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12.03.14

Links 3/12/2014: Tails 1.2.1, Android for Desktops, Openwashing

Posted in News Roundup at 6:46 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • Openwashing: adopter beware

    It’s great to see where open source software and the communities that support it are today. Many of those who have worked over the years to develop feature-rich applications and enterprise ready systems, that not only compare to, but exceed proprietary options, must feel like pinching themselves.

  • Interview: Apache Software Foundation Elevates Drill to Top-Level Project

    The Apache Software Foundation (ASF), which stewards more than 200 Open Source projects and initiatives, has announced that Apache Drill has graduated from the Apache Incubator to become a Top-Level Project (TLP).

    Apache 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.

  • How Can We Get Business to Care about Freedom, Openness and Interoperability?

    At this point in history, arguments for using Linux, FOSS (free and open-source software) and the Internet make themselves. Yet the virtues behind those things—freedom, openness, compatibility, interoperability, substitutability—still tend to be ignored by commercial builders of new stuff.

    For example, US health care, like pretty much every business category, is full of Linux and FOSS, and is to some degree connected on the Net. Yet, it remains a vast feudal system of suppliers that nearly all work to lock doctors, hospitals and labs into dependency on closed, proprietary, incompatible, non-interoperable and non-substitutable systems. I’ve witnessed these up close as a patient. In one case, diagnostic scans by one machine and software system couldn’t be read by computers with software designed to read the output of a different company’s scans. In another case, records kept by one specialty failed to inform another specialty in the same hospital. The first one gave me a case of pancreatitis, and the second one gave my mother a fatal stroke.

  • Samsung’s Open Source Group is Growing, Hiring Developers (Video)

    The open source group is admittedly a small team for such a large company. But it indicates a significant shift in the company’s approach to development – and one that is gaining in popularity among enterprises, in general. Companies start by using open source software, then advance to participating in open source communities, contributing upstream, and adopting open source practices internally.

  • Cisco Goes Open-Source for Big Data Security Analytics

    Cisco is no stranger to the open-source world and is now expanding its efforts with the OpenSOC (Security Operation Center), which is a project that is freely available on Github.

  • Stephen Hawking’s new Intel talking system to be made open-source
  • Events

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Firefox 34.0.5 Lands in All Supported Ubuntu Distros

        Canonical has updated the Firefox packages in the repositories for Ubuntu 12.04 LTS, Ubuntu 14.04 LTS, and Ubuntu 14.10. If you have this application installed right now, the next system update should bring the latest version.

      • New tablet UI for Firefox on Android

        The new tablet UI for Firefox on Android is now available on Nightly and, soon, Aurora! Here’s a quick overview of the design goals, development process, and implementation.

  • SaaS/Big Data

    • Selling a Non-Product: The Multifaceted OpenStack

      When the Rackspace team first created the idea of an open stack, they knew that the opportunity was not just to build public clouds. Rather, the software was to service companies that were using all kinds of cloud or virtualization technologies. It was built with flexibility in mind. “That involved more than just how they might package it and distribute it,” explained Metacloud VP Scott Sanchez.

    • jKool Unveils Open Source SaaS Platform for Spotting Patterns in Big Data
    • Apache Drills into Hadoop

      In a big week for Big Data, Apache Drill becomes a top level project as Hadoop 2.6.0 is released.

      It’s a big week for Big Data and the open source Hadoop ecosystem. The Apache Hadoop 2.6.0 project was released on Nov. 30, and today the Apache Drill project announced it had become a top level project in the Apache Software Foundation.

  • Funding

  • BSD

    • Nzega’s Digital Library Becomes a Reality

      We installed the FreeBSD operating system on each of the workstations. FreeBSD is an open source derivative of Unix that is renowned for its speed, customizability and rock-solid stability. We also installed a variety of open source software packages from a repository that we created on the Mini. The second Mini serves as a backup and content mirror, which we aim to sync once per year with new material and as needed.

      For both teachers it was their very first exposure to FreeBSD. They enjoyed the control and customizability of the installation process, as well as the wide availability of open source software packages in the repository (more than 20,000).

    • BSDCan 2015 call for papers
  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

  • Project Releases

    • Announcing netdev 0.1

      Netdev 0.1 (year 0, conference 1) is a community-driven conference geared towards Linux netheads. Linux kernel networking and user space utilization of the interfaces to the Linux kernel networking subsystem are the focus. If you are using Linux as a boot system for proprietary networking, then this conference may not be for you.

    • Watch Movies and TV Shows for Free with the Latest Popcorn Time

      Streaming movies and TV shows directly from torrents without having to download them is the main purpose of Popcorn Time. The devs have released a small update for the application and they have fixed a number of small problems that have been reported by the community.

