Links 23/12/2014: Updates on GNU/Linux in China and N. Korea

Posted in News Roundup at 4:37 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



  • YEAR of the PENGUIN: A Linux mobile in 2015?

    It’s nearly impossible to sum up an entire year of developments in something as large and nebulous as the world of desktop Linux, especially in a year like this one which has seen some the best releases that projects like Mint, Fedora and openSUSE have put out to date.

    At the same time the distro that’s closest to being a household name, Ubuntu, has been nearly silent since 14.04 arrived in April.

    To paraphrase author Charles Dickens, the past year of Linux releases has been both the best of times and the worst of times.

    At the very moment that Linux desktops seem to be reaching new levels of sophistication, polish and “just works” ease-of-use, the entire future of the desktop computer (by which I also mean laptop) feels in doubt.

  • The Machine with Open Source Carbon OS is the Next Big Thing – if HP can deliver

    HP has recently been facing some serious difficulties and has opted to betting all its resources on the new PC called ‘The Machine’. Probably the most intriguing thing about the machine is that it will rewrite basic computing on a very fundamental level. While the topic has been covered extensively, I realized we haven’t actually touched it here and thought it was about time.

  • North Korea’s Red Star Linux goes for a Mac OS X look

    It seems that even the somewhat “traditional” North Korean tech aesthetics is getting an update. Thanks to a former lecturer at Pyongyang, we are getting a glimpse of what the officially sanctioned operating system of North Korea, Red Star Linux, now looks like, almost half a decade since the OS was first leaked outside the secretive regime. Apparently, like the rest of the tech world, the Linux-based OS has moved away from a Windows 7, nay Window XP even, look towards a more stylish OS X.

  • Chromebooks rising, SteamOS stalling, Linux’s civil war: The World Beyond Windows’ 10 biggest stories of the year

    If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then Microsoft has nothing but good things to say about Linux. Windows 10 is abandoning many of the more jarring changes of Windows 8—while simultaneously copying features from Linux.

    Windows 10 includes virtual desktops, a centralized notification center, and a vision of apps that can run in windows when you’re using a proper PC, or full-screen when you’re using a mobile device. It’s a smattering of ideas from 15-year-old Linux desktops, GNOME Shell, and Ubuntu’s vision of convergence.

  • China plans to cull foreign tech in favour of local suppliers

    Regulators in China recently seeked anti-trust probes against Western companies such as Microsoft and Qualcomm Inc.

  • The 5 Best Linux Stories of 2014

    Two Thousand and Fourteen was an exciting, tumultuous and rather funky year for Linux.

    Great consumer news, forks, death threats, hardware delays and… something truly unthinkable just a few years ago. Truth be told I’m still trying to wrap my head around, what feels like, the zaniest year of Linux shenanigans I have ever seen.

    Here are the 5 stories that, I feel, best sum up what happened with Linux (and the related Open Source world) in 2014.

  • Measuring Lock-in

    There’s a reason for that lock-in. For decades, M$ was allowed to use strong anti-competitive practices all over the world. It takes a lot of time money and effort to undo that. e.g. Munich took 10 years to throw open the doors to the jail in which it found itself after decades of using M$’s products while folks like Largo, FL, who never took the bait are laughing all the way to the bank, year after year. Smaller organizations like the ones for which I worked could free themselves in weeks but it requires good knowledge of GNU/Linux which is often lacking. That too can be overcome. When the dust settles, folks who switch are better off and have lower costs of IT forever. It pays to switch.

  • China’s ‘home-made’ operating system isn’t home made at all, but maybe that’s OK

    Like most governments, China’s has long been concerned about the security vulnerabilities that may come with using software developed in other countries. The biggest problem: PC operating systems in government buildings are almost universally run on Windows. For years, China has been trying to create a domestic alternative. Yesterday, the latest alpha build of its decade-in-the-making Kylin operating system went up for download.

    According to Techweb, this latest version of Ubuntu Kylin – the version of Kylin that’s being designed for use by the public – still contains serious bugs, and important parts of the OS have not been translated into Chinese.

    In fact, whether Kylin is even a Chinese operating system at all is debatable, although the Chinese media continues to describe the project as “home-grown.”

  • Meet Red Star OS, the North Korean Linux distro that apes Apple’s OS X

    Red Star OS is a Linux distribution developed in North Korea. Not only is it North Korea’s official Linux distribution, it’s their country’s official operating system period.

    Microsoft’s Windows operating system is written and developed in the USA, so it’s no surprise North Korea doesn’t really trust it given the tense relations between the two countries. Until 2002, when Red Star OS began to be developed in the DPRK, the few available computers in North Korea generally ran Windows. (Interestingly enough, the North Korean hackers which seem to be behind the hack of Sony Pictures appear to have been using Windows PCs instead.)

  • Desktop

    • Open Source Online Game Gets Students Excited About Linux

      When Razvan Rughinis began teaching the introductory operating systems course at University Politehnica of Bucharest in Romania 10 years ago, he was challenged to get students interested in Linux and keep them interested for the entire three-month course.

