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09.06.20

BSD, and Ultra-Orthodoxy in Free Software

Posted in BSD, Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux at 11:04 pm by Guest Editorial Team

Article by figosdev

Eye again

Summary: “I have done a lot of work, migrating my equipment and files and getting familiar enough with BSD.”

The title will imply to some that these two things are related. You can sort of relate any two things by making a comparison, but here it is incidental. I want to talk about both, but comparison isn’t the primary goal.

“I have done a lot of work, migrating my equipment and files and getting familiar enough with BSD.”When I think of BSD as an alternative to GNU/Linux, I don’t present it as a solution but as part of a solution. BSD is not as free as it could be.

I have done a lot of work, migrating my equipment and files and getting familiar enough with BSD. On some level I had a bit of familiarity already due to using the command line on a Mac, when I was doing some volunteer work that was entirely unrelated to Free Software or even Open Source. They had Macs, Macs have command line tools from BSD — I am not utterly surprised when I have to add a path — such as “.” when I use find, for example. It still does get me occasionally:

# find | grep [...] 

usage: find [-dHhLXx] [-f path] path ... [expression]

# find . | grep [...] 

[Okay.]

This (standard UNIX/posix) behavior bothers more than all others, but I already knew about it and it is minor. Are there others? Oh, yes. And at first, some were worse. For me, there is no /dev/sda. While sda becomes sd0 (okay…) ‘/dev/sda’ becomes sd0c… there is no /dev/sd0 (for the entire disk) but /dev/sd0c is the equivalent of /dev/sda.

What’s the equivalent of /dev/sda1 then? Sometimes it’s /dev/sd0a, but if you have a thumbdrive that would be /dev/sdb1, you probably want /dev/sd0i. No, it’s not Roman numerals, though it might as well be. Run disklabel sd1 (no /dev) to be sure.

“Relying on a minimal distribution like Tiny Core has made migration much easier, and that’s a feature.”At first I thought you needed to EDIT the disklabel every time you wanted to access an ext2fs partition. I was pretty much ready to give up on the human species at that point. But you don’t have to, and I would rather change the partitions than edit the disklabel, but you are really going to HATE when you have an ISO image written to a thumb drive and a partition created after that.

Relying on a minimal distribution like Tiny Core has made migration much easier, and that’s a feature. Debian may have at one point been a Lexus as far as distributions go, but that is harder to replace than a Nissan Leaf — at least I thought that metaphor would work, until I looked up the list prices and found the Lexus CT is actually comparable to the Leaf. Go figure.

Only readers who are old enough (or old fashioned enough) will get any reference I make to the Intel 486 sx.

“It is, to be sure, incredibly refreshing to be able to comment on the state of GNU from the outside.”Either way, in just over two weeks I have moved myself into an interesting situation: if I wanted, I could be Linux-free (as in not running the Linux kernel on anything I use) within 24 hours. That’s not a goal yet, I’ve been trying to have it as a real option (I now do) and BSD is what I’m doing most of my computing with now. ZERO of my workflow is actually dependent on my GNU/Linux machine. I could move the files off it and run BSD on it instead, it would probably take an hour or two. Installation can be done in about 15 minutes.

This is incredibly refreshing! Linus Torvalds could throw himself off a bridge, GKH could continue selling the kernel off to Microsoft (it’s not like he’s the mastermind of this, he’s really just a guy they approve of — but that’s sort of dubious enough of an honour itself) and the GNU Project could finish migrating to Microknauth GitHub — by the way, did anybody ever ask which direction GNUstep was a step in?

It is, to be sure, incredibly refreshing to be able to comment on the state of GNU from the outside. I am not typing this on GNU/Linux, but this screen / setup looks just like it did a few weeks ago — dwm, xterm, tk-based editor — I am very sadly running Firefox (ugh) instead of IceCat. I miss IceCat, but the Hyperbola team does have its own browser project which in theory (in all seriousness) is better.

“Of course everything GNU (BSD has similar problems) is GitHub-based, from Automake (Perl) to linux-libre (moving to Perl and Python away from awk and Bash) to GNU libc, to zlib1g.”I would love to be using that right now — I don’t love the Web anyway (the whole thing is bloatware) but running Firefox makes me HATE using the Internet. I’d rather have constipation than Firefox, but although I’ve made a couple of sacrifices — overall, migrating to an entire OS that gives me a little hope for Free Software is better than most applications. I tried NetSurf from ports, but it is completely unusable — it just sits there, mostly unresponsive, mostly incompatible with anything. If the only thing I wanted to do online was read Techrights, I still couldn’t do it with the BSD port of NetSurf.

Firefox brings in dbus, of course. And it refuses to run unless /etc/machine-id is valid. UGH. This isn’t an application I would wish on anybody. But the browser issue on GNU/Linux isn’t a lot better, it’s a little better — IceCat is a small bandage for a serious wound. It’s built on Rust and Jasmine (and HarfBuzz) from Microknauth GitHub, and that’s not likely to improve.

Here’s stuff you won’t have to compile to try out, if you want to run real GNU stuff on BSD: GCC, Wget and Nano and Bash are all GNU tools, available from ports in OpenBSD. Of course ksh is standard, they prefer permissive tools. You won’t change OpenBSD, but they won’t try to change you either; you can make your own fully-free BSD with GNU Bash and Wget and everything in the GNU Project that you can compile, but I have removed less, lesskey, zless and tmux because they are GitHub-based: http://cvsweb.openbsd.org/src/usr.bin/tmux/alerts.c

“There is logic when it comes to boycotting GitHub, though a lot of it comes down to avoiding it whenever possible.”Of course everything GNU (BSD has similar problems) is GitHub-based, from Automake (Perl) to linux-libre (moving to Perl and Python away from awk and Bash) to GNU libc, to zlib1g. GNU Wget actually has code from Fakebook’s GitHub (zstd compression library). Hooray. Curl on the other hand, is based entirely on GitHub itself, so that’s not really an alternative.

I do have a sort of work-in-progress criteria for what I boycott when it comes to GitHub, since the only way to really avoid it entirely is to create a completely new operating system. With BSD, that is more possible than it is with GNU/Linux — nobody has demonstrated a will or an ability to fork Linux, while several people (Hyperbola being the one FSDG-respecting example) have forked BSD with surprisingly small teams of developers.

There is logic when it comes to boycotting GitHub, though a lot of it comes down to avoiding it whenever possible. I’d really like to do better than that, but that’s where we are at the moment. Without a fork of Perl and a fork of Python, the GNU Project will never be GitHub-free. Nor will GCC or Clang. GitHub is a terrible monopoly. Speaking of, here is a project Google doesn’t want you to know exists: https://reverseeagle.org/

I actually couldn’t find it with Google. I tried about five ways, some of which should have worked — I had to use the not-very-privacy-respecting DuckDuckGo (found it on the first try) to get the URL. I had no idea they had their own .org domain.

“The nicest thing about using BSD though, is experiencing a group of people doing EXACTLY what they claim be doing.”I’m not suggesting that YOU can’t find Reverse Eagle with Google, only that five tries wasn’t enough. This project: https://codeberg.org/ReverseEagle/DeGoogle-FOSS is probably the reason, and it’s one of the cooler things they do. Props and thanks to Derek Taylor for featuring it on his video series. This page: https://developers.reverseeagle.org/replace/github/ is the one I really wanted to share with you. But there is a lot more going on at Reverse Eagle, and I hope more people will notice them.

The nicest thing about using BSD though, is experiencing a group of people doing EXACTLY what they claim be doing. Sure, OpenBSD has non-free firmware. And I will summarise its lead developers position on it — and I know that Hyperbola will address this issue.

Unlike FreeBSD, the lead developer of OpenBSD (Theo de Raadt) does not allow any non-free software (binary-only or NDA-stifled) in the main development tree. He makes an exception that Hyperbola won’t, for what we Free Software types call “non-free firmware”.

“ROM firmware (read-only) means you can’t change it without replacing the chip.”His position is that firmware does not run on the CPU at all, it runs on the device itself. The alternative in many instances, to non-free firmware — is ROM firmware. Once it is read-only and cannot be written to (perhaps due to a fuse making a setting permanent in the chip, which is a technology that already exists https://puri.sm/learn/intel-me/ in consumer hardware) the FSF takes no issue with it. This is a very strange position rms has, and from a position of figuring out what to boycott — I think I sort of get it. But to most people it sounds pretty ridiculous.

ROM firmware (read-only) means you can’t change it without replacing the chip. Fuse-set firmware (now read-only) means practically the same thing. Only when the firmware is still writable is it practical to complain about whether or not you can change the firmware. Right?

It’s not my intention to misrepresent the position rms has on this — it’s been years since I’ve read about it.

The position of Raadt (I recently read an email he wrote about it) was this:

Wait — so you’re saying that proprietary firmware on re-writable firmware is LESS FREE than proprietary firmware on a ROM chip you can’t change at all?

“You actually lose the ability to fix something with software only.”This position blurs the distinction between a purely practical mindset and a freedom-respecting philosophical position. In the short run, ROM firmware is much more useless to someone who wants free firmware than rewriteable firmware with a non-free blob on it. Also (according to some in the email thread) “blob” has a slightly different meaning in the security world, and OpenBSD is written by people for whom “blob” is a different word than the one people from the FSF use. It’s simply an opportunity for misunderstanding. (Note also that “Open” as in “Open Source” was allegedly coined in 1998, but OpenBSD was called OpenBSD a couple years prior).

In the short run, based on de Raadt’s explanation — the Orthodox position on firmware for the Free Software makes roughly ZERO sense. In the short run, it actually presents a setback: from firmware the user doesn’t control that you ideally want to replace, to firmware the user doesn’t control that you CANNOT replace using only software (because it is no longer writable). What’s the advantage again? None — zero. You actually lose the ability to fix something with software only.

But from the standpoint of a boycott, boycotting ROM firmware is a waste of time — you can’t change ROM at all, so there’s no gain in demanding it. But boycotting non-free firmware is (to replay the official position on drivers instead of firmware) the only way to get manufacturers and/or driver authors to care about supporting Free Software. It’s slow-going and was sabotaged by “Linux” and Open Source, but progress is made from time to time.

So only in the long run does the completely counter-intuitive idea that looks a lot like “ROM is better than rewritable and non-free” actually make any sense. It makes sense to an activist in the long haul for real progress, but not to someone who knows (correctly in fact) that in the short run it won’t achieve anything. In the short run it’s actually worse, because you can’t fix it!

“So only in the long run does the completely counter-intuitive idea that looks a lot like “ROM is better than rewritable and non-free” actually make any sense.”The positions of rms are not religious, as some Microsoft “Evangelists” (their own term) would have you believe, but they are orthodox. And with the attacks from Open Source, I will point out my own defense of orthodoxy:

Orthodoxy (even without violence — orthodoxy With violence is correctly referred to as extremism) is a pretty effective way to preserve most of a culture for a very long time, as society around it changes. Ultra-orthodoxy on the other hand, frequently becomes isolated and cut off from society.

What bothers me about ultra-orthodoxy is that (in common with cults) it requires essentially magical thinking to justify even simple daily activities that the ultra-orthodox have to practice. This can be very tricky to define. For example: every Shabbos, Orthodox Jews are forbidden from kindling a fire from sundown to the next sundown. This is interpreted by rabbinic authorities as including the operation of light switches, but since the prohibition only applies to Jewish people, anybody else (non-Jewish) is free to operate lights for them.

“Activism does mean putting aside what the world wants (sometimes) for what it ideally should be like.”It’s difficult to define exactly where the line is or should be, but I actually put that custom on the Orthodox side of things, rather than the Ultra-orthodox. If you’re an Orthodox Jew, this sort of thing is very basic. If you’re a Free Software advocate, you already know that software under an NDA isn’t freedom-respecting. The rules are complex, but they don’t require sophistry or mental gymnastics to justify them — they can be explained and justified deterministically.

Ultra-orthodoxy takes things another leap in some direction. It is more serious than orthodoxy, and justification becomes more contentious and authoritative. There will be traditions that the Orthodox are literally barely capable of understanding or relating to. Not everyone feels that ultra-orthodoxy is oppressive, (I used to have an acquaintance who was happy with it) but this is no safe measure of whether it is oppressive or not.

“Free Software is idealist, and if it ceases to be idealist then it ceases to be about freedom.”What’s most interesting (and relevant) about this is that orthodoxy survives (and slowly evolves with the world) without losing its Orthodox status, while ultra-orthodoxy does flips and lives in isolation for the sake of avoiding any change whatsoever. And my point here is not simply that we should “just relax” and compromise for its own sake, or just to make things easier on ourselves. Activism does mean putting aside what the world wants (sometimes) for what it ideally should be like. Free Software is idealist, and if it ceases to be idealist then it ceases to be about freedom.

But the threat of ultra-orthodoxy is customs that we can only justify with authority, sophistry and magical and non-deterministic reasoning. I’m not against you thinking magically, though I am more or less against magical thinking being IMPOSED on people — I’m against theocracy for similar reasons.

There are actually very few things about Free Software this will apply to — most of the logic that causes us to do what we do is pretty straightforward, and most of the responses Free Software has to problems are easy to implement without sophistry or philosophical contortion.

“If a project wants FSDG status, that imposes certain restrictions on what can be discussed on the project’s own forums.”One corner we could be painted into though, is the horribly-named FSDG, or Free Software Distribution Guidelines. Despite being familiar with both acronyms, I spent more than 45 minutes today thinking I was talking with someone about the Debian Free Software Guidelines, because if you move the “D” in FSDG twice to the left, it becomes DFSG — the precursor to the Open Source Definition (Debian still uses the DFSG, it has for many years). But 99% of my complaint isn’t about the name.

The FSDG goes farther than the Free Software Definition, but that isn’t all it does. It extends to matters regarding documentation (mostly for our benefit) and things you might think of as outside of software itself. Not that OpenBSD (yes, we are making comparisons even if they’re not the main point of the article) treats documentation as fully outside the creation software — a feature without documentation is considered a bug in the OpenBSD world. There are some differences between these worlds, but OpenBSD is more freedom-respecting than FreeBSD (which does not forbid software under NDAs, and which develops its package manager on GitHub).

My original problem with the FSDG was the effect it had on speech itself. This doesn’t loop back around immediately to forbidding an entire CATEGORY of 4-freedoms-respecting actually-free software, but it does get there (and that is the main inspiration for this article).

