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05.10.17

Links 10/5/2017: Mesa 17.1, Git 2.13, Qt Creator 4.3 RC1, MINIX 3.4 RC6

Posted in News Roundup at 11:28 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Desktop

    • Will Anything Make Linux Obsolete?

      Remember blogging? Hell, remember magazine publishing? Shouldn’t be hard. You’re reading some now.

      Both are still around, but they’re obsolete—at least relatively. Two cases in point: my blog and Linux Journal.

      Back when blogging was a thing, in the early 2000s, about 20,000 people subscribed to RSS feeds of my original blog (1999–2007, still mothballed here). At its peak, I posted many times per day and had a strong sense of connection with my readership.

      Same went, by the way, for my postings in Linux Journal, on our website and on one of our own blogs, called IT Garage—lots of readers, lots of engagement.

      Most early bloggers were journalists by profession or avocation—good writers, basically. Some blogs turned into online pubs. BoingBoing, TechCrunch and TPM all started as blogs.

      But blogging began to wane after Twitter and Facebook showed up in 2006. After that journalism also waned, as “content generation” became the way to fill online publications. Participating in “social media” also became a requisite function for journalists still hoping to stay active online (if not also employed)

  • Server/OpenStack

    • OpenStack Summit Highlights Cloud Use Cases

      OpenStack started off as a cloud technology project and has evolved steadily over the last few years. In a marathon two and a half hour set of keynotes on the first day of the OpenStack Summit here, the OpenStack Foundation and the vendors and companies that use it talked about how they are using the cloud.

    • How the U.S. Army Is Using OpenStack to Train Cyber-Warriors

      The open-source OpenStack cloud platform is now being used to help train the next generation of cyber-warriors. At the OpenStack Summit here May 8, officers from the U.S. Army Cyber School explained how they are using OpenStack to train soldiers to fight in the cyber-domain.

      Major Julianna Rodriguez, director, and Chris Apsey, deputy director of the Cyber Technical College at the U.S. Army Cyber School, detailed their activities in a keynote as well as a late-day deep-dive technical session titled “Saving Millions and Achieving Education Freedom Through OpenStack. “

    • Why Edward Snowden loves open source

      Infamous government hacker Edward Snowden believes open source is a fundamentally better way to use technology compared to proprietary technology that he believes disempowers users.

      Snowden was interviewed at the open source cloud computing project OpenStack Summit in Boston via video from a non-descript location and spoke about his personal use of open source technology. In 2013 Snowden, then a government contractor, leaked classified information about government surveillance programs run by the National Security Agency, which brought him worldwide fame.

    • Snowden Advocates the Need for Open Source and OpenStack

      Using public cloud and proprietary software represents a “silent vulnerability” to millions of users around the world, according to National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden.

      Snowden appeared remotely via a video link at the OpenStack Summit here May 9 in a question-and-answer keynote with OpenStack Foundation Chief Operating Officer Mark Collier. Snowden said the average user is unaware of how the internet works.

      “For most people, the internet is magic,” he said.

      According to Snowden, it’s not good enough to let people mindlessly build internet and cloud services, which is where OpenStack plays an important role. He noted that while there are for-profit alternatives in the cloud space like Amazon that do a decent job, they are fundamentally disempowering.

    • ​Snowden praises open source for protecting privacy

      Edward Snowden, the fugitive whistleblower and former NSA contractor who revealed the organization’s global hacking powers in 2013, may seem like an unlikely guest at OpenStack Summit in Boston, but his message was on target. Snowden spoke about how the public cloud and proprietary software disempower people and pry open their privacy.

    • OpenStack Aims to Enable a Composable and Cloud Native World

      OpenStack has long billed itself as an integration engine enabling organizations to plug into different technologies. At the OpenStack Summit here, Mark Collier, Executive Director of the OpenStack Foundation, explained and demonstrated in a keynote address why it’s important to embrace composable and cloud native infrastructure.

    • Why OpenStack is living on the edge

      In the early days of OpenStack, much of the media coverage seemed fixated on whether or not the project would be able to “win” the cloud computing marketplace, and which company would “win” OpenStack, as if the future of technology is a zero-sum game. The keynotes at this week’s OpenStack Summit highlight just how narrow view this is.

      What has emerged isn’t a need for a one-size-fits-all generic cloud, but instead, many competing needs across nearly every industry you can think of, for which cloud helps provide part of the answer.

  • Kernel Space

    • Btrfs Gets RAID 5/6 Fixes With Linux 4.12

      There are a number of Btrfs fixes/clean-ups for the Linux 4.12 kernel.

      Btrfs on 4.12 doesn’t have any big new features or major performance boosts, but it does notably have RAID5 and RAID6 fixes that are needed as outlined in that earlier article. So those wanting to run Btrfs on a RAID 5/6 array will definitely want to be using Linux 4.12+ once stable.

    • TEE Proposed For Merging In Linux 4.12: “Trusted” Execution Environment

      The ARM folks have requested that the TEE subsystem and OP-TEE drivers be included in Linux 4.12, the Trusted Execution Environment.

      The Trusted Execution Environment is is about communicating with a trusted OS running in a secure environment, separate from the Linux kernel itself. Of course, any time “trusted” computing is brought up in Linux/open-source there are a fair number of concerned individuals, especially in light of the recent major vulnerability in Intel AMT.

    • More Power Management Updates Head To The Linux 4.12 Kernel

      Last week was the main ACPI / power management updates for Linux 4.12 while Intel’s Rafael Wysocki has now submitted a second set of feature updates for this next version of the Linux kernel.

    • IOMMU Updates, Optimizations For Linux 4.12

      There are a number of IOMMU optimizations queued for Linux 4.12.

      Joerg Roedel submitted the IOMMU kernel updates today for Linux 4.12. Among the changes for this important component to modern systems include code optimizations to the Intel VT-d driver, IOMMU core header optimizations, Samsung Exynos IOMMU optimizations, and ARM/SMMU optimizations.

