Extending Linux With DRM, Azure and exFAT

Posted in GNU/Linux, Kernel at 9:45 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

‘Shiny’ proprietary stuff!

Linux? Yup! Nice kernel you got there. GPL too. I'll improve it.

Summary: An insufficiently ‘conservative’ Linux ceases to be freedom-respecting

Linux Foundation (LF) Now Dominated by Lots of Microsoft People and LF Chiefs Join Microsoft in Smearing GPL/Copyleft

Posted in FUD, GNU/Linux, GPL, Law, Microsoft at 9:26 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Against the licence of Linux itself? They treat Free software like some ‘hippie’ thing, leaving the original developers institutionally homeless and without representation of any kind (except theoretic/symbolic).

A licence

Summary: We continue to see additional evidence which serves towards reinforcing our view that the so-called ‘Linux’ Foundation is actually hostile towards many things that are associated with Linux (unlike those looking to exploit/hijack Linux for proprietary ends)

THE freedom of all software is under attack. So-called ‘permissive’ licences are advocated by proprietary software giants, looking mostly to exploit and control projects. That much should not be surprising. It’s a widely known fact. Our debates with Microsoft managers have made it abundantly clear that Microsoft still isn’t tolerating the GPL and it has this ‘offshoot’ called Black Duck (there have been several more since it was acquired), whose management came from Microsoft and admitted that its original goal was to discourage GPL adoption. Black Duck is so toxic that Simon Phipps kicked these people out; he ejected them from OSI and rejected their money, whereas Jim Zemlin welcomed them. What does that say about him?

“Black Duck is so toxic that Simon Phipps kicked these people out; he ejected them from OSI and rejected their money, whereas Jim Zemlin welcomed them.”About a week ago we learned there was an article on the way that related to things we had published (not about Black Duck; FOSS Force really ought to write something about Black Duck’s history). Earlier this week it finally came out; it was Bruce Byfield’s thought-provoking piece about the Linux Foundation. Byfield notes that the “Linux Foundation has not only accepted Microsoft as a Platinium member, but awarded it two seats on the board of directors: one representing Microsoft directly, and the other representing the Microsoft-owned GitHub.”

That’s not indirectly, that is Microsoft directly. The new PR trick is for companies to pretend to be smaller than they are (Alphabet Google does this too, e.g. YouTube).

Notice how they get more seats over time. It’s all about money.

“So the chief technical person of the LF, which has Microsoft et al in key positions, publicly spreads GPL FUD, citing Microsoft proxies as his source.”Also, remember that the the Vice Chair (of the Board) worked for Microsoft and there are Microsoft developers in key positions, cushioned by Greg K-H, who himself worked indirectly for Microsoft (or on Microsoft projects) while on Novell/Microsoft payroll.

The interesting part — to me at least — is in the comments/discussion. For those who don’t know, Chris Aniszczyk is “currently a CTO at the Linux Foundation” (according to him). Notice what he wrote.

So the chief technical person of the LF, which has Microsoft et al in key positions, publicly spreads GPL FUD, citing Microsoft proxies as his source. LF staff is now joining Microsoft in attacking the GPL, even in public. Not just any staff but chief staff of the LF, echoing Microsoft-connected (WhiteSource/Black Duck) FUD against the GPL. It’s consistent with some stuff we saw in the past and commenters such as “Mike” respond:

> “Does the FSF or SFC have corporate member or developer seats or just individual seats only? It seems you are only hearing one side fo the story that’s inaccurate.”

That’s pretty ironic considering what the Linux Foundation did to its community representation. The Linux Foundation tells only the corporate side of the story. Like any corporation, trusting them with your well-being is a stupid thing to do.

“Mike” responds to Bruce Byfield as well:

The *relative* decline of GPL and copyleft is only natural when viewed in terms of volume of code being produced.

There is far more corporate funded code than ever before – and that code is almost universally stamped with ‘permissive’ licenses. Lots more open-washing today than ever.

There are plenty of new copyleft projects out there, but that doesn’t fit the corporate driven narrative.

Licence popularity-wise, Microsoft proxies (WhiteSource/Black Duck) are mostly measuring things based on Microsoft GitHub (it is a proprietary trap for corporate exploitation). We’ve complained about this for half a decade or longer. But even other Microsoft-sponsored ‘analysts’ do the same thing, treating anything that Microsoft does not control as though it does not exist and ought not be counted. Should it be surprising that copyleft-leaning projects (e.g. GNU) aren’t interested in the proprietary trap which is GitHub? That’s like measuring collective societal wealth based only on who shops at Hugo Boss stores/outlets. The picture one sees is distorted by the narrowness of the target audience/client base.

“Licence popularity-wise, Microsoft proxies (WhiteSource/Black Duck) are mostly measuring things based on Microsoft GitHub (it is a proprietary trap for corporate exploitation).”Mike’s replies make sense. And Chris then responds to Chris, more or less nailing it, arguing that the LF “treats desktop Linux users, as well as users of open source software on Linux and other operating systems, as orphans…”

We’ve said something similar several times in the past.

Here’s the full comment:

To me the point is that the Linux Foundation is doing nothing whatsoever to advance desktop Linux, and treats desktop Linux users, as well as users of open source software on Linux and other operating systems, as orphans, even though they were the first boosters of Linux development. At LF, if it’s not software being developed for commercial and enterprise users, or if it’s designed to be used on a desktop or laptop instead of in a data center or industrial device, it doesn’t exist.

Bruce Byfield did note: “A more cynical interpretation is that, from its very start, the Linux Foundation has been a slow coup, gradually usurping an authority to which it has no right. Ask me on alternate days which one I believe.”

“This may not be a deliberate thing, but unwittingly the LF let entryism be ‘welcomed’ or ‘tolerated’ in the Board, not foreseeing the negative effects on the ‘pragmatic’ and PR front.”Byfield also mentioned how he had lost his job at Linux.com. Less than a year ago the same thing happened all over again (the LF fired all staff and editors without as much as a prior notice). The site has not been the same since. It’s an embarrassment and it is pretty dormant.

What Byfield says about the “slow coup” makes sense. This may not be a deliberate thing, but unwittingly the LF let entryism be ‘welcomed’ or ‘tolerated’ in the Board, not foreseeing the negative effects on the ‘pragmatic’ and PR front. What good is an institution which does not guard its mission statement and spirit and only counts money, even from its biggest opponents?

Links 22/1/2020: Wayland 1.18 Alpha, ODF 1.3 Approved

Posted in News Roundup at 6:29 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

  • GNU/Linux

    • Microsoft is testing ads in WordPad in Windows 10

      Over the years Microsoft has taken numerous controversial decisions with Windows 10, including installing sponsored apps, using the Start menu to advertise apps it thinks you might be interested in, and — of course — the various forms of data-collecting telemetry.

      Now it has been discovered that more ads could be on their way. A Windows researcher has uncovered ads in WordPad encouraging people to try out Word, Excel and PowerPoint online.

    • Desktop/Laptop

      • MNT Reform, an Open Source Laptop, Expected to Hit Crowd Supply in February

        MNT Reform is a laptop that aims to utilize all opensource materials, everything from firmware, hardware, and software. This device is expected to hit Crowdsupply in February and aims to offer a very modular design, having easily replaceable parts which are a combination of both standard components and 3D printed parts.

      • Here’s a Kubuntu Exclusive Linux Laptop Priced at $2285

        We have a lot of manufacturers focusing on Linux laptops nowadays. For instance, the latest $200 Pinebook Pro laptop. And, of course, System 76 also makes some of the best Linux laptops for several years.

        Now, The Kubuntu Council, MindShareManagement Inc, and Tuxedo Computers teamed up to come up with a premium Kubuntu-powered laptop for power users: Kubuntu Focus.

        Here, let me highlight some of the key specifications of the laptop and what you need to know about it.

      • All new Chromebooks will get at least 8 years of automatic updates

        One of the nice things about buying a Google Chromebook is that the operating system receives automatic security and feature updates delivered straight from Google — which means that it’ll stay up to date years after your Android phone stops receiving official updates.

        But up until recently, Google only promised 5 to 6.5 years of updates… which might seem fine if you spend $200 or less on a cheap Chrome OS laptop, but which can be rather frustrating if you drop $999 or more on a premium model.

    • Server

      • KubeInvaders – Gamified Chaos Engineering Tool for Kubernetes

        Some months ago, I released my latest project called KubeInvaders. The first time I shared it with the community was during an Openshift Commons Briefing session. Kubenvaders is a Gamified Chaos Engineering tool for Kubernetes and Openshift and helps test how resilient your Kubernetes cluster is, in a fun way.

      • CSI Ephemeral Inline Volumes

        Typically, volumes provided by an external storage driver in Kubernetes are persistent, with a lifecycle that is completely independent of pods or (as a special case) loosely coupled to the first pod which uses a volume (late binding mode). The mechanism for requesting and defining such volumes in Kubernetes are Persistent Volume Claim (PVC) and Persistent Volume (PV) objects. Originally, volumes that are backed by a Container Storage Interface (CSI) driver could only be used via this PVC/PV mechanism.

        But there are also use cases for data volumes whose content and lifecycle is tied to a pod. For example, a driver might populate a volume with dynamically created secrets that are specific to the application running in the pod. Such volumes need to be created together with a pod and can be deleted as part of pod termination (ephemeral). They get defined as part of the pod spec (inline).

        Since Kubernetes 1.15, CSI drivers can also be used for such ephemeral inline volumes. The CSIInlineVolume feature gate had to be set to enable it in 1.15 because support was still in alpha state. In 1.16, the feature reached beta state, which typically means that it is enabled in clusters by default.

        CSI drivers have to be adapted to support this because although two existing CSI gRPC calls are used (NodePublishVolume and NodeUnpublishVolume), the way how they are used is different and not covered by the CSI spec: for ephemeral volumes, only NodePublishVolume is invoked by kubelet when asking the CSI driver for a volume. All other calls (like CreateVolume, NodeStageVolume, etc.) are skipped. The volume parameters are provided in the pod spec and from there copied into the NodePublishVolumeRequest.volume_context field. There are currently no standardized parameters; even common ones like size must be provided in a format that is defined by the CSI driver. Likewise, only NodeUnpublishVolume gets called after the pod has terminated and the volume needs to be removed.

      • Reviewing 2019 in Docs

        Hi, folks! I’m one of the co-chairs for the Kubernetes documentation special interest group (SIG Docs). This blog post is a review of SIG Docs in 2019. Our contributors did amazing work last year, and I want to highlight their successes.

        Although I review 2019 in this post, my goal is to point forward to 2020. I observe some trends in SIG Docs–some good, others troubling. I want to raise visibility before those challenges increase in severity.

      • IBM

        • RHEL 8.2 Beta Features Monitoring And Performance Improvements

          The beta version of the upcoming Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8.2 operating system is now available. RHEL 8.2 Beta comes packed with six months’ worth of updates from Red Hat to make it easier for IT organizations to adopt new, production-ready innovations faster.

          RHEL 8.2 is said to drive enhancements to the user experience for both new and existing customers. It not only extends monitoring and performance capabilities but also adds new supported developer languages and tools. To streamline how new and existing users register a RHEL subscription, RHEL 8.2 Beta makes subscription registration a step in the installation process.

