Upcoming Article: Microsoft Bites the GNU

Posted in Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Microsoft at 11:57 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Coming soon (likely this week)

gnu github microsoft logo

Summary: An article teaser; figosdev is researching the impact of Microsoft’s ‘network effect’ near-monopoly (GitHub) on the GNU Project led by its founder, Dr. Richard Stallman

GitHub-Free: Why fig No Longer Supports Pygame

Posted in Free/Libre Software, Microsoft at 11:45 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Article by figosdev

fig 4.9

Summary: “I don’t love the idea of trying maybe Tk instead. But Tk is at least responsible enough not to keep selling themselves to an aggressive monopoly that hates software freedom.”

This story is more about GitHub than it is about fig, but I use fig more than anything else I’ve ever written — it’s basically my reference implementation of a language for teaching.

Because of this, I like it to set an example for all my other projects; whether they follow the example or not.

Fig goes back to version 0.4, it was always based on CPython, the standard and most conventional implementation of Python — for fig 3.x it switched to Python 3.

“I hate when languages break a lot of things, as if nothing made previously with them matters.”Each stage of fig was an experiment, though I rely on it and I’ve tried to keep it as stable as possible. I hate when languages break a lot of things, as if nothing made previously with them matters. In an industry, that makes enough sense. For hobbyists, that really sucks sometimes.

I use fig for both serious purposes (at the moment I’ve got a fig program running for 48 hours on a dedicated machine, processing over a million files) and for fun. I’ve enjoyed tinkering with graphics since I was a kid. Fig is what I use for that.

But for dealing with various kinds of files, Python 2 suits my purposes. After years of checking on options and tricks, I did my utmost to make fig Python-3 compatible, as an experiment. Fig really leans on the way that strings are expected to work in Python. I’ve gone through many tutorials, run 2to3, maybe you can make a language based on fig that uses Python 3. Have fun with that.

I have fig 3.x a serious chance — I used it almost exclusively for half a year. After that I was working on a serious project and fig 3 started mishandling a file, I ran it with Python 2 instead and it worked better for my purposes.

“I use fig for both serious purposes (at the moment I’ve got a fig program running for 48 hours on a dedicated machine, processing over a million files) and for fun.”That’s why fig jumped right ahead to 4.x, the most recent version of which (until today) was from late 2017.

If Pygame is not installed, fig falls back on escape sequences — it draws in the term instead. It’s designed specifically to have fewer than 100 commands; I created an experimental (quite nice) “figplus” to try some new things. I’m still very happy with standard fig; the main features figplus adds are extra Pygame features and some neat handling of Python dictionaries. Both allow inline Python in fig programs, so you can define fig functions that access dictionaries as well.

Years ago I created a simple hack with inline Python to access the 16-colour palette (fig uses foreground/background 0-15/0-15, based on the CGA palette) and allow fig to do 24-bit colour without adding commands. I decided for many reasons I preferred this hack to making it a feature of fig — but I made it a native feature in figplus:

function rgbcolor r g b
    figcgapal[0] = (r, g, b)

This changes colour 0, so the next time you draw it will use whatever RGB settings you like. You can change it back to 0, 0, 0 after that if you want.

I made four changes to the stable version of fig for the latest, and each change is related to GitHub:

1. Pygame is gone, even as an optional feature. This is a protest, if someone wants to fork fig to keep Pygame I’d be happy to help them do it. It’s simple enough that they probably won’t need it. The change is backward compatible — commands that only did something when Pygame was installed, now do nothing even when it is. No code changes should be needed.

2. PyPy 2 is now used instead of CPython. This was likely to happen anyway, because the Python Foundation wants to force a language I don’t care about. I knew a guy that worked at Nokia who felt the same way, but there are plenty of sound technical treatises on why strings are broken in Python 3. Don’t agree? Then use what the Python Foundation tries to shovel at you — most people do.

“…not only am I not interested in Python 3, it is also developed on Microsoft GitHub.”However the reason is two-fold; not only am I not interested in Python 3, it is also developed on Microsoft GitHub. PyPy is not, and I hope it never will be. People who have Python 2 installed on the GNU operating system that want to continue to use it with fig only need to make a symlink; I’m not judging. If you have trouble with a symlink, copying your Python executable to something called pypy2 may help.

3. The arropen command already worked in both CPython and PyPy. However, PyPy doesn’t close files read with .read() as I think it ought to, which means that after reading about 1000 or so files with arropen, PyPy complains about too many open files. It shouldn’t be necessary, but fig 4.9 caters to PyPy by opening and closing files even when arropen uses .read(). As I said, the command works in both implementations. What’s changed is that arropen should now work more reliably when under heavy use in PyPy.

4. I didn’t just remove Pygame support, I tried to add something to make the GitHub boycott a little more fun. The hack that allows 24-bit colour in Pygame is now supported in text mode. If you don’t include the hack in your program, figcgapal doesn’t get modified (it can only be modified with inline Python; fig doesn’t support identifiers that start with “fig”) and fig does escape output the way it did before, with esc[0 or 1;(30 or 40 plus f)m.

“The screencap is also a jpeg, even though png would be better for this purpose. The reason is symbolic; png relies on zlib1g, which is on GitHub.”If you use the hack, it changes the contents of figcgapal and fig uses esc[38;2;r;g;bm instead. This is designed to be compatible with existing code that uses the hack; fig now checks figcgapal against a copy that’s made when the original is set. This was done in haste, and 4.8 is GitHub-free but the 24-bit feature didn’t work until it was fixed (along with arropen) in 4.9, maybe 30 minutes later.

The screencap has fig 4.9 doing 24-bit output based on unmodified code, but I haven’t tried it with a lot of code yet. The screencap is also a jpeg, even though png would be better for this purpose. The reason is symbolic; png relies on zlib1g, which is on GitHub.

Very few people have any idea just how much everybody is relying on GitHub right now. Although it may not be possible to get away from it (or Microsoft) completely, and removing Pygame from my favourite programming language may seem ridiculous, I don’t think it’s nearly as ridiculous as putting all our free software eggs in Microsoft’s giant basket. We need to Delete GitHub. If it turns out that we can’t do it entirely, we should at least consider our options. I’d rather sacrifice Pygame than use a canvas that Microsoft controls.

“Very few people have any idea just how much everybody is relying on GitHub right now. Although it may not be possible to get away from it (or Microsoft) completely, and removing Pygame from my favourite programming language may seem ridiculous, I don’t think it’s nearly as ridiculous as putting all our free software eggs in Microsoft’s giant basket.”To the Pygame devs: I love SDL (I love DOSBox! Which probably still uses SDL, but did when I created fig). I never preferred to use anything other than Pygame for fig graphics. I don’t love the idea of trying maybe Tk instead. But Tk is at least responsible enough not to keep selling themselves to an aggressive monopoly that hates software freedom. I figure any graphics will likely pull in libffi (GitHub) though you’re developing there directly. Please reconsider your reasons for this! Don’t sell out your users to the GIAFAM trap.

Long Live Stallman, and happy hacking.

Licence: Creative Commons CC0 1.0 (public domain)

We’re on Containers Now

Posted in Site News at 11:28 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Stay /home. Delete /var/lib/mysql.

Summary: Improvements were ongoing at the back end (server side) of Techrights and we’re done for now

AS part of work training, my wife and I study containers (with Kubernetes and all becoming more commonplace, it doesn’t seem like Docker or at least containers are mere hype anymore). We also recently moved 4 databases, 3 of which belonging to Techrights, to a dedicated container of databases (MariaDB). The migration was done by the generous person who had kindly donated the server to us. It’s an upgrade in terms of security and performance. 2 weeks later we’re seeing improved site stability and we’re also working to automate several checks and unsupervised remediation.

We’ve meanwhile dropped the locally-hosted (on the files/Apache side) databases to save a lot of disk space and improve I/O speeds. Goodbye, /var/lib/mysql. It buys us a lot more time as we’ve long been tight on space, which occasionally caused issues, including downtimes but never data loss (thankfully; we’re very meticulous with backups).

There will soon be a hypervisor downtime, scheduled for password recovery. Other than that, we’re probably OK for now.

Stay tuned for some exclusive reporting that’s in the pipeline for days. This past weekend the site’s traffic averaged at over 2 of gigabytes per hour — a bit more than the usual (especially for weekends). The pandemic has not slowed us down and we’ll try to speed up again, writing articles rather than working on the server side of things. Maintenance is important as it ensures the site’s longevity.

Links 26/4/2020: Replacing Vista 7, digiKam 7.0 RC3, Nitrux 1.2.8

Posted in News Roundup at 11:29 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

  • GNU/Linux

    • Best Linux distro for developers in 2020

      Linux powers the backbone of the internet, mobile devices, and now cloud computing systems.

      Because of this it’s often essential for techies to be able to work directly in a Linux environment, especially for operating servers and for developing software that runs on them.

      While Linux has a reputation for being primarily for coders and programmers, over the past couple of decades there have been moves to provide versions of Linux that are more friendly to ordinary users, such as by providing more of a graphic user interface (GUI) and be less reliant on command line use.

      However, at its core Linux still remains important for development use, and there are specific distros available that care less for newbies from Windows and are configured specifically for various technical uses.

      Here we’ll look at the main Linux distros used by software developers, and feature the best of them.

    • Desktop/Laptop

      • The Talospace Project: Eight four two one, twice the cores is (almost) twice as fun

        It took a little while but I’m now typing on my second Raptor Talos II workstation, effectively upgrading two years in from a 32GB RAM dual quad-core POWER9 DD2.2 to a 64GB RAM dual octo-core DD2.3. It’s rather notable to think about how far we’ve come with the platform. A number of you have asked about how this changed things in practise, so let’s do yet another semi-review.

        Again, I say “semi-review” because if I were going to do this right, I’d have set up both the dual-4 and the dual-8 identically, had them do the same tasks and gone back if the results were weird. However, when you’re buying a $7000+ workstation you economize where you can, which means I didn’t buy any new NVMe cards, bought additional rather than spare RAM, and didn’t buy another GPU; the plan was always to consolidate those into the new machine and keep the old chassis, board and CPUs/HSFs as spares. Plus, I moved over the case stickers and those totally change the entire performance characteristics of the system, you dig?


        For other kinds of uses, though, I didn’t see a lot different in terms of performance between DD2.2 and DD2.3 and to be honest you wouldn’t expect to. DD2.3 does have improved Spectre mitigations and this would help the kind of branch-heavy code that would benefit least from additional slices, but the change is relatively minor and the difference in practice indeed seemed to be minimal. On my JIT-accelerated DOSBox build the benchmarks came in nearly exactly the same, as did QEMU running Mac OS 9. Booted into GNOME as I am right now, the extra CPU resources certainly do smooth out doing more things at once, but again, that’s of course more a factor of the number of cores and slices than the processor stepping.