    • Kodi 14.0 Prepares for Massive Release, XBMC to Be Finally Replaced

      Kodi 14.0 RC, the successor of the current XBMC project, has been released and is now available for testing. The famous media hub is preparing for a major name change, but the devs also plan to make the 14.0 branch the best one so far.

  • Openness/Sharing

Leftovers

  • Data Loss And Downtime Costs The UK £10.5 Billion Per Year

    78 percent of UK organisations are not confident that they can fully recover after a disruption

    Data loss and downtime cost enterprises $1.7 trillion around the globe in the past year – the equivalent of nearly 50 percent of Germany’s GDP.

  • Science

    • New research suggests that we learned to metabolize alcohol by eating spoiled fruit

      Anyone born after Prohibition (i.e., anyone reading this) was likely taught growing up that alcohol is, at its core, a poison. Really fun poison. Poison that leads to dancing. Poison that makes you drunk-text your co-worker and spend the next six days caked in cold sweat and nauseous from dread.

      Now, new research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences confirms that classification. We actually developed our ability to consume alcohol around 10 million years ago when we started to eat rotten fruit.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • How Monsanto’s Big Data Push Hurts Small Farms

      Ask an agribusiness exec about sustainable agriculture, and you’ll likely get an earful about something called “precision agriculture.” What is it? According to Yara, the fertilizer giant, it’s technology that “enables farmers to add the specific nutrients needed for their crop, in exactly the right amount, at the right time.”

    • Ebola Story Puts Old Fears in New Virus

      In other words, Ebola is less a story about a bizarre new disease and its unpredictably disastrous capacities, and more a sad old story about poverty and priorities.

  • Security

    • there are no good constant-time data structures

      Imagine you have a have a web site that people can access via a password. No user name, just a password. There are a number of valid passwords for your service. Determining whether a password is in that set is security-sensitive: if a user has a valid password then they get access to some secret information; otherwise the site emits a 404. How do you determine whether a password is valid?

      The go-to solution for this kind of problem for most programmers is a hash table. A hash table is a set of key-value associations, and its nice property is that looking up a value for a key is quick, because it doesn’t have to check against each mapping in the set.

      Hash tables are commonly implemented as an array of buckets, where each bucket holds a chain. If the bucket array is 32 elements long, for example, then keys whose hash is H are looked for in bucket H mod 32. The chain contains the key-value pairs in a linked list. Looking up a key traverses the list to find the first pair whose key equals the given key; if no pair matches, then the lookup fails.

      Unfortunately, storing passwords in a normal hash table is not a great idea. The problem isn’t so much in the hash function (the hash in H = hash(K)) as in the equality function; usually the equality function doesn’t run in constant time. Attackers can detect differences in response times according to when the “not-equal” decision is made, and use that to break your passwords.

      So let’s say you ensure that your hash table uses a constant-time string comparator, to protect against the hackers. You’re safe! Or not! Because not all chains have the same length, “interested parties” can use lookup timings to distinguish chain lookups that take 2 comparisons compared to 1, for example. In general they will be able to determine the percentage of buckets for each chain length, and given the granularity will probably be able to determine the number of buckets as well (if that’s not a secret).

      Well, as we all know, small timing differences still leak sensitive information and can lead to complete compromise. So we look for a data structure that takes the same number of algorithmic steps to look up a value. For example, bisection over a sorted array of size SIZE will take ceil(log2(SIZE)) steps to get find the value, independent of what the key is and also independent of what is in the set. At each step, we compare the key and a “mid-point” value to see which is bigger, and recurse on one of the halves.

    • Security updates for Tuesday
    • Security Audit Automation Made Easy with SCAP

      Security automation can be defined as the use of standardized specifications and protocols to perform specific common security functions.

      Which leads us to SCAP – the Security Content Automation Protocol, an industry and government initiative to automate security audits and compliance.

  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression

    • Latest ISIS attack on Kobanê implicates Turkey once more

      Ever since ISIS commenced its attack on Kobanê the town has been cut off from the outside world. ISIS controlled the western, southern and eastern fronts and the hermetically sealed border with Turkey formed an unsurpassable border in the north. The Turkish armed forces (TSK) have maintained a heavy military presence at the border, with dozens of tanks stationed on hills overlooking Kobanê, regular patrols along the border fence and watch towers and outposts every few kilometers.

    • Primary Sources: Emails Show FBI Worked to Debunk ‘Conspiracy Theories’ Following Michael Hastings’ Death

      When journalist Michael Hastings died in a car crash in Los Angeles last year, rumors immediately began to surface on social media suggesting his death was tied to a federal investigation into his work.

      The claims attracted widespread media interest when WikiLeaks tweeted the day after the crash that Hastings had contacted the anti-secrecy group’s attorney and said that the FBI was investigating him. The FBI was then bombarded by inquiries from journalists who tried to confirm or deny the allegations, and the bureau struggled to come up with a statement to debunk what it referred to as “rampant conspiracy theories.”