    • Audiocasts/Shows

    • Kernel Space

      • We may have just got a peek at AMD Zen 3 in this Linux kernel update

        References to Zen 3, the architecture of AMD’s next-gen Ryzen desktop processors, have turned up in the Linux kernel, hinting that these chips might just arrive sooner than we think.

        New versions of the Linux kernel are often combed through as they emerge, looking for clues like references to unreleased hardware, and this time around it’s Komachi_Ensaka (a prolific leaker) who spotted details of AMD’s ‘Family 19h’ processors, and shared them on Twitter.

      • New Linux System Call Proposed To Let User-Space Pin Themselves To Specific CPU Cores

        A “pin_on_cpu” system call has been proposed for the Linux kernel as a new means of letting user-space threads pin themselves to specific CPU cores.

        User-space processes requesting to be run on specific CPU cores can already e done by the likes of Linux’s sched_setaffinity to get/set the CPU affinity mask while pin_on_cpu would be a new and simpler way.

      • Graphics Stack

        • Vulkan 1.2.132 Released As The First Documentation Fix-Up Following Vulkan 1.2

          Following last week’s release of Vulkan 1.2, Vulkan 1.2.132 was released on Tuesday as the first maintenance/point release to this major Vulkan API revision.

          With Vulkan 1.2.132 there are no new extensions but a number of corrections to the documentation/specification as a result of a number of public and private bug reports. This includes clarifications as well for ensuring the correct semantics of Vulkan API behavior.

    • Applications

      • GParted 1.1.0

        This release of GParted includes enhancements, bug fixes and language translation updates.

        Key changes include:
        Fix error when moving locked LUKS-encrypted partition
        Switch to faster minfo and mdir to read FAT16/32 usage
        Calculate JFS size accurately
        Recognise ATARAID members and detect their busy status
        See the Release Notes for more details.

      • GParted 1.1.0
        Release Notes
          This release of GParted includes enhancements, bug fixes and
          language translation updates.
        ### Key changes include:
          * Fix error when moving locked LUKS-encrypted partition
          * Switch to faster minfo and mdir to read FAT16/32 usage
          * Calculate JFS size accurately
          * Recognise ATARAID members and detect their busy status
        Bug Fixes
          * Fix test (dentry->d_name is invalidated by closedir...) (!41)
          * Fix error when moving locked LUKS-encrypted partition (#48, !44)
          * Add missing window title to Help Contents dialog (!45)
          * Switch to faster minfo and mdir to read FAT16/32 usage (#569921)
          * Whole device FAT32 file system reports device busy warning from mlabel (!46)
          * Fix "invalid argument for seek()" error on very small (<=40KiB) drives (#16)
          * Remain with CentOS 7 for GitLab CI (!48)
          * Add file system interface tests (!49)
          * Calculate JFS size accurately (!50)
          * Recognise ATARAID members and detect their busy status (#75, !51)
          * Rename members and variables currently named 'filesystem' (!52)
        Code Credits
          Code enhancements are courtesy of Félix Piédallu, Mike Fleetwood,
          and Curtis Gedak
        Translations (new/updated)
          ca(Jordi Mas), cs(Marek Černocký), de(Wolfgang Stöggl, Mathias L. Baumann),
          en_GB(Bruce Cowan), es(Daniel Mustieles, Andre Klapper #80),
          eu(Alexander Gabilondo, Asier Sarasua Garmendia), fr(Claude Paroz),
          hr(Goran Vidović), hu(Balázs Úr), id(Kukuh Syafaat), is(Sveinn í Felli),
          lv(Rudolfs Mazurs), pa(A S Alam), pl(Piotr Drąg), pt_BR(Rafael Fontenelle),
          ro(Daniel Șerbănescu), sv(Anders Jonsson), vi(Trần Ngọc Quân)
        Dependencies (new/updated)
          * xvfb-run command is required for 'make check' and 'make distcheck'
        ### MD5SUM:
            0da45cb522d766dfb4886fb3bdbc2634  gparted-1.1.0.tar.gz
        ### SHA1SUM:
            af44456f16bfc53f4f72ddc9b15e097bdfdaeab7  gparted-1.1.0.tar.gz
      • Get your RSS feeds and podcasts in one place with this open source tool

        RSS news feeds are an exceptionally handy way to keep up to date on various websites. In addition to Opensource.com, I follow the annual SysAdvent sysadmin tools feed, some of my favorite authors, and several webcomics. RSS readers allow me to “batch up” my reading, so I’m not spending every day on a bunch of different websites.

    • Instructionals/Technical

    • Wine or Emulation

      • Wine 5.0 for Linux released with major gaming improvements

        Today, the Wine Project officially released Wine 5.0 as stable for the Linux, macOS, Android (limited support), and FreeBSD platforms. The announcement comes after a year of development by the Wine team comprising bi-weekly development releases.

        For those unfamiliar with Wine (Wine is Not an Emulator), it is a FOSS compatibility layer that allows users to run computer programs like computer games and application software on Linux platforms, and more recently, macOS platforms, too. Wine was first released in 1993, over 26 years ago.

      • Wine 5.0 Released With Numerous Gaming Improvements for Linux

        Wine 5.0 has been released today and contains over 7,400 bug fixes and numerous audio and graphics improvements that will increase performance in gaming on Linux.

        Wine is a compatibility layer that allows you to run Windows applications, including games, in Linux and macOS. This means that users can run native Windows games and applications such as Steam, Battlefield 1942, Fallout: New Vegas, Counter-Strike, and much more directly in Linux.

      • Wine 5.0 Released by WineHQ- Stable available for Download

        Wine 5.0 Stable Release: WineHQ, the developer of Wine released its latest and most stable Wine 5.0 on January 21, 2020. The latest version comes with a lot of surprising updates and features which makes Wine 5.0 stand out of its previous releases. Wine 5.0 release has been dedicated to Mr. Józef Kucia, the major contributor to Wine’s Direct3D implementation who passed away recently at a young age. May his soul rest in peace.

      • Windows compatibility layer Wine hits v5.0 on Android

        Wine has been giving users of Unix-like platforms access to Windows software for many, many years. The open source project just added support for Android back in 2018 with the v3.0 update and continued that with Wine v4.0 last year. Now, Wine v5.0 is available on multiple platforms including Android.

        This version of Wine includes some nice functionality improvements. You can run multiple monitors in Wine, and there’s support for the new-ish Vulkan 1.1 graphics API. The Wine app doesn’t contain Windows or any Windows software, but it does let you load Windows applications on your device.

      • Wine 5.0 released (Windows compatibility layer for Linux, Mac, Android, and BSD)

        The Wine project has been letting folks run some Windows applications on Unix-like operating systems including Linux, macOS, and FreeBSD for decades… and a few years ago, the developers of this open source project added limited support for Android as well.

        Wine 5.0 is now available for all supported platforms, and it brings a number of improvements including support for the Vulkan 1.1 graphics driver and support for multiple monitors.

      • Wine 5.0 Officially Released with Multi-Monitor and Vulkan 1.1 Support, More

        Big news today for Linux gamers and ex-Windows users as the final release of the Wine 5.0 software is now officially available for download with numerous new features and improvements.

        After being in development for more than one year, Wine 5.0 is finally here with a lot of enhancements, starting with support for multi-monitor configurations, the reimplementation of the XAudio2 low-level audio API, Vulkan 1.1.126 support, as well as built-in modules in PE (Portable Executable) format.

        “This release is dedicated to the memory of Józef Kucia, who passed away in August 2019 at the young age of 30. Józef was a major contributor to Wine’s Direct3D implementation, and the lead developer of the vkd3d project. His skills and his kindness are sorely missed by all of us,” reads today’s announcement.

      • Wine 5.0 released

        Wine 5.0 has been released. The main highlights are builtin modules in PE format, multi-monitor support, XAudio2 reimplementation, and Vulkan 1.1 support.

      • Wine 5.0 Stable Released With Vulkan 1.1 Support, Reimplemented XAudio2, Proper Multi-Monitor Support

        Wine 5.0 is available for download after being in development for a year. This release includes over 7400 changes, the main highlights being proper multi-monitor support, Vulkan 1.1 support, the reimplementation of XAudio2, and built-in modules in the PE format.


        As usual, most of these changes / features were already available in the Wine staging and development builds maintained by WineHQ, which are also used by Lutris, PlayOnLinux or Valve’s Proton for example.


        The Wine 5.0 binaries provided by WineHQ have not yet been built at the time I’m writing this article, but they should be available very soon. That’s why in the screenshot above I’m using Wine 5.0-rc6 (development build). The source is already available for download though.

        It’s worth noting that Wine 5.0 (this started with Wine 4.5 development / staging) is the first stable Wine release that requires the libfaudio0 dependency, which is not available in the Ubuntu 19.04 / Debian 10.1 / Linux Mint 19.* and older repositories, or in the official Wine repository.

      • Wine 5.0 is Released! Here’s How to Install it

        With some efforts, you can run Windows applications on Linux using Wine. Wine is a tool that you may try when you must use a software that is available only on Windows. It supports a number of such software.

        A new major release for Wine has landed i.e Wine 5.0, almost after a year of its 4.0 release.

        Wine 5.0 release introduces a couple of major features and a lot of significant changes/improvements. In this article, I’ll highlight what’s new and also mention the installation instructions.

      • Wine 5.0 has been released

        Linux users rejoice; the team behind the Wine application has released Wine 5.0 for all supported operating systems. Wine 5.0 is as usual available as a binary for certain systems, e.g. Android, Ubuntu, Debian, Fedora and Mac Os, and as source code.

        Wine 4.0, the last major version release, was released one year ago in January 2019. Wine, in a nutshell, lets Linux and Mac users run many Windows applications on their devices. It is great for users who switched to Linux or Mac OS X but want or need access to certain programs.

        Games play a core part probably. Valve uses a modified version of Wine on Steam to provide Linux gamers with access to Windows game.

      • Wine Is Approaching Six Million Lines Of Code

        Given yesterday’s release of Wine 5.0 I was curious to run some development stats on Wine Git as of the 5.0 release tag for seeing how development is trending on this wildly popular program among Linux users especially for running Windows games and applications.

        When running GitStats on the Wine Git repository, it’s now up to 135,558 commits from around 1,586 different authors with the oldest Wine code dating back to its initial release in 1993.

    • Games

      • Albion Online has the ‘biggest-ever’ update now live named ‘Queen’

        The Queen update for the MMO Albion Online is live, what Sandbox Interactive claim is the “biggest-ever”. This is the eighth post-release content update for Albion Online, with a focus on a major rework of the Outlands continent.

        A new Hideouts system sounds quite fun, giving Guilds a place to build a secret underground base in the open-world black zones (full PvP). You will see see a lot more open-world PvP battles with a new territory claiming system, new Elite enemy NPCs to fight in Elite Randomized Dungeons, a new skin customization system, simplified and streamlined Item Power progression and more.

      • Rosewater, a wild west adventure set in the world of Lamplight City is coming to Linux next year

        Grundislav Games along with Application Systems Heidelberg have announced Rosewater, a wild west adventure set in the world of their previous game Lamplight City.

        “It’s been several years since Harley Leger left New Bretagne and headed west, hoping to leave the past behind and make her way as a freelance writer. After arriving in the sleepy border town of Rosewater, a seemingly trivial assignment for the local paper leads to the hunt for a missing man’s fortune–and the story of the century.”

