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07.15.20

Links 16/7/2020: FreeBSD Quarterly Status Report, LibreOffice Has Plans, FSF Warns Against ‘Online’ Voting

Posted in News Roundup at 6:35 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

  • GNU/Linux

    • Desktop/Laptop

      • Investing in Real Convergence

        Like “privacy” and “security” the word “convergence” has become a popular term these days. When words like these become popular, companies tend to redefine them to match whatever they happen to sell. For instance when Google says they protect your privacy they mean “from everyone but us.” When Apple says they are secure, they mean “as long as you give us full trust and total control.”

        When most people think of the promise of convergence they think of what I’ll refer to as “real convergence”–the idea of a single, portable computer that has your data and applications and that can be a desktop computer, a laptop or a pocket computer. To summarize: real convergence means taking your desktop computer with you in your pocket wherever you go. Fake convergence is the opposite: stretching a phone to fit on a larger screen.

      • Purism Librem 14

        The next generation of Librem laptop brings a lot to the table. Gigabit throughput over native RJ45 enables you to enjoy blazing-fast download speeds, security, and reliability. Compared to the Librem 13, the Librem 14 has a similar device footprint while the Intel 10th Gen Comet Lake i7 is much more powerful.

    • Server

    • Audiocasts/Shows

      • FLOSS Weekly 587: Internet vs. Broadcasting

        Open source has enabled democratized communication in the tech world. Doc Searls and Jonathan Bennett talk with Tim Pozar, who has been building out network infrastructure since the 80s. They discuss the philosophy of communication and the history of open source, how it got its start with broadcasting. Now, in the last 20 years, open source has exploded, however, we are in the digital age and still have limited access to ISPS. They discuss how Starlink, could be a great solution to fix that problem.

    • Kernel Space

      • Graphics Stack

        • Mike Blumenkrantz: Timestamps

          I spent a few days locked in a hellish battle against a software implementation of doubles (64-bit floats) for ARB_gpu_shader_fp64 in the raging summer heat.

    • Applications

    • Instructionals/Technical

    • Games

      • Psychological horror adventure ‘Saint Kotar’ gets extra Kickstarter time

        Saint Kotar, the upcoming psychological horror adventure from Red Martyr Entertainment has been given extra time on Kickstarter and it’s really close to the goal.

        What is it? A point and click horror adventure with a chilling atmosphere and a stylish hand-painted world. You follow the tale of Benedek Dohnany and Nikolay Kalyakin as they try to find the truth behind a macabre series of murders and strange phenomena, allegedly related to devil worship and witchcraft. You can try it yourself too, as they actually released a prologue going by the name of Saint Kotar: The Yellow Mask to give you a small 2-3 hour slice of what to expect.

    • Desktop Environments/WMs

      • Cinnamon Desktop Review: A Very User-Friendly Desktop Environment

        A sometimes-forgotten Linux Desktop Environment, Cinnamon is a contender for your desktop that you may not have seen coming. While Cinnamon is developed by the Linux Mint team as a flagship for their distribution, it is also available to download and use on any other distro. This article covers Cinnamon desktop in depth, exploring the user experience and customization options, performance, usability, and recommendations for who should use Cinnamon.

      • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

        • Raspberry Pi OS & Plasma – Troubly McTroublesome

          After I completed my testing, I powered down the Pi, let it cool, and then turned it on again and continued using the MATE desktop. While I’d love to have a tight, nifty Plasma setup in place, the existing packages in the Raspberry Pi OS repos are simply not built for purpose. You get an old build, which suffers from all sorts of bugs and problems and woeful performance. Add to that Samba issues – not resolved in this Plasma version – and MATE just offers a superior experience on all levels.

          In a way, this has always been the paradox of open-source choice. On paper, you get tons of options, but when only one or two actually work properly, then your bubble of freedom narrows down quite a bit. For instance, here, I’d like to use Plasma on the Pi, but neither of the last two experiments offered me a setup that is good enough, for whatever reason. Specifically, the Plasma desktop available in Raspberry Pi OS just doesn’t do any justice to itself, or the system. But in a way, this is what I tried to accomplish. Another aspect of the question of using Pi 4 as a mini desktop has been answered. We’re done.

        • foss-north kdenlive workflow

          As some of you might already have noticed, we’ve complemented foss-north with a new pod / vod / vlog – I’m not sure what to call it. Basically, it is a video based pod cast (making it available as a audio only pod-cast is high on the todo). Our main focus right now is a series on licenses and copyright, but there is more to come.