    • Linux Kernel 3.12.74 Looks to Be the Last in the Series, Move to a Newer Branch

      Linux kernel developer and maintainer Jiri Slaby announced today the release and immediate availability of what it would appear to be the last maintenance update to the Linux 3.12 kernel series.

      Linux kernel 3.12.74 is out and it looks to be the last in the series, according to its maintainer, who urges all those using the Linux 3.12 kernel branch on their GNU/Linux distributions to start considering moving to a newer LTS (Long Term Support) Linux kernel, such as Linux 3.16, Linux 4.1, Linux 4.4, or Linux4.9.

      However, if you choose to remain on this branch at least update to Linux kernel 3.12.74, which changes a total of 78 files, with 834 insertions and 524 deletions, according to the appended shortlog. Improvements are all over the places, for various architectures, drivers, filesystems, security, and the networking stack.

    • Linux 3.12.74
    • SNAS.io, Formerly OpenBMP Project, Joins The Linux Foundation’s Open Source Networking Umbrella

      We are excited to announce that SNAS.io, a project that provides network routing topologies for software-defined applications, is joining The Linux Foundation’s Networking and Orchestration umbrella. SNAS.io tackles the challenging problem of tracking and analyzing network routing topology data in real time for those who are using BGP as a control protocol, internet service providers, large enterprises, and enterprise data center networks using EVPN.

    • Graphics Stack

      • NVIDIA Tegra186/Parker/TX2 Support For Linux 4.12

        Olof Johansson has sent in his large set of pull requests for the ARM SoC/platform updates slated for the in-development Linux 4.12 kernel.

      • NVIDIA 381.22 Linux Driver Released With Updated Vulkan

        NVIDIA has released a new short-lived Linux binary driver update that jumps it ahead to the 381 release series.

        Available today is the NVIDIA 381.22 Linux driver as the newest GeForce/Quadro/Tesla proprietary Linux graphics driver. This first 381 Linux driver update mostly consists of bug-fixes but also has new Vulkan extensions that previously were just part of their “Vulkan beta” driver.

      • Nvidia 381.22 Video Driver Supports Newer Linux Kernels, More Vulkan Extensions

        Nvidia released today a new short-lived graphics driver for GNU/Linux, FreeBSD, and Solaris operating systems on all supported architectures, bringing various bug fixes, better Vulkan support, and some other improvements.

        Probably the most fundamental change of the Nvidia 381.22 graphics driver is support for a bunch of new Vulkan extensions, thus adding an extra layer of support for Vulkan, which in these days is more and more used in popular games. However, this was only implemented for the Linux driver.

      • NVIDIA 381.22 driver released with lots of bug fixes and newer Vulkan support

        NVIDIA have released their 381.22 driver which comes with plenty of fixes, newer Vulkan support and more.

      • GeForce Experience Picks Up OpenGL/Vulkan Support, Linux Up Next?

        NVIDIA’s gaming software, GeForce Experience, now has support for OpenGL and Vulkan.

        GeForce Experience is NVIDIA’s software often paired with their Windows driver for managing game updates, analyzing GPU/CPU metrics, game setting optimizations, and recently the focus on being able to record your video game sessions as well as take screenshots with NVIDIA Ansel. Experience also allows game streaming to SHIELD devices with NVIDIA GameStream.

      • Mesa 17.1 Released, Adds RADV Vulkan Conforming Patches

        Mesa 17.1.0 is now officially available as the Q2’2017 update to this important piece to the open-source 3D Linux graphics driver stack.

        Mesa 17.1 ships with many ANV and RADV Vulkan driver fixes, the OpenGL shader cache is in place and enabled by default for RadeonSI, some work on OpenGL AZDO extensions, Ivy Bridge OpenGL 4.2 support up from GL 3.3, initial Radeon RX Vega support, some performance optimizations, and a wealth of other changes.

      • Better Driver Matching For X.Org Server 1.20

        A two-year-old patch for the X.Org Server from a NVIDIA developer has finally landed.

        The xfree86: Improved autoconfig drivers matching is now in xorg-server Git. This 100+ line patch implements a new auto configuration driver matching algorithm. The benefit is the driver matching code is made easier and also doesn’t end up adding duplicate drivers on the case of multiple GPUs.

      • GPUOpen’s CodeXL 2.3 Brings Ryzen Support, AMDGPU-PRO Compatibility

        AMD’s CodeXL utility that’s open-source under the GPUOpen umbrella for graphics profiling/debugging is up to version 2.3.

        CodeXL 2.3 adds support on Linux systems for operating with the AMDGPU-PRO hybrid driver. Other prominent features include Radeon Polaris GPU support as well as support for AMD Ryzen processors with the addition of supporting its performance counters, etc.

      • CodeAurora Continues Contributions To Freedreno’s MSM DRM Driver

        While there are still a few days left until the Linux 4.12 merge window closes and the 4.12 release candidates for the next two months, the Qualcomm-backed CodeAurora already has lined up some new code for the reverse-engineered, community-driven Freedreno MSM DRM driver for Adreno hardware.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • Cinnamon 3.4 Desktop Officially Released, It’s Coming Soon to a Distro Near You

      Linux Mint project leader Clement Lefebvre was happy to announce today the official availability of the Cinnamon 3.4 desktop environment for GNU/Linux distributions.

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • Qt Creator 4.3 RC1 released

        We are happy to announce the release of Qt Creator 4.3 RC1.

        Since the Beta release we have kept ourselves busy fixing bugs, so please take this last opportunity to test and give us feedback. Take a look at the Beta release blog post or the more detailed change log for an overview of what has changed in 4.3.

      • Qt Creator 4.3 RC1 Now Available For Developers
      • Qt 5.9 To Be An LTS Release, Qt 6 Planning On Radar
      • KDE Plasma 5.9.5, Krita 3.1.3 and digiKam 5.5 Coming Soon to Kubuntu 17.04 Users

        KDE’s José Manuel Santamaría Lema is informing the Kubuntu Linux community today about the upcoming availability of a multitude of updates for various KDE technologies in the Kubuntu Backports PPA.

