Links 6/12/2019: DRM in GNU/Linux and Sparky Bonsai

Posted in News Roundup at 6:32 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

  • GNU/Linux

    • Linux For All Shines on LXDE Desktop

      Linux For All very well could be a unifying Linux distribution that provides a common computing platform.

      LFA is a distro developed by Sweden-based software engineer Arne Exton of Exton Linux, the same developer who distributes ExTix Linux. The Swedish Linux Society hosts 16 Exton distributions.

      The Exton Linux inventory of distributions is a fertile repository of custom distros you will not find elsewhere. Among Exton Linux releases are an assortment of customized Linux distros based on a wide family of options such as Arch, Debian, Ubuntu, Puppy and Slackware. Multiple versions of these distros offer an even wider range of desktops.

      The ExTix distro, which I recently reviewed, is perhaps one of the best known of Exton’s Linux platforms. That is in part due to its multiple desktop offerings.

      Linux For All comes in just one flavor, the LXDE environment. However, LXDE is an inviting option that eliminates confusion and complexity in favor of a powerful desktop that is lightweight enough to run on low-powered aging hardware.

    • Server

      • [Older] Making sense of a multi-cloud, hybrid world at KubeCon

        More than 12,000 attendees gathered this week in San Diego to discuss all things containers, Kubernetes and cloud-native at KubeCon.

        Kubernetes, the container orchestration tool, turned five this year, and the technology appears to be reaching a maturity phase where it accelerates beyond early adopters to reach a more mainstream group of larger business users.

        That’s not to say that there isn’t plenty of work to be done, or that most enterprise companies have completely bought in, but it’s clearly reached a point where containerization is on the table. If you think about it, the whole cloud-native ethos makes sense for the current state of computing and how large companies tend to operate.

      • [Older] ‘Kubernetes’ Is the Future of Computing. What You Should Know About the New Trend.

        Nearly all major technology companies are saying the same thing. Kubernetes is the next big thing in computing.

        The Greek word for helmsman or pilot, Kubernetes is accelerating the transition away for legacy client-server technology by making cloud-native software development easier, better and faster.

        Last week, more than 12,000 developers and executives gathered in San Diego at the largest annual Kubernetes conference called KubeCon. That’s up from just 550 attendees four years ago. The conference goers are all looking for ways to take advantage of Kubernetes and its ability to automatically deploy, manage, and scale software workloads in the cloud.

        To understand the trend, let’s start with the changing dynamics of software in the cloud. Cloud apps increasingly run in aptly-named containers. The containers hold an application, its settings, and other related instructions. The trick is that these containers aren’t tied down to one piece of hardware and can run nearly anywhere—across different servers and clouds. It’s how Google manages to scale Gmail and Google Maps across a billion-plus users.

        Alphabet’s (ticker: GOOGL) Google long ago developed software called Borg to orchestrate its in-house containers—spinning them up and down as needed. In 2014, the search giant opted to make a version of Borg open source, calling it Kubernetes. Today, the major cloud providers all offer a Kubernetes option to customers.

      • IBM

        • Understanding Red Hat AMQ Streams components for OpenShift and Kubernetes: Part 2
        • Red Hat announces beta access to the Red Hat migration analytics service

          Do you know where your workloads are, their current state and what it would take to modernize them? The answer is likely no. That’s why Red Hat is unveiling the Red Hat migration analytics service, currently in beta. Here’s what the service offers, and how it can help you with inventory, migration suggestions and more.

        • Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8.1 Debuts With Added Developer Tools, Security & Automation

          Red Hat, Inc. today announced the general availability of Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8.1, the latest version of the world’s leading enterprise Linux platform. The first minor release of the Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8 platform, Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8.1 enhances the manageability, security and performance of the operating system underpinning the open hybrid cloud while also adding new capabilities to drive developer innovation.

          Red Hat Enterprise Linux is the foundation of Red Hat’s open hybrid cloud portfolio, providing the underlying engine that allows complex workloads to be developed and deployed across physical, virtual, private and public cloud environments with greater confidence and control. As the backbone of the hybrid cloud, the world’s leading enterprise Linux platform provides a consistent user experience across on premise deployments and all major public cloud infrastructures. At the same time, it supports key production workloads like Microsoft SQL Server and SAP HANA while also enabling new workloads like artificial intelligence (AI) and machine-learning (ML).

    • Audiocasts/Shows

      • 2019-12-05 | Linux Headlines

        Mozilla speeds up its open source speech-to-text engine, Disney+ is now available on Linux, and Amazon has a new AI-powered service for automated code review.

    • Kernel Space

      • Linux 5.5 Lands Broadcom BCM2711 / Raspberry Pi 4 Bits

        Following last week’s Arm architecture updates for Linux 5.5, sent in via four pull requests on Thursday was all the new and improved hardware enablement for the SoCs and single-board computer platforms.

        The prominent ARM hardware support change with Linux 5.5 is mainlining the Broadcom BCM2711 SoC that is notably used by the Raspberry Pi 4 and also integrating the various RPi4 device tree additions. It’s great seeing the Linux kernel finally beginning to get into shape for the modern Raspberry Pi 4.

      • Graphics Stack

        • Nvidia Is Preparing An Unexpected Surprise For Linux Users In 2020

          Each year Nvidia hosts the GPU Technology Conference, a global gathering of AI developers, data scientists, graphic artists, and pretty much anyone in the technology industry working with GPUs in their chosen fields. The event packs in keynotes with roadmaps and reveals, face-time with Nvidia engineers, and hundreds of sessions to participate in. GTC 2020, though, looks to include a special surprise for Linux users and open source enthusiasts.

          Supporting Nouveau eh? That’s the open source Linux driver used to drive Nvidia graphics cards (Nvidia also supplies a proprietary driver for Linux), and Nvidia’s historical lack of contributions is what led Linus Torvalds to famously flip Nvidia the bird and utter words I can’t print here. (I can link to them though. . .)

          The community of developers working on the Nouveau driver have experienced several roadblocks throughout the years. Paramount among them is the inability to achieve normal GPU clock speeds due to Nvidia’s locked down firmware on many models of graphics cards. This leads to undesirable performance and a multitude of potential video display issues across many Linux distributions.

    • Applications

      • Gammy – Adaptive screen brightness utility for Linux

        All technology enthusiasts heartily greeted smartphones when they came around. Not only because it was all futuristic and attractive, but also because now you could do things that you could only do on your desktop or laptop.

        E-mailing, text messaging, sharing files, all became much easier. Even though it seems like smartphones are given features based on those possessed by notebooks, they have a world of their own. Now, even the computer world is learning things from smartphones.

        One such feature of smartphones that we all find helpful is automatic brightness adjustment. Having that on our Linux systems will be great, especially for those who move around with their laptops a lot. We present a program just for that task, Gammy.

      • Migrating the MAAS UI from AngularJS to React

        MAAS (metal as a service), is a Canonical product which allows for very fast server provisioning and data centre management. Around 2014, work began to build a rich UI for MAAS, primarily using the AngularJS JavaScript framework from Google. AngularJS today is in long term support (LTS) and due to reach end-of-life in 2021. This year we began the work of transitioning away from AngularJS in anticipation of this impending EOL to more contemporary tooling.

        Evaluating Angular vs React

        Google’s recommended upgrade path for applications built in AngularJS is to transition to the Angular framework. Despite the similarity in naming, Angular is very different from AngularJS architecturally, and the migration process is non-trivial. While components (allowing for the now ubiquitous uni-directional data architectural pattern) were later backported from Angular to AngularJS, most of MAAS UI predated this and consequently migration to Angular would require significant app-wide refactoring.

        Since the inception of the MAAS UI, a number of other products had been built at Canonical using React. As we had developed significant experience using React, and tooling in the surrounding ecosystem, ultimately it made more sense to invest in transitioning the MAAS UI to React rather than Angular. This choice conferred additional benefits, such as standardising our build and testing infrastructure, and allows for component reuse across products. We also just generally enjoy working with React, and feel that the most significant developments in web UI technology are happening within the React ecosystem (hooks, concurrent mode, suspense, CRA).

