EditorsAbout the SiteComes vs. MicrosoftUsing This Web SiteSite ArchivesCredibility IndexOOXMLOpenDocumentPatentsNovellNews DigestSite NewsRSS

08.09.20

UserLibre: What I Want You to Get From This Book

Posted in Free/Libre Software, FSF at 9:05 pm by Guest Editorial Team

2020 figosdev

Book reader
Chapter 19: What I Want You to Get From This Book

Summary: “Corporate-backed lies run the world, and the FSF used to get in the way.”

I could add another five chapters, trying to make this book more comprehensive — though I think even fewer people would read it if I did that.

“Today, I am watching the FSF (along with the GNU Project) become Open-Source-like; co-opted, corrupted and less free.”The Free Software Foundation (FSF) until recently had two half-presidents, Alex Oliva and founder Richard M. Stallman (rms). Technically, the other half-president was John Sullivan — WHATEVER…

The New FSF is illegitimate and based on lies and corruption. Free software still matters. Open Source is corporate propaganda. Any claims worth making these days will sound outrageous — that’s why I’ve started you on a path with this book, a bit like the one I started on when I started to question the pretty lies of Open Source and discover the true meaning of Free software.

“Now, the FSF can finally find out just how much it can achieve when it sacrifices the more meaningful parts of its own mission for soundbites and bigger sponsorship.”I was an Open Source advocate originally, and the more I learned about it, the more disgusted I grew. Today, I am watching the FSF (along with the GNU Project) become Open-Source-like; co-opted, corrupted and less free.

People are paying VERY good money to have people lie to you. Corporate-backed lies run the world, and the FSF used to get in the way. Now, the FSF can finally find out just how much it can achieve when it sacrifices the more meaningful parts of its own mission for soundbites and bigger sponsorship. That’s a cynical form of success, but a wildly popular one. It’s the essence of the Open Source scam too.

“Researching history to look for the truth, I discovered just how much we were lied to by likes of Torvalds and O’Reilly.”Learning about Free software helped me realise the importance of history and timelines. Researching history to look for the truth, I discovered just how much we were lied to by likes of Torvalds and O’Reilly. What these people tell you is bunk, it is just marketing. For more about marketing, I refer you to the works of comedian Bill Hicks — he was far more outspoken than rms, and like rms he got paid for traveling around and telling people the truth about the world around us.

You cant trust the FSF these days — not in my opinion. I wrote extensively about the tactics used to smear, co-opt, infiltrate and thwart Free software and its organisations, and I also wrote an appeal to the Free software community called Church of Emacs 2.0. It was just okay.

When Techrights and I saw the writings on the wall, I revamped my writing into the “Guarding and Rescuing the FSF Titanic” series — some of the chapters (I think there were 9 or 10 in that one) are more or less included in this book.

“Free Software was always about the freedom of users — which developers were not to deny.”There is no saving the FSF Titanic now. When I wrote it, the idea of rms being ousted was a prediction, not a fact. I didn’t give up the moment he was ousted, but I’ve learned a LOT since then. For one, I didn’t know how thoroughly compromised the GNU Project (and many of its authors) are.

SOME of this stuff can and should be salvaged. I could have called it “Salvaging the wreck of the FSF Titanic” but Alessandro (if indirectly) gave me a better idea for a title. Besides, any salvage that happens is going to result in something drastically different than the FSF today or the FSF 3 years ago.

Free Software was always about the freedom of users — which developers were not to deny. To deny the user freedom is unethical, according to rms and according to Free software. Today, we have free and “open” developers skirting tradition and ethics, and finding loopholes to please their corporate masters. We have well-established Free software figures emulating and quoting the rhetoric and tactics of Open Source. These are sellouts.

“We have well-established Free software figures emulating and quoting the rhetoric and tactics of Open Source. These are sellouts.”When you sell out users, this isn’t just some crime against image, or falling short of a perfect ideal. You’re deliberately working against them — you’re working to thwart user-controlled computing. That’s what I refer to when say these are sellouts. They’re doing sleazy things because they think nobody who really matters is smart enough to figure it out.

Techrights continues to draw people in who know better, and I’ve written somewhere close to 100 articles for them. I went through them to find the best material to cover. The first 7 chapters are new, many of the articles I reused have small tweaks or new material; at least one or two are largely rewritten.

I want you, as a Free software advocate — also as a user, potential coder or potential advocate, to know what your options are.

“I want you, as a Free software advocate — also as a user, potential coder or potential advocate, to know what your options are.”You don’t have to kowtow to an organisation that (like the “listener-supported” but actually heavily corporate-funded NPR) pretends to care about its members while continuing to hand the reins over to the “real” sponsors, the big-ticket donors. THANK-GNUs are empty, all you’re doing by donating to the FSF is voting to be co-opted further. The FSF is deaf and working hard to silence everyone that wants to talk about what freedom really means — including its own founder. If they won’t fight for rms, you can be sure they won’t fight for you either.

I want you to know that just a few people can get together and make their own Free Software club. Start a “lab” online or in your community, where you can research Free software (the history, or some other aspect of it — how to promote it more effectively, or make it more fun, or what it lacks, or what YOU need) and then make your work on the subject freely-licensed. Please don’t use the GNU Free Documentation License, it’s crap — use CC-BY or CC-BY-SA, or use the license Wikipedia uses. Wikipedia once used the FDL, but they switched. You won’t get that luxury, so just learn the lesson from them instead of the hard way.

“Although people will debate with you if you get Free software wrong, you’ll have the chance to speak for yourselves in a way that the FSF is structured to stand in the way of.”We can create a network of these small Free software groups, and they can work with the other groups they want to work with — in mutual and voluntary collaboration. You can create and share Free software works and free cultural works — both will give you all Four Freedoms (ND-clause and NC-clause licenses will not). Although people will debate with you if you get Free software wrong, you’ll have the chance to speak for yourselves in a way that the FSF is structured to stand in the way of.

Of course with freedom comes danger — like the danger of being co-opted further. When OSI made their organisation more democratic, all it did was swing the doors wide open for a corporate takeover. If you want to speak for yourself, you’ll have to be wary of that happening to Free software too. But then again, it already has — it was corporations and the corporate tech press responsible for the coup at the FSF. That coup isn’t over and like NPR, the FSF isn’t coming back. No matter how much you donate, they’re never going to put users over corporate sponsors again. They’re the “F$F” now. Just like good old Micro$oft.

“When OSI made their organisation more democratic, all it did was swing the doors wide open for a corporate takeover.”FSFE is even worse. SFC is terrible. FSF-LA… I don’t know, but they probably depend too much on FSFE and FSF. Out of those options, I think FSF-LA is the least corrupt. At the moment I like FACIL though I don’t think a single organisation is the answer — we want a grassroots movement, the organisations should simply help that (not the other way around, which leads to corporate corruption and overthrow like happened to the FSF).

I don’t like what’s happening to the Internet Archive either. They’re acting less and less like librarians over there. That’s the opposite of what they should be doing. What the hell is going on, Mr. Kahle? Sir Tim has already sold out the Web to DRM (after needlessly stabbing the poor Gopher protocol to death) and I love the efforts to create a saner web-like standard (somewhere between Gopher and WWW) but I think it’s already on Microsoft GitHub, so I’m not likely to assume the best for that going forward.

“Things are bad, and not getting better.”We need to get farther from Open Source co-opting, not closer to it. Every time we “win” by their standards, users lose something in return. Marketing tells them the opposite, and GNU maintainers parrot the marketers.

I focus on the negative because the positive doesn’t need fixing; but I also talk about ways to improve the positive. I know there are some good people (no quote marks on that) in the movement, though I don’t trust the direction the movement is headed in. Things are bad, and not getting better.

But they can. And when they do, it will be because enough individuals decided to not settle for the crap they’re being offered, and they decide that either they can do better, or their best will do — better than giving up everything to Microsoft GitHub and Mozilla Telemetry spying.

“Never wanting to be sold out (also, not selling out users) isn’t about “purity” or piety, its about integrity.”Fewer false compromises please, and more getting back to the quest for freedom.

People make this stuff out to be purity arguments. “How many ways can your freedom be compromised?” isn’t putting aside a purity argument for purity, its making a petty argument for compromise at your expense. Never wanting to be sold out (also, not selling out users) isn’t about “purity” or piety, its about integrity.

When people get money to conflate basic integrity with “purity” (and for Torvalds he actually compares it to “hate”) then something is deeply wrong. And Torvalds is a shill. He always was, though he did help somewhat. You really don’t need Sherlock Holmes to trace the strings attached to the help that Linus gave us. He will be replaced with someone worse than he is, so I can’t say that will be progress.

You can’t trust monopolies to not put bad things in the code that runs on your computer. This isn’t just because you can’t study the code; you can study Mozilla’s code, and it won’t (anytime soon) change the fact that Mozilla is spying on its users — and like the FSF, they don’t care what you think.

“Lots of people are aware of this stuff, lots of people are becoming aware, lots of people pretend nothing is wrong too — that really isn’t helping.”You can’t trust the corporate shill press not to put lies in what they say to you either — we’ve been complaining about how their lies helped destroy the FSF. They’ve been trying to do harm to Free software for decades. We have plenty of examples — if you don’t care, you don’t care.

Lots of people are aware of this stuff, lots of people are becoming aware, lots of people pretend nothing is wrong too — that really isn’t helping.

You get to choose pretty lies or the ugly truth about this. The truth is more lovely in the long run, the pretty lies get real ugly if you keep them around. Do you want an ugly ducking and a beautiful swan, or a smiling face that turns against you years later? Maybe there are other choices, but these seem to be the main options we get again and again. Don’t be fooled by Open Sources smiling face — it considers itself your master, and cloaks its intentions with a familiar license.

“Don’t be fooled by Open Sources smiling face — it considers itself your master, and cloaks its intentions with a familiar license.”The best way for there to be a next chapter is for YOU to write it. YOU can help make education work for Free software. Your club can teach coding and remixing other freely-licensed works. You can learn to create more convenient programming languages and tools the easy way. You can create a world where more advocates can code and teach (and have fun).

We don’t just make “useful software” — we also create silly and pointless toys, and that also helps people learn (and appreciate) more about computers (and freedom). Don’t underestimate the relationship between freedom and coding; Microsoft will always work to separate the two, but it was using DOS and QBasic that made me want to share my own code originally. Today it is GNU/Linux and PyPy, but you will probably be better off with a fully-free version of BSD.

“You may not be able to save the FSF, but you can help figure out how to build something more resilient.”If you aren’t content with your creation, share it and invite people to improve it. Most projects will NOT get a lot of collaborators. If you make something it may take a long time to find someone who wants to collaborate. Keep trying, and make other things too. A lot of free projects have one or two authors. But adding to the Free software / free culture in the world is a good thing and sets a good example. Helping people discover existing Free software / free cultural works helps as well.

These are things you can do. You may not be able to save the FSF, but you can help figure out how to build something more resilient. You can focus primarily on your small group, and other groups can help groups find each other. This is a way to rebuild the movement. If there’s something you think you can improve — any aspect of Free software, make your solution VOLUNTARY (don’t try to force people to have a single answer to a problem, offer them your option and advocate) and put it under a free license and share it with others.

“…under monolithic organisations, too much is being dictated by people with money.”This can be a little more like science. But abandoning ideas that compromise freedom is not just okay, it’s a good idea. And how do we decide which ideas compromise freedom? The same way we do now. By looking for people who can explain what ideas are bad — and waiting for people to figure out if that’s true. But under monolithic organisations, too much is being dictated by people with money. That’s not Free software. It’s other people giving up on freedom, on your behalf.

Long live rms, and Happy Hacking.

Licence: Creative Commons CC0 1.0 (public domain)

Even the Mainstream/Corporate Media is Trying to Study Why (or If) Bill Gates and Epstein’s Sex Abuse Ring Were Closely Connected

Posted in Bill Gates at 8:28 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The private airplanes of Bill Gates have become the subject of FAA FOIA requests

Bill Gates planes
Source file (ODF) and PDF version of it

Summary: People in the media are eager to understand why Mr. Gates was so close to Mr. Epstein and even flew his plane (despite having several of his own)

“I hope for a day where an actual journalist takes the lead so that I can go back to being an engineer,” told us a former Microsoft employee and supporter of Techrights (readers might be surprised to know how many at Microsoft read and support us; some send us tips/information).

