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07.13.20

Links 14/7/2020: Claws Mail 3.17.6 and RSS Guard 3.7.0 Released

Posted in News Roundup at 6:53 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

  • GNU/Linux

    • Desktop/Laptop

      • Star Lite Mk III Linux Laptop Is Now Available for Pre-Order from Star Labs

        Star Labs just informed me today that they’ve launched the pre-orders for the lightweight Star Lite Mk III Linux laptop from only $428 USD.

        Featuring a lightweight design with a redesigned chassis, the Star Lite MK III Linux laptop features an 11.6-inch LED-backlit Arc IPS matte display with Full HD (1920×1080) resolution and 16:9 aspect ration, which users offers glare-free viewing thanks to the a hard coat that also boasts durability.

        Under the hood, the Linux laptop is powered by a 1.1GHz Quad-Core Intel Pentium Silver N5000 processor that can go as high as 2.7GHz when boosted and promises up to 29% performance increase. It also features 8GB 2400MHz LPDDR4 RAM for up to 33% faster memory.

        It also features Intel UHD 605 graphics, a fanless design, a smoother glass trackpad, improved audio system, backlit keyboard, as well as an ultra-fast 240GB over-provisioned Star Drive SSD with up to 560MB/s read speeds and up to 540MB/s write speeds.

      • The next generation of the Purism Linux laptop is on its way

        For most Linux desktop users who want a ready-to-run Linux laptop, I recommend the latest high-end Dell XPS 13. I can also suggest System76 or ZaReason PCs or laptops for those who want top-of-the-line Linux hardware. But if privacy, security, and free software are at the top of your “Want” list, then you should check out Purism, maker of free software and Linux-powered laptops, and its next-generation Librem 14 laptop.

    • Server

      • CentOS Vs. Ubuntu Server : Everything You Need to Know

        Choosing the perfect Linux distribution to set up your server can be confusing since Linux provides a limitless number of options. The main reason behind these many distributions is because Linux is an opensource platform. Anybody with the required skills can contribute to the development or build and release their distribution. Currently, there are more than 600 Linux Desktop and Server distributions in the market.

        Despite these many distributions, there are two principal Linux server distributions dominant in the market – CentOS and Ubuntu Server. Both are excellent choices for a server, and they both have their advantages over the other.

        In this CentOS vs. Ubuntu comparison, we will look at the key features of both operating systems to guide you in choosing the right distributions for your Virtual Private Server.

        Before shedding light on these two well-matched opponents’ features and services, let’s have a brief look at each of them.

    • Kernel Space

      • Linux founder tells Intel to stop inventing ‘magic instructions’ and ‘start fixing real problems’

        Linux Torvalds, the creator of Linux, offered up some interesting thoughts on Intel’s Advanced Vector Extensions 512 (AVX-512) instruction set, calling it a “power virus” that was only created to make the company’s CPU hardware perform well in benchmarks. He also admitted to being “biased” and “grumpy” in his assessment.

        His comments came in a mailing list (via Phoronix) discussing an article suggesting AVX-512 might not be part of Intel’s upcoming Alder Lake architecture. If that comes to pass, it will be just fine by Torvalds.

        “I hope AVX512 dies a painful death, and that Intel starts fixing real problems instead of trying to create magic instructions to then create benchmarks that they can look good on. I hope Intel gets back to basics: gets their process working again, and concentrate more on regular code that isn’t HPC or some other pointless special case,” Torvalds said.

        Intel introduced AVX-512 in 2013, initially as part of its Xeon Phi x200 and Skylake-X processor lines. It has also found its way into more current CPU architectures, including Ice Lake.

      • Linus Torvalds: I hope Intel’s AVX-512 ‘dies a painful death’

        He notes that “in the heyday of x86″, Intel’s rivals always outperformed it on FP loads.

        “Intel’s FP performance sucked (relatively speaking), and it matter not one iota. Because absolutely nobody cares outside of benchmarks,” Torvalds said.

        “The same is largely true of AVX-512 now – and in the future. Yes, you can find things that care. No, those things don’t sell machines in the big picture.”

        He continued his criticism by saying AVX512 has real downsides.

        “I’d much rather see that transistor budget used on other things that are much more relevant. Even if it’s still FP math (in the GPU, rather than AVX-512). Or just give me more cores (with good single-thread performance, but without the garbage like AVX-512) like AMD did.”

        Web performance firm Cloudflare has written about the performance impact of AVX-512. It advised customers who don’t need AVX-512 for high-performance tasks to disable AVX-512 execution on the server and desktop to avoid its “accidental” throttling.

      • Kernel prepatch 5.8-rc5

        The 5.8-rc5 kernel prepatch is out for testing; it’s a relatively large set of changes. “Maybe I’m in denial, but I still think we might hit the usual release schedule. A few more weeks to go before I need to make that decision, so it won’t be keeping me up at night.”

      • Linus Torvalds Approves Inclusive Terminology for Linux Kernel

        As reported previously, many companies and organizations are reviewing their use of racist and exclusionary language, and the Linux kernel development team has been doing the same.