      • 6 Best Free Linux Speed Reading Tools

        The idea of speed reading was invented by an American schoolteacher named Evelyn Wood.

        There’s a few different approaches when it comes to speed reading. Spritz technology is based on the notion that much of the time spent in reading text is taken by the eye’s focus moving between words and across the page. According to Spritz, spritzing is defined as reading content one word at a time with the optimal recognition point (ORP) positioned inside of their custom “redicle”. After your eyes find the ORP, your brain starts to process the meaning of the word that you’re viewing. The concept of speed reading in this context is simple: slice a text into individual short segments, like a word.

        The software featured in this group test is based on spritzing. Read text without moving your eyes, and therefore rapidly increase your reading speed. Unlike other reading techniques, you don’t need to rewire your brain to work more efficiently.

    • Instructionals/Technical

    • Games

      • Offering up some intense multiplayer mayhem, Tank Maniacs is out now

        GAMELAB today released Tank Maniacs, a very intense multiplayer party game for up to four players. Your task is simple: eliminate the competition in any way possible and it’s really quite hilarious.

        A game for when you want things to be a little less serious perhaps? Tank Maniacs would certainly slot into your gaming schedule nicely there I think. You don’t need to have other players with you, thankfully, as the AI can be quite menacing I found during my time playing it. If you livestream games on Twitch, they also have a fancy Extension you can try which helps viewers get involved.

      • Beyond a Steel Sky, the sequel to the classic Beneath a Steel Sky is coming to Linux next year

        Revolution Software today put out an announcement about Beyond a Steel Sky, the sequel to Beneath a Steel Sky, to give an update on the release date.

        Beyond a Steel Sky is a dramatic, humorous, cyberpunk thriller in which engaging puzzles drive a fast-paced narrative set in a dynamic game-world that responds to – and is subverted by – the player’s actions. It was quite a surprise when writing about it back in September as it popped up on Steam with Linux system requirements. We didn’t manage to get full confirmation from the developer, until today! They confirmed to us on Twitter that Linux support is happening—awesome!

      • Kickstarting a new edition of Steve Jackson Games’s Car Wars

        Now, Steve Jackson Games (previously) is kickstarting a sixth edition of Car Wars, set in a fallen USA in 2069, dominated by “wilderness lawlessness, banditry, regional dictators, and of the men and women who combat them.” The sixth edition includes rules, detailed miniature plastic model cars, player dashboards, and card-decks for internal damage. Stretch goals include custom six sided dice (a set of 20!), extra tokens, a new collision system and a 36″x36″ playspace — at higher levels, they’re going to add more minis and extra rules.

      • Stylish 2D action adventure Alwa’s Legacy is successfully funded and coming to Linux

        Great news for fans of colourful retro-inspired action adventures, as Alwa’s Legacy (the successor to Alwa’s Awakening) has managed to get funding.

        After launching on Kickstarter last month, Elden Pixels managed to raise a total of around SEK 290,369 (approx £23,332). Just like the previous game, they’re planning for full Linux support. Since it has been successful, it’s another listed on our dedicated Crowdfunding Page.

      • New Steam Client Beta upgrades the Linux Steam Runtime Container and Remote Play Together

        Valve have another freshly brewed Beta available for the Steam Client that was released yesterday ready for more testing.

        For Linux gamers, this Beta brings with it some upgrades to the Linux Steam Runtime and the Linux Steam Runtime Container with “improved graphics drivers diagnostics”. Don’t know what we mean by Container? Recently Steam gained a new feature to enable you to run Linux games inside a special Linux Runtime Container. I have some high hopes that this container feature will reduce further any QA testing issues game developers have when deploying for Linux.

      • Creator of WebRTC now working on Google Stadia, Darksiders Genesis out plus more Stadia news

        We have more interesting news to share this morning about updates surrounding Google Stadia, the game streaming service.

        Firstly, engineer Justin Uberti who helped to created WebRTC and Google Duo has announced they’ve moved onto leading the Google Stadia engineering team. Google certainly need all the help they can get building their gaming platform, after such a rough launch. Uberti also mentioned that they will be hiring for Stadia in in Seattle/Kirkland (USA) so get in touch if working on cloud gaming sounds like your thing.

        Google have also finally put the Stadia store online in the browser, it’s no longer totally locked to the mobile app. This was one of the pain points of the early launch, although you likely still need to actually have a Stadia account and a Chromium-based browser to even access it.

    • Desktop Environments/WMs

      • Pekwm: A lightweight Linux desktop

        Let’s say you want a lightweight desktop environment, with just enough to get graphics on the screen, move some windows around, and not much else. You find traditional desktops get in your way, with their notifications and taskbars and system trays. You want to live your life primarily from a terminal, but you also want the luxury of launching graphical applications. If that sounds like you, then Pekwm may be what you’ve been looking for all along.

        Pekwm is, presumably, inspired by the likes of Window Maker and Fluxbox. It provides an application menu, window decoration, and not a whole lot more. It’s ideal for minimalists—users who want to conserve resources and users who prefer to work from a terminal.

      • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

        • Krita Weekly #6

          I will just run through what are the folks did over the week. Dmitry is working on fixing the rendering of vector shapes. I gave it a try last day, though there are a few snitches here and there, but overall it was much faster than the current one. He also worked with a new contributor Fredrik and fixed the transform tool crash bug.

          Kai Uwe Broulik fixed almost year old regression which made the layer filter menu too narrow with the breeze theme. Tiar fixed a couple of bugs related to onion skins and selections along with her work on the implement tagging of resources in the new system. Also Wolthera can be seen working on the UI and resource models for the same. Ivan has finished his patch to accurately draw 1px lines. Amidst exams even I patched one of the bugs related to text tool, although I was the one who introduced that in the first place.

    • Distributions

      • Screenshots/Screencasts

      • SUSE/OpenSUSE

        • New Local Build Environment Features

          We have just created osc 0.167 release which focuses on the local build functionality. It is way easier now to deal with VM builds (eg. inside of KVM) and also building for foreign hardware architecture becomes way easier now.

        • Highlights of YaST Development Sprint 90

          As usual, during this sprint we have been working on a wide range of topics. The release of the next (open)SUSE versions is approaching and we need to pay attention to important changes like the new installation media or the /usr/etc and /etc split.

      • DRM

        • Disney+ Now Works in Linux After DRM Tweak

          Linux users can now stream shows and movies from the Disney+ streaming service after Disney lowering the level of their DRM requirements.

          When Disney+ was first launched, Linux users who attempted to watch shows and movies were shown an error stating “Something went wrong. Please try again. If the problem persists, visit the Disney+ Help Center (Error Code 83).”

        • Disney+ finally works on Linux!

          A little more than three weeks after the new Disney+ movie streaming service went officially live, the Disney company has added Linux support to their Widevine DRM protection. No more “Error 83”. No more need to install the Windows version of Chrome in Wine. Watching your favorite movies is now possible in the native Linux browsers – both Mozilla and Google based. Firefox will download the Widevine CDM (content delivery module) automatically, Chrome has the support built-in and for my Chromium package and other Chromium-based browsers you;ll have to install my chromium-widevine-plugin package.

      • Fedora Family

        • 5 cool terminal pagers in Fedora

          Large files like logs or source code can run into the thousands of lines. That makes navigating them difficult, particularly from the terminal. Additionally, most terminal emulators have a scrollback buffer of only a few hundred lines. That can make it impossible to browse large files in the terminal using utilities which print to standard output like cat, head and tail. In the early days of computing, programmers solved these problems by developing utilities for displaying text in the form of virtual “pages” — utilities imaginatively described as pagers.

          Pagers offer a number of features which make text file navigation much simpler, including scrolling, search functions, and the ability to feature as part of a pipeline of commands. In contrast to most text editors, some terminal pagers do not require loading the entire file for viewing, which makes them faster, especially for very large files.