      • Terminal Phase – A Space Shooter Game That Runs In Terminal

        Today, I came across an interesting CLI game called Terminal Space, a space shooter game that runs in your Terminal. It is somewhat similar to a mobile game named Space Impact that usually came bundled with several old Nokia phones. I have played Space Impact game on my Nokia basic model phone several years ago. It was really interesting and addictive game. If you’ve played Space Impact, Terminal Space might look very familiar. It is an open source project released under GPLv3 and is written in Racket programming language. In this brief guide, I am going to show you how to install and play Terminal Phase space shooter game in Terminal on Linux.

      • The Coma 2: Vicious Sisters has a new trailer ahead of the full release next week

        Leaving Early Access on January 28, the Korean-made survival-horror The Coma 2: Vicious Sisters has a new trailer.

        While it’s technically part of a series, you don’t need any amiliarity with the story from The Coma: Recut. Vicious Sisters follows a new protagonist, Mina Park and her first experience in the Shadow Realm. However, if you’ve played the previous game you might spot some familiar faces.

      • Planetary Sanitations Inc, a free and open source world exploration mecha roguelike

        A game I completely forgot to cover some time ago is Planetary Sanitations Inc., a free and open source roguelike that has you exploring different worlds. As you explore, you piece together a mech unit from various modules, each of which can be destroyed individually.

        Thankfully, even though I forgot about it there was a big update to it recently which popped up in my feed so here we are. It’s another game made with Godot Engine, with the source code available up on GitLab. The recent update to it brings in some first steps towards polishing the experience with a proper starting menu and a small tutorial.

      • Terminal Phase, a space shooter you can play in a Terminal window

        Ever wanted to play a space shooter in your Terminal window? Well, now you can with Terminal Phase which was announced recently.

        The developer, Christopher Lemmer Webber, is a name some of you might know as they’re involved in the ActivityPub specification and they’re the co-founder of GNU MediaGoblin amongst other things. Terminal Phase was actually released as a result of hitting a goal on their Patreon page, funding their work in the free software community.

      • The Humble Europa Universalis IV Bundle is live ready to take your time away

        That’s a pretty ridiculously good deal, considering just how much playable content is included with all of that together. As usual though, there’s higher tiers as well.

        If you pay more than the average there’s also: Europa Universalis IV: Rights of Man, Europa Universalis IV: Mare Nostrum, Europa Universalis IV: The Cossacks, Europa Universalis IV: Common Sense and Europa Universalis IV – El Dorado.

      • The original Half-Life games are now free to play until Half-Life: Alyx launches

        Valve have made their original Half-Life titles all the way up to Half-Life 2: Episode Two free to play for a few months.

        This is to build up excitement for their VR-only title, Half-Life: Alyx, which releases in March. Which we still don’t know if it will support Linux or not, I’ll be speaking to Valve more about that closer to the time. It likely all depends on the state of SteamVR at the time.

    • Desktop Environments/WMs

      • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

        • Venturing out

          Plasma 5.18 LTS Beta has been released, which brings many exciting new features to a computer near you, especially if you’re upgrading from our previous LTS release, Plasma 5.12. Of course for us developers this now means that a stable git branch has been created and we can work on new stuff on master to eventually become Plasma 5.19, scheduled for an early June 2020 release. This blog post is less about KDE code, though.

    • Distributions

      • New Releases

        • EasyNAS 1.0 Beta-1

          This doesn’t mean it’s finished. it only means that the firmware update can take this version up to 1.0 GA. Almost most of the features are ready, still there are some edges that need to attend to. Still need to test everything but it will be easier with the new design.
          Updates are hosted from EasyNAS repo that will also have the addons, it will be able to install new packages and distribute new code, new languages even custom apps that someone need.
          Working as fast as I can

      • Screenshots/Screencasts

        • [VIDEO] Linux Laptop Screencast

          A few weeks ago, I wrote about tuning up my Linux laptop for writing. Via YouTube, here’s a very quick (20 minute) screencast. Enjoy!

      • Slackware Family

        • First ‘ktown’ Plasma5 update for Slackware in 2020

          Slackware and Plasma5… what will 2020 bring?

          For starters, Pat just added Kerberos to Slackware-current! That is the first (small but significant) step towards a big change in Slackware which will unfold over the coming period. And at the end of that, I expect that Plasma5 gets folded into the distro as well. Here’s hoping!

          In any case, I just released KDE-5_20.01 and the packages are available for download from my ‘ktown‘ repository. As always, these packages are meant to be installed on a full installation of Slackware-current which has had its KDE4 removed first. These packages will not work on Slackware 14.2.

      • Canonical/Ubuntu Family

        • Canonical’s Anbox Cloud enables Android app and game streaming

          While Canonical’s Ubuntu operating is one of the most popular desktop GNU/Linux distributions, the folks at Canonical have been pushing cloud services pretty hard in recent years (because that’s where the money is). The latest example? Canonical’s new Anbox Cloud solution, which lets developers host mobile apps in the cloud.

          Basically the idea is that instead of running an app or game on your phone, you’d be able to stream it over the web from a remote server. Theoretically this opens the door to running apps and games on any internet-connected device at any time, regardless of whether it’s a $100 smartphone or a $3000 laptop — because the operating system and processing power are all hosted in the cloud, which means it’s almost irrelevant how much processing power the device you’re using has.

        • Canonical Introduces Scalable Android-Based Cloud Platform

          Canonical is deploying a scalable Android-based operating system for mobile and desktop enterprise applications from the cloud.

          The company on Tuesday announced its Anbox Cloud containerized workload platform. Anbox Cloud allows apps to be streamed to any operating system or form factor. Its uses include cloud gaming, enterprise workplace applications, software testing and mobile device virtualization.

          “Anbox Cloud is the first commercially available mobile cloud computing platform,” said Galem Kayo, product manager for Ubuntu at Canonical.

        • Ubuntu 20.04 LTS to drop pre-installed Amazon Web App

          Canonical is finally killing off one of the most annoying features of Ubuntu. With the release of Ubuntu 20.04 LTS, the Amazon Web App will no longer be pre-installed.

          Ubuntu 20.04 LTS “Focal Fossa” will mark the end of the Amazon Web App’s default inclusion in the OS. The Amazon Web App was introduced in Ubuntu 12.10 to the chagrin of many users. Many claimed that the app scraped user search results and system usage to better target ads or products sold by Amazon. Considering one of Linux’s base foundations is the protection of user privacy, the inclusion of an Amazon-centered app flew against one of the core tenants of the OS, at least in the eyes of many users.

        • Ubuntu Studio: New Website!

          Ubuntu Studio has had the same website design for nearly 9 years. Today, that changed.

        • Ubuntu Server development summary – 21 January 2020

          The purpose of this communication is to provide a status update and highlights for any interesting subjects from the Ubuntu Server Team. If you would like to reach the server team, you can find us at the #ubuntu-server channel on Freenode. Alternatively, you can sign up and use the Ubuntu Server Team mailing list or visit the Ubuntu Server discourse hub for more discussion.

        • Ubuntu 19.04 Disco Dingo End of Life- JAN 2020

          Ubuntu 19.04 Disco Dingo– It is been 9 months from the date of release of the interim release from Canonical, the Ubuntu 19.04 codenamed Disco Dingo. Through all the positive and negative critics, Ubuntu 19.04 has done its job very well. Disco Dingo was released on April 18, 2019, with a lot of latest updates that included GNOME desktop 3.32, Trackers by default, Safe Graphics Mode, Yaru theme with updates and refinement and a lot more. Throughout its journey, Disco Dingo did well and it is time to bid farewell to it. Though the end of life cycle of Ubuntu 19.04 Disco Dingo is mentioned as January 2020, there is no official confirmation from Canonical about the exact date of the end of life of the Disco Dingo.

          Ubuntu 19.04 Disco Dingo reaches its end by the end of January 2020. The date is not released by Canonical yet.

    • Devices/Embedded

    • Free, Libre, and Open Source Software

      • ProtonVPN goes open source to build trust

        The Swiss firm says that not only is it releasing the source code for its VPN tool on all platforms, but also that it has conducted an independent security audit. Created by CERN scientists, ProtonVPN has amassed millions of users since it launched in 2017 and the decision to open source the tool gives users and security exports the opportunity to analyze the tool very closely.

      • An Open Source Effort to Encrypt the Internet of Things

        End-to-end encryption is a staple of secure messaging apps like WhatsApp and Signal. It ensures that no one—even the app developer—can access your data as it traverses the web. But what if you could bring some version of that protection to increasingly ubiquitous—and notoriously insecure—internet-of-things devices?

      • Why UK leaders need open technology for the disrupted future

        We’re not quite past the post with Brexit, but thankfully, we have moved beyond the Brexit hiatus. And, it’s time we did. Whatever your views on the merits of Brexit, as the UK’s Prime Minister has stressed, it’s time to move on and move forward.

        In fact, there may be no better time to spread the word about being open for business by highlighting the benefits of open technology. It is a task that all business leaders in the UK need to embrace. By seizing the moment to “get open done”, we can not only develop and sustain the UK’s leadership in open technology, but also carve out our status on the world stage for many years to come.

        The timing couldn’t be better. It’s a pivotal moment to demonstrate how declaring our independence of European markets does not equate with a lack of collaboration or creativity.

        Brexit offers us a convenient pause; a time for us to take stock and reflect on who we are as a nation and what we can offer global markets. We’ve had our fair share of inventors and game-changers in the past. Now, we have an opportunity to show the UK can lead in technology.

