12.16.20

Links 16/12/2020: GTK 4.0, LinuxMint 20.1 “Ulyssa” Beta, and OpenSUSE Leap 15.3 Alpha

Posted in News Roundup at 5:51 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

  • GNU/Linux

    • Desktop/Laptop

      • Best Linux Distributions for An Old Laptop in 2021

        Unlike Windows and Mac, Linux still provides lifelong support for older machines with its various distributions. This is what I like most about Linux and its distributions. Even if you cannot carry out larger tasks, you can still carry out normal day-to-day tasks such as web browsing, writing/editing word document, watching movies, or listening to music. So why throw your old machine if you can still make use of it?

        We will look at the best Linux distributions that can be easily used and installed on older computers with minimal hardware. Some of the Linux distributions listed here might be useful for beginners also.

    • Server

      • Stars and Stripes: Facebook and Linux

        Facebook, Inc. is an American social media conglomerate corporation based in California. It was founded by Mark Zuckerberg in 2004. Besides its social networking platform, it has purchased Instagram, WhatsApp, Oculus VR, and others. The company has a market capitalization of over $788 billion, one of the largest technology companies in the US. Not everything is rosy. While its growth has been phenomenal, the company has been continually mired with controversy in recent years such as the Facebook-Cambridge Analytica data scandal, become embroiled in politics, and various security issues.

        How does Facebook embrace Linux and the open source movement?

        For many years, Facebook has relied on Linux and open source software. For example, the company runs one of the fastest supercomputers in the world, ranked 91st. It’s a self-made computer sporting a mind boggling 60,512 cores and 63,488GB of RAM. And yes, it runs Linux — Ubuntu to be precise.

        Facebook recently joined The Linux Foundation membership at the Platinum level, the highest level. This means it takes a leading role in helping to steer the future of the software platform. But even before its elevated membership, it was the lead contributor of many Linux Foundation-hosted projects, such as GraphQL, Presto, GraphQL, Osquery and ONNX.

    • Audiocasts/Shows

    • Kernel Space

      • Linux 5.11 Has Many x86 Platform Driver Changes For From Dell BIOS Controls To Telemetry – Phoronix

        The x86-platform-drivers area of the kernel has a lot of prominent additions with Linux 5.11 for benefiting a variety of AMD and Intel laptops.

        The x86-platform-drivers additions have an assortment of Intel/AMD hardware support changes primarily benefiting Linux laptop users. Among the new changes with the ongoing Linux 5.11 merge window are:

        - The AMD SoC PMC driver for the power management controller on Raven Ridge, Picasso, Renoir, and Cezanne and is used for handling S2idle transactions. Yes, I’ll run some power tests soon.

      • Linux 5.11 Will ChaCha Faster With ARM Network Packets, New Keem Bay Crypto Driver – Phoronix

        The cryptography subsystem within the Linux kernel is constantly seeing new hardware drivers and other improvements with the current Linux 5.11 cycle being no different.

        Herbert Xu sent in the crypto updates on Monday for Linux 5.11 and has already landed into the mainline kernel.

      • Linux 5.11 Begins Early Prepping Around PCI Express 6.0 – Phoronix

        With the PCI subsystem updates for the in-development Linux 5.11 kernel is the ability to report whether a device is making use of the 64 GT/s link speed allowed by PCI Express 6.0.

        With the Linux 5.11 PCI updates is support for reporting a PCI Express link speed of 64 GT/s. The tentative PCI Express 6.0 specification defines a 64.0 GT/s link speed and this current change is about being able to report it to the user rather than as an unknown speed. The PCIe hardware should already be negotiating the best possible speed automatically. The change for Linux 5.11 was contributed by a Synopsys engineer.

      • Linux 5.9.15
        I'm announcing the release of the 5.9.15 kernel.
        
        All users of the 5.9 kernel series must upgrade.
        
        The updated 5.9.y git tree can be found at:
        	git://git.kernel.org/pub/scm/linux/kernel/git/stable/linux-stable.git linux-5.9.y
        and can be browsed at the normal kernel.org git web browser:
        
        https://git.kernel.org/?p=linux/kernel/git/stable/linux-s...
        
        thanks,
        
        greg k-h
        
      • Linux 5.4.84
    • Benchmarks

    • Applications

      • Top 10 Linux Photo Management Programs

        Photo management software acts as a tool that allows you to handle and organize images in your system. There are various tools available for picture management for Windows and macOS users, but Linux users have some restrictions due to an overall lack of options. However, there are still quite a few photo management programs that work well for organizing images in Linux.

        This article covered the top ten Linux photo management programs available with a detailed description of the features of each program listed. Photo management tools allow you to view, organize, and edit images in your operating system. Although there are multiple photo management tools available only for Windows and macOS users, this article covered the ten tools that can specifically help Linux users to handle their images without trouble.

      • Best PDF Viewers for Linux

        This article lists free and open source PDF viewing applications available for Linux. Some of these applications provide some basic editing capabilities like annotation and highlighting tools while others are mostly PDF viewers intended only for viewing and reading documents.

        These PDF viewers stated above have been in development for many years. They include all major features you would expect from a PDF viewer, plus some additional features like dark mode and support for viewing other file formats like EPUB, CBZ and DJVU.

      • Get No-Fuss File-Level Crypto With Fscrypt

        Not long ago, I made the case that for most users file-level encryption is adequately secure and much higher-performing than full-disk encryption. I received a lot less pushback than anticipated for expressing this heterodox view — by which I mean I actually got none. Quite to the contrary, some readers sent messages and comments expressing curiosity and eagerness to try file-level encryption.

        This came as a surprise. I wasn’t sure how many people would want to put file-level encryption into practice, and I imagined those who did would take the less arduous route of installing a distribution like Linux Mint that offers this as a checkbox in a menu.

        [...]

        Fscrypt is a tool that presents a simple command line interface for configuring the encryption built into the extension 4 (more commonly “ext4”) filesystem. It is not an encryption algorithm in its own right, but an intermediary between the user and ext4’s native encryption. The intent behind fscrypt is to decipher the otherwise arcane incantations of ext4 encryption into something comprehensible to intermediate Linux.

        While simple, fscrypt offers multiple configuration modes. First, it can encrypt any directory, protecting all the files and subdirectories within. This protection obscures both the filenames and data of all its contents when it’s locked

        Second, and most appealing for those seeking unobtrusive security, is that users can set the decryption to occur automatically upon entering their user password. Instead of getting a second, separate decryption prompt along with the login prompt, the act of logging in itself performs the decryption.

    • Instructionals/Technical

      • How To Install SQLite on CentOS 8 – idroot

        In this tutorial, we will show you how to install SQLite on CentOS 8. For those of you who didn’t know, SQLite is a lightweight command-line database application. It is one of the most efficient database engines in the world. In part, thanks to that made in C Language which makes it very efficient in managing the resources of the system.

        This article assumes you have at least basic knowledge of Linux, know how to use the shell, and most importantly, you host your site on your own VPS. The installation is quite simple and assumes you are running in the root account, if not you may need to add ‘sudo‘ to the commands to get root privileges. I will show you through the step by step installation of the SQLite on CentOS 8.

      • How to Back Up Files to Google Drive on Linux – Make Tech Easier

        Linux users can automatically back up files to Google drive using the open-source package google-drive-ocamlfuse and the cron utility.

      • Install and build terraform on Slackware

        First for installation terraform, this need a go lang as requirements to built from source. Before to installation, i will explain a little about terraform. Terraform is tools for building, changing and versioning infrastructure safely and efficiently. Terraform can manage a thousand cloud servers like AWS, GCP or azure. With terraform you can save amount of time for deploying the services, build infrastructure etc.

      • Create and Store Secrets like Passwords, OAuth Tokens, and SSH Keys in Kubernetes

        In Kubernetes, we can store and manage sensitive information, such as passwords, OAuth tokens, and ssh keys using Kubernetes Secrets. In Kubernetes, secrets can be defined as Kubernetes Objects. It is safer to store credentials in Kubernetes Secrets that in Pods or in Docker Images.

      • Installing Odoo 11 on Debian 9 with Nginx – RoseHosting

        More than 3.7 million people use it, both in startup and large companies, making this type of software one of the most popular in the world. You can find Odoo in two editions, the free Community edition and Enterprise edition. We have chosen to install and use the Community edition of Odoo.

      • Linux troubleshooting: Navigating in a perfect storm | Enable Sysadmin

        A high-level walkthrough of CI/CD Automation troubleshooting techniques with multiple, significantly impeding factors blocking progress.

      • How to list out all the Installed Package on Ubuntu/Debian

        We have installed so many applications in our system after some time we even don’t know which package we have installed in our Ubuntu or Debian based system.

        Now you want to know which application or package you have installed in your system then follows the step.

        There are many ways to list down the installed package which we will discuss below.

        List out Application Using Software Center
        List out Package using apt command
        List out Package using dpkg command
        List out Package using flatpak command
        List out Package using a snap command

      • How To Install Netbeans on Linux Mint 20 – idroot

        In this tutorial, we will show you how to install Netbeans on Linux Mint 20. For those of you who didn’t know, The NetBeans is an open-source integrated development environment that provides a powerful application frame platform that allows programmers to create Java-based net applications, mobile software, and desktop software.

        This article assumes you have at least basic knowledge of Linux, know how to use the shell, and most importantly, you host your site on your own VPS. The installation is quite simple and assumes you are running in the root account, if not you may need to add ‘sudo‘ to the commands to get root privileges. I will show you through the step by step installation of Netbeans on a Linux Mint 20 (Ulyana).

      • How to use Kubernetes resource quotas | Opensource.com

        “Control” is the word that comes to mind when someone mentions they need to manage Kubernetes compute resources, especially CPU and memory. These conversations generally happen after the Kubernetes platform has been deployed for a while and developers are using the cluster extensively. And most of the time, the topic comes up after a problem happens.

        Resource issues are common when the Kubernetes implementation is deployed without consideration for the cluster’s future growth. Issues may also be related to the team’s experience level that deploys and manages the Kubernetes cluster.

        Without controls, one rogue application or developer can disrupt business. This inadvertently happens when several developers share a cluster with a fixed number of nodes. These resource constraints can start disagreements, finger-pointing, and “land-grabbing” of available resources among developers. It’s a very bad situation for cluster administrators and developers alike.

      • How To Install Gitea on Debian 10 – idroot

        In this tutorial, we will show you how to install Gitea on Debian 10. For those of you who didn’t know, Gitea is a free, open-source, and self-hosted version control system alternative to GitHub and GitLab. Gitea comes with a rich set of features including time tracking, repository branching, issues tracking, file locking, merging, and much more. Gitea can be installed on all popular operating systems like Windows, macOS, Linux, and ARM.

        This article assumes you have at least basic knowledge of Linux, know how to use the shell, and most importantly, you host your site on your own VPS. The installation is quite simple and assumes you are running in the root account, if not you may need to add ‘sudo‘ to the commands to get root privileges. I will show you through the step by step installation of Gitea on a Debian 10 (Buster).

      • 3 Simple Ways to Install Skype on Ubuntu

        Skype is one of the popular communication application owned by Microsoft. It is available for Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, and other mobile devices. You can use it for chatting, audio and video call also sharing files and your screen. By using credit you can send text messages (SMS) or make phone calls direct to mobile and landline numbers. Skype can be installed on smart devices or can be accessed from a web browser too.

      • How to Change Date, Time, and Time Zone in Linux Mint 20

        A time zone is identified based on the geographic region with the same standard time and date. Typically, the date, time, and time zone are set during the installation of an operational system. Users need to change the time zone for performing a few tasks in Linux platforms. Some jobs in Linux use time zone like cron jobs use it for execution or in logs timestamps. In this tutorial, we will go through different ways of changing the date, time, and time zone in Linux Mint 20 and Ubuntu 20.04.

        To have the correct date and time in any operating system is very important since many operations depend on the date and time feature. To set a date, time in Linux Mint, open up the terminal either using the Ctrl+Shift+T shortcut or access it via ApplicationsTerminal.

      • How To Install Firefox on Linux Mint 20 – idroot

        In this tutorial, we will show you how to install Firefox on Linux Mint 20. For those of you who didn’t know, Firefox is the default web browser in a number of Linux distributions. Firefox comes preinstalled in Linux Mint unless you are using Linux mint minimal version. Some of the outstanding features in this release are the new Firefox Privacy Protection Report and a secure password generation with Lockwise.