        Last week, Linux creator Linus Torvalds approved an “inclusive terminology” proposal from Dan Williams for the Linux 5.8 repository, saying he “did not see a reason to wait for the next merge window.”

        This change means that, going forward, Linux developers will “avoid introducing new usage” of the terms “master/slave” and ‘’blacklist/whitelist.”

      • systemd-oomd Looks Like It Will Come Together For systemd 247

        Systemd-oomd is the out-of-memory daemon developed by Facebook and systemd developers. They are aiming for this to be better Linux handling of out-of-memory / low memory situations. Facebook originally wrote their OOMD code for their servers and since then has continued to be refined and adapted so it works out equally as well on desktops and more.

        Systemd-oomd polls systemd for OOMD-enabled cgroups to monitor them and kill based on memory pressure or swap usage. The systemd-oomd behavior is controlled via a new oomd.conf configuration file. Cgroups will need to employ EnableOomdKill if they want to be killed when under pressure.

    • Benchmarks

      • Radeon RADV+ACO Vulkan Performance Is In Great Shape For Mesa 20.2

        With the Mesa Radeon Vulkan driver “RADV” recently switching its default to the ACO shader compiler back-end that is developed with the support of Valve rather than the existing AMDGPU LLVM back-end that is the official open-source AMD shader compiler solution, here are some fresh Linux gaming benchmarks of the RADV driver on the in-development Mesa 20.2 comparing the now-default RADV+ACO configuration against that of the RADV AMDGPU LLVM back-end.

        Using Mesa 20.2-devel as of 7 July and Linux 5.8 Git, these fresh RADV ACO vs. AMDGPU LLVM banchmarks were carried out on the Intel Core i9 10900K system running Ubuntu 20.04 LTS with these software modifications. For those curious how RADV stacks up against AMDGPU-PRO and AMDVLK, there will be some benchmarks comparing those Vulkan driver options as well later this month closer to the Mesa 20.2 branching.

    • Applications

      • Claws Mail 3.17.6 Released with Phishing URL Warning, More Privacy Options

        Coming about five months after the release of version 3.17.5, Claws Mail 3.17.6 is here to implement a new Phishing warning that will prompt users whenever they copy a phishing URL, in addition to clicking a phishing URL.

        New privacy options are also in place starting with this release. Users will now be warned when sending an email if the selected privacy system is set to “None” and the automatic signing and/or encrypting is enabled.

      • espanso: An Open Source Cross-Platform Text Expander That Will Help You Type Faster and be More Productive

        If you’re using keyboard macros or mouse macros, you’re probably already saving a lot of time to get things done.

        But, you can’t just use macros to type everything. Yes, maybe a thing or two, but not a lot of things. And, for that very reason, a text expander should come in very handy.

        In this article, I’ll take a look at espanso, which is an open-source text expander.

      • CopyQ Clipboard Manager 3.12.0 Released (Ubuntu PPA)

        Advanced clipboard manager CopyQ 3.12.0 was released yesterday with new script function, dark mode improvements, and various bug-fixes.

        CopyQ is a free open-source clipboard editor with editing and scripting features.

      • Avidemux 2.7.6 Brings New Encoder/Decoder and Enhancements

        The free and open source video editor, encoder Avidemux introduces new encoder/decoder in its new release version 2.7.6 and many improvements.

        Avidemux is a free and open source non-linear video and audio editor used for simple filtering, cutting and encoding jobs. If you want a basic and lightweight video/audio editor, encoder for Linux, this the utility you should use. Along with the basic features, it has the ability to automate tasks using jobs and scripting. Avidemux supports popular file formats for editing e.g. AVI, DVD compatible MPEG files, MP4 and ASF.

      • RSS Guard 3.7.0

        RSS Guard is a simple (yet powerful) feed reader. It is able to fetch the most known feed formats, including RSS/RDF and ATOM. It’s free, it’s open-source. RSS Guard currently supports Czech, Dutch, English, French, German, Italian. RSS Guard will never depend on other services – this includes online news aggregators like Feedly, The Old Reader and others.

      • Lf File Manager: Image Previews Sort Of Work I Guess
    • Instructionals/Technical

    • Games

      • Godot community poll 2020

        It’s this time of the year again! Help us better understand who is using Godot, what are your needs and towards where Godot usage is trending by completing the anonymous community poll! This is a short poll that should take a few minutes to complete.

      • Inspired by Settlers II, the open source Widelands has a new test build up

        Settlers II is an absolute classic and Widelands does a pretty good job of carrying the torch. Recently, a huge new update went out in the form of a Release Candidate. A Release Candidate means it’s not quite finished but ready enough for more public testing. Build 21 of Widelands is absolutely massive too, full of new features and fixes.

        The changelog is frankly ridiculously long, too long to fully go over. Safe to say though, it’s going to feel like a whole new game. The AI is smarter, there’s new official maps, the build system to compile it has been upgraded, support for advanced graphical features in the game engine like mipmaps, some new graphics throughout the game like road textures and footbridge eye candy, a complete overhaul of the sound handler and a ridiculous amount more.