        It’s a known fact that Kubuntu developers are always working hard to bring you all the latest goodies as soon as they are released upstream, and it looks like Kubuntu 17.04 (Zesty Zapus) users will be treated with the KDE Plasma 5.9.5 desktop environment, which is the last in the series as KDE Plasma 5.10 is coming at the end of May.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • GTK+ 3.22.13 Introduces More Wayland Improvements, Fixes for Some Memory Leaks

        While work on the major GTK+ 4 series advances at a slow pace, the GTK+ 3.22 stable branch is still being updated, and today we see the launch of yet another bugfix release, the thirteenth in the series.

        GTK+ 3.22.13 is a maintenance release that adds a month’s worth of fixes and updated translations from various contributors. The bug fixes are typically small but significant and include a memory leak fix for the Wayland display server when exporting handle, a memory leak fix for linkbutton, and a quartz backend segfault fix, which was a regression from last month’s point release, GTK+ 3.22.12.

      • WebKitGTK+ 2.16.2 Updates User Agent Quirks for New Google Login Page, YouTube

        WebKitGTK+, the open-source and full-featured port of the WebKit rendering engine to the GTK+ GUI toolkit used to build modern applications for the GNOME desktop environment was updated today to version 2.16.2.

        WebKitGTK+ 2.16.2 is just a small bugfix release that only resolves some of the issues users reported since the first maintenance update of the WebKitGTK+ 2.16 stable series. The most prominent change being improved user agent quirks to add compatibility for Google’s new login page and YouTube.

  • Distributions

    • Reviews

      • Solus – how far will it go?

        The Live run of Solus was stable, fast and smooth. I especially liked the crispness of the fonts, windows and of all the elements.

        At the same time, if you want to use Solus Budgie as a production OS, I’d recommend you to think twice. The main show-stopper for me would be the unknown format for supported packages. It locks down the number of available applications to whatever is available in official repositories, and there are already some gaps. Of course, there are some doubtful decisions on default set of applications and default desktop items, but that’s easy to fix.

        I hope that Solus will develop further and this is not my last visit to that part of the Linux world. I hope the team will not run out of patience and resources.

    • New Releases

      • Solus Receives Better Bluetooth A2DP Audio and Scanning Support, Other Goodies

        Solus Project’s Joshua Strobl is reporting today in a new installation of the This Week In Solus (TWiS) newsletter on the latest work done by him and project leader Ikey Doherty for their beloved and very popular Solus operating system.

        Last week – like many others before it – was extremely busy for the development team behind Solus, an independently-developed GNU/Linux distribution. The team finally managed to migrate the project’s Git repositories and patch management system to the Diffusion and Differential apps of their Phabricator dev tracker tool.

        This move has many implications for the ever-growing community and package maintainers, and you can read all about it in This Week In Solus Install #44, which brings many other good news for the regular Solus user as scanning and Bluetooth A2DP audio support has been greatly improved thanks to donators and patrons.

    • Arch Family

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE

      • SUSE Unveils OpenStack Cloud Monitoring & Supports TrilioVault

        Today at the OpenStack Summit 2017 in Boston, MA, SUSE, aside from celebrating its 25th anniversary, announced its new open source software solution that makes it simple to monitor and manage the health and performance of enterprise OpenStack cloud environments and workloads, SUSE OpenStack Cloud Monitoring. In other SUSE related news, Trilio Data, announced that its TrilioVault is Ready Certified for SUSE OpenStack Cloud.

      • Students to Enhance Multiple Open Source Projects

        Five students will spend this summer putting their coding skills into practice for openSUSE and other projects during this year’s Google Summer of Code.

        The international program that matches mentors and students funded 1,315 student projects this year for 201 open source organizations, who will benefit from the active involvement from these new developers.

        “We are excited to be selected as a mentoring organization and to mentor these talented, young GSoC students,” said Christian Bruckmayer, one of the openSUSE mentors. “This year’s projects focus on enhancing the capabilities of our open source tools, so that the benefits are shared amongst the open-source ecosystem.”

    • Red Hat Family

    • Debian Family

      • Derivatives

        • Grml 2017.05 “Freedatensuppe” Distro Enters Development Based on Debian Stretch

          The Debian-based Grml GNU/Linux distribution designed for system administrators is once again in development after taking a long break of approximately two and a half years.

          Dubbed “Freedatensuppe,” the next major release of the operating system is versioned Grml 2017.05, and a first Release Candidate (RC) build is now available for public testing. Development of Grml 2017.05 is currently based on the Debian Testing branch, which will soon become Debian GNU/Linux 9 “Stretch.”

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Cockpit is now just an apt install away
          • Cockpit Comes To Ubuntu, Easier Linux Server Administration

            Cockpit, the open-source project providing a pleasant web-based administrative interface to Linux systems and developed significantly by Red Hat / Fedora developers, is now officially available in Ubuntu and Debian.

            Cockpit is now available in Debian unstable as well as Ubuntu 17.04 and 17.10 repositories. Details on Cockpit coming to Ubuntu/Debian were shared today on Martin Pitt’s blog, a prominent Debian/Ubuntu developer. There is also work on getting the Cockpit packages added to Ubuntu 16.04 LTS backports, but as of writing that has yet to be completed.

          • Flavours and Variants

            • Volunteers tailor Ubuntu Linux to UK’s health service

              A group of Britisch IT health care specialists have tailored the Ubuntu Linux distribution for use by the UK’s national health service (NHS) on its workstations. The alpha version of NHSbuntu was unveiled at the South West CIO Forum on 27 April.

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • What is Docker’s Moby Project?

    Being an Austinite, I enjoyed having DockerCon local, and I co-authored a guide to visiting Austin in the hopes that attendees would enjoy having DockerCon in Austin as well.

    During DockerCon 2017, a few major announcements were made, including the Moby Project.

  • Verizon taps into open source, white box fervor with new CPE offering

    Verizon this week said it would begin offering x86-based servers with OpenStack software aimed at customers looking to support all manner of advanced cloud, software defined networking and network functions virtualization-based enterprises.

