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Links 8/5/2020: Mesa 20.1 RC2, WirePlumber, and ThinPro

Posted in News Roundup at 11:21 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

  • GNU/Linux

    • Desktop/Laptop

      • Lenovo is Jumping on the Linux Laptop Bandwagon

        PC and laptop maker Lenovo is set to release ThinkPad laptops, pre-installed with Fedora Linux.

        One issue Linux has faced over the years is there was never enough off-the-shelf hardware that included the open source operating system. Things started to change when System76 came into existence. Since then a number of hardware makers have jumped onto the bandwagon.

        You can now count Lenovo among those numbers. In his latest blog, Matthew Miller, Fedora Project Leader, announced, “Fedora Workstation will be available on Lenovo ThinkPad laptops!” Miller continues, “Yes, I know, many of us already run a Fedora operating system on a Lenovo system, but this is different. You’ll soon be able to get Fedora pre-installed by selecting it as you customize your purchase.”

      • Windows Continues OS Domination as Ubuntu, macOS Gain Ground

        The major PC operating systems are constantly fighting for market dominance. Though Microsoft’s Windows rarely has its No. 1 position challenged, and continues to see growth and expansion of its OS solutions, the COVID-19 pandemic may have thrown a slight wrench in their continued success.

        Microsoft, overall, has seen growth in Windows 10 over the last several years; it was reported in a blog post by the Chief Product Officer for Windows & Devices that Windows 10 saw a 75% year-over-year increase in time spent by users. However, even with that growth, April 2020 saw an overall loss in market share for Windows, while Ubuntu & macOS saw their user numbers increase.

      • This HP USB drive promises to transform and secure any old PC

        Plug it into an existing device to transform it into what HP calls a secure Linux-based HP thin client. This allows workers to boot into the firm’s ThinPro OS and access cloud apps and virtual machines.


        According to HP, the ThinPro Go is scalable to thousands of endpoints and can be managed easily with the HP Device Manager console.

        At the heart of the device is the HP ThinPro 7.1 SP6 OS, which uses Ubuntu v16.04. The minimum hardware requirements should be met by almost all personal computers released over the past 10 years, making the ThinProGo ideal for remote workers.

        Curiously, HP decided to eschew its traditional storage partner Biwin, which produces HP products like the P700.

      • Open Up: Benefits of Open Source Software

        Pop!_OS 20.04 LTS is open source software built atop layers of previously established open source software. It’s like an onion of software. But why open source? What benefit does it add for System76 and our users? Reduced cost certainly plays a role, as most open source software is free to download; however, the real magic sauce is the community.


        Linux provides a highly personalized user experience. People with strong preferences for a specific window manager or application launcher often want to see it available across distros, even if it means building it themselves. With a swath of tweaks available to you, personalizing your software is easy. Extensions like Dash to Dock or Dash to Panel bring your application launcher to your desktop. The Isolated Workspaces extension, meanwhile, allows you to open new instances of an application in a separate workspace. And of course, the new Pop!_Shell is available as an extension on distros using the GNOME desktop environment.

    • Kernel Space

      • Graphics Stack

        • mesa 20.1.0-rc2
          Hi all,
          I'd like to announce the second release candidate for the 20.1 branch,
          Mesa 20.1.0-rc2.
          As always, please test it and report any issues you may find to
          And to help us track issues and merge requests relevant to this branch,
          please add them to the 20.1.0 release milestone:
          There aren't that many fixes for an -rc2 and not many open issues, which
          can either indicate that master was in a remarkably good state when the
          branch was cut, or that things haven't been thoroughly tested yet.
          We'll see in the next two weeks how things go.
          The next release candidate is scheduled for 7 days from now, on
        • Mesa 20.1-RC2 Released For Vetting This Set Of Open-Source OpenGL / Vulkan Drivers

          On Wednesday marked the second weekly release candidate for the forthcoming Mesa 20.1.

          Mesa 20.1 serves as the Q2’2020 feature release for this set of predominantly OpenGL/Vulkan open-source drivers commonly used by Linux systems. Over the past week a number of RADV Vulkan driver fixes landed including some for the ACO compiler back-end, some updates to the Etnaviv OpenGL driver, several RadeonSI updates, and a few Intel fixes too. Overall though this is a fairly small release candidate for being just one week past the feature freeze.

    • Applications

      • 10 Useful Free OCR Tools

        Optical Character Recognition (OCR) is the conversion of scanned images of handwritten, typewritten or printed text into searchable, editable documents. OCR software is able to recognise the difference between characters and images, and between characters themselves.

        The use of paper has been displaced from some activities. For example, the vast majority of journeys on the London Underground are made using the Oyster card without a paper ticket being issued. We have witnessed talk of a paperless office for more than 40 years. However, the office environment has shown a resistance to remove the mountain of paper generated. Things have changed in the past few years, with a marked shift in the paperless office concept. Paper documents contain a wealth of important management data and information that would be better stored electronically. There is computer software that makes this conversion possible. The benefit of scanning documents is not purely for archival reasons. OCR technology is vital for gaining access to paper-based information, as well as integrating that information in digital workflows.

        The selection of the right OCR tool is dependent on specific needs. For some, online OCR services may be useful, but there are privacy concerns and file size limitations. This article focuses on desktop, open source OCR software that offer good recognition accuracy and file formats. We cover OCR engines as well as front-end tools.

        OCR software is not mainstream so open source alternatives to proprietary heavyweight software are fairly thin on the ground. Matters are also complicated by the fact that OCR computer software needs very sophisticated algorithms to translate the image of text into accurate actual text. The software also has to cope with images that contain a lot more than text, such as layouts, images, graphics, tables, in single or multi pages.

      • WirePlumber, the PipeWire session manager

        My colleague Julian blogged about PipeWire earlier this year, mentioning that at Collabora, as part of our work for Automotive Grade Linux, has been developing a PipeWire session manager called WirePlumber. In this post, I will attempt to explain a bit more about WirePlumber and give some context for future blog posts on this subject.