          As a part of this, I’ve started editing videos in kdenlive on a weekly basis, and I’m very happy with it so far.

          In this blog, I want to share my workflow. It is probably far from ideal, but it does the work for me.

        • Weekly Report 5: Qt3D based backend for KStars

          In the sixth week of GSoC, I worked on adding mouseevents and integrate the custom qt3d window with existing skymap

      • GNOME Desktop/GTK

        • GNOME Opens an Official Merch Shop

          The GNOME Shop is a new, official storefront. It stocks a range of GNOME branded items, including t-shirts, hoodies, socks, and (topically) colourful face masks – all bearing the famous lone foot logo.

          GNOME says it’s using a ‘print on demand’ company to fulfil orders and that all products ‘are unique and producer per order’.

          “Due to this, and the limitations of our print suppliers, returns or exchanges are not supported for incorrect order issues such as wrong size or color,” they add.

          So what’s available?

          Well, a simple grey v-neck mens t-shirt sporting the GNOME logo will set you back a cool $25 and is available in sizes XS through to 3XL. A navy “Cruiser Logo Hoodie” costs just over double that at $55 and it is available in sizes up to 2XL.

    • Distributions

      • BSD

        • FreeBSD Quarterly Status Report

          This report will be covering FreeBSD related projects between April and June, and covers a diverse set of topics ranging from kernel updates over userland and ports, as well to third-party work.

          Some hilights picked with the roll of a d100 include, but are not limited to, the ability to forcibly unmounting UFS when the underlying media becomes inaccessible, added preliminary support for Bluetooth Low Energy, a introduction to the FreeBSD Office Hours, and a repository of software collections called potluck to be installed with the pot utility, as well as many many more things.

          As a little treat, readers can also get a rare report from the quarterly team.

        • FreeBSD Getting Close To Finally Migrating Development From Subversion To Git

          The FreeBSD project has published their Q2’2020 status report that outlines their neat-complete work on migrating from Subversion to Git plus many hardware support improvements for this BSD operating system and more.

      • IBM/Red Hat/Fedora

        • Financial institution of America, Google, and Pink Hat Executives Be part of OASIS Board of Administrators
        • Bank of America, Google, and Red Hat Executives Join OASIS Board of Directors

          Their depth of experience in the open source and open standards communities bolsters the Board’s reach and establishes OASIS as the home for worldwide standards in cybersecurity, blockchain, privacy, cryptography, cloud computing, IoT, urban mobility, emergency management, and other content technologies. These three new members join the continuing members of the Board: Martin Chapman of Oracle; Bruce Rich of Cryptsoft; Jason Keirstead of IBM; Beth Pumo of Kaiser Permanente; and Daniel Reidel of New Context. Reelected Board members Frederick Hirsch, Individual member; Gershon Janssen, Individual member; and Richard Struse of Mitre will each serve a two-year term starting in July 2020.

        • Bank of America, Google, and Red Hat Executives Join OASIS Board of Directors

          OASIS, the international standards and open source consortium, today announced that three new members were elected to its Board of Directors: Jeremy Allison of Google, Rich Bowen of Red Hat, and Wende Peters of Bank of America.

        • Approved: Fedora 33 Desktop Variants Defaulting To Btrfs File-System

          The Fedora Engineering and Steering Committee formally signed off today on allowing Fedora 33 desktop variants to default to using the Btrfs file-system rather than the existing EXT4 default or other alternatives.

          About a decade after the Btrfs default for Fedora was originally proposed for multiple release cycles, with the Fedora 33 release due out this autumn is when that milestone may finally be realized. Of course, if issues come up with the Btrfs usage of Fedora, the change could still be reverted, but FESCo gave the go-ahead. As stated, this default change just affects desktop variants of Fedora 33 like Fedora Workstation.

          [...]

          Fedora developers are still evaluating possible transparent file-system compression and other features that could get flipped on for Fedora 33.

          So as it stands now desktop variants of Fedora 33 are positioned to be using Btrfs by default now that FESCo has formally granted approval but we’ll see if any issues come up between now and the anticipated October F33 release.