        This article assumes you have at least basic knowledge of Linux, know how to use the shell, and most importantly, you host your site on your own VPS. The installation is quite simple and assumes you are running in the root account, if not you may need to add ‘sudo‘ to the commands to get root privileges. I will show you through the step by step installation of Firefox web browser on a Linux Mint 20 (Ulyana).

      • How to Find Duplicate Files on Linux – buildVirtual

        As a system administrator, you are likely monitoring the disk space on your Linux system all the time, to ensure you can keep on top of any disk capacity issues. Duplicate files on Linux can be a contributor to any free disk space issues you may experience. Duplicate files is one of the first things to address if you are looking to free up space on a Linux system.

        This article looks at some of the ways you can find duplicate files on Linux, by exploring some of the duplicate file tools available on Linux with examples of how to use them.

      • How to Install Panorama Stitcher Hugin 2020 in Ubuntu 20.04 | UbuntuHandbook

        Hugin, free open source panorama photo stitching and HDR merging program, finally released version 2020.0.0.

      • How to Use DB Browser for SQLite on Linux

        DB Browser for SQLite lets you view and edit SQLite databases on Linux. You can design, create, and edit these database files, and peek inside the inner workings of other applications. Here’s how to use this SQLite GUI.

      • How to encrypt a single Linux filesystem | Enable Sysadmin

        Sure, you can manually encrypt a filesystem. But, you can also automate it with Ansible.

      • How to install ifconfig on kali Linux to check IP address – Linux Shout

        As Kali Linux is a popular distro for penetration and security testing, thus if you are in the learning phase then many times you would need to find out your own system IP address.

      • Add, Delete And Grant Sudo Privileges To Users In Arch Linux – OSTechNix

        In this brief guide, we will see how to add, delete and grant sudo privileges to users in Arch Linux and its variants.

      • Show a side-by-side git diff on any commit in tig using Meld – Kparal’s Fedora Blog

        Side-by-side diffs are more readable to me than in-line diffs. Long time ago, I started using Meld to display them when working with git. But I always needed to manually specify branch or commit names. This week I finally spent some time and found a way to invoke Meld directly from tig, so that I can see the diff side-by-side while browsing a commit history in tig (for example, when I want to review a proposed branch containing 10 new commits, and I want to inspect each of them individually). Here’s a short howto.

      • Create a Kubernetes Operator in Golang to automatically manage a simple, stateful application – Red Hat Developer

        A Kubernetes Operator acts as an automated site reliability engineer for its application, encoding the skills of an expert administrator in software. For example, an Operator can manage a cluster of database servers and configure and manage its application. It can also install a database cluster of a declared software version and a designated number of members.

        The Operator continues to monitor its application while it runs, and can automatically back up data, recover from failures, and upgrade the application over time. Cluster users employ kubectl and other standard tools to work with Operators and their applications, thereby extending Kubernetes services.

        Operators make use of custom resources (CRs) to manage applications and their components. They follow Kubernetes principles, notably the controllers (control loop).

        In this article, we demonstrate how to deploy a stateful application using a Kubernetes Operator. In this case, the Operator uses the operator-sdk project to deploy WordPress on SQL using a custom resource. If you need to do this without an Operator, follow the link in the conclusion.

      • RHCE Ansible Series #12: Ansible Troubleshooting

        This is the twelfth and the last chapter of the RHCE Ansible EX294 exam preparation series. You’ll learn about troubleshooting Ansible in this article.

      • CPU Temperature in Ubuntu Linux – Linux Hint

        The temperature of the CPU/GPU depends upon the applications or programs that run in its system. If your device’s compatibility is not high, then your system may face an overheating issue. This system overheating issue occurs when the system’s temperature exceeds a specific limit.

        System overheating creates a performance-related problem while working on the laptop/computer. Hence, CPU temperature monitoring can help you overcome the overheating issue by closing unnecessary system applications. This article covers the complete information on how to check CPU temperature in Ubuntu Linux.

        [...]

        In this article, we have collected complete details on how to check CPU temperature in Ubuntu Linux by multiple procedures. As we have explained, system overheating can cause various issues in the performance of your system, so it is essential to monitor the system’s temperature. You can easily use these procedures without any errors because all of these procedures are tried and tested on different systems, and hence are safe to execute.

      • Delete or Drop a User in MySQL – Linux Hint

        MySQL is a well-known database that can be used with ease and no hassle and is used in a lot of big firms. Data integrity and Data administrators mean a lot to such huge companies. But when it comes to data integrity and taking care of the users, their privileges, and the creation and deletion of them, the database administrator takes responsibility for such tasks. So, in this article, we are going to learn about different methods to delete or drop a user in MySQL.

      • MySQL Inner Join – Linux Hint

        MySQL is a well-known database derived from standard SQL. It is one of the most popular databases out there. MySQL allows you to perform CRUD operations and all other major commands needed when managing a database. When you need data from different tables based on specific conditions, MySQL provides joins to handle these types of tasks. This article covers the MySQL inner join in detail.

        What is an inner join? An inner join is the same as a simple join. An inner join returns common records or rows from the provided condition(s) and tables. We can use any of these clauses and we will still have the same results. Let us look at some examples to show you how to correctly use inner joins in MySQL.

        [...]

        In this article, we tried a couple of different examples of using the inner join to provide a more complete understanding of the concept. You also learned how to use the USING and WHERE clauses with the inner join, as well as how to obtain the required results in MySQL. For more useful content like this, keep visiting our website, linuxhint.com.

      • How to Install Docker on Oracle Linux 8? – Linux Hint

        Docker is a series of frameworks that are using OS-level virtualization to provide applications in bundles called containers as service items. Containers are isolated from each other, and their programs, folders, and configuration files are packaged. They can communicate with each other via well-defined platforms. So, in this article, we will discuss how to install and configure Docker on your Oracle Linux 8 system.

        [...]

        We have discussed and learned about very simple and efficient methods of installing Docker on Oracle Linux 8. In this article, we have educated ourselves about the basic installation and use of Docker. Hopefully, this article has facilitated a lot to make you understand Docker installation and its use.

      • How to Find Open Ports on Ubuntu? – Linux Hint

        To troubleshoot a network and maintain the security of the server, a network administrator or a security professional must be aware of the tools used to find open ports on the server. Linux provides different utilities and command line options to list open ports on the server. In this tutorial, we are going to see how we can list all the open ports using different commands in the Ubuntu terminal.

      • How to Check CPU Utilization in Linux – Linux Hint

        The performance of the CPU is one of the major determinants of the performance of a system. To ensure the most out of the limited processing power, it’s necessary to monitor how this resource is used. Monitoring the CPU performance can help debugging processes, managing system resources, taking system decisions, and evaluating systems in real-time.
        In this guide, check out how to check CPU utilization in Linux.

        [...]

        Modern operating systems are optimized to use the CPU as efficiently as possible. Even other apps out there are quite optimized. However, users may not be. In my case, for example, I play games while there are hundreds of browser tabs open and multiple background tasks running. While all the software is optimized, my way of usage will cause a higher CPU load.

        If multiple users are logged in, then the CPU usage will automatically be high. However, the system admin may want to keep an eye on it to ensure that someone isn’t hogging all of it, causing overall poor system performance and experience. If a certain process/app is causing too much CPU usage, it may either be malfunctioning, bugged or that’s the nature of it.

      • How to Convert Videos using FFMPEG in Ubuntu – Linux Hint

        In the modern world, with YouTube and other social media apps as the mainstream way to view digital media, uploading videos has become a common practice. It has become so common, in fact, that creating and editing audio and video files have become the new normal in the span of only a few decades. There are obviously expensive tools out there that one can buy to fulfill one’s needs, but what if we could do this for free? What if a few lines of code could do almost any video-related task that you require?

        Ffmpeg is a free and open-source video conversion, extraction, and editing tool that provides an answer to this question! What can ffmpeg not do? Almost nothing. The tasks that can be performed with the aid of ffmpeg include audio file conversion, video file conversion, photo conversion, image file extraction from video files, generating videos from image files, extracting audio from video, cropping videos and photos, trimming videos, re-sizing videos, boosting volume, and creating screen recordings.

      • How to Install YAML and Use in PHP – Linux Hint

        YAML is a human-readable data-serialization mark-up language. It is better than another mark-up language, XML to store the data because YAML content is easy to read and write. YAML syntax rules are used to create a YAML file that is a text file with the extension “.yml“. Many built-in functions exist in PHP for the YAML package. How YAML can be installed and used in PHP have shown in this tutorial.

      • How To Install Anaconda on Linux Mint 20 – idroot

        In this tutorial, we will show you how to install Anaconda on Linux Mint 20. For those of you who didn’t know, Anaconda is a popular Python/R data science and machine learning platform, used for large-scale data processing, predictive analytics, and scientific computing.

        This article assumes you have at least basic knowledge of Linux, know how to use the shell, and most importantly, you host your site on your own VPS. The installation is quite simple and assumes you are running in the root account, if not you may need to add ‘sudo‘ to the commands to get root privileges. I will show you through the step by step installation of Anaconda python on a Linux Mint 20 (Ulyana).

      • How to Install Oracle Linux 8 in Virtual Box – Linux Hint

        Oracle Linux 8 is a free and open-source operating system specially created for developers to work on different tools and technologies. If you find it difficult to install the Linux Oracle 8 Server on your system, then you are in the right place. Follow the steps included in this tutorial to successfully install Oracle Linux 8 on your system.

        Note: Make sure that you have a virtual box already installed on your Windows system before beginning the installation of Oracle Linux 8.

        [...]

        This article taught you how to download the .iso file, how to create a virtual machine for the .iso file, and how to install Oracle Linux 8 using the .iso file. This is indeed a very easy-to-do task with the help of this tutorial! I hope that you are skilled enough to install Oracle Linux 8 on your own Virtual Box.

      • LXC Network Configuration – Linux Hint

        When you start a Linux Container, you may want to use network functions. The question becomes: “Are you trying to network with the host, the wide internet, another container, or maybe all local containers?” Good thing that there are solutions for them all!

    • Wine or Emulation

      • Collabora announce their Wayland driver for Wine

        The Wine compatibility layer for running Windows apps and games on Linux currently needs X11 or XWayland but that looks like it could change with a new Wayland driver for Wine.

        Announced by the open source consulting firm Collabora, one of the companies that works with Valve, their Alexandros Frantzis wrote in a blog post about the work. Frantzis mentions how the current setup of X11/XWayland is “a source of complexity and possible inefficiencies. It would be ideal if Wine could talk directly to Wayland to enable a leaner and more efficient stack on modern systems” and so that’s the aim here.

        Currently it works but it is limited. It supports OpenGL, a single display, mouse cursor, QWERTY only for keyboard input, window resizing and more but there’s plenty still to be done like: minimising support, different keyboard layouts, Vulkan (there’s another project for that they hope to work with) and so on.

    • Games

      • Atari VCS game console is now shipping (It’s real and it… needs software updates)

        The Atari VCS is a modern take on a classic game console. With a design inspired by the 1980s-era Atari 2600, the new version is designed to play games designed for the original as well as newer titles. And it can do a lot more.

        Under the hood, the Atari VCS is basically a Linux computer with a TV-friendly user interface and support for media streaming apps like YouTube and Plex as well as support for games.

        It’s been in development in one form or another since 2017, and after a name change, some spec changes, and a bunch of delays and setbacks, the Atari VCS is finally shipping to backers of an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign.

        Early reviews suggest that while the hardware is pretty much what was expected, the software for this PC/console/nostalgia play could use some work.

      • Transport Fever 2 adds Vulkan API support in the latest Beta | GamingOnLinux

        Want to test out another Linux game that uses the Vulkan API? Prepare to lose a lot of your free time with Transport Fever 2 as they’ve just enabled it.

        Urban Games and Good Shepherd Entertainment have been working to try and improve the overall performance of the game, on top of adding in macOS support too. The latest Beta is now available which adds in: Vulkan support with a switch available in the UI for OpenGL and Vulkan, there’s a new cable-stayed bridge type, a library fix for Linux and more.

      • Unity rolls out the Unity 2020.2 TECH release available now | GamingOnLinux [Ed: There's a Microsoft Mono elephant in the room however]

        Unity 2020.2 is the latest ‘TECH’ release with all the latest features, that eventually make their way into a more stable LTS release. Following their newer release cycle of two TECH releases per year and then the next LTS upgrade for everyone. There will be a new 2020 LTS release early next year.

      • Command & Conquer game engine OpenRA has a new test release, working towards Tiberian Sun | GamingOnLinux

        Play classics like Command & Conquer, Dune 2000 and Red Alert in a fantastic open source game engine with OpenRA.

