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01.06.20

Links 6/1/2020: Linux 5.5 RC5 is Out, But Media is More Interested in ‘Pure Garbage’

Posted in News Roundup at 1:43 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

  • GNU/Linux

    • Desktop/Laptop

      • Dell is Adding a Much-Requested Feature to the New XPS Developer Edition Laptop

        Linux users are in for a treat when Dell releases the next iteration of the Ubuntu-powered XPS Developer Edition laptop.

        To anyone who has spent any time researching companies that offer hardware with Linux pre-installed, chances are you know about the Dell XPS Developer edition. This began as project Sputnik in 2011, when Dell’s Barton George realized that no major OEM was building a fully-supported Linux laptop that included drivers and provided a great out of the box experience.

        Fast forward nine years later, and the project is still going strong. In fact, the Dell XPS Developer Edition has been declared a best in show Linux laptop by numerous reviewers and outlets. Dell knows this and understands the audience for which this hardware is targeted. Dell also listens to the communities they serve.

        Case in point, the Linux community.

      • Dell Unveils 2020 XPS 13 Linux Laptop with Fingerprint Reader, Ubuntu 18.04 LTS

        World, please meet the Dell XPS 13 Developer Edition laptop, which continues Dell’s Project Sputnik and its Linux portfolio by offering customers the latest and greatest XPS 13 laptop powered by 10th Gen Intel Core 10nm mobile processors and up to 32GB of RAM.

        The 2020 Dell XPS 13 Developer Edition laptop also comes with an updated design and fingerprint-reader support, giving users the option to unlock their computers with a fingerprint. However, Dell said that fingerprint-reader support will be available after the initial launch as an update.

      • Dell’s new XPS 13 packs Ice Lake CPUs and a larger display

        Dell ahead of next week’s annual CES has announced a new version of its popular XPS 13 2-in-1 sporting a larger display, faster internals and a thinner profile to boot. Look for them to go on sale starting January 7, 2020.

        The new XPS 13 is constructed of machined aluminum, carbon fiber, woven glass fiber and Corning Gorilla Glass and packs a 13.4-inch, 16:10 display in an 11-inch form factor that Dell said should still fit neatly on an airplane tray table. The XPS InfinityEdge display is also 25 percent brighter than before, we’re told.

        Under the proverbial hood, you’ll find 10th Gen Intel Core i3, i5 and i7 processor options as well as an array of memory and storage configurations. You also have options when it comes to the display: there’s the standard FHD+ (1,920 x 1,200), an FHD+ variant with a touchscreen and a UHD+ (3,840 x 2,400) model with touchscreen.

      • Why and how to replace Windows 7 with Linux Mint

        There are many good Linux desktops, and I’ve used many of them. I recommend Mint, but there are numerous others you can consider, such as openSUSE, Manjaro, Debian, and Fedora. I have one big reason to think Mint is a good fit for Windows 7 users: Mint’s default Cinnamon interface looks and works a lot like Windows 7′s Aero interface. Yes, there’s a learning curve, but it’s nothing like the one you’ll face if you move to Windows 10 or MacOS.

        Another advantage, which Mint share with other Linux distros, is it rests lightly on your system. Mint can run on any of your Windows 7 PCs. All Linux Mint needs to run is an x86 processor, 1GB of RAM (albeit, you’ll be happier with 2GB), 15GB of disk space, a graphics card that can handle 1024×768 resolution, and a CD/DVD drive or USB port. That’s it.

        Mint is ideal if you have a low-powered machine that would choke on Windows 10. With Mint, you can still get useful work out of a system that would otherwise be heading to the trash can.

        Mint, like the other Linux desktops, won’t cost you a single red cent. You also don’t have to commit to it. You can try it first, and if you don’t like it, reboot back to Windows, and you’re done. No fuss. No muss.

    • Server

      • IBM

        • Performance of RHEL for Databases on Microsoft Azure Cloud

          Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8.0 (RHEL 8) is a release that brings forth optimizations in the kernel. The RHEL 8 kernel reduces system-call related overhead which improves I/O performance for both the filesystem and network subsystems.

          The SCSI multi-queue I/O elevator enables Microsoft SQLserver OLTP workloads to improve by a factor of two, when compared to the single-queue I/O elevator shipped in RHEL 7. Changes to XFS filesystem journaling has enabled improvements of up to 10% in RHEL 8 as well.

    • Audiocasts/Shows

      • Open Source Security Podcast: Episode 177 – Fake or real? The security of counterfeit goods

        Josh and Kurt talk about marketplace safety and security. Will we ever see an end to the constant flow of counterfeit goods? The security industry has the same problem the marketplace industry has, without substantial injury we don’t see movement towards meaningful change.

      • Checking Up On Python’s Role in DevOps

        Python has been part of the standard toolkit for systems administrators since it was created. In recent years there has been a shift in how servers are deployed and managed, and how code gets released due to the rise of cloud computing and the accompanying DevOps movement. The increased need for automation and speed of iteration has been a perfect use case for Python, cementing its position as a powerful tool for operations. In this episode Moshe Zadka reflects on his experiences using Python in a DevOps context and the book that he wrote on the subject. He also discusses the difference in what aspects of the language are useful as an introduction for system operators and where they can continue their learning.

      • Linux Action News 139

        It’s our annual predictions episode. We review how we did in 2019, and then set out to predict what we think will happen in 2020.

      • Quick Tiling Fusion 360 in the Kitchen

        One user gave a fantastic well thought out, logical reason for building Fusion 360 to work in Linux and he gave the typical reasons for not doing so with answers:

        the management sees not enough customers here. It’s a question about cost/income ratio.
        I think if done right, there are not much costs (keyword continuous integration)
        Number of potential customers. Linux users need to raise there hand and write to Autodesk, so that they can see, there are potential customers. Linux leads already on the server market, and on embedded devices, smart phones and tablets (if you count Android as Linux).
        On the desktop, Windows is still the dominating system (88%), Mac (9%), Linux (2%). But this is for the average user, this doesn’t need to be true for engineers and makers using CAD software.
        I have no statistic here, but I personally have never seen engineers working on Mac.
        But I have seen many engineers, software developers and scientists that work on Linux.

    • Kernel Space

      • Linux 5.5-rc5
        Another week, another rc.
        
        And it's another quiet week, to no surprise.  I think things will
        start picking up this upcoming week as everybody is getting back from
        holidays, unless 5.5 just happens to be a particularly easy release
        (but there's no reason to think that - or the reverse).
        
        Nothing in rc5 really stands out, we have fixes all over
        
         - drivers (mainly networking, gpu, media, sound, block)
        
         - core networking
        
         - architectures (MIPS, RISC-V and Hexagon stand out in the diff, but
        there's powerpc too, and some noise elsewhere from patches from Andrew
        too)
        
         - security subsystem fixes (apparmor and tomoyo)
        
        but it's generally just a bit of a mixed bag of small fixes all over.
        
        Shortlog appended, it's small enough to easily scroll through for a
        flavor of what's been going on.
        
                    Linus
        
        PS. One sad piece of news I got this past week was that Bruce Evans
        has passed away. Bruce wasn't really ever really much directly
        involved in Linux development - he was active on the BSD side - but he
        was the developer behind Minix/i386, which was what I used for the
        original Linux development in the very early days before Linux became
        self-hosting.
        