      • Debian Family

        • Utkarsh Gupta: GSoC Phase 2

          In early May, I got selected as a Google Summer of Code student for Debian to work on a project which is to write a linter (an extension to RuboCop).
          This tool is mostly to help the Debian Ruby team. And that is the best part, I love working in/for/with the Ruby team!
          (I’ve been an active part of the team for 19 months now :))

    • Devices/Embedded

    • Free, Libre, and Open Source Software

      • Apache SpamAssassin Leads A Growing List of Open-Source Projects Taking Steps to Correct Instances of Racism and White Privilege

        Over the past few weeks, a heated debate has arisen on the Apache SpamAssassin users list regarding the replacement of racially charged terms like “whitelist” and “blacklist” used in the Apache Spamassassin Project’s code with more inclusive language. Certain community members have been very supportive of Apache SpamAssassin’s efforts to remove racially insensitive language from the project, while others have loudly voiced their disapproval.

        Guardian Digital, the open source cloud email security company, is committed to the open-source development model and the core values of transparency and inclusion that it embodies. We felt it was important to speak with members of the community about this critical issue and share this story with other leaders and those not directly involved – hopefully inspiring them to take similar action in their communities.

      • Web Browsers

        • Mozilla

          • No-judgment digital definitions: VPNs explained

            Many of us spend multiple hours a day using the internet to do everyday things like watching videos, shopping, gaming and paying bills, all the way to managing complex work projects and having confidential video calls. A virtual private network (VPN) is one of the best ways to stay private and secure online, and keep your personal data protected.

            [...]

            Connecting to a public WiFi network is at times convenient, like when you’re without internet service or can’t get any bars on your phone. On the other hand, connecting to public WiFi can be a risky endeavor. It’s impossible to be sure that someone else isn’t connecting to the same network to snoop on what you’re doing. Even if your traffic is encrypted they can still see which sites you are visiting. And if you’re using an app that doesn’t have encryption — and even today, many don’t — then they can see everything you are doing.

            When you’re at home, the risk of bad actors showing up on your home network is lower. However, your internet service provider (ISP) can track and share your online activities because all the data that you access on the web is routed through your ISP’s network, some of which may not be encrypted. A VPN can prevent ISPs from spying on you by encrypting your traffic to your VPN provider no matter where you are.

          • Mozilla VPN Goes Live …But Not For Linux Users

            Mozilla’s VPN service has officially launched in six countries, but Linux users will find they can’t take advantage of the tech just yet.

            The new subscription-based privacy service is available to web surfers in the USA, the UK, Canada, New Zealand and several other locales from today. But, frustratingly for tux fans, it requires a Windows, Android, and/or iOS system to use.

            The good news is that Mozilla VPN Linux support is on the way. The company hasn’t shared an exact timeline on when to expect it but says it is “coming soon” to more devices and platforms.

            The benefits of using a VPN are fairly well known at this point: better security on public wi-fi; anonymous surfing and no IP logging; and network-level encryption. And since Mozilla VPN runs on over 280 servers in 30+ countries it should provide dependable with less downtime too.

      • Productivity Software/LibreOffice/Calligra

        • A new LibreOffice strategic marketing plan

          LWN recently covered the effort within the LibreOffice project to find ways to support the companies doing the bulk of the development work. The project has now posted a revised marketing plan [PDF] with a number of changes, including the removal of the “personal edition” name. Regarding LibreOffice Online: “Following our normal development process, the Ecosystem will release their own versions in their own timing, allowing some features to reach their Enterprise versions before they are subsequently shipped in TDF builds (this allows the Ecosystem to positively differentiate by contributing new features & functionality)”.

      • FSF

        • FSF

          • Don’t let proprietary digital voting disrupt democracy

            Here at the Free Software Foundation (FSF), we fight for the freedom of all software users. We believe that everyone has the right to understand and study the systems that they use, and that not being able to exercise this right is a violation of our freedom. This applies to our personal software usage, but becomes even more important in processes of democracy. It is particularly relevant for the upcoming November 2020 elections in the United States.

            A free country has the responsibility to make sure all of its citizens can be heard, and that voting processes are transparent and fair. So what happens if people are still self-isolating in November, in order to try and prevent a second wave of the novel coronavirus? As more of our life processes have gone online due to the pandemic, we have seen debates rise over a call for mail-in voting. This discussion seems to be clearing a path for a renewed interest in online voting software as a remote alternative to in-person voting. This is cause for grave concern.

            I am arguing in this post that it is essential that software used in any part of the voting process be published free software. It is unacceptable for such an important democratic system to be placed in the hands of any for-profit, proprietary software corporation that controls the source code, data management, reporting, updates, and testing. No good can come from requiring a court order to be permitted to study the source code of voting software in order to confirm the process is fair and democratic. But additionally, I might surprise the reader by laying out arguments to say that despite supporting the wish to increase access and ease for all eligible voters, the only truly free, ethical, and democratic voting system is actually a system that steers clear from using software.