If a project wants FSDG status, that imposes certain restrictions on what can be discussed on the project’s own forums. I’ve always been told I make too much of this (great if that’s actually true) but I think the practice stands on its own for demonstrating its effects. My original complaint was that there are instances which go beyond “free advertising” for non-free software (I can certainly understand why that would be considered spam on a Free Software forum) but there are legitimate discussions of non-free software, particularly for people who are interested in creating, locating or promoting free alternatives.

The FSDG is in my opinion, stifling in this regard — but with just the right forum leaders, and just the right amount of interaction from the FSF (they are not strict enforcers about this — I think they mostly impose the requirement and then leave it up to the project) you could get by talking about software in a reasonable fashion. I don’t like it though, because freedom doesn’t love rules that are poorly conceived and sloppily implemented (except when they fail, of course).

But there is a “big picture” concern that in my opinion, puts the FSDG squarely in the category of ultra-orthodoxy I’ve been talking about.

“This is another really refreshing thing about running BSD, particularly OpenBSD — I strongly feel that it is the most UNIX-like OS (in terms of the Fifth Freedom) that currently exists.”We want all software to be free software. That’s the goal of the free software movement. I also want control over MY computing. That’s one of my reasons for using free software, and it’s commonly noted as a goal and benefit — for the user to have control over their computing.

Of course I acknowledge that when we say “freedom” you have to be specific for it to be a meaningful conversation; as usual, I am referring to the 4 freedoms in the FSD. I would say the 4 freedoms plus the freedom to NOT run (or to boycott) the software. I’ve been promoting Peter Boughton’s Fifth Freedom ever since he wrote one that fit what I was looking for.

This is another really refreshing thing about running BSD, particularly OpenBSD — I strongly feel that it is the most UNIX-like OS (in terms of the Fifth Freedom) that currently exists. I hope the Hyperbola devs notice, because they can keep that going as they make a fully free version. In some ways they do seem to notice — Hyperbola has a good track record for removing dubious components from GNU/Linux.

The thing is, GNU was possible in part because the Fifth Freedom already existed. It was much easier to replace component after component of UNIX to create GNU, by virtue of the fact that UNIX was so modular already. Don’t like it? Don’t keep it. Want it gone? It’s easy to remove.

“There are too many efforts to try to dictate or “nudge” what software I have running or installed, and I’m not okay with that.”Since pedants will start telling you how dependencies work because it’s an easy straw man, thanks — I know dependencies, I’ve written scripts to remix software distributions in my own language and even that (the language) has dependencies, I think most people get that.

But the encroachment (the takeover) of dependencies is the issue here, and it’s been talked about enough that we don’t need to make the article even longer by explaining it.

I want to be able to boycott software — I want to make it easier to boycott software. I want developers to (within reason, and not necessarily a heck of a lot more than they ALREADY did about 10 or 12 years ago) respect the fact that I want to remove software from my computer that I don’t need or want.

There are too many efforts to try to dictate or “nudge” what software I have running or installed, and I’m not okay with that. I am not asking for something new, either — I was content with the level of modularity that existed just half a decade or so ago. Things have gotten ridiculous. We might have to go back a little farther than 5 years if we really want to fix it, but this is not a theoretical level of control the user has — it is truer to say this is an established level of user control that we have now lost.

And when I delete a bunch of files, I want to be able to share that with other people who have similar goals. Maybe only a few will care, but that’s not the point. It’s free (as in FSD) software that may do something like… take a non-DFSG GNU/Linux distribution and automatically turn it into one that fits all the wild requirements of the DFSG.

But that software will never ITSELF be DFSG-compliant.

So that means it has to be separate from ANY DFSG-compliant distro.

And it means (to the letter, at least) that you can’t even talk about that software.

    The first rule of Free Software Distribution Club, 
    is you DO NOT talk about Free Software Distribution Club.

Followed to the letter, anything LIKE Linux-libre, the GNU Project itself, or any script (this is something GUIX has to deal with) or my own distro-libre project — before being accepted by the FSF has to run through an ideological gauntlet to be allowed an exception to its own rules, so that it may automate the creation of DFSG-compliant software.

Because anything that automates the creation of DFSG-compliant software, to be DFSG-compliant, must include its sources and must also not refer to non-free software (or places that refer to non-free software).

As with the seemingly-pretty-crazy ROM/Writable firmware “paradox”, I can understand most of this. You don’t want to say something is FSDG, then just have the authors start plugging in things like Skype and Minecraft and whatever else Microsoft decides to buy next year and still calling it a “Fully-free, FSF-approved distro”.

You want to create and endorse projects that ONLY move distros from less free to more free, NOT the other way around.

As the creator of linux-libre said recently, it is possible to avoid a catch-22 with linux-libre sources. It involves doing more of the steps manually.

I’m not satisfied. If the (approval) process forbids automating the process of making software more free, it is the (approval) process that should be tweaked, not what the developer does. And this is not a hard fast rule itself, rather it should apply enough to make the point for this example at least — it should be possible to automate the work of creating an FSDG-compliant distro without the scripts triggering the FSDG itself.

Followed to the letter, the scripts that remove non-free software must themselves be kept secret, because they REFER TO non-free software!

Here are some ways to address this:

1. Simply use an authority, like rms or the FSF, to grant exceptions to the rule when it is sane to do so.

“Open Source always wants to change the rules, so they can get more non-free garbage into everything you do.”This is the most likely solution, because that’s how the FSF tends to work anyway.

2. Change nothing — if you want to liberate 100 free software projects at once, you can simply go to the same manual trouble Alex Oliva goes to for linux-libre: TIMES 100.

3. Make the rules saner / improve the process

I LIKE THIS ONE! PLEASE SIR, CAN WE HAVE SOME MORE?

Open Source always wants to change the rules, so they can get more non-free garbage into everything you do. I get it. We have to be CAREFUL. This is like changing code that’s part of a mission-critical system; you have to sometimes, but you want to avoid it and you want to be extremely careful when you do at all.

But there are precedents as well. For most Free Software, the GPL is designed to not allow linking by non-free software. In some instances where it made enough sense, the FSF has created the LGPL instead. It rarely recommends its use, but the important thing is they went out of their way to allow exceptions when it made enough sense to do so.

The GPL3 is in a few ways that make VERY good sense, stricter than the GPL2 in what it allows to be taken away from the user (less) but it also changes a few rules from GPL2 that are harsher for the user. Check the GPL3 FAQ for details. The point of this comparison is that not only does the FSF sometimes make exceptions when it’s reasonable (as with the LGPL) but they also sometimes tweak rules to make them easier, not only to make them stricter.

The FSF has the authority to make a beneficial change to the FSDG. The benefit of the change is already (in my opinion) in the spirit of the FSDG. Although it may at first seem impossible to change the FSDG along these lines without defeating the purpose — I can hear the parrots sqwaking already that the entire FSDG would collapse “like a flan in cupboard” if you made it so you could reference non-free software. But the FSF is smarter than that, and frankly lots of people are up to making this workable. It’s far from impossible, it’s not even a magnificent feat if they pull it off.

“The next time someone comes along with an idea similar to linux-libre, Guix or distro-libre, I want them to benefit.”None of this implies that the FSF has enough sense to make this work — if we are talking about problems the FSF “WONTFIX” there are bigger ones, to be sure. I’ve written off the FSF as a worthwhile organisation. But I consider this to be as much about rms as the FSF, and I’d actually keep 99% of the DFSG (it serves a real purpose) rather than throw it out and make a reasonable exception for scripts the MAIN PURPOSE of which is to remove non-free software — to do the very work of FSDG-compliance itself, but to make it easier to do at a greater scale.

I do not think paranoia and isolationism is the better option here — although I do not (AT ALL) trust the Guix devs who would benefit from this, it is not for the Guix devs (who I don’t like, support or endorse — I would sooner accuse, warn of and write off) that I make this argument. On the contrary — the fact that they are finding the same issue as a problem makes this argument all the more relevant at the moment, though I hardly consider Guix a good example of the benefit. But the issue keeps coming up, and I think this is a real weakness of the FSDG.

The next time someone comes along with an idea similar to linux-libre, Guix or distro-libre, I want them to benefit. The fact that I no longer support Guix is truly a side issue, and entirely so.

Once a script has a primary purpose of DSFG compliance, it should be allowed within the DSFG-compliant distro. And once the script ABANDONS that primary purpose, it should no longer qualify as DSFG-compliant. I believe this is (or is already most of the way to) a safe exception. We can do this. It mainly needs the blessing of the Chief Gnusiance (I honestly don’t give a damn about what the FSF thinks).

Will he make this a priority? I doubt it. And to be certain, this change has so much less meaning without his attention. Unfortunately, we were very close to rms having a true successor but the FSF blew that, in its corrupt and mutinous state. Obviously we can all make this change in policy ourselves (as a matter of enforcement) though a legitimate, authoritative change to the policy itself (from a legitimate authority who might make a small reform to the FSDG) would be better, if unlikely.

If I thought it were impossible, I wouldn’t go to the trouble of talking about it. But I think the odds are small of this improving. The FSF does make exceptions and improve policies, but I think this is pretty rare.

Ultimately I want the FSF to be conservative in some regards — I actually think we ALL do, or the FSF would actually fall apart.

I mean in this regard (it clearly has in other ways already).

But even if the FSF really has the job of being orthodox and reasonably strict, there is always going to be a line (somewhere) between “reasonably strict” and “self-defeating and basically nuts”. Some people will always act like they’re the same thing, too. I think Free Software can be reasonably strict (how about “reasonably principled” — does that sound more favourable? It’s something I think we should continue to care about) without staying in corners we have painted ourselves into — where we are forbidding from creating software that has a clear and defensible goal of helping people fight against non-free software, but must MENTION it to do so.

I have already defended orthodoxy as a way of preserving culture. But I have also defended evolution as a way of improving it, without losing orthodox status.

The rest is up to… well, frankly everybody.

And let’s take into account the possibility that nothing changes in policy (the letter) but that practice alone changes… Or in other words that the “FSDG never REALLY forbade this in the first place…”

Okay, then at least will be one (more?) example of the FSF foregoing literalist silliness for a sane exemption to a very strict rule of its own making.

Some rules actually require a fair amount of strictness to work at all. I think the FSDG (I have to type that about three times to avoid the DFSG habit, you know — every time) is an example of that. I’m not suggesting we make it NOT strict. Just that we take away the craziest part of it, and that we do so in a way that does NOT cause it to collapse.

Again, if I thought it wasn’t possible…

Also, could we please change the damned name? It can still be the Debian Free Software (Damnit, it even unpacks as DFSG!)

It can still be the Free Software Design Guidelines historically, though it would make 2020 a slightly nicer year if it was the year we decided to rename them to the “Libre Distro Guidelines” or LDG. SO. MUCH. NICER.

My poor fingers thank you in advance. (No, not that one. That finger is reserved for “thanking” the backstabbers who signed the Guix petition).

Also rms, if you deliberately named the FSDG to be nearly identical to DFSG on purpose to mess with them, that was just bastardly:

Free Software D…n Guidelines
D…n Free Software Guidelines

I doubt you did it intentionally. “GNU/Linux” has a very good reason for it. “GNU’s Not Unix” is clever and funny. That’s more your style than being nasty. Either way, I really do hate the name!

Long live rms, and (At the very least!) Tolerable Hacking.

Licence: Creative Commons CC0 1.0 (public domain)

What Richard Stallman Wrote One Year Ago (to Get Himself ‘Canceled’) and His Explanation of What He Said

Posted in Free/Libre Software, FSF, Videos at 10:19 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: We look back at September 2019 when Bill Gates had a major MIT-Epstein scandal and instead the media shifted attention to Richard Stallman, who merely made a controversial (not politically-correct) remark

The Linux Foundation Pays News Sites to Plant/Embed Puff Pieces in Them. By Doing That It Associates ‘Linux’ With the Controversial Attack on Actual Journalism.

Posted in Deception at 9:45 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Sometimes those sites even disclose this upfront (or add disclosures at the bottom)

Linux Foundation as sponsor
One example among very many (this is where the money goes)

Summary: There used to be a time when news sites, including Linux.com, actually investigated things; now it’s almost entirely PR, sometimes paid for by the Linux Foundation for its proprietary software sponsors (openwashing and greenwashing)

THE technical news is slow. Very slow. It’s not that nothing is happening. There’s just less interest or vastly lower incentive to actually write about it, to cover current affairs.

Was this predictable?

Certainly.

Judging by trends alone, even well before COVID-19, it seemed rather inevitable.

So what exactly is causing this? Why is it that amid many technical and technological developments press/media dedicated to this domain perishes? Why are we left with so many awful sites that rather than analyse issues are mostly repeating what corporate marketing departments put out there?

I mean, look at Linux.com. Look at that farce! What on Earth is that?!?!

“…it’s hard to push ads and spam disguised as ‘news’ and ‘reports’ because sooner or later readers realise what’s going on and then simply walk away.”The Linux Foundation has very big budget (well over $100,000,000 per year by now), but it has turned Linux.com into a spam site. It pays one person to pretends that the site isn’t a fossil (by bumping up publication dates every now and then). No wonder actual supporters of Linux (and GNU) are growing impatient. The sole editor there runs a spammy site himself. What a scam. What an utter embarrassment to Linux…

There’s no lack of money, there’s just lack of will/desire to allocate it to press that can hold Power accountable. The PR industry keeps growing, taking its toll on actual journalism if not hijacking what used to be news sites. No wonder a lot of people reject them and refuse to read them; it’s hard to push ads and spam disguised as ‘news’ and ‘reports’ because sooner or later readers realise what’s going on and then simply walk away.

“Apparently it was partly the fault of Larry Augustin, who trusted Zemlin et al to look after that site.”Months ago we quoted actual users of Linux (and GNU) saying that it would be better — for GNU/Linux at least — if Linux.com just shut down (rather than carry on doing what it does at present). Linux.com represents actual users of Linux (and GNU) as much as the Linux Foundation does, i.e. not at all. If they don’t want to use that valuable domain to do serious work, as it did for two whole decades, relinquish control and give it to someone who cares (and actually uses GNU/Linux). Apparently it was partly the fault of Larry Augustin, who trusted Zemlin et al to look after that site. Augustin works for Jeff Bezos right now (yes, Amazon) and he doesn’t seem to care about GNU/Linux, either. They rake in millions in salaries, so Linux as a brand worked out well for them.

Safety (‘Safe Space’) or Fake Community?

Posted in Debian, Deception, Free/Libre Software at 8:11 pm by Guest Editorial Team

Reprinted with permission from Debian Community News

Back in the heyday of Tony Blair’s New Labour, an undercover journalist went to work for the party, producing a goldmine of material for the Dispatches documentary Undercover in New Labour.

It tells us a lot about the problems facing large free software communities today.