      • The fab retro tactical RPG ‘Fates of Ort’ in now on GOG

        Fates of Ort, a retro RPG with a tactical approach to the combat and one where time only moves where you move is now available on GOG.

        This is not turn-based in the traditional sense, it’s more like everything is just paused. Perhaps a little closer to SUPERHOT than anything else, except it’s an RPG not a shooter. It’s so ridiculously fluid in action too, and honestly it’s just great. A welcome entry into the RPG genre. With a unique magic system too, one that requires a little thought, as it can suck your own life away to use it.

      • Narrative-heavy RPG ‘Vagrus – The Riven Realms’ has a free Prologue out now

        Vagrus – The Riven Realms, an upcoming turn-based narrative exploration RPG now has a Prologue available to get a feel for if it might be your thing.

        It has a strong emphasis on the narrative side of it, with a fair amount of reading being needed while you explore and travel across a dark fantasy world as the leader of a caravan. This is a world that was absolutely annihilated by the gods, who didn’t like what they saw, and now unspeakable horrors roam the lands. This Prologue contains the beginning sections of the game – both from the more narrative-driven introductory part and from the open-world main campaign.

      • CARRION brings on the grisly reverse-horror on July 23

        Phobia Game Studio and Devolver Digital recently announced that CARRION, a reverse-horror where you’re the thing lurking in the dark will release on July 23.

        I couldn’t be any more excited about this, seriously I’m so hyped about it after playing through the demo three times because it’s just so brilliantly designed. You are an amorphous creature of unknown origins, stalking and consuming those that imprisoned you.

      • Cloud Miners is an upcoming 2D co-op space mining and exploration game

        Inspired by Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime, the upcoming Cloud Miners looks like it could be a fun blend of genres to play in some local co-op sessions.

        “You and your shipmates have been attacked and your ship destroyed! A Cloud Corp ship was nearby and able to save the crew at the last minute, and now you are indebted to Cloud Corp. In order to buy a new ship, and your freedom back, you must toil away mining asteroids and planets of their valuable resources, running on suspicious missions for Cloud Corp and entertaining spectators in the C.L.A.A.S.H. Coliseum battle arena. Your lives now belong to Cloud Corp, and it’s up to you to take your power back!”

    • Desktop Environments/WMs

      • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

        • Early Work On KDE Frameworks 6 Continues

          KDE developer Kevin Ottens has offered a fresh KDE Frameworks 6 progress report after acknowledging some months have passed without any update.

          While Qt 6.0 isn’t shipping until late in the air and KDE Frameworks 6 is still in the early stages of development, they are still making progress in avoiding use of deprecated code and other big code changes/clean-ups reserved for major version bumps. This includes recent changes like replacing KIO’s KLocalSocket usage with QLocalSocket, dropping KStatusBarOfflineIndicator, commit tooling to check for SPDX headers, and many other technical changes. Development on KF6 is expected to really heat up following the availability of Qt 6.0, currently scheduled for November.

        • CMake-Based Qt Creator Snapshots

          About a year ago we started porting the build system that we use for building Qt Creator itself from qmake to CMake. Nowadays we are in the state that many Qt Creator developers use CMake for building Qt Creator for their daily work, but the official packages are still based on the qmake build.

        • Week #6 Progress [MyPaint Engine]

          Last week my prime focus was to add more and more settings in the preset editor and so as to make mypaint brushes a bit more customizable. I used KisCurveOptionWidget class which Krita already has and modified it so that it can accomodate the settings and dynamic mypaint brush options. This went on to become a lot more complicated than I anticipated. Although, it works fine there are still a lot of bugs and finishing required to mark this as complete.

      • GNOME Desktop/GTK

        • Cover Thumbnailer Shows Folder Thumbnails For Image And Music Directories (Nautilus, Caja, Thunar)

          For music folders (needs to have cover.jpg/png inside the folder), the application lets you choose the thumbnail resize method (crop or preserve), and if to allow mosaic or not. For the pictures folder, you can choose the maximum number of pictures to show on the thumbnail. Besides the default Pictures and Music folders, you can add extra folders, and ignore folders if you wish.

        • GNOME Optimizations Continue In Striving For Faster 4K Experience

          Canonical’s Daniel Van Vugt has been engaged in several weeks now in optimizing GNOME for a faster 4K experience particularly when using Intel graphics but many of these optimizations pan out for other GPUs and resolutions too. Over the past week he’s been working on yet more optimizations.

          We have been reporting on many of Daniel’s significant performance optimizations and he’s seemingly had no shortage of finding areas to optimize. As part of his status update for the weekly Ubuntu desktop team reports, Daniel noted, “Continued progress toward making 4K (or any resolution) faster and smoother…”

        • Molly de Blanc: (Some) Highlights from GUADEC

          I positively adore my coworkers. I’ll spare you how great they are, and instead focus on some of the talks they’ll be giving.

          GKT Core Developer Emmanuele Bassi will be giving two talks: Being a GNOME Maintainer: Best Practices and Known Traps and Archaeology of Accessibility. Being a GNOME Maintainer will discuss what it means to be a GNOME maintainer, and Archaeology of Accessibility will be a technical deep dive into the accessibility work Emmanuele and others have been doing around accessibility. (Note: “Accessibility” refers to the ability of technology to accommodate the needs of users who have disabilities, visual impairments, etc.)

