03.03.21

Links 3/3/2021: OpenSUSE Leap 15.3 Beta, GNU Denemo 2.5, and NomadBSD 1.4

Posted in News Roundup at 6:43 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

  • GNU/Linux

    • Linux for Beginners: Should You Make the Switch?

      When it comes to operating systems, most people tend to go for the most popular options. If you’re buying a Mac computer, you probably won’t use Windows. PC owners typically choose it without giving this decision a second thought. Still, there is a low-key third option used to power many machines but is rarely used by your average PC owner.

      We’re talking about Linux OS, of course. In its many variations, Linux is used as a software basis for many servers, IoT appliances, and many other devices but rarely do we see regular users opt for it. Why is that? Well, let’s take a closer look at this subject and see if this is a good OS choice for you.

    • Why it’s a good thing that the Linux desktop is boring again

      Hopefully the title has piqued your interest, as that was the intent. With the upcoming release of GNOME 40, I’ve found myself in a rather contemplative and nostalgic mood lately. I remember, back in the early 2000s, I’d read about a new desktop in development called GNOME. Curiosity got the best of me and installed the beta version of the environment.

      If I’m being honest, I wasn’t impressed. My formative years with the Linux desktop were spent using the likes of AfterStep and Enlightenment E16. If you know either of those desktops (or Window Managers) you get it. Both of them were exceptionally configurable and could be made to look absolutely gorgeous. At one point, I had AfterStep tricked out to the point where everything was varying degrees of transparency and the window decorations were as much sculpture as they were code. When people saw my desktop, they were astonished. It was a work of art.

    • Desktop/Laptop

      • Italian judge punishes Lenovo for not reimbursing Windows license

        In 2014, the italian Court of Cassation sanctioned the right of italian consumers to the refund of Microsoft Windows licenses, that are indiscriminately charged even to consumers who purchase computers with Windows pre-installed, but will immediately uninstall, and thus never use it.

        Three years ago, Luca Bonissi, an italian advocate of “Free as in Freedom” software, who had already gone through similar experiences bought a Lenovo Ideapad tablet, and decided to get that refund, exactly because he would not run Windows on it anyway.

    • Server

      • Changing Of The Guard For HPC And Big Iron At HPE

        Hewlett Packard Enterprise has been building a mainstream and grassroots server business aimed at large enterprises, HPC centers, and academic and government institutions for two decades. HPE took a run at the hyperscalers and cloud builders and large service providers with its Cloudline minimalist machinery, but has largely backed away from that business because margins are thin to non-existent.

        The systems business that is left represents the core of HPE after it has largely divested its software and services business, which it spent tens of billions of dollars to acquire to try to create a clone of IBM, and split off its PC and printer business into an entirely different company.

        While the original Hewlett Packard has a long history in proprietary and Unix systems, it was the acquisition of Compaq way back in September 2001 for $25 billion that gave what is now HPE a volume server business aimed at small, medium, and large enterprises as well as the emerging webscale companies. The rivalry with Dell (and to a lesser extent with Lenovo, Inspur, and Sugon) and the rise of the original design manufacturers who work directly with the hyperscalers and large public cloud builders (Foxconn, Quanta, Inventec, WiWynn, and such) have put the hurt on this ProLiant server business. But that ProLiant business is still formidable, and has many millions of loyal customers.

      • SUSE: 7 Digital Transformation Questions IT Should Ask Their Business Managers

        During the journey of digital transformation, organizations have to master several things at the same time: adopting new innovations, increasing efficiency, and maintaining continuity. IT not only plays a crucial role in these improvements but in many cases also leads transformation projects that improve the business.

    • Audiocasts/Shows

      • Font Preview Ueberzug: A Better Font Previewer

        A while back I looked at a font preview script but it was kind of annoying to use, but it turns out there’s a much better version of that script called font preview ueberzug which is what we’re checking out today.

      • Ubuntu Voltage

        For a few years we’ve been performing a live version of an Ubuntu Podcast at FOSS Talk Live. This is a lively, nerdy, in-person Linux Podcast event at the Harrison Pub in London. A few shows are performed in front of a live slightly drunk studio pub audience. We are but one troup of performers though, over the course of the evening.

        The whole thing is organised by Joe Ressington and attended by our friends and/or/xor listeners. Joe has just announced over on episode 114 of Late Night Linux that we’re all doing it again! Go and listen to that show for a small amount of detail.

      • FLOSS Weekly 619: Notetaking With Dendron – Kevin Lin and Dendron [Ed: FLOSS Weekly jumping the shark by pushing Microsoft proprietary software instead of actual FLOSS]

        Kevin Lin and Dendron.

        Kevin Lin joins Jonathan Bennett and Katherine Druckman to talk about Dendron, a note-taking application built on top of VSCode. After many years of taking notes, Kevin found himself with a massive, unmanageable personal knowledge store. None of the existing note-taking applications quite solved his problem, so Kevin did the only reasonable thing, and wrote his own. On this episode of FLOSS Weekly, Lin covers some of his design decisions, including building Dendron on VSCode and Javascript, and helps us understand how Dendron can help tame the jungle of personal knowledge.

    • Kernel Space

      • Intel Sends Out KVM SGX Virtualization Patches For Linux – Phoronix

        Intel SGX support finally landed in Linux 5.11 after going through 40+ rounds of review that took years for bringing up Software Guard Extensions in the mainline kernel. But that trek isn’t yet over as Intel is now working on KVM SGX virtualization support to be upstreamed.

        Intel earlier sent out a “request for comments” on KVM SGX virtualization support while on Monday they sent out the first formal (non-RFC) patch series with this support for handling Software Guard Extensions in the context of KVM virtualization. Basically this allows for a portion of the system memory to be encrypted with an SGX enclave exclusively for a KVM guest virtual machine that can’t be accessed outside of the secure enclave. Separate from SGX enclaves, Intel also has coming out with future CPUs the Total Memory Encryption (TME) feature. AMD meanwhile has been working on Secure Encrypted Virtualization (SEV) with Secure Memory Encryption (SME) as their EPYC approach for securing guest VM memory from other VMs or the host.

      • Linux 5.12 Lands Fix For File-System Corruption Caused By Swapfile Issue – Phoronix

        For those wanting to help in testing out the Linux 5.12 kernel, at least it should no longer eat your data now if you rely on a swapfile.

        The file-system corruption issue on Linux 5.12 Git noted last week and then followed up on yesterday when the corruption hit Intel’s graphics CI systems and narrowed down to a set of swap-related changes, has now been resolved with today’s latest Git code.

        [...]

        With that fix now in, we can get back to looking at Linux 5.12 performance changes and other more interesting testing than worrying about data loss.

      • High severity Linux network security holes found, fixed | ZDNet

        Young and rising Linux security developer Alexander Popov of Russia’s Positive Technologies discovered and fixed a set of five security holes in the Linux kernel’s virtual socket implementation. An attacker could use these vulnerabilities (CVE-2021-26708) to gain root access and knock out servers in a Denial of Service (DoS) attack.

    • Benchmarks

      • Blender 2.92 Linux & Windows Performance: Best CPUs & Graphics Cards

        Blender’s latest version, 2.92, has just released, and as usual, we’re going to dig into its performance and see which CPUs and GPUs reign supreme. For something a bit different this go-around, we’re adding Linux results to our rendering and viewport tests, and not surprisingly, the results are interesting!

        [...]

        When a new major version of Blender releases, we typically retest all of our hardware in Windows, and only Windows. After hearing your requests loud and clear, this article will also take care of Linux performance. Given the amount of time that it takes to test both OSes, we can’t promise that we’ll do this with every major release, but this certainly won’t be the last time.