        In traditional setups, applications have direct access to devices. This means they need to choose themselves the device they want to open and set it up according to their media requirements (i.e. choose an audio sample rate, a format, a video resolution, etc). While system configuration can exist to have a “system default” device (ex. in ALSA), in some setups this is not the case, burdening the application developer to provide a way to configure device selection. Furthermore, such setups do not allow transparent switching of devices (ex. switch audio playback from laptop speakers to a bluetooth headset while music is playing), unless the application implements the complex operations required to do so. In some cases, another issue is that devices are controlled exclusively by a single application, not allowing more complex use cases where sharing a device is required. Last but not least, accessing devices directly increases the complexity of the applications’ media pipelines in order to handle multiple device formats or deal with mis-behaving / non-standard devices.

        PulseAudio has improved this situation significantly for audio applications. In PulseAudio, audio devices are opened and configured internally and audio applications can just create streams of any desired format and request to play or capture from the “default” device. Application developers no longer have to provide a means to configure which device to use, although they still can if they want to. PulseAudio maintains this “default” device preference internally and automatically creates the necessary internal links to make things work when a new stream comes in from an application. This default device preference can be changed at runtime and application streams can be transparently redurected to another device, abstracting away all complexity. The problem here, however, is that while this logic is great for most desktop applications, it does not scale well to other use cases. Also, PulseAudio does not handle video streams…

        On the other side there is JACK, which deals with a specific use case as well: professional audio. JACK similarly allows applications to just create a stream and forget about the device. But unlike PulseAudio, it implements no connection logic internally. This is left to an external component: the session manager. The session manager watches for applications connecting or disconnecting and uses its own logic to link them to a device or a peer application. This may involve a “default” device target, but it normally follows a set of more complex user-configurable rules that allow flexibility in setting up the audio processing stage for professional audio applications. The problem here, however, is of course that JACK does not handle well the typical desktop use case and is complex to use for a non-professional.

        Which brings us back to PipeWire… Combining parts of all these designs together, PipeWire provides a flexible media server that can be used to implement desktop, embedded, professional and non-professional use cases for both audio and video. To its best interest, PipeWire is also powered by a session manager, similar to the one in JACK, but with even more powers available.

      • PipeWire Gets A Session Manager With WirePlumber

        In most basic terms, PipeWire session managers are responsible for connecting audio/video streams to the relevant hardware/software device. But PipeWire session managers also need to deal with security/permission aspects, device monitoring, and other policy decisions. WirePlumber is a new PipeWire session manager being developed by Collabora. The WirePlumber session manager has a modular design and other more advanced features compared to the basic session manager shipped currently by PipeWire.

      • Daniel Stenberg: qlog with curl

        I want curl to be on the very bleeding edge of protocol development to aid the Internet protocol development community to test out protocols early and to work out kinks in the protocols and server implementations using curl’s vast set of tools and switches.

        For this, curl supported HTTP/2 really early on and helped shaping the protocol and testing out servers.

        For this reason, curl supports HTTP/3 already August 2019. A convenient and well-known client that you can then use to poke on your brand new HTTP/3 servers too and we can work on getting all the rough edges smoothed out before the protocol is reaching its final state.

    • Instructionals/Technical

    • Games

      • Chroma: Bloom And Blight is an ambitious upcoming competitive card game – on Kickstarter and demo up

        Chroma: Bloom And Blight was quite a surprise to be told about today, a very ambitious upcoming competitive card game that will have full Linux support.

        What makes it interesting, it’s that it will be fully free to play. They won’t even be selling card packs, only cosmetics to ensure a truly level game for everyone. Not only are they planning Linux support, it’s already in there and you can play the demo right now on Steam. They’re currently crowdfunding on Kickstarter, with about 5 days left to go and they’re seriously close to hitting their goal but they do require a little push to make it.

      • As Stellaris prepares to turn 4, Paradox have a big free update ready for this month

        Engage hype number one! Stellaris, the awesome grand strategy space game from Paradox Development Studio and Paradox Interactive turns four years old soon and it’s getting a big free update.

        Paradox have now confirmed the 2.7 ‘Wells’ update will launch on May 12! It’s going to touch on a huge amount of existing content to expand it. Lots of new visual effects, new ambient planet reveals, various sound upgrades (“70+” sound bits remastered), a home system each for Tiyanki and Space Amoebas, a new roaming Space Cloud, numerous AI upgrades, improved modding support and loads more.

      • Codemasters have announced DIRT 5 and it will be available on Stadia in early 2021

        Codemasters have announced the first ‘next-gen’ racer with DIRT 5, and the good news for Linux fans is that they’ve already confirmed a Google Stadia release so you can stream it in early 2021.

        Sounds like it’s going to be quite feature-filled. There’s a Career Mode with a narrative voice cast led by the legendary Troy Baker and Nolan North, split screen support for up to four players and of course online play support too full of different events to race through. They also teased a new game mode reveal later this year something that we “have never seen before from the DIRT franchise”.

      • Humble Store has a massive Spring Sale on with Ashes of the Singularity: Escalation FREE to claim

        Humble Store just announced their massive Spring Sale is live, with tons of games discounted and you can grab a free game too.

        Ashes of the Singularity: Escalation is the freebie this time, which sadly didn’t come to Linux although it was planned and they said future titles should be thanks to the work done towards it! You can try your luck with Steam Play Proton otherwise.

        Quite a few big publishers have their games on sale for this including: Team17, Square Enix, Jackbox Games, Codemasters and more. Thanks to those and more, plus hundreds of indie developers there’s some excellent Linux games you can pick up.

    • Desktop Environments/WMs

      • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

        • Ktown Plasma5 packages for Slackware 14.2 will go offline soon

          For a short while after an official stable Slackware release, I keep providing ‘ktown’ packages for the most recent stable Slackware version (which is 14.2 at the time of writing) but once the stable and development releases of Slackware start to diverge too much, I stop updating the Plasma5 packages for the stable release. After all, ‘ktown’ is meant to be the bleeding edge playground for a future Slackware release.