Blair goes from one village to the next, attending “community” meetings where it appears that local people come to participate and ask questions. The documentary exposes these people as hacks from the party’s headquarters who follow him from one village to the next while police set up a perimeter and keep real locals as far away as possible. They review footage from the meetings in detail, exploring the diversity of those present: a woman with a baby, coloured people, aged pensioners, business people. Then they show that it is always the same woman and same baby at every meeting. It is always the same coloured woman. Always the same pensioner. Finally, they show us that those people are paid to be there, they are staff from the party headquarters.

Many large free software communities have taken a similar approach. People who don’t echo the views of incumbent management are threatened, subject to character assassination, expelled or censored on mailing lists. Codes of conduct and access to travel funding are some of the tools used to control and coerce people.

Watching a discussion on a mailing list, it often appears that there are a large group who are in agreement. In fact these people are not representative of the community at large, the other side of the story is not being told because people are too afraid to speak or not visible because the messages with diverging opinions are blocked from the public lists or silently removed from mailing list archives.

How to Spot Diversion Tactics (Excuses and Distractions From Articles Not Convenient to the Reader)

Posted in Site News at 7:51 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Covered eyes

Summary: When the subject of an article harms oneself one is more likely to shoot the messenger (or the platform) rather than the article itself; here are some examples of patterns we’ve encountered/witnessed over the years

LET’S face it! There are companies out there that dislike Techrights because of things Techrights published about them. Those companies have employees and sometimes a loyal base of clients/supporters (Apple has plenty of these). So Techrights often becomes the target of cheap smears, with various individuals looking for excuses to never read Techrights and even tell people to do the same. It’s very common among comments/commenters. Sometimes it’s downright amusing.

If Techrights gets some facts wrong, state it out loud and upfront. But most complaints (almost all!) are saying nothing about the contents and instead changing the subject to something else (innuendo or nitpicking). Here are some examples: (I have encountered them all before)

“It’s old news”

“I found a typo”

“The headline’s capitalisation style is wrong”

“The site isn’t mobile-friendly”

“The fonts are of the wrong size”

“The stylesheet isn’t good with my browser”

“I don’t like the site”

“I dislike the author”

“The site is not secure enough”

“The site is slow (or down at the moment, maybe due to load)”

“The English is grammatically correct, but I don’t like its style”

“There’s not enough background”

“The site links to itself too much”

“This is conspiracy theory!”

“The author is anonymous and thus lacks credibility”

“I saw some crank linking to this site, hence the site is run by cranks”

“This is clickbait because it makes me angry”

“This is insensitive or intolerant because it points out something correct like a crime (which I prefer not to talk about)”

“It’s too strongly-worded and biased, e.g. it calls bribes “bribes” and not some euphemism like ‘contribution’ or ‘sponsorship’ or whatever…”

“The site looks like it needs a redesign and was made in the 1990s” (maybe it was! Doesn’t discredit the substance, does it?)

“It’s difficult on the eyes that I need to scroll and there’s no glitz such as “like” buttons”

“Comment(er)s are foaming at the mouth and I will hold the original author accountable for these”

“The author does not understand the topic and is merely emotional”

“The article’s site has a low budget; therefore, it cannot possibly get the story right”

“The format of the dates is American; I am not American, hence this site isn’t for me”

“The site quotes an anonymous source to protect from retribution/reprisal; thus, the source is fabricated or is lying”

“There are too many articles in that site and I cannot keep up, hence there’s something wrong with the site”

“The site covered this same subject before, hence it’s merely repeating itself and the message thus lacks legitimacy/novelty”

“The author supports some particular politics or particular political party which I dislike, hence I will read no further”

“Authors aren’t salaried for the work, hence they’re not bossed by rich media owners and cannot possibly produce anything of value”

“The authors are too young to know what’s going on; I’m older and I therefore know a lot more and have been around for longer; my views supersede all else”

“The article has far too many links; it really should be more like a professional newspaper, including not a single link or citation or traceable source”

“I don’t have time to read something this long (tl;dr)”

“I don’t like the picture in that article, so I will not read the article”

“This is pure hypocrisy because [add some smear about the author, whether factual or not]”

“Jealousy, hatred or bigotry/extremist views drove or motivated this posting; it’s thus invalid”

“The article contains leaked communication, hence it does something borderline illegal and I should not examine the evidence at all”

The list goes on and on, but that’s just exemplary.

Reality and Expectation: GNU/Linux Isn’t Hiding Anything and That Makes It a Lot Stronger (No Embarrassing ‘Leaks’)

Posted in Debian, Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux at 7:07 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Subaru: Proprietary software marketing; Proprietary software reality

Summary: Our Debian transparency drive is yielding positive results; there’s no real harm done and people nowadays understand things a lot better, capable of assessing the project’s past and how it can be improved (for the present and future)

THE Free (libre, livre, freedom) software world is oftentimes a “PR-free zone” in which problems can’t be concealed, nor is it a goal to conceal them. That’s a positive thing because you generally know what you’re getting.

More than 10 years ago E-mail surfaced in the courts showing how Microsoft had worked behind the scenes to bury the disaster of Vista, p[l]aying a bunch of so-called ‘journalists’ (more like Microsoft moles with media access/credentials) to manufacture a bunch of fake hype. That’s typical Microsoft at ‘work’ — lying, cheating, infiltrating. We can — and clearly we should — strive to do as well as to be better than that.

“More than 10 years ago E-mail surfaced in the courts showing how Microsoft had worked behind the scenes to bury the disaster of Vista, p[l]aying a bunch of so-called ‘journalists’ (more like Microsoft moles with media access/credentials) to manufacture a bunch of fake hype.”We need not replace one evil with another or one brand® with another (one could argue that Apple’s marketing strategy isn’t more ethical than Microsoft’s).

Today we’ve carried on reading the archives of Debian-Private — the first lump of which we published last Saturday, i.e. the end of August. In that installment alone there are over 8,000 E-mails, some technical in nature and some akin to gossip (we don’t care much about the gossip, even if it’s more ‘juicy’ in nature). Much is being said there about Richard Stallman, the FSF, Red Hat and so on. It is an important glimpse at the history of GNU/Linux through the lenses of the most important distribution (the base system for most distributions, with perhaps hundreds of millions installations ‘out there’, maybe over a billion if embedded devices are counted).

“Today we’ve carried on reading the archives of Debian-Private — the first lump of which we published last Saturday, i.e. the end of August.”Techrights wrote several articles before releasing that trove of old E-mails, expressing the purpose and intent, which wasn’t to harm but to research and shed light. Right now, Free software is under attack and the patterns aren’t unprecedented (the Halloween Documents were already seen in 1998); we need to understand them in order to respond effectively. We need not hide things and brush under the rug a bunch of old communications which prove we’re all humans (and yes, everybody can have a temper tantrum sometimes).

It is expected that some time soon we’ll publish another batch of E-mails (timeline unclear, dependent on leaks/leakers). Every now and then we find something relevant to the present; if not a ‘smoking gun’, then at least a cautionary tale. The modus operandi, so to speak, changes very little over time. The woes are alike.

Having just reviewed about 500 comments regarding our 'Linusgate' article, we’ve noticed an old distraction tactic, basically anonymous cowards saying things along the lines of, “this is old news” (even if the underlying E-mails were never published before and the general public could not see them until 8 days ago).

“In Techrights we publish full logs each morning, including most E-mails related to the site (albeit anonymised, for obvious reasons).”If we live in a free world with Free software and free speech, we ought not be afraid of transparency. Most of what I’ve seen so far is hardly controversial (I went through about 2,000 E-mails individually); there are no conspiracies against people but an open debate, mostly technical in nature, with a little gossip or disputes here and there. There’s no reason to keep Debian-Private secret for nearly 25 years (some of these E-mails will be older than 25 years in a matter of months). Maybe at some point the Debian project itself will decide to publish these, gradually, instead of others doing it (imposed transparency). We sure hope so. It’s well overdue.

When people install GNU/Linux (or some BSD distribution) they deserve to know what they’re getting, including the nature of the developers/community/ies that pack together all those bits of software. We need not hide from who/what we are. In Techrights we publish full logs each morning, including most E-mails related to the site (albeit anonymised, for obvious reasons). We’ve been doing this since 2008 and it never really harmed us. Honestly, it hasn’t!

We’ve admittedly neglected some European Patent Office (EPO) scandals lately. There’s stuff we could cover, such as this new rant from lawyers. “The EPO should tell parties directly if the location of an oral hearing has been changed, in-house counsel say, but others believe this is unnecessary,” says a report. The EPO remains very secretive, but then again it’s a patent office, not a Free software community. It’s trying to work in secret at its own peril as sooner or later people typically leak to us all/most of the documents of interest, whereupon the EPO fails to ‘control the narrative’ and is left red-faced.

Being transparent is generally a lot better; it helps avert scandals and outrage because people behave differently when they’re seen (or there’s perception of accountability). Now going back to Debian, one recurring theme or complaint is that gossip networks were created and even encouraged, emboldening a bunch of non-productive people to experiment on volunteers with unwarranted witch-hunts. Had there been more transparency, this would not be possible. Thus, our transparency drive carries on…

Leadership and Gossip in Debian

Posted in Debian, Deception at 4:55 pm by Guest Editorial Team

In today’s news:

On gossip

Reprinted with permission from Daniel Pocock

On a daily basis now, people ask me questions that remind me about the leadership problems in Debian. When I visit a free software event or another free software community, it comes up frequently.

It is a horrible situation. When people remind me about the emails sent by Chris Lamb in September 2018, there is nothing positive to say. It puts me in a position where there is no response other than asking them to question Lamb’s credibility. This inevitably rubs off on Debian as a community.

When people realize that this issue relates to my private life and has nothing to do with my competence as a Debian Developer, they quickly apologize for intruding. On those occasions when I’ve explained the situation to people in any detail, the colour of their face has visibly changed, demonstrating an acute combination of sadness and anger at the way certain people in the Debian community, including the former leader, have behaved.

People have asked me why I didn’t try to speak to Lamb. In fact, I tried. He lives in London, I visit there almost every month. I wrote to him numerous times and he always refused. Stonewalling.

Between September and December 2018, I also wrote to a number of other members of the project to try and set up a meeting. They either didn’t respond or declined. Yet I kept hearing more and more reports of Lamb’s gossipmongering.

In another blog, I revealed that one of the challenges my family faced was the death of my father. People simply can’t understand why Lamb and his sidekicks would be undermining another Debian Developer, involved in the community for more than 20 years, at such a difficult time.

It is not easy to reduce a subject like that to a blog post. No cat picture can come close to explaining it. I don’t intend to write more, nor can I, without violating the privacy of other people. Yet one of Lamb’s missed opportunities as a leader is that he expected everything to be reduced to email or IRC. So he never actually knew any of this.

Earlier this year, somebody suggested taking a month off from Debian. It really misses the point. I never chose to have my private life and my professional life interconnected in this way. It was imposed on me by somebody who had the title of leader in an organization of 1,000 Developers but had dedicated more time to some people than others.

That brings me to another point: is everybody who has a public profile in the free software community going to be subject to similar attacks and criticism at a time of personal tragedy? Having mentored in GSoC and Outreachy for many years, I’ve frequently observed the challenges people go through making their first commit on a public repository or their first post to a mailing list. Many of them would never have done so if they saw what my family has been put through by rogue elements of the Debian community. The whole model of free, open source software development is predicated on working in a public and transparent manner. When people discover that collaborating publicly has such horrible side-effects for their family life, many may decline to work this way.

Ultimately, as the leader created a state of hostility through inappropriate gossip, the only real solution is for the current leader of the project to publicly denounce the gossip and put the issue to rest for once and for all.

Links 6/9/2020: GNUnet 0.13.3, Akademy 2020 Day 2, Python 3.5.10

Posted in News Roundup at 9:28 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

  • GNU/Linux

    • Making Everything Linux-Capable

      It’s not clear how the edge will play out or what will be the winning formula from a hardware standpoint. But for everything beyond the end device, and possibly even including the end device, a key prerequisite will be the ability to run Linux.

      That means at least one processor or core within the hardware will need to run 64-bit software. In addition, systems will need to have enough storage and processing horsepower to be able to run multi-threaded, parallelizable applications based upon Linux.

      There are several reasons why this is happening. First, Linux has a long history in the corporate enterprise and the cloud. Despite its rather modest beginnings as a free version of Unix, it has matured over time to be the OS of choice in many data centers. Being able to run this OS on a system means that end users can assess a product based upon a slew of existing benchmarks.

      That doesn’t necessarily mean that one chip will perform any better than another for specific compute jobs at the edge. In fact, the opposite might be the case. But it’s at least a starting point for further research and experimentation, and for lots of companies many of the applications they run are Linux-based because that has been the standard OS in many companies for at least a couple decades.

      Second, operating systems are becoming the glue between the edge and the cloud, and not just in the obvious ways. Like general-purpose CPUs, server OSes are pretty big and clunky for a lot of operations, but they are very good at managing available resources on-chip and off-chip. So despite the need for customization of algorithms for specific markets, an OS can do things like manage peripherals and memory and traffic prioritization. This is true for proprietary OSes like iOS and Windows, as well as open-source software such as Linux.

    • Desktop/Laptop

      • Tuxedo readies new 15.6-inch Polaris gaming notebooks featuring AMD’s Ryzen 4000H and Intel’s Comet Lake processors

        German laptop OEM Tuxedo is expanding its AMD-based portfolio with the Polaris models that are aimed at budget gamers. Unlike the Pulse 14 laptops announced last week, the Polaris notebooks can be equipped with AMD’s Renoir APUs, as well as Intel’s Comet Lake processors. Tuxedo ships all its laptops with pre-installed Linux distros like the proprietary Tuxedo_OS or openSUSE / Ubuntu, but users can pay a bit more for the Windows 10 dual-boot option.

        The processor options include AMD’s Ryzen 5 4600H hexa-core and Ryzen 7 4800H octa-core APUs, while Intel only gets a single option with the Core i7-10750H hexa-core CPU. These can be coupled with up to 64 GB of DDR4-3200 RAM plus up to 4 TB of NVMe or SATA III SSD storage. The default configuration features the GTX 1650 Ti GPU, but this can be upgraded to an RTX 2060 Refresh model.

    • Server

    • Audiocasts/Shows

      • The Pinebook Pro Is The Affordable Linux Laptop We’ve Been Waiting For

        I ordered a Pinebook Pro a few weeks ago. And as luck would have it, the laptop was delivered to me in the middle of dealing with Hurricane Laura and the power outage afterwards. So it’s been sitting in its box for a few days just waiting to be unleashed. So here’s an unboxing video.