    • Audiocasts/Shows

      • Ubuntu Podcast from the UK LoCo: S13E05 – The Scottish Play

        This week we’ve be stoving in people’s heads with spades and buying tablets. Ubuntu 20.04 LTS is out! We discuss GNOME Shell UX plans, the GNOME extension for Snapcraft, Ubuntu on LinuxONE mainframes and a new release of Mir. We round up some events and our picks from the tech news.

      • Replacing Windows 7

        Windows 7 has reached the end of its life. It will no longer receive security updates and Microsoft’s technical support will stop. Running an out-of-date OS can have serious potential risks, and if you’re using Windows 7 connected to the Internet, you will have a problem. Fortunately, there are two simple solutions.

    • Kernel Space

      • Btrfs Authenticated File-System Support Looks To Be Revived

        Last year a SUSE developer sent out a set of patches adding authentication support to the Btrfs file-system. Btrfs already has checksums on meta-data blocks and data blocks while the original implementation of these authentication patches was performing HMAC on a SHA256 checksum as a keyed hash. A proper key in turn is then needed to mount a verified file-system.

        That Btrfs authentication support wasn’t picked up at the time and the SUSE engineer, Johannes Thumshirn, since left the company. But following new inquiries over the work, it sounds like it will be revived for this authentication that could be used for the likes of embedded devices and containers.

      • Many AMD Radeon Graphics Driver Improvements Sent In For Linux 5.8

        As I noted earlier this month, AMD has been amassing many graphics driver improvements for Linux 5.8. On Friday marked their first pull request to DRM-Next of the Radeon graphics driver improvements for this next kernel cycle.

        Some of the highlights for the AMDGPU kernel driver improvements sent in as part of yesterday’s first pull to DRM-Next for Linux 5.8 includes:

      • Linux 5.8 Seeing The Preliminary Changes Ahead Of RISC-V EFI Support

        One of the areas being worked on upstream recently for the RISC-V architecture’s Linux kernel support is EFI handling. The preliminary work for supporting EFI on RISC-V is set to land for the Linux 5.8 kernel.

        In recent months the Linux EFI code has been going through a spring cleaning of sorts with the preparations towards RISC-V enablement. The initial preparations for RISC-V EFI support have been sent in as part of EFI-next code ultimately destined for Linux 5.8.

      • Intel Tiger Lake Thunderbolt/USB4 Support Is Coming With Linux 5.8

        Adding to the growing list of changes building up for Linux 5.8 this summer is now having Tiger Lake Thunderbolt/USB4 support.

        Queued now as part of the Thunderbolt-Next changes for Linux 5.8 is the Tiger Lake support. The commit notes that Tiger Lake’s Thunderbolt/USB4 controller is “quite close” to that of current Ice Lake hardware.

      • Facebook Posts Latest Memory Controller Patches With Up To 45% Better Slab Utilization

        Facebook engineer Roman Gushchin presented a new slab memory controller for Linux last September. The new memory controller has been very promising with the potential of using 30~40% less memory and less memory fragmentation, among other benefits. The third revision to that kernel work has now been sent out for evaluation.

        The new controller allows for sharing of slab pages between memory cgroups and other improvements. Using this new code can lead up to 45% better slab utilization, similar benefits to a drop in total kernel memory usage, and less unmovable slab pages. The code is also cleaner and with this third revision the code is further simplified.

      • Loongson Linux Work Continues – Dual Socket Support, Loongson-7A1000 Enablement

        Loongson, the Chinese MIPS64 CPUs that are becoming more common within China but not so much internationally, continues seeing better Linux kernel support. There has been a fair amount of Loongson Linux work in recent months including in the current 5.7 cycle while more should be on tap for Linux 5.8.

      • UFS Host Performance Booster Driver Coming Together For Faster Performance

        With JEDEC’s Universal Flash Storage (UFS) v3.1 specification from January one of the new features is the Host Performance Booster mode for faster and cheaper UFS capabilities. Micron and others have been working on this UFS Host Performance Booster support for Linux.

    • Applications

      • Best Linux Backup Software

        Keeping all the files and data, is really important task these days because our computers are always connected to internet which increases the threat of virus or phishing attacks on our computer. This could compromise crucial data stored on the computer or sometimes loss of data. In some cases hardware failure also can cause loss of whole data on system.
        Professional users like web developers, system administrators, and database managers suffer most in this kind of loss. To prevent this loss and safeguard the data we need something like antivirus or backup software.

        There has been always a way to backup files in Linux and its distributions, i.e. the command line method. But it is quite tricky approach and is not that easy to handle for novice and normal computer users. Also it is not only limited to safeguarding files but it should also protect important data, database and server.

        So today in this article we’re going to have a look at 5 best Linux backup software’s which you can use on Linux and its various distributions to backup important data.

      • Linux Printers Drivers And Utilities With Download Link

        Once there was a time when finding a proper printer and its driver for Linux based operating systems was quite tough and in some cases almost impossible too but things have changed. There are plenty of Linux compatible printers available in the market at competitive prices.

        In this post, we are showing you the link from where you can download the printer’s driver and utilities for your Linux based operating system.

      • Helping People Quit Microsoft GitHub


        This short article covers resources and helps to people who want to quit MS GitHub and move away to a better one –ethical, Free Software-based and user-controlled–. This includes examples of popular projects already moved, alternatives you could choose, self-host solutions, repository transfer guides, our community services, and further information, all presented in short format. In this article of course I mentioned several names like GitLab and Kallithea as alternatives and GNOME and Trisquel projects as examples. I hope this simple article could lighten your burdens in migrating away your source code repository. Happy hacking!

    • Instructionals/Technical

    • Wine or Emulation

      • Wine-Staging 5.7 Fixes Support For Applications Built Using .NET CoreRT

        Built off yesterday’s exciting Wine 5.7 release that brought more WineD3D Vulkan bits and the start of a USB driver, Wine-Staging 5.7 is out with a number of its patches upstreamed into yesterday’s release plus a bit of new functionality.

        Wine-Staging 5.7 is down to less than 850 patches atop the upstream Wine code-base. Wine 5.7 upstreamed a number of the staging patches around Windows Codecs, NTDLL, and other bits to lighten the delta carried in the staging area.

        But in addition to Wine-Staging 5.7 updating their NTDLL syscall emulation and raw input mouse handling code, there is a fix in this release for running Windows applications built using .NET CoreRT.

    • Games

    • Desktop Environments/WMs

      • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

        • KDE Applications 20.04 Released For Linux Distros And Plasma Desktop

          Following a four-month development cycle, the KDE community has released its first KDE Application bundle update for 2020. KDE Applications 20.04 contains a number of KDE-based apps and libraries that have come with dozens of changes, more features, and improvements.

          2020.4 update for KDE Applications includes Okular, Dolphin, Lokalize, KMail, Konsole, Elisa, Gwenview, Yakuake, Kdenlive, KDE Connect, Spectacle, and Krita. So, let’s discuss new changes in each application in detail.

        • digiKam 7.0.0-beta3 is released

          Dear digiKam fans and users,

          Just few words to inform the community that 7.0.0-beta3 is out and ready to test two month later the second beta release published in February.

          After a long test stage while this Covid-19 containment, this new version come with more than 670 bug-fixes since last stable release 6.4.0 and look very promising. Nothing is completed yet, as we plan one release candidate version before next spring, when we will publish officially the stable version. It still few bugs to fix while this pre-release campain and all help will be welcome from the community to stabilize codes.

        • Today is the day! — Nitrux 1.2.8 is available to download

          We are pleased to announce the launch of Nitrux 1.2.8. This new version brings together the latest software updates, bug fixes, performance improvements, and ready-to-use hardware support.

          Nitrux 1.2.8 is available for immediate download.

        • Maui Weekly Report 4

          Today, we bring you a new report on the Maui Project progress.

          Are you a developer and want to start developing cross-platform and convergent apps, targeting, among other things, the upcoming Linux Mobile devices? Then join us on Telegram: https://t.me/mauiproject.

          If you are interested in testing this project and helping out with translations or documentation, you are also more than welcome.

        • Contributing Public Transport Metadata

          In the last post I described how we handle public transport line metadata in KPublicTransport, and what we use that for. Here’s now how you can help to review and improve these information in Wikidata and OpenStreetMap, where it not only benefits KPublicTransport, but everyone.

      • GNOME Desktop/GTK

        • Sam Thursfield: [GNOME] Tracker documentation improvements

          It’s cool storing stuff in a database, but what if you shared the database schema so other tools can work with the data? That’s the basic idea of Linked Data which Tracker tries to follow when indexing your content.

          In a closed music database, you might see a “Music” table with a “name” column. What does that mean? Is it the name of a song, an artist, an album, … ? You will have to do some digging to find out.

          When Tracker indexes your music, it will create a table called nmm:MusicAlbum. What does that mean? You can click the link to find out, because the database schema is self-documenting. The abbreviation nmm:MusicAlbum expands to a URL, which clearly identifies the type of data being stored.

          By formalising the database schema, we create a shared vocabulary for talking about the data. This is very powerful – have you seen GMail Highlights, where a button appears in your email inbox to checkin for a flight and such things? These are powered by the https://schema.org/ shared vocabulary. Google don’t manually add support to GMail for each airline in the world. Instead, the airlines embed a https://schema.org/FlightReservation resource in the confirmation email which GMail uses to show the information. The vocabulary is an open standard, so other email providers can use the same data and even propose improvements. Everyone wins!

        • Clear Linux Preparing To Move To GNOME 3.36, Dropping Their Desktop Customizations

          With the somewhat surprising announcement this week that Intel’s Clear Linux platform would be divesting from the desktop and focusing on server and cloud workloads, the first visible changes on the desktop side are expected next week.

          Clear Linux is preparing to transition to the recently released GNOME 3.36. As part of that transition is when they will be dropping their default desktop customizations. Clear Linux will still be providing a vanilla GNOME default desktop for those that want Clear’s desktop experience, but it will follow a “vanilla” GNOME configuration.

    • Distributions

      • BSD

        • 500% if_bridge Performance Improvement

          With FreeBSD Foundation grant, Kristof Provost harnesses new parallel techniques to uncork performance bottleneck
          Independent embedded systems developer Kristof Provost certainly knows his way around the networking stack. For the past several years, (since George Neville-Neil approached him at AsiaBSDCon with an offer he couldn’t refuse) he has maintained FreeBSD’s port of the OpenBSD Packet Filter (pf) firewall.

          Even before this, if you’ve used IPv6, you’ve benefited from Kristof’s work to clean up fragment handling in the firewall. But it’s his 2018 engagement with Orange (France Telecom) that marks the beginning of this particular story.

          With 2019 turnover of €42 bn, Orange is on a mission “to ensure that digital services are well thought-out, made available and used in a more caring, inclusive and sustainable way in all areas of our business.”

          FreeBSD plays a role in this mission, serving as the OS for some of Orange’s business gateway devices. Olivier Cochard-Labbé, who at the time worked as a Network Engineer at Orange, discovered a pfsync performance issue and recruited Kristof to come up with a fix. Olivier is a recognized networking expert who founded FreeNAS and BSD Router Project and is a FreeBSD port committer.

