to discredit the GNU GPL, a cornerstone of copyleft (which in inherently one of the biggest threats to the likes of Microsoft, which is in turn closely connected to Black Duck).

“No article is perfect, but the takeaway from Byfield’s article is that Black Duck’s claims deserve no trust.”An article from Bruce Byfield (excerpt in [1]), a person whom we typically disagree with (he tends to aggravate projects or sites and then malign them using their response, i.e. the troll’s modus operandi), finally disputes the Black Duck ‘data’, which is in some case derived directly or funneled through Microsoft (for over 5 years now). Byfield criticises “both the Red Monk studies and their main source, Black Duck Software,” noting quite correctly that the way data is collected is biased by designed (incomplete and tilted in favour of large corporations such as Microsoft).

While we cannot agree with all of Byfield’s assertions, some of his points align with ours and bolster critics of Black Duck, including Debian heavyweight Bruce Perens, who warned people that Black Duck's claims about the GPL are "B.S."

Will Hill, a Debian user, has highlighted numerous flaws in Byfield’s article, including:

Oh no, he’s dredging up all that bullshit again? It was pretty conclusively dealt with at the time by counting packages in Debian, etc. Let me count the howlers,

Because permissive licenses are more flexible and less likely to generate compliance problems, the possibility is strong that these sources could have a conscious or unconscious bias against copyleft licenses.

That’s basically what Black Duck was trying to get people to believe, that software freedom is not “flexible” enough for businesses who prefer “permissive” BSD. This is silly and wrong, but he’s stated as a fact. What a turkey.

Debian, for example, notes that its license “include” a short list but makes no guarantee that the list is complete, and goes no further than to note that a half dozen licenses are “common.”

This undermines people’s ability to see the best rebuttal in a dishonest way. The answer came from counting the total number of packages and the number of GPL packages to see that GPL use had increased.

No article is perfect, but the takeaway from Byfield’s article is that Black Duck’s claims deserve no trust. They are selling agenda and bias.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. The problem with license trends

    The conventional wisdom is that free software licenses are rapidly evolving. The copyleft licenses are supposed to be in decline, and the permissive licenses gaining popularity, according to two widely-quoted studies from Red Monk by Stephen O’Grady and Donnie Berkholz, In fact, writing in 2012, Berkholz declares that new project licenses are more likely to use a permissive license than anything else. However, on closer examination, whether these conclusions are accurate is open to question.

    For one thing, both the Red Monk studies and their main source, Black Duck Software and its Open Hub site (formerly Ohloh) are business-oriented. Because permissive licenses are more flexible and less likely to generate compliance problems, the possibility is strong that these sources could have a conscious or unconscious bias against copyleft licenses.

Links 30/12/2014: Linux 3.19 RC2 Released While Torvalds Turns 45

Posted in News Roundup at 11:41 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • ‘One frickin’ user interface for Linux’

    It’s almost 2015 now, and it turns out he was right. That “1FUI” is called whatever Android has, and it has made Linux the dominant player in the next big computer revolution. Linux does great in servers, embedded stuff, supercomputing, and utterly owns mobile computing (Apple people, the world is bigger than the US, UK, and Australia).

    Linux didn’t need a ‘year of desktop Linux’ after all.

  • Desktop

    • Install Linux on used laptop

      Now that Windows XP has been officially discontinued there are a huge number of Windows XP laptops for sale on eBay. Many of these run really well with a light Linux distro, such as Linux Mint XFCE.

      At my public library job, I installed Linux Mint 16 XFCE on someone’s Windows XP laptop and was amazed at how much faster the laptop ran. So, my curiosity got the best of me, and I searched eBay to find that particular laptop model: a Dell Latitude C640, manufactured in 2002. Someone was selling such a laptop on eBay for $20. The description of the laptop was that it was in perfect working condition, so I bid $20.

  • Server

    • Five Great Applications For Systems Admins

      Being a systems administrator is a difficult, often thankless job. You’re one of the people responsible for keeping the entire IT infrastructure of your business up and running. What that means is that whenever something doesn’t work the way it should, all eyes immediately turn in your direction.

      You can hardly be blamed for looking to make your life a bit easier. I’d actually recommend that you do so, truth be told. The less time you spend slogging through all the basics of administration, the more time you can devote to improving your server.

      To that end, I’ve compiled a list of a few of the best sysadmin apps on the web; tools that any Linux administrator worth their salt should consider using.