        This article is going to tackle rendering to the CPU, the GPU, as well as mixed rendering with CPU and GPU combined. Our initial GPU render testing showed that Windows and Linux perform virtually the same, so we opted to show only Windows for the GPU results. There are, however, notable differences in performance with regards to CPU rendering when it comes to Windows vs. Linux, so CPUs were tested on both OSes.

        Our viewport tests will be found on the next page, where we will use two projects to see how our collection of graphics cards scale from one viewport mode to the next, again in both OSes.

    • Instructionals/Technical

      • How to install Kali Linux 2021.1

        In this video, I am going to show how to install Kali Linux 2021.1.

      • Arch Linux: Full Installation Guide – A complete tutorial/walkthrough in one video!

        “I run Arch!” You hear everyone else saying it, now you can say it too! In this video, we’ll go through the process of setting up Arch Linux from scratch. It’ll start at the command-line, and we’ll build the installation all the way up to a full desktop environment!

      • How To Set Up Redis as a Cache for MySQL with PHP on Ubuntu 20.04

        Redis is an open-source and in-memory data structure store that can be used for caching, real-time analytics, searching, and machine learning. Integrate Redis with PHP and MySQL will improve your application performance because Redis stores data in RAM.

        You can use it with databases like MySQL or MariaDB. Redis provides a mechanism to cache your queries. For example, when a user requests your application page the first time, a MySQL query is performed on the server, and Redis caches this query to RAM. When another user requests the same page, you don’t need to query the database again.

      • 7 Ways to Customize Cinnamon Desktop in Linux

        Linux Mint is one the best Linux distributions for beginners. Especially Windows users that want to switch to Linux, will find its flagship Cinnamon desktop environment very familiar.

        Cinnamon gives a traditional desktop experience and many users like it as it is. It doesn’t mean you have to content with what it provides. Cinnamon provides several ways for customizing the desktop.

      • How to install Toontown Rewritten on a Chromebook

        Today we are looking at how to install Toontown Rewritten on a Chromebook. Please follow the video/audio guide as a tutorial where we explain the process step by step and use the commands below.

      • How to install the Brave Beta Browser on Linux Mint 20.1 – YouTube

        In this video, we are looking at how to install the Brave Beta Browser on Linux Mint 20.1.

      • Openstack RDO && KVM Hypervisor: Install intellij-idea on Fedora 33 via COPR Repository

        Procedure below works quite smoothly and eliminates any issues during similar manual setup which is available as well via `sudo dnf install openjfs`. First enable COPR Repository and perform install

        $ sudo dnf copr enable lkiesow/intellij-idea-community$ sudo dnf install intellij-idea-community

        During the very first run you will be given an option to install the most recent Oracle’s JDK ( second snapshot )

      • How to Install a Specific Kernel Version in CentOS

        The Linux Kernel is the underlying core of all GNU/Linux distributions. The kernel, GNU standard programs, and additional programs and GUI on top of them make up a GNU/Linux operating system. CentOS is one such popular GNU/Linux operating system that comes under the RedHat family of Linux distributions.

        As the Linux kernel grows in size, more and more resources are spent in its development; mainly to incorporate support for newer hardware, amongst other things. However, there can be scenarios when an upgraded Kernel version is giving certain errors on a piece of hardware. There can be cases also when you want to test an older version of the kernel for compatibility purposes.

      • Tips for using tmux | Enable Sysadmin

        Prior to Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8, the screen command was included. In version 8, the decision was made to deprecate screen and use tmux instead. tmux is a terminal multiplexer which means that you’re able to have a process running, disconnect from the system, and then reconnect at a later time and from a different computer so that you can continue working in that process. An easy way to demonstrate this is to SSH to a remote system, start tmux, and then from inside of that, start a ping command to a remote system, disconnect from tmux, resume tmux, and you’ll see that the ping is still going.

      • Tips for using screen | Enable Sysadmin

        What happens when you’re connected to a remote system, using a long-running program, and then the connection drops? The odds are, at a minimum, you’re going to have to restart the program, and in a worst-case scenario, you’ll have data corruption. To help get around this, some programs run in a window shell on the system.

      • How to Install the YouTube Add-on in Kodi – LinuxBabe

        In a previous tutorial, we explained how you can install LibreELEC on a Raspberry Pi to set up a home media server and replace your smart TV OS. This tutorial is going to show you how to install the YouTube add-on and set up YouTube API in Kodi.

      • How to enable LUKS disk encryption with keyfile on Linux – nixCraft

        We can easily add a key file to LUKS disk encryption on Linux when running the cryptsetup command. A key file is used as the passphrase to unlock an encrypted volume. The passphrase allows Linux users to open encrypted disks utilizing a keyboard or over an ssh-based session.

      • How to use Bootable USB drive in VMware Player to install OS

        If you want to boot your Virtual Machine running on VMware Workstation Player using a bootable USB drive for the installation of Windows 10/8/7 or Linux (Ubuntu, Linux Mint, CentOS, etc.) operating system. Then here are the simple steps to follow…

        Whether it is Vmware Workstation Player or VirtualBox when it comes to installing an operating system for VM, most of the time we use ISO files. However, imagine you already have a bootable USB drive of some OS but not the ISO file for the same and you want to install it for a Virtual machine created in VMware. What will you do? The answer is straightforward; we will use the option of VMware to boot from Physical Disk, and here i.e. a USB disk drive attached to PC.

      • How to Dual Boot Ubuntu Linux and Windows 10 with BitLocker Encryption

        Laptops and desktops with Windows 10 Pro version come with BitLocker encryption enabled by default.

    • Games

      • Drova – Forsaken Kin is an upcoming pixel-art RPG with ‘high player agency’

        Ready to try another demo of a promising upcoming game? The developer of Drova – Forsaken Kin emailed in about their pixel-art RPG and it sounds pretty promising.

        They mention that it’s a pixel art RPG that “focuses on investigative exploration and combat with high player agency”, with you choosing a side in a changing world “devoured by Ether, the essence of creation itself getting out of control when an ancient threat returns”. So what they’re saying is the world is dynamic, it changes and you have an effect on things – something like that.

        [...]

        The developer, Just2D, mentioned how they’ve put “a lot of effort into Linux compatibility” so hopefully that works out well for them.

      • Top 6 New Games You Can Play With Proton Since Feb. 2021

        Valheim is a bit of a different beast in that list. It has a Linux client in the first place, but there’s apparently enough people who had trouble with it not working properly that they ended up falling back on Proton (and it looks like it works perfectly under Proton). So, do not take this as a recommendation to play the game on Proton, but simply as an alternative in case you have issues.

      • Tower Defense with deck-building ‘Core Defense’ set to get an expansion

        Core Defense, a positively rated tower defense game by users (and one we enjoyed) from developer ehmprah that sprinkles in a little deck-building is getting an expansion with a Beta you can try.

        Quite different to most tower defense games, as the placement of almost everything is down to you. You’re building up a maze for enemy units to travel through, and then each round you pick from a set of cards that can give you new towers, abilities and more. It was a success too, earning the developer over $20K in the first week on Steam, clearly hit a mark.

      • Another Proton Experimental update is out improving VR and controllers

        Proton Experimental is the extra special testing area where new fixes and features enter the Steam Play Proton compatibility layer before going out to everyone and there’s a new update out. If you’re not clear on what Proton and Steam Play are, be sure to check out our constantly updated dedicated page. It’s a special compatibility layer for running Windows games and apps from Steam on Linux.

      • Steam Link Linux release reminds us how simple game streaming can be

        Valve released a Linux version of its Steam Link app, allowing the connectivity system to work on even MORE devices than before. This is just the latest in a line of operating systems made available to work with Steam Link, including Windows, Android, iOS, and Raspberry Pi. And it’s all free, provided you have a Steam account and own a game or two.