      • Debian Family

        • Debian Installer Bullseye Alpha 1 Released

          Debian 11 “Bullseye” isn’t expected to be released until well into 2021 but out today is the first alpha release of the Debian Installer that will ultimately power that next major Debian GNU/Linux release.

          This is just the first of many alpha releases today of the Debian Installer and not of the Debian Bullseye itself. Bullseye continues to serve as the Debian testing and many changes have been landing in the months since the Debian 10 “Buster” release.

        • Sparky Bonsai – a portable edition of SparkyLinux

          Sparky Bonsai is a GNU/Linux distribution based on Debian/Sparkylinux in a portable form. Taking advantage of the experience of portable distros such as Slax, Porteus, Puppy and DebianDog, we made a remix of our favor Debian-based distro SparkyLinux. The idea was to make a portable version of the linux distro having already installed at home, in cases we can’t, don’t need or wish to install it properly…

          …Sparky Bonsai lives in a USB flash 4GB minimum and run with 512 MB of RAM on x86 processors. At the moment it’s only available in 64bit version. It fits on a DVD or CD optical disk and runs in ext2/3/4, fat32, xfs, exFAT file systems. In order to load it to RAM, 1GB is recommended.

          It is a minimal Debian Buster file system using Debian linux kernel v. with the BusterDog’s modules for porteus boot, live-boot-3x and aufs support. Kernel updates are not available the way they are on a properly installed linux system. As you may know, BusterDog uses the Antix Linux init system. Sparky Bonsai uses systemd as pure Debian and Sparky Linux. If you don’t wish to use systemd, check the BusterDog (based on Antix) or Beowolf (based on Devuan).

          Sparky Bonsai use PCmanFM as file/desktop manager and JWM as windows manager. JWM’s menu construction is based on xdgmenumaker. It comes with Pale Moon as the default web browser, Mousepad as the default text editor and LXterminal as default terminal emulator. All DebianDog’s module and remaster scripts are included as well.

      • Canonical/Ubuntu Family

        • Linux Mint 19.3 Will be Released by Christmas

          Just in time for the holidays, the developers behind Linux Mint have announced that version 19.3 (Tricia) will be released by December 25. The beta for the upcoming iteration has already been made available (download from one of the official mirrors here) for the public to test.

          The latest iteration of Linux Mint contains a number of new features. One such features is the System Reports tool. This new tool detects potential issues on your computer (such as a missing language pack, multimedia codec, new firmware drivers, etc.).

        • Linux Mint 19.3 “Tricia” Beta Available To Download

          For the past many releases I have been covering Linux mint and in each release, the team has delivered what it had promised. Now the new release is getting closer, Mint users should know what’s going to be delivered in the coming release Linux Mint 19.3 “Tricia”.

          Yesterday Linux Mint 19.3 codenamed “Tricia” was released. It is a big milestone for developers to reach since this release reflects what the team has been working for. After reading the release note and also using it, it looks like the team is on its way to deliver another user-friendly, stable, and feature-rich OS.

          So let’s see what’s new in Linux Mint 19.3 “Tricia” Beta.


          Cinnamon 4.4 is more lightweight than its predecessors. Cinnamon 4.4 uses 28mb less memory than 4.2 and 4.3.

          In Linux mint 19.3, there are a few tweaks in the desktop environment. The system panel’s font & icons sizes can be adjusted differently. Uses can change the font & icon size of left of panel, center of the panel, and right of the panel separately.

        • Some Of The Possible Changes Coming For The Desktop With Ubuntu 20.04 LTS

          While we aren’t even half-way through the Ubuntu 20.04 LTS development cycle yet, Ubuntu’s Trello board provides a look at some of the changes and new features being at least considered for this next Ubuntu long-term support release.

          With Ubuntu 20.04 LTS, the Focal Fossa, we’ve known about some items like working to drop Python 2 and never-ending GNOME performance work and continuing the great ZFS/Zsys integration introduced as experimental in Ubuntu 19.10. But there’s also more coming to this next Ubuntu release due out in April.

        • Web application development with Juju charms: an interview with Marc André Audet from Absolunet

          Targeting the web platform is increasingly complex. Tim McNamara, Developer Advocate in the Juju team at Canonical, recently interviewed Marc André Audet, Security Expert at Absolunet to discuss how Juju charms can be used for web application development. In the interview, you’ll learn about how to use Juju for web apps.


          Absolutely. Right now we have 2 clients in production using Juju, but we have spun up many sites for development, testing and sales purposes.

          I’ve automated everything so much that we only have to deploy a bundle and we get a ready-to-use environment from scratch in under 20 minutes on the AWS cloud. And for any version of Magento. As long as Magento retains backwards compatibility, no changes are needed.

          In the near future, we have plans to make it possible for anyone to spin up a new site with a single click, regardless of the intended use. With this, we expect to see an important increase in Juju usage and adoption at Absolunet.

    • Devices/Embedded

    • Free, Libre, and Open Source Software

      • Haiku almost-monthly activity report – October and November 2019

        The last two months have been quite busy for me and I had no time to write up a report. Remember that everyone is welcome to contribute to the website and if you wand to write the report from time to time, this would be much appreciated, by me because I wouldn’t need to do it, and by others because they will enjoy reading things written with a different style and perspective.

        Anyway, let’s look at what’s going on!

        Let’s start with the non-technical side of things. The months of october and november are traditionally quite active in Haiku (matching with our autumn-themed logo, of course). There was no BeGeistert this year, but I attended Alchimie and Capitole du Libre with mmu_man, while Korli, scottmc and Hy Che went to the GSoC mentor summit, which was in Germany this year.

        These events are an opportunity to advertise Haiku a bit, share ideas and projects with other alternative operating systems such as MorphOS, ReactOS, FreeBSD, or RTEMS, and overall meet other people working on open source software.

        All while managing this, we also had to get ready for Google Code-In, which is celebrating its 10th year. We are the only project with enough contributors and ideas to be able to participate every year since the contest was established, and look forward to what our contestants will accomplish this year. The first patches are already getting to our Gerrit code review.

      • BeOS-Inspired Haiku Continues Working On 64-bit ARM, Other Hardware Improvements

        The open-source Haiku operating system project working off inspirations from BeOS continued to be quite active over the past two months in adding various modern features and fixes to their platform.

        Some of the Haiku work tackled over October and November included:

        - Continued preparations around 64-bit ARM (AArch64) support for Haiku. Related is making the Haiku EFI code more platform agnostic to work both on x86_64 and ARM64.

      • How I Switched To Plan 9

        Hi, I’m SL. You may remember me from my classic appearances in contentious 9fans threads, or maybe you’ve read one of my books.

        I’m a veteran UNIX admin of 20+ years. I produced a bunch of multimedia stuff on a Macbook in the mid-2000s. I ran 9front on all my production servers and on my personal laptop (my main personal computer) almost exclusively from 2011 to 2017. In early 2017 I moved to a new job that involved a lot of traveling and infrequent access to WiFi. It also turned out that carrying a second laptop (besides my work laptop) added too much bulk/weight to all the stuff I already had to carry everywhere I went. I bought one of those early iPad Pros equipped with an LTE connection and did most of my necessarily mobile computing via that device for the better part of two years. I was able to rig up a command line connection to 9front using a native iOS SSH client and drawterm -G. I explained how this was accomplished in a previous blog post. Infrequently, I carried a ThinkPad X230 Tablet, and later a ThinkPad X250 along with me, piggybacking off the iPad’s WiFi tethering.

        The experience sucked. Replacing a general purpose computer with a jacked-up surveillance sensor package is not my idea of solving the problem of mobile computing. Lugging around extra pounds put a lot of strain on my already compromised back. Something had to give.

        No pun intended.

        Recently, I acquired a used ThinkPad X1 Tablet (1st Gen). This thing is small enough to fit in my bag, works well with both OpenBSD and 9front, and weighs almost as little as my iPad Pro with it’s folding keyboard cover. Finally, I’m back in business.

      • What motivates people to contribute to open source?