    • 5 Key Enterprise Computing Trends in 2014

      It’s often striking at the end of any given year to reflect upon how much things changed over the preceding 12 months, and 2014 is no exception. After all, open source software reached a “tipping point” this year, as Linux Foundation Executive Director Jim Zemlin recently noted, achieving new prominence in software development and driving what Zemlin calls an “innovation renaissance.”

    • Cloud Computing Will Continue to Have Legs in 2015

      All you have to do get a guage on how hot open cloud computing is is check the job listings. Opportunities abound for those with OpenStack skills, for example.

      But there are strong signs that some of the big growth in cloud computing may lie ahead, and Amazon, the 800-pound gorilla in the cloud, may face much stiffer competition.

  • Kernel Space

    • Linux 3.19-rc2 Is A Tiny Release
    • Linux 3.19-rc2

      This -rc is tiny, for all the obvious reasons.

      I don’t expect that to last, but we’ll probably have another week of
      relative calm until things really start normalizing.

      Aboit 80% drivers (drm being the bulk of it by far), with a few small
      fixes around arm64, auditing and some random small oneliners
      elsewhere.

      Linus

    • OpenVZ & Parallels Cloud Server To Merge Into Open-Source Virtuozzo Core
    • Parallels to merge OpenVZ and Cloud Server
    • Happy Birthday Linus, Looking Back, and Korora Tidbits

      Softpedia.com today remembered the birthday of our founding father Linus Torvalds. In other news some Korora tidbits popped up in the feeds and Matthias Clasen is hinting that Red Hat 7.2 may feature the latest GNOME 3.14. Phoronix.com highlights their top stories for the year in Fedora and Debian and Sean Michael Kerner looks back at the top kernel news of the year.

    • Linus Torvalds Turns 45, Happy Birthday!

      Linus Torvalds, the creator of the Linux kernel and the current maintainer of the most advanced versions released, has just turned 45 and we wish him “Happy Birthday.”

    • Linux in 2014: Six New Kernels, Thousands of New Features
    • Graphics Stack

      • X.Org & Wayland Can Both Co-Exist & Continue Marching Forward

        While many view Wayland as the future of the Linux desktop, the X.Org Server shows no signs of disappearing anytime soon as beyond needing it for legacy X11 applications, there’s still much innovation happening within the conventional xorg-server as shown by the progress it’s made in 2014.

      • Intel Haswell HD Graphics End Of 2013 vs. 2014 Benchmarks

        Following on from yesterday’s Phoronix testing that provided an extensive look at AMD’s incredible open-source driver advancements over 2014 by benchmarking the open-source graphics stack from the end of 2013 compared to the end of this year, out now is similar treatment for Intel HD Graphics with their open-source Linux driver for Haswell hardware.

      • Mesa 10.3 & 10.4 Point Releases For The New Year

        Emil Velikov has announced new point releases in the Mesa 10.3 and Mesa 10.4 series in getting ready new open-source graphics drivers for 2015.

      • Linux Gains Support For Really High Frame Rates With The PS3 Eye Camera

        A new patch has been proposed today for the Linux kernel that would allow the PlayStation 3 Eye camera to capture at much higher frame-rates.

        The PlayStation Eye camera for the PS3 is similar to a web camera but can also be used for computer vision and gesture recognition tasks. The PlayStation Eye has been supported by the Linux kernel since the late Linux 2.6 days but with a future update (Linux 3.20 or later given that the 3.19 merge window is closed) will support higher modes.

    • Benchmarks

      • USB Flash Drive File-System Tests On Fedora

        For those wondering what Linux file-system is most performant on a USB 3.0 flash drive, here are some benchmarks using Fedora 21.

      • Intel Ivy Bridge Linux OpenGL Benchmarks Over Two Years

        Alongside the recent year-end tests of the Intel HD Graphics 4600 Haswell desktop OpenGL benchmarks were also some separate HD Graphics 4000 results from a Core i7 Ivy Bridge laptop. The ASUS Zenbook used for benchmarking had a Core i7 3517U processor with HD Graphics 4000, 4GB of RAM, and dual 128GB SSDs.

        For this testing the same Zenbook with the same settings was tested across Ubuntu 12.10, Ubuntu 13.10, and Ubuntu 14.10 with upgrades to the Linux 3.18 kernel and Mesa 10.5-devel to mark the end 2014 experience. Across the Ubuntu upgrades were new versions of the Linux kernel, Mesa, and xf86-video-intel DDX to affect the OpenGL and 2D performance along with other factors like switching of default CPU governors and 2D acceleration architectures.