      Many first-year computer science students have no experience with Linux, and they have no interest in learning it, said Rughinis a professor in the Computer Science and Engineering Department. And those students who do know Linux are regarded as unusual and treated as social outcasts, he said.

      “They wouldn’t pay attention to the first experience to see what Linux has to offer; not just the desktop, but how the services work and the depth of the system,” he said. “It’s a steep learning curve for students coming from high school. Their first encounter was too difficult.”

    • Librem 15 Is a Beast of a Linux Laptop with a Gorgeous Finish

      Librem 15 aims to be the only laptop coming with completely free software and its makers are looking to get some funding through a crowdfunding campaign.
      You might think that if a laptop ships with any Linux distribution, then it would stand to reason that it would be loaded with free and open source software, but the truth is that it’s not that simple or even intuitive. For example, it’s true that the Linux kernel is an open source project and that it’s freely distributable, but there are some people in the community that say it’s not enough.

    • Teaching Linux in the Dark

      Did I tell him it was Linux? Did I give him the party line on freedom-as-in-beer-and-code? No. I didn’t tell him anything except I was going to fix his computer.

      When the install was done, I imported his IE bookmarks into Firefox and loaded his music and pictures into the appropriate directories. I did not set him up with multiple desktops, nor did I blingify his desktop. He wanted to play his online games with his friends, he wanted to check his bank account from time to time and he wanted to access his Yahoo email account. That’s all. Oh…and he wanted to play World of Goo. It’s his new and favorite obsession.

      It took me all of one and a half hours to get him fixed and out the door.

      In the years I’ve been doing this, it’s only been recently that I’ve learned an extremely important lesson. Not everyone needs to be saved from one entity and changed to another. Not everyone wants or needs to know the important philosophical truths about free open source software. Sometimes, people just want their computers to do what they tell them to do and in the shortest and most simple way possible. The end result was a happy friend and a neighborhood computer I will not have to fix for a long time.

    • Come On! The Year Of GNU/Linux On The Desktop Was Ages Ago. Now We’re Mopping Up.

      Chromebooks are killing iPads and Wintel PCs in USAian education. Even PhotoShop ships for them. Every major OEM of PCs is shipping ChromeOS which is Chrome browser embedded on GNU/Linux. There are moves to integrate the rampant Android/Linux, too, with ChromeOS. We’ve won, beyond our wildest dreams and rather quickly too. It was only 7 years ago that Android was a gleam in Google’s eyes but they sold a billion copies last year.

    • Linux bloated? Think again

      When I first started using Linux, back in the mid-late nineties, a typical Linux installation was roughly four to five CDs and wound up installing applications geared toward scientists, programmers, HAM radio operators, and more. The kernel was built for a small sub-section of hardware it actually had support for (which included a lot of hardware most people didn’t have). The typical resources needed to run Linux were quite small. The first machine I ran Linux on was a Pentium II 75 Mhz processor with 56 MB of RAM and an unsupported WinModem (which was eventually swapped out for a US Robotics 36.6 external modem).

  • Server

    • Why is everyone hating on operating systems?

      For all for all of the hype containers have received, they are still dependent on the underlying operating system to run. Containers are awesome, but they’re still new, and the technology is still growing. In this talk, Brian Proffitt talks about how changes in the IT sector still require a trusted operating system sitting underneath containers, hypervisors, and all virtualization solutions.

  • Kernel Space

    • Video: Yes, I’m Linux. Are You?

      This was released by the Linux Foundation yesterday and I thought I’d share.

    • Inline Data Support Comes To CephFS With Linux 3.19

      The Ceph file-system in Linux 3.19 will support inline data to offer performance improvements for some operations.

      Ceph, the distributed file-system that prides itself as having no single point of failure and being very scalable, is adding in new functionality for Linux 3.19. First up, CephFS for Linux 3.19 adds support for inline data. Inline data makes the file-system quicker for accessing small files and is a feature already supported by Btrfs, EXT4, and other file-systems. Inline data support for Ceph has been a long time coming and is outlined further on this Ceph Wiki page.

    • That Nasty Linux Kernel Lockup Bug Is Still Unresolved

      Nearly one month ago back during the Linux 3.18 release candidates there was a worrisome regression uncovered by kernel developers, but now with the Linux 3.19 merge window nearly over, that issue still has yet to be firmly addressed.

    • systemd Disables the Linux Magic SysRq Key
    • Graphics Stack

      • VC4 Gallium3D Adds DMA-BUF Support, Yields Working DRI3

        Beyond the VC4 Gallium3D work yesterday landing in Mesa that led to this Raspberry Pi graphics driver potentially running much faster, DMA-BUF support was also added.

      • NIR Has Been Revised As A New IR For Mesa

        The NIR Mesa IR was envisioned and originally developed by Connor Abbott, who was interning at Intel this summer after being a fresh graduate of high school and having already contributed to Lima and other Linux graphics projects.