        Knowing what motivates people is a smart way to recruit contributors to an open source project—and to keep them contributing once they’ve joined.

        For his book How Open Source Ate Software, Red Hat’s Gordon Haff did a lot of research on the topic of motivation, and he shared some of it in his Lightning Talk at All Things Open 2019, “Why do we contribute to open source?”

        Watch Gordon’s Lightning Talk to learn about the three main types of motivation—extrinsic, intrinsic, and internalized extrinsic—what they are, and how they relate to open source communities.

      • Events

        • Jakub Steiner: Conferences

          This year I haven’t done any drone-related travelling. The sponsorship deal fell through and Rotorama didn’t participate in DCL. I admit I haven’t been practicing as much as I would need to to do any better in the local races either.

          So at least I got the world of FOSS to get out of the couch.

      • Web Browsers

        • Mozilla

          • Newly born Firefox 71 emerges from its den – with its own VPN and some privacy tricks

            Patting itself on the back for blocking more than one trillion web tracking requests through its Enhanced Tracking Protection tech, Mozilla on Tuesday continued its privacy push with a further test of its Firefox Private Network service, an update to Firefox Preview Beta for Android, and the debut of its latest desktop browser, Firefox 71.

            Back in September, Mozilla began testing its Firefox Private Network (FPN), a virtual private network (VPN) service for browser traffic, enabled through a Firefox extension (add-on), and soon for protecting all applications on devices at the operating system level.

            That FPN beta test has now reached its next stage. Mozilla is inviting US users of the Firefox desktop browser with Firefox Accounts to try FPN out, for free, for up to 12 hours per month.

            “With the holidays around the corner, the FPN couldn’t come at a more convenient time,” said Marissa Wood, VP of product at Mozilla, in a blog post. “We know people are traveling and might have to rely on an unsecured public Wi-Fi network, like the one at the airport, at your local coffee shop, or even at your doctor’s office.”

            FPN creates a secure tunnel from the user’s browser or device to the internet, protecting any data passing through a Wi-Fi hotspot – if you must log into a public WiFi hotspot, you should use a VPN. Instead of providing the user’s IP address, it presents its own IP address, which makes tracking more difficult.

      • Funding

      • FSF

        • Librem 5 on the Free Software Foundation’s Ethical Tech Gift Giving Guide

          The Ethical Tech Gift Giving guide is a list of gifts approved by the FSF for our loved ones this festive season. It prioritizes devices that respect the freedoms of our friends and families over the latest gadget from Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Google, and countless other companies because “freedom is the gift that keeps on giving”. Big Tech require our complete trust in their proprietary exploitative systems, whether using a free email account, buying a heavily subsidized phone or tablet and even using a search engine. We pay for them by giving up the freedom over our lives and give them control to exploit us and our loved ones to increase shareholder value.

      • Public Services/Government

        • A Major Step for Open Source in Europe

          As long-time supporters of Open Source, we had high expectations of last week’s European Commission ambitious workshop ‘Open Source Beyond 2020’. These expectations were exceeded. The event gathered an impressive group of representatives of the relevant stakeholder groups, spanning industry, research, advocacy, and policy-making. But what was particularly encouraging was the way the Commission actively sought fresh ideas on how the Open Source opportunity for Europe could be maximised.

          It was helpful that DG CNECT and DIGIT jointly hosted the event, bringing together their experiences and initiatives. Two intensive days of insightful panels and discussions with practitioners from around Europe gave a strong feeling of pragmatism rather than rhetoric.

          Contributing to the Workshop CEO Sachiko Muto spoke on the role of Open Source as innovation enabler and the role of Standards in Open Source, and our research director Sivan Pätsch shared his insights on digital skills for Open Source. But it was particularly pleasing to see many of the OpenForum Academy Fellows giving expert opinion.

          Open Source has reached global ubiquity within software development so it is fundamental that Europe understands how to maximise the potential impact for economic development, business and citizens. The European Commission employed a proactive approach when it came to listening to the broad community in planning and delivering the workshop. This holds high hopes for the future of digital openness in Europe and possibilities of cross-industry and cross-institutional cooperation. But to date much of the success has come from bottom up initiatives. Just what are the policy and leadership measures that the Commission could take that would positively affect the outcome? Are there any? Are they really needed?

      • Programming/Development

        • Python

          • Interactive (Touch) Musical Christmas Tree

            In this video I should how to build a capacitive touch Christmas tree that allows you to play music just by touching the ornaments. All it takes is a little bit of Python code, a Raspberry Pi, and a Bare Conductive Pi Cap.

          • How Machine Learning Will Generate up to $2 Trillion in Value for the Manufacturing Industry

            Open-Source Technologies Provide Innovative Solutions

            With the right skill set, data scientists in the manufacturing industry can provide a strategic advantage by implementing the use cases discussed here using Python and cutting edge open-source libraries like TensorFlow, scikit-learn, and scikit-image. For this reason, many manufacturing organizations would realize greater value from an enterprise machine learning platform that incorporates open-source libraries and tools rather than a point solution designed for a single use case.

          • Significant changes for some error messages in Python 3.8

            As I work on including more exceptions in Friendly-traceback, I am mostly pleasantly surprised by generally more precise error messages. For example, in Python 3.7, the following

            __debug__ = 1

            would yield “SyntaxError: assignment to keyword” which likely would baffle almost everyone looking up the list of Python keywords. In Python 3.8, that message has been replaced by the more precise: “SyntaxError: cannot assign to __debug__”. Much better, in my opinion, even though one may be surprised to learn about this constant.

          • SunPy Receives NASA Grant, Helps Generate Parker Solar Probe Results

            The one-year proposal, entitled “Supporting and extending SunPy for the heliophysics community,” will create a spectral datatype and provide more coordinate systems in SunPy. In addition, code snippets demonstrating the use of SunPy and other heliophysics-focused Python packages will also be created. Finally, an extensive analysis of the codebase will be performed in order to improve SunPy’s long-term maintainability. The PI is Jack Ireland (NASA GSFC), and the co-I is Andy Terrel (NumFOCUS). In addition, two SunPy affiliated packages were selected for funding from the same NASA program.


            A co-author on one of the results papers, David Stansby, previously published a short paper called “Predicting Large-scale Coronal Structure for Parker Solar Probe Using Open Source Software.” That short paper provided a completely open toolkit (pfsspy), built on the NumFOCUS stack, to make predictions of the Sun’s magnetic field structure. One of the key results presented in the new Nature paper grew directly out of this work, which relies heavily on SunPy, NumPy, SciPy, and Matplotlib.

        • Shell/Bash/Zsh/Ksh

          • Another surprising AWK trick

            So why is AWK ignoring everything but the numbers in returning “626″? Because “Strings are converted to numbers and numbers are converted to strings, if the context of the awk program demands it”. In this case AWK is told to subtract field 3 from field 2. Subtraction being a numbers operation, AWK treats the strings in the fields as numbers, and since ” lid” and “)” aren’t numbers, they’re ignored.

      • Standards/Consortia

        • Google to stop indexing Flash for search

          Adobe laid out Flash’s demise two years ago when it disclosed that it would stop updating and distributing Flash Player at the end of 2020. At the same time, browser makers revealed how they were going to sunset the player software and thus put an end to the multimedia format.


          Shutting down Flash indexing will impact only a fraction of all websites: According to technology survey site W3Techs, only 3% of sites now utilize Flash code. That number climbs when more popular sites are polled; 8.4% of the top-1,000 sites, said W3Techs, contain Flash code.

  • Leftovers

    • Science

      • The anti-vax movement causes an epidemic in Samoa

        Measles has spread so rapidly in Samoa because only a small proportion of children has been vaccinated. The World Health Organisation estimates that just 31% of infants received the vaccine in 2018, down from 90% in 2013. Distrust of the health system was fuelled by the death last year of two babies who had mistakenly been administered a muscle relaxant along with the vaccine. In response, the government put measles vaccinations on hold. Anti-vax activists spread false rumours that hospitals were using faulty or expired vaccines and, as in other countries, repeated the debunked claim that immunisation is linked to autism.

