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02.11.20

Links 11/2/2020: New Firefox and KDE Plasma

Posted in News Roundup at 12:31 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

  • GNU/Linux

    • Desktop/Laptop

      • Ken Stark’s Reglue Has Moving Blues

        Writing aside, Reglue is his real passion. The organization he founded many years ago takes used, discarded computers, refurbishes them as much as needed, then installs Linux on them along with a boatload of educational software. They are then gifted to public school-aged children in the Austin area, where Starks lives and Reglue operates, whose families can’t afford computers.

        Being that most of the kids receiving the computers have no experience with Linux, they’re also trained to use the computers — and it’s explicitly explained to the parents that the computers belong to the kids and aren’t to be purloined by them if there’s schoolwork to be done.

      • South Korea to dump Windows

        South Korea’s government is exploring moving most of its 3.3 million PCs from Windows to Linux.

        In May 2019, South Korea’s Interior Ministry announced plans to look into switching to the Linux desktop from Windows and it appears that it liked the idea.

        According to the Korean news site Newsis, the South Korean Ministry of Strategy and Planning has announced the government is exploring moving most of its approximately 3.3 million Windows computers to Linux.

        The big idea is to reduce software licensing costs and the government’s reliance on Windows.

        Choi Jang-hyuk, the head of the Ministry of Strategy and Finance, said, “We will resolve our dependency on a single company while reducing the budget by introducing an open-source operating system.”

        South Korean officials said it would cost $655 million to move government PCs from Windows 7 to Windows 10.

      • South Korea’s government explores move from Windows to Linux desktop

        With Windows 7 in its support coffin, some institutions are finally giving up on Windows entirely. The biggest of these may be the South Korean government. In May 2019, South Korea’s Interior Ministry announced plans to look into switching to the Linux desktop from Windows. It must have liked what it saw. According to the Korean news site Newsis, the South Korean Ministry of Strategy and Planning has announced the government is exploring moving most of its approximately 3.3 million Windows computers to Linux.

      • Goodbye, Windows: Another Government Plans En-Masse Transition to Linux

        Other government departments have already moved part of their fleets to Linux and are working on plans to expand the adoption to more devices.

        The Ministry of National Defense and National Police Agency, for example, currently runs Harmonica OS 3.0, which is customized with a series of Korean applications, while the Ministry of Public Administration and Security installed the locally-developed Gooroom Cloud OS based on Debian.

      • Try These 2 Things Before Choosing Your Desktop Linux OS

        Then the site invites you to answer a handful of easy questions, and recommends several Linux distribution that meets your needs based on those responses. (The first 3 results are the ones you’ll want to pay most attention to).

        Librehunt has also trimmed the fat, reducing the exhaustive list of Linux distributions to about 44 curated selections. I’ve answered the questionnaire repeatedly and found that the recommendations tend to match up with the Linux distros I use based on my personal preferences, so it’s a job well done!

      • Windows 10 warning: anger at Microsoft rises with serious new failure

        This is the future of proprietary operating systems like Windows, macOS and iOS as their parent companies move towards services and subscription models. More and more, they’ll use their operating systems to push their services and subscriptions, to the detriment of the user experience. It’s been happening in Windows 10 for a few years now, and iOS, too, is riddled with ads for Apple’s services.

      • Linux-Based Windows 12 Promises Flawless Updates, Available for Free

        The photo gallery on the page is mostly the same screenshot with a different desktop background, and by the looks of things, it indeed appears to be a Windows 10 theme with flat icons.

      • Sick of Windows 10? Linux-based Windows 12 Lite promises to be three times faster

        Windows 10 is experiencing a spectacularly bad run of faulty updates recently, and if you’ve had enough, then Windows 12 Lite is promising to fix those issues.

        Now, we should say straight away that this is not an official release from Microsoft. Instead, it appears to be a modified version of the Linux Lite 4.8 LTS distro made to look like Windows 10 with the default background wallpaper and custom icons.

      • Linux-based Windows 12 Lite is ’3x faster than Windows 10′ and ‘immune from ransomware’

        Sounds too good to be true? Well it might not surprise you to hear that this isn’t an official Microsoft product, rather it’s a version of Linux Lite 4.8 LTS with Windows 10 wallpaper and flat icons.

        The official website looks like something out of the nineties, which makes the line that says “You have all the tools now for designing really good websites” even more entertaining.

        Windows 12 Lite isn’t available to download from the website, but you can buy it for £15 on DVD. You really shouldn’t though.

      • Saw this at a local computer fair and couldn’t stop laughing
      • Linux Encryption Tool Cryptsetup Now Supports Windows Disk Encrypted Devices

        Linux disk encryption tool, Cryptsetup, has released a new version v2.3.0 with native read-write access to Windows BitLocker-compatible devices.

        You can now access the BitLocker encrypted devices’ data in any Linux distro owing to the stable release of Cryptsetup 2.3.0 that supports the BitLocker format (BITLK format).

      • Microsoft flirts with new anti-trust challenge with new Start Menu-based Edge ads

        Microsoft originally implemented the “Suggested” section on the Windows 10 Start Menu as a way to advertise its official apps; but in the latest listing, Microsoft has gone beyond self-promotion.

        Microsoft’s recent extensive advertising is becoming hard to ignore, which has prompted many users to disable the ads. Those who haven’t done so may have noticed the most recent one takes a dig at a competitor browser.

        The listing displays “Still using Firefox? Microsoft Edge is here”, to all users of the former- even with the latter already installed. The ad provides a link to download the chromium-based browser.

      • Windows 7: a major bug prevents turning off or restarting the PC

        Windows 7 is once again affected by a strange bug, the second after the end of OS support. Many users complain that they cannot shut down or restart their PC. The problem seems to be quite widespread. Dozens of messages are flowing into Reddit, Twitter and Microsoft forums. Pending a possible fix, there is a solution to fix the bug.

        Officially, Windows 7 is no longer supported by Microsoft since January 2020, which means that the system will in principle no longer receive updates to correct bugs or security breaches. Fortunately, it is still possible to update your PC for free to Windows 10.

        However, Microsoft was forced to release an update for Windows 7 after discovering a minor, but particularly annoying bug preventing the display of wallpapers. This time, it’s a new, much more annoying bug that affects the operating system.

    • Stanford Student Program Gives Supercomputers a Second Life

      Despite their incredible capabilities, today’s supercomputers typically only have three years of operating life before they need an upgrade. With the march of Moore’s Law, faster, more efficient systems are always waiting to replace them.
      A novel program at Stanford is finding a second life for used HPC clusters, providing much-needed computational resources for research while giving undergraduate students a chance to learn valuable career skills. To learn more, we caught up with Dellarontay Readus from the Stanford High Performance Computing Center (HPCC).

  • Audiocasts/Shows

    • Laptop Review – The Pinebook Pro

      The Pinebook Pro is certainly an interesting laptop. This ARM-based Laptop runs Linux, and is sold at a very affordable price-point.

    • 2020-02-10 | Linux Headlines

      The new OpenShot is bursting with features, Proton 5 lands with major improvements, Arm unveils new microcontrollers, and elementary OS gears up for a major project.

    • LHS Episode #325: Ham Radio Relevance Deep Dive

      Welcome to the 325th installment of Linux in the Ham Shack. Based on a recent video and Hack-a-Day chat from Josh Nash, KI6NAZ, the hosts dive into the topic of what makes amateur radio viable in today’s world of almost limitless hobbies, technology and diversions. Discussion revolves around involving everyone in the hobby, young or old, new technologies, parallel interests, stewardship, legal issues and much more. Thank you for tuning in. Hope you have a wonderful week.

    • Kubernetes 411: Hart Hoover and Seth McCombs | Jupiter Extras 54

      Ell, Drew, Hart, and Seth talk about what Kubernetes is, how to get started with it, why and when you should use it, and more.

      Special Guests: Hart Hoover and Seth McCombs.

    • Episode 92 | This Week in Linux

      On this episode of This Week in Linux, we have a jam packed episode! Linux Kernel 5.5 was released and we have a ton of Distro News from Solus, elementaryOS, Tails, Kali Linux, and Red Hat. A nasty Sudo Bug was found and fixed, we’ll discuss this and let you know if you might be affected or not. Pine64 announced their new HardROCK64 and we got updates for the PinePhone. Canonical announces their new Anbox Cloud service. In App News, we got new releases for Kdenlive and RawTherapee as well as an announcement from ProtonMail for a new Calendar service. Speaking of Proton, we saw new releases for WINE 5.0 & Proton 5.0 from Valve. We’ve got a lot of hardware news as well with the Kubuntu Focus Laptop, the NitroPad and a new hardware podcast from DLN. All that and much more on Your Weekly Source for Linux GNews!

    • LHS Episode #324: The Weekender XLI

      It’s time once again for The Weekender. This is our bi-weekly departure into the world of amateur radio contests, open source conventions, special events, listener challenges, hedonism and just plain fun. Thanks for listening and, if you happen to get a chance, feel free to call us or e-mail and send us some feedback. Tell us how we’re doing. We’d love to hear from you.

  • Kernel Space

    • Kernel prepatch 5.6-rc1

      Linus has released 5.6-rc1 and closed the merge window for this development cycle.

    • Linux 5.6 is a feature-packed update that brings the best of Nvidia and AMD

      Now, we’d be the first to admit that Linux kernel updates rarely get the old pulse racing, but work has now ended on Linux 5.6, and it’s one of the most feature-packed and exciting updates to the open source operating system in years.

      Linus Torvalds, the creator of Linux, has announced that Linux 5.6-rc1 is now available to test out, with the stable version of the update hopefully coming at the end of March or early April 2020.

    • WireGuard will make your VPN connection much faster — here’s how

      VPN services may soon be a lot faster, thanks to a promising protocol called WireGuard that is now being incorporated into the mainstream Linux kernel.

      Linux isn’t used much on the desktop, at least not obviously. But it’s what underpins both Android and Chrome OS, and it powers most of the web’s servers, including nearly all of Google’s servers and those of many of the best VPN services.

      And WireGuard is smaller, simpler and faster than either OpenVPN or IKEv2/IPsec, the prevalent VPN protocols used by commercial VPN services like ExpressVPN, NordVPN and Private Internet Access. Yet only a few services, including Mullvad, IVPN, NordVPN and StrongVPN offer WireGuard as an option yet.

    • Six Features Not In The Mainline Linux 5.6 Kernel

      While there are a lot of new end-user features with Linux 5.6, there are also some changes not yet mainlined. Here are six that come to mind as missing out on the Linux 5.6 merge window.

    • Address Space Isolation For The Linux Kernel Is Still A Big Challenge In 2020

      While there are many new features in the forthcoming Linux 5.6 kernel, the ongoing Address Space Isolation support is not one of them.

      The Kernel Address Space Isolation support has been going on for a while now to improve kernel security and prevent data leaks from situations like Hyper Threading attacks. Kernel Address Space Isolation as implied by the name is about isolating the address spaces used by different areas of the kernel and is of increasing importance since L1TF / Foreshadow came to light. KASI can also help in isolating KVM for better protection in the cloud with helping to fend off guest-to-host attacks and some guest-to-guest attack vectors.

    • VirtIO-FS Is Looking Quite Good For Shared File-System With VMs

      Stefan Hajnoczi of Red Hat’s virtualization team presented at the FOSDEM 2020 conference last week on this new shared file-system for virtual machines. The VirtIO-FS performance numbers shared during the presentation indeed put it in much better shape than virtio-9p while obviously coming up short of the raw potential offered by virtio-blk. With the DAX mount option for direct access can allow bypassing the guest page cache too for better performance.

      While there is Virtiofsd as the default server for exposing directories to a guest, Hajnoczi did raise the possibilities of creating custom servers for backing VirtIO-FS by a distributed storage system, exposing a synthetic file-system from the host, and other possibilities.

    • Graphics Stack

      • Early Out Of Tree Patches Let Wine Run Natively On Wayland

        Not yet mainlined but there is a Git repository offering up a Wine Wayland driver implementation for letting Windows applications/games run atop a Wayland compositor without any dependence on X11/XWayland.

        The Wine-Wayland effort is providing a “winewayland.drv” implementation for driving Wayland protocol support into Wine without depending upon X11. The Git repository is currently geared for Arch Linux and Manjaro users with making it easy to build the Wine-Wayland driver there.

      • The OpenCL 2.0 CTS Can Now Run On Gallium3D Clover – But Doesn’t Pass The Tests

        Red Hat’s Karol Herbst who has spent years now working on Nouveau SPIR-V support and other GPU open-source compute efforts around Mesa has provided a trivial implementation of clCreateCommandQueueWithProperties() that is now enough to begin running the OpenCL 2.0 conformance test suite on the Gallium3D “Clover” state tracker.

        Karol commented that it’s enough to run the OpenCL 2.0 CTS and probably other OpenCL applications relying upon clCreateCommandQueueWithProperties. However, Clover itself doesn’t yet expose OpenCL 2.0 support and still lacks a number of features before it will really be useful for GPU compute workloads.

      • Mir News 2020-02-07

        Our Wayland Conformance test Suite is now available from Debian sid. This is part of an effort by Mike Gabriel (sunweaver) in association with UBports to package Unity8 desktop for Debian. Amongst the other packages being uploaded is the latest Mir 1.7.0.

      • Mir’s X11 Support Is Being Promoted From Experimental

        The X11 client support for Mir that leverages XWayland is graduating from its “experimental” status.

        The next feature release of Mir will promote the support for being able to run traditional X11 software to being stable rather than under the experimental flag it’s been under. In turn, it will be as easy as setting the –enable-x11 switch to enable the X11 support.

  • Benchmarks

    • Phoronix Test Suite 9.4 Milestone 2 Released With Result Viewer Improvements

      The second test release of Phoronix Test Suite 9.4 is now available with this latest update focusing on improvements to the result viewer.

      Phoronix Test Suite 9.4 Milestone 2 improves upon the modern result viewer introduced in Phoronix Test Suite 9.0 to now offer more editing and management of result files. Individual benchmarks can now be deleted from the result viewer, editing of result file information can also be done from the result viewer, and there is also the ability to annotate individual result graphs from the result viewer.

    • Glances (All in One Place) – Advanced Real Time System Performance Monitoring Tool for Linux

      Glances is a cross-platform curses-based system monitoring tool written in Python.

      It uses the psutil library to retrieve information from your system.

      It’s accommodating all in one place, It shows a maximum information in a minimal space through curses or a web-based interface.

      The information dynamically adapts depending on the size of the user interface.

      This is a best alternative to top/htop utility on GNU/Linux.

  • Applications

    • Ksnip 1.6.0 Screenshot Software Released With System Tray Icon, Global Hotkeys, Watermarks And More

      A new major version of Ksnip screenshot tool was released yesterday with numerous improvements like global hotkeys for taking a screenshot on Linux (X11) and Windows, a system tray icon and the ability to start Ksnip minimized to the tray, the ability to add watermarks to screenshots, and more.

      Ksnip is a free and open source Qt5 screenshot tool that runs on Linux (X11, and experimental KDE and GNOME Wayland support), Windows and macOS.

    • ‘Habits’ App Measures Mouse Distance & How Many Keys You Press a Day

      Ever wondered how many keys you press a day? How often you click your mouse buttons? Or how far your mouse has travelled recently?

      If so, you’re gonna love Habits, a stat-tastic new Linux app that’s designed for stat-obsessives and the inimitably curious!

    • Dino is a Modern Looking Open Source XMPP Client

      XMPP (Extensible Messaging Presence Protocol) is a decentralized model of network to facilitate instant messaging and collaboration. Decentralize means there is no central server that has access to your data. The communication is directly between the end-points.

      Some of us might call it an “old school” tech probably because the XMPP clients usually have a very bad user experience or simply just because it takes time to get used to (or set it up).

      That’s when Dino comes to the rescue as a modern XMPP client to provide a clean and snappy user experience without compromising your privacy.

    • Music composition with Python and Linux

      met Brendan Becker working in a computer store in 1999. We both enjoyed building custom computers and installing Linux on them. Brendan was always involved in several technology projects at once, ranging from game coding to music composition. Fast-forwarding a few years from the days of computer stores, he went on to write pyDance, an open source implementation of multiple dancing games, and then became the CEO of music and gaming event MAGFest. Sometimes referred to as “Mr. MAGFest” because he was at the helm of the event, Brendan now uses the music pseudonym “Inverse Phase” as a composer of chiptunes—music predominantly made on 8-bit computers and game consoles.

      I thought it would be interesting to interview him and ask some specifics about how he has benefited from Linux and open source software throughout his career.

    • OpenShot 2.5.0 Released | Video Editing + Hardware Acceleration!

      I am proud to announce the release of OpenShot 2.5.0, our largest release yet! In honesty, this release got a bit too large and almost crushed my brain, but I’m happy to finally release it into the wild! May it have safe travels!

    • OpenShot Video Editor Gets a Major Update With Version 2.5 Release

      OpenShot is one of the best open-source video editors out there. With all the features that it offered – it was already a good video editor on Linux.

      Now, with a major update to it (v.2.5.0), OpenShot has added a lot of new improvements and features. And, trust me, it’s not just any regular release – it is a huge release packed with features that you probably wanted for a very long time.

      In this article, I will briefly mention the key changes involved in the latest release.

    • OpenShot 2.5 Released with Hardware Encoding/Decoding Support

      OpenShot video editor 2.5.0 was released a few days ago with exciting new features hardware acceleration support.

      OpenShot 2.5.0 brings experimental support for hardware acceleration. You will see some new options available if you have a supported encoder/decoder. This can result in a huge performance improvement on some systems.