          I recently noticed that people are still downloading and installing my ageing ‘ktown’ packages for Slackware 14.2. Those packages have not been touched since end of 2017, they may contain security holes, and they do not represent the state of development of the KDE software today.

      • GNOME Desktop/GTK

        • GNOME is not the default for Fedora Workstation

          We recently had a Fedora AMA where one of the questions asked is why GNOME is the default desktop for Fedora Workstation. In the AMA we answered why GNOME had been chosen for Fedora Workstation, but we didn’t challenge the underlying assumption built into the way the question was asked, and the answer to that assumption is that it isn’t the default. What I mean with this is that Fedora Workstation isn’t a box of parts, where you have default options that can be replaced, its a carefully procured and assembled operating system aimed at developers, sysadmins and makers in general. If you replace one or more parts of it, then it stops being Fedora Workstation and starts being ‘build your own operating system OS’. There is nothing wrong with wanting to or finding it interesting to build your own operating systems, I think a lot of us initially got into Linux due to enjoying doing that. And the Fedora project provides a lot of great infrastructure for people who want to themselves or through teaming up with others build their own operating systems, which is why Fedora has so many spins and variants available.

          The Fedora Workstation project is something we made using those tools and it has been tested and developed as an integrated whole, not as a collection of interchangeable components. The Fedora Workstation project might of course over time replace certain parts with other parts over time, like how we are migrating from X.org to Wayland. But at some point we are going to drop standalone X.org support and only support X applications through XWayland. But that is not the same as if each of our users individually did the same. And while it might be technically possible for a skilled users to still get things moved back onto X for some time after we make the formal deprecation, the fact is that you would no longer be using ‘Fedora Workstation’. You be using a homebrew OS that contains parts taken from Fedora Workstation.


          So for RHEL we now only offer GNOME as the desktop and the same is true in Fedora Workstation, and that is not because we don’t understand that people enjoy experimenting with other desktops, but because it allows us to work with our customers and users and hardware partners on fixing the issues they have with our operating system, because it is a clearly defined entity, and adding the features they need going forward and properly support the hardware they are using, as opposed to spreading ourselves to thin that we just run around putting on band-aids for the problems reported.

        • Experimental Linux Live OS For Showcasing Wayland Updated With Latest Desktops

          Years ago long before GNOME had great Wayland support and was used by default on the likes of Fedora Workstation and long before other Wayland compositors had mature support along with other areas of the stack, there was a Linux distribution offering up an experimental Linux “Live DVD/USB” OS for showcasing Wayland. That distribution is now out with a new release.

          It’s been a few years since last hearing anything of that OS given the relatively mature Wayland support these days and it being easy to use it as an alternative to X11 on many Linux distributions. But this week RebeccaBlackOS saw a new release.

    • Distributions

      • Reviews

        • Elementary OS 5.1.4 Review: Parental Control Finally Works?

          Elementary OS 5.1 Hera has received a point release with a handful of new features and bug fixes, and we will be reviewing the significant changes in this article. For those new to elementary OS, this Ubuntu-based Linux distribution uses their inhouse built Pantheon desktop environment and AppCenter.


          The User Accounts Settings now only shows more accurate reasons for settings being locked. Also, you will now see a lesser prompt for administrator permission on demand when enabling or disabling accounts.

          The AppCenter is made lesser resource hungry as it will now only check for updates at system startup, although you can force the update by launching the AppCenter yourself.


          Elementary OS 5.1.4 comes as a surprise major update to make the Linux distro reliable and lighter. I think there is still some work left in the new Screen Time & Limits feature. It works well in blocking the apps and setting the time limit for a user account. What do you think of the elementary OS? Do you have specific feedback to the dev team to make it better?

      • BSD

        • HamBSD Development Log 2020-05-07

          I worked on HamBSD today, still looking at improvements to aprsisd(8). My focus today was on writing unit tests for aprsisd.

          I’ve added a few unit tests to test the generation of the TNC2 format packets from AX.25 packets to upload to APRS-IS. There’s still some todo entries there as I’ve not made up packets for all the cases I wanted to check yet.

          These are the first unit tests I’ve written for HamBSD and it’s definitely a different experience compared to writing Python unit tests for example. The framework for the tests uses bsd.regress.mk(5). The tests are C programs that include functions from aprsisd.

          In order to do this I’ve had to split the function that converts AX.25 packets to TNC2 packets out into a seperate file. This is the sort of thing that I’d be more comfortable doing if I had more unit test coverage. It seemed to go OK and hopefully the coverage will improve as I get more used to writing tests in this way.

      • Screenshots/Screencasts

      • SUSE/OpenSUSE

        • QEMU 5, Kismet, BRLTTY Packages Update in Tumbleweed Snapshots

          There have been four openSUSE Tumbleweed snapshots released so far this month and they are all trending stable at a rating of 99, according to the Tumbleweed snapshot reviewer.

          QEMU had a major version update in Tumbleweed this week and a new version of the BRLTTY daemon, which provides access to the Linux console for a blind person using a refreshable braille display, also updated in Tumbleweed earlier this week.

          Snapshot 202000504 brought a new version of GNOME’s photo management application Shotwell. The new Shotwell version fixed an access issue with YouTube via OAuth scope. The bootsplash package Plymouth had more than six months of updates for Tumbleweed users; there were numerous updates in this package and it added support for firmware-splashes with rotation status bit sets and added a plymouth-avoid-umount-hanging-shutdown.patch. The expressive, extensible templating engine python-Jinja2 package updated to version 2.11.2 and fixed about a handful of bugs; one of which fixed a hang when displaying tracebacks on Python 32-bit. Xfce’s window manager, xfwm4, fixed the compositor without the required X11 extensions and fixed the window decorations without XRender extension in version 4.14.2.