      • Alacritty’s New Vim Mode And Other Awesome Features

        In a recent (ish) update to Alacritty it received a new set of features, one that really peaked my interest was the introduction of a so called Vi mode, this isn’t intended to replace what your shell does in fact I find that it complements it fairly well.

      • Going Linux #395 · Listener Feedback

        Bill is still on Manjaro! The Ubuntu MATE Guide is now available online. We answer questions about MeWe, dual booting, fresh install, replacing a sheet feed scanner, System76, Crossover, and LibreOffice spell check.

      • Talk Python to Me: #280 Python and AI in Journalism

        If there has ever been a time in history that journalism is needed to shine a light on what’s happening in the world, it’s now. Would it surprise you to hear that Python and machine learning are playing an increasingly important role in discovering and bringing us the news? On this episode, you’ll meet Carolyn Stansky, a journalist and developer who’s been researching this intersection.

      • Python Bytes: #197 Structured concurrency in Python
    • Kernel Space

      • Stable Kernels: 5.8.7 and 5.4.63

        I’m announcing the release of the 5.8.7 kernel.

        All users of the 5.8 kernel series must upgrade.

        The updated 5.8.y git tree can be found at:
        git://git.kernel.org/pub/scm/linux/kernel/git/stable/linux-stable.git linux-5.8.y
        and can be browsed at the normal kernel.org git web browser:

        https://git.kernel.org/?p=linux/kernel/git/stable/linux-s…

      • Linux 5.4.63
      • Intel IWD 1.9 Released With New Capabilities

        Intel’s iNet Wireless Daemon (IWD) is out with a new feature release with this daemon continuing to see new usage and possibly on Ubuntu moving forward.

        With IWD 1.9 there has been work most notably on sorting out the APIs around WiFi Display support this is around the WFD / Miracast standards. Included with IWD 1.9 is a sample/test app using GStreamer with a WiFI Display device making use of the new IWD interface.

      • Cache Coloring: Interference-free Real-time Virtualization

        At this year’s Xen Developer and Design Summit, Stefano Stabellini from Xilinx gave a talk on Cache Coloring, a new feature for Xen that helps better support real-time workloads.

        Many embedded deployments require deterministic IRQ latency, which can be difficult to pull off as even small spikes lead to failure. No matter the activity in other VMs, the latency-sensitive app has to continue unaffected.

        Xen can fully dedicate physical CPUs to VMs to minimize latency and interference, however, real-time deadlines can still be missed due to the presence of a shared L2 cache across the ARM cores. One app on one CPU core can affect the performance of another app in a different VM by causing cache interference.

      • Rethinking fsinfo()

        The proposed fsinfo() system call, which returns extended information about mounted filesystems, was first covered here just over one year ago. The form of fsinfo() has not changed much in that year, but the debate over merging it continues. To some, fsinfo() is needed to efficiently obtain information about filesystems; to others, it is an unnecessary and over-engineered mechanism. Changes will probably be necessary if this feature is ever to make it into the mainline kernel.

        Linux has long supported the statfs() system call (usually seen from user space as statvfs()) as a way of obtaining information about mounted filesystems. As has happened so often, though, the designers of statfs() made a list of all the filesystem attributes they thought might be interesting and limited the call to those attributes; there is no way to extend it with new attributes. Filesystem designers, though, have stubbornly refused to stop designing new features in the decades since statfs() was set in stone, so there is now a lot of relevant information that cannot be obtained from statfs(). Such details include mount options, timestamp granularity, associated labels and UUIDs, and whether the filesystem supports features like extended attributes, access-control lists, and case-insensitive lookups.

        As it happens, the kernel does make much of that information available now by way of the /proc/mounts virtual file. The problem with /proc/mounts, beyond the fact that some information is still missing, is that it is inefficient to access. Reading the contents of that file requires the kernel to query every mounted filesystem for the relevant information; on systems with a lot of mounted filesystems, that can get expensive. Systems running containerized workloads, in particular, can have vast numbers of mounts — thousands in some cases — so reading /proc/mounts can be painful indeed. For extra fun, the only way to know about newly mounted filesystems with current kernels is to poll /proc/mounts and look for new entries.

        David Howells proposes to solve the polling problem with a new notification mechanism, but that mechanism, in turn, relies on fsinfo(), the 21st revision of which was posted on August 3. Howells requested that both notifications and fsinfo() be pulled during the 5.9 merge window, but that did not happen. Instead, the request resulted in yet another discussion about whether fsinfo() makes sense in its current form.

      • Linux 5.8 Kernel: Biggest Release In Years

        “So I didn’t really expect this, but 5.8 looks to be one of our biggest releases of all time,” said Linux headmaster Linus Torvalds on the Linux Kernel Mailing List when he made the announcement of the Linux Kernel 5.8 rc1 on June 14, 2020.

        Later in his announcement, Torvalds went on to describe just how big of a release the 5.8 kernel was, by the numbers: over 14,000 non-merge commits (over 15,000 if you count merges), 800,000 new lines of code, and over 14,000 files changed.

        [...]

        Closer to home, Texstar has already started working on making the new Linux kernel available to PCLinuxOS users. As of the time of the writing of this article, the new kernel is in the testing section of the PCLinuxOS repository. Most likely, it will be moved from testing to the regular repository by the time you read this.

        Meanwhile, Linus Torvalds has already released Linux Kernel 5.9 (rc1) on August 16, 2020, just two weeks after releasing the 5.8 kernel to the masses. Not resting on his laurels or accomplishments, work is continuing where work on 5.8 left off.

      • Faster Reading From /dev/zero With Linux 5.10

        Queued up in char-misc-next ahead of the Linux 5.10 cycle is a speed-up for reading from /dev/zero…

        The patch adds a non-iov_iter version of reads for the /dev/zero interface. The write performance is unchanged as it already had a non-iov_iter implementation.

      • What would you like to see most in minix?

        I’m working on a couple of presentations and I wanted to share this nugget of joy with anyone who hasn’t actually read it.

      • Graphics Stack

        • Mike Blumenkrantz: More Map Gains

          Optimizing transfer_map is one of the first issues I created, and it’s definitely one of the most important, at least as it pertains to unit tests. So many unit tests perform reads on buffers that it’s crucial to ensure no unnecessary flushing or stalling is happening here.

    • Benchmarks

      • New/Updated Benchmarks For August From TensorFlow Lite To ASTCENC

        In addition to the new OpenBenchmarking.org now out in public “alpha”, a number of new and updated test profiles were published in August for users of our open-source, cross-platform automated benchmarking software.

        When it comes to new tests/benchmarks added over the course of August, the additions include:

        tensorflow-lite – Complementing the existing TensorFlow benchmarks, TensorFlow Lite is now available as a benchmark for evaluating the performance of this implementation focused for inference on the edge.

        astcenc – The Arm-developed ASTC Encoder (astcenc) with its 2.0 release is now available as a benchmark. This encoder for Adaptive Scalable Texture Compression times how long it takes to create ASTC compressed textures with different quality presets.

    • Applications

      • VirtualBox gains support for Linux kernel 5.8

        It’s a little over a month since Linus Torvalds announced the release of version 5.8 of the Linux kernel — something he previously described as “one of our biggest releases of all time”.

        But despite the fact that Linux kernel 5.8 was released so recently, VirtualBox has already been updated to include support for it. This means that the virtualization software can be used to run distros like Ubuntu 20.10 (Groovy Gorilla), which is powered by version 5.8 of the kernel.

        [...]

        With the release of VirtualBox 6.1.14, Linux kernel 5.8 is supported in both guest and host modes, but there is more to this release than just support for the latest Linux kernel. This latest version also includes numerous bug fixes for the Windows and macOS releases.

    • Instructionals/Technical

    • Games

      • What have you been gaming on Linux lately? Come chat

        Another week full of game updates, new releases and plenty still to come. Time for another of our weekly chats about all the wonderful gaming we’ve been doing.

        This week saw some interesting releases for Linux including Desperados III, A Long Way Down, Crusader Kings III, a new set of Stadia Pro games and plenty of upcoming releases mentioned like The Jackbox Party Pack 7, BOY BEATS WORLD, art of rally, Tenderfoot Tactics, Songs of Syx and plenty more from our Gamescom round-up. Certainly no shortage and that’s only off the top of my head from this last week.

        My current love that I keep going back to is Super Bomberman R Online, which is currently a time-limited exclusive on Stadia. If you have Stadia Pro, it’s free to claim until November 30 (and Stadia Pro still gives a month free on sign-up) and it seems there’s plenty of players on it, I’ve had no troubles finding matches.

      • Street Fighter Remastered on PCLinuxOS

        After almost 30 years (27 to be exact), a game is modified to work as it should, on the date it was released. Street Fighter 2 Remastered is a hack for the Megadrive/Genesis game, which was released on September 28, 1993 in Japan, on September 27 in the USA and October 29 in Europe.

        [...]

        We got to the most interesting point in the article: How to play Street Fighter 2: Remastered on PCLinuxOS. Just follow this easy, easy recipe.

      • Glitchy kingdom action-adventure RPG Lenna’s Inception has a big post-release update

        Lenna’s Inception, the wonderful top-down Zelda-like action-adventure that takes place in a world that’s glitching away has a big first post-release upgrade.

        “The Kingdom is glitching. The evil Chairman of the Banker’s Guild has captured the Prince, opening the way for destruction at the hands of the Archangels. With the Hero eliminated, and the world horribly unraveling, reluctant tutor Lenna must step up to save the kingdom. But it won’t be easy–all she has to guide her is the voice of the deceased elder, and he seems to know more than he’s letting on…”

      • Ready for another good laugh? The Jackbox Party Pack 7 releases later this year

        Jackbox Games have announced The Jackbox Party Pack 7, a brand new set of amusing party games that will be releasing with Linux PC support later this year. It was actually announced months ago, which we entirely missed but thanks to the Steam page going live we spotted it right away.

      • Valve’s card game Artifact 2.0 takes another step closer to launch

        Valve’s failed deck-building card game Artifact continues undergoing major changes in the closed beta for Artifact 2.0, with another big step taken towards releasing for everyone.

        The team mentioned how they listened to tons of feedback, including from players who wanted a more detailed introduction to the game and those who wanted better ways to find matches for certain game modes. Some of this work is now available in the latest update.

        Artifact 2.0 now had a matchmaking queue for the Constructed game mode. They say this highly competitive mode will be the biggest test of the game mechanics and all the changes, which will inevitably lead to more changes to come as they tweak it from feedback.

      • Pixel art survival horror Lamentum gets a publisher, new trailer and a delay

        The upcoming pixel-art survival horror adventure Lamentum is coming along in development, although it’s going to see a delay with it now releasing in 2021.

        After getting successfully funded on Kickstarter back in the Summer of 2019, Lamentum looked like a promising upcoming indie game with a great atmosphere. We’ve followed along since then and a recent Kickstarter update noted some major changes. Developer Obscure Tales mentioned the delay reason being the “current situation” complicating things, which presumably they mean the COVID19 pandemic. So it should now release in Q1 2021, a while away but hopeful the result is a game that is not rushed.

        Not all bad news, they have teamed up with publisher Another Indie who will help with with translations, QA and more. Another Indie has worked with numerous other developers on titles like the popular Yuppie Psycho.

        [...]

        We spoke to the developer, who confirmed again their continued intention to have it available for Linux too.

      • Valve gives update on the Dota 2 competitive scene, TI 10 for August 2021

        As the Dota 2 Battle Pass for The International 10 tournament continues shattering records, Valve have given an update on when they expect the competitive scene to get going again.

        This has obviously been a tough year for everyone, with so much being postponed or cancelled completely. Plenty of things did move entirely online but for the Dota 2 competitive scene it was a bit too silent. Valve didn’t communicate much in public about their plans, while continuing to pull in money for the upcoming tournament.

    • Desktop Environments/WMs

      • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

        • KDE Starts September With Faster Konsole Launching, Dolphin Thumbnail Generation

          KDE has kicked off the new month with some interesting improvements.

          KDE developer Nate Graham continues in his weekly summaries highlighting the improvements to this open-source desktop environment. Among the strides made this week include:

          - Annotations support within Spectacle.

          - The System Settings Bluetooth pages have been merged into a new QML-based page.

        • Akademy Kicks off

          Akademy 2020 launched in style with this video starring moi and many other good looking contributors..

          [...]

          I gave the first KDE talk of the conference talking about the KDE is All About the Apps goal

        • Akademy 2020 Day 2 – Conference

          The first day of Akademy talks were varied and interesting, covering a wide range of topics, from managing project goals and technical advances in Qt and KDE technologies, to Open Source in dentistry and Linux in automobiles.

          Aleix Pol, President of KDE, kicked off the day at 8:50 UTC sharp by playing a video made by Bhavisha Dhruve and Skye Fentras welcoming everybody to the event.

        • KDE’s Fiduciary License Agreement

          Today my Akademy talk about KDE’s Fiduciary License Agreement goes live. The title in the schedule is FLA FLA FLA FLA FLA’ing Alive which I thought was a marginally clever play on something by the Bee Gees but .. marginally clever. So in my talk I’ll just use the title KDE’s Fiduciary License Agreement (you trust us with your life, right?) which still suffers from marginal cleverness, but is a little better.

          [...]

          What KDE e.V. can do with the covered code is bounded by the FLA itself (PDF) and the Fiduciary Relicensing Policy (PDF). This ensures that Open Source remains Open Source.

          The FLA expressly is not a Contributor License Agreement or an impalanced assignment: it is optional, and ensures that you have full rights to use, distribute, modify and relicense copies of the covered code.

    • Distributions

      • Linux themes update – September 2020

        Hello there and welcome to LinuxH2O. I’m continuing on the themes update for the month. It’s September 2020 now so let’s see what the Linux community has to offer us.

        This month we have a total of 6 themes for you.

        Three GTK+ themes
        Two icon theme packs
        One cursor theme pack
        One GRUB bootloader theme
        So you can see it’s full of 360° customization for your favorite Linux distribution. Now lets into the updates.

      • Lilbits: The tiniest “iMac,” Android for PCs, and Surface Duo unboxed

        The “World’s Smallest iMac” looks like an Apple computer, but behind the 7 inch display is a Raspberry Pi computer running a GNU/Linux distribution called Twister OS which has been skinned to look like macOS.

        [...]

        The “world’s smallest iMac” is actually a 3D printed case with a 7 inch screen, a Raspberry Pi 4 (cut down to size with a dremel), and the Linux-based Twister OS with a macOS-like user interface.