        Now available with a new testing release to pull in all the latest work, with lots of work current being done to finally allow the later Tiberian Sun to be supported by OpenRA which is incredibly exciting but it’s not quite there yet. Due to all the work going into that, this new test release is short on new features.

      • Grab a FREE copy of Prison Architect in the GOG Winter Sale | GamingOnLinux

        The DRM-free store GOG.com are now doing their own Winter Sale and for 72 hours you can grab a FREE copy of Prison Architect direct from their store.

        Nothing is 100% free though, as clicking the button on the GOG.com home page to claim it adds you to their newsletter. They’re at least up front about it though on the banner. Free game for discount emails? Sure, I’ll take it.

      • Don’t Starve Together adds a whole new farming and crop system | GamingOnLinux

        Don’t Starve Together from Klei Entertainment has a huge new update out now, completely overhauling the way survivors deal with farming and crops.

        Continuing to be one of the best and most unique survival games around, Don’t Starve Together can be a huge amount of fun played with friends. It’s as beautiful with the almost Tim Burton like gothic style as it is brutal to play through but now at least you might not actually starve with a new crop system.

      • Tropico 6 gets a new developer and a new DLC out now with Caribbean Skies | GamingOnLinux

        Caribbean Skies is the name of the latest DLC for the satirical city-builder Tropico 6, and not just that there’s a new developer taking over development.

        This is the biggest expansion yet and shows that Kalypso as a publisher is committed to continuing updating the game. There’s also a fresh free update out for everyone which includes two new sandbox maps, a ‘Tropico Papers’ edict that super rich citizens no longer pay rent but instead send you 15% each month to your swiss bank account, a new emergency job ability to get stuff done quickly and some bug fixes. Realmforge Studios (Dungeons III, Spacebase Startopia) have also now taken over development, with this being their first Tropico 6 release.

      • Glitchangels is a fantastic glitchy retro-arcade shooter out now | GamingOnLinux

        Love twin-stick shooters? Need a fresh modern take on retro classics with plenty of upgrades? Glitchangels is pretty much all you need and it’s fantastic. Note: key from the publisher.

        Developed by Pumpkin Games with a little publishing help from Puppygames, this is true fast-paced twin-stick arcade shooting at it’s finest. However, it’s not as basic as that. Glitchangels is all about the upgrades and there’s a lot of them to go through as you blast through level after level of enemy hordes. It’s pretty clever in what it does with the minimalist style too, including the fancy glitch effects.

      • How to Choose a Linux Distro for Gaming?

        The Gaming scene on Linux has drastically improved over the past few years. The sole reason for this is the heavy time invested by Game developers and hardware manufacturers to support the operating system. Configuring your Linux desktop to experience AAA titles was an arduous task until Ubuntu 20.04, which was followed by distros like Pop!_OS and Linux Mint based on the same came out this year.

        In fact, some might argue that playing games on Linux today is much easier than playing on Windows. But, no matter how many features an operating system ships with, there’s always the elephant in the room, which, in this case, is: you can play tons of games on Linux and this number is greater than the number of games that don’t run on Linux.

    • Desktop Environments/WMs

      • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

        • KDE’s Plasma Mobile UI Is Now Faster and Less Resource-Intensive

          Plasma Mobile, the beautiful user interface for Linux phones and tablets, received quite some love from the KDE developers in 2020, especially that the KDE Community partnered with PINE64 to deliver the PinePhone KDE Community Edition smartphone.

          So it’s obvious that KDE wants its gorgeous Plasma Mobile UI to end the year strong, and the new major update doesn’t disappoint. The biggest change is the addition of a new theme for Plasma mobile applications that follows KDE’s new design goals to make Plasma Mobile faster and less resource-hungry.

        • Plasma Mobile picks up performance, theme, and app improvements

          Plasma Mobile is one of the prettiest user interfaces available for Linux phones, but when I’ve tested it in the past it hasn’t exactly been super speedy.

          So it’s good to know that the developers behind Plasma Mobile are working on making the software faster while also reducing memory usage, at least when it comes to some applications.

          There’s a new “Breeze Style” theme for Plasma Mobile applications that allows the file manager to start 25-percent faster, and which allows the Kirigami Gallery application to cut RAM usage by about a third. While that alone probably isn’t enough to make Plasma Mobile fast on a low-spec device like the PinePhone, I’d settle for faster.

        • Plasma Mobile is finishing 2020 strong with new updates

          The Plasma Mobile team is happy to present the Plasma Mobile updates from November and December 2020.

          Thanks to Marco Martin, notifications on the lock screen now have actions support. Clicking them requires the user to login before the action is executed.

          Thanks to Devin Lin, the keypad now follows the system’s color scheme.

        • Plasma secrets: SSH connectivity in Dolphin

          I hope you find this topic delectable. FISH connectivity in Dolphin is an often overlooked yet highly useful feature, which allows you to network with other Linux systems in a GUI-friendly way, without having to worry about command line usage and whatnot. It’s also good for manual data backups – not that you shouldn’t have a fully automated, unattended setup.

          The really nice thing is that you can have multiple bookmarks for the same host (various locations), you can add multiple hosts to the Places, each with its own distinct icon and wording, and you can always open a shell, right there, if you need to. Dolphin, powerful and elegant. And thus endeth this article. O’ fishy fish, I loved it so, like a brother.

      • GNOME Desktop/GTK

        • GNOME 40 Adds Search Feature in Native Extensions App

          The native extension app of GNOME – Extensions gets a nice and useful feature in GNOME 40.

        • On the Graying of GNOME

          The GNOME project turned 23 this year, and despite equally persistent rumors to the contrary, it’s still alive and kicking.

          Just how alive, though? All I know is this: Where the topic of GNOME’s health goes, accurate data rarely follows. Of course, there is data — lots of it in fact, in public source code repositories. Though flawed in many ways, it allows us to make comparisons to the past — and maybe predictions for the future: Are a few organizations carrying most of the workload, making them critical points of failure? Are new contributors able to pick up the slack from those who leave? Is the project graying (i.e. increasingly dominated by veterans)?

        • Jansson: On the Graying of GNOME

          Hans Petter Jansson has done an analysis of contributions to the GNOME project, raising some concerns about how well the project is doing at bringing in new developers for the long haul

        • GTK 4.0

          2020 has been a very long year. What better way to end it than with a major release! Today, we released GTK 4.0.

          GTK 4.0 is the result of a lot of hard work by a small team of dedicated developers. We will have a separate post to go over the statistics, but the short summary is that since the 3.89.1 release in November 2016, we’ve added over 18000 commits and made more than 20 development releases.

          Congratulations and a big thank you to everybody who has participated in this effort, and in particular to Benjamin, Emmanuele, Timm, Carlos, Jonas and Christian!

        • GTK 4.0 Toolkit Officially Released
        • GTK 4.0
        • GTK 4.0 Officially Released After More Than 4 Years of Development

          The GTK development officially released today the next generation of the GTK toolkit, GTK 4.0, after being in development for more than four years. As you can imagine, GTK 4.0 is a massive update and a huge milestone for the development of the open-source and cross-platform GTK widget toolkit, which is used for creating graphical user interfaces, also known as GUIs, for Linux apps. GTK is mostly used by the GNOME Project for the GNOME desktop environment and related apps.

    • Distributions

      • New Releases

        • Alpine 3.12.3 released

          The Alpine Linux project is pleased to announce the immediate availability of version 3.12.3 of its Alpine Linux operating system.

        • Alpine 3.11.7 released

          The Alpine Linux project is pleased to announce the immediate availability of version 3.11.7 of its Alpine Linux operating system.

      • SUSE/OpenSUSE

        • Alpha Releases of openSUSE Leap 15.3 are Available for Testing

          Alpha images of openSUSE’s next stable fixed release openSUSE Leap 15.3 are now available for testing at software.opensuse.org/distributions/testing.

          Release Manager Luboš Kocman announced the availability of the Alpha images yesterday in an email to developers on the openSUSE Factory mailing list.

          “I’d like to inform you that you can already find openSUSE Leap 15.3 testing images on software.opensuse.org,” Kocman wrote. “You may notice that Installation images for all arches can be now found in the Installation tabs, and the tab Ports no longer exist. This new structure corresponds with the way how we build images in 15.3.”

          openSUSE Leap 15.3 is based on the Jump concept that was developed over the past several months, which makes it and SUSE Linux Enterprise compatible. openSUSE Leap aligns with SLE and its Service Packs (SP), which keeps the system updated, stable and patched. Upon General Availability of this release, there will be a whole new level of harmony between Leap 15.3 and SUSE Linux Enterprise 15 SP3.

        • OpenSUSE Leap 15.3 Alpha Released
      • Arch Family

      • IBM/Red Hat/Fedora

        • CloudLinux becomes second project to offer CentOS replacement

          The people behind CloudLinux, a hardened distribution based on CentOS and meant for businesses, have announced a new community initiative named Project Lenix which they say will build a replacement for CentOS, a distribution which was killed by Red Hat on 9 December AEDT.

      • Debian Family

        • [Sparky Linux] Zettlr

          There is a new application available for Sparkers: Zettlr

          What is Zettlr?

          A Markdown Editor for the 21st century. With Zettlr, writing professional texts is easy and motivating: Whether you are a college student, a researcher, a journalist, or an author — Zettlr has the right tools for you.

        • Kentaro Hayashi: Say Good-Bye and Thanks hal-flash

          Today, hal-flash package was removed from Debian unstable.

          hal-flash is wrapper library for HAL which is not used nowadays. At that time, HAL was required because Adobe Primetime DRM uses libadobecp, but HAL was already replaced to udev or udisks. So we need emulation layer for HAL. hal-flash was it for such a purpose. (At least, hal-flash is required to play hulu.jp movies which uses Adobe DRM)

      • Canonical/Ubuntu Family

        • Linux Mint 20.1 “Ulyssa” Beta is now Available for Download

          The Linux Mint 20.1 “Ulyssa” Beta images are now available for download. The official announcement coming soon. The mirrors are already reflecting the BETA .iso images.

        • Linux Mint 20.1 “Ulyssa” Cinnamon – BETA Release

          Linux Mint 20.1 is a long term support release which will be supported until 2025. It comes with updated software and brings refinements and many new features to make your desktop even more comfortable to use.

        • Linux Mint 20.1 “Ulyssa” Xfce – BETA Release

          Linux Mint 20.1 is a long term support release which will be supported until 2025. It comes with updated software and brings refinements and many new features to make your desktop even more comfortable to use.

        • Linux Mint 20.1 “Ulyssa” MATE – BETA Release

          Linux Mint 20.1 is a long term support release which will be supported until 2025. It comes with updated software and brings refinements and many new features to make your desktop even more comfortable to use.

        • Ubuntu-based Linux Mint 20.1 ‘Ulyssa’ BETA is here with Cinnamon, MATE, and Xfce

          Back in October, we told you that Linux Mint 20.1 would be named “Ulyssa.” There was excitement about this version of the operating system, especially since the developers planned to release it around Christmas. Unfortunately, there was controversy and drama surrounding Ulyssa too, as we learned the Linux Mint developers were foolishly wasting resources on an IPTV player named “Hypnotix.”

          So here we are — Christmas is fast approaching, and today, the Ubuntu-based Linux Mint 20.1 ‘Ulyssa’ BETA finally becomes available for download. The pre-release operating system can be had with your choice of three excellent desktop environments — Cinnamon, MATE, and Xfce.

        • UBports’ Ubuntu Touch OTA-15 Released With New Device Support

          UBports developers and the open-source community continue to push along Ubuntu Touch for smartphones/tablets. Ubuntu Touch still hasn’t yet been able to complete the transition from Ubuntu 16.04 to a 20.04 base, but they have made other improvements and new device support with today’s Ubuntu Touch OTA-15 release.

          UBports’ Ubuntu Touch OTA-15 has hit the web as the newest over-the-air update for this Linux smartphone platform. Among the work to find with OTA-15 includes…

        • Ubuntu Touch OTA-15 Release
        • Ubuntu Touch OTA-15 Released with Support for New Ubuntu Phones, More Improvements

          Ubuntu Touch OTA-15 brings support for new devices as official, stable Ubuntu Phones that you can install Ubuntu Touch on using the UBports Installer. These include the Google Pixel 3a, F(x)tec Pro1, F(x)tec Pro1 X, OnePlus 2, Samsung Galaxy Note 4, and Xiaomi Redmi Note 7.