      • Graphics

        • wayland 1.17.91
          This is the alpha release for Wayland 1.18. Here's a highlight of the
          biggest changes:
          - Add support for the Meson build system (autotools is still supported
            but will be removed in a future release)
          - Add API to tag proxy objects to allow applications and toolkits to
            share the same Wayland connection
          - Track wayland-server timers in user-space to prevent creating too
            many FDs
          - Add wl_global_remove, a new function to mitigate race conditions with
          Thanks to all contributors!
          Full commit history below.
          Antonio Borneo (1):
                log: remove "%m" from format strings by using strerror(errno)
          Daniel Stone (2):
                build/doc: Ensure destination dir exists despite VPATH
                display-test: Remove unused variables
          Drew DeVault (3):
                Document unusual wl_registry.bind new_id behavior
                Add .editorconfig
                Improve description of wl_surface
          Emmanuel Gil Peyrot (2):
                cursor: Use memfd_create() when available
                wayland-shm: Don’t set SIGBUS handlers on unshrinkable fd
          Emmanuele Bassi (2):
                Support running tests from different build directories
                Add Meson build
          Harish Krupo (2):
                docs: Abort configure if docbook-xsl package is missing
                wayland.xml: document invalid_finish error in wl_data_offer.finish
          Jiayuan Ren (1):
                adding O_RDWR flag in the open()
          Jonas Ådahl (1):
                proxy: Add API to tag proxy objects
          Joshua Watt (2):
                scanner: Add configure check for strndup
                Move wl_priv_signal to wayland-server-private.h
          Leonid Bobrov (1):
                configure: detect libdl and librt
          Liu Wenlong (1):
                server: Fix fake "Address already in use" error
          Manuel Stoeckl (13):
                scanner: error when element names will not compile
                tests: Verify that wayland_scanner can catch bad identifiers
                protocol: clarify wl_display.delete_id description
                connection: do not abort when dup(fd) fails
                client: Ignore new requests if display has a fatal error
                client: Don't abort when sending a request fails
                tests: Test that send overflow doesn't abort
                tests: Fix race condition in send overflow test
                tests: Ensure that overflow test always overflows
                event-loop-test: Verify proper timer cancellation
                event-loop-test: Confirm distant timers do not fire
                event-loop: Track timer event sources in userspace
                event-loop-test: Add test to verify timer ordering
          Marty E. Plummer (1):
                scanner: prepend protocol name to types symbol
          Michael Forney (3):
                Use wl_container_of internally
                Avoid pointer arithmetic on `void *`
                protocol: fix typo in wl_data_offer.set_actions description
          Mosè Giordano (1):
                Add $(RT_LIBS) to fixed-benchmark LD dependencies
          Pekka Paalanen (2):
                configure.ac: reopen master for regular development
                scanner: include config.h from command line
          Scott Anderson (1):
                wayland.xml: Make releases for multiple 'wl_surface.attach' undefined
          Simon Ser (22):
                Add releasing.txt
                releasing: adapt for Wayland
                releasing: fixup section numbers
                protocol: allow to send a zero output refresh rate
                client: check event opcode in queue_event
                Update .editorconfig for Python
                Add an automated script to update wl_shm.format
                protocol: add a comment about the wl_shm.format script
                protocol: sync wl_shm.format with libdrm 2.4.99
                server: check global interface on bind
                tests: test that binding to a global with an interface mismatch fails
                protocol: invalid_method is sent on malformed request
                server: add wl_global_set_user_data
                server: add wl_global_remove
                tests: add a test for wl_global_remove
                build: check wayland-scanner version
                Revert "build: check wayland-scanner version"
                meson: use strict wayland-scanner mode
                autotools: use strict wayland-scanner mode
                build: check wayland-scanner version
                protocol: add missing enums for wl_data_device_manager.dnd_action
                build: bump to version 1.17.91 for the alpha release
          asynts (1):
                doc: Expand the abbreviation "hw" to "hardware".
          orbea (1):
                Add a missing -pthread to fix compile with slibtool.
          git tag: 1.17.91
        • Wayland 1.18 Alpha Released With Meson Support, Connection Sharing

          Wayland 1.18 is adding Meson build system support so that Autotools can be dropped in a future release, API support for allowing applications and toolkits to share the same Wayland connection, better handling over file descriptors, and wl_global_remove as a new function for mitigating race conditions with globals. There are also various test improvements, improved documentation, and various other fixes and minor improvements.

        • Linux on Embedded Ryzen with Radeon

          American Micro Devices (AMD) has released the Ryzen processors which works very well with Linux. The embedded processor also contains a Graphical Processing Unit (GPU) which is an AMD Ryzen Vega.

          The board I am using is the IBase 918f-1605 to install Linux. Linux can be installed from a stock ISO, but the system does not perform as well unless using a special Linux kernel from AMD. It also helps to have the proper GPU driver for performance. Stability is much better with the AMD kernel they provide on their website.

        • Keith Packard Talks About The Early Politics Of X Window System + Code Licensing

          At last week’s Linux.Conf.Au conference was an interesting presentation by longtime X developer Keith Packard on the early days of the pre-X.Org X Window System, the collapse of Unix, and how his views formed on copyleft licenses for building thriving communities.

          Keith’s LCA 2020 presentation is focused on the X happenings largely during the 80′s and very early 90′s. Keith’s involvement goes back to the 80′s during which he was employed at MIT as part of the X Consortium.

        • Keith Packard: lca2020

          I just got back from linux.conf.au 2020 on Saturday and am still adjusting to being home again. I had the opportunity to give three presentations during the conference and wanted to provide links to the slides and videos.

      • Web Browsers

        • Mozilla

          • The Mozilla Developer Roadshow: Asia Tour Retrospective and 2020 Plans

            November 2019 was a busy month for the Mozilla Developer Roadshow, with stops in five Asian cities —Tokyo, Seoul, Taipei, Singapore, and Bangkok. Today, we’re releasing a playlist of the talks presented in Asia.

            We are extremely pleased to include subtitles for all these talks in languages spoken in the countries on this tour: Japanese, Korean, Chinese, Thai, as well as English. One talk, Hui Jing Chen’s “Making CSS from Good to Great: The Power of Subgrid”, was delivered in Singlish (a Singaporean creole) at the event in Singapore!

            In addition, because our audiences included non-native English speakers, presenters took care to include local language vocabulary in their talks, wherever applicable, and to speak slowly and clearly. We hope to continue to provide multilingual support for our video content in the future, to increase access for all developers worldwide.

          • CRLite: Speeding Up Secure Browsing

            CRLite pushes bulk certificate revocation information to Firefox users, reducing the need to actively query such information one by one. Additionally this new technology eliminates the privacy leak that individual queries can bring, and does so for the whole Web, not just special parts of it. The first two posts in this series about the newly-added CRLite technology provide background: Introducing CRLite: All of the Web PKI’s revocations, compressed and The End-to-End Design of CRLite.

            Since mid-December, our pre-release Firefox Nightly users have been evaluating our CRLite system while performing normal web browsing. Gathering information through Firefox Telemetry has allowed us to verify the effectiveness of CRLite.

          • Niko Matsakis: Async Interview #5: Steven Fackler

            Hello! For the latest async interview, I spoke with Steven Fackler (sfackler). sfackler has been involved in Rust for a long time and is a member of the Rust libs team. He is also the author of a lot of crates, most notably tokio-postgres.

            I particularly wanted to talk to sfackler about the AsyncRead and AsyncWrite traits. These traits are on everybody’s list of “important things to stabilize”, particularly if we want to create more interop between different executors and runtimes. On the other hand, in [tokio-rs/tokio#1744], the tokio project is considering adopting its own variant traits that diverge significantly from those in the futures crate, precisely because they have concerns over the design of the traits as is. This seems like an important area to dig into!

      • SaaS/Back End/Databases

        • Acculturation Guide

          The Acculturation Guide is a hands-on “boot camp” for those interested in the configuration, administration and operation of applications on YottaDB. This file is the script (or workbook) for the workshop, consisting of the exercises below.

          At the end of these exercises, you should have a basic working knowledge of the essential aspects of YottaDB Administration and Operation. While this workshop alone will not by any means make you a YottaDB expert, the basic working knowledge it will give you will help you to quickly understand the concepts explained in the user documentation and put you on the path to becoming an expert.

          The workshop is not a course in programming with YottaDB. Familiarity with Linux® (or at least UNIX®) will allow you to move faster through the material, but is not absolutely required. If you have no experience whatsoever with Linux or UNIX, supplementary tutorial material on the side will increase your level of comfort.

        • Where InfluxDB time series database is going

          Paul Dix: So in mid-2012, I started this company and basically we wanted to build a SaaS [software as a service] product for doing real-time metrics and monitoring. Initially my idea was I wanted to do anomaly detection and machine learning on data sets, but to build that we first had to build all the infrastructure, so we could collect time series data at scale and query it.

          Fast forward, basically another year, and we went to Y Combinator, we did the winter of 2013 batch and this product wasn’t really taking off. But I could see that there was something from an infrastructure perspective. We did have some customers paying us and I talked to them, asked why they were paying us. They told us that they were using our product as a time series platform.

          So we pivoted and the goal was initially to build a database, but that later morphed into being an entire platform for working with time series data. My goal was to build something that was generally useful for developers to create their applications with.

      • Productivity Software/LibreOffice/Calligra

        • Accessibility checker and support for PDF/UA specs

          PDF/UA or ISO 14289 is a specifications that defines the requirements for accessibility in a PDF document. The specification defines the required structure and formatting of the document (also refers to WCAG specification from W3C for use on the web) and PDF features, which should be enabled or disabled so the document is better suited for accessibility (for example PDF tags are required).

          Thanks to the Dutch Standardisation Forum for financially sponsoring and Collabora Productivity in cooperation with Nou&Off for the work on implementing this specification into LibreOffice.

      • BSD

        • FreeBSD is an amazing operating system

          What I failed to realize back then was that FreeBSD was (and it still is) designed as a complete multi-purpose operating system meant to be setup and tuned according to specific use cases. When I occasionally installed FreeBSD it didn’t always perform as well as a default Debian GNU/Linux installation for the same task. Even FreeBSD on my FTP server at home eventually got replaced by Debian GNU/Linux because FreeBSD had to be rebooted every third day or so otherwise the performance degraded a lot. Debian on the other hand performed without any “hick-ups”.

          Later in the years to come GNU/Linux also got better hardware support, and often when I wanted to install FreeBSD some stupid hardware didn’t work. Hardware was very expensive back then and I didn’t have the option to purchase hardware that I knew would work on FreeBSD. All of these issues eventually made me use GNU/Linux more than FreeBSD. Today this is no longer a problem as FreeBSD has great support for most modern hardware.

          Later I discovered and learned about many of the tuneable options and specific settings in FreeBSD, which makes it possible for the system administrator to tailer FreeBSD to his specific needs. I eventually ended up using FreeBSD as my main desktop computer for a very long time.

          Some of the things I love about FreeBSD are: [...]

        • u2k20 Hackathon Report: Alexandr Nedvedicky on PF anchors work

          Looking back everything could have be done with simple one-liner diff, which was just good enough for my particular use case. But the diff itself would not bring much improvement to pf(4). It feels so good to see, how quite a few people helped me to put stuff in shape, which brings us one step closer towards perfect pf(4).

        • u2k20 Hackathon Report: Tracey Emery on GotWeb

          Stefan Sperling and I started a discussion in November about a CGI program, which would work in httpd(8), use the Game of Trees library along with the kcgi library by Kristaps Dzonsons, to display repository information in a browser. I was getting frustrated with working on my own project and was looking for something else to hack on. So, I told Stefan that I’d take a crack at Gotweb.

        • Why you should migrate everything from Linux to BSD

          A Linux distribution is a collection of tools written by different groups of people, often with conflicting interests and priorities, and because of this fragmented structure of the GNU/Linux operating system, the project as a whole is rapidly spinning out of control as it gets pushed around by commercial interests.

          Even the best GNU/Linux distributions, such as Debian GNU/Linux and Arch Linux, that are still driven by Open Source enthusiasts, are not immune to this problem because they still depend heavily on the fragmented tools.

          In my article The real motivation behind systemd I have previously written about how the primary reason for developing systemd is Red Hat’s interests in embedded devices. Initially systemd was released as a new init system, but it has slowly grown into what Poettering describes as “a suite of software that provides fundamental building blocks for a Linux operating system.” This is by design, not by coincidence.

        • Why you should migrate everything from Linux to BSD – part 2

          It is correct that Netflix is one of the biggest commercial contributors to FreeBSD, but this has nothing to do with “hijacking” as in the Linux world. Netflix is contributing all the improvements they make on FreeBSD back to the project. All the performance enhancements they have made has been contributed back to FreeBSD. This is very beneficial for FreeBSD.

          But Netflix is in no way trying to influence the FreeBSD project or trying to “hijack” FreeBSD. They don’t need to. The BSD license makes it possible for Netflix to do whatever they want with FreeBSD, and they could easily just use FreeBSD without contributing anything back. However, Netflix has decided to give something back to the project and the least they could do was to contribute the improvements they have made.

          With regard to the services that Netflix provides and their so-called DRM content that can only be played using their proprietary application, and other proprietary project based upon FreeBSD, then that has no influence on FreeBSD, and that has absolutely nothing to do with “hijacking”. None of these projects are affecting FreeBSD.