      • VDPAU Updated To v0.9

        Before going on holiday break, Aaron Plattner at NVIDIA released version 0.9 of the VDPAU library (libvdpau) and of the VDPAU information utility (vdpauinfo).

      • Adreno A4xx Rendering With Freedreno Takes Shape

        The Freedreno Gallium3D driver’s support for the Adreno A4xx hardware is taking shape and beginning to work for GL rendering on this latest-generation Qualcomm graphics hardware.

      • Server-Side XCB Is Being Discussed For The X.Org Server

        Given the recent X.Org Server security vulnerabilities that were aplenty and many dated back 10 to 20 years or more, Jeremy Sharp is trying to get developers into finally materializing server-side XCB.

      • Intel 2.99.917 X.Org Driver Released, 3.0 Release Finally Near

        The Intel X.Org driver (xf86-video-intel 3.0) driver has been in pre-release form since September 2013 and now after having gone through many development revisions, xf86-video-intel 3.0 might be on final approach.

    • Benchmarks

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • KDE’s Krita Loses Its Main Backer

        Since 2007 there has been KO GmbH as a support and software service company built around KOffice/Calligra in their belief that the software was “getting ready for the big time”, but seven years later the situation is not so good and KO GmbH is no longer handling Krita.

      • Interview with Marty Last

        I haven’t worked for FOSS projects yet, but what a great idea for a New Year’s resolution. I’ve worked as part of teams that generated open source tools and upstream patches for existing drivers/kernel, but nothing directly.

      • KDE e.V. is looking for its first Executive Director

        KDE e.V. has been successfully supporting the KDE community for over 17 years. For many of them we had the tremendous help of a business manager, several interns, an event manager and countless volunteers to be able to do this. In the coming years we want to be able to support the KDE community even better. In order to do this we need strong support from an Executive Director. The Board of Directors has decided to hire someone for this position in the coming months. We are looking for a passionate individual who understands our community and can drive our business interaction. Do you want to be a part of bringing great software to millions of users? Do you want to really make a difference for a Free Software non-profit? Then this is the job for you! If you would like to know more about the position please read the job ad.

      • Qt 5.4 on Red Hat Enterprise 5

        For my job, I need to take care of the support of old Linux distributions for our products, therefore I experimented in building Qt 5.x for Red Hat Enterprise 5 (or CentOS 5 or other clones).

        Whereas Red Hat Enterprise 6 works more or less out of the box, to build Qt (even without WebKit and Co.) on Red Hat Enterprise 5, more work is needed. Even the xcb library is not yet existent there.

      • Application Development with Qt Creator, Second Edition

        I got a copy of the Application Development with Qt Creator, 2nd ed. for review, so I decided to post the review here – KDE is still the greatest Qt community in the world, and we have more than a few students and teachers in it which might benefit from a book like this one.

      • Announcing Subsurface 4.3

        The Subsurface development team proudly announces release 4.3 of Subsurface, an open source divelog and dive planning program for Windows, Mac and Linux.

      • Bludevil 2.1 released

        On 3rd December, I have released Bluedevil 2.0. It was a first stable release that supported Bluez 5 and it contained mainly crash fixes over 2.0-rc1. Unfortunately, there was also a big regression.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • GNOME Builder Is Still Building Up To A New IDE For Developers

        Since this summer Christian Hergert has been hard at work on building “Builder”, a new integrated development environment designed for GNOME developers. The GNOME Builder isn’t expected to compete with Eclipse, Qt Creator, and the likes, but is focused solely around the GNOME development workflow and the needs of GNOME developers. Builder is focused on C, Vala, JavaScript, and Python language support. Builder also has plans for GObject Introspection integration, PerfKit integration, GDB support, Clang integration, etc. Hergert is so committed to builder that he had quit his day job at MongoDB to focus on Builder for one year.

  • Distributions

    • How To Install Puppy Linux Tahr On A USB Drive

      Puppy Linux is a lightweight Linux distribution designed to run from removable devices such as DVDs and USB drives.

      There are a number of Puppy Linux variants including Puppy Slacko, which utilises the Slackware repositories, and Puppy Tahr which utilises the Ubuntu repositories.

      Other versions of Puppy Linux include Simplicity and MacPUP.

      It is possible to use UNetbootin to create a bootable Puppy Linux USB drive but it isn’t the method that is recommended.

      Puppy Linux works great on older laptops, netbooks and computers without hard drives. It isn’t designed to be installed on a hard drive but you can run it that way if you want to.

    • The Curious Case of the Disappearing Distros

      Well the holidays are pretty much upon us at last here in the Linux blogosphere, and there’s nowhere left to hide. The next two weeks or so promise little more than a blur of forced social occasions and too-large meals, punctuated only — for the luckier ones among us — by occasional respite down at the Broken Windows Lounge.

      Perhaps that’s why Linux bloggers seized with such glee upon the good old-fashioned mystery that came up recently — delivered in the nick of time, as if on cue.