          This release also improves the Android 9 hardware compatibility layer, especially to offer the best possible experience to those who bought the Volla Phone. Among these improvements, there’s smoother audio playback, automatic configuration of mobile data APN settings, the ability to rotate photos taken with the front camera, and sending of USSD codes.

        • Use Amazon ECR Public and EKS-D to deploy LTS Docker Images

          It’s re:invent season already, and we had exciting news to announce with Amazon this year. With all these remote sessions, what’s better than a quick lab to play with the new stuff? It’s starting to feel like Christmas already!

          We’re going to kill two birds with one stone (just an idiom, keep reading) and experiment with two of our latest announcements. First on the list is the “Install Amazon EKS Distro anywhere” with the EKS Snap, a frictionless way to try all the EKS-D experience in a snap. Second is the LTS Docker Image Portfolio of secure container images from Canonical, available on Amazon ECR Public.

    • Devices/Embedded

    • Free, Libre, and Open Source Software

      • Nextcloud Launches Easy Data Migration Tools

        Nextcloud has announced availability of easy migration apps for Nextcloud users looking to move from popular proprietary cloud services to a private cloud platform.

        Files will be automatically transferred to Nextcloud and import of calendar, contacts and other data is available for some of the migrations.

      • How To Join the Fediverse and Cast Off the Attention Economy

        When you use email, you can send a message from an account at Google to one at Yahoo, Microsoft, or any of millions of businesses and organizations running their own mail server. Unlike, say, Facebook, email isn’t a single service, but rather a whole bunch of independent systems that can communicate (or federate) with each other.

        The Fediverse is similar, and the most advanced Fediverse client is Mastodon.

        [...]

        So, why does Mastodon make a difference?

        First of all, you get to pick your host (and even software). With Twitter, you pretty much are using Twitter (yes, I know of things like Hootsuite, but for the vast majority of people, it’s twitter.com only). With Mastodon, you have choice. Pick the host that runs the software and has the kind of moderation you like.

        Secondly, Mastodon is not for profit. There is no money to be made in keeping you on the site. Almost all Mastodon instances are ad-free. And Mastodon’s completely open protocols make it easy to go elsewhere if you like.

      • Web Browsers

        • Mozilla

          • Extensions in Firefox 85
          • Rust Survey 2020 Results | Rust Blog

            Another year has passed, and with it comes another annual Rust survey analysis! The survey was conducted in the second half of September 2020 over a two-week period. We’d like to thank everyone who participated in this year’s survey with a special shout-out to those who helped translate non-English responses.

            [...]

            Generally, respondents seemed to have a positive picture not only for how Rust has improved over the last year but for the year to come. In particular, many noted their excitement for new features to the language such as const generics and generic associated types (GATs) as well as the 2021 edition, improvements to async, the Bevy game engine, more adoption of Rust by companies, WebAssembly and more!

          • New Release: Tor Browser 10.0.7

            Tor Browser 10.0.7 is now available from the Tor Browser download page and also from our distribution directory.

            This release updates Firefox for desktops to 78.6.0esr and Firefox for Android to 84.1.0. This release includes important security updates to Firefox for Desktop, and similar important security updates to Firefox for Android.

      • FSF

        • Register for LibrePlanet 2021 and help us to empower users

          LibrePlanet is a vibrant multi-day event that attracts a broad audience of people who are interested in the values of software freedom. The event brings together software developers, law and policy experts, activists, students, and computer users to learn skills, celebrate free software accomplishments, and face upcoming challenges to software freedom. Newcomers are always welcome, and LibrePlanet 2021 will feature programming for all ages and experience levels. The theme for LibrePlanet 2021 is “Empowering Users.” This year’s event will be keynoted by Julia Reda, and other community leaders. The full schedule will be released in January. With a record number of speakers submitting talk proposals for the event, it is promising to be a fantastic experience.

        • Licensing/Legal

          • [Old] Why the GPL is great for business: Debunking the current business licensing discussion

            In the last few years we saw a lot of discussion in the open source and free software startup space around licenses. Several companies stepped forward and claimed that it’s not possible to build a working company on top of a free software product. Some changed the license of their product to proprietary license like the Commons Clause or the Business Source License. They claim that this is needed to ‘save’ free software. This talk describes why this is fundamentally wrong. It’s possible to build a working startup and company on top of a free software product. This talk discusses how companies like Red Hat, SUSE and Nextcloud manages to have a 100% free software product including a big contributor community but is still able to pay developers and grow.

      • Programming/Development

        • Why Vim users will love the Kakoune text editor | Opensource.com

          The Kakoune text editor takes inspiration from Vi. With a minimalistic interface, short keyboard shortcuts, and separate editing and insert modes, it does look and feel a lot like Vi at first. However, the Kakoune editor has its own unique style both in design and function and is better considered its own editor rather than yet another Vim.

        • KDE neon Unstable Qt 6 Package Available

          Today at KDE neon tower we are feeling cute. And sixy. We have an early-prototype-preview-no-stability-guaranteed Qt 6 package.

        • Full Stack Tracing, Part 3

          This is the third and last installment of our series about full stack tracing. If you haven’t read them yet, you’ll probably want to check out the introduction and tool setup portions first. In this blog, we’re going to focus on visualizing and interpreting full stack traces.

          At this point, we’re going to assume that you’ve already captured a trace file for the problem you’re examining as a common trace format (CTF) file, a structured binary file format that LTTng natively generates. What do you do with this file?

        • RcppAnnoy 0.0.18: Tweaks

          A new maintenance release, now at version 0.0.18, of RcppAnnoy is now on CRAN. RcppAnnoy is the Rcpp-based R integration of the nifty Annoy library by Erik Bernhardsson. Annoy is a small and lightweight C++ template header library for very fast approximate nearest neighbours—originally developed to drive the famous Spotify music discovery algorithm.

        • Perl/Raku

          • Raku Santa Emoticon [}:]>*
          • Day 16: Writing faster Raku code, Part II – Raku Advent Calendar

            This is the follow-on article about writing an expression parser in Raku. In the previous article, I explained the background looked at some basic performance comparisons relating to data structures for parsing and ways to process them: lists, parse trees, recursive descent and iteration.

            In this article, we’ll have a look at the performance of various ways of processing strings, and then see how it all fits together in the expression parser.

        • Outreachy and Python

          • Tips on Getting Selected for the Outreachy Program

            I got introduced to open-source through a tech community called Google Developers Group Buea. This is where I learnt about the Outreachy program. Successful applicants of the program gave talks about the projects they worked on and how amazing the experience was. They were soo skilled in coding and spoke with a lot of confidence. I saw several other community members grow technically in phenomenal ways during and after the program. Even those who only ended at the contribution phase still had great growth stories to tell. One person said, “Outreachy is a great mental exercise even if you don’t make it to the finish line. The competitive atmosphere pushes you to accomplish things you can’t do under normal circumstances.” It was at this point that I made up my mind to look into the program.

          • Nasah Kuma: Internship Day 1
          • Nasah Kuma: Everybody Struggles

            A week into the internship, I felt like giving up. In an attempt to regain my motivation I reached out to my mentor Philip Chimento, to find out about his experience. Surprisingly, he faced challenges too. My journey as a programmer has often been met with me trying to find out if I was meant to be on this path or if I had to do something else(obviously because I found myself taking so much time to grasp some concepts). Three weeks spent as an Outreachy intern @GNOME has thought me that everyone, experienced or not struggles. Today I will be sharing a challenge I faced.

            Adding context to the discussion that follows, GNOME JavaScript(GJS) is a JavaScript interpreter based on Firefox’s interpreter. My internship project is Improving on the debugging experience of GNOME’s JavaScript Engine. Currently, I am working on adding the backtrace full command to the debugger. This command prints out information about a stack frame together with it’s local variables and their values, helping users to be able assess why a program crash occurred and also coming up with a solution to the crash. When this task was first assigned to me by my mentor, I didn’t know exactly where to start. I read the issue description on gitlab countless times but it was just so confusing. I also went through the link that was added in the description but realized that there was some background knowledge needed which I didn’t have. I didn’t feel comfortable asking my mentor things which in my opinion were expected of me. I spent some time researching on the terms which were used such as “stack frame”, “backtrace full” and “backtrace”. With some understanding of these terms, I could now ask my mentor some questions with regards to this issue. After our conversations and going through the resources he shared with me, I was able to get started on the issue.

          • Jupyter on Android phones and tablets

            There are several cool options already, like PyDroid3 (among others) allowing you to have a Python interpreter wherever you go. But what if you want more capabilities, like testing Jupyter notebooks or full control over your installed packages (with pip or conda). Or… What if you just want to mess around with Jupyter on your phone/tablet? Well, the answer is that it is very easy to try it out and see if you like it. Here are the steps.

            [...]

            Alternatives? Well you can use some of the Android apps available but they will always be limited. If you want full possibilities I think this is the way to go. Or, just setup your Vim for Python development and enjoy it that way. I found an excellent guide on how to make Vim more like PyCharm when you can’t use it. It is called VimCharm.

  • Leftovers

    • An Embarrassing Situation
    • Is It Arson? Seven Suspicious Fires in Seven Days Rock Toronto’s Homeless Encampments

      (See CBC coverage of ESN volunteers building foam domes outside Mayor John Tory’s condominium on Sunday, November 29.)

      Jimmie’s friend had arrived back at the the camp in HTO Park that evening to his foam dome aflame, a fire City of Toronto Chief Communications Officer Brad Ross would make use of politically on Twitter the following Monday:

    • Serenade Behind a Floating Stage
    • Why the Cleveland Indians Will Change Their Name

      A bomb dropped in the sports world Sunday night when it was announced that the Cleveland Indians, after more than a century, would finally be changing their increasingly problematic name. The news, leaked by three people to The New York Times, is that the move would be announced this week. Their plan is to take 2021 to phase the name out, and then to have a new team moniker by 2022.

    • Irresponsible Happenings: Juukan Gorge, Rio Tinto and the Never Again Report

      The efforts of Rio Tinto were given that more punch as they took place on the eve of Reconciliation Week on May 24.  They were approved through existing mining laws long shaped by wily developers and land users.  The company had previously boasted of its rapport with the local indigenous peoples, including the Puutu Kunti Kurrama and Pinikura (PKKP).  But a bleak picture emerged.  PKKP concerns, according to the company’s statement, “did not arise through the engagements that have taken place over many years under the agreement that governs our operations in the country.”  (Rio was trimming the truth on that one.)  Flaws in the company’s decision making structure were detected.  There was insufficient oversight.  The London-based head of corporate relations, Simone Niven, had little idea what the Juukan Gorge caves were before the blasting took place.

      In October, committee members were told that Rio Tinto had been all too keen to muzzle traditional owners in their efforts to save the rock shelters.  Amply lawyered, the company shot off letters warning that agitators could not speak publicly about their cause.  The PKKP were also told that an application for an emergency halt to the works to the federal government could only take place with Rio Tinto’s permission, and giving 30 days’ notice.  As Carol Meredith, chief executive of the PKKP Aboriginal Corporation recalls, “What we were reminded of by Rio’s lawyers was that we were not able to engage seeking out an emergency declaration that perhaps would have stopped proceedings, because of our claim-wide participation agreement.”

    • Science

      • Why We Need to Adopt Friedrich Engels’ Thinking on Science in These Times

        So why do we need to plow through polemical texts of Marx and Engels, written against people whose writings have otherwise been forgotten? There are two reasons for going back to the basics, particularly as science is often presented as neutral, and autonomous from society. Instead, science is inextricably linked to the classes that control society and therefore also control the development of science.

        It is no accident that big science in capitalist countries is tied to either war or the greed of capital. This is especially being sharply reflected during the present pandemic when we find that a large number of vaccines are for-profit, even if they have been funded by public money. Or when we see the link between weapons and science research in universities. J.B.S. Haldane, the well-known evolutionary biologist and British Marxist, had said, “… even if the professors leave politics alone, politics won’t leave the professors alone.” So science and scientific research have always been political even if individual scientists, in their own view, are not.

    • Health/Nutrition

    • Integrity/Availability

      • Proprietary

        • FireEye and Microsoft silent on source of attacks, others pile on

          Neither American cyber security firm FireEye nor software giant Microsoft, the two companies which carried out an investigation into supply chain attacks on many companies through software made by SolarWinds, have attributed the attacks to any country, least of all Russia, in their reports.