      • Radeon Gallium3D Moved Closer To Performance Parity With AMD’s Catalyst In 2014
  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • Major Release

        Since then, we had a lot of things to be proud of: we made nice friends around the world, we strengthened local KDE communities in Brazil, we’ve been representing KDE for seven years in a row in major FLOSS Brazilian conferences. There were countless talks, short courses, hunting for new contributors, the first Akademy-BR and two LaKademies. That makes me happy but I’m, above all, a programmer. I’ve been missing the commits I haven’t done, the features I haven’t implemented and the bugs I haven’t fixed. I joined KDE already chased by that voice: “you have a Ph.D. to complete …” and it’s quite easy to let your passions dominate the priorities of your tasks

      • Processed in digiKam Call for Submissions

        Sharing is caring, right? So if you use digiKam for processing photos, why not share your photo editing techniques and tips with other users and showcase your best photos? I invite you to participate in the new Processed in digiKam feature on this very blog.

      • January Bug of the Month

        The KDE Gardening Team selected the January “Bug of the Month”. Before announcing it, let me write more about this initiative.

      • Knetwalk running on KF5 :)

        With this screen shot i think my work of porting knetwalk is complete. I would like other kde members to test knetwalk’s framework branch and report if they are experiencing any issue installing it on kf5. I will try and fix that error on my part.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • GNOME Mutter Now Uses GTK+ For Drawing All Window Decorations

        Fixed this morning in Mutter Git for GNOME 3.16 development is Bug #741917 for having the GNOME3 window manager letting GTK+ draw window decorations. The bug by Florian Müllner explained, “With CSD [client side decorations] support in GTK+, we are now maintaining two very different (but supposedly matching) themes for the same elements. Just ditch our own theme format (which everyone hates anyway) and use GTK+ for server-side decorations as well. This has been lying around locally for a couple of months now and in a public branch for quite some time, so I consider this fairly well tested by now (mostly using the default theme).” Florian just wasn’t complaining about the issue but came with patches in hand.

  • Distributions

    • OpenELEC 5.0: Linux-based OS focused on Kodi 14 media center

      There are plenty of ways to turn a PC into a media center, but one popular (and powerful) option is to install Kodi, the application formerly known as XBMC. Kodi presents a full-screen, remote control-friendly user interface for navigating music, videos, photos, and other content. It also supports plug-ins that let you stream content from the internet or use your computer as a DVR to record live TV.

    • Reviews

      • Review: CentOS 7.0 GNOME

        I tried CentOS 7.0 GNOME on a live USB made with UnetBootin. Follow the jump to see what it’s like. (As will become clear soon enough, there are no pictures in this review, and for the same reason, this review will be relatively shorter. Suffice it to say for now that the distribution basically looks identical to Scientific Linux 7.0 GNOME from screenshots.)

    • PCLinuxOS/Mageia/Mandriva Family

    • Red Hat Family

      • Linux Antique

        Let me introduce you to Linux Antique, aka Red Hat 5.2 KDE.

      • Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.2 to Finally Land in Present Times with GNOME 3.14

        Everyone knows that Red Hat Enterprise Linux is not exactly the trend setter when it comes to adopting the latest packages. The operating system has always operated under the assumption that old means stable, but that is not true anymore. It’s possible that RHEL 7.2 will switch to the latest GNOME 3.14 version.

      • Exclusive CEO Interview: How Red Hat Inc. Crushed Expectations in Q3, and What’s Next

        Open source software veteran Red Hat (NYSE: RHT ) reported third-quarter results recently and the company crushed analyst expectations on both the top and bottom lines. Shares jumped as much as 14% higher the day after the release, and have only climbed higher in the few days since.

      • Red Hat March 2016 Options Begin Trading

        Investors in Red Hat Inc (Symbol: RHT) saw new options become available today, for the March 2016 expiration. One of the key data points that goes into the price an option buyer is willing to pay, is the time value, so with 445 days until expiration the newly available contracts represent a potential opportunity for sellers of puts or calls to achieve a higher premium than would be available for the contracts with a closer expiration. At Stock Options Channel , our YieldBoost formula has looked up and down the RHT options chain for the new March 2016 contracts and identified the following call contract of particular interest.

      • Red Hat Receives New Coverage from Analysts at Piper Jaffray (RHT)
      • Fedora

        • 18 Things to Do After Installing Fedora 21 Workstation

          If you’re a Fedora fan, I’m sure that you know that Fedora 21 has been released a few days ago, Fedora 21 came with many new changes which you can view in our last article about it. Also you may view the installation guide for Fedora 21 that we published few days ago.