  • Web-based open-source program determines protein structures

    ContaMiner is a web-based, open-source program developed by a unique interdisciplinary team in King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST), Saudi Arabia. This program is already saving time for international researchers.

    “How much can you understand and repair a car if you don’t have a detailed picture of what is going on under the hood?” said KAUST Associate Professor Stefan Arold. “Proteins are life’s workhorses: their function and dysfunction both create life and end it. Each protein’s amino acid sequence folds into a particular 3-D structure that is required to support its function. If you want to understand, affect or engineer a protein’s function, you need to know its 3-D structure,” he explained.

  • MINIX 3.4 RC6 Released

    The release of MINIX 3.4 is inching closer with the availability now of its sixth release candidate.

    MINIX 3.4 will be the first update since MINIX 3.3 in 2014. We’ve been seeing release candidates now of MINIX 3.4 for the past year but it appears the final release is getting closer. MINIX for the uninitiated is a Unix-like microkernel-based OS started by Andrew Tanenbaum.

  • MapD tech open sources their Core Database

    MapD Technologies, a GPU-powered analytics company, has released their Core database to the open source community under the Apache 2 license, seeding a new generation of data applications. By open sourcing the MapD Core database and associated visualization libraries, they are making their analytics platform available to everyone.

  • MapD Open Sources GPU-Powered Database

    Since starting work on MapD more than five years ago while taking a database course at MIT, I had always dreamed of making the project open source. It is thus with great pleasure to announce that today our company is open sourcing the MapD Core database and associated visualization libraries, effective immediately.

  • Enterprise Open Source Programs: From Concept to Reality

    How pervasive is open source in today’s businesses? According to the 2016 Future of Open Source Survey from Black Duck and North Bridge, a mere three percent of respondents say they don’t use any open source tools or platforms.

    Leveraging open source has also become a key avenue for fostering new ideas and technologies. Gartner’s Hype Cycle for Open Source Software (2016) notes that organizations are using open source today not just for cost savings, but increasingly for innovation. With this in mind, major companies and industries are quickly building out their open source programs, and the open source community is responding.

  • Events

    • Redefining the Tech that Powers Travel

      We all know that the technology industry has been going through a period of incredible change. Rashesh Jethi, Head of Research & Development at Amadeus, began his keynote at the Open Networking Summit (ONS) with a story about how when his grandfather went to university in India, the 760-mile journey took three days and involved a camel, a ship, and a train. Contrast this to Jethi’s 2700 mile journey to ONS in 6 hours where he checked into the flight from his watch. The rapid evolution of technology is continuing to redefine the travel industry and how we approach travel.

    • DevConf Comes to India May 11-12, 2017
    • IBM Cloud Developer to Keynote Open Source Convention (OSCON) in Austin, Texas
    • LinuxFest Northwest report

      This weekend was LinuxFest Northwest 2017, and as usual I was down in Bellingham to attend it. Had a good time, again as usual. Luckily I got to do my talk first thing and get it out of the way. I’d post a link to the recording, but there doesn’t seem to be one – I’ll check with the organizers if it got lost or sometihng. In the mean time, here’s the slide deck. It was a general talk on Fedora’s past, present and future.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Thunderbird’s Future Home

        The investigations on Thunderbird’s future home have concluded. The Mozilla Foundation has agreed to serve as the legal and fiscal home for the Thunderbird project, but Thunderbird will migrate off Mozilla Corporation infrastructure, separating the operational aspects of the project.

  • Databases

    • EIB provides EUR 25 million funding for MariaDB open-source database system

      The European Investment Bank (EIB), the non-profit lending institution of the European Union, will provide EUR 25 million in funding to the eponymous Finnish company behind the MariaDB open-source database system. MariaDB will use the money to expand its customer base in Europe, America and Asia, and to hire more developers in Helsinki.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

  • Programming/Development

    • Java modularity specification opposed by Red Hat, IBM is voted down

      A Java modularity specification failed to pass in a vote by Java executive committee members, leaving the future of the technology in question. The issue could hold up the planned July 27 release of Java 9, which is slated to include modularity.

      Balloting on Java Specification Request 376 was completed on Monday. The modular plan for Java, intended to make it easier to scale the platform, has been opposed by companies, including Red Hat and IBM. Red Hat, in particular, questioned many parts of the plan, including raising issues about potential application compatibility problems.

    • Java 9 faces another delay, Oracle fires back at IBM and Red Hat

      Oracle’s chief Java architect has criticised Red Hat and IBM for the companies opposition to make Java 9 modular.

      The Java Platform Module System (JPMS) a core component of Project Jigsaw, the most likely candidate for modularity in Java 9, has received opposition from both IBM and Red Hat.

      IBM have hinted that they may vote against the changes whilst Red Hat initially agreed to the coming changes. Since then Oracle Chief Java Architect Mike Reinhold has come out and said that Red Hat worked consistently to undermine any coming changes.

    • 4 Python libraries for building great command-line user interfaces

      This is the second installment in my two-part series on terminal applications with great command-line UIs. In the first article, I discussed features that make a command-line application a pure joy to use. In part two, I’ll look at how to implement those features in Python with the help of a few libraries. By the end of this article, readers should have a good understanding of how to use Prompt Toolkit, Click (Command Line Interface Creation Kit), Pygments, and Fuzzy Finder to implement an easy-to-use REPL.

    • What does SVG have to do with teaching kids to code?

      Jay Nick is a retired electrical engineer who volunteers at local schools in his community by using art as a creative way to introduce students to mathematics and coding. Reflecting on the frustrations that his own children experienced in college programming classes, he decided to use his own experience with Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) to create an approach to coding that combines principles of mathematics and art.

    • Microsoft’s .NET-mare for developers: ASP.NET Core 2.0 won’t work on Windows-only .NET

      Microsoft has made a change to its forthcoming ASP.NET Core 2.0 web framework so that it is now incompatible with the Windows-only .NET Framework, causing confusion and annoyance for some .NET developers.