      • Measles deaths ‘staggering and tragic’

        In short, not enough children are being vaccinated.

        In order to stop measles spreading, 95% of children need to get the two doses of the vaccine.

        But the figures have been stubbornly stuck for years at around 86% for the first jab, and 69% for the second.

        Why enough children are not being vaccinated is more complicated – and the reasons are not the same in every country.

    • Integrity/Availability

      • Proprietary

        • The 20 Best Ride Sharing Apps for Android Device in 2019

          Using a ride sharing app on your Android device now becomes very common. With the blessing, we call PlayStore, life in this era, has become easier than before. Those taxi apps for Android devices are such an issue that vanishes all the hassles of hiring a vehicle in a familiar and even in an unfamiliar place. However, PlayStore contains thousands of taxi apps. But all of them may not work well for you. Moreover, all those apps are not available everywhere. This is why I suggest you have an idea about some best ride sharing apps for Android before giving a try on some.

        • New Vivaldi for Android Beta Adds More UI Improvements, Chromebook Support

          Vivaldi Technologies have released a new beta of their upcoming Vivaldi for Android web browser, which brings support for Chromebooks and many refinements to the user interface.
          After the great feedback on the first beta release, Vivaldi Technologies have been working hard to improve their Vivaldi for Android web browser, adding lots of goodies requested by the community, starting with new settings to allow users to swipe to close tabs and view scrollbars on internal pages.

          Another new setting added in Vivaldi for Android beta 2 is called “Always Show Desktop Site,” which will display the desktop version of the current website when enabled. The UI has been refreshed as well to get rid of Bookmarks and Notes with a single tap using the new “Empty Trash” button at the bottom of the screen.

          “We want Vivaldi to be a great experience for our users on their mobile devices,” says Vivaldi CEO Jon von Tetzchner. “And we are working towards packing more functionality into it based on their invaluable feedback.”

        • Pseudo-Open Source

          • Openwashing

            • Intel Publishes oneAPI Level 0 Specification

              Back at SC19 Intel released a beta of their oneAPI Base Toolkit for software developers to work on performance-optimized, cross-device software. Complementing that initial software beta is now the oneAPI Level 0 Specification.

              The oneAPI Level 0 Specification is self-described as “The objective of the ‘One API’ Level-Zero API is to provide direct-to-metal interfaces to offload accelerator devices. It is a programming interface that can be published at a cadence that better matches Intel hardware releases and can be tailored to any device needs. It can be adapted to support broader set of languages features, such as function pointers, virtual functions, unified memory, and I/O capabilities.”


              While catering to Intel hardware releases, the specification itself is under the Creative Commons and the actual implementation of it under an MIT license, thus the ability for other ISVs and IHVs to embrace the oneAPI specification. Similarly, we’ve already heard of Codeplay working on oneAPI support for NVIDIA GPUs to be released in 2020.

        • Security

          • VPN Vulnerability (CVE-2019-14899)

            • New Vulnerability Lets Attackers Hijack VPN Connections on Most UNIX Systems

              Affecting most GNU/Linux distributions, as well as FreeBSD, OpenBSD, Android, iOS and macOS systems, the new security vulnerability could allow a local attacker to determine if another user is connected to a VPN (Virtual Private Network) server and whether or not there’s an active connection to a certain website.

              The vulnerability (CVE-2019-14899) is exploitable with adjacent network access, which requires the attacker to have access to either the broadcast or collision domain of the vulnerable operating system, and lets attackers to hijack connections by injecting data into the TCP (Transmission Control Protocol) stream.

              The vulnerability has been reported to work against various popular VPN solutions, including OpenVPN, IKEv2/IPSec, as well as WireGuard, and it doesn’t matter which VPN technology is being used, thus allowing attacker to determine the type of packets being sent through the encrypted VPN tunnel.

            • Tricky VPN-busting bug lurks in iOS, Android, Linux distros, macOS, FreeBSD, OpenBSD, say university eggheads

              A bug in the way Unix-flavored systems handle TCP connections could put VPN users at risk of having their encrypted traffic hijacked, it is claimed.

              The University of New Mexico team of William Tolley, Beau Kujath, and Jedidiah Crandall this week said they’ve discovered CVE-2019-14899, a security weakness they report to be present in “most” Linux distros, along with Android, iOS, macOS, FreeBSD, and OpenBSD. The upshot is, if exploited, encrypted VPN traffic can be potentially hijacked and disrupted by miscreants on the network.

              To pull off the attack, the US-based posse says, a hacker would need to be “network adjacent” to their target, or control an access point on the victim’s local network. Once the victim connected to their VPN, the spy would be able to, for one thing, tamper with the TCP stream to do things like inject packets into the stream.

            • New Linux Vulnerability Lets Attackers Hijack VPN Connections

              Security researchers found a new vulnerability allowing potential attackers to hijack VPN connections on affected *NIX devices and inject arbitrary data payloads into IPv4 and IPv6 TCP streams. They disclosed the security flaw tracked as CVE-2019-14899 to distros and the Linux kernel security team, as well as to others impacted such as Systemd, Google, Apple, OpenVPN, and WireGuard. The vulnerability is known to impact most Linux distributions and Unix-like operating systems including FreeBSD, OpenBSD, macOS, iOS, and Android. A currently incomplete list of vulnerable operating systems and the init systems they came with is available below, with more to be added once they are tested and found to be affected: Ubuntu 19.10 (systemd), Fedora (systemd), Debian 10.2 (systemd), Arch 2019.05 (systemd), Manjaro 18.1.1 (systemd), Devuan (sysV init), MX Linux 19 (Mepis+antiX), Void Linux (runit), Slackware 14.2 (rc.d), Deepin (rc.d), FreeBSD (rc.d), and OpenBSD (rc.d).

            • New Linux Vulnerability Lets Attackers Hijack VPN Connections

              Security researchers found a new vulnerability allowing potential attackers to hijack VPN connections on affected *NIX devices and inject arbitrary data payloads into IPv4 and IPv6 TCP streams.

              They disclosed the security flaw tracked as CVE-2019-14899 to distros and the Linux kernel security team, as well as to others impacted such as Systemd, Google, Apple, OpenVPN, and WireGuard.

            • New vulnerability lets attackers sniff or hijack VPN connections

              The vulnerability — tracked as CVE-2019-14899 — resides in the networking stacks of multiple Unix-based operating systems, and more specifically, in how the operating systems reply to unexpected network packet probes.

          • Privacy/Surveillance

            • Stop Saying Driverless Cars Will Help Old People

              Research finds that the types of accidents seniors are most likely to get into are ones caused by “inadequate surveillance.” In other words, they either didn’t look for hazards, or they did look but didn’t see them. It’s also true that drivers’ reaction times decrease as they get older. Which means that the situations where driverless cars need humans to intervene happen to be the very ones that older drivers struggle with the most. Last year, a study from Newcastle University found that drivers over the age of 60 took 8.3 seconds to take control back from the car when they needed to, while younger drivers took 7 seconds. “At 60mph that means our older drivers would have needed an extra 35m warning distance—that’s equivalent to the length of 10 cars,” said the study’s author, Shuo Li, in a press release.

            • DNS over HTTP may be harmful?

              Right now my current domestic broadband provider is providing inconsistent service as it is. Having requests to a variety of known-good sites mysteriously timeout and crash is not unheard of. Having sites become mysteriously inaccessible is not unheard of either. I’m not living anywhere drastic either as this is just northeast Ohio about fifty miles outside Cleveland. It should not provide me with a performance boost when I disable this feature in Firefox.

              Unfortunately I get such a performance boost. I don’t think it is something wrong with my machine or my in-house LAN. I’ve looked at the maps of the concept and frankly there are spots where this paradigm breaks down hard if viewed from a Red Team perspective.

            • The iPhone 11 Pro’s Location Data Puzzler

              One of the more curious behaviors of Apple’s new iPhone 11 Pro is that it intermittently seeks the user’s location information even when all applications and system services on the phone are individually set to never request this data. Apple says this is by design, but that response seems at odds with the company’s own privacy policy.