      • IBM/Red Hat/Fedora

        • Over 80,000 people tune into virtual Red Hat Summit, crushing last year’s attendance record [Ed: This is a lie. People momentarily tuning into some webstream isn't the same as people flying to an event. Also, Red Hat paid publishers to write puff pieces to get people to click on things. Some publishers openly admitted that Red Hat had paid them for the puff pieces.]

          “We’ve shared the vision of open hybrid cloud for a long, long time,” Whitehurst said. “The issue has always been, obviously, that to land a horizontal platform, the company that kind of lands that platform, the same thing we did with Linux, needs to be able to work with everybody in the ecosystem. Down deep, Red Hat’s in the ecosystem building business.”

          But, he noted, “IBM competes with other members of that ecosystem. So the only way we feel we can confidently leverage the scale of IBM to help ensure that the world ends up with a hybrid horizontal choice of platform is to ensure that Red Hat can work with IBM competitors. Red Hat has to stand on its own so it can work with competitors of IBM, to ensure that the platform is neutral, it’s available to anyone, that any customer anywhere can feel comfortable, if they’re working with Red Hat, they can work with whoever else they want without any type of conflict. And IBM supports that but recognizes we have to leave that separate in order to ensure its success.”

        • Peter Hutterer: Wayland doesn’t support $BLAH [Ed: Red Hat's Peter Hutterer sort of misses the point; at the end of the day people lack things they need in current Wayland implementations]

          In most cases you may encounter (online or on your setup), saying “Wayland doesn’t support $BLAH” is like saying “HTTP doesn’t support $BLAH”. The problem isn’t in with Wayland itself, it’s a missing piece or bug in the compositor you’re using.

          Likewise, saying “I don’t like Wayland” is like saying “I don’t like HTTP”.The vast majority of users will have negative feelings towards the browser, not the transport protocol.

        • IBM Working On More Linux CPU Power Usage Optimizations For Latency-Sensitive Workloads

          The new patch series builds off earlier work published by IBM on providing a per-task “latency_nice” knob for scheduler hints. Latency_nice can be used for indicating latency requirements of a given task so the scheduler can make better decisions. With that latency_nice work published over recent months, among the use-cases talked about there was for better turbo/boost frequency decisions based upon grouping of tasks with similar latency requirements. Additionally, hypothetically having the scheduler not assign low-latency tasks to a CPU encountering AVX-512 based workloads where generally the core frequencies become quite limited.

          With the new patches from IBM’s Parth Shah is idle gating in the presence of latency-sensitive tasks. This work is about preventing the CPU idle governor from dropping to lower power levels when running a task indicated by latency_nice to be low-latency.

        • Open Data Hub 0.6 brings component updates and Kubeflow architecture

          Open Data Hub (ODH) is a blueprint for building an AI-as-a-service platform on Red Hat’s Kubernetes-based OpenShift 4.x. Version 0.6 of Open Data Hub comes with significant changes to the overall architecture as well as component updates and additions. In this article, we explore these changes.

      • Canonical/Ubuntu Family

        • Officially Released: This Remix Of Ubuntu 20.04 Ditches Gnome For Deepin

          Additionally, this new Linux distribution uses official Ubuntu repositories instead of Deepin ones, and the developers have tasked themselves with maintaining the DDE (Deepin Desktop Environment) packages for Ubuntu.

          I gave it a test run last month when the beta was still fresh, and I’m eager to see what refinements have been made since then.

          One other thing worth pointing out: I’m a sucker for projects that have polished websites, and UbuntuDDE comes out of the gate with not just a sharp looking portal, but also official support channels within Telegram and IRC, in addition to Forums.

          That’s likely because this project’s end goal is gaining the favor of Canonical and becoming an official Ubuntu flavor; right now it’s classified as a “Remix” similar to CinnaBuntu… sorry, I mean Ubuntu Cinnamon Edition.

    • Devices/Embedded

    • Free, Libre, and Open Source Software

      • Introducing Scylla Open Source 4.0

        With the release of Scylla Open Source 4.0, we’ve introduced a set of noteworthy production-ready new features, including a DynamoDB-compatible API that lets you to take your locked-in DynamoDB workloads and run them anywhere, a more efficient implementation of Lightweight Transactions (LWT), plus improved and new experimental features such as Change Data capture (CDC), which uses standard CQL tables.

        4.0 is the most expansive release we’ve ever done. After all, it’s rare to release a whole new database API in General Availability (GA), and our Alternator project has finally graduated. In 4.0 we also reach full feature parity with the database of our roots: LWT graduated from experimental mode and is now ready for prime time. Just yesterday, Scylla was tested with Kong, the cloud native API gateway, which relies upon LWT, and it worked as flawlessly as we hoped. This single Github issue of Kong integration shows the long journey we’ve completed to reach full feature parity. The issue was opened in 2015, just as we launched our company out of stealth mode. From that point forward, integration waited for counters, ALTER TABLE, materialized views, indexes, Cassandra Cluster Manager (CCM) integration and finally LWT.

      • The perfect combo with Prometheus and Grafana, and more industry trends

        As part of my role as a senior product marketing manager at an enterprise software company with an open source development model, I publish a regular update about open source community, market, and industry trends for product marketers, managers, and other influencers. Here are five of my and their favorite articles from that update.

      • How Tesla uses open source to generate resilience in modern electric grids

        Tesla can query at any node in this hierarchy to know the aggregate value at that location or query the latest telemetry from an individual site. It can also navigate up and down the hierarchy from any point. The services that perform this real-time hierarchical aggregation run in an Akka cluster. An Akka cluster allows a set of pods with different roles to communicate with each other transparently. The first roll is a set of linearly scalable pods that stream data off Apache Kafka, and they use Akka Streams for back-pressure, bounded resource constraints, and then low latency stream processing.


        If you look at the projects sponsored by the Cloud Native Computing Foundation and the projects that have revolved around Kubernetes, they tend to be low-level infrastructure and operations oriented. You’re far less likely to find application development and middleware types of things.