      It has also completely rewritten the keyframe system to deliver real-time interpolated values, and no longer cache the entire value set

    • OpenShot 2.5 Open-Source Video Editor Adds Hardware Acceleration

      OpenShot 2.5 is here two and a half years after the OpenShot 2.4 release, and almost a year after the OpenShot 2.4.4 point release. It’s a major update that introduces experimental hardware acceleration (encoding and decoding) support, which should greatly improve the performance of the video editor.

      If you’re installing OpenShot 2.5 on a powerful computer with a capable graphics card, you should notice up to 40% performance increase. However, please keep in mind that hardware encoding and decoding is still under development, so it may not work as expected all the time.

    • OpenShot Video Editor Just Got a Massive Update

      OpenShot is, of course, one of the best known Linux video editors — and it’s also one of the best loved. Its simple, straightforward interface makes it relatively easy to use, even by those with little video editing experience.

      Add to that a decent set of effects and transitions, a halfway decent title tool, ‘green screen’ compositing and key frame animations and you’ve got a well rounded bit of video editing software.

    • OpenShot 2.5 Video Editor Brings Hardware Acceleration, SVG, Blender 2.8+ Compatibility

      Out this Sunday is OpenShot 2.5 as the non-linear video editor’s biggest release yet for this cross-platform, open-source solution.

      First up, OpenShot 2.5 is finally supporting hardware-accelerated video encoding/decoding. Rather than being limited to CPU-based options, OpenShot 2.5 now supports the likes of VA-API and NVENC/NVDEC for GPU-based encodes/decodes that should be 30~40% faster.

    • OpenShot 2.5.0 Free Video Editor Adds Hardware Acceleration, Blender 2.8 Support

      OpenShot, a free and open source video editor, was updated to version 2.5.0 with some significant improvements like hardware encoding and decoding support, much faster keyframe performance, support for exporting and importing EDL and XML (Premiere, Final Cut Pro and more) files, and Belnder 2.8+ support, among others.

    • dutree – reclaim precious hard disk space

      You often hear that disk space is cheap and plentiful. And it’s true that a 4TB mechanical hard disk drive currently retails for less than 100 dollars. But like many users I’ve migrated to running Linux on M.2 Solid State Drives (SSDs). They are NVMe drives reaching read and write speeds of over 5,000MB/s. That’s over 20 times faster than a 7,200 RPM traditional hard drive.

      M.2 SSDs do functionally everything a hard drive does, but help to make a computer feel far more responsive. M.2 are NVMe drives which reduce I/O overhead and brings various performance improvements relative to previous logical-device interfaces, including multiple long command queues, and reduced latency. M.2 drives are more expensive than mechanical hard drives in terms of dollar per gigabyte. And M.2 with really large capacities are thin on the ground and expensive, so most users settle for lower capacity drives.

      Whatever the size of the hard disk, my disks always fill up over time; it seems data expands to fill any void. This is partly because I experiment with lots of distributions and software. But hard disks always seem to fill up by themselves. Whether you use M.2, other type of SSD, or mechanical hard disk drives, you cannot afford to be rash with storage. When a hard disk is full, it can be very time consuming to sort out and remove offending files and directories.

      Linux distributions come supplied with utilities to explore disk usage. For example, du is a standard tool used to estimate file space usage; space being used under a particular directory or files on a file system.

      du shows directories which are taking up space. And you can combine du with other command-line utilities such as grep and sort to make the output more meaningful. But there are many alternatives.

    • Version 2.1.16 and website changes

      Version 2.1.16 is now out. This release adds a few new features to the server, a couple of usability improvements and some bug fixes.

      Additionally, there are some changes to the way public session announcements work. The website sections Gallery and Servers have been replaced by the new Communities section.

      The old drawpile.net list server and public server are replaced by the new pub.drawpile.net server. Enter the server address and click the Add button to quickly add it to the list in the join dialog.

      All sessions hosted at pub.drawpile.net are automatically listed, so there is no need to announce them manually anymore. You can, however, announce sessions hosted at other servers like before. If you’re running a server of your own, you can submit it for inclusion on the communities page.

    • Open Broadcast Software Studio – Ready for the silver screen?

      Having recently tested Kdenlive 19.08 and then taken a brief but pleasant look at OpenShot, I decided to expand my cinematic horizons and explore some additional software on the media market. One program that came into the hazy spotlight is Open Broadcast Software (OBS), a free and open-source video editor, designed primarily for video recording and live streaming.

      Well, here I am, with me unfunny collection of Youtube clips, and here it is, OBS, waiting for me to test and review it. Sounds like a plan, and proceed so we shall. Once again, I’m back on Linux, in Kubuntu, but that shouldn’t really make much difference. Anyway, let’s begin.

  • Instructionals/Technical

  • Godot Engine

    • Godot Engine – Headsup: Vulkan merged, master branch unstable

      In most Git-based development workflows, the default master branch is where most of the development happens. It can be from well-defined feature branches (or in our situation Pull Requests) that are merged into master once ready, or with development work happening directly on this branch. Whatever the workflow, the master branch will rarely be meant for use in production, and end users are only encouraged to use it if they want to help with day-to-day testing, not if they want to get some work done :)

      As we do our releases directly from the master branch after a stabilization period (feature freeze, release freeze and then branching off to e.g. 3.2 when releasing), many of our users are used to running the master branch or a nightly build as a daily driver.

      This changes today as we merge our work-in-progress Vulkan port (until now in the vulkan branch) in the master branch.

    • Godot Engine enters new territory with Vulkan API support merged in for the upcoming 4.0 release

      While not actually released yet and not due until later this year with Godot Engine 4.0, the Vulkan parts have now been merged into the main Godot project.

      In a new blog post on the official site written by Godot’s Project Manager, Rémi Verschelde, it goes over what this means. In short: it’s all highly unstable but now it’s in the main branch, they can continue pushing Vulkan forwards and updating all parts of Godot required for it.

    • Godot Merges Its Vulkan Renderer Ahead Of The v4.0 Game Engine

      While the Godot 4.0 release is still months away from seeing its stable debut with the new Vulkan renderer, the Vulkan renderer branch was today merged to mainline.

      Vulkan is finally happening for Godot! The Vulkan rendering code for this open-source game engine is now at a stage where it’s being developed on Git master rather than the separate branch. By merging the work to Git master now, other Godot 4.0 changes like code clean-up and restructuring can more easily happen for items that touch the entire code-base.

  • Games

    • Top-down Battle Royale ‘Geneshift’ has a new trailer and tutorial as it moves closer to F2P

      Geneshift has been through an evolution over the last two years. It already had a single-player and co-op campaign, tons of online modes and then a Battle Royale mode was added which has been the newer focus. It’s coming closer to completion now too.

    • Open source sim ‘OpenTTD’ enters feature freeze for the next major version

      The classic free and open source sim OpenTTD, based upon the popular Microprose game “Transport Tycoon Deluxe” has now entered a feature freeze period with the first Release Candidate out for the upcoming major update.

      OpenTTD 1.10.0-RC1 went out a few days ago and while they’re now not including new features due to the freeze, this version does have plenty in it. Features like supplying a reason to people who get kicked/banned when playing online, item highlighting under the mouse cursor in the file browser, a separate window for taking screenshots, the ability to configure the game ending year, the ability to take a full mini-map screenshot, logic improvements for sharing industry production between 3 or more stations, a cargo filter for the industry directory window and there’s plenty of crash-bugs that got solved.

    • Humble Bundle introducing regional pricing for bundles – also running a Valentines sale

      Humble Bundle announced yesterday that they’re bringing in regional pricing for their bundles to make their whole store more “consistent”.

      Before this change you would have the Humble Store in various currencies, Humble Choice was also in different currencies and then all their other bundles were in US Dollars.

    • FS2 Open for playing Freespace 2 on modern systems had a big update

      One I’m genuinely surprised I missed (Hat tip to Timo) is a big update to FS2 Open, the project that continues updating the game engine for Freespace 2 – one of the best space action games ever. While it’s not technically open source, Volition did give the code to the community to keep it alive.

      Version 19.0.0 went up in January and it’s quite a big one too. It pulls in various OpenGL optimisations with animations now using texture arrays and “model uniforms get sent to the GPU using uniform buffers for less overhead” plus other minor changes. There’s also now full Unicode text support, pilot files now use JSON instead of the old custom binary format, support for the Discord Rich Presence API, they added support for displaying decals on the surface of an object and loads more. Wonderful to see it alive and well!

    • Best Command-Line Games for Linux

      The command-line isn’t just your biggest ally when using Linux—it can also be the source of entertainment because you can use it to play many fun games that don’t require a dedicated graphics card.
      Despite their seemingly simple nature, some console games for Linux are surprisingly complex and more than capable of sucking you in for hours at a time. Yes, you will need to use your imagination to fill in the blanks created by their rudimental graphics, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

      In this article, we review and demo the top 7 games you can play on the Linux command line. Enjoy!

    • A note on using Steam Play Proton and counting the sales for Linux

      Back in August 2018, Valve announced their new Steam Play feature with the Proton software in the Linux Steam client to play Windows-only Steam games on Linux. A little note about what platform is counted for sales.

    • Godot Engine was awarded an Epic MegaGrant

      Godot applied for a $250k usd grant for the category of open source graphics software, (which does not have the necessary requirement to be related to Unreal Engine), and expressed the wish to use the grant to improve graphics rendering as well as our built-in- game development language, GDScript.

      Both are areas where the Godot contributor community consistently innovates and we believe this effort, together with the very permissive license, can eventually be used to benefit the industry as a whole.

      The grant was awarded at the beginning of this month and we are still discussing the next steps to follow.

    • System Shock 3 development has been left in limbo with lots of people leaving OtherSide Entertainment

      Were you excited about System Shock 3? Not to be confused with the remake of System Shock in development by Nightdive, this was the follow-up being made by OtherSide Entertainment that now looks less likely to be released.

      The situation had been a little uneasy for a while, and it was likely to come to Linux at some point but now we’ve heard that more and more people have left OtherSide. Something that’s not really a good look, is that on OtherSide’s own forum there’s a thread detailing layoffs since June last year. In the last few months the Design Director, Senior Environment Artist, Senior UI Developer and more have all left. According to a post from an anonymous developer on RPG Codex (given some legitimacy from OtherSide’s former Community Manager who linked to it) “the team is no longer employed there.” which doesn’t sound good.

    • Inspired by Master of Orion, free and open source ‘FreeOrion’ has a new release up

      The free and open source space strategy sim FreeOrion has a new release out, the first in quite some time.

      Inspired by the Master of Orion series (they say it’s not a clone) there’s plenty of obvious similarities but it does play quite differently. Good to see it alive and well too, the 0.4.9 release that went up yesterday was the first major build since 2018.

      Since the last release, the multiplayer side of FreeOrion has seen some big advancements. You can now run a “hostless” server without anyone connected and leave it running for people to play their turns asynchronously, chat is shared between the lobby and the game, chat window will flash to show you have a message, previously joined servers are saved and appear in the servers list of the connection window, Empires in a game can be restricted to certain players based on username-password authentication, an optional turn timer is in and more. A big quality of life update for the online multiplayer and it sounds like it’s a lot better.

    • RPG and Visual Novel mix ‘Planet Stronghold 2′ enters full Beta and looks great

      Probably one of the most interesting mixes of a Visual Novel and an RPG (and some dating sim stuff), Planet Stronghold 2 is full-steam ahead in production and a full Beta is now up.

      You’re tasked with saving your colony, Planet Stronghold, from various threats that will appear as you explore more across the isometric map. As you progress you capture resources, do a little crafting and engage in turn-based battles against both hostile aliens and other humans too. Overall, it certainly is a unique blend.

    • Mixing 2D and 3D gameplay together – the platformer Neko Ghost, Jump! has a demo up

      Platformers have come a very long way since the days of the Amiga and the Sega Mega Drive and while I still love them, I’m always keen to see how developers can tweak the basic idea. Neko Ghost, Jump! seems like it hits the sweet spot for this.

      Combing gameplay from 2D and 3D platformers, enabling you to tap a button and switch between modes. It’s a wonderful way to blend the two together. Not just for show though and more than a gimmick, as you will need to switch between the two to overcome obstacles.

    • Brilliant and unique Metroidvania ‘Dandara’ getting a Trials of Fear Edition – free update

      Publisher Raw Fury recently announced that Dandara, a unique gravity-defying Metroidvania from developer Long Hat House, is getting a Trials of Fear Edition.

      It’s going to be a free update to everyone who owns it which will include a new “Hidden Realms” area full of new places to explore, a new big boss, new powers for Dandara, a new ability, new music and a “secret” ending plus some extra quality of life updates to make the game smoother. Something they’re also doing is adding a whole new focus on the story, expanding the lore of the world of Salt and the inhabitants. This includes new descriptions, dialogue, cut-scenes and an expanded soundtrack too.

    • Recover a barren wasteland in the city-builder puzzler ‘Terra Nil’ – currently free

      Currently free as it was originally made during a Game Jam, Terra Nil is a city-builder with a difference. It’s not about building a huge city or getting a big population but rather you helping nature to recover.

      That’s definitely an usual setting, reminding me somewhat of Surviving Mars: Green Planet only with pixel-art and a much smaller setting. While it’s somewhat a city-builder, it’s also a strategy/puzzle game all in one too due to the way the levels are made requiring you to plan your steps to beat it.

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • KDE Plasma 5.18 LTS Desktop Environment Officially Released

        Four months in development, the KDE Plasma 5.18 release is the second LTS (Long Term Support) series of the acclaimed Open Source desktop environment used by numerous GNU/Linux distributions, including Kubuntu, KDE neon, Manjaro, openSUSE, and many others.

        It comes two years after KDE Plasma 5.12 LTS, which will no longer receive maintenance updates, with a revamped notification system, Flatpak portal support, a Night Color feature, better integration of GTK apps, browser integration, redesigned system settings pages, support for managing Thunderbolt devices, and display management improvements.

      • Plasma 5.18 is out: easier system settings, interactive notifications, emojis, wallpapers and more

        A brand new version of the Plasma desktop is now available.

        In Plasma 5.18 you will find neat new features that make notifications clearer, settings more streamlined and the overall look more attractive. Plasma 5.18 is easier and more fun to use, while at the same time allowing you to be more productive when it is time to work.

      • KDE Plasma 5.18 LTS Released After A Lot Of Polishing, New Features
      • Qt is relocatable

        As of version 5.14.0 Qt is relocatable, i.e. it is possible to move the Qt installation to a different directory without breaking functionality or loading of plugins.

        Let’s slip into the role of the Qt build master of a Windows project. You’re the one who knows all configure arguments by heart. You know which optimization screw to turn and which unneeded feature to turn off.
        Your Qt build is perfectly tailored to the project and you’re providing a zip file containing the Qt installation.

      • Qt 5.15 Feature Development Is Over For This Last Step Of The Qt5 Series

        Just as scheduled, earlier this month the feature freeze went into effect for Qt 5.15 as the last major step for Qt5 before seeing Qt 6.0 hopefully arrive towards the end of the year.

        The Qt 5.15 Alpha release is expected to come in the days ahead but was delayed due to the late merging of new HorizontalHeaderView and VerticalHeaderView controls for tables in Qt Quick, which landed today. Still to happen on the Qt 5.15 branch before the beta is also more deprecations of functionality working to be removed or changed with Qt6.

      • KDE Applications Start Conquering the Windows 10 World

        KDE applications are particularly popular on Windows 10, as several are already available from the Microsoft Store, and more recently, another big name landed on Microsoft’s operating system promising the same experience as on Linux.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • MATE 1.24 Released For Letting GNOME 2 Continuation Live On In 2020

        For those still fond of the GNOME 2 desktop environment, the MATE Desktop Environment that’s been living on as a continuation fork of GNOME2 is out with its version 1.24 update.

        MATE 1.24 comes after about a year of work by the limited crew involved, but does come with some notable changes. MATE 1.24 being adding Wayland support to some components like Eye of GNOME and MATE Panel, the Marco window manager has restored a bunch of “nostalgic” window decorations, the System Monitor now supports polling NVMe drives, HiDPI improvements, Pluma file manager plug-ins have migrated to Python 3, there is a new MATE Disk Image Mounter utility, and a wide variety of other work.

      • MATE 1.24 Desktop Environment Released with New Apps, Many Improvements

        Almost a year in development, the MATE 1.24 desktop environment introduces the ability for users to hide certain applications during startup, adds support for NVMe drives in the System Monitor panel applet, and improves support for HiDPI displays for Control Center’s icons.

        Moreover, MATE 1.24 adds support for mouse acceleration profiles, support for “pi” or “π” symbols to the Calculator app, as well as Wayland support and support for embedded color profiles to the Eye of MATE image viewer.

        The Engrampa archive manager received support for some extra formats and improved password support, especially for passwords that contain Unicode characters. Furthermore, all the Pluma plugins are now Python 3 compatible.

        Marco, the window manager, comes with lots of goodies, including revamped Alt+Tab and Workspace Switcher popups with beautiful OSD styles and better keyboard navigation support, invisible resize borders, HiDPI window controls, more window decorations, and support for cycling through different tiling window sizes with the keyboard.

      • MATE 1.24 released

        After about a year of development, the MATE Desktop team have finally released MATE 1.24. A big thank you to all contributors who helped to make this happen.