    • North Korea Linux now resembles Apple’s OS X for Macs
    • Reviews

    • Screenshots

    • Slackware Family

      • Ktown for Slackware – development history available in git

        For a long time I have been keeping copies of the full source directories for every KDE 4 release I have made for Slackware. That is amounting to a lot of megabytes, since I am also keeping the source tarballs, not just the scripts and patches. Traditionally, I have kept one KDE version publicly available for all recent Slackware releases, in my ‘ktown’ package repository at http://alien.slackbook.org/ktown/ . This repository is also available through rsync, not just http (using my primary mirror at rsync://taper.alienbase.nl/mirrors/alien-kde/).

    • Red Hat Family

    • Debian Family

      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Ubuntu Phone delayed again to next year

            It seems that Samsung isn’t the only one experiencing delays in getting a new player in the mobile market out of the woodwork. Canonical, the commercial company behind the open source Linux-based Ubuntu OS has been quoted to have said that its much-hyped Ubuntu Phone won’t be announced until early 2015. And that’s just the announcement of the availability and not the availability itself, which can, of course, be delayed repeatedly, as Samsung’s dance with its own Tizen OS has proven.

          • Ubuntu Linux Phone from bq to Ship in February 2015
          • Canonical Brings Snappy Ubuntu Core OS to Amazon AWS
          • Canonical Releases Most Stable Ubuntu Touch RTM Version So Far – Screenshot Tour

            Canonical has just promoted a new Ubuntu Touch RTM version of its operating system and it’s moving even closer to the final build that should be ready in time for the February 2015 release.

          • Linux Top 3: Linux 3.19 rc1, Ubuntu 15.04 Alpha 1 and Tails 1.2.2
          • Flavours and Variants

            • Why You Should Switch to Ubuntu MATE Edition

              When I first came to Linux, I gravitated to KDE and then later on, early GNOME. Back then, these desktop environments were designed mostly to provide a usable X environment from which to use Linux compatible applications. Today, however, our need for a desktop environment is more varied. Some individuals prefer to have a desktop experience that is rich, full of nice effects and looks great. Others still, prefer a desktop experience that provides a simple, hassle free interface.

              My own desktop needs, reflecting on the ideas above, have also evolved. I went from wanting a fancy, slick GUI desktop over to leaning with a lighter weight desktop. XFCE started off as my go-to lightweight desktop preference, while keeping Gnome 3 around on another machine because it was fun to use.

              After a lot of recent thought and reflection, I have decided to commit full time to a “no frills” desktop environment. My desktop of choice: MATE on Ubuntu.

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Quadcopter drone packs first all-Linux APM autopilot

      Erle Robotics launched a ROS-enabled, open source “Erie-brain” autopilot that runs APM directly on Linux. The device also powers an “Erle-copter” drone.

      Over the last year, Spanish firm Erle Robotics S.L. has been working with 3DRobotics to develop an open source BeaglePilot autopilot for drones that can run Linux on 3DR’s popular, Arduino-based APM (ArduPilot Mega) platform. The APM Linux port was developed by both companies, as well as several academic institutions. The BeagleBone-based “Erle-brain” autopilot is built into the $490-and-up Erle-copter quadcopter.

    • Phones

      • Jolla’s Sailfish OS Update 10 Is Now Available

        The tenth update to Jolla’s Sailfish mobile operating system is now available. This update is version and is codenamed Vaarainjärvi.

      • Tizen

        • Tizen Samsung Z1 full specifications leaked, India release followed by China and Korea

          We have been waiting for the Samsung Z1 launch event, and it looks like its finally happening at a secret Samsung Z1 launch event in India. Its exciting to see that we have final specifications of the Z1 which runs Tizen 2.3, 4.0 inch 800 x 480 PLS TFT display, 768MB RAM, 1.2GHz Dual-core processor, 3MP primary camera with a LED flash, VGA Front Facing Camera, 4GB internal storage, microSD card slot, with a 1,500 mAh battery.

      • Android

        • Forget Google’s robot cars, now it’s on to ANDROID cars

          Google is planning a big push into in-car infotainment systems with an upcoming version of Android, sources claim.

          “Android M” – the version to come after the current Android 5.0 “Lollipop” – will be available in a formulation designed specifically to run cars’ built-in screens, Reuters reports, citing anonymous insiders with knowledge of the plan.

          Google made its first advances toward the automotive world at its I/O developer conference earlier this year, when it unveiled its Android Auto software. The first Android Auto–compatible cars are expected to arrive early next year.

        • Google releases Android Lollipop 5.0.2 for the 2012 Nexus 7

          After rolling out the first fixes for Android Lollipop on Nexus phones and tablets, Google has tied up some loose ends with a separate update just for the 2012 Nexus 7.

        • Google Plans to Integrate Android Directly Into Vehicles

          The company is working on a new Android version that will power a car’s entertainment and navigation systems, connect it to the Internet, and integrate with the vehicle’s sensors, a Reuters report says.
          Sometime in the not-too-distant future, cars from many automakers could feature a version of Google’s Android operating system built directly into the vehicles.