      • Koi Farm is a simple relaxing chill-out experience about raising fish

        Koi Farm released recently and it’s quite a little gem. It’s a small game though, all about raising Koi with an “infinite number” of patterns you can create by cross-breeding all the different colours and you end up with lots of different mutations as you go along. You can pick them up, drop them between a big display pool and a smaller breeding pool and eventually let them go to swim on with their lives. On top of that, you can also turn them into special cards to stick in your book and progress through it.

      • Survival game Vintage Story gets an official mod database, improved Wayland support

        Out for your next survival game that isn’t Valheim? Do give Vintage Story a go, which on the surface looks like Minecraft but it’s so much more interesting and far deeper mechanically.

        While this is mainly a stability update for the previous release, which was pretty huge, some fun bits have been put in. One of the big additions is an official Mod Database, for players to upload and download from. Eventually, they said, it will integrate with the game client to “blur the line on what is vanilla content and what is modded content” (if you want to use it, that is).

        The rest of the update is mostly small tweaks and fixes but their support of Linux continues shining. For Linux players, you should hopefully see improved support for running the game on Wayland. They upgraded the version of OpenTK used along with some extra Wayland fixes that should improve mouse support there. See the full changelog here.

        [...]

        A community member is also hosting a server for Linux fans…

      • The tenth Norse world sure is busy as Valheim hits 5 million sold | GamingOnLinux

        Fully expected of course, Valheim continues pulling in masses of new users with the announcement that it’s now sold 5 million copies over the first month. What is it? For those living under a rock: a brutal exploration and survival game for 1-10 players, set in a procedurally-generated purgatory inspired by Viking culture.

        Across this time more than 15 thousand years have been spent playing Valheim based on a combined player time count, over 35 million hours of Valheim was watched on Twitch, it continues rising up as one of the best reviewed games on Steam (#39) and this is all still from a five-person team. The actual player-count seems to have now settled though from the 502,387 peak 10 days ago to it seeing a more regular player count of around 350,000.

      • Valve makes further improvements to Steam Link and Remote Play Together

        Along with finally releasing the Linux client of the Steam Link app, Valve has also been making steady improvements to Steam Link and Remote Play Together.

        [...]

        For Invite Anyone, you need to send a link from your friends list in the Steam Overlay to others which they use to join through the Steam Link app. Valve has already done a quick improvement on that to allow you to make as many invites as you want, providing the game supports multiple players and your network bandwidth can handle it.

        Valve also mentioned in an email that the Steam Link app itself has also recently been upgraded, to allow streaming at 90FPS and 120FPS across all platforms. You can find the setting in the advanced menu.

    • Distributions

      • Reviews

        • Review: The New weLees Visual LVM, a new style of LVM management, has been released

          Maintenance of the storage system is a daily job for system administrators. Linux provides users with a wealth of storage capabilities, and powerful built-in maintenance tools. However, these tools are hardly friendly to system administrators while generally considerable effort is required for mastery.

          As a Linux built-in storage model, LVM provides users with plenty flexible management modes to fit various needs. For users who can fully utilize its functions, LVM could meet almost all needs. But the premise is thorough understanding of the LVM model, dozens of commands as well as accompanying parameters.

      • BSD

        • OpenSSH 8.5 released

          OpenSSH 8.5 has been released. It includes fixes for a couple of potential security problems (one of which only applies to Solaris hosts); it also enables UpdateHostKeys by default, allowing hosts with insecure keys to upgrade them without creating scary warnings for users. There are a lot of other small changes; see the announcement for details.

        • NomadBSD 1.4 is now available!

          We are pleased to present the release of NomadBSD 1.4.

        • NomadBSD 1.4 Released With GUI For Easier Chrome / Brave / Vivaldi Browser Installation

          NomadBSD 1.4 is out today as the latest feature update to this operating system that is one of the BSD-based desktop initiatives.

          NomadBSD 1.4 re-bases its operating system against upstream FreeBSD 12.2-p4. Meanwhile on the NomadBSD side it fixes some UEFI boot problems, better automatic graphics driver detection, improved touchpad support if wanting to run this BSD on laptops, wifimgr has replaced NetworkManager, and removal of i386 support for accelerated Intel and AMD graphics since the drm-legacy-kmod driver is now obsolete.

      • SUSE/OpenSUSE

        • openSUSE Leap 15.3 Reaches Beta Build Phase

          openSUSE Leap has entered into the beta release phase today for its 15.3 minor version.

          This openSUSE Leap 15.3 version is a solidified release that focuses more on the building of the distribution rather than refreshing the distribution’s packages, but there are some significant changes to the distribution.

          Many of the packages will remain the same as those in openSUSE Leap 15.2 with a bit of hardware enablement and security backports. An updated version of glibc brings some Power10 support and the Xfce desktop users will have the new 4.16 version. The distribution also gains adds s390x architecture.

          The biggest change for this release is how Leap is built and its relationship with SUSE Linux Enterprise. Leap transitioned to a new way of building openSUSE Leap releases in the fall of 2020 through a prototype project called Jump. The Jump prototype was used as a proof of concept, but no longer exists; it did prove to work at building a distribution and bringing the code streams of both openSUSE Leap and SLE closer together. The proof of concept was implemented for building the release of openSUSE Leap 15.3 as seen in the beta release today. Building Leap on top of binary packages from SLE, which was part of the rationale for the Jump prototype, allows for easy development on a community release to be put into production on an enterprise release should the need arise.

        • openSUSE Leap 15.3 Enters Beta Phase As an Exciting CentOS Alternative With Xfce 4.16, Power10 Support, and More

          openSUSE is unquestionably an interesting distribution. We also have a separate article listing some compelling reasons to use openSUSE.

          While it’s been almost a year since openSUSE 15.2 Leap released with a focus on containers, it is almost time for the next minor release.

          Now, openSUSE announced the 15.3 minor version reaching the beta phase, meaning – it is up for testing. Even though it is technically a minor release, there are some significant changes worth noting along with some updates and improvements.

          Let me briefly highlight those for you.

        • openSUSE Leap 15.3 Beta Begins – Phoronix

          OpenSUSE Leap 15.3 Alpha started rolling out in December while today the beta builds have begun for this next openSUSE Leap installment.

          The openSUSE Leap 15.3 release is exciting in that it’s based on their “jump” concept for greater alignment between openSUSE Leap and SUSE Linux Enterprise 15 SP3. The official openSUSE Leap 15.3 release is expected in July aligned with SLES 15 SP3 for which they are built from largely the same sources.

        • Closing the Leap Gap

          Today the openSUSE project announced the start of the public beta phase for openSUSE Leap 15.3. This release is an important milestone for openSUSE and SUSE, our users and customers: Leap 15.3 is the first release where openSUSE Leap and SUSE Linux Enterprise share the same source code and use the exact same binary packages. Let’s have a look at the following picture to examine what this means in detail.

          [...]

          We won’t go into details on how this works under the hood in this post. If that’s what you’re looking for, see our blog series on How SUSE Builds its Enterprise Linux Distribution. Today, we will focus on what this change means for you as an end user. In a nutshell, while portability (i.e. the ability to run software built for openSUSE Leap on SLE or vice versa) between SLE and Leap was previously very likely, it is now almost guaranteed. You can migrate from openSUSE Leap to SUSE Linux Enterprise without having to reinstall anything, and this is a big deal. Let’s take a look at a couple of examples.

        • SUSE Linux Enterprise 15 Service Pack 3 Public Beta is out!