This one particular person has some stories to tell about what he saw at Microsoft. According to him, pedophilia was sometimes used as leverage over people he knew. He doesn’t like or trust Gates, to say the least. “Considering that he has redundant amounts of jets to ensure that he can go anywhere in the world on a moments notice and that they’re maintained maniacally, I’m inquiring into whether or not Gates had access to his jets at the time he got on Epstein’s plane; were they in use or were they down for maintenance etc etc?”

“This one particular person has some stories to tell about what he saw at Microsoft.”Remember the timing of it. Gates already knew what Epstein had done. Everybody knew. It was a matter of public record. There’s no way he knew nothing.

“Oddly enough,” said the person. “I’m not the only one.” (Checking flight records of Gates jets)

“Seemingly, Halley Frager @ NBC did a FOIA on both of his jets from that time, presumably to discover just that, so we can expect more from her on this front in the future.” Based on the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) FOIA report, people inquired around the time Gates’ lies about his relationship with Epstein were debunked by the New York Times and then again around the time COVID-19 hit the United States really hard (death toll equivalent to a “9/11″ per day). The media may have contributed to the ousting of RMS from MIT (weeks after it turned out Epstein and Gates had coordinated bribes to MIT), yet Gates is still being portrayed as an international hero and disease expert (he never even graduated from college, let alone got any qualification in a medical field).

“When it comes to Seattle’s PD, it took us no less than 10 months to get something in response to the FOIA request.”Freger (ABC News) asked for “flight data for aircraft N194WM from 1998 to present” and “all flight data for aircraft N887WM from 1998 to present”

The person we spoke to is “also inquiring into whether or not Melinda Gates was present with Bill during any of his dealings. And If not, I’m also asking when she became aware of her husband and her firm’s dealings with Epstein which ran from 2011-2017.”

We’ll keep readers updated when we hear more. When it comes to Seattle’s PD, it took us no less than 10 months to get something in response to the FOIA request.

The Incredible Demise of News Sites About Patents

Posted in Site News at 8:00 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

On the bender?

Wine

Summary: Sites for (and by) patent lawyers/attorneys seem to be perishing, which means it’s hard to know what’s going on

THERE is a reason why we haven’t been covering patent affairs recently. The European Patent Office (EPO) has no signal coming out of it — not even from SUEPO (holidays may contribute to that) — to the point where there’s not much to see or hear. Blogs that used to cover court cases and affairs of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) are also very quiet this month, and this has been going on for weeks (July also).

“…sites I’ve followed for many years (for coverage on matters like copyrights and patents) are really not doing well. They hardly publish anything at all. It’s like COVID-19 killed them.”Given this lack of activity, and our reliance on new information, there’s not much we can say about Iancu, Campinos, and Battistelli (who virtually vanished some time in 2018; hard to even find a single photo of him since then, except maybe very few).

Readers who are following us for patent news will probably see a resurgence after the holidays, but sites I’ve followed for many years (for coverage on matters like copyrights and patents) are really not doing well. They hardly publish anything at all. It’s like COVID-19 killed them.

Over the past few weeks we’ve been super-busy studying police reports, technology issues and antitrust matters. As soon as we find more information of interest and relevance about patents we’ll get back to that. That’s a promise.

Understanding Users and the Three Kinds of Computers: New, Slow and Broken

Posted in GNU/Linux, Hardware at 7:26 pm by Guest Editorial Team

2020 figosdev

Broken disk
Chapter 18: Understanding Users and the Three Kinds of Computers: New, Slow and Broken; Originally here (slightly different)

Summary: “Understanding the user is the first step towards a practical response to misconceptions.”

There’s no accurate generalisation for every computer user. Some are savvy, many others aren’t. Most are conditioned by marketing.

Getting past that conditioning is not usually possible with mere debate or logic. Conditioning is emotional and experiential, and if you disagree you’re just missing the point. At least, that’s how it goes trying to explain things.

Understanding the user is the first step towards a practical response to misconceptions. Many of us know that the difference between a “New” and “Broken” machine, is that something needs to be fixed (and that thing is often just the software installation or configuration.) The difference between a New machine and a slow one, is often also a matter of software installation or configuration.

The user has plenty of reasons to be paranoid — instead of being granted access to their computer, they have companies like Microsoft and Apple as intermediaries. The big name tech brands are like the Church in the dark ages, obscuring their teachings in Latin and offering a proprietary (priest-driven) service to make things accessible to the congregation.

When people begin to learn how to do things for themselves, everything familiar is moved around and the cycle begins again. When you’re being led, but you don’t know how or why, a paranoid feeling is bound to result.

Proprietary software is a system of collective punishment — people are taught not to mess with anything, because then it will “break” and have to be “repaired”. Messing with things is generally alright — it’s your computer — but since you’re conditioned not to worry about any of that as long as it’s “working”, tampering with the sacred relics will bring down wrath and harsh consequence.

Don’t install anything, or else — don’t remove anything, or else — Its like it isn’t your computer, it belongs to the software vendors. If it were yours, advice would centre around means of practical management, not “leaving it alone” so it won’t “break”.

There are two reasons that it matters not to break anything — one is time. You shouldn’t fiddle with production machines, that’s true for any platform. But the other reason, is that proprietary software (and software that takes too many pages from proprietary design books) limits what can be fixed. And the constant dragging of people from one set of features to the next limits the effectiveness of education and familiarity. Users are the hostages of developers, and they panic like hostages and experience signs of Stockholm Syndrome like hostages:

“Don’t touch that! You don’t know what it’ll do!”

“But it just-”

“NO! Please! Last time someone did that it never worked right again.”

“Okay, okay. I’m closing the Run window, it’s alright.”

“It’s probably too late, just don’t touch it, okay?”

If schools were actually teaching technology instead of having corporations spoon-feed it to them, users would not be this hysterical over the use of standard features. There is a serious lack of computer literacy, even among college graduates of working age and accomplished careers.

But until we solve the computer literacy problem (and I recommend we try) it is still a good thing to get people to use free software. That’s the only way they will become familiar with it.

Lots of people have their own ideas about what friendly is. I’ve never required anything fancier or simpler than LXDE — I mean required for other people. This is not an endorsement of LXDE, so much as a reality check for people that think you must have something that is more or less elaborate for the “average user.” LXDE isn’t the nicest desktop you can possibly find, nor is it the lightest or the simplest. What it is, is just fine. It’s average. I’ve found it to be pretty reliable — but it’s just an example.

In homeless shelters, homes of people who are retired or on disability, on computers given to nieces and used in education, Debian Wheezy worked very well indeed. The secret to getting people to use it (in my experience) isn’t about what you do after the computer is given to someone — though I did offer free support — it’s about the psychological conditions under which the computer is donated.

Your experience may differ, and I’d like to hear from you about that. But I spent years looking for ideal ways to share free software, and this is my experience:

There are three kinds of computers — New, Slow and Broken.

With notable exceptions, if someone has a Slow computer and you put GNU/Linux on it, it’s now Broken. It doesn’t matter if you changed a single option — Breaking a computer is like dropping a teacup. You can glue it back together, but it will never be the same.

If you pick something up off the kitchen table and move it somewhere else in the room, you’ve now broken it — and it will have to be replaced or repaired. But who trusts a repair? Time to get a new house… This is how good the marketing people are.

Yes, we know better. Yes, we can explain. It doesn’t matter — once you break it, the user themselves know for certain the computer will never be the same again. It’s not bad enough to replace it with a New computer, but even if it’s just an option you put right back afterwards — now it’s irreparably changed in some annoying way. Thank you, and get out.

Most people don’t want an operating system installed on their computer. And to some of us this is obvious. But even if you take a Slow computer someone doesn’t use anymore and doesn’t care about, “Sure kid, have fun — but if you break it, don’t bother me with it. I’ve got no use for a broken computer. Just leave it there, thank you, and get out — Darned kids, no respect for the work that goes into buying these things, they just want to break things and get new stuff.”

Of course there are exceptions. I found an office machine that seemed to be on its last legs, showed them what it would be like after “fixing it” with a live CD, and walked them through the things it wouldn’t be able to do after being “fixed.” It had a wired network connection, it was mostly used for online tasks, It wasn’t used for writing documents or printing. All they cared about was that it “worked” again. I installed Debian Wheezy and after using it they ran out and hugged me — “It’s SO MUCH FASTER!” So that won’t usually happen, though it does sometimes.

Things aren’t just Broken when you mess with them. The rule applies to machines that were already broken when you found them. If you mess with a computer that is already broken, “you’ll only make it worse.” Messing with a computer is how it breaks, broken computers and broken teacups are never the same again, if you mess with it further then you’ll only make it worse — why bother? Just “leave it alone” and buy a new one when you can.

The summary of this mindset is that doing almost anything with a computer will break it — and fixing it will break it more. This is the mindset of a hostage, not an owner, and it is the result of years of conditioning that is unmitigated by a proper computer education. Teachers have problems like these, so it should be no surprise that their students also feel helpless. They are prime candidates for service contracts, insurance plans and extended warranties, and that’s basically the idea.

Reality aside, in the psychology of the average computer user, even if they are really a lot smarter than this — this mindset is as much about emotional manipulation as the intelligence of the average user (quite a few average users are really a lot smarter than this, and they deserve credit where credit is due) a reasonable conclusion is that you can’t do much of anything to get past the mentality of the user. Not with their computers, that is.

The way I found to make “Slow” and “Broken” computers into New ones, simply involves a machine that is “New” (or like New) to the person receiving it.

Go to the person with a “Slow” or “Broken” computer, and find out if they have already replaced it with a New one. If they have, they are still trying to figure out what to do with it. After all, it will never be the same, so let it sit there. But it’s too expensive to throw away!

You won’t change their mind about whether it’s fixable, but just for the sake of honesty, tell them that you fix Slow and Broken computers, and that you give them away to people who need one.

Fighting E-waste is good for the environment as well as people in conflict-mineral-related regions like the Congo — so if they seem like the kind of person who cares about that, be sure to mention that this is likely to keep more toxins out of landfills for longer. Either way, you’re helping people.

Some will have concerns about data — you should learn how to securely wipe a drive so that you can tell them not to worry. In other situations, be ready to remove the drive on-site so that you can offer to leave that part with them “just to be sure.” You will find other drives, and the computer you get without one might have nicer specs than the other one you take a drive from.

Tell them “There’s a good chance I can fix this — if I do, do you want it back?” If they say yes, and you make it clear what you’re going to do — you can give it back to them with GNU/Linux installed. More often, they prefer to get rid of it and never get it back. It’s always going to be broken, they have a new one, etc.

Now with your New computer (by no means is anyone suggesting you say it’s newer than it is– it is now refurbished and offered as a “like new”, but used machine) wait until you meet a person who has a Slow or Broken computer.

Offer to LOAN them your “Like New” machine.

“I have a perfectly good laptop/desktop, would you like to borrow or own it free of charge?”

“What?”

“I can loan it to you, and if you like it you can keep it.”

“Why?”

“That’s something I do — I refurbish computers that I get for free, and give them away to people who need one. But you can just borrow it, if you want to try it. You can keep it if you like it.”

Some of them will get a free, Like New computer. If they don’t like it, you get it back and can refurbish it again.

Having tried the other ways, this is what I’ve found to be the most reliable way to spread GNU/Linux to everyday people. I’m not the first person to do it, but I tried sharing CDs and DVDs and USBs and offered to install, run Live, Dual boot, all of those.

The best media for distributing GNU/Linux is the computer itself. That’s how people expect to get computers — and anything else is “broken” and will never be the same — too often, anyway.

Be sure that if you do this, you are able to provide a reasonable (for them, for you) level of support to the people you give machines to. If they take that thing into an office store, they’re probably just going to tell them “it needs Windows installed. It’s old, you probably want to buy a New one.”

One option is to tell them that if they have serious problems with it, you’ll let them know when a new one is available. Then they can “trade” it for another “Like new” one.