          “Olivier set this project up for success very well,” said Kristof in an interview for this blog. “He had extensively researched the issue and provided me with benchmarks and flame graphs that really sped up my work.” After a few weeks of coding and testing, and another few for the commit (work that was spread out across about 6 months), Kristof had a patch that doubled pfsync performance.

        • FreeBSD’s Network Bridge Code Scores A 500% Performance Improvement

          Thanks to a FreeBSD Foundation Community Grant, FreeBSD 13 will be bringing up to a 5x performance improvement for if_bridge, the kernel code for network bridge device support.

          FreeBSD is already known to perform well within enterprise network infrastructure but it turns out for if_bridge there has been a performance bottleneck hitting some large operators like France’s Orange telecom company. Due to heavy contention on a single mutex for this network switch code, there was a limit of processing around 3.7 million packets per second. But in making use of epoch on FreeBSD 13-CURRENT for allowing greater concurrency without needing a lock/mutex, the performance opened up to being able to handle around 18.6 million packets per second.

      • IBM/Red Hat/Fedora

      • Debian Family

        • Google, Microsoft & Debian

          Nonetheless, what does it look like when Microsoft’s money comes along?

          There can be no greater contamination. The letterhead of Software in the Public Interest, Inc used to request money from Microsoft???? While Sam Hartman was unleashing feral dogs to attack a long-standing volunteer, he was spreading his bum cheeks for Bill Gates to come in.

          What are the principles that govern Debian Developers in 2020? They are clearly not the same as they were in 2006. Anybody who dares to ask about these paymasters is accused of violating the Code of Conduct. Long live the Code of Conduct.

        • Book club: Our Software Dependency Problem

          A short while ago Daniel, Lars and I met to discuss Russ Cox’s excellent essay Our Software Dependency Problem. This essay looks at software reuse in general, especially in the context of modern distribution methods like PyPI and NPM which make the whole process much more frictionless than traditional distribution methods used with languages like C. Possibly our biggest conclusion was that the essay is so eminently sensible that we mostly just talked about how much we agreed with it and how comprehensive it was, we particularly admired the clarity with which it explores how to evaluate the quality of free software projects.

        • Building Packages with Buildah in Debian

          Building packages in Debian seems to be a solved problem. But is it? At the bottom, installing the dpkg-dev package provides all the basic tools needed. Assuming that you already succeeded with creating the necessary packaging metadata (i.e., debian/changelog, debian/control, debian/copyright, etc., and there are great helper tools for this such ash dh-make, dh-make-golang, etc.,) it should be as simple as invoking the dpkg-buildpackage tool. So what’s the big deal here?

          The issue is that dpkg-buildpackage expects to be called with an appropriately setup build context, that is, it needs to be called in an environment that satisfies all build dependencies on the system. Let’s say you are building a package for Debian unstable on your Debian stable system (this is the common scenario for the official Debian build machines), you would need your build to link against libraries in unstable, not stable. So how to tell the package build process where to find its dependencies?

          The answer (in Debian and many other Linux distributions) is you do not at all. This is actually a somewhat surprising answer for software developers without a Linux distribution development background1. Instead, chroots “simulate” an environment that has all dependencies that we want to build against at the system locations, that is. /usr/lib, etc.

        • jgmenu

          There is a new tool available for Sparkers: jgmenu.


          Due to changes in the Debian testing repositories, the Obmenu and Obmenu-generator is not available and can not be installed on Debian/Sparky testing any more, so…
          The ‘jgmenu’ provides a pipemenu to the Sparky 6 Openbox edition instead of the two menu apps mentioned before.

      • Canonical/Ubuntu Family

        • Ubuntu 20.10 Groovy Gorilla Release Schedule

          Insight: Ubuntu 20.10 Groovy Gorilla Release Schedule

          Right after the official release of Ubuntu 20.04 LTS Focal Fossa on April 23, 2020, the Canonical company behind Ubuntu is gearing up Ubuntu 20.10 Groovy Gorilla. Ubuntu 20.10 will be available on 22 October 2020.

        • Ultimate Edition: Wow, where to start?

          I am soping in thousands of errors at a crack. I refreshed the entire focal repository. I felt I was not doing justice to what Ubuntu has done, I waited for them to create a “LTS” I have re-bounced it to the server in the basement. Data is flowing at rapid succession.

        • Ubuntu Server 20.04 LTS walkthrough
        • An – EPYC – Focal Upgrade

          Ubuntu “Focal Fossa” 20.04 was released two days ago, so I took the opportunity yesterday and this morning to upgrade my VPS from Ubuntu 18.04 to 20.04.


          Anyway, to get back to the distribution upgrade – it was fairly boring. I started yesterday by taking a copy of the server and launching it locally in a lxd container, and then tested the upgrade in there; to make sure I’m prepared for the real thing :)

        • Ubuntu 20.04 Download

          In this Ubuntu 20.04 Download guide you will learn where to download and how to download Ubuntu 20.04 LTS ISO image for Ubuntu, Kubuntu, Ubuntu Budgie, Ubuntu Studio, Xubuntu, Lubuntu, Kylin desktops and Ubuntu 20.04 Server.

          Additionally, you can download Ubuntu 20.04 server preinstalled images for Raspberry Pi and various other architectures. Lastly, hypervisor cloud images such as Azure, Vagrant, KVM or VirtualBox are also available for download.

        • Full Circle Magazine: Full Circle Magazine #156

          This month:
          * Command & Conquer
          * How-To : Python, Valentina, and Rawtherapee[1]
          * Graphics : Inkscape
          * Graphics : Krita for Old Photos

        • Design and Web team summary – 26th April 2020

          My name is Ovidiu, also known as Ovi, Ovid or `solazio`.

          I joined the web team at Canonical about a year ago as a Front End Developer. Since I joined, I was involved with multiple projects (and that’s pretty cool), but in the last few months, I worked mostly on snapcraft.io – which is one of our coolest projects

          Believe it or not, but I am a Chartered Structural Engineer and worked in the construction industry for approximately 10 years. Until I decided to challenge myself and delve into the developer’s world.

          I love playing football and challenging my cool colleagues in the gym during lunch breaks. I also like to take photos – mostly landscape and events.

        • The CEO of Canonical says the coronavirus pandemic could delay its plans to go public in the next few years, but that the crisis will lead to a new generation of open source startups
        • Ubuntu 20.04 LTS ‘Focal Fossa’ Finally Released: Download/Upgrade Now

          With last-minute tweaking, Canonical has finally released the final Ubuntu 20.04 LTS which is now the latest long-term version that you can use. Undoubtedly, Ubuntu 20.04 packs exciting new features to give better user experience, performance, and speed than ever before.

          Along with 20.04, seven other officially recognized Ubuntu flavors have also been released, with downstream changes from Ubuntu 20.04. These seven derivatives include Kubuntu, Lubuntu, Xubuntu, Ubuntu Budgie, Ubuntu MATE, Ubuntu Studio, and Ubuntu Kylin.

        • Ubuntu ‘Focal Fossa’ Homes In on Enterprise Security

          Canonical, the parent company of Ubuntu, on Thursday announced the general availability of Ubuntu 20.04 LTS, codenamed “Focal Fossa.” This major upgrade places particular emphasis on security and performance.

          Released once every two years, the new long-term support version provides a platform for enterprise IT infrastructures and workloads across all sectors for five years. Enterprise users can extend that support for up to 10 years with a commercial support plan.

          Ubuntu has reached the top of independent rankings of enterprise Linux security, according to Canonical. Ubuntu 20.04 LTS applies Kernel Self Protection measures, ensures control flow integrity, and adds stack-clash protection for systemic forward-looking enterprise security.

          Ubuntu 20.04 LTS includes Secure Boot to protect against low-level attacks and rootkits, often employed by Advanced Persistent Threat groups. This feature limits attack proliferation or blast radius with strict snap confinement of key exposed applications on the desktop and server, such as the local Kubernetes package MicroK8s.

    • Devices/Embedded

    • Free, Libre, and Open Source Software

      • Open source can thrive in a recession says Drupal creator Dries Buytaert

        Open source will survive and likely grow during the current economic downturn caused by the global coronavirus pandemic. That’s the position of people in the open source community, including Dr. Dries Buytaert, co-founder and CTO of Acquia and creator of Drupal, the open source web content management framework. In a March post on his personal blog, Dr. Buytaert wrote that during periods of economic decline, “organizations will look to lower costs, take control of their own destiny, and strive to do more with less.” Adopting open source can help “organizations survive and thrive,” he continued. I had a chance to interview Dr. Buytaert about his article, his advice for building successful open source projects and what’s happening with the Drupal Association and DrupalCon for TechRepublic’s Dynamic Developer video and podcast series . The following is an edited transcript of the the interview.

      • NordVPN Adopts Open Source WireGuard VPN Protocol For Better Speed

        NordVPN, one of the biggest VPN service provider companies in the world, has, today, rolled out a new technology based on the promising WireGuard VPN protocol. The new tech dubbed NordLynx is built around the WireGuard VPN protocol which is touted to offer better speed than other contemporary protocols like OpenVPN, IPSec, and more.

        Another benefit of WireGuard VPN protocol over other protocols is its easy deployment as there are extremely fewer lines of code involved. To give you a perspective, OpenVPN runs on 400,000 lines of code whereas WireGuard VPN has only 4,000 lines of code, marking a stark difference between the two.

      • Postgres, open-source, monetization & community

        The database that’s making waves in enterprise settings is PostgreSQL (often called Postgres), which would be romping up the database popularity index, if such a thing existed. Why is that the case?

        An open-source system that runs on Alibaba Cloud, AWS, Azure and ARM alike, you can download it, run it on your virtual or real tech, from 60-core x86s to a Raspberry Pi, and it’ll happily mince your data, just how you want it!

        But what happens when your business relies on Postgres, or you need a helping hand? Or an extra feature you can’t/won’t develop yourself? That’s where EnterpriseDB comes in. We speak to Marc Linster, Senior Vice President of Product Development at the company, about paying for “open-source-PLUS”, upstreaming, development communities and the unique capabilities of PostgreSQL.

      • New Leitstand initiative creates open-source management environment to bring web-scale to telco networks
      • Leitstand initiative creates open source environment to bring web-scale to telcos
      • Leitstand initiative creates open-source management environment, brings web-scale to telco networks
      • Open-source community addresses next generation carrier operations

        Network operators, integrators and software vendors have joined forces to create Leitstand, an open-source community that aims to increase the efficiency of developing, buying and running network management systems for next generation carrier networks.

        It will provide the tools needed to operate the underlying infrastructure in a disaggregated telecoms network, including zero-touch provisioning of infrastructure, inventory management, operational visibility of network elements, alarm monitoring, fault diagnosis and software version management. The Leitstand toolset will be provided in an open-source model, freely available to any operator, equipment vendor and systems integrator. Initial contributors to the Leitstand initiative include Deutsche Telekom, EWE TEL, Reply and RtBrick.