        This release contains plenty of new features, bug-fixes, and general improvements. Some of the most important highlights include…

  • Distributions

    • MX Linux Will Remove AntiX Repo From Default Apt Sources

      In a recent blog, MX Linux developer team has announced its plans to bring changes to the MX-system package. In the next version release 20.02.04, antiX software packages list will be removed from default location /etc/apt/sources.list.d/antix.list.
      However, antiX packages won’t be taken out; instead, it will be updated and shift to the new separate repository.
      If you don’t know, MX Linux is the collaborative Linux distro initiated and maintained by the antiX and former MEPIS communities. Hence, MX Linux inherits various core antiX components.
      AntiX is a lightweight Linux distro and MX Linux is a midweight Linux distro while both are based on Debian.
      Therefore, by removing the overlapping of antiX software packages with MX, MX plans to separate the antiX sources to streamline the development of both repositories.

    • Reviews

      • EasyOS 2.2

        EasyOS is an experimental Linux distribution which uses many of the technologies and package formats pioneered by Puppy Linux. The distribution features custom container technology called Easy Containers which can run applications, or the entire desktop environment, in a container.

        The project’s latest version is EasyOS 2.2 which is based on Debian 10 packages. I last tried EasyOS (version 1.0) about a year ago and I was curious to see how the distribution has evolved. EasyOS is available for 64-bit (x86_64) computers and its download is a compressed image file, 514MB in size. Once the file is unpacked, it expands to 1,281MB (about 1.2GB).

        Once the image file is written to a thumb drive we can boot the distribution which brings up a text console. We are prompted to pick our keyboard from a list of abbreviated language options. Then we are asked to make up a password. The password is later used to unencrypt a filesystem – I suspect the area of the thumb drive which contains our data and settings. In other words, it is important to remember this password.

        The desktop, a customized version of JWM, loads and shows us a setup screen where we can adjust language and desktop settings. We are then given a chance to enable a firewall and open any listed network ports we wish. The window manager then displays icons along the top of the screen for launching package managers, a virtual terminal, a web browser, and a program that helps us find installed applications. Towards the central-top area of the desktop we find specially marked icons which launch containers. Specifically there are containers for running a console, a web browser, and a fully contained desktop. I will come back to these a bit later.

    • New Releases

      • Freespire 6.0 Released to Encourage Windows 7 Users to Switch to Linux

        Coming six months after the previous release, Freespire 6.0 “Lobo” ships with the lightweight MATE desktop environment, which is highly customized to resemble the look and feel of the Windows 7 desktop.

        With this release, users who don’t have PCs powerful enough to run Windows 10 are encouraged to migrate to Freespire, which is fully supported by the community and offers a great alternative to the deprecated Windows 7 OS, which Microsoft no longer supports.

      • Freespire 6.0 Released

        Today is another great day for the Freespire development team, as we announce the release of Freespire 6.0. This release is our FOSS solution, with no binary-only drivers or multimedia codecs included and strictly Libre applications. Freespire is released bi-annually and showcases the best that the open-source community has to offer. Our users enjoy a multitude of different desktops – for this release we are releasing the MATE desktop first; KDE comes next, keep an eye out for it. With Windows 7 at the end of life, many people have PCs which may not be optimal for Windows 10; now is a good time to migrate to one of the most recognized desktop Linux distributions, which is optimized for just these sorts of PCs.

      • Freespire 6.0 Released to Encourage Windows 7 Users to Switch to Linux

        Roberto Dohnert informs 9to5Linux about the general availability of the Freespire 6.0 operating system release, which encourages Windows 7 users to switch to GNU/Linux.

        Coming six months after the previous release, Freespire 6.0 “Lobo” ships with the lightweight MATE desktop environment, which is highly customized to resemble the look and feel of the Windows 7 desktop.

        With this release, users who don’t have PCs powerful enough to run Windows 10 are encouraged to migrate to Freespire, which is fully supported by the community and offers a great alternative to the deprecated Windows 7 OS, which Microsoft no longer supports.

    • SUSE/OpenSUSE

      • Richard Brown: Regular Release Distributions Are Wrong

        It’s a long documented fact that I am a big proponent of Rolling Releases and use them as my main operating system for Work & Play on my Desktops/Laptops.
        However in the 4 years since writing that last blog post I always a number of Leap machines in my life, mostly running as servers.

        As of today, my last Leap machine is no more, and I do not foresee ever going back to Leap or any Linux distribution like it.

        This post seeks to answer why I have fallen out of love with the Regular Release approach to developing & using Operating Systems and provide an introduction to how you too could rely on Rolling Releases (specifically Tumbleweed & MicroOS) for everything.

      • Introducing debuginfod service for Tumbleweed

        debuginfod is an HTTP file server that serves debugging resources to debugger-like tools.

      • Database monitoring

        While we monitor basic functionality of our MariaDB (running as Galera-Cluster) and PostgreSQL databases since years, we missed a way to get an easy overview of what’s really happening within our databases in production. Especially peaks, that slow down the response times, are not so easy to detect.

      • SUSE Hack Week Spotlight: Lubos Kocman

        SUSE Hack Week is a week-long sprint permitting developers time off from their day jobs to work on something entirely of their own design or wishes. This week we will be showcasing some of the amazing projects coming out of SUSE Hack Week and the brilliant minds behind them. Stay tuned all week long for more features.

      • Understanding SUSE Sub-capacity pricing for IBM Power servers

        SUSE recently updated Terms and Conditions for SUSE products to clarify the SUSE pricing policies for IBM Power systems and to accommodate Sub-capacity pricing on IBM Power servers.

      • CRN’s 2020 Channel Chiefs list recognizes SUSE leader – Rachel Cassidy

        This annual list recognizes the top vendor executives who continually demonstrate exemplary leadership, influence, innovation, and growth for the IT channel.

      • SUSE Linux Enterprise 15 Service Pack 2 Public Beta!

        As usual there is a lot to say about our upcoming Service Pack, and overall we made more than 840 updates to our packages. Please check out the “Important Notice” and “Notable Changes” section below for more information.

    • IBM/Red Hat/Fedora

      • [Older] RedHat Will Totally Delete Fedora Container Linux CoreOS

        Finally, Red Hat has confirmed the date to end all support for the CoreOS Container Linux. No bugs or vulnerability will be fixed after that date.

        After May 26, 2020, CoreOS will no longer get any updates and after September 1, all OS images available on any platform will also be removed.

      • How to install Fedora/RHEL/CentOS via kickstart on an existing LUKS device

        Kickstart installations let us easily script and replicate unattended or semi-unattended installations of Fedora, Red Hat Enterprise Linux or CentOS. The instructions needed to install the operating system are specified, with a dedicated syntax, inside a Kickstart file which is passed to the Anaconda installer. In this tutorial we will see how to reuse an already existing LUKS (Linux Unified Keys Setup) container when performing a Kickstart installation: this is something that cannot be achieved just with Kickstart instructions and requires some extra steps.

      • IBM picks Slack over Microsoft Teams for its 350,000 employees [Ed: This imposes proprietary software and deep surveillance on all Red Hat staff]

        While this new rollout makes IBM Slack’s biggest customer to date, it has been the company’s biggest customer for years according to Slack. “IBM has been Slack’s largest customer for several years and has expanded its usage of Slack over that time,” reveals an SEC filing from Slack, which appears to downplay the news.

      • Advanced Network customizations for OpenShift Install

        Each organization has its own unique IT environment, and sometimes it will not fit within the network configuration which Red Hat OpenShift sets by default. Thus, it becomes essential to customize the installation for the target environment. In this blog we are going to showcase how to do the advanced network related customization and configuration needed to accomplish this.

    • Debian Family

      • Tails 4.3 is out

        This release fixes many security vulnerabilities. You should upgrade as soon as possible.

      • Debian 10.3 out now with bug fixes and security updates

        Debian GNU/Linux 9, codenamed Stretch, also received an update. The twelfth point release, Debian 9.12. This release comprises 75 security updates along with 70 bug fixes. The Debian 9.12 official release announcement has specific details on the release.

        Debian 9 users should remember that official security updates from the Debian Project for this version of the OS are due to end sometime this year. Afterward, Debian 9 will transfer to the long-term support or LTS branch. The Debian Security Team does not maintain Debian LTS editions. Instead, volunteers and companies handle maintenance and patching. Long-term support for Debian 9 is available until June 2022.

        Conclusion

        This latest release of Debian is just another scheduled release that we expect from the outstanding Debian development team. Debian ‘Buster’ is one of the most stable Linux distros available, and users can take heart that Debian 10.3 is a quality rock-solid OS capable of all of their computing needs.

      • Raspberry Pi’s Raspbian gets new features: File manager, Thonny Python IDE updates

        The Raspberry Pi Foundation has released a new version of its Raspbian OS, bringing improvements to the file manager, the Orca screen reader for the visually impaired, and a new way of configuring audio device preferences.

        The last time Raspbian got a major release was Raspbian Buster, released alongside the then new Raspberry Pi 4. Since then, it’s all been bug fixes. However, according to Simon Long, a senior software engineer at the Foundation, the new Raspbian update is worth telling Pi enthusiasts about.

      • Raspbian Buster Gets New Features in Big Update

        The latest Raspbian release, Buster, received a big update this week. A recent blog post on the official Raspberry Pi website lists all of the new changes and details about the new features.

        Significant changes have been made with the File Manager system. The icons have been updated to make it easier to tell which folder is which at a glance. “Expander arrows” now only appear next to directories that have sub-directories, otherwise they’re hidden.

        The Raspberry Pi team reached out to an accessibility charity known as AbilityNet to help evaluate the Raspberry Pi desktop environment for improvements. Raspbian now supports Orca screen reader. Orca is compatible with most applications that use GTK or Qt toolkits. Other toolkits aren’t compatible and may or may not work. You can also find a new pixel doubling feature in the Raspberry Pi Configuration menu, improving screen visibility for visually impaired persons.

      • SparkyLinux 2020.02 Brings More Goodies from Debian GNU/Linux 11 “Bullseye”

        Using the Linux 5.4.13 kernel by default, SparkyLinux 2020.02 comes with up-to-date packages from the software repositories of the upcoming Debian GNU/Linux 11 “Bullseye” operating system. The entire system was synced with the Debian Testing repos as of February 9th, 2020.

        If they want a newer kernel, users will also be able to install the latest and most advanced Linux 5.5.2 kernel, as well as the first RC (Release Candidate) of the upcoming Linux 5.6 kernel. Both kernels are available in SparkyLinux’s unstable repositories.

        Included in the SparkyLinux 2020.02 release, there’s also the Calamares 3.2.18 graphical installer, Mozilla Firefox 72.0.2 web browser, Mozilla Thunderbird 68.4.2 email and news client, LibreOffice 6.4 office suite, VLC 3.0.8 media player, and Exaile 4.0.2 audio player.

      • Sparky 2020.02

        Sparky 2020.02 “Po Tolo” of the (semi-)rolling line is out. It is based on the testing branch of Debian “Bullseye”.

        Changes:
        * system upgraded from Debian testing “Bullseye” repos as of February 9, 2020
        * Calamares installer 3.2.18
        * Linux kernel 5.4.13 as default (5.5.2 & 5.6-rc1 in Sparky unstable repos)
        * Firefox 72.0.2
        * Thunderbird 68.4.2
        * LibreOffice 6.4.0
        * VLC 3.0.8
        * Exaile 4.0.2, etc.
        * added the new Sparky public key

      • Debian 10.3 Run Through

        In this video, we are looking at Debian 10.3.

      • Ruby Team: Ruby Team Sprint 2020 in Paris – Day Five – We’ve brok^done it

        On our last day we met like every day before, working on our packages, fixing and uploading them. The transitions went on. Antonio, Utkarsh, Lucas, Deivid, and Cédric took some time to examine the gem2deb bug reports. We uploaded the last missing Kali Ruby package.

      • Reproducible Builds in January 2020

        Welcome to the January 2020 report from the Reproducible Builds project. In our reports we outline the most important things that we have been up to.

      • Markus Koschany: My Free Software Activities in January 2020

        Welcome to gambaru.de. Here is my monthly report (+ the first week in February) that covers what I have been doing for Debian. If you’re interested in Java, Games and LTS topics, this might be interesting for you.

      • Utkarsh Gupta: Debian Activities for January 2020

        Here’s my (fourth) monthly update about the activities I’ve done in Debian this January.

      • EasyOS version 2.2.9 released

        The above post also mentions renaming of /etc/init.d/messagebus to 05-messagebus, so that ‘dbus-daemon’ starts sooner. That fixed ‘bluetoothd’, but the question was raised whether there might be other repercussions.

    • Canonical/Ubuntu Family

      • elementary OS is Building an App Center Where You Can Buy Open Source Apps for Your Linux Distribution

        elementary OS recently announced that it is crowdfunding a campaign to build an app center from where you can buy open source applications. The applications in the app center will be in Flatpak format.

        Though it’s an initiative taken by elementary OS, this new app center will be available for other distributions as well.

        The campaign aims to fund a week of in-person development sprint in Denver, Colorado (USA) featuring developers from elementary OS, Endless, Flathub and GNOME.

        The crowdfunding campaign has already crossed its goal of raising $10,000. You can still fund it as additional funds will be used for the development of elementary OS.

      • Ubuntu-based elementary OS 5.1.2 Hera update fixes dangerous Linux sudo bug

        few days ago, we reported on an extremely serious sudo bug that impacted some Unix and Linux-based operating systems. While Ubuntu was not affected, two popular operating systems based on it — Linux Mint and elementary OS — were impacted, sadly. This was due to pwfeedback being enabled on those operating systems.

        Thankfully, the folks over at elementary have already squashed the bug in the latest version — 5.1.2 Hera. Even better, the sudo vulnerability fix is not the only improvement found in this version of the Linux distribution.

      • Elementary OS to Build the Next-Generation Linux App Store

        The AppCenter ecosystem is projected to receive a massive upgrade in elementary OS if a new Indiegogo fundraising campaign proves to be successful.

        And by the looks of things, it’s all just a matter of time until elementary Inc. raises the necessary $10,000 for “bringing together a team from around the world to work together in person for a week-long sprint in Denver, Colorado.”

        Basically, what elementary wants is cover the expenses of the people making this happen, as it paves the way for the next-generation Linux app store.

      • DevOps tools in 2020: Why consider Juju?

        Many DevOps tools struggle as deployments change. Juju excels.

        2020 heralds a decade for a divided technology industry. Software delivery is diversifying. Complexity is increasing. Teams are looking to make use of new approaches such as serverless and split large applications into microservices. They also need to retain their existing applications.

      • Ubuntu at Embedded World 2020

        Embedded world 2020 is the trade fair for embedded systems technology. Given the rapid miniaturisation of hardware and the increasing scope of high performance computing, thousands of exhibitors use the show to take the stage and show off their work. This year Canonical is returning to discuss how to make embedded Linux, more developer friendly and more secure. Some of the highlights on the booth:

      • 10 hidden cloud gotchas to watch out for

        If there’s a backdoor in Ubuntu 18.04, it will let in hackers whether it’s installed on a cloud machine or a server in a closet down the hall. All computers are susceptible to power failures, hard disk crashes, alpha rays, malware and worse.

      • Ubuntu Weekly Newsletter Issue 617

        Welcome to the Ubuntu Weekly Newsletter, Issue 617 for the week of February 2 – 8, 2020. The full version of this issue is available here.

  • Devices/Embedded

  • Free, Libre, and Open Source Software

    • Top hacks for the YaCy open source search engine

      In my article about getting started with YaCy, I explained how to install and start using the YaCy peer-to-peer search engine. One of the most exciting things about YaCy, however, is the fact that it’s a local client. Each user owns and operates a node in a globally distributed search engine infrastructure, which means each user is in full control of how they navigate and experience the World Wide Web.

      For instance, Google used to provide the URL google.com/linux as a shortcut to filter searches for Linux-related topics. It was a small feature that many people found useful, but topical shortcuts were dropped in 2011.

    • My whole career is built on FOSS

      My whole career is built on FOSS.

      My x86(-64) desktop runs GNU/Linux since day one (September 2000) as main system. There was OpenDOS as second during studies due to some stuff.

      I had MS Windows XP as second system on one of laptops. But that’s due to some Arm hardware bringup tool being available only for this OS (later also for Linux). My family and friends learnt that I am unable to help them with MS Windows issues as I do not know that OS.

    • Five Open-Source Projects AI Enthusiasts Might Want to Know About

      Linux is arguably software developers’ favorite OS. Over 14,000 contributors have invested countless hours in developing the Linux Kernel. With Linux becoming increasingly popular due to its security and flexibility, developers who are interested in artificial intelligence (AI) may want to explore the possibilities within the Linux environment.

      [...]
      AI is all the rage in different industries, and rightly so. AI-powered tools and systems have the potential to change processes for the better—healthcare becomes more factual than intuitive, increases in revenue can be seen more clearly in marketing efforts, and food security becomes a reality rather than a dream.

      However, we should not discount the fact that AI can also be weaponized, empowering the wrong people. Cybersecurity systems must also be upgraded to counter AI-powered cyberattacks. And when developing AI-powered machines, it is critical to ensure that they are not vulnerable to attacks.

    • New Faces added in 2019

      I’m pleased to report that we added 18 new Faces to the project in 2019!

    • Web Browsers

      • Opera vs Vivaldi vs Brave | The Web Browser Comparison

        Opera vs Vivaldi vs Brave | The Web Browser Comparison Let’s compare web browsers and see which one is best. One of these is absolutely horrible and won’t be recommended to ANYONE.