Licence: Creative Commons CC0 1.0 (public domain)

The Good and Bad of a (GNU?) BSD (not GNU/LINUX) Future

Posted in BSD, Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux at 6:17 pm by Guest Editorial Team

2020 figosdev

BSD Linux
Chapter 17: The Good and Bad of a (GNU?) BSD (not GNU/LINUX) Future; Originally adapted/derived from "Au Revoir, GNU/Linux"

Summary: “The software industry now occupies Free software’s own territory. No longer is it Free software vs. Windows and MacOS, it’s Free software vs. GIAFAM-co-opted Free software.”

I might not have included this chapter, but other chapters promised an explanation — this will hopefully give a glimpse into the world we Free software advocates now live in. And also why GNU/Linux is probably doomed.

“This isn’t new; and it isn’t “old news” either, because although they’ve had this way of doing things… dare we call it a “plan?” It’s a little paranoid to assume that a large corporation does things according to any sort of planning, right?”I’ve made a handful of fairly accurate predictions about the future of the tech world, from rms being ousted to the Red Hat purchase, to USB sticks instead of floppies (I didn’t predict the interface, just the storage chips) and I’ve explained that the industry runs deep treads that make a lot of predictions non-miraculous. So while I’d be happy to be wrong, I don’t think what I’m saying is on the horizon is too outrageous — it only goes against marketing and hype. If you prefer marketing lies to unhappy news, you have a choice.

The software industry now occupies Free software’s own territory. No longer is it Free software vs. Windows and MacOS, it’s Free software vs. GIAFAM-co-opted Free software.

This isn’t new; and it isn’t “old news” either, because although they’ve had this way of doing things… dare we call it a “plan?” It’s a little paranoid to assume that a large corporation does things according to any sort of planning, right?

They just wake up each morning and try random things after an impromptu board meeting, with the hopes of controlling the several-billion-dollar ecosystem they have dominated for decades. Of course they go about this without any sort of planning…

But just to throw people off the scent I guess, they outlined their completely non-existent, totally hypothetical and anyway entirely-abandoned, irrelevant plan in the a group of memos now known as the Halloween documents more than 20 years ago.

The fact that everything the industry does today is was somehow predicted in that non-plan written by the very same companies doing the same things today is a complete coincidence.

The fact that IBM was doing it before Microsoft was doing it before Google was doing it is also a complete coincidence also — it doesn’t mean that each wannabe monopoly learned from watching the others before it. Play Steam and don’t worry — the whole reason that GNU/Linux was created was so we could have an Open Source video game platform for non-free games. WE WON! Linux Won!

For those who are trying to understand what the industry is actually doing, the Halloween documents continue to prove relevant.

I notice new examples all the time, and just shake my head. These people don’t have a lot of imagination; as long as some dumb old trick works on customers and delights the press, they have no reason not to use it. And these are dumb old tricks they’re using. I even explain how they get away with it — it’s really not that different from how compulsive liars in general get away with being compulsive liars. It isn’t rocket science.

But you have to hand it to them — the tricks still work. I mean, some Ubuntu fan is actually making the argument on his tech blog that we need an App-Store-like App Store with non-free applications to make GNU/Linux “for everyone.” Sure, I’ve heard this nonsense for years — but he’s talking about the future design of Elementary OS. Brilliant.

They use a locked-down version of GNU/Linux so that downloaded applications have more control over the computer than the user does. For the technically-inclined, this is only partly true — you can actually become root and take over the system again. It is just a lot more tedious than before.

Oh, and as it happens, “for everyone” means fewer choices too! Isn’t that the best? We are going to better help “everyone” by shoveling crap at them, somehow. And then telling them (repeatedly) that it makes them happy. That’s how marketing generally works — manufacturing contentment.

Simulated and symbolic takeover IS the first step in an effective takeover. You need the social change, the change in user expectation before it’s safe to implement the final technological locks — adding DRM to the mix so that not only is every program locked in by your package management / CRAPP store, that is further cordoned off by TPM or some other garbage. This is happening just as they’re adding DRM to Linux. Which is a kernel, by the way. But that’s increasingly unimportant as we wave goodbye to GNU/Linux.

There’s already a class of distros like this — called “Appliance-like distros” in the Librethreat Database.

Chrome OS, Endless OS, Android, plus now Elementary OS. They certainly do look good. The most efficient way to make people line up to eat a turd, after all, is to present it as Haute cuisine.

Hopefully, the current 2-YEAR-LONG coup within the GNU project led by Ludovic Courtes, Andreas Enge and Andy Wingo will fail and at least we will have GNU, but no kernel yet. As with init, few but Hyperbola are truly working for the future.

This isn’t to disparage other good efforts in the distro world; It’s not “wrong” to work on GNU/Linux, and MX and Antix are doing lots of the best work to keep systemd (IBM and Microsoft’s almost-proprietary Cuckoo OS) out of our software. It’s true, neither MX or Antix are fully free. But that’s pretty easily rectified — Devuan is not fully-free either and it’s a terrible shame that Dyne:Bolic is not up to date, but still there’s Hyperbola. And it is fully-free.

Forking Linux is still more practical than switching to BSD. The copyleft is irrelevant — traitor, hypocrite, liar Torvalds (still better than the people slated to replace him) sold us up the river from Day 1, so its hardly surprising that he sold out in the end. While the GPL made the kernel what it was last week, what it is today and what it will be (Zombie Linux) is thanks to Jim Zemlin and his Microsoftie second-in-command at the Linux Foundation.

The whole idea of copyleft is to prevent exactly what is happening now, but it’s happening anyway.

What I’m not saying is that copyleft is useless; far from it. Zombie Linux will quickly prove how valuable copyleft was to the kernel when it is finally stripped away, similar to the way that AIDS proves the immune system is an important thing to have. What I am saying is that un-enforceable copyleft, like the copyleft on the Linux kernel in the near future, is practically the same as none-at-all.

I know you guys saved OpenOffice from Oracle. Nice work there. I don’t think it’s impossible to save the Linux kernel in a similar fashion, just so you know. But nobody will — feel free to prove me wrong, I’ve asked around. The Linux kernel is not getting forked. Tux, this is where we soon part ways.

But the entire concept of GNU/Linux is being attacked by corporate trolls and Elementary OS. And Endless OS, and Android, and Chrome OS.

The GNU operating system is about freedom. Elementary OS is about control. Endless OS is about control. Google is about control.

Github, systemd and Flatpak (both of which are controlled by Github) unfortunately, are about control.

So what happens if enough people migrate from GNU/Linux to Zombie OS? Simple. We basically run 20 years BACKWARDS in terms of freedom, while using freely licensed software.

The culture of users having control over the computing will be over, and Open Source will have won.

That’s the goal, at least. The real story is that people are still fighting, but people who think they care about Free software are arguing with them for standing for the same thing said people (Trisquel) USED TO stand up for.

“Fully free” Trisquel is an absolute parody of its own mission now, Much like the FSF itself. But to be fair, any effort to do better than the FSF (or Trisquel) is struggling pretty hard, and chest-beating won’t help much.

It’s no small loss that Linux has no future in the world of Free software. It’s the biggest loss yet, and we really ought to stop just letting these things go like it’s nothing. But alas, the FSF won’t say anything because they’re bought and paid for. Honestly, the FSF gave up before GNU/Linux did.

The funny thing is, even a VERY small number of people at the FSF are beginning to get clued in about all this. And that’s nothing less than awesome. Its not enough, but its awesome. We WOULD benefit from having allies there, if they’re there.

Whether there are enough to still rescue the FSF Titanic (or build a new one) depends on how many more allies join in the fight — I don’t mean joining the FSF, because that’s useless.

Your money won’t help them until they stop taking bribes. They’re lying and pretending that they need your money to stop them from being “pwned” by corporations, but they’re already pwned. Your “support” is worth more than your donations, because apart from adding to the coffers you legitimize the coup with your membership. What people should be doing at this point is withholding until they get results.

Of course its too late for that, but it’s still the right thing to do. You’re either standing up for freedom (and rms) or you’re handing everything off to an organization that has abandoned both its mission and honesty.

Can the FSF be salvaged? I think it’s too late. But can it be salvaged by joining and asking the people currently in charge to care?

Absolutely not.

But this bit of rambling aside, the point of this chapter is to point out that Linux isn’t going to be Free software anymore. It’s done, and increasingly done each year that goes by. The trajectory of GNU/Linux is Zombie Linux, GIAFAM and DRM. The Trajectory of GNU (no thanks to Andy) is Free software.

The future isn’t BSD because BSD is ideal for our purposes, it’s really not. My feeling about BSD for years is that it’s a Superior kernel, but only in a limited (still significant) context.

It’s actually a really wonderful thing. I am thoroughly convinced that the reason we use the Linux kernel with GNU is that it’s more practical for more people. BSD is extremely practical — just not for quite as many people.

So if you gave me a cool billion and said “Hire people, Fix the GNU project” we would probably fork Linux and get to work on that. That’s probably the best way to do it.

That’s just not relevant if people instead use BSD. I like BSD, I’ve really always wanted something like HyperbolaBSD, and I’ve tried Debian KFreeBSD.

I was hoping for it as an option, though — next to, in addition to the GNU/Linux option.

Since the GNU/Linux option is being left behind, the future looks a lot more like GNU/BSD. Thanks anyway, Linus.

“There are ‘extremists’ in the free software world, but that’s one major reason why I don’t call what I do ‘Free software’ any more,” says the original Linux author.

There are lying hypocrite sellouts in the Open Source community, that’s why I haven’t supported Open Source in years — because its a lie and a scam and a way to sell out Free software.

Ironically, the Open Source Initiative which (as part of Open Source) sold out rms to Torvalds, then Torvalds to Microsoft was founded by two people, the less principled of which said more roughly two decades ago:

“I also expect a serious effort, backed by several billion dollars in bribe money (oops, excuse me, campaign contributions), to get open-source software outlawed on some kind of theory that it aids terrorists.”

Whatever — but thank you for the Halloween documents. You may have tried to oust rms years ago, but there was a time (however long ago) when you seemed like one of our best allies against Microsoft.

Funny how OSI just ended up being another vehicle for their takeover of the computing world though.

Hey, I’m not laughing — it’s “funny” enough how the FSF is the same.

To those who know better: keep fighting. You can still win, but I’m afraid that there are more Wingos and Raymonds than ever, and rarely enough Stallmans or Roios.

If Foss Farce has trouble gleaning the point of this chapter, here’s a tip — its right in the title. But what’s the point of a tweets worth of text if details mean nothing? Superficiality reigns supreme in Open Source, and that’s why the freedom they can offer you is superficial.

Licence: Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Links 9/8/2020: Popcorn Computers Pocket PC and New Interview With Richard Stallman

Posted in News Roundup at 11:23 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

  • GNU/Linux

    • 5 of the Best Linux Laptops in 2020

      If you’re shopping for a laptop and know you’re planning to run Linux, you can either get any laptop, reformat the hard drive and install your favorite Linux distro on it or just get a laptop that is running Linux right out of the box. Here are some of the best Linux laptops you can get in 2020.

      [...]

      These all come preloaded with Ubuntu 20.04 LTS, which is a solid base for any of the various flavors or just vanilla Ubuntu. Many of the drivers have been contributed upstream by Dell, so many distros that use newer kernels should be able to take full advantage of the Killer Wi-Fi cards and Intel Iris Plus Graphics.

      [...]

      Pine64 has been in the news often for its Pinephone, but the Pinebook Pro is another great product from them. It’s a 14” ARM laptop that weighs less than 3 lbs/1.5 KG and sips power. It’s a great little machine that helps to push Linux forward on the ARM platform and comes in just under $200.

    • Audiocasts/Shows

      • Exploring Desktop Alternatives Live

        Exploring Desktop Alternatives Live – This stream will do a full Debian Install and customize the Desktop Environment to something new.