          Starting with SP3, we are now offering packages pre-built binaries from SLE in addition to the sources we were previously providing to openSUSE. This means that openSUSE Leap and SUSE Linux Enterprise are closer together than before, thus easing the migration from openSUSE Leap to SLES.
          This article will tell you more about how openSUSE and SLE were made in the past years but also the important changes with openSUSE Leap 15.3 and SUSE Linux Enterprise 15 Service Pack 3.

      • IBM/Red Hat/Fedora

        • Why it’s time to stop setting SELinux to Permissive or Disabled

          Given the kerfuffle that has been CentOS lately, and the number of inevitable forks that will rise out of the ashes, there will probably be a large percentage of admins migrating to, or finally deploying, a Linux distribution based on Red Hat Enterprise Linux in some form or fashion. It may be Rocky Linux or AlmaLinux. It may be that you stick with CentOS Stream, or even purchase a license for Red Hat Enterprise Linux. If you’re a non-profit or another eligible organization, you might qualify for RHEL for Open Source Infrastructure.

          No matter which route you take, you’ll be using a solid Linux distribution with serious security systems in place.

          However… It’s such a powerful word, “however.” It stops all natural flow of the narrative to make you wonder just what comes next.

          You wait, and you wait, and you wait.

          Until the inevitable: SELinux.

        • 13 challenges creating an open, scalable, and secure serverless platform

          Serverless is the natural evolution of cloud computing. In essence, serverless comes down to two main features: (1) you “pay by the drink” for all computing resources and (2) you get more fine-grained scaling than you would from larger workloads. However, taking full advantage of this extended computing model requires developers to restructure apps and services into components that can scale down to zero when not needed.

          Microservices architectures are a step in the correct direction. And Kubernetes (K8s) as a platform for running microservices is a promising and popular concrete implementation of a core infrastructure for managing containers, which are used to run microservices. However, Kubernetes by itself is not sufficient to meet the needs of serverless workloads, and the layers on top of the base platform do not need to be reinvented by all. Enter Knative in 2019 as a common serverless layer on top of K8s.

        • Why developers should centralize their security

          Current security challenges are forcing developers to implement increasing amounts of security measures to provide safe environments for customers on online sites. Adding security measures such as MFA, 2FA, and even reCAPTCHA to increase security can have a negative impact on customer loyalty. How do you ensure fraud is not committed while also making it easy for the customer to use the site or buy a product?

        • Red Hat Adds Common Criteria Certification for Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8
        • rpminspect-1.3.1 released

          rpminspect 1.3.1 is now available. I was actually preparing to release rpminspect 1.3, which I did, but a bug was found by Fedora QA in the 1.3 release after I already made it. So I just did a 1.3.1 followup to fix that issue. You will 1.3.1 in the Fedora and EPEL repos, but 1.3 is posted as a release on the GitHub project page.

          In addition to the usual collection of bug fixes and enhancements, this release also expands the GitHub Actions CI coverage. It builds and runs the test suite on the latest Fedora stable release, Debian testing, Ubuntu, OpenSUSE Leap, CentOS 8, CentOS 7, and Gentoo. Gentoo is the newest one. I have had to disable OpenSUSE Tumbleweed and Arch Linux. I also disabled Fedora rawhide for the moment because I could not get anything to pass there. I plan to check these out again and enable the ones that work. If there are other platforms you would like to see in the CI workflow, let me know.

        • Red Hat Introduces Latest Update to Red Hat Process Automation

          The goal of Red Hat Process Automation has always been to empower enterprise business and IT users to collaborate, successfully document, simulate, manage, automate, and monitor business processes and decisions. We are excited to announce the latest release of Red Hat Process Automation, which delivers new developer tooling, extended support for eventing and streaming for event-driven architectures (EDA) through integration with Apache Kafka, and new monitoring capabilities through heatmap dashboards.

          Red Hat Process Automation is an open source business automation platform that combines business process management (BPM), case management, business rules management, and resource planning. It enables IT organizations to better create, manage, validate, and deploy business processes, cases, and business rules. Red Hat Process Automation also uses a centralized repository where all resources are stored. This allows for consistency, transparency, and the ability to audit across the business. The latest release of the platform introduces and expands on a number of key capabilities.

        • SAP HANA 2.0 Certified on RHEL 8.2 and 7.9: Top 5 reasons why you should care

          The shift to using SAP S/4HANA drives standardization towards SAP’s in-memory database (SAP HANA) on Linux. With SAP HANA, both transactional and analytical data workloads are served from the same in-memory database, eliminating the need for separate data systems. However, to deliver the horsepower needed to serve these demanding data workloads, picking the right operating system that can best utilize the underlying hardware resources is essential.

          When deploying mission-critical enterprise workloads on SAP HANA, Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) is the de-facto standard for many customers. We are excited to announce that SAP HANA 2.0 is certified on RHEL 8.2 and 7.9. Customers may find further details at SAP Note 2235581.

        • IBM’s Arranged OpenShift-Power Marriage Eyes Hybrid Cloud Crown | Data Center Knowledge

          New Power-based hardware appliance for IBM cloud on-prem ships with Red Hat’s container orchestration platform. Power Systems, IaaS expand OpenShift support.

        • Red Hat’s survey results on the state of enterprise open-source software | ZDNet

          After all, as Red Hat president and CEO Paul Cormier, pointed out, “Open source has solidified itself as an innovation engine for the software industry. The technology trends that you see changing how we work and do business were born in open source — enterprise Linux, cloud computing, edge and Internet of Things (IoT), containers, artificial intelligence, and machine learning, and DevOps.” It’s all open source, all the time.

          It’s not just what we think of as IT. Thanks to the power of open source, which combines collaboration, transparency, and the belief that the best idea can come from anywhere, we’ve been able to come up with COVID-19 vaccines in mere months instead of years.

          But where exactly is open-source software being used? Infrastructure modernization, which is a fancy way of saying replacing the last proprietary operating systems in servers and data centers, remains at 64%, open-source software’s top use.

      • Debian Family

        • Toolbox your Debian

          Last week I needed a Debian system to test things, I had heard others were using toolbox with Debian images without much trouble so decided to give it a go instead of creating a VM.

          Toolbox only requires a handful utilities to work with any given docker image. After a quick search I stumbled upon Philippe’s post which in turn linked into this PR about an Ubuntu based toolbox image. Looks like the last major issues where worked out recently in toolbox and there isn’t anything extra needed apart the image.

      • Canonical/Ubuntu Family

    • Devices/Embedded

    • Free, Libre, and Open Source Software

      • Zstd 1.4.9 Released With ~2x Faster Performance For Long Mode

        Zstd previously introduced the “–long” mode to analyze large quantities of data in a timely manner and suitable memory budget. The aim in this mode is to improve the compression ratio for files with long matches at a large distance. With Zstd 1.4.9 the long distance mode is much faster thanks to a number of optimizations that preserve the compression ratio while drastically speeding up the compression time. Test cases are showing this long distance mode being 114~154% faster than the prior point release of Zstd. These new algorithms for the long distance mode appear to be a big win based on all of the data published thus far.

      • Conditions and Implied Licenses: Bitmanagement v. United States

        An interesting case was handed down by the Federal Circuit on February 25, 2021, discussing some software licensing issues seldom mentioned in case law. Bitmanagement Software GMBH v. United States was a dispute that involved the use of certain proprietary software, BS Contract Geo, a 3D visualization product.

        The facts surrounding the license of the software are complex, but laid out in detail in the opinion. The owner of the software, Bitmanagement, and the user of the software, the US Navy, never entered into a direct or express software license. The contracting process, which took place via a reseller called Planet 9, stalled, when it was determined that the Navy’s system needs were incompatible with Bitmanagement’s software management keys. In the end, the Navy paid for some copies, but engaged in “massive free copying” (see concurring opinion, p.27) of the software with no express license to do so.