      • Chromium

        • Google Chrome will block insecure downloads in coming months

          Then, when version 83 is released, those executable downloads will be blocked and the warning will be applied to archive files. PDFs and .doc files will get the warning in Chrome 84, with audio, images, text, and video files displaying it by version 85. Finally, all mixed content downloads — a non-secure file coming from a secure site — will be blocked as of the release of Chrome 86. Right now, Google is estimating an October release for that build of the popular web browsing. The chart below lays out the Chrome team’s current plan: [...]

        • Google Chrome to start blocking downloads served via HTTP

          Google has announced a timetable for phasing out insecure file downloads in the Chrome browser, starting with desktop version 81 due out next month.

          Known in jargon as ‘mixed content downloads’, these are files such as software executables, documents and media files offered from secure HTTPS websites over insecure HTTP connections.

          This is a worry because a user seeing the HTTPS padlock on a site visited using Chrome might assume that any downloads it offers are also secure (HTTP sites offering downloads are already marked ‘not secure’).

      • Mozilla

        • Firefox 73 Released with Accessibility Improvements, And Um… That’s It

          Mozilla has pushed out the Firefox 73 release, so this post we take a quick look at the new features Firefox 73 brings.

          Or rather we would if there were any. Not every new release of an app ships with shiny new bells and hot sounding whistles, much to the chagrin of idle-handed bloggers like me!

          Accordingly, Mozilla Firefox 73 is a modest bug-fix update that continues to pump the vein of change Firefox 72 laid out, i.e. iterative improvements rather than headline features.

          For this release Mozilla has delivered two substantial improvements to accessibility, the features designed to help make navigating the web easier for people who need it.

        • Firefox 73 is upon us

          Another month, another new browser release! Today we’ve released Firefox 73, with useful additions that include CSS and JavaScript updates, and numerous DevTools improvements.

        • Firefox 73 Released with Global Zoom Level Setting

          Mozilla Firefox 73.0 was released today. The new release features new global zoom level setting and High Contrast Mode improvement.

          While per-site zoom is still available, Firefox 73.0 adds a new global default zoom level setting, which is available in about:preferences under ‘Language and Appearance’.

          For user with low vision rely on Windows’ High Contrast Mode, without disabling background images websites in High Contrast Mode are now more readable.

        • Multi-Account Containers Add-on Sync Feature

          The Multi-Account Containers Add-on will now sync your container configuration and site assignments.

          Firefox Multi-Account Containers allows users to separate their online identities into different tab types called Containers. Each Container has its own separate storage and cookies. This way, their browsing activity in one Container is not accessible to websites in other Containers. This privacy feature allows users to assign sites to only open in a specific Container. For instance, it permits them to set your shopping websites to always open in a Shopping Container. This keeps advertising tracking data from those websites separate from the user’s Work Container. Users can also use Containers for separate areas of their life, like work and personal email. The user can separate email accounts from the same provider, so they don’t have to log in and out of each account. For more information about how to use the containers add on, visit the Mozilla support page.

        • Firefox Release 73.0

          Version 73.0, first offered to Release channel users on February 11, 2020

          We’d like to extend a special thank you to all of the new Mozillians who contributed to this release of Firefox.

          Today’s Firefox release includes two features that help users view and read website content more easily, quickly. Like all accessibility improvements, these features improve browsing for everyone.

        • Firefox 73.0
        • Mozilla Firefox 73 Now Available

          Mozilla Firefox 73 is available this morning as the latest update to this open-source cross-platform web browser.

          Firefox 73.0 isn’t the most exciting feature release but adds support for setting a default zoom level across all web content/sites, improved high-contrast mode support, better audio quality when playing back audio at different speeds, a security fix within IonMonkey, support for using NextDNS as an alternative to Cloudflare for DNS over HTTPS, better detection of legacy text encodings, and other minor work.

        • Mozilla Firefox 73 Is Now Available for Download, Here’s What’s New

          The Mozilla Firefox 73 open-source web browser is now available to download for all supported platforms, including GNU/Linux, Windows, and macOS.

          Scheduled to be released by Mozilla on February 11th, the Firefox 73 release can now be downloaded from the official servers for all supported platforms and architectures. Linux users can get the binaries for 64-bit and 32-bit systems, as well as a Snap package and the source tarball.

          This is the final version that will also be released by Mozilla tomorrow. If you can’t wait until then, or until Firefox 73 will land in the stable software repositories of your favorite GNU/Linux distribution, you can get a head start by downloading the official binaries.

        • TenFourFox FPR19 available

          Due to a busy work schedule and $REALLIFE, TenFourFox Feature Parity Release 19 final is just now available for testing (downloads, hashes, release notes). This version is the same as the beta except for a couple URL bar tweaks I meant to land and the outstanding security updates. If all goes well, it will go live tomorrow Pacific time in the evening.

        • The 7 best things about the new Firefox for Android

          The biggest ever update to Firefox for Android is on its way. Later this spring, everyone using the Firefox browser on their Android phones and tablets will get the update. Your favorite features — like your history, bookmarks, saved logins, and tab sharing — will stay the same.

        • Extensions in Firefox 73

          As promised, the update on changes in Firefox 73 is short: There is a new sidebarAction.toggle API that will allow you to open and close the sidebar. It requires being called from a user action, such as a context menu or click handler. The sidebar toggle was brought to you by Mélanie Chauvel. Thanks for your contribution, Mélanie!

          On the backend, we fixed a bug that caused tabs.onCreated and tabs.onUpdated events to be fired out-of-order.

        • Firefox 73 new contributors

          With the release of Firefox 73, we are pleased to welcome the 19 developers who contributed their first code change to Firefox in this release, 18 of whom were brand new volunteers!

    • CMS

      • 30 projects migrated their translation to Weblate, what about yours?

        The localization community gave it’s approval: Weblate fits our expectations. Many projects have already migrated. It’s time for yours to migrate, because the next Fedora release will mark the end of the old translation platform.

      • AgoraCart “Route 66″ Version Released

        I have avoided any spotlight in the Perl community after negative experiences early on but at the urging of Gabor Szabo over at PerlMaven.com, I realized that I should not care if I am not the normal Perl community member/developer. As a result, announcements on Perl type groups was skipped until now. So here’s to new beginnings.

        I love the flexibility of Perl and hated the feeling that I was giving up on it as other languages rose in popularity and Perl seemed to surrender from the web on its own accord. I restarted development of the new version of AgoraCart during my masters degree coursework, and kept grinding on the development and testing for another 2+ years. This release marks a huge milestone, for AgoraCart and for me personally. I basically gave up on AgoraCart for a few years (motivation to work on it came and went like the changes in the wind after a family tragedy).

    • Outreachy

      • FOSDEM 2020

        As many other people, this year I attended FOSDEM.

        For the ones that might not be familiar with the name, FOSDEM is the biggest free software developers gathering in Europe, happening every year in Brussels, Belgium.

        This year I decided to attend again as it is an event I have really enjoyed the last two times I have attended during the past years. As I am currently doing my Outreachy internship I found FOSDEM a very good opportunity to receive some more inspiration. My goal was to come back from this event with some ideas or motivation that would help during the last phases of my internship, as I need to work on documentation and best practices on fundraising. I also wanted to meet in person the people that I have worked with so far regarding Outreachy and discuss with them in person about organizational topics and even ask for advice.

        [...]

        My Outreachy internship finishes soon and this is also one of the reasons why my mentor supported attending FOSDEM using the Outreachy stipend. FOSDEM is huge, and you meet hundreds of people within two days, so it is a good opportunity to look for a future job. There is also a job fair booth where companies post job offers. I surely passed by and got myself some offers that I thought would be suitable for me.

        And the cherry on top of the cake during FOSDEM, are all the booths distributed in different buildings. I did not only meet friends from different communities, but also got to know so many new projects that I had not heard of before. And of course, got some very nice swag. Stickers and other goodies are never too much!

      • Two Weeks Are Left To Apply For An Outreachy Summer 2020 Open-Source Internship

        Accepted Outreachy interns are awarded with a $5,500 USD stipend (and $500 travel stipend) for contributing from May to August. For this round, there are six HTML/CSS projects, five JavaScript projects, four Python projects, four Git projects, and other skill-sets. This summer 2020 round includes working on Creative Commons, improving internationalization for the Guix data service, better desktop environment integration for Guix, improving Sound Open Firmware debugging, and creating a command-line runner for Wikimedia’s MediaWiki maintenance tasks, among others.

    • FSF

      • Thank you for supporting the FSF

        On January 17th, we closed the Free Software Foundation (FSF)’s end of the year fundraiser and associate membership drive, bringing 368 new associate members to the FSF community.

        This year’s fundraiser began with a series of shareable images aiming to bring user freedom issues to the kitchen table, helping to start conversations about the impact that proprietary software has on the autonomy and privacy of our everyday lives. Your enthusiasm in sharing these has been inspiring. We also debuted the ShoeTool video, an animated short presenting a day in the life of an unfortunate elf who is duped into forking over his liberty for the sake of convenience. And we also sent out our biannual issue of the Free Software Bulletin, which had FSF staff writing on topics as diverse as ethical software licensing and online dating.

      • GNU Projects

        • Is that a GDB in your pipeline? Debugger hits 9.1

          GDB users can now download version 9.1 of their fav debugger, which brings interesting additions such as a pipe command and multithreaded symbol loading to the GNU project.

          The latter has been added as an experimental feature to improve performance and can be enabled by using maint set worker-threads unlimited. Usability is also meant to be enhanced by better styled commands, and the facilitation of using . in command names. Infrastructure for dash-style commands has been set up to help with things like auto completion for command line arguments.

          Version 9.1 also comes with a couple of new commands, such as define-prefix, allowing users to define custom prefix commands, or with, which runs a command with the value given. Chaining commands meanwhile has been improved by the addition of | or pipe, which does its usual thing of executing a directive and sending the output to another shell command.

        • GDB 9.1 released

          Version 9.1 of the GNU debugger is out. There are many improvements; see the announcement and the changelog for details.

        • Andy Wingo: state of the gnunion 2020

          Greetings, GNU hackers! This blog post rounds up GNU happenings over 2019. My goal is to celebrate the software we produced over the last year and to help us plan a successful 2020.

          Over the past few months I have been discussing project health with a group of GNU maintainers and we were wondering how the project was doing. We had impressions, but little in the way of data. To that end I wrote some scripts to collect dates and versions for all releases made by GNU projects, as far back as data is available.

        • GNU Guix: Outreachy May 2020 to August 2020 Status Report I

          The final project list is announced on Feb. 25, 2020.

          For further information, check out the timeline, information about the application process, and the eligibility rules.

          If you’d like to contribute to computing freedom, Scheme, functional programming, or operating system development, now is a good time to join us. Let’s get in touch on the mailing lists and on the #guix channel on the Freenode IRC network!

          Should you have any questions regarding the internship, please feel free to join the Outreachy Twitter Chat on Feb. 11, 2020, at 4PM UTC. Look for the hashtag: #OutreachyChat

          Last year we had the pleasure to welcome Laura Lazzati as an Outreachy intern working on documentation video creation, which led to the videos you can now see on the home page.

        • Christopher Allan Webber: State of Spritely for February 2020

          We are now approximately 50% of the way through the Samsung Stack Zero grant for Spritely, and only a few months more since I announced the Spritely project at all. I thought this would be a good opportunity to review what has happened so far and what’s on the way.

      • Licensing / Legal

        • Linux kernel patch maker says court case was only way out

          The case ended last week with Perens coming out on the right side of things; after some back and forth, a court doubled down on its earlier decision that OSS must pay Perens’ legal costs as awarded in June 2018.

          The dispute began in August 2017 over remarks that Perens made about the OSS patches, collectively referred to as Grsecurity. In those remarks, Perens described OSS’ efforts as presenting “a contributory infringement and breach of contract risk”.

          The issue centres around the General Public Licence version 2 under which the Linux kernel is distributed. It specifies that if anyone distributes any software covered by this licence, then source code has to be offered as well. Exceptions are made for code that is not a derivative of the original software.

    • Programming/Development

      • Excellent Free Tutorials to Learn Lisp

        Lisp (derives from “LISt Processing”) is one of the oldest programming languages. It was invented in 1958, with the language being conceived by John McCarthy and is based on his paper “Recursive Functions of Symbolic Expressions and Their Computation by Machine”. Over the years, Lisp has evolved into a family of programming languages. The most commonly used general-purpose dialects are Common Lisp and Scheme. Other dialects include Franz Lisp, Interlisp, Portable Standard Lisp, XLISP and Zetalisp.

        The majority of Lisp implementations offer a lot more than just a programming language. They include an entire environment such as debuggers, inspectors, tracing, and other tools to add the Lisp developer. Lisp is a practical, expression-oriented, interactive programming language which uses linked lists as one of its major data structures. A Lisp list is written with its elements separated by whitespace, and surrounded by parentheses. Lisp source code is itself comprised of lists.

        The language has many unique features that make it excellent to study programming constructs and data structures. Many regard Lisp as an extremely natural language to code complex symbolic reasoning programs. Lisp is popular in the fields of artificial intelligence and symbolic algebra.

      • Perl / Raku

        • 2020.06 Ready for Brewing

          Patrick Böker lets us know that rakudobrew (originally by Tadeusz Sośnierz) has been re-imagined as rakubrew and that it is ready for testing! It allows one to have multiple versions of different Raku implementations installed in parallel and switch between them. It’s a perlbrew and plenv look-alike and supports both flavours of commands. An excellent tool for Raku module developers!

      • Python

        • Create a project which shows the nutrition and diet data for generic foods, packaged foods, and restaurant meals using python

          Hello, nice to be back again, are you people ready for the next python project? In this latest project which will take maybe around half a month to complete, I will develop a python application that will show the nutrition and diet data for generic foods, packaged foods, and restaurant meals to the user. This application will use one of the free APIs from Rapid API to receive all the data that this project ever needs.

          First of all, if you have not yet signed up for a free account at Rapid API, then just go ahead and do so. This site offers both the paid API and free API which the application developer can use in his or her own project. After you have signed up and signed into your account, search for this API: Edamam Food and Grocery Database.

        • Productivity Mondays – How to Instantly Save 2-3 Hours a Day

          Imagine what an extra 2-3 hours a day can give you. Reading consistently for an hour a day in your field can change your career for the better. An hour of Python coding a day can land you a developer job over time. What about spending more time with your family?

          This stuff matters!

          In my early days I was a perfectionist. I only later read how this rubbed some people the wrong way when I was cleaning out old study reports.

          More importantly it prevented me from taking massive action towards my goals!

        • PyDev of the Week: Paul Sokolovsky

          This week we welcome Paul Sokolovsky as our PyDev of the Week! Paul is the creator of Pycopy, which is described as “a minimalist and memory-efficient Python implementation for constrained systems, microcontrollers, and just everything”. You can check out more of his contributions to open source on Github. Let’s take a few moments to get to know Paul better!

        • Python course inside of NSA via a FOIA request

          Woke on on Sunday morning, and found Chris Swenson’s tweet, he did a FOIA request about the Python course inside of NSA, and then scanned the almost 400 pages of course material. It is 118MB :)

        • Python programming language: Now you can take NSA’s free course for beginners

          Developers already have numerous options from the likes of Microsoft and Google for learning how to code in the popular Python programming language. But now budding Python developers can read up on the National Security Agency’s own Python training materials.

          Software engineer Chris Swenson filed a Freedom of information Act (FOIA) request with the NSA for access to its Python training materials and received a lightly redacted 400-page printout of the agency’s COMP 3321 Python training course.

        • Python if..else Statement

          Decision making is one of the most fundamental concepts of computer programming. Python supports the common flow control statements found in other languages, with some modifications. The if control statement is one of the most basic and well-known statements that is used to execute code based on a specific condition.

          In this article, we will go over the basics of the if statement in Python.

        • Bubble Sort in Python

          For most people, Bubble Sort is likely the first sorting algorithm they heard of in their Computer Science course.

          It’s highly intuitive and easy to “translate” into code, which is important for new software developers so they can ease themselves into turning ideas into a form that can be executed on a computer. However, Bubble Sort is one of the worst-performing sorting algorithms in every case except checking whether the array is already sorted, where it often outperforms more efficient sorting algorithms like Quick Sort.

        • Implementing an Interface in Python

          Interfaces play an important role in software engineering. As an application grows, updates and changes to the code base become more difficult to manage. More often than not, you wind up having classes that look very similar but are unrelated, which can lead to some confusion. In this tutorial, you’ll see how you can use a Python interface to help determine what class you should use to tackle the current problem.

        • Displaying tabular data in Qt5 ModelViews

          In the previous chapter we covered an introduction to the Model View architecture. However, we only touched on one of the model views — QListView. There are two other Model Views available in Qt5 — QTableView and QTreeView which provide tabular (Excel-like) and tree (file directory browser-like) views using the same QStandardItemModel.

          In this tutorial we’ll look at how to use QTableView from PyQt5, including how to model your data, format values for display and add conditional formatting.

          You can use model views with any data source, as long as your model returns that data in a format that Qt can understand. Working with tabular data in Python opens up a number of possibilities for how we load and work with that data. Here we’ll start with a simple nested list of list and then move onto integrating your Qt application with the popular numpy and pandas libraries. This will provide you with a great foundation for building data-focused applications.

        • Our New Django Book Has Launched!

          Audrey and I wrote a new book titled Django Crash Course. You can get it right now on our website at roygreenfeld.com/products/django-crash-course. Right now it’s in alpha, which means only the e-book is available. Later we’ll produce it in print formats (perfect bound, spiral, and hardcover).