      • Web Browsers

        • Mozilla

          • The Talospace Project: Firefox 76 on POWER

            Firefox 76 is released. Besides other CSS, HTML and developer features, it refines that somewhat obnoxious zooming bar a bit, improves Picture-in-Picture further (great for livestreams: using it a lot for church), and most notably adds critical alerts for website breaches and improved password security (both generating good secure passwords and notifying you when a password used on one or other sites may have been stolen). The .mozconfigs are unchanged from Firefox 67, which is getting good news, because we’ve been stable without changing build options for quite a while at this point and we might be able to start investigating why some build options fail which should function. In particular, PGO and LTO would be nice to get working.

          • High Performance Web Audio with AudioWorklet in Firefox

            AudioWorklet was first introduced to the web in 2018. Ever since, Mozilla has been investigating how to deliver a “no-compromises” implementation of this feature in the WebAudio API. This week, Audio Worklets landed in the release of Firefox 76. We’re ready to start bridging the gap between what can be done with audio in native applications and what is available on the web.

            Now developers can leverage AudioWorklet to write arbitrary audio processing code, enabling the creation of web apps that weren’t possible before. This exciting new functionality raises the bar for emerging web experiences like 3D games, VR, and music production.

            Audio worklets bring power and flexibility to general purpose real-time audio synthesis and processing. This begins with the addModule() method to specify a script that can generate audio on the fly or perform arbitrary processing of audio. Various kinds of sources can now be connected through the Web Audio API to an AudioWorkletNode for immediate processing. Source examples include an HTMLMediaElement resource, a local microphone, or remote audio. Alternatively, the AudioWorklet script itself can be the source of audio.

          • The Mozilla Blog: Mozilla research shows some machine voices score higher than humans

            In 2019, Mozilla’s Voice team developed a method to evaluate the quality of text-to-speech voices. It turns out there was very little that had been done in the world of text to speech to evaluate voice for listening to long-form content — things like articles, book chapters, or blog posts. A lot of the existing work answered the core question of “can you understand this voice?” So a typical test might use a syntactically correct but meaningless sentence, like “The masterly serials withdrew the collaborative brochure”, and have a listener type that in. That way, the listener couldn’t guess missed words from other words in the sentence. But now that we’ve reached a stage of computerized voice quality where so many voices can pass the comprehension test with flying colours, what’s the next step?

            How can we determine if a voice is enjoyable to listen to, particularly for long-form content — something you’d listen to for more than a minute or two? Our team had a lot of experience with this: we had worked closely with our colleagues at Pocket to develop the Pocket Listen feature, so you can listen to articles you’ve saved, while driving or cooking. But we still didn’t know how to definitively say that one voice led to a better listening experience than another.


            That raises a whole host of interesting questions, concerns and opportunities. This is a snapshot of computerized voices, in the last two years or so. Even since we’ve done this study, we’ve seen the quality of voices improve. What happens when computers are more pleasant to listen to than our own voices? What happens when our children might prefer to listen to our computer reading a story than ourselves?

            A potentially bigger ethical question comes with the question of persuasion. One question we didn’t ask in this study was whether people trusted or believed the content that was read to them. What happens when we can increase the number of people who believe something simply by changing the voice that it is read in? There are entire careers exploring the boundaries of influence and persuasion; how does easy access to “trustable” voices change our understanding of what signals point to trustworthiness? The BBC has been exploring British attitudes to regional accents in a similar way — drawing, fascinatingly, from a study of how British people reacted to different voices on the radio in 1927. We are clearly continuing a long tradition of analyzing the impact of voice and voices on how we understand and feel about information.

          • Mozilla starts funding open source coronavirus tech projects

            Mozilla has revealed the first set of open source projects that will receive funding for developing innovative technology for use during the coronavirus pandemic.

            On Wednesday, the non-profit said that three recipients, so far, have been selected from over 160 applicants from 30 countries.

            The COVID-19 Solutions Fund Awards were opened less than two weeks ago. The scheme, launched under the Mozilla Open Source Support (MOSS) awards program, offers applicants up to $50,000 each to develop open source technology that tackles issues caused by COVID-19.

          • March Madness 2020 is cancelled (in May)

            Welcome to May 2020, where everything is terrible.

            Let’s take a look at a bug reported against a site rendered irrelevant by the world we find ourselves currently living in, one where March Madness 2020 was cancelled.

            That site is bracketchallenge.ncaa.com, which I’ve never used, but I gather is fun cross between Pogs and college basketball. But sponsored by a Fortune 500 American bank.


            So what are the “security flaws that allow for exploits of authentication” in non-Chrome Mobile browsers? The first rule of playing basketball pogs, it turns out, is to just fabricate nonsense. Actually, I can see why children and adults (and banks!) love March Madness so much.

      • Productivity Software/LibreOffice/Calligra

        • What’s Expected in LibreOffice 7.0. All You Need to Know.

          The upcoming major release of LibreOffice version 7.0 under development at the moment. I have extracted some information about the possible features and updates from official sites. Have a look.

        • Join the first Bug Hunting Session for LibreOffice 7.0!

          LibreOffice 7.0 is being developed by our worldwide community, and is due to be released in early August 2020 – see the release notes describing the new features here. Of course, there’s still a lot more development to come, so more features will be added to that page in the coming months!

          In order to find, report and triage bugs, the LibreOffice QA team is organizing the first Bug Hunting Session for LibreOffice 7.0 on Monday May 11, 2020. Tests will be performed on the first Alpha version, which will be available on the pre-releases server a few days before the event. Builds will be available for Linux (DEB and RPM), macOS and Windows, and can be installed and run in parallel along with the production version.

      • CMS

        • The Future of WordPress: The Block Editor Is Here to Stay

          Soviet-style mind manipulation and propaganda for certain unnamed companies.

          It is not all negative. Far more comments are from people who are ecstatic about the current editor and the upcoming features that will expand the block system to other areas of WordPress.

          However, I felt the need to address a recent request that we stop covering the block editor. While I cannot speak for our entire staff, there are two simple truths about why I write about blocks.