          Melissa Wu, who is organizing the Community Engagement Challenge, will give two sessions as well. In her first, Remember What It’s Like to Be New to GNOME, she’ll talk about her experience coming to the GNOME community only a few months ago, getting to know people, and making things happen.

          Melissa will also join me for A Year of Strategic Initiatives at GNOME, during which we’ll talk about a range of things that have happened at GNOME over the past year (and some future plans), with a focus on organizational sustainability and the initiatives that make us excited to work here.

          Executive Director Neil McGovern will lead the Annual General Meeting, to provide everyone with an overview of what we’ve been doing and what we will do, and answer your questions.

    • Distributions

      • RaspEX Kodi Linux OS Now Supports the Latest Raspberry Pi 4 with 8GB RAM

        Arne Exton informs me today about a new release of his RaspEX Kodi Linux OS for Raspberry Pi computers, which is now supported on the latest 8GB RAM Raspberry Pi 4 model.

        Based on the Debian GNU/Linux 10 “Buster” operating system and the official Raspberry Pi OS, the new RaspEX Kodi build is here mainly to add support for the recently launched Raspberry Pi 4 with 8GB RAM single-board computer.

        Arne Exton tells me that the new RaspEX Kodi build runs very well, offering excellent video and sound performance, especially on the Raspberry Pi 4 with 4GB and 8GB RAM. The system is fast and responsive, and it’s better than other Raspberry Pi/Kodi systems, said the developer.

        Under the hood, the latest RaspEX Kodi release ships with the lightweight LXDE desktop environment, Kodi 18.7 “Leia” media center with Amazon Video, Netflix, Plex and YouTube add-ons, VLC media player, NetworkManager for configuring your wireless network, as well as many other useful apps.

      • A Quick Look At Slackel 7.3 Openbox

        Slackel is a Linux distribution based on Slackware and Salix. It is fully compatible with Slackware but the difference is that it is based on the development branch. Slackel comes in three editions, KDE, Openbox and MATE. Today, I’m taking a look at the recently released Slackel 7.3 Openbox.

      • BSD

        • Fuzzing Rumpkernel Syscalls Part

          It has been a great opportunity to contribute to NetBSD as a part of Google Summer Of Code ’20. The aim of the project I am working on is to setup a proper environment to fuzz the rumpkernel syscalls. This is the first report on the progress made so far.

          Rumpkernels provide all the necessary components to run applications on baremetal without the necessity of an operating system. Simply put it is way to run kernel code in user space.

          The main goal of rumpkernels in netbsd is to run,debug,examine and develop kernel drivers as easy as possible in the user space without having to run the entire kernel but run the exact same kernel code in userspace. This makes most of the components(drivers) easily portable to different environments.

          Rump Kernels are constructed out of components, So the drivers are built as libraries and these libraries are linked to an interface(some application) that makes use of the libraries(drivers). So we need not build the entire monolithic kernel just the required parts of the kernel.

        • Fuzzing the NetBSD Network Stack in a Rumpkernel Environment Part 1

          The objective of this project is to fuzz the various protocols and layers of the network stack of NetBSD using rumpkernel. This project is being carried out as a part of GSoC 2020. This blog post is regarding the project, the concepts and tools involved, the objectives and the current progress and next steps.

        • Make system(3) and popen(3) use posix_spawn(3) internally Part 1

          This is my first report for the Google Summer of Code project I am working on for NetBSD.

          Prior work: In GSoC 2012 Charles Zhang added the posix_spawn syscall which according to its SF repository at the time (maybe even now, I have not looked very much into comparing all other systems and libcs + kernels) is an in-kernel implementation of posix_spawn which provides performance benefits compared to FreeBSD and other systems which had a userspace implementation.

          After 1 week of reading POSIX and writing code, 2 weeks of coding and another 1.5 weeks of bugfixes I have successfully implemented posix_spawn in usage in system(3) and popen(3) internally.

          The biggest challenge for me was to understand POSIX, to read the standard. I am used to reading more formal books, but I can’t remember working with the posix standard directly before.

          The next part of my Google Summer of Code project will focus on similar rewrites of NetBSD’s sh(1).

        • GSoC Reports: Curses Library Automated Testing Part 1

          My GSoC project under NetBSD involves the development of test framework of curses library. Automated Test Framework (ATF) was introduced in 2007 but ATF cannot be used directly for curses testing for several reasons most important of them being curses has functions which do timed reads/writes which is hard to do with just piping characters to test applications. Also, stdin is not a tty device and behaves differently and may affect the results. A lot of work regarding this has been done and we have a separate test framework in place for testing curses.

          The aim of project is to build a robust test suite for the library and complete the SUSv2 specification. This includes writing tests for the remaining functions and enhancing the existing ones. Meanwhile, the support for complex character function has to be completed along with fixing some bugs, adding features and improving the test framework.