              The privacy policy available from the iPhone’s Location Services screen says, “If Location Services is on, your iPhone will periodically send the geo-tagged locations of nearby Wi-Fi hotspots and cell towers (where supported by a device) in an anonymous and encrypted form to Apple, to be used for augmenting this crowd-sourced database of Wi-Fi hotspot and cell tower locations.”

              The policy explains users can disable all location services entirely with one swipe (by navigating to Settings > Privacy > Location Services, then switching “Location Services” to “off”). When one does this, the location services indicator — a small diagonal upward arrow to the left of the battery icon — no longer appears unless Location Services is re-enabled.

            • U.S. Rule Forcing Visa Applicants to Provide Social-Media Info Targeted by Lawsuit

              The Trump administration was accused of imposing a form of unconstitutional surveillance by requiring most U.S. visa applicants to provide information on social-media accounts, according to a lawsuit filed on Thursday—the latest legal test of the president’s campaign to more tightly control entry…

            • Confidentiality

              • Python libraries imitating ‘dateutil’ and ‘jellyfish’ caught stealing SSH and GPG keys

                Both of the malicious libraries were discovered earlier this month by Lukas Martini, a German software developer. The libraries were removed the same day as Martini notified the Python security team.

                Fortunately, thanks to Martini’s quick observation, the python3-dateutil library was only live for two days. jeIlyfish, however, was live for almost a year (since December 11, 2018).

    • Environment

      • The environmental impact of a PlayStation 4

        Gold and tin are classified as “conflict minerals” by US legislation, a term that refers to resources originating from Congo and its neighboring countries. This region has faced ongoing violence for the past 30 years, funded in part, and amid many other complex factors, by its colossal mineral wealth, which is estimated at $24 trillion. Since 2010, publicly listed US companies have been required to check their supply chains for such minerals, their origins, and any risks associated with their extraction. We can’t be sure whether any of the tin or gold in the PlayStation 4 originated from this African region because Sony doesn’t publish its supply chain — unlike, say, Apple — but there’s cause for concern.

      • High Tide Bulletin: Winter 2019

        The rising and falling of the sea is a phenomenon upon which we can always depend. Tides are the regular rise and fall of the sea surface caused by the gravitational pull of the moon and sun and their position relative to the earth. There are some factors that cause the tides to be higher than what is “normally” seen from day to day. This bulletin tells you when you may experience higher than normal high tides for the period of time between December 2019 and February 2020.

        We also publish annual high tide flooding reports that present a broad outlook of what to expect for a given year in terms of high tide flooding, as well as a summary of high tide flooding events for the previous calendar year.

      • Wildlife/Nature

        • Corals Week 2019

          Corals are popular as souvenirs, for home decor and in costume jewelry, yet corals are living animals that eat, grow, and reproduce. It takes corals decades or longer to create reef structures, so leave corals and other marine life on the reef.


          Coral reefs are under intense pressure from climate change, pollution, and unsustainable use. So what can we do about it? To answer that question, we need to better understand the main threat to our reefs. Humans.

    • Finance

      • EU agrees tough line on digital currencies like Facebook’s Libra

        Private digital currencies like Facebook’s Libra should not be allowed in the European Union until the risks they could pose are clearly addressed, EU finance ministers agreed on Thursday.


        The EU commission is already working on this new regulation, EU finance commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis told finance ministers in a public session of their meeting in Brussels.

      • EU Agrees Tough Line on Digital Currencies Like Facebook’s Libra

        Ministers also praised the European Central Bank’s work on a public digital currency, which could represent an alternative to private initiatives.

        In a document presented to finance ministers, the ECB said a public digital currency could be necessary if payments within Europe remained too expensive.

        Its possible adoption would be accelerated by signs of lower cash usage, the ECB said, warning however that the impact of such an initiative on the financial system could be very large, and therefore would need to be assessed carefully.

      • We will ‘react as one’, EU tells US over French digital tax dispute

        The European Commission wants to settle the latest trade dispute with the US over the French digital tax “amicably” but warned that the bloc will “react as one” if Washington slaps tariffs on Paris.

        A Commission spokesperson said on Tuesday (3 December) that the EU will seek “immediate discussions to solve this issue amicably” to prevent a dispute at the World Trade Organisation.

        But if talks fail, the differences between the two largest trading partners over the French levy should be addressed at the organisation. “It is the place to settle a trade dispute,” the spokesperson added.

    • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

      • ‘Giuliani Did All the Wrong Things on That Day’
      • Dare call it treason?

        Pause and consider what we have become. The government will not tell the public how a hostile foreign power interferes with the democratic process. Threats to British democracy have become official secrets. Perhaps Boris Johnson worried about offending Donald Trump. Maybe the report included evidence from the same sources which revealed Russia’s interest in the president’s election campaign, and his fondness for Vladimir Putin. If this is true, the government was censoring Parliament on behalf of not one but two foreign powers.

      • Robert Reich: If Impeached by the House, Trump is Literally Unpardonable

        Not even overwhelming evidence that Trump sought to bribe a foreign power to dig up dirt on his leading political opponent in 2020—and did so with American taxpayer dollars, while compromising American foreign policy—will cause Trump to be removed from office.

        That’s because there’s zero chance that 20 Republican senators—the number needed to convict Trump, if every Democratic senator votes to do so—have enough integrity to do what the Constitution requires them to do.

        These Republican senators will put their jobs and their political party ahead of the Constitution and the country. They will tell themselves that 88 percent of Republican voters still support Trump, and that their duty is to them.

      • Thierry Breton: High-speed commissioner

        Thierry Breton was having dinner with his wife when his phone rang. It was Emmanuel Macron.

        ?I am always called when there is a fire,? Breton said, recalling the moment when the French president asked him to quit his job as CEO of one of the country?s most prominent tech companies and become a European commissioner.

        The Frenchman talked to POLITICO at his temporary office in Strasbourg, just a few hours after the European Parliament voted to approve him and the 25 other members of Ursula von der Leyen?s top team.


        “Europe is at a crossroads: faced with major technological and societal challenges, including in terms of culture and media,” Breton said. “I am concerned about the economic situation as well,” he added. “That’s also why I said yes.”

        At a time of heightened tensions between the world’s biggest economic powers, Breton’s portfolio is at the heart of today’s thorniest policy issues, including how the EU should deal with state-backed economies such as China, and his past stances on creating European champions and boosting the bloc’s technological sovereignty are bound to make waves.


        Breton, tasked with laying out a new industrial strategy for the EU and overseeing key digital files, will have to coordinate closely with fellow members of the College, including Executive Vice President for the Green Deal Frans Timmermans.

        What will actually be in the new industrial strategy, and whether this will include a reform of EU competition rules, is one of the most fraught issues in Brussels.

        While Breton has been a strong advocate for such a move, his new boss Margrethe Vestager, the Commission’s executive vice president for digital and EU competition chief, pushed back against the idea. He was in favor of the proposed merger of French and German engineering companies Alstom and Siemens that was blocked by the Dane under the previous mandate.

    • Censorship/Free Speech

      • We need to save .ORG from arbitrary censorship by halting the private equity buy-out

        The .ORG top-level domain and all of the nonprofit organizations that depend on it are at risk if a private equity firm is allowed to buy control of it. EFF has joined with over 250 respected nonprofits to oppose the sale of Public Interest Registry, the (currently) nonprofit entity that operates the .ORG domain, to Ethos Capital. Internet pioneers including Esther Dyson and Tim Berners-Lee have spoken out against this secretive deal. And 12,000 Internet users and counting have added their voices to the opposition.

    • Civil Rights/Policing

      • Dissenter Weekly Update: Whistleblower Deported To Honduras, Walmart Whistleblower Exposes Tax Dodging

        This week’s “Dissenter Weekly Update” episode features a story involving a whistleblower, who was deported to Honduras after a hotel collapsed in New Orleans.