      • 9 collaboration tool tips for remote teams

        Remote team members obviously can’t rely on the nonverbal cues that happen in face-to-face communication, but they can use methods such as emojis to help gauge each other’s mood and status.

      • The ‘Zoombombing’ Saga Is Just Beginning — And The Heroic Open Source Video Conferencing Alternatives

        Get your own server or the apps, which offer more or less the same level of features as Zoom, with what it’s perhaps it’s “killer feature”: End-to-end encryption. Furthermore, it does not require any form of user ID. While its cloud service collects general performance data (“Crashlytics”), the server-based comes without any form of analytics features or libraries.

      • 7 top open source network monitoring tools

        Network is an essential part of infrastructure health and requires constant monitoring. To meet specific OS and hardware requirements, open source tools can be the best fit.

      • All ProtonMail apps are now open source

        ProtonMail has open sourced its Android app, meaning all ProtonMail and ProtonVPN apps are now open source.Open sourcing allows anyone to review the code and verify Proton’s data protection claims are accurate.The company also announced that all ProtonMail and ProtonVPN apps have also passed an independent third-party security audit.

        ProtonMail has published the code for all its apps following the open sourcing of the ProtonMail Android app. The company said, “Transparency is one of Proton’s guiding principles, which is why it’s always clear who runs the organization, what its data policy is and the capabilities and limitations of the technology”.

        By open sourcing all the apps, Proton is allowing users the same level of transparency into its code. Any security researcher can now verify if Proton is handling user data in the way that it claims. This extra layer of transparency means that everyone, including activists, dissidents and journalists who rely on Proton’s service can check if their communications are as private as promised.

      • Open source meeting tools: 3 things to know

        In contrast, Jami is peer-to-peer text and video chat software for computers and phones, available as a free download. While it won’t replace the communication and collaboration you would do in Zoom or Jitsi, it could be an alternative for the kind of communication and collaboration associated with Skype or Microsoft Teams — chat with the option to transition to a call when necessary. Jami was created by Savoir-faire Linux of Montreal, which plans to make money selling Jami Account Management Server, an administrative tool.

        Signal, the high-security messaging app, supports video calling, but so far only from mobile devices. Wire and Wickr are a couple of other open source options in this category.

      • COVID

        • Discover the open source, low-cost ventilator for areas with limited means

          A group of scientists and researchers have designed a open source, low-cost ventilator to be used in areas that have limited means within their healthcare systems.

          Researchers from the Biophysics and Bioengineering Unit of the University of Barcelona, Spain, have created an open source, non-invasive, low-cost ventilator, to support patients with respiratory diseases in areas with limited means.

          The study was led by Ramono Farré, professor of Physiology and member of the August Pi i Sunyer Biomedical Research Institute (IDIBAPS) and the Respiratory Diseases Networking Biomedical Research Centre (CIBERES), and the results were published in the European Respiratory Journal.

        • Easy-to-Build $75 Open-Source Arduino Ventilator With High-Quality Performance

          Ventilator could support coronavirus treatment in low-income regions or where supplies are limited.

          A low-cost, easy-to-build non-invasive ventilator aimed at supporting the breathing of patients with respiratory failure performs similarly to conventional high-quality commercial devices, according to new research published in the European Respiratory Journal.

          Non-invasive ventilators are used to treat patients with breathing difficulty and respiratory failure, a common symptom of more severe coronavirus disease. Non-invasive ventilation is delivered using facemasks or nasal masks, which push a set amount of pressurized air into the lungs. This supports the natural breathing process when disease has caused the lungs to fail, enabling the body to fight infection and get better.

        • Harnessing the Open-Source Ventilator Movement

          As hospitals in developing countries struggle with ventilator shortages, engineers and doctors are coming together to launch open-source projects to help meet demand. WSJ takes a look at whether any of these plans could become real machines that help save lives.

        • Local, Open-Source Ventilator Project Plans to Build 200 ‘Bridge Ventilators’

          The Kahanu open-source ventilator project has received a $250,000 grant from the Hawai‘i Community Foundation to build bridge ventilators for state hospitals.

          A team of Hawai‘i engineers and an emergency room doctor are working to produce simple and effective bridge ventilators with funding from the Hawai‘i Resilience Fund, part of the Hawai‘i Community Foundation (HCF).

          Named Kahanu, which means “the breath” in the Hawaiian language, the ventilator is made of durable, sterilizable materials and can be produced in Hawai‘i for about $1,200 each, according to a project press release. Medical grade ventilators can cost more than $25,000 each.

          A Kahanu ventilator can serve as a “bridge ventilator” that can be enlisted in an emergency to save a patient’s life, the release said.

        • Longford man puts his skills to good use and designs an open source ventilator

          Since the lockdown began, there are plenty of people in the local community who are putting their time to good use to help others.

          One of those people is Finian McCarthy, who is an electronic engineer and the Managing Director of county Longford-based company, Envitec Ltd.

          Finian has been making the most of the time at home by designing and building an open source ventilator, which he says can be made cheaply and shared around the world so that others can replicate the design should there be an urgent need for ventilators during the Covid-19 pandemic.

        • Open-source ventilator designed by Cambridge team for use in low- and middle-income countries

          In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, a team at the University of Cambridge has designed an open-source ventilator in partnership with local clinicians, engineers and manufacturers across Africa that is focused to address the specific needs for treating COVID-19 patients and is a fully functioning system for use after the pandemic.

        • Researchers design open-source ventilator for use in low- and middle-income countries

          In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, a team at the University of Cambridge has designed an open-source ventilator in partnership with local clinicians, engineers and manufacturers across Africa that is focused to address the specific needs for treating COVID-19 patients and is a fully functioning system for use after the pandemic.

          Built primarily for use in low- and middle-income countries, the OVSI ventilator can be cheaply and quickly manufactured from readily available components. Current ventilators are expensive and difficult to fix, but an open-source design will allow users to adapt and fix the ventilators according to their needs and, by using readily available components, the machines can be built quickly across Africa in large numbers. The cost per device is estimated to be around one-tenth of currently available commercial systems.

        • University of Cambridge designs open-source ventilator for African countries

          An open-source ventilator has been designed by a team at the University of Cambridge primarily for use in low and middle-income countries.

          In partnership with clinicians, engineers and manufacturers across Africa, the focus was on the specific needs for treating Covid-19 patients and a fully-functioning system for use after the pandemic.

        • When Ventilators Run Short, a $500 Invention May Save Lives

          Ventilators have been difficult to find at any price, sometimes forcing doctors in jammed intensive care units to decide who gets the last one available. General Motors Co. was ordered last month by U.S. President Donald Trump to make the breathing machines to help fill the gap, and announced preparations for deliveries last week.


          On April 1, Alkaher’s team published the design for the AmboVent-1690-108 on the online forum GitHub, allowing anyone to take the idea and run with it. AmboVent is busy producing 20 prototypes on a shoestring budget of $200,000, planning to send them to various countries where other developers will navigate the process of getting regulatory approval.

        • Open science takes on the coronavirus pandemic

          Data sharing, open-source designs for medical equipment, and hobbyists are all being harnessed to combat COVID-19.


          Perhaps nowhere is that open ethos clearer than in the way do-it-yourself (DIY) and ‘maker’ communities have stepped up. As soon as it became clear that health systems around the world were at risk of running out of crucial equipment to treat people with COVID-19 and protect medical workers, DIY-ers set about trying to close the gap.

          Facebook groups such as Open Source COVID19 Medical Supplies, which has more than 70,000 members, have become dispatch centres, through which hospital workers seek volunteers to print or make supplies, and volunteers trade tips on what materials to use and where to source them, and on sterilization procedures.

          The coronavirus crisis plays to 3D printing’s strong points — rapid prototyping and the ability to produce parts on demand anywhere in the world. Prusa Research, a manufacturer of 3D printers in Prague, has designed a frame for a face shield that is meant to be worn outside a mask or respirator to protect against infectious droplets. The company says it has the capacity to produce 800 shields per day, and tens of thousands of the devices are already protecting health-care workers in the Czech Republic. But because the company made its designs open-source, they are also being made around the world in maker spaces and homes.

          Formlabs, a 3D-printer manufacturer based in Somerville, Massachusetts, leads another project that has reached production: printing nasal swabs for COVID-19 test kits. Unlike common cotton swabs, nasal swabs must have a rod that is long and flexible enough to reach deep into the nose, to the upper throat. The swabs were designed by doctors at the University of South Florida in Tampa and the Northwell Health hospital system in New York, using printers purchased from the company to produce test versions. “They are prototyping it themselves, which is crazy and really awesome,” says Formlabs’s chief product officer, Dávid Lakatos. And whereas conventional swabs feature a bushy tip coating of nylon flock, the doctors devised a tip with an intricately textured pattern that is 3D-printed.

          But unlike face shields, these parts are beyond the capabilities of most printers used by hobbyists. “If someone tried to print the swabs on a hobbyist printer, they can really do harm” in a clinical setting, says Lakatos.

        • America Makes challenging community to innovate new COVID-19 solutions

          All submissions must be open-source designs.

        • Big Tech Signs Rare Open Source Pledge During Coronavirus [Ed: Greenwashing and openwashing of monopolies]

          One bottleneck to the mass production of critical goods, from antibody (or serology) tests to face masks, necessary to keep the public safe is copyright law. These chokeholds held over the world of atoms and the world of bits are preventing the appropriate response to a global pandemic, said Mark Radcliffe, a partner at DLA Piper, a global law firm.

        • Health minister now unsure if source code for COVID contact tracing app is safe to release

          Health minister Greg Hunt has put a question mark over whether a promise to release all source code for the federal government’s forthcoming COVID-19 contact tracing app is actually possible due to security concerns.

          Talking on Triple M Hobart’s ‘The Spoonman’ show with Brian Carlton on Tuesday, Hunt would not commit or back up Government Services minister Stuart Robert’s assurance last week that the full code of the app would be available for inspection.

          According to Hunt, the app will drop sometime next week.

        • Kyle Hiebert: In the COVID-19 world, open source textbooks are the way of the future

          For post-secondary schools, the coronavirus pandemic has spurred a paradigm shift in teaching and learning, as courses have migrated online. Because of this, universities now have the chance to save students huge sums of money by ramping up the creation and use of open educational resources (OER), particularly open textbooks.

          A sober look at the trajectory of the pandemic reveals that the prospects of in-person classes resuming as normal this fall are slim to none. Earlier this month, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau declared that living with COVID-19 is “the new normal” until a vaccine is found, which experts widely predict will take at least another year, if not more. The high probability of second and third waves of COVID-19 will likely prompt more intermittent lockdowns in the future, as is currently happening in Singapore, one of the countries that initially seemed to be very successful in its coronavirus response. Through this lens, widespread online learning must be seen as part of a new era of post-secondary education, not a short-term fix.

