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03.14.20

Links 14/3/2020: Best GNU/Linux Laptops, Wine 5.4 Release, GNU Mailutils Reaches 3.9 and LLVM 10.0 RC4; Bill Gates Leaves Microsoft

Posted in News Roundup at 12:22 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

  • GNU/Linux

    • Desktop/Laptop

      • Best Linux laptops of 2020: the top open-source notebooks

        For some people, going with the best Linux laptops is the way to go, contrary to popular opinion that Microsoft’s Windows and Apple’s macOS are the only options for a notebook operating system. With this guide, we’re going to dive into the best laptops that are specifically built for the open-source operating system.

        There aren’t any mainstream notebook vendors, beyond Dell at least, that offer Linux as a base OS option on a new laptop. This leaves us with other smaller manufacturers, which can carve out a niche for themselves with the best Linux laptops.

      • Chrome OS 82 tests a Material Theme redesign of the Files app and a revamped Linux terminal with tab support

        Chrome OS has evolved a lot over the last several years, and Google is not stopping any time soon with the changes to attract both regular users and developers. In Chrome OS 82, Google is testing two major UI changes to the Files app and the Terminal app. First, the Google Material Theme redesign looks to be finally coming to the oft-forgotten Files application. Second, the Linux terminal is getting a fresh design and some much-needed settings.

        Let’s start with the Files app. Google has slowly added features to the default Chrome OS file manager over the years. It’s something you probably use a lot without thinking of it too much. Some of the major changes we’ve covered over the last few years include the ability to make Google Drive folders available for offline use, show Android app files, and add top-level folders other than “Downloads.” In Chrome OS 82, the Files app is getting a full-blown redesign in accordance with Google’s Material Theme design scheme. In summary, the top blue bar has been removed in favor of a more simplified white interface. We see the familiar Material Theme blue highlight in the sidebar and the fonts and icons have all been slightly altered as well. However, the functionality of the app itself hasn’t been changed in any major way. You can see how the design has changed for yourself in the before/after screenshots embedded below, courtesy of ChromeUnboxed.

    • Server

      • The Last Hurrah Before The Server Recession

        Excepting some potholes here and there and a few times when the hyperscalers and cloud builders tapped the brakes, it has been one hell of a run in the last decade for servers. But thanks to the coronavirus outbreak and some structural issues with sections of the global economy – let’s stop pretending economies are national things anymore, because they clearly are not – this could be peak server for at least a few quarters. Maybe a few years.

        We started The Next Platform in 2015, but our experience in the systems market goes back to the aftermath of the 1987 stock market crash that eventually caused a recession in the late 1980s and early 1990s that really didn’t get resolved until the dot-com boom came along and injected a whole lot of hope and cash into the tech sector and then into every other sector that needed to become an “e-business.” When we think about transition points in IT, we think that the Great Recession was the point in time when a lot of different industries pivoted. And thus our financial analysis usually goes back to the Great Recession (when we are able to get numbers back that far) because we want to see how what is going on now compared to the difficult time we were going through then.

    • Audiocasts/Shows

      • 2020-03-13 | Linux Headlines

        The Django project moves to a new governance structure, Tor Browser’s latest release includes a JavaScript execution bug, GitLab finally paywalls its build and test pipeline for external repositories, and WhiteSource issues a report on the increase in open source code vulnerabilities.

      • Windows is More Secure than Linux [Ed: Based on deliberately false counts, comparing apples tom oranges]

        Windows is More Secure than Linux I recently ran into a Softpedia and TechRadar article making this claim or pointing out that Debian Linux had more vulnerabilities than Windows. It’s time to review the article and give you the facts…

      • AksError | User Error 87

        Apps that make us feel old, emotional songs, using actual paper, evolution of language, IRC channels we never look at, and more.

      • Brunch with Brent: Elizabeth K. Joseph | Jupiter Extras 63

        Brent sits down with Elizabeth K. Joseph, Developer Advocate at IBM Z, former Ubuntu Community Council member, and contributor to Ubuntu, Debian, Xubuntu, and others. We discuss her new passion for mainframes, her early contributions to open source projects, the niche opportunities in Z DevOps on mainframes, and more.

      • Python Bytes: #172 Floating high above the web with Helium
    • Kernel Space

      • Fwupd+LVFS Begins Rolling Out Firmware Update Support For NVMe SSDs

        Moving forward it will hopefully become easier updating NVMe solid-state drive device firmware under Linux.

        Fwupd/LVFS lead developer Richard Hughes of Red Hat shared today that he’s been tackling NVMe firmware update support in cooperation with Lenovo. This isn’t terribly surprising as he has requested NVMe drive/sysfs information in the past from interested users. It’s been a challenge though as the NVMe firmware updating ambitions date back to at least 2018.

        Hughes noted that public today are firmware updates for drives from Samsung, Western Digital, SK Hynix, SSSTC, Kioxia, and Union Memory hardware.

      • Linux CFS Improvement Forthcoming To Help With Faster Spreading Of CPU Utilization

        A rather simple improvement to the Linux CFS scheduler’s load balancing code appears to have measurable benefits with helping to more quickly spread the task utilization across the system.

        Linaro’s Vincent Guittot spotted a rather simple but impactful optimization in the kernel’s scheduler code. When running the CFS load balancing, it until now hasn’t been checking that there are pending tasks to pull as otherwise the load balance will just fail and thus further delay the possible spreading of the system load.

      • LG V60 ThinQ kernel source code is now available

        The LG V60 ThinQ couldn’t appear at MWC 2020 as the company skipped the event due to COVID-19 fears. Thanks to a number of leaks, we had a pretty clear idea about the flagship much before the slated release. LG finally decided to unveil the V60 ThinQ through an online-only event. The phone features a Dual Screen accessory like the previously launched LG V50 ThinQ and LG G8X ThinQ. The factory-installed UX skin, aka LG UX 9.0, is based on Android 10.

      • Graphics Stack

        • AMD sprucing up its Linux driver

          AMD has plans to improve its Linux AMDGPU driver and is advertising for a new lead Linux kernel developer.

          The position will be based at AMD’s campus in Austin, Texas, and the lead developer will focus on designing and maintaining the graphics driver for Linux.

        • New Linux Patch Will Significantly Boost Ice Lake GPU Performance
        • Intel Delivers On A Promise: Linux Patch Improves iGPU Performance Per Watt By 43%

          Intel’s open-source driver team has managed to improve the performance of Intel’s iGPUs by 15% while increasing performance per watt by 43% at the same time (via Phoronix). The post was published by Francisco Jerez that leads the open-source driver team. Intel had previously promised to turn its attention to open-source drivers as well and it looks like its delivering on at least one deliverable.

        • Ice Lake GPU underperforming? Put it in powersave mode. Wait, what?

          This is particularly likely to become a problem in games, where the GPU portions of the processor get a much bigger workout than the x86 CPU itself. If you unnecessarily boost CPU frequency, you waste your TDP budget dealing with unnecessary waste heat from the CPU—which may in turn require throttling the GPU, since you’ve already eaten through your thermal overhead.

          The new patchset, which attempts to better target frequency scaling to real-world bottlenecks, is Jerez’s second attempt to address the problem, and he’s looking for additional testing to confirm his own results.

        • FFmpeg Squaring Away Vulkan Support For Its Next Release

          2020 could be the year we see the Vulkan API seeing more adoption on the desktop outside of games. We are already looking forward to LibreOffice 7.0 with Vulkan rendering support coming out later this summer while the next FFmpeg release also has Vulkan support lined up.

          For the past several months we’ve been seeing various Vulkan efforts around FFmpeg for this widely-used multimedia library. More Vulkan code was merged yesterday and goes along with a number of recent filters being added that are accelerated by the Vulkan API.

        • Intel Linux Driver Getting Skylake/Gen9 Port Sync To Fix 5K Tiled Display Issues

          A four year old Intel Linux display driver bug around corruption issues when trying to drive tiled displays (namely 5K+ setups with dual DisplayPort connections) on Intel “Gen9″ graphics hardware for Skylake up until Icelake could soon be marked as resolved.

          Longtime Intel Linux developer Ville Syrjala sent out a set of 13 patches today for adding port synchronization support for Skylake+ (Gen9). Intel developers have port sync already in place and working for Icelake/Gen11 hardware while for years this capability has been missing from Gen9 although supported by the hardware itself.