        Delmer Joel Ramirez Palma alleged “dangerous lapses in construction safety to his supervisors” at a Hard Rock hotel site in development. The hotel collapsed on October 12, killing three people and injuring dozens. Palmera spoke out after the collapse and subsequently found himself targeted by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

      • ‘It’s This Culture of Secrecy That’s Pervading the Courts’
      • Woman whose vulva was probed by Burbank TSA “officers” who ignored her refusal sues

        Last September, Jessica Lundquist passed through a body-scanner at Burbank airport and was told by a TSA screener that they wanted to conduct a “groin search” on her.

        Lundquist refused to allow the screener to touch her vulva, whereupon the screener summoned two colleagues. The “officers” (the TSA styles its employees as “officers” even though they do not have any law-enforcement powers) told Lundquist that if she did not allow them to touch her genitals, they would use physical force to perform the search, and also told her she was not allowed to leave. They also refused to allow her to make a video-record of the search.

        All of this conduct was illegal. The TSA is not allowed to detain travelers who wish to abandon their trips. The TSA is required to allow passengers to record their searches. The TSA is absolutely not allowed to use physical force to effect searches when passengers object to them.

      • Hyderabad case: Police kill suspects in Indian vet’s rape and murder

        But Mr Singh said it was too early to say if the incident was an extrajudicial killing – known popularly in India as an “encounter killing”.

    • Monopolies

      • Uber’s first ever safety report discloses 3,045 sexual assaults and nine murders in the US last year

        Of the 3,045 reported sexual assault cases in 2018 (up from 2,936 in 2017), Uber says 235 were rapes and the remainder were varying levels of assault. A vast majority involved unwanted kissing or groping, Uber says, and it broke down such assaults into 21 categories. Drivers are reporting assaults at roughly the same rate as riders, the report specifies, including across the five most serious forms of sexual assault.

        However, those numbers may be far higher in reality, given sexual assault often goes unreported. Uber’s only provided contextual data point in a blog post announcing the safety report findings is that “nearly 44% of women in the US have been a victim of sexual violence in their lifetime.”

      • Patents

        • Nokia says working to end patent licensing row with Daimler, others

          Nokia (NOKIA.HE) said on Friday it was working to end a row with Germany’s Daimler (DAIGn.DE) and other firms which have complained to the EU antitrust regulators about the level of fees charged for technology patents from the Finnish company.

          Sources familiar with the matter told Reuters the Finnish telecoms equipment maker had submitted a proposal for resolving the patent licensing fee row, but did not give details.

          The offer could pre-empt any move by the European Commission to open an investigation and remove the threat of fines if the firm was found to be abusing its position. One source said the commission has indicated in October it could launch a probe.

        • Excel-Eucan Limited v Source Vagabond Systems Limited – the importance of “the clever bit” in the doctrine of equivalents

          The leading Supreme Court case of Actavis v Eli Lilly [2017] UKSC 48 introduced a doctrine of equivalents into UK patent law for the first time in many years. Since then, the Court of Appeal has given further guidance on this doctrine in Icescape Limited v Ice-World International BV & Ors [2018] EWCA Civ 2219 and there have been several cases post Icescape from the High Court which have applied the new approach. In November 2019, the Patents Court handed down another judgment, Excel-Eucan Limited v Source Vagabond Systems Limited [2019] EWHC 3175 (Pat) in which infringement was found under this doctrine.

          Excel developed an ammunition bag for holding linked rounds of ammunition, known as the “Link-Tail”, which was protected by a patent, GB 2 489 116 (GB 116). Source developed its own bag – the “2017 bag” – and sought a declaration of non-infringement of GB 116. As validity of GB 116 was already being challenged in the UK IPO, the parties asked the court to assume the validity of GB 116 for the purpose of these proceedings.

          An “openable closure”, namely a zip, was an integer of all independent claims of GB 116. The 2017 bag did not feature a zip, or any form of “openable closure”. Excel accepted that the 2017 bag did not fall within the claims as a matter of normal interpretation, but argued that the 2017 bag constituted an immaterial variation of, or was equivalent to, the invention disclosed by GB 116. Accordingly, the doctrine of equivalents was engaged.

        • Car makers don’t want to pay the likes of Qualcomm wireless patent royalties on leather seats: FTC v. Qualcomm amicus briefs

          Earlier this year it became known that Qualcomm used to charge (and maybe still does, depending on the terms of the recent settlement) Apple a 5% wireless patent royalty on iPhone repairs. That’s bad enough, but imagine what would happen if all of us had to indirectly pay wireless patent royalties on vehicle repairs? Or on leather seats? The latter is an issue that two automotive industry bodies have raised in a filing with the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

          For a list of previous posts on amicus curiae briefs in FTC v. Qualcomm, and on the order scheduling the oral hearing for February 13, 2020, let me refer you to this post. I will now, finally, comment on the remaining two amicus briefs supporting the FTC.


          That just perfectly illustrates the importance of the royalty base.

          What makes the refusal to extend exhaustive FRAND licenses to component makers even harder to justify in the automotive industry is that the telematics control units (TCUs) sold by Tier 1 suppliers (the ones that directly sell to the car makers) come with pretty much the same functionality as a phone, apart from the screen.

        • Injustice is a built-in feature of Germany’s bifurcated patent litigation system — it would be unconstitutional in other countries

          I am presently researching the most appalling miscarriage of justice that ever occurred in a German patent case: dozens of people lost their jobs over a patent–held by a publicly-traded U.S. corporation–that later got invalidated by the Federal Patent Court of Germany (a problem commonly referred to as the “injunction gap”). That patent-in-suit is either (if construed broadly) clearly invalid or (if construed narrowly) not infringed by the accused product, but could not reasonably be held valid and infringed at the same time. The case raises questions not only about the outcome but also about the reasoning and the circumstances that led to it. There’s even a secondary question that reminds me of why Federal Circuit Chief Judge Rader resigned. But as the issues are so very serious, and the fallout from the facts being published might be massive and lasting, I’m making every humanly possible effort to analyze the matter with utmost diligence. That’s why it’s too early to provide names, but when the time is right, I will. The case number contains “39.” Interestingly, the presiding judge of the appellate panel that made the related decision mentioned it in passing last month, in a conspicuously defensive way, and the audience had no idea why he made a reference to a case they hadn’t ever heard of…

          Germany needs patent reform badly. The German patent litigation system is not just broken: it was ill-conceived and it’s been prone to abuse all along, but abuse has become so rampant that the time is ripe for change. The situation is unsustainable, and the system doesn’t really deliver justice.

          Right now there’s only one leading German patent infringement court of first instance that I believe does a stellar job under the circumstances, and that’s the Landgericht Mannheim (Mannheim Regional Court). Many years ago I thought the court was too plaintiff-friendly, but by now it’s my favorite one. To a far greater extent than their counterparts in other German venues, the Mannheim judges–whose understanding of technical issue is unsurpassed–have realized just how irresponsible it is to let patent holders enforce invalid patents all the time. In Mannheim, there are judges who deserve an honorary doctorate in (at least) radio frequency electronics and have the expertise to figure out when a patent is likely invalid as granted, coupled with the backbone to stay such cases (while we’re on this subject, I found out they recently also stayed one Broadcom lawsuit against BMW and one against Daimler, both over non-standard-essential patents). It will be interesting to see how they address the issue of component-level licensing in Nokia’s automotive SEP cases.

The EPO Rejects Innovation

Posted in Courtroom, Europe, Patents at 6:17 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Litigation, litigation, litigation, litigation, even frivolous litigation

Innovation vs Litigation = waste of time and money

Summary: The EPO ceased caring about the needs of scientists whose work involves invention; instead, EPO management crafts increasingly lenient guidelines that yield illegal European Patents (not compatible with the EPC) that heavily-besieged EPO judges are unable to stop

THE European Patent Office (EPO) is led not by a scientist; several consecutive presidents, including António Campinos, had no background in science, so it’s hardly surprising they deem lawyers — not scientists — as those to be served. And they even use terms such as “Clients” or “Customers” (as if the EPO is a private, for-profit corporation whose sole goal is maximising revenue).

