12.01.15

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Links 1/12/2015: Porteus Kiosk 3.6.0, Linux Mint 17.3 “Rosa”

Posted in News Roundup at 9:27 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

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Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • 8 projects with LEGO: plastic bricks meet open source

    LEGO bricks: To a parent, they’re a virtual minefield, hidden away in the carpet to inflict unimaginable pain from a seemly innocent barefoot step. But to a child, they are a tool for creatively engineering anything the mind can imagine. And for many, they are our first foray into open source. The instructions with a LEGO set start out as rigid rules, and become merely guidelines as children learn to remix, adapt, and extend the “code” which defines the object being built, and then be shared with anyone nearby.

  • IBM latest to open source AI program

    Thomas said IBM has another reason to open-source its machine learning code – it helps the company recruit new AI experts, which are currently in great demand.

  • Finding the right tool for the job

    I’ve worked on many projects in my life so far, and almost all of them involve open source somewhere along the line. Below is a brief summary of some of the projects I worked on and the tools I used to work on projects in my own time, outside of work.

  • Being Thankful for Open Source Software

    At the end of every year I always like to donate some small amount of money to the open source projects I spend the most time using. If everyone donated even 1/10th of the money free software saved them each year to the projects that they use, I have no doubt that a lot more open source software would exist today.

  • 6 creative ways to use ownCloud

    ownCloud is a self-hosted open source file sync and share server. Like “big boys” Dropbox, Google Drive, Box, and others, ownCloud lets you access your files, calendar, contacts, and other data. You can synchronize everything (or part of it) between your devices and share files with others. But ownCloud can do much more than its proprietary, hosted-on-somebody-else’s-computer competitors.

  • Freeswitch vs. Asterisk?

    We’ve been experimenting with VOIP in our school, primarily for internal communication. I’ve set up both asterisk and freeswitch servers, and have been quite frustrated with the limitations of both.

    Asterisk only allows one registration to be connected to each extension. Yes, there are ways to work around this restriction (for extension 101, set up multiple extensions – 980101, 981101, 982101, and then set up a ring group 101 that rings those extensions simultaneously), but it’s an incredibly irritating workaround.

  • Events

    • How Is Fossaegean Doing?

      Since I moved into the island, one of the first things I did was to find out if there were any people around interested in free & open source technologies. Luckily, there was this community called fossaegean, which pretty much stands for Free & Open Source Software Community of the University of the Aegean. However, it was not that active back then.

  • Web Browsers

    • Chrome

    • Mozilla

      • Mozilla’s Millions Grow Under Last Year of Google Deal

        While Mozilla continues to give away its open source products for free, including the Firefox web browser, it is still generating growing revenues. Mozilla’s newly published 2014 financial statements show that the open source software group made more money than ever before in 2014, though 2015 will be a year of challenges.

      • Mozilla: Open Source Firefox Browser Thrives without Cash from Google

        How important is Google to open source? Not quite as important as it was up until a year ago, when Mozilla announced that it was no longer receiving large sums of cash from the search giant. Yet it turns out Firefox and other Mozilla products are still thriving without as much Google support.

      • All hail Firefox Dev Edition 44 – animations, memory and all

        When Mozilla released the first Firefox Developer Edition there wasn’t much difference from the regular Firefox release, but all that changed recently.

        Firefox DE 44, delivered in early November, packs in a wealth of new features and improvements, particularly for anyone working with HTML5 and CSS3 animation.

        The Developer Edition’s Page Inspector tool adds an animation panel that allows developers to step through animations node by node and easily scrub, pause, and inspect each animation on the webpage.

  • SaaS/Big Data

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • LibreOffice Now Has More than 100 Million Active Users

      LibreOffice is hailed as the best open source office suite available right now, and we keep hearing about the amazing adoption rate, but we hardly get any real numbers. That changed today after Collabora released some statistics about LibreOffice usage and it’s more than impressive.

  • Pseudo-/Semi-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • I support Software Freedom Conservancy

      Conservancy provides a lot of services to member projects, including financial and administrivia. Conservancy also provides license enforcement services, including support of a high-profile suit against VMWare. Although Conservancy uses litigation as a last resort, it’s sometimes necessary. However, this has lead to some corporate sponsors pulling their funding.