        • The best Android apps of 2014

          Monument Valley, The Room Two, Clumsy Ninja and much, much more in our pick of games released this year through the Google Play store.

Free Software/Open Source

  • Databricks Delivers Online Courses Focused on Apache Spark

    Databricks, a company founded by the creators of the popular open-source Big Data processing engine Apache Spark, is a firm that you may not have heard much from in 2014, but you will throughout 2015. The company has healthy venture funding of $47 million, and Andreesen Horowitz is one of the investors, with Ben Horowitz on board.

  • Events

    • Google and Facebook feel the wrath of German open source advocate

      Open-Xchange CEO Rafael Laguna has hit out at the closed nature of services offered by Silicon Valley giants like Google and Facebook.

      Speaking in Paris earlier this month, Laguna said many of Silicon Valley’s largest companies, and others like them, need to open up their proprietary systems to comply with laws around the world and uphold many of the citizen’s rights that people have fought for over the last several hundred years.

    • Open Source: Both Bigger And Less Relevant Than You Imagine

      Such is the case with the Ponemon Institute’s survey of 1,400 technology professionals, which according to some outlets found big companies “cautious” and “slow” to embrace open source. Others, looking at the exact same data, found respondents “generally positive” to open source. (The survey was sponsored by Zimbra, which provide of open-source messaging and collaboration software.)

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Mozilla and KDDI Launch First Firefox OS Smartphone in Japan

        Mozilla, the mission-based organization dedicated to promoting openness, innovation and opportunity on the Web, is excited to announce that KDDI will release the first Firefox OS smartphone in Japan, just in time for the holidays.

        KDDI announced at a press conference in Tokyo today that the newest Firefox OS smartphone, Fx0, goes on sale in Japan on Dec. 25. Fx0 is the first high-spec Firefox OS smartphone with the latest Firefox OS update inside.

      • The transparent Fx0 will finally make you want a Firefox OS phone

        Announced at a KDDI press event in Tokyo today, the Fx0 is a striking 4.7-inch smartphone with a transparent shell and a home button decorated with the golden Firefox logo embracing the Earth. It runs the latest version of Mozilla’s web-centric mobile OS and was designed by noted Japanese designer Tokujin Yoshioka, whose previous collaboration with KDDI produced a phone worthy of making it into the Museum of Modern Art’s collection. With the Fx0, Yoshioka has worked around the familiar outlines of LG’s G3 design (LG is the silent partner producing the device) and adapted them to a smaller size while producing a delightful aesthetic in the process. Like a watch with a window showing its internal mechanism, this phone’s exposed electronics are a subtle reminder of its technical sophistication — plus, that Firefox home button is just plain cool.

  • SaaS/Big Data

    • The OpenStack opportunity, the way forward, and more

      Interested in keeping track of what’s happening in the open source cloud? Opensource.com is your source for what’s happening right now in OpenStack, the open source cloud infrastructure project.

    • VMware Raises its Ante in the OpenStack Race, with Mirantis

      Marking the clearest evidence yet that OpenStack player Mirantis is working more closely with VMware on open cloud initiatives, the companies have published a Mirantis OpenStack reference architecture for VMware vCenter Server and VMware NSX. Now available for download, Mirantis OpenStack allows customers to deploy and control workloads that run on VMware vSphere in their VMware vCenter Server clusters within Mirantis OpenStack.

    • HP Sees NFV as a ‘Huge Opportunity’

      Saar Gillai, SVP and general manager of NFV at HP, discusses the opportunities and the challenges of cloud deployment.

      Hewlett-Packard is bullish on the future of the cloud and on network functions virtualization (NFV). Helping to lead HP’s NFV and cloud efforts is Senior Vice President Saar Gillai, who is also the general manager for NFV as well as the chief operating officer for HP Cloud.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

  • Funding

    • What’s Jimmy Wales going to do with $500k from the UAE?

      Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales says he’ll “start a foundation” to process a large amount of money he has received from the United Arab Emirates’ regime.

      Christmas came early for Wales, and Tim Berners-Lee, earlier this month when they shared a $1m cash award from the Gulf state. The “Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Knowledge Award” is named after the veep of the UAE.

  • BSD

    • You should be running a pfSense firewall

      Those of us who work in the depths of high technology are not immune to the age-old adage of the shoemaker’s children having no shoes. We probably have the most technologically advanced homes of anyone we know, but we also tend to leave various items alone if they’re not causing problems. After all, that’s what we deal with at work. Who needs to saddle themselves with network upgrade projects at home when nothing’s broken?


    • Gnupg needs your support!

      Gnu Privacy Guard (GPG, the free/open version of PGP) relies on donations to pay developers to keep the project alive and viable; as one of its millions of users, I am grateful and indebted to the people who keep it alive and that’s why I’ve just donated to the project.