        • AMDVLK 2020.Q1.3 Brings New Extensions, Performance Tuning

          There have not been many AMDVLK open-source AMD Radeon Vulkan driver releases this quarter, but out today in any case is AMDVLK 2020.Q1.3 as their newest update to this official open-source Vulkan driver derived in part from shared sources with the AMD Vulkan Windows driver.

          AMDVLK 2020.Q1.3 brings new Vulkan extensions including EXT_post_depth_coverage, EXT_texel_buffer_alignment, and KHR_non_semantic_info. Vulkan 1.2.133 is the API version now exposed.

        • AMDGPU Driver Sees More Fixes For Linux 5.7 Development

          Feature work of Direct Rendering Manager (DRM) graphics driver work for Linux 5.7 is winding down now that Linux 5.6 is almost to its sixth release candidate this weekend, but sent in this week by AMD were a few more AMDGPU items though mostly amounting to fixes for their graphics driver.

          Sent in as part of the latest AMDGPU haul for targeting Linux 5.7 are SR-IOV fixes, Navi and Renoir power management fixes, various display fixes, HDCP fixes, a fix for detecting AMD Pollock hardware, and various other fixes and clean-ups.

    • Applications

      • ffmpegfs Is A FUSE-Based Filesystem For Transcoding Video And Audio On The Fly When Opened

        ffmpegfs is a free and open source FUSE-based read-only transcoding filesystem which converts audio and video formats on the fly when opened and read. It supports many formats, including MP4, WebM, OGG, MP3, OPUS, MOV, ProRes (a MOV container for Apple Prores video & PCM audio) and WAV, among others.

        This is useful in case you have many files in your media collection that can’t be directly played by some hardware or software (e.g. DaVinci Resolve, which has limited codecs support in the free Linux version) – instead of transcoding the whole media collection you could use ffmpegfs to transcode the files on the fly, when they are accessed / played. You may also use this to easily transcode files: just drop some files in the folder that you’ve used as an input directory for ffmpegfs, then copy the files from the ffmpegfs output folder and the resulted files will be transcoded to the format you’ve specified for ffmpegfs.

      • 5 Best Free Linux System Cleaning Tools

        There are lots of ways of improving the performance of your computer. We investigated a number of solutions in our feature entitled Ubuntu Tips – Boot Faster which concentrated on shortening the time taken for a machine to boot. These included disabling services that are not needed, concurrent booting, and reprofiling the boot sequence. The article also gave tips on optimizing the general system performance including ways to make more efficient use of memory, improving hard disk performance, and by using a lightweight desktop environment. These can all have a marked effect on minimizing the boot process. However, having a machine that is quick to boot is only one area that needs to be tackled if a computer is going to remain responsive.

        Many readers will have witnessed their computer system becoming progressively slower in use over time. This particularly affects Windows so much so that over time it can feel like the machine is running at half speed. This is in part due to users continually installing more applications, and not performing system maintenance. Other factors include ineffective uninstallation routines, Microsoft’s propensity for almost daily patches and security updates, hard drives full of temporary files, a bloated registry, and poorly configured antivirus software. These types of issues also affect Linux albeit to a lesser degree. Nevertheless, if a Linux machine is to remain in pristine condition, there is a genuine need for users to run software that vacuums up the detritus, wiping clean applications, deleting cookies, shredding temporary files, removing logs, and other types of system maintenance.

      • Best Download Managers for Linux

        Download managers provide a convenient way to download files without relying on web browsers’ built-in download mechanisms. Usually people look for batch download support, pausing and resuming ability and multi-connection download support while choosing a download manager. Multiple connections to the same file can speed up downloads specially when a file server throttles downloads. Do note that some file servers block pause and resume functionality and have mechanisms to prevent multi-connection downloads. This article will cover command line and graphical download manager apps for Linux.

    • Instructionals/Technical

    • Wine or Emulation

      • Wine Announcement
        The Wine development release 5.4 is now available.
        
        What's new in this release (see below for details):
          - Unicode data updated to Unicode version 13.
          - Builtin programs use the new UCRTBase C runtime.
          - More correct support for Internationalized Domain Names.
          - Support for painting rounded rectangles in Direct2D.
          - Text drawing in D3DX9.
          - Various bug fixes.
        
        The source is available from the following locations:
        
        https://dl.winehq.org/wine/source/5.x/wine-5.4.tar.xz
        
        
        http://mirrors.ibiblio.org/wine/source/5.x/wine-5.4.tar.xz
        
        Binary packages for various distributions will be available from:
        
        https://www.winehq.org/download
        
        You will find documentation on https://www.winehq.org/documentation
        
        You can also get the current source directly from the git
        repository. Check https://www.winehq.org/git for details.
        
        Wine is available thanks to the work of many people. See the file
        AUTHORS in the distribution for the complete list.
        
      • Wine 5.4 Released With Unicode 13 Support, Text Drawing For D3DX9 To Fix 10 Year Old Bug

        Wine 5.4 is out as the newest bi-weekly development release and it comes with a number of improvements.

      • Wine 5.4 is out improving Direct2D, Unicode 13 and a real old D3DX9 issue is solved

        That last one is interesting, as it checks off a bug that was opened back in 2010, with many games having no text rendering. However, it might not be perfected across all games yet as the commit mentions how it’s only a “very basic ID3DXFont_DrawText implementation”. The commit itself from a CodeWeavers staffer, is also based upon some coded provided years ago by someone else. Every little helps though of course.

        Over 30 more bugs were marked as solved this release, although the usual applies: some were actually fixed in previous Wine releases, only now being noticed. Bug fixes include issues solved for: NieR: Automata, Divinity Original Sin 2, Final Fantasy V and plenty more too including a few bugs that affected numerous games and applications.

    • Games

      • A look over what’s on sale this weekend for Linux gaming fans

        Is it Friday already? Apparently it is. If you’re stuck in across this weekend, we’ve rounded up some of the best deals going on for Linux gamers. First up, a reminder: AMD currently have a big sale going on some Ryzen processors, see here for more on that one. For the rest, I’ll highlight a few and link to the full sale on each store.

      • Preview: Check out our footage from ‘Resolutiion’ – it’s got some serious style

        After playing it, I have a great many questions that need answers and I am thoroughly looking forward to the full game where some of that will hopefully be answered. Perhaps my biggest question right now is: where the hell did that giant kitty come from and why is it tunnelling through the desert?

      • Intel’s Clear Linux to gain better support for third-party, proprietary software (like Chrome and Steam)

        Clear Linux OS is a desktop and server operating system optimized for computers with Intel processors — and since it’s developed by Intel, it’s not surprising that Intel-powered systems running Clear Linux score higher in benchmarks than those with just about any other GNU/Linux distribution. It also runs well on systems with AMD processors.

      • Intel’s Clear Linux Has Code In Place To Begin Handling Proprietary Packages Like Chrome & Steam

        One of the most frequent critiques of Intel’s Clear Linux distribution has been its lackluster support in dealing with proprietary/third-party packages like the Google Chrome web browser and Valve’s Steam gaming client. Since last summer, Clear Linux has been working on their third-party packaging support with their unique “bundles” system, but not much has been heard on the matter since.

        A Clear Linux user this week finally brought up the topic again of this third-party/proprietary package (bundle) handling for Clear Linux. The response from Intel Fellow Arjan van de Ven is that the code is actually now in place albeit lacks documentation and testing.

      • Wheely World is an unusual top-down scrolling racer available on itch.io for Linux

        Quite a surprise too, honestly, I wasn’t expecting it to be as good as it is from the screenshots. A video and static shots for a game like this, just don’t do it enough justice you really have to play it. A simple idea, the world scrolls up and you have to drive and boost your way around obstacles. There’s an Endless Runner mode to chase that high score or total mayhem in the Royale Mode with tons of other vehicles all cramped into the scrolling ever-changing map.

      • GOverlay, the open source Linux app for managing overlays is progressing quickly

        GOverlay, the open source Linux application which currently works to help you really easily configure MangoHud (more on that here) has progressed quickly since the initial release.

        With today’s 0.2 release the developer, Benjamim Góis, is calling it a “Beta” as they feel it has come along enough for more people to try it out. Lots of enhancements have been made too including a quick check-all button to turn all options on, an initial implementation of a HUD preview, an explanation of the Vsync options when you hover, a notification when the config is saved and more.

      • Deep Space Battle Simulator has two teams face off in a big space battle now on Linux

        Deep Space Battle Simulator, an Early Access first-person online team-based game about two capital-ships facing off is now available on Linux. It’s quite fresh, only becoming available on March 6.