          With the recent forced adoption of DRM going into the Linux kernel, and Linus Torvalds several detached statements from reality, and his complete disregard for many of the important matters in the Linux world, where he clearly doesn’t care about how the companies are affecting the development (lots of bloatware), the future of the Linux kernel doesn’t look bright, not from a privacy perspective and not from a security perspective.

      • Programming/Development

        • 9 favorite open source tools for Node.js developers

          I recently read a survey on StackOverflow that said more than 49% of developers use Node.js for their projects. This came as no surprise to me.

          As an avid user of technology, I think it’s safe to say that the introduction of Node.js led to a new era of software development. It is now one of the most preferred technologies for software development, right next to JavaScript.

        • Operator pattern: REST API for Kubernetes and Red Hat OpenShift

          In this article, we will see a similar pattern when writing the REST API in any known framework vs. writing an Operator using Kubernetes’ client libraries. The idea behind this article is not to explain how to write a REST API, but instead to explain the internals of Kubernetes by working with an analogy.

        • Rust framework dev says ‘I’m done with Open Source’…has second thoughts

          The main developer behind a Rust actor framework pulled the code behind the project in apparent protest against an “unsafe sh*tstorm” against him last week.

          And while the coder in question now appears to have nominated new leadership to continue the project, the apparent “ragequit” has prompted questions about the dynamics within the open source community.


          “You could notice after each unsafe shitstorm, I started to spend less and less time with the community,” he continued. “You felt betrayed after you put so much effort and then to hear all this sh*t comments, even if you understand that that is usual internet behavior. Anyway, removing issue was a stupid idea. But I was pissed off with last two personal comments, especially while sitting and thinking how to solve the problem. I am sorry for doing that.” [SIC]

        • How to Write and Run a C Program in Linux

          Linux is becoming programming heaven for developers, being an open-source and free operating system. Turbo C compiler is already an old approach to compile programs so let us programmers move to Linux for a new programming environment. In this article,

        • TechWiser’s giant Raspberry Pi AirPod speaker (and more)

          YouTube is a haven for awesome Raspberry Pi projects, and we often spend time scanning through the platform’s wares for hidden gems. One such hidden gem is this video from TechWiser, in which they showcase some of their favourite Raspberry Pi projects:

        • Perl / Raku

          • Springtime in Switzerland

            During the same week I’ll also be giving a half-day seminar on Raku, which has been generously sponsored by EPFL and so will cost nothing to attend. It’s suitable for anyone who would like a quick but comprehensive overview of this remarkable new programming language.

            Besides making the Raku seminar entirely free, SIB/UNIL/EPFL have done an amazing job
            keeping the prices of the other classes extremely competitive…especially if you can claim a plausible association to any academic institution, either as a student or staff member.

            If you’re looking for some training that’s economical, practical, and just plain fun,
            in a location that’s central, civilised, and simply breathtaking, then this week
            in Switzerland might fit just the bill.

        • Python

          • PyCoder’s Weekly: Issue #404 (Jan. 21, 2020)
          • Basic Data Types in Python

            In this step-by-step course, you’ll dig into the basic data types that are built into Python.

          • Python 3.7.5 : Django security issues – part 002.
          • Python 3.7.5 : Use Django Formsets.

            Django Formsets manage the complexity of multiple copies of a form in a view.
            This simplifies the task of creating a formset for a form that handles multiple instances of a model.

          • A quick-and-dirty guide on how to install packages for Python

            When people start learning Python, they often will come across a package they want to try and it will usually start with “just pip install it!” The problem with that advice is it’s a very simplistic view of how to manage packages and can actually lead to problems down the road. And while there is a tutorial on installing packages at packaging.python.org, it might be a bit intimidating for some if they are just looking to quickly get up and going.

            If you just want to start poking at Python and want to avoid the pitfalls to installing packages globally, it only takes 3 steps to do the right thing.

        • Shell/Bash/Zsh/Ksh

          • Hunting gremlins

            In the UTF-8 files I audit, the only invisible characters I expect to see… er… not see… are whitespace (hexadecimal 20), horizontal tab (09) and newline (linefeed; 0a). All others I call “gremlins”. They include carriage return (0d), no-break space (c2 a0), soft hyphen (c2 ad) and another 62 control characters.

            Gremlins are a nuisance. One gremlin causes a shell to hang. Less evil gremlins lurk inside apparently OK strings and cause the strings to be processed weirdly. In the file “demo1″, two of the strings contain no-break spaces (in different places), two contain soft hyphens (in different places) and three have no gremlins.

          • A more expressive Bash prompt

            Bash provides some interesting built-in specifiers for the prompt strings PS1.

          • Screenshot your Linux system configuration with Bash tools

            There are many reasons you might want to share your Linux configuration with other people. You might be looking for help troubleshooting a problem on your system, or maybe you’re so proud of the environment you’ve created that you want to showcase it to fellow open source enthusiasts.

            You could get some of that information with a cat /proc/cpuinfo or lscpu command at the Bash prompt. But if you want to share more details, such as your operating system, kernel, uptime, shell environment, screen resolution, etc., you have two great tools to choose: screenFetch and Neofetch.

      • Standards/Consortia

        • ODF 1.3 approved as OASIS Committee Specification

          OASIS is pleased to announce that Open Document Format for Office Applications (OpenDocument) v1.3 from the OpenDocument TC has been approved as an OASIS Committee Specification.

          The OpenDocument Format is an open XML-based document file format for office applications, to be used for documents containing text, spreadsheets, charts, and graphical elements. OpenDocument Format v1.3 is an update to the international standard Version 1.2, which was approved by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) as ISO/IEC 26300 in 2015. OpenDocument Format v1.3 includes improvements for document security, clarifies underspecifications and makes other timely improvements.

          The OpenDocument Format specifies the characteristics of an open XML-based application-independent and platform-independent digital document file format, as well as the characteristics of software applications which read, write and process such documents. It is applicable to document authoring, editing, viewing, exchange and archiving, including text documents, spreadsheets, presentation graphics, drawings, charts and similar documents commonly used by personal productivity software applications.

          This Committee Specification is an OASIS deliverable, completed and approved by the TC and fully ready for testing and implementation.

  • Leftovers

    • Gustave Flaubert Anticipated Our Surreal New Normal

      Are we all trapped in a live-action version of Flaubert’s “Madame Bovary”?

    • Science

      • Emil’s Story as a Self-Taught AI Researcher

        For this Humans of Machine Learning (#humansofml) interview, I’m super excited to share my conversation with Emil Wallner. Emil is living, breathing proof that it’s possible to pursue serious AI research as a self-taught creator. Emil is currently doing machine learning research at Google Art & Culture and an independent researcher in reasoning.

      • Pop Culture May Evolve at the Same Rate as Birds and Bugs

        We like to think modern culture moves at a dizzying pace, fueled by a relentless parade of new works of music, literature, and technological design. Change in nature, by contrast, seems to follow a slower trajectory as genetic mutations over generations give animals bigger teeth, say, or a better camouflage. But maybe the opposite is true, and human culture doesn’t move so fast and we consumers are less eager to embrace change than we realize.

        That’s the conclusion of a new study by a group of British researchers who analyzed rates of change for popular songs, English literature, scientific papers, and car design. Using metrics designed by evolutionary biologists, they compared the rates of cultural change to the rates of biological change for finches from the Galapagos Islands, two kinds of moths, and a common British snail. The result was kind of surprising: Biology and culture move at about the same speed.

    • Health/Nutrition

      • America’s Radioactive Secret

        Through a grassroots network of Ohio activists, Peter was able to transfer 11 samples of brine to the Center for Environmental Research and Education at Duquesne University, which had them tested in a lab at the University of Pittsburgh. The results were striking.

        Radium, typically the most abundant radionuclide in brine, is often measured in picocuries per liter of substance and is so dangerous it’s subject to tight restrictions even at hazardous-waste sites. The most common isotopes are radium-226 and radium-228, and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission requires industrial discharges to remain below 60 for each. Four of Peter’s samples registered combined radium levels above 3,500, and one was more than 8,500.

        “It’s ridiculous that these drivers are not being told what’s in their trucks,” says John Stolz, Duquesne’s environmental-center director. “And this stuff is on every corner — it is in neighborhoods. Truckers don’t know they’re being exposed to radioactive waste, nor are they being provided with protective clothing.

      • WHO Reports Reveal Weak Pipeline for Antibiotic Agents

        The Director-General of WHO, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, noted that “[n]ever has the threat of antimicrobial resistance been more immediate and the need for solutions more urgent,” adding that “[n]umerous initiatives are underway to reduce resistance, but we also need countries and the pharmaceutical industry to step up and contribute with sustainable funding and innovative new medicines.” WHO also pointed out that research and development for antibiotics is primarily driven by small- or medium-sized enterprises, and that large pharmaceutical companies continue to exit the field of antibiotic research.


        WHO Assistant Director-General for Antimicrobial Resistance, Hanan Balkhy, stated that “[i]t’s important to focus public and private investment on the development of treatments that are effective against the highly resistant bacteria because we are running out of options.” WHO also noted that with respect to antibiotic research and development, WHO and the Drugs for Neglected Diseases Initiative (DNDi) have established the Global Antibiotic Research and Development Partnership (GARDP), a non-profit research and development organization that is working with more than fifty public and private sector partners in twenty countries to accelerate the development of new and improved antibiotics to tackle drug-resistant infections. GARDP’s goal is to deliver five new treatments by 2025.

    • Integrity/Availability

      • Proprietary

        • Security

          • Cops: Waze App Directs Casino-Bound Drivers Into Wilderness

            “The address on the ad lists 1 Borgata Way in Atlantic City NJ, which is correct, the location pinned with the ad is actually in the middle of the Colliers Mills Wildlife Management Area, near Lake Success.”

          • Senators to Trump administration: Protect small businesses from Iranian [cracking] threat [iophk: Windows TCO]

            The advisory from DHS’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency warned of Iran’s history of “disruptive and destructive cyber operations against strategic targets” and advised U.S. organizations to consider whether they make an attractive target for the Iranians. According to the FBI, those potential private-sector targets include cleared defense contractors.

          • Privacy/Surveillance

            • Verizon Launches New Private Search Engine In Hopes You’ve Forgotten Its Terrible Track Record On Privacy

              We’ve noted for some time now how Verizon desperately wants to pivot from dull old broadband provider to sexy, Millennial-focused, video advertising juggernaut. To accomplish this task, Verizon acquired both Yahoo and AOL, smushed them together, then hoped this would be enough to compete with the likes of Google and Facebook. The effort distracted the company from upgrading or repairing much of its fixed-line broadband footprint, since investing in networks isn’t profitable enough, quickly enough, for many on Wall Street.

            • California’s Ban Of Facial Recognition Tech Killed Off San Diego’s Mostly Useless Biometric Program

              California’s ban on use of facial recognition tech by law enforcement showed the state’s government is willing to get out ahead of potential privacy issues. The tech is as popular as it is unproven. Law enforcement agencies strongly believe facial recognition will help it apprehend criminals more efficiently, but the available data simply doesn’t back up this belief.