        • Open Access, Open Source, and the Battle to Defeat COVID-19

          No legal development over the past decades has had a greater impact on the free flow of information and technology than the rise of the open access and open source movements. We recently looked at how AI, machine learning, blockchain, 3D printing, and other disruptive technologies are being employed in response to the coronavirus pandemic; we now turn to how two disruptive legal innovations, open access and open source, are being used to fight COVID-19. Although the pandemic is far from over, there are already promising signs that open access and open source solutions are allowing large groups of scientists, healthcare professionals, software developers, and innovators across many countries to mobilize quickly and effectively to combat and, hopefully, mitigate the impact of the coronavirus.

        • MIT Team Races to Fill COVID-19 Ventilator Shortage With Low-Cost, Open-Source Alternative

          An ad hoc team of engineers and doctors has developed a low-cost, open-source alternative, now ready for rapid production.

          It was clear early on in the unfolding Covid-19 pandemic that a critical need in the coming weeks and months would be for ventilators, the potentially life-saving devices that keep air flowing into a patient whose ability to breathe is failing.

          Seeing a potential shortfall of hundreds of thousands of such units, professor of mechanical engineering Alex Slocum Sr. and other engineers at MIT swung into action, rapidly pulling together a team of volunteers with expertise in mechanical design, electronics, and controls, and a team of doctors with clinical experience in treating respiratory conditions. They started working together nonstop to develop an inexpensive alternative and share what they learned along the way. The goal was a design that could be produced quickly enough, potentially worldwide, to make a real difference in the immediate crisis.

        • CURA shipping container ICUs open in turin to combat COVID-19

          as the COVID-19 pandemic spreads internationally, the first prototype of an open-source project to create plug-in intensive care units (ICU) from shipping containers has been built and installed at a hospital in italy. CURA (acronym for ‘connected units for respiratory ailments’ and also ‘cure’ in latin) proposes a quick-to-deploy solution to expand emergency facilities and ease the pressure on healthcare systems treating patients infected by coronavirus — (see designboom’s previous coverage of the project here).


          CURA has been developed as an open-source project, with its technical specifcations, drawings and design materials made universally accessible online. since the project’s launch, more than 2,000 people have shown an interest and contacted the CURA team to join the project, reproduce it, or provide technical advice. more units are currently under construction in other parts of the world, from the UAE to canada.

        • Researchers in Europe Condemn Centralized COVID-19 Tracking Approach

          Two camps have emerged within the open-source COVID-19 tracking space in Europe. One solution, DP-3T, offers privacy-preserving benefits for citizens and is backed by over 300 scientists around the world. The other, PEPP-PT, is centralized and risks being repurposed for commercial uses or worse.

        • UC Team Builds Open Source COVID-19-Tracking App

          Developers have built a new smartphone app for tracing potential novel coronavirus (COVID-19) infections.

          A team of researchers at the University of California, Irvine, announced the tool this week, describing it as potentially “instrumental” in the effort to trace and track infections, which is something governors have described as a vital step in reopening the economy. The tool is called TrackCOVID, and it is a free, open sourced app that its creators say also ensures the privacy of those who are potentially affected.

        • UN launches global ‘challenge’ for COVID-19 open source solutions

          The United Nations (UN) is organizing a global contest called “COVID-19 Detect and Protect” as part of the efforts to search for a solution to the coronavirus.

          The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)— the UN’s agency for development, and Hackster.io, the largest community of hardware and software developers, will be organizing the event which will be open until August 2020.

          The UN identifies COVID-19 as an “unprecedented global health and humanitarian emergency.” The organization also said the pandemic presents a massive threat and potentially devastating social, economic, and political crises that will be felt by many countries for many years to come

          The coronavirus pandemic can also reverse the progress made in tackling global poverty over the past 20 years, “putting at risk the lives and livelihoods of billions of people,” the organization said.

        • US researchers develop open-source ventilator for Covid-19 patients

          Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the US have developed a low-cost, open-source ventilator to address the shortage caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

          Named Spiro Wave, a version of the ventilator is currently being produced by a consortium of partners, including 10XBeta, Boyce Technologies and Newlab.

          The aim is to rapidly fulfil the Covid-19-related ventilator requirements at hospitals in New York, followed by other hospitals across the US.

          Furthermore, the MIT team is working to refine the ventilator’s design to make it more compact and add a respiratory function.

          10XBeta, Vecna Technologies and NN Life Sciences are part of the project.

        • Why Open Source Is Seeing Higher Adoption During COVID-19 Crisis
        • 28 government covid apps not open source, cannot be checked for vulnerabilities

          Apart from Aarogya Setu, the Centre and state governments are using at least 28 mobile applications to tackle the covid-19 pandemic.

          These apps have varied purposes — some disseminate information on cases, deaths and so on to users while others are used by officials to track people under quarantine.

          There is one common aspect to all of them: None of them is open-sourced.

          One of the most famous apps is the Centre’s Aarogya Setu, which collects users’ Bluetooth and location data to track their whereabouts and alert them if they come in contact with a covid-19 positive patient. The app, which has been controversial given privacy concerns, has been downloaded by over 7.5 crore people.

        • Boston Dynamics open-sources health care robotics toolkit for telemedicine, vitals inspection, and disinfection
        • Boston Dynamics gives hospital robot tech to the open source community
        • Open source: Boston Dynamics just opened up this robot tech to help tackle COVID-19

          Boston Dynamics has open-sourced some of its robotics technology to help protect healthcare workers battling the coronavirus.

          The robotics firm has developed a healthcare toolkit that it hopes will allow mobile robots to carry out essential functions that reduce the exposure of frontline healthcare staff to COVID-19.

        • These open-source projects are helping to tackle the coronavirus

          Since the onset of the coronavirus epidemic earlier this year, numerous countries have found themselves running short of ventilators. Ventilators, used in hospitals’ intensive care units, are crucial to helping those worst affected by the virus to stay alive. They take on some of the work of breathing for COVID-19 patients who find themselves in respiratory failure. However, a number of innovative grassroots initiatives, built in weeks by altruistic engineers with distributed design methodologies and open-source licences, have sprung up to try and solve the shortage.

      • Web Browsers

        • Kiwi Browser now open-source so developers can add Chrome extensions

          There are several browsers available out there that are based on the open-source Chromium project, the most popular being Google Chrome of course. But if you prefer to not use the Chrome browser, there are other great options out there. One of the more promising ones that launched two years ago was the Kiwi Browser which was actually the first to support Chrome extensions. Now the developer is open-sourcing the app and all the features that come with it, inviting other developers to contribute the code into their various projects.

          XDA Developers says that Kiwi Browser is one of the better Chromium-based browsers out there in its two years of experience. It had a lot of pretty useful features when it first launched including a built-in content blocker, dark mode, background video playback, etc. A lot of these features that launched two years ago actually are better compared to some of the current browsers. Best of all, it was the first of its kind that supported Chrome Extensions.

        • Beaker Browser: A P2P web browser you must try

          The Beaker browser lets us take a glimpse at the better internet, in which the control is back in the hands of the people. This is a great project, with amazing features and surprises everywhere. Even though a little unstable right now, it is very promising, and we request that you support this project if you can. Cheers!

        • Mozilla

          • Firefox 75 – Not bad but also not necessary

            All in all, this is a checkbox exercise release really. Firefox 75 isn’t drastically different from the previous few versions, and if you ignore the address bar thing, it’s virtually identical. Then again, there’s a limit to how much innovation can be crammed into a four-week release schedule. It does feel unnecessarily forced. And specifically, the address bar change is totally unnecessary. Because it brings no actual value.

            In my mind, the only reason for this change that would make sense is to drive revenue. Again, this is Mozilla’s fault. They removed the search box as part of the modern copypasta changes, so perhaps this also reduced the search-generated interest and revenue. Now, the new address bar kind of fixes that, but it doesn’t really, because it feels forced, out of place – and the search box is there anyway. The whole thing feels like a rushed experiment. The proper solution would be to enable this on mobile – the zoom feature feels touch anyway, because there’s no separate search there to begin with. On the desktop, restoring the search box by default would be the sensible thing to do. Thus, you kill two dodos with one claymore.

            I like Firefox, and I really hope it can survive this nonsense called the modern Internet. But then, this situation is no reason to condone silly changes, especially when they dilute the value of Firefox over its competitors. There’s no reason to play the low-IQ game. Firefox should be about privacy, freedom, choice. And extensions. Oh woe me. That’s where the focus should be. More extensions. More access. More. The reason why it was such an amazing success in the early days. It can’t win the game of financial attrition. So there you go. Firefox 75. Toggle the config changes, and enjoy the Webz. Me not happy. Me worried about the future. Me done.

      • Programming/Development

        • Turning a small stream cipher (ARC4) into a hash function (ARCH)!
        • Perl/Raku

          • CY’s take on Perl Weekly Challenge on #057
          • PWC 057: Task #1, Invert Tree & Task #2, Shortest Unique Prefix

            The flipping part is pretty easy, but since I’m a huge fan of Higher Order Perl I thought I should at least try to make it sort of like the tree walking code I remembered reading, where you give the tree-walker the function you want to operate on each node. (That word, “remembered” should be a hint that I haven’t read the book in years and you should really go read the master.) I wrote both a depth-first and a breadth-first binary tree walker. For the purposes of flipping the whole tree, either one would have sufficed, but it is handy to have the option when you are experimenting.

            The second (and optional) part of the problem was pretty-printing the binary tree. I think the restriction of the input binary tree to be a full one was for the benefit of the fools attempting the bonus, but me being a fool, I ignored the helpful restriction and tried writing a generic binary tree pretty-printer. I wound up with a binary tree pretty-ish-printer.

          • Perl Weekly Challenge 057: Invert Tree and Shortest Unique Prefix
        • Python

          • Python Project: Detailed Code Walkthrough / Explanation
          • A spring, a rubber band, and chaos
          • iBuildApp: Android app maker review

            You can sign up for an account by providing your email and a password or by logging in with Facebook. This will get you a free “Start” account. Paid options exist which do away with the ads and iBuildApp branding that come with the free version. The paid options are monthly/yearly based plans for one native application so if you have several you will need a plan for each app. The prices of the plans are related to the number of downloads per month (screenshot).

          • Connecting Python 3 and Electron/Node.JS: Building Modern Desktop Apps


            In this post, you’ll learn about the possible ways that you can use to connect or integrate Python with Node.js and Electron with simple examples.

            We’ll introduce Electron for Python developers, a great tool if you want to build GUIs for your Python apps with modern web technologies based on HTML, CSS and JavaScript. We’ll also see different ways to connect Python and Electron such as child_process, python-shell and an HTTP (Flask) server.

          • Episode #261: Monitoring and auditing machine learning

            Traditionally, when we have depended upon software to make a decision with real-world implications, that software was deterministic. It had some inputs, a few if statements, and we could point to the exact line of code where the decision was made. And the same inputs lead to the same decisions.