      • Linux 5.5-rc5 Released With “Fixes All Over” + A Big Performance Regression Fix

        Linux 5.5 development has been picking up in recent days following Christmas week and New Year’s but now more upstream developers returning to their keyboards in order to get this next kernel update buttoned up for its debut around month’s end.

        Linus Torvalds noted that with today’s Linux 5.5-rc5 release are “fixes all over” to drivers, core networking, various architectures, and security subsystem fixes. But he sums it up as “a bit of a mixed bag of small fixes all over.” One of those Linux 5.5-rc5 fixes worth pointing out is the AppArmor fix for a performance regression that was picked up in our earlier 5.5 benchmarks.

      • Linus Torvalds Calls Blogger’s Linux Scheduler Tests ‘Pure Garbage’

        On Wednesday Phoronix cited a blog post by C++ game developer Malte Skarupke claiming his spinlocks experiments had discovered the Linux kernel had a scheduler issue affecting developers bringing games to Linux for Google Stadia.

      • Torvalds calls it ‘pure garbage’ that Linux is to blame for Stadia port issues

        Linus Torvalds has called a blogger’s claim that Linux is to blame for Google Stadia port issues “pure garbage”.

        In a blog post, developer Malte Skarupke pointed the finger at the Linux scheduler as being the culprit for issues when porting games to Google’s cloud gaming platform Stadia.

        Every millisecond delay impacts the experience when gaming. Skarupke gave this overview as to why he came to the conclusion the scheduler was causing the problem…

      • Linux scheduler issue claims garbage

        Linus Torvalds says that claims by C++ game developer Malte Skarupke that his spinlocks experiments had discovered the Linux kernel had a scheduler issue were garbage.

        Torvalds said the whole post seems to be just wrong and is measuring something completely different than what the author thinks and claims it is measuring.

        He said that spinlocks can only be used if you actually know you’re not being scheduled while using them. But the blog post author seems to be implementing his own spinlocks in userspace with no regard for whether the lock user might be scheduled or not. And the code used for the claimed “lock not held” timing is complete garbage.

      • Kernel prepatch 5.5-rc5 and stable updates

        On the stable-update side, 5.4.8, 4.19.93, 4.14.162, 4.9.208, and 4.4.208 are all available with another set of important fixes.

      • Linux 4.4.208
      • Linux 4.9.208
      • Linux 4.14.162
      • Linux 4.19.93
      • Linux 5.4.8
      • XFS – Data Block Sharing (Reflink)

        Three years ago, I introduced to XFS a new experimental “reflink” feature that enables users to share data blocks between files. With this feature, users gain the ability to make fast snapshots of VM images and directory trees; and deduplicate file data for more efficient use of storage hardware. Copy on write is used when necessary to keep file contents intact, but XFS otherwise continues to use direct overwrites to keep metadata overhead low. The filesystem automatically creates speculative preallocations when copy on write is in use to combat fragmentation.

      • Linux Kernel Preparations For RISC-V Vector ISA Support

        While still a draft standard, support for the RISC-V “V” Vector Extension support for the Linux kernel is currently being prepared.

        Sent out early Sunday was the latest kernel bits for supporting RISC-V’s Vector ISA. The kernel patch was written against the proposed v0.8 draft extension.

        The RISC-V Vector extension aims for high performance and efficient vector processing, support for domain-specific features in areas like machine learning and graphics, and support for SIMD-type operations and other features.

      • Systemd “Path Images” Feature Allows Mounting Images At Arbitrary Paths

        A new work-in-progress feature for systemd is “PathImages” though there is a suggestion this option be renamed to “MountPaths”, but in any case is about allowing arbitrary images / block devices to be mounted at any path by systemd.

        Systemd already has the RootImage= option for taking a block device node or file-system image to be mounted for the root directory. With the proposed PathImages feature, it would allow mounting arbitrary images at any path and supports specifying different mount options from the systemd service files.

      • Linux 5.4 released, Bootlin contributions inside

        This time around, we’re quite late to the party, but Linux 5.4 was indeed released a number of weeks ago, and once again, Bootlin contributed a number of patches to this Linux kernel release. As usual, the most useful source of information to learn about the major features brought by Linux 5.4 are the LWN articles (part 1, part 2) and the KernelNewbies Wiki.

        With a total of 143 patches contributed to this release, Bootlin is the 17th contributing company by number of commits acccording to the Linux Kernel Patch Statistic.

      • Linux in 2020: 27.8 million lines of code in the kernel, 1.3 million in systemd

        The Linux kernel has around 27.8 million lines of code in its Git repository, up from 26.1 million a year ago, while systemd now has nearly 1.3 million lines of code, according to GitHub stats analysed by Michael Larabel at Phoronix.

        There were nearly 75,000 code commits to the kernel during 2019 which is actually slightly down on 2018 (80,000 commits), and the lowest number since 2013. The top contributors by email domain were Intel and Red Hat (Google’s general gmail.com aside) and the top contributing individuals were Linus Torvalds, with 3.19 per cent of the commits, followed by David Miller (Red Hat) and Chris Wilson (Intel). There were 4,189 different contributors overall.

      • Linux 5.6 Is Going To Be A Prominent Kernel With Features From USB4 To WireGuard

        While there still is several weeks to go until the Linux 5.5 kernel reaches stable and that marking the start of the Linux 5.6 merge window, already from the work we’ve been tracking in the various “next” branches, this first full kernel cycle of 2020 is going to be a big one.

      • Graphics Stack

        • NVIDIA Sent Out Some Fresh Nouveau Patches Just Before Christmas

          Shortly before Christmas were a couple open-source Nouveau driver patches volleyed by NVIDIA. Some of that work is now queuing in the Nouveau DRM tree ahead of the Linux 5.6 merge window.

          Some of the recent Nouveau work courtesy of NVIDIA engineers include generalizing the NV Block Linear DRM format and supporting NVIDIA format modifiers in atomic mode-setting blobs. Those go along with work by NVIDIA’s James Jones with Mesa patches in then exposing EGL’s EXT_transition_format_modifier support. As Jones explained, “This allows differentiating between surfaces compatible with Tegra GPUs and desktop GPUs, improved performance when using the compressed layouts, and differentiating between formats supported by nvc0-class hardware and other GPU families which use slightly different variations of the block linear buffer layout.”

    • Benchmarks

      • AMD Ryzen 5 1600 AF CPU Review & Benchmarks: Best CPU Under $100 in 2020

        This isn’t a revisit of the old AMD Ryzen 5 1600 – it’s a review of the new variant, named the AMD Ryzen 5 1600 “AF” by the community, dubbed as such for its SKU change from AE to AF. The AMD R5 1600 AF is a brand new CPU with an old, old name from 2017. It’s mostly an R5 2600, in that it’s a slower variant of the Zen+ CPU from the 2000-series, but with a 1000-series name. AMD silently released the 1600 AF as an $85 option, but it’s on 12nm instead of 14nm and carries other 2nd-Gen Ryzen features. In today’s review of the new $85 processor, we’ll look at performance versus the original R5 1600, the R5 2600, and overclocking performance, since a 12nm 1600 AF should do about the same OC as a 12nm Ryzen 2000 part, which were typically 100-200MHz higher than the 1000-series.