      • Reviews

        • CAELinux 2020: Linux for engineering

          CAELinux is a distribution focused on computer-aided engineering (CAE) maintained by Joël Cugnoni. Designed with students and academics in mind, the distribution is loaded with open-source software that can be used to model everything from pig livers to airfoils. Cugnoni’s latest release, CAELinux 2020, was made on August 11; readers with engineering interests may want to take a look.

          CAELinux’s first stable version was released in 2007 and was based on PCLinuxOS 2007. The distribution was created to make the GPL-licensed finite element analysis tool Salome-Meca easier to obtain. CAELinux 2020 is now the eighth release of the distribution, which is based on Xubuntu 18.04 LTS, and has expanded its focus over the years into an impressive array of open-source CAE-related tools.

          The minimum requirements for CAELinux 2020 are a x86-64 platform with 4GB of RAM for “simple analysis.” For professional use, the project recommends 8GB of RAM or more with a “modern AMD/NVidia graphic card.” The entire distribution can be run from an 8GB USB memory drive, with the option to install it to disk (35GB minimum). For those users (like me) who wanted to run the distribution as a virtual machine, the project recommends the commercial VMware Player over the open-source VirtualBox project due to “some graphical limitations” of VirtualBox.

          There are too many different software packages unique to the CAELinux distribution to cover them all in a single article. Since the distribution is built on top of Xubuntu, CAELinux comes with all of the standard tools available in the base distribution. In addition to the standard packages, however, CAELinux bundles CAE pre/post processors, CAD and CAM software, finite element solvers, computational fluid dynamics applications, circuit board design tools, biomedical image processing software, and a large array of programming language packages. A review of the release announcement provides a full list of the specific open-source projects available, including a few web-based tools that merely launch the included browser to the appropriate URL.

          It would be impossible for me to claim familiarity with the full range of tools provided, but I was familiar with many. For example, FreeCAD has been written about at LWN, and CAMLab was used in our article on open-source CNC manufacturing. I have personally used other bundled packages like FlatCAM for isolation routing of homemade circuit boards and Cura to slice 3D models for printing. What was particularly neat about exploring the distribution was getting introduced to new open-source software that matched my interests. I discovered KiCad EDA’s PCB Calculator utility (simple, but handy), and I am looking forward to checking out CAMotics as another CAM alternative for my CNC router.

      • PCLinuxOS/Mageia/Mandriva/OpenMandriva Family

        • PCLinuxOS Family Member Spotlight – wdt

          Since no one here uses Window$ (even if it is present on the HD), it is a non-issue. Except for ARM immaturity, Linux seems mostly trouble free. ARM, on the other hand …

        • [PCLinuxOS] Screenshot Showcase
        • Gramps updated to 5.1.3

          gramps (Genealogical Research and Analysis Management Programming
          System) is a GNOME based genealogy program supporting a Python
          based plugin system.

        • Palemoon Browser updated to 28.13.0

          Pale Moon is an open-source web browser with an emphasis on customizability; its motto is “Your browser, Your way”. There are official releases for Linux. Pale Moon is a fork of Firefox with substantial divergence.

      • SUSE/OpenSUSE

        • Here’s What’s .NEXT for Nutanix and SUSE

          Let’s start by stating the obvious. At SUSE, we’re passionate about advancing open source technology to provide better customer outcomes. While that ethos is at the core of SUSE’s business, the truth is that many of our partners embrace that same passion, and work with SUSE to deliver better experiences for their own customers and end users.

        • Adapting for Hybrid Cloud – Part 3 of 3: The Results

          Most enterprises today are pursuing a hybrid strategy, mixing and matching public and on-prem venues depending on each workload’s requirements. One of the issues facing enterprises with hybrid today is the difference in pricing and procurement models. For public cloud, on-demand operating expense pricing is pretty mainstream, and this on-demand access to huge capacity is one of the key drivers behind public cloud adoption, driving more rapid instantiation of resources, allowing the scaling of applications to suit changing demands, making innovation easier and simplifying entry into new markets.

        • SLES for SAP Applications 15 SP2: What’s New and What’s Next
      • IBM/Red Hat/Fedora

        • Fedora IoT becomes an edition

          The Fedora 33 release is currently scheduled for late October; as part of the process of designing this release, the deadline for system-wide change proposals was set for June 30. This release already has a substantial number of big changes in the works, so one might be forgiven for being surprised by a system-wide change proposal that appeared on August 4, which looks to be pre-approved. Not only that, but this proposal expands the small set of official Fedora “editions” by adding the relatively obscure Fedora Internet of Things Edition.

          The Fedora distribution is released in a number of forms, including a fair number of “Fedora spins” that skew the distribution toward a specific use case. The flagship Fedora products, though, are the editions, of which there are currently only two: Fedora Workstation and Fedora Server. The former is obviously aimed at desktop deployments, while the latter is meant to be useful on back-end systems. This set of editions has been stable for some time.

          There are a few “emerging editions” in the works, including Fedora CoreOS and Silverblue. Also on that list is Fedora IoT which is now poised to become the third edition to be part of the Fedora 33 release. The proposal notes that this is “largely a paperwork exercise at this point”. While the remaining work may be confined to paperwork, the project may want to put some effort into documentation sooner or later; actual information about what Fedora IoT is and how to work with it is relatively hard to find.

          [...]

          One other significant difference with Fedora IoT is a relatively strong focus on the use of containers to install applications. The podman tool is provided for this purpose; it’s meant to look a lot like Docker, but without the need for any background daemons. Podman comes configured to pull images from docker.io by default. Your editor attempted to use it to install a few versions of NetHack that must all surely be legitimate, but none of them consented to run correctly — thus saving your editor a considerable amount of wasted time.

          Beyond those changes, though, Fedora IoT feels much like any other Fedora system. The commands work in the same way, and the usual packages are available. This makes for a relatively rich and comfortable environment for embedded-systems work.

          One can’t help wonder about the ultimate objective, though. Fedora comes with no support guarantees, a fact that is sure to give pause to any companies thinking about which operating system to install in their million-device products. If Fedora is to have any chance of being deployed in such systems, some sort of commercial support option will have to materialize. When that happens, it may well go under the name of “Red Hat IoT” or some such. Fedora itself may not make it onto all of those devices, but Fedora users will have played with the technology first and helped to make it better.

        • Open source: the pathway to innovation

          Open source technology has seen widespread adoption over the past ten to fifteen years as organisations cross-industry have caught on to its undeniable benefits.

          As the largest open source company in the world, at Red Hat, we believe in the power of open source and its ability, from both a software and cultural perspective, to push the boundaries of technological capabilities. Here’s why.

          [...]

          Open source software is by definition ‘open’, offering companies full visibility and transparency of the code – this means bugs and defects can be identified much more quickly than in proprietary software, leading to enhanced security. As Linus Torvalds, the founder of the open source operating system Linux, once said: “given enough eyeballs, all bugs are shallow”.

          Secondly, it doesn’t include many of the costs associated with proprietary software, such as licensing fees – this is a big perk for businesses, allowing them to significantly reduce operating costs. Then there is the added cost of wanting to switch to a different software provider down the line; using open source software helps to avoid the pitfall of getting locked into using an expensive proprietary vendor.

          Open source also enables companies to better customise their software. Unlike proprietary software that is developed within the four walls of the company and based on limited input, open source software is typically better tailored to the customers’ needs, as the users themselves can add their preferred features while the technology is in development.

          [...]

          Female contributors are definitely becoming more widely recognised. And even though there is still more work to be done, throughout my career I’ve encountered more women in the context of open source than in proprietary software, and I’ve witnessed more inclusive meritocracy within open source companies. Besides the fact that open thinking is an essential part of supplementing the open source, open communities, by their design, make it much easier for individuals from all backgrounds to participate, have a voice, and share their experience and skills.

          It’s been proven time and again that the more diversity you can bring to a project, the better the outcome is, as you’re benefitting from a greater variety of perspectives, ideas and experience. For this reason, I’d argue that open source is both the fastest and most inclusive way to innovate.

        • Collaboration integral to operations, Red Hat CFO says

          When the pandemic hit, CFO Laurie Krebs, with other function leaders at open-source operating system company Red Hat, created a war room to respond to customers’ deferral requests and other payment concessions.

          “Our premier product is an operating system, so, [for that to] go dark is not an option for a lot of customers,” Krebs said.

          Rather than create a single playbook, the team approached each request on a case-by-case basis. “To some people, cash is important,” she said. “To other people, holding onto their subscription is important.”

          The war room’s collaborative approach, in which representatives from sales, sales operations, technical accounting and business finance weighed requests as a team, defines how the company approaches all of its policymaking, said Krebs, who took over as CFO last year after serving as vice president of global tax.

        • Want to make better decisions? Encourage disagreement

          Dissent is incredibly important to successful open decision making. When you’re seeking collaboration on an important decision, you don’t want to be surrounded by people who always agree with everything you say. You already know everything that you’re saying and what you believe to be the best path forward. However, you also know (or should know) that your knowledge, experience, and visibility of the entire picture is limited. What you really need are perspectives from people with knowledge, experience, and visibility complementary to yours. That helps round out your perspective—people who will bring up something that you didn’t think of or didn’t fully comprehend its importance.

          In this article, I’ll explore in more depth the importance of dissension during decision making. I’ll present a compilation of ideas from a number of my colleagues (at Red Hat), which arose in an open forum discussion we had on the subject.

          [...]

          When presenting an idea and asking for opinions in a meeting, plenty more great ideas and perspectives may be left unsaid. How can we unleash the power that this potential represents?

          [...]

          Using this method can empower your group to fully explore various ways to achieve their objectives. It should present decision makers with all available perspectives and enable them to make the decision that is best for the group.

          Best of all, since they’ve been included in a decision making process, the entire group will feel ownership over the decision and passionately work to implement and execute it.

      • Debian Family

        • Elana Hashman: Three talks at DebConf 2020

          This year has been a really unusual one for in-person events like conferences. I had already planned to take this year off from travel for the most part, attending just a handful of domestic conferences. But the pandemic has thrown those plans into chaos; I do not plan to attend large-scale in-person events until July 2021 at the earliest, per my employer’s guidance.

          I’ve been really sad to have turned down multiple speaking invitations this year. To try to set expectations, I added a note to my Talks page that indicates I will not be writing any new talks for 2020, but am happy to join panels or reprise old talks.

        • Utkarsh Gupta: FOSS Activites in August 2020

          Here’s my (eleventh) monthly update about the activities I’ve done in the F/L/OSS world.

        • Mike Gabriel: My Work on Debian LTS (August 2020)

          In August 2020, I have worked on the Debian LTS project for 16 hours (of 8 hours planned, plus another 8 hours that I carried over from July).

      • Canonical/Ubuntu Family

    • Devices/Embedded

    • Free, Libre, and Open Source Software

      • 10 Open-source Open source Identity and Access Management IAM Systems for the Enterprise

        Identity and access management or IAM for short, is a collective term that covers: User identity, rules and authentication management software and access management policies and protocols.

        IAM is a necessary requirement in today’s enterprise business especially when it’s proven to provide answers to many security issues and ease multiple systems integration.

        Basically, IAM is responsible for identities, authentication and authorization.

      • Ben Armstrong: Dronefly relicensed under copyleft licenses

        To ensure Dronefly always remains free, the Dronefly project has been relicensed under two copyleft licenses. Read the license change and learn more about copyleft at these links.

        I was prompted to make this change after a recent incident in the Red DiscordBot development community that made me reconsider my prior position that the liberal MIT license was best for our project. While on the face of it, making your license as liberal as possible might seem like the most generous and hassle-free way to license any project, I was shocked into the realization that its liberality was also its fatal flaw: all is well and good so long as everyone is being cooperative, but it does not afford any protection to developers or users should things suddenly go sideways in how a project is run. A copyleft license is the best way to avoid such issues.

        In this incident – a sad story of conflict between developers I respect on both sides of the rift, and owe a debt to for what they’ve taught me – three cogs we had come to depend on suddenly stopped being viable for us to use due to changes to the license & the code. Effectively, those cogs became unsupported and unsupportable. To avoid any such future disaster with the Dronefly project, I started shopping for a new license that would protect developers and users alike from similarly losing support, or losing control of their contributions. I am grateful to one particular team member who is skilled in licensing issues and went with their choices. We ran the new licenses by each contributor and arrived at this consensus: the AGPL is best suited for our server-based code, and CC-BY-SA is best suited for our documentation. The relicensing was made official this morning.

      • Web Browsers

        • Mozilla

          • Rust on Haiku: the Case of the Disappearing Deceased Threads

            Summer! The time to slow down, relax, go to strange places, and do the projects that are long overdue. This summer I had the joy of spending my time in a lovely house near Lyon in France. In many ways the summer was like others, meaning there was plenty of wine and a lot of relaxing activities. At the same time, the Covid situation did give me a lot of reasons to scale back exploratory activities at the tourist hot spots, and instead focus on activities close to home. I decided to seize the opportunity and to see if I could dive into one of my long-standing pet peeves in the Haiku ecosystem.

            For a long time I have been maintaining the build of the Rust compiler and development tools on Haiku. For this purpose, I maintain a separate tree with the Rust source, with some patches and specific build instructions. My ultimate end goal is to have Rust build on Haiku from the original source, without any specific patches or workarounds. Instead we are in the situation where we cannot build rust on Haiku itself (instead we need to cross-compile it), and we need a customization to be able to run the Rust compiler (rustc) and package manager (cargo) on Haiku. This summer my goal would be to fi

          • Haiku Seeing Better Rust Support Following Important Fix

            Following a summer quest for figuring out a pesky thread issue with Rust, a fix has been merged into the BeOS-inspired Haiku kernel for one less patch to worry about with getting this popular programming language running well.

            Developer nielx spent quite a bit of time this summer investigating “failed to join thread: No such process” errors when compiling Cargo and failed test cases.

          • A look at password security, Part V: Disk Encryption

            The previous posts ( I, II, III, IV) focused primarily on remote login, either to multiuser systems or Web sites (though the same principles also apply to other networked services like e-mail). However, another common case where users encounter passwords is for login to devices such as laptops, tablets, and phones. This post addresses that topic.

            [...]

            It’s natural to think of passwords as a measure that protects access to the computer, but in most cases it’s really a matter of access to the data on your computer. If you make a copy of someone’s disk and put it in another computer that will be a pretty close clone of the original (that’s what a backup is, after all) and the attacker will be able to read all your sensitive data off the disk, and quite possibly impersonate you to cloud services.

            [...]