            Nowadays, with the rise of machine learning and neural networks, this is much more blurry. How did the model decide? Has the model and inputs drifted apart, so the decisions are outside what it was designed for?

            These are just some of the questions discussed with our guest, Andrew Clark, on this episode of Talk Python To Me.

          • When to Write Classes in Python And Why it Matters

            When people come to Python one of the things they struggle with is OOP (Object Oriented Programming). Not so much the syntax of classes, but more when and when not to use them. If that’s you, read on.

            In this article I will give you some insights that will get you clarity on this.

            Classes are incredibly useful and robust, but you need to know when to use them. Here are some considerations.

          • Building a Stadia Tracker Site Using Django

            I’ve been writing code for about 15 years (on and off) and Python for about 4 or 5 years. With Python it’s mostly small scripts and such. I’ve never considered myself a ‘real programmer’ (Python or otherwise).

            About a year ago, I decided to change that (for Python at the very least) when I set out to do 100 Days Of Web in Python from Talk Python To Me. Part of that course were two sections taught by Bob regarding Django. I had tried learn Flask before and found it … overwhelming to say the least.

            Sure, you could get a ‘hello world’ app in 5 lines of code, but then what? If you wanted to do just about anything it required ‘something’ else.

            I had tried Django before, but wasn’t able to get over the ‘hump’ of deploying. Watching the Django section in the course made it just click for me. Finally, a tool to help me make AND deploy something! But what?

          • Weekly Python StackOverflow Report: (ccxxv) stackoverflow python report
          • Test and Code: 110: Testing Django – from unittest to pytest – Adam Parkin

            Django supports testing out of the box with some cool extensions to unittest. However, many people are using pytest for their Django testing, mostly using the pytest-django plugin.

            Adam Parkin, who is known online as CodependentCodr, joins us to talk about migrating an existing Django project from unittest to pytest. Adam tells us just how easy this is.

          • Object-Oriented Programming (OOP) concepts in Python

            In this article I will review the main concepts a beginner Python programmer should learn about OOP in Python. The content is explored in detail in other posts on the blog that are linked at the end of each section.

        • Rust

          • Quick Rust Comparison

            I’ve been wanting to try out Rust with something very simple as a first pass through the language.


            I decided to write a simple unoptimized version of the fibonacci sequence. My goal was to take enough time to be noticable…

  • Leftovers

  • Defence/Aggression

    • How Far-Right Extremists Are Exploiting the COVID Pandemic

      As the coronavirus pandemic continues to ravage millions of lives and paralyze much of the economy, these right-wing activists in the United States are seizing every opportunity to reach out to thousands of potential followers and expand their ranks.

      Take, for example, the recent [crack] of nearly 25,000 email addresses and passwords belonging to the World Health Organization, the U.S. National Institutes of Health and other organizations combating the pandemic.

    • China sets up unit of Marines under its Navy

      While the reports amounted to the government’s first confirmation of the new unit, few further details were made available, such as the size of the new force. Military commentators described the unit as comparable to the Marines in other countries, with their main task being fighting on islands.

      China’s claims over islands and reefs in the South China Sea were mentioned as a key element in the rationale behind the new unit, while other countries have also formed amphibious fighting groups. The protection of diplomatic missions overseas and the fight against terrorism were also issues which could be addressed by the Marines, the China Times reported.

      For the second time in a year, China also launched a new amphibious attack vessel based on a domestic design this week. The ship reportedly only took six months to build.

  • Environment

    • This Appalachian Collective Has Launched Its Own “Green Stimulus”

      On the 50th anniversary of Earth Day this week, United Nations Secretary General António Guterres urged world leaders to ensure economic responses to the COVID-19 pandemic include measures that tackle what he called the “even deeper emergency” of climate change. According to a recent report from the International Renewable Energy Agency, directing stimulus funds toward green infrastructure will enable countries around the world to become less unequal and more resilient, cumulatively employ 100 million energy jobs and save trillions of dollars in comparison with a recovery that returns economies to “business as usual.”

    • The Solutions to the Climate Crisis No One is Talking About

      Make no mistake: the simultaneous crisis of inequality and climate is no fluke. Both are the result of decades of deliberate choices made, and policies enacted, by ultra-wealthy and powerful corporations.

    • North Pole may be clear water by mid-century

      This story is a part of Covering Climate Now’s week of coverage focused on Climate Solutions, to mark the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. Covering Climate Now is a global journalism collaboration committed to strengthening coverage of the climate story.

    • Energy

      • New Satellite Data Reveals Dangerous Methane Emissions in Permian Region

        In December DeSmog reported on the work of Robert Howarth, a biogeochemist at Cornell University, who has been studying the methane emissions of the oil and gas industry. Howarth’s latest research estimated that 3.4 percent of all natural gas produced from shale in the U.S. is leaked throughout the production cycle, which appears to be confirmed by this new research.

  • Finance

    • Trump Demands Postal Service Increase Prices Fourfold for Customers

      President Donald Trump on Friday threatened to withhold all future COVID-19 relief funding from the U.S. Postal Service unless the federal agency dramatically raises its shipping prices — a demand that critics say is ludicrous given the economic calamity the American people and the post office are now facing.

    • Economic Reporting on Hardships of Pandemic Should Explore Market Failures
    • As Construction Continues Amidst Covid-19 in DC Area, Bezos’ WaPo Raises Few Objections

      “Insane.” That’s what Marc Gunther thought as he looked out of the window of his downtown Bethesda, Maryland, apartment. Below him, cramped construction crews were building a headquarters and adjoining hotel for Marriott, the world’s biggest hotel chain. The $600 million project, which has received $60 million in public funding, is scheduled to be completed in 2022, pandemic or not.

    • Facing Near Total Loss of Customers During Pandemic, Street Vendors Need Relief

      Every weekend at 6 am, Elvira Sucasaca, along with her family, sets up their renowned Peruvian tamales street cart along the bustling Roosevelt Avenue in Jackson Heights, Queens, New York, as they prepare for the breakfast rush. Usually, like clockwork, a hungry drove of loyal regulars, craving savory tamales and sweet picarones — deep-fried donuts made of sweet potatoes and squash — forms around the cart with the thunderous roar of the elevated train passing overhead. The cart is so popular, people often order on the phone and pick up their food from the comfort of their car. Yet, since the emergence of the COVID-19 crisis, the once-lively streets of Jackson Heights have become akin to a ghost town. In fact, the community, once famed for its diversity, has become more well-known as the epicenter of the epicenter. This has particularly hurt Sucasaca, who like many street vendors, is finding earning a living to be precarious at best.

    • Reopening Economies Will Worsen the Spread of COVID-19 Through the Rural South

      In the rural South, the COVID-19 pandemic is becoming a silent disaster.

    • Millions of People Will Face Stimulus Check Delays Simply Because They Are Poor

      Last week, a group of angry and desperate Citi Tax Financial customers gathered outside the company’s storefront in Augusta, Georgia. Millions of Americans had received a big deposit from the IRS in their bank accounts, but they had not. The IRS website told them their coronavirus stimulus checks were deposited in an account they didn’t recognize.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Internet Speech Will Never Go Back to Normal

      As surprising as it may sound, digital surveillance and speech control in the United States already show many similarities to what one finds in authoritarian states such as China. Constitutional and cultural differences mean that the private sector, rather than the federal and state governments, currently takes the lead in these practices, which further values and address threats different from those in China. But the trend toward greater surveillance and speech control here, and toward the growing involvement of government, is undeniable and likely inexorable.

      In the great debate of the past two decades about freedom versus control of the network, China was largely right and the United States was largely wrong. Significant monitoring and speech control are inevitable components of a mature and flourishing internet, and governments must play a large role in these practices to ensure that the internet is compatible with a society’s norms and values.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • How do workers organize when we can’t go to work?
    • Saudi Arabia Abolishes Flogging as a Punishment for Crime

      The kingdom’s most famous flogging case was that of Raif Badawi, who ran a website that published material criticizing Saudi religious figures, lauding Western legal systems and arguing that atheists should be free to state their views without being punished.

      That angered Saudi conservatives, who denounced him.

      The Saudi authorities arrested Mr. Badawi in 2012 and put him on trial on charges that included cybercrime and disobeying his father. In 2014, he was sentenced to 10 years in prison, fined more than a quarter-million dollars, and ordered to endure 1,000 blows with a cane in weekly installments over several months.

  • Monopolies

    • Patents

      • US Supreme Court time bar ruling could bring uncertainty to joinder issues

        In reaction to Thryv v Click-To-Call Technologies, lawyers weigh in on justice Neil Gorsuch’s scathing dissent and what the case means for Federal Circuit decisions

      • The PTAB Clarifies Requirements for Printed Publications

        On April 7, the PTAB designated five decisions as either precedential or informative on establishing a printed publication. Importantly, the PTAB held that Examination and IPR proceedings use different standards. These decisions also provide guidance on how various types of references qualify as printed publications, including conference materials, drug product labels, and theses.


        The POP held that the framework for establishing a printed publication outlined in Hulu v. Sound View Innovations, LLC, IPR2018-01039, Paper 29 at 13 (P.T.A.B. Dec. 20, 2019) (precedential) does not apply to Examination. We previously discussed that decision here. The POP based its reasoning on the different “legal frameworks and burdens” between IPRs and Examination. In IPRs, the burden rests with the Petitioner to establish a reasonable likelihood that the challenged claims are unpatentable, whereas Examination involves a burden-shifting framework where the burden shifts to the applicant to rebut a prima facie case.

        The POP concluded that the Examiner had sufficiently established that the transcript was publicly accessible because the “publication of the notice of the advisory committee meeting [was] intended to ‘insure that all interested persons are notified of such meeting prior thereto.’” Because persons of ordinary skill in the art would be such “interested persons,” and FDA transcripts of advisory committee meetings would be publicly available at “a designated place at the agency,” the transcript satisfied the requirements to be a printed publication.

      • European Patent Office: UK transport sector continues to innovate

        The latest data from the European Patent Office, released in March, reveals that the UK’s transport sector continued to innovate in 2019 – filing 9% more patent applications than over the previous 12 months. Patent applicants from across the world use the EPO, so these figures give a good snapshot of global technology innovation.

      • Fed. Circ. Extends Remote Oral Arguments Another Month

        The announcement marks the second month that the court has switched to remote oral arguments, citing “the continued public health restrictions and limits on public access to the courthouse.” Overall, 26 arguments will be heard over the phone, and another 43 decided on the briefs, according to the court’s calendar.

        The clerk’s office will be contacting attorneys set to argue with more information, which last month included an orientation session on how the arguments would proceed and what to do if things went wrong.

        Attorneys who argued remotely in April, a first for the circuit, largely said the process went smoothly from a technology standpoint, but were still frustrated at not being able to see the judges and read their body language.

        As in April, the Federal Circuit will allow the public to listen in on the oral arguments.

        The news came a day after the European Patent Office made a push to go digital, although not explicitly tied to the pandemic.