        • Korora 19 “Bruce” Reaches End Of Life

          Since we use Fedora as the base for our distribution and thus follow the Fedora Project’s life cycle, it means that Korora 19/19.1 reaches it’s End Of Life status soon just like Fedora 19. We advise our users to upgrade to K20 before January 6th 2015 or, if it is released by then, K21. After this date systems that still run K19, won’t receive any security updates anymore and are considered to be vulnerable.

        • Korora 21 development progress

          As always we are working hard on the next Korora Project release to present our users an overall polished and smooth desktop experience.

        • Fedora 21 Gaming Benchmarks: X.Org vs. XWayland To End 2014

          As some extra benchmarks over the holidays, here’s some fresh numbers when running some OpenGL gaming tests on GNOME running natively on X.Org vs. GNOME on Wayland and the games running through XWayland.

          As my most recent benchmarks were from (X)Wayland on Fedora 21 from its pre-release form in September, before ending out the year I figured it’s time to run some new reference tests with all available Fedora 21 updates. Fedora 21 was tested with the GNOME on its X.Org Server and GNOME on Wayland sessions available via the F21 GDM log-in screen. The tests in question were running through XWayland to look at the overhead for this approach of running legacy X11 games/applications on Wayland.

    • Debian Family

      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • Open source and Linux in 2014
  • Best open education tools and tales in 2014

    A great Bengali polymath and noble prize winner in literature (Rabindranath Tagore) once said: “Don’t limit a child to your own learning, for he was born in another time”. With changing times, the systems and customs that govern our society should also change. Human beings are intrinsically curious. To quote Thomas Hobbes, an English philosopher, “Curiosity is the lust of the mind”. However, there also seems to be another aspect of our human nature that sees systems and customs in a preordained manner. This aspect stifles disruptive innovation, restricts growth in a vertical direction, and fortifies the stubborn staying power of our fixations with these systems and customs.

  • FOSS’ Shining Moments of 2014

    “This year we had a very dark highlight with the Systemd situation,” said Google+ blogger Gonzalo Velasco C. “Wounds are still bleeding in some communities; forks were made; tons of antacids were consumed. Time will heal those, but for now, the bitter taste remains.” That said, “distros like Slackware, Gentoo and PCLinuxOS stayed put on their convictions not to use it, and that is very good.”

  • Improving on bug reports

    There’s nothing like the comments to justify an article. After I wrote about the average user’s difficulty with filing bugs, the responses came rapidly. Many agreed with me, or were willing to consider my comments plausible, but two with long histories of involvement with free software seemed only intermittently aware that any problem existed, and were more interested in faulting me for not suggesting more solutions.

  • The Open Bay – an open source Pirate Bay has emerged through Github

    The Pirate Bay previously made its website open for hosting by anyone with “minimal web knowledge”. After it was closed recently time and time again thanks to various lawsuits, GitHub has seen 372 copies of “The Open Bay” created, seeing The Pirate Bay hit the open source market.

  • Open Source Players Make IoT, Big Data Predictions for 2015

    Executives from Red Hat, the Linux Foundation, MapR and Splice Machine offer predictions for open source, big data, the Internet of Things, containerization and networking in 2015.

  • What will 2015 bring for the open source cloud?

    Regardless of what we see in 2015, the open source cloud will continue to grow, change, and adapt. What is your top prediction for this year?

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • MozJPEG Is Evolving Well For Better Optimized JPEGs

        While Fabrice Bellard’s work on the BPG Image Format has been getting a lot of attention in recent weeks for being an image format trying to replace JPEGs with offering higher compression ratio and other features over JPEGs, its design around the encoding of HEVC/H.265 makes its blocked by patents. For at least the interim, Mozilla is committed to making JPEGs better for the web.

      • MozJPEG 3.0

        Mozilla has done a study of image formats and concluded that WebP and JPEG XR are not a big-enough improvement over well-optimized JPEG. In the study only HEVC (H.265) was significantly better, but it’s a patent-encumbered format, so it can’t be used freely (shhhh!)

        It seems that Mozilla has a short-term and a long-term plan for image compression. They’re sponsoring development of the Daala codec, which is technically very interesting, but not production-ready yet.

  • CMS

  • Education

    • Get a college minor in open source

      In this lightning talk presentation, Remy tells us about the first academic minor in open source software at Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) that has both a technical and non-technical track. The courses in this minor all use open source software in some way, shape, or form. Additionally, student engagement on campus includes social coding through hackathons and meetups.