        The R5 1600 AF is a weird, weird refresh. It’s mostly odd that AMD didn’t just name it Ryzen 3 3300X or Ryzen 5 3550. They already have the 3000 family with Zen+ architecture and the 3000G with Zen1 architecture, so it wouldn’t dilute the naming and it’d be a much more successful, higher selling product with a lot of media fanfare. Instead, it just sounds like a two-year-old part, but it’s really not. We can’t fault AMD for its naming and it doesn’t particularly bother us, it’s just a bit odd from a marketing standpoint. Maybe AMD doesn’t want to sell a lot of these.

    • Applications

      • App Highlight: Catfish Desktop File Searching Tool

        Catfish is a GUI tool that enables you to search your desktop for any kind of files. It uses locate and find commands underneath. The autocompletion feature uses Zeitgeist daemon and locate command. It’s a lightweight tool and uses GTK+.

        Catfish is developed by Christian Dywan, the same person who develops the lightweight Midori web browser.

      • Darktable RAW Image Editor 3.0 Brings Huge Updates

        Darktable is a professional RAW image editor with workflow capability targetted to the professional photographers, editors. Often named in a list of other professional image programs such as Adobe Photoshop, GIMP – darktable is mainly aimed to streamline the photographer’s workflow by handling a large set of images.

        [...]

        For Ubuntu and related derivatives, Open Suse Build service provides executable deb files which you can directly download and install.

        Grab the 64bit deb files from the below link and install it via Software in Ubuntu/Linux Mint.

      • conrad – conferences and meetups on your terminal

        A conference, in the sense of a meeting, is a gathering of individuals who meet at an agreed place and time to discuss or engage in some common interest. There’s tons of conferences each year which will interest Linux users. No matter the size of your budget, there’s a Linux or open source conference you should attend.

        Do you have problems tracking conferences? Which conferences do you plan to attend in 2020? Do you need a tool to help you track conferences you want to attend, and serve reminders to you? conrad might be the tool for you.

        conrad is a free and open source command-line tool designed to help you track conferences and meetups. The tool is written in Python. Its first release was only a few months ago, so bear in mind the software is in an early stage of development. We’re looking at version 0.3.2.

      • Create fancy text for your social media posts with this Gawk script

        Like almost everyone on the planet, I have a few social media accounts. I mostly stick to Facebook to stay up to date with friends and family and Twitter to follow a few other people.

        Have you ever wanted to make a post that includes italics or some other fancy formatting? You can easily change the text to italics or bold when you’re writing an email, but most social media platforms don’t provide many formatting options.

        And sometimes, I just want to put a little emphasis into what I’m writing. If I’ve had a really good day and I want to share that with my friends, I might want to put that text in italics. For other posts, I might want to use different formatting that will help my text stand out. Sure, you can use emoji, but sometimes a little text formatting can add that extra pizzazz to your posts.

      • Nomacs, Cool Image Viewer Application for Ubuntu Linux!

        Are you bored with the default ubuntu image viewer?. In the Linux distribution there are many applications for viewing images. Each linux distro has an image viewer application that is different from other distributions. One example is Xubuntu which uses the default, Ristretto Image Viewer application.

      • KeePassXC Password Manager 2.5.2 Released (Ubuntu PPA)

        KeePassXC, KeePass cross-platform community edition, released version 2.5.2 a few days ago. Here’s how to install it in Ubuntu 18.04, Ubuntu 16.04, Ubuntu 19.10 via PPA.

        KeePassXC 2.5.2 features significant stability and usability improvements.

      • Containers, networks, security, and more Ansible news

        Crikey, you lot have been busy writing in December. We’ve got more data munging from Greg Sutcliffe; we’ve got writing modules for orchestrating security; we’ve got networks, containers and thoughts from a sysadmin. No YouTubes this month—we thought you’d have enough reading here with the articles. Enjoy!

    • Instructionals/Technical

    • Games

      • Action survival game ‘Sipho’ where you create a creature opens up the sandbox Aquarium mode

        Sipho is a little favourite of mine to keep an eye on, a game where you create a creature from parts inspired by real-life sea creatures (zooids) and attempt to survive against the many other types.

        One feature in particular about Sipho is awesome, which is the sandbox Aquarium mode where you can do practically anything you want. The problem was, it was previously locked behind a challenge wall that was actually really quite difficult. Now that more progression has been added, the developer All Parts Connected has unlocked the Aquarium for everyone.

      • FOSS game engine ‘GDevelop’ has another release out, lots of new shader effects

        GDevelop is a wonderful up-and-coming free and open source game engine, allowing you to create games using visual event-based programming as opposed to typing everything out line-by-line.

        A fantastic type of tool for prototyping, getting a younger generation interested in making games, and for those who think they don’t have enough time to learn another full programming language it can be a bit of fun. GDevelop’s progress has been amazing too, with another release landing yesterday.

        GDevelop 5.0.0-beta84 adds in a bunch of new effects you can use including “Black and White, Noise, CRT, Godray, Tilt shift, Advanced bloom, Kawase blur, Zoom blur, Displacement, Color Map” and more. These special effects can be added to your game with minimal fuss too, and the result is pretty awesome.

      • Frictional Games (SOMA, Amnesia) begin teasing something new

        Frictional Games, the developer behind some scary games like SOMA, Penumbra and Amnesia seem to have started teasing that a new game is coming.

        The “Next Frictional Game” website they’ve historically used to tease new titles, has remained dormant for years with a message of “Our next project has not yet been announced.” after the release of SOMA back in 2015. However, at some point after November 28th (the last recorded snapshot) last year it all changed.

      • The Good Time Garden is short, free and completely hilarious as it’s so freaky

        Searching through the gold mine of bizarre, slightly weird and downright surreal games buried on itch.io I recently came across the free adventure exploration game The Good Time Garden.

        You explore a “throbbing pink world full of strange naked creatures” with “frame-by-frame, hand drawn animation and an original soundtrack” and if that doesn’t make you thoroughly curious I’m not sure what will. The Good Time Garden is scary, not in a horrific jump-scare kind of way but the kind that makes you feel ever so slightly uncomfortable yet it’s so hilariously weird that you can’t stop.

      • City-state building sim Songs of Syx is looking good in latest free build to try

        Songs of Syx could be a sleeper hit, currently available as a tech demo for an Early Access releasing coming later this year it’s promising to be a pretty huge city-building strategy game with a grand design.

        Expanding from a simple village builder as you manage a few people, get some crops growing up to huge dynamic strategy game full of moving pieces with trading, immigration, climate change, a dynamic culture system giving you the power to make law and policy and so much more.

      • Steam for Linux was started by ex-Microsoft developers

        Definitely something I didn’t know. It sort of makes sense though, with many in the gaming and tech industry showing concern on where Microsoft was taking Windows. Valve’s Gabe Newell (who also worked at Microsoft) famously said Windows 8 was “a catastrophe for everyone in the PC space” and that getting their games and Steam onto Linux was “a hedging strategy”. From the big touch orientated interface that tried dropping the traditional desktop, to the hinted plans at pushing people towards the Windows Store there was a lot of ire aimed at Windows 8.

        Getting Steam on Linux, and the original Valve blog posts like the “Faster Zombies!” lit a fire under Microsoft, clearly feeling a little threatened (or perhaps just motivated to do something) as Geldreich actually wrote on his blog back in 2017 that Microsoft ended up paying Valve a visit.

      • Portal could have had a prequel called F-STOP/Aperture Camera, as a new documentary shows

        LunchHouse Software have announced a sort-of documentary focusing on a cancelled Valve game, apparently it was going to be called F-STOP/Aperture Camera and it was a prequel to Portal.