            The obvious way to do this — and the way things used to work pretty much everywhere — is to generate the encryption key directly from the password. [Technical Note: You probably really want generate a random key and encrypt it with a key derived from the password. This way you can change your password without re-encrypting the whole disk. But from a security perspective these are fairly equivalent.] The technical term for this is a password-based key derivation function, which just means that it takes a password and outputs a key. For our purposes, this is the same as a password hashing function and it has the same problem: given an encrypted disk I can attempt to brute force the password by trying a large number of candidate passwords. The result is that you need to have a super-long password (or often a passphrase) in order to prevent this kind of attack. While it’s possible to memorize a long enough password, it’s no fun, as well as being a real pain to type in whenever you want to log in to your computer, let alone on your smartphone or tablet. As a result, most people use much shorter passwords, which of course weakens the security of disk encryption.

      • Productivity Software/LibreOffice/Calligra

        • LibreOffice – Designed by Committee

          LibreOffice has a lot of issues with its public image, marketing strategies, management, long-term vision, major code contributors, volunteer programmers, and code quality, in case you haven’t noticed by now. I will try to explain a few of those here.

          [...]

          Whoever comes towards LibreOffice, large organizations or government, the less than 1% users of LibreOffice, do so only because they did not want to pay anything in the first place. Ask them to pay, and they will easily move back to greener pastures. If they wanted, could, or were motivated to pay anything for a commodity, they would have picked one with a perceived quality and support with the least bugs and frictions.

          Collabora et al., which I will call “eco-partners” in the rest of this post, picked an already established, free, open source, and known software that already had a mandate to stay open and free for all, no matter what, then they tried to make a business around it. It didn’t work. Now, the eco-partners are complaining that their business model is not working unless the software they chose does some marketing for them.

      • FSF

        • GNU Projects

          • 10th Annual GNU Radio Conference

            GNU Radio Conference (GRCon) is the annual conference for the GNU Radio project & community, and has established itself as one of the premier industry events for Software Radio. It is a week-long conference that includes high-quality technical content and valuable networking opportunities. GRCon is a venue that highlights design, implementation, and theory that has been practically applied in a useful way. GRCon attendees come from a large variety of backgrounds, including industry, academia, government, and hobbyists.

          • GNUnet 0.13.3 released

            Continuing to “release early / release often”, we present GNUnet 0.13.3. This is a bugfix release for gnunet 0.13.2.
            It fixes some build issues and contains major changes to the re:claimID API.

      • Programming/Development

        • The programmer’s CAD: OpenSCAD

          OpenSCAD is a GPLv2-licensed 3D computer-aided design (CAD) program best described as a “programmer’s CAD”; it is available for Linux, Windows, several flavors of BSD, and macOS. Unlike the majority of 3D-modeling software packages which are point-and-click, the OpenSCAD website describes the project as “something like a 3D compiler”, where models are generated using a scripting language. It is a unique way of approaching CAD and has many real-world applications that may be of interest.

          Like the FreeCAD project we have previously looked at, OpenSCAD can be used to build 3D-models suitable for everything from 3D-printing to CNC machining. Unlike FreeCAD, however, the solitary way to create models is by programming them using the OpenSCAD scripting language. Once programmed, models produced by OpenSCAD can be exported in a variety of formats, including notably STL, SVG, and PNG.

          The Qt-based interface provided by OpenSCAD is fairly simple; on one side a code editor is provided to write scripts, while the other provides a view of the generated model and a console for messages. Making a model starts with coding modules that generate primitives like cylinders and cubes, then those primitives are manipulated and combined in code to build more complicated objects. Notably, OpenSCAD is a unit-less CAD program; it leaves the units to be decided once the model is exported.

        • Fuzzing in Go

          Fuzzing is a testing technique with randomized inputs that is used to find problematic edge cases or security problems in code that accepts user input. Go package developers can use Dmitry Vyukov’s popular go-fuzz tool for fuzz testing their code; it has found hundreds of obscure bugs in the Go standard library as well as in third-party packages. However, this tool is not built in, and is not as simple to use as it could be; to address this, Go team member Katie Hockman recently published a draft design that proposes adding fuzz testing as a first-class feature of the standard go test command.

          [...]

          AFL is an excellent tool, but it only works for programs written in C, C++, or Objective C, which need to be compiled with GCC or Clang. Vyukov’s go-fuzz tool operates in a similar way to AFL, but is written specifically for Go. In order to add coverage recording to a Go program, a developer first runs the go-fuzz-build command (instead of go build), which uses the built-in ast package to add instrumentation to each block in the source code, and sends the result through the regular Go compiler. Once the instrumented binary has been built, the go-fuzz command runs it over and over on multiple CPU cores with randomly mutating inputs, recording any crashes (along with their stack traces and the inputs that caused them) as it goes.

          Damian Gryski has written a tutorial showing how to use the go-fuzz tool in more detail. As mentioned, the go-fuzz README lists the many bugs it has found, however, there are almost certainly many more in third-party packages that have not been listed there; I personally used go-fuzz on GoAWK and it found several “crashers”.

        • Flowing Text Around Images

          Traditionally this type of layout was limited to print because text that can re-flow as the medium changes sizes made it infeasible to manually add line breaks to shape the text around images.

          With CSS Shapes, it’s not difficult to achieve text wrapping around an image by using the shape-outside: url() property. This directive will cause the browser to take the image’s outline and use it as the shape around which text will flow. Fortunately, shape-outside is well-supported in modern browsers and the fallback for unsupported browsers is to use a rectangle around the image as the shape, as if the image were simply floated off to the side (which it is!).

        • Perl/Raku

        • Python

          • New Firebird driver for Python – release 0.7.0

            New Firebird driver for Python – release 0.7.0. This version provides support for new Firebird 4 data types: TIME/TIMESTAMP WITH TIMEZONE, DECFLOAT and extended DECIMAL/NUMERIC via internal INT128 storage.

          • Techiediaries – Django: How to Delete Local/Remote Git Branches

            If you have previously worked with Git for versioning your Angular code, there is a good chance that you had some situation where you wanted to delete a remote branch or multiple branches. This happens many times to developers, particularly in large projects.

          • Python 3.5.10

            Python 3.5 has now entered “security fixes only” mode, and as such the only changes since Python 3.5.4 are security fixes. Also, Python 3.5.10 has only been released in source code form; no more official binary installers will be produced.

            Python 3.5 will reach its “end of life” at the end of September 2020. If there are no security patches filed for Python 3.5 after the release of Python 3.5.10, then Python 3.5.10 will be the final release of the 3.5 series.

          • Python 3.5.10 is now available
          • sphinxcontrib-spelling 5.4.0

            sphinxcontrib-spelling is a spelling checker for Sphinx-based documentation. It uses PyEnchant to produce a report showing misspelled words. Release Date: 2020-09-05 New Features Added a new filter (sphinxcontrib.spelling.filters.ContributorFilter) that treats contributor names extracted from the git history as spelled correctly, making it easier to refer to the names in acknowledgments .

          • Weekly Python StackOverflow Report: (ccxli) stackoverflow python report
    • Standards/Consortia

      • C++20 Draft Approved As Major Update To C++ Programming Language

        On Saturday the ISO/IEC 14882:2020 standards draft was approved as the latest major update to the C++ programming language.

        The C++20 approval was unanimous and is a very significant update over C++17, coming a few months later than originally anticipated.

        C++20 adds to the language concepts, modules, the “spaceship operator” for three-way comparisons, coroutines, designated initializers, new standard attributes, and much more. The C++20 library standard also adds ranges, feature test macros, bit operations, and more. C++20 changes in full can be found via the likes of cppreference.com, open-std.org, Wikipedia.

  • Leftovers

    • Khruangbin & Leon Bridges – Texas Sun
    • Dueling documentaries Russian state television airs new film about Beslan school siege in competition with independent investigators who say state officials bear responsibility for high death toll

      On September 3, the Russian state television network Rossiya 1 premiered a new documentary film by journalist Alexander Rogatkin about the 2004 terrorist attack against a school in Beslan. 

    • Trump Threats to Anti-Doping Agency May Result in Sanctions on US Olympics Team

      Due to threats that the Trump administration made earlier this year to withhold funding from the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), the United States may face punishments in the international sporting world.

    • Chain Gang
    • Education

      • NYC Teachers Say Union Leadership Made Unsafe Reopening Plan With City Officials

        For the past several months, New York City public school teachers have been terrified of what the reopening plans for September will look like. NYC is one of the only school districts of a major city in the country planning on re-opening: others have been pushed online due to a combination of rising cases and educator activism. Mayor Bill de Blasio’s attitude has been that teachers need to “show up and serve people,” and to stop complaining about the serious lack of safety measures taken by the city. De Blasio insists that the city is doing the best it can. “Their job is to come in and serve our kids… it’s the right thing to do for our kids.”

    • Hardware

      • Machine Check Banks To Double With Future AMD CPUs

        Banks for the Machine Check Architecture are a means of organizing subsystems/subevents with their relevant MSRs for detecting/reporting machine errors. Older processor families had only a few banks of registers for machine check support while the current limit in the AMD MCE driver has been 32 banks. With a patch queued in ras/core ahead of Linux 5.10, that maximum number of banks is being increased from 32 to 64.

    • Health/Nutrition

    • Integrity/Availability

      • Proprietary

        • [Old] Why GitHub Won’t Help You With Hiring

          There are already a bunch of great posts arguing against requiring GitHub contributions as part of the hiring process. I particularly recommend The Ethics of Unpaid Labor and the OSS Community and Why GitHub is Not Your CV. While both of those posts give excellent reasons to reconsider asking for open source contributions when hiring, my take here isn’t about why it is ethically dubious to require open source contributions or why GitHub isn’t great for showcasing your projects.

          Instead, this post is about why GitHub profiles just aren’t all that useful when looking to hire developers.

        • Epic Games Files Injunction Urging Apple to Restore Developer Account

          Epic Games filed a preliminary injunction brief on Friday evening in the ongoing case involving Apple’s removal of Fortnite in its App Store, asking the tech giant to restore its developer account and make the free-to-play battle royale game available once again.

          The injunction, filed in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California, urged the Court “to stop Apple from retaliating against Epic for daring to challenge Apple’s misconduct.”

        • Epic Tries New Gambit to Restore Fortnite in Apple App Store

          The case is shaping into a major antitrust showdown over tolls of as much as 30% that Apple charges developers when users make in-app purchases. Epic has filed a separate suit with similar claims against Google.

        • Pseudo-Open Source

          • Openwashing

            • Alberto Ruiz: Streaming your desktop [Ed: Pushing proprietary software of Amazon in Planet GNOME]

              DCV is a propietary remote desktop solution optimized for high resolution and low latency usecases, it is an amazing piece of technology and it is the most competitive remote desktop protocol for the Linux desktop. It builds upon many GNOME tecnologies like GTK for our Linux/Windows/macOS clients, GStreamer and recently the team has been making inroads into adopting Rust. Stack wise this is a very exciting job for me as it touchs pretty much all the areas I care about and they do their best to open source stuff when they can.

              The scope of my team is going to cover mostly the customer facing deliverables such as the clients, packaging and other release process duties. However I will be coordinating upstream contributions as well which is pretty exciting, I am looking forward to work on Wayland integration and other GTK niceties as priority allows. The team understands the importance on investing in the sustainability of the FOSS projects we rely on and I want to make sure that is the case.

        • Security

          • Linux kernel security fixes spotted before release with side channel attack on…developer mailing lists

            Boffins affiliated with BMW, Siemens, and two German universities have found that they can detect Linux kernel security fixes before they get released, insight that could allow miscreants to develop and deploy exploit code for which there’s no defense.

            What’s more, they have found that Linux kernel patches regularly get added in a way that bypasses public review and discussion, a practice that opens at least a theoretical risk of backdoored code.

            In an ArXiv-distributed paper [PDF] titled, “The Sound of Silence: Mining Security Vulnerabilities from Secret Integration Channels in Open-Source Projects,” Ralf Ramsauer (University of Applied Sciences Regensburg), Lukas Bulwahn (BMW), Daniel Lohmann (University of Hanover), and Wolfgang Mauerer (University of Applied Sciences Regensburg/Siemens) outline a data mining scheme that amounts to a side channel attack on the open source vulnerability disclosure process.

            They describe the patch process to address the 2018 Level 1 Terminal Fault (L1TF) vulnerability, a side channel speculative execution attack that allowed data to be obtained from virtual machines on Intel-based servers.

          • Short Topix: Use Secure Linux Kernels To Thwart Russian Hackers

            Are you considering using a “smart lock” to secure your house, shed, gate, etc.? You might want to reconsider, according to 73 percent of 549 responding security experts. In an article published by Forbes, their answer was clear: “Get in the sea!”

            The PCLinuxOS Magazine reported in the May 2020 Short Topix article about how insecure a “smart lock” was that relied on fingerprints. It has to do, mostly, with only a bare minimum of data points being employed when comparing the “unlocking” fingerprint to the one(s) stored in the device memory. So, when only checking five data points within a complex fingerprint, versus, say, comparing 10 or 20 data points, it becomes a trivial task to fool the fingerprint reader. Of course, when you increase the data points in the pattern, you make the lock more persnickety about granting access.

            Locks that use fingerprints aren’t the only kind that exhibit vulnerabilities. Other “smart locks” rely on wifi or Bluetooth to lock or unlock. But what happens when your network goes down? What happens in the event of a prolonged power outage? What happens when the network you depend on is a victim of malware or ransomware? What if your “smart lock” depends on a connected smartphone app to work … and you lose your smartphone? In any/all of these cases, you are effectively locked out of your own house, shed, gate, belongings, etc. In the latter case, your smartphone in the hands of someone who may have taken it, also affords entry to areas you would prefer to keep secure.

            Recently, one security expert discovered a vulnerability in a “smart lock” from U-Tec that allowed a hacker to gain access using a smartphone (which many, many people possess) and hacking the MAC address. U-Tec fixed the vulnerability as soon as they were informed, but the incident illustrates just how vulnerable a “smart lock” is.

            Of course, there’s the other side of the equation, too. Most “dumb locks” (that is, those using a key and tumbler approach) aren’t necessarily the most secure things in the world, either. They are vulnerable to “lock bumping,” where a special key is used to “bump” the tumblers in a lock into yielding and unlocking. Some locks can easily be bypassed with just an aluminum pop can and a pair of scissors. Don’t believe me? Just look on YouTube, where there are TONS of videos showing and explaining the technique. And don’t think that lock picks are only available to locksmiths. In less than a minute, I can find over a thousand places on the internet to buy my own set of lock picks, and where they are more than happy and willing to sell me a set.

            [...]