        It’s a little like a small competitive version of PULSAR: Lost Colony, with you all running around controlling different stations on the ship. You start by customizing your capital ship with different turrets, small fighters and upgrades. Then once it begins, all hell breaks loose as both teams have full control over their ship. All in first-person (unless you’re the pilot) so you can run from one section to the next, grab a gun and take down any boarding party from the enemy team.

      • Have you played Slayaway Camp? A killer-puzzle game that’s genuinely good fun

        Slayaway Camp might not be a new game but it’s something I only jumped into recently and it’s a really great puzzle game. In it you control Skullface, a psychotic slasher bent on slaughtering people at camp.

        Not the nicest of settings for a puzzle game, it’s a little (okay a lot) violent with decapitating, squashing, axe-to-the-face and all sorts of bloody murder going on. You can tweak the amount of gore and such but it’s honestly pretty amusing with the blocky graphical style. The developer says it’s actually a “diabolical logic game that also happens to be a bloody tribute to eighties trash horror” and it fits that quite nicely.

      • If you think you know pain you haven’t played Devader – check out their new trailer

        Devader is one of my favourites released last year that flew under the radar of most. A twin-stick shooter with action that takes place in a single map, with enemies so varied it will make your head spin.

        In my post about the original release, I mentioned how it’s one not to be missed and it truly is. I’ve played my fair share of top-down twin-stick shoot ‘em ups over the years, coming from the Sega Mega Drive, Amiga and so on but nothing quite compares to the overall chaos in Devader.

      • Ridiculously fun party-platformer ‘Ultimate Chicken Horse’ has a big update and sale on now

        Ultimate Chicken Horse, an amusing name and a very funny game to play with others locally and online. A big update and sale just went live for this party-platformer where you build the level as you play.

        Joining the roster this time is a new character, a Snake on a skateboard. There’s also two brand new levels, 4 new blocks (beehives, cannons, flamethrowers, and one-way gates) and they also did some adjustments to other features throughout the game to improve the flow. The Free Play Mode has more paintbrush sizes, a new Randomize” button on the modifiers page can give you some extra chaos, a Czech localization is now available and plenty of bug fixing.

    • Desktop Environments/WMs

      • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

        • Plasma Mobile update week 11 of 2020

          In contrast to our usual bi-weekly blog format, this post wraps up only the most important changes that happened while no post was released. We are sorry for the lack of news in this period of time, but the good news is that as you will see in this post, the long break was not caused by a lack of content, but by a lack of time to write the post.

        • Krita Weekly #12 | 4.2.9 beta released

          So, a lot has been going around these days, 2020 hasn’t been the best year so far. Nevertheless don’t panic, maintain proper hygiene and you should be fine for the most part.

          A couple of days back 4.2.9 beta was released, here a blog post detailing the release can be found. Tons of bug fixes and a bunch of new features are there, which leaves me nothing to write about them in the weekly.

          In the other news, we have been able to hire Emmet and Eoin to work on the animation subsystem part-time. Previously both have contributed to the code and also joined the rest of us in the last two yearly sprints. Here is the task that is being laid upon to be worked. And they also have started a survey for the folks interested in animation for Krita. The feedback would be helpful for us to decide which parts of the animation system need more attention.

      • GNOME Desktop/GTK

        • Linux-based “PinePhone” And “PineTab” Running The Latest GNOME 3.36

          The mobile OS support capability of PinePhone and PineTab is increasing day by day. And to enhance its beauty and run things fluently, it already supports various desktop environments such as KDE neon, Plasma mobile, and GNOME.

          In addition, you can now enjoy more features introduced in the GNOME 3.36 desktop environment, which runs pretty well on both PinePhone and PineTab. The latest GNOME brings highly-polished design and performance improvements to smoothen the user experience.

        • Building and testing GTK

          Since GNOME’s collective move to GitLab, GTK has taken advantage of the features provided by that platform—especially when it comes to its continuous integration pipeline.

          In days of old, the only way to check that our changes to the toolkit were correct was to wait until the Continuous build bot would notify us of any breakage on the main development branches. While this was better than nothing, it didn’t allow us to prevent breakage during the development phase of anything—from features to bug fixes, from documentation improvements to adding new tests.

        • gedit – 36 things to do and maybe planning a crowdfunding

          GNOME 3.36 has been released. And gedit 3.36 too!

          In the small corner of the Universe where I live, when we say “36” it actually means “a lot”. When we have 36 things to do today, or when we cannot do 36 things at the same time. In the case of gedit, there are also 36 things to do, as you can imagine.

          I now have more time that I can devote to GNOME, especially gedit. But I’m partly living on my savings.

        • End of GNOME Outreachy 2019

          The outreachy program ended the past week and we’ve done great improvements during this four months of work. I’m very happy with the result and with the work of the two interns and also the GNOME co-mentors that make this possible.

          If we’re lucky the interns will continue contributing in the future and we can see the GNOME community growing in developers and diversity.

    • Distributions

      • New Releases

        • Zorin OS 15.2 Now Available

          The latest iteration of Zorin OS has arrived. Version 15.2 is now available, which focuses on software bugs, security, and expanded hardware compatibility. This newest version might also serve as the last release until the developers of Zorin OS unleash their upcoming Zorin Grid, which gives admins the ability to manage massive desktop rollouts from a web-based dashboard.

          Since the last release of Zorin OS (Summer of 2019), the OS has been downloaded over 900,000 times and has been included in numerous “best of” lists for desktop distributions. So this latest version should be seen as yet another step forward for the open source operating system.

        • Clonezilla Live 2.6.5-21 released based on Linux 5.4

          This update has shaken Clonezilla Live to its very core as the software is now based on Linux Kernel 5.4.19-1 and Debian Sid repository. Apart from that, there have also been changes in the language files, courtesy of the efforts of various developers.

          For further facilitating its users, the developers have also worked on ocs-restore-mdisks as the last action can now be separated before it ends through the newly-integrated option -a|–last-action.

          Other than that, there have also been several package additions in Clonezilla live, which include iotop, mtr-tiny, tmux, scrub, and nvme-cli. Plus, you can find some new Bluetooth packages such as bluetooth, bluez, and bluez-tools. It is now also possible for users to mount S3/swift cloud storage with the addition of the s3ql package.

          On the other hand, a few packages were also removed for improving the software, some of which include cloudfuse and archivemount, as they haven’t been maintained for quite some time and require the outdated fuse v2.

          Now let’s come to the changes that can be noticed by the users. First of all, users won’t have to interact with the obscure keyboard-configuration in singularity-debian-ocs.def all thanks to a workaround. Secondly, you’re also going to find fewer bugs in this release.

      • Screenshots/Screencasts

      • IBM/Red Hat/Fedora

        • Dominic “dmaphy” Hopf: Rex 1.8.2 available in Fedora

          There is a new version of the friendly automation framework named Rex available in Fedoras updates-testing repositories. If you’re into DevOps and automation and need some alternatives to Ansible, Puppet or Salt, this one probably is for you.

        • Fedora 32 Wallpaper Submission – Story

          This was takeing on 2019-11-19 in my home city of Adelaide, South Australia. I had traveled to see some friends over Christmas. We went to Mount Osmond to take some photos, and I took this as we walked up to the lookout.

          The next day, this area was a high risk location for a possible bushfire – and many bushfires have since devastated many regions of Australia, affecting many people that I know.

          I really find that the Australian landscape is so different to Europe or Asia – many tones of subtle reds, browns, and more. A dry and dusty look. The palette is such a contrast to the lush greens of Europe. Australia is a really beautiful country, in a very distinct and striking manner.

        • Submit a supplemental wallpaper for Fedora 32

          Attention Fedora community members: Fedora is seeking submissions for supplemental wallpapers to be included with the Fedora 32 release. Whether you’re an active contributor, or have been looking for a easy way to get started contributing, submitting a wallpaper is a great way to help. Read on for more details.

        • Video: OpenShift is Kubernetes

          Our very own Burr Sutter has produced a video explaining how Kubernetes and OpenShift relate to one another, and why OpenShift is Kubernetes, not a fork there of.

        • Master the Mainframe: Announcing our 2019 winners

          2019 marked the 15th year of the world’s largest mainframe competition for students — and it was our biggest year yet. This year’s contest saw registrations grow to 25,516 participants — up 40% from 18,175 in 2018 — and participation from almost 4,000 schools. We also experienced a 123% increase in the number of students finishing all three parts since last year. New for 2019, we made a donation through #ShareTheMeal to the UN World Food Programme for every student finishing Part 1, which resulted in 7,032 children being fed for a day.