        They say this is not based on speculation or heresay, instead they have official code from Valve to take a proper look at what could have been. It seems in F-Stop the player uses a special camera, which enabled you to create objects from your snaps. Not just create the item though, resize it, stack them, attach them and more. The first video, shown below, is quite short but already showed how it could have been quite fun.

      • SuperTuxKart 1.1 is here — download the free open source Mario Kart game clone for Linux, Windows, and Mac

        There are many excellent open source software projects these days, such as the Linux kernel, GIMP, and LibreOffice to name a few. But what about games? Yes, there are open source games, one of which is SuperTuxKart. If you aren’t familiar, STK is essentially an open source Mario Kart game clone. While it is very popular with Linux users, it is also available for Windows and macOS.

        Today, SuperTuxKart reaches version 1.1. While it features bug fixes and other improvements, the real star of the update is the addition of a new arena called “Pumpkin Park.”

      • Free and open source racer SuperTuxKart 1.1 is out with tons of improvements

        SuperTuxKart, one of the stalwarts of the open source gaming space has a fresh new release out with version 1.1.

        This big update improves upon the online multiplayer feature, which itself is still quite new only being added in the big 1.0 release back in April. In this release the team said they’ve added support for IPv6 clients and servers, improved collisions handling, added a player reporting function, improved on some issues causing lag when playing online and they added “AI support to local networking servers”.

      • SuperTuxKart 1.1 open-source 3D Kart Racing game released

        STK is a popular free and open-source 3D kart racing game similar to Mario Kart. STK is distributed under the terms of the GNU General Public License (GPL) 3.0 with plans to dual-license under both GPL and Mozilla Public License (MPL) 2.0. It is to make the game available in various mobile app stores like the Apple App store, game consoles, and possibly Steam.

      • EA boots Linux gamers out of multiplayer Battlefield V, Penguinistas respond by demanding crippling boycott

        Linux gamers have found yet again that their ubiquitous operating system remains unwelcome in the context of mainstream entertainment.

        The latest insult comes from Electronic Arts, which appears to have issued a few permanent bans to online Battlefield V players attempting to play the game on Linux systems.

        Mind you, Battlefield V isn’t intended for Linux; the EA game specifies that a 64-bit version of Windows 7, 8.1, or 10 is required. But those committed to Linux can get around that by using Lutris, a Linux gaming client.

      • EA Reportedly Bans Linux Players From Battlefield V for ‘Cheating’

        Electronic Arts hasn’t officially released Battlefield V on Linux, but that hasn’t stopped intrepid gamers from using a combination of WINE and DXVK to play the game, platform restrictions be damned. It seems EA isn’t too keen on that workaround: HotHardware reported Sunday that numerous DXVC users claim to have been permanently banned by Battlefield V’s anti-cheat software in recent weeks.

        Linux users have long relied on WINE to run Windows programs, including games, that don’t natively support the open source operating system. DXVK’s developers described it as a “Vulkan-based translation layer for Direct3D 9/10/11 which allows running 3D applications on Linux using Wine” on the project’s GitHub repository. Linux users relied on both of those projects to play Battlefield V on their systems.

    • Distributions

      • 3 Privacy & Security Focused Linux Distributions to Try in 2020

        Every week seems to bring a new threat to your online privacy and anonymity. Security breaches, ransomware, malware, data collection, and computer viruses threaten commerce, as well as us, the individual internet users.

        Today, it does not require knowledge of programming languages to expose an individual’s identity online. Ready-made “malware as a service” programs are easily and inexpensively available to those of ill intent, skilled or otherwise.

        Threats to user privacy, data security, and the right to anonymity will continues to become more complex. Every site visited logs IP addresses, HTTP referrals, cookies, tracking scripts, user agents, and some use browser fingerprinting to gather information about a users system.

        Most operating systems trade off ease of use for some protections. A typical operating system does not provide a strong level of privacy, anonymity or security. Projects to make specialized, security focused operating systems are becoming more and more popular. Three examples of such projects are Tails, Whonix, and Qubes OS. All three of these Linux based operating systems are designed for a higher level of privacy and security. However, each approach the topic of security differently. Let’s take a look at the features, differences and benefits of each of these operating systems.

      • Kali Linux Will No Longer Have The Default Root User

        Kali Linux is a specialized Linux distribution for cyber security testing and hacking related tasks.

        If you’ve used Kali Linux, you probably know that it followed a default root user policy. In other words, you are always root in Kali Linux. Whatever you do – you will be accessing tools/applications as root by default.

        It looks like everything back then was kind of “root for all” for everything. So, the default root user policy existed.

      • Kali Linux Will Have A Default Non-Root User With 2020.1 Release

        Like most other distributions, Kali Linux will soon have a default non-root user. The ethical hacking and penetration testing operating system will be switching from “everything as root” security model to the new one precisely with the upcoming 2020.1 release.

        The release is currently scheduled for late January. However, users can already test it via the daily builds. The change will be part of the next weekly build too, the developers said.

        So what exactly prompted the team to switch to the new security model? “While we don’t encourage people to run Kali as their day to day operating system, over the last few years more and more users have started to do so (even if they are not using it to do penetration testing full time), including some members of the Kali development team. When people do so, they obviously don’t run as default root user,” explained Kali team lead Jim O’Gorman.

      • New Releases

        • Void Linux Beta Image Available

          Project Trident is pleased to announce a new Beta-quality image based on Void Linux, available on the Project Trident download page.

          We have also converted our Trident “docs” repository over to a wiki-based system. This will be the central location for all information related to the Void Linux system setup and configuration. Please feel free to help expand this wiki while you are using the BETA image!

      • Screenshots/Screencasts

      • Arch Family

        • Arch Linux Kicks Off 2020 with New ISO Release Powered by Linux Kernel 5.4

          Arch Linux is a respected and well known GNU/Linux distribution that follows a rolling release model where the user installs once and receives updates forever. Arch Linux also generates monthly ISO images that contain all the package updates pushed through the software repositories in the previous month.

          Arch Linux 2020.01.01 is here as the first ISO release in 2020, powered by the latest and greatest Linux 5.4 kernel series, which brings numerous new features and enhancements like support for Microsoft’s exFAT file system, the “lockdown” security feature, and improved app memory management on Android.

      • Fedora Family

        • Fedora 32 system-wide change proposal: reduce installation media size by improving the compression ratio of SquashFS filesystem

          Improve compression ratio of SquashFS filesystem on the installation media. Owner

        • Fedora 32 Looking At Turning Up SquashFS Compression For Smaller Install Media

          While Fedora 32 is already making it so CD / DVD install issues shouldn’t block releases given most users are doing USB-based installations for the past number of years, Fedora is still trying to decrease the amount of space the install media takes up regardless of CD/DVD/USB media.

          A late change proposal for Fedora 32 is improving the compression ration of the SquashFS file-system on the installation media. The proposal by Red Hat’s Bohdan Khomutskyi is to tune the SquashFS compression settings to yield a better compression ratio and/or reduction of CPU usage at build time.

        • Fedy – Install Third-Party Software in Fedora

          Fedy (previously called as Fedora Utils) is a post-installation script written in bash, especially for Fedora. It is released under GNU General Public License.