    • Support Software Freedom Conservancy
    • GnuTLS 3.4.x
    • FSF to begin accepting GPG signatures for copyright assignments from Italy

      The Free Software Foundation is striving to provide more and simpler ways for hackers to contribute to the GNU Project. For projects that are assigned to the FSF (such as GNU Emacs or GCC), dealing with the paperwork for assigning contributions can sometimes be a bottleneck in the process. We are always working on ways to make assignment itself simpler. We have accepted GPG-signed documents from U.S. contributors for some time now. Our legal counsel at the Software Freedom Law Center recently gave us the all clear to begin accepting GPG and electronic signatures from contributors in Italy. We would also like to thank Carlo Piana for providing local counsel on this issue as well.

    • It’s Fall, still, and the Bulletin is out!

      As many of you are aware, twice a year we mail a new edition of the FSF Bulletin to our members and supporters via the good old United States Postal Service. The Bulletin comes together in just a few weeks, and this time we had to make an extra quick turnaround after celebrating FSF30.

  • Public Services/Government

    • German aerospace centre in transit to open source

      Germany’s Aerospace Centre DLR is steadily increasing its use of free and open source software. The DLR is already using open source tools for many of its software development projects, and also makes several of its solutions available as open source. In addition, the research institute plans in the long-term to use open source for it PC operating systems, office productivity and collaboration tools.

  • Standards/Consortia

    • Does the Open Document Format still matter?

      One of the core topics of this blog -at least one of the main reasons it came to existence- was open standards: their benefits, their advantages, and their value as a fundamental component for digital innovation and ultimately software freedom. This is still the case of course, but today I will try to show how one open standard in particular, ODF, has failed in its approach until now and could very well make a remarkable comeback.

      This is not to say that ODF is a bad idea or that it is not a good standard; it is all this and much more. However I have realized with the hindsight of several years since it became an official ISO standard that the expectations about its adoption and its development have been defined the wrong way. Hence the title of this post.

    • Your guide to 7 open eBook formats

      Electronic books, or eBooks, have been around for a long time, but convenient devices upon which to read them are a relatively recent development. Between mobile phones, tablets, and dedicated eBook readers, chances are you have some device in your life that you can use to read an electronic book upon. That’s great for leveling up on how much you read, but it begs the question of what open file formats are out there for eBooks, and which ones are best.

    • “Open standards should be a priority” – MITA

      Open standards should be a priority in public administration’s IT projects, says Noel Cuschieri, enterprise architect at Malta’s Information Technology Agency (MITA). Open standards are a strategic part of Malta’s IT policy, Cuschieri says.

Leftovers

  • Where does a person have online discussions anymore?

    Back in the day, way back in the day perhaps, there were interesting places to hang out online. FidoNet provided some discussion groups — some local, some more national or international. Then there was Usenet, with the same but on a more grand scale.

    There were things I liked about both of them.

    They fostered long-form, and long-term, discussion. Replies could be thoughtful, and a person could think about it for a day before replying.

    Socially, you would actually get to know the people in the communities you participated in. There would be regulars, and on FidoNet at least, you might bump into them in different groups or even in real life. There was a sense of community. Moreover, there was a slight barrier to entry and that was, perhaps, a good thing; there were quite a lot of really interesting people and not so many people that just wanted answers to homework questions.

  • Science

    • HPC Helps Drive Weather Forecasting

      The computational requirements for weather forecasting are driven by the need for higher resolution models for more accurate and extended forecasts. In addition, more physics and chemistry processes are included in the models so we can observe the very fine features of weather behavior. These models operate on 3D grids that encompass the globe. The closer the points on the grid are to each other, the more accurate the results. Today most global grid models use a range of 10 to 25 kilometer separation between points; the Holy Grail of weather forecasting is to reduce that separation to one kilometer or less.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Will EU renew $1.25bn deal with tobacco firm PMI?

      There are 222 days left until an unprecedented treaty between tobacco company Philip Morris International (PMI) and the European Union expires. The 2004 deal saw Europe halt all its legal claims against PMI in exchange for the multinational’s cooperation in the fight against cigarette smuggling. The EU had previously sued PMI and other tobacco companies in the US over suspected involvement in smuggling operations.

  • Security

    • Security advisories for Monday
    • Warning: Internet security turbulence ahead

      A little more than a year ago, I urged manufacturing companies testing the IoT waters to leave the work of bringing Internet connectivity to their traditionally unconnected products to those who understand what’s at stake. I’m not alone in my concerns that the IoT brigade will bring with it an avalanche of staggeringly insecure products that will find their way into our daily lives.