“How about databases on the network? Oh, blockchains? Yes, let’s just overcomplicate things.”This very simple (albeit not shallow) observation could not be avoided or overlooked by EPO staff, notably examiners. Who are they even led or managed by? A nonscientific, law-breaking cabal often younger than the examiners themselves? People who choose buzzwords over substance? Mere marketing lingo which they can’t even explain, let alone understand? Earlier this week we saw the EPO promoting software patents in Europe again — patents that are illegal and can only be excused using hype waves few people can grasp. How about databases on the network? Oh, blockchains? Yes, let’s just overcomplicate things.

“A year ago,” the EPO tweeted, “experts in #blockchain discussed its possible impact on the #patent system.”

The EPO has since then distorted its guidelines to permit if not encourage patents on “hey hi” (AI) and stuff like “blockchain” (most algorithms that depend on some database can be spun or twisted that way). Got some data? Got some logic (loops and conditional statements)? Give it to some attorney who can spin that as some “hey hi on the blockchain…”

“X on a car”

“Y on a mobile”

“Z over the Internet”

Remember all those “on a computer” patents?

That fashion is back in Europe, having been borrowed from the US.

“The EPO has since then distorted its guidelines to permit if not encourage patents on “hey hi” (AI) and stuff like “blockchain” (most algorithms that depend on some database can be spun or twisted that way).”Hey, it’s not like examiners can refuse, right? With new guidelines in effect and with growing risk of dismissal, it’s a lot safer for them to swiftly grant these bogus patents. “Patentees Need to Act Fast as the EPO Opposition Timeline Tightens” is the title of what Watchtroll posted yesterday. Watchtroll is a close ally of the EPO and it shares its attacks on judges with EPO management. They’re fantastical patent zealots and this article was of course composed by litigation people, Katherine Green & Emily Hayes (first article in Watchtroll). Taking EPO advice from Watchtroll would seem suitable to EPO management, but not anybody else. Watchtroll is a radical site, which says (this week) that “Now is the Time to Put the PTAB [the court itself] on Trial” (article by Gene Quinn, the founder). Maybe they’ll also call for assassination of patent judges one day (revenge for ‘killing’ patents).

What’s it all about? It’s about PTAB applying the law, 35 U.S.C. § 101, to invalidate patents wrongly granted by the USPTO. So Watchtroll wants the judges themselves to be put on trial! Perfectly normal, right?

In EPOnia the attack on judges has been normalised, as was the attack on the media. The EPO sent threats to journalists and bribed a lot of them as well. So now we’re left with no objective coverage (if any) about EPO scandals. Even past EPO critics (publications) seem to have sacked good writers, replacing them with ‘docile’ corporate writers. Check out this new EPO puff piece from World Intellectual Property Review (WIPR), composed by Rory O’Neill who ended up copy-pasting quotes from the EPO’s press release while offering nothing new, no insights. Is this what qualifies as “journalism” nowadays? Maybe they should also frame every Donald Trump “tweet” as fact and present that as “journalism”.

“In EPOnia the attack on judges has been normalised, as was the attack on the media.”The EPO has meanwhile published this latest nonsense (warning: epo.org link) about a “Working Party”; it used to present “Working Party” for patent quality (obviously a publicity stunt), but this one is for “Guidelines” because the latest EPO guidelines likely violate the EPC in a lot of ways. To quote the press release:

Members of the SACEPO Working Party on Guidelines and the EPO met on 27 November to discuss the annual revision of the Guidelines for Examination in the EPO and the Guidelines for Search and Examination at the EPO as PCT Authority.


The meeting formed a part of the EPO’s efforts to involve users in the revision of the Guidelines, a goal expressed in the Strategic Plan 2023 that was adopted by the EPO’s Administrative Council in June. During the meeting a move to broaden the spectrum of external involvement through a public online consultation on the Guidelines was unanimously embraced by the participants. The meeting was also used by the Working Party members and the EPO to discuss the details of the planned consultation which should start in March next year.

What next, EPO? Working Party on staff relations? Working Party on transparency? Working Party on workers’ welfare? Working Party on googlebombing the Web with misinformation about a topic of concern?

Now sit back expect the likes of IAM and WIPR to parrot the above (in days to come). This is what “journalism” in the area of patents has been reduced to. The litigation lobby hijacked everything in circulation (even anonymous comments get deleted!) — a mundane lobbying/coup facilitated by threats and bribes.

Startpage CEO Robert Beens in ‘Damage Control’ Mode, Trying to Get Startpage Relisted After Selling to a Massive Surveillance Company

Posted in Deception, Search at 4:26 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“Hard to believe that privacy advocates are giving a pass to System1, but money talks.”

Robert BeensSummary: PrivacytoolsIO is being lobbied by the CEO of Startpage to relist Startpage, based on no actual refutations at all

THE SAGA continues. System1 is starting to realise that its ‘investment’ in (i.e. purchase of) Startpage may have scared away otherwise-privacy-conscious users.

We’ve been tracking their steps, expecting something to be done in addition to lies and deception.

It didn’t take long.

According to Crunchbase, “Robert is CEO of StartPage/Ixquick and oversees all company aspects including operations, product development, technology and finance. He has a special interest in consumer Privacy. He earned his Master’s degree in Corporate, Social & Economic Dutch Law from the University of Utrecht in the Netherlands.”

“We’ve been tracking their steps, expecting something to be done in addition to lies and deception.”Well, he may be going by the title of “CEO” (still), but his bosses are “an independent marketplace for keyword pay-per-click advertising. Its platform analyzes billions of consumer attributes and uses “pre-targeting” algorithms to unlock and fulfill consumer intent across channels including social, native, email, search, market research, and lead generation.”

Nice, isn’t it?

Why would PrivacytoolsIO even consider listing Startpage as a recommendation now? A cynic might think that something was offered in exchange for relisting. Just verbally maybe?

“A cynic might think that something was offered in exchange for relisting.”“Hard to believe that privacy advocates are giving a pass to System1,” a reader of ours said, “but money talks.”

“PrivacytoolsIO de-listed Startpage and is now discussing re-listing at GitHub” (conversation here).

Putting aside the disturbing fact that PrivacytoolsIO uses the privacy-violating GitHub, what does this whole thing say?

One of them said, “I recommend re-listing, maybe we a add a flag about ownership w/ a link to their support page.”

“Does Startpage respect privacy? Based on what?”This hogwash? Seriously? The surveillance company is talking about itself. It’s not even an outside audit.

Does Startpage respect privacy? Based on what? And watch the reply: “Thank you Jonah and Dan for starting the conversation to re-list Startpage on PrivacyTools. As you can see from the information we provided, we are committed to being transparent about our business and privacy practices.”

Nonsense. What transparency? The only thing they want ‘transparent’ (spied on) is the users. As we covered before (see Startpage wiki page), they’re secretive, misleading and incredibly facetious. Relisting Startpage, giving all that is known, would merely discredit PrivacytoolsIO as an authority on privacy. If they relist, it’ll bode rather badly for PrivacytoolsIO itself.

“What transparency? The only thing they want ‘transparent’ (spied on) is the users.”JonahAragon said: “the unsourced quotes in this post were from a letter shared with @danarel and myself from the Startpage CEO.”

That also said (same page): “I dislike how this information was not communicated from the start, but ever since I have had no trouble communicating with them regarding these issues. I would probably be fine with relisting them as a search engine provider at this time.”

“But hey, if that’s good enough for PrivacytoolsIO, then I’ve had enough of PrivacytoolsIO.”“From another reply, we know that Privacy One Group is a majority shareholder (51%+),” they noted. Well, that can be 99% or more. They refuse to say how much.

But hey, if that’s good enough for PrivacytoolsIO, then I’ve had enough of PrivacytoolsIO.

IRC Proceedings: Thursday, December 05, 2019

Posted in IRC Logs at 2:13 am by Needs Sunlight



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