          Fedy aims at providing a standard Fedora installation with additional applications, utilities, and codes. A lot of applications and codecs that are not shipped by Fedora due to one or another reason, Fedy fills that gap.

          The latest updated version of Fedy is 5.0 and it also supports Fedora 22 (Released on May 26, 2015), though a few features on Fedora 22 may not work as of now.

        • Fedora Magazine: Most read articles in 2019 not from 2019

          Some topics are very popular, no matter when they’re first mentioned. And Fedora Magazine has a few articles that have proven to be popular for a long time.

          You’re reading the last article from the “best of 2019” series. But this time, it’s about articles written before 2019, but being very popular in 2019.

          All of the articles below have been checked and updated to be correct even now, in early 2020. Let’s dive in!

        • Fedora Project Leader Envisions The Project Becoming An “Operating System Factory”

          Fedora Project Leader Matthew Miller has shared his vision for Fedora over the next decade and is encouraging discussions about the direction of this Red Hat sponsored Linux distribution over the next five to ten years.

          The FPL sees a route to Fedora becoming an “operating system factory” built off the successes of the various Fedora Editions. With the growing editions/flavors of Fedora from Fedora Silverblue to IoT and others, Matthew Miller is hoping for a GetFedora.org redesign to better showcase the current and future versions of Fedora to better expose them to new users. Additionally, he would like to promote the Fedora tooling to users for those wanting to create new spins.

        • Let’s talk about Fedora in the ’20s!

          Hi everyone! Since it’s a new year and a new decade [*], it seems like a good time to look forward and talk about what we want the Fedora Project to be in the next five and even ten years. How do we take the awesome foundation we have now and build and grow and make something that continues to thrive and be useful, valuable, and fun?

        • Fedora QA No Longer Needs To Test Physical CD/DVD Media As Part Of Their Formal Release Process

          This morning’s Fedora Engineering and Steering Committee (FESCo) meeting approved more changes for this spring’s release of Fedora 32.

          The main matter debated at the FESCo meeting today was whether CD/DVD physical media install issues should be considered blocker bugs. Basically it’s a matter of whether Fedora CD/DVD issues should hold up releases in acknowledging a far majority of users these days use the install media via USB flash drives and the like, no longer resorting to burning DVD images.

        • Fedora 31 : Can be better? part 004.

          The common question of any Fedora Linux user: Can be better?.
          Yes, we can fix some common errors…

      • Canonical/Ubuntu Family

        • Matrix In, Telegram Out

          We would like to thank those of you who have participated in the Ubuntu Studio Telegram Groups over the past year. While it has been productive, we decided that it would be best to sunset our Telegram bridge to our IRC channels, thereby dropping Telegram from our official support and community channels.

    • Devices/Embedded

    • Free, Libre, and Open Source Software

      • Web Browsers

        • Mozilla

          • Will Kahn-Greene: Socorro Engineering: Year in Review 2019

            Last year at about this time, I wrote a year in review blog post. Since I only worked on Socorro at the time, it was all about Socorro. In 2019, that changed, so this blog post covers the efforts of two people across a bunch of projects.

            2019 was pretty crazy. We accomplished a lot, but picking up a bunch of new projects really threw a wrench in the wheel of ongoing work.

            [...]

            I redid how Socorro handles queueing crash reports for processing. Previously, it used RabbitMQ. I switched it to Google Pub/Sub. In doing this, I removed one of the components between the collector and the processor which was sometimes flakey, so that was good. This was the first step in moving all of Socorro to Google Cloud Platform.

            [...]

            During the Buildhub and Buildhub2 audits, I decided that while Buildhub2 has a different set of issues with its data, it was better than maintaining two indexes. I wrote up a plan to shut down Buildhub, identified and fixed blocking issues in Buildhub2, and migrated projects from Buildhub to Buildhub2.

            Then we shut down and dismantled Buildhub.

            [...]

            Mozilla Location Services had been dormant for years. It was running Python 2.6 on Scientific Linux. It had a deploy pipeline that was several generations old. It was in an unmaintainable state.

            We overhauled it, finished up the Docker-ization of the services, finished the mostly-done migration from Python 2.6 to Python 3, updated dependencies, reduced a bunch of complexity, wrote a lot of documentation, fixed a ton of issues, pushed out a new deploy pipeline and Docker-based infrastructure, and did a series of stop-gap fixes for processing.

          • Mozilla VR Blog: Mozilla Announces Deal to Bring Firefox Reality to Pico Devices

            For more than a year, we at Mozilla have been working to build a browser that was made to showcase the best of what you love about browsing, but tailor made for Virtual Reality.

            Now we are teaming up with Pico Interactive to bring Firefox Reality to its latest VR headset, the Neo 2 – an all-in-one (AIO) device with 6 degrees of freedom (DoF) head and controller tracking that delivers key VR solutions to businesses. Pico’s Neo 2 line includes two headsets: the Neo 2 Standard and the Neo 2 Eye featuring eye tracking and foveated rendering. Firefox Reality will also be released and shipped with previous Pico headset models.

      • CMS

        • 16 Best Platforms for Selling Digital Products 2020

          If you are considering starting an online business using the WordPress website then it is important for you to read our article on the Best WordPress Invoice Plugins in 2019. If what you want to do is sell digital/downloadable content without necessarily creating a website from scratch then read on.

      • FSF

        • GNU Projects

          • Limited run only? GNU Bison gives D a try

            Bison, a parser generator hosted by the GNU project, is now available in version 3.5, reducing the footprint of small parsers and improving syntax error handling.

            The latter is now only promoted for use in error messages, while the Bison team warns against applying string literals to avoid implementing keyword matching in the scanner. It is still supported though, at least for now, and the new diagnostic -Wdangling-alias helps in catching related errors.

            Users working with Bison for C++ now get to enjoy lookahead correction (LAC). It has been added to the parsing algorithm and can be enabled with the %define parse.lac directive. LAC is meant to improve syntax error handling by suspending normal parsing whenever a new token is fetched from the scanner and exploring the next action. If it reaches a shift action during that exploratory parse, normal parsing resumes, while an error is reported if that isn’t the case.

      • Programming/Development

        • rra-c-util 8.1

          rra-c-util is my collection of utility code that I use in my various other software packages (mostly, but not only, C).

          I now forget what I was reading, but someone on-line made a side reference to formatting code with clang-format, which is how I discovered that it exists. I have become a big fan of automated code reformatting, mostly via very positive experiences with Python’s black and Rust’s rustfmt. (I also use perltidy for my Perl code, but I’m not as fond of it; it’s a little too aggressive and it changes how it formats code from version to version.) They never format things in quite the way that I want, but some amount of inelegant formatting is worth it for not having to think about or manually fix code formatting or argue with someone else about it.

        • Updating a Persistent Window from Javascript Part 1: postMessage

          I’m trying to update my htmlpreso HTML presentation slide system to allow for a separate notes window.

          Up to now, I’ve just used display mirroring. I connect to the projector at 1024×768, and whatever is on the first (topmost/leftmost) 1024×768 pixels of my laptop screen shows on the projector. Since my laptop screen is wider than 1024 pixels, I can put notes to myself to the right of the slide, and I’ll see them but the audience won’t.

          That works fine, but I’d like to be able to make the screens completely separate, so I can fiddle around with other things while still displaying a slide on the projector. But since my slides are in HTML, and I still want my presenter notes, that requires putting the notes in a separate window, instead of just to the right of each slide.