  • Project Releases

  • Public Services/Government

    • EU flings €1m at open source security audit wheeze

      Might also think about encrypting stuff. Maybe. You know… next year, perhaps?

    • EU: EUR 1 million for security audit of open source

      The European Parliament is funding a security audit of the free and open source solutions used by the Parliament and the European Commission. Last Wednesday, the EP allocated EUR 1 million for the audit project, to be carried out by the EC Directorate General for Informatics (DIGIT). The project should also come up with best practices for code review and quality assessments of free software and open standards funded by the EU.

    • I raised €1 million to demonstrate security and freedom aren’t opposites

      When a politican talks about security technology, they’re usually coming for your civil rights. Suspicionless mass surveillance, secret internet blocklists, arduous security theatre at airports: Safety and freedom are presented as trade-offs — and many politicians are all too willing to sacrifice more and more the latter for the short-term sugar high of feeling like they’re Doing Something to Keep The World Safe.

  • Licensing

    • Top 5: Legal issues in open source in 2014

      The most-read articles this year on Opensource.com demonstrated a strong interest in the changing aspects of complicated issues. For example, the top two stories this year both relate to a complex series of cases involving a dispute between Versata and Aperiprise surrounding alleged violations of the GNU General Public License (GPL).

      In addition to cutting-edge legal issues, readers remain very interested in more practical questions such as which open source license they should use.

      And readers were also interested in the biggest software patent case from the Supreme Court in recent memory, Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank.

      But it’s not just developments in the court that had readers’ interest: the FTC’s patent-assertion study represents a potentially important step to combat the harmful effects of Patent Assertion Entities.

      Looking ahead to 2015, open source legal issues will likely remain in the news, with a possible new push to revive patent litigation reform in the United States under the new Congress.

  • Openness/Sharing

    • Open science leaps forward in 2014

      We have had quite a year of open science at Opensource.com in 2014! I couldn’t hope to cover every article we published over the year, but I will highlight some of my favorites. The tide is turning in science. More funding is going to open science projects, more publications are making their data available to everyone (especially other researchers), and all of this is hopefully beginning to impact hiring decisions.

    • Open Data

    • Open Hardware

      • An Open Hardware Random Number Generator Proposed

        In 2015 we might see an open hardware random number generator that would connect to the system via an SD card slot.

      • Best of open hardware in 2014

        Open hardware is the physical foundation of the open movement. It is through understanding, designing, manufacturing, commercializing, and adopting open hardware, that we built the basis for a healthy and self-reliant community of open. And the year of 2014 had plenty of activities in the open hardware front.


  • Health/Nutrition

    • National Defrost Your Turkey Day – don’t get food poisoning this Christmas

      As families across the country carry out the final preparations ahead of Christmas Day, many minds will be switching to turkey.

      No, not the country, but the main ingredient of tens of thousands of festive dinners that will be enjoyed on December 25.

      According to the Food Standards Agency, millions of people have been defrosting their turkey incorrectly and, due to that, have launched National Defrost Your Turkey Day.

      And that day is today, December 22.

  • Security

  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression

    • The world is on the edge of a US-Russia nuke wipeout war: Chomsky

      Renowned commentator Noam Chomsky says that the US-Soviet war is taking the world on the brink of a Cold War that threatens to wipe out the world.

      The threat of a nuclear war is hanging over the world again, ominously, adds the scholar, to RT’s Sophie&Co. It looks like both the US and Russia seem to be on the track of another Cold War.

    • How long can Russia withstand the crisis?

      The Russian economy is overly dependent on crude oil exports, and this ongoing crisis proves that it is not easy for Russia to be an extra-large Saudi Arabia. Some people suggest that Russia should learn from Canada and Australia, which have managed to transform huge reserves of natural resources into fortunes. However, due to Russia’s large population of 140 million people, its modernity and strong currency cannot be solely supported by oil, gas and timber.

    • Droning On

      But of course, the “war on terror” is very much about boosting the standing of politicians who are “fighting terror” on behalf of their citizens, and about boosting the ever-inflating powers – and budgets – of the security services. SO counterproductive measures are, paradoxically, the most attractive to those whose aim is not to obtain peace, but rather to maintain the concentration of power and finance consequent upon an eternal state of phoney war.

    • USA Today Wants You to Think Killings of Police Are on the Rise

      “Ambush Recharges Debate,” declares the front page of USA Today (12/22/14), a headline over a story about the killing of New York police officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu. The “debate” being recharged is presumably linked to the national protests against police brutality–protests that are in no way connected to this brutal murder.

  • Transparency Reporting

    • These are the CIA’s tips for spies on how to avoid detection at airports

      Let’s get one thing clear: The two secret CIA documents published today by Wikileaks will not make you a clandestine officer.

      Both reports are aimed at teaching CIA agents traveling undercover to avoid unnecessary scrutiny at airports. The first, “Surviving Secondary,” dated September 2011, explains how not to be singled out for secondary screening by passport officers, and how to handle it if you are, while the second, “Schengen Overview,” from January 2012, summarizes the information systems used by the 26 European countries that have open borders with each other as part of the Schengen agreement.