        • GSoC Reports: Extending the functionality of NetPGP Part 1

          NetPGP is a library and suite of tools implementing OpenPGP under a BSD license. As part of Google Summer of Code 2020, we are working to extend its functionality and work towards greater parity with similar tools. During the first phase, we have made the following contributions

          Added the Blowfish block cipher
          ECDSA key creation
          ECDSA signature and verification
          Symmetric file encryption/decryption
          S2K Iterated+Salt for symmetric encryption

        • Enhancing Syzkaller support for NetBSD, Part 1

          I have been working on the project – Enhance the Syzkaller support for NetBSD, as a part of GSoc’20. Past two months have given me quite an enriching experience, pushing me to comprehend more knowledge on fuzzers. This post would give a peek into the work which has been done so far.

      • SUSE/OpenSUSE

        • SUSE Will Bring Hyper Growth To Rancher: Sheng Liang

          Last week SUSE announced its intent to acquire one of the powerhouses of the Kubernetes world – Rancher Labs. We sat down with the co-founder of Rancher Labs: Sheng Liang, to talk about what it means for the two companies, their products, projects and communities.

        • Storage solution and engaged partnership between Fujitsu and SUSE

          Fujitsu and SUSE have been partners for many years, and we are strategically collaborating on the needs and issues of customers in enterprise environments such as SUSE Business Critical Linux.

          At the online event SUSECON digital started from May 20, Fujitsu Keynote session will explain the solution development of both companies to the future market. At last year’s SUSECON, a technical session was conducted based on verification information on how to achieve system update and non-disruptive data migration to SUSE Enterprise Storage without stopping service and user access by Fujitsu and SUSE for existing Ceph environment. Please don’t miss Fujitsu Data Driven transformation sessions at SUSECON digital this year.

        • Updating Documentation for openSUSE Leap 15.2

          After having a Virtual Live Installation Party on YouTube yesterday (02 Jul 2020). I realized, I have to test and update documentation out there on my site as well as the openSUSE Wiki. This is one of those things that I do as I have time, generally. Essentially, this is what I have done for the last several years, not 100% consistently but generally speaking, I keep on top of it. In order to stay organized, I have a “personal” wiki page that I keep track of what it is that I maintain.

          [...]

          If you are using a “free” operating system, it isn’t free. It has taken work and love to make it possible for you to use it. People are making personal sacrifices, often without pay, to bring this wonderful tool for you to use. Find a way to contribute back, in whatever way is within your abilities and pay the good will forward.

          [...]

          I openly admit my almost unhealthy obsession for the openSUSE project, it is in my obsession that I feel compelled to contribute where ever I can. I am forever thankful for everyone that takes the time to make openSUSE, Linux and all the software that I use possible. The freedom and ability to use my computer that suits my requirements best is something for which I am continually grateful.

      • IBM/Red Hat/Fedora

        • Council policy proposal: Process for promoting Fedora deliverable to Edition

          With several Fedora deliverables ready (or nearly ready) to be promoted to Edition status, we need a policy for how this will work. After consulting with representatives from QA, Release Engineering, and Fedora IoT, I drafted a proposed process. The Council will begin voting on Tuesday 28 July in accordance with the policy change policy.

      • Debian Family

        • SolydXK 10.4 overview | Stable and Secure.

          In this video, I am going to show an overview of SolydXK 10.4 and some of the applications pre-installed.

        • Shutter Encoder

          There is a new application available for Sparkers: Shutter Encoder

          What is Shutter Encoder?

          Shutter Encoder is a free encoding software for converting images, videos, and audio files, allowing you to choose from a large number of functions.
          Encode your files, replace audio, burn to DVD, analyze audio Loudness, download web videos, make your own timelapse etc…

        • Debian Long Term Support (LTS) users and contributors survey

          On July 18th Stretch LTS starts, offering two more years of security support to the Debian Stretch release. Stretch LTS will be the fourth iteration of LTS, following Squeeze LTS which started in 2014, Wheezy LTS in 2016 and Jessie LTS in 2018.

          However, for the first time, we have prepared a small survey about our users and contributors, who they are and why they are using LTS.

      • Canonical/Ubuntu Family

        • Linux Mint 20 Ulyana Cinnamon – Reasonable but not chipper

          I would say Linux Mint 20 Ulyana Cinnamon is a slightly more useful edition than the Xfce one. It feels more carefully put together, it’s visually more distinctive, and while the other is a bit faster and offers more juice, the delta isn’t cardinal enough to justify the less integrated, less polished setup. All in all, this is an okay distro, but again, it ain’t no killer, and there are no fireworks. Some solid stuff, some average stuff, a basket of bugs and problems, with the ergonomics being the top culprit.

          There’s also a philosophical angle. With these two Mint editions so similar, is there really any need for the Xfce one? I think Mint would do better with just one version, where all the effort and labor goeth. Then, there’s also the problem of distinction. I was super-impressed with Mint in the past, and it often topped my best-of charts at the end of the year. But now, the value delta isn’t big enough to make it stand out above the crowd. It’s a difficult situation, because the Linux world is really drowning in lethargy.