      • TuxURLs And Other Linux News Aggregators Worth Checking Out

        There’s always way too much news too look at and I find that the easiest way to deal with this is too use some sort of Linux news aggregation service to filter out the garbage that I don’t really want to see and today we’re going to take a look at a couple of those Linux news aggregators which I think are worth checking out. One such example is TuxURLs which as you’ll see if you watch towards the end of the video is my personal favourite for very self centred reasons.

      • Distrohopping Sucks. I’m Never Leaving You Again, Arch Linux!

        In the last 24 hours, I have distrohopped 8 times on my main production machine. Several failed installs and several bottles of wine later, I realized I messed up. You never quit a good thing, and I had a good thing with the Arch-based distros, especially Arco.

    • Kernel Space

      • Linux Plumbers currently sold out

        Linux Plumbers is currently sold out of regular registration tickets. Although the conference is virtual this year our virtual platform cannot support an unlimited number of attendees, hence the cap on registration. We are currently reviewing our capacity limits to see if we can allow more people to attend without over burdening the virtual platform and potentially preventing discussion. We will make another announcement next week regarding registration.

      • Linux 5.9 Supports A Lot Of New Audio Hardware, Intel Silent Stream Added

        The Linux kernel continues supporting a lot more audio devices and much more punctual than a decade or two ago.

      • Linux 5.9 Networking Changes Are As Active As Ever

        Each kernel cycle the networking subsystem sees a lot of churn given the importance of network interconnect performance and reliability especially in high performance computing environments where Linux dominates.

      • Several Drivers Promoted Out Of Staging With Linux 5.9

        The “staging” area of the kernel, where new drivers and other code live that has yet to prove itself or live up to kernel code quality standards, saw a few drivers graduate into Linux mainline proper for the current 5.9 cycle.

        Linux 5.9′s staging area is quite vibrant along with the IIO (Industrial I/O) changes sent in as part of the pull request as usual by Greg Kroah-Hartman.

      • Linux 5.9 Brings More IBM POWER10 Support, New/Faster SCV System Call ABI

        With Linux 5.8 there is initial support for booting POWER10 CPUs while with Linux 5.9 there is more POWER10 work underway. Additionally, Linux 5.9 is bringing support for the newer and faster system call ABI for POWER9 and newer with the SCV instruction.

        Linux 5.9 has “support for a new faster system call ABI using the scv instruction on Power9 or later.” That is the recently covered work on POWER System Call Vectored (SCV). Using SCV can utilize faster registers and reducing machine specific register updates among other benefits for existing POWER9 CPUs and future POWER10 hardware.

      • AMD Sensor Fusion Hub Driver Under Review A Sixth Time For Linux

        While a lot of interesting changes are coming for the in-development Linux 5.9 kernel, sadly a long overdue change isn’t going to make the merge window and that is the AMD Sensor Fusion Hub driver.

        The AMD Sensor Fusion Hub is utilized by some AMD Zen laptops for accelerometer and gyroscopic sensors on the devices, akin to the Intel Sensor Hub (ISH) that has long been supported under Linux. While the Sensor Fusion Hub (SFH) is used by laptops going back to Zen 1 hardware, it was only earlier this year that the AMD SFH Linux driver was posted.

      • Graphics Stack

        • Mesa To Join Other Open-Source Projects With “Main” For Primary Code Branch

          This week Mesa developers began drafting plans for transitioning their primary Git branch to “main”, following the naming plans of other open-source projects using Git.

          With Git now allowing a configurable default branch and GitHub working to transition from “master” to “main” as their default Git branch name, various other open-source projects have also been working to change their default Git branch name. Most open-source projects have been settling for “main” as the best and most descriptive default branch name rather than alternatives like trunk, default, etc. Mesa developers are similarly aiming for a “main” transition.

    • Applications

      • Linux Weekly Roundup: Ubuntu 20.04.1, LibreOffice 7, Pinta – Aug 8, 2020

        Here’s a recap for the week in the form of weekly roundup, curated for you from the Linux and opensource world on application updates, new releases, distribution updates, major news, and upcoming trends.

        This week there has been plenty of app updates, distribution release announced. With so many moving items happening all around the Linux and the open-source world, it is not always possible to cover the updates, especially the minor releases of news.

    • Instructionals/Technical

    • Games

    • Desktop Environments/WMs

      • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

        • KDE Frameworks 5.73 Released with Many Changes to Breeze Icons, Kirigami and KNewStuff

          KDE Frameworks 5.73 is a monthly update to the open-source software suite, but it packs a lot of interesting changes. For example, the Kirigami UI builder received a new FlexColumn component and now supports action visibility in the GlobalDrawer, along with optimizations to the mobile layout and to the accessibility of the Kirigami input fields.

          The Breeze icon theme saw a lot of changes too during the development cycle of KDE Frameworks 5.73, and it now comes with a bunch of new icons for Kontrast, kirigami-gallery, snap-angle, document-replace, SMART status, task-recurring, appointment-recurring, Overwrite action/button, and applications/pkcs12 mime type.

    • Distributions

      • New Releases

        • Elementary OS 6: What’s Coming In The Next Major Version?

          In January of this year, Co-founder & CXO of elementary OS Cassidy James Blaede revealed that the upcoming elementary OS 6 will be based on Ubuntu 20.04 LTS. In the latest update blog, he has now further highlighted the new features coming in this major version.

          Though before a beta release, a lot of work is still to be done on elementary OS 6, the planned features are still undergoing work. Surprisingly, you can also try the pre-release build of elementary OS 6 using recently launched Early Access Builds.

        • Porteus-v5.0rc2 is released

          After nearly 14 months and a lot of developments (circumstantial and technical), Team Porteus is happy to announce Porteus-v5.0rc2.

      • BSD

        • Recovering 2.11BSD, fighting the patches

          Well, if we have patch 195, and all 195 patches, what’s the problem? Why can’t you do a simple for loop and patch -R to get back to original? And for that matter, why were no copies of the original saved?

          Turns out the root of both of these problems can be summarized as ‘resource shortage’. Back in the day when this was released, 100MB disks were large. The release came on 2 mag tapes that held 40MB each. Saving a copy of these required a substantial amount of space. And it was more important to have the latest release, not the original release, for running the system. It was more efficient and better anyway.

          In addition to small disk space, these small systems were connected via USENET or UUCP. These connections tended to be slow. Coupled with the small size of the storage on the PDP-11s running 2.11BSD, the patches weren’t what we think of as modern patches. The patches started before the newer unified diff format was created. That format is much more efficient that the traditional context diffs. In addition, compress(1) was the only thing that could compress things, giving poor compression ratios. The UUCP transport of usenet messages also mean that the messages had to be relatively short. So, this mean that the ‘patches’ were really an upgrade process, that often included patches. But just as often, it included instructions like this from patch 4: [...]

        • NetBSD on the NanoPi NEO2

          The NanoPi NEO2 from FriendlyARM has been serving me well since 2018, being my test machine for OpenBSD/arm64 related things.

          As NetBSD/evbarm finally gained support for AArch64 in NetBSD 9.0, released back in February, I decided to give it a try on this device. The board only has 512MB of RAM, and this is where NetBSD really shines. Things have become a lot easier since jmcneill@ now provides bootable ARM images for a variety of devices, including the NanoPi NEO2.

      • PCLinuxOS/Mageia/Mandriva/OpenMandriva Family

        • Mageia 8 Beta 1 Linux distro now available with KDE Plasma, GNOME, and Xfce

          Development of Mageia 8 seems to be progressing nicely, which is good news for fans of the Linux-based operating system. Last month, we shared that the first Alpha of the distribution was available for testing, and now today, the first Beta arrives.

          As with the Alpha, the Beta is available with your choice of three desktop environments — KDE Plasma, GNOME, and Xfce. All three are available in 64-bit Live ISO images, but the 32-bit variant of the operating system is limited to Xfce only. This makes sense, as 32-bit-only computers in 2020 are quite ancient and under-powered, while Xfce is the most lightweight DE of the bunch.

      • IBM/Red Hat/Fedora

        • Linux kmod tools on macOS

          First, this does not mean you can load Linux kernel modules on macOS. This port is far more boring than that.

          Recently I migrated from Travis-CI over to GitHub Actions for rpminspect. I took some time to understand how GitHub Actions worked and expanded the CI tests to run across Fedora rawhide, the latest release of Fedora, Debian Testing, Ubuntu, OpenSUSE Leap, OpenSUSE Tumbleweed, CentOS 8, CentOS 7, and Arch Linux. I wanted to prove that the software was portable across different distributions, but then that had me thinking about non-Linux platforms. GitHub Actions offers macOS as a platform, so what if I built things there too?

          Gaining access to a remote macOS VM (thanks, jbair), I was able to start working on porting rpminspect. The first problem I hit was the lack of libkmod from the Linux kmod project. Makes sense that this would not exist on macOS. All rpminspect does with libkmod is open and read Linux kernel modules, so porting it to macOS is technically possible. So I decided to give that a try.

      • Debian Family

        • Redo Rescue Backup and Recovery Live System Gets NFS Share Support, SSH Server

          For those not in the know, Redo Rescue is a great, free and easy to use live Linux system based on Debian GNU/Linux that can help you whenever your computer is broken by letting you backup and restore an entire system in just a few minutes.

          For example, if your computer no longer boots after installing the recent BootHole patches for the GRUB2 bootloader, you can use Redo Rescue to repair the boot. Of course, there are a few other tools that can do the same, but Redo Rescue can also do bare metal restores by replacing the MBR and partition table, re-map original data to a different target partition and even verify the integrity of an existing backup image.

        • DebConf8

          Also this is my 6th post in this series of posts about DebConfs and for the last two days for the first time I failed my plan to do one post per day. And while two days ago I still planned to catch up on this by doing more than one post in a day, I have now decided to give in to realities, which mostly translates to sudden fantastic weather in Hamburg and other summer related changes in life. So yeah, I still plan to do short posts about all the DebConfs I was lucky to attend, but there might be days without a blog post. Anyhow, Mar de la Plata.

          When we held DebConf in Argentina it was winter there, meaning locals and other folks would wear jackets, scarfs, probably gloves, while many Debian folks not so much. Andreas Tille freaked out and/or amazed local people by going swimming in the sea every morning. And when I told Stephen Gran that even I would find it a bit cold with just a tshirt he replied “na, the weather is fine, just like british summer”, while it was 14 celcius and mildly raining.

          DebConf8 was the first time I’ve met Valessio Brito, who I had worked together since at least DebConf6. That meeting was really super nice, Valessio is such a lovely person. Back in 2008 however, there was just one problem: his spoken English was worse than his written one, and that was already hard to parse sometimes. Fast forward eleven years to Curitiba last year and boom, Valessio speaks really nice English now.

      • Canonical/Ubuntu Family

        • We may wind up significantly delaying or mostly skipping Ubuntu 20.04

          The highest priority machines to upgrade are our remaining Ubuntu 16.04 machines, which will be going out of support in April of next year. Fortunately we don’t have very many of them compared to our 18.04 machines, so there is not a huge amount of work to do. Unfortunately, most of our Exim based mail machines are 16.04 and the 20.04 version of Exim is a significantly disruptive upgrade, plus a number of the remaining machines are delicate to upgrade (our Samba server, for example).

          This opens up the issue of what Ubuntu version to upgrade these 16.04 machines to. Normally we’d upgrade them to Ubuntu 20.04, but normally we’d already be running less critical machines on 20.04 and getting experience with it; this time they’d be among our first 20.04 machines. On the other side, we’re already running Ubuntu 18.04 in general and in some cases running the same services on 18.04 as we currently do on 16.04 (we have a couple of 18.04 Exim machines, for example). This makes upgrading most or all of our 16.04 machines to 18.04 instead of 20.04 a reasonably attractive proposition, especially for Exim based machines. We’d have to upgrade them again in two years when 22.04 comes out and 18.04 starts going out of support, but hopefully in two years the situation will be a lot different.

    • Devices/Embedded

    • Free, Libre, and Open Source Software

      • Web Browsers

        • Mozilla

          • 9 of the Best Firefox Addons for Social Media Enthusiasts

            Are you active in social media? If you’re using the Firefox browser, there are many extensions that will save you time, connect better with your audience, and boost your overall experience. The following is our shortlisted selection of some of the best Firefox addons for social media enthusiasts. Each has been verified for delivering what it promises and is quite easy to use. 1. Facebook Container For those active on the social scene, using Facebook is easier as a login option.