          The contest drew participants from 154 total countries, up 37.5% from last year, with India, the United States, Brazil, the UK, Nigeria, Germany, Canada, and Argentina topping the list. The strong global participation in the contest confirms that students are increasingly intrigued by the technology and the significant role the mainframe plays as the IT backbone of 60 percent of the Fortune 100, 44 of the top 50 banks, 8 out of the top 10 insurers, and 8 of the top 10 telcos.

        • Optimize supply-chain routes to ensure on-time deliveries by predicting potential weather events

          Today, every business is different. But in many ways, businesses that exist within various industries are affected differently by weather. Weather conditions are getting more unpredictable, impacting almost every sector — energy, agriculture, transportation, insurance, aviation, and many more. Managing global supply chains in these situations can be a tricky and risky endeavor. Extreme weather, epidemics, and other unexpected events can disrupt the delivery of products and services, which may affect your delivery schedules and bring your assembly lines to a grinding halt due to lack of raw materials. This is because businesses lack control of these unpredictable supply-chain scenarios.

          IBM Sterling Supply Chain Insights With Watson® can help businesses turn these disruptions into opportunities for growth and profit. It provides visibility across your supply chain to help you manage constant change. It helps you quickly detect potential disruptions and collaborate with colleagues and IBM Watson to resolve issues. Supply-chain managers can synthesize insights by combining location-specific data from social media and The Weather Company to help predict and mitigate the effect of unexpected events.

        • What Red Hat is doing to address coronavirus (COVID-19)

          As the new coronavirus, COVID-19, evolves, we continue to prioritize the health and well-being of both Red Hat associates and the communities where we live and work. In the spirit of transparency, we thought it would be useful if we shared measures Red Hat is taking as a company:

        • Machine learning gives banks an on-ramp for more intelligent applications

          Data can be a key to differentiating one financial institution’s products from another institution’s. Data has solidified its place as core to building offerings that target individual customer needs, and not just as a cohort member to a segment. But financial services organizations may have to up their data game to further the smart, innovative solutions and services that their customers expect.

          In recent years, digital interactions have improved with the adoption of practices such as agile development. Stringing together each incremental change faster has created levels of responsiveness that are now being applied in new business contexts.

      • Debian Family

        • Tails 4.4 Released with Important Security Fixes, App Updates

          First and foremost, it’s the security side of this new Tails update.

          As the developing team explains, many of the security issues discovered in Tails 4.3 have been corrected in this version, including vulnerabilities that affected OS components and pre-installed apps like TOR Browser and Mozilla Thunderbird. You can find a list of the patched vulnerabilities in the box after the jump, along with links to read more information about each of them.

        • DPL elections 2020: nomination censored

          Many people wondered what all the fuss has been about banning and censoring people from Debian in recent years. The answer? Dirty politics. Nominations for Debian Project Leader were announced on Saturday, 7 March and the next day, outgoing leader Sam Hartman attacked another would-be candidate with false accusations of trolling.

      • Canonical/Ubuntu Family

        • Linux Mint With Ubuntu Icons

          As continuation to the previous tutorial, here is the other way around Ubuntu with Mint icon themes. Unlike Ubuntu’s, this icon theme called Mint-Y is one but divided into different color sub-theme such as Mint-Y-Dark and so on. This tutorial will explain in simple ways where and what to download and how to install and switch the icon theme. Enjoy customization!

        • OSM-MR#8 Hackfest: the highlights

          The Canonical team is getting back from the OSM-MR#8 Hackfest with a lot of excitement and a fresh view on the OSM (Open Source MANO) project. Although due to the Coronavirus COVID-19 complication around the world the leadership group re-organised the Hackfest in the last moment to be fully remote, many people joined and we’ve seen a lot of new faces. We are now looking forward to hosting all of you in London, during the week of 1-5 of June.

        • What is “Support”?

          The first one is related to development and maintenance. This is where the Ubuntu Studio development team comes in. That scope is rather limited since most of the software included in Ubuntu Studio isn’t maintained or packaged by the development team, but rather other teams within Debian and Ubuntu. This includes the lowlatency kernel, which is maintained by the Ubuntu Kernel Team, and the desktop environment, which is maintained by the Xubuntu team.

          This support also deals with the length of time of the maintenance and upkeep of said components. For LTS releases it’s 3 years; for standard releases it’s 9 months.

    • Devices/Embedded

    • Free, Libre, and Open Source Software

      • Open source alternative for multi-factor authentication: privacyIDEA

        Two-factor authentication, or multi-factor authentication, is not a topic only for nerds anymore. Many services on the internet provide it, and many end-users demand it. While the average end-user might only realize that his preferred web site either offers MFA or it does not, there is more to it behind the scene.

        The two-factor market is changing, and changing rapidly. New authentication methods arise, classical vendors are merging, and products have disappeared.

      • Data Sharing and Open Source Software Help Combat Covid-19

        On February 27, a teenager in the Seattle area was diagnosed with Covid-19. Shortly after, researchers at the Seattle Flu Study shared genomic data about his strain of the virus with other researchers on an “open science” site. Armed with that data, researchers involved with a second open science project determined that the teenager’s strain was a direct descendent of a strain of Covid-19 found in an unrelated patient in the Seattle area on January 20. The discovery was a key link in concluding that the virus had been spreading in the Seattle area for weeks.

        The way researchers connected those dots highlights the role of open science projects in tracking the evolution of Covid-19 and other diseases. Sharing data and working collaboratively across the web, scientists are quickly analyzing genetic samples, helping to shape the public response. But the rush to interpret the data also creates new risks.

        Viruses like Covid-19 spread by making copies of themselves. Each time they replicate, there’s a chance that an error will be made, making the latest copy slightly different from the previous one. Emma Hodcroft, a postdoctoral quantitative genetics researcher at the University of Basel in Switzerland, likens these errors, known as mutations, to typos in the virus’s DNA.

      • Web Browsers

        • Mozilla

          • Thunderbird 68.6.0 Released with Huge Bug Fixes and Enhanced Features!

            Thunderbird 68.6.0 Released Now: Mozilla announced the release of the latest version of Mail Thunderbird 68.6.0. Mozila Thunderbird is an open-source e-mail client, which is used to send and receive emails through secured portal. Thunderbird email client can be seen more commonly on all Linux based operating system. The latest version of Thunderbird is flooded with new features and bug fixes.

          • Tor Browser 9.5a7 Released Today! More Speed & Bugs Fixed

            Tor Browser 9.5a7 Released: Tor is one of the best and most secured browser which allows you to browse the internet by hiding your personal information and data. With Tor browser, you will be able to surf to the website which are not available on the surface web. Yes, you can access the dark & deep websites using Tor browser. You can find more information about Tor browser from their official website.

            The developer teams of the Tor browser announced that the Tor Browser 9.5a7 has been released. You can download the latest version of the tor browser 9.5a7 from their official website!

          • Niko Matsakis: Async Interview #7: Withoutboats

            Hello everyone! I’m happy to be posting a transcript of my async interview with withoutboats. This particularly interview took place way back on January 14th, but the intervening months have been a bit crazy and I didn’t get around to writing it up till now.

          • Mozilla does not respect user requests to stop tracking telemetry data

            A Firefox system add-on called telemetry-coverage may still be sending your IP address data to Mozilla even if you explicitly turn off telemetry data – which has privacy implications most people aren’t aware of as Mozilla stores telemetry data with a unique identifier tied to your specific Firefox client. All Firefox clients come with preinstalled system add-ons that function just like add-ons that a user would install themselves from the Add-ons store, except they’re there by default. A Mozilla employee commented on the SuperUser forum attempting to defend this action…

      • FSF

        • LibrePlanet: Livestreaming

          Hey, a bit of a last minute news: the famous yearly conference organized by the Free Software Foundation LibrePlanet (Boston, U.S.A.) was canceled due to the continuing COVID-19 outbreak. But not canceled totally: the staff reorganized the event into a virtual conference and livestream event. So, I proposed a Krita demo and now I’m on the schedule for a 40min Digital painting livestream demo tomorrow just after the keynote. I’ll comment the demo with tips, and I’ll demo features and possibilities of this great software. Don’t expect a finished piece in 40min, but I’m sure we can get a cute speedpainting and a pleasant walk through Krita together.