          If you want a simple, classic desktop, you might want to try Ulyana. It’s fairly consistent, which can’t be said of most distros, it stays true to its identity, but then, it ain’t exciting, and there are some rough edges, which mar the experience. I’d say 7/10. We’ve seen better, and I expect more, but I’m not sure that perfect brilliance is ever going to happen again. So there you go, from the most optimistic distro reviewer on this planet.

        • Ubuntu Weekly Newsletter Issue 639

          Welcome to the Ubuntu Weekly Newsletter, Issue 639 for the week of July 5 – 11, 2020.

    • Devices/Embedded

    • Free, Libre, and Open Source Software

      • Stack Abuse: What’s New in Tensorflow 2.0?

        If you are a Machine Learning Engineer, Data Scientist, or a hobbyist developing Machine Learning Models from time to time just for fun, then it is very likely that you are familiar with Tensorflow.

        Tensorflow is an open-source and a free framework developed by Google Brain Team written in Python, C++, and CUDA. It is used to develop, test, and deploy Machine Learning models.

        Initially, Tensoflow did not have full support for multiple platforms and programming languages, and it was not very fast and efficient for training Machine Learning models, but with time and after a few updates, Tensorflow is now considered as a go-to framework for developing, training and deploying machine learning models.

      • Web Browsers

        • Mozilla

          • Improving Firefox Startup Time With The about:home Startup Cache

            We’re working on a thing to make Firefox start faster! It appears to work! Here’s a video showing off a before (left) and after (right):

            Improving Firefox Startup Time With The about:home Startup Cache

            For the past year or so, the Firefox Desktop Front-End Performance team has been concentrating on making improvements to browser startup performance.

            The launching of an application like Firefox is quite complex. Meticulous profiling of Firefox startup in various conditions has, thankfully, helped reveal a number of opportunities where we can make improvements. We’ve been evaluating and addressing these opportunities, and several have made it into the past few Firefox releases.

            This blog post is about one of those improvements that is currently in the later stages of development. I’m going to describe the improvement, and how we went about integrating it.

            In a default installation of Firefox, the first (and only) tab that loads is about:home.

          • A look at password security, Part II: Web Sites

            In part I, we took a look at the design of password authentication systems for old-school multiuser systems. While timesharing is mostly gone, most of us continue to use multiuser systems; we just call them Web sites. In this post, I’ll be covering some of the problems of Web authentication using passwords.

            As I discussed previously, the strength of passwords depends to a great extent on how fast the attacker can try candidate passwords. The nature of a Web application inherently limits the velocity at which you can try passwords quite a bit. Even ignoring limits on the rate which you can transmit stuff over the network, real systems — at least well managed ones — have all kinds of monitoring software which is designed to detect large numbers of login attempts, so just trying millions of candidate passwords is not very effective. This doesn’t mean that remote attacks aren’t possible: you can of course try to log in with some of the obvious passwords and hope you get lucky, and if you have a good idea of a candidate password, you can try that (see below), but this kind of attack is inherently somewhat limited.

            [...]

            Leaked passwords aren’t the only threat to password authentication on Web sites. The other big issue is what’s called phishing. In the basic phishing attack, the attacker sends you an e-mail inviting you to log into your account. Often this will be phrased in some scary way like telling you your account will be deleted if you don’t log in immediately. The e-mail will helpfully contain a link to use to log in, but of course this link will go not to the real site but to the attacker’s site, which will usually look just like the real site and may even have a similar domain name (e.g., mozi11a.com instead of mozilla.com). When the user clicks on the link and logs in, the attacker captures their username and password and can then log into the real site. Note that having users use good passwords totally doesn’t help here because the user gives the site their whole password.

            Preventing phishing has proven to be a really stubborn challenge because, well, people are not as suspicious as they should be and it’s actually fairly hard on casual examination to determine whether you are on the right site. Most modern browsers try to warn users if they are going to known phishing sites (Firefox uses the Google Safe Browsing service for this). In addition, if you use a password manager, then it shouldn’t automatically fill in your password on a phishing site because password managers key off of the domain name and just looking similar isn’t good enough. Of course, both of these defenses are imperfect: the lists of phishing sites can be incomplete and if users don’t use password managers or are willing to manually cut and paste their passwords, then phishing attacks are still possible

          • This Week In Servo 132

            In the past week, we merged 64 PRs in the Servo organization’s repositories.

            The latest nightly builds for common platforms are available at download.servo.org.

      • Programming/Development

        • Perl/Raku

        • Python

        • Java

          • Why Java and Quarkus are important for your business

            Java has been the workhorse of enterprise software application development for the past 25 years. During this time, we have also seen some drastic changes to application infrastructure technologies – ones that are not always compatible with the Java framework. We have seen it all: from monolithic application servers, to API-driven programmable infrastructure, to just-in-time intelligent serverless infrastructures. We have gone from extensive setup and dynamic configuration for peak workloads, to expressing the ideal operational model as code for our applications. Now with serverless computing, developers can focus on providing the application code and letting an intelligent application infrastructure run and scale up and down for use, without even thinking about infrastructure concerns.