  • BSD

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • GNU Nana project + github

      There has been little activity on GNU Nana for the last few years so I’ve decided to leave this as a frozen archive. A slowly updating version is available on https://github.com/pjmaker/nana which deals with issues such as 64 bit CPU’s and autoconf.

    • User Liberation: Watch and share our new video

      Most people interact with free software every day, but many of those people don’t know what free software is or why they should go out of their way to use it. We want to fix that (and we think you do too), so we commissioned a short video that makes free software easy for everyone to understand:

    • The Licensing and Compliance Lab interviews Aaron Wolf of Snowdrift.coop

      This is the latest installment of our Licensing and Compliance Lab’s series on free software developers who choose GNU licenses for their works.

      In this edition, we conducted an email-based interview with Aaron Wolf, co-founder of Snowdrift.coop, a web platform coordinating patronage specifically for freely-licensed works. Aaron Wolf is a music teacher by trade who got involved in the free software movement in 2012 building on his earlier interest in free culture and cooperative economics.

  • Public Services/Government

    • Best open source in government: policies, new tools, and case studies

      As I reflect on another year of open source in government stories, I took a look back at the articles we published on Opensource.com this year to see if there were any noticeable commonalities. I found that most articles on the government channel fell into one of three categories: government policies, new tools available, and case studies.

      This is consistent with the trend I highlighted last year (We have policies. Now what?). As Mark Bohannon is fond of saying, “Governments are wrestling with the ‘how tos’ of open source choices; not ‘whether’ to use it.” Government policies are become more refined and sophisticated in regards to open technologies, and increasingly, governments are choosing to “default to open.” However, governments still need help implementing those policies, and citizens are stepping up by creating new, open source tools and open formats to help governments get the job done.

      Rather than do a traditional Top 10 list this year, I wanted to highlight a few standouts from each of these categories from 2014 that I think are worth reading if you missed them the first time. Or might even be worth a second read if it’s been a while.

  • Openness/Sharing

    • Open Hardware

      • This Md. startup is taking off thanks to the global open-source hardware movement

        It’s for an analog-to-digital converter circuit: in English, a board for “computers that can take dozens of signals from the world and figure out what to do with them,” explained Umar Farooq, the cofounder of Scarab Hardware.

      • Bridging gongkai and free/open source
      • From Gongkai to Open Source

        Compared to the firmware, the hardware reverse engineering task was fairly straightforward. The documents we could scavenge gave us a notion of the ball-out for the chip, and the naming scheme for the pins was sufficiently descriptive that I could apply common sense and experience to guess the correct method for connecting the chip. For areas that were ambiguous, we had some stripped down phones I could buzz out with a multimeter or stare at under a microscope to determine connectivity; and in the worst case I could also probe a live phone with an oscilloscope just to make sure my understanding was correct.

Leftovers

  • AirAsia plane with 159 aboard overshoots Philippine runway

    An AirAsia Zest plane carrying 159 people overshot the runway and got stuck in a muddy field Tuesday at an international airport in the central Philippines after landing from Manila in windy weather, officials said. There were no reports of injuries.

  • EU judges oppose accession of EU to ECHR

    Accession of the EU to the ECHR has been a very slow-burn process, with the Commission starting things off in 1979 (sic). The breakthrough, or so it appeared at the time, was the entry into force of Article 6 of the Lisbon Treaty of European Union, in December 2009. This (Art.6(2)) makes it a treaty obligation that the EU

  • Virgin Atlantic pilot lands 447 passengers safely in Gatwick drama

    A Virgin Atlantic plane carrying 447 passengers was forced to make an emergency landing at Gatwick after landing gear problems hit a US-bound flight.

    Hundreds of holidaymakers applauded in relief after their pilot returned the Boeing 747 to base safely following an unconventional journey that included dumping fuel at sea and flying low over the Gatwick control tower twice so that air traffic controllers could scrutinise the main undercarriage with binoculars.

  • Video shows Virgin Atlantic plane’s faulty landing gear as it touches down
  • Virgin Atlantic VS43: Watch terrifying footage from inside plane as it makes emergency landing at Gatwick
  • The Myth of the Last Man

    …it is time to revisit one of the most potent myths of the British Empire

  • The best countries for work-life balance

    According to a report from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) that ranked its 34 member countries on work-life balance, the United States comes in 29th in the category, which the report attributes to long work hours and a lack of social activities.

  • Science

  • Security

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

    • 6 Ways New Media Are Getting It Right On Climate Change — And 1 That’s Very Wrong

      While some mainstream media outlets are starting to get the message about the threat of climate change, they are still far behind emerging media when it comes to climate coverage.