          The notes for each slide are in a <div id=”notes”> on each page. So all I have to do is pop up another browser window and mirror whatever is in that div to the new window, right? Sure … except this is JavaScript, so nothing is simple. Every little thing is going to be multiple days of hair-tearing frustration, and this was no exception.

          I should warn you up front that I eventually found a much simpler way of doing this. I’m documenting this method anyway because it seems useful to be able to communicate between two windows, but if you just want a simple solution for the “pop up notes in another window” problem, stay tuned for Part 2.

        • Perl / Raku

          • Paws XXXXIV (More Boto Fun)

            So I was quickly knocking off the various S3Control actions until I ran in to ‘ListJOBS’ which I though would be an easy one as there is no XML content on this call.

          • What’s new on CPAN – December 2019

            Welcome to “What’s new on CPAN”, a curated look at last month’s new CPAN uploads for your reading and programming pleasure. Enjoy!

          • Term::ANSIColor 5.00

            Term::ANSIColor is the core Perl module that provides functions to change text attributes using ECMA-048 escape sequences.

          • PAWS XXXXV (You are now leaving S3. Please have your customs forms ready.)

            Well I manages to plow though the final few S3Control actions the other day so today I move into the much more complex CloudFront API.

            This one was to say the least a little daunting as the XML calls are massive some with as many as 60 nodes. Well as usually I just blundered right into it without any sort of plan except I figured I better do the harderst one first CreateDistribution.

            Well as usual the first thing I ran into was someting I have not seen before.

        • Python

          • A Python Packaging Carol

            Every year around Christmas, I make a point of re-reading Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. If you’ve only ever been exposed to the story through adaptations into other media, I highly recommend getting a copy of Dickens’ original text (it’s public domain and you can read it for free from Project Gutenberg). It’s a good story, and Dickens has a wonderful way with the language of his era.

            This year’s read of Dickens inspired the framing for a post about Python packaging, but a combination of end-of-year work and, well, Christmas means that this post may just barely be published within the liturgical season of Christmas, and only if I hurry to finish it (I’m writing much of this on Twelfth Night itself); otherwise, it may not appear until Epiphany or even later. Hopefully you will, in keeping with the season, forgive me that lateness.

          • Atomic lock-free counters in Python

            At Datadog, we’re really into metrics. We love them, we store them, but we also generate them. To do that, you need to juggle with integers that are incremented, also known as counters.

            While having an integer that changes its value sounds dull, it might not be without some surprises in certain circumstances. Let’s dive in.

            [...]

            The only downside of this counter implementation is that you need to lock the counter each time you need to increment. There might be much contention around this lock if you have many threads updating the counter.

            On the other hand, if it’s barely updated and often read, this is an excellent implementation of a thread-safe counter.

          • With Python 2 EOL’ed, Ubuntu 20.04 LTS Moves Along With Its Python 2 Removal

            With Python 2 having reached end-of-life at the start of 2020, Ubuntu and Debian developers continue their work on removing Python 2 at least from the base OS. Work continues on transitioning packages to Python 3 or otherwise ultimately dropping unmaintained packages.

            Matthias Klose who has been coordinating much of the Python 2 removal effort for Ubuntu and Debian has provided another update on the matter. libpython-dev, python, python-minimal and other packages are no longer provided as part of the python-defaults package as of today in the Ubuntu 20.04 archive.

          • PyDev of the Week: Bryan Weber

            This week we welcome Bryan Weber (@darthbith) as our PyDev of the Week! Bryan is a contributor for Real Python and a core developer for Cantera.

          • Python 3.7.5 : Set json with settings in Django project.
          • Counting Queries: Basic Performance Testing in Django

            It’s very common to read about testing techniques such as TDD and how to test application business logic. But testing the performance of an application is a whole different issue. There are many ways you can do it, but a common approach is to set up an environment where you can DDoS your application and watch how it behaves. This is an exciting topic, but it’s not what I want to talk about in this blog post. Today I want to cover a much simpler kind of test, and it’s one that you can do using your default Django unit test setup: testing the number of times your application hits the database.

          • Python 3.7.5 : About Django REST framework.
          • MyCLI: A MySQL CLI Based on Python with Auto-completion and Syntax Highlighting

            If you prefer to work with MySQL via its command-line interface, you’ll like mycli which is a CLI tool with auto-completion and syntax highlighting built on top of Python and prompt_toolkit for building interactive command line applications with Python.

            It is cross-platform and it is tested on Linux, MacOS and Windows.

          • Using Pandas and Python to Explore Your Dataset

            Do you have a large dataset that’s full of interesting insights, but you’re not sure where to start exploring it? Has your boss asked you to generate some statistics from it, but they’re not so easy to extract? These are precisely the use cases where Pandas and Python can help you! With these tools, you’ll be able to slice a large dataset down into manageable parts and glean insight from that information.

      • Standards/Consortia

  • Leftovers

    • How I went nomad

      In 2016, I discovered this concept of digital nomadism, the idea that for knowledge workers who only need a laptop and an internet connection, you don’t really need to work in an office anymore. You can simply work remotely for companies that will allow it, or as a freelancer for clients who don’t really care where you are so long as the job is done. Many people were already doing it, and even though it had started off as a very difficult lifestyle, in the tracks of the 4-hour work week and other inspiring lifehackers, it had become easier and easier over the years with coworking spaces, AirBnB and even coliving spaces (coworking spaces combined with accomodations, NDLR). The only thing you needed was a knowledge job that could sustain your travels, making it possible for you to pay for temporary accomodation and flights. Some were doing it with dropshipping, others with ad-monetized niche websites, but one of the holy grails gigs seemed to be software development. How fortunate for me!

      [...]

      But at this point in my life, experience had already taught me that I shouldn’t jump into this sort of transition without a little bit of cautious preparation and experimentation.

      First things first, let’s expose the fears, since none of them is irrelevant, none of them should be kept under the rugs. All our fears exist to tell us something, and ignoring them is never the answer.

      The one fear I had heard of the most throughout forums and Slack groups about nomadism, and that I could relate to, was loneliness. When you move regularly and on your own, it can be really hard to create connections with other human beings, whether they live in the places where you live for a while, or they are other travellers like you. Bonding takes time, especially for an introvert with trust issues like myself, so I could see myself suffering from that. Thankfully, since it is such a widespread concern, some services had already started to appear to address that. Coliving spaces were a first answer, as they let travellers share accommodations with other travellers, or locals for that matter, creating a de facto sense of community, even for just a few weeks. On the other hand, except if you made a really good friend in that amount of time, you also had to start over almost from scratch in every space. Another answer that looked way more promising to me was travel groups. In addition to helping you with other issues we will talk about later, they also formed those groups of travellers who could follow each other from places to places, and also curated those communities around common sets of values and lifestyles.

      But then there was another fear, the extreme opposite one in fact. If it’s not a good idea to hide your fears under the rug, it’s also rarely a good one to forget who you are or try to disguise as someone else to fit into a new lifestyle. I had done that before, but no more. And for better or worse I am an introvert. I am not shy, but energy tends to flow outwards from myself to other people, which means I need some me time every once in a while to recharge. And I wanted to honor and respect that. Which meant I can support more lonely time than extroverts, but I also need to be able to take a step back from time to time. And some of those travel groups I just mentioned looked like a giant frat party, attracting a lot of twenty-something party-goers with their bad habits of peer-pressuring anyone who doesn’t follow along.