        • U.S. Treasury, Commerce Depts. [Cracked] Through SolarWinds Compromise

          Communications at the U.S. Treasury and Commerce Departments were reportedly compromised by a supply chain attack on SolarWinds, a security vendor that helps the federal government and a range of Fortune 500 companies monitor the health of their IT networks. Given the breadth of the company’s customer base, experts say the incident may be just the first of many such disclosures.

        • Suspected Russian [crackers] spied on U.S. Treasury emails – sources

          The U.S. government has not publicly identified who might be behind the [attack], but three of the people familiar with the investigation said Russia is currently believed to be responsible for the attack. Two of the people said that the breaches are connected to a broad campaign that also involved the recently disclosed [attack] on FireEye, a major U.S. cybersecurity company with government and commercial contracts.

        • When did FireEye know its defences had been breached?

          ANALYSIS When did American cyber security firm FireEye become aware that it had been compormised and its crown jewels — its Red Team tools — stolen?

        • Pete Zaitcev: Google outage

          It’s very funny to hear about people who were unable to turn on their lights because their houses were “smart”. Not a good look for Google Nest! But I had a real problem:

          Google outage crashed my Thunderbird so good that the only fix is to delete the ~/.thunderbird and re-add all accounts.

          Yes, really.

        • Pseudo-Open Source

        • Security

          • SolarWinds Hack Could Affect 18K Customers [Ed: Proprietary software and security are not compatible]

            The still-unfolding breach at network management software firm SolarWinds may have resulted in malicious code being pushed to nearly 18,000 customers, the company said in a legal filing on Monday. Meanwhile, Microsoft should soon have some idea which and how many SolarWinds customers were affected, as it recently took possession of a key domain name used by the intruders to control infected systems.

            [...]

            The initial breach disclosure from SolarWinds came five days after cybersecurity incident response firm FireEye announced it had suffered an intrusion that resulted in the theft of some 300 proprietary software tools the company provides to clients to help secure their IT operations.

            On Dec. 13, FireEye published a detailed writeup on the malware infrastructure used in the SolarWinds compromise, presenting evidence that the Orion software was first compromised back in March 2020. FireEye didn’t explicitly say its own intrusion was the result of the SolarWinds hack, but the company confirmed as much to KrebsOnSecurity earlier today.

            Also on Dec. 13, news broke that the SolarWinds hack resulted in attackers reading the email communications at the U.S. Treasury and Commerce departments.

          • Open Source Security Podcast/Josh Bressers: Episode 241 – Door 16: 16 bits of change

            Josh and Kurt talk about the switch from 16 to 32 to 64 bit and even the changes from Intel to ARM

          • Kushal Das: How to get a TLS certificate for a domain in your local network?

            How to get a TLS certificate for a domain inside of my local network? This was a question for me for a long time. I thought of creating a real subdomain, getting the certificate, and copying over the files locally, and then enforcing local domain names via the DNS or /etc/hosts. But, during the TLS training from Scott Helme, I learned about getting certificates via DNS challenge using acme.sh.

          • Security updates for Wednesday

            Security updates have been issued by Debian (firefox-esr), Fedora (mingw-openjpeg2, openjpeg2, and synergy), openSUSE (audacity and gdm), Oracle (libexif, libpq, and thunderbird), Red Hat (firefox, gnutls, go-toolset:rhel8, java-1.7.1-ibm, java-1.8.0-ibm, kernel, kernel-rt, linux-firmware, mariadb-connector-c, mariadb:10.3, memcached, net-snmp, nginx:1.16, nodejs:12, openssl, pacemaker, postgresql:10, python-django-horizon, python-XStatic-Bootstrap-SCSS, python-XStatic-jQuery, and python-XStatic-jQuery224), Scientific Linux (gd, kernel, pacemaker, python-rtslib, samba, and targetcli), SUSE (openssh, PackageKit, spice, and spice-gtk), and Ubuntu (firefox and imagemagick).

          • Scammers set up Westpac site to steal customers’ credentials

            Scammers are taking advantage of the busy shopping season and trying to relieve customers of Westpac of some of their earnings, setting up a site that looks very much like the real thing to try and lure customers into entering their credentials.

          • DHS Cyber Warriors Issue Warning About Massive Hacking Campaign, Disclose They’ve Been Hacked A Day Later

            Welp. Everything is compromised. Again.

          • Privacy/Surveillance

            • Should we worry about the possibility of police surveillance using autonomous drones with added AI ? Too late: it’s already here

              For example, one drone system deployed by police in California is able to negotiate obstacles in a landscape completely on its own, where traditional drones would either be unable to pass, or would run the risk of crashing because of the challenging terrain. Another system is capable of following a particular person or vehicle autonomously. Here’s an example of the powerful new features some autonomous drones now have:

            • Huawei Is Crafting Facial Recognition Tech That Will Make It Easier For The Chinese Government To Target Citizens It Doesn’t Like

              The Chinese government’s war against its own citizens continues. The repression and persecution of China’s Uighur population has been well-documented. The Chinese government is fighting a surveillance war on multiple fronts, beginning with its own citizens, who must maintain a positive “citizen score” to live life without too much government harassment. Its attempt to hold Hong Kong to the same oppressive standard has been met with significant resistance. But, in the end, China will consummate its takeover of Hong Kong with a removal of its independence.

            • The EU unveils its plan to rein in big tech

              The twin laws’ scope together is remarkably broad. Illegal goods, services and content, abuse of platforms, advertising and transparency of recommendation algorithms are all tackled in the DSA. The DMA, meanwhile, defines a new category of “gatekeeper” platforms—and prohibits them from engaging in practices deemed uncompetitive. Tech giants could no longer favour their own products on their platforms over those of third-party sellers or stop users uninstalling pre-installed software. The only big, controversial area of technology policy left alone, indeed, is where tech giants pay their taxes.

            • Google to Face Off With Ken Starr in Texas Antitrust Lawsuit

              Texas, which has been investigating Google for more than a year, is also part of the U.S. Justice Department’s October complaint against the company over its alleged violation of antitrust laws in its agreements to distribute its flagship search engine.

            • Amazon Says Bid for Pentagon Cloud Deal Was Cheaper, Better

              In an amended complaint that was filed Oct. 23 and unsealed on Tuesday, the e-commerce giant claimed that during a re-evaluation of revised bids from both companies, the Pentagon underrated Amazon’s advantages and ignored key contract requirements. Amazon spokesman Drew Herdener said in a statement that it offered “the lowest-priced bid by tens of millions of dollars.”

              “The net result — a technical reevaluation in which Microsoft marginally came out on top — is riddled with errors even more egregious than those that plagued the initial award,” Amazon said in the filing.

            • Google’s Gmail Service Suffers Outage for Two Days in a Row

              Google said Gmail connectivity issues affected a “significant subset” of users, the second consecutive day in which one of the internet giant’s most popular services had been stymied by technical problems.

              The Alphabet Inc. company said service had been restored for all users at 6:51 p.m. New York time on Tuesday. Google first reported the problem at 4:29 p.m., according to its status page. More than 17,000 people had reported Gmail issues to the website DownDetector, which compiles user-reported website and mobile network errors.

            • Gmail was messed up for a ‘significant’ number of users today

              Google says that a “significant subset” of Gmail users ran into errors with the service Tuesday afternoon.

              While users could access their inboxes, they may have encountered “error messages, high latency, and/or other unexpected behavior,” the company wrote in a message on its service status page. Google said the issues with Gmail were resolved at 6:51PM ET.

              The errors came just a day after many Google properties, including Gmail, YouTube, and Google Docs, were hit with a widespread outage.

            • Facebook’s UK users will lose EU privacy protections next year

              This change is similar to the one Google made earlier this year. It’s meant to avoid a situation where UK citizens are no longer citizens of the European Union, but have agreements based in an EU country, where Facebook is subject to the EU’s data protection laws. Users will still be protected by the UK’s data privacy laws, which currently mirror the EU’s GDPR.

            • Exclusive-Facebook to move UK users to California terms, avoiding EU privacy rules

              Facebook Inc will shift all its users in the United Kingdom into user agreements with the corporate headquarters in California, moving them out of their current relationship with Facebook’s Irish unit and out of reach of Europe’s privacy laws.

              The change takes effect next year and follows a similar move announced in February by Google here. Those companies and others have European head offices in Dublin, and the UK’s exit from the EU will change its legal relationship with Ireland, which remains in the Union.

            • Facebook will resume political ads just for Georgia’s Senate runoff election

              The Senate races, which will determine which US political party controls that chamber of Congress under President-elect Joe Biden, take place on January 5th. Facebook says advertisers authorized to run ads on social issues, elections, or politics will be allowed to run those ads starting tomorrow, December 16th at 12PM ET.

    • Defence/Aggression

      • What investigation? Russian state media remains silent following report linking Navalny’s poisoning to the FSB

        A day has passed since Bellingcat and The Insider released a joint investigation, in cooperation with Der Spiegel and CNN, implicating the Russian FSB in the near-lethal poisoning of opposition figure Alexey Navalny in Tomsk this summer. The story has been making headlines around the world ever since it came out — here’s what Russian state media and officials have had to say on the topic, in as much detail as possible.

      • The Endless War to Preserve American Primacy

        Unable to achieve victory abroad, the United States has been battered by an accumulation of crises at home. The two are related.

      • ‘This is a real terrorist act’ Navalny’s latest interview with ‘Ekho Moskvy’ about who poisoned him, in brief

        Yesterday, Bellingcat and The Insider, in cooperation with Der Spiegel and CNN, released a joint investigation revealing that a secret sub-unit of Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) were responsible for poisoning opposition figure Alexey Navalny in August. While Russian state media and officials have had little to say about the report, Navalny himself has spoken out. Here’s what he said during a radio interview with Ekho Moskvy, in a nutshell.

      • The Real Crime Isn’t Australian War Crimes—but a Chinese Political Cartoon About Australian War Crimes

        Is information inherently less trustworthy and authoritative because the source is Chinese?  It’s a question Westerners must grapple with as the US government and corporate journalists intensify their online “psychological operations” against China to manipulate public opinion in support of another Cold War (FAIR.org, 5/15/20),

      • The National Security Establishment is in Charge

        How quaint! Never mind that Times, by its own admission, endorsed President Trump’s nominee for secretary of defense, Gen. James Mattis. The Times now says that two times in a row would be too much because civilian control of the military is so vitally important in America.

        What nonsense. The fact is that the national-security establishment, which consists of the Pentagon, the CIA, and the NSA, has long been in charge of the levers of power within the federal government. Anybody who becomes secretary of defense, military or civilian, is going to be taking orders, not giving them.

      • Calling for End to ‘Economic War,’ Rouhani Says Iran Will Rejoin Nuke Deal If Biden Agrees

        “Either everyone will implement the JCPOA as it is or they don’t. If they do, we will too,” said Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.

      • Rouhani to Biden: If US Comes Back to Nuclear Deal, So Will Iran

        If Biden, on becoming president, lifts the US financial and trade blockade on Iran, Tehran will immediately return to scrupulously observing the terms of the 2015 nuclear deal or Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

      • German Social Democrats (finally) tip the scales of armed drones – but now the „Eurodrone“ is coming

        The arming of Israeli drones has been stopped for now, but in coming months the Bundestag will vote on whether to approve purchase of 21 „Eurodrones“.

      • The Most Lethal Virus is Not COVID. It is War

        The names of more than 16,000 British servicemen and women are listed. The literature says they “died in operational theatre or were targeted by terrorists”.

        On the day I was there, a stonemason was adding new names to those who have died in some 50 operations across the world during what is known as “peacetime”. Malaya, Ireland, Kenya, Hong Kong, Libya, Iraq, Palestine and many more, including secret operations, such as Indochina.

      • The Big Push for Nukes in Space

        But what if nuclear materials had been aboard?

        The nuclear space issue is one I got into 35 years ago when I learned—from reading a U.S. Department of Energy newsletter—about two space shuttles, one the Challenger which was to be launched the following year with 24.2 pounds of plutonium aboard.

      • IS steps up Sinai fight with bombs in civilian homes

        “The booby traps in north Sinai directly follow the precedent set by ISIS operations in Iraq and Syria,” said Nadia al-Dayel, a Washington-based IS expert and head of Critica, a think tank.

        She said the militants have honed their techniques, investing “considerable time and resources rigging doors, household furniture, appliances, and even children’s toys”.

        Such tactics mirror those found in Syria and northern Iraq where, three years ago, retreating and encircled IS militants would rig explosives to fridges, toys and even copies of the Koran.

      • US At Least 30 Congolese Christians Murdered, 10 Raped in String of Jihadi Attacks

        Extremist rebel group, The Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), raided the villages in North Kivu province, north-eastern DRC, between 20 November and 3 December.