      Throughout 2014, new TV and web-based news sources have been continuing the trend of providing excellent climate coverage. Media Matters has identified six positive trends in how new media are covering climate change — and one trend that may be cause for alarm.

    • Pope to push for action on climate change

      Over the weekend, The Guardian reported that Pope Francis will issue an encyclical urging Catholics to push for action on climate change. The push will coincide with the efforts to follow up on the Lima agreement in the hope that they will lead to binding agreements for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

  • Finance

    • Empire of the pig

      China’s insatiable appetite for pork is a symbol of the country’s rise. It is also a danger to the world

    • Leading European truckmakers operated cartel for 14 years: FT

      Top European truckmakers operated a cartel for 14 years to delay the progress of emissions-reducing technology, the Financial Times reported, citing leaked documents in a European Commission investigation.

      The newspaper said that one of the documents states that DAF Trucks, Daimler, Iveco, Scania, Volvo and MAN “agreed the timing and price increase levels for the introduction of new emission technologies” to comply with Euro 3 rules on nitrogen oxide and other emissions in 2000. (on.ft.com/1vanmz5)

      A spokeswoman for the European Commission, which announced last month it had sent charges to truckmakers it accused of a long-running and serious price-fixing cartel, said it would not comment on the leaked document. Known as a statement of objections, it lists the accusations against the firms.

      Daimler, Volvo and Iveco parent CNH Industrial all confirmed receipt last month of the statements of objections, together with Volkswagen-controlled Scania and MAN.

  • Censorship

    • MIT indefinitely removes online physics lectures and courses by Walter Lewin

      MIT’s action comes in response to a complaint it received in October from a woman, who is an online MITx learner, claiming online sexual harassment by Lewin. She provided information about Lewin’s interactions with her, which began when she was a learner in one of his MITx courses, as well as information about interactions between Lewin and other women online learners.

    • Gmail blocked in China

      Google Inc’s Gmail was blocked in China after months of disruptions to the world’s biggest email service, with an anti-censorship advocate suggesting the Great Firewall was to blame.

      Large numbers of Gmail web addresses were cut off in China on Friday, said GreatFire.org, a China-based freedom of speech advocacy group. Users said the service was still down on Monday.

      “I think the government is just trying to further eliminate Google’s presence in China and even weaken its market overseas,” said a member of GreatFire.org, who uses a pseudonym.

      “Imagine if Gmail users might not get through to Chinese clients. Many people outside China might be forced to switch away from Gmail.”

      Google’s own Transparency Report, which shows real-time traffic to Google services, displayed a sharp drop-off in traffic to Gmail from China on Friday.

    • Gmail Access Blocked in China

      Gmail users in China are reportedly having trouble accessing Google’s free email service in the region.

      The shutdown was first reported by GreatFire.org, an organization that monitors online censorship in China. The site today re-tweeted a message from a Beijing-based writer who said in a translated message that Gmail was “fully blocked.”

    • Reports Arrive Showing Gmail and Service Provision Blocking in China

      For a growing array of users, Google’s Internet and cloud services are the backbone of how they stay connected, productive and informed. From Gmail to the Google Cloud Platform, Google has established Internet and cloud service standards around the world — but in China, not so much.

    • Cuba’s ‘offline internet’: no access, no power, no problem

      Cubans have found a unique albeit semi-legal way around their country’s practically nonexistent internet access – external hard drives passed from person to person

  • Privacy

    • Facebook’s Illuminating Algorithmic Cruelty

      My own year has had much that I value, but little of it has been shared with Facebook so my own edition is largely valueless. It also thankfully omits the things that make me cry, like the memory of my mother’s passing this spring or the six months of triage following it. If you’ve chosen to share with Facebook, this is a wake-up call that you have also given them the implicit permission to make you relive memories on command.

      Frankly it’s no worse than the other things you’ve given them permission to do with the intimacies you’ve shared. They are just as free with advertisers and social data miners; you just don’t have that rubbed in your face. If you dislike “Year In Review” you probably will hate the things they do with your data without telling you (even if they have secured your permission in advance through their Terms of Service).

    • Inadvertent Algorithmic Cruelty

      A picture of my daughter, who is dead. Who died this year.

      Yes, my year looked like that. True enough. My year looked like the now-absent face of my little girl. It was still unkind to remind me so forcefully.

      And I know, of course, that this is not a deliberate assault. This inadvertent algorithmic cruelty is the result of code that works in the overwhelming majority of cases, reminding people of the awesomeness of their years, showing them selfies at a party or whale spouts from sailing boats or the marina outside their vacation house.