      • FSF

        • A roundup of recent updates to our licensing materials: November 2019 to April 2020

          The Hippocratic License 1.1

          This license is the latest addition to our license list, but unfortunately, it falls in the nonfree category. It restricts uses of the software “that actively and knowingly endanger, harm, or otherwise threaten the physical, mental, economic, or general well-being of individuals or groups in violation of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights.” While avoiding harm like this is of vital importance, a copyright license isn’t necessarily the correct tool for achieving it. A restriction like this on Freedom 0 (the freedom to run the program for any purpose) may be difficult to enforce, as well as for users to understand, and may cause unintended consequences that could worsen the same problems it aims to solve.

        • GNU Projects

      • Programming/Development

        • Carson Black (jan Pontaoski): Go and Parsing

          Go is one of the best languages to write a parser and tools that need some form of parsing in.


          Participle is a Go library that makes writing and parsing data into ASTs extremely easy. I’ll demonstrate a simple usage of it for authoring a better Wayland protocol syntax that can transpile to XML.

        • Python

          • Seaborn Line Plots: A Detailed Guide with Examples (Multiple Lines)

            In this Python data visualization tutorial, we will learn how to create line plots with Seaborn. First, we’ll start with the simplest example (with one line) and then we’ll look at how to change the look of the graphs, and how to plot multiple lines, among other things.

          • Core Workflow updates – Python Language Summit 202

            The PyCon 2015 sprint was the first time this blogger contributed to Python—or rather, I tried to. The three patches I submitted that year are awaiting a review to this day. In recent years, however, the core team has made bold changes to their development workflow to make their tasks easier, to spread responsibility more widely, and to improve the experience of contributors. When I submitted a patch in the 2018 sprints it was reviewed and merged in a few weeks. Mariatta Wijaya has led many of these changes. She presented the latest updates to the core workflow.

          • Sharing our research and licenses for going online with Python events

            In March 2020, we had to make a tough decision on whether to cancel EuroPython 2020 or run it online. Since we did not want to lose continuity and all the work we had already put into the in-person event, we decided to go for an online version.

            Now, just as many other in-person events, running the online version required a lot of research, experimentation, gaining knowledge in using online conference tools and finding a concept which would allow us to carry over as much of the in-person conference experience to the online version as possible.

        • Rust

          • The Rust Programming Language Blog: Announcing Rust 1.43.1

            The Rust team has published a new point release of Rust, 1.43.1. Rust is a programming language that is empowering everyone to build reliable and efficient software.

            If you have a previous version of Rust installed via rustup, getting Rust 1.43.1 is as easy as:

            rustup update stable

            If you don’t have it already, you can get rustup from the appropriate page on our website, and check out the detailed release notes for 1.43.1 on GitHub.

  • Leftovers

    • Integrity/Availability

      • Proprietary

        • Pseudo-Open Source

          • Privatisation/Privateering

            • Linux Foundation

              • Linux Foundation, ToIP Foundation Unite to Tackle Digital Trust

                Governments, nonprofits, and private sector firms across finance, health care, and enterprise software have teamed up with the Linux Foundation to build the Trust over IP (ToIP) Foundation, an independent project to enable trustworthy exchange and verification of data between any two parties on the internet.

                The ToIP Foundation aims to establish a common standard for consumers and businesses to ensure data is coming from a trusted source. Digital identity models that leverage interoperable digital wallets and credentials in tandem the new W3C Verifiable Credentials standard will be used to address these challenges and enable consumers, businesses, and governments to better manage risk, improve digital trust, and protect all forms of identity online.

                The “Trust over IP Stack” employs a dual-stack approach of technical interoperability and policy interoperability that originated out of the HyperLedger digital identity projects Indy, Aries, and Ursa. The umbrella HyperLedger open source project is focused on business applications of blockchain technology, as opposed to cryptocurrency applications.

              • SPDX 2.2 Specification Released [Ed: Linux Foundation outsourced SPDX to Microsoft]

                The SPDX technical community is delighted to announce that the 2.2 version of the specification has been released! We started working on the first version of the SPDX specification 10 years ago, and it has continued to improve and evolve to support the automation of more software bill of materials information over the years. This release incorporates a significant amount of input from our tooling and user communities to enable new use cases to be better represented.


                The project members would like to thank our recent contributors to this release, who have enriched it with their new perspectives, as well as our ongoing participants. A full list of those who have contributed by participating in the many discussions, adding comments, and making suggestions for improvements to the SPDX specification as it’s evolved over the last 10 years can be found at the Credits page!

        • Security

          • Critical security issue in Salt Stack

            Security reseachers have identified a critical security vulnerability in the salt stack management framework.

            If you salt “master” was reachable over the network by attackers, attackers could inject code into your salt managed hosts. At this time there are already reports of exploits in the wild.

            SUSE has released security updates for its salt packages, please update them as soon as possible.

          • GoDaddy suffers hack of SSH credentials

            GoDaddy, one of the domain registrars and web hosting companies in the world, has admitted customer usernames and passwords for connecting remotely to Linux servers via SSH have been compromised, forcing the providers to reset passwords on 28,000 accounts.

            “We recently identified suspicious activity on a subset of our servers and immediately began an investigation,” the company said in letters sent to customers, a copy of which was filed with California’s attorney general. “The investigation found that an unauthorized individual had access to your login information used to connect to SSH on your hosting account. We have no evidence that any files were added or modified on your account. The unauthorized individual has been blocked from our systems, and we continue to investigate potential impact across our environment.”

            GoDaddy told Forbes.com that it discovered the compromise on April 23rd, but there are news reports saying the breach occurred last October. If accurate, it took the company some six months to discover.

            Reducing the dwell time an attacker is in an environment is vital to reducing the impact of a breach of security controls. The longer an attacker is on a network the more time they have to find and exploit key assets. Some studies suggest the average time to detection of an attack is between 75 and 100 days.