          As the book is in alpha, you’re encouraged to submit bug reports to us for errors that you find. In turn we will give you credit for your contributions in not just the e-book, but also in the print paperback and online publicly on the web. This is your opportunity to have your name in one of our books as a contributor, which you are then welcome to add to your resume and LinkedIn profile. We followed the same pattern with our Two Scoops of Django books.

        • Python 101 2nd Edition Kickstarter Preview

          I have been kicking around the idea of updating my first book, Python 101, for over a year. After doing a lot of planning and outlining, I am ready to announce that I have started work on the book.

      • Shell/Bash/Zsh/Ksh

        • Automate your live demos with this shell script

          I gave a talk about multi-architecture container images at LISA19 in October that included a lengthy live demo. Rather than writing out 30+ commands and risking typos, I decided to automate the demo with a shell script.

          The script mimics what appears as input/output and runs the real commands in the background, pausing at various points so I can narrate what is going on. I’m very pleased with how the script turned out and the effect on stage. The script and supporting materials for my presentation are available on GitHub under an Apache 2.0 license.

      • Java

        • Using external libraries in Java

          Java comes with a core set of libraries, including those that define commonly used data types and related behavior, like String or Date; utilities to interact with the host operating system, such as System or File; and useful subsystems to manage security, deal with network communications, and create or parse XML. Given the richness of this core set of libraries, it’s often easy to find the necessary bits and pieces to reduce the amount of code a programmer must write to solve a problem.

          Even so, there are a lot of interesting Java libraries created by people who find gaps in the core libraries. For example, Apache Commons “is an Apache project focused on all aspects of reusable Java components” and provides a collection of some 43 open source libraries (as of this writing) covering a range of capabilities either outside the Java core (such as geometry or statistics) or that enhance or replace capabilities in the Java core (such as math or numbers).

          Another common type of Java library is an interface to a system component—for example, to a database system. This article looks at using such an interface to connect to a PostgreSQL database and get some interesting information. But first, I’ll review the important bits and pieces of a library.

  • Standards/Consortia

    • Why innovation can’t happen without standardization

      Any organization facing the prospect of change will confront an underlying tension between competing needs for standardization and innovation. Achieving the correct balance between these needs can be essential to an organization’s success.

      Experiencing too much of either can lead to morale and productivity problems. Over-stressing standardization, for example, can have a stifling effect on the team’s ability to innovate to solve new problems. Unfettered innovation, on the other hand, can lead to time lost due to duplicated or misdirected efforts.

  • Leftovers

    • twist and Turn: Just Another Day at the Old Gray Lady
    • Witness for Survival: Existential Choice and Action Constructing Historical Mega Events

      Witness or, more particularly, the witness frames the process of social movements for change beyond a generational approach by emphasizing actors, motives, and actions in relation to a specific goals or enterprise. To witness means to know and to provide evidence. This person assembles and communicated facts, presumably for a purpose whether personal or public that is impelled by motives. The word “witness” also refers to place or site, as well as to a does or maker. The witness acts because witnessing is an action compelled by the mind and body that can be considered a choice to achieve a desired goal. There are no mindless or unbiased witnesses. There are different kinds of witnesses whose witnessing varies within an action scenario. Their testimony varies according to the caliber of the witness. By identifying the roles of the varied witnesses, we can clarify and understand the historical episode by emphasizing actors and their actions.

    • Science

      • Astronomers have found a deep space radio burst that pulses every 16 days

        A recently discovered fast radio burst turns out to be pulsing on a steady 16-day cycle, marking the first time scientists have been able to see a specific tempo from one of these mysterious signals.

      • Vibrant research cultures do not just emerge by magic

        While most researchers feel that their sector is producing high-quality outputs, they also report major concerns about how sustainable the culture is in the long term. They say that conditions are being worsened by a complex network of incentives from government, funders and institutions that seem to focus on quantity of outputs and narrow concepts of “impact”, rather than on real quality. “The upshot is that they feel intense pressure to publish, with too little value placed on how results are achieved and the human costs,” the report says.

        Corrosive competition too often thwarts collaboration. Job insecurity fuels anxiety. Increasing expectations are rarely matched with increased resources or rewards, which leads to declining levels of mental health and well-being. Added to this are complaints about a lack of basic support or feedback, with many researchers experiencing exploitation, discrimination, harassment and bullying.

      • [Older] What researchers think about the culture they work in

        69% of researchers think that rigour of results is considered an important research outcome by their workplace. However, one in five junior researchers and students (23%) have felt pressured by their supervisor to produce a particular result.

        Only 14% of researchers agree that current metrics have had a positive impact on research culture, and 43% believe that their workplace puts more value on metrics than on research quality.

    • Hardware

      • Taika Waititi slams Apple’s MacBook keyboards after winning first Oscar

        “Apple needs to fix those keyboards,” he said. “They are impossible to write on — they’ve gotten worse. It makes me want to go back to PCs. Because PC keyboards, the bounce-back for your fingers is way better. Hands up who still uses a PC? You know what I’m talking about. It’s a way better keyboard. Those Apple keyboards are horrendous.”

    • Health/Nutrition

    • Integrity/Availability

      • Proprietary

        • Best FTP & SFTP Client for Windows and Linux (Review) in 2020

          To make things even more confusing, another secure file transfer protocol called Secure Copy (SCP) also exists. SCP is a simpler protocol that also uses SSH but only offers file transfer capabilities. There is no way to browse file systems and move from one directory to another or even to see a list of available files in SCP. All you can do is copy a file to or from the server.

        • 4K Video Downloader – A powerful tool to download videos, channels and playlists for offline use

          Did you know that there’s a free tool that lets you download videos from YouTube, Vimeo and a number of other websites in 4K resolution? You can grab this software for your Windows, Mac and Ubuntu machines, and take advantage of its powerful features that include the ability to download entire playlists or all videos from a particular channel. 4K Video Downloader is quite a useful tool for those whose work involves downloading videos for editing purposes. And there are plenty of other useful features infused into multi-platform software as well.

        • Security

          • Limit the impact of security compromises with systemd security directives

            Three weeks ago, I wrote systemd service sandboxing and security hardening 101: an introduction to Linux security features for service processes managed by systemd.

            This week, I’ll explore how you can use some of the more advanced security features offered by systemd. You’ll want to read the 101-introduction before proceeding with this article.

            Last week, researchers at Qualys disclosed a remote code execution (RCE) vulnerability in OpenSMTPD: an open-source email server. This seems like an opportune time to make sure you’ve locked down this service. It will serve as our example service for this tutorial.

            Most parts of OpenSMTPD is designed to run in unprivileged processes. However, this was a “worst-case scenario”, as Gilles Chehade put it. The vulnerability lets attackers execute remote commands with full administrative privileges. Remotely executed arbitrary code running rampant is the last thing you want on your email server.

          • App Used by Netanyahu’s Likud Leaks Israel’s Entire Voter Registry

            Names, identification numbers and addresses of over 6 million voters were leaked through the unsecured Elector app

          • Where did Core Update 140 go?

            You will have seen that we have just release an announcement for testing the next release of IPFire – IPFire 2.25 – Core Update 141. The major release number has changed as well as a Core Update has been skipped. But why?

            Rolling, rolling, rolling…

            IPFire is a rolling release. There are very few, but some systems that have been updated all the way through since 2007, when the first release of IPFire 2 was published. Despite some bugs during the update process, it is never necessary to reinstall your firewall. And why would you do that? We have replaced the whole base system underneath it not only once, but countless times.

            IPFire is a modern distribution with its roots somewhere in the past. However, sometimes we need to break things. On purpose. We have removed old crypto that is dangerously broken and we have removed features that virtually nobody has been using any more – simply because the world looked different in 2007 than in 2017.

            Bump to IPFire 2.25

            This time, the reason for bumping the release to 2.25 is that we have upgraded to GCC 9. A new compiler brings some new libraries and changes some other things that are not backwards-compatible. So add-ons compiled with the new compiler won’t work on older systems. We create a new directory on the server with everything compiled with the new compiler every time this happens. It is as simple as that.

          • Security updates for Monday

            Security updates have been issued by Debian (ipmitool, libexif, and ppp), Fedora (glib2, java-1.8.0-openjdk, java-11-openjdk, libasr, libuv, mingw-gdk-pixbuf, mingw-SDL2, nethack, nghttp2, nodejs, nodejs-mixin-deep, nodejs-set-value, nodejs-yarn, opensmtpd, python-feedgen, runc, samba, sox, and texlive-base), Mageia (chromium-browser-stable, mgetty, openslp, qtbase5, spamassassin, sudo, and xmlrpc), openSUSE (ceph and chromium), Oracle (grub2 and kernel), SUSE (docker-runc, LibreOffice, and wicked), and Ubuntu (libxml2 and qtbase-opensource-src).

          • Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt/Fear-mongering/Dramatisation

            • Open-Source Security in 2020: Myths and Facts

              Open-source software isn’t a completely chaotic and breached wasteland of vulnerabilities. It’s a global effort to make the development lifecycle faster.

              Open-source components are publicly-made codebases. Some are created and maintained by experienced developers and companies, while others are created by beginners. Open-source components are often used in enterprise software, for the purpose of reducing development time. However, the security aspect of these components isn’t always clear.

              [...]

              Open-source software is software with publicly accessible code. It is generally freely available for use and developed and maintained through community collaboration. The most commonly known example of open-source software is Linux, but many applications and systems use open-source components.

              The difference between open-source software and proprietary software is reflected in its licensing, liability, and cost.

            • 5 Cybersecurity Misconceptions Most Linux Users Still Believe In

              Linux has managed to build a reputation around being one of the most secure operating systems available today. But too many people tend to take its built-in security for granted. It gives them the false impression that they can do just about anything with it and still be safe. But that’s far from the truth. So let’s take a look at five such misconceptions and the underlying reality.

          • Privacy/Surveillance

            • Harvard Students Again Show ‘Anonymized’ Data Isn’t Really Anonymous

              As companies and governments increasingly hoover up our personal data, a common refrain to keep people from worrying is the claim that nothing can go wrong because the data itself is “anonymized” — or stripped of personal identifiers like social security numbers. But time and time again, studies have shown how this really is cold comfort, given it takes only a little effort to pretty quickly identify a person based on access to other data sets. Yet most companies, many privacy policy folk, and even government officials still like to act as if “anonymizing” your data means something.

            • How Big Companies Spy on Your Emails

              Some of the companies listed in the J.P. Morgan document sell data sourced from “personal inboxes,” the document adds. A spokesperson for J.P. Morgan Research, the part of the company that created the document, told Motherboard that the research “is intended for institutional clients.”

            • What would our lives be like if Amazon or Tinder ran an entire city?

              In recent years, it has become a truism among policy-makers that cities should be optimised in the way corporations are. Turning a city into a “smart city” is an alluring prospect. It pushes inefficient government bureaucracy out of the way and replaces it with streamlined corporate governance. But to what end?

            • U.S. Tries to Stop Flow of Personal Data to China With Charges

              But, according to U.S. authorities and cybersecurity experts, the Equifax [attack] was one of a string of data breaches executed by Chinese [attackers] in which personal data was stolen. Those experts described an effort to grab so much data on so many people that the Chinese could use it to compile a database of Americans, in part to bolster spying efforts.

            • As The World Frets Over Social Media Tracking For Advertising, Young People Are Turning Fooling Sites Into Sport

              As the techlash continues to rage against tech and social media companies, one of the more common criticisms has been how sites track users in order to feed them advertising. Now, I won’t pretend to believe that these concerns are entirely unfounded. There is something creepy about all of this. That perception is also not helped by the opaque manner in which sites operate, nor the manner in which these sites often barely inform users of the tracking that is in place. Through it all, those that have the worst opinions of the internet and tech companies often couch their concerns in hand-wringing over how these sites handle younger users.

    • Defence/Aggression

      • International Justice Versus Myanmar

        Let’s cut to the chase – there is no question, no doubt, that the government of Myanmar and the army which controls it have committed the most vile atrocities against the Rohingya people, a Muslim minority that lives in the West of the Buddhist-dominated country.

      • Mali: Militias, Armed Islamists Ravage Central Mali

        Armed groups in Mali have escalated their attacks on civilians, massacring people in their villages, and executing men pulled from public transportation vehicles based on their ethnicity, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. Many villagers were burned alive, while others were blown up by explosive devices. Malian authorities should urgently step up investigations and prosecutions of those responsible.  

        The 90-page report, “How Much More Blood Must be Spilled? Atrocities Against Civilians in Central Mali” is based on witness accounts from dozens of attacks by armed groups in 2019, during which at least 456 civilians were killed, and hundreds wounded. The epicenter of the violence was in central Mali; and 2019 was the deadliest for civilians since the advent of Mali’s 2012 political and military crisis. Attacks against civilians have continued in 2020.

      • The Beasts and the Bombings: Reflecting on Dresden, February 1945

        The Dresden bombing shocked the world’s conscience.

      • World War III’s Newest Battlefield — US Troops Head for the Far North

        In early March, an estimated 7,500 American combat troops will travel to Norway to join thousands of soldiers from other NATO countries in a massive mock battle with imagined invading forces from Russia. In this futuristic simulated engagement — it goes by the name of Exercise Cold Response 2020 — allied forces will “conduct multinational joint exercises with a high-intensity combat scenario in demanding winter conditions,” or so claims the Norwegian military anyway. At first glance, this may look like any other NATO training exercise, but think again. There’s nothing ordinary about Cold Response 2020. As a start, it’s being staged above the Arctic Circle, far from any previous traditional NATO battlefield, and it raises to a new level the possibility of a great-power conflict that might end in a nuclear exchange and mutual annihilation. Welcome, in other words, to World War III’s newest battlefield.

      • Syria: Address Fate of Missing Victims of ISIS
      • Man Killed in Homophobic Attack in Moscow Deserves Justice

        Last week, the speaker of Russia’s lower chamber of the parliament, Piotr Tolstoi demanded that the country’s constitution explicitly state marriage is a “union between a man and a woman.”

        “This will create a barrier to the efforts to bestow some special additional rights on the persons of non-traditional LGBT orientation,” he said.

      • Turkey Says It Has Retaliated After Deadly Syrian Shelling

        Turkey said it retaliated Monday after “intense” shelling by Syrian forces killed five of its soldiers and wounded five others in Syria’s northern Idlib province, a marked escalation a week after a similarly deadly clash between the two sides.

      • Senators Threaten Twitter For Allowing Iranian Official Who Helped De-Escalate Tensions Via Twitter To Tweet

        It’s somewhat amazing how quickly officials lean into the idea of censorship as the first response to other officials saying things they don’t like. Rep. Nancy Pelosi’s office asked both Twitter and Facebook to remove a tweet by Donald Trump (both companies refused). Trump’s tweet showed a misleadingly cut video of Nancy Pelosi. Similarly, Rep. Ro Khanna — who has done some great things, including looking into the harm caused by FOSTA — demanded that Twitter delete that same tweet, falsely stating that “falsity has never been a part of the 1st Amendment,” which is (to repeat myself), false.

      • China’s To Blame For The Equifax Hack. But It Shouldn’t Let Equifax, Or US Regulators, Off The Hook.

        The Department of Justice this morning formally announced that it has identified the Chinese government as the culprit behind the historic Equifax hack. If you’ve forgotten, the 2017 hack involved hackers making off with the personal financial data of more than 147 million Americans. Those victims were then forced to stumble through an embarrassing FTC settlement that promised them all manner of financial compensation that mysteriously evaporated once they went to collect it.

      • The US says the Chinese military hacked Equifax. Here’s how.

        The data breach at US credit agency Equifax in 2017 was one of the biggest thefts of sensitive personal information of all time—and according to a new indictment unveiled today by the US Department of Justice, it was carried out by Chinese military hackers.

      • Documents: Inside The US Army’s Massive $2 Million Propaganda Campaign For ‘Independence Day’ Sequel

        The Pentagon did not provide production support to the movie “Independence Day” because it portrayed the military as ineffective against the alien threat. There also was dialogue mentioning Area 51 and Will Smith’s Air Force character dated a stripper. But in 2016, the United States Army developed a months-long, multi-platform promotional campaign for the movie’s sequel.

        Documents released under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) show the campaign for “Independence Day: Resurgence” was pursued to blend fiction and reality, boost recruitment, and alter the public’s perception of the Army.

      • Number of youths joining militancy in Kashmir has gone down

        According to a report prepared by security agencies, on an average five local youths have joined militancy every month since August 5 last year, as compared to the earlier rate of 14 per month.

        The report, comparing militancy-related developments before and after August 5, stated that large gatherings at funerals of militants, which were fertile grounds for recruitment of youths into militancy, have become a thing of the past as now only a handful of close relatives are seen at burial grounds.

      • To Stop the Next War Before It Starts, We Need to Confront Militarism Itself

        The antiwar movement can never quite declare victory. Even in the best of times, the possibility of war always looms. But in this moment, it’s still possible to announce a small win.

      • National Threat Assessment 2020 [warning for PDF]

        Ongoing malicious use of Russian and Chinese cyber capabilities is being observed in Lithuanian cyberspace. The biggest threat to the security of Lithuanian information systems, and the information stored in them, is the cyber espionage of the Russian intelligence services. The development of 5G technology without sufficient focus on the trustworthiness of the IT service or product provider may become a new risk factor.

        In the information domain, events that underpin Lithuania’s statehood and testify to its resistance to the Soviet occupation are the main targets of the Russian propaganda and its history policy. For this reason, Russian propa-ganda seeks to convince foreign and domestic audiences that those convicted during the case of January 1991 coup case are unduly persecuted political pri- soners.