            So, see? As a PCLinuxOS user, you are most assuredly safe and secure. It’s EXTREMELY unlikely that you are using a kernel that was retired over seven years ago. However, you know that in some dark, closeted server room somewhere in the world, sits a long forgotten Linux server that just happily keeps chugging along, day after day, year after year, without any updates being performed in years. Many server operators are reluctant to take a server down or offline that is performing its desired/assigned function for a kernel update. It’s more of a “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” approach.

            So, this “threat” represents the importance of two things for PCLinuxOS users. First, use the most recent kernel that functions with all of your hardware. Newer kernels resolve security vulnerabilities that might have gone unnoticed for quite some time (such as with DrovoRub). Second, keep your system as up-to-date as you possibly can, since many software updates close or resolve security vulnerabilities that are discovered after (sometimes long after) the release of the software. Do you still think it isn’t a big deal? See here for all of the vulnerabilities discovered in the Linux Kernel.

            The “takeaway” is quite simple. Keep. Your. Computer. Updated. Only by staying one (or a few) steps ahead of the hackers will you guarantee that your data and OS are safe.

          • Intel Sends Out Linux Patches For FPGA Security Manager

            Patches were posted on Friday for introducing the Intel Security Manager class driver to the Linux kernel.

            This open-source “Intel Security Manager” class driver is intended for managing secure updates to Intel FPGA hardware.

          • Privacy/Surveillance

            • Facing Trump Ban, China’s TikTok Embeds Itself Into U.S. Culture

              TikTok, the app with an uncertain future owned by China’s ByteDance Ltd., has been building a vocal contingent of young supporters in the U.S., working behind the scenes to turn creators into superstars, arming them with brand deals and introductions to Hollywood power brokers. The effort builds on what Instagram and Vine have done to build relationships with digital influencers in the past. And TikTok has just begun spending hundreds of millions of dollars to help its stars make a living — a step that Facebook Inc.’s Instagram has been historically unwilling to take.

              The effort has given TikTok growing influence over American culture, which is not an accident, says Brett Bruen, who served as the White House director of global engagement in the Obama administration. He believes China and ByteDance are playing the long game. “It’s all a localization strategy, which allows you to not only achieve relevance but respect,” he said. “The most effective advocates for your company and for policy decisions are those local influencers and local partners.”

            • Amazon Drivers Say Smartphones-In-Trees Scheme Has Been Thwarted

              Amazon, which purchased Whole Foods in 2017, declined to say whether it had foiled the operation. But last month the company pledged in an email to drivers that it would investigate the phenomenon. And, according to a person familiar with Amazon’s delivery order system, changing a few lines of code would be all that’s required to short-circuit the plot.

              As Bloomberg reported, the rogue drivers had found a way to game Amazon Flex, an Uber-like app used to win orders and deliver them in their own vehicles. The extreme measures reflect stiffening competition for work in a pandemic-ravaged economy. Flex drivers earn as little as $15 per delivery, plus potentially a tip from the customer.

    • Defence/Aggression

    • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

      • Fox News Denies Own Reporter Confirmed Trump Used ‘Suckers and Losers’ After Airing Interview of Her Confirming It

        Fox News is having a hard time covering the president’s ass following The Atlantic’s reporting that claims Trump harshly disparaged the military — mostly because their own reporter has confirmed much of what the report said.

        On Saturday morning, following a late Friday night tweet from the president calling on Fox News to fire her, the network’s national security correspondent Jennifer Griffin told host Neil Cavuto that Trump did indeed use the sort of language The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg said the president had.

        After being asked about The Atlantic’s framing of Trump’s comments, Griffin told Cavuto that she double-checked with her sources this morning and they reconfirmed both Goldberg’s reporting and her own.

    • Environment

      • Energy

        • ‘We Need a Free Press But Do Not Have It’: UK Climate Campaigners Defend Blockade of Murdoch’s Destructive Media Empire

          The real story, according to Extinction Rebellion UK, is that humanity is facing “an emergency of unprecedented scale and the papers we have targeted are not reflecting the scale and urgency of what is happening to our planet.”

        • UAE Deal Boosts Israeli Oil Pipeline Secretly Built With Iran

          It starts with an under-used but highly strategic pipeline. Stepping cautiously out of the shadows, the Israeli managers of Europe Asia Pipeline Co. (EAPC) say their 158-mile conduit from the Red Sea to the Mediterranean Sea provides both a cheaper alternative to Egypt’s Suez Canal and an option to connect to the Arab pipeline grid that transports oil and gas not just to the region, but to the seaports that supply the world. “It opens a lot of doors and opportunities,” the pipeline company’s CEO, Izik Levi, told Foreign Policy. He reckons that the pipeline, which connects Israel’s southern port of Eilat with a tanker terminal in Ashkelon on the Mediterranean coast, could nip off a significant share of the oil shipments now flowing through the nearby Suez Canal.

          While much of the hoopla over the UAE-Israel pact has focused on other sectors such as technology, health care, education, and tourism, the Eilat-Ashkelon pipeline brings the deal into the realm of petroleum, the beating heart of the Persian Gulf economy. Now that the Emiratis have broken the ice, opportunities for Arab-Israeli energy deals are broad and lucrative, ranging from investment in the Israeli pipeline itself, to adapting it for carrying natural gas or connecting it to pipelines across Saudi Arabia and the wider Middle East. “If they’re doing partnerships with Israelis, there’s tremendous potential for all kinds of business,” said Marc Sievers, a former U.S. ambassador to Oman, where Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made a groundbreaking visit two years ago.

      • Wildlife/Nature

    • Finance

      • WATCH LIVE: Bernie Sanders ‘Labor Day’ Speech and Town Hall to Honor Workers and Grow Movement

        Former presidential candidate and progressive champion will address “the current desperation of the American working class, the need to grow the labor movement, and for working families to stand together to create an economy that works for all and not just the few.”

      • A Militant Union’s Strategic Case for Joe Biden

        A yard sign in support of Joe Biden in Erie, Pa., Monday, July 27, 2020. (Photo by Salwan Georges / The Washington Post via Getty Images)

        President Trump says, “Sleepy Joe Biden is just a Trojan Horse for the Radical Left Agenda. He will do whatever they want!”

      • Black Labor Leaders Are Needed Now More Than Ever

        Labor Day 2020 comes at a time of unprecedented racial, political, and economic upheaval in the United States. Earlier this summer, tens of thousands of workers nationwide walked off their jobs and took to the streets to strike in support of the growing Black Lives Matter movement. In August, hundreds of NBA and WNBA players went on strike in protest of the police shooting of Jacob Blake; about 70 percent of each league’s players are Black.

      • How Will the Pandemic Reshape Labor Markets?

        “The COVID crisis appears poised to reshape labor markets along at least four axes: telepresence, urban de-densification, employment concentration in large firms, and general automation forcing,” wrote MIT’s David Autor and Elisabeth Reynolds in a July essay on The Nature of Work After the COVID Crisis. “Although these changes will have long-run efficiency benefits, they will exacerbate economic pain in the short and medium terms for the least economically secure workers in our economy, particularly those in the rapidly growing but never-highly-paid personal services sector.”

        Autor and Reynolds are cochairs of the ongoing MIT Work of the Future task force, whose interim report was published in the (pre-Covid) Fall of 2019. The report’s overriding conclusion was that the likelihood that AI and automation will wipe out major workforce sectors in the near future was exaggerated. However, there were very important reasons for concern, in particular, the rising polarization of employment and wage distribution over the past few decades which has disproportionately benefited high-skilled professionals. Our most critical challenge, said the report, isn’t necessarily a lack of jobs, but the low quality of jobs and viable careers available to many workers, particularly those without college degrees.

        “Despite our concerns about the distributional consequences of advancing technologies, until the COVID crisis began, we were sanguine about the prospects for ongoing employment growth, even in the face of lackluster wage growth,” said the authors in their July essay. “In the fall of 2019 we wrote, ‘We anticipate that in the next two decades industrialized countries will have more job openings than workers to fill them, and that robotics and automation will play an increasingly crucial role in closing these gaps’. The COVID crisis has upended our confidence in that prediction – not merely because COVID has generated mass unemployment in the short term, which it has, but also because the postcrisis trajectory now worries us.”

    • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

      • Democracy Dies in… Obfuscation and False Equivalences

        In the extensive genre of corporate media obfuscation about right-wing paramilitary violence, a Washington Post article this week stands out even amidst some tough competition.

      • 66 Days Until the Election
      • On the No-Platform-Just-Trump Platform of the New GOP

        The old platform was, alas, aspirational. Maybe something nonexistent is preferred.

      • Court Strikes Blow Against Dark Money Just in Time for the 2020 Elections
      • Moving to End Diversity Trainings, Trump WH Memo Says ‘No Place’ for ‘Critical Race Theory’ in US Government

        “187,000 Americans are dead from Covid-19, and the White House is spending its time making sure no one in the government gets sensitivity training.”

      • Trump’s Attacks on Election Integrity Is a Threat to Everything This Country Stands For

        In order to be effective in combating Trump’s attempt to sabotage the November election, it is important that you, and everyone you know, recognize the warning signs as to what he and his Republican allies are doing.

      • Civil Rights Groups Request Emergency Injuction to Stop Trump ‘Sabotage’ of 2020 Census

        “Fighting a pandemic is already a high hurdle to clear in obtaining an accurate count. It’s outrageous that we must also fight against an administration seeking to skew our population numbers.”

      • Can the Democratic Party Landslide the Criminal Tyrant Trump?

        Why has the Democratic Party been losing again and again at the federal and state level to the worst, cruelest, soft on corporate corruption, war-mongering, anti-worker Republican Party in history?

      • American Political Cynicism Could Benefit Trump in November

        Steve Bannon’s recent arrest marked the eighth time that a former adviser of President Donald Trump had been taken into custody. When asked about the “culture of lawlessness” that seems to permeate his administration, the president replied, “There was great lawlessness in the Obama administration.”

      • ‘Nightmare Scenario’: Sanders Warns Nation That Trump Is Laying Groundwork for Election Result Mayhem

        “Trump is now using his lies and misinformation to sow confusion and chaos in the election process and undermine American democracy,” says the Vermont senator.

      • Trump Admin Faces Injunction for Trying to End 2020 Census Counting Prematurely

        Civil rights organizations and local governments in California late Friday filed a request in a San Jose federal court for an emergency nationwide injunction against the Trump administration’s effort to end 2020 Census counting prematurely—a move critics warn is a blatant effort by the president and his Republican allies to “sabotage” the once-in-a-decade count for long-term political advantage.

      • How Jerry Falwell Jr. mixed his personal finances with his university’s

        After parting ways with President Jerry Falwell Jr in the wake of personal scandals, Liberty University has hired a firm to investigate “all facets” of Falwell’s tenure, including the school’s financial and real estate operations.

        There may be much to untangle.

        Falwell, who took over as president of Liberty in 2007 after years as a lawyer handling its real estate interests, intertwined his personal finances with those of the evangelical Christian university founded by his father.

      • Biden Needs to Talk About Jobs on Labor Day. And Every Day.

        As of August 31, in the swing state of Pennsylvania, 1.8 million people have filed for unemployment during the pandemic. The state’s jobless rate stands at 13.7 percent. But instead of traveling to Pennsylvania to talk about job creation, Joe Biden went to express his thoughts about looting and violence. He barely mentioned jobs. Tone-deaf is an understatement.

      • Russia, Again

        In April of this year, the Republican-led Senate Intelligence Committee issued a two-part report concluding that Russia interfered in the 2016 election campaign. While ruling out the kind of collusion that MSNBC has been touting for the past four years, volume two is of some interest since it coincides with the front-page news this week that Facebook and Twitter are warning of Russian interference once again.

      • For Russian eyes only: U.S. voter data, hackers, and the story that wasn’t

        On September 1, 2020, the Russian newspaper Kommersant ran a story that looked like a real bombshell before it fizzled out. The report, titled “Hackers Appeal to the U.S. State Department: American Voter Data Appears on Russian Darknet,” credits a Russian hacker platform with posting millions of American voters’ personal data (mainly voters in the swing state of Michigan, but also in Connecticut, Florida, and North Carolina) and then profiting off a U.S. government project to pay foreigners for tips about election interference. Kommersant also quoted experts who warned that the publication of the voter data could be a “provocation” ahead of this year’s presidential election in the U.S.

      • A Democratic Convention for Acknowledging Pain, and for Healing

        I’ll admit it: My expectations for the unconventional Democratic National Convention in mid-August couldn’t have been lower if I’d stuffed them under the sofa with my spare change, dust bunnies, and the remnants of my dog’s chew toys. While I was disappointed that Milwaukee, where I went to high school, missed its chance in the national spotlight, I was furious about the party’s roster of featured speakers—one minute for Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez but major platforms for former president Bill Clinton, former secretary of state (and losing 2004 nominee) John Kerry, and (really?) billionaire Michael Bloomberg, a great contributor to gun reform and environmental causes who is being sued by some of the national campaign staffers he lured with promises of long-term jobs, then laid off.

      • Can King’s Dream End This Nightmare?

        The struggle for basic decency in the US is front and center. A 17-year-old got his mother to take him and his long gun to a protest, after curfew, to supposedly defend businesses in the event of a riot.

    • Freedom of Information/Freedom of the Press

      • Trump Calls for Firing of Fox Reporter Who Quoted Atlantic Article on Veterans

        President Donald Trump has called for reporter Jennifer Griffin, the national security correspondent for Fox News Channel, to be fired for her reporting on claims made about Trump in an article published Thursday by The Atlantic.

        The article claimed the president referred to American World War I veterans buried in France’s Aisne-Marne American Cemetery, as “losers” and “suckers” back in 2018, a claim which Griffin admitted she had not confirmed, while claiming other details of the article had been confirmed by some of her sources.

        The article, titled Trump: Americans Who Died in War Are ‘Losers’ and ‘Suckers,’ was reportedly based on several sources who spoke on condition of anonymity, The Atlantic noted.

      • Donald Trump attacks ‘slimeball’ reporter in war dead row

        US President Donald Trump has described as a “slimeball” a journalist who quoted him as saying dead US soldiers were “losers” and “suckers”.

        He likened the Atlantic magazine report to unproven accusations made against him of colluding with Russia to win the presidential election of 2016.

        The damning quotes were corroborated independently by The Associated Press.

      • Trump lashes out at ‘slimeball reporter’ amid furor over alleged war dead remarks

        Trump’s latest broadside comes as the White House plays defense over the report, which alleged that Trump had called slain American soldiers buried at a French cemetery “losers” and “suckers.”