      • Kidnapping of Nigerian Boys Raises Fears of Growing Wave of Violence

        More than 330 students remain missing from the Government Science Secondary School in Kankara after gunmen with assault rifles attacked their school Friday night, although scores of others managed to escape.

      • Nigerian Student Hears Captors Ask, ‘Should We Release or Kill Them?’

        “He counted 520,” Usama said. The gunmen “asked us who would feed all 520 of us. They said we were even more of a liability than the Chibok girls” – the 200-plus students who were abducted by Boko Haram from a school in Nigeria’s northeastern Borno state in 2014.

        At least 100 young women remain unaccounted for in the Chibok abductions. The movement to rescue them inspired the hashtag #BringBackOurGirls, now echoed in #BringBackOurBoys.

      • The New Humanitarian | COVID-19 drives a quiet crisis in Afghanistan: Female suicide

        Fatima lay in bed at the internal medicine ward at the bustling Mirwais Hospital in the southern Afghan city of Kandahar – a black scarf draped over her head and body hiding the drip going into her arm.
        Early that morning, Fatima had ingested rat poison in an attempt to end her life.
        “She drank some water with the rat killer,” said Amina*, her mother-in-law, seated at the bedside holding Fatima’s hand. “She suddenly fell down and we were all crying. I begged her, ‘Why are you doing this?’”
        Doctors say this scene has become all too common – especially during the coronavirus pandemic.
        “We have so many poisoning patients,” said Doctor Nasima Hakimi, head of the hospital’s Family Protection Centre, which helps women facing violence.
        COVID-19 has taken a devastating toll on Afghanistan’s economy, driving mass job losses, shrinking household incomes, and sending food prices skyrocketing. Experts say the knock-on effects of the pandemic are increasing gender-based violence – and pushing more women like Fatima to attempt suicide.
        “In internal medicine units across the country, most women are using poison because of [gender-based] violence. Poison is in every home – you can find it everywhere. They use this way to end their problems,” Hakimi said.
        Definitive statistics aren’t available. But at this hospital alone, doctors estimate there was one attempted suicide case every other day as coronavirus infections escalated in May and June. The real figure is likely to be far higher, as many women do not make it to the hospital.
        Almost 90 percent of Afghan women have experienced at least one form of physical, sexual, or psychological violence in their lifetime.
        “Poisoning has increased due to COVID-19 because women’s husbands are always at home, and they are fighting with one another, and children are not going to school,” Hakimi said. “The main cause of gender-based violence is joblessness.”
        With hunger and humanitarian needs expected to soar during the coming winter months – two in every five Afghans may face crisis or emergency levels of food insecurity in 2021, according to UN estimates – doctors like Hakimi fear more women may attempt suicide as the pressures grow.

      • The New Humanitarian | Tigrayans claim discrimination and abuse

        The fighting between Ethiopia’s federal government and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) wasn’t a surprise to Tigrayans living in Addis Ababa: They had seen it coming for years. What they didn’t expect was to be living in fear so far away from the front lines.
        Speaking with The New Humanitarian in a series of interviews over the past month, half a dozen Tigrayans living in the country’s capital described ethnic profiling and growing harassment. Such abuse and discrimination by neigbours, strangers, and government officials could, analysts and others warn, widen the rift among Ethiopia’s increasingly polarised ethnic groups, leading to renewed conflict.
        “The war drums have been sounding for years,” said Million Gebremedhin, a Tigrayan restaurant owner who has lived in Addis Ababa since 2014. “The war is not a surprise. But what came after the war, the way [Abiy] is doing it, is a surprise.”
        A month of clashes between government forces and fighters loyal to the ruling party in the Tigray region has displaced an estimated one million people, according to the UN, and killed thousands.

    • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

      • When Did Republicans Start Hating Facts?

        In other words, the point isn’t that the G.O.P. believes untrue things. It is, rather, that the party has become hostile to the very idea that there’s an objective reality that might conflict with its political goals.

    • Environment

    • Finance

    • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

      • Among the Nonbelievers

        Last May, the writer Tara Isabella Burton published a piece in the New York Times Sunday Review about a nascent faith community. A growing number of spiritually hungry young Americans, she wrote, were “finding solace in a decidedly anti-modern vision of faith”—attending Latin Mass, belting out Gregorian chants, even wearing veils to church. Some of them, including the author, had begun to call themselves “Weird Christians.”

      • The Here and Now Dangers of ‘Standing Down’ and ‘Standing By’ for Donald Trump

        Why we need nonviolent citizen action—not street fighting with the Proud Boys—to protect the election results and democracy.

      • How NPR Divides and Conquers

        Wow, you may be wondering, how can you unwittingly be part of a liberal elite, when you’re not even necessarily rich, white, or any of those traditional liberal elite things?  Simple:  you do it by ignoring the elephant in the living room.

        It’s an easy elephant to ignore, for a variety of reasons.  Your editors know it’s there — they’ve been around the block, they know what they’re doing and who they’re working for.  Everybody else generally ignores it, either because they don’t see it there with any clarity, or they’re not really given a chance to mention it within their story’s allotted sixty seconds, or because at every turn, growing up in the US or elsewhere, they have been told it’s not about the elephant, it’s about something else.  The favorite standbys for a long time now?  Race, gender, and sexuality.

      • The Audacity of Surrendering to Autocracy

        We have borne witness for four years to the malfeasance a would-be autocratic regime can inflict without the benefit of strict laws and supervision. Shall we start with kids in cages? Making money off the presidency? Packing the courts? Racism? Tearing apart government agencies? Vindictive purges? (No wonder Donald Trump wanted to buy Greenland: America’s Siberia.)

        Is this what we want the United States of America to become?

      • This Is What the Founding Fathers Wanted
      • 2020: The Last American Election, or the Start of Something New?

        Do “we” really, George? And who is that “we”?

        Judging on the basis of their unfailing infatuation with Trump, it seems that millions of Americans would rather have autocracy and plutocracy than democracy. Also it’s not clear at this point, a month or so before the inauguration, what parts or aspects of American “democracy” have survived, and how much longer they’ll be around.

      • As if none of it ever happened The story of Alexander Vasilevich, a Belarusian businessman and gallery owner who became an enemy of the state before Lukashenko visited him in a KGB jail

        It’s been four months since mass protests against President Alexander Lukashenko (Alyaksandr Lukashenka) started in Belarus. Police have arrested thousands and judges have convicted hundreds. People across different professions, including journalists and entrepreneurs, now have personal experience with political repression. Alexander Vasilevich (Aliaksandr Vasilevich), a gallerist, co-owner of an advertising agency, and co-founder of the digital newspaper “The Village Belarus,” is one of the businessmen targeted by the authorities. In a special report for Meduza, journalist Alexey Shumkin tells Vasilevich’s story.

      • Putin’s cousin establishes another anti-corruption political party

        Roman Putin, the cousin of Russian President Vladimir Putin, has created a new political party called “Russia Without Corruption,” reports RIA Novosti. 

      • ‘Let’s Do This!’: Progressive Powerhouses Swiftly Endorse Nina Turner After She Announces House Run

        Rep. Ro Khanna said that the former Ohio state senator “will bring a phenomenal commitment to a $15 minimum wage, Medicare for All, and free public college.”

      • In Georgia It Will Be Voter Turnout vs. GOP Voter Suppression

        Voters purged are likely to be “young voters, voters of lower income and citizens of racial groups that have been denied their sacred right to vote in the past,” a report from the Georgia American Civil Liberties Union states.

      • Biden: Trump Attempted to Invalidate 20 Million Votes in Four States
      • Stephen Miller: Trump Can Still Win With “Alternate” Electoral College Electors
      • Trump and Pardons

        The power to pardon is something he likes. It makes him feel king-like and strong. It’s lucky his kids and his cronies include So many who’ve done something wrong.

      • The Scars of Democracy

        On April 6, 1967, Theodor W. Adorno accepted an invitation from the Association of Socialist Students at the University of Vienna to deliver a lecture on “aspects of the new right-wing extremism.” The topic held a special urgency: The National Democratic Party, a recently founded neofascist group in West Germany, was surging in popularity and would soon surpass the official 5 percent threshold needed to secure representation in seven of Germany’s 11 regional parliaments. In Europe after World War II, Adorno was highly esteemed not only for his philosophical and cultural writings but also for his analysis of the fascist tendencies that still survived in the so-called liberal democratic orders of the capitalist West, and the students and socialist activists gathered in Vienna were eager to hear his thoughts.

      • New ‘Trump Lame Duck Temper Tantrum’ Tracker Will Document Final Gasps of Nation’s Infantile Outgoing President

        The online tool “will help journalists and all Americans track the final, vindictive actions of this hateful administration.”

      • How Trump Will Win the GOP by Losing the Presidency

        January 6 will mark Trump’s Waterloo

        The final step in certifying that Joe Biden won the 2020 presidential election occurs on Jan. 6. On the date, the new Congress’s two chambers meet in a joint session to count the electoral votes. It is usually a mere formality, which occurs in every presidential election. However, the Electoral Count Act of 1877 requires only one representative and one senator to object to a state’s slate of electors, temporaily stopping the count.

      • ‘Political Consolation Prize’? Biden Picks Buttigieg as Transportation Secretary Despite His Lack of Relevant Experience

        “Uber and Lyft must be ecstatic. If you have a newfangled scheme to undermine workers by deploying the language of management consultants and futurism… Pete is the credulous mark you seek.”

      • The Madness of Kook Donald
      • People Are Taking the Wrong Lesson From Trump’s Failed Coup

        Donald Trump was soundly defeated in his reelection campaign, and, at last, Republicans might be forced to take notice. The mountain of frivolous lawsuits by Trump’s legal team has been defeated. The Supreme Court rejected a last ditch effort by Texas to bait the court into overturning the election results in four critical states. Even the judges Trump appointed specifically in the hope that they’d help him steal the election have basically responded to the President with “new phone, who dis?” Now, electors have formally voted for Joe Biden as the 46th President of the United States. 

      • Putin congratulates Biden on winning U.S. presidential election

        On Tuesday, December 15, Russian President Vladimir Putin sent a message to Joe Biden congratulating him on his victory in the 2020 U.S. presidential elections, the Kremlin reported.

      • ‘They found a foot and a bottle of vodka’ Life in Russia’s southern Kamchatka, where there’s one increasingly hungry bear for every two people

        The number of wandering bears rivals the human population in Ozernovsky, a town in southern Kamchatka. Meduza correspondent Irina Kravtsova visited the remote area to learn how locals manage to live alongside animals that can turn deadly when driven from their usual food sources, which are rapidly disappearing, thanks to overfishing.

      • Republicans Will Take Their Assault on Democracy to Congress—and It Will Be Awful

        Joe Biden has been elected as the 46th president of the United States by the popular vote of the American people and by the Electoral College. But Republican representatives are plotting to force a congressional debate about accepting the result that will make the next month one of the ugliest periods in American political history.

      • The Biden Administration Can Reverse Much of Trump’s Bad Labor Policy Without Congress

        The Trump administration has consistently advanced a pro-corporate, anti-worker agenda. It is critical that the Biden administration work with the same diligence from day one to reverse these actions.

      • Progressives Have a Bold Agenda. Biden Should Act on Their Priorities in His First 100 Days.

        With the Electoral College confirming him as the next president, Joe Biden now faces his true test. Will he act swiftly and boldly to meet the calamitous crises he inherits? Or will his penchant for working across the aisle, combined with sobering down-ballot election results, lead him to fail what he describes as a “Roosevelt moment?”

      • Biden Urged to Stand Against Line 3 as Water Protectors Battle Dirty Tar Sands Pipeline

        “We fight on because we must.”

      • Mitch McConnell Wants to Let Corporations Kill You Without Consequence

        This is beyond immoral. This is ghastly, and should have been at the top of every news story in America for the past six months.

      • Trump Shares Tweet Calling for Georgia Republicans to Be Jailed for Disloyalty
      • McConnell Acknowledges Biden’s Win, Tells GOP Senators Not to Contest It
      • ‘Disgusting Legacy and Stain on Democracy’: As Barr Resigns, Democrats and Rights Groups Say Good Riddance

        “Bill Barr won’t be missed. He is a corrupt liar who attacked our democracy and did an injustice to justice in this country.”