      • Snoop Dogg Backtracks After Issuing Violent Threats Against Gayle King

        In the wake of an official response from CBS and widespread outcry, Snoop Dogg has backed away from threats he issued to CBS This Morning host Gayle King.

      • Mourning A Terrorist

        The aim of this blog is to put forward reasonable points of view not easily found elsewhere, and it is important not to shy away from saying things because they run directly contrary to the popular mood. The stabbing of three people in Streatham was a tragedy, and while all are recovering, the mental and perhaps physical damage will be life-changing. But the death of the terrorist, Sudesh Amman, is also a human tragedy. The government’s populist response – to lock up those convicted of terrorist offences for ever longer and to seek to ban early release, even retrospectively – is crass and will make the situation worse, not better.

    • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

      • Why is the media giving Mike Bloomberg a free pass?

        They have been drilling this race for years. It was a ritual you could count on every four years, as Bloomberg’s top operative Kevin Sheekey routinely floated stories about Mayor Mike taking steps to run for President.

        Their brilliant strategy permits Bloomberg to stay above the fray, while he uses his vast wealth to launch an unprecedented national ad buy that will mold the public perception of Mayor Mike. This is accomplished without forcing the candidate into the high-risk arena that comes from the close-up press scrutiny candidates must submit to in Iowa and New Hampshire.

    • Environment

    • Finance

      • Systemic Cruelty

        When bailiffs broke down his door on the 20th June 2018 they found Errol Graham emaciated and dead. He weighed just four and a half stone (28.5kg). There was no food in the flat except for two tins of fish that were four years out of date, no gas or electricity supply. He was 57, lived alone in Nottingham, England and due to severe anxiety had little or no contact with family or friends. Unable to work he relied on state benefits to pay his rent, cover the bills and feed himself, benefits that were stopped when Graham did not attend a capability for work assessment. It was an isolated, painful life that ended tragically.

      • Before Celebrating Sinn Féin Election Surge, Consider Their Pro-Austerity Record in the North of Ireland

        For over two decades, the party has shared power in the North of Ireland, where it has widened the gaps between rich and poor.

      • UK Fashion Brand Joins Global Transparency Movement

        Last week, River Island, a United Kingdom fashion brand, signed onto a global effort to be more transparent about the factories that produce its products.

        In December 2019, Human Rights Watch, together with the Clean Clothes Campaign, launched a campaign that asked apparel brands to #GoTransparent and sign the Transparency Pledge. River Island changed its stance on transparency, joining 39 other companies that have aligned with the Transparency Pledge. The pledge was created in 2016 by a coalition of nine organizations and global unions, including Human Rights Watch, in an effort to set supply chain disclosure standards.

      • The Left Becomes Center: Financial Transactions Taxes and Beyond

        Last week, Antonio Weiss, along with co-author Laura Kawano, released a paper advocating a financial transactions tax (FTT). I have long been an advocate of FTTs, so I’m always glad to see another paper making the case.

      • Trump Puts Rejected Budget Cuts Back on the Block

        President Donald Trump unveiled a $4.8 trillion election year budget plan on Monday that recycles previously rejected cuts to domestic programs like food stamps and Medicaid to promise a balanced budget in 15 years — all while leaving Social Security and Medicare benefits untouched.

      • Neoliberals Weaponized Human Rights to Justify Global Exploitation

        In the mid-1980s, Rony Brauman, who, at the time, was the president of the leading humanitarian organization Médecins sans Frontières, established a new human rights group called Liberté sans Frontières. For the inaugural colloquium, Brauman invited a number of speakers, among them Peter Bauer, a recently retired professor from the London School of Economics. Bauer was an odd choice given that he was a staunch defender of European colonialism; he had once responded to a student pamphlet that accused the British of taking “the rubber from Malaya, the tea from India, [and] raw materials from all over the world,” by arguing that actually “the British took the rubber to Malaya and the tea to India.” Far from the West causing Third World poverty, Bauer maintained that “contacts with the West” had been the primary agents of the colonies’ material progress.

      • Trump’s Homelessness Czar Seeks to Further Criminalize the Homeless

        When Robert Marbut Jr. — a self-described “homelessness consultant” — was named by President Trump to head the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH) in mid-December, homeless activists and their supporters shuddered, and for good reason. Marbut believes that providing people with shelter without first tackling mental or physical health challenges amounts to coddling.

      • If Work Dominated Your Every Moment, Would Life Be Worth Living?

        An obsession with work causes needless human suffering and immiserates our imagination.

      • A Year After Brazil Dam Collapse, Communities Still Calling for Accountability

        On January 20, about 350 people gathered together in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, to begin a five-day march to commemorate the one-year anniversary of a deadly dam collapse that occurred at Córrego do Feijão in Brumadinho, Minas Gerais, Brazil, on January 25, 2019. “Vale Destroys, The People Build!” declared participants with the Brazilian Movement of People Affected by Dams (MAB, or Movimento dos Atingidos por Barragens in Portuguese).

    • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

      • I Helped Coin the Term ‘Identity Politics.’ I’m Endorsing Bernie Sanders.

        I support Sanders because I believe his campaign is currently the best hope for helping marginalized Americans.

      • The Vengeful, Lawless, Corporate Toady Trump Explodes

        The day after his acquittal by the Republican Party in a trial that banned witnesses, the unhinged Donald Trump gloated for over an hour on all the television networks. Trump flattered his courtiers, one by one, and fulminated against his Congressional adversaries, Hillary Clinton and ex-FBI chief James Comey.

      • ‘Of, By, and For the 1%’: Sanders Condemns Trump Budget as ‘Immoral Document’ Designed to Hurt Families and Children

        “What kind of unbelievable moral framework allowed this White House to propose $182 billion in cuts to nutrition assistance from needy families, when nearly one in seven households with children are food insecure?”

      • Donald Trump’s Fantasy World

        House Speaker Nancy Pelosi tore up Donald Trump’s speech, saying he was “shredding the truth.” It was quite a moment, and though she took some heat for such an impertinent act, she was right: The speech is full of lies, exaggerations, and misrepresentations. Here are some that caught my eye, arranged by topic:

      • Pro-Sanders Canvassers Target Youth Vote With Unprecedented GOTV Ahead of New Hampshire Primary

        “We’ve never, ever seen this kind of organization and mobilization before,” said one volunteer.

      • With Primary 24 Hours Away, Sanders Extends Lead Over Buttigieg in New Hampshire Poll

        “The name of the game here is electorate expansion,” said Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, “and bringing people out to vote that the normal political establishment counts on not turning out.”

      • Moderate Democrats Have a Duty to Consider Sanders. He Has a Clear Path to Beating Trump.

        Bernie Sanders isn’t even my favorite senator running for the 2020 nomination. But I see his potential to unite the Democratic Party and oust Trump.

      • Could Trump’s Acquittal Flip the Senate?

        The Senate’s acquittal of President Donald Trump could flip the Senate to the Democrats. That is because swing voters could be more negatively influenced by the Republican’s Senate trial than the Democrats’ House impeachment. Why is that?

      • Facebook Ads Should Face the Same Libel Law as Media Outlets

        Will Facebook run ads calling Donald Trump a “money launderer?” This is an interesting question to consider. If an individual or group proposed to run television or newspaper ads describing Trump as a money launderer, the outlet would almost certainly refuse to take it. In spite of the strong probability that the charge is true, these outlets would be afraid of a major lawsuit from Trump. Facebook has no such concerns, and that is a big problem.

      • Charles Koch’s Political Operation Gears Up to Attack 2020 Democrats

        Charles Koch’s Americans for Prosperity Action (AFP Action) has reported receiving nearly $6 million this quarter, bringing the total raised in 2019 to $14.16 million. AFP Action is the super PAC of the Koch political network’s astroturf group: Americans for Prosperity (AFP.)

      • Lindsey Graham Seems Willing to Degrade Every US Institution to Keep Trump Happy

        Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina told Fox News’ Brian Kilmeade last week “When I go to meet God at the pearly gates, I don’t think he’s going to ask me, ‘Why didn’t you convict Trump?’” He may be right about that, but only because he’s likely to first be asked to explain what he did afterward. Graham has become Trump’s instrument of revenge in the Senate, and he isn’t making any bones about it.

      • Clinging to Normalcy Is Killing Us. How Do We Break Free?

        An overwhelming political climate has left many Americans frozen in a state of uncertainty. Unable or unwilling to fully process the enormity of climate change or the tragic circus of Trumpism, many are going through the motions of normalcy while the world burns. In this episode, Kelly talks with UndocuBlack organizer Aly Wane about how fear and anxiety can freeze political action and what we can do about it.

      • Pete Buttigieg Has CNN to Thank for His Iowa ‘Victory’

        Four days after the Iowa caucuses took place, no victor has been declared and the vote remains mired in controversy and irregularities. But if you’ve been watching CNN for the last few days, you could be excused for imagining Pete Buttigieg had won.

      • Failed Prosecutions: Donald Trump Survives the Senate

        Never undertake a prosecution unless you have good grounds, and prospects, for a solid conviction. In the case against President Donald Trump, there was never a serious prospect that the Senate would cool sufficiently to give the Democrats the votes necessary to affirm vote of impeachment in the House. The GOP remains very much in Trump’s pocket, a remarkable if opportunistic transformation given the innate hostility shown towards him prior to the 2016 elections. With their allegiance pinned to the Trump juggernaut, the hope is that, come November, the entire effort won’t sink under the toxic miasma that is US politics.

      • ‘We are at a Crossroads in Our Democracy,’ Says Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez at New Hampshire Bernie Rally

        “We have to nominate somebody with a political revolution at their back.”

      • Presidential Gender Barrier a Low Priority for Iowa Democrats

        In a perfect world, Susan Stepp, a 73-year-old retiree, would be voting vote for Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren in New Hampshire’s Democratic presidential primary Tuesday, she says. But that won’t be happening.

      • Bernie Sanders Takes Lead Nationally as Biden Nosedives Post-Iowa: Quinnipiac Poll

        “This poll reflects a fundamentally different race than pre-Iowa, one in which Bernie Sanders is the clear front-runner.”

      • Sh*t-can Perez and the DNC

        Hooray for Bernie Sanders!

      • Watch: What Is a ‘Practical’ Democratic Candidate? Sanders Co-Chair Nina Turner Has Some Thoughts

        “Does being ‘practical’ mean that we don’t say to the American people that you deserve better than what you are getting?”

      • DNC in Disarray While the Sanders Campaign Gains Momentum

        As a center of elite power, the Democratic National Committee is now floundering. Every reform it has implemented since 2016 was the result of progressive grassroots pressure. But there are limits to what DNC Chair Tom Perez is willing to accept without a knock-down, drag-out fight. And in recent weeks, he has begun to do heavy lifting for corporate Democrats — throwing roadblocks in the way of the Bernie 2020 campaign as it continues to gain momentum.

      • “Our Very Existence Is the Resistance”: An Hour With the Squad

        On Friday, Democracy Now! co-host Nermeen Shaikh sat down for a rare joint interview with the Squad, the group of four freshmen Democratic congresswomen who have taken Capitol Hill by storm: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Ilhan Omar of Minnesota. Omar and Tlaib are the first Muslim women elected to Congress. Omar is a former refugee from Somalia, and Tlaib is the first female Palestinian-American member of Congress. Ayanna Pressley is the first African-American woman elected to Congress from Massachusetts. Ocasio-Cortez was just 29 years old when she took office last year, making her the youngest woman ever to serve in Congress. Born to a mother from Puerto Rico and a father from the South Bronx, Ocasio-Cortez — or AOC — has emerged as one of the most popular lawmakers in the country. Last week, Ocasio-Cortez and Pressley boycotted President Trump’s State of the Union address, Tlaib walked out during the speech, and Omar stayed for the speech, saying, “My presence tonight is resistance.” Nermeen Shaikh spoke with the four politicians at an event organized by The Rising Majority at Howard University.

      • The Historic Triumph of the Irish Left

        What follows is a conversation between Jacobin contributor Michael Taft and Greg Wilpert of The Real News Network. Read a transcript of their conversation below or watch the video at the bottom of the post.

      • At New Hampshire Rally, Sanders Calls on 7,500+ Supporters to ‘Transform America’ on Primary Day

        “The one percent may be powerful, but there are a lot more people in the 99 percent.”

      • Three Old White Guys: Bernie, Biden and Bloomberg

        Pete Buttigieg’s declaration of victory in Iowa reminded us that neither sex, sexual orientation or skin color is in any way intrinsic to a person’s judgement – the first gay or the first African-American or the first woman to do this or that may still be mired in the mediocrity of their convictions. Distinctions of identity may remain relevant, but it is the authenticity of their narratives that should concern us.

      • Not all democracies are experiencing American-style tribalism

        In some European countries polarisation has fallen over the long run. In Norway and Sweden, the divide between political parties was very wide in the 1980s, but less so by the 2010s. Germany has seen a similar downward trend in polarisation between 1977 and 2016 (due to insufficient data, the authors only looked at West Germany, where four-fifths of the population lives). To check whether the recent rise of the far-right Sweden Democrats (SD) in Sweden and the anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany (AfD) in Germany has altered this trend, The Economist analysed surveys conducted by the Pew Research Centre, a think-tank, in the two countries since 2016. Although Pew’s question differed slightly from the one used in the academic study, there was nevertheless no evidence that Swedish or German voters have grown more hostile to opposing parties. Most have remained circumspect.

      • At Embassies Abroad, Trump Envoys Are Quietly Pushing Out Career Diplomats

        It’s not the first time the State Department has had to respond to allegations of mismanagement at embassies abroad, nor is it unique to the current administration. But Trump’s politically appointed ambassadors are sacking their deputy chiefs of mission—an embassy’s second-in-command post held by foreign service officers—in unusually high numbers, officials say.

        This story draws on interviews from over a dozen current and former U.S. officials and other people familiar with the matters in question. The State Department did not respond to five requests for comment for this story. The U.S. Embassy official who spoke to Foreign Policy said the State Department did not properly notify Marks in advance of the multiple requests for comment.

      • Why does the “BernieBro” myth persist? Because pundits don’t understand how the internet works

        Why do some myths persist, or remain uncorrected by the media, while others dissipate? The short answer seems to be that when they serve a media narrative, or play on existing stereotypes, they grow to possess a power that goes beyond fact or truth. To this list of indefatigable myths, one might add the pernicious “BernieBro” — so ubiquitous a concept that it has its own Wikipedia article. The self-explanatory neologism was coined by Robinson Meyer in an Atlantic article in 2015 before being distorted by the Twittersphere and the punditry — something that Meyer later came to regret, as he felt the term he reified suffered from “semantic drift.”

        But that was five years ago, before we had as much data on Sanders’ support base — which, as it turns out, should be sufficient to debunk the stereotype that Sanders’ support base consists entirely of a mythic tribe of entitled, pushy young millennial men. To wit: young women make up more of Sanders’ base than men. He polls especially high with Hispanic voters, far more so than with white voters; Hispanic voters also donated more money to him than any other Democratic candidate. Polls consistently show that nonwhite voters prefer him over the other candidates. Notably, the demographic group that likes Sanders the least is white men.

        Moreover, of all the candidates, Sanders has taken in the most money from women. Many of Sanders’ female supporters bemoan how they are ignored by the mainstream press. “The ‘Bernie Bro’ narrative is endlessly galling because it erases the women who make up his base,” writer Caitlin PenzeyMoog opined on Twitter. “To paint this picture of sexism is to paint over the millions of women who support Sanders. Do you see how f**ked up that is?”

      • Pundits Refuse to Let the Inane ‘Bernie Bro’ Myth Die
      • Iowa Democrats Give Buttigieg the Most Delegates as Sanders Team Seeks Recanvass

        In addition, caucus “captains” for individual candidates photographed the worksheets in their precincts and shared them internally with their campaigns. Those photographs provided further examples of problems. The most blatant were errors in adding up votes for candidates, which take place in two rounds, and miscalculations when using a formula that translates raw votes to “state delegate equivalents.”

        But because the caucus chair and secretary of each precinct had certified the results on the worksheets, along with representatives of candidates, the documents could not be readjusted without violating election law, the state party lawyer said.

      • The Iowa Caucus Was Even More Disastrous Than Previously Thought

        A week after the Iowa caucuses, the winner has yet to be determined. Observers and Democratic Party officials initially blamed technology, which made sense, as the app the Iowa Democratic Party used to count votes was seemingly held together with the software equivalent of duct tape and prayers. Developed in a rushed two months by Shadow, a company with links to the Clinton and Obama campaigns, the app was used despite concerns of multiple cybersecurity experts that it had not been rigorously tested and was susceptible to hacking.

      • How the Iowa Caucuses Became an Epic Fiasco for Democrats

        The Iowa Democratic Party released a list of 92 precincts on Sunday that it said were flagged as problematic by three presidential candidates — Mr. Sanders; Pete Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Ind.; and Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts. That figure is far fewer than the number with inconsistencies captured in the Times review. The Associated Press said it was unable to declare a caucus winner.

      • Bloomberg Surrogates Have Seats on DNC Rules Committees

        As the Democratic National Committee establishes procedures for the Democratic presidential nominating process, two members of DNC rules committees simultaneously work on the campaign of former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

      • The Billion-Dollar Disinformation Campaign to Reelect the President

        I was surprised by the effect it had on me. I’d assumed that my skepticism and media literacy would inoculate me against such distortions. But I soon found myself reflexively questioning every headline. It wasn’t that I believed Trump and his boosters were telling the truth. It was that, in this state of heightened suspicion, truth itself—about Ukraine, impeachment, or anything else—felt more and more difficult to locate. With each swipe, the notion of observable reality drifted further out of reach.