      • Federal Circuit COVID-19 response leaves lawyers worried about briefs precedent

        With the Federal Circuit now deciding most patent cases on briefs, lawyers say it’s become more complicated to use visual aids or split arguments with junior attorneys

      • Increased Fee Structure Of European Patent Office (EPO) Effective From April 1, 2020

        The EPO is known to increase its fees every two years and the last revision was made in 2018. Thisdecision is taken by the European Patent Office’s Administrative Council on 12 December 2019 (CA/D 12/19) by amending Articles 2 and 7 of the Rules relating to Fees. Here’s a quick take on this revision of fees.

        Broadly, we can categorize the fee structure in to two broad groups – (i) basic patent application fee, and (ii) additional patent related fee. The basic patent application fee would include all such activities which are required for filing and maintaining a patent or patent application – this fee include fees for activities such as filing a European Patent Application, fee for additional pages or claims, examination fee, renewal fee and also includes filing an international application. While the additional patent related fee would include all such activities which are not ordinarily part of a filing and prosecuting a patent application and are availed by some depending on the specific requirements of a case by the application.

      • T 2277/19: approval of the wrong text has no cause of action

        Those familiar with the European Patent Office’s approach to patent applications will be familiar with the procedure under Rule 71(3) in which the examining division sends the applicant a copy of the text proposed for grant. Only once the applicant has approved this text is the European patent then granted. In T 2277/19 the Board of Appeal held that approval of an erroneous text is not correctable on appeal.

        Among the EPO requirements for an appeal are that “Any party to proceedings adversely affected by a decision may appeal”. This appeal focussed on whether the applicant was or was not adversely affected by the decision to grant that followed the accidental approval of an erroneous text.


        The Board of Appeal also commented on earlier case T1003/19, noting that in its view “there is no legal basis in the European Patent Convention for a distinction between the text referred to in a communication under Rule 71(3) EPC and that reflecting what the examining division actually intended” and then went on to comment “in the board’s judgement, Article 71(3) EPC thus imposes on the applicant a duty to check and verify this text. The fact that an applicant does not exercise its right to request amendments under Rule 71(6) EPC can therefore only be interpreted as approval of the communicated text, i.e. the text intended for grant. Whether the applicant notices a possible error has no effect on the fact that this approval is binding.”

      • Forward Pharma Reports Financial and Operational Results from the Year Ended December 31, 2019

        “The operating results reported today favorably reflect our persistent efforts to reduce costs and streamline our operations. We are well positioned financially to the start of the new year with significant cash reserves and working capital in excess of $77 million. Our primary focus remains on our intellectual property and we are working diligently to prepare for the oral hearing before the Technical Board of Appeal on the European EP2801355 patent to be held on June 18, 2020,” said Dr. Claus Bo Svendsen, Chief Executive Officer of Forward.

      • Compugen nabs new patent in Europe; shares up 8% premarket

        The European Patent Office (EPO) has granted Compugen (NASDAQ:CGEN) a new patent for the composition of COM701 or backup antibodies for the treatment of cancer.

      • Software Patents

        • TELEMATIC Awaits Patent From EPO for Touchless Payments on Public Transport

          The company TELEMATIC has developed a patented technology of touchless payment for transport which allows ticket payment with any smartphone at point of payment at the entrance to a bus or underground while the phone is situated in a passenger´s pocket or his bag.

        • Conversant v Apple: old tech, new tricks

          This case from the UK High Court (Conversant Wireless Licensing SARL v (1) Apple Retail UK Ltd & (2) Apple Distribution International & (3) Apple Inc. [2019] EWHC 3266 (Pat)) demonstrates the similarity (at least from a patent perspective) between UIs of seemingly very different products from different eras. It also helps highlight the potential opportunities and threats to holders of UI patents.

          The patent concerned was GB 2365712 and was owned by Conversant. Conversant alleged the patent was infringed by the UI of various models of Apple’s iPhone. On the other hand, Apple alleged the patent was not valid based on various grounds including obviousness.

    • Copyrights

      • Motion Picture Association Doubles Down on Push for US Pirate Site Blocking

        Responding to questions from US Senators, the Motion Picture Association is stressing that DMCA takedown notices alone don’t cut it anymore. The Hollywood group argues that the current legal framework should be complemented with other tools, such as pirate site blocking. The MPA believes that these blockades are highly effective and no danger to free speech, but that idea isn’t shared by everyone.

      • Europol Says Pirate IPTV Services Are Upping Their Game During COVID-19

        EU law enforcement agency Europol is warning citizens to stay away from pirate IPTV services during the coronavirus pandemic. While part of the message includes the usual cautions over potential malware and security issues, the agency says that the services are maintaining high-quality video streams and offering a wider range of content due to a lack of sports broadcasts.

      • This Library Of Congress-powered hip hop sampling tool is copyright-friendly, very cool

        Here’s a fun (and copyright observant) musical toy for anyone who’s ever wanted to get their inner De La Soul on, but who didn’t want to spend a lot of time digging through old stacks of vinyl—or getting sued out of existence for an unauthorized sample. Titled Citizen DJ, the project is a creation of Library Of Congress innovator-in-residence Brian Foo, allowing users to trawl the Library’s vast resources of copyright-free audio material in order to make their own sounds and beats. Although the program is only in a preview form at the moment, the basics are all there: Curated selections from the Library’s collections, a set of drum beats to apply them to, and tools to remix and use the half-second or so clips as artists see fit.

      • Copyright claims for designs could spike in Europe

        In-house counsel are clearer on getting copyright protection for designs but are worried by inconsistencies in the law and a perception that copyright is a “weaker” IP right

Software in the Public Interest or Software in Microsoft’s Monopoly Interests?

Posted in Debian, Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Microsoft at 5:46 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The current financial crisis/climate will make it easier for the aggressive monopolisers from Microsoft to bribe more people to capitulate or ‘defect’. Bribery is a Microsoft tradition and expertise; they’re ‘master class’ liars about it, embellishing it as “sponsorship” or even "marketing help".

No public access
It’s apparent that public code is being privatised by Microsoft at GitHub, a proprietary software ‘code prison’ (not vault; monopoly — not preservation — is the goal, exploiting the network effect with ‘features’ as lock-in factor)

Summary: We turn our attention to the Debian Project and Software in the Public Interest (SPI), knowing that they’re vulnerable to cash that groups recklessly take without foresight (likely negative consequences)

THIS post might offend some people; not because of offensive language but because some people associate and affiliate with organisations that are named here. We’ll refrain from using names. Please don’t personify these things (it’s a trap); we only care about what’s true because facts and accuracy matter. It’s never ad hominem. We have the facts. Our track record is good. We focus on issues that we understand very well, choosing specificity over breadth. I find that my detractors fail to discredit me on accuracy; they then nitpick on my style or my choice of words (or even typos). It’s almost a badge of honour when they resort to this low kind of smears/blows…

“We’ll refrain from using names. Please don’t personify these things (it’s a trap); we only care about what’s true because facts and accuracy matter.”Today’s subject will be Microsoft’s money and who’s taking it. This isn’t a new subject to us. Far from it. We even studied it retroactively, going back to records from the 1980s and 1990s. We have a lot of material about payments and their impact on Microsoft rivals, including Novell (how did those Microsoft payments work out for Novell, which no longer exists? Ask Nokia while it still barely exists — a pale shadow of its former self, not to mention Yahoo!).

At the moment Microsoft is monopolising Free/Open Source software using GitHub — a subject we’ll explore again in the near future. Microsoft is willing to lose billions of dollars just to get that monopoly, which is a form of control and leverage (over one’s competition). It’s actually a lot cheaper (than GitHub) to ‘buy’ communities, whose turnover barely touches a million dollars or even a ‘meager’ $100,000. Don’t be dazzled by silly grants that are being dubbed something like “diversity” and are in fact “slush fund” PR stunts if not bribes. These things are being labelled like that because it helps discourage/scare sceptics (or make them look bad). For instance, they pretend to be tolerant towards women and minorities, but it’s a low-cost PR charade (less than the annual salary of one single engineer). They’re not really tolerant towards women and minorities, as we've covered before, they’re tolerant towards criminals and monopolies whilst at the same time trying to paint those critical of criminals and monopolists as “toxic” types (an inversion of narrative and ethical compass). Those are well known tactics; there’s nothing novel here and it isn’t limited to the realm of technology. It’s not even a “right-wing” view and expressing those thoughts has a lot more to do with intolerance of PR and entryism, not “liberalism” or “Conservatism” or whatever…

“Microsoft is willing to lose billions of dollars just to get that monopoly, which is a form of control and leverage (over one’s competition). It’s actually a lot cheaper (than GitHub) to ‘buy’ communities, whose turnover barely touches a million dollars or even a ‘meager’ $100,000.”“Microsoft is regularly listed as a DebConf sponsor since 2016,” one reader told us this morning, linking to the official pages that contain Microsoft’s logo. Here they are:





Microsoft, Microsoft, Microsoft, Microsoft.

That’s Debian. We suppose it’s now a “risk” to criticise Microsoft, just as it's risky to speak about the State of Palestine in Debian. One can get reprimanded if not banned (ostracised by humiliation and public shaming) for bringing that up.

We can say it often enough: Free software means free speech. Without free speech how much Software Freedom can really be practised? There are some people looking to interject their personal notion of “ethics” to exclude those with a belief different from theirs; it’s a slippery, slippery slope. The OSI’s co-founder got banned from the OSI’s mailing lists for warning about it, highlighting one of several recent examples where a speech rulebook (e.g. “CoC”) can remove critics of corporate corruption in the name of “protecting women” and “protecting ethnic minorities” etc.

“It’s a subtle attack on Software Freedom and it is shrewdly disguised as a defence of “ethics” or protecting vulnerable people. Don’t fall for it quite so easily.”Again… it is a slippery, slippery slope.

It’s a subtle attack on Software Freedom and it is shrewdly disguised as a defence of “ethics” or protecting vulnerable people. Don’t fall for it quite so easily. It’s usually rather shallow and instinctive.

And since we’ve mentioned the word “ethics” (can be incompatible with Software Freedom) quite so often so far, how about “public interests”?

What public?

Whose interests?

Well, the assumption is that politicians tend to represent the interests of few very wealthy and thus “powerful” individuals — the likes of Bill Gates who bribe them and bribe the media nonchalantly. Money buys narrative, air time, and legislation. That’s not a controversial thing to state. So when we speak of “public interests” we typically speak of causes or actions that serve the general public, not the corrupt and the corruptible (facilitators).

There’s this group called Software in the Public Interest (SPI), which is associated with the people who drove out Richard Stallman but also a bunch of decent people. We don’t want to name anyone; it would miss the point. In their own words: “Software in the Public Interest (SPI) is a non-profit corporation registered in the state of New York founded to act as a fiscal sponsor for organizations that develop open source software and hardware. Our mission is to help substantial and significant open source projects by handling their non-technical administrative tasks so that they aren’t required to operate their own legal entity.”