    • WikiLeaks Releases CIA Manual Advising Undercover Agents on Travel & Avoiding ‘Secondary Screenings’

      It advises that “smart phones, iPods, and MP3 players, can pose a vulnerability to alias travel because of their requirement for subscriptions. If border control officials can establish a link between the device and the traveler’s true name,this could present a difficulty for someone traveling in alias,” which is a classic concern of those critical of the global security state.

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

    • 6 Stories The Media Beat to Death in 2014 That Have Faded Into Obscurity

      In a digital world the media often struggles to maintain the attention of its audience. Between horrific mass killings, viral outbreaks, violent authority figures, terrorists, and tantalizing political melodrama, the focus of our media shifts constantly.

      The following six topics from 2014 were once a major focus of the fleeting attention of the media. Each of them at one point has received overwhelming media attention to become a fixture of American dialogue before fading into obscurity.

    • The propagandists have won: What Fox News and the pornography revolution have in common

      Truthiness has replaced truth. Now that we all have our own facts, we may rue the day we personalized the news

    • The Weird World of the Washington Post, Where Reagan Never Met Gorbachev

      As I’ve written before (FAIR Blog, 12/2/09), reading the Washington Post opinion pages can be like reading dispatches from a parallel universe. You get that sense of alternative history from Post deputy editorial editor Jackson Diehl’s latest piece (12/21/14), teeing off on Barack Obama’s statement that “we know from hard-earned experience that countries are more likely to enjoy lasting transformation if their people are not subjected to chaos.”

    • Some of the stinkiest reporting from the past year

      It’s that time of year again, when FAIR looks back at the year and recalls some of the stinkiest media moments. There were, of course, many contenders– but only a select few can make the list.

  • Privacy

    • US Congress OKs ‘unprecedented’ codification of warrantless surveillance

      Congress last week quietly passed a bill to reauthorize funding for intelligence agencies, over objections that it gives the government “virtually unlimited access to the communications of every American”, without warrant, and allows for indefinite storage of some intercepted material, including anything that’s “enciphered”.

    • [fear mongering] GCHQ warns serious criminals have been lost in wake of Edward Snowden leaks

      The spy agency has suffered “significant” damage in its ability to monitor and capture serious organised criminals following the exposes by the former CIA contractor.

    • [tor-talk] Warning: Do NOT use my mirrors/services until I have reviewed the situation
    • Tor exit nodes face unusual activity, is Tor being raided or under hack attack?

      Thomas White (@CthulhuSec) warned users to steer clear of his Tor servers after he lost control following what he’s called “unusual activity.” In a post on Tor mailing list Thomas said,”I have now lost control of all servers under the ISP and my account has been suspended.”

    • Why India can’t trust the CIA’s intelligence input?

      We have yet another story on the intelligence sharing regarding the 26/11 attack and it has almost become a habit for the Americans and the British to let out such information in bits and pieces year after year. The US has time and again said that intelligence was shared with India on the 26/11 attack and this fact has been repeatedly denied by India. For India the attacks were not specific enough to collate and act upon.

    • Agencies missed signals about David Headley’s involvement in 26/11 Mumbai attacks

      There were a series of “missed signals” about Pakistani-American David Headley’s involvement in the 26/11 Mumbai attacks even though he had exchanged “highly suspicious” emails with his LeT and ISI handlers before and after the assault, an investigative report said.

    • Spy agencies reportedly had intel pointing to Mumbai attack

      Three spy agencies collected intelligence that could have thwarted the lethal terror attack in Mumbai in 2008 but failed to put the pieces together, according to a report published late Sunday evening by The New York Times and Propublica, an online news source.

    • In 2008 Mumbai Attacks, Piles of Spy Data, but an Uncompleted Puzzle

      Indian and British intelligence agencies monitored the online activities of a key plotter but couldn’t connect the dots.

    • FURY erupts on streets of Brussels over greedy USA’s data-slurping appetite

      Hundreds of protesters took to the streets of Brussels on Friday to express anger about secret trade talks between the EU, US and others that they believe would damage the 28-member-state bloc’s data protection rights.

      More than 1,000 people marched in the centre of the EU quarter to protest about the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) and the Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA). The latter has provoked outrage following a leak of the US position from April 2014 that was published on Wednesday by Netzpolitik.org and Associated Whistleblowing Press. It focuses on e-commerce, technology transfer, cross-border data flows and net neutrality.

    • NSA What? US Straining EU Ties With Blatant Spying

      The US is gearing up for a major power play among its ‘allies’ through the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) and the Trade In Services Agreement (TISA). Chief among its many controversies is what amounts to the US spying on its partners, all in the name of ‘anti-protectionist’ measures.

    • The real reasons why Facebook doesn’t have a dislike button

      The thing that perplexes me is why so many people still use Facebook these days. I can understand wanting to stay in touch with friends and family, but there are plenty of other ways to do that. Video chat, instant messaging, and email all work well and do not expose private information to Facebook’s algorithms and advertising systems. Yet some people behave as though Facebook is the only way to maintain contact over vast geographic distances and time zones.