            [...]

            Love them or hate them, emojis may have become the official language of the Internet. If you’re running out of emoji styles to describe a specific mood or reaction, Emoji Cheatsheet just may give you the perfect idea. The emojis you click are automatically saved to your clipboard so that you can paste it on any social media site.

          • U is for Unreliable UI (or: Why Firefox’s “Do this automatically this from now on” checkbox is so flaky, and how to work around it)

            It’s been a frustration with Firefox for years. You click on a link and get the “What should Firefox do with this file?” dialog, even though it’s a file type you view all the time — PDF, say, or JPEG. You click “View in browser” or “Save file” or whatever … then you check the “Do this automatically for files like this from now on” checkbox, thinking, I’m sure I checked this last time.

            Then a few minutes later, you go to a file of the exact same time, and you get the dialog again. That damn checkbox is like the button on street crossings or elevators: a no-op to make you think you’re doing something.

      • FSF

        • GNU Projects

          • Richard Stallman: A Discussion on Freedom, Privacy & Cryptocurrencies

            Dr. Richard Stallman is well-known for his free software movement activism. His speeches and work revolve around a term: freedom. And it is precisely that word that prompted Stallman to launch the GNU Project, founding the Free Software Foundation and releasing the GNU General Public License, among other projects, to promote the free software concept.

            RMS, as Dr. Stallman is also known, has some opinions regarding the concept of cryptocurrencies that have been widely discussed within the crypto community.

      • Programming/Development

        • Fujitsu Begins Adding A64FX Support To GCC Compiler

          The Fujitsu A64FX ARM processor that has 48 cores per node and 32GB of HBM2 memory that currently powers the fastest supercomputer is beginning to see GCC compiler support.

          Fujitsu months ago upstreamed A64FX support to the LLVM/Clang compiler. It appears this ARMv8.2-based chip with 512-bit SIMD is using LLVM/Clang as its preferred compiler. But now Fujitsu is also upstreaming GCC support for their high performance A64FX.

        • Jussi Pakkanen: The second edition of the Meson manual is out

          I have just uploaded the second edition of the Meson manual to the web store for your purchasing pleasure.

        • Junichi Uekawa: Started writing some golang code.

          Started writing some golang code. Trying to rewrite some of the tools as a daily driver for machine management tool. It’s easier than rust in that having a good rust compiler is a hassle though golang preinstalled on systems can build and run. go run is simple enough to invoke on most Debian systems.

        • Url Shortner in Golang

          I decided to write my own URL shortner and the reason for doing that was to dive a little more into golang and to learn more about systems. I have planned to not only document my learning but also find and point our different ways in which this application can be made scalable, resilient and robust.

        • LLVM Clang 11 Has A Nice Build Speed Improvement With New Feature For Pre-Compiled Headers

          There are many improvements in LLVM/Clang 11.0 due out in the weeks ahead though an interesting change merged prior to last month’s code branching that slipped under our radar… If using the clang-cl driver for MSVC or when otherwise making use of pre-compiled headers (PCH) functionality, there is a new option that can offer significant build time speed-ups.

          When making use of Clang PCH functionality for leveraging pre-compiled headers, Clang 11.0 is introducing the -fpch-instantiate-templates option separate from the existing PCH options. This -fpch-instantiate-templates option instantiates templates already while generating a precompiled header instead of instantiating every time the pre-compiled header is used. Avoiding the instantiation each time the pre-compiled header is used can provide measurable build time improvements. Aside from the MSVC clang-cl drop-in, this feature though isn’t enabled by default since it can result in errors if the source header file is not self-contained.

        • Call for Code Daily: open source projects and answered calls

          The power of Call for Code® is in the global community that we have built around this major #TechforGood initiative. Whether it is the deployments that are underway across pivotal projects, developers leveraging the starter kits in the cloud, or ecosystem partners joining the fight, everyone has a story to tell. Call for Code Daily highlights all the amazing #TechforGood stories taking place around the world. Every day, you can count on us to share these stories with you. Check out the stories from the week of August 3rd:

        • Perl/Raku

          • On Perl 7 and the Perl Steering Committee

            For those who are wondering about the state of the proposed Perl 7 fork and the role of the newly formed Perl Steering Committee, Ricardo Signes has put together a detailed explanation that is worth a read. “You should not expect to see a stream of unjustified dictates issuing forth from some secret body on high. You should expect to see perl5-porters operating as it generally did: with proposals coming to the list, getting discussion, and then being thumbed up or down by the project manager. This is what has been happening for years, already. Some proposals were already discussed by the project manager and some were not. If you eliminated any named mailing list for doing this, it would still happen. The PSC is a means to say that there is a default group for such discussions. If you were wondering, its initial membership was formed from ‘the people who came to or were invited to the Perl Core Summit’ over the last few years.”

          • LWN: On Perl 7 and the Perl Steering Committee

            LWN has covered an email from Rjb’s to perl5-porters

          • The Perl Ambassador: Curtis ‘Ovid’ Poe

            This month’s interview is Curtis ‘Ovid’ Poe, one of the most-respected and well-known leaders in the Perl community.

            Curtis has been building software for decades. He specializes in building database-driven websites through his global development and consulting firm, All Around The World. He’s the main developer behind Tau Station, a text-based Massive Multiplayer Online Browser Game (MMOBG) set in a vibrant, far-future universe.

          • Mohammad S Anwar: Thank you for the support

            Inspired by the blog by Gabor Szabo, I am writing this blog to thank all the supporters on Patreon. I would also like to thank Gabor Szabo for the support and guidance. I wouldn’t have come this far without your support.

        • Python

          • PSF GSoC students blogs: Week 6 Check-in

            Works towards analyzing multistage dockerfile. I combined the draft PR and the review from my mentors, the new commit is the first step of my plan. We split the multistage dockerfile into seperate dockefiles for build. Here are the changes in the new commit.

            1. Modified function check_multistage_dockerfile() to return.

            2. Remove function split_multistage_dockerfile() since we are working on the building stage. split_multistage_dockerfile() can be improved on analyze stage.

          • Weekly Python StackOverflow Report: (ccxxxix) stackoverflow python report
          • Send WhatsApp media/message using Python.

            Though there are many scripts available which are almost free but later on leads to getting blocked by Whatsapp.

            We can use Twilio Library for sending and receiving whatsapp messages even for WhatsApp bussiness.

        • Java

          • Generate a random number in Java

            Java contains many ways to generate random numbers. The random number can be int, long, float, double, and Boolean. Math.random class and Random class are mostly used to generate random numbers in Java. The uses of these classes are shown in this tutorial by using various examples.

            [...]

            The random class has many methods to generate different types of random numbers, such as nextInt(), nextDouble(), nextLong, etc. So, the integer and fractional numbers can be generated by using the appropriate method of this class. You have to create an object to use in this class.

  • Leftovers

    • The strange history of the chemical cargo that caused the Beirut blast

      Thousands of tonnes of ammonium nitrate, believed to be responsible for the devastating explosion in Beirut on Tuesday, have been traced back by journalists to a Moldovan-flagged boat that was supposed to deliver the chemicals to Mozambique. An impecunious crew living as “hostages on a floating bomb” and repeated requests to the Lebanese authorities to shift the cargo, which went unheeded, are part of the cargo ship’s devastating story.

    • Science

      • COVID-19 mask guidance in America has evolved — but rejecting science isn’t the answer

        Science is real, built on foundations of evidence, testability and repeatability. COVID-19 is real, and so are the over 160,000 deaths this disease has caused in the U.S. in just six months.

        Universal mask-wearing is a simple step toward reclaiming the freedom Americans have lost to COVID-19. And it’s backed by a vital weapon that doesn’t care about politics or spin: science.

    • Education

      • Universities Round the World Fail to Stand up to China: Report

        Universities and colleges around the world are “unprepared” to deal with threats to freedom of speech on campus and academic freedom among their scholars as a result of political pressure from Beijing, a New York-based rights group said on Friday.

        “Institutions of higher learning around the world should resist the Chinese government’s efforts to undermine academic freedom abroad,” Human Rights Watch (HRW) said.

        “Few have moved to protect academic freedom against longstanding problems, such as visa bans on scholars working on China or surveillance and self-censorship on their campuses,” it said.

      • How expanding elite education could undermine the populists

        Yet none of this was sufficient, Dr Tucker went on, to address the core goal of getting universities “out of the class-reproduction business” and concentrating “on scholarship and education”.

        The answer, he suggested, was to “keep everything else and expand institutions. I would like to see millions of graduates of elite universities.” This could be achieved by “asking how much of an unfair advantage graduating from institution X gives to a young person” through looking at the share of top jobs that go to such graduates. The university would then be required to “accept a proportion of applicants equal to the expected proportion of alumni members of the elite”. While “new institutions could be as selective as they want”, therefore, older elite institutions would be forced to become less selective. Amid far larger numbers of graduates, it would become much less significant “if some ancient alumni help their scions to gain admission” to Oxbridge or the Ivy League.

    • Health/Nutrition

      • How The Lancet backed Beijing and lost all credibility

        It is widely suspected the CCP knew about the Wuhan coronavirus since October 2019 or perhaps even earlier. It is also known that they went to huge efforts to cover up the outbreak, silencing medical professionals, destroying evidence, and abandoning innocent Chinese people to their fate, in order to protect the party’s reputation.

        It was only when Taiwan drew the world’s attention to the coronavirus at New Year, that the global response finally began to grind slowly into action.

      • Anti-Lockdown, Anti-Mask Protesters Are Getting Arrested in Australia

        The two men organized a protest on Facebook, called the “Freedom Day Celebration” according to 9News in Australia. The protest was scheduled to take place on Sunday, August 9, at the steps of Parliament on Melbourne as the organizers reportedly believed that the new coronavirus is a “biochemical” weapon, 9News reported.

        In the police department’s email to Newsweek, it explained that the current coronavirus lockdown restrictions in Melbourne “do not allow for any form of public gatherings, including public protests, to occur under the recreational activity clause even if there are two people or less.”

      • India needs a hospital, not a mosque. Twitter explodes with a new hashtag

        Someone publish the statistic of mosques numbers on Twitter, someone invoked the help of the State, but the reality is that the State if India already did its choice. No hospital, but a mosque that will be functional in 10 to 12 days. Why are people angered? COVID-19 changed our lives and all over the world, this virus must be fought energetically. Only with advanced medical buildings and systems, a country can face the coronavirus with success. That is why many are going to complain about the choice of the government of India in building a mosque instead of a hospital.

      • Tabasco to follow Oaxaca’s lead, prohibit junk food sales to minors

        The enactment of the law comes as health authorities blame Mexico’s high coronavirus death toll on diet-related diseases such as diabetes and obesity. Deputy Health Ministry Hugo López-Gatell, who has declared his support for the Oaxaca law, last month described soft drinks as “bottled poison.”

        The governor of Puebla, Miguel Barbosa, joined the Tabasco governor in praising Oaxaca’s anti-junk food law and said that he, too, might consider such a measure.

    • Integrity/Availability

      • Proprietary

        • [Cr]ackers can still steal wads of cash from ATMs. Here’s the vulnerabilities that could let them in.

          “You’re literally trusting this machine to hold thousands of dollars, but it’s running [Windows operating system] CE 6.0? It is just a computer, on a network, running an older operating system,” Keown said, noting that the latest release for CE 6.0 was over a decade ago in 2009. “This is still a problem. Let’s focus some effort here and see if we can’t move the needle in the right direction.”

        • Canon Admits Ransomware Attack in Employee Note, Report

          The consumer-electronics giant has suffered partial outages across its U.S. website and internal systems reportedly, thanks to the Maze gang.

        • Windows, Gates and a firewall: Microsoft’s delicate castle in China

          Microsoft arrived in China in 1992 and opened its largest research and development centre outside the United States. It now employs around 6,200 people in China.

        • All you need to hijack a Mac is an old Office document and a .zip file

          The exploit uses a rigged Office document, saved in an archaic format (.slk), to trick the target machine into allowing Office to activate macros without consent and without notifying the user.