Leftovers

  • Much ado about communication

    One of the first challenges an open source project faces is how to communicate among contributors. There are a plethora of options: forums, chat channels, issues, mailing lists, pull requests, and more. How do we choose which is the right medium to use and how do we do it right?

    Sadly and all too often, projects shy away from making a disciplined decision and instead opt for “all of the above.” This results in a fragmented community: Some people sit in Slack/Mattermost/IRC, some use the forum, some use mailing lists, some live in issues, and few read all of them.

  • Hardware

    • Making Chips Smarter

      It is no secret that artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning have advanced radically over the last decade, yet somewhere between better algorithms and faster processors lies the increasingly important task of engineering systems for maximum performance—and producing better results.

      The problem for now, says Nidhi Chappell, director of machine learning in the Datacenter Group at Intel, is that “AI experts spend far too much time preprocessing code and data, iterating on models and parameters, waiting for training to converge, and experimenting with deployment models. Each step along the way is either too labor-and/or compute-intensive.”

  • Health/Nutrition

    • US, EU Diverge On Medical Diagnostic Patents

      Amos and Miller argue that the disjunction between the US and European requirements for diagnostic patent eligibility hinder global patent harmonisation. While the EU does place limits on diagnostic patents, it does not prohibit them outright. Amos and Miller explain that a rejection on the same grounds of Mayo in the EU would amount to a rejection based upon lack of ‘industrial applicability’. While 30 of the patents studied had objections in the EU based upon questions of novelty, inventiveness or clarity, none had objections which corresponded to a US Mayo rejection.

      The authors acknowledge that it is not possible to completely attribute the abandonment of a patent to the receipt of a Mayo objection, but argue that the case does appear to have special importance in the fate of US diagnostic patents. They point out that prior to the decision, the US permitted more diagnostic patents than the European Patent Office in a sampling of 20 applications.

    • MSF Warns Of Threats To Public Health In Asian Trade Agreement IP Proposals

      The 18th round of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) trade agreement negotiations is taking place this week in Manila, Philippines. Health activists warn that Japan and South Korea are pushing for measures that go beyond international trade rules on intellectual property, including extending patent terms and data exclusivity in countries such as India, a primary source of cheaper generic medicines.

      Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF – Doctors Without Borders) in its response is urging Japan and South Korea to withdraw their proposals as it considers them as being harmful. The proposed measures would lead to a delay in generic competition and strongly increase the prices of medicines for patients all over the world, MSF said.

  • Security

    • 4 Best Practices for Web Browser Security on Your Linux Workstation

      There is no question that the web browser will be the piece of software with the largest and the most exposed attack surface on your Linux workstation. It is a tool written specifically to download and execute untrusted, frequently hostile code.

      It attempts to shield you from this danger by employing multiple mechanisms such as sandboxes and code sanitization, but they have all been previously defeated on multiple occasions. System administrators should learn to approach browsing websites as the most insecure activity you’ll engage in on any given day.

    • ‘Crazy bad’ bug in Microsoft’s Windows malware scanner can be used to install malware

      Miscreants can turn the tables on Microsoft and use its own antivirus engine against Windows users – by abusing it to install malware on vulnerable machines.

      A particularly nasty security flaw exists in Redmond’s anti-malware software, which is packaged and marketed in various forms: Windows Defender, Windows Intune Endpoint Protection, Microsoft Security Essentials, Microsoft System Center Endpoint Protection, Microsoft Forefront Security for SharePoint, Microsoft Endpoint Protection, and Microsoft Forefront Endpoint Protection. All are, at this moment, at risk. It is switched on by default in Windows 8, 8.1, 10, and Windows Server 2012.

      It is possible for hackers to craft files that are booby-trapped with malicious code, and this nasty payload is executed inadvertently and automatically by the scanner while inspecting the data. The injected code runs with administrative privileges, allowing it to gain full control of the system, install spyware, steal files, and so on.

      In other words, while Microsoft’s scanner is searching a downloaded file for malware, it can be tricked into running and installing the very sort of software nasty it’s supposed to catch and kill.

    • [Microsoft Employee:] Why your security appliance will be hacked

      I’m no world-class hacker/penetration tester, but I’ve been able to break into any organization I’ve been (legally) hired to do so in an hour or less, except for one place that took me three hours. That was on my second engagement with the customer after it had implemented many of the protections I had recommended during my first visit.

    • How the Macron campaign slowed cyberattackers
    • Cisco kills leaked CIA 0-day that let attackers commandeer 318 switch models

      As previously reported, the zero-day exploit allowed attackers to issue commands that remotely execute malicious code on 318 models of Cisco switches. The attack code was published in early March by WikiLeaks as part of its Vault7 series of leaks, which the site is billing as the largest publication of intelligence documents ever.

      The bug resides in the Cisco Cluster Management Protocol (CMP), which uses the telnet protocol to deliver signals and commands on internal networks. It stems from a failure to restrict telnet options to local communications and the incorrect processing of malformed CMP-only telnet options.

    • Open source password strength meter could help boost account security

      It’s no secret that most people are rubbish at choosing passwords — it’s something that’s proved time and time again when the annual list of common passwords is released. To help overcome the problem, and hopefully increase the security of people’s accounts, a team of researchers from the Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Chicago have created an open source password meter that provides advice about how to strengthen a password.

    • Apache OpenOffice: Not dead yet, you’ll just have to wait until mid-May for mystery security fixes
    • NIST to security admins: You’ve made passwords too hard

      Despite the fact that cybercriminals stole more than 3 billion user credentials in 2016, users don’t seem to be getting savvier about their password usage. The good news is that how we think about password security is changing as other authentication methods become more popular.