            This breach underscores the importance of hosting providers forcing multi-factor authentication on customers, Rossi said, or disabling password authentication altogether and require strong public-key authentication for all SSH access.

            While GoDaddy has enforced password resets for affected accounts, Rossi cautioned that may not be enough. The attacker could have uploaded their SSH public key to the server (add it to the $HOME/.ssh/authorized_keys file). If the public key is added for an account, the attacker can use it to bypass the password authentication, he said. This means that even if the password is reset, the attacker will have SSH access with the rogue SSH public key.

          • Security 101: Two Factor Authentication (2FA)

            In this part of my “Security 101” series, I want to talk about different mechanisms for two factor authentication (2FA) as well as why we need it in the first place. Most of my considerations will be for the web and web applications, and I’m explicitly ignoring local login (e.g., device unlock) because the threat model is so different.

    • Monopolies

      • Patents

        • Software Patents

          • Prior Art found on former Theranos patents being asserted against medical diagnostic companies

            Amid the COVID-19 crisis, non-practicing entity, Labrador Diagnostics, LLC, a NPE owned by Fortress Investment Group (Softbank), has asserted two diagnostic testing patents originally owned by Theranos, the now-defunct diagnostics company run by Elizabeth Holmes. Holmes is now under Federal indictment for fraud and listed as the lead inventor on both patents. Those patents read on testing for strains of coronavirus; the suit continues.

            In light of the important public interest concerns this raises, and as part of the Open Covid Pledge, Unified Patents asked the public for prior art or other grounds of invalidity for claim 1 of U.S. Patent 10,533,994 and for claim 1 of U.S. Patent 8,283,155. In addition to the submissions below, APEX STANDARDS, a standard-essentiality and patent-validity analysis provider, has shared US and non-US prior arts, as well as, corresponding claim charts against US 10,533,994 and US 8,283,155 (click on the links to view their results).

      • Trademarks

        • The Bad Spaniel Gets a Treat: VIP Products LLC v Jack Daniels Properties Inc

          Sometimes, even a bad dog is good enough to get a treat. In 2018, VIP Products – the makers of several dog toys resembling well-known beverage bottles with dog themes – was reprimanded with a ruling of trademark infringement regarding their product, the “Bad Spaniels Silly Squeaker.”

          Whiskey maker, Jack Daniels brought the claims against VIP, alleging trademark infringement and dilution by tarnishment of their trademarks and trade dress resulting from sales of the Bad Spaniels toy. The court agreed on both claims, permanently enjoining future commercial exploitation of the Bad Spaniels toy.

          VIP appealed this ruling to the 9th Circuit, arguing that the Jack Daniels bottle was aesthetically functional and lacked distinctiveness and thus, the trademark rights in the bottle should be cancelled.


          Although the 9th Circuit declined to apply the Rogers test, this Kat finds it unlikely that the Bad Spaniels toy satisfies either prong. The toy is artistically relevant, as it is meant to evoke the Jack Daniels bottle design and trademarks through its shape, color, and labeling for the humorous juxtaposition of a dog using a human product. The artistic relevance may be further accentuated by the fact that dogs cannot and should not drink alcohol, as referenced by the name, Bad Spaniel.

          Regarding the second prong, it seems difficult to believe that consumers are explicitly misled as to the source or content of the work by the Bad Spaniels toy. Replacing “Old No. 7 Brand” with “The Old No. 2″ is not the sort of image that one may expect Jack Daniels to seek to portray, were it to begin making dog toys. Nothing about the toy suggests an association between the producer of the Bad Spaniel and the makers of Jack Daniels whiskey.

      • Copyrights

        • Does the duration of the storage matter? Live streaming providers as ‘online content sharing service providers’ under the DSM Directive

          At a time when physical proximity is strongly discouraged or prohibited tout court through various
          measures – ranging from ‘social distancing’ to ‘self-isolation’, from ‘quarantine’ up to strictly enforced ‘lockdowns’ – people have been discovering new or enhancing further the ways through which they connect at a distance, including online. Internet communities are not a new phenomenon, though the events that have been rapidly unfolding over the past few months, due to the Covid-19 outbreak, have contributed to the establishment of new forms of socialization.

          For instance, club and music festival goers have nowhere to go these days, but they can still enjoy their favourite DJ sets: the likes of Bob Sinclar, Diplo, and Luciano have been live streaming their mixes through various online platforms, including Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, and Twitch.


          Article 17 of the DSM Directive has introduced a detailed regime for OCSSPs, which moves from the assumption that these providers perform acts of communication/making available to the public. Article 2(6) provides a definition of ‘OCSSP’, which incorporates the ‘storage’ of protected subject matter as one of the relevant requirements or limitations. The provision does not clarify whether the storage is subject to any temporal requirements to be ‘storage’ for the purpose of Article 17, but there appear to be no particular requirements or restrictions in relation to the temporal dimension thereof.

          Live streaming providers that behave like Streaming Platform X in the example above are to be regarded as OCSSPs in principle, even if the storage made of UUC (in the example: a live stream, which also incorporates protected subject matter, e.g., third-party sound recordings) is limited in time. What is relevant for the qualification of a provider as an OCSSP is the purpose that the provider pursues (to store and give the public access to a large amount of protected subject matter uploaded by users for profit-making purposes) and, with that, the role that it performs (organization and promotion of such subject matter), not the duration (e.g., permanent or temporary storage of protected content) of the activity at hand. As such, like other OCSSPs, also providers behaving like Streaming Platform X appear in principle required to make best efforts to seek to conclude licences for the communication/making available of third-party protected content in order to eventually secure such licences or protect themselves from liability in accordance with the regime envisaged by Article 17(4) of the DSM Directive.