      • Bye-Bye, Bill Barr: Trump’s Roy Cohn Impersonator Resigns

        There is no way in hell I will count outgoing Attorney General Bill Barr among the people who stood up to Donald Trump. I’d put voter-suppressing Georgia Governor Brian Kemp way ahead, given the Georgia fracas, and I am on the record as not a Kemp fan.

      • William Barr Resigns as Attorney General on Heels of Electoral College Vote
      • William Barr Achieved What He Set Out to Do — Grossly Expand Executive Power
      • FTC’s Misses Opportunity To Understand Social Media; Instead Goes For Weird Fishing Expedition Against Odd Grouping Of Companies

        On Monday, the FTC announced that it was issuing what’s known as 6(b) orders to nine social media and video streaming companies, demanding a fairly massive amount of information regarding their data collection and usage policies, as well as their advertising practices. To me, this is a huge missed opportunity. If the FTC is truly trying to gain a better understanding of data collection, privacy, and advertising practices, perhaps to better inform Congress on how to, say, pass a truly comprehensive (and useful?!?) privacy legislation, then there are ways to do that. But this… is not that. This looks like a weird fishing expedition for a ton of unrelated information, from an odd selection of nine companies, many of whom are in a very different business than the others. It leaves me quite perplexed.

      • William Barr Resigns as Attorney General After Acting as Trump’s “Enabler-in-Chief” at DOJ

        William Barr is resigning as attorney general, leaving his post after angering President Trump for not backing his baseless claims of widespread voter fraud more strongly. But despite their split, Barr has been one of Trump’s staunchest allies, echoing much of the president’s inflammatory rhetoric about Black Lives Matter and antifascist activists this year even while downplaying the threat posed by far-right extremists. In June, Barr reportedly personally ordered police to beat and tear-gas peaceful protesters gathered near the White House in order to clear a path for President Trump to walk to the nearby St. John’s Episcopal Church for an infamous photo op holding a Bible. David Cole, the national legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union, says despite their recent split, Barr was Trump’s “most loyal henchman” during his tenure. Barr was “entirely President Trump’s right-hand man, doing his bidding rather than providing an independent Justice Department,” Cole says.

      • Election Chaos Adds Fuel to Campaign for a National Popular Vote to Elect U.S. President

        President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris officially won the Electoral College Monday, as electors met in their respective state capitols to formalize their victory. President Trump continued to claim without evidence he was the victim of a massive conspiracy to rig the election. Republicans across the country attempted to undermine the election results, and right-wing supporters threatened violence. John Koza, chair of National Popular Vote, says the chaos of the 2020 election is further proof that the United States should abandon the Electoral College system as it is currently constituted and elect presidents by popular vote instead. “The flaws of the current system have become more and more apparent to people,” he says.

      • Brexit Bluster Exposes the Waning of English Power
      • Joe Biden’s Biggest Challenge

        Our task must be to ensure he finds the energy and political will to do so.

      • French and Russian Influence Operations Go Head to Head Targeting Audiences in Africa

        On December 15, Facebook announced that it had taken down three separate networks that it had discovered for “coordinated inauthentic behavior” that targeted communities across Africa. One, centered on the Central African Republic (CAR) and Mali, was linked to individuals associated with the French military. The other two, centered respectively on CAR and Libya, were connected to the business and influence operations of Russian oligarch Yevgeniy Prigozhin, founder of the mercenary organization Wagner Group and the Internet Research Agency “troll farm.” The French and Russian operations in the CAR tried to expose each other, and repeatedly clashed in groups, comments, and cartoon wars.

        We have documented the first of the Russian operations in a joint report with Stanford University entitled “Stoking Conflict by Keystroke”; this report focuses on the French and Russian operations that targeted CAR. For the sake of brevity, the operation linked to individuals with ties to the French military will be referred to as the “French operation” in this report, while the Russian operation attributed to individuals associated with past activity by the Internet Research Agency (IRA) and previous operations attributed to entities associated with Russian financier Yevgeniy Prigozhin is referred to as the “Russian operation” in this report. It is worth highlighting that Facebook did not attribute the operation directly to the French Government or the French military, and that this report similarly does not offer evidence of institutional involvement from French governmental and military entities.

    • Censorship/Free Speech

      • Trump Appoints Unqualified Guy Who Hates Section 230 To Top Justice Department Role

        In 2018, we wrote about a law professor named Adam Candeub, who was one of the lawyers for white supremacist Jared Taylor, suing Twitter in a doomed lawsuit for kicking him off its platform. I had a confusing email exchange with Candeub which I wrote about in that piece, which suggested that he was either unaware of Section 230 at the time he filed the lawsuit, or simply confused about the long list of decisions around 230 that made the lawsuit an obvious loser (which is what happened). Candeub and his co-counsel were very angry about my article, and insisted that their alternative interpretation of Section 230 would win the day.

      • The internal school emails from the week before Paty’s beheading tell the story of Western cowardice in facing Islam. What’s next? Op-ed.

        “Je suis enseignant”, we are all teachers, says the slogan brandished after the beheading of Professor Samuel Paty in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine for showing the cartoons of Mohammed during a course on freedom of expression.

        A Le Monde investigation revealed a less edifying reality.

        There is the support of the principal and many parents, but also the many criticisms by the teachers who attacked Paty.

        The newspaper accessed Paty’s and the school’s emails. Reading them, the life of a middle school on the outskirts of Paris emerges, traumatized by a story that everyone believed would soon be forgotten.

    • Freedom of Information/Freedom of the Press

    • Civil Rights/Policing

      • Justice for the Innocent
      • Eighteen Sheriff’s Deputies Waited 500 Yards Away While A Burglar Terrorized A 70-Year-Old Disabled Man

        There is no legal obligation for police officers to protect citizens. There may be a moral obligation. And there may be the obligation thrust on certain departments who’ve adopted mottos or decorated their badges with “protection” niceties, but that obligation only goes as far as the courts demand… which is nowhere.

      • The Border Patrol Is Cracking Down on Humanitarian Aid

        In early October, for the second time in less than three months, Border Patrol agents raided a No More Deaths humanitarian aid camp about 11 miles north of the Arizona-Mexico border. After being detained with her fellow volunteers, Paige Corich-Kleim watched as agents descended into the camp with military-style vehicles and weapons to terrorize and eventually detain 12 migrants seeking food, water, and medical aid at the camp. Despite past victories in court establishing that humanitarian aid is not a crime and that No More Deaths should be able to operate freely without Customs and Border Protection (CBP) intimidation, its camps and the people seeking lifesaving assistance there continue to be threatened.

      • Numerous cases of threats against Christian refugees by Muslims in German refugee homes

        According to their own statements, both refugees had come to the Christian faith in Iran and fled from there because of reprisals by the police. “At first everything was good,” said Hamed F. “But when we started going to a church service on Sundays, the abuse started.” The hostility by some of the Muslim housemates also escalated into assault, he said. [...]

      • AfD Slams Parliament For Importing a Culture That Hates Women – ‘You are turning Berlin into Baghdad’ (Video)

        On the floor of the German Parliament, MEP Mariana Harder-Kühnel for the Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) party slammed Angela Merkel and left-wing parties for importing a culture who believes in abusing and murdering women. Violence against German women has reached epidemic proportions due to Merkel’s suicidal mass-migration policies relating to Muslim countries.

      • Before Operation Dixie | Dissent Magazine

        Amid the continuing devastation of the COVID-19 pandemic, massive street protests against police brutality, and rising demands to end systemic racism in U.S. society and politics, a new book by the political scientist Michael Goldfield provides a glimmer of hope based upon his detailed analysis of labor struggles in the South during the Great Depression through the postwar years. According to Goldfield, the fate of the Southern labor movement holds “the golden key” not only for understanding how the nation took a sharp right turn during the latter part of the century, but also for transforming the economy and politics of the United States today.
        Most studies of the 1930s and 1940s stress the failure of the Southern labor movement in the face of persistent racism, corporate resistance, and repressive police power. While acknowledging its shortcomings, Goldfield forcefully argues that they were by no means inevitable. In his view, this period represented a unique opportunity to transform not only the region’s labor and race relations but also political and social relations in the nation as a whole. In careful detail, The Southern Key documents interracial organizing across four major industries—textiles, wood, coal, and steel—and multiple cities and towns in the South, including Birmingham, Alabama; Paint Creek and Cabin Creek, West Virginia; Bogalusa, Louisiana; Elizabethton, Tennessee; and Marion, North Carolina.
        Drawing from an exceedingly rich body of secondary studies on the region’s labor history, Goldfield reinforces his argument by calling attention to similar movements in a variety of other industries and cities across the South. Militant labor struggles emerged among packinghouse workers in Fort Worth, Texas; food and textile workers in Winston-Salem, North Carolina; farm equipment workers in Louisville, Kentucky; and oil workers in Port Arthur, Texas, among others. Unionized Texas oil workers, for example, in addition to negotiating a contract with management, also initiated a drive to register black voters and campaigned against the discriminatory poll tax.

      • Defunding the Police | National Lawyers Guild

        In the second article of the series, NLG member and attorney Paul Petrequin discusses the emerging movement to defund the police and suggests two strategies to immediately initiate this process: 1) investing in infrastructure and resources to address mental health crisis intervention and 2) ending the War on Drugs through decriminalization and treatment.

      • 2020: I’m So Sick of Superlatives

        “There have been worse years in U.S. history,” admits author Stephanie Zacharek, but not, to her way of thinking, since World War Two.  Between a heavy hurricane and fire season, police violence and the accompanying protests, a circus of a presidential election, and a global pandemic, Zacharek opines, none but the oldest among us can remember a year nearly as bad.

        Just how bad a given year was is, of course, a matter of opinion, but Zacharek’s opinion on 2020 strikes me as overwrought in a way that’s becoming increasingly typical of whiny American poor-us-ism.

    • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

      • Space X Gets $886 Million From FCC To Put Very Small Dent In U.S. Broadband Gaps

        For a country that likes to talk about “being number one” a lot, that’s sure not reflected in the United States’ broadband networks, or the broadband maps we use to determine which areas lack adequate broadband or competition (resulting in high prices and poor service). While the U.S. government doesn’t genuinely know who has broadband and who doesn’t (in part thanks to telecom lobbyists who have fought more accurate mapping to obfuscate monopolization) the best estimates we do have aren’t pretty.

    • Monopolies/Antitrust

      • Wednesday Whimsies [Ed: The European Commission copies the United States with malicious propaganda and shame lists for robber barons]

        The European Commission has published the Counterfeit and Piracy Watch List 2020.The Watch List names both online and physical marketplaces that reportedly engage in, or facilitate, substantial IPR infringements, in particular by counterfeiting and piracy. More information on the list is available here.

      • NCAA v. Alston: Antitrust and Athlete Pay

        Best sports of the season may actually be in the court — the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court has agreed to hear the antitrust against the NCAA and ACC regarding payments to student athletes.

      • Patents

        • Phillips Standard Saves Finjan’s Claims in IPR (IMO)

          This appeal stems from an IPR proceedings filed by Palo Alto (PANW) against Finjan’s US. Patent No. 8,141,154. Back in 2017, the Board originally sided with Finjan and confirmed patentability of the claims (not proven unpatentable). In a 2018 appeal, however, the Federal Circuit vacated that decision under SAS. The IPR had only been partially-instituted and the Supreme Court in SAS held that partial-institution is improper. On remand, the Board expanded its institution to all challenged claims and then again sided with the patentee — finding none of the challenged claims were proven unpatentable. On appeal here, the Federal Circuit has affirmed.

          [...]

          Phillips Standard for Claim Construction: On the merits, the Federal Circuit affirmed. I believe that this appeal may have turned on Dir. Iancu’s decision to stop using broadest-reasonable-interpretation during inter partes review proceedings in favor of the narrower Phillips standard used by district courts.

          Here, the claims require a “a call to a first function” and the prior art taught a more indirect way of initiating the function — which the Board found did not fit the construction of “call.” The Board explained — “a call to a function is simply not equal to invoking a function.” I expect that a BRI construction would have expanded the term to include the prior art. On appeal here, the Federal Circuit affirmed the construction and the nonobviousness result.

        • The USPTO Patent Litigation Dataset: Open Source, Extensive Docket and Patent Number Data | Patently-O

          Many online services provide district court patent litigation dockets, documents, and associated patent numbers. However, none of these services offer comprehensive, hand-coded patent numbers and case types, plus full dockets and key documents (complaints, summary judgments, verdicts), downloadable in bulk at no charge and with no license restrictions.