    • Google Docs Phishing Scam a Game Changer
    • What Internet-Connected War Might Look Like

      A technician hurriedly slings his backpack over his shoulders, straps on his M9 pistol, and bolts out of the transport with his squad of commandos in a hail of gunfire. As soon as his team reaches the compound, he whips out a laptop and starts deploying a rootkit to the target server, bullets whizzing overhead all the while.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Watch the video that sparked a CIA debate over psychic phenomenon

      A video produced by Stanford as part of its government funded research into psychic phenomena alleged to show Uri Geller performing various psychic and extrasensory feats. While some in the Agency were “humbled” by the film, others were quick to declare it ordinary trickery from a con artist using techniques from stage magic and mentalism. Eventually, James Randi joined the discussion with his book about Uri Geller, only to find one of the scientists involved pushing back.

    • Is WikiLeaks intelligence porn, or legitimate news?

      Much ink has been spilled on President Trump’s “bigly” disdain for the media, including his Stalinist moniker for the press: “enemy of the people.”

      Not enough, however, has been written about smaller efforts afoot at the Department of Justice and FBI that would, in a much more direct sense, imperil basic press freedoms in the United States.

      These efforts came up last week in testimony by FBI Director James Comey. Though much of the coverage focused on comments about the Clinton investigation, he touched on two other discrete issues that deserve scrutiny.

      The first is WikiLeaks — specifically reports that the DOJ is considering filing charges under the Espionage Act against the radical transparency site for releasing classified information.

    • WikiLeaks Offers to Hire James Comey After Trump Fired Him

      James Comey may have just been fired by President Donald Trump from his position as FBI Director, but he already has a new job offer from a surprising source: WikiLeaks. Shortly after he was fired, Julian Assange tweeted that he would be happy to offer Comey a new job if he wanted to continue to properly investigate the U.S. government from WikiLeaks’ D.C. office.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Spain loses first arbitration claim over cuts to renewable energy subsidies

      Spain has lost its first international arbitration process over cuts to renewable energy subsidies. The International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) has rendered an award in favor of the British-based Eiser Infrastructure Limited and its affiliate Energia Solar Luxembourg, stating that the Spanish government violated Article 10 of the Energy Charter Treaty, thus depriving the company – a fund with ties to ABN Amro – of fair and equitable treatment.

    • Two-thirds of electricity in Canada now comes from renewable energy

      Two-thirds of Canada’s electricity supply now comes from renewable sources such as hydro and wind power, the National Energy Board said in a report released Tuesday.

      Renewable energy production jumped 17 per cent between 2005 and 2015. The portion of all electricity in Canada generated by renewables is now 66 per cent, up from 60 per cent a decade earlier.

      “I think people don’t understand just how much of our generation is the renewables,” said NEB chief economist Shelley Milutinovic. “Probably very few people would know Canada produces the second most hydro in the world.”

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Preet Bharara, Sally Yates and James Comey: Fired while investigating Donald Trump

      After President Donald Trump fired FBI Director James Comey, questions immediately arose about the President’s motivations for his dismissal — and for the recent firings of two other then-President Barack Obama-appointees who were in the middle of conducting investigations linked to Trump.

      Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said Comey’s firing was part of a “deeply troubling pattern from the Trump administration,” that appears to be linked to two other high-profile dismissals.

    • USAian Political Power Modelled After Animal Farm

      Certainly Trump has committed high crimes and misdemeanours. That started before the campaign of 2016. Now, he’s doing it from the Oval Office. On the list so far: sexual harassment, bullying, racial discrimination, multiple breaches of the Constitution, and treason, facilitating Putin’s influence to affect the USAian government. The only higher power is Congress. I would bet every Democrat would support impeachment.

    • The Triumph of James Comey

      Since FBI Director James Comey has become a kind of arbiter of the political discourse – to say his pronouncements have been decisive would not, I think, be an overstatement – his appearance before the Senate Intelligence Committee was much anticipated. As Hillary Clinton and her supporters continue to re-litigate the presidential election, blaming him for her defeat, how he would defend his decision to reveal that the FBI was investigating her private email server, and the possible unauthorized release of classified information, was the focus of much interest. And yet the really interesting aspects of his testimony had to do with two questions that, in a free society, would not normally be the domain of law enforcement: 1) What should be the nature of our relations with a foreign country, i.e. Russia? And 2) what is a legitimate journalistic enterprise?

    • Trump Fires FBI Director Comey

      So… not quite sure what to make of this yet, but according to the NY Times, just a little while ago, Donald Trump fired FBI Director James Comey (of course, just after our podcast came out talking about how Comey seemed to be hopeful the Trump administration would approve his encryption backdoor plans).

    • President Trump fires FBI Director James Comey over Clinton e-mail probe

      FBI Director James Comey was fired Tuesday by President Donald Trump over his handling of the Hillary Clinton e-mail scandal. A search has begun to replace Comey, who was appointed to the position by President Barack Obama in 2013.

      “The FBI is one of our nation’s most cherished and respected institutions, and today will mark a new beginning for our crown jewel of law enforcement,” President Trump said in a statement. Comey’s removal was recommended by Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • Introducing Paperstorm: Drop Airborne Leaflets to Fix EU Copyright

        In the EU, outdated copyright law is threatening the health of the Internet.

        The EU’s current copyright framework — developed for a time before the Internet — can stymie innovation, preventing entrepreneurs from building on existing data or code. It can stifle creativity, making it technically illegal to create, share and remix memes and other online culture and content. And it can limit the materials that educators and nonprofits like Wikipedia depend on for teaching and learning.

Team UPC Still Twists and Fabricates Statements to Make It Seem Like Unitary Patent is Happening Soon

Posted in Europe, Patents at 5:43 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

In an effort to resurrect the UPC, which is in a limbo, a retreat to “alternative facts”

Halloween decorations

Summary: The Unified Patent Court (UPC), a terrible system which was envisioned and covertly constructed by those who stand to benefit/profit from injunctions and trolling, is not going anywhere, but media which is dominated by Team UPC would have us believe otherwise

THE EPO, aided by IAM these days, still spreads the UPC agenda. It’s also aided by IP Kat, which is now dominated by the most hardcore elements of Team UPC. The end result is a lot of misinformation from those who stand to benefit from such misinformation.