        Central to the court’s finding, the parties had agreed that as a condition to the license, the Navy would use Flexera’s license-tracking software FlexWrap to monitor the number of simultaneous users of the software. It noted that the Claims Court found that Bitmanagement agreed to the licensing scheme “because Flexera would limit the number of simultaneous users of BS Contact Geo, regardless of how many copies were installed on Navy computers.” (p. 20) But the Navy did not use the FlexWrap tool as agreed. The court held that use of this management software was a condition of the license, even though the license was not in writing. The court said, “This is one of those rare circumstances where the record as a whole reflects that the only feasible explanation for Bitmanagement allowing mass copying of its software, free of charge, was the use of Flexera at the time of copying.” (p.21)

      • Sustainability for Open Source Projects: 4 Big Questions [Ed: VM (Vicky) Brasseur, who promotes proprietary software in some contexts, wants to FUD Free software as having that mythical "sustainability" woe (as if it's all about money). GNU developed for 37 years (soon 38) in spite of that "sustainability" nonsense. People can get paid for things other than their per Free software project.]

        What does sustainability look like for open source projects? VM (Vicky) Brasseur considers four key questions to help determine the answer for your project.

        These days the word “sustainability” gets thrown around a lot with respect to free and open source software (FOSS). What is sustainability, and what does it mean for your project?

        The concept of sustainability didn’t originate in the 1980s, but it gained a lot of mindshare at that time thanks to the Brundtland Report, which was released by the United Nations in 1987 after three years of research by a cross-functional team of scientists, policy makers, and business people. The report defines sustainability as “…development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”

      • Samuel Iglesias: Igalia is hiring! [Ed: Case of point; you can get paid to do Free software]

        One of the best decisions I did in my life was when I joined Igalia in 2012. Inside Igalia, I have been working in different open-source projects, most of the time related to graphics technologies, interacting with different communities, giving talks, organizing conferences and, more importantly, contributing to free software as my daily job.

        [...]

        What we offer is to work in an open-source consultancy in which you can participate equally in the management and decision-making process of the company via our democratic, consensus-based assembly structure. As all of our positions are remote-friendly, we welcome submissions from any part of the world.

      • CMS

        • The Month in WordPress: February 2021

          That was Josepha Haden Chomphosy on WordPress is Free(dom) episode of the WP Briefing Podcast, speaking about the four freedoms of open-source software. Those four freedoms are core to how WordPress is developed. A lot of the updates we bring you this month will resonate with those freedoms.

      • FSF

        • GNU Projects

          • denemo @ Savannah: Release 2.5 out now.
            New Features 
            
                MusicXML export 
                    Supports export of multi-movement scores 
                Support for Musical Sketches 
                    Cut selection as sketch 
                Support for LilyPond 2.20.0 
                Menu Navigation from Keyboard enabled 
                Comments in Lyric verses 
                
            Bug Fixes 
            
                Various fixes in MusicXML import 
                Various fixes in LilyPond import 
                Wrong Keyboard Shortcuts on MacOS
            
          • GNU Denemo 2.5 Is Released

            GNU Denemo version 2.4.0. This is not the new version, this is the previous version. The graphical is basically identical to the new version.

            GNU Denemo is a very specialized program for music notation. It has most of the bases in that area covered, thought he user-interface is a bit clunky to work with.

            The latest 2.5.0 release brings support for cutting selections as sketches, support exporting multi-movement scores to the MusicXML format, support for comments in lyric verses and, after all these years, support for menu navigation using the keyboard.

            There’s also improvements to MusicXML import, LilyPond import and a fix for keyboard shortcuts on macOS.

          • February GNU Spotlight with Mike Gerwitz: 23 new releases

            23 new GNU releases in the last month (as of February 25, 2021):
            artanis-0.5
            autoconf-archive-2021.02.19
            binutils-2.36.1
            freeipmi-1.6.7
            freeipmi-1.6.8
            glibc-2.33
            gnuhealth-3.8.0
            gwl-0.3.0
            help2man-1.48.1
            inetutils-2.0
            intlfonts-1.4.1
            libgcrypt-1.9.2
            libredwg-0.12.1
            libredwg-0.12.2
            linux-libre-5.11
            mailutils-3.12
            nano-5.6
            nettle-3.7.1
            octave-6.2.0
            parallel-20210222
            tar-1.34
            unifont-13.0.06
            xorriso-1.5.4.pl02

      • Programming/Development

        • Flutter 2.0 reaches stable and adds support for foldable and dual-screen devices

          For a while now, Flutter for Desktop has been in an alpha stage, which meant changing APIs, bugs, and performance issues. With Flutter 2.0, Google has moved its status to somewhere between beta and stable. What does that mean? Well, it’s available in Flutter 2.0 Stable, but Google doesn’t think it’s fully complete yet. It should be fine for production use, but there may be a bug here and there.

        • How I Built a Web Scraper with Beautiful Soup and Used it to Land My First Job

          Landing any job, let alone a first job, can be a difficult process. Employers often tell you that you don’t have enough experience for them to hire you. But that means you also won’t get an opportunity to gain that experience (like a job).

          Landing a job in tech can feel even more challenging. On the one hand you have to answer interview questions well, like any other job. On the other you have to prove that your technical skills can do the job you’re interviewing for.

          These hurdles can be difficult to overcome. In this article I’ll share how I built a web scraper to help me land my first job in tech. I’ll explain what exactly I built and the key lessons I learned. Most importantly, I’ll share how I leveraged those lessons to ace my interviews and land a job offer.

        • We Sent 304,654 Coding Tests to Developers from 156 Countries – Here’s What We Learned

          At DevSkiller, we are known for our detailed industry reports that assist IT recruitment professionals with their hiring decisions. And this past year has been the most diverse and data-heavy set of information ever compiled by our team.

          Despite the circumstances that 2020 brought us, the show must go on. We have compiled 304,654 coding tests sent to developers in 156 countries to create the 2021 DevSkiller IT skills report.

          Whilst it’s easy to point to the big tech multinationals that will indeed profit from a crisis like we’ve had, many other small businesses will have a hard time adapting to the market’s fluctuating demands.

        • Qt 6.0.2 Released

          We have released Qt 6.0.2 today. As a patch release, the Qt 6.0.2 does not add any new functionality but provides bug fixes and other improvements.

        • Shell/Bash/Zsh/Ksh

          • DIY primary/foreign key relationships, again

            In a blog post in 2020 I described a problem I was finding in linked tables. One table had a primary key field and the other had a foreign key field that should have referred back to the first table. That wasn’t always the case, because the tables didn’t always come from a database with referential integrity. The tables were sometimes built in spreadsheets and the primary and foreign keys were entered by hand.

            The defective tables usually have formatting differences or orphaned foreign keys. The formatting issue is that the primary key is something like “Abc_def_236-ghi” and the foreign key is “Abc-def-236-ghi”; close, but no cigar. Orphaned foreign keys are correctly formatted entries with no match at all in the primary key set.

        • Rust

          • Rust Lang team March update

            Did you know that you can see the lang team’s active projects on our project board? We’re still experimenting and evolving the setup, but the goal is that it should give you a quick overview of what kinds of things the lang team is focused on, and what stage they are in their development. Our minutes contain a writeup for each active project, but let me call out a few highlights here…

  • Leftovers

    • Playboi Carti, Rap Iconoclast

      When rappers coronate themselves as rock stars, they’re usually either staking their claim to the zeitgeist (Rae Sremmurd’s “Black Beatles”), partying with abandon (Shop Boyz’ “Party Like a Rock Star”), or flirting with oblivion (Danny Brown’s “Die Like a Rockstar”). When Playboi Carti declares himself a rock star, as he does throughout his restless second album, Whole Lotta Red, the persona is shorthand for a liberating fugue state.