      But for those of us who lived through the death of loved ones, or spent extended time in the hospital, or were hit by divorce or losing a job or any one of a hundred crises, we might not want another look at this past year.

      To show me Rebecca’s face and say “Here’s what your year looked like!” is jarring. It feels wrong, and coming from an actual person, it would be wrong. Coming from code, it’s just unfortunate. These are hard, hard problems. It isn’t easy to programmatically figure out if a picture has a ton of Likes because it’s hilarious, astounding, or heartbreaking.

    • Facebook’s ‘Year in Review’ app swings from merely annoying to tragic

      Unless you’re making an active decision to disconnect this holiday season, you’ve probably seen a flood of Facebook “Year In Review” posts — a sort of digital card highlighting the biggest moments of 2014, algorithmically customized for each user.

      The posts are slickly designed, even if their visual uniformity can make scrolling through a newsfeed of the digital holiday letters a bit grating. However, in some cases the summaries can go beyond irritating and become downright cruel.

      The default tagline for the posts is “It’s been a great year! Thanks for being a part of it.” But not everyone actually had a great year. For some users, the prompts to view their own digital year in review may dig up painful memories.

    • Prying Eyes: Inside the NSA’s War on Internet Security

      US and British intelligence agencies undertake every effort imaginable to crack all types of encrypted Internet communication. The cloud, it seems, is full of holes. The good news: New Snowden documents show that some forms of encryption still cause problems for the NSA.

    • NSA Documents: Attacks on VPN, SSL, TLS, SSH, Tor
    • Dotcom: Encrypted MegaChat is “Coming Soon”

      As 2014 draws to an end, encryption and privacy remain high on the agendas of many netizens. Cloud hosting service Mega has been building its reputation in this niche and is now preparing to deliver a new privacy tool. According to Kim Dotcom the company he founded will soon wave “bye bye” to Skype with the debut of MegaChat.

    • Revealed: supposedly uncrackable encryption tools still not safe

      An online article supposedly reveals the encryption tools that spies can’t hack, but the list doesn’t exactly inspire confidence.

      An article over at Fairfax Media entitled ‘Revealed: the encryption tools spies can and can’t hack’ starts off with a lot of stuff about Edward Snowden, his revelations, COMINT, Five eyes and more.

      It references Australia’s Federal Attorney-General naming Edward Snowden as ‘an American traitor’.

    • Jacob Appelbaum: Reconstructing narratives – transparency in the service of justice [31c3]
    • LEAKED: Secret Negotiations to Let Big Brother Go Global

      Much has been written, at least in the alternative media, about the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), two multilateral trade treaties being negotiated between the representatives of dozens of national governments and armies of corporate lawyers and lobbyists (on which you can read more here, here and here). However, much less is known about the decidedly more secretive Trade in Services Act (TiSA), which involves more countries than either of the other two.

      At least until now, that is. Thanks to a leaked document jointly published by the Associated Whistleblowing Press and Filtrala, the potential ramifications of the treaty being hashed out behind hermetically sealed doors in Geneva are finally seeping out into the public arena.

      If signed, the treaty would affect all services ranging from electronic transactions and data flow, to veterinary and architecture services. It would almost certainly open the floodgates to the final wave of privatization of public services, including the provision of healthcare, education and water. Meanwhile, already privatized companies would be prevented from a re-transfer to the public sector by a so-called barring “ratchet clause” – even if the privatization failed.

    • Inside the NSA’s War on Internet Security

      NSA documents indicate they can get into SSH, along with IPSec and PPTP, but that PGP/GnuPG and OTR, as well as TrueCrypt are secure.

    • Glenn Greenwald: Why privacy matters [TED video]

      In some ways it may be fair to say that 2014 was the year when issues of survaillance and privacy became a huge part of our public discourse. And so I thought that re-posting this fantastic TED video by Glenn Greenwald on Why Privacy Matters is rather appropriate.

    • Open Source Privacy Tools NSA Can’t Crack: OTR, PGP, RedPhone, Tor And Tails

      In a recent talk at the Chaos Communication Congress, Jacob Appelbaum, who is a core member of the Tor Project and is now working with Der Spiegel and Laura Poitras to analyze the Snowden documents, unveiled some documents showing which tools NSA couldn’t crack.

  • Civil Rights

    • Thrown in the cells for beeping at a police car! Driver handcuffed and DNA-tested… then faces six-month legal ordeal

      The 34-year-old train driver, who has never been in trouble with the police in his life, was accused of abusive and threatening behaviour and charged with a public order offence.