            Increasingly, modern application infrastructure tends to be immutable, meaning that servers are not able to be modified after they have been deployed. Immutable infrastructure can help simplify operations and lead to simpler, more predictable, and consistent deployment processes. When changes are required, the old configuration can be replaced with a new configuration to keep the environments consistent and easily reproducible across development, test and production. However, the traditional Java framework was designed for changeable application infrastructure that is no longer required in modern cloud environments.

  • Leftovers

    • 3 best practices for working on a distributed team

      I have mixed feelings about instant messaging platforms. Pulling quick conversations out of email and into Slack often does improve resolution times for small issues, but a successful rollout requires some setting of expectations. Fundamentally, I do not believe it is reasonable to expect prompt responses to IM messages during the workday. Giving employees time for focused, uninterrupted work is vital. These tools provide functionalities to customize alerts, including muting all notifications (with a configurable option that lets others force alerts through as needed), muting individual channels, setting up various keyword notifications, and a wide range of other options not covered here.

      However, these controls are meaningless if there is an organizational expectation of prompt responses. Too frequently, I see folks asking a question like “Is anyone working on the database?” and, after less than five minutes, following up with “Okay, sounds like nobody is working on it, I am going to make my changes.”

      Not only does this assume everyone has the same working hours, which immediately breaks down when you have remote team members in different time zones, it also ignores the reality of work both in and out of the office. Packages get delivered, coffee needs to be prepared, meetings are attended, and, sometimes, real work is being done! Take an empathetic look at your co-workers’ needs and build expectations that allow for async work.

    • Health/Nutrition

      • Kenya’s teen pregnancy crisis: More than COVID-19 is to blame

        Kenyan media exploded with a disturbing story last month: “Close to 4,000 school girls impregnated in Kenya during COVID-19 lockdown”, read one headline. “Alarm as 3,964 girls impregnated in Machakos County in five months”, stated another.

        The articles all cited data from a recently released Kenya government health information survey, and most attributed the high pregnancy numbers to the COVID-19 lockdown. That seemed to make sense. Since the pandemic hit Kenya in mid-March, healthcare providers have been warning about its potential to increase rates of teenage pregnancies.

        School closures have cut off girls from teachers who can sound the alarm in suspected cases of abuse at home, and students have been left idle and often unchaperoned by busy parents. Restrictions on movement have also made it harder for girls to access contraceptives and family planning services, and mandatory curfews have trapped girls in homes with predatory family members and neighbours.

      • Deep Problems

        The COVID-19 crisis, like other recent and ongoing crises, makes visible what had tended to be invisible, or at least easily ignored. Like many crises, it accelerates structural trends that were already in place, particularly in economic and technological organization. It also highlights some hopeful qualities in people. Life under distancing shows how quickly our social world can change in the face of felt need. We see everywhere that solidarity is real and people are hungry to help and support one another. Although these are rudiments of left politics, the crisis has caught the left at a moment of weakness, despite remarkable national campaigns and local victories. Meanwhile the right has the political initiative, and the center retains a hegemony that belies recent perceptions of its downfall.
        First, what the crisis has disclosed:
        1. The American working class now substantially populates the provisioning economy. This includes the logistics workers who sustain Amazon’s invisible supply lines. The middle-class isolate who imagines being autonomous in a detached home depends on this sorting, carting, and toting labor. The new provisioning economy has swung into high gear and gathered market power through the crisis—for the owners, but not for the workers.
        2. American labor is also the labor of caregiving, from hospitals to nursing homes and beyond. Caregiving and provisioning are the bloodstream of the economy and, more broadly, the society. Essential as they are, these workers remain, individually and collectively, relatively powerless. Sporadic labor actions among logistics workers for basic safety, and similar demands from healthcare workers facing overwork and shortages of protective equipment, have been at best fugitive examples of what systemic worker power would look like in this crisis.
        3. The U.S. strategy for the crisis has been to draft the working classes to the epidemiological front lines, producing high levels of exposure, illness, and death for people who take the subway or bus to work, interact with lots of customers, or provide basic healthcare. This has bent the proverbial curve, on the backs of those who cannot afford to bend.
        4. Economic power means, among other things, the power to withdraw and stay inside, or to get to the country or the shore. The billionaire prepper who buys land in New Zealand now seems only the emblematic extreme of a much broader pattern of stratified survival strategies.

    • Integrity/Availability

      • Proprietary

        • Microsoft Visual Studio gets .NET Core debugging – on WSL2 [Ed: Microsoft Tim reminds us again that WSL and WSL2 are an ATTACK on GNU/Linux the EEE way]
        • Security

          • Security updates for Monday

            Security updates have been issued by Debian (chromium, mailman, openjpeg2, ruby-rack, squid3, tomcat8, and xen), Fedora (botan2, kernel, LibRaw, mingw-OpenEXR, mingw-podofo, podofo, seamonkey, squid, and webkit2gtk3), Mageia (ffmpeg, mbedtls, mediawiki, and xpdf), Oracle (kernel), Red Hat (bind, dbus, jbig2dec, and rh-nodejs12-nodejs), and SUSE (graphviz and xen).