    • Education

      • Educating Young People in Conflict Zones: an Interview With Nyla Ali Khan

        Nyla Ali Khan: As an academic, it is intellectually stimulating for me to observe my students think critically about significant issues. I encourage students to find a way to enter the conversation. What are you saying to their audience? How are they saying it? What others are saying motivates their writing, and, therefore, I require them to find a way to enter the conversation with others’ views. I emphasize that I, as a reader, am interested in their stances, and students learn to employ a perspective to better understand the position from which their write, which has been constructed by their political ideology, education, religious beliefs, history, nationality, ethnicity, class, and gender, which is a transformative experience for students.

        My personal history, education, and scholarship have made me sensitive to the diversity of cultural traditions and to the questions and conflicts within them, and I bring this sensitivity to my teaching as well. Working and living in Oklahoma has taught me that community is the ability to organize and mobilize for social change, which requires the creation of awareness not just at the individual level but at the collective level as well. Community is the courage to bridge divides and to pave the way for the education of the younger generation, which is the only viable response to ignorance and bigotry. Community is the openness to dissent, and differences of opinion, which is true courage. In my teaching, writings, and public lectures, I emphasize that we have a lack of understanding of each other and a paranoia that may lead to violence. It is or, at least, should be inconceivable, in the day and age of a global economy, to spurn the concepts of reason, rationality, and political and moral ethics.

    • Health/Nutrition

      • New Year, Same Pandemic

        Support independent cartooning: join Sparky’s List—and don’t forget to visit TT’s Emporium of Fun, featuring the new book and plush Sparky!

      • Chris Hedges: The Age of Social Murder

        The two million deaths that have resulted from the ruling elite’s mishandling of the global pandemic will be dwarfed by what is to follow. The global catastrophe that awaits us, already baked into the ecosystem from the failure to curb the use of fossil fuels and animal agriculture, presage new, deadlier pandemics, mass migrations of billions of desperate people, plummeting crop yields, mass starvation, and systems collapse.

      • Yemen, Where Pitiless Geopolitics is Causing Famine

        The region is an epic governance fail that probably cannot be resolved in any ordinary, decent person’s favour until the oil, morally adulterated with mrillions of gallons of human blood over the decades, runs out. Unfortunately for the cohorts of children who could starve to death imminently in Yemen, the oil will keep flowing. And many of them will most likely die. That’s because the blockade of the country imposed by the Saudis, flush with petrodollar-purchased artillery and jets, has made humanitarian relief in the country near-impossible on a nationwide basis.

        It’s not like this is like for like, either. Yemen, by an accident of geology denied the oleaginous riches of its northern neighbours, has in modern times rarely made it out of the bottom five poorest states anywhere in the wider region.

    • Integrity/Availability

      • Proprietary

        • ONLYOFFICE 6.2 Release Introduces Data Validation, Auto-Format, and Other Useful Changes [Ed: It's actually proprietary software]

          ONLYOFFICE is a free and open-source cross-platform office suite available for Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, and iOS platforms. It also provides cloud office solutions, collaboration tools, project management tools, and more.

          Recently, a new version ONLYOFFICE 6.2 was announced by the team. This release includes features such as Data validation, the ability to set up auto-format, and various improvements as well.

        • Pseudo-Open Source

          • Privatisation/Privateering

            • Linux Foundation

              • Linux Foundation and RISC-V International launch free courses on open source architecture for processors

                The Linux Foundation and RISC-V International hope that two new free courses will make it easier for IT professionals to learn about open instruction set architecture for processor chips. The courses are available starting Tuesday, March 2 on edX.org.

                An ongoing semiconductor chip shortage due to supply chain interruptions has limited the supply of smartphones and laptops, but the ripple effects extend beyond the tech market, as Dallon Adams reported on TechRepublic. Ford recently announced that it was decreasing F-150 production due to the semiconductor shortage.

                RISC-V (pronounced as “risk five”) is an open instruction set architecture that could power a new era of innovation for processor architectures. According to a press release, The Linux Foundation and RISC-V International designed these courses to reduce the barrier to entry for people interested in gaining RISC-V skills. RISC-V International is a non-profit based in Switzerland with more than 750 members.

              • Free Courses Now Available to Learn ‘RISC-V’ by The Linux Foundation & RISC-V International

                The Linux Foundation is the official organization behind Linux and is at the forefront for collaboration on open-source software, open hardware, open data and open standards.

                Recently, they’ve partnered with RISC-V International, an organization that pushes for adoption and implementation of the open-source RISC-V ISA (Instruction Set Architecture).

                Now, they have announced two new free online courses that are being made available on edX.org, a learning platform founded by Harvard University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

              • Linux Foundation, RISC-V International Launch Free RISC-V Training Courses

                Linux Foundation and RISC-V International have announced two new free online training courses to help individuals get started with the RISC-V ISA.

                The courses are available on edX.org, the online learning platform founded by Harvard and MIT.

                The first course, Introduction to RISC-V (LFD110x), guides participants through the various aspects of understanding the RISC-V ecosystem, RISC-V International, the RISC-V specifications, how to curate and develop RISC-V specifications, and the technical aspects of working with RISC-V both as a developer and end-user.

        • Security

          • Microsoft: Chinese Cyberspies Used 4 Exchange Server Flaws to Plunder Emails

            Microsoft Corp. today released software updates to plug four security holes that attackers have been using to plunder email communications at companies that use its Exchange Server products. The company says all four flaws are being actively exploited as part of a complex attack chain deployed by a previously unidentified Chinese cyber espionage group.

          • Microsoft Says Chinese Hackers Responsible for Exchange Attacks [Ed: Microsoft puts back doors in its products but is now blaming China for taking advantage of those. Microsoft: our back doors aren’t always exploited; when they are, we’ll resort to xenophobia and blame the Chinese (not those who put the back doors there).]
          • Payroll/HR Giant PrismHR Hit by Ransomware?

            PrismHR, a company that sells technology used by other firms to help more than 80,000 small businesses manage payroll, benefits, and human resources, has suffered what appears to be an ongoing ransomware attack that is disrupting many of its services.

          • Malicious NPM Packages Steal Linux and Unix Password Files of Amazon, Slack, and More [Ed: Microsoft is delivering spyware and malware, but media doesn't name the real culprit (as if Microsoft doesn't exist when that does not suit Microsoft)]
          • Security updates for Wednesday [LWN.net]

            Security updates have been issued by CentOS (bind), Debian (adminer, grub2, spip, and wpa), Mageia (openjpeg2, wpa_supplicant, and xterm), openSUSE (avahi, bind, firefox, ImageMagick, java-1_8_0-openjdk, nodejs10, and webkit2gtk3), Red Hat (container-tools:1.0, container-tools:2.0, grub2, and virt:rhel and virt-devel:rhel), SUSE (bind, gnome-autoar, grub2, and nodejs8), and Ubuntu (python2.7 and wpa).

          • Now-fixed Linux kernel vulnerabilities enabled local privilege escalation (CVE-2021-26708)

            The vulnerabilities could be exploited for local privilege escalation, as confirmed in experiments on Fedora 33 Server. The vulnerabilities, known together as CVE-2021-26708, have received a CVSS v3 base score of 7.0 (high severity).

            These vulnerabilities result from race conditions that were implicitly added with virtual socket multi-transport support. They appeared in Linux kernel version 5.5 in November 2019. The vulnerable kernel drivers (CONFIG_VSOCKETS and CONFIG_VIRTIO_VSOCKETS) are shipped as kernel modules in all major GNU/Linux distributions. The vulnerable modules are automatically loaded when an AF_VSOCK socket is created. This ability is available to unprivileged users.