            • 4000 “smart” streetlights in San Diego contain always recording cameras and microphones

              As you walk down the street, it’s hard to imagine that your privacy could be violated by the street light above you – but in San Diego, California, this nightmare is currently reality. San Diego’s City Council is seeking a moratorium on a contract that allowed General Electric (GE) to install thousands of surveillance cameras and microphones in city street lights, and sell the data collected from these cameras and microphones to third parties. The Union Tribune also found that San Diego’s city council had approved police access to these cameras and microphones.

            • Go read this NYT expose on a creepy new facial recognition database used by US police

              Hundreds of law enforcement agencies across the US have started using a new facial recognition system from Clearview AI, a new investigation by The New York Times has revealed. The database is made up of billions of images scraped from millions of sites including Facebook, YouTube, and Venmo. The Times says that Clearview AI’s work could “end privacy as we know it,” and the piece is well worth a read in its entirety.

              The use of facial recognition systems by police is already a growing concern, but the scale of Clearview AI’s database, not to mention the methods it used to assemble it, is particularly troubling. The Clearview system is built upon a database of over three billion images scraped from the internet, a process which may have violated websites’ terms of service. Law enforcement agencies can upload photos of any persons of interest from their cases, and the system returns matching pictures from the internet, along with links to where these images are hosted, such as social media profiles.

            • Apple dropped plan for encrypting backups after FBI complained – sources

              Apple Inc dropped plans to let iPhone users fully encrypt backups of their devices in the company’s iCloud service after the FBI complained that the move would harm investigations, six sources familiar with the matter told Reuters.

              The tech giant’s reversal, about two years ago, has not previously been reported. It shows how much Apple has been willing to help US law enforcement and intelligence agencies, despite taking a harder line in high-profile legal disputes with the government and casting itself as a defender of its customers’ information.

    • Defence/Aggression

      • Far Right Groups Are Rallying Virginia Counties to Form Militias

        An estimated 22,000 people attended the rally against looming gun restrictions in Virginia yesterday in the state capital of Richmond. The week leading up to it was filled with warnings of potential violence, wild conspiracy theories, threats against lawmakers, and indications that white supremacist groups would attend. Three neo-Nazis were arrested before the event for threats related to it, and the governor passed an emergency decree banning guns inside the rally due to threats. After the buildup, the rally itself was anticlimactic; there were no incidents and only a single arrest. But the events have energized the Patriot movement and militia groups to encourage the formation of new, armed political forms in rural Virginia counties, many of which have vowed to reject the gun restrictions.

      • The Military-Industrial Complex Gets Away With Murder in Contract After Contract

        Call it a colossal victory for a Pentagon that hasn’t won a war in this century, but not for the rest of us. Congress only recently passed and the president approved one of the largest Pentagon budgets ever. It will surpass spending at the peaks of both the Korean and Vietnam wars. As last year ended, as if to highlight the strangeness of all this, the Washington Post broke a story about a “confidential trove of government documents” — interviews with key figures involved in the Afghan War by the Office of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction — revealing the degree to which senior Pentagon leaders and military commanders understood that the war was failing. Yet, year after year, they provided “rosy pronouncements they knew to be false,” while “hiding unmistakable evidence that the war had become unwinnable.”

      • How Corporate Media Feeds America’s Bloodlust

        Even when critical of US actions, media commentary on recent US bombings and assassinations in the Middle East is premised on the assumption that the US has the right to use violence (or the threat of it) to assert its will, anytime, anywhere. Conversely, corporate media coverage suggests that any countermeasure—such as resistance to the US presence in Iraq—is inherently illegitimate, criminal and/or terroristic.

      • The US’s Inalienable Right to Violence

        Even when critical of US actions, media commentary on recent US bombings and assassinations in the Middle East is premised on the assumption that the US has the right to use violence (or the threat of it) to assert its will, anytime, anywhere. Conversely, corporate media coverage suggests that any countermeasure—such as resistance to the US presence in Iraq—is inherently illegitimate, criminal and/or terroristic.

    • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

      • Andy Worthington and Kristina Borjesson Return – The Project Censored Show

        In the second half of the program, journalist and filmmaker Kristina Borjesson summarizes the turns her career took when her investigative work went beyond what her corporate media employers wanted. She also explains her new project, a podcast by and for whistleblowers called The Whistleblower Newsroom.

    • Environment

      • How Long Before the Regime Falls in Iran?

        One man I spoke to believes he knows what will ultimately fire up the opposition to the regime: water. Iran is running out, fast. Nothing to do with climate change, and everything to do with the sort of epic state mismanagement reminiscent of China’s “Great Leap Forward.”

        I learnt this from Nikahang Kowsar. Dedicated Iran watchers know Kowsar as an outsized critic of the regime, a voice amplified by his skill as a political cartoonist. If you’ve ever seen a cartoon about Iran imbued with a brilliant, brutal sarcasm, odds are Kowsar drew it. His work has appeared in prominent outlets around the world, but before he ever picked up his cartoonist’s pen he was a geologist. He was ultimately forced to leave Iran after being imprisoned and interrogated for his cartoons mocking the regime. But before that happened, he told the so-called “moderate” president of Iran, Mohammed Khatami, that Iran’s water management practices were going to eventually push the regime off a cliff. Kowsar believes his warning, delivered almost 20 years ago, is about to become a reality. Iran is headed for a drought of biblical proportions, according to him, one that is already underway if you look at rural migration patterns. And continuing regime mismanagement is making it worse: [...]

        [...] Kowsar asserts the people moving to the cities—shantytowns and slums, for the most part—are rural people who can no longer work their land as they’re running out of water. He estimates that Iran has an annual water deficit of close to 20 billion cubic meters of and is making up the shortfall by drawing down the aquifers at a terrifying pace:

      • Greta Thunberg’s Message at Davos Forum: ‘Our House Is Still on Fire’

        Greta Thunberg on Tuesday punched a hole in the promises emerging from a forum of the global political and business elite and offered instead an ultimatum: Stop investing in fossil fuels immediately, or explain to your children why you did not protect them from the “climate chaos” you created.

      • ‘The Driving Force Is to Help Polluters Get Their Permits Faster’
      • The Climate Solution That Could Make Poor Countries Richer

        Californian scientists have just made a case for geo-engineering as a solution to the climate crisis. One stratospheric technology – the reflection of incoming sunlight back into space – could do more than just lower global average temperatures.

      • Energy

      • Wildlife/Nature

        • Trump’s Border Wall Is an Environmental Disaster

          Prominent on the list of suspended laws is the 1970 National Environmental Policy Act, or NEPA, which, until recently, was the nation’s look-before-you-leap conscience. The environmental analyses and impact statements NEPA requires might not force the government to evaluate whether a palisade of 30-foot-high metal posts—bollards in border wall terminology—were really a better way to control drug smuggling than upgrading inspection facilities at ports of entry, where, by all accounts, the vast majority of illegal substances enter the country. They would, however, require those wall builders to figure out in advance a slew of other gnarly questions like: How will wildlife be affected by a barrier that nothing larger than a kangaroo rat can get through? And how much will pumping scarce local water to make concrete draw down shallow desert aquifers?

          The questions get big, fast. One that might look easy but isn’t concerns the flash floods that stream down desert washes. The uprights of the border wall are to be spaced only four inches apart, which means they’ll catch flood debris the way a colander catches spaghetti.

        • Rock Stacks Might Look Great on Your Insta, But There’s a Dark Side to The Magic

          According to Clemann, the problem can present itself even when well-meaning rock-balancers replace the rocks where they originally found them, because even the simple act of removing stones once can be enough to disrupt animals, who may then have to abandon their compromised habitat.

          Another issue is soil erosion, where rock removal exposes previously hidden soil, making it more likely to wash away, which diminishes the land that plants can grow in.

          The disturbances threaten animals in aquatic environments too, just as they do on land.

        • How the #rockstacking Instagram trend is putting endangered species at risk

          “That destroys the burrow system for those lizards and it can knock those colonies out,” he said.

          Damaging, disturbing or destroying wildlife habitat is illegal in Victoria, and carries a maximum penalty of more than $8,000.

          Victoria’s Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning has urged anyone with information about disturbances or destruction of wildlife habitat to report it on 136 186.

        • The Crazy Story of How Florida Panthers Were Saved From Extinction
    • Finance

    • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

      • Is Hillary Clinton Running for President Again? Sure Seems Like It.

        Did Hillary Clinton become a candidate for the Democratic nomination on Tuesday? Not officially, but I’m pretty damned certain she’s in it now just the same, hoping for a confluence of circumstances that can catapult her to the office she has so spectacularly failed to obtain.

      • The Trump Coup to Come

        America’s political authoritarianism comes in different, yet combined, mutually reinforcing forms. We have the neofascist authoritarianism of the white nationalist Republican Party, its Great Dog-Wagging God in the White House and his cultish, white-Amerikaner base.

      • Planned Parenthood Endorses Challenger to Sen. Susan Collins

        PPlanned Parenthood on Tuesday endorsed a Democratic challenger to Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, saying Collins “turned her back” on women and citing her vote to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court as well as other judicial nominees who oppose abortion.

      • Abuses of Power in Trumpworld and Davos

        One thing he did not say is that the whatever-it-takes abuses of economic and political power such as he and much of his audience are engaged in threaten to destroy capitalism, democracy and the planet.

      • How Trump Manufactured the Hunter Biden-Ukraine Scandal

        Trump’s weaponization of information was complete.

      • Cambodia: Opposition Leader’s Trial Blocked to Public


        Cambodian police officers stand guard in front of the Phnom Penh Municipal Court during a hearing of Kem Sokha, the head of the dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party, in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Thursday, Jan. 16, 2020. 

      • Saudi Arabian prince reportedly hacked Jeff Bezos’ phone with malicious WhatsApp message

        According to the report, Bezos and the Saudi prince were having a friendly exchange over WhatsApp when the crown prince’s account sent a mysterious video file, after which Bezos’ device was compromised and large amounts of data were transferred off the phone, The Guardian reports. Heir apparent to the Saudi throne, Prince Mohammed was embroiled last year in the controversy over the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, and has faced growing outcry over his country’s civil rights record.

      • Saudi Arabia calls for probe into ‘absurd’ reports of Bezos phone [cracking]

        “Recent media reports that suggest the Kingdom is behind a hacking of Mr. Jeff Bezos’ phone are absurd,” the Saudi Embassy in Washington, D.C., tweeted. “We call for an investigation on these claims so that we can have all the facts out.”

      • The Referees Have Taken Trump’s Side

        I’ve covered sports for 40 years, not politics. Maybe that’s why I’m so bamboozled by this impeachment case in the U.S. Senate. Republicans are going to try Donald Trump with no witnesses? Some jurors have already announced they’re voting not guilty? The guy who makes the rules—Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky—gets his marching orders from the accused himself?

        Can you imagine if we did sports like this?

      • The Loser President

        Warren may be ready, and her critique throughout the current campaign—“Call me old-fashioned, but I think the person who gets the most votes should win”—is right. But for the most part, Democrats have been slow to recognize the immediate and long-term challenges they face when it comes to the Electoral College.

        They’re good at griping about the 18th century construct that has cost their party the presidency twice since 2000, but they lack a sense of urgency when it comes to addressing this barrier not just to their own electoral prospects but also to democracy itself. That lack of urgency could give Donald Trump a second term that’s every bit as undeserved as his first.