        • GNU Projects

          • GNU Mailutils Version 3.9

            Version 3.9 of GNU mailutils is available for download.
            This is a bug-fix release. Please see the NEWS file entry for a detailed list of changes.

      • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

        • Open Data

          • 10 Open-Source Datasets For Text Classification

            One of the popular fields of research, text classification is the method of analysing textual data to gain meaningful information. According to sources, the global text analytics market is expected to post a CAGR of more than 20% during the period 2020-2024. Text classification can be used in a number of applications such as automating CRM tasks, improving web browsing, e-commerce, among others.

            Check out 10 open-source datasets, which can be used for text classification. The Amazon Review dataset, for instance, consists of a few million Amazon customer reviews (input text) and star ratings (output labels) for learning how to train fastText for sentiment analysis. The size of the dataset is 493MB.

      • Programming/Development

        • 50 Frequently Asked JavaScript Interview Questions and Answers [2020]

          JavaScript has proved itself as a versatile and scalable scripting language all over time. It is one of the most popular scripting languages in the web development industry. It offers more reliability; it is easy to run and execute. It opens up special opportunities for developers. This is the reason why millions of developers (almost 94 percent of all websites are made of JavaScript) tend to use this language.

          An entry-level developer with basic knowledge of JavaScript can earn $70-80,000 per year. JavaScript can be really a blessing for your career, and long time work skills in this language can make you one of the highest-paid employees of the year. Hence, no wonder why you should look for Jobs that offer a position as JavaScript developers. You might be a rookie or a professional, to get yourself on board, it is important to be ready for the JavaScript Interview Questions as well.

        • “rpminfo” php extension
        • Possible issues with debugging and inspecting compiler-optimized binaries

          Developers think of their programs as a serial sequence of operations running as written in the original source code. However, program source code is just a specification for computations. The compiler analyzes the source code and determines if changes to the specified operations will yield the same visible results but be more efficient. It will eliminate operations that are ultimately not visible, and rearrange operations to extract more parallelism and hide latency. These differences between the original program’s source code and the optimized binary that actually runs might be visible when inspecting the execution of the optimized binary via tools like GDB and SystemTap.

          [...]

          The binary code for a particular line of source code might be removed by the compiler because it has no effect on the later results. This removal might happen when the compiler data and control flow analysis for the function determines that while the code on the line is on a control flow path that could be executed, the values computed are never used. The debugging information that maps the instructions back to source code would have no entries for those eliminated lines. GDB and SystemTap would not be able to inspect the state of the program at those exact source code lines because they no longer exist in the binary.

        • [llvm-dev] [10.0.0 Release] Release Candidate 4 is here
          Hello everyone,
          
          Release Candidate 4 was tagged earlier today as llvmorg-10.0.0-rc4 on
          the release branch at b406eab8880. It contains 12 commits since the
          previous release candidate.
          
          If no new problems arise, this is what the final release will look like.
          
          Source code and docs are available at
          https://prereleases.llvm.org/10.0.0/#rc4 and
          
          https://github.com/llvm/llvm-project/releases/tag/llvmorg-10.0.0-rc4
          
          Pre-built binaries will be added as they become ready.
          
          Please file bug reports for any issues you find as blockers of
          
          https://llvm.org/pr44555
          
          Release testers, please run the test script, share your results, and
          upload binaries.
          
          Thanks,
          Hans
          
        • LLVM 10.0 RC4 Released Due To Last Minute Fixes

          LLVM 10.0-RC3 was released last week as what was supposed to be the last release candidate of the cycle after being challenged by delays already. However, last minute issues with RC3 has led to LLVM 10.0-RC4 coming out today.

          LLVM 10.0-RC4 brings with it another dozen patches on top of RC3. LLVM 10.0-RC4 has some clean-ups to the release notes and a few other last minute fixes. The brief RC4 announcement can be read on llvm-dev.

        • AMD AOMP 0.7-7 Released For Radeon OpenMP Offloading

          Announced at the end of last year was Radeon Open Compute 3.0 with the new “AOMP” compiler. Today a new version of AOMP has been released for OpenMP offloading support to AMD Radeon GPUs.

          AOMP is the newest of several downstreams of LLVM/Clang maintained by AMD. AOMP tracks upstream LLVM / Clang but with changes for supporting OpenMP API offloading support to Radeon GPUs as part of the ROCm driver stack. While focused on Radeon OpenMP support, AMD does leave the HIP / CUDA / OpenCL support within the AOMP Clang build.

        • Dirk Eddelbuettel: RInside 0.2.16

          A new release 0.2.16 of RInside arrived on CRAN and in Debian today. This comes almost exactly one year after the previous release 0.2.15. RInside provides a set of convenience classes which facilitate embedding of R inside of C++ applications and programs, using the classes and functions provided by Rcpp.

          This release brings one new feature, contributed by Lance Bachmeier (with some additional post-processing by me). It adds the ability to embed and call R from C programs and applications. The interface is more limited as we do not get Rcpp for automagic conversion. But this offers the door to a number of applications supporting plain C interface, and the new examples directory for example shows one for ruby. We may add others.

        • Perl / Raku

          • KBOS methods

            After scopes, types and signatures we got all the prerequisites to talk about the syntax and semantics of KBOS methods. Unless you want to contribute to Kephra or write a plugin, you may never use them, but please join me in the thought experiment – maybe we get a littler smarter.

            General Rules of Syntax

            KBOS is outspokenly declerative. The keyword class starts a class, attribute an attribute definition and you could even guess what method name (…) {….} stands for. In front of method may appear several combinable keywords. Lets call them method modifier for now, because Raku does that too. If one of them is present, writing method is optional.

          • What’s new on CPAN – February 2020

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

        • Python

          • PyCharm 2020.1 EAP 7

            We have a new Early Access Program (EAP) version of PyCharm that can now be downloaded from our website

            This EAP has a lot of important bug fixes, some new features, and a few usability improvements. All of which makes PyCharm that much better to work with.

          • Moshe Zadka: Or else:

            The underappreciated else keyword in Python has three distinct uses.

          • Thinking psycopg3

            Psycopg is the database adapter used by most Python programs needing to work with the PostgreSQL database manager. In this blog post, psycopg maintainer Daniele Varrazzo looks forward to the next major version.

          • PyData COVID-19 Response

            The safety and well-being of our community are extremely important to us. We have therefore decided to postpone all PyData conferences scheduled to take place until the end of June:
            PyData Miami
            PyData London
            PyData Amsterdam

          • Encapsulation in Python

            Encapsulation is an essential aspect of Object Oriented Programming.

            Let’s explain encapsulation in plain words: information hiding. This means delimiting of the internal interface and attribute from the external world.

            The benefit of information hiding is reducing system complexity and increasing robustness.

            Why? Because encapsulation limits the interdependencies of different software components. Suppose we create a module. Our users could only interact with us through public APIs; they don’t care about the internals of this module. Even when the details of internals implementation changed, the user’s code doesn’t need a corresponding change.

            To implement encapsulation, we need to learn how to define and use private attribute and a private function.

          • Functional strategies in Python

            I got into a debate about Python’s support for functional programming (FP) with a friend. One of the challenging parts was listening to him say, “Python is broken” a number of times.

            Python is not broken. It’s just not a great language for writing pure functional programs. Python seemed broken to my friend in exactly the same way that a hammer seems broken to someone trying to turn a screw with it.

            I understand his frustration. Once you have fully embraced the FP mindset, it is difficult to understand why people would write programs any other way.

            I have not fully embraced the FP mindset. But that doesn’t mean that I can’t apply some FP lessons to my Python programs.

            In discussions about how FP and Python relate, I think too much attention is paid to the tactics. For example, some people say, “no need for map/­filter/­lambda, use list comprehensions.” Not only does this put off FP people because they’re being told to abandon the tools they are used to, but it gives the impression that list com­pre­hensions are somehow at odds with FP constructs, or are exact replacements.

          • How to use shared in-browser consoles to cooperate while working remotely.

            One of the challenges of remote work is when you need to work together on one thing.

            Our in-browser consoles are one of the core features of our service. Almost since the beginning, PythonAnywhere has been able to share consoles — you entered the name of another user or an email address, and they got an email telling them how to log in and view your Python (or Bash, or IPython) console. If you use an email, the person you invite doesn’t have to be PythonAnywhere registered user.