      • Programming/Development

        • Stupid RCU Tricks: So rcutorture is Not Aggressive Enough For You?

          The rcutorture.stall_cpu=22 says to stall a CPU for 22 seconds, that is, one second longer than the default RCU CPU stall timeout in mainline. If you are instead using a distribution kernel, you might need to specify 61 seconds (as in “rcutorture.stall_cpu=61”) in order to allow for the typical 60-second RCU CPU stall timeout. The rcutorture.fwd_progress=0 has no effect except to suppress a warning message (with stack trace included free of charge) that questions the wisdom of running both RCU-callback forward-progress tests and RCU CPU stall tests at the same time. In fact, the code not only emits the warning message, it also automatically suppresses the forward-progress tests. If you prefer living dangerously and don’t mind the occasional out-of-memory (OOM) lockup accompanying your RCU CPU stall warnings, feel free to edit kernel/rcu/rcutorture.c to remove this automatic suppression.

          If you are running on a large system that takes more than ten seconds to boot, you might need to increase the RCU CPU stall holdoff interval. For example, adding rcutorture.stall_cpu_holdoff=120 to the –bootargs list would wait for two minutes before stalling a CPU instead of the default holdoff of 10 seconds. If simply spinning a CPU with preemption disabled does not fully vent your ire, you could undertake a more profound act of vandalism by adding rcutorture.stall_cpu_irqsoff=1 so as to cause interrupts to be disabled on the spinning CPU.

          Some flavors of RCU such as SRCU permit general blocking within their read-side critical sections, and you can exercise this capability by adding rcutorture.stall_cpu_block=1 to the –bootargs list. Better yet, you can use this kernel-boot parameter to torture flavors of RCU that forbid blocking within read-side critical sections, which allows you to see they complain about such mistreatment.

        • Python

          • Python 3.8.3 : Lists in Python 3 – part 001.

            I am currently working on a project that involves the use of complex data structures and lists and my time is limited.
            This led me to start a new series of python tutorials on python lists.
            I realized that the lists had no substantial changes in the evolution of the python programming language, see the official documentation.
            You will find on the internet a lot of questions related to lists, algorithms, and problems involving lists.
            If you are not a beginner then it will seem boring at first but over time I will try to draw attention to really significant elements in python programming with lists.

          • PSF GSoC students blogs: Weekly Check In – 6
        • Rust

          • GStreamer Rust Bindings & Plugins New Releases

            I won’t write too much about the bindings this time. The latest version as of now is 0.16.1, which means that since I started working on the bindings there were 8 major releases. In that same time there were 45 contributors working on the bindings, which seems quite a lot and really makes me happy.

            Just as before, I don’t think any major APIs are missing from the bindings anymore, even for implementing subclasses of the various GStreamer types. The wide usage of the bindings in Free Software projects and commercial products also shows both the interest in writing GStreamer applications and plugins in Rust as well as that the bindings are complete enough and production-ready.

            Most of the changes since the last status update involve API cleanups, usability improvements, various bugfixes and addition of minor API that was not included before. The details of all changes can be read in the changelog.

  • Leftovers

    • Integrity/Availability

      • Proprietary

        • Pseudo-Open Source

          • Privatisation/Privateering

            • Linux Foundation

              • New Training Course Teaches Kubernetes Application Management with Helm
              • Linux Foundation Partners With CNCF on Kubernetes Certs, Training

                The Linux Foundation and Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) announced today they are collaboratively developing a Certified Kubernetes Security Specialist (CKS) certification expected to be available in November.

                At the same time, the two open source consortiums announced the availability of a training course dubbed “LFS244 – Managing Kubernetes Applications with Helm.” The CNCF is an arm of The Linux Foundation.

                Clyde Seepersad, senior vice president and general manager for training and certification at The Linux Foundation, says the Certified Kubernetes Security Specialist (CKS) certification will require IT professionals to be certified in Kubernetes management fundamentals as a prerequisite. The goal is to expand the amount of cybersecurity expertise IT professionals can bring to bear while also managing Kubernetes clusters, he says.

                The exam for the certification covers cluster setup, cluster hardening, system hardening, microservice vulnerabilities minimization, supply chain security, monitoring, logging and runtime security.