          The attack then takes advantage of two further vulnerabilities in order to seize control of the machine. By including a dollar sign at the start of the filename, [an attacker] can break free of the restrictive Office sandbox, while compressing the file within a .zip folder bypasses macOS controls that prevent downloaded items from accessing user files.

        • Apple’s Chinese business could be devastated by Trump’s WeChat ban

          Apple has a significant Chinese customer base, and nearly all of its critical manufacturing and assembly partners are based there. Trump’s ban might not only force Apple to remove WeChat from its App Store — which would destroy Apple’s Chinese smartphone business — it could existentially change how Apple is able to build and sell new products in the future.

        • It’s Time To Stop Talking and Take Action Against the Beasts that Want to Control Us

          I know I have not been active on this BLOG the past year. No reasons. Anyway, I’m back at it. This time, I have a specific focus on Big Tech. The way I see it, the root of the problem is not the tech companies themselves, it starts with the software we use. This includes Adobe, Intuit, Microsoft. I call them AIM. They are the worst offenders in there attempts to control the free world.

        • Pseudo-Open Source

          • Openwashing

            • Facebook’s new open-source Pysa security tool detects [cr]ackable code

              Pysa is designed exclusively to analyze code written in Python. That limits the scenarios where the tool can be applied, but it could be still useful for other companies because Python is the world’s second most widely used programming language as of earlier this year. It’s especially popular in artificial intelligence development and is also the language in which most of the code for Instagram is written.

              Facebook has applied Pysa to the Instagram code base to great effect. According to the company, the tool was responsible for spotting 44% of the server-side security issues that it detected in the photo sharing service during the first half of 2020. Some 49 of the flaws Pysa caught were determined to be “severe” vulnerabilities.

              Under the hood, the tool works by employing a technique known as static code analysis. It sifts through Facebook developers’ raw code files without the delay of running them to quickly generate security assessments.

            • Have I Been Pwned — which tells you if passwords were breached — is going open source

              While not all password checkup tools actually use Hunt’s database (a just-announced LastPass feature calls on one hosted by Enzoic instead), many of them are apparently based on the same “k-Anonymity” API that Cloudflare engineering manager Junade Ali originally designed to support Have I Been Pwned’s tool.

          • Privatisation/Privateering

            • Linux Foundation

              • Open Source Jenkins CI/CD Project Graduates From CD Foundation

                Officially launched by the Linux Foundation in March 2019, the CD Foundation includes in its project portfolio some of the most widely used and deployed CI/CD tools, including Jenkins, Spinnaker and Tekton. The open source Jenkins CI/CD project gains more community participation and a roadmap for future improvements.

        • Security

          • Reproducible Builds in July 2020

            Welcome to the July 2020 report from the Reproducible Builds project.

            In these monthly reports, we round-up the things that we have been up to over the past month. As a brief refresher, the motivation behind the Reproducible Builds effort is to ensure no flaws have been introduced from the original free software source code to the pre-compiled binaries we install on our systems. (If you’re interested in contributing to the project, please visit our main website.)

          • Privacy/Surveillance

            • Republicans paid huge, strange sums to Facebook and a mystery company for “list acquisition”

              After reporting essentially no payments to Facebook for about three years, the Republican National Committee paid the social media company $5.5 million for “list acquisition” between September and November 2019, according to Federal Election Commission filings.

              The RNC has also paid about $5 million for contact lists to a mystery company created in January, including a million-dollar buy on the day the Trump campaign sent 88 targeted ads to Facebook users featuring images similar to Nazi iconography.

            • If you ever set up a Google+ account, you might be due some money

              Users are only allowed to submit one $12 claim regardless of the number of Google+ accounts you may have had. You can file a claim using this link.

              The only requirements for filing a claim are that you had a Google+ account at some point between January 1, 2015, and April 2, 2019, and “entered private (meaning non-public) information in at least one of (the) Google+ profile fields that was not set to be shared publicly.” Finally, you must consent that you either shared that information with another Google+ user or authorized a third-party app to access my Google+ profile field information.”

            • What women in Congress want from Facebook

              About 100 female lawmakers from across the world have sent a letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and COO Sheryl Sandberg demanding that the company do a better job combating misogyny on its platform, especially hateful content directed at female public figures.

            • US Senate Votes to Ban TikTok on Government Phones

              The bill passed by the Republican controlled Senate now goes to the House of Representatives, led by Democrats.

              “TikTok is a major security risk and has no place on government devices,” said Republican Senator Josh Hawley, the sponsor of the bill.

            • A Private Equity Firm Bought Ancestry, and Its Trove of DNA, for $4.7B

              The announcement was made in a press release published earlier this week by Blackstone, which shared it had “reached a definitive agreement to acquire Ancestry from Silver Lake, GIC, Spectrum Equity, Permira, and other equity holders for a total enterprise value of $4.7 billion.”

              Ancestry is known for its genealogy and home DNA testing services. According to its website, the company has 3 million paying subscribers, 27 billion records, and 100 million family trees. The website also says that over 18 million people have been DNA tested through the company.

            • Facebook Removes Foreign Pro-Trump [Astroturfer] Farms

              A Romania-based [astroturfer] farm pushed pro-Trump content under the names of “Black People Vote For Trump” on Instagram and “We Love Our President” on Facebook.

    • Defence/Aggression

      • Hiroshima and Nagasaki: 75th anniversary of atomic bombings

        The recorded death tolls are estimates, but it is thought that about 140,000 of Hiroshima’s 350,000 population were killed in the blast, and that at least 74,000 people died in Nagasaki.

        The nuclear radiation released by the bombs caused thousands more people to die from radiation sickness in the weeks, months and years that followed.

        Those who survived the bombings are known as “hibakusha”. Survivors faced a horrifying aftermath in the cities, including psychological trauma.

        The bombings brought about an abrupt end to the war in Asia, with Japan surrendering unconditionally to the Allies on 14 August 1945.

      • African militant Islamist groups set record for violent activity

        A June-to-June review of violent episodes involving militant Islamist groups in Africa over the past decade underscores the growing and shifting threat posed by these groups. Key findings include:

        A 31-percent jump in violent events involving militant Islamist groups in Africa in the 12 months ending June 30, 2020, represents a record for violent activity by these groups. With 4,161 violent events, this period marks the first time this total has exceeded 4,000 and reflects a sixfold increase from 2011 (693).

      • 64-Year-Old Woman Says She Was Punched For Wearing Mask, Supporting Biden

        One man then allegedly exited the vehicle and punched the woman on the left side of her face, knocking her down and leaving swelling, a bloody scrape and a bruise where he struck her. Another woman helped pick her up from the asphalt and transport her home. The 64-year-old survivor declined medical assistance.

      • Saudi ex-intel official accuses crown prince of sending ‘hit squad’ to kill him

        Saad al Jabri filed a lawsuit in a Washington, DC court against bin Salman, the de facto ruler of Saudi Arabia often known as MBS, and 24 others, accusing the prince of flying a “hit squad” along with crime-scene clean-up specialists to Canada.

      • China Still Blocks US Travel to Tibet, State Department Says in Second Annual Report

        China’s government last year “systematically impeded travel to the [Tibet] Autonomous Region (TAR) for U.S. diplomats and officials, journalists, and tourists in 2019,” the Aug. 5 Report to Congress says, describing the situation as “unimproved” from that described in last year’s report.

        Even when permitted, U.S. official visits to Tibet “were highly restricted,” the report says, adding that travel in Tibetan areas outside the TAR were also closely supervised by Chinese police and government officials.

      • Online conference on the massacres carried out by Turkish UAVs

        Turkish UAV have recently been used often in attacks on civilian settlements in South Kurdistan, and have been on the agenda of the opposition parties in Germany for a while. ANF published an article titled “Technology of Roketsan from Germany” last week, in which it revealed that the warheads for the anti-tank missiles designated by the Turkish military as “UMTAS” or “Mızrak-U” and “MAM-L”, are manufactured by the Turkish company Roketsan.

    • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

      • Someone hijacked Reddit moderator accounts to promote Trump

        “An investigation is underway related to a series of vandalized communities,” the spokesperson said. “It appears the source of the attacks were compromised moderator accounts. We are working to lock down those accounts and restore impacted communities.”

        Reddit moderators are often unpaid users who volunteer their time to maintain forums and discussions on the popular site.

      • ‘Russiagate’ Hoax Unravels, But Their Anti-Russia Sanctions Don’t

        It was reported only on ‘fringe’ media (such as “Disobedient Media” now gone from the Web) until recently. However, the evidence that the entire “Russiagate” charge — that Russia’s Government had “hacked” the Democratic National Committee in 2016 — is an Obama Administration hoax (which was continued into Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report), is now starting to come out into public view and be endorsed publicly by retired U.S. intelligence professionals who can’t be fired. It’s not yet published in any mainstream U.S. news media, however. So, in this place will be chronologically presented the gradual unraveling of the Russiagate hoax, and maybe someday this history (all of which is solidly documented) will be publishable in the United States, even within the mainstream (non-billionaire-controlled) media.

        Also, the complicity of the U.S. Congress — both Parties — in advancing this hoax, and in suppressing its being exposed as being a hoax, will be discussed here, because Congress’s nearly unanimous votes in favor of imposing sanctions against Russia for this “Russiagate” that never was, are now forcing every member of Congress who had voted for those hoax-based sanctions to either apologize to his/her voters, or else to continue ignoring the now (and increasingly) solid proof that they had been either fooled, or else themselves were complicit, in advancing this hoax and voting for those sanctions.

    • Environment

      • Canada’s Last Intact Ice Shelf Collapses Due to Warming

        Canada’s 4,000-year-old Milne Ice Shelf on the northwestern edge of Ellesmere Island had been the country’s last intact ice shelf until the end of July when ice analyst Adrienne White of the Canadian Ice Service noticed that satellite photos showed that about 43% of it had broken off. She said it happened around July 30 or 31.

      • Mauritius Scrambles to Counter Oil Spill From Grounded Ship

        Residents and environmentalists alike wondered why authorities didn’t act more quickly after the ship ran aground July 25 on a reef. Mauritius says the ship, the MV Wakashio, was carrying nearly 4,000 tons of fuel.

        “That’s the big question — why that ship has been sitting for long on that coral reef and nothing being done,” Jean Hugues Gardenne with the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation told The Associated Press.

      • Energy

        • Electric bikes are a pandemic boon. We tried one of the best (and priciest).

          Bicycling has boomed during the pandemic, but not everyone has the stomach or the stamina for extended cycling. Understandably, some don’t want to work up a sweat and risk a pulled muscle while fighting hills on mechanical steeds.

          That is where electric bicycles come in. The two-wheelers have built-in motors to make rides easier and more enjoyable. You still get exercise, but the motor helps with the pedaling so you’re not wiped out and dripping in perspiration at the end.

    • Finance

    • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

      • TikTok owners show true colors with communist flag

        On Wednesday, human rights activist Jennifer Zeng posted on Twitter a photo of a CCP event held inside the corporate headquarters of ByteDance in Beijing’s Haidian District, showing employees and CCP members holding a communist banner. The photo originates from a report on a CCP event held at the headquarters last July.

        The event was held by the CCP branch of the Information and Communication Department and the Haidian District Overseas Chinese Federation (HCTF) and was titled, “Never forget the original intention, remember the mission, and promote the new era of Overseas Chinese Federation information communication work.”

      • Facebook removes [astroturfer] network posing as Black Trump supporters

        According to a report on its July enforcement activity, Facebook removed 35 Facebook accounts, three pages and 88 Instagram accounts for “violating our policy against foreign interference, which is coordinated inauthentic behavior on behalf of a foreign entity.” Activity by the pro-Trump network originated in Romania, Facebook said, and posted on Instagram using hashtags such as “BlackPeopleVoteForTrump.” The pages had about 1,600 followers on Facebook, and about 7,200 people followed the Instagram accounts.