          • Researchers discover and patch Linux kernel vulnerabilities | 2021-03-03
          • Privilege Manager 11: New privilege management capabilities for Unix and Linux

            With the latest release of Privilege Manager, all endpoints and servers throughout your organization can now follow consistent least privilege and Zero Trust policies, whether they are Windows, Mac, or Unix/Linux.

          • Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt/Fear-mongering/Dramatisation

            • GRUB2 boot loader reveals multiple high severity vulnerabilities [Ed: Microsoft interjected fake (non) security into Linux and is now boasting and celebrating the dire consequences in its loyal propaganda sites]

              GRUB, a popular boot loader used by Unix-based operating systems has fixed multiple high severity vulnerabilities.

              In 2020, BleepingComputer had reported on the BootHole vulnerability in GRUB2 that could have let attackers compromise an operating system’s booting process even if the Secure Boot verification mechanism was active.

              Threat actors could further abuse the flaw to hide arbitrary code (“bootkit”) within the OS that would run on every boot.

    • Defence/Aggression

      • Opinion | The Pentagon, First, Last, and Always

        Focusing on the wrong threats, including a new cold war with China, is the last thing we can afford now.

      • War Mongering for Artificial Intelligence

        The application of AI in military systems has plagued the ethicist but excited certain leaders and inventors.  Russian President Vladimir Putin has grandiloquently asserted that “it would be impossible to secure the future of our civilization” without a mastery of artificial intelligence, genetics, unmanned weapons systems and hypersonic weapons.

        Campaigners against the use of autonomous weapons systems in war have been growing in number.  The UN Secretary-General António Guterres is one of them.  “Autonomous machines with the power and discretion to select targets and take lives without human involvement,” he wrote on Twitter in March 2019, “are politically unacceptable, morally repugnant and should be prohibited by international law.”  The International Committee for Robot Arms Control, the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots and Human Rights Watch are also dedicated to banning lethal autonomous weapons systems.  Weapons analysts such as Zachary Kallenborn see that absolute position as untenable, preferring a more modest ban on “the highest-risk weapons: drone swarms and autonomous chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear weapons”.

    • Environment

      • Zoonoses and Climate Change: Is One Health Enough?

        Coronaviruses are zoonotic. SARS-CoV was transmitted from civet cats to humans and MERS-CoV from dromedary camels to humans. A novel coronavirus (nCoV) like Covid 19 is a new strain not previously identified in humans. Other coronaviruses discovered circulating in animals have not yet infected humans. By now, everyone is familiar with symptoms and preventative measures, including fraught vaccination. However, as Rob Wallace said at a ZeroCovid event, “The causes of diseases extend out to our relationships between each other, and with animals and ecosystems.”

        On 18 February 2021, the UN released a a168-page report, Making Peace with Nature, which states, on page 15, ” The deteriorating state of the planet undermines efforts to achieve healthy lives and well-being for all. Around one quarter of the global burden of disease stems from environment-related risks, including those from animal-borne diseases (such as COVID-19), climate change, and exposure to pollution and toxic chemicals. Pollution causes some 9 million premature deaths annually and millions more die every year from other environment-related health risks.”

      • Energy

      • Wildlife/Nature

        • Conservation Groups Swing Back at Bernhardt’s Last Minute Favor to Oregon Ranchers

          It also reflects how doggedly the Trump Administration wanted to give a grazing permit to the Hammond Ranches, Inc. that both Ryan Zinke and his successor David Bernhardt – each on their very last day in public office*– seized control of the administrative process, stepped in and directed an outcome that had already been opposed by the Bureau and defended against by the regional solicitor.

          When the Bureau decision to not renew the Hammond Ranches permit in 2014, it did so for numerous reasons, but primarily because the agency couldn’t justify reissuing a permit to the Hammonds given the grazing regulations that require a permittee to be in good standing and in substantial compliance with the terms and conditions of the previous permit. (There’s more to this story, documented here.) It wasn’t just the arsons for which they had been convicted in 2012, but it was the underlying behavior of those actions, “(T)he malicious disregard for human life and public property [that] showed contempt for [Bureau] regulation of public land.”

    • Finance

      • ‘Now Is the Time for Boldness’: Senators Urge Biden to Back Recurring Payments for Covid Relief Package

        “This crisis is far from over, and families deserve certainty that they can put food on the table and keep a roof over their heads,” the 10 members of the Democratic caucus wrote.

      • Opinion | Biden Must Go Beyond Fiscal Stimulus

        Both supporters and critics of US President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus plan assume that there is a dollar amount that is just right. In fact, no such figure exists: every possible stimulus size is simultaneously too little and too big.

      • Bartenders and Public Pension Fund Investment Advisers

        It is the same story for pension funds when it comes to their various pension advisers. The pension funds’ boards (the people who actually are in charge of running the fund) are often on good terms with the people who manage their money. In many cases, they have used the same group of advisers for years or even decades.

        Nonetheless, the fund’s investment advisers are in the same relationship to the pension fund as the bartender is to the person worried about their drinking problem. The advisers are making money off the fund.

      • Happy Birthday, Open Bank Project!

        More than ten years ago, I met one of the founders of the Open Bank Project. Back then, I observed that if banks adopted Open Bank, we would need less Wikileaks.

        This month, Open Bank celebrates its eleventh birthday, and I invite everybody to join the celebrations. Here are just some of the reasons why you should:

    • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

      • Russian lawmaker seeks official probe following (debunked) reports that Yulia Navalnaya has dual citizenship

        Russian State Duma deputy Vitaly Milonov has sent a request to the Interior Ministry asking police officials to look into whether or not Yulia Navalnaya, the wife of jailed opposition politician Alexey Navalny, possesses dual citizenship or a foreign residency permit.

      • ‘Reprehensible Power Grab’: Outrage as Georgia House Passes GOP Bill Restricting Voting Rights

        “Georgia Republicans didn’t like the results of the 2020 election so they decided they would try to dictate who they will let vote and who they won’t let vote.”

      • The Claudius Presidency?

        During the nearly four years that he ruled over the Roman empire in the first century CE, Caligula was notorious for sexual predation and extravagant spending. Never one to sell himself short, he proclaimed early on that he was a god. He held the Senate in such contempt that he forced its high-ranking members to run alongside his chariot for miles dressed in their togas. He dismissed Virgil as a hack writer and Livy as a dispenser of fake history, and he dreamed of making his favorite horse a consul.

        He was also inordinately fond of killing people, sometimes only to seize their assets. Or because he was bored, like the time at a gladiatorial contest when there were no criminals to execute during the intermission. Thinking fast, the despot ordered his guards to throw an entire section of the audience into the arena to be devoured by wild animals.

    • Freedom of Information/Freedom of the Press

    • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Monopolies

      • Counsel fear loopholes for counterfeiters as DSA gathers pace [Ed: Let's kill the whole Internet because some barons and oligarchs don't like that potential of competition online?]

        A narrow focus on e-commerce sites and a potential for convincing counterfeits to slip through the net are among the latest concerns

      • Trade secrets in the wild (Part 1): some economics of cybersecurity investment [Ed: Monopolies by imposed secrecy is very dodgy stuff]

        Courts also play a key role in determining shaping the public policy environment for IP and cybersecurity. Civil litigation involves both private and public expenditures, whereas the criminal system is largely publicly funded. Determining the level of reasonable protection is ultimately down to the courts, and adds another layer to the interaction between policy and a firm’s cybersecurity spending decisions.

        Public expenditure is relatively higher in criminal than in civil cases, as the government leads the investigation and prosecution. This can be useful when the victim is resource-poor or the defendant has limited financial resources, which often render a civil, financial penalty a moot point [aka, judgement proof]. Criminal prosecution can also be useful when pursuing a civil action is not good strategy, for example, when a company risks upsetting a foreign state where it does business.