“The end result is a lot of misinformation from those who stand to benefit from such misinformation.”The most hardcore elements of Team UPC are lying. They lie a lot. Routinely. Then there’s Bristows. It’s an element or firm which is probably falsifying UK-IPO statements and is now trying to salvage something in Estonia. It’s James Boon’s turn. Estonia was mentioned in relation to the UPC last year, though it’s not a large stakeholder at all. It barely has a say on the matter. What about the UK or Germany? Well, they’d rather not say. What about France? The patent microcosm keeps pretending that the UPC is coming soon because of the election of Macron. See what’s in this new post which says: “The focus this year is the role of patents in Standard Setting Organizations and Agreements. The upcoming European Unified Patent Court (UPC) is heaving in the background. This week’s French election signals to me that UPC will move forward and likely begin operation in 2018.”

How on Earth? What does that have to do with UPC? That France isn’t leaving the EU? That alone? Statements like “signals to me” are better rephrased as “I hope” (“because I would profit from it”). Battistelli’s political party actually lost the election; it didn’t make it past the first round even!

“The most hardcore elements of Team UPC are lying. They lie a lot. Routinely.”Yesterday we found this tweet about an article whose headline is a self-serving lie. It claims that UK-IPO “confirms” a “UK ratification” of UPC, but they said “future steps”, not “ratification”. They confirmed nothing. This is a distrotion of words again — one we can compare to what Managing IP and Bristows did a couple of months ago!

The relevant part says this: “A spokesperson for the UK’s Intellectual Property Office (IPO) told Out-Law.com that while some work has already been undertaken towards UK ratification, it will be for “the next government” to complete “future steps”.”

But it doesn’t say what the headline says. They’re lobbying. They twist words again.

Watch what German elements of Team UPC are saying: “Packed house this morning for our breakfast session on #UPC and #Opt-Out. @ahaertel is giving a concise overview.”

“They’re lobbying. They twist words again.”It looks like a room full of people in suits, not technical people like scientists and engineers, so we assume that it’s just another patent microcosm echo chamber, or a ‘circle-jerk’ of UPC hopefuls.

A UPC critics cites this talk with “Conclusion: The UPC/UP system is moving closer to becoming a reality,” but it’s more of a wish than a reality. This links to Bond Dickinson LLP‏, whose post says: “The announcement on 28 November 2016 that the UK intends to ratify the Agreement suggests that the political appetite for the UPC/UP regime is still present, notwithstanding Brexit.”

But that was before several serious setbacks, including the upcoming election. Why do they not mention this? Well, it’s a business site, not a news site. They try to sell something!

Ultimately, the Web has been polluted with a bunch of “alternative facts” about UPC and one can easily be fooled by them, especially gullible politicians who don’t understand patents, patent trolls, etc.

“The system worked more or less OK before Battistelli and his UPC fantasy came along. It’s time to oust both.”The system has thus far worked fine for European businesses, but probably not too well for foreign giants that want to sue European businesses (with help of European lawyers). The UPC is not needed; what is instead needed is high-quality patent examination and judges who are adjuncts to the EPO. It is a damn shame that Battistelli is killing the EPO's appeal boards, undermining the prospects of justice itself and leaving it all to ruinous, expensive litigation (magnified by UPC). As one law firm put it the other day: “The European Patent Office (EPO) appeals board has considered the standard of proof required to show that an internet disclosure had been made available to the public before the priority date of a patent, and is prior art.”

Nowadays, the boards are so grossly understaffed (by design) — and are being thoroughly weakened by the month — that we assume little/few oppositions/appeals will happen. Instead, Battistelli is turning the EPO into a production line of low-quality patents, hoping to fuel disputes at a Unitary Patent Court. The privatisation model is, defund something, make it fail, wait for the public to get angry and then demand an alternative. This is perhaps how this French politician hopes to ‘sell’ the UPC to stakeholders, even at the expense of appeal boards. The system worked more or less OK before Battistelli and his UPC fantasy came along. It’s time to oust both.

English-Speaking Media Catches Up With Latest Twists in EPO Fiasco, Including Appeal to the European Court of Human Rights

Posted in Europe, Patents at 4:54 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

This was publicly debated by Dutch authorities yesterday

House of Representatives (Netherlands)

Summary: Actions about or against EPO management have accelerated ahead of next month’s Administrative Council meeting, whose head is leaving after alleged orders/commands from his government (half a year after we exposed his conflict of interest/s)

AS we noted a few weeks ago, under the surface and behind the silence there was something brewing. The EPO scandals recently culminated in the apparent firing of Battistelli’s ‘boss’ (someone told us that the government forced his resignation — an EPO tactic where it’s made to look like early retirement) and the European Court of Human Rights may soon step in. Yesterday we reposted SUEPO's statement (which had also been sent by E-mail, based on a new comment from IP Kat).

This morning, the British media covered this latest twist (it’s in the front page of The Register right now). Kieren McCarthy wrote:

The staff union of the European Patent Office on Tuesday applied to the European Court of Human Rights in an effort to force greater accountability on the organization and its president, Benoit Battistelli.

The EPO has carried out a years-long campaign of surveillance, intimidation and disciplinary hearings against staff who have opposed Battistelli’s reform efforts: a campaign that would be illegal under the laws of the countries in which the organization resides.

But when the staff union, SUEPO, sued to force the organization to follow those laws, EPO management claimed immunity due to its status as an international organization. After a protracted legal battle, the Dutch Supreme Court ultimately agreed with that argument, and shortly thereafter EPO’s president Battistelli sacked another staff union representative, sparking more protests.

SUEPO is appealing that decision to the human rights court by making the case that the immunity provision only holds if an organization has effective internal remedies. It argues that the EPO does not, and that its own systems are also severely lacking.

Even blogs of the patent microcosm are starting to respond to the damage caused by Battistelli’s poor leadership and yesterday Kluwer wrote this:

EPO trade union files complaint against The Netherlands before European Court of Human Rights

[...]