      What we’re seeing right now is a hopefully imperfect storm of security challenges that, with any luck, will not result in global security and privacy breaches. In one corner, we have companies like Dell and Lenovo distributing computers with wide-open root CAs, allowing anyone with a small amount of skill to crib a certificate and spoof SSL websites, run man-in-the-middle attacks, and install malicious software on those Windows systems with nary a whimper from the “protections” in place to prevent such issues.

    • Flaws in Huawei WiMax routers won’t be fixed, researcher says

      Huawei isn’t planning on patching several flaws in seven models of WiMax routers that are not being supported anymore by the company, according to a security researcher.

      Huawei isn’t planning on patching several flaws in seven models of WiMax routers that are not being supported anymore by the company, according to a security researcher.

      Pierre Kimpublished a list of the affected models, which are still used in countries including Ivory Coast, Iran, Iraq, Libya, the Philippines, Bahrain and Ukraine.

    • The threats of November 2015, Linux ransomware leads the way according to new report [Ed: Blaming already-resolved CMS bugs on “Linux”]
    • Can’t get a break: Pwned Linux ransomware pwned again, infects 3000

      WordPress and Magento sites are the main targets. The software had infected 2000 sites by 12 November and surpassed 3000 two weeks later.

  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression

    • Here We Are Again on the Way to War – and All Anyone Can Talk About is the Labour Whip

      Often in the past few days, BBC listeners and viewers, and readers of the unpopular newspapers, might have had the impression that Britain is discussing the pros and cons of an intervention in the Labour Party, rather than of an intervention in Syria.

      As I read the papers and listened to BBC Radio 4 on Friday morning last week, I was baffled to find that the main item was not the plan for war, but the divisions on this subject within the Labour Party.

    • Wow

      I think you can measure the death of democracy by the sheer audacity of the propaganda that government can get away with. Michael Fallon today on the Marr programme churned out the “70,000 moderate rebels” lie with a smooth bland face, and mentioned only the Free Syrian Army when pressed on who they were exactly. This is dishonesty on an epic scale.

      [...]

      As does the fact that a substantial number of MPs of the official “opposition” have spent the weekend actively colluding with government ministers to forward the government’s militarist agenda.

    • [Old] Turkey sends in jets as Syria’s agony spills over every border

      When US special forces raided the compound of an Islamic State leader in eastern Syria in May, they made sure not to tell the neighbours.

      The target of that raid, the first of its kind since US jets returned to the skies over Iraq last August, was an Isis official responsible for oil smuggling, named Abu Sayyaf. He was almost unheard of outside the upper echelons of the terror group, but he was well known to Turkey. From mid-2013, the Tunisian fighter had been responsible for smuggling oil from Syria’s eastern fields, which the group had by then commandeered. Black market oil quickly became the main driver of Isis revenues – and Turkish buyers were its main clients.

      As a result, the oil trade between the jihadis and the Turks was held up as evidence of an alliance between the two. It led to protests from Washington and Europe – both already wary of Turkey’s 900-mile border with Syria being used as a gateway by would-be jihadis from around the world. [...] direct dealings between Turkish officials and ranking Isis members was
      now “undeniable”.

    • The Guardian view on Syria: MPs should say no to airstrikes without a strategy

      There is a right way to approach a question as serious as whether the UK should extend airstrikes against Islamic State to Syria – and a wrong way. The wrong way is to view it through the lens of the bitter debate about the future of the Labour party and in particular its leader. For all the drama of Monday’s decision to allow a free vote, the threat of Isis is too grave to be used merely to undermine or shore up the position of Jeremy Corbyn.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

    • In New York Times, Blue Eyes ‘Wince and Cloud’ at the Terror of a ‘Gentle Loner’

      It’s hard to say what was more incongruous: the description of someone who had reportedly admitted carrying out a deadly act of terror as a “gentle loner” or the presumption that phrase could be attached to someone who “occasionally unleashed violent acts” toward women and others.

      Faced with a barrage of criticism on Twitter and elsewhere, the Times rewrote the lead of that story to make Dear less “gentle.” Now the same reporters reported that “neighbors said they barely knew him”—the same neighbors, presumably, to whom the earlier description was attributed.

    • What You Never Hear On Fox News
  • Censorship

    • A Decade-Old Gag Order, Lifted

      A few days earlier, an FBI agent had come by Calyx’s offices and handed Nick a “national security letter” demanding that Calyx turn over sensitive information about one of its subscribers. The letter included a gag order prohibiting Calyx from disclosing to anyone that it had received the demand. It also included an attachment listing the kinds of information that the FBI wanted Calyx to turn over.