          After more than three years of extensive automated and manual review of patent dockets, the USPTO’s Office of the Chief Economist —in conjunction with researchers from the University of San Diego’s Center for IP Law & Markets (myself) and Northwestern Law School (David L. Schwartz)—have completed that very goal, expanding upon the patent litigation dataset the USPTO had released in 2015.

          [...]

          In examining litigation trends, many researchers across the academic, public, and private sectors have used proprietary datasets, which generally could not be disclosed to other researchers for study replication and testing. Hopefully, academics and others will now use the USPTO’s fully open dataset for studies on the U.S. patent litigation system to allow for meaningful review of empirical studies.

        • Does the injunction gap violate implementers’ fair trial rights under the ECHR?

          In jurisdictions with bifurcated patent systems, infringement claims and invalidity attacks are heard in separate proceedings, before different courts. Bifurcation is often defended on the grounds that the validity of the patent can be assessed by judges with technical expertise. Germany, Hungary and Austria each have bifurcated patent systems. A compromise position was adopted in Article 33(3) of the Agreement on a Unified Patent Court, whereby the division hearing an infringement claim may either refer invalidity claims to the central division or hear both claims with the assistance of a technically qualified judge.

          Bifurcation, however, also has disadvantages, the most important of which is that remedies for infringement may be imposed on the basis of a patent that is later revoked by the court hearing the validity defence. This problem is colloquially known as the “injunction gap”. A recent study by Henkel and Zischka [here] found that between 2010 and 2012, German courts fully invalidated 45% of patents and partially invalidated 33% more. And a study by Cremers et al [here] found that between 2000 and 2008, a patent was considered (partially) infringed and later (partially) invalidated in 41.3% of cases. These numbers suggest that in practice, the injunction gap is likely to lead to a nontrivial number of instances where remedies are imposed on the basis of invalid patents.

          Unsurprisingly, the injunction gap has been the subject of much criticism. In the pending patent reform process in Germany, for instance, virtually all stakeholders expressed concerns over it [Katpost here, publicly available stakeholder positions here].

          What is perhaps more surprising is that there have been no serious attempts to challenge the injunction gap on the ground that this system violates an infringer’s right to a fair trial under Article 6 of the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR). By way of lockdown therapy, this Kat has penned an analysis of this issue, with much help from his old colleague and pal Max Schellhorn. The article is forthcoming in GRUR International. Unfortunately, this journal’s open access policy doesn’t allow advance sharing of the manuscript, but a preview of the argument is provided in this post.

      • Trademarks

        • French Film Company Somehow Trademarks ‘Planet’, Goes After Environmental NGOs For Using The Word

          We cover a great many ridiculous and infuriating trademark disputes here, but it’s always the disputes around overly broad terms that never should have been trademarked to begin with that are the most frustrating. And that most irritating of those is when we get into geographic terms that never should be locked up by any single company or entity. Examples in the past have included companies fighting over who gets to use the name of their home city of “Detroit”, or when grocer Iceland Foods got so aggressive in its own trademark enforcement that the — checks notes — nation of Iceland had to seek to revoke the company’s EU trademark registration.

        • Acquired distinctiveness and sub-brands – Tefal ‘red dot’ mark is denied trade mark protection by UKIPO

          In December 2018, registration was sought for the above mark as a position mark (later clarified to a figurative mark, since the UK does not expressly recognise position marks, unlike the EUIPO), consisting of “a plain red dot affixed centrally to the bottom of a cooking receptacle (such as a pan, saucepan)”. Registration was sought for the following class 21 goods: frying pans, saucepans, casseroles, stew-pans, cooking pots, crepe pans, grills, and woks.

          Upon first examination in January 2019, the mark was rejected on the basis of section 3(1)(b) TMA as the mark was deemed to be devoid of distinctive character, on the basis that the mark, when seen by the relevant consumer, would not have trade mark significance attributed to it.

          The applicant sought permission from the examiner to conduct a survey across UK High Streets in order to demonstrate acquired distinctiveness of the mark, with the examiner merely stating that the applicant must decide for itself the evidence it chooses to submit to prove acquired distinctiveness, and no comments being made about the questions asked. Following several extensions to respond to the comments of the examiner, the applicant submitted survey evidence and other material intended to show acquired distinctiveness.

      • Copyrights

        • The EU’s Digital Markets Act: There Is A Lot To Like, but Room for Improvement

          The DMA addresses itself to “gatekeeper platforms”: very large tech companies that  sit between other businesses and their customers and control “core services”, such as search engines, social networking services, certain messaging services, operating systems, and online intermediation services. Think of how Amazon controls access to customers for merchants that sell on its platform and the manufacturers who make their products, or how the Android and iPhone app stores serve as chokepoints in delivering mobile software. These companies are gatekeepers both because of their business models and their scale: It’s hard to imagine making a successful mobile app without going through the app stores. The DMA identifies core platform services as gatekeepers when they have a significant impact on the EU internal market (e.g. through earnings), have a strong intermediation position (e.g. through their number of users), and which show an entrenched and durable position (number of years in business).

          The DMA’s premise is that gatekeepers are international in nature, and EU member states on their own can’t hope to regulate them; it takes an international body like the EU itself to bring them to heel by forcing them to comply with a list of do’s and don’ts. Hence, gatekeepers will need to proactively implement certain practices and refrain from engaging in certain types of unfair behavior. Certain obligations should be complied with by design, while others may be subject to further specification following a dialogue between the Commission and the gatekeepers concerned.

          DMA regulations divide gatekeepers’ businesses into “core services,” for example, selling  goods on Amazon or apps in an app store, and “ancillary services,” which are the other ways gatekeepers make money, like payment processing and  advertising. In general, the DMA hits hardest at ancillary services, for example, by banning platforms from requiring their business customers to use their payment processors.

        • European Commission’s Proposed Digital Services Act Got Several Things Right, But Improvements Are Necessary to Put Users in Control

          The new EU Internet bill preserves the key pillars of the current Internet rules embodied in the EU’s e-Commerce Directive. The Commission followed our recommendation to refrain from forcing platforms to monitor and censor what users say or upload online. It seems to have learned a lesson from recent disastrous Internet bills like Article 17, which makes platforms police users’ speech.The draft allows intermediaries to continue to benefit from comprehensive liability exemptions so, as a principle, they will not be held liable for user content. Due to a European-style “good samaritan” clause, this includes situations where platforms voluntarily act against illegal content. However, the devil lies in the details and we need to make sure that platforms are not nudged to employ “voluntary” upload filters.

          The DSA sets out new due diligence obligations for flagging illegal content for all providers of intermediary services, and establishes special type and size-oriented obligations for online platforms, including the very large ones.We said from the start that a one-size fits all approach to Internet regulations for social media networks does not work for an Internet that is monopolized by a few powerful platforms. We can therefore only support new due diligence obligations that are matched to the type and size of the platform. The Commission rightly recognizes that the silencing of speech is a systemic risk on very large platforms and that transparency about content moderation can improve the status quo. However, we will carefully analyze other, potentially problematic provisions, such as requiring platforms to report certain types of illegal content to law enforcement authorities. Rules on supervision, investigation, and enforcement deserve in-depth scrutiny from the European Parliament and the Council.

          Here, the Commission has taken a welcome first step towards more procedural justice. Significantly, the Commission acknowledges that platforms frequently make mistakes when moderating content. Recognizing that users deserve more transparency about platforms’ decisions to remove content or close accounts, the draft regulations call for online platforms to provide a user-friendly complaint handling system and restore content or accounts that were wrongly removed.However, we have concerns that platforms, rather than courts, are increasingly becoming the arbiters of what speech can or cannot be posted online. A harmonized notification system for all sorts of content will increase the risk that the platform becomes aware about the illegality of content and thus held liable for it.

        • EU’s Digital Services Act Proposes New Content Removal Rights and Rules

          The European Commission has just released a draft of its Digital Services Act, which will dictate how online services deal with potentially illegal content. The proposed legislation prohibits monitoring or filtering obligations. In addition, it improves transparency and allows senders of false takedown notices to be suspended.

        • EU proposes new laws to keep big technology companies in check

          The European Commission, the executive arm of the EU, has proposed new laws under which technology companies can be fined up to 10% of their global turnover and also face orders to split up.

        • EU Adds Telegram to ‘Piracy Watch List’ and Removes Cloudflare

          The European Commission has released its 2020 piracy watch list which provides an overview of notorious markets located outside of the EU. The report is largely based on input from copyright holders and has a strong focus on malware threats. For the first time, it also lists ‘social media’ platforms including the popular messenger app Telegram.

        • The Broadcasting Act Blunder, Day 17: The Uncertain Policy Directive

          (prior posts in the Broadcasting Act Blunder series include Day 1: Why there is no Canadian Content Crisis, Day 2: What the Government Doesn’t Say About Creating a “Level Playing Field”, Day 3: Minister Guilbeault Says Bill C-10 Contains Economic Thresholds That Limit Internet Regulation. It Doesn’t, Day 4: Why Many News Sites are Captured by Bill C-10, Day 5: Narrow Exclusion of User Generated Content Services, Day 6: The Beginning of the End of Canadian Broadcast Ownership and Control Requirements, Day 7: Beware Bill C-10’s Unintended Consequences, Day 8: The Unnecessary Discoverability Requirements, Day 9: Why Use Cross-Subsidies When the Government is Rolling out Tech Tax Policies?, Day 10: Downgrading the Role of Canadians in their Own Programming, Day 11: The “Regulate Everything” Approach – Licence or Registration Required, Broadcast Reform Bill Could Spell the End of Canadian Ownership Requirements, Day 12: The “Regulate Everything” Approach – The CRTC Conditions, Day 13: The “Regulate Everything” Approach – Targeting Individual Services, Day 14: The Risk to Canadian Ownership of Intellectual Property, Day 15: Mandated Confidential Data Disclosures May Keep Companies Out of Canada, Day 16: Mandated Payments and a Reality Check on Guilbeault’s Billion Dollar Claim, The Law Bytes Podcast, Episode 73: The Broadcasting Act Blunder – Why Minister Guilbeault is Wrong)

        • Africa IP [sic] highlights 2020 #1: The copyright field [Ed: When Africa adopts oppressive laws designed to keep rich nations exploiting Africa -- law made by and for those people at Africa's expense]

          In November, specific developments in Copyright and related rights in Kenya happened through amendment of the law. Copyright (Amendment) Act was enacted in 2019 with heavy focus on administration of rights. [See Katpost on this here]. This was followed by the Copyright Regulations, 2020 and Copyright (Collective Management) Regulations, 2020, which were aimed at easing the process of collection and distribution of royalties to rights holders. These changes were largely motivated by frustration expressed by artists on the royalties they received from their CMOs. Further, National Rights Registry (NRR) was established under the auspices of KECOBO in a bid to restructure the compensation structure for right holders. The main function of the NRR is to collate all details on ownership of copyright works in Kenya. Registration of copyright will also be under the NRR.

          By their enabling statutes, National and State Film and Video Censorship Boards in Nigeria are empowered to examine the content of films intended for public exhibition and determine their classification. In recent times, some filmmakers and distributors have taken to publishing their work on YouTube, instead of through the conventional channels (television and DVDs), thereby avoiding the classification requirement. However, in November, the Kano State Film and Censorship Board announced that the Board must vet all movies prior to their being uploaded on Hausa YouTube channels. Also in November, the member of the Trade & Industry Committee indicated that the South African Copyright Amendment Bill and the Performer’s Protection Amendment Bill would remain in limbo until 2021. This was after the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) had made multiple presentations to Parliament’s portfolio committee on the Bill in August.

          This December, news came of a decision of a Federal High Court in Lagos, Nigeria prohibiting Copyright Society of Nigeria (COSON) from distributing royalties to its members in a manner, known as “General distribution” as such distribution does not reflect the usage of works covered by COSON’s repertoire and is not based on usage information furnished by users. COSON has a practice known as “general distribution” where it sets aside part of the royalties it receives and shares a flat sum to all members irrespective of whether they have earned royalties in a given year.

        • The Improved CC Search

          “The CC Search website is a tool that is available to everyone on the internet, but its accessibility is quite low. The reasons for its low accessibility are varied in nature which affects different sections of people. Due to this reduced accessibility, it is not possible for everyone to completely utilize all the features that CC search provides and thus it becomes imperative to fix this issue. The final deliverable of this project will be a highly accessible website which everyone on the web can access from any device or region and which fully accommodates every visitor to enable them to utilize the search to its fullest.” 

        • Gaming Like It’s 1925: Get Ready For The Next Public Domain Game Jam

          Sign up for the Public Domain Game Jam on itch.io »

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