        Criminal approaches also send strong signals to would-be criminals, but it is well established that the deterrence factor is most successful when the probability of discovery of the criminal act and its prosecution is higher. More prosecutions mean more public expenditures, whereas higher penalties are relatively cheap to implement, but less effective at increasing the costs to criminals.

        [...]

        Unlike other IPR [sic], trade secrets rely on a reasonable protection within the control of the rightsholder. Years ago, aerial photography was a risk, here, these days the threat is largely cyber. As trade secret use and cybersecurity both become more sophisticated, expect to see more interest in their connections.

        Part II of this post looks at problems with reporting crime (longer version of this series with bonus squiggly lines, here.)

      • Speed, fluidity, nuance: what pharma in-house need from firms [Ed: Denying access to medicines (i.e. killing people) to keep costs artificially high and suing people who dare try to prioritise life-saving

        Four in-house counsel from multinational pharma companies set out their prosecution challenges and external counsel requirements for the year

      • FOSS Patents: Arizona House of Representatives adopts law untying in-app payment method from mobile app store monopolies: now on to the State Senate

        The result of the third reading vote was 31-29. There are 31 Republicans and 29 Democrats in the Arizona State House, and one member per party crossed the aisle, thereby canceling each other out.

        A couple of proposed amendments failed, while a proposal by Dr. Cobb (enabling app developers to complain to Arizona’s Attorney General about any failure by Apple or Google to comply) was adopted. (Technically, the App Store part of HB2005 was an amendment to a multi-purpose bill, which amendment then in turn got amended in the way just described.)

        [...]

        In order for this measure to be passed into law, the Arizona Senate would have to adopt it as well, and the Governor would have to sign it (as opposed to vetoing it). The (counter)lobbying onslaught by Apple and Google has been massive already, and may further intensify. There are 16 Republican and 14 Democratic senators. It is counterintuitive that Arizona Democrats have such strong reservations concerning this measure, considering that the Democratic majority in the United States House of Representatives took a clear position on tech monopolies and walled gardens in October.

        This remains interesting, and meanwhile there are initiatives in various other states. Today, the Minnesota Reformer website published an opinion piece by Justin Stofferahn and Pat Garofalo, calling on the Minnesota state legislature to “curb anti-competitive tactics” in order to become, once again, “an innovation center.”

      • Patents

        • MIP International Patent Forum: Anti-anti-suit injunctions ‘scary’ FRAND trend [Ed: Aggressors dominate and sponsor another think tank 'forum' hosted by their propaganda front, Managing IP]

          Counsel from Philips, Ericsson and other panellists discussed the evolution of SEP litigation at Managing IP’s virtual forum

        • Is it Hyperbole if it Accurately Describes an Absurd Reality [Ed: USPTO may have legitimacy crisis when former heads are lobbying for patent maximalists while taking bribes from IBM and Microsoft]

          Wow, lots of new amicus in the patent eligibility case of American Axle v. Neapco, including a joint filing from Sen. Thom Tillis, Hon. Paul Michel, and Hon. David Kappos. The trio argue that the current state of patent eligibility doctrine is “an unintelligible hash” causing significant systemic problems. [Tillis Brief] Kappos addition to the brief is symbolically important. His name is memorialized in Bilski v. Kappos, the case that seemingly re-started us down this pathway. The brief offers an interesting approach — it is filled with quotes from policymakers about the problems created by the shift in patent eligibility laws. Many of the quotes appear hyperbolic, but it is hard to tell in this situation whether they are simply reflecting reality.

          Professors Lefstin (Hastings) and Menell (Berkeley) add their own hyperbole noting that in this case, the Federal Circuit has stretched “Section 101 to absurd lengths.” A common law professor trope is to talk through the absurdity that ensues when a given rule is taken to an extreme. Here, the professors are noting instead that absurdity has arrived.

        • U.S. v. Arthrex: Is Historical Practice of the USPTO Relevant? [Ed: Patent profiteers do all they can to scuttle those panels which get rid of fake patents that should never have been granted in the first place. They've leveraged some spin to paint that as a constitutional issue.]

          As discussed here, the Justices asked many questions in the oral argument in Arthrex this week on both questions: (1) whether there was an Appointments Clause defect and (2) if so, whether the Federal Circuit properly cured it. With respect to the first question, several of the Justices appeared skeptical that administrative patent judges are “inferior officers” as argued by the government and Smith & Nephew. Instead, the Court may well affirm the Federal Circuit’s holding that the appointment of administrative patent judges to the Patent Trial and Appeal Board violated the Appointments Clause.

          What was much less clear from the argument, however, was the Justice’s views on the second question. While the Federal Circuit’s cure (prospectively severing a portion of the AIA restricting the way APJs can be removed) did not get much attention during the argument, no other approach appeared to have a consensus either.

          Interestingly, the issue of historical practice of the USPTO came up during oral argument. Justice Kagan asked Smith & Nephew’s attorney, Mr. Perry, the story behind the scope of administrative patent judge’s authority. Mr. Perry noted interference examiners going back to 1836, which decided interference proceedings and were appointed by the Secretary of Commerce, as part of “the long and proud history of the Patent Office.” Mr. Perry continued: “[w]e have a patent-specific tradition [that] comes out of the examination process” and “modern APJs are very much in line with a long, long history that, in fact, stretches all the way back to the founding.”

        • The Hidden Ideological Stakes of SCOTUS Patent Case [Ed: It's not ideology. Fake patents that should not have been granted ought to be revoked. The sooner, the better.]

          On Monday the Supreme Court heard oral argument in United States v. Arthrex, Inc., which presents two seemingly technical questions: (1) do administrative patent judges (APJs) hold their office unconstitutionally because they were not appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate? And if so, (2) what is the appropriate remedy? The details of these issues are, well, technical. Here I shall set aside the remedy question. After explaining so much of the case as minimally necessary for a layperson to grasp what it involves, I shall connect the issues that seemed to trouble the justices to much less arcane and thus much more ideologically divisive matters.

          [...]

          Arthrex concerns the appointment of APJs—government officials who sit in panels to conduct hearings within the Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) to determine the validity of challenged patents. Because they are appointed by the Secretary of Commerce—the head of a department of the federal government—they exercise their power validly if they are inferior officers but not if they are principal officers.

          During Monday’s oral argument, the lawyers for the federal government and for the private-party petitioners each separately argued that of course APJs are inferior officers, because unlike cabinet secretaries and other agency heads, they do not sit (as one lawyer put it) “at the right hand of the President,” but several levels down.

          Arthrex’s lawyer and the Federal Circuit whose judgment he was defending (on substance though not on remedy), disagreed. They relied on the 1997 decision in Edmond v. United States for a rule to the effect that in order to be an inferior officer, an administrative adjudicator’s decisions must be subject to review by a Senate-confirmed (i.e., principal) officer. Because APJ panels’ decisions are not subject to such intra-executive review, the Federal Circuit concluded and Arthrex argued, the APJs are not inferior officers but principal ones whose appointment was therefore unconstitutional.

        • Software Patents

          • Federal Circuit affirms Unified’s win against Barkan

            On March 2, 2021, the Federal Circuit affirmed the Patent Office’s final decision, in a summary Rule 36 affirmance, confirmed that Barkan Wireless IP Holding’s U.S. Patent 8,014,284 was mostly unpatentable. The Court also upheld the Board’s decision that Unified’s members should not have been named as RPIs as unreviewable after the Supreme Court’s ruling in Click-to-Call. In every challenge at both the PTAB and the Federal Circuit, Unified has always been confirmed as the sole real party-in-interest in its filings.

      • Copyrights

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