    • Civil Rights/Policing

      • Decolonising aid, again

        This year, calls for reform of the humanitarian system are proliferating. What’s unusual is that they are not just calls for technocratic fixes but for urgent engagement with real world issues: a new model for humanitarian aid that puts anti-racism at its centre.

        Two years ago, I wrote a paper for the Overseas Development Institute, Network Humanitarianism, about the systemic challenges facing humanitarian organisations, the underlying origins of those challenges, and possible solutions. It was widely ignored, but it was exactly what people have been asking for – a new model for humanitarian aid.

        I didn’t use the word “racism” once in that paper.

        Looking back, I realise I have never written about racism in the aid industry. Yet as the product of a mixed marriage, I have wrestled with my own questions about racism for most of my life. In my personal life, I’ve never been afraid to speak up against racism, even at the expense of friendships. In my professional life, meanwhile, I’ve never been afraid to speak up on other issues, even at the expense of my career.

        So the question I now ask myself is: Why? Why did I never put this critical question at the forefront of my writing?

        I didn’t because my work focused on those technocratic fixes in aid reform. I didn’t because I thought that the aid industry wasn’t ready to talk about racism. I didn’t because I didn’t think it was my place to. I didn’t because I didn’t want to offend my friends and colleagues. I didn’t because nobody else was talking about it, at least not loudly. I didn’t because I was a coward.

      • My Turn: Pro-Black is pro-White

        Thankfully, my children are a little too young to really understand racism. Yet the time is fast approaching when we will have to have that conversation with them explicitly – hopefully, before they are rudely introduced to the reality of racism through some “micro”-aggression perpetrated against them by another preschooler.

        After all, research shows that, while children recognize skin color differences as early as two to three months old, they do not assign normative value to those physical traits until later when, around preschool age, they start to show distinct racial bias and even perpetrate racist interpersonal acts.

    • Monopolies

      • Patents

        • Impact of Notice-of-Allowance in Parallel IPR

          In its original decision, the Federal Circuit affirmed a PTAB IPR decision invalidating ESIP’s claimed essential-oil-diffuser and “method for introducing a scent into breathable air,” US9415130; IPR2017-02197.

          [...]

          PTAB Final Decision. On appeal, the Federal Circuit panel decision did not address the issue even though it had been fully briefed. Now, the Federal Circuit has also refused to consider the issue via rehearing or en banc.

          So, the question remains: What deference or consideration should be given to a contemporary examiner determination involving the same patentee and the same prior art?

          The issue here is similar to what the PTAB has been working through over the past five years regarding prior decisions by Article III courts, just closer to home.

        • Asking about Upcoming Bar Dates
        • Software Patents

          • $5,000 for prior art on GE Video Compression patent

            On July 13, 2020, Unified Patents added a new PATROLL contest, with a $5,000 cash prize, seeking prior art on at least claims 1 of U.S. Patent 10,250,913, owned by GE Video Compression LLC.

            [...]

            The ’913 patent generally relates to coding schemes for coding a spatially sampled information signal using sub-division and coding schemes for coding a sub-division or a multitree structure are described, wherein representative embodiments relate to picture and/or video coding applications.

            APEX STANDARDS has shared US and non-US prior art as well as corresponding claim charting against the patent. Interested professionals may take them and craft work product from there. The link can be found here:

          • The Rise of the Super NPE and the Western District of Texas

            For years, the Eastern District of Texas (EDTX) was the hot spot for NPE patent litigation, reaching a peak of 2,411 cases in 2015, or roughly half of all filings, nearly all going to Judge Gilstrap. Since 2015, however, NPE cases have fallen off in that district by almost 93%. Meanwhile, the Western District of Texas (WDTX) has seen a 892% increase in NPE litigation, going from very few cases just a few years ago to being the dominant venue for patent cases nationwide. Most of these cases, brought in the last year and a half, began when Judge Albright was appointed to the bench and implemented new local patent rules. The WDTX has now become the leading patent litigation venue (Figure 1).

            [...]

            Obviously, financing and third-party economic backing is shrouded in secrecy, so our numbers likely underestimate the total percentage of cases funded by third parties, whether through private capital groups like Magnetar, Starboard, or Burford Capital, or by private sources unwilling or unable to acknowledge their stake. But what is clear from an honest assessment of the cases filed is that if a case is funded or part of an aggregation scheme, chances are that it will be filed in the WDTX, to the exclusion of plenty of competitor-competitor suits.

          • $2,000 for prior art on GreatGigz Solutions patent

            On July 13, 2020, Unified Patents added a new PATROLL contest, with a $2,000 cash prize, seeking prior art on at least claim 1 of U.S. Patent 7,490,086. The patent is owned by GreatGigz Solutions, LLC, an NPE. The ’086 patent generally relates to job searching services, including a system for storing, processing, and transmitting job-related information (e.g., job openings, assignments, contracts, etc.) based on a job search request. This patent has been asserted in district court against LinkedIn and Grubhub for their respective job searching and job assignment platforms.

            APEX STANDARDS has shared US and non-US prior art as well as corresponding claim charting against the patent. Interested professionals may take them and craft work product from there.

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