      [...]

      Each time, Mr Samara said, he beeped his horn instinctively. ‘For a train driver, especially because we have no brake, using the horn if there is danger is just a natural thing to do,’ he said.

      On the last occasion the van stopped and a policewoman got out and challenged him.

      ‘I didn’t shout or swear or wind my window down, but I did tell her the manner of her driving had caused me to slam on the brakes,’ Mr Samara said.

      He said the policewoman told him she was out looking for a missing child. She was upset about his attitude and told him: ‘When you have a problem don’t come to us as we won’t want to know.’

      Mr Samara told her he was going to make a complaint about her.

      Then her male colleague joined her, ordered him out of his car and handcuffed him. Mr Samara was arrested and taken to the police station where he was left in the cells for two hours and eventually charged.

      He appeared at a preliminary court hearing but prosecutors dropped the case last month after CCTV obtained from the police station contradicted the officer’s evidence that he was threatening and abusive.

    • Victim: Indecent proposition from New London chief was ‘chilling’

      Speaking publicly for the first time, Janelle Westfall said state laws failed her after New London’s former police chief made her a proposition: If she posed nude for him, the underage alcohol charges against her would be dropped. Because of Westfall’s complaint, David Seastrand will never be allowed to serve as a police officer again. She also received a $70,000 settlement from the town. But, she adds, “It just bothers me that it happened, and that they couldn’t prosecute (Seastrand). It bothers me that it could happen again to someone else.”

    • The Sneakiest Way Prosecutors Get a Guilty Verdict: PowerPoint

      At least 10 times in the last two years, US courts have reversed a criminal conviction because prosecutors violated the rules of fair argument with PowerPoint. In even more cases, an appellate court has taken note of such misconduct while upholding the conviction anyway or while reversing on other grounds (as in the case of Sergey Fedoruk). Legal watchdogs have long asserted that prosecutors have plenty of ways to quietly put their thumb on the scales of justice —such as concealing exculpatory evidence, eliminating jury-pool members based on race, and so on. Now they can add another category: prosecution by PowerPoint. “It’s the classic ‘A picture is worth a thousand words,’” said Eric Broman, a Seattle attorney who focuses on criminal appeals. “Until the courts say where the boundaries are, prosecutors will continue to test the boundaries.”

    • Freedom of Info at 10: Tony Blair’s WORST NIGHTMARE

      Although the Freedom of Information Act was passed in 2000, it didn’t come into force until 1 January 2005, meaning we’ve had just about 10 years of FoI – as the Information Commissioner’s Office was keen to point out in a minor PR blizzard.

      That load of celebratory snippets* included such worthy-but-dull moments as the first ICO decision notice. Issued in February 2005, it ordered Westminster Council to cough up information about pavements.

  • Internet/Net Neutrality

  • DRM

    • Flash! Amazon Acts like For-Profit Company!

      Apparently, Amazon just might be pursuing a way to maximize its own profits rather than those of indie authors. What a shock!

      Meanwhile, Kindle Unlimited authors are reacting by chopping books up into smaller pieces so that they get more fees for the same amount of work (a bit unseemly and obvious, to my taste), or by pulling their books from the program entirely (a rational response, but what will Amazon do next? After all, it has complete authority over what it chooses to pay authors, regardless of the program involved).

      It’s ironic that the scales should now be falling from the eyes of Amazon fans so soon after the Hatchette dispute led them to vilify traditionally published authors for their gullibility in siding with their publishers, and their business model, instead of abandoning them for Amazon. Now, it seems, that career path does not seem so certain.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • UK cinema calls police on preteens with iPads during Mockingjay screening

        Both The Daily Mail and The Argus are carrying the story of seven 12-year-old Brighton, UK girls who were questioned by police after staff at a Cineworld multiplex reportedly saw that some of the girls had iPads and smartphones. Concerned that the girls might be engaging in copyright infringement by recording parts of the movie, the staff called 999 (the UK emergency services number, equivalent to 911 in the US) and requested police to help deal with the situation, which the Mail says the staff characterized as an “emergency.”

      • isoHunt Founder: Piracy is A Convenience and Access Problem.

        For isoHunt Founder Gary Fung, 2014 was the first full year without him taking a central place in the BitTorrent landscape. But even though his site was crushed by the MPAA, Hollywood is still facing the same piracy problems. Today Fung shares his views on piracy and the future of media distribution.

User Liberation: Watch and share the FSF’s new video

Posted in Videos at 7:19 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz


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