      • ‘QAnon’ Conspiracy Theory Oozes Into Mainstream Politics

        President Donald Trump was more than halfway through his speech at a rally in Milwaukee when one of his hand gestures caught the eye of a supporter standing in the packed arena.

      • N.H. Voters Say Sanders Has Best Chance of Toppling Trump

        New polling out of New Hampshire showed voters in the state, who will go to polls on Tuesday in the Democratic primary, believe Sen. Bernie Sanders has the best chance of beating President Donald Trump in the general election.

      • With Two Days to Go Until Primary, New Polling Finds N.H. Voters See Sanders as Most Electable Against Trump

        “This seems like a pretty big deal.”

      • As Sanders Rallies Crowd at Keene State, Supporters Emphasize ‘Once in a Lifetime Opportunity’ Bernie Represents

        “We want to do all we can to help Bernie get elected.”

      • Buttigieg Confirms Status as ‘Austerity Candidate’ With Call for Democrats to Prioritize Reducing Deficit

        “This is substantively disqualifying and politically insulting to Democrats—and any left of center person.”

      • The GOP Is Raking in Millions From Lobbyists Tied to Trump

        The Republican National Committee and its joint fundraising committee with President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign accepted more than $4.4 million from lobbyist fundraisers in 2019, according to OpenSecrets analysis of FEC disclosures.

      • MSNBC Host Skewered for Ludicrous Remarks on Sanders’s Democratic Socialism

        MSNBC host Chris Matthews drew rebukes on social media Friday night after suggesting that as a Democratic Socialist, Sen. Bernie Sanders could lead a dictatorship in which establishment political figures would be “executed,” should he win the presidency.

    • Censorship/Free Speech

      • Social media ban to continue; 481 websites on whitelist

        Ban on social media will continue in Jammu and Kashmir for some time more as the government on Friday allowed the continuation of only the voice calls, SMS and 2G [Internet] connectivity to white-listed sites on pre-paid and post-paid cellphones across the Union Territory till February 15.

        However, the administration increased the number of white-listed sites to 481 from 329 listed on January 31. The decision has been taken “upon re-assessment of the restrictions on mobile data services with respect to its impact on the overall security situation and after due consideration of the reports of law enforcement agencies”. The agencies have, “among other things, brought out the usage of [Internet] for carrying out terror activities including those at Nagrota (Ban Toll Plaza), Partap Park (Srinagar), Srinagar-Baramulla National Highway (Shalteng), as well as use of Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) for this purpose despite measures taken by Telecom Service Providers”, read an order issued by Principal Secretary (Home) Shaleen Kabra.

    • Freedom of Information / Freedom of the Press

      • Philippines: Duterte Seeks to Shut Network

        Journalists and supporters, wearing black, display their messages during a protest against the recent Securities and Exchange Commission’s revocation of the registration of Rappler, an online news outfit, Friday, Jan. 19, 2018, northeast of Manila, Philippines. 

      • Schumer Demands Every Agency Inspector General Investigate Trump’s “Shameful” and “Illegal” Retaliation Against Whistleblowers

        The Senate Minority Leader warned of a “dangerous, growing pattern of retaliation against those who report wrongdoing only to find themselves targeted by the president and subject to his wrath and vindictiveness.”

      • What Is Happening to Assange Will Happen to the Rest of Us

        The publication of classified documents is not yet a crime in the United States. If Assange is extradited and convicted, it will become one.

      • Chinese Citizen Journalist Reporting On Coronavirus Outbreak Missing

        Chen has been out of reach for more than 20 hours. Fang, who was silent much of Friday until a video posted in the evening, was previously detained briefly by authorities for his video of corpses in a hospital. When he filmed the dramatic moment people in hazmat suits broke down his apartment door to take him into quarantine, it sparked hundreds of comments urging the authorities to release him.

        It’s no accident that their posts grew viral on American platforms. China’s [Internet] watchdog has stepped up its policing efforts, announcing on Wednesday it would conduct “targeted supervision” on the largest social media platforms including Weibo, Tencent’s WeChat and ByteDance’s Douyin. The regulator has already frozen a raft of social media accounts, then stepped up online scrubbing to quiet a wave of confused outrage over the death of the doctor that first raised red flags about the disease.

      • Chechen blogger ‘violently’ murdered in French hotel room

        It is the latest in a number of high-profile murders of Chechen dissidents living in Europe in recent years, with rights groups warning the killings are a warning from Moscow.

    • Civil Rights/Policing

      • The Anti-Abortion Hit List From a Rhode Island Priest

        The actions of a Catholic priest from my hometown in Rhode Island, Reverend Richard Bucci, made national news. Reverend Bucci targeted a group of Catholic legislators in the state who voted for a pro-choice bill in 2019 that protected abortion rights. Father Bucci, in publishing the list of legislators who were pro-choice, “wanted lawmakers to ‘take responsibility’ for their views on abortion rights,” (“Catholic Priest Pledges To Deny Communion, Church Roles To Pro-Choice Lawmakers, Huffington Post, February 4, 2020).

      • African Union: Ramaphosa Should Prioritize Rights

        South Africa President Cyril Ramaphosa should use his new leadership of the African Union to promote human rights and justice for violations across the continent, Human Rights Watch said today. Ramaphosa was elected chairperson of the African Union for 2020 on February 9 at the opening of the 33rd Ordinary Session of the African Union Assembly of Heads of State and Government. He succeeds President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi of Egypt, the 2019 chairperson.

        As chairperson of the AU Assembly, the Union’s highest policy and decision-making body, Ramaphosa has the authority to influence decisions, in accordance with the African Charter, to improve respect for and protection of human rights in the region. Ramaphosa has said that his team would work with political parties on the ground to achieve the African Union’s theme for this year “Silencing the Guns.” It has been described as an initiative to prevent violent conflict and promote human rights in Africa.

      • Human Rights Watch Film Festival, London

        The London Human Rights Watch Film Festival (HRWFF) will be presented from 12 to 20 March 2020, featuring empowering documentaries and dramas celebrating courageous people from 14 countries: Armenia, Australia, Bangladesh, Bolivia, China, Guatemala, Germany, Iran, Macedonia, Mexico, Peru, Romania, the United States, and Vietnam. Eleven of the 14 films selected for this 24th edition are directed by women.

        Many filmmakers, contributors, Human Rights Watch researchers, and activists will take part in rigorous post-screening Q&As and panel discussions at Barbican Cinema, Curzon Soho, and Regent Street Cinema. As detailed below and on the festival website, a number of access and school screenings will take place throughout the festival.

      • Amid Crackdown on Activists, Support Groups Help Resistance Continue Behind Bars

        “I have a confession to make: I’m an antifascist, and I’m going to jail for it,” David Campbell wrote the night before he reported to Rikers Island in New York City.

      • Michigan County Sued For Stealing Cars From Innocent Car Owners Via Civil Forfeiture

        A 1996 decision by the Michigan Supreme Court set the precedent for the widespread abuse of civil asset forfeiture in the state. The ruling said being an innocent owner of property seized is no defense and any forfeiture predicated on the illegal acts of others could result in the actual owner being deprived of property without violating their Constitutional rights.

      • At the Unist’ot’en Outpost, a Tightknit Group Readies for Police

        “This is my home. It’s not a protest camp.”

      • A Group of Agents Rose Through the Ranks to Lead the Border Patrol. They’re Leaving It in Crisis.

        On a Saturday evening in late September, Deputy Chief Scott Luck gathered with family and friends in the crystal-chandeliered ballroom of the Trump National Golf Club, nestled along the shores of the Potomac River in Virginia, to celebrate his retirement after 33 years in the U.S. Border Patrol.

        The party was adorned with a who’s who in Border Patrol leadership, past and present. There was the unmistakable figure of Luck’s boss, Chief Carla Provost, tall and broad with her trademark fringe of brown bangs, and her longtime friend Andrea Zortman, who helps oversee foreign operations for the agency. A full contingent of retired former chiefs-turned-consultants were on hand, too, including David Aguilar, 64, who’d headed the Border Patrol as well as its parent, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and Michael Fisher, 55, who’d succeeded Aguilar as Border Patrol chief. Rowdy Adams, 59, another retired senior-level CBP official, also attended the celebration.

    • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

      • EFF, Internet Society, and Professors To Discuss Controversial Sale of the .ORG Registry

        Washington, D.C.—The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and advocates for public interest organizations will participate tomorrow in an open discussion about a controversial plan by the nonprofit Internet Society to sell the .ORG domain registry to private equity firm Ethos Capital.

        EFF and hundreds of .ORGs  oppose the $1.1 billion transaction, which threatens the privacy and free speech rights of thousands of groups. ORGs operate around the world and across the political spectrum. They range from churches and social groups to nonprofits that help disaster victims, promote public health, serve the poor, and work on issues like race, immigration, women’s rights, the arts, and the environment. The sale, which will convert the registry into a for-profit entity, can raise costs for nonprofits and lead to censorship or even domain suspension under agreements with corporations or governments to monitor .ORG sites.

      • AOC Supports Full Repeal Of FOSTA

        Late last year, a bill was introduced to study the impact of FOSTA. This is important, as all of the evidence to date suggests that it has failed by every possible measure. There is no indication that it has helped to decrease sex trafficking — in fact the indications are that it has enabled more sex trafficking. Indeed, law enforcement has directly admitted that the law has actually made it more difficult to track down traffickers. And, of course, there’s tremendous evidence that it has had a real human cost in putting (non-trafficked) sex workers at significant risk.

      • Why open infrastructure matters

        A lot of open source developers choose to deploy their software on infrastructure based on proprietary software. Behind this apparent paradox is the need to adapt to changing environments, adopt new technologies fast, and use increasing amounts of computing power. Open infrastructure (computing, networking and storage infrastructure based on open source software) has a lot to offer, but it’s easy to overlook if you don’t take the time to take a step back and analyze the situation rationally. In this talk, Thierry Carrez, VP of Engineering at the OSF, explains all the reasons why open infrastructure matters, and why it makes sense for you to adopt it today.

    • Digital Restrictions (DRM)

    • Monopolies

      • Uber Loses Early Challenge to California Gig-Worker Law

        U.S. District Judge Dolly M. Gee had signaled during a Feb. 7 hearing that she would deny the preliminary injunction sought by Uber and Postmates.

        Gee concluded in an order posted Monday that the public interest weighs “in favor of permitting the state to enforce this legislation,” while acknowledging the companies’ claim that it poses “irreparable harm” for them.

      • Patents

        • Columbia v. Seirus: The Sky Is Not Falling

          First, the statement in L.A. Gear that pertained to “labelling” was not a holding. As the Columbia panel noted, the issue of whether the designs were sufficiently similar was not before the court in L.A. Gear. In the briefs, none of the parties involved in L.A. Gear argued that “labelling” was relevant to design patent infringement. Nothing in the decision in L.A. Gear suggests that the issue came up in oral argument. The issue of whether “labelling” was relevant to the issue of design patent infringement was simply not before the Federal Circuit in L.A. Gear. Thus, nothing the Federal Circuit said about “labelling” vis-à-vis design patents constituted a decision of any kind—let alone a holding.

          It’s not clear why the L.A. Gear panel chose to include that bit of “labelling” dicta. But it is dicta.

          And even if it weren’t, not all uses of logos, brand names, etc. constitute “labelling.” As the panel appreciated, these visual elements can be used decoratively. (For many good examples, consider Louis Vuitton’s textile designs.) If we were to have a rule against “labelling,” some thoughtful development and line-drawing may be required.

          [...]

          The three traditional types of protectable designs are: (1) configuration (a/k/a shape), separate and apart from any surface ornamentation; (2) surface ornamentation, separate and apart from the underlying configuration; and (3) a combination of both. The USPTO currently interprets the second category broadly, including any and all “surface treatment.”

          In Columbia v. Seirus, the claimed design was for surface ornamentation only. Despite the broad language used by the panel, the panel had no occasion to—and could issue no holding as to—all possible types of designs. This decision simply does not apply to designs that claim configuration only. If patent owners wish to avoid having brand names, logos, etc. considered as part of the infringement analysis, they are free to keep claiming configuration-only designs (such as those shown in Bison’s amicus brief). Read properly, the panel’s decision in Columbia v. Seirus, merely says that, when surface ornamentation is claimed as part of the design, a court should consider the entire surface design—even if the surface design includes logos or brand names.

        • Short 101 Decision

          So far in 2020, the Federal Circuit has issued judgment on 30+ appeals from the USPTO. The majority of these issued without opinion under the Federal Circuit’s “Rule 36” that allows for no-opinion judgments. In this case, the court changed tack and instead issued a two-sentence opinion.

          [...]

          The claims at issue are software code that the PTAB found to be directed to “providing e-learning training content to an agent in a call center” which is nothing “other than an abstract idea of organizing human activity.”

          18. A tangible computer-readable storage medium comprising instructions that when executed by a computer processor, cause the computer processor to:

          receive input identifying an agent to receive a training course where the input comprises an agent identifier, a training course identifier of the training course;

          generate training context data comprising a logical association of the agent identifier, the training course identifier…

        • What Counts as a New Argument in Reply

          After Andrea sued Apple for infringing its U.S. Patent 6,363,345 (noise cancelling audio signal processing), Apple responded with two inter partes review (IPR) petitions. The PTO initiated both petitions and eventually cancelled all of the claims except 6-9. Apple then appealed – asking that they all be invalidated.

          [...]

          The issue here is age-old. A good reply brief should do more than simply rehash the exact statements found in the original brief. At the same time, the reply should not be introducing new arguments that go beyond the original brief. Consider the following interesting article: John F. Muller, The Law of Issues, 49 Wake Forest L. Rev. 1325 (2014)

          On remand, the PTAB will now consider Apple’s reply brief and whether its argument is sufficient to render the claims obvious.

        • HVLPO2, LLC v. Oxygen Frog, LLC (Fed. Cir. 2020)

          The District Court granted summary judgment to HVLPO2 on infringement and had a jury trial on Oxygen Frog’s assertions that the claims were obvious.

          [...]

          The Federal Circuit reversed, in an opinion by Judge Moore, joined by Judges Newman and Chen. The panel held that the District Court’s denial of HVLPO2′s motion for a new trial was an abuse of discretion (under 11th Circuit law), on the grounds that it was error to permit the jury to hear the lay witness’s testimony and rely on that testimony to find the claims in suit obvious. “Under the circumstances here,” according to the opinion, “that determination was plainly wrong; the district court’s limiting instruction was insufficient to cure the substantial prejudice caused by [the lay witness's] testimony.”

          The opinion cites Federal Rule of Evidence 702 in support of its decision, regarding the qualifications required to establish a witness as an expert, finding that this standard “precisely describes testimony which would pertain to an obviousness invalidity challenge in a patent trial.” An expert’s role is to assist the fact finder “to understand the evidence or to determine a fact at issue,” citing Sundance, Inc. v. DeMonte Fabricating Ltd, 550 F.3d 1356, 1361-62 (Fed. Cir. 2008) (which considered the prohibition against expert testimony in an obviousness determination).

          The opinion also cites Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26, which requires that a party disclose an expert witness to an opposing party and provide a written expert report containing “all opinions of the expert, the reasons and bases for those opinions, and all facts relied upon in the formation of the opinion.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(a)(2). Here, Oxygen Frog did not comply with these requirements, but argued on appeal that the requirements did not apply because its witness was not proffered as an expert. The Federal Circuit disagreed, saying that this testimony “was directed to the central legal HVO’s asserted patent claims were invalid for obviousness.”

        • EPO

          • BRIEF—EPO upholds ERS Genomics’ patent

            ERS Genomics Limited, which was formed to provide broad access to the foundational CRISPR/Cas9 intellectual property held by Dr Emmanuelle Charpentier, announced today that the European Patent Office (EPO) has rejected arguments filed in opposition to European patent No EP2800811 jointly held by Dr Charpentier, the Regents of the University of California, and the University of Vienna, and affirmed the patentability of the inventions described.

          • Rejecting Broad Institute Opposition, EPO Affirms CRISPR Patent Issued to Charpentier, UC, and U. Vienna

            The European Patent Office (EPO) has affirmed a patent issued to CRISPR pioneer Emmanuelle Charpentier, PhD, the Regents of the University of California, and the University of Vienna covering the single-guide CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing system—rejecting arguments filed in opposition by the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard.

            The EPO affirmation upholds European patent No. EP280081 (“Methods and Compositions for RNA-Directed Target DNA modification and for RNA-Directed Modulation of Transcription”), which covers uses in both cellular and non-cellular settings—including use in bacteria, plants, animals, and cells from vertebrate animals such as humans.

          • EPO Decides On AI Inventorship

            The European Patent Office (“EPO”) has finally been given, and has taken, an opportunity to pin its colours to the mast on the question of how it would interpret its legal provisions, as they stand, on the naming of inventors in cases where inventions are asserted as having been created by artificial intelligence (AI).

            This has come about in two recent decisions by the Receiving Section of the EPO (hereinafter simply referenced as “the EPO”), given in oral proceedings, in which the EPO rejected two patent applications (publications numbers EP3564144 and EP3563896) on the basis that an AI system, named DABUS, not a natural person, was identified as the inventor of the inventions that were the subjects of the respective applications. The EPO did so essentially on formalistic grounds and true to the EPO’s characteristic textually-bound interpretation practice, but nevertheless with substantive basis in law.