      • Russian artists refuse to play state-sponsored concerts in Belarus after fans ask them ‘not to support dictatorship’

        A number of Russian artists have refused to perform at the free, state-sponsored concerts taking place across Belarus on the day before the presidential elections (the vote is on August 9). This was reported by news outlet Nasha Niva, among other Belarusian media on Thursday, August 6.

      • Outraised 250-1, Progressive Marquita Bradshaw Upsets Establishment Opponent in Tennessee Primary for US Senate

        “The progressive movement is undeniable!” Bradshaw said following her win. “Thank you all so much for your support and this victory. It’s time to put hardworking people first. Onward.”

      • Another opposition candidate’s campaign chief arrested just days before end of presidential elections in Belarus

        Belarusian presidential candidate Sergey Cherechen (Syarhey Cherachen) has reported the arrest of his campaign chief, Nikolai Lysenkov, says the Belarusian news outlet TUT.by. 

      • Remind Me, What Was the Civil War About, Anyway?

        Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas delivers a coded message about slavery.

      • Haven’t We All Known Guys Who Were Exactly like Donald Trump?

        Although it gives me no pleasure to report this, while growing up in the shady suburban confines of Southern California, in the Sixties, I probably knew half a dozen guys who—other than being middle or lower middle-class rather wealthy, and shorter rather than taller—were otherwise exactly like President Trump.

      • Clyburn’s Complaint

        For the most part, when people use words like “sick” or “demented” or “insane” in political contexts, they are speaking metaphorically or for rhetorical effect. Sometimes, however, these and related words actually do denote phenomena of clinical interest.

    • Censorship/Free Speech

      • [Old] Catholic bishops fear Scotland’s hate crime law could criminalize Bible and Catechism

        The bishops made the comments in a submission to the Scottish Parliament’s Justice Committee, which is scrutinizing the bill. The bill was introduced by the Scottish Government April 23.

        The proposed legislation creates a new crime of stirring up hatred against any of the protected groups covered by the bill, which include race, religion, sexual orientation, and transgender identity.

      • Rank and file police body warns of ‘dangers’ of proposed hate crime law

        The SPF is the latest body to warn of difficulties with the legislation being piloted through Holyrood by Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf. Opposition MSPs have raised concerns about the impact of the Bill on free speech, and the Law Society of Scotland has also expressed fears about a “significant threat to freedom of expressions” and said the law as currently drafted contains “major flaws”.

      • MBM submission on the Hate Crime and Public Order (Scotland) Bill

        By increasing the number of characteristics included, the Bill reinforces a hierarchy between those characteristics that are protected and those that are not. The longer the list of groups included, the stronger the signal sent about the status those who are not. We are particularly concerned about the message sent by the omission of sex from the same protection as other characteristics, as the list expands.

    • Freedom of Information/Freedom of the Press

    • Monopolies

      • Celgard secures UK injunction to protect alleged trade secrets

        Celgard and Senior both make battery separators (specifically, “dry” battery separators, which are engineered sheets of microporous polymer). Separators are critical to the performance, lifespan and safety of lithium-ion batteries, the market for which is growing because of the move towards electric vehicles. Senior is (ironically) the junior player in the market, and Celgard the more established player.

        In 2016, a Celgard scientist named Dr Zhang left Celgard and, in January 2017, he joined Senior as Chief Technology Officer. Not long afterwards, Senior’s product range expanded considerably and its market share increased to 25% (from a previously stable 15%) between 2017 and 2019. The evidence showed that Dr Zhang and Senior had potentially misled Celgard about Dr Zhang going to work for Senior. Further, Dr Zhang’s responsibilities at Celgard included the selection of resins to use in Celgard’s separator products, and analysis adduced by Celgard suggested that Senior had begun using a binder (produced by a third party) in a particular formulation that it did not use previously, and that this change in formulation quite possibly occurred after Dr Zhang joined Senior. Senior sought to explain away these facts by pointing to an increase in its independent R&D activity.

        [...]

        Celgard is based in the US, Dr Zhang signed an NDA governed by the law of South Carolina, and any misappropriation of trade secrets is likely to have taken place in the US. The incorporation of any of Celgard’s trade secrets into Senior’s products would, however, have taken place in China. Senior was keen that Chinese law should apply to the dispute, but the judge agreed with Celgard that English law should apply. The parties agreed that Rome II should be used to determine the applicable law as the obligation of confidentiality (at least in relation to Senior) is non-contractual. Therefore, the court proceeded to apply Article 4 of Rome II and determine the country in which the damage (would) occur, the law of which would govern the dispute. Celgard’s claim focuses on the loss that would be suffered should Senior’s separators be supplied in the UK; not on the alleged theft of Celgard’s trade secrets in the US or the alleged misuse of the trade secrets in China. This point applied equally to Celgard’s claim that Senior is vicariously liable for Dr Zhang’s alleged breach of confidence as to the claim brought directly against Senior.

      • Patents

        • FCBA Program on Virtual Hearings and Oral Arguments

          The Federal Circuit Bar Association (FCBA) will be offering a remote program entitled “Dos and Don’ts of Virtual Hearings and Oral Arguments” on August 14, 2020 from 1:00 to 2:00 pm (EDT). Rachel C. Hughey of Merchant & Gould P.C. will moderate a panel consisting of Hon. Elizabeth Cowan Wright, Magistrate Judge, District of Minnesota; Tara D. Elliott of Latham & Watkins LLP; Kelly E. Farnan of Richards Layton & Finger; and Jennifer H. Wu of Paul, Weiss, Rilkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP. The panel will discuss the things they have learned from their substantial experiences with virtual proceedings, as well as the dos and don’ts of virtual hearings and oral arguments.

        • TC Heartland becoming ‘major point of dispute’ in ANDA cases

          Innovators have to be more careful when bringing a single case against multiple infringers, especially when some generics – such as Mylan – are involved

        • Swiss Federal Supreme Court follows the practice of EPO’s Board of Appeal on singling out

          In a recent decision (4A_613/2019, 11 May 2020), the Swiss Federal Supreme Court (Supreme Court) followed the practice of the Board of Appeal of the European Patent Office (EPO) as it held that the singling out of single features from two separate lists of features and therefore the combination of these two specific features constitutes an extension of the subject-matter of the patent application leading to its nullity.

Education and Free Software

Posted in Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux at 8:42 am by Guest Editorial Team

2020 figosdev

Start it up
Chapter 16: Education and Free Software

Summary: “If students learn how to code, they’ll be able to figure out the applications.”

Education is one of the best ways to get more people interested in Free software. Unfortunately, most people make education more difficult than it needs to be.

“Unfortunately, most people make education more difficult than it needs to be.”It is possible to use languages like Javascript and Python (even Java) to introduce programming. Python is an especially popular language for this purpose, because it is easier to learn than Javascript or Java (or C or C++).

There are subjective elements to any sort of argument like this, and there is the general reality. I suspect teachers have less time to learn coding than students do — some already know how to code, but others struggle.

If every school teacher has at least five students they want to teach coding to, imagine what we could accomplish with tools that make coding easy.

Looking back at previous successes in history, the languages that have helped introduce the most people to coding (people who would not have learned otherwise) include BASIC and Logo.

I love Logo, but people tend to focus on its graphics features — which are easier to use, unless we are talking about the new breed of block-dragging Logo derivatives which make most tasks easy.

My problem with Logo as a language for schools (unless we are talking about the earliest grade levels) is that it feels “less like programming” to move a Turtle or even drag blocks around to animate a cat.

These tools are amazing, and they can help people who are even younger learn programming concepts. If that’s the level you want to start at, these solutions have their place. Likewise, if you want to just start with Javascript or Python, those are already used in teaching and have their advantages (popularity among them).

I tried those as well (I write code in Javascript and Python, targeting PyPy), but I wanted to make writing code as accessible as possible — so I tried my hand at language creation. I’d made toy languages before, how about a toy language for teaching? In the 1960s at least (when BASIC and Logo were created) it was a revolutionary concept.

Logo (as far as its Turtle features go) is fun and easy in part because its so minimal. If you want to move up, you can just say “up”. In some dialects, you can just say “U”. Perhaps at its most minimal, you could draw a box like this:

    R D L U

Right, Down, Left, Up — what is someone supposed to think that does? You can trace it with a pencil. You want parameters of course, so you let the user specify distance:

    R 5 D 5 L 5 U 5

Now you have a box that can be a specific size. Simple little language, right? But it’s getting difficult to follow. We have choices we can make in terms of design here:

    r(5) d(5) l(5) u(5)

    r5 d5 l5 u5

    r 5 ; d 5 ; l 5 ; u 5

I have my own answer to this, but the top is a bit like BASIC or Python, The middle is very Logo-like just because of the lack of punctuation in syntax, and the latter is more like shell code.

These are similarities based on specific examples — there isn’t a specification that defines “shell code” (unless POSIX does) – nor are most dialects of Logo compliant with a standard.

But it’s still a very simple language that’s easy to teach and learn. I always thought it would be an interesting experiment to try to extend Logo to make it more like BASIC in its capabilities.

While Python says that explicit code is better than implicit, every explicit element adds something you can get wrong. So while you wouldn’t design Python code like this:

    r 5 d l u

The “5″ is implicit. Or perhaps the default value is — obviously this sort of ambiguity is worth avoiding, except perhaps when it’s helpful.

Still, for an example that’s very conventional:

    color "orange" ; print "hello" ; print "world"

The print command doesn’t have a colour parameter, yet we know that both print commands probably use orange.

What we make the first variable implicit?

    v 10 ; colour 1 ; print

In this example, we print 10. It make not make a lot of sense, unless you know that each line begins with a variable. If each command has a fixed number of parameters, we can do away with the semicolons:

    v 10 colour 1 print

But this runs together, so what if we make the semicolons optional:

    v = 10 colour 1 ; print

Then we add special commands that don’t share a line with other commands, which Python actually sort of has:

    iftrue p
    v = 10 ; colour 1 ; print
    next

Make enough decisions like these, you can find a balance between very few rules and enough consistency to make the language worth using.

Keep your commands simple, your parameter counts short, your punctuation minimal (or optional) and your language small. You can make it extensible with a more complicated language like Python — plus, a compiler for a language this simple is easy to take apart and learn from — you can start from a couple hundred lines of code, work your way up to one or two thousand (for 50 to 100 commands).

Each command is really a short program, so think of it as writing a dozen or two very short programs, and how you would tie them together.

Ideally, coders and teachers would work together more often, helping teachers learn how to create their own languages for teaching.

I realise I’m saying this decades into a world where we train people how to use products, instead of teaching general concepts in the simplest way possible. But it;s my own book and I get to write the advice in it.

Underneath it’s all OOP, I like to implement languages in Python, but I can implement languages in my own language. I didn’t take the Brown University courses for this, but I like to make things simple when reasonable.

There are all kinds of devices you can run this stuff on. Rather than recommend a specific device, I’ll just say: computers exist to be programmed. Users exist to control computers — the other way around (using computers to control people) is generally speaking, exploiting your customers.

I teach 7 simple programming concepts:

 1. variables - 2. input - 3. output - 4. basic math - 5. loops - 6. conditionals - 7. functions

This is how I define a function in my own language:

    function yes parameter
        iftrue parameter
            now "yes, " prints
            now parameter print
        else
            now "yes" print
            next
        next

Here’s a function call:

    now yes "dear"

And the output:

    yes, dear

I often indent using a bit of Python style, but the indentation (except for inline Python) is optional.

What are the (fewer than) 100 commands for? Stuff I have always used BASIC and Python for — simple graphics, manipulating files and strings, simple calculations and tallying items, automation.

I have advice for people interested in writing simple programming languages as well:

You can write a “hello world” program, even though its useless. But it shows you a little about how a language works.

You can create a “hello world” programming language, even though it’s useless.

You can literally make a language that (when it encounters a helloworld or hello command), says “hello world” on the screen. There’s your start.

Now as you would with a hello world program, make your language a little more sophisticated — just a little. There are tutorials of course, but they won’t generally tell you how to keep things simple.

If students learn how to code, they’ll be able to figure out the applications. If you keep the syntax easy, you can spend more time on those algorithms people say are what coding is really about.

As to how to introduce teachers to this topic, that’s the sort of thing a viable Free software movement could do. I used this to help an art teacher (whose boyfriend had always tried to show her how to code) understand coding better than she had previously.