          • Python Vs JavaScript: Which One Should You Use For A Project?

            Are you confused which web app development technology is the right fit for you: JavaScript or Python? Do you want to know the real difference between these two most popular tools for web development? You have landed at the right place. In this blog, we will talk about various pros and cons of choosing these two languages as well as JavaScript vs Python performance and JavaScript vs Python speed and learning curve. In addition, we will compare these two languages on various parameters. So, let’s start:

        • Java

          • New Relic – the State of Java Report

            New Relic has released a new JVM report based on an analysis of data reported by customer JVMs running in production across the globe. Unlike other self-reported surveys, the data produced here is from JVMs that are running in production. As would be expected, the resulting data set consists of New Relic customers, but it paints a picture of what is being used in production as opposed to what developers are working and testing against.

            In particular, the report highlights that the majority of JVMs that are running in production are doing so with LTS releases of Java; and only a fraction over 11% are running on Java 11. The majority of JVMs (over 85%) are running on Java 8, with Java 7 following behind with a few percent. Non-LTS releases are responsible for just over 1% of reported machines running. In addition, the report highlights that JVM users are often slow to upgrade in production; there are more versions of Java running before 7 than on either 9 or 10 (which are both EOL) or 12 and 13 (which are both EOL or about to become EOL). The report also highlights that a number of JVMs are running on outdated versions of Java 8, some of which are known to have security vulnerabilities.

    • Standards/Consortia

      • Intel Compute Runtime 20.10.16087 Released With oneAPI Level Zero Support

        Intel Compute Runtime 20.10.16087 was released today as their latest weekly-ish tagged update to this open-source compute runtime for empowering their graphics hardware on Linux with OpenCL and oneAPI support.

        This oneAPI/OpenCL run-time for Intel HD/Iris through Xe Graphics continues evolving nicely as evident by their ongoing Git activity. With this week’s update it pulls in all of the latest GMMlib, Intel Graphics Compiler (IGC), and other code making up this release. Going back to Broadwell remains production-quality OpenCL 2.1 support while the Tiger Lake Gen12/Xe support remains under an “early support” flag.

  • Leftovers

    • Happy National Tired and Grouchy Week

      On Sunday, March 8, millions of Americans woke up an hour early, having set their clocks ahead by an hour the night before, and dug in for a week or so of bleary-eyed, irritable attempts to tweak their bodies’ natural sleeping and waking rhythms. This fatuous semi-annual “spring forward, fall back” ritual, called “Daylight Saving Time,” ranks high on my personal list of “dumbest ideas in the history of mankind.”

    • Bill Gates steps down from Microsoft board to focus on philanthropy [Ed: disclosure missing. Bill Gates repeatedly pays the BBC]

      Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates is stepping down from the company’s board to spend more time on philanthropic activities.
      He says he wants to focus on global health and development, education and tackling climate change.
      One of the world’s richest men, Mr Gates, 65, has also left the board of Warren Buffett’s massive holding company, Berkshire Hathaway.

    • Education

    • Health/Nutrition

      • Why Tech Might Actually Be The Solution To Capitalism’s Addiction Problem
      • Preschool Program Funding for Children with Disabilities in Decline – Validated Independent News

        Developmental preschool programs, which serve children between the ages of three and five, have been shown to prepare many students with disabilities to enter kindergarten “without the need for any special education services, or needing only services to improve speech,” Jackie Mader reported. Nevertheless, while the number of children served by developmental preschool programs more than doubled from the early 1990s to 2017, crucial federal funding for these programs has decreased by as much as forty percent per pupil.

      • Coronavirus: Spain to declare emergency as deaths pass 100

        Spain’s prime minister says a state of emergency will come into effect there on Saturday amid a steep rise in coronavirus deaths.

        Pedro Sánchez warned that very hard weeks lay ahead but he vowed the government would do everything necessary to combat the crisis.
        Earlier, the number of deaths in Spain increased by some 50% in a day to reach 120. Infections jumped to 4,200.
        Mr Sanchez said the figure could top 10,000 next week.

      • Coronavirus: English local elections postponed for a year

        The government has announced that May’s local and mayoral elections in England will be postponed for a year due to the coronavirus outbreak.

      • How South Korea is handling the coronavirus outbreak better than other countries

        There are nearly 8,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in South Korea, with the first case reported on Jan. 20. On Friday, the country reported more recovered cases than new cases for the first time. One of the main reasons South Korea is handling the coronavirus outbreak well is that testing is widely available.

        People in South Korea can get swabbed for testing in drive-thru clinics, which can reduce the burden on hospitals and reduce risk for health workers. A biotech company in the country developed a test within three weeks, according to CNN.

        Individuals who would like to be tested for the virus and get the backing of a doctor can request one, making it easy and accessible. There’s a network of 96 laboratories that process the samples, with testing being a major priority.

        “Detecting patients at an early stage is very important,” South Korea’s health minister Park Neunghoo told CNN.

      • Coronavirus: Mass gatherings could be banned in UK from next week

        Mass gatherings could be banned in the UK from as early as next weekend amid the outbreak of coronavirus.
        A government source said ministers are drawing up plans for the move – to ease pressure on emergency services.
        Scores of major sporting and cultural events have already been cancelled across the country in response to the pandemic.
        In total, 11 people have died with the virus in the UK, while the number of confirmed cases rose to 798 on Friday.

    • Integrity/Availability

      • Proprietary

        • Pseudo-Open Source

          • Privatisation/Privateering

            • Linux Foundation

              • Linux Foundation open sources disaster-relief IoT firmware: Project OWL

                Project OWL (Organization, Whereabouts, and Logistics) creates a mesh network of Internet of Things (IoT) devices called DuckLinks. These Wi-Fi-enabled devices can be deployed or activated in disaster areas to quickly re-establish connectivity and improve communication between first responders and civilians in need.

                In OWL, a central portal connects to solar- and battery-powered, water-resistant DuckLinks. These create a Local Area Network (LAN). In turn, these power up a Wi-Fi captive portal using low-frequency Long-range Radio (LoRa) for Internet connectivity. LoRA has a greater range, about 10km, than cellular networks.

                LoRa also avoids the danger of having its bandwidth throttled by cellular carriers. That, by the way, actually happened in 2018 in Northern California’s Mendocino Complex Fire when Verizon slowed the first responders’ internet.

                DuckLinks then provides an emergency mesh network to all Wi-Fi enabled devices in range. This can be used both by people needing help and first responders trying to get a grip on the situation with data analytics. Armed with this information, they can then formulate an action plan.

        • Security

          • Security updates for Friday

            Security updates have been issued by Arch Linux (firefox, golang-golang-x-crypto, kernel, mbedtls, ppp, and python-django), Debian (slirp and yubikey-val), Fedora (firefox, java-1.8.0-openjdk-aarch32, mbedtls, monit, seamonkey, sympa, and zsh), Gentoo (chromium, e2fsprogs, firefox, groovy, postgresql, rabbitmq-c, ruby, and vim), Mageia (ppp), openSUSE (kernel), and SUSE (glibc, kernel, openstack-manila, php5, and squid).

          • 10 Essential Settings to Secure Your Google Account

            After reading the title you might be wondering, “isn’t my Google account already secure?”. Well, yes it is. But on a bad day for you, it is possible for smart bad guys to circumnavigate the default security measures that Google has put on your accounts and that is why it is important to not just manually review those settings but to also implement some more and take specific precautions to reinforce your security.

            Google has a dedicated page listing all the settings and recommendations that will help you to keep your account safe. These settings and recommendations page includes a list of security issues found in your account, 2-factor authentication, recovery phone details, 3rd-party apps with account access, a list of less secure app access, and information about your connected devices.

          • Marc-Etienne Léveillé on Linux malware

            Marc-Etienne Léveillé, senior malware researcher for ESET, talks with CyberScoop Editor-in-Chief Greg Otto about all the different Linux malware he sees being used. Both sophisticated actors and amateur hackers are going after various flaws in the operating system. ”

            We have seen very, very advanced stuff,” Léveillé told CyberScoop at the 2020 RSA Conference. “And we have seen very like low-hanging fruit, like commodity malware. But the most sophisticated Linux malware we’ve studied is called an open SSH backdoor and credential stealer. What it does a very clever way, it tries not to modify the system as less as possible.”