      • DisruptJ20 Protests Should Be Remembered As Part of the Anti-Trump Resistance

        “I think the majority of J20 participants — which constituted a pretty broad church — wanted to take part in an action that took direct aim at the inauguration, at the grim spectacle of a President Trump,” Natasha Lennard, an independent journalist who also attended J20 as a protester, told Teen Vogue. “The mainstream media largely under-covered the J20 legal case, despite the fact that it constituted a mass rights infringement and prefigured of the sort of escalated anti-protest policing that was to come, around the country, under Trump. Compared to the inauguration ceremony and the Women’s March the following day, the J20 protests themselves didn’t garner much media attention, which was a problem only insofar as mainstream #resistance under Trump was, from the jump, framed as relatively fangless action.”

      • I asked people why they don’t vote, and this is what they told me

        At least 40% to 90% of American voters stay home during elections, evidence that low voter turnout for both national and local elections is a serious problem throughout the United States.

      • Bloomberg says Warren, Sanders don’t ‘know what they’re talking about’ on breaking up big tech firms ‘Breaking things up just to be nasty is not an answer,’ former NYC mayor says

        The multi-billionaire discussed his views on tech policy while sitting in a more than 150-year-old adobe building in Monterey, where he gave a speech to about 200 supporters Friday afternoon. Bloomberg’s trip to California this week was his third swing through the state in less than two months as a presidential hopeful.

        Wading into another ongoing debate between Silicon Valley and Washington, D.C., Bloomberg said he thought social media companies should face similar legal requirements as newspapers or other media outlets about the information shared on their platforms.

      • Mike Bloomberg says breaking up tech companies ‘is not an answer’

        But in comments provided to reporters, Bloomberg said of Warren and Sanders: “I don’t think they know what they’re talking about.” According to Mercury News, Bloomberg does support “more limited antitrust enforcement.” He also appears to be in favor of reviewing Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, a foundational internet law that protects social media companies from being liable for the content posted by users on its platforms.

    • Freedom of Information / Freedom of the Press

      • Crimea Bans for Journalists Are Choking the Truth

        Russian authorities barred an independent Ukrainian journalist, Taras Ibragimov, from entering Crimea last weekend and issued him a 34-year-ban. Ibragimov had traveled regularly to Crimea the past four years, and in May 2019 joined me in Crimea as a videographer, when I interviewed dozens of lawyers and family members of Crimean Tatars jailed on bogus terrorism charges.

        Shortly before that trip in May last year, I had heard that Ibragimov was also heading to Crimea for Radio Liberty. He and I met for coffee in Kyiv, and I asked whether he could spare a few days to film my interviews. He said that as long as he was allowed entry, finding the time wouldn’t be a problem, because his Crimea trips always lasted at least a month. “I never know whether I’ll actually get past Russian security officers. So when I’m in, I try to do loads of work because next time I go, they can turn me back and ban me.”

      • Anti-LGBT Bolsonaro Government Targets Glenn Greenwald With Criminal Charge For Exposing Their Corruption

        Journalist Glenn Greenwald, a co-founder of The Intercept, was charged with a cyber crime by the right-wing government of Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil. It was retaliation for the investigative journalism he spearheaded in 2019 that exposed rampant corruption among Bolsonaro officials.

        The charge was also a product of the Bolsonaro government’s religious fanaticism, especially since Bolsonaro and other officials have mounted anti-LGBT attacks on Greenwald and his husband, David Miranda, a representative in Brazil’s Congress.

      • Journalist Glenn Greenwald charged with cybercrimes for reporting in Brazil

        Greenwald posted a response to the charges on Twitter, calling the move “an attack on Brazilian democracy” and stating that his reporting would continue. “The Bolsonaro government and the movement that supports it has made repeatedly clear that it does not believe in basic press freedoms, he wrote — citing an earlier police report concluding that “I exercised extreme caution and professionalism as a journalist never even to get close to any criminality.”

      • Free Press Advocates Decry Cybercrime Charges Against Glenn Greenwald

        The leak in question revealed unethical behavior and conflicts of interest among some law enforcement officials in Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro’s administration. The criminal complaint, first reported by The New York Times, claims that the leak and Greenwald’s reporting undermined the credibility of a government anticorruption organization. More importantly, it accuses Greenwald of actively participating in the illegal interception of the leaked messages rather than simply reporting on data he was given.

        Greenwald issued a stern response in a statement to the Daily Beast on Tuesday. “I did nothing more than do my job as a journalist—ethically and within the law,” Greenwald wrote. “We will not be intimidated by these tyrannical attempts to silence journalists.”

      • Outrage As Brazil Accuses Glenn Greenwald Of Hacking Crimes

        In an official statement, Brazil’s Ministério Público Federal said Greenwald was one of seven accused of breaking into the cellphones of Brazilian officials. Prosecutors have claimed Greenwald helped and encouraged others as they hacked phone and snooped on Telegram chats related to Operation Car Wash, Brazil’s largest ever corruption investigation. The other six individuals have been accused of money laundering offences alongside the cybercrime allegations; Greenwald hasn’t been charged with those, however. According to the BBC, Greenwald hasn’t yet been officially charged at all, but authorities are seeking to do so once a judge has given approval.

      • Glenn Greenwald: Brazil accuses journalist of cyber-crimes

        Mr Greenwald has been accused of “helping guiding and encouraging” a criminal group that hacked into the phones of Brazilian officials.

        The journalist had recently published stories describing private messages between public prosecutors.

        At this point, federal public prosecutors have proposed the charges.

        However, a judge still needs to decide whether to formally indict him.

      • Why Brazil’s Charges Against Glenn Greenwald Are an ‘Absolute Red Alert’

        The Brazilian government has long tried to shut up Glenn Greenwald for committing acts of journalism, like an investigation last summer that implicated high-ranking government officials in corruption.

        But prosecutors in the country took their efforts to a new level on Tuesday with hacking charges. Press freedom groups fear the allegations are an attempt to criminalize routine reporting methods.

        Officials in Brazil’s Public Ministry allege that Greenwald’s attempts to coax information out of sources and coach them on covering their tracks made him part of a “criminal organization” that hacked public officials’ phones. The information those sources gleaned from private chats and documents exposed the shady dealings of an anti-corruption task force that helped pave the way for President Jair Bolsonaro’s rise.

        The charges fit within a larger pattern of Trumpian antagonism toward the news media from Bolsonaro. A spokesperson for The Intercept, Greenwald’s publication, condemned the legal action as a “blatantly politically motivated” attack in a statement to VICE News Tuesday.

    • Civil Rights/Policing

      • Dubious Charges Against Tanzanian Activist

        The United Nations and the African Union have been urged to intervene on behalf of Tito Magoti, a Tanzanian human rights activist, who was arrested on December 20, 2019 in Dar es Salaam. 28 civil society groups have written a letter to voice their concerns that Magoti’s detention is in retaliation for his legitimate human rights work.

        Magoti, 26, works for the nongovernmental Tanzanian organization Legal and Human Rights Center (LHRC). The organization said he was arrested after being lured to a meeting by text messages from a friend, Theodory Giyan, who had himself been arrested the day before. As he arrived at the meeting place, four unidentified men handcuffed and blindfolded Magoti, drove him away, and held him at several different police stations. LHRC says the police questioned Magoti about his online activism and his involvement with other rights activists and opposition members.

      • From Chile to China: Human Rights Weekend 2020

        Program Human Rights Weekend 2020

      • Bangladesh Lawmakers Openly Call for Extrajudicial Executions

        In Bangladesh, people who question the government’s increasingly authoritarian rule fear they may be next in line to be killed or forcibly disappeared by security forces. When Human Rights Watch raises this with the Bangladeshi authorities, they are quick to dismiss the reports as lies made up by the political opposition.

        Yet extrajudicial killings have become so established in Bangladesh that some legislators openly recommended them as a way of dealing with the country’s high levels of rape when protesters mobilized over the recent rape of a 21-year-old student. For instance, according to media reports, one legislator told parliament that “the only remedy is killing rapists ‘in crossfire’ after their confession.” 

      • Mexico Begins Flying, Busing Migrants Back to Honduras

        Hundreds of Central American migrants who entered southern Mexico in recent days have either been pushed back into Guatemala by Mexican troops, shipped to detention centers or returned to Honduras, officials said Tuesday. An unknown number slipped past Mexican authorities and continued north.

      • Papuans on trial in Indonesia ordered to remove penis gourds

        “We have been the victims of racism outside the court and now we have fallen victim to racism inside the court,” he said.

        Papua has seen several spasms of violence in recent months, including deadly unrest partly linked to a fresh push for independence and racism against Papuans, who have been called monkeys and other slurs.

        Ethnically Melanesian, most Papuans are Christians who have few cultural links to Muslim-majority Indonesia.


        A former Dutch colony, Papua came under Indonesian control in the 1960s after a self-determination vote widely viewed as a sham.

      • Northeastern student from Iran removed from US before court hearing, won’t be returned

        “There seems to be some history of CBP ignoring district court orders, which should concern the court,” Doyle said during the hearing. She asked that Hossein Abadi be returned to the US, but the judge said there was little he could do now that the student was gone.

    • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

      • Keynote: DNS Wars – Episode IV — A New Bypass

        Since commercialization and privatization of the Internet first began in the 1990′s, there has been a steady push to move access side DNS (called “recursive”) away from customer networks and towards first ISP’s and later Cisco, Google, IBM, and Cloudflare. What are the real motives for this trend? What are the risks and costs, and who pays them? Dr. Vixie has worked in the DNS field since 1989 and has invented many of the monitoring and filtering capabilities now used by nearly all DNS services, and he will try to explain what’s happening. Special attention will be paid to the new web-based “DNS over HTTP” or “DoH” protocol now being strongly pushed by Mozilla and others.

    • Monopolies

      • Book Review: Cambridge Handbook of Intellectual Property in Central and Eastern Europe

        Steeped in history and ideology, Central and Eastern Europe is a prime candidate for comparative law studies. Cambridge Handbook of Intellectual Property in Central and Eastern Europe is a mind-expanding and necessary book that attempts to make sense of IP on the other side of the Berlin wall, one country at a time. This vibrant collection of 20 essays by experts from a wide range of backgrounds tackles topics such as incentivising creation when private property ownership is prohibited, implementing ambitious author’s rights in legal systems that lack IP case law, and coping with fellow EU members and their policies. They gracefully confront our default Western-centric mindset. On a more fundamental level, this book is about an inevitable goal of humanity: the promotion of the growth of what is valuable.

      • Patents

        • Abridged EPO appeal decisions

          T1687/17 is an early example of what an abridged decision under the new Rules of Procedure of the Boards of Appeal (RPBA) looks like: very short and published only a week after the oral proceedings, thereby also being timely in accordance with Art. 15(9) RPBA.

          The current RPBA contain new provisions allowing the Boards to issue written decisions in abridged form, either with consent of the parties for decisions given at oral proceedings or – if agreeing with the first instance decision – without needing consent of the parties. New Art 15(9) RPBA also introduces the somewhat vague requirement for decisions to be issued “in a timely manner”. Readers will recall that appeal decisions can sometimes take months to be issued in writing following oral proceedings, so it is good to have an early example of just how quickly decisions might be issued with the abridged format.

          The decision notes that the parties confirmed at the hearing that no new arguments were raised during the appeal proceedings – providing a clear reasoning for the abridged form of the decision. The reasoning of the Board merely refers to passages from the first instance decision and even the minutes of the decision are rather short, referring again to the facts put forward in the appealed decision.