            Thus, in the context of European Patent Convention and its rules, as they stand, the debate on whether or not AI can be named as inventors for the purpose of pursuing patent protection has, subject to the possibility of appeal, been decided.

          • EPO Increases Options Available For Obtaining A Refund Of The Appeal Fee During Appeal Proceedings

            The EPO has announced changes to Rule 103 EPC, which governs reimbursement of the appeal fee. These changes will come into force on 1 April 2020, at the same time as increases to many EPO official fees, including the appeal fee (see our news items discussing the fee increase here). The intention of the changes to Rule 103 EPC is to provide appellants with further financial incentives to withdraw appeals, and thereby help to reduce the backlog of undecided appeals.

            No changes are being made to Rule 103(1) EPC, which specifies that a full appeal fee refund will be issued if the appeal is withdrawn before filing the statement of grounds of appeal and before the period for filing the statement has expired (which is four months from notification of the decision being appealed). However, the possibility of obtaining a 75% or 25% refund of the appeal fee at certain stages of the procedure is being introduced, and modifications are being made to the existing criteria for obtaining a 50% refund of the appeal fee.

          • EPO To Increase Official Fees From 1 April 2020, Including An Increased Appeal Fee For Most Corporate Appellants

            The European Patent Office (EPO) has announced that the official fees charged for European patent applications will be increasing from 1 April 2020. More details of the fee increases can be found here and here.

            Most official fees are increasing by an “inflationary” amount of 4-5%. An exception is the appeal fee, which will be increasing by nearly 20% for most appellants.

            In this regard, there are currently two levels of appeal fee. A lower level of appeal fee is payable for appellants that are either (a) a natural person, or (b) a small- or medium-sized enterprise, a non-profit organisation, a university or a public research organisation (see here for further details on these categories). The appeal fee for such appellants is increasing only by about 4% (from 1,800 EUR to 1,955 EUR). However, the appeal fee for all other appellants is increasing from 2,255 EUR to 2,705 EUR.

          • European Patent Office And China National Intellectual Property Administration Announce Pilot Programme To Enhance PCT Co-Operation

            A joint agreement was announced by the EPO and the China National Intellectual Property Administration (CNIPA) to provide patent applicants filing an international patent application, in English, at the CNIPA as Receiving Office, the option to select the EPO as their International Searching Authority (ISA). According to the announcement, which was made at the annual conference between EPO President António Campinos and the Commissioner of the CNIPA, Changyu Shen, this new option is expected to be implemented this year as a two-year pilot programme.

            Speaking at the meeting, Mr. Campinos said: “This development reflects the longstanding and close bilateral relations with CNIPA, a co-operation which benefits not only our offices, but also companies and inventors seeking to protect their inventions in international markets”. The program was also described as “a solid step for China to further enhance its international co-operation on IP protection” by Dr. Shen. It is envisioned that this step will offer an additional option for Chinese applicants to optimise their international patent strategy, especially when considering protection in Europe.

      • Trademarks

        • easyJet experiences significant turbulence over Colombia

          In easyGroup Ltd v Empresa Aérea de Servicios y Facilitatión Logística Integral S.A. – EasyFly S.A. and Anor [2020] EWHC 40 (Ch), the English High Court made life anything but easy for easyGroup. The judgment from Mr Justice Nugee contains some interesting lessons for lawyers both in the UK and in the EU (for, sadly, this distinction is now one that must be made…)

          [...]

          As easyfly is based in Colombia, easyGroup required the court’s permission to serve proceedings out of the jurisdiction. The requirements for permission to be granted are: (a) there is a serious issue to be tried on the merits; (b) there is a good arguable case that the claim falls within one or more of the jurisdictional gateways; and (c) England (and Wales) is the most appropriate forum for the dispute. Regarding (b) and (c), EasyGroup’s claim was based on both UK and EU trade marks. The English court was the natural place to hear a claim regarding UK marks. It also had jurisdiction to hear a claim regarding EU trade marks under the jurisdictional “cascade” contained in Article 125(2) EUTMR, because easyGroup is domiciled in the UK (and therefore the court would have jurisdiction to grant pan-EU relief under Article 126(1)(a) EUTMR).

          The key debate, therefore, was whether there was a serious issue to be tried in relation to the alleged acts of infringement (i) to (v); more specifically whether one or more of the acts arguably targeted consumers in the UK and/or EU (the authorities are clear that mere accessibility, which may attract “occasional interest from anywhere in the world”, is not sufficient).

          EasyGroup relied on several factors to support its allegation of targeting, including the fact that “easy” is not a Spanish word (together with easyfly’s partly-orange branding); the fact the majority of easyJet customers are based in the UK/EU (and that many of them speak Spanish or have access to online translators); an English-language Facebook page; acceptance of international credit card payments; provision of an international dialling code (which may have been used by EU-based customers); and one instance of alleged actual confusion.

      • Copyrights

        • Gaming Like It’s 1924: Check Out The Entries In Our Public Domain Game Jam

          At the beginning of the year, we launched our second public domain game jam to encourage designers to explore all the new works exiting copyright protection in the US and turn them into new analog and digital games — and as of this month, the submissions are in! Our panel of judges is hard at work play checking out all the great games, and while they try to determine a winner, you can check them out too.

        • Record Labels Question TorrentFreak’s Reliability in Court

          Bright House Networks is one of several ISPs defending themselves in piracy lawsuits filed by major record labels. As part of this legal battle, the ISP submitted several documents to the court, including a TorrentFreak article. The labels responded to this by pointing out several errors in this request, while also casting doubt over the reliability of our reporting.

        • US Court Orders Easybox IPTV to Pay $9.9m in Copyright Infringement Damages

          A judge at a Texas court has ordered two individuals behind the pirate IPTV service Easybox IPTV to pay $9.9m in copyright infringement damages. In a judgment handed down this week, the judge awarded the maximum $150,000 in statutory damages for each of 66 copyrighted works willfully infringed by the defendants via their unlicensed streaming platform.

        • R. Kelly’s New York Bribery, Racketeering, Sexual Assault Trial Postponed

          A federal judge has delayed R. Kelly’s racketeering, sexual assault, and bribery trial in New York until July.

        • BBC Radio 1 Suffers Worst Ratings Ever; 585,000 Listeners Left In 2019

          In the final quarter of 2019, BBC Radio 1’s listenership dipped below 9 million for the very first time, according to newly reported figures.

        • Oscars Viewership Plunges to All-Time Low

          Without a host or a great deal of pizzazz, ABC’s telecast of the Academy Awards reached its smallest audience ever of 23.6 million viewers.

        • Olympic Committee & Top Soccer Groups Urge US Govt. Action Over Pirate IPTV

          The International Olympic Committee and leading soccer organizations including FIFA and the Premier League are urging the United States Trade Representative to apply maximum pressure to Saudi Arabia over TV piracy. While beoutQ’s illegal satellite broadcasts stopped last August, its set-top boxes now present an Internet-based pirate IPTV threat, the sports groups say.

        • Tech Giants Warn U.S. Against EU Upload Filters and Site Blocking

          Global tech firms including Google, Twitter, and Facebook, are warning the U.S. Government against the threat of mandatory upload filters. Industry groups believe that the requirements mandated by the EU copyright directive harm the interests of US companies. In addition, tech companies are concerned about pirate site blocking developments in several EU countries.

        • Copyright Troll Richard Liebowitz Drops Case After Suing On Behalf Of The Wrong Party And Trying To Swap Plaintiffs

          Why oh why do people still hire copyright troll Richard Liebowitz? There are just so many stories of him messing up cases and getting scolded by judges, you’d think that people would think twice. But then, yet another story of Liebowitz messing up comes to light. The latest is a real doozy. It involves the somewhat controversial person, Rachel Dolezal (who now goes by Nkechi Amare Diallo — a name that has spun up plenty of controversy itself) , who made a lot of news five or so years ago when it was exposed that, despite calling herself a black woman for years, she was actually white. Last summer, she made some news again, when she declared on Instagram and Twitter that she was bisexual. I’m not entirely sure I understand why this was newsworthy, but some publications ran with it — including Paper Magazine (though, it appears the story has since been deleted).

Sometimes ILO-AT is Good for Nothing But Law Firms in or Around Switzerland

Posted in Europe, Patents at 8:03 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

ILO and the UN contribute to the negative image surrounding them by not only abandoning but also draining resources of the labour force

Papers on face

Summary: ILO-AT’s latest judgements are out. But ILO — and by extension the UN — are still morally deficient and they give the impression that don’t care about people (or that ILO is in bed with the same businesses WIPO (UN) serves, i.e. no better than WB/IMF).

IF WIPO wasn’t bad enough, how about ILO? On the surface it may seem like it exists to protect workers. It’s in the mission statement, too.

Don’t let mission statements deceive you. Words on a Web site (or paper) are cheap. We want to see action, we need to examine track records. Even ILO’s own workers are disgruntled. The media wrote about it years ago.

When it comes to handling abuses of European Patent Office (EPO) management, ILO has been nothing short of appalling. It’s exceptionally sad as it is EPO workers’ last if not sole recourse. A top court in the Netherlands was even led to believe that the ILO’s tribunal is functional; well, by the ILO’s own admission (several reports and papers), it’s struggling badly and cannot keep up with EPO complaints — to the point where it considered throwing out the EPO (leaving it under no outside scrutiny/authority). ILO only contributed even further to those negative perceptions when it met António Campinos instead of staff or staff representatives. Is ILO just the “mop-up man” of EPO autocrats? Does it have a real court or a kangaroo court? Is the sole goal clearing the ‘backlog’ no matter what (or how)? Does that mirror the EPO’s misguided strategy? Playing ‘ping-pong’ with appellants (bouncing them back and forth in “no man’s land”)?

Some days ago we saw and wrote about tweets from Dr. Koch, a former staff representative at the EPO, whose appeal to ILO was ‘shelved’ for no less than 6 years! What sort of justice is that? And yet worse, she retorted, “My cases AT 5-4384 and AT 5-4532 were indeed deemed moot – the ILOAT did it!!”

“Don’t let mission statements deceive you. Words on a Web site (or paper) are cheap. We want to see action, we need to examine track records.”“I refer to Judgment no. 4256: my initials are on page 10 of that judgment. The complainants are not even compensated for the costs we made – we just “may[!] be entitled to costs in the resumed appeals”.

“As far as I’m concerned, there won’t be any “resumed appeals” with THIS Tribunal and even less with the EPO from my side in any nearby future, due to their procedural conduct.

“ILO seems fine with it. After a century of its existence it became another FIFA.”“My health severely deteriorated since 2015, I have a lot of stress-related inflammatory symptoms and feel unable to continue, especially since I was repeatedly set 30-days terms by the ILO-AT. I occasionally worked far beyond my limits to prevent this outcome and will be offline for a while from tomorrow.

“And, contrary to some other unfortunate EPO colleagues, I have no(!!) intention whatsoever to commit suicide – I just want you to know, for precaution…

“Please feel free to publish.”

She also wrote about this in Twitter yesterday. Tweets of relevance follow:

Over the years I have come across similar tricks — usually in political contexts. This is designed to drive appellants to exhaustion, causing them to lose morale/health, become broke, or both. It’s a game where those with deeper pockets always win. ILO seems fine with it. After a century of its existence it became another FIFA. The EPO’s lawyers made a fortune from this abuse — at times physical — of vulnerable people. How well do they sleep at night?

The European Patent Office Continues to Violate the European Patent Convention (EPC) With Impunity While the European Commission Lets That Happen

Posted in Deception, Europe, Patents at 6:07 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

A blindfolded horse
A blindfolded horse

Summary: The European Commission (and Union) can be seen as increasingly complicit in the EPO’s abuses; this means that the EPO has become a liability or source of accountability for the integrity of Europe as a bloc

THE Web site of the European Commission has long promoted buzzwords and hype waves favoured if not created by management of the European Patent Office. We pointed this out in the past.

This is particularly disturbing.

“If or when this spills over to the EU, it becomes risk of more exits from the EU.”Do we wish the corruption of the EPO to spread to the European Commission and Union? Remember the nepotism and entryism which implicate both (António Campinos giving top EPO posts to his EU mates, mimicking the notorious appointments of his successor and selector). There was a further sign of this in a tweet posted by the EPO yesterday. I responded to that in Twitter (not that they even respond with any substance).

“Nepotism, bribes, lies, union-busting etc.” are an integral part of the EPO in recent years and “it’s a den of corruption at every level, every aspect (including inwards).” If or when this spills over to the EU, it becomes risk of more exits from the EU. In recent days some people pointed this out to EU officials, citing Techrights for examples…

Remember that critics of EPO corruption are often pro-EU people who are genuinely concerned about what they see.

“Software patents lack legal basis in the EU, neither the EPO with its invention and novlang of the ‘technical effect’ can render it patentable,” Benjamin Henrion wrote/quoted yesterday, citing this EU paper [PDF], a recent formal publication from the “Publications Office of the European Union.” The first words of both the abstract and the body are “Artificial intelligence” (AI). It says “AI relies heavily on software and data. While software as such is not patentable, it may be protected by copyright and trade secrets (or even by patent law in the case of computer-implemented inventions (CIIs)) if certain requirements are met. There is an ongoing debate about the adequacy of the current IP system to cope with AI technologies18 as well as about the implications of AI for existing standards of patentability. The following paragraphs review the key requirements for protection of AI by patent and copyright law.”

Later it speaks of “Fourth Industrial Revolution” and then says that “[f]or several years now, the courts have struggled with the issue of whether to grant patents in new fields of invention, particularly computer software (Kohlhepp, 2008). The eligibility of software, including AI software, to receive patent protection is an intricate issue. Generally, computer programs “as such” are excluded from patentability at the EPO (Article 52(2)(c) and (3) of the European Patent Convention (EPC)), but the exclusion does not apply to computer programs having a technical character…”

There’s further discussion there about the EPO’s guidelines (the complete reference is Iglesias, M., Shamuilia, S. Anderberg, A., Intellectual Property and Artificial Intelligence – A literature review, EUR 30017 EN, Publications Office of the European Union, Luxembourg, 2019, ISBN 978-92-76-14178-5, doi:10.2760/2517, JRC119102.).

In our latest Daily Links we included several new articles about DABUS and CRISPR patents at the EPO. These show that the EPO continues to flagrantly disregard the EPC and judging by the paper above, the EU and EC are more or less fine with it.

Incidentally, “NLO attorneys Marta Alvarez Guede and Katelyn Bernier” have just published this piece of marketing (“The six big ways the US and Europe differ on software patents”) or lawyers pretending to be journalists. Software patents are bunk in US and in European courts (35 U.S.C. § 101 puts curbs/limits on USPTO examiners and EPO examiners cannot grant software patents in Europe… unless they’re spun as “hey hi” (AI) or some other buzzword), but liars from IAM won’t tell anyone that. They’re paid to mislead and here’s more of the same:

The USPTO and EPO do not see software-related inventions in the same way. NLO attorneys Marta Alvarez Guede and Katelyn Bernier highlight what applicants must understand about the offices’ different approaches

According to the European Patent Convention (EPC), a patent can be granted in any field. However, it does not regard computer programs as inventions if claimed as such, while methods for performing mental acts, playing games, doing business and presenting information are excluded from patentability altogether.

Under the approach followed by the EPO, a claim directed to a computer program will not be excluded from patentability under Article 52 of the EPC if it contains at least one feature that is considered to have technical character. In this way, it is sufficient that a claim is directed to a device or a method implemented in a computer to avoid exclusion. The non-technical features of such a claim will be ignored when assessing an inventive step.

The EPC provides no general definition of what is technical, but relevant case law before the EPO Boards of Appeal gives some indication of what constitutes ‘technical character’. In particular, a claim to a computer program is not excluded from patentability if, when running in a computer, it provides a further technical effect going beyond the computer’s normal behaviour. Such further technical effect could be saving computer resources such as memory, processor time or energy, or controlling further processes.

The judges of the EPO Boards of Appeal lack independence (they say so themselves) and as recently as months ago they were pressured by Campinos to rule in favour of software patenting.

Where’s the European Commission when one needs it? Oh, that’s right, issuing silly papers with buzzwords like “hey hi” and “4IR” in them — the same nonsense that EPO management bribed European publications to spread far and wide.

The National Law Review has meanwhile also published this piece where Laura Morelli (McDermott Will & Emery) pretends the UK can negotiate a place in the UPC. It’s not possible, it’s an EU system. UPC means EU. But on she goes anyway, conflating that with another matter (EPC):

The European Patent Office (EPO) is established under the European Patent Convention (EPC). It is separate from the EU and counts among its contracting states the EU Member States as well as non-EU Member States. European patents will, therefore, continue to cover the UK without the impact of Brexit.

In contrast, the impact of Brexit on the Unitary Patent (which establishes a unitary patent enforceable in all participating Member States) and on the Unitary Patent Court (which provides a unified court system with exclusive jurisdiction for litigation relating to Unitary Patents and European Patents) remains uncertain. Although ratifying the UPCA on 28 April 2018 in the midst of the Brexit process, thereby expressing its willingness to remain within the framework of the Unitary Patent and Unitary Patent Court, the continued involvement of the UK in such system will need to be negotiated.

It cannot be negotiated unless the UK rejoins the EU, but this is just the typical kind of spin we see from UPC fanatics every day this month. We’ve come to witness in Europe the same lies and abuses that are often condemned when they happen across the Atlantic. Don’t let this become ‘normalcy’.

IRC Proceedings: Monday, February 10, 2020

Posted in IRC Logs at 2:14 am by Needs Sunlight

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