    • Right-wing group Britain First calls Facebook ‘fascist’ after fan page banned by mistake

      Britain First, a far-right group that opposes immigration and brands itself a “patriotic resistance and ‘frontline’ for our long suffering people”, accused Facebook of fascism after its page on the social network was briefly taken down.

      The group saw its page briefly taken down for violating rules on Monday, with a message saying its page had been “unpublished” and that Facebook does not tolerate hate speech.

      However, the page was subsequently re-published. “The page was removed in error but has now been restored,” a Facebook spokesman said.

      The Facebook page is known for publishing anti-immigrant, and pro-army and Christian messages on Facebook, with its fan page receiving more than 1.1 million “likes”. However, it has also generated a backlash, with an opposition page, “Exposing Britain First”, becoming popular.

    • Sweden refuses to order ISP to block Pirate Bay

      Sweden’s internet service providers cannot be forced to block file sharing site the Pirate Bay nor be held responsible for copyright infringements by users, a court has ruled.

      Stockholm District Court rejected a lawsuit filed by the Swedish Film Industry, Nordisk Film, Universal Music, Sony Music and Warner Music last year which argued that Sweden’s second-largest internet service provider (ISP) Bredbandsbolaget should be held liable for the copyright infringements of its users should it refuse to block access to the Pirate Bay.

      The court said in a statement: “The District Court considers that Bredbandsbolaget’s operation and conduct in the present case does not constitute participation under Swedish law.”

  • Privacy

  • Civil Rights

    • Remember Why We Have the Fourth Amendment

      The Paris attacks have fueled a debate over surveillance on both sides of the Atlantic that, while not new, has reached a level of hysteria that I have not witnessed since the weeks and months following 9/11. There is great cause for grief and great cause for concern over whether those horrific events could have been prevented. But in our desire to prevent such a tragedy at home, it is vital for Americans to remember the values that drove the birth of our nation, and to guard them jealously. It is not “handwringing” to fret over the future of privacy rights, religious freedom, and free speech. At a time when the British government has spent months discussing its desire to implement a “Snooper’s Charter” and ban strong encryption, we would do well to remember that the Brits are the reason we have the Fourth Amendment (and the First), rather than echoing their arguments for broader surveillance powers.

  • Copyrights

    • MPAA ‘Softens’ Movie Theater Anti-Piracy Policy, Drops Bounty

      The MPAA has issued an updated version of its best practices for the prevention of movie piracy in theaters. While much remains the same, theater managers are no longer required to call the police for every incident. In addition, the long-standing pirate hunting bounty program has disappeared.

    • Microsoft Lobbying Group Forces ‘Pirate’ To Get 200,000 Views On Anti-Piracy Video… Whole Thing Backfires

      The history of anti-piracy activities by the legacy entertainment and software industries always seems to focus on the mistaken idea that if only the public were “more educated” piracy would magically go away. That’s never been true. In fact, nearly every attempt at an education campaign hasn’t just failed to work, it’s often actively backfired and been mocked and parodied. And yet, if you talk to politicians and industry folks, they still seem to think that “more education” will magically work next time. One can only wonder what the hell the geniuses at the Software Alliance (the BSA — which used to be the “Business Software Alliance” but has dropped the “Business” part, but not the “B” in its name) were thinking when they decided to “settle” with a guy who apparently uploaded some Microsoft software in the Czech Republic. The terms of the settlement required him to take part in a “professionally produced” anti-piracy video and that the video needed to get 200,000 views on YouTube or he might face having to pay damages in court.

      The BSA is a well-known front for Microsoft, and has a long history of rather ridiculous claims about “piracy,” so I guess it’s little surprise that it’s now engaged in out and out propaganda, but done so badly that it’s turned the whole thing into a laughingstock. The whole “compelled speech” aspect of the settlement, including the requirement to get so many views, strikes basically everyone as ridiculous and stupid.

    • German Museum Sues Wikimedia Foundation Over Photos Of Public Domain Works Of Art

      The mission of museums and art galleries is generally to spread knowledge and appreciation of beautiful and interesting objects. So it’s rather sad when they start taking legal action against others that want to help them by disseminating images of public domain works of art to a wider audience. This obsession with claiming “ownership” of something as immaterial as the copyright in a photograph of a work of art made centuries ago led the UK National Portrait Gallery (NPG) to threaten Derrick Coetzee, a software developer, when he downloaded images from the NPG and added them to Wikimedia Commons, the media repository for Wikipedia, of which he was an administrator.

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