      [...]

      VICE News obtained dozens of internal FBI emails that provide a behind-the-scenes look at how the bureau managed the inquiries into Hastings’ death and the rare steps it took to shoot down claims that he was the target of a federal probe. The documents were turned over in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit VICE News jointly filed with Ryan Shapiro, a doctoral candidate at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who specializes in FOIA research.

      [...]

      That day, Eimiller also sent out an email to FBI special agents across the country under the subject line “Urgent Media Issue” and linked to a New York magazine report about the growing conspiracy theories surrounding Hastings’ death. She said the reports had attracted the interest of then-FBI Director Robert Mueller and the Department of Justice, and that FBI headquarters “would like to debunk growing conspiracy theory if possible (assuming that’s what it is).”

      “Has anyone’s division been contacted in relation to an FBI investigation that may have led to foul play in the car crash death Tuesday of reporter, Michael Hastings,” Eimiller wrote. “There are many reports on the Internet that Hastings was being investigated by the FBI. He died in a car accident in LA on Tuesday. Before his death, according to a tweet, he told others he worried he was the subject of an investigation. None of this is confirmed and the LAPD is reporting no foul play in car crash based on evidence. This is getting the attention of DOJ and the Director’s Office.”

  • Censorship

    • A long list of sex acts just got banned in UK porn

      While the measures won’t stop people from watching whatever genre of porn they desire, as video shot abroad can still be viewed, they do impose severe restrictions on content created in the UK, and appear to make no distinction between consensual and non-consensual practices between adults.

  • Civil Rights

    • ‘There were hundreds of us crying out for help’: the afterlife of the whistleblower

      In his former life, Dr Raj Mattu was an internationally recognised cardiologist. On course for a professorship in London, he nonetheless jumped at the chance to return to his home town of Coventry in 1997, to set up a medical school at Warwick University and help turn the large district Walsgrave hospital into a teaching facility. It was a choice he would live to regret.

    • IGs form front line of war on waste and fraud, but weak links remain

      Allegations against top officials at the State Department were devastating and had to be suppressed, so the agency’s inspector general quickly obliged, delivering what amounted to a cover-up of a cover-up.

      What happened at the State Department is not unusual, recent disclosures show.

    • Big Brother Watch supports campaign to limit pre-charge bail to 28 days

      Living in limbo with no indication as to when a charge may or may not be brought is a form of punishment in itself. The impact on a person’s day to day life, health and mental wellbeing is profound. Your life is simply put on hold with no right to appeal.

    • Columnist Often Called ‘Racist’ Doesn’t Think Police Activists Should Use That Word

      Exhibit A is the fact that members of the audience at a conference laughed when NYPD Police Commissioner William Bratton attributed the drop in New York City’s crime rate to “the cops.”

    • THE AMERICAN DEEP STATE: An Interview with Peter Dale Scott for the Project Censored Show on Pacifica Radio

      The following is a transcript of a recent interview conducted by Mickey Huff and Peter Phillips for the Project Censored Show on Pacifica Radio. They sat down with noted author and scholar Peter Dale Scott to discuss his latest book, The American Deep State: Wall Street, Big Oil and the Attack on U.S. Democracy. This wide-ranging discussion examines the “Deep State,” an evolving level of secret government separate from the elected government. Scott looks at the origins of the deep state, its communications and finances, and its involvement in landmark events, from the JFK assassination to Watergate, to September 11th and beyond.

  • Internet/Net Neutrality

    • Net neutrality essential to our democracy

      In May, HBO comedian John Oliver opened his segment on net neutrality by saying, “The cable companies have figured out the great truth of America: If you want to do something evil, put it inside something boring.” He then delivered an incisive 13-minute monologue that was anything but boring, drawing more than 7 million views on YouTube. Indeed, as Oliver demonstrated so effectively, while net neutrality may seem like a dull subject, protecting it is essential to not only the future of the Internet, but also the future of our democracy.

    • U.S. House subcommittee postpones hearing on net neutrality

      A key House panel has delayed a hearing on the Federal Communications Commission’s efforts to write new Internet traffic rules aimed at assuring “net neutrality.”

      The U.S. House of Representatives Communications and Technology subcommittee had been expected on Dec. 10 to quiz all five FCC commissioners about so-called net neutrality rules that would regulate the how Internet service providers (ISPs) manage web traffic that travels through their networks.

    • Net Neutrality: France Is Playing The Telcos’ Game

      Seven months after the historic vote in the European Parliament on Net neutrality, the Council of the European Union could soon bury this fundamental principle. While its inclusion in French law could be debated in the coming months, it is high time for the government to put an end to is doublespeak and supports an uncompromising defense of Net Neutrality in front of its European partners. However, in Brussels, the French government seems in tune with the lobbying of big telecom operators.

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