          • Intel Developer’s Patch To Let SECCOMP Processes Like Web Browsers Opt Out Of Spectre V4

            Currently the Linux kernel SECCOMP secure computing mode force-enables Spectre protections, which comes with obvious performance implications. When force-enabled, however, processes can’t opt-out of the protection if they are not at risk to the likes of Spectre V4 “Speculative Store Bypass” issues. But a simple change being proposed would let such processes opt out if desired.

            Longtime Intel Linux developer Andi Kleen has proposed the change to allow overriding SECCOMP’s speculation disable behavior. Rather than force disabling the speculation control, it still would happen by default but not “forced” — which in turn would let processes opt-out of the behavior due to that semantic change. The PR_SET_SPECULATION prctl can then be used for toggling SSBD and IB behavior.

          • Mitigating new LVI Intel security vulnerability will have big impact on CPU performance

            Implementing full mitigations to address the load value injection (LVI) security vulnerability affecting Intel processors could significantly reduce processor performance and radically slow them down.

            The vulnerability, indexed as CVE-2020-0551, was publically disclosed earlier this week when Intel rolled out a patch to address the flaw.

            The chipmaker said that LVI vulnerability impacts some processors utilising speculative execution feature and could allow an attacker to steal sensitive data from vulnerable systems, via a side channel with local access.

          • Load Value Injection Vulnerability Discovered for Some Intel CPUs, Mitigations can Significantly Degrade Performance

            It has been over two years since the original revelations of the Meltdown and Spectre vulnerabilities in various CPUs but especially Intel processors. These vulnerabilities went after how speculative execution could allow a CPU to access information in an unsecure way, potentially allowing it to leak to an attacker. Though the mitigations, both software and hardware, have been implemented for a while now, it turns out switching things around a bit can get around some of them. University researchers at several universities and Bitdefender independently realized an attack could be made that instead of trying to get information out of a CPU, it could insert information into it. The code can be detected and then all operations be rolled back, but for a time an application will run with the injected code. Intel was notified of the discovery in April 2019 by the researchers and the discovery was kept under embargo until this week. Bitdefender made its discovery in February 2020.

          • Privacy/Surveillance

            • ‘The Public Has a Right to Know’: ACLU Sues DHS to Expose Secretive Use of Facial Recognition Technology

              “This unregulated surveillance technology threatens to fundamentally alter our free society and is in urgent need of democratic oversight.”

            • Bizarre: Democrats In Congress Agree To Give Trump More Of The Spying Powers He Complains Were Abused Against Him

              If ever there were a time to end Constitutionally questionable FISA surveillance powers it should be now. Democrats have been, quite rightly, concerned about an out of control Trump administration, abusing the powers of government to target his enemies and critics. Republicans have been screaming from the heavens, quite rightly, about the FBI’s abuse of the FISA process to conduct surveillance on members of the Trump Campaign. And all this is coming at a time when the crown jewel of the program — the phone metadata surveillance — has been shown to have been a huge, wasteful mess that has been effectively useless.

            • Senators Pretend That EARN IT Act Wouldn’t Be Used To Undermine Encryption; They’re Wrong

              On Wednesday, the Senate held a hearing about the EARN IT Act, the bill that is designed to undermine the internet and encryption in one single move — all in the name of “protecting the children” (something that it simply will not do). Pretty much the entire thing was infuriating, but I wanted to focus on one key aspect. Senators supporting the bill, including sponsor Richard Blumenthal — who has been attacking the internet since well before he was in the Senate and was just the Attorney General of Connecticut — kept trying to insist the bill had nothing to do with encryption and wouldn’t be used to undermine encryption. In response to a letter from Facebook, Blumenthal kept insisting that the bill is not about encryption, and also insisting (incorrectly) that if the internet companies just nerded harder, they could keep encryption while still giving law enforcement access.

            • FBI Director Chris Wray Pitches Weakened Encryption At A Cyber Security Conference

              On May 29, 2018, the FBI promised to deliver an updated count of encrypted devices in its possession. As James Comey and his replacement, Chris Wray, continued to advocate for weakened encryption, the number of phones the FBI couldn’t get into swelled from 880 in 2016 to over 7,800 by the time the FBI realized its phone-counting method was broken.

            • 152 House Democrats Join GOP to Reauthorize ‘Abusive Government Surveillance Powers’

              “Nothing says bipartisanship like extending provisions of the PATRIOT Act.”

            • The EARN IT Bill Is the Government’s Plan to Scan Every Message Online

              Imagine an Internet where the law required every message sent to be read by government-approved scanning software. Companies that handle such messages wouldn’t be allowed to securely encrypt them, or they’d lose legal protections that allow them to operate.

              Take Action

    • Defence/Aggression

      • The Nature of the Military That Fights America’s Forever Wars

        Bizarrely enough, the spate of phone calls from recruiters began a couple of years ago. The first ones came from the Army, next the Marines, and then other branches of the military. I’m decades past enlistment age. I’ve been publicly antiwar for most of that time and come from a family that was last involved with a military when my grandfather ran out the back door to avoid Russian army recruiters at the front door and kept running until he reached America.

      • Arrests R Us: Six-Year-Old Cuffed And Tossed Into A Cop Car For ‘Throwing A Tantrum’ At School

        America’s least valuable renewable resource is school resource officers. At some point, we — as a nation — apparently agreed school disciplinary issues should be turned over to law enforcement officers. To be sure, this decision was made without our input, for the most part. Most people agree it’s ridiculous to turn rote violations of school policy over to men and women trained in the apprehension and investigation of actual, real crimes like homicide, drug distribution, and any number of day-to-day activities carried out while black.

      • US Reportedly Bombs Iran-Backed Militias Just as House Passes Resolution to Prevent Unauthorized War

        “Yet again, U.S. and Iranian-backed forces appear to be exchanging fire in Iraq, despite the American people’s desires to avoid yet another war of choice in the Middle East.”

      • Time to Think About Hiroshima and Nagasaki Again

        In 2018 the Trump administration published its Nuclear Posture Review (NPR), the highlight of which was the option of using low-yield nuclear weapons even in response to a non-nuclear attack.

      • Turkey’s Failed Gamble in Syria

        Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s latest gamble in Syria’s civil war appears to have come up snake eyes. Instead of halting the Damascus government’s siege of the last rebel held province, Idlib, Turkey has backed off, and Ankara’s Syrian adventure is fueling growing domestic resistance to the powerful autocrat.

      • The Killing and Raping Game in Kenya and the Despots Who Run It

        Politics in Kenya is dominated by rapacious elites consumed with the looting of state resources, using violence to avoid any possible accountability. Elections serve as key points of entry and consolidation in this system for both ruling and competing elites, and are manifestations of corruption, fraud, and repression. Both President Uhuru Kenyatta, and his deputy William Ruto, were indicted by the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity, for organising and supporting the huge violence that occurred during elections in 2007-2008: the case collapsed as witnesses absconded or died.

    • Environment

    • Finance

      • Transitioning ‘Ontologically:’ Liberating Liberals from Unconscious Class-shame

        In the novel Redburn (1849), based upon his own first voyage as a sailor while still a boy, Herman Melville describes the scenes on shipboard during an epidemic, and its devastations especially among the 500 emigrants packed into the “foul den” of the steerage. He also describes, disapprovingly, the reactions to the threat of contamination among“first class”cabin passengers, whose fear caused many of them to turn in desperation to prayer, “who had seldom prayed before.”

      • As GOP Rejects Economic Relief for Working People, Fed’s $1.5 Trillion Stock Market Injection Would Cover ‘Almost All Student Loan Debt in the US’

        “We need to care for working people as much as we care for the stock market.”

      • Inequality in a Globalized World Makes Pandemics and Financial Crises Inevitable

        Whether you’re invested in the stock market or not, you’ve likely noticed that it’s been on a roller coaster lately. The White House and most of the D.C. Beltway crowd tend to equate the performance of the stock market with that of the broader economy. To President Trump’s extreme chagrin, $3.18 trillion in stock market value vaporized during the last week of February. Stock markets around the world also fell dramatically. When all was said and done, $6 trillion had been at least temporarily erased from them. It was the worst week for the markets since the financial crisis of 2008 and it would only get worse from there.

      • Let employees work from home, IT sector union says

        The Information Communication Technology Union (ICTU) has called on employers in the sector to allow their employees to work from home amid the coronavirus outbreak in South Africa.

        The union said on Friday that it has written a letter to employers “raising the alarm of the possible spread of the deadly coronavirus” and warning they should “think differently from the current culture of reporting to office needlessly”.

    • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

      • Youth Coalition Demands ‘Serious Discussion’ of Key Progressive Issues at Democratic Presidential Debate

        “In the last few democratic debates, there has been little to no discussion on the defining issues that face our generation like immigration, climate change, gun control, and mass incarceration.”

      • Is America Prepared For A Presidential Election Crisis?

        If we are smart, we will take appropriate measures before the next crisis.

      • Trump’s Brand Is Chaos

        “Stupidity has a knack of getting its way.”

      • Who’s Ready to Die for Trump’s Ego?

        Putting politics ahead of science is a prescription for disaster when you face a pandemic.

      • Resisting US Blockade, Cuba Embraces Change, Builds Socialism

        Like the sun, the U.S. blockade of Cuba will not disappear soon. Unlike the sun, the blockade has receded from public attention in the United States.  It has continued, mostly unchanged, for almost 60 years. Here we explore the matter of change.

      • The Final Chapter Has Still Not Been Written: Remembering The 2004 Coup in Haiti

        On February 29, 2004, the democratically elected government of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide of Haiti was overthrown by a violent coup.  This was the second U.S.-sponsored coup against a popularly elected Aristide government, the first one taking place in 1991 after he had served only eight months in office.

      • Extraordinary Democratic Delusions and the Madness of the Crowd

        Just when I am starting to think that the New York Review of Books is not irredeemably idiotic on political issues, they publish an article that is so conspicuously incoherent and outrageously out of touch with the political climate in the U.S. that it is destined to be anthologized in perpetuity in collections with “Clueless” in the title. The article, “The Party Cannot Hold,” by Michael Tomasky is about the current state of the Democratic party.

      • We Need a President Who Cares If We Live or Die. Instead We Have Trump.

        We have a bad national habit of allowing a low bar to be set for our leaders, especially when we already know their flaws. A bad politician in a debate, for example, can be said to have done well if they didn’t accidentally light their podium on fire; by thwarting their own dim-bulb arsonist tendencies, they “outperformed expectations.”

      • Elite Media Dismiss Voter Suppression on Grounds That It’s ‘Complicated’

        Some voters—disproportionately black and brown ones—waited in line for several hours on Super Tuesday to cast their ballots in the Democratic primary, and media paid attention. But their love for a good visual doesn’t always correspond with a love for connecting the dots, and so most of the coverage downplayed any suggestion that there might be voter suppression going on in 2020.

      • Battle Royale in Montana Senate Race

        If reporting from CNN and the New York Times is right, Montana’s Democrat Gov. Steve Bullock has decided to reverse his earlier decision and jump in the race to challenge Montana’s Republican Sen. Steve Daines. Given the fact that it pretty much looked like Daines was going to have a cakewalk back to the Senate fueled by the $5 million already in his war chest, Bullock’s move is very good news for Democrats hoping to take back a majority in the Senate.

      • Selling ‘Vedomosti’ Sources say two media entrepreneurs with tangled political histories are buying Russia’s leading business newspaper

        Meduza has learned that media manager Demyan Kudryavtsev and his business partners have found potential buyers for the newspaper Vedomosti, one of Russia’s leading business-oriented publications. On Wednesday, March 11, the newspaper’s owners signed an agreement expressing their intention to sell. According to Meduza’s sources, ownership of Vedomosti may pass to Alexey Golubovich, the founder of the investment company Arbat Capital, and to Nikolai Zyatkov, the former editor-in-chief of Argumenty i Fakty (Arguments and Facts) and current president of the tabloid publisher Nasha Versiya (Our Take).

    • Freedom of Information / Freedom of the Press

    • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

      • US Cable Companies Lost 5 Million Paying Customers Last Year Alone

        For most of the last decade, cable and broadcast industry executives insisted that “cord cutting” (users cancelling traditional TV and moving to antennas or streaming) either wasn’t real or was only something losers did. Many of the analysts and viewer tracking firms (like Nielsen) — which have a financial stake in telling cable and broadcast executives what they wanted to hear — were quick to happily parrot these denials.

      • New York State Legislator Introduces a Very Bad “Net Neutrality” Bill

        In 2018, California established the gold standard of what states should be doing on net neutrality by passing a model law for other states to copy. So, naturally, that makes the job of any legislator truly interested in protecting net neutrality pretty easy: just copy and paste. But that did not happen in New York’s state legislature this week. State Senator Kevin Parker, the Senate Telecommunications Chairman, has instead introduced S. 8020; legislation that not only ignores critical net neutrality issues such as zero rating, but it would legalize paid prioritization by Internet Service Providers (ISPs).

        Wireless ISPs eager to shape user traffic and give an anti-competitive advantage to their own content offerings engage in zero rating—the practice of exempting content chosen by ISPs from counting toward an account’s data cap. The Federal Communications Commission in the final days before the repeal effort of net neutrality began taking extraordinary steps to shut down investigations into ISP practices and rescind government findings that the zero-rating practices of AT&T had, in fact, violated the 2015 Open Internet Order.

    • Monopolies

      • Patents

        • Keeping Your Settlement Secret from the Court?

          While this legal question is important, a big issue in the case for me is the cooperation between the parties to get the court to decide an issue after the case had been settled.

          In 2018 Diem sued BigCommerce for patent infringement, BigCommerce responded with a motion for summary judgment of non-infringement based upon a joint infringement argument. The parties “settled” the case prior to the court’s determination of the MSJ. “Settled” is in quotation-marks because the agreement was not a complete settlement but rather a conditional agreement creating what I call a side-bet. Under the agreement – If the MSJ is denied and the court finds that a the infringement contentions included a joint infringement claim then BigCommerce gets $30k; otherwise case dismissed with no payment. I put together the following flow-chart for how the settlement agreement works. Note that the agreement also includes a contractual requirement to for BigCommerce to resubmit its summary judgment motion if the joint infringement contention issue isn’t addressed in court’s first determination.

        • Patent case: E. Mishan v Hozelock Limited, United Kingdom

          The Patents Court found Emson’s patents for an expandable garden hose obvious in light of a piece of prior art relating to a self-elongating hose for supplying oxygen to an oxygen mask for aviation crew. In its judgment, the Court considered in detail the law on public prior use, in particular whether separate instances of experimentation could be put together via mosaicing and (obiter) what amounts to a public prior use.

        • Patent case: Fahrradkomponentenmontiervorrichtung, Germany

          Prior art that requires fundamental reconfiguration of the disclosed solution to end up with something falling under the scope of protection of a claim cannot normally render the claimed subject matter obvious.

        • USPTO cancels in-person meetings

          From The PTO: Until further notice, examiner and examining attorney interviews, Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) and Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) oral hearings, and other similar in-person meetings with parties and stakeholders scheduled to take place at USPTO offices on or after Friday, March 13, 2020 will be conducted remotely by video or telephone. Parties will receive further instructions on how to participate by video or telephone in advance of the interview, hearing, or meeting.

        • Software Patents

          • Former Refrigerator Manufacturer Says Companies Using Open Source, Royalty-Free Video Technology Must Pay To License 2,000 Patents

            Video streaming is a key part of today’s Internet world. According to research from Sandvine, it represents 60.6% of total downstream volume worldwide. The centrality of video to the Internet experience makes video codecs one of the hottest technologies. The most popular format today is H.264, used by 91% of video developers. But H.264 is getting long in the tooth — its history goes back two decades. An upgrade is long overdue. There’s a successor, H.265, also known as High Efficiency Video Coding, or HEVC. However, the use of H.265 has been held back by patent licensing issues. As Wikipedia explains in painful detail, there are two main patent pools demanding payment from companies that use HEVC in their devices. For one of the pools, the patent list is 164 pages long. Partly in response to this licensing mess, and HEVC’s high per-device cost, the Alliance for Open Media was formed in September 2015:

      • Copyrights

        • Windows Users Stream More Pirated Video than Others

          New research published by researchers from the Technology Policy Institute suggests that the more pirated video people watch online, the less legal video content they stream on average. Interestingly, the same data also reveal that, on average, Windows users pirate more video than those who use other operating systems.

        • Red Dead Redemption: Damned Enhancement Modder Counters Take-Two Lawsuit

          The developer behind the Red Dead Redemption: Damned Enhancement Project is fighting back against a copyright infringement lawsuit filed by Take-Two. Among other things, Johnathan Wyckoff states that he believes he was working within the rules published by Take-Two, which state that the company will not generally take legal action against non-commercial single player projects.

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