“And this does this… and this puts it on the screen…”

    # count to 10
    for each = 1 10 1
        p = each ; print
        next

Licence: Creative Commons CC0 1.0 (public domain)

Features Considered Harmful (Revised)

Posted in GNU/Linux at 7:52 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

2020 figosdev

Karmann
Chapter 15: Features Considered Harmful

Summary: “But the benefits of Free software, free candy and new features are all meaningless, if the user isn’t in control.”

Edsgar Dijkstra is famous for hating on BASIC programming. But it was his editor (Wirth, I believe) who incited decades of clickbait titles by working the infamous line attributed to Dijkstra into the top of his article.

“Basic itself isn’t harmful. Some of its features may lead to worse programming, but I think Torvalds (as a coder) proves that using it doesn’t necessarily prevent you from gaining good programming skills.”His stance was reasonable enough, so long as we are talking about the actual arguments that were made — which applied more to the original line-numbered versions of Basic than today’s versions, which look like Pascal by comparison. It was good enough as a first language for Linus Torvalds. Dijkstra actually had a number of great ideas that BASIC once lacked. And in more ways than one, it doesn’t bother me that software evolves.

Whether it was his intention to save Basic or get people to use a better language instead, Basic itself isn’t harmful. Some of its features may lead to worse programming, but I think Torvalds (as a coder) proves that using it doesn’t necessarily prevent you from gaining good programming skills. Some languages indeed will teach better discipline, but if you’re determined to be lazy, you’ll probably find (or create) tools that suit your preferences.

I am not against features, per se. I’m also against prohibition and the drug war. But the great harm done by heroin cannot be dismissed — it kills people, and although there is no law that says you must try heroin, getting away from it isn’t always as simple as “just don’t use it”. Fortunately, while I did find Basic somewhat addictive in practice, I have not tried heroin. Though I’ve certainly lived in places where it was a problem. In fact, it’s a problem that tends to increase when the alternatives are fought harder against.

GitHub could arguably be the heroin of the Free software world. We know the harm it does, we’ve been warned about it for years, there’s absolutely no mandate to use it at all — yet people keep finding themselves addicted to it. GitHub isn’t known so much for killing people, but it poses a great threat to projects that use it. What GitHub actually kills, is software freedom.

I’ve written a lot about GitHub lately, but in this article it is just one example of a larger problem. Like with Basic, it is not “GitHub” itself, but some of its features that we should worry about. And the warnings against it have come from Torvalds and Stallman alike.

The complaints from Torvalds against GitHub are closer to Dijkstra’s complaints about Basic — GitHub encourages bad practices in Git management, and breaks existing features. It trains you to be a worse Git user. I think this is a minor problem next to the others. But just as Dijkstra is a pioneer of structured programming, Torvalds is the original author of Git. That makes the critique much more notable.

The fact that GitHub breaks Git the way that it does, fits in with a larger complaint of my own — even if Torvalds decides (or is paid to) change his mind about it. It was developed by Chris Wanstrath, but it was developed along lines that are not entirely different from Microsoft’s EEE tactics — which today I will offer a new acronym and description for:

1. Steal
2. Add Bloat
3. Original Trashed

It’s difficult conceptually to “steal” Free software, because it (sort of, effectively) belongs to everyone. It’s not always Public Domain — copyleft is meant to prevent that. The only way you can “steal” free software is by taking it from everyone and restricting it again. That’s like “stealing” the ocean or the sky, and putting it somewhere that people can’t get to it. But this is what non-free software does. (You could also simply go against the license terms, but I doubt Stallman would go for the word “stealing” or “theft” as a first choice to describe non-compliance).

I came up with this SABOTage acronym when I was going to sleep, and originally it was Steal, Add Bloat, Attack — I guess spelling isn’t a strong point when I’m tired. But this is what people do even in the Free software world today; they take away compatibility (as GitHub did with some Git features Torvalds thinks should work properly), they add stuff that is easier for a large corporation to host (Gitlab too, is terribly bloated I’m afraid — but it can be self-hosted at least) and they attack the original — by dragging everyone into GitHub (as it’s “better”).

I really do understand the appeal of GitHub — I’m a former user as well. While the complaints of Torvalds are relevant to this discussion, the complaints by Richard Stallman are more important to me. In 2015, he said to GNUstep developers:

“GitHub does things that are quite bad for free software and is not interested in changing them. If you want to move off Savannah, please pick some other place.”

This led to a shallow debate on the merits of GitHub vs. alternatives, and Stallman argued that GitHub negatively affects the license choices people make. One person replied that he was having an unrealistic expectation of GitHub, but this was the thing — we can make it about the design of GitHub, or we can look at the effects. In effect, GitHub successfully gets people away from making choices that are good for free software.

Expecting a platform for free software hosting (if that’s what you intend to use it for) to not be designed in a way that harms free software is a completely reasonable expectation! Particularly when the response to it not being suited to free software’s goals is “Don’t use this, it’s bad for what we do”.

It also includes non-free Javascript, which many people are willing to forgive or overlook sometimes. But this discussion was about code hosting for the GNU Project itself! If any project should not rely on GitHub and non-free Javascript, it’s the flagship project of Free Software itself.

“But it still works if you turn Javascript off” they said… again, this is one situation where many of us are willing to overlook non-free Javascript: if the website still works when you disable it. This is still wildly inappropriate for the GNU Project to endorse, because they’re still encouraging users to run it.

Other than the fact that running and promoting only Free software (yes, I’m familiar with Stallman’s latest article on the topic) is one of the goals of the GNU Project, I think there are worse things about GitHub. And I think that GNU projects that continue to use it unapologetically, such as GNU Radio and GNUstep, are proving that their developers DON’T care about your freedom, and do not represent (nor achieve) the goals of the GNU Project.

And the fact that Microsoft has spent decades trying to co-opt and control Free software? Who honestly cares about that?

But I am aware that such Microsoft-neutral or Pro-Microsoft developers are not necessarily agreed with by every developer on these projects. In the instance of GNUstep, we are talking about the leader of the project who doesn’t care about your freedom.

I did say that GitHub was just an example; it’s a very big example, though not the only one. Microsoft is taking over Python as well. And the way it’s taking over Python does have the aim (and the success) in dragging it into the GitHub trap, because GitHub is perfect for that sort of thing — but the tactics being used would hurt Python with or without GitHub as well. It conquers projects the same way as empires conquer nations — by planting flags in whatever they want to own:

This Techrights article is from 2010, and though they have done this farther back than that, and continue to do the same, Microsoft is still planting flags all over the place. It wants to run your conferences. It wants to host your code. It wants you to agree to its terms. It wants you to adjust your development to its heavily contrived, self-serving “standards” from OOXML all the way back to Rich Text Format.

Again and again, Microsoft “Steals” or “Steers” the development process itself so it can gain control (pronounced: “ownership”) of the software. It is a gradual process, where Microsoft has more and more influence until they dominate the project and with it, the user. This is similar to the process where cults (or drug addiction) take over people’s lives, and similar to the process where narcissists interfere in the lives of others — by staking a claim and gradually dominating the person or project.

Then they Add Bloat — more features. GitHub is friendly to use, you don’t have to care about how Git works to use it (this is true of many GitHub clones as well, as even I do not really care how Git works very much. It took a long time for someone to even drag me towards GitHub for code hosting, until they were acquired and I stopped using it).

Due to its GLOBAL size, nobody can (or ought to) reproduce Microsoft’s network effects.

I understand the draw of network effects. That’s why larger federated instances of code hosts are going to be more popular than smaller instances. We really need a mix — smaller instances to be easy to host and autonomous, larger instances to draw people away from even more gigantic code silos. We can’t get away from network effects (just like the War on Drugs will never work) but we can make them easier and less troublesome (or safer) to deal with.

Finally, the Original is trashed, and the SABOTage is complete. This has happened with Python against Python 2, despite protests from seasoned and professional developers, it was deliberately attempted with Systemd against not just sysvinit but ALL alternatives — Free software acts like proprietary software when it treats the existence of alternatives as a problem to be solved. I personally never trust a project with developers as arrogant as that.

It’s difficult for me to get excited about these “next generation” tools, when I spent several years working to GET AWAY from Microsoft, and they want me to get all my software from GitHub. If I wanted to get all my software from Microsoft and the rest of GIAFAM, I’d just use Windows.

And speaking of, the coup continues this week, with the new COO at Microzilla: Adam Seligman — “formerly of Google, Salesforce, and Microsoft.”

GREAT! That’s also how they gradually took over Nokia, Apache Software Foundation and became the boss of Linus. [Roy added to this: Even the COO of GitHub now bosses Linus]

Corporate takeover, disguised as an upgrade.

Here’s something else to consider — the way that websites subtly (and sometimes innocently) add to the problem with handy Share icons (which I’m not entirely against). A colleague informs me that one of the things that draws people to GitHub is the way that other websites make it easier to integrate with it. I can’t fault his logic, he’s right. But here’s the reality of that. Such tie-in features will always be implemented for the largest option first, and typically the largest option only.

They’re not going to bother reinforcing smaller choices usually, they’re going to reinforce the largest one. So this practice itself — while technically and theoretically neutral (as it could offer several options for code repos) actually encourages monopoly in practice most of the time. These are network effects, compounded.

There’s a meme about creepy vans with “FREE CANDY” painted on the side, which I took one of the photos from and edited it so that it said “FEATURES” instead. This is more or less how I feel about new features in general, given my experience with their abuse in development, marketing and the takeover of formerly good software projects.

People then accuse me of being against features, of course. As with the Dijkstra article, the real problem isn’t Basic itself. The problem isn’t features per se (though they do play a very key role in this problem) and I’m not really against features — or candy, for that matter.

I’m against these things being used as bait, to entrap people in an unpleasant situation that makes escape difficult. You know, “lock-in”. Don’t get in the van — don’t even go NEAR the van.

Candy is nice, and some features are nice too. But we would all be better off if we could get the candy safely, and delete the creepy horrible van that comes with it. That’s true whether the creepy van is GitHub, or surveillance by GIAFAM, or a Leviathan “init” system, or just breaking decades of perfectly good Python code, to try to force people to develop differently because Google or Microsoft (who both have had heavy influence over newer Python development) want to try to force you to — all while using “free” software.

If all that makes free software “free” is the license — (yes, it’s the primary and key part, it’s a necessary ingredient) then putting “free” software on GitHub shouldn’t be a problem, right? Not if you’re running LibreJS, at least.

In practice, software that is “Free in license only” sidesteps the implication of effectively free software, which is that its users are also effectively free. If free software development gets dragged into doing the bidding of non-free software companies and starts creating lock-in for the user, even if its external or peripheral, then they simply found an effective way around the true goal of the license. They did it with Tivoisation, so we know that its possible. They’ve done this in a number of ways, and they’re doing it now.

If people are trying to make the user less free, and they’re effectively making the user less free, maybe the license isn’t an effective monolithic solution. The cost of freedom is eternal vigilance. They never said “The cost of freedom is slapping a free license on things”, as far as I know. This really isn’t a straw man, so much as a rebuttal to the extremely glib take on software freedom in general that permeates development communities these days.

But the benefits of Free software, free candy and new features are all meaningless, if the user isn’t in control.

Don’t get in the van.

“The freedom to NOT run the software, to be free to avoid vendor lock-in through appropriate modularization/encapsulation and minimized dependencies; meaning any free software can be replaced with a user’s preferred alternatives (freedom 4).” – Peter Boughton

Licence: Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-SA 3.0)

« Previous entries Next Page » Next Page »

RSS 64x64RSS Feed: subscribe to the RSS feed for regular updates

Home iconSite Wiki: You can improve this site by helping the extension of the site's content

Home iconSite Home: Background about the site and some key features in the front page

Chat iconIRC Channels: Come and chat with us in real time

New to This Site? Here Are Some Introductory Resources

No

Mono

ODF

Samba logo






We support

End software patents

GPLv3

GNU project

BLAG

EFF bloggers

Comcast is Blocktastic? SavetheInternet.com



Recent Posts