    • Health/Nutrition

      • Activists Take on the Toxic Tampon Industry and Fight Menstruation Stigma

        Don’t Let Them See You Bleed: PERIOD examines the feminist movement through the lens of period activism. We will look at aspects of women’s health and social justice that are often overlooked – From period stigma to the unfair tax on feminine hygiene products and the fight to regulate and disclose ingredients in tampons and maxi pads. We’ll hear from activists, researchers, and intellectuals who are challenging the attitudes and policies that negatively impact women on a daily basis.

    • Integrity/Availability

      • Proprietary

        • Pseudo-Open Source

          • Openwashing

            • Open Source Supply Chain: A Matter Of Trust [Ed: Linux Foundation still does openwashing puff pieces for proprietary software giant VMware; more of the same]

              Open source software is often considered safer and more secure than proprietary software because users can, if they want, compile the software from the source code. They know the source of the code running in their environment. Every component that they are running in their environment can be audited and the developer held accountable.

        • Security

          • Security updates for Monday

            Security updates have been issued by Fedora (chromium, cyrus-imapd, drupal7-l10n_update, drupal7-webform, htmldoc, nethack, php, and singularity), Mageia (advancecomp, apache-commons-compress-, cyrus-imapd, cyrus-sasl, dia, freeimage, freeradius, igraph, jhead, jss, libdwarf, libextractor, libxml2, mediawiki, memcached, mozjs60, openconnect, openssl, putty, python-ecdsa, python-werkzeug, shadowsocks-libev, and upx), Oracle (container-tools:1.0 and container-tools:ol8), and Red Hat (kpatch-patch).

          • Reproducible Builds in December 2019

            In these reports we outline the most important things that we have been up to over the past month. As a quick recap, whilst anyone can inspect the source code of free software for malicious flaws, almost all software is distributed to end users as pre-compiled binaries.

            The motivation behind the reproducible builds effort is to ensure no flaws have been introduced during this compilation process by promising identical results are always generated from a given source, thus allowing multiple third-parties to come to a consensus on whether a build was compromised.

          • Privacy/Surveillance

            • Give Up Facebook for a Month and Help Economists Fix GDP

              Among a separate group of test subjects in the Netherlands, asked about a handful of free [Internet]-based services, the group assigned the highest value to WhatsApp, owned by Facebook Inc., at a staggering 535.73 euros ($598) for just one month’s abstinence. Facebook was next highest at around 100 euros. Twitter, used by just a third of the group, was valued at less than 1 euro.

            • Technology-enabled lending in 2020: from data to diversity

              We are in the midst of a data explosion and by one estimate, about 2.5 quintillion bytes of data created each day. In India what is more significant is the fact that a lot of new data being created about individuals largely without any digital footprint. Digital footprint is important because it provides a wide canvas about an individual, his or her habits and opens up limitless possibilities. However, the emphasis and exuberance about data has also skewed and distorted the playing field. Every new data set cannot have relevance in the financial lending space, unless it is relevant. There’s a new wave that has come in about lending as a feature. I do not believe in that because lending is not a feature, it is a specialization. A lot of people who are sitting on some data, whether from a wallet company or some transaction information think they can start lending, and to my mind that’s incorrect.

            • [tor-relays] Exit Concentration vs Bulk filters?

              > I never heard a real technical reason to avoid
              > high concentration of Tor exit capacity.

              Let me give you a few examples why a distributed network is in some ways
              more resilient to attacks and harder to observe than a centralized.

            • Google shutting down Xiaomi access to Assistant following Nest Hub picking up strangers’ camera feeds (Update: Xiaomi statement)

              So-called “smart” security cameras have had some pretty dumb security problems recently, but a recent report regarding a Xiaomi camera linked to a Google account is especially disturbing. One Xiaomi Mijia camera owner is getting still images from other random peoples’ homes when trying to stream content from his camera to a Google Nest Hub. The images include stills of people sleeping and even an infant in a cradle. In the meantime, Google has entirely disabled Xiaomi integration for Google Home and the Assistant while it works out the issue with Xiaomi.

            • We should have an email for each website

              Nowadays, some websites allow to unsubcribe quickly but a lot of them still make unsubscribing a difficult process. Some wouldn’t even honor the request. And this doesn’t stop the websites from cross-referencing your data with your email being the primary key.

    • Defence/Aggression

    • Environment

    • Finance

      • IRS Crackdown on Deduction Scam Is Failing. It’s Costing the Treasury Billions.

        In March 2019, the IRS added a scheme to its annual “Dirty Dozen” list of “the worst of the worst tax scams.” That same scheme was targeted, just weeks earlier, when the U.S. Department of Justice filed a fraud lawsuit against a handful of promoters allegedly responsible for generating more than $2 billion in improper tax write-offs. And the Senate Finance Committee has been investigating that very same racket, recently demanding thousands of pages of documents from six promoters. Lawmakers from both parties have introduced legislation to halt the same practice.

      • How Economists Tricked Us Into Thinking Capitalism Works

        These days, it seems like someone is always trying to privatize something. One day it’s the Trump administration contemplating the privatization of the Department of Veterans Affairs. The next it’s the Tories looking to sell off the U.K.’s National Health Service, or economists promoting “market-based” solutions to the climate crisis. In this age of neoliberalism, the rallying cry for politicians and economists alike is always for “More privatization! More markets! Sell it all off to the private sector!”

      • Here’s What Workers of the Global South Endure to Create Corporate Wealth

        In recent decades, as U.S. corporations shipped millions of jobs overseas to save money on wages, GM, H&M, Apple and dozens of other companies established elaborate supply chains in Asia, Mexico and Latin America, where workers earn pennies per hour. These chains are geographically expansive networks organized by foreign companies to produce semi-finished goods in different places before final assembly for huge global corporations.

      • ‘The Fed Is a Political Institution That Pretends Not to Be Political’
      • Episode 61 – A History of Food Stamps….and their cuts – Along The Line Podcast

        Along the Line, is a member of the Demcast network, brought to you by the Media Freedom Foundation. On today’s episode hosts Nicholas Baham III (Dr. Dreadlocks), Janice Domingo,  and Nolan Higdon discuss a history of food stamps and their cuts. ATL’s  Creative Director is Dylan Lazaga.  Mickey Huff is ATL’s producer. ATL’s engineer is Janice Domingo. Adam Armstrong is ATL’s webmaster.

    • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

      • Poll Shows Sanders Leading in New Hampshire, Tied for First in Iowa Less Than a Month Before First 2020 Caucuses

        “The New Year opens with Bernie Sanders in his best standing yet against the field in Iowa and New Hampshire.”

      • Trump tells Congress to follow him on Twitter for updates on war with Iran

        Nonetheless, Trump’s recent tweets are an improbable escalation of his use of the platform to incite geopolitical disorder and marginalize Congress. They may also signal illegal behavior; according to Yale Law School processor Oona Hathaway, Trump “cannot notify Congress under the War Powers Resolution by tweet.” (Trump also later posted the same message on Facebook.)

      • Will spam die in 2020?

        A bipartisan bill called the TRACED act passed in Congress last week. The president is expected to sign it shortly. The bill, which stands for Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement Act, aims to fully ban robocalls. It increases fines for offenders ($10,000 per call!), requires carriers to block robocalls, bans carriers from charging customers for anti-robocall services and takes other anti-robocall action.