    • Civil Rights/Policing

      • NBA All-Star David West on the walkout and standing up to racism, exploitation
      • Pro Athletes and the Power of Unions

        First, the Milwaukee Bucks refused to take the court in their playoff game against the Orlando Magic. Then other teams followed suit, leading to a three-day wildcat strike in the National Basketball Association.

      • Targeted

        Then it sends deputies to find and interrogate anyone whose name appears, often without probable cause, a search warrant or evidence of a specific crime.

        They swarm homes in the middle of the night, waking families and embarrassing people in front of their neighbors. They write tickets for missing mailbox numbers and overgrown grass, saddling residents with court dates and fines. They come again and again, making arrests for any reason they can.

        One former deputy described the directive like this: “Make their lives miserable until they move or sue.”

        In just five years, Nocco’s signature program has ensnared almost 1,000 people.

        At least one in 10 were younger than 18, the Times found.

      • More Than 750 Protesters Arrested in Portland Since Protests Began 100 Days Ago

        Friday marks the 100th day of protests in the city since May 28, when two demonstrations occurred in front of the downtown Multnomah County Justice Center. They mirrored the protests that erupted up around the world in the wake of George Floyd’s death on May 25 while in Minneapolis police custody.

        Police kept their distance from protesters on that first night of demonstrations, The Oregonian reported. But more than three months have passed since then, and the situation in Portland has changed drastically.

        An exact number of arrests is difficult to determine because of the number of different agencies assisting with the protests. In addition to the Portland Police Bureau (PPB), officers with the Oregon State Police (OSP), the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) and federal agents have all made arrests.

      • Thousands peacefully protest outside the Kentucky Derby

        An airplane circled above Churchill Downs on Saturday, flying a banner behind it: “Arrest the cops who killed Breonna Taylor,” it said.

        The 146th Kentucky Derby became a surreal distillation of the crises facing the country in 2020, in the hometown of Taylor, a 26-year-old Black emergency medical technician shot dead in her home in March when police burst in to serve a search warrant in the middle of the night.

        [...]

        “We are here as one,” he wants the protest to say to his hometown. “When they see our solidarity, they will have to understand that we are serious. We want justice for Breonna Taylor. And not just for her. For us all.”

        When the race ended, the protesters quickly headed out. There was no violence, though the prospect of a large-scale demonstration on Derby Day, on top of the pandemic, had left the city on edge.

        As the first race started Saturday morning, a group of self-described “patriots” marched through downtown as a counterprotest, many carrying assault rifles and campaign flags for President Donald Trump. They went to a square in the heart of downtown where demonstrators have kept vigil for more than 100 days. There were confrontations between the groups, but no violence.

      • Surveillance video shows Colorado bartender shoved to ground after trying to enforce mask mandate
    • Monopolies

      • Fortnite usage on iOS has declined by over 60% since removal from App Store, Epic Games says in motion for preliminary injunction against Apple

        Early last week, Epic Games lost the first round of its #FreeFortnite battle against Apple when Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California denied the Fortnite maker’s motion for a temporary restraining order (TRO) with respect to the company’s flagship game. But Epic won a consolation prize: the court held, on a highly preliminary basis (TROs are only in effect for a couple of weeks and then go away unless replaced by a preliminary injunction), that Apple’s termination of an Epic developer account needed to improve and maintain the Unreal Engine was an overreaching form of retaliation and, therefore, not allowed in the short term.

      • Google announces motion to dismiss Epic’s antitrust complaint over Android/Play Store, opposes combining both Epic app store cases

        One of this blog’s most popular posts in 2020 has been my recent comparison of the legal and factual questions raised by Fortnite maker Epic Games’ near-simultaneously-filed antitrust complaints against Apple and Google in the Northern District of California, not least thanks to Techmeme featuring it.

        The short version is that in case Epic’s lawyers had a “divide and conquer” strategy in mind against Apple and Google by bringing separate lawsuits in the same district within hours of each other, the Android maker agrees in procedural terms and doesn’t want Epic v. Google to be lumped together with Epic v. Apple. And on this occasion, its lawyers just announced that Google would bring a motion to dismiss Epic’s complaint, which–if successful and upheld on appeal–would end Epic’s Android case before it really begins. It is not known, but we will see shortly, whether Apple also intends to shoot down Epic’s complaint at the earliest procedural stage, but Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers said at a recent hearing that the case wasn’t a slam dunk for Apple or Epic, which strongly suggests she’s certain it will go to trial (next year, as the case is on an expedited schedule).

        There’s already been a flurry of activity already in Epic v. Apple, with Judge Gonzalez Rogers having denied an Epic motion for a temporary restraining order (TRO) over the removal of Fortnite from the App Store but having granted it so Epic would, for the time being, retain access to Apple’s developer tools with a view to the iOS and Mac versions of Unreal Engine.

      • Patents

        • Chinese Professor Gets 18 Months in Prison for Theft, Espionage

          A Chinese professor was sentenced to 18 months in U.S. prison after he was convicted of trade-secret theft and economic espionage, capping a seven-year prosecution.

          [...]

          The case is U.S. v. Zhang, 15-cr-00106, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (San Jose).

        • Diversity in Startups and Inventing Patented Developments

          The Creator Fund has released a report titled, “State of Student Startups,” concerning university student involvement at around 545 startups in the UK. Notably, the report states that Covid-19 has not slowed down student engagement in startups. Moreover, some interesting statistics are that around 57% of students involved in university startups are foreign born, and pretty close to half of students involved in university startups are BAME (Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic) and are women. Over 60% of the startups at Oxford and Cambridge “have at least one BAME founder.” These data are very heartening given some of the other statistics about the lack of some racial and ethnic minorities and female involvement in inventing. Indeed, in the United States, the United States Patent and Trademark Office relatively recently released a report stating that women are still not represented similarly to their percentage of the overall population in inventing demonstrated by patents (around 20%); although, the percentage of women participating as inventors is increasing.

        • A partial waiver that did not do the trick

          The patent in suit is EP 1 411 869 B1; see Swissreg and EPO Register for further information. Stemcup asserted that Implantec‘s ANA.NOVA® hybrid socket infringes the patent.

          Stemcup had partially waived EP 869 at the IPI, to overcome the judge-rapporteur’s finding in his expert opinion with respect to a presumably undue extension of subject-matter. The partial waiver had thus been filed at a very late stage of the proceedings, i.e. only after formal closure of the file and only about nine months after the defendant’s rejoinder wherein the undue extension of subject-matter had first been asserted.

        • UK Supreme Court rules on FRAND approach in Unwired Planet and Conversant

          The first instance judge in the Unwired Planet case, Birss J, found that in any given set of circumstances, there was one set of FRAND terms. In these circumstances, a global licence was FRAND. He determined what rates would be FRAND for a global licence.

          He granted an injunction that Huawei may not infringe the UK patents that had been found valid and infringed, but this would not take effect if Huawei agreed to take a global licence on those FRAND terms. On appeal to the Court of Appeal the rates that the Judge had determined were not challenged. However, the global nature of the FRAND licence was challenged.

          The Court of Appeal agreed with the Judge’s finding that a global licence was FRAND. It accepted that global licensing was the industry norm. It may be wholly impractical for a SEP owner to seek to negotiate a licence of its patent rights country by country, and prohibitively expensive for it to seek to enforce those rights by litigating in each country in which they subsist.

          [...]

          The Supreme Court rejected the argument that Unwired Planet had acted abusively. It held that the argument was based on a misreading of the CJEU decision in Huawei v ZTE. The nature and notice required depends on the facts. Unwired had shown that it was willing to grant SEP licences on FRAND terms. The Court held that what mattered on the facts of this case was that Unwired had shown itself willing to license Huawei on whatever terms the court determined were FRAND, whereas Huawei, in contrast, had only been prepared to take a licence with a scope determined by it.

        • UK Supreme Court sets new standards in global FRAND litigation

          The UK Supreme Court has finally handed down its long-awaited FRAND judgment in the cases Unwired Planet vs. Huawei as well as Conversant vs. ZTE and Huawei (case IDs: UKSC 2018/0214; UKSC 2019/0041; UKSC 2019/0042). In its decisions, the Supreme Court upheld the first-instance decisions made by presiding judges Colin Birss and Henry Carr in 2017 and 2018.

          The Supreme Court judges unanimously rejected all complaints by Huawei and ZTE in both cases. Furthermore, they confirm that the courts of England and Wales have the jurisdiction to determine global FRAND terms and rates.

          In his judgment in the Unwired Planet vs. Huawei dispute, former High Court judge Colin Birss was the first judge worldwide to set a fee for a global licence (case ID: HP-2014-000005).

          Now the Supreme Court confirmed that the UK courts have the jurisdiction to grant an injunction if they have previously determined that the implementer rejected a FRAND offer from the SEP holder.

        • UK Supreme Court dismisses telecoms patent infringement appeal by Huawei

          It continued: “A powerful indication that the non-discrimination obligation is ‘general’ rather than ‘hard-edged’ is that ETSI had previously considered and rejected the imposition of a ‘most-favourable licence’ clause in the undertaking. This was done in documents which were published and accessible to all market participants. To interpret the FRAND undertaking as incorporating the ‘hard-edged’ non-discrimination obligation for which Huawei contends would have the effect of re-introducing a ‘most-favourable licence’ term by the back door.”

          On whether the respondent had breached competition law based on Huawei v ZTE, it said: “Had the CJEU’s judgment been in terms clearly intended to lay down universal, immutable, conditions, [the respondent’s arguments] would not have been sufficient to displace [them], but, in our view, given that the judgment is not in such terms, the point does perhaps provide a degree of further confirmation that all the circumstances of the case must be taken into account before concluding that article 102 has been infringed.”

          It concluded: “What mattered on the facts of this case was that Unwired had shown itself willing to license Huawei on whatever terms the court determined were FRAND, whereas Huawei, in contrast, had only been prepared to take a licence with a scope determined by it.”

        • Eurasian Patent System

          –– An application for a Eurasian patent covers all Contracting States of the Eurasian Patent Convention, and a Eurasian patent is granted for all these Contracting States together. Unlike a European patent granted by the European Patent Office, a granted Eurasian patent is not validated into a bundle of national patents but is a single patent having unitary legal effect in the territories of all Contracting States. However, a granted Eurasian patent is maintained in respect of each of the Contracting States by paying annual maintenance fees to the Eurasian Patent Office for each of these States.

        • COVID-19 and the Trainee Patent Attorney

          There is no doubt that the COVID-19 global pandemic has had an impact on lives of almost everyone living on this planet. Not to be forgotten in all this is the lowly trainee patent attorney.

          On 5 March 2020 the Supervisory Board of the European qualifying examination (EQE) decided, in line with the European Patent Office’s (EPO) precautionary measures, to cancel the EQE which was planned to take place from 16-19 March 2020.

          On 30 July 2020 the Intellectual Property Office of Ireland (IPOI) announced that they were postponing the law and practice of patents examination, which had been set for 9 September 2020, until later in the year. More information will be provided in early October, but candidates have been advised not to make travel arrangements before then. Given the current COVID-19 situation in Ireland, it looks unlikely that the examination will take place this year.

        • PTAB: tech fears stoked by rumours of sweeping rules package

          Intel, Unified Patents and others are concerned that the USPTO will codify precedential decisions on discretionary IPR denials – and perhaps go further

      • Trademarks

        • BORN IN THE USA Fails to Function as a Trademark for Clothing, Says TTAB

          The Board affirmed a refusal to register BORN IN THE USA for “bottoms as clothing; footwear; headwear; tops as clothing,” finding that the phrase fails to function as a trademark. The evidence of record showed that “BORN IN THE USA is a widely used informational message that goods originate from the United States.” In re Born in the USA LLC, Serial No. 87867549 (August 26, 2020) [not precedential] (Opinion by Judge Cynthia C. Lynch).

      • Copyrights

        • Donatella Versace Will Not Have to Testify in Fashion Nova Copying Case, Says Court

          Donatella Versace does not have to testify in the lawsuit that Versace filed against Fashion Nova. In the midst of a discovery dispute, which has seen Fashion Nova pushing for Donatella Versace – the Artistic Director and Vice President of the Italian fashion brand – to be required to sit for a deposition in connection with the copyright, trademark and trade dress infringement case that Versace filed against the fast fashion company in November 2019, a federal court in California has sided with Versace, denying Fashion Nova’s request to compel the deposition of the well-known fashion figure.
          According to U.S. District Court for the Central District of California Judge Rozella Oliver’s August 13 order, at the heart of the dispute is whether Donatella Versace has relevant and unique information that Antonio Masciariello, Versace’s Company Heritage & Special Projects Senior Manager, did not provide in a recent deposition of his own. According to Fashion Nova, despite deposing Masciariello on August 6, there is, in fact, information relating to the case at hand that it could not obtain, thereby, giving rise to the need for Ms. Versace to testify.

          [...]

          In response to Fashion Nova’s request that the court compel Ms. Versace to testify, the fashion brand argued in a letter of its own that “Fashion Nova’s renewed request to compel the deposition of Donatella Versace should be denied” for a number of reasons, namely: “(i) courts apply heightened scrutiny to requests to depose top-ranking corporate executives” – or “apex” witnesses – “such as Ms. Versace, (ii) Ms. Versace does not possess unique or superior knowledge of any fact that is relevant and material to this lawsuit, (iii) requiring Ms. Versace to prepare and sit for a deposition would impose an undue burden, and (iv) Fashion Nova’s attempt to compel Ms. Versace’s deposition is not an exercise in legitimate fact discovery, but instead a tactic for leverage” – presumably to pressure Versace to agree to settle the lawsuit – “and harassment.”

          Siding with Versace in her August 13 order, Judge Oliver held that “with respect to the general issue of deposing creators or designers of trade dresses, the Court finds persuasive [Versace’s] assertion that [Fashion Nova] has not cited to any caselaw to support the contention that depositions of such creators or designers are common in intellectual property litigation for purposes of supporting an invalidity defense.”

        • ETTV Opens Doors to Uploaders After SPARKS Bust Takes Down Prime Source

          The high-profile bust of several alleged Scene members has also wreaked havoc across the broader piracy ecosystem. Torrent site ETTV just announced that it will open its doors to uploaders because there’s a shortage of fresh content. As it turns out, the SPARKS group – the target of last week’s raids – was ETTV’s prime content source.

        • Copyright Alliance Again Urges Congress To Close Streaming Piracy Loophole

          With IPTV piracy seemingly still on an upwards trajectory, the powerful Copyright Alliance is urging Congress to close a loophole in US law that places limits on how cases can be prosecuted. Despite being against copyright law, streaming piracy is currently just a misdemeanor, rendering it “virtually immune from meaningful prosecution.”

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