“Well, the assumption is that politicians tend to represent the interests of few very wealthy and thus “powerful” individuals — the likes of Bill Gates who bribe them and bribe the media nonchalantly.”So it is a “non-profit corporation” with a .org domain. corporation.org — that’s right…

Well, this blog post from last night, “Google, Microsoft & Debian,” contains an interesting image. It suggests that SPI takes money from Microsoft. For authenticity, however, we asked the site to pass along full evidence (that SPI took Microsoft money). We have not received that. But that’s not the main point.

A footpath gone publicThey ask for donations from anybody (this corporation.org) and Microsoft is certainly not listed here among their “Sponsors” (not even GitHub or LinkedIn or whatever). “In addition to the many donations from individuals and organizations, craigslist Charitable Fund and Google provided substantial donations to SPI’s general fund.” It says. So Google is in it, but we don’t know about Microsoft (unless the image can be verified for authenticity. But the point of the post isn’t to call out SPI; it is actually about Debian. It’s not as though Google and Microsoft have control of Debian, but they have growing levels of influence inside the project. I recently heard about more payments than the above (DebConf sponsorship), albeit privately, in relation to WSL. The blog post said this:

Nonetheless, what does it look like when Microsoft’s money comes along?

There can be no greater contamination. The letterhead of Software in the Public Interest, Inc used to request money from Microsoft???? While 🐧🐧🐧 🐧🐧🐧🐧🐧🐧 was unleashing feral dogs to attack a long-standing volunteer, he was spreading his bum cheeks for Bill Gates to come in.

What are the principles that govern Debian Developers in 2020? They are clearly not the same as they were in 2006. Anybody who dares to ask about these paymasters is accused of violating the Code of Conduct. Long live the Code of Conduct.

The term “spreading his bum cheeks” (we redacted the name) was changed to “rolling out a red carpet for” some time later (a few hours apparently), perhaps to avoid the insensitive connotation (especially given the provably strong friendship between Mr. Gates and organised underage sex traffickers, whose name he sought to whiten whilst in prison).

“The number of packages that list a homepage is 26,557 (93% of 28,555) and packages that list their homepage as Microsoft GitHub are 9,082 in number (37% of 26,557, i.e. 34% of 28,555).”We’re meanwhile doing some research into Debian and it looks like Microsoft’s control over the project can be traced back to pertinent packages. In the Debian Buster packages (main repository), the number of packages is 28,555. The number of packages that list a homepage is 26,557 (93% of 28,555) and packages that list their homepage as Microsoft GitHub are 9,082 in number (37% of 26,557, i.e. 34% of 28,555).

Well, that’s a third. Let that sink in. “Some of these are mirrors,” pointed out the person who carried out the analysis, and “that’s not including the packages that depend on these packages. That’s likely going to be more than half.”

“Today’s Linux Foundation does more for Microsoft than it does for Linux; heck, look who runs that foundation and speaks for it.”Remember that very many GNU/Linux distros are based on Debian, including Ubuntu.

If Debian becomes a ‘prisoner’ of Microsoft, then we’re in trouble already. Why did antitrust regulators permit the takeover? Ask the Linux Foundation, which had been bribed by Microsoft only a couple of years before it gave its blessings to this brutal act of entryism, in effect buying the competition that’s volunteers. Today’s Linux Foundation does more for Microsoft than it does for Linux; heck, look who runs that foundation and speaks for it.

Hope Alone Won’t Bring the Dead Back to Life; Team UPC Has Entered Embalming Stage

Posted in Europe, Patents at 4:07 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Team UPC, 2015

Summary: That same old UPC ‘cult’ (Team UPC) wants us to think that miraculously enough — perhaps by means of ‘divine’ intervention — UPCA will somehow find a way

“On noes!”

“Not another article about the UPC!”

“The UPC is dead. It’s over now. UPCA won’t be ratified anymore.”No, no, don’t get us wrong. We won’t waste much more time on this 'carcass' legislation; neither will Team UPC, which has been mostly silent lately (and not because of the lock-downs). But a remark may be needed on this new article by Charles Russell Speechlys LLP’s David Fyfield, who speaks of UPC “hope” and pushes it into Lexology (likely for a fee); when he speaks of hope he means his own hope (projection tactics). The UPC is dead. It’s over now. UPCA won’t be ratified anymore. They keep pretending it’s merely a “Delay” (their word). But that’s a lie, knowing that there’s Brexit and regardless of Brexit there are constitutional issues in a number of countries other than Germany. Here’s what Fyfield decided to say a month after Germany buried the UPC:

The decision is a significant setback, as it further delays the introduction of the UPC and Unitary European Patent. It does, however, leave the door open for the adoption of the UPC in the future, provided that it is passed by the necessary majority. In a reaction to the decision the German Minister of Justice and Consumer Protection, Christine Lambrecht, promised to continue to work towards a single European patent and a European Patent Court and to examine the possibility of remedying the lack of form before the end of the current legislative period (which ends in 2021).

Due to the UK’s exit from the EU, and the British government’s decision not to try and pursue participation in the UPC (which was recently confirmed in a letter from the IP Minister to the House of Lords), it is unlikely that the UPC Agreement will come before the German parliament again in its current form.

Without the involvement of the UK, the Unitary Patent and UPC are a less attractive proposition. However, provided that there remains sufficient goodwill towards the project amongst the remaining participating states, the UPC Agreement could be renegotiated so that it does not depend on the involvement of the UK. There may even be an opportunity to address some of the issues that have been flagged in relation to the current Agreement and to widen its scope to allow participation by non-EU states.

Supporters of the unitary patent and UPC should therefore not entirely despair, but a further delay of at least several years looks likely.

Not really. They may reattempt with an entirely different text, name, and a slow-moving round of likely-failed ratifications (remember that countries other than Germany nowadays openly reject it, having had time to properly study economic impact and constitutional aspects). The momentum is long gone. It was already lost 3 or 4 years ago, but Team UPC kept manufacturing or fabricating false stories to pretend otherwise. As we last noted a week ago, the UK could not make it any more clear that UPC is out of the question now. Rachel Montagnon (Herbert Smith Freehills LLP) has just caught up with it, spreading the message in which she says “IP Minister Amanda Solloway has written to the House of Lords in response to their letter formally requesting confirmation that the UK would not be participating in the UPC. This request by the House of Lords followed a response given by the Government in February to a parliamentary question (recorded on Hansard) which said this was the case (see our post here); no formal statement had otherwise been made.”

So the UPC is basically dead. No UK, no UPC. Look at the UPCA. UK is a must, it’s not optional! If Team UPC denies it, then it is deliberately lying.

The Rise of Bribed Media and Bribed Academia as Cynical ‘Journalism’ and ‘Research’ About Patents

Posted in Deception, Europe, Patents at 3:27 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Related: EPO Still Wasting Budget, Paying Media and Academics for Spin

IP Kat 2015

Summary: Various sites and blogs that used to habitually cover EPO abuses (or critique aspects of the patent system) have been surgically modified to act as amplifiers of EPO management and its debased agenda; the EPO is meanwhile expressing satisfaction and takes great pride in its ‘support’ (bribes) of scholars, who are rendered agents of EPO propaganda in the empty vessels of universities

THE latest greenwash from the European Patent Office (EPO) seeks to associate monopoly with the environment (warning: epo.org link) and it should raise a brow (as if granting monopolies will save the planet). This is the kind of ridiculous crap one ought to expect when politicians rather than scientists are in charge [1, 2]. Who next to lead the EPO? Another politician?

“The EPO is pleased to announce a new call for proposals for funding under its Academic Research Programme,” said another bit of EPO “news” (warning: epo.org link). Yes, they are bribing scholars again. “Say what we want to hear,” is their message, “and then get a bribe.”

“The EPO long ago lost it, starting to behave more and more like a political cult; it has ‘enemies’ and it’s not reluctant to threaten if not punish them.”There have already been several “tweets” to that effect. As we explained many times before (past years), this is clearly misuse of EPO budget. It’s like those bribes that are offered to media/publishers in exchange for puff pieces. Are patent offices supposed to (mis)use money like that? For these purposes?

It’s a simple and rather trivial ethical query. How does the EPO deal with critics (other than threats)? Bribe the media so that those critics don’t get a voice? Same in academia: Simply reject/deprive (financially; also tenures depend on grants) those who don’t perpetuate illusions of the rich and powerful.

The EPO long ago lost it, starting to behave more and more like a political cult; it has ‘enemies’ and it’s not reluctant to threaten if not punish them.

WIPO did some similar things, but never to the same extent.

Consider what happened to IP Kat after the EPO had santioned it. Many writers fled, leaving the blog in the hands of self-promoting law firms and litigation fanatics (not scholars such as lecturers). We should note that IP Kat has once again deleted an on-topic comment that I submitted about EQE, so it’s very clear that they engage in censorship of views expressed politely (views that the patent zealots don’t like to hear and don’t want people to see). IP Kat wasn’t always this rogue, especially when it was run by a scholar who had also established Managing IP.

“They’re like a “Fox News” of patent news. Everyone loves Trump!”Look what happened to Managing IP after the sale; they’re selling fake awards, they publish lies for a fee and they basically look for money in all the wrong (and very unethical) places. Here’s Managing IP as a mouthpiece of patent trolls again (they can't help it, can they?). It’s part of a long series composed by someone known for entrapping Justice Huber to come up with fake news about the UPC complaint being moot or whatever. To manufacture propaganda with fake surveys or polls (one of the Managing IP ‘products’ along with biased events, complete with stacked panels) he now asks only the patent fanatics for their response (but nobody else). Yes, in Patrick Wingrove’s own words: “Managing IP invites its in-house counsel readers [only ... and] participation in this survey is confidential. Data collected will not be shared with third parties and will only be published in an AGGREGATED and ANONYMISED form.”

But we know the nature of the self-selecting respondents. The thing about such surveys and surveyors is, they’re only ever speaking to lawyers (and nobody else exists to them, as can be seen in this new article). So of course the outcomes are extremely biased and hardly support the headlines they come up with. These people very well know what they’re doing (IAM does the same). They’re like a “Fox News” of patent news. Everyone loves Trump!

“Look at the names of writers. Virtually all of the ‘old’ (only years ago) writers left.”And when they’re not publishing their biased ‘article’…

“Sponsored by” as “news”…

Here’s an example only days old.

We pointed this out a week ago and gave about 8 new examples. They’ve become like a spam machine of law firms…

Watchtroll was already bad enough (lots of sponsored ‘articles’ and ads as ‘articles’). But I remember how once upon a time (even a few years ago) this site called Managing IP still occasionally did some decent work rather than propaganda for trolls, for law firms, for Team UPC and so on. Look at the names of writers. Virtually all of the ‘old’ (only years ago) writers left.

IRC Proceedings: Saturday, April 25, 2020

Posted in IRC Logs at 2:05 am by Needs Sunlight



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