        The law will take months to go into effect. But it attempts to address not only “spam” calls but also “scam calls” — a problem that reportedly grew by 18 percent this year and affected 43 million Americans last year and cost more than $10 billion.

      • Fact Check: Fake ‘Bharat tere tukde tukde’ anti-CAA posters featuring Afzal Guru, Burhan Wani surfaces online

        According to Yadav, “After sharing the original poster of the meeting, I got a call from Maurice Nagar police station, situated close to DU, enquiring about the fake poster bearing Afzal Guru and Burhan Wani’s picture which was being circulated. I informed the police that the image was fake and condemn it right away. The picture was circulated to defame the meeting”

      • Our Poll Finds A Majority Of Americans Think The Evidence Supports Trump’s Removal

        According to the survey, 57 percent of Americans think it would be better if the upcoming trial included new witnesses who could potentially shed light on Trump’s conduct, while 39 percent said it would be better to keep the focus solely on the evidence introduced in the House hearings and included in the articles of impeachment, without calling new witnesses. Perhaps unsurprisingly, 65 percent of Democrats support calling new witnesses in the Senate trial. But 48 percent of Republicans also support calling new witnesses — although about the same number still want the trial to proceed with only the evidence introduced in the House hearings (50 percent).

      • In 2020 and beyond, the battle to save personhood and democracy requires a radical overhaul of mainstream technology

        In no small part thanks to Greta Thunberg, we’re definitely talking about the first. Whether we’re actually doing anything about it, of course, is very much up for debate.

        Similarly, thanks to the rise of the far right around the globe in the shape of (among others) Trump in the US, Johnson in the UK, Bolsonaro in Brazil, Orban in Hungary, and Erdoğan in Turkey, we are also talking about the second, including the role of propaganda (so-called “fake news”) and social media in perpetrating it.

        What we seem entirely clueless and ambivalent about is the third even though all the others stem from it and are symptoms of it. It is the emergency without a name. Well, until now, that is.

    • Censorship/Free Speech

      • 5 months of Internet shutdown in Kashmir and more fascist attacks in India

        From 5th August 2019, Kashmir is under a communication shutdown. SMS service for a particular connection provider is now available for postpaid users, but Internet is still down for all Indian citizens of Kashmir.

        This is above 155 days of Internet shutdown. If you are reading this blog post, it means you have an active Internet connection, and you can connect to the different servers/services that are essential to modern life. Now, think about all of those citizens of India staying in Kashmir. Think about the problem when they have to access a website for job/medical/banking/travel or any other necessary work.

        The current fascist regime of India kept shouting about “Digital India” for the last few years, and at the same time, making sure to use the Internet shutdown as a tool of oppression. By using a proper communication shutdown and blocking reporters, they made sure only the false stories from the state can be reached to the readers/viewers of news across the world. But, a few brave outside journalists and too many brave local journalists from Kashmir made sure that they kept pushing the real news from the ground. They tried their best to record atrocities.

    • Civil Rights/Policing

      • ‘We Have to Bust In and Insist That Power Be Shared in a Different Kind of Way’
      • Burkina Faso: Armed Islamist Atrocities Surge

        Armed Islamist groups in Burkina Faso have committed targeted attacks and summary executions that have killed over 250 civilians since April 2019, Human Rights Watch said today. Witnesses said that assailants sought to justify killings by linking victims to the government, the West, or Christian beliefs. A surge in attacks in recent months have caused hundreds of thousands of civilians to flee their homes. 

        The armed Islamist groups responsible for the attacks began operating in neighboring Mali and from 2016 spread into Burkina Faso. Initially concentrated in Burkina Faso’s northern Sahel region, the attacks have steadily spread to the Nord, Centre-Nord, Boucle du Mouhoun, and Est regions. The groups have concentrated recruitment efforts on the nomadic Peuhl, or Fulani, by exploiting community grievances over poverty and public sector corruption. This has inflamed tensions with other largely agrarian communities, notably the Foulse, Mossi, Songhai, and Gourmantche, who have been the victims of most attacks.

    • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

      • Russia Takes a Big Step Toward Internet Isolation

        Whether the Kremlin intends to fully cut Russia off from the global [Internet] remains an open question. But through its support of purpose-built Russian services and its tech sector more generally, Russia has indisputably made significant steps toward going it alone. In early December, President Vladimir Putin signed a law that will take effect this summer requiring all computers, smartphones, and smart TVs sold in Russia to come pre-loaded with apps from Russian developers. The government is also investing 2 billion rubles—about $32 million—in a Russian Wikipedia alternative.

    • Digital Restrictions (DRM)

      • Apple targets jailbreaking in lawsuit against iOS virtualization company

        Apple has expanded a lawsuit against an iOS virtualization company, claiming that its actions facilitate jailbreaking and violate the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) prohibition on circumvention of copyright-protection systems.

        Apple sued Corellium, a company that sells access to virtual machines that run copies of the operating system used in iPhones and iPads, in August 2019. We detailed the initial allegations in a previous article; Apple said that Corellium sells “perfect replicas” of iOS without a license from Apple and markets its software as “a research tool for those trying to discover security vulnerabilities and other flaws in Apple’s software.” But instead of aiding good-faith security research, Corellium “encourages its users to sell any discovered information on the open market to the highest bidder,” Apple alleged.

        [...]

        Jailbreaking of smartphones and tablets such as iPhones and iPads is allowed in the US due to a DMCA exemption granted by the US Copyright Office (a division of the Library of Congress).

        The Copyright Office says the DMCA exemption for jailbreaking phones and tablets is intended “to allow the device to interoperate with or to remove software applications.” There’s also a DMCA exemption for security research on all types of devices. But to qualify for the security exemption, it must be “good-faith security research” that is “carried out in an environment designed to avoid any harm to individuals or the public.”

        The Electronic Frontier Foundation describes DMCA exemptions in general as “too narrow and too complex for most technology users.”

    • Monopolies

      • Patents

        • CNIPA And EPO To Enhance Bilateral Cooperation In The Framework Of The Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT)

          Recently, at their annual meeting in Suzhou, the Commissioner of the China National Intellectual Property Administration (CNIPA), Shen Changyu, and the President of the European Patent Office (EPO), António Campinos, agreed to enhance their bilateral cooperation in the framework of the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT).The aim is to give patent applicants filing an international patent application in English at the CNIPA as Receiving Office the choice to opt for the EPO as their International Searching Authority (ISA).

          It is expected that this new option will be offered in the course of next year, and be implemented as a two-year pilot program.

          For Chinese applicants, this step would offer an additional option to optimize their international patent strategy, especially when considering protection in Europe. As a result, Chinese users interested in accelerating the prosecution of their applications will, by selecting the EPO as their ISA, gain up to one year by entering into the European phase earlier and getting direct examination of their files, without the need for a European supplementary search.

        • Software Patents

          • Key Trump adviser predicts USMCA will pass Senate as early as Friday [iophk: warning, article cites faux news]

            The USMCA passed the House in December after negotiations between the administration and lawmakers. The phase one of the China deal has also been in the works for months, as the trade war between China and the U.S. continues.

          • Warren announces support for new North American trade pact

            Warren, a 2020 presidential candidate, told Boston CBS affiliate WBZ that she would vote to approve the pact despite her past opposition to free trade agreements. The Senate is expected to approve Trump’s proposal, called the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) as soon as this month.

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