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DecorWhat Else is New

  1. IRC Proceedings: Tuesday, January 31, 2023

    IRC logs for Tuesday, January 31, 2023

  2. Links 31/01/2023: Catchup Again, Wayland in Xfce 4.20

    Links for the day

  3. Links 31/01/2023: elementary OS 7

    Links for the day

  4. Intimidation Against Nitrux Development Team Upsets the Community and Makes the Media Less Trustworthy

    Nitrux is being criticised for being “very unappealing”; but a look behind the scenes reveals an angry reviewer (habitual mouthpiece of the Linux Foundation and Linux foes) trying to intimidate Nitrux developers, who are unpaid volunteers rather than “corporate” developers

  5. Links 31/01/2023: GNOME 44 Wallpapers and Alpha

    Links for the day

  6. Free and Open Source Software Developers' European Meeting (FOSDEM) and KU Leuven Boosting Americans and Cancellers of the Father of Free Software

    The Free Software Foundation (FSF) and its founder, Richard M. Stallman (RMS), along with the SFLC one might add, have been under a siege by the trademark-abusing FSFE and SFC; Belgium helps legitimise the ‘fakes’

  7. Techrights in the Next 5 or 10 Years

    Now that I’m free from the shackles of a company (it deteriorated a lot after grabbing Gates Foundation money under an NDA) the site Techrights can flourish and become more active

  8. 60 Days of Articles About Sirius 'Open Source' and the Long Road Ahead

    The Sirius ‘Open Source’ series ended after 60 days (parts published every day except the day my SSD died completely and very suddenly); the video above explains what’s to come and what lessons can be learned from the 21-year collective experience (my wife and I; work periods combined) in a company that still claims, in vain, to be “Open Source”

  9. IRC Proceedings: Monday, January 30, 2023

    IRC logs for Monday, January 30, 2023

  10. Taking Techrights to the Next Level in 2023

    I've reached a state of "closure" when it comes to my employer (almost 12 years for me, 9+ years for my wife); expect Techrights to become more active than ever before and belatedly publish important articles, based on longstanding investigations that take a lot of effort

  11. The ISO Delusion: When the Employer Doesn’t Realise That Outsourcing Clients' Passwords to LassPass After Security Breaches Is a Terrible Idea

    The mentality or the general mindset at Sirius ‘Open Source’ was not compatible with that of security conscientiousness and it seemed abundantly clear that paper mills (e.g. ISO certification) cannot compensate for that

  12. Links 30/01/2023: Plasma Mobile 23.01 and GNU Taler 0.9.1

    Links for the day

  13. EPO Management Isn't Listening to Staff, It's Just Trying to Divide and Demoralise the Staff Instead

    “On 18 January 2023,” the staff representatives tell European Patent Office (EPO) colleagues, “the staff representation met with the administration in a Working Group on the project “Bringing Teams Together”. It was the first meeting since the departure of PD General Administration and the radical changes made to the project. We voiced the major concerns of staff, the organization chaos and unrest caused by the project among teams and made concrete proposals.”

  14. Links 30/01/2023: Coreboot 4.19 and Budgie 10.7

    Links for the day

  15. IRC Proceedings: Sunday, January 29, 2023

    IRC logs for Sunday, January 29, 2023

  16. [Meme] With Superheroes Like These...

    Ever since the new managers arrived the talent has fled the company that falsely credits itself with "Open Source"

  17. Not Tolerating Proprietary 'Bossware' in the Workplace (or at Home in Case of Work-From-Home)

    The company known as Sirius ‘Open Source’ generally rejected… Open Source. Today’s focus was the migration to Slack.

  18. The ISO Delusion: A Stack of Proprietary Junk (Slack) Failing Miserably

    When the company where I worked for nearly 12 years spoke of pragmatism it was merely making excuses to adopt proprietary software at the expense of already-working and functional Free software

  19. Debian 11 on My Main Rig: So Far Mostly OK, But Missing Some Software From Debian 10

    Distributions of GNU/Linux keep urging us to move to the latest, but is the latest always the greatest? On Friday my Debian 10 drive died, so I started moving to Debian 11 on a new drive and here's what that did to my life.

  20. Stigmatising GNU/Linux for Not Withstanding Hardware Failures

    Nowadays "the news" is polluted with a lot of GNU/Linux-hostile nonsense; like with patents, the signal-to-noise ratio is appalling and here we deal with a poor 'report' about "Linux servers" failing to work

  21. Microsofters Inside Sirius 'Open Source'

    Sirius ‘Open Source’ has been employing incompetent managers for years — a sentiment shared among colleagues by the way; today we examine some glaring examples with redacted communications to prove it

  22. Links 29/01/2023: GNOME 43.3 Fixes and Lots About Games

    Links for the day

  23. The Hey Hype Machine

    "Hey Hype" or "Hey Hi" (AI) has been dominating the press lately and a lot of that seems to boil down to paid-for marketing; we need to understand what's truly going on and not be distracted by the substance-less hype

  24. IRC Proceedings: Saturday, January 28, 2023

    IRC logs for Saturday, January 28, 2023

  25. Unmasking AI

    A guest article by Andy Farnell

  26. The ISO Delusion/Sirius Corporation: A 'Tech' Company Run by Non-Technical People

    Sirius ‘Open Source’ was hiring people who brought to the company a culture of redundant tasks and unwanted, even hostile technology; today we continue to tell the story of a company run by the CEO whose friends and acquaintances did severe damage

  27. Links 28/01/2023: Lots of Catching Up (Had Hardware Crash)

    Links for the day

  28. IRC Proceedings: Friday, January 27, 2023

    IRC logs for Friday, January 27, 2023

  29. Microsoft DuckDuckGo Falls to Lowest Share in 2 Years After Being Widely Exposed as Microsoft Proxy, Fake 'Privacy'

    DuckDuckGo, according to this latest data from Statcounter, fell from about 0.71% to just 0.58%; all the gains have been lost amid scandals, such as widespread realisation that DuckDuckGo is a Microsoft informant, curated by Microsoft and hosted by Microsoft (Bing is meanwhile laying off many people, but the media isn’t covering that or barely bothers)

  30. This is What the Microsoft-Sponsored Media Has Been Hyping Up for Weeks (Ahead of Microsoft Layoffs)

    Reprinted with permission from Ryan

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