In several other EPO member states – France, Germany, for instance – and at the European Union, the disastrous social climate at the EPO has been on the agenda repeatedly as well. Last month, the USF, the largest federation of Unions of the Public Service wrote a letter to the members of the European Parliament, stating: ‘Countless reports in the media about dismissed staff representatives, other scandals and a total loss of trust of the staff in the current EPO president, Mr. Battistelli, are evidence of the seriousness of the situation at the EPO.’ Recently, in a series of articles on this blog (I, II, III, IV), the negative consequences of the EPO policy for patent quality were questioned as well.

Crucially however, Battistelli still seems to have support of enough members of the EPO’s supervisory Administrative Council, which could have taken more measures against the authoritarian president than it has been willing to.

The complaint before the ECHR is the latest attempt to do something about the EPO crisis. In the Dutch newspaper Nederlands Dagblad, lawyer Liesbeth Zegveld explained it is directed against The Netherlands, ‘because it has actively promoted upholding the EPO’s immunity’. According to Zegveld, the Dutch government has a diplomatic interest in doing this, ‘as it hopes for international organizations to settle in the Netherlands’. It wasn’t immediately clear when a decision can be expected from ECHR, but it will probably take quite some time. A brochure of the court of 2012 indicates the aim is to finalize cases within three years.

EPSU, which has generally been supportive of SUEPO (as recently as a few months ago), tweeted me about it this morning. “Unions @EPOorg launch complaint against Dutch State with #ECHR as justice denied to workers,” EPSU stated. Over at IP Kat there are now rumours about what will happen after Jesper Kongstad’s (JK) departure:

Perhaps JK taking over as head honcho at the EPO could be Battistelli’s “Plan B” in the (perhaps unlikely) event that someone at the AC points out that BB [Battistelli] will be beyond mandatory retirement age from August next year? After all, if it cannot be BB himself, then it would have to be a “trusted” acolyte… if only to keep the lid on the explosive secrets that we all know are just waiting to be uncovered.

Secrets like that money which got spent building Battistelli a palace at the expense (losses) of a Dutch contractor?

Another Victim of Battistelli’s Monarchy: Dutch Contractors

Posted in Europe, Patents at 4:26 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The EPO with flags that are more appropriate

Nouvel building
“The cost of that renovation [Battistelli's new penthouse] is impossible to ascertain due to it being lumped in with the massive construction costs of the new [Nouvel] building.” –Kieren McCarthy for The Register

Summary: How TBI Holding, the company that ‘won’ the tender (as notorious as these can be), is actually a victim of EPO underpaying for the work, having also spent some of the budget on Battistelli's new penthouse

THE Nouvel building which is a fire hazard has become the subject of Dutch journalism quite recently.

“Battistelli likes to boast about investing 250 million in a new building,” Petra Kramer told me yesterday. “But it turns out that the contractor who is building the new office expects to lose 22.3 million euro on it,” she continued. “An article I missed last month,” she said, shows that “Battistelli does not only exploit employees, he exploits contractors as well.”

Kramer has translated the article (Source: fd.nl; Paywalled, workaround: Google the headline, click the search result. It doesn’t work with any other search engine.) and wrote the following summary of it:


The EPO’s Battistelli likes to boast how his office is a boon to the Dutch economy. As NRC reported in March last year: “We’re investing 250 million in a new office-building. We add 1 billion in revenue to the Dutch economy.”

Upon closer inspection it turns out that 25% of the EPO’s contribution to the Dutch economy is not so much of a contribution. It’s actually leeching. The contractor that won the tender for building the new office did so at the bottom of the market in 2013 when we were struck by the eurocrisis.

On top of that, the EPO used a “relatively new form of contracting” which outsources all the risk to the contractor. The contractor is fully responsible for “for design, system engineering and testing”. In other words: the EPO exploits contractors like they exploit their employees. It’s akin to a person overeating at an all you eat can buffet and then blaming the restaurant for throwing up.

TBI Holding, the contractor, expects to lose 22.3 million euros, which means the EPO got away by paying 10% less than the actual costs of the project. In retrospect they lament having entered into the contract too light-heartedly.

TBI Holding had a great year, for example they built 20% more homes than in 2015 but their bottom line, the net profit, was crushed by the EPO. According to Financieel Dagblad (the Dutch Financial Times), TBI holding could have made a profit of 15 million, thanks to the EPO the end-result is a net loss of 16.7 million.

Source used: fd.nl


Remember that the EPO is immune and thus safe from litigation/prosecution in this case.

Here is the full translation of the corresponding article:

Construction of European Patent Office curtails TBI

The Rotterdam builder TBI suffered losses in 2016 by a project that was taken at risk in crisis times. For the new building of the European Patent Office in Rijswijk, a provision of € 22.3 mln was made last year. Together with the merger costs of two subsidiaries last year, a net loss of 16.7 mln resulted.

This is apparent from Friday’s published annual figures of the group. TBI Holding is known for subsidiaries as J.P. Van Eesteren, Mobilis and the fused Croonwolter & Dros.

‘Underlying good year’

Sperling, chairman of TBI, states that 2016 was “underlying a good year”. House sales increased by 35%, the order book increased by almost 20% and the solvency criterion for financial soundness improved to 36%. Without the EPO set-back, the net profit would have been 5.6% higher at € 15 mln.

‘The huge provision is disappointing,’ said Sperling.

The new construction of the European institution has been taken at the bottom of the market. In 2013, a relatively new contract form was signed, with the full responsibility for design, system engineering and testing at the contractor.

Too light-hearted

That responsibility proved complex, intensive and costly according to the chairman of the board. Sperling: “We considered this too light-hearted. In retrospect, we had to ask for a higher price. ”

The three divisions in which the companies of TBI are grouped booked varying results. At Technology, operating revenues decreased, but operating profit increased. The margin thus increased from 0.6% to 0.9%. Construction and development increased sales and results. The margin increased from 1.9% to 2.6%. At Infra, volume and price pressure was maintained. Sales rose, but operating profit fell to € 300,000, which dropped the margin from 1.9% to 0.1%.

So much for ‘helping’ the Dutch economy…

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