  • Civil Rights

    • Guest Post: Torture Is Still on the Table

      The recent Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on CIA interrogations is a parade of horribles. Detainees by the dozen arrested wrongfully and later released, including innocent nobodies and even men with mental disabilities. Poorly vetted interrogators with disciplinary problems and financial conflicts of interest. Relatives held as hostages to gain leverage over targets. Incredibly shoddy intelligence analysis.

    • The Unidentified Queen of Torture

      For the past eight months, there has been a furious battle raging behind closed doors at the White House, the C.I.A., and in Congress. The question has been whether the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence would be allowed to use pseudonyms as a means of identifying characters in the devastating report it released last week on the C.I.A.’s abusive interrogation and detention program. Ultimately, the committee was not allowed to, and now we know one reason why.

    • Meet Alfreda Bikowsky, the Senior Officer at the Center of the CIA’s Torture Scandals

      NBC News yesterday called her a “key apologist” for the CIA’s torture program. A follow-up New Yorker article dubbed her “The Unidentified Queen of Torture” and in part “the model for the lead character in ‘Zero Dark Thirty.’” Yet in both articles she was anonymous.

      The person described by both NBC and The New Yorker is senior CIA officer Alfreda Frances Bikowsky. Multiple news outlets have reported that as the result of a long string of significant errors and malfeasance, her competence and integrity are doubted — even by some within the agency.

      The Intercept is naming Bikowsky over CIA objections because of her key role in misleading Congress about the agency’s use of torture, and her active participation in the torture program (including playing a direct part in the torture of at least one innocent detainee). Moreover, Bikowsky has already been publicly identified by news organizations as the CIA officer responsible for many of these acts.

    • Prosecute Torturers and Their Bosses

      Since the day President Obama took office, he has failed to bring to justice anyone responsible for the torture of terrorism suspects — an official government program conceived and carried out in the years after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

      He did allow his Justice Department to investigate the C.I.A.’s destruction of videotapes of torture sessions and those who may have gone beyond the torture techniques authorized by President George W. Bush. But the investigation did not lead to any charges being filed, or even any accounting of why they were not filed.

    • Two double agents, a prison swap and the code from outer space: did this spy-v-spy duel save US-Cuban relations?

      From a maximum-security prison in Texas, former United States military analyst Ana Montes has been offering up bumper-sticker justifications for why she betrayed her country and spied on behalf of the Cuban government over the course of 17 years. “I believe that the morality of espionage is relative,” Montes wrote in a private letter to a friend last year. “The activity always betrays someone, and some observers will think that it is justified and others not, in every case.”

    • China mulls national security law to deal with terrorists

      Tabling the draft, Director of the Commission for Legislative Affairs of the NPC Standing Committee, Li Shishi, told lawmakers, “It was necessary to make a fundamental law on national security in accordance with the new contemporary environment.”

    • The New Sound of Crowd Control

      One popular device, the LRAD-100X, was used in Ferguson, and on two days last week, it was used to warn off demonstrators in New York City protesting the death of Eric Garner. According to its manufacturer, the LRAD offers police “near instantaneous escalation across the force protection spectrum” to “shape the behavior of potential threats.”

  • DRM

    • DRM glitch leaves new Max Payne 3 buyers temporarily in the lurch

      Rockstar’s Max Payne 3 is 70% off right now as part of the 2014 Steam Holiday Sale, but would-be neo-noir crime story aficionados were denied entry into the cynical world of the drug-dependent detective yesterday by a failure in the game’s third-party authentication and matchmaking system. Starting early on Friday, December 19, the Rockstar Social Club component of the game would respond only with “Error contacting activation server” when players tried to start up the game for the first time.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • Girls left in tears after being dragged out of cinema by staff who called 999 after wrongly believing the 12-year-olds were filming The Hunger Games on their iPads

        A group of 12-year-old girls were left in tears after being hauled out of a cinema by police when staff falsely accused them of recording The Hunger Games on their mobiles and iPads.

        The seven children, who attend one of the country’s leading independent girls’ schools, were quizzed after staff dialled 999 and reported the allegation as an ‘emergency’.

      • Finland Abolishes Copyright Levies On Digital Devices

        Pressure for EU reform is now greater than ever. The UK earlier this year passed a law that legalized private copying by individuals without any requirement for additional compensation to artists. Two years ago Spain replaced levies with a government compensation fund similar to the one adopted in Finland this week.

        Although it’s true that progress has been made, it’s also worth noting that the usual copyright dinosaurs are fighting back, and that the final outcome is by no means clear. In the UK, the music industry has said that it may try to challenge the private copying exception in the courts. In Spain, legal action by collecting societies has resulted in two key questions about copyright levies being sent to the European Union Court of Justice, and its judgment on the case is likely to have important implications for such levies throughout the EU.

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