        • Security

    • Civil Rights/Policing

      • NLG Partners with Colin Kaepernick’s Know Your Rights Camp

        The National Lawyers Guild (NLG) is proud to announce a new sustainable partnership with Know Your Rights Camp (KYRC), founded by Colin Kaepernick. KYRC’s mission is to advance the liberation and well-being of Black and Brown communities through education, self-empowerment, and mass mobilization.

        KYRC and NLG will partner to expand legal support for social justice movements and increase capacity for providing legal resources for freedom fighters arrested in relation to the movement for Black lives. The agreement includes a $500,000 grant to the National Lawyers Guild Foundation. “This inspiring grant will help the NLG strengthen digital security for mass defense organizing, assist chapters with mass defense infrastructure, expand criminal defense preparations, and create timely new know-your-rights publications,” said NLG Executive Director Pooja Gehi.

        [...]

        The NLG is a proud endorser of #8toAbolition, which calls for defunding police, investing in communities, and freeing people from jails and prisons. “Abolitionism is a crucial component of the NLG’s mass defense efforts because both seek to dismantle the institutions most responsible for driving the racist exploitation of Black and Brown communities and political repression of activists,” said NLG Director of Mass Defense Tyler Crawford. The NLG recognizes and welcomes the recent increased public support for abolition movements and dedicates itself to continuing to support communities working to make this a reality.

    • Monopolies

      • Patents

        • 2020 First-Half Transport Zone Update: Litigation Doubles

          As patent litigation continues to rise, the Transport Zone is expected to see an 105% increase by the end of 2020. At the halfway point of the year (78 cases), litigation has already reached last year high (76 cases). This means that based on current numbers litigation is expected to hit 150+ cases reaching near all-time highs in this zone.

          Transport manufacturers continue to be the main targets of litigation. These manufacturers comprise 89% of all first-named defendants. Manufacturers are defined as companies such as Toyota, Honda, Ford, and Tesla. Dealerships are defined as a company that primarily sells for the manufacturer. These would include Kinsel Ford and Zimbrick Honda. Suppliers are companies such as Bosch Automotive, ABB, and even Uber that provide components or services.

        • [Older] The German Constitutional Court moves powers from parliament towards itself – and makes politics in an unprecedented and questionable way [Ed: What a totally ridiculous thing to say; Team UPC lost its marbles and now it’s attacking judges and Justices]
        • Sharp grants automotive component-level SEP license to Huawei, partially withdraws patent infringement suits against Daimler

          With multiple simultaneous filings dated July 6, 2020, Sharp partially withdrew its German standard-essential patent (SEP) infringement actions against Daimler as the Foxconn-owned Japanese electronics maker has concluded an automotive component-level license agreements with Huawei. The infringement actions are continuing with respect to Daimler cars that do not come with a Huawei baseband chipset, telematics module, or telematics control unit (TCU).

          In terms of the economic significance of the remaining claims, it’s a safe assumption that well over half of the dispute between Sharp and Daimler has been amicably resolved by virtue of patent exhaustion. But this breakthrough agreement far transcends that particular set of cases. It divides the Avanci gang led by patent abusers and formed for the purpose of dissuading blue-chip SEP holders such as Sharp from granting component-level licenses, while exposing Nokia’s dogged denial of the feasibility and fairness of component-level SEP licenses as purely pretextual. Sharp’s partial withdrawals conclusively prove that it is possible to differentiate at the end-product level based on upstream suppliers.

          I applaud Sharp–which owns a large SEP portfolio and has proven its will to enforce its rights in court–for showing the way forward for licensing cellular SEPs to the automotive industry, which has traditionally required its suppliers to secure the prerequisite patent licenses; I congratulate Huawei on having convinced Sharp of the benefits of such an agreement at the negotiating table; and I’m happy to see Daimler–as a beneficiary of its indirect customer relationship with Huawei, which is known to provide connectivity modules to Daimler’s tier 1 suppliers such as Continental and Harman–being relieved from a significant part of the litigation pressures it has been facing for a while. In practical terms, the Sharp-Daimler cases are now merely about past damages with respect to cars that came without Huawei components. Injunctive relief is a practical non-issue as Daimler could presumably equip 100% of its products with components supplied by Huawei or coming with Huawei chips and modules.

        • Carrum Technologies patent held unpatentable

          On July 15, 2020, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) issued a final written decision in Unified Patents, LLC et al. v. Carrum Technologies, LLC et al., holding all challenged claims of U.S. Patent 7,925,416 unpatentable. The ‘416 patent, directed to vehicle sensors, had been asserted against BMW, FCA, and Ford.

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