          Parties to appeal, especially appellants, should take note that the Boards are ready to use the new RPBA to provide speedy decisions on appeals and will not hesitate to call out repetitive argumentation by representatives. In this case, the Board made use of Art. 15(8) RPBA, thereby not needing explicit consent of the parties to abridge the decision. Nevertheless, in case the Board seeks consent of parties (Art. 15(7) RPBA) to make an abridged decision then a legitimate reason to have an unabridged decision should ideally be at the ready. Also for third parties who may be watching in the wings, a legitimate reason can be indicated to try and force an unabridged decision on an appeal case, although it is not apparent at what stage such indication should be filed to avoid an abridged version.

      • Copyrights

        • Radiohead launched an online ‘public library’ with rare tracks and a printable library card

          The archive launched today, and in a brief introduction, the band describes it as “an online resource containing videos, music, artwork, websites, merchandise, and assorted ephemera.” It’s very loosely arranged by album, and as NME notes, you can find links to work that’s been historically tough to find online. The four-track Drill was just added to the band’s YouTube channel. TKOL RMX 8, an addendum to the 2011 remix album TKOL RMX 1234567, is back online after its original digital stream went down.

        • No Music Is “Free of Broadcasting Rights”, French Court Rules

          In the world of music licensing, a cautionary tale was recently told by the French Cour de Cassation involving background music, a carpet store and collective management societies.

          Musicmatic France (now Storever France) is a company providing “audio concepts for higher customer satisfaction”, a.k.a. background music in stores. The company rents out audio equipment to stores and streams music adapted to the respective clientele. Musicmatic sources its music from musicians and other right holders under a creative commons licence agreement.


          One interesting aspect of this decision is the lack of any discussion of the principle “ignorance of the law is no excuse” [nemo censetur ignorare legem for Kat readers fond of Latin]. French law apparently provides for a mandatory remuneration to be paid by the “user” of the work to the collecting society; thus the obligation to pay this remuneration cannot be overridden by contract.

          Can the user, therefore, assume that a contract concluded with a third party will exempt it from the obligation to pay? Or is there perhaps a specific duty on the licensor to inform the licensee that additional payments to the collecting societies will have to be made? One may assume that in business-to-business transactions, neither party has to inform the other about the existence of statutory rules.

          Under the rule established by this decision, licensing musical works “free of all broadcasting rights” in France makes the licensor liable for additional payments to the collecting societies. Whether this holds true in other European jurisdictions remains to be seen.

        • Meet the Artists Commissioned for the Public Domain Day Celebration

          In order to celebrate the public domain and highlight the work of artists around the world who contribute to the global commons, we are excited to showcase the creative works of six artists during the PDD celebration in Washington, D.C. Following the event, these works will be made available under a CC License or released into the public domain. 

        • Court Sides With Nintendo Over RomUniverse In Attempt To Dismiss The Former’s Lawsuit

          As most of you will know, a year or so ago saw Nintendo suddenly flip a litigious switch and begin going after all the ROM sites that had existed for a decade or more. The timing suggests that the company may have made this move out of a misguided attempt to support its release of several retro consoles that contained many of the games that the public could also simply get for free on these ROM sites. I say misguided because it’s not as though Nintendo’s aggression suddenly made free online ROMs unavailable. They are all still very much there through various means, but Nintendo’s retro consoles sold like gangbusters anyway, because half the appeal in the product is the ease of use and the other half is in having the cool looking retro console next to the television.

IRC Proceedings: Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Posted in IRC Logs at 2:55 am by Needs Sunlight



#techrights log

#boycottnovell log



#boycottnovell-social log

#techbytes log

Enter the IRC channels now

Poor Excuses for Granting Poor (and Often Illegal/Invalid) Patents

Posted in Deception, Europe, Patents at 2:24 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Illegal/Invalid Patents (IPs) don’t make the system stronger but weaker

Let them eat patents. All the world's problems will be solved by more patents.

Summary: A quick look at some of the latest examples of software patents advocacy (not by actual software professionals, obviously) and why it’s deeply misguided (or guided solely by greedy law firms)

THE PUSHESR of what’s called “stronger” (or STRONGER) “patent act” in the US don’t care about the strength of patents. They care about the contrary and push for the very opposite. They just want the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) to grant loads of software patents that courts reject anyway.

“In practice, however, they merely grant monopolies in technology that can reduce pollution.”The same is true for the European Patent Office (EPO), where António Campinos — like Battistelli before him — measures ‘strength’ in terms of so-called ‘productivity’. Not quality, not examiners’ skills, not validity rates (or rates of European Patents being upheld by courts). It’s hardly surprising that Campinos shamelessly lobbies for software patents in Europe. That helps him fake ‘production’…

In order to pretend that the EPC does not exist (like 35 U.S.C. § 101 in the US) they resort to misleading, novelty-sounding buzzwords such as “hey hi” (AI). To deny patents on this “hey hi” would surely be a denial of progress and amazing novelty, right? The media speaks about “hey hi” day and night, especially more so since 2017 or thereabouts (it boils down to superficial, faked hype).

Another pattern of EPO propaganda has recently been greenwashing. They pretend that their patents somehow “save the planet…” (no, they seriously try to imply that!)

In practice, however, they merely grant monopolies in technology that can reduce pollution. As we mentioned in an earlier post of ours, there’s a new example of this which is promoted in a misleading fashion. For instance, the article “SeaTwirl Granted European Patent” (from North American Windpower) says: “SeaTwirl, a producer of floating wind turbines, will be granted a patent for a divisible wind turbine by the European Patent Office (EPO). SeaTwirl has already been granted the same patent in Sweden, the U.S. and China. [...] SeaTwirl is working strategically to build a broad patent portfolio. By protecting technical solutions that make the wind turbines cheaper to build and maintain, the company strengthens its market position, notes SeaTwirl.”

How does a monopoly make things cheaper? The opposite is true. But never let “green” stunts slip away, right?

The National Law Review has just published this new piece from a giant law firm (Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo, P.C). The piece mentions the EPO’s position on so-called ‘AI’ patents and notes that “IEEE-USA urged the USPTO to focus on correcting the problems facing all computer implemented technologies as a primary approach to providing strong patent protections to AI based inventions.”

Well, IEEE is at least consistent in his anti-software developers stance. We’ve long warned about IEEE pushing illegal software patents and it seems rather clear that IEEE does not represent engineers. Here are some portions: (it’s about input sent to the US patent office)

The European Patent Office (EPO) has refused two European patent applications that designated an artificial intelligence called DABUS as the inventor, following a non-public hearing on November 25, 2019. The EPO has not yet published its reasons for refusing the applications but merely stated that “they do not meet the requirement of the European Patent Convention (EPC) that an inventor designated in the application has to be a human being, not a machine.” The refusal refers to Article 81 and Rule 19 of the EPC. The EPO further noted “A reasoned decision may be expected in January 2020.”


Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE-USA): IEEE-USA urged the USPTO to focus on correcting the problems facing all computer implemented technologies as a primary approach to providing strong patent protections to AI based inventions. IEEE suggested looking to other areas of IP law for models as it relates to inventorship. For example, the IEEE cited Naruto v. Slater (“monkey selfie case”) which denied a monkey copyright authorship of a selfie taken by the monkey. The rulings were based in part on the constitutional authorization to reward human authors and inventors. Accordingly, the IEEE also believes that AI cannot be inventors.

A reader has meanwhile alerted us about this upcoming ‘course’ from the patent zealots of ResearchAndMarkets (who also push UPC lies). Surely they know that software patents are disliked by programmers and are also illegal in Europe but that does not discourage them. Their target audience is law firms and they say: “This intensive one-day event will help you to understand the development strategies impacting software patents and update you on the major developments in European patent law, in particular, GUI inventions and ‘mixed’ inventions with both patentable and non-patentable subject matter.”

Those old loopholes of combining algorithms with something like a “device”; it’s a popular kind of loophole and we’ve seen that in New Zealand and in India. Just to be clear, patents on algorithms are still forbidden in India, but Spicy IP (a site whose founder died last year) is still peddling old myths, promoting such patents even though software developers — many of whom live in India — do not want software patents (and that’s all that matters). Their introduction says: “Who would have thought a Tunisian citizen would end up having a couple of major impacts on the Indian IP landscape?” (Correction below)

So what’s their excuse for advocacy of software patents? To quote: “In today‟s digital world, when most inventions are based on computer programs, it would be retrograde to argue that all such inventions would not be patentable. Innovation in the field of artificial intelligence, blockchain technologies and other digital products would be based on computer programs, however the same would not become non-patentable inventions – simply for that reason. It is rare to see a product which is not based on a computer program. Whether they are cars and other automobiles, microwave ovens, washing machines, refrigerators, they all have some sort of computer programs in-built in them. Thus, the effect that such programs produce including in digital and electronic products is crucial in determining the test of patentability.”

They’re basically squeezing a bunch of buzzwords in there, arguing that because those buzzwords are used in relation to lots of things it is therefore “innovative” and deserves a patent.

So, in summary, anything that is “green” and “widespread” — tell us the patent maximalists — needs to be patented, irrespective of underlying law, economic rationale, and so on.

Correction: There was a misunderstanding. The author at Spicy IP has stated or clarified that “the point I’ve made through that post, is that the court order is flawed and is unnecessarily favouring “software patenting”…”

The pro-software patenting position is contained in that post not as a form of endorsement; it is the writer showing what others have said.

A Simple Plan For a Universal Free Software Community

Posted in Free/Libre Software at 12:35 am by Guest Editorial Team

[Larger view]

Universal Free Software Community

Summary: “For software to be free as in freedom, we need more people to care personally about software freedom.”

This plan addresses, through a global voluntary network of “labs”, Web sites, forums or clubs, several areas in which Free software simply fails to engage most users.

It encourages the creation of Free software as well as other free works, including global collaboration on a library of free works.

It allows every user to start small, whether or not they know how to code, and gently encourages (through education and improving education) everyone to learn how to code — voluntarily, for the purpose of increasing computer literacy. It encourages working with teachers around the world and inviting them to bring their ideas to the table, even if they themselves are not comfortable with computers or coding.

“It encourages working with teachers around the world and inviting them to bring their ideas to the table, even if they themselves are not comfortable with computers or coding.”This plan for a voluntary, grassroots network of autonomous online communities and offline user groups that resists censorship, resists cancellation, discovers new threats to software freedom as well as new solutions — while allowing communities to experiment with their own rules, allowing individuals to join (and more or less do things things their own way.)

It allows everyone to collaborate voluntarily on innovating Free software, promoting Free software and free works, while growing, promoting and becoming part of the Free Software Federation beyond what has existed before.

Simply put, it has something for everyone who is remotely interested in Free software or other free works, and it promotes user rights and software freedom.

“For software to be free as in freedom, we need more people to care personally about software freedom.”The goal of free software is for all software to be free. If we are going to be serious about that goal, we need to find a way to welcome everybody to be free, while understanding and caring about freedom. Becoming part of that freedom — being invested in free licenses and becoming interested in Free software as well, is one of the ways we can get more of the world involved and supporting this cause.

For software to be free as in freedom, we need more people to care personally about software freedom. But for too many people, that is too abstract and (while you can care about and benefit from freedom even if you don’t code) too hypothetical.

You can find out more about the Free Software Federation from